WWE’s resident King and wrestling podcast host, Jerry Lawler, addressed Hulk Hogan’s potential WWE return on his most recent episode of Dinner With the King, featuring real-life Hogan manager and podcast guest, Jimmy Hart. If anybody outside of Hulk Hogan and Vince McMahon has any insight into a Hogan return, it’s probably The Mouth of the South.
Hulk Hogan has been missing from WWE programming and digital content since footage of Hogan making highly offensive racists comments leaked out in conjunction with the infamous Gawker sex tape trial. WWE went so far as to remove Hulk Hogan’s profile from their online Hall of Fame database, and did everything in their power to distance themselves from Hogan, Hulkamania, and all-things red and yellow.
The Gawker trial came to an end last November, and without making any official statements, WWE has sort of softened their position on all-things Hogan. If you look hard enough, you’ll find some of his classic footage pop up in WWE promotional material again. Conspiracy theorists might even suggest that they are slowly testing the waters on reintroducing Hogan to the WWE Universe, and that’s why you’re starting to see that footage appear on WWE programming.
There is certainly precedent for Hulk’s return. If the likes of Scott Hall, Ultimate Warrior, and Kurt Angle can put the past behind them in the spirt of one last run, it wouldn’t shock anyone to see Hulk Hogan do the same. As a matter of fact, Scott Hall predicted exactly that back in November.
Lawler and Hart touched on all of this, with the most interesting excerpt found below. (Transcript via 411 Mania):
Lawler: “In the wrestling world, you nerve say never. I thought it was way big overreaction what happened with Hulk in this most recent situation — the reason why he’s not in WWE at the moment. But I think that has definitely blown over. It was never a big deal to begin with. And I don’t think anybody even thinks about that anymore. I do think a lot of people would like to see Hulk come back. I think, right now, the ball is in Hulk’s court. If he wants to come back, I think he would definitely be able to come back.”
Hart: “You have seen clips of the Hulk being sprinkled into video packages lately on WWE programming. So I think one day that Hulk will be back where he deserves to be, with the WWE. I really do.”
Whether or not you agree with Lawler’s assessment that the offensive comments made by Hulk Hogan in the infamous Gawker sex tape leak were overblown, it does feel like a Hogan return is inevitable, and as Jimmy Hart stated, he’s starting to pop up on WWE programming again, even if it’s just a WWE Network clip here, or a promotional image there. When the Hogan controversy was at its peak, WWE wanted nothing to do with the Hulkster or his image. That doesn’t appear to be the case anymore.
It is interesting, however, that Lawler seems to think that the ball is in Hogan’s court. This does suggest that WWE is ready for another round of Hulkamania while Hogan ponders if a return would be worth his time. This feels somewhat contradictory, as Hogan stated shortly after his Gawker trial win that he’d love to be back in WWE. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.