In 1979, Hogan wrestled Bob Backlund for the World Championship, and he started his first big feud with André the Giant, which culminated in a match with André at Shea Stadium in August 1980. During his initial heel run in the WWF, Hogan was paired with "Classy" Freddie Blassie, a wrestler-turned-manager.
Hogan made his return at a television taping in St. Louis, Missouri on December 27, 1983 defeating Bill Dixon.
On the January 7, 1984 edition of Championship Wrestling, Hogan confirmed his face status for the WWF fans by saving Bob Backlund from a three-way assault. Hogan's turn was explained simply by Backlund: "He's changed his ways. He's a great man. He's told me he's not gonna have Blassie around." The storyline shortcut was necessary because less than three weeks later on January 23, Hogan won his first WWF Championship, pinning The Iron Sheik (who had Blassie in his corner) in Madison Square Garden. The storyline accompanying the victory was that Hogan was a "last minute" replacement for the Sheik's original opponent Bob Backlund, and became the champion by way of being the first man to escape the camel clutch (the Iron Sheik's finishing move).
Over the next year, Hulk Hogan became the face of pro wrestling as McMahon pushed the WWF into a pop culture enterprise with The Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection on MTV, drawing record houses, pay-per-view buyrates, and television ratings in the process. The centerpiece attraction for the first WrestleMania on March 31, 1985, Hogan teamed with legit friend Mr. T to defeat his archrival "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff. On the first edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, Hogan successfully defended the WWF title against Cowboy Bob Orton in a match which Hogan won by a disqualification.
On the October 5, 1985 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, he successfully defended the title against Nikolai Volkoff in a flag match. He met long-time rival Roddy Piper in a WWF title match at the Wrestling Classic pay-per-view (PPV) event. Hogan retained the title by disqualification after Bob Orton interfered and hit Hogan with his cast. Hogan had many challengers in the way as the new year began. Throughout 1986, Hogan made successful title defenses against challengers such as Terry Funk, Don Muraco, King Kong Bundy (in a steel cage match at WrestleMania 2), Paul Orndorff, and Hercules Hernandez.
In the fall of 1986, Hogan occasionally wrestled in tag matches with The Machines as Hulk Machine under a mask. At WrestleMania III in 1987, Hogan was booked to defend the title against André the Giant, who had been the sport's premier star and was pushed as undefeated for the previous two decades. A new storyline was introduced in early 1987; Hogan was presented a trophy for being the WWF Champion for three consecutive years. André the Giant, a good friend came out to congratulate him. Shortly afterward, André was presented a slightly smaller trophy for being "undefeated in the WWF for 15 years." Hogan came out to congratulate André, who walked out in the midst of Hogan's speech. Then, on an edition of Piper's Pit, Hogan was confronted by Bobby Heenan, who announced that André was his new protégé, and Andre challenged Hogan to a title match at WrestleMania III. At WrestleMania III, Hogan successfully defended the WWF World Heavyweight Championship against André the Giant. During the match, Hogan bodyslammed the 520-pound Frenchman (which was dubbed "the bodyslam heard around the world") and won the match after a leg drop.
Hogan remained WWF Champion for four years (1,474 days). In front of 33 million viewers, however, Hogan finally lost the belt to André on the February 5 edition of The Main Event after a convoluted scam involving "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase and Earl Hebner (who assumed the place of his twin brother Dave Hebner, the match's appointed referee). After André delivered a belly to belly suplex on Hogan, Hebner counted the pin while Hogan's left shoulder was clearly off the mat. After the match, André handed the title over to DiBiase to complete their business deal. As a result, the WWF Championship was vacated for the first time in its 25-year history because WWF President Jack Tunney decreed the championship could not be sold from one wrestler to another. At WrestleMania IV, Hogan participated in a tournament for the vacant WWF title to regain it; he and André were given a bye into quarter-finals but their match resulted in a double disqualification. Later that night in the main event, Hogan came to ringside to stop André interfering which helped "Macho Man" Randy Savage defeat Ted DiBiase to win the title.
