Piper is no doubt a legend in pro wrestling, but trying to build up Piper as Hogan's equal is the most asinine comparison in wrestling history. No wrestling fan in history ever saw Piper as Hogan's equal. There are so many guys that would be brought up as Hogan's rival in those days before Piper: Savage, Warrior, Flair, and Andre are at least worthy adversaries. Since Hogan was King of WWE at that time and Piper never had a singles feud against him, he's more on the level of guys like Mr. Perfect. That is not meant as an insult as both Piper and Mr. Perfect were incredible talents that had a ton of influence on the pro wrestling as a whole.
And it's not like Piper was ever a great champion. Yes, he did have the Intercontinental Title, a belt held by guys like Macho Man Randy Savage, Rick Rude, and the Ultimate Warrior. Of course, the title had taken a major step backwards by the time Piper won it, as he beat The Mountie to take the title. That's right, The Mountie.
Weirdly, the match wasn't for the title, which I'm not even sure was good, because it meant that the victory meant nothing except for Piper calling himself an icon in every sentence he spoke for the rest of his time in WCW. It was so brutal that I am getting physically ill bringing these memories back. This was well past the point where Piper brought his A-game on the microphone, and Hogan was rarely effective in public speaking, so it lead to a lot of moments that are tough to watch.
Piper may have been great, but he never deserved a clean victory over Hogan (he probably didn't even deserve a dirty win over Hogan). But credit where credit is due; They Live is one of the great films of the 1980s, and that will always give Piper a special place in my heart.
If you're looking for a tl;dr version of this story, this video perfectly sums it up: