Skip to main content

The Word on the Rings (7/27/15): When It Comes Crashing Down

Hulk Hogan has probably ran wild for the very last time, and landed an Atomic Leg Drop to his whole legacy.

In Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee, the character of Atticus Finchwhose character was the incorruptible, noble paragon of virtue that inspired so many book reportstook a somewhat “sinister” twist. Atticus, a beloved inspiration for an entire generation, was given a whole new nuance: that of a “gentleman racist.” He considered Blacks “in their childhood as a people.” He asks his daughter if she wants “Negroes... in our world?” It’s hard to believe that these are words that came from the very same high-principled lawyerthe very same Atticus Finchwho defended a black man wrongfully accused of rape in small-town Maycomb, Alabama.

Just a few days ago, in an exclusive by RadarOnline and National Enquirer, a man known as Hulk Hoganwhose on-screen character was the incorruptible, noble paragon of heroism idolized by wrestling fans the world overtook yet another “sinister” twist. Hogan, a beloved inspiration for an entire generation, was given a whole new nuance: that of a racist. He considered Blacks to be “fucking niggers.” He asks about her daughter, that he’d “rather have her marry an 8-foot-tall nigger worth a hundred million dollars.” It’s hard to believe that these are words that came from the very same heroic icon—the very same Hulk Hogan—who stood for America, saying prayers, and eating vitamins in a company headquartered in Stanford, Connecticut.


By now, everyone knows what happened to The Hulkster. He himself knows it: in the midst of the storm, Hogan has released control, and God and his universe will sail him where he wants to be. It’s quite a poetic statement to make, considering the lack of rhyme and reason in his remarks.

The WWE’s response was swift and without mercy: not since the Chris Benoit double-murder suicide did we see this kind of corporate reckless abandon. It’s as if Hogan didn’t exist: his merchandise pulled out, his Tough Enough role dissolved, and his Hall of Fame profile whitewashed. It’s as if Hulk Hogan never existed. All because he was “a little racist.”

Some of us probably understand why the WWE did it. The WWE is a publicly-traded company in a changing American landscape. Nowhere in America’s long history has race become such a central issue in the past two decades, since Rodney King in the 1990s to the issues surrounding the Confederate battle flag. To have an icon of the business (and arguably the very wrestler who forms the foundation of modern professional wrestling) say the word “nigger” in a racist, derogatory manner is totally uncalled for. Besides, for a guy given so many second chances and has a documented history of blowing them, it’s easy to see how this quick act of distancing themselves is a way for the WWE to get rid of Hogan for good.

But at the same time, some of us probably don’t understand why the WWE did it. After all, the WWE was formed on the very career of Hulk Hogan. He could have been suspended, censured for a while, and even forgiven: the Donald Sterling treatment was probably not deserved, that Hogan could have been taught a better lesson through a long probation and sensitivity training. The remarks may be uncalled for, but so was the harsh treatment from the very same company responsible for so many racist things.


The decisive move of the WWE to wash their hands of everything about Hogan and his racist rants in a sex tape only serves to highlight the many hypocrisies of the company when it comes to race. This is the very same company that creates overtly racist characters, storylines, and other storytelling devices to put its product out there.

That’s a big problem, I think: for a company built around (and built so many) instances of racism, the WWE is in no position to take the high road over a racist Hogan. It shows that the while WWE brass blisters over the n-word that represents a part of American racist culture, it ignores the rashes of racism that’s everywhere in its business. Lest we forget stories from the likes of Alberto del Rio, the long history of racial tropes, or The Plane Ride From Hell.

Hogan should have just been let go quietly, maybe given a preventive suspension. Made to pay a hefty fine as a donation to a righteous cause. Made to do community service. In the same way that WWE has one of the best programs in the world to rehabilitate substance abusers, it could use some of its vast resources to reform the racists in its ranks, and really clean up its act along the way.

The way WWE let him go only serves to highlight the hypocrisy, inconsistency, and gall of a company that continues to struggle with race, and more often than not, falters along the way.


But while Hogan may be the greatest hero in the history of professional wrestling, people smart to the business would know that it’s a role that came with so many second chances. The Hulkster may have been almost invincible in the ring, but time and again he has shown outright vulnerability outside of it.

Between bankruptcies and divorces and scandals and family tragedies, Hogan’s longevity can be attributed to fans forgiving him, and the business welcoming him back with open arms. It’s not that Hogan can do no wrong, but because it seems that the legacy of Hulkamania precedes all of those wrongdoings. Or maybe it’s because of the need to be in that spotlight all the time.


I was a Hulkamaniac as a kid. And while this news shatters me, it’s a grim reminder of things we always get reminded of: that your heroes and idols often disappoint you, especially when you give them enough time in the altar of worship.

But just like the way we all praised Atticus Finch in our book reports, so many of us want to keep a pure image of our heroes. But when we’re confronted with their flaws and tragic mistakes, we’re often left to think for ourselves if they still deserve our adulation and respect. And when that time comes, we’re often left with our own decisions. We’re often left to come into our own.

It’s something that shatters the heart of everyone who grew up while Hulkamania was running wild, myself included: by admitting that he was “a little racist,” Hogan showed himself to be a little man who’s also a racist. He could have been as big in spirit and in deed as his body allowed, but his frailties come to the fore as a hero who has lived long enough to see himself the villain.

He’s now hounded by the spotlight he never really wanted to hog, I think: ones reserved for the worst kinds of people in our society. Hogan’s escape from that spotlight is not to be found in the most sincere apology or WWE washing its hands of everything about him.

The escape is to be found in the realization that his worst has now overshadowed his best. A man known as Hulk Hoganthe incorruptible, noble paragon of heroism idolized by wrestling fans the world overis, in his very own words, “a little racist."


Marck Rimorin (@marocharim) is an advertising professional, writer, bookworm, and overthinker. While a lifelong WWE fan, he also watches puroresu, lucha libre, and old clips of European wrestling. When not caught up in reading, making brand communications, or eating waybread under the shade of mallorn trees, Marck writes the overthink piece for Smark Henry: The Word on the Rings.

Trending This Week

#FinisherFriday (7/12/19): A Priest's New Weapon

SmackDown RunDown Live (7/16/18): Back And Better Than Ever

Smark Healthy: Come Back Like A Champ

How WWE Wrestling Rings Are Made

#ThemeSongTuesday: OH! WALK WITH ELIAS!