Together, Hogan, Savage, and manager Miss Elizabeth formed a partnership known as The Mega Powers. After Savage became WWF Champion at WrestleMania IV, they feuded with The Mega Bucks (Ted DiBiase and André the Giant) and defeated them at the main event of the first SummerSlam. They then went on to feud with Slick's Twin Towers: Akeem and Big Boss Man. The Mega Powers began to implode due to Savage's burgeoning jealousy of Hogan and his paranoid suspicions that Hogan and Elizabeth were more than friends. At the Royal Rumble in 1989, Hogan eliminated Savage from the Royal Rumble match while eliminating Bad News Brown, which caused tension, only to be eliminated by the Twin Towers himself. The duo broke up while wrestling The Twin Towers on the February 3, 1989 edition of The Main Event. During the match, Savage accidentally collided with Miss Elizabeth. Hogan took her backstage to receive medical attention, temporarily abandoning Savage. When he returned to the ring, Savage slapped Hogan and left the ring, where Hogan eventually won the match by himself. After the match, Savage attacked Hogan backstage, which started a feud between the two. Their feud culminated in Hogan beating Savage for his second WWF Championship at WrestleMania V.
Hogan's second run lasted a year, during which time he starred in the movie No Holds Barred. The film was the inspiration of a feud with Hogan and Zeus. Zeus was a monster heel who was "jealous" over Hogan's higher billing and wanted revenge. Hogan, however, was easily able to defeat Zeus in a series of matches across the country during late 1989, beginning with a tag team match at SummerSlam, in which Hogan and Brutus Beefcake topped Zeus and Savage. Hogan and Beefcake defeated Zeus and Savage in a rematch at the No Holds Barred pay-per-view to end the feud.
Hogan's second title run was briefly interrupted in January 1989 when he was defeated via submission by Dino Bravo after Hogan couldn't break Bravo's bearhug hold. Hogan attempted to "Hulk Up" and turn the match around, but Bravo would not release the hold, and Hogan became unconscious, forcing the ref to call the match. A silenced crowd watched Bravo grab the championship belt no sooner than an announcement was made that Hogan was determined the winner, by way of disqualification, therefore retaining his title and championship. Also during his second run, Hogan won the 1990 Royal Rumble match. He dropped the title to Intercontinental Champion The Ultimate Warrior in a title versus title match at WrestleMania VI on April 1, 1990.
Hogan soon became embroiled in a heated feud with the 470-pound Earthquake, who had crushed Hogan's ribs in a sneak attack on The Brother Love Show in May 1990. On television, announcers explained that Hogan's injuries and his WrestleMania VI loss to Warrior both took such a huge toll on his fighting spirit that he wanted to retire. Viewers were asked to write letters to Hogan and send postcards asking for his return (they got a postcard-sized picture in return, autographed by Hogan, as a "thank-you"). Hogan returned by SummerSlam 1990 and for several months, dominated Earthquake in a series of matches across the country. His defeat of this overwhelmingly large foe caused Hogan to add a fourth demandment: believing in yourself. He also became known as "The Immortal" Hulk Hogan. Hogan then became the first wrestler to win two Royal Rumble matches in a row, as he won the 1991 Royal Rumble match.
At WrestleMania VII, Hogan stood up for the USA against Sgt. Slaughter, defeating him for his third WWF Championship. In the fall of 1991, Hogan was challenged by Ric Flair, who recently arrived in the WWF. The feud remained unresolved, as Hogan lost the WWF title to The Undertaker at Survivor Series, and he won it back at This Tuesday in Texas six days later. Flair had interfered in both matches and due to the resulting controversy, the title was again declared vacant.
