It looks like WWE chairman Vince McMahon has something big planned for this year’s WrestleMania, although it’s not completely clear what his big plan is. Could it be the return of Finn Balor? Or will it be the main roster debut of former NXT Champion Shinsuke Nakamura? Sadly, the answer to both of those questions, for now, is no.
On Thursday, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter was asked about Vince McMahon’s rumored “big surprise” for WrestleMania 33, and he responded by saying, “I would expect Hogan.”
We’ve been hearing about the possible return of Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 33 for several months now, and WWE has clearly been laying the groundwork for his return for quite a while, as they’ve brought up his name on television more than once.
Hogan was released by WWE in the summer of 2015 following a racist rant which was caught on tape. Since then, Hogan has asked for forgiveness, saying that he was going through a very dark period in his life when the tape was recorded.
When Hogan returned to WWE in early 2014 as the host of WrestleMania 30, he began campaigning for at least one more match with the company, but they never allowed him to wrestle.
Before he was released, Hogan said that he told Vince McMahon that he was going to return to the ring at WrestleMania 32, and that the WWE chairman responded by saying, “I’m looking forward to it.” Of course, we’ll never know if the plan was for Hogan to return to action at last year’s show because he was released nine months before it happened.
In recent years, Vince McMahon hasn’t been a big fan of letting guys who are past a certain age wrestle. Why? Well, the answer is simple: Jerry Lawler. In September of 2012, Lawler, who was 62 at the time, suffered a heart attack following a tag-team match during an episode of Raw, and he nearly died. In fact, he was reportedly dead for 20 minutes.
As far as we know, Hogan doesn’t have any outstanding cardiovascular issues, but neither did Lawler at the time of his heart attack. So, it’s easy to see why Vince McMahon has his qualms about letting guys north of 60 wrestle.
Hogan does, however, have a long history of back issues, as he’s had more than 10 operations on his back. His issues stem from him using his popular finishing move, “The Leg Drop of Doom,” for the entirety of his pro wrestling career. Essentially, Hogan jumping up in the air and landing on his butt did a number on his spine.
If Hogan is the aforementioned big surprise at WrestleMania 33, it’ll be interesting to see how WWE uses him. If he is going to wrestle on the show, the best possible scenario for him will be the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, simply because he won’t have to do much of anything in the match. They could also book him to win it, which would undoubtedly get a huge response from the crowd in Orlando, Florida.
As of this writing, we don’t really know what the WrestleMania 33 card will look like. Of course, we know what the top matches will be — Bill Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar, Triple H vs. Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho, and Shaquille O’Neal vs. Big Show — but everything else seems like it’s up in the air. We’ll know more about the event as we get closer to April 2, and by then, we should know if Hulk Hogan will return at this year’s WrestleMania.
[Featured Image by WWE]