No this list will not include Bubba The Love Sponge. Hopefully that is the only time that name ever appears on this site. Also, no this does not mean that Hulk really screwed them, this is a list of the top 10 guys who were screwed because Hogan had the belt for 4 long years, and either A.) they prepared guys for him, or B.) they were fed to him. This is not in any particular order, so let the countdown begin!
1.) “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
The easiest pick on this list. Piper was the heel that fueled the birth of Hulkamania, without Piper’s dastardly ways, Hulkamania probably would have died a quick death. Piper is just as responsible for the boom period in the WWF in the mid 80’s. He was always at the center of controversy, whether it be with Cyndi Lauper or headlining the first WrestleMania. The man cut some of the best promos in that era, was a solid hand in the ring, looked the part, and most of all people wanted to see him get the shit kicked out of him. This ultimately comes down to size, Piper was always in good shape, but never to roided Hulk proportions. Perhaps he couldn’t be seen as the face of the company, his later face turn later in his career proved he could be the most hated or one of the most beloved wrestlers on the roster. A brief run with the I.C. strap would be Piper’s only title run in the WWF and the closest he would get to the big strap.
2.) Jake “The Snake” Roberts
The second most over babyface in the boom period. Roberts has gone on record that he would be the man to get new heels ready for Hogan. Jake was light years ahead of Hulk in promo ability, a solid hand in the ring, and people truly believed in him. Perhaps one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, who got the most out of the least. He didn’t need to scream, didn’t need to be flashy, and didn’t need to have the 24 inch pythons to do it. He never held a title in the WWF, which is a crime. When Jake was clean and on, nobody could touch him. His substance abuse issues probably but any chance of a title run to rest, but even without them, he probably would have still been getting guys ready for Hulk.
3.) King Kong Bundy
One of the most effective monster heels of the boom period. Put a mouthpiece with him and let Bundy crush people. He did just that, until he met Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 2. After his loss to the Hulkster, Bundy began to toil away in the mid card, ultimately being regulated to wrestling midgets at WrestleMania 3. Should Bundy have held the title for a year? No. Just a clean victory over Hogan could have done wonders for the feud and made Bundy a legitimate threat. Dropping the title back to Hogan at Wrestlemania 2 or a little bit after would have been fine. But the big man could go, so give him his due.
4.) “Ravishing” Rick Rude
Rude was an effective heel, he could work with anyone, and get the most out of all his opponents. Memorable feuds with the Ultimate Warrior and Jake Roberts was some of the best TV going back then. The man was a workhorse. He had the look, the ability, and he could cut a promo. Rude could have been the face of the company in an alternate universe. A nice run with the title could have done wonders for the main events. Eternally a heel, a face run for the “Ravishing One” could have been interesting as well.
5.) Bret “The Hitman” Hart
Bret Hart is obviously one of the biggest names in the industry and enjoyed many title runs throughout his career. So why did he make Hulk’s Screw list? Because, if Hulk Hogan hadn’t left the federation when he did, Hart always would have been the semi-main event. Hart’s first run with the WWF championship ended when he lost to Yokozuna at WrestleMania IX. Yoko would go on to be a respectful champ and great worker, but Hogan walked out with the belt that night. Again, overshadowing Hart’s run and making Yoko and Bret look terribly weak in the process. All of this could have been rectified if Hogan and Bret feuded and ultimately Bret could have gotten the title back, in what could have been a real passing of the torch. Instead, it has been said numerous times that Hogan didn’t believe Bret could draw, and didn’t believe he had the size to carry the company. He decided to drop to Yokozuna instead. Bret would go on to win the belt numerous other times and was the face of the company for years, so perhaps I am crying over spilled milk. But imagine if Bret Hart started his second title reign by beating the biggest star in the industry?
Bundy syndrome. Quake was put over as the biggest heel in the company in 1990, he destroyed anyone and anything in his path, until he met Hogan at SummerSlam 1990. Hogan dominated the fued, beating Earthquake several times. The point of this isn’t to say that Hogan should have lost every feud, no he still should have won every feud, he was the biggest star in the company for a reason. But letting Earthquake win one match over Hogan would have solidified his place as a heel for years to come and he could have enjoyed a title reign or main event feuds after his run with Hogan. Instead, he was regulated to the tag division and never flirted with the main event in WWF again. For him and Bundy there should have been life after Hogan.
7.) Mr. Perfect
Perfect had the best matches on the card, he got heat, he could cut his own promo’s, he wasn’t even overshadowed by Bobby Heenan. Mr. Perfect had some good matches with the Hulkster when he first debuted, selling for the man and making him look like a million bucks. He would later go on to a series of great matches for the I.C. title with multiple opponents. The body, the mic ability, and a tremendous worker. Much like his Middle School buddy Rick Rude, he had it all, except the world title.
8.) The Ultimate Warrior
Much of Warrior’s issues were perhaps brought on by himself, but he had no control where he was placed on the card as champ (before Hogan) and that his career defining win at WrestleMania VI was more about Hogan losing then Warrior winning. His whole title reign was overshadowed by Hogan’s feuds. He would often be in the middle of cards and Hogan would always go on last. Instead of truly passing the torch, they never let go of the reigns. Hulk was always the focal point and it came across that Hogan was still the man. Warrior would drop the belt to transitional champ Sgt. Slaughter at the Royal Rumble in 1991. He would never capture the magic of his initial run again.
9.) “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase
Almost the exact same situation as Mr. Perfect and Rick Rude. DiBiase was an amazing talking, drew heat, had great matches. He however tried to buy his championship reign. It didn’t pan out as he imagined though. The closest he would come to legitimately winning the title was at WrestleMania IV in his stellar match up against Randy Savage. After his initial debut and run towards the title he was regulated to mid card feuds, and eventually a tag team run with I.R.S.. DiBiase would have been another effective heel champion, even for a short time.
10.) Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat
The former N.W.A., I.C., and WCW champion never had his run with the WWF title. The top worker in the company during his first run, Steamboat could have great matches with anyone. The most over babyface in wrestling history, he looked like a million bucks, could cut a decent promo, but most of all, the man could wrestle. The WWF’s inability to make main event babyfaces at the time besides the Hulkster is what regulated him to the I.C. title. Also his N.W.A. roots probably didn’t help him in the eyes of Vince McMahon. Truly a shame that the man never reached the pinnacle of the WWF.
The point of this list isn’t to run down Hulk Hogan. He was and is one of the biggest stars to ever grace a wrestling ring. The point is, that despite all the success the WWF had in the late 80’s they could have had so much more, with more faces at the level of Hogan and some excellent heel champions once in a while. At least I can still watch Steamboat vs. Savage over and over again.