The WWF Championship was decided at the 1992 Royal Rumble in the Royal Rumble match. Hogan failed to regain the championship as he was eliminated by friend Sid Justice and in turn caused Sid to be eliminated, leaving Ric Flair the winner and new champion. Hogan and Sid patched things up and teamed together on the February 8, 1992 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event against Flair and Undertaker but during the match Sid abandoned Hogan, starting their feud. At WrestleMania VIII, Hogan defeated Sid via disqualification due to interference by Sid's manager Harvey Wippleman. Hogan was then attacked by Papa Shango and was saved by the returning Ultimate Warrior.
Hogan returned to the WWF in February 1993, helping out his friend Brutus Beefcake in his feud with Money Inc. (Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Schyster), and officially renaming themselves The Mega-Maniacs. At WrestleMania IX, Hogan and Beefcake took on Money Inc. for the WWF Tag Team Championship. However, Hogan thought he was too big of a star to be a tag champion and instead wanted the world title. So Hogan and Vince McMahon came up with the plan that Hogan and Brutus would be disqualified in their match. Later that night, Hogan won his fifth WWF Championship by pinning Yokozuna only moments after Yokozuna had defeated Bret Hart. McMahon then planned that Hogan and Bret Hart would eventually fight in a big match at Summerslam 1993 in which Hogan would drop the title to Hart, Hogan did not want to drop the title in a clean victory to Hart, due to Hart's size and doubts over whether he could draw, and opted to lose the title to the heel Yokozuna instead. At the first annual King of the Ring pay-per-view on June 13, 1993, Hogan defended the championship against the former champion, Yokozuna, in his first title defense since defeating Yokozuna at WrestleMania IX. Yokozuna kicked out of Hogan's signature leg drop and scored the pinfall after Hogan was blinded by a fireball shot by a "Japanese photographer" (actually a disguised Harvey Wippleman), this was Hogan's idea as he did not want Yokozuna to gain a clean victory over him. The victorious Yokozuna proceeded to give Hogan a Banzai Drop. After that, Hogan sat out the rest of his contract which expired later that year.
At No Way Out in 2002, Hogan returned to the company that had made him a pop culture icon. Returning as leader of the original nWo with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, the three got into a confrontation with The Rock and cost Steve Austin a chance at becoming the Undisputed WWF Champion against Chris Jericho in the main event. The nWo feuded with both Austin and The Rock, and Hogan accepted The Rock's challenge to a match at WrestleMania X8. At the event, Hogan asked Hall and Nash not to interfere, wanting to defeat The Rock by himself. Despite the fact that Hogan was supposed to be the heel in the match, the crowd cheered for him heavily. The Rock cleanly won the contest, but befriended Hogan at the end of the bout and helped him fight off Hall and Nash, who were upset by Hogan's conciliatory attitude. After the match, Hogan was a definite face again, siding with The Rock, though he continued wearing black and white tights for a few weeks after WrestleMania X8 until he resumed wearing his signature red and yellow tights. During this period, the "Hulk Rules" logo of the 1980s was redone with the text "Hulk Still Rules." Hulk wore the original "Hulk Rules" attire 12 years earlier, when he headlined WrestleMania VI at the same arena, in the SkyDome. For a time, he was still known as "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan, notably keeping the Hollywood Hogan style blond mustache with black beard while wearing Hulkamania-like red and yellow tights. On April 4, Hogan feuded with Triple H and defeated him for the Undisputed WWF Championship and sixth and final WWF Championship at Backlash. On May 19 at Judgment Day, he lost the belt to The Undertaker. After losing a Number One Contenders match for the Undisputed Championship to Triple H on June 6, Hogan began feuding with Kurt Angle resulting in a match between the two at the King of the Ring, which Angle won by submission.
