The wrestling legend Hulk Hogan hadn’t appeared on WWE’s Monday Night RAW for over three years following the controversy over racist comments that cost him his WWE legends contract in 2015. But the Hulkster was reinstated to the Hall last summer, made an appearance at WWE’s infamous Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia late last year, and finally returned to RAW Monday night to pay tribute to the late announcer “Mean” Gene Okerlund.
Okerlund’s work as a wrestling announcer was often associated with Hogan, both during the wrestler’s “Hulkamania” run in the 1980s and his time with the NWO in WCW in the 1990s. The two had even worked together in the AWA in the early 1980s. So when WWE paid tribute to Mean Gene, who passed away last week at age 76, Hogan was brought in to honor his late friend.
WWE’s tribute to Okerlund began with a 10-bell salute, which is the wrestling world’s traditional way of honoring wrestling figures who have passed away. Then Hogan came to the ring, accompanied by his longtime theme song “Real American.”
Wearing a shirt that said “Mean-Gene-O-Mania,” Hogan began the speech with his usual catchphrase, “well let me tell you something, brother!”
“I came out there wide open tonight, in character, because that’s exactly how Mean Gene would have wanted it,” Hogan said in the ring. “I want to let all you guys know. Mean Gene loved entertaining, and he loved entertaining everybody here in the WWE universe. Mean Gene loved entertaining more than anything he did.”
“Being out here in the ring without Mean Gene… he’s not here, but he is right here,” Hogan said, pointing at his heart. “I love you Mean Gene, and I miss you,” he added, as the crowd began to chant “Thank you Mean Gene.” He then reverted back to character.
“Well let me tell you something, Mean Gene,” he said, pointing to the video board image of a tuxedo-clad Okerlund. “I know exactly what you’re doing, brother- you’re up there, and all the angels up there are singing ‘Tutti Frutti’ on top of those big white clouds. I know you’re putting the biggest tag match together brother, the tag match between the Macho Man – ooooh yea- Randy Savage, and the Ultimate Warrior, versus Rowdy Roddy Piper and Mr. Perfect,” Hogan said, referring to his contemporaries of his who have also passed away. “And I also know that Andre The Giant is a special referee, brother. And I also know that you’re breaking up a fight between your close personal friends Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan.”
He concluded by asking, “Watcha gonna do, when Mean Gene-o-mania runs wild on you, brother?”
Hogan’s estrangement from WWE began in 2015 when, as fallout from the sex tape scandal that led to his lawsuit from Gawker, a portion of the tape emerged in which the wrestler used racial slurs. The 65-year-old Hogan, who is no longer an active wrestler, was reinstated in July of last year, about three years after the original ban, per the Washington Post.