WRITTEN BY Matt Conway
The wrestling world can’t stop talking about Hulk Hogan.
Both the inflammatory transcript leaked by the tabloids and Hogan’s dismissal from WWE over the comments made in said transcript are popular topics of conversation today. You can read the full details of what Hogan said in the leak, the WWE severing ties, and the jackals in the tabloids cashing in their Money in the Bank contracts on Hogan on our sister site, The Ralph Retort (GAWKER SWERVE: HOGAN FIRED FROM WWE AFTER ENQUIRER DROPS “N-WORD” BONANZA).
What I’d really like to focus on here is the WWE’s firing of Hogan, specifically their frantic efforts to delete him from the company’s history in the dead of night and the incredible whiff of hypocrisy coming straight from Vince McMahon’s office. There may also be some unintended side effects the WWE will have to contend with in the weeks and months to come because of their actions today.
It disturbs me how quickly the WWE acted in washing their hands of Hulk Hogan. Of course, it’s the company’s prerogative to fire him over this incident if they wish, but to immediately attempt to erase him from their archives comes off as a drastic measure. The last time the company scrubbed themselves clean of someone this thoroughly and hastily was when Chris Benoit murdered his wife and child. Hulk Hogan dropping the ‘n’ bomb a few times in the bedroom does not seem to be an equivalent crime.
There are hints of hypocrisy in the firing of Hogan too. Head road agent Michael “P.S.” Hayes once told a black wrestler, Mark Henry, “I’m more of a nigger than you are” in a moment of drunken ebullience back in 2008. Hayes was given a slap on the wrist – a 60 day suspension – and still cashes checks from WWE to this day.
In fact, the WWE has current ties to plenty who could be accused of some impropriety or another. Stone Cold Steve Austin has a history of domestic violence. In addition to a pair of boozy arrests, Chris Jericho was caught on tape punching a rowdy female fan. Then there are wrestlers like William Regal who popped so many pills back in the day it would make a Metallica roadie blush. How about all the slimy sexual harassment allegations directed at the big boss Vince McMahon himself over the past 30 years? It would appear outrage-seeking media outlets have no shortage of ammunition options to go after the WWE here.
Or what about those in the WWE’s Hall of Fame who haven’t had their names redacted like Hulk Hogan? Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, inducted way back in 1996 and still trotted out on television every now and then for sporadic Raw or Smackdown appearances, has dealt with a possible manslaughter allegation that’s hung over his head since 1983. The investigation is STILL OPEN to this day, most recently turned over to a grand jury in early 2014. Snuka has not been convicted of anything, of course, but the stigma and scuttlebutt is still a dark cloud around him.
If it’s just verbal acts of racism you want to focus on, what about the Iron Sheik? Spend an evening perusing the man’s Twitter account or look up one of the many shoot videos he’s done over the years. Sheiky baby gives no fucks. He will spew out derogatory remarks about blacks, Arabs, Muslims, Jews, et al at the drop of a hat. Yet the Sheik remains a part of the WWE’s history.
Or how about the celebrity wing of the WWE’s Hall of Fame, which includes Presidential hopeful Donald Trump? The Donald has found himself in hot water from the liberal media recently over his comments on Mexican people and United States border security. Will Trump now find himself deleted from WWE’s history because he’s a ‘racist’?
The point of all this is not to throw stones at the individuals working for or tangentially involved with the WWE. Wrestling is not and should not be a squeaky clean business. It’s always been another form of rock ‘n roll in my estimation – and how boring would rock ‘n roll be if Ozzy Osbourne didn’t have a little bit of dirt under his fingernails?
Indeed, the point here is that just about anyone on their roster could be found guilty of some impropriety or another if you dig deep enough. Not only is Vince McMahon and the WWE as a whole acting hypocritical in their erasing of Hulk Hogan, they’re setting an extremely dangerous precedent for themselves. They now open themselves up to attack from every would-be champion of social justice under the sun. Every progressive organization or special interest group will be chomping at the bit to take WWE to task for perceived slights, whether it be on WWE television or from something said or done in a performer’s personal life. How sterile will the wrestling product have to become in order to avoid offending anyone now?
I, for one, hope the WWE will do the right thing and reinstate Hulk Hogan to their Hall of Fame. Regardless of the ugly things he said, Hogan is, without question, the biggest star in the history of the wrestling business. The wrestling world, the WWE itself, would not enjoy such a hefty position today if weren’t for Hulkamania running wild in the 80’s. Fire him if you must, make him go on a PR apology tour if need be, but don’t deny the man his rightful place in the history of a business he helped build.