On the July 4, 2002 edition of SmackDown!, Hogan teamed with Edge to defeat Billy and Chuck and capture the WWE World Tag Team Championship for the first time. They celebrated by waving the American flag as the overjoyed audience sang along to Hogan's theme song "Real American." They later dropped the titles to The Un-Americans (Lance Storm and Christian), at Vengeance. In August 2002, Hogan was used in an angle with Brock Lesnar, culminating in a main event singles match. Lesnar won by submission (the match was called after Hogan became unconscious from a bear hug hold). Lesnar became only the second WWE Superstar to defeat Hogan by submission (after Kurt Angle), and the first to defeat Hogan by having the match called. Following the match, Lesnar continued to beat on Hogan, leaving him bloody and unconscious in the ring in what many fans recall as the worst beating Hogan ever received of his career. As a result of Lesnar's assault, Hogan went on hiatus and was not able to return until early 2003, shaving off his black beard and dropping "Hollywood" from his name in his return. He battled The Rock (who had turned heel) once again at No Way Out and defeated Vince McMahon at WrestleMania XIX in a match billed as "20 years in the making."
Later, he had a run as the masked Mr. America. The persona was supposed to be Hulk Hogan in disguise, wearing a mask. He used Hulk Hogan's "Real American" theme music and used all of Hogan's signature gestures, moves, and phrases. He was the subject of a storyline that took place after Hulk Hogan was forced by Vince McMahon to sit out the rest of his contract. After Hogan won at WrestleMania XIX, McMahon was frustrated with him and wanted Hulkamania to die. A WWE pre-debut push took place with mysterious Mr. America promos airing for weeks during SmackDown!. There was also on-screen discussion on SmackDown! between then General Manager Stephanie McMahon and other players concerning her hiring Mr. America "sight unseen." On May 1, Mr. America debuted on SmackDown! on a Piper's Pit segment. McMahon appeared and claimed that Mr. America was Hulk Hogan in disguise; Mr. America shot back by saying, "I am not Hulk Hogan, brother!" (lampooning Hogan's use of "brother" in his promos). The feud continued through the month of May, with a singles match between Mr. America and Hogan's old rival Roddy Piper at Judgment Day. McMahon tried desperately to prove that Mr. America was indeed Hulk Hogan but failed at all attempts. Mr. America even passed a lie detector test.
Mr. America's last WWE appearance was on the June 26 edition of SmackDown! when The Big Show and The World's Greatest Tag Team (Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas) defeated the team of Brock Lesnar, Kurt Angle, and Mr. America in a six-man tag team match when Show pinned Mr. America. After the show went off the air, Mr. America unmasked to show the fans that he was indeed Hulk Hogan, putting his finger to his lips telling the fans to keep quiet about his secret. The next week, Hogan quit WWE.
In 2005, weeks before WrestleMania 21, it was announced on all WWE programming that Hogan would be inducted into the Hall of Fame. On April 2, Hogan was inducted by actor and friend Sylvester Stallone. Hogan was applauded for several minutes before he was able to make a speech. When he paused during his speech, the crowd chanted "One More Match! One More Match!" The fans also chanted "Austin, Hogan" (referring to a Steve Austin vs. Hulk Hogan match); Hogan responded "that may be a good match someday". At WrestleMania 21 on April 3, Hogan came out to rescue Eugene, who was being attacked by Muhammad Hassan and Khosrow Daivari.
The next night on Raw, Hassan and Daivari came out to confront and assault fan favorite Shawn Michaels. The following week, Michaels approached Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff demanding a handicap match with Hassan and Daivari. Bischoff refused but told Michaels if he found a partner he would be granted a tag team match. Michaels then made a plea for Hulk Hogan to come back and team with him. On the April 18 episode of Raw, Hassan again led an attack on Michaels until Hogan appeared, and saved Michaels and accepted his offer. At Backlash 2005, Hassan and Daivari lost to Hogan and Michaels.
