Sunday Sermon: Hulk Hogan – a legacy in tatters?

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Craig Wilson, Brian Damage & Jamie Lithgow.

What a crazy week and a bit it has been for Hulk Hogan and the WWE. A scandal has engulfed the wrestling icon and has resulted in him being removed entirely from the WWE website. In today’s Sunday Sermon the team discuss just how damaging this has been for the Hulkster’s legacy..

Craig: What a week and a bit it has been in the world of Hulk Hogan and in professional wrestling. A man that was a hero to millions of wrestling fans and helped introduce even more to the World Wrestling Federation during their 80s boom period, has once again found himself in a scandal.

After a tape emerged that appeared to show Hulk Hogan using the “n” word in a tirade, the WWE swiftly dropped him as the Tough Enough judges, removed all mention of him from the WWE website and the Hall of Fame site and even went as far as removing ‘Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling’ from the Network’s schedule.

This all begs the question. Is Hogan’s legacy in tatters? Can he come back from this?

233315-hulk_hogan___ripping_shirt_as_champ___copy_largeBrian: Normally I would say…this is Hulk Hogan and this is just a bump in the road for him and his career. I just don’t know about that in this day and age. He said some pretty insensitive things that angered a lot of people. I know he apologized and stated it was during a real dark time in his life…but will advertisers see it that way? I doubt it…but we’ll see.

As for the wrestling portion of it, this is perfect….promoters love controversy and I’ve already read where some of them want to book him for their shows. They’ll always be pro wrestling for Hogan…even if some of the boys and girls in the locker room have a problem with it or him.

Jamie: As a high profile celebrity figure from the world of ‘sports entertainment’ I think Hogan is done. Brian’s right, wrestling promoters might be able to use this scandal to create a buzz for their promotion, but surely Hogan’s bridge’s into mainstream entertainment are burned…. surely?!

Let’s not forget what Hogan is alleged to have said. He didn’t just drop an ‘N bomb’ out of ignorance. If the quotes I have read are accurate then there’s no defence, he is a racist. Whether he is actively aware of the fact or not, the things this guy said were born out of a bigoted attitude.

As a football (soccer) fan I’ve seen the likes of Luis Suarez and John Terry dealt punishments for using racist language, only for all to be forgotten a few weeks later. Hogan’s comments are different though. Even if you substitute the offensive terms, with something more politically correct, his words are still disgusting. Hopefully other media outlets take heed from WWE’s stance and stop throwing money and publicity this man’s way.

Craig: I still think he’ll get jobs and make some money. Whether it is joining the autograph circuit or doing a speaking tour – had I been his publicist, after a nightmare weekend, that would be my suggestion. I don’t think his financial footing will be anything like it once was but I doubt it’s bread and water. That said, he will need to make some money but I don’t think that’ll be too hard.

But his legacy, although we’ve hardly waxed lyrical about his body of work, we’ve always been quick to praise his role in wrestling being what it is today and the success of WWE and WrestleMania as an event. Hell, what sort of a position would Vince McMahon be in had it not been for Hulk Hogan.

So, just how tarnished is the Hogan brand? Is a long stint of TV enough with Hogan brought back after some sort of a public apology and the rehab that follows from that or will it take more? Or isn’t it even possible?

Brian: He’ll be back on camera…but not for the WWE ever again. How many times can you continue to burn the same bridge over and over again? This time, he is getting the Chris Benoit treatment which is like he never existed in the company’s history. The WWE were willing to take a 50 million dollar hit financially just to get rid of him. Is his legacy tarnished? You betcha…will it ever recover? Yes I think it will…but it’ll never be at the levels it once was.

Craig: It’s difficult to argue with that. There’ll be promoters happy to pay Hulk Hogan knowing that they are getting him when he’s down and probably cheaper but I’d be staggered if he features on WWE programming again.

Is removing him from the Hall of Fame too far? Is removing his stuff from the Network even possible? I think the first will probably happen but a guy so pivotal to wrestling history can’t be removed from the Network. It’s not like they had any Hogan specials on it and am pretty sure any planned ones have been shelved.

Brian: Removing Hulk from the hall of fame is definitely a bit too extreme. I’m in no way justifying what he said, but let’s be real about this. I am positive there are other Hall of Famers who have skeletons in their closets too.

Craig: Am sure many do but fans wearing Hogan t-shirts were turned away from last week’s Raw unless they changed and posters featuring his name were confiscated. It seems WWE are being extreme as it is.

Hulk Hogan Stone Cold Steve AustinBrian: I certainly didn’t hear about that…but it makes sense from a business standpoint. Ever since the original comments came to light…it seems more and more stuff is coming out about Hogan using offensive language. The WWE just can’t afford to be affiliated with Hulk anymore. The backlash would be more severe if they tried to ignore it or just suspended him a month or so.

Craig: You’re probably right. The WWE are maybe just going absolutely out of their way to distance themselves from Hogan and doing it in a very obvious way in the hope that that might make a difference.

Brian: There’s no denying what Hulk Hogan means to pro wrestling. He is an extremely vital part of its history and the success of the business in general. With that said, he shouldn’t be removed from the Hall of Fame. In my opinion, all that does is just cheapen the Hall of Fame and makes a mockery of the entire induction ceremonies. What’s the sense of having a hall of fame if you can remove any member of it at any time for whatever infraction the WWE sees as “unfit?”

Craig: So it turns out Hogan is booked for the UK version of Celebrity Big Brother. That’s generally home to washed up celebs or d-list reality types. Not convinced that’s going to magic away all his issues.

Guess regardless of reaction in America, he’s still a big deal over here due to his limited appearances and am sure he’ll be able to command a big fee, regardless of the recent scandals. But still…

Jamie: That sounds about right, Big Bastard Brother have stepped in because they can’t resist. Generally speaking, American celebs tend not to do particularly well in the Big Brother house. The contrast of cultures is something few showbiz American types have been able to bridge, and thus end up being cast in a less than favourable light as a result. But hey, we shall see. Things can’t get much worse for Hulk at the moment so he may as well give it a go…

I’m in agreement regarding Hulk being removed from the Hall of Fame, but other than that it’s interesting to see WWE setting such a good example by having nothing to do with Hulk and this scandal, while others (appear to) want to cash-in.

Craig: interesting note, because of the recent news surround Hogan is that Celeb Big Bro don’t want him with Chyna now rumoured for the show. Remarkable if that transpires…

Jamie: Within context of Hogan’s ‘legacy’ that is interesting indeed. Apparently an offer to appear on the show was extended, but withdrawn following the scandal. It’s interesting because Celebrity Big Brother is hardly high brow entertainment, it’s considered fairly bottom of the barrel stuff – hence the interest in Chyna! To give context to those in other countries who – luckily – may not be aware, Celebrity Big Brother, and Channel 5, in general are essentially the broadcast version of our infamous British tabloid newspapers. If Hogan can’t get a foot in the door with them then he really has done some severe damage…

You can read all previous Sunday Sermons here.

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