Hulk Hogan is back in the WWE, and honestly, I don’t know how I feel about it. His return was inevitable from the moment he was released from the company three years ago due to his racist rant being caught on tape. The history of Hogan and WWE, under the leadership of Vince McMahon Jr., are woven together. You cannot tell the story of one without the other.
News of Hulk Hogan’s return broke yesterday afternoon when WWE announced he had been reinstated into the Hall of Fame. Hogan’s return was framed by his numerous public apologies, volunteer work, and his recent induction into the Boys & Girls Club of America’s Alumni Hall of Fame.
The Hulkster is the most iconic name the industry has ever produced. He was a hero to millions of children who are now grown up and still have fond memories of red and yellow leg drops atop giants and savages. Not bringing Hogan back at all would leave too much money on the table. If WWE didn’t do it, someone else would have. Heck, New Japan already tried.
All of this paves the way for Hogan’s return to WWE programming. The company is already working on a special to air on the WWE Network and filmed Hogan’s apology to the locker room, at last night’s Extreme Rules pay-per-view.
Speaking as a 37-year old person of color who idolized Hulk Hogan as a kid, part of me is disappointed to see him return. Surprised? Not at all. Another part of me is happy for those who have found joy in his return. After all, Hogan is not the first celebrity to get caught saying stupid things.
I’ve spoken to several people of color on this issue. Some have told me Hogan could kiss their black behind while others have been able to compartmentalize the situation by separating Hulk Hogan from Terry Bollea. The character is the entity they paid to see or gather around the television to watch. The man is just some blonde haired racist dude from Florida.
After all, there are still die-hard wrestling fans who celebrate the in-ring brilliance of Chris Benoit even though he murdered his wife and youngest child. I’m not at all saying what Hogan did was anywhere near as bad as the atrocity Benoit committed. I’m pointing this out because it shows that human beings have a unique capacity to justify anything.
Will I coldcock the next white person who happens to sit next to me wearing a Hulkamania shirt? Of course not. Will I wonder if that person is somewhat racist? Yes, I will. That might seem unfair, but we’re all adults, and this is what comes with supporting Hulk Hogan in 2018: giving new meaning to the term “Hulk Rules”.