Hulk Hogan fired!
On Thursday July 23rd 2015, the man who was born Terry Gene Bollea and known to (pretty much literally) the entire world as Hulk Hogan, was released from WWE.
The news is shocking to say the least, and details are still a bit vague as to what precisely precipitated his termination. Thus far, several sources point toward a transcript from a video from eight years ago on which Bollea uses racially offensive comments, including specific and repeated use of the word “nigger”. The video in question is currently under wraps, as it is apparently tied into a court case, so the exact nature of the context cannot be known. As already stated, the details are still scarce. Sources indicate the video was sexual in nature.
Whether Hogan’s contract was terminated due to the racist comments, the potential surfacing of a sex tape, a combination of both, or due to something completely unrelated, it does not change the fact that Hulk Hogan has been fired from the very company he helped build.
When Vince McMahon Jr. became chairman of the WWF in 1980, taking over from his father, he was in the process of aggressive expansion. He had an ambitious vision to take professional wrestling to heights and depths never before dreamed. All he needed was the right figurehead to pilot his juggernaut into parts unknown. He needed a hero that would capture the hearts of the American people.
He found that hero in a blonde and bronzed kid from Florida named Terry Bollea.
Together, McMahon and Hulk Hogan (as they later renamed him) revolutionized sports entertainment. From the birth of “Hulkamania” on January 23rd 1984 when Hogan defeated the Iron Sheik for the WWF Heavyweight Championship until Hogan left the company after WrestleMania VIII in 1992 (and then again later after King of the Ring in 1993), Hulk Hogan was arguably the biggest name in professional wrestling.
His past contributions to the company and his status in the world of pro wrestling is what makes this current state of affairs so shocking.
The shock comes not in the surfacing of the pop icon’s transgressions. People at large, celebrity or not, all have their dark sides, demons, vices and ugly moments. Wrestlers in particular have been notoriously known for exhibiting unbecoming behaviours.
Hogan himself has been very open in admitting his past mistakes and his darker moments. In his book, My Life Outside the Ring, and in the documentary Searching for Hulk Hogan, Bollea candidly shines a light on the years when his marriage, his family, his entire life was falling apart and he contemplated suicide.
So the reveal that Hogan was not always such a great guy comes as no shocker here. To err is to be human, and in that respect he is admittedly guilty.
What is particularly surprising is the swift absolution with which WWE has severed all ties with their former champion. Before news could hit the proverbial doorstep on Friday morning, WWE.com had already wiped Hulk Hogan’s profile from their alumni page, as well as his status as a Hall of Fame inductee.
As earlier stated, it is not surprising to hear of Hogan’s demons. The wrestling world is littered with destructive, addictive, notorious activity. A quick gander through the alumni pages of the company’s personalities reveals a veritable buffet of scandal:
The British Bulldog abused steroids, morphine, crack cocaine and prescription painkillers, in addition to being involved with incidents of domestic violence. Jeff Hardy’s use of both illegal and prescription drugs has been well known for years – ditto Marty Jannetty, Rob Van Damme, Jake Roberts, Jim Neidhart and others. Sean Waltman made a sex tape with Chyna years ago, which you can still find on the internet. Jimmy Snuka was accused of causing the death of his extra-marital girlfriend in 1983. Bill DeMott, Bob Holly and JBL have all been accused at one time or another of bullying and/or sexual assault behind the scenes. Vince McMahon himself, along with Pat Patterson and others went through a huge sexual misconduct scandal in the early nineties.
Everyone mentioned above is still featured on WWE.com and is still referred to with fondness by current superstars and on-air personalities. So, who is not featured? Hulk Hogan, who was apparently caught on tape using racist language. Who else? Chris Benoit, who murdered his wife and son before taking his own life.
Let that sink in. Think about the message that it sends to the public. The WWE have now put Hogan in the same boat as a murderer.
Since the Hogan scandal hit the airwaves, many public personalities have come forward to comment. Some remain fairly neutral, like Booker T who called the incident “unfortunate” and Daniel Bryan who called it “unbelievable”.
George Foreman defended Hogan’s person, saying that the words do not reflect who the man is. Roddy Piper commented on the public’s quickness to crucify someone and forget all the good they have done. Other former stars like Mick Foley and Virgil have voiced their support as well.
Conversely, some like Mark Henry and Jim Ross have applauded WWE’s swift and decisive actions. Meanwhile, Scott Steiner simply called Hogan “a piece of shit”.
The termination of Hulk Hogan has raised many debates, including but not limited to issues of race, celebrity, public opinion, responsibility, loyalty, sensitivity, forgiveness, and fame.
Will Terry Bollea ever be able to recover from the injury his public persona has suffered this past week?
Will Hulk Hogan ever again be welcomed back into the arms of the WWE?
Only time will tell.
“In the storm I release control,
God and his universe will sail me
where he wants me to be, one love.”
— Hulk Hogan