Today, TMZ Sports confirmed what wrestling fans who keep their ear to the ground have known for a while — Hulk Hogan is returning to WWE, just in time for WrestleMania XXX and the launch of the WWE Network.
Hulk Hogan is returning to the WWE, brother … TMZ Sports has learned.
We know .. Hogan has been training at the WWE Performance Center in Florida … and our rock-solid wrestling sources tell us the Hulkster will make his re-debut with the WWE on “Monday Night Raw” on Feb. 24th.
It’s unclear if Hulk — who hasn’t been with the WWE since 2007 — will actually be wrestling a full match … but we’re told he plans to get physical.
They even included a picture of Hogan at WWE’s Performance Center, if an official announcement wasn’t officially official enough:
I love this photo for two reasons:
1. Normal Smiley
2. Sara Del Rey being positioned as far away from Hogan as possible
As a jaded wrestling fan, I’m stuck between objective acceptance of the news and wanting to throw myself through a window. Objectively, Hogan is one of (if not the) most important professional wrestlers in history. He’s a pop culture icon. The guy fought Rocky, for God’s sakes. He’s a 12-time World Champion, a two-time Royal Rumble winner, a Hall of Famer and responsible for two wrestling popularity booms in two different decades. When people think of “wrestling,” they think of Hulk Hogan, for better or worse.
At the same time, he’s Hogan. To a certain kind of wrestling fan, you might as well be calling him the devil. He’s the guy who figuratively pulled out his burnt sienna-colored junk at WrestleMania IX and pissed all over Bret Hart. He ruined a year of build-up against Sting at Starrcade 97 because he could. He’s the guy who showed up in WCW in the mid-90s and replaced all the company’s good wrestlers (Cactus Jack, Stunning Steve, Ricky Steamboat, etc.) with his friends (Brutus Beefcake, the Nasty Boys, Hacksaw Jim Duggan). He took over a struggling but doing-something TNA Wrestling, ran it down for having a “playpen ring” and made it an arduous exercise in getting his family over. He’s a reality show star who has never been the star of something that wasn’t completely embarrassing and has … well, take a look at his Wikipedia page:
Oddly enough, the guy became the best and worst things about pro wrestling simultaneously. He is pro wrestling.
So here’s what I’m doing: I’m coming to terms with it now, before he shows up. The one thing we can guarantee is that he’ll stand in the ring without saying anything for as long as possible to milk the reaction. Then, it’s a matter of whether he’s just there as a legend who might occasionally punch Heath Slater, or the guy who is straight up gonna big boot and leg drop Antonio Cesaro for daring to call himself a Real American. It’ll be nice to have him around if it’s the former. Jesus take the wheel if it’s the latter.
What’s your favorite Hulk Hogan memory? What’s your LEAST favorite? Let us know.