For starters let's look at what a finishing move is. They are called "FINISHERS" for a reason. The term describes a particular move that the wrestler uses to FINISH OFF an opponent after a hard fought battle. The art is to weaken an opponent or a part of an opponent's body through the execution of strategic maneuvers during the match. Then when the opponent has become sufficiently weakened the wrestler executes a maneuver (the finisher) that he/she does particularly well that also focuses on the point of the body that has been weakened in order to get the maximum effect from said maneuver. In addition to making sense this also made for great story telling in the ring as you knew what maneuver wrestler A was going for and you watched as wrestler B was injured further and further making him (or her) especially susceptible to the finisher which built up the excitement to an extraordinary climax at the moment the finisher is executed.
All the greats followed this formula. Ric Flair would work on his opponents knee throughout the match setting up for the Figure Four LegLock. Bruno Sammartino would work on the lower back to set up for the Bearhug. Harley Race would work on the head and neck to set up for the Piledriver. Big wrestlers like Andre the Giant would use their size and make you carry their weight to wear you out before delivering a splash of some kind. Hogan's attack was similar to this. The problem is that no one follows this formula anymore. Finishers have become these magic moves that can beat anyone at anytime regardless of the condition of the opponent. Many times now a days a match is won with ONLY the finisher, and the match itself no longer tells the story. Instead of working on a strategic part of the body or using moves to soften the opponent up for the finisher today's matches are little more than a collage of unrelated high spots that have nothing to do with setting up for the finisher and therefore don't tell that all important story to build the fans' interest. As a result a large number of fans don't even pay attention to the matches anymore. They pop for the entrance, and they pop for the finish but during the match they often can be seen texting. If the wrestlers would tell the story the fans would be interested.
This is why Hogan's finisher is one of if not the greatest of all time. His matches tell the story and it builds to a climax. If you watch his matches, the majority follow a set pattern. He begins each match using his (usual) size and strength advantage to wear out his opponent with a barrage of high impact maneuvers to put his opponents on the defense. In addition he never gives his opponents a chance to rest. When an opponent is on the mat Hogan will pick them back up to their feet forcing them to continue to support their own weight and also continually fall and hit the mat over and over. This forces the opponent to dip into their reserves early and have to change their game plan to play comeback. When Hogan feels himself becoming winded he takes a step back and allows his opponent to take the offense usually by telegraphing a move (such as ducking too early for a backdrop) and giving the opponent an opening. Hogan's then spends the majority of time on the mat, conserving his strength and allows the opponent to use his remaining energy desperately trying to defeat the big man. Hogan allows himself to be caught in rest holds that he can withstand while dishing out just enough offense to keep the opponent running at full speed instead of regaining their own energy. "But how much can Hogan endure?" the fans wonder. "Will he be able to come back from this onslaught?" they ask as they watch in horror as Hogan takes a beating.
When the opponent has run out of energy (usually signaled by an attempt at a finisher) Hogan reaches into his own reserves - HULKS UP if you will - and mounts a huge comeback. The powerful kick out and shaking of the head is an intimidation factor that tells the exhausted opponent how much energy Hogan has left. He throws a few right hands to put the tired opponent on the defense. He then shoots the opponent into the ropes and conects with the big boot which serves two purposes; 1) to stun the opponent and 2) to set him up for the finisher. Now if you are laying on the mat stunned and exhausted and a 300 pound man drops all of his weight across your chest, that's going to knock the wind out of you and as any athlete can tell you, when you get the wind knocked out of you, you become unable to move for several seconds. Well, three seconds is all Hogan needs. 1-2-3. DING! DING! DING! "Here is your winner, HOLLYWOOD HULK HOGAN!!!"
Now THAT'S a story! Hogan's game plan is to keep his opponent running as hard as he can in order make that opponent use up as much energy as possible (while conserving his own) and keep them gasping for air so that Hogan can knock the wind out of them with one final blow. It makes sense, you can follow it, and fans - even to this day - get more excited for a Hulk Hogan match than for anyone else. As we saw on TNA's Bound For Glory PPV of 2011, even the World title match that had months of build up with a round robin tournament that saw a new star emerge was unable to follow the crowd energy of a Hulk Hogan match. Despite the fact that he not only lost, but didn't even do the legdrop, he still told a story, losing control of the company and turning face to rescue Sting from the attack after the match.
Telling a story is vital, being able to read the crowd and know when they are into a match an knowing when to change pace is a must. Without it, the crowd won't care about your match. If they have to be signaled when to cheer through constant promos or they just wait for the finisher to signal them then you aren't doing your job as a wrestler. Hogan always tells a story and as a result is able to keep their attention and anticipation for every match. This is why Hogan - a man of 59 years - is still able to get the biggest pops over all of the younger talent.
Before I go I just want to address a few of the typical complaints the haters use about Hogan's legdrop:
A legdrop can't knock anyone out:
Of course not. That's why it's called "finisher". Like I said above, it's a final blow given to an already beaten opponent. Hogan has never beaten anyone just with a legdrop. Even Yokozuna at WrestleMania IX had just wrestled for 20 minutes and even had salt thrown in his eyes before Hogan dropped the leg. Plus Hogan has never knocked anyone out with it. He knocks the wind out of them.
Hogan's leg doesn't weigh 300 pounds:
True, while only Hogan's leg makes contact with the opponent as Hogan falls, all of his weight is behind the blow. Just like when a major league baseball player smacks a home run. Only the bat makes contact with the ball, but all of the player's weight is behind the blow.
A legdrop as a finisher is unrealistic:
Did you not just read the article? It's not about the move but about the STORY. Building up the fans' interest and bringing it to an emotional climax. That's what Hogan's legdrop does. In any case it's sure a hell of a lot more realistic than hitting someone with just one "magic" move to win.
No matter what the haters come up with, the facts and the cheers from the millions upon millions of HULKAMANIACS will forever prove that HOLLYWOOD HULK HOGAN - finisher and all - is indeed the greatest of all time.