Hogan then appeared on July 4 edition of Raw as the special guest of Carlito on his talk-show segment Carlito's Cabana. After being asked questions by Carlito concerning his daughter Brooke Hogan, Hogan proceeded to attack Carlito. This was then followed up by an appearance of Kurt Angle, who made comments about Brooke, which further upset Hogan. Hogan was eventually double teamed by Carlito and Angle but was saved by Shawn Michaels. Later that night, Michaels and Hogan defeated Carlito and Kurt Angle in a tag match. During the post match celebration, Michaels delivered Sweet Chin Music to Hogan and walked off. The following week on Raw, Michaels appeared on Piper's Pit and challenged Hogan to face him one-on-one for the first time. Hogan appeared on Raw one week later and accepted the challenge. The match took place at SummerSlam. The "Legend vs. Icon" storyline was the main event for the Raw brand going into SummerSlam. The match went back and forth, with two referees getting knocked out and Michaels using a steel chair to try to gain an advantage. Even after Michaels hit his Sweet Chin Music, Hogan still kicked out and mounted some offense against Michaels, finally hitting him with the legdrop and scoring the victory. Michaels extended his hand to him, telling him that he "had to find out for himself," and Hogan and Michaels shook hands. Michaels left the ring to allow Hogan to celebrate with the crowd.
Prior to WrestleMania 22, Hogan inducted friend and former announcer "Mean" Gene Okerlund into the WWE Hall of Fame. Hogan returned on the July 15, 2006 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event with his daughter Brooke. During the show, Randy Orton flirted (kayfabe) with Hogan's daughter, and later attacked Hogan in the parking lot and hit the RKO onto the trunk of Hogan's car. He later challenged Hulk to a match at SummerSlam, which Hogan won.
Hogan's last WWE appearance to date occurred on December 10, 2007 on the WWE Raw 15th anniversary. He saved Hornswoggle from being attacked by The Great Khali.
On February 21, 2014, WWE announced that Hulk Hogan would be returning to WWE, and would serve as the host of WrestleMania XXX. Hogan made his first WWE in-ring appearance since 2007 on the February 25 Raw to hype the WWE Network. On the March 10 edition of Raw, Hogan announced that at WrestleMania XXX there would be a 30-man Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal (commemorating 30 years of WrestleMania, and honoring André's legacy) and the winner would be presented with the André the Giant Memorial Trophy. On the March 24 edition of Raw, Hogan came out to introduce the guest appearances of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Joe Manganiello.
At WrestleMania XXX, Hogan served as the host, coming out at the start of the show to hype up the crowd. During his promo, he mistakenly referred to the Superdome, the venue the event was being held at, as the Silverdome, which became the subject of jokes throughout the night. Hogan was later joined by The Rock and Steve Austin, and they finished their promo by drinking beer together in the ring. Later in the show, Hogan shared a moment with Mr. T, Paul Orndorff and Roddy Piper, the Superstars with whom he main evented the first WrestleMania.
It was announced by the WWE on January 11, 2015 that Hogan would induct his long-time friend and rival, Randy Savage into the WWE Hall of Fame.
On February 27, 2015, Hogan was honored at Madison Square Garden during a WWE live event dubbed "Hulk Hogan Appreciation Night" with a special commemorative banner hanging from the rafters, honoring his wrestling career and historic matches he had in the arena. The banner was only part of the show and did not remain in the arena afterwards.
On the March 23 episode of Raw, Hulk Hogan, along with Snoop Dogg confronted Curtis Axel – who at the time had been 'borrowing' Hogan's 'Hulkamania gimmick' with Axel referring to himself as 'AxelMania' – and beat him up with Hogan and Snoop standing tall and playing to the crowd. On March 28, the night before WrestleMania, Hogan inducted long time rival 'Macho Man' Randy Savage into the WWE Hall of Fame. The next night at WrestleMania 31, Hogan reunited with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash to reform the nWo and appeared in Sting's corner in his match against Triple H, who himself was joined by his D-Generation X (DX) members. Sting was ultimately unsuccessful in his match, but he and Triple H shook hands after the bout had finished. In June 2015, Hogan became one of the judges on the sixth season of Tough Enough, alongside Paige and Daniel Bryan.
On July 23, 2015, WWE terminated their contract with Hogan, stating that they are "committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds", removing all references to Hogan from their website, including his listing as a judge for Tough Enough and his merchandise from WWE Shop, as well as his entry from its WWE Hall of Fame page.