Kevin Eck is a former member of the WWE creative team and now blogs about pro wrestling for PressBox.
The cancelation of Roseanne Barr’s hit show May 29 as a result of her racist “joke” on Twitter got me thinking about Hulk Hogan and his relationship, or lack thereof, with WWE.
WWE severed ties with Hogan in 2015, including scrubbing him from its website, after an 8-year-old sex tape that showed him repeatedly using the N-word and making homophobic comments surfaced. However, TMZ Sports reported a few weeks ago that Hogan and WWE have been in talks recently about him returning to the company.
It will be interesting to see if WWE follows through on welcoming Hogan back into the fold in light of the Barr controversy dominating the headlines.
Personally, I hope to never see Hogan in WWE or any wrestling promotion ever again. I’m a firm believer in giving people second chances, but we’re way past that with Hogan, who has a history of saying repugnant things during what he thought were private conversations.
Back in 2008 while his teenage son, Nick, was incarcerated after entering a no-contest plea on felony reckless driving charges, a taped conversation revealed Hogan and Nick assassinating the character of Nick’s 22-year-old passenger, who had been critically injured in the crash and would remain in a vegetative state for four years. Hogan and Nick also talked about wanting to put a deal together for a reality series that would chronicle Nick’s attempt to get back on his feet after leaving jail.
After the tape was leaked, Hogan went on Larry King’s show and issued a tearful apology for his insensitive remarks, claiming that he was merely trying to lift his son’s spirits. Years later, another taped jailhouse conversation between Hogan and his son emerged. On that one, Hogan can be heard using racial slurs.
Hogan also was involved in a steroids scandal in the early 1990s. The role model for all the “little Hulkamaniacs” famously went on “The Arsenio Hall Show” to vehemently deny that he had abused steroids. A couple years later while testifying at WWE chairman Vince McMahon’s trial (McMahon was charged with conspiracy to distribute steroids but was acquitted by a federal jury), Hogan admitted under oath that he had used steroids for years.
After the sex tape with Hogan using the N-word was made public, an emotional Hogan again went on TV — this time it was “Good Morning America” — to ask for forgiveness. In doing so, however, he tried to defend his use of the N-word by saying he was a product of his environment. He claimed that everyone he grew up with in South Tampa used that word and thought nothing of it.
I came away from that interview with the feeling that Hogan was simply doing damage control, just as he had done on the King and Hall shows years prior. I saw it as a classic example of someone being sorry that they were caught rather than truly regretting what they did.
I also thought Hogan’s comments to The Buffalo News a couple weeks ago were telling. When discussing his use of the N-word, Hogan said: “To those few fans who feel [hurt], I’m forever sorry.” By using the word “few” to characterize how many people are upset with him, he’s minimizing both them and his reprehensible behavior.
That said, it appears that a number of people are willing to forgive Hogan. Several celebrities have come to his defense, including men of color such as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, former boxer George Foreman and former WWE star Booker T.
When Hogan recently spoke at a Boys & Girls Club of America function and said he wanted to educate kids so that they wouldn’t repeat his mistakes, he was given a loud ovation from the crowd. Apparently the powers that be in WWE took notice.
“WWE applauds the work Hulk Hogan is doing with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to turn what was a negative into a positive by helping young people learn from his mistake,” WWE said in a statement issued to TMZ Sports.
WWE reiterated in the statement that Hogan currently isn’t under contract with WWE, but it seems to me like it’s just a matter of time before “The Hulkster” is once again flexing his 24-inch pythons on WWE TV.
I fully believe that if/when Hogan returns to WWE, he will be welcomed back by the majority of fans with open arms. I just wish they would see that Terry Bollea, the real-life person who plays the fictional Hulk Hogan the All-American hero, has proved time and again that he’s unworthy of their adulation.
The star of “No Holds Barred” deserves to be Roseanne Barr-ed.
Catch “The Hot Tag” every Wednesday on PressBoxOnline.com, and follow Kevin Eck on Twitter, @TheKevinEck.