By now, it’s no secret that Hulk Hogan has a legacy that is, at best, controversial.
Sure, he’s one of the reasons that wrestling as we know it today exists — but much of what people know about him in the world of wrestling, today, has to do with an unfortunate incident involving a sex tape and his best friend’s wife, and taking down one of the most ubiquitous digital media companies in the world.
This is not to say that either of these incidents are things that are simply to be shrugged off. To the contrary: what Hulk Hogan said on the tape in question was inexcusable, and the notion that the free press can be challenged (and, ultimately, bankrupted) by a former wrestler with deep pockets is frightening.
However, given the grand scope of things — given how much Hulk Hogan has done for the proverbial culture of wrestling — is it really fair to wipe his name from the history books, let alone not give him an opportunity to mount a comeback and to make things right?
Yo Jennifer I know but today is really “ARM DAY” brother HH pic.twitter.com/7eGEM9W09d
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) February 11, 2018
Hulk Hogan: Before the Controversy
As of last month, the official WWE statement on a possible Hulk Hogan return remained the same as it had been since he was first terminated from the company in 2015: “At this time, WWE remains committed to its decision.”
However, as was previously reported by the Inquisitr, Hogan (born Terry Gene Bollea) recently made a public appearance with fellow WWE legend Ric Flair, where he talked about the potential of returning to the WWE and “changing the last story,” specifically by correcting a lot of wrongs that, ultimately, led him to not only be fired from the company, but to have his name removed from the WWE Hall of Fame, and to have all mention of him removed from the WWE website and other sundry connections.
This was far from a noble end for a man that IGN called “the most recognized wrestling star worldwide and the most popular wrestler of the 1980s.” This was far from a proper way to honor the first wrestler to win two consecutive Royal Rumbles, and far from a proper way to give respect to a man who was a six-time WWF World Heavyweight Champion/WWF Champion (with his last reign being as Undisputed WWF/WWE Champion) and a six-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion.
Most of all, this was an especially interesting (and, frankly, traitorous) move on the part of Vince McMahon, especially since Hulk Hogan was — in a very real way — responsible for helping torpedo the United States government’s case against Vince McMahon. According to the New York Times, in 1994, Vince McMahon was the subject of a Federal lawsuit, where he was charged with illegally providing steroids to the wrestler-performers under contract with the then-WWF. At that time, Hogan testified that, while anabolic steroid use was common amongst wrestlers (and that he, himself, used them from time to time over the course of his career), McMahon had neither sold him the drugs, nor ordered him to take them. The evidence given by Hogan proved extremely costly to the government’s case against McMahon, and thanks to Hogan’s testimony (along with other jurisdictional issues), McMahon was found not guilty.
Friday night on North Beach with my baby HH pic.twitter.com/X9eeHtno02
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) February 9, 2018
Hulk Hogan: What Now?
None of this, of course, negates the fact that what Hulk Hogan said on tape was, frankly, pretty awful. Shouting the N-word, and justifying it by saying “I guess we’re all a little racist,” simply because you don’t like the fact that your daughter is dating a black man, is — at best — ignorance at its finest. (It can also be successfully argued that this is Florida living at its finest, since Florida is a state that is notorious for the strange and unusual.)
However — and, perhaps, this is the big “however” — many a wrestler has stayed on with the WWE after doing, and saying, a lot worse than what Hulk Hogan did. Whatever he was doing with his best friend’s wife — whether on tape or not — was irrelevant and secondary, and should have remained between Hogan, his best friend, and his best friend’s wife. He had a reasonable expectation of privacy when he was, uh, performing with his best friend’s wife — they weren’t making a professional sex tape with the intention of marketing it for sale, they were recording a private act that they intended to keep amongst themselves. (And it’s this very argument that helped Hogan successfully bankrupt the once-indomitable Gawker Media.)
Should Hulk Hogan have said the N-word? No. Absolutely not. And there’s no justification whatsoever for him to say it.
30 yrs later I still can’t tell which one is Earl or who is Dave but it’s still the greatest story driven finish of all time!! Thank you me!!! Lol, I love that fans still talk about it. HH pic.twitter.com/wzUDAGbnQ8
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) February 6, 2018
However, as human beings, we’re all subjected to “falling down” and coming up short of expectations of us, and professional athletes/celebrities are no different. Also, there is the possibility that we — as wrestling fans — conflated “Hulk Hogan,” the icon, with “Terry Gene Bollea,” the man. Much in the same way that some people can’t accept the fact that Bill Cosby and Dr. Huxtable aren’t one in the same, some wrestling fans can’t accept that the man we all know as Hulk Hogan doesn’t live by the motto of “eat your vitamins and say your prayers.”
With that said, every sinner has a future, and every saint has a past. Hulk Hogan shouldn’t be defined by his worst moment — a man, a wrestler, and a performer of his caliber deserves a second chance to “change the story” with the WWE, and make it right once and for all.