By Kevin Gray
A few years ago, if you were to tell me that the name Hulk Hogan would be taboo in the WWE, I would have said you're nuts. Hogan was and should still be a bigger than the industry icon and the WWE is the main reason why. Whether he was telling kids in the 80's to "Say your prayers, take your vitamins, and you'll never go wrong," or telling adults in the 90's that he was bringing in the "New World Order of Wrestling, Brother," the name Hogan was just always going to be around. Hogan even found away to sneak back in after WWE bought WCW, and he had a decent run then too. Hogan was destined to be an ambassador of the WWE 4 Life, but one word uttered during a night full of bad decisions caught on tape has proven to be his downfall. Some have said he would never recover from it, but the reality is, everyone is ready to welcome him back but Hogan himself continues to push himself away.
If you can't remember, or just choose to forget, what led to Hogan's latest fall from grace, and he has had quite a few over the years, it all stems from a sex tape that was obtained by Gawker and shown to the world. The tape, which was shared on the internet illegally, violating Hogan's right to privacy, triggered a huge lawsuit that Hogan would eventually win. The cost to Gawker was over $110 million, the cost to Hogan was far greater. During the trial, it was leaked that the fact that Hogan was recorded having sex with his best friend's wife wasn't the worse thing about the tape. As he and the woman involved had a conversation, Hogan explained his frustration over who is daughter chose to date. Below is what Hogan said, according to transcripts of the tape:
“I don’t know if Brooke was f*cking the black guy’s son,” Hulk raved, the sources add.
“I mean, I don’t have double standards. I mean, I am a racist, to a point, f*cking n*ggers. But then when it comes to nice people and sh*t, and whatever.” ...
According to sources, he said: “I mean, I’d rather if she was going to f*ck some n*gger, I’d rather have her marry an 8-foot-tall n*gger worth a hundred million dollars! Like a basketball player!
“I guess we’re all a little racist. Fucking n*gger.”
Shortly after that transcript was released, Hogan was too, as the WWE terminated his contract. They even went as far as removing him from their Hall of Fame. It made sense at the time, still does today, but time usually heals all wounds. Over the past few months, the WWE has teased us with Hogan mentions and sayings, video footage and more. The WWE clearly wants him back, the wrestlers seem to want him back, and I believe fans want him back. So why isn't he back? Simply put, Hogan hasn't learned his lesson, and until he does, he will never truly be welcomed back.
Some may say he has learned from his mistakes, but if Hogan has, why does he continue to make the same one over and over again.
Recently, soon to be Hall-of-Famer Mark Henry said Hulk Hogan needs to apologize to the black wrestlers for his use of such a hurtful term. How did Hogan take this easy offer from one of WWE's most influential voices, he spit right in Henry's face. Hogan responded to Henry through TMZ saying he knows he must apologize, but not just to the black wrestlers, to all wrestlers. Hogan had a chance to do something good to kick off his road to redemption, but he instead decided that when someone essentially said "Black Wrestlers Matter", Hogan couldn't wait to reply with "No, All Wrestlers Matter." Within all of this, after almost three years, the one thing we still haven't got is a formal apology, to anyone.
When it's all said and done, I hope Hulk Hogan is once again a member of the WWE family. Hogan is the reason why my love of wrestling started, and for that I am forever grateful. He was an essential part of my childhood, just like many other fans out there, and missing him being around is ok. As much as we may want the WWE to embrace the Red & Yellow again, we have to understand that at this point, it may never happen. The WWE is a publicly traded company and does not want to align themselves with unapologetic racist. At the end of the day, no mater what he tries to say, Hogan is just that, he's unapologetic (it shouldn't take three years to say sorry) and he's a racist (by his own words). The WWE just doesn't have room for that in today's world.
Maybe things will change, maybe Hogan will see the light, but the ball is in his court. Only he can take the next step on this road to redemption. So I ask you, Mr. Hogan, What you gonna do, Brother!