Hulk Hogan is set to be a homebody for WWE’s All-Star bash.
Banished in disgrace nearly three years ago from the wrestling organization, the Hulkster is holding out hope for a reunion this year with the sports entertainment giant. Hogan would love to bust out the red-and-yellow colors for the “Raw” 25th anniversary show on Monday and join fellow wrestling greats in celebration of WWE’s longest-running show.
Hogan instead will likely flip on “Raw” from his Florida home instead of flexing his now 22-inch pythons in New York.
Hogan’s bio is still scrubbed from WWE’s website in the wake of his 2015 departure and he has not been advertised to appear among the list of former WWE champions that include “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels.
“Brother, if I’m not there, I’ll definitely be there in spirit,” Hogan said. “One way or the other, Hulk Hogan influenced each and every one of those guys you’re going to see on TV Monday night. And that includes Vince McMahon, too.”
Once a household name in wrestling, WWE terminated Hogan’s contract in July 2015 on the heels of an audio release that contained him using repeated racial slurs to describe a man his daughter was dating at the time.
“It devastated me. The bottom dropped out,” Hogan said. “It was just a situation that was unexpected; didn’t even know it was going on at the time. I was blindsided by it.”
Hogan, a 2005 WWE Hall of Famer, spent 30 years in the ring waging heavyweight battles against pro wrestling’s unruliest giants, warriors and savages. Hogan’s post-WWE fights had very real stakes.
Hogan, whose legal name is Terry Bollea, went through years of legal wrangling with Gawker Media that landed in a civil trial and exposed lurid details of his private life. Hogan sued Gawker after it published parts of a sex video in 2012 and — after he won a $140 million verdict in his lawsuit — eventually settled with the company for $31 million. The years-long fight led to the media company’s bankruptcy and the shutdown of Gawker.com.
Hogan said he viewed the case as about protecting his right to privacy.
“Somebody had to draw the line somewhere,” Hogan said. “I just made the decision that I was going to be the guy. If I lost everything, I was going to fight these people. It turned out great. There is justice.”
Hogan has an active defamation lawsuit against Florida radio personalities he accused of playing a role in disseminating the sex tape.
Hogan, who wasn’t wrestled since his TNA Wrestling stint in 2012, wanted Hulkamania to run wild in 2018.
“I’m 64 years old and right now I could go out and tear WrestleMania down,” he said. “I might have that one more match where I really beat the hell out of Vince. I’ve still got one in me.”
But that would have to begin with reconciling with WWE, specifically McMahon, the chairman and CEO, and top executive Paul “Triple H” Levesque. Through several stints with the company, Hogan and McMahon have best tight friends and bitter rivals. Hogan said he has occasional contact with McMahon but is closer with Levesque, the man credited with bringing former disgruntled greats such as The Ultimate Warrior and Bruno Sammartino back into the fold.
“I don’t know if they want me back,” Hogan said. “I think the fans want me back. I think that I’m part of that company from the ground up. Triple H I know is a huge fan of the guys that gave their blood, sweat and tears and their personal life to make this happen. I know Triple H would love to see me back on the inside again.”
WWE sponsors would also have to be on board with Hogan’s return.
“At this time, WWE remains committed to its decision,” the company said in a statement.
That could leave Hogan to pursue a run outside WWE with the hottest act in pro wrestling: Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, Cody Rhodes and the rest of the Bullet Club.
“I’m about ready to jump on a plane and fly to Japan and get involved with that Bullet Club, man. I’m so excited about those kids,” Hogan said.
As much as Hogan wants to wrestle again, the reality is, he’s had two hip, two knee and nine back surgeries and the man who slammed Andre the Giant and went 1-on-1 with The Rock has perhaps had his last bout.
Hogan said he’s busy with various business interests, including two beach shops in Florida that bear his name, and he plans to open a restaurant called Hogan’s Hangout. He married his second wife, Jennifer, in 2010, and the couple have kept a low public profile after he spent four seasons with his ex-wife portrayed as the protective patriarch in the reality show, “Hogan Knows Best.”
“I don’t want that reality stuff ever in my house again,” Hogan said. “I’d never take it to those personal levels I did before.”
The question looms, will his next starring role again come on the WWE stage?
“The setback,” Hogan said, “is never as great as the comeback.”