With WrestleMania 35 weekend, Hulk Hogan’s return to WWE seems complete. The legendary wrestler had a role at both Saturday night’s Hall of Fame ceremony and Sunday’s big event at MetLife Stadium, and there was no noticeable backlash from the fan base. In person and online, the Hulkster received a reception which was mostly positive with a smattering of merely accepting.
That reaction, free from being held at an already controversial event like Crown Jewel or shortly after the death of beloved figure like Gene Okerlund, signals to the company they’re free to use one of their most famous employees pretty much however they see fit. The public relations storm caused by the release of a tape on which he made racist remarks, and led to WWE firing him in 2015, has been weathered. The WWE Universe has accepted Hogan’s apