The somewhat sudden news of the WWE reinstating Hulk Hogan into its Hall of Fame sent shockwaves across the wrestling world on Sunday.
Hogan, who was fired by the WWE after a racially insensitive rant was uncovered in 2015 — in which he used the N-word multiple times — has been on a reconciliatory path of late, with many speculating that he would eventually return to the wrestling promotion sooner rather than later.
For many, the 64-year-old’s three-year exodus from WWE, as well as his recent attempts at making amends, were enough to heal the wound created by the iconic wrestler’s offensive comments.
— Boys Girls Club GA (@BoysGirlsClubGA) May 3, 2018
Shortly after news of his reinstatement broke on Sunday afternoon, Hogan revealed that he was backstage at the company’s “Extreme Rules” event in Pittsburgh and he did, in fact, address the controversy with the WWE locker room.
Just met with the @WWE Superstars and on all levels the volume of love and support was overwhelming. I’ve been praying for this day and I finally feel like I made it back home. Only Love 4 the #WWEUNIVERSE brother HH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) July 15, 2018
While Hogan referenced the “love and support” he had received, three of the WWE’s biggest African-American stars, Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Xavier Woods, remained notably silent on social media. On Tuesday, they collectively released a statement regarding their feelings about Hogan being back in WWE’s good graces.
“How do we feel? Indifferent,” the post reads. “We are not happy or sad, angry or resentful. Who WWE puts into the HOF is totally and completely up to the company and from a career standpoint, there is no argument on whether or not Hogan should have his place.”
The New Day’s statement is a perfectly measured and rational response to a situation in which there are no real winners. While it is true that Hogan’s name is synonymous with professional wrestling, his legacy will be forever tarnished due to his use of racially insensitive terms. No number of apologies or actions can ever make them acceptable or erase them.
“We do not respond with more feelings of hate,” the statement reads. “Instead, we just do not associate with the people who convey or have conveyed this negative and hurtful mindset. This instance will be no different. Perhaps if we see him make a genuine effort to change, then maybe our opinion will change with him. Time will tell.”
The New Day’s post received widespread support online, including from fellow WWE star Titus O’Neil.
In FULL AGREEMENT AND SUPPORT OF EVERYTHING SAID IN THIS STATEMENT. MY additional response to this from to follow as there have been NUMEROUS ERRONEOUS reports on my Views and Response-to this situation. https://t.co/jCjtAusYW9
— Titus O'Neil (@TitusONeilWWE) July 18, 2018
While it remains to be seen what Hogan’s role will be within WWE – many of its former stars remain involved either on camera or as “ambassadors” for the company – it’s clear that he still has work to do when it comes to repairing his image and relationships with fans and talent – particularly African-Americans.
As the New Day so eloquently stated: Time will tell.
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