Should Hulkamania run wild again?
When you ask the average person, wrestling fan or not, “who is the first person that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘wrestling’?”, a vast majority will probably say Hulk Hogan. Throughout the 80's Hulkamania took over professional wrestling and completely revolutionized the industry altogether.
After the success of Wrestlemania, it was suddenly no longer taboo to be a wrestling fan. With the success of Wrestlemania, there was one primary driving force and that force was known as Hulk Hogan.
Over the course of his iconic career, Hogan was undoubtedly the cream of the crop, as far as top wrestling acts are concerned. Main event rivalries with The Ultimate Warrior and Macho Man Randy Savage helped skyrocket the WWF into a realm of success that not even the late Vince McMahon Sr. could predict.
During this time, pro wrestling went mainstream and began to get coverage worldwide, on networks like ESPN and even well-known newspaper publications were publishing news and results from around the industry.
After the steam settled from the Golden Era, along came a strong push by WCW and while most fans still remember that night at The Mall of America when WCW Nitro kicked off, it was what happened 20 years ago at the 1996 Bash at the Beach that still gets discussed to this very day.
It was the heel turn heard 'round the world. As Hulk Hogan made his way to the ring, the fans cheered as the most loved babyface of all time was coming to the aid of his fellow good guys. However, the events that happened when he stepped through the ropes that shocked and entire world.
The nWo was born on that night and every single thing you thought you knew about professional wrestling changed in an instant. Bottles and other debris flew from the stands as fans finally came to grips with what was happening right before their very eyes. Hulk Hogan had done the one thing that no one ever imagined The Hulkster would do, he changed teams. Hulk Hogan was a full blown heel.
Over the course of the next few years, The New World Order turned the wrestling world upside down. As the nWo was running roughshod, The Monday Night Wars came to the forefront, creating a new type of competition between the two top brands in professional wrestling, resulting in some of the most compelling television fans have ever seen.
As WWF was trying to keep Monday Night RAW atop the ratings, WCW became the first to broadcast live, which eventually put the ball right back in their court and fans gravitated to their more provocative style.
Throughout it all, Hulk Hogan remained relevant. Even in his later years, TNA solicited Hogan's services, realizing the value in his name alone, the struggling company figured they could benefit from being able to display the Hulk Hogan name and likeness on their product. With this in mind, the Immortal era of Hulk Hogan's legacy was underway.
Eventually, controversy would find its way to Hogan's doorstep by way of a secretly recorded sex tape. It wasn't long before the tape got into the wrong hands and was being viewed by the entire world, via the Internet.
However, even with the drama surrounding his life from the tape, WWE welcomed him back and before you knew it, fans were once again saying their prayers and taking their vitamins as The Hulkster flexed for all the world to see, in the middle of a WWE ring, right where he belonged. Unfortunately, another level of controversy would come his way that WWE was unable to avoid.
In 2015, a recording surfaced where Hogan could be heard using verbiage that was racially insensitive. Upon discovering this, WWE officials promptly terminated Hulk Hogan and immediately removed nearly all mentions of him entirely, including his place in the Hall of Fame. Suddenly, Hulk Hogan found himself in a dark and lonely place. He was being condemned all over the media and for the most part, WWE was praised for their swift decision making in terminating Hogan.
However, there was plenty of support for the Immortal one. Stars from all over, including Hollywood and professional sports began coming to Hulk Hogans defense. People like Dennis Rodman defended Hogan, making the following remarks: "I've known Hulk Hogan for 25 years. There isn't a racist bone in that man's body." MMA fighter Tito Ortiz said "Hulk Hogan is a real American and far from a racist. Trying to smear his name is embarrassing. We stand behind you, Hulk Hogan!"
Gawker Media was the company responsible for publishing the recordings which contained the recordings of the remarks that caused Hogan to lose his contract with WWE. Hogan would soon go after Gawker in court, citing loss of privacy, defamation among other damages. As some laughed at the idea of Hogan suing the media juggernaut, he would hold fast to his charges and in the end, a federal judge agreed that Hogans privacy had indeed been violated and sided with him, ultimately awarding Hogan over 115 million dollars.
While Hulk Hogan won in the courtroom, there's still a bigger issue that needs to be resolved. Should Hulk Hogan be allowed to make one final return to WWE and finish his career with the company that he helped build? Should his name be restored in the WWE Hall of Fame? Has he paid his debt for his actions, or should he be condemned indefinitely?
Hogan reached out and made multiple public apologies to any and everyone who was offended or affected by his remarks, which were recorded during a private conversation, nearly nine years ago. Every opportunity he gets, Hogan tells the world he is remorseful for the remarks he made and regrets what happened.
Surely everyone old enough can recall the night in the Pontiac Silverdome when The Irresistible force met the Immovable Object. There's also the aforementioned infamous heel turn from 1996 and the historic Hollywood Hogan run, as well as all of the other accolades Hogan has under his belt.
Do we seriously just forget it all happened and throw it all away, over one discretely recorded phone call? I'm sure we all have regrettable actions from our past. Just imagine someone holding your mistakes over your head and not allowing you to move on with your life, nor allowing you the opportunity to make things right.
By no means am I suggesting Hulk Hogan wasn't wrong for what he said. In fact, his remarks were absolutely deplorable. However, I just cannot, as a fan, just discount his contributions to the industry and I cannot deny the magnitude of the good he did for professional wrestling. With that said, should he be allowed to come back, stand in the middle of the ring a make an apology to the WWE Universe? As far as I'm concerned, I'm having a hard time arguing against that idea.
Let Hulkamania run wild one last time.