A short time later, Bollea donned a mask and assumed the persona of "The Super Destroyer," a hooded character first played by Don Jardine and subsequently used by several other wrestlers.
A few months later, he joined Louie Tillet's Alabama territory, where he tag teamed with Ed Leslie (later known as Brutus Beefcake) as Terry and Ed Boulder.
These early matches as a tag team with the surname Boulder being used by both men prompted a rumor among wrestling fans unaware of the inner workings of the sport that Hogan and Beefcake were brothers, as few people actually knew their real names outside of immediate friends, family, and of course the various promoters the two worked for.
During this time, he appeared on a talk show, where he sat beside Lou Ferrigno, star of the television series The Incredible Hulk.
At this time, Hogan wrestled Bob Backlund for the WWF Championship, and he started his first big feud with André the Giant, which culminated in a match with André at Shea Stadium.
Hulk Hogan claims in his autobiography that he and André the Giant were the reason for the Shea gate.
Many of the wrestlers who competed in the Florida territory at that time visited the bars where Hogan was performing.
He then attended the University of South Florida, of which he later dropped out; he spent most of his time at a local gym, where he met pro wrestler Mike Graham, the son of legendary wrestler and National Wrestling Alliance president Eddie Graham.Using "Eye of the Tiger" as his theme music, Hogan soon became the promotion's top babyface, and throughout 1983, he engaged in a big feud against AWA World Champion Nick Bockwinkel and his manager Bobby Heenan.Gagne, however, continued to tease the AWA audience by booking numerous screwjobs meant to keep the championship with Bockwinkel, who was a veteran of the territory and had assumed the mantle of the organization's centerpiece following Gagne's retirement from active competition.It was at one of those wrestling cards where he first turned his attention towards "Superstar" Billy Graham and looked to him for inspiration.Hogan was also a skilled musician, spending ten years playing bass guitar in several Florida-based rock bands.The host commented how Terry, who stood 6 ft 7 in and weighed 295 pounds with 24 inch biceps, actually dwarfed "the Hulk." As a result, Bollea began performing as Terry "The Hulk" Boulder and sometimes wrestled as Sterling Golden.