WWE Continuing To Lay The Groundwork For Hulk Hogan's Return

Aaron Sass

It's been a little over one year since WWE fired Hulk Hogan after Radar Online released a transcript of him going on a racial tirade. After the WWE Hall of Famer was fired, most believed that it was only a matter of time before the company would decide to bring him back, and it's now looking like his WWE return could come sooner rather than later. In fact, he could make his return to the company at next April's WrestleMania 33 in Orlando, Florida.

During Sunday's Clash of Champions pay-per-view, WWE aired a commercial which featured Hulk Hogan's voice. It wasn't a new commercial, as WWE has been running it for a little over two weeks now. But the fact that they're willing to run a commercial that prominently features Hogan suggests that they're setting up his return to the company.

On the post-Clash of Champions edition of Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer said that the commercial is WWE's way of trying to ease him back into the company, and that they've also put together several more commercials which will feature "The Hulkster."

"They've played this commercial for two weeks now. They've filmed some commercials with Hulk Hogan -- not with him personally, but they've filmed Hulk Hogan commercials. So they're trying to ease him in for sure."

WWE did somewhat test what Hogan could do physically at WrestleMania 31, as he took a bump after being posted during the Triple H vs. Sting match. Of course, WWE was hesitant to let him do anything physically due to the amount of back surgeries that "The Hulkster" has had. But, he was proved that he was still able to take a bump during his WrestleMania 31 run-in. Now, does that mean that he'll wrestle again when he returns to the company? It's hard to say. Vince McMahon hasn't been too keen on having guys north of 60 wrestle ever since Jerry "The King" Lawler suffered a heart attack shortly after wrestling on Raw in 2012.

Hogan, who is 63, hasn't wrestled a match under the WWE banner in a little over ten years. His last match in the company was back at SummerSlam in 2006, where he defeated Randy Orton. He didn't end up leaving the company for TNA until a few years later, and WWE was trying to set up a match between him and Steve Austin before he parted ways with them, but the "Texas Rattlesnake" wasn't all that interested in wrestling again.

As previously mentioned, the common belief is that Hogan will be back in time for WrestleMania 33. What will his role be there? Well, that's a hard question to answer. He already did the host thing back at WrestleMania 30, so he can't do that again, and he did a run in as a member of the New World Order at WrestleMania 31, and that probably won't happen again because WWE wouldn't be able to set up a match that would call for an NWO run in.

If WWE does let him wrestle again, many have suggested that they should put him in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal and have him win it, which is something that makes a ton of sense, because he'd probably have a hard time having a decent singles match, unless he was in the ring with someone like Seth Rollins.

[Featured Image via Raoul Gatchalian/AP Images]