Ever since Hulk Hogan spewed a vile racist tirade on a secretly recorded sex tape, the former WWE superstar has been given “the Benoit treatment,” a term coined to describe the company’s handling of Chris Benoit, who murdered his family before committing suicide in 2007. Like Benoit, while footage of Hogan still exists in WWE’s historical programming on its network, the Hulkster is never mentioned on current WWE programming if it can possibly be helped, with the company hoping that people will not associate his heinous acts with their corporate brand.
However, rumors started up last year that Hogan could be planning a WWE return. Though Hogan denied the rumors, soon after, WWE Hall of Famer Booker T made a public statement saying it was time to forgive Hogan and give him another chance, and earlier this month, wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer said to expect Hogan’s return “sooner than later.”
Today, WWE released a new video on YouTube showing a Battle Royale on Smackdown in 2002 (though the video says 2003), which prominently features Hogan, who goes over the top rope at the end at the same time as Triple H, creating a disputed outcome. Reportedly, prior to the match, Triple H had asked, “Am I ****ing going over?” and misunderstood the affirmative response. Featuring Hogan so prominently seems unusual if Hogan were still receiving the Benoit treatment, but given all the other recent clues, it could be viewed as WWE testing the waters for a Hogan return.
After all, when Hogan was ousted from WWE in 2015, making vile comments on a secret tape was a potential career ender. Today, it can get you elected President of the United States. Hogan also appeared recently in a new commercial for a Dutch insurance company.
So is a Hogan return imminent for Wrestlemania? We don’t know the answers to that question, of course, but would you have clicked on an article with the headline “Hulk Hogan appears in random 14 year old YouTube clip?” However, if we had to wager a guess, we’d say: it’s seeming more and more likely.