Hulk Hogan WWE Return Imminent?
The WWE return of the iconic Hulk Hogan is seemingly imminent.
According to this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Hogan and Vince McMahon have been in negotiations for the Hulkster’s return to the company. Sources close to the situation note that it is a case of when, not if he will be back.
Hogan was released from his WWE contract in July 2015, following the leak of an audio clip from a conversation with Heather Clem in 2007 where he was heard making racist remarks. While nobody defended what Hogan said, there was a degree of sympathy for him from some because he thought the conversation was private and had no idea it was being filmed.
Always incredible PR sensitive, WWE acted immediately to terminate Hogan’s contract when the news broke, releasing a statement which read:
“WWE is committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds as demonstrated by the diversity of our employees, performers and fans worldwide.”
WWE immediately set about scrubbing Hogan from its history – as if fans would suddenly magically forget about his everlasting legacy with the company – by removing all mention of him from WWE.com and putting his name on the “banned list” (alongside words like “steroids”, “belt”, “Chris Benoit” and “murder”).
As soon as the furore over the incident died down, WWE relaxed their rule somewhat. Hogan’s name suddenly began cropping up more, leading to speculation that his return to the company was on the horizon. Hogan’s presence in Orlando during WrestleMania weekend this year led to most expecting him to return on the supershow, but he was only in the city to launch a new branch of his Hulk Hogan’s Beach Shop and did not make an appearance.
Now, it seems WWE feels the dust has settled enough that they can bring Hogan back. There is still concern within the company that there could be an advertiser backlash or that a stream of negative publicity could follow, though the story is old news and unlikely to be picked up by the mainstream press.
There is a precedent here. Hogan was asked by Vince McMahon to step away from the ring for a while in 1992 following the fallout from his disastrous appearance on the Arsenio Hall Show. Hogan so vehemently denied steroid use that ex-grapplers with an axe to grind against him came out of the woodwork to call him a liar, leading to a PR disaster for WWE that led to the steroid trial against the company. When the media got bored of the story and moved on, Hogan was brought back.
There will be some who think Hogan should never be brought back because his comments were too reprehensible to forgive. Then there are others who feel that he said those things over a decade ago in private and that what he said is not an accurate portrayal of who he is as a person, pointing to plenty of evidence to the contrary to back that up. Regardless, the return of Hogan is going to happen sooner rather than later, the only question remaining is what his role will be.