MR. TITO: Should Hulk Hogan Be a WWE Co-Host for Wrestlemania 37?

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First and foremost, I do NOT endorse any of the racist comments that Hulk Hogan made at the tail end of his leaked sex tape with the now former wife of Bubba the Love Sponge. I want to emphasize that RIGHT NOW in case anyone misunderstands this column.

In case you missed it, during 2006, Hulk Hogan had marital problems and his real life friend, Bubba Clem also known as the “Love Sponge” on the Radio, and his wife Heather offered Hogan some unique help. Bubba allowed the Hulkster to “deal it” to his wife but little did Hogan know that the Clems were filming what happened in the bedroom. During 2012, that video was somehow leaked online. Hogan began the lawsuit process against Gawker, an online news organization who leaked the video publicly.

Then, during July 2015, a clip at the end of this sex tape was somehow leaked and it involved Hogan using racial slurs. Specifically, he was upset that his daughter was being involved romantically with black guys and he went on a rant about it with Heather Clem at the end of the sex tape:

“I mean, I’d rather if she was going to f*** some (N-Word), I’d rather have her marry an 8-foot-tall (N-Word) worth a hundred million dollars! Like a basketball player! I guess we’re all a little racist. F***ing (N-Word).”

Yikes! Immediately, the WWE terminated Hulk Hogan‘s deal, pulled his merchandise, and actually hid his Hall of Fame stuff on the WWE website. 3 years later, the WWE reinstated Hulk Hogan. Since then, he has been involved with various WWE events.

Yet, when Hulk Hogan was announced as the Co-Host for Wrestlemania 37, people online lost their crap. Seriously… The Cancel Culture mob was all over the WWE for this decision and even badmouthing the other Co-Host, Titus O’Neil… Someone were calling it an “equalizer” to “even out” Hulk Hogan’s presence… Huh? Titus is a Tampa native, just like Hulk Hogan, and THAT IS WHY both guys are hosting… They freakin’ live in Tampa, FL and have done a lot for the area. Then, when Titus O’Neil was nominated for the 2020 WWE Hall of Fame “Warrior Award”, more idiotic comments came out as if Titus needed “something extra” to compare to Co-Host Hulk Hogan or this was being done purposely as a Public Relations stunt to offset Hogan’s racist past.

Just ridiculous…

And I understand the hatred towards Hulk Hogan and what he said… The problem with racism is that much of it is said or happens behind closed doors. Hogan never uttered one racist things publicly and if you saw the quotes from many black athletes after Hogan was terminated from WWE due to the leaked video of the racist comments (Rock, Kamala, Mark Henry, Virgil, etc), none of them suggested that Hogan was racist at all. But it was a surprise to each of them to hear Hogan’s comments because again, the issue with racism in America is what is said behind closed doors when nobody can hear you. Hogan thought that he was in a private moment with Heather Clem and had he known that he was video taped, he would not have said that stuff. Hogan thought that he was safe behind closed doors to say whatever but the Clems were filming him.

Since July 2015, Hulk Hogan has been on the apology tour. He put out public statements, he has tried to talk to current wrestlers backstage and apologized for what went wrong, etc. The absolute public shaming that he took was probably a wake-up call that he needed for his life (though the lawsuit from that leaked tape earned him a $31 Million Settlement).

But here’s the question… Despite what Hulk Hogan did during 2006 that became known during 2015, does Hulk Hogan have ANY right to not just Co-Host Wrestlemania 37, but to even have a WWE job?

That’s the problem with Cancel Culture right now… The assumption is that the person making the mistake cannot (a) learn and (b) evolve at all from their mistakes. It also doesn’t allow anyone to ever make a mistake, period. You have to be absolutely perfect.

Throughout Hogan’s career, he made other wrestlers a ton of money by his own drawing power, helped bridge wrestler opportunities into other entertainment ventures, and his charity work is quite impressive (Make a Wish, Boys & Girls Club to name a few). Then, his marriage began to fall apart, his health was deteriorating, and he was trying way too hard to make his daughter Brooke into a pop music star (investing millions). All of that stuff COMBINED with being born in 1953, as he grew up witnessing Jim Crow Laws in action… Hey, what do you know? He was born in Georgia, which is the epicenter of racial politics right now with the new voting laws. Combine all of those personal problems with Hogan being brought up during a bad time for America… All it took was his daughter being romantic with someone and Hogan’s ignorance took over at a very low point in his personal life.

The question is this… Was this the only time that Hulk Hogan said anything racist behind the scenes? That is what everyone wonders… If he didn’t have this leaked sex tape from the Clems that publicly shamed him, would he change?

BUT the video did leak and did publicly shame him (though he is now $31 million richer)… Is he allowed to apologize? Is he allowed to evolve?

And when you CANCEL someone from a profession and that’s all they know how to do, where will they go? How will they make money?

