How Hulk Hogan Bought The Iconic “Hulk Hogan” Ring Name For Cheap

How Hulk Hogan got the rights, trademarks, and licenses to the ring name "Hulk Hogan."
WWE Hulk Hogan

WWE Hall of Famer and wrestling legend Hulk Hogan recently shared the story of how and why he now owns the iconic “Hulk Hogan” name, rights, trademarks, and licenses. Hulk Hogan perhaps has the most recognizable name and face in the history of pro wrestling.  However, how much of his legendary pro wrestling legacy comes from his iconic name? 

Terry Bollea, Hulk Hogan’s real name, is pretty unique and it may have worked as a wrestling name, but Hulk Hogan has a much better ring to it.  Undoubtedly it is because of the “Hulk” portion of the name.  It brings to mind a big hulking individual which Hogan certainly is, but it also brings Marvel’s Hulk to mind.

RELATED: Hulk Hogan Details Huge Changes In Wrestling Since His Heyday


WWE Hulk Hogan, André the Giant
Courtesy Of WWE

Hogan explains how he was allowed to use the name of a very famous comic book character for his wrestling name.  While a guest on This Past Weekend w/ Theo Von, Hogan talked about how he got the “Hulk Hogan” name and when he and WWF received the call from Marvel over the use of the name. He stated the following:

“He [Vince McMahon Sr.] goes, ‘I want you to be Hulk Hogan.’What does Hulk Hogan mean? Ivan Putski for the Polish Americans, Bruno Sammartino for the Italian Americans, Chief Jay Strongbow for the Native Americans, and Hulk Hogan for the Irish Americans.’ Vince gave me the name. Vince Sr. dies, Vince Jr takes over. Right when Hulk Hogan takes off, we get a call from Marvel Comics. ‘You’re infringing on our mark. Reasonably similar. We’re going to sue you, put you in litigation.’ We let them have the name, didn’t license the name. I only had to pay them one-tenth of 1 percent. That went from 1985 to 2005. In 2005, it’s over.”

H/T To Fightful For Transcription
WWE Rowdy Roddy Piper, Vince McMahon Jr., Hulk Hogan
Courtesy Of WWE

The Incredible Hulk’s Debut

The Incredible Hulk first appeared in 1962.  It was one of Marvel’s first comics and its strange green monster who had severe anger issues made a big impact on readers.  This is well before 1979 when Hogan first began using the “Hulk Hogan” as his ring name.  The similarities between Hogan and the Incredible Hulk fail to go beyond their similar large stature.

At the time of the deal Marvel was nowhere near the juggernaut we know today.  It was putting out legendary comics like Chris Claremont’s X-Men run, Frank Miller’s Daredevil and the huge Secret Wars crossover event.  The ‘80s was when comics began to transition into more complex stories geared toward adults and teenagers.  However, they were still viewed as something for children, hence the very low cost of using the “Hulk” name.

A Slick Business Deal

Hogan and WWE’s time period allowing them to use the “Hulk” name for cheap came to an end in 2005.  He explains how Marvel losing a legal battle and a short-sided deal cost them. and Hogan came out the champ once again. He continued in his recent interview:

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“Now, I can’t use Hulk Hogan anymore, and I’m red hot in 2005. I went to my attorney, ‘I don’t give a damn what deal you make, you’re going to make a deal because I need the name.’ What happened was, I got a one-year extension and I had to pay them 30 percent of everything I made. Movies, TV, wrestling, they got 30 percent of everything, but if they decided to sell the name, they had to give me first shot at it. They couldn’t sell the name or do anything.

All of a sudden, Marvel Comics gets in a bitchfest with WWE about intellectual properties, that they can’t re-air old Hulk Hogan matches. Marvel Comics lost. They owe Vince $35 million. They made a huge mistake. They said, ‘instead of paying $35 million, how about we give you the Hulk Hogan name.’ I heard about it and went, ‘You screwed up now.’

Now, I don’t have to pay $35 million for the name, you have to sell it for me for fair money value, which is only $750 grand. I bought the name back. Vince wanted to buy the name from me. ‘Nah, I got this one.’ I bought the name back and I own everything. I own Hulk Hogan, Hulkamania, Hulkster. I’m one of the few guys who own the name, rights, trademarks, and licenses.”

H/T To Fightful For Transcription
WWE Hulk Hogan King Kong Bundy
Courtesy Of WWE

It is interesting to think how this may have gone differently in 2023.  Marvel would certainly have much more money to fight WWE for the name now. 

Did you know about how Hulk Hogan got his name or the deal with Marvel?  When you hear the name “Hulk” do you first think of Hogan or the Incredible Hulk?  Do you think it was smart for Marvel to give the name away?  Can you believe Marvel only wanted less than 1 percent of revenue for the “Hulk” name in 1979?  Let us know what other wrestlers you think could take on comic book character names or nicknames.

SOURCE: This Past Weekend w/ Theo Von, Fightful, The Ring Report

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Robert Watson

Robert Watson

Just a guy reading comics, watching wrestling, and wondering if aliens exist