Here’s one of the WWE rumors that no fan of the sport wants to hear: Hulk Hogan isn’t returning, and nor should he.
Last month, the Inquisitr reported that there were some talks of bringing Hulk Hogan back into the WWE after his sex tape was released by Gawker Media. We know what’s happened since: Hogan sued the outlet, won, and drove Gawker Media and its founder, Nick Denton, into bankruptcy.
But a sex tape isn’t enough to get someone expelled from the WWE. And, of course, it wasn’t: The WWE didn’t release Hulk Hogan because of the sex tape itself, but because Hogan referred to a black man by a derogatory name (he used the n-word) on the sex tape. As an end result, the WWE stock tumbled by $50 million, leaving the WWE no choice but to remove Hogan from its ranks. A tough break, to be sure, but one that was necessary given that the WWE was losing millions of dollars.
The WWE rumors about Hogan returning to the company and possibly being reinstated into the Hall of Fame really started coming out two months ago, when SportsRageous gave wrestling fans hope about Hogan’s return after he made a special guest appearance on Monday Night Raw. At that time, Triple H said that WWE would be open to working with Hogan again, but he would have to re-establish himself before an offer could be presented.
I’m sure it’s a lot more important to him than anything else. And re-establishing who he is as a human being I’m sure is of utmost important to him, and I’m sure he’s gonna do it, and when he does, we’ll go from there.
Since then, most of the WWE rumors surrounding Hogan’s return have been confined to Twitter, where the disgraced legendary wrestler has been dropping hints about his imminent return, but he hasn’t set anything in stone as of yet.
This says it all,I know Roddy is looking down on us with that smile that means nobody knows what’s coming brother HH pic.twitter.com/unn1zQVD1c
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) July 28, 2016
As a longtime wrestling fan, it pains me to even think of this WWE rumor, but it seems to be an inevitable fact: Hulk Hogan isn’t returning to the WWE, and nor should he.
This is not an easy pill to swallow. Like many children who grew up in the 1980s, I saw — and was, in fact, part of — Hulkamania first-hand. The concept of Hulk Hogan as an all-American hero who encouraged kids to say their prayers, eat their vitamins, and respect their parents helped build wrestling into the global phenomenon that it is today. There would be no WWE and no superstar wrestlers like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, John Cena, and The Rock without Hulk Hogan. Once upon a time, Hulk Hogan was the big deal that he still thinks he is.
This isn’t a situation like The Iron Sheik — whose Twitter account is so offensive, it’s actually hilarious — who was always the heel. And, certainly, wrestlers have done worse things than Hulk Hogan has done — Jimmy “SuperFly” Snuka is currently up on murder charges (dementia notwithstanding), and Chris Benoit killed his family before killing himself — without getting expelled from the WWE or removed from the Hall of Fame. But Hulk Hogan not only got expelled from the WWE and the Hall of Fame, his entire personage has been completely stripped. To the WWE, it’s like he never even existed. Why is that?
One theory behind these WWE rumors of damnatio memoriae when it comes to “The Hulkster” is, when Hulk Hogan did what he did, he all but confirmed the worst stereotypes that people hold about wrestling. Like it or not, upper-class America views the WWE and wrestling as a sport only enjoyed by the “drawlin’ and ‘brawlin'” redneck white trash types, who consider Florida a progressive state and buy inspirational books by The Ultimate Warrior and the cast of Duck Dynasty. It’s never easy when the golden child falls from grace, but that’s precisely what Hulk Hogan has done.
With that said, perhaps this is the most shocking of all the WWE rumors: He shouldn’t go back to the WWE. Contemptible behavior notwithstanding, Hulk Hogan’s legacy in the world of wrestling had been cemented long before the WWE made it so. There is no way a New Yorker with a genius-level IQ and a penchant for all things sci-fi would have ever gotten to form an unbreakable bond with her now-late father (bless his soul) over wrestling were it not for Hulk Hogan, and I’m not the only one who feels this way.
Again, this doesn’t make what Hulk Hogan said excusable. What he said was absolutely reprehensible, and he absolutely should have been smacked back for it. But we don’t admire our artists because of their personalities or their goodwill — we admire them for their artistry. This new line of “celebrity do-gooder” is a new phenomenon, because history is littered with stories of performance artists, from Mozart to John Lennon, who were complete and utter tools in their personal and professional lives, yet were no less beloved.
Michael Novelli at the Agony Booth put it best.
“Hate Hogan all you want. Call him out for his backwards attitudes and the level of hubris that allowed him to think expressing such thoughts, even in private, would never come back to haunt him. But after all of that, you must admit that there’s more going on here.”
And, perhaps, that’s the scariest of all the WWE rumors: Hulk Hogan isn’t going to return, because he doesn’t need them in order to be Hulk Hogan.
[Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images]