Hulk Hogan finally returned to WWE last week at Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia, ostensibly hosting the show, though he really only came out and cut a quick promo running through his catchphrases at the start of the event.
— WWE (@WWE) November 4, 2018
Crown Jewel was a subject of controversy due to WWE accepting large sums of money from the Saudi Arabian government to hold shows there, and WWE deciding to continue with the deal despite the recent murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. On the bright side, WWE at least had the good taste to avoid running the blatant propaganda videos for the Saudi government that they did at the previous event, The Greatest Royal Rumble, proclaiming that the country is a bastion of progressiveness despite its oppression of women and outlawing of homosexuality.
But an association with the Saudis wasn’t the only controversy for WWE, as Hogan’s return was itself problematic. Hogan was fired from WWE in 2015 after audio recording from his sex tape leaked, revealing an explicitly racist rant. WWE has flirted recently with bringing Hogan back, but repeatedly insisted that they would only do so in the context of helping others learn from his mistakes. However, it’s always been something of a mystery how exactly other superstars could benefit from what would seem to be the common sense advice of: don’t make explicitly racist comments, and if you do, don’t make them while being secretly recorded banging the wife of Florida radio shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge, and even if you can’t help but do all of those things, at least don’t let the tape become embroiled in a proxy legal feud between conservative Paypal billionaire Peter Thiel and the website Gawker.
But with both John Cena and Daniel Bryan refusing to travel to Saudi Arabia and perform at Crown Jewel, both for moral reasons (though Cena’s might have had more to do with potential damage to a lucrative Hollywood career), WWE needed some star power, and so they turned to Hogan. Hogan has “apologized” recently for what he called “a few misspoken words” (those words being n-words, for those keeping track), including to the WWE roster in July, though reaction to said apology amongst the company’s Black wrestlers was mixed.
So after Crown Jewel, Hogan issued a new apology… for being too jacked, brother!
Ok, today is a new day. After seeing myself on Crown Jewel I have decided to get serious and get under 300lbs. I looked huge, swole, jacked and my arms are still bigger than most wrestlers legs. I don’t want to look like I can beat up the whole @WWE roster anymore. Only Love HH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) November 5, 2018
— WWE (@WWE) November 3, 2018