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Should WWE have brought back Hulk Hogan?

There have been a few successful wrestlers over the years that have turned their fame into a dynasty, but not one can match Hulk Hogan. The single most popular wrestler of the 80’s and 90’s, he still commands huge sums of cash to this day at the tender age of 67.

But does his fame and success really spare him from the punishment that racism should procure? The WWE certainly thinks so as he still holds a contract with them since his 2015 scandal, or was everything just blown out of proportion and they’re sticking beside their man?

What Exactly Happened?

The problem was that Hogan had an affair with another man’s wife and by all accounts, her husband taped the act. Parts of the tape were leaked online by gossip site gawker.com and the parts they chose to share included a clip of Hogan speaking derogatory towards African Americans and using the “n” word.

Now, when this got out back in 2012, obviously it was huge news and by the time it went through the courts, Hogan accepted a settlement and was $31 million the richer. But what it did to him professionally was worth a lot more than that.

Suddenly, Hogan’s racism was big news and when reporters sniff out a story, it’s amazing what can come out. A taped phone call between Hogan and his son in prison surfaced with racist language also came to light. Further suggestion that homophobic slurs were on said sex tape were also made public. All of a sudden, this isn’t just one incident being talked about.

The Knock-on Effect

The fact that there was a sex tape and an affair was nearly good publicity for Hogan. Let’s be honest, there isn’t many that haven’t benefited from a tape to go askew. But the racist and homophobic remarks have led many to doubt the otherwise good intentions of Hogan’s character. When the WWE pulled his contract, many fans were heartbroken, yet felt that justice had prevailed.

The WWE has a staunch “no tolerance approach to racism” and although many black wrestlers expressed support for Hogan, his image and merchandise was all but erased from wrestling. Martel ceased production of his action figures which were still huge sellers years after his prime. Other large retail chains stopped stocking his toys and merchandise too, like Walmart and Target. His name was even pulled from the WWE Hall of Fame.

It seemed that no-one was immune to the repercussions of racism no matter how much they had given to the sport. Brands and companies are extremely sensitive to such rhetoric these days as they try to come closer to consumers on social issues. All kinds of campaigns have been stopped in cases of bigotry by the face of the campaign. TV production houses, online conglomerates, German casinos, food producers and many others try to shield themselves from such negative personalities and negative publicity.  Consumers also tend to publicly shame companies, even for inaction. Hulk Hogan was risking considerable present and future promo and sponsorship contracts.

WWE Backflip

Fast forward to 2018 and out of the blue, Hulk Hogan is suddenly back in the Hall of Fame. The HBO documentary Andre the Giant was naturally helped by the WWE and Hogan made many appearances in its marketing. They stated that although Hogan was an important part of Andre’s history, the WWE had no intention of rehiring him again.

That made sense, he was a big piece in Andre’s professional puzzle, and after all that he had done for the sport, maybe a three-year hiatus from the Hall of Fame was enough punishment. But it’s hardly a zero tolerance on racism! If you are going to make a stand, don’t renege on it three years later. It makes people think that the punishment for racism is only a three-year sentence.

The Hulkster in the WWE?

So, the WWE had been using Hogan as some form of guest host so to speak for the past while, to bad reviews. Booing has been frequent and is seems that the fans have not forgotten his mistakes even if the WWE has. But things got a little more real recently when the Hulkster co-hosted WrestleMania 37 with Titus O’Neil. Partnering Hogan with a man of African descent may have looked like a good idea up in the fancy drawing room of the WWE, but the reality looked forced.

The ploy backfired and fans made their feeling well known when booing erupted in the crowds whenever Hogan took to the mike. And if Hogan was going to be accepted anywhere it would be WrestleMania 37 which was held in Tampa, FL, Hulk’s hometown. If that isn’t a clear sign for the WWE, nothing is.

Conclusion

Hulk Hogan has done more and given more to the sport of wrestling than any other man alive. He is the single most famous athlete the sport has produced and used that fame to benefit thousands of people. From Make A Wish appearances to his 50 Legs amputee cause, he is one of the most charitable wrestlers of all time.

But, unfortunately, he made a remark that is not OK. If you’re going to allow childhood heroes to flout the rules that others abide by, then how can you call them heroes. The WWE needs to man up and make the decision that for all the good Hogan did in his career, the fans will not tolerate him any longer, no matter how much money the WWE makes from him.

Or are we really in a world where racism can be bought and paid for so easily?

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