I begged their forgiveness
I wish I was dead
I hung my head
I hung my head
– As sung by the late Johnny Cash
I feel like I’m writing an obituary for Hulk Hogan. He’s not dead, but his career, which began in 1977 and hit heights no other pro wrestler has reached, seems to be on ice.
The WWE severed ties with Hogan after someone leaked audio or video from a Hogan sex tape — an issue that has left him embroiled with online media site Gawker in court — during which he allegedly used the “N word” multiple times.
This is a fall from grace the likes of which is rarely seen in wrestling. A legend of Hogan’s stature usually rides off when it’s time — or he dies. In this case, however, it seems likely that Hogan will spend the rest of his days on the outside of wrestling, and even if he gets back in, his role will be limited.
“Hogan’s career is over. There is no way in this day and age that Hogan could recover from this, nor would anyone in entertainment do business with him,” wrote Eric Gargiulo on the Camel Clutch Blog.
What a shame to see this revelation occur amid reports that Hogan was potentially training for one last match at WrestleMania 32 next year in Arlington, TX.
It’s certainly not shocking to hear that anyone in wrestling, particularly a competitor who started in the ’70s, would have a racist bend. The entire sport has been marred by a disgraceful pattern of racism, either outwardly or veiled. For example:
- Junkyard Dog came to the ring with a chain on
- During a WrestleMania skit in 1985, Paul Orndorff referred to Mr. T as black and scummy
- Kamala was a savage man-beast from Uganda who only muttered and slapped his fat belly during matches
- Ted DiBiase’s servant was Virgil, a black guy
- Dusty Rhodes’s sideback was a short, fat African-American woman named Sapphire, and it’s been reported by the Wrestling Observer that the gimmick was a rib on Rhodes because black fans liked him historically
- The terrible manager, Slick, was dumb mixture of black stereotypes
- Meanwhile, one of Slick’s wrestlers, Akeem (formerly the One Many Gang), was a white guy whose gimmick was that he pretended to be black by doing jive dancing and claiming he was from Africa
God, I remember seeing S.D. Jones ramming his own head into the turnbuckle during matches in 1981 to show his foes that he had a hard noggin. The insult was lost on me growing up, but it’s embarrassing today to think about it.
Hogan apologized in statements to the media, and I sympathize with his situation of a sex tape being released that he supposedly did not know existed. But of all people, I would expect Hogan to have been smarter under any circumstances. He understands how the wrestling, entertainment, and media worlds operate.
Hogan has survived situations that seemed dire before, such as lying on the Arsenio Hall Show about his steroid use. But back then in 1992, he had time to recover. I don’t think, at 61 years old today, he has time now.
So long, Hulk. I hope the great parts of your career — including your WrestleMania III match with Andre the Giant — outshine your slips as the years go by.
Once again we are reminded that wrestlers can say truly bad things, and pro wrestling as a whole is dirty.