WWE Hall-of-Famer Hulk Hogan is set to return to WWE Monday Night Raw tonight for a special "Legends Night" edition of Raw as WWE hopes to ring in the new year by popping a rating using the stars of the 1980s and 1990s. But when he gets there, he might not get the reception he believes befits a legend of his caliber. Hogan addressed the issue in an interview with ESPN.
"It's a mixed bag," said Hogan when asked about the treatment he receives when he shows up at events like Raw Legends Night. "Some people I get a really warm reception from. Some of the younger guys are really cold to me, like I'm coming to steal the main event. And I'm like, 'I can't do this anymore, guys! I'm not a threat!'"
Of course, it's entirely possible that WWE's current stars are worried that Hogan will replace them in the main event, assuming Hogan could main event these days without shattering a hip. But there are other reasons people might act coldly to Hogan, such as…
"Going back with all the legends will be a lot of fun," Hogan continued. "When I've gone back before by myself, there have been certain wrestlers, like Edge and Seth Rollins, that have told me to my face that the only reason they got into this business was because of me. The newer kids … I don't think they know who I am all the way?"
Uh… yeah, okay, that's possible too, we suppose. Maybe the reason "the newer kids" aren't into Hulk Hogan is because they don't know who he is. But there's another possibility too. Maybe they know who Hulk Hogan is all-to-well. Maybe The Hulkster's famous racist rant, recorded secretly as part of a cuckold sex tape leaked as part of a proxy lawsuit funded by conservative PayPal billionaire Peter Thiel to destroy the website Gawker. In the video, in which Hogan had sex with the wife of Florida radio shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge, Hogan repeatedly dropped the n-word and literally declared himself to be a racist, saying, and we quote, "I don't know if Brooke was ****ing the black guy's son. I mean, I don't have double standards. I mean, I am a racist, to a point, ****ing ****ers. But then when it comes to nice people and ****, and whatever. […] I mean, I'd rather if she was going to **** some ****er, I'd rather have her marry an 8-foot-tall ****er worth a hundred million dollars! Like a basketball player! I guess we're all a little racist. ****ing ****er."
Or, as ESPN so bravely worded it, "it has become more complicated after a tape containing racist language became public in the aftermath of his successful lawsuit against Gawker Media."
Hogan was fired from WWE in 2015 as a result of the leaked rant, but WWE began flirting with bringing him back in 2018. Around that time, Hogan had made several quasi-apologies, which consisted of referring to the rant as "a few misspoken words" and equated it with being in the wrong place at the wrong time. WWE made several statements in 2018 about bringing Hogan back only in the context of helping others learn from his mistakes. However, that reportedly consisted of a speech by Hogan to the locker room about not getting caught saying offensive things that can be used against you on social media. After that, WWE began using Hogan regularly in angles, in Saudi Arabia, and to sell merchandise or promote events. And now, the Hulkster is back once again for Raw Legends Night.
And maybe that's the reason some of WWE's current superstars are a little bit cold toward him. Or, you know, maybe it's one of those other things too. Who can tell, really?
"The wake-up call that really got me was with 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin," said Hogan, talking about the notoriously young wrestler. "We weren't really close at all, but over the last few years have become good friends. It caught me off guard when he called me one day, and we're chatting about cars or something and all of a sudden he goes, 'Damn, Hogan. I was on the internet the other day and I can't believe all the stuff you did in your career!' When Stone Cold didn't realize that I did 'The Love Boat' and Johnny Carson, then I understood why the young people didn't know."
Yeah. That probably explains it.