Just days after the death of legendary interviewer Mean Gene Okerlund, WWE has announced that disgraced former star Hulk Hogan will return to Monday Night Raw on January 7th to pay tribute to his friend and former co-worker. The move, according to WWE's announcement, has everything to do with honoring the late Okerlund, and presumably nothing to do with WWE's desperate attempts to boost falling ratings.
"Let me tell you something, 'Mean' Gene …"
So began many of Hulk Hogan's most memorable proclamations, making interviewer and backstage personality "Mean" Gene Okerlund a cornerstone of Hulkamania in the 1980s. Now, in the wake of Okerlund's recent passing, Hogan returns to WWE programming this Monday night on Raw to honor his longtime friend.
In a Twitter post Tuesday night, Hogan called "Mean" Gene "the best partner I ever had" while describing their incredible off-the-cuff chemistry during their backstage interviews. That synchronicity even led to an unusual tag team partnership when Hogan and Okerlund battled George "The Animal" Steele and Mr. Fuji in 1984. Their training sessions before that match, which can be seen below, were perhaps even more entertaining than the bout itself.
Hogan and Okerlund's friendship spanned the decades, from WWE to WCW and back to WWE. On Monday night, Hogan honors his brother.
Don't miss this milestone moment on Monday Night Raw, beginning at 8/7 C on USA Network.
Hogan, one of the biggest stars in WWE history, was fired from the company in 2015 after audio surfaced from a secretly recorded sex tape with the wife of Florida radio shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge in which Hogan was heard to repeatedly use the n-word, complain about his daughter having sex with a Black man but that he'd be more okay with it if the Black man were taller and richer, and literally say that he's racist.
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.
Hogan spent several years in exile after the incident, which was part of a legal feud between conservative Paypal billionaire Peter Thiel, who funded Hogan's legal response to the sex tape's release, and the website Gawker, which originally published video from the tape. The audio was leaked to tabloids amidst Hogan's Gawker lawsuit.
But in 2018, WWE and Hogan began making overtures toward a Hogan return, beginning with an appearance by Hogan at the premiere of HBO's Andre the Giant documentary, and with WWE promising that they would only work with Hogan in the capacity of helping others learn from his mistakes. Hogan, for his part, apologized for what he called "a few misspoken words" and was eventually reinstated into the WWE Hall of Fame and then appeared at WWE's controversial Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia. After the appearance, of which it remains unclear how it helped anyone learn from his mistakes, Hogan apologized again, but this time, for being too jacked, brother.
So whatcha gonna do, WWE Universe, when Hulkamania runs wild over WWE's televised programming again? Will you tune in?