The status of pop culture icon is reserved for a relatively small echelon of athletes and performers and Hulk Hogan, WWE’s standout star of pro wrestling’s Golden Age, has lived much of his life within that elite fold. Although the 62-year-old Hogan has fallen on hard times as of late, he is already working to reconnect with fans and improve his tarnished public image. The Hulkster recently announced his first public appearance since audio of a racist rant emerged in late July. According to Inside Pulse, Hulk Hogan will host a “meet-and-greet” at his Florida restaurant, with admission fees ranging from $50.00 for children to $125.00 for a family of three.
Hogan’s recent fall from grace stems from an epithet-ridden tirade that was brought to light through the release of an unauthorized recording. The offensive comments, which were roundly condemned by many of the wrestler’s fans and peers, ultimately led to Hogan’s termination from WWE. Hulk Hogan later released a statement apologizing for his actions. While it will undoubtedly be a long road to win back the hearts and minds of many of his fans, the incident isn’t the first time that Hogan garnered voluminous amounts of shudders and eye rolls from audiences. While any person who is miked up and in front of a camera for hours upon hours each day is bound to stumble every so often, Hulk Hogan has racked up his share of doozies over the course of his storied career, including some of the not-so-golden moments noted below.
5. The Superdome or The Silverdome?
WWE tapped The Immortal One to kick things off for WrestleMania 30, and fans who packed the Superdome in New Orleans were certainly pumped to see Hulk Hogan on hand for the event. But things got a little embarrassing when Hogan went on and on in front of an audience of millions upon millions about how psyched he was to be at the Silverdome, which is actually in Pontiac, Michigan. It is perhaps a safe bet that Hogan stuck in the memory of his epic clash with Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III. Whatever the case, Hogan was saved by The Rock and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, who joined Hulk in the ring for the segment and turned Hogan’s error into a joke that won back the fans. For Hulk Hogan’s part, he later blamed Stephanie McMahon for the mistake, claiming she had distracted him backstage before he went out to the ring for the segment.
4. Hulk Hogan Joins TNA
Typically a fixture in WWE, Hulk Hogan stunned the wrestling world when he signed with TNA in 2009. Although Dixie Carter and company got a short-term ratings boost by bringing Hogan on board, his stint in TNA is largely regarded in hindsight as a critical and commercial flop. Major changes that were instituted during this period — including the demise of TNA’s six-sided ring and a brief attempt at reigniting the Monday Night Wars — were eventually reversed. The exorbitant salaries paid out to Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, and others are blamed by some as the precursor to TNA’s current financial struggles. Even Hogan himself didn’t seem to keen to hitch his legacy to TNA at times during his run, teasing a return to action against Sting while taking care to point out that he wasn’t actually wrestling a “match” for the company. The move was interpreted by many as Hogan holding out to wrestle his final match in WWE. Hogan’s exit from TNA was among the most hard-to-watch moments of his time there, with TNA president Dixie Carter wrapping herself around Hulk’s leg as he walked out of the venue.
3. Hulk Trashes Paralyzed Victim of Son Nick’s DUI Accident
Hulk Hogan’s son, Nick Bollea, who spent several months in jail in 2008 on charges regarding an alcohol-related car accident, spoke often with his dad during the course of his incarceration. Unbeknownst to the two men, their conversations, which included musings on the circumstances behind Nick’s incarceration, were recorded by the Pinellas County Jail. Some of their chats were eventually leaked to the public, including a disturbing exchange between the men in which Hulk Hogan blames John Graziano, Nick’s former friend, for the accident. Graziano, who was a Nick’s passenger in the one-car crack-up, was paralyzed and suffered brain damage as a result of the accident.
“I don’t know what type of person John was or what he did to get himself in the situation. I know he was pretty aggressive and used to yell at people and used to do stuff. For some reason, man, God laid some heavy s**t on that kid, man. I don’t know what he was into.”
2. “He was my best friend.”
When wrestling legend “Rowdy” Roddy Piper passed away suddenly at the age of 61, Hulk Hogan was mired in the above-noted controversy regarding his use of racial slurs. Nevertheless, Hogan released a statement expressing his condolences, also lamenting that Piper was his “best friend.” His lofty characterization of their relationship led some fans to consider Hogan’s remarks as a tad self-serving, particularly as Hogan and his family have described many other men as his “best friend” over the course of recent years, including Mr. T, Brutus “The Barber” beefcake, and radio shock-jock Bubba the Love Sponge. Indeed, Hogan was already seen as something of an opportunistic and fair-weather friend by many when he inducted “Macho Man” Randy Savage, posthumously, into WWE’s Hall of Fame in 2013, as the two men had been on the outs for many years prior to Savage’s unfortunate passing. While Savage maintained that he and Hogan were never friends, that didn’t stop Hulk from referring to Randy as “my good friend” during the induction speech.
1. That Horrible, Horrible Video
No stranger to the limelight, both as an actor and through WWE, Hulk Hogan could have landed a role in the 2014 comedy We Made A Sex Tape — assuming that he had actually wanted to be on film for his between-the-sheets romp with Heather Clem, the ex-wife of his now-former BFF, Bubba the Love Sponge. Aside from the unseemly realities of a sexual escapade involving a 59-year-old man, the episode is especially cringeworthy in that Hogan engages in some awkward shenanigans, including some pre-foreplay banter over whether or not he ate too much sushi for dinner and a point at which he hits the pause button on the romantic goings-on to check his cell phone. The release of the video by Gawker prompted a $100 million lawsuit from Hulk Hogan, and during the course of that pending litigation, Hogan’s racist rants were leaked, causing immeasurable damage to Hulk Hogan’s WWE career and his legacy as a world renowned superstar and role model.
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