Before you think about forever cancelling Hulk Hogan from public life or any wrestling promotion, just be aware… Cancel Culture is everywhere and is not just targeting celebrities. Things that are posted on Social Media are being used against people and getting them fired from jobs. Pictures and audio/video from the past are being turned up and used against people to shame them or get them terminated from jobs. BE CAREFUL what you post on Social Media or what has been put out there online about yourself. IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU.

Everything is getting scrubbed right now for things that happened in the past. Look at what NBC/Universal is doing to the “WWE Network” on Peacock. They have blocked out multiple segments that they have deemed inappropriate for viewers. You know, a few things that aired on USA Network back when Universal executives oversaw the show such as the DX parody of the Nation of Domination.

Then you have weird cases like Jimmy Kimmel doing a parody of Karl Malone that came up recently. Viacom executives were perfectly fine with that parody appearing on Comedy Central’s Man Show during the early 2000s yet during mid-2020, everyone was calling for ABC to terminate Kimmel from the show. He was doing a parody of a black man and he had to look the part. Why isn’t Robert Downey Jr. receiving any flack for his Tropic Thunder character by comparison? Both guys actually made fools of themselves trying to portray those roles.

Nobody is perfect… Everyone has said or did stupid things in their life, many of which people wish that they could take back. Not everyone is publicly shamed nationwide for what they did and I can imagine Hogan gets bad looks anywhere he goes.

But can you get a second chance? That is all that I’m wondering…

WWE owes Hulk Hogan a great deal for their growth and success booming out of the 1980s. He was the crown jewel to the WWE nationwide expansion and a reason why many of its loyal 50+ year old audience are still WWE fans. In my mind, the WWE punished Hogan with a 3 year sentence of no salary or recognition. That forever hurt Hulk Hogan’s brand and in my mind, someone like Ric Flair or Steve Austin have surpassed the Hulkster on being the top wrestling personalities in our culture. WWE is a publicly traded corporation with an image to uphold with their corporate sponsors. Trust me, the WWE cleared it with Comcast/NBC/Universal and many sponsors before Hogan came back. Hogan likely had to redeem himself in some fashion.

It’s a tough subject because Hogan got caught and that is what gave him a wake-up call… But if ignorance isn’t corrected in some form, it could have gone on forever. Since his July 2018 return, he’s been used in a very limited capacity the WWE. They bring him out every once and a while for a little pop, and then they put him back in the box again.

And if there is a problem with employing Hulk Hogan, you can vote with your wallet. He has been around WWE functions since July 2018 and you’re still here.

He’s just Co-Hosting Wrestlemania 37 and is hardly main eventing the show. He’ll make 3-4 appearances and then you won’t see from him again. It’s not like he’ll go out there and spout racial phrases or anything. As far as we know, this Sex Tape plus Hogan caught on tape with his son Nick in jail to be careful in jail from certain people are the main racial things that Hogan has said. Nothing else, besides some discussions he apparently had with Booker T, have ever come out to paint Hogan otherwise.

The thing I keep asking is this… Do people deserve second chances? Is there a way to prove yourself? Can you evolve?

For everyone being cancelled and having their names shamed for something they said, did, or apparently represented… Where will they go for work? How will they earn a living? All an employer has do is perform a Google search on your name and it is plastered everywhere.

In my opinion, Hogan paid the price (though he became $31 million richer) and his brand is forever tarnished. He’s no longer the “Babe Ruth of Pro Wrestling” because of the racial slurs that were leaked to the public. Seems like Ric Flair (chased lots of women) and Steve Austin (see Debra) have passed up Hogan as the top wrestling stars according to Pop Culture now. Hogan did not commit any crimes, just spoke poorly when he thought it was safe to speak ignorantly behind closed doors.

While he did earn money from the Gawker lawsuit, he better save that money because WWE is likely paying him a minimal amount and no sponsorships are coming. From everything that I’ve seen, he appears sincere in his apologies… But again, he was caught on video tape and we might not known of Hogan’s opinions of black men dating his daughter if that video did not leak. In my mind, he paid enough of a price and is no longer the sought after star that he once was. However, I’m not black and I completely understand their point of view if they still dislike him. It’s this “behind closed doors” racism that infuriates most because the real honestly of some is disguised heavily in public.

For the rest of you, be careful what you post online… Everything is being interpreted with a close eye right now and your past can now come back to haunt you.

Also realize that we’re all very similar to each other… Each of us are human beings with the same interior despite a different exterior. Hogan was being petty over his daughter dating someone of a different race when he probably didn’t care what Brooke wanted nor did he get a chance to know who she was dating. He should have judged based on the content of their character, not by the color of their skin. And anyone who uses that N-word slur is an idiot. Please join us here in the 21st century where outdated derogatory terms are not welcome.

Forgiveness is a good thing, too, if the person appears to have learned from their mistakes and/or evolved.

So just chill… Until the next episode!

Comments and feedback are welcome. Follow and Tweet me @titowrestling or login in below to post comments.



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