Hours prior to comments Hulk Hogan made about being a racist hit the Internet, the WWE swiftly distanced itself from the icon. Rumors swirl that more of the cord may be cut, including the WWE Hall of Fame.
The company started first by removing all merchandise of Hulk from the website. The company also removed his name as a search term and further, removed Hulk from the Hall of Fame page. This is where things got real interesting, because while many understood the immediate drastic reaction, insinuating that Hogan would be removed from the Hall of Fame touched a nerve with even the most disappointed Hogan supporters.
I am still trying to wrap my head around this entire thing. As a kid who grew up in the Hulkamania era, watching his first WWF title defense live at the Spectrum against the Masked Superstar, I always had a fondness for the Hulkster. Even when his haters ripped him apart for his alleged political manipulations in WCW and TNA, I stood by the Hulk. I never grew tired of seeing him cut his “Brother” promos whether he was wearing black and white or red and yellow, just the same way I sacrifice watching a crazy Ric Flair just to watch Ric Flair. However, at the end of the day this story has little to do with the “Hogan Chill” I experienced many times in 1984 and all about the world we live in today.
There are a lot of things that Hulk could have recovered from, including using the racial slurs. Many celebrities and athletes have been caught using racial slurs on tape only to recover as if nothing happened at all. Yet the one thing you can’t help but take away from that tape is Hogan saying he is a racist. Those celebrities may have used those words, but they all came out and said they weren’t racist. No matter what you think of Hulk, no matter how much you want to defend him, the one thing you can’t say is that he isn’t a racist when indeed on that particular day he says he is a little racist. Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t, but that is just something the world’s greatest publicity company couldn’t save him from.
At the same time, there is a part of me that wants the Hulk to get a chance to redeem himself. Did the WWE waste a golden learning opportunity? It’s ironic but if you think about it, he would have been better off caught on tape for domestic abuse than admitting he is a little racist. Look at all of the athletes and celebrities who are on our radio and televisions today, cheered and admired for their talents with no regard for their domestic abuse history. Not even the pictures of these celebrities either caught in the act or of their bruised up victims can stop a number one pop hit or a run at a Super Bowl. Yet the guy that is probably responsible only behind Vince McMahon for making the WWE a world-wide conglomerate didn’t even get the chance to say he was sorry.
This brings me to the Hall of Fame. The second that the WWE allowed a convicted, yes convicted rapist into their Hall of Fame, all bets were off. You can search for Mike Tyson on the WWE website but not Hulk Hogan? What about Jimmy Snuka? His indiscretions are easily searchable online. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger has had plenty of allegations leveled against him which are easily found online. For goodness sakes, one of the most powerful people in the company has been accused on more than one occasion of suing the “N-word” to talent. That guy incidentally is rumored to be going into the Hall of Fame next year. Has anyone spent five minutes on YouTube watching some of the Ultimate Warrior’s greatest hits outside of the ring? This isn’t a rose garden full of Nobel Peace Prize winners.
I can’t say I blame the WWE from terminating him (although to be fair Hogan’s attorney claims that it was Hogan who resigned). Hogan said what he said and whether he didn’t know they were going to be public or not, he has to face the consequences of his own words. Yet if the WWE is going to place more value on someone’s moral values than their in-ring contributions on Hall of Fame inductions, they may as well blow the whole thing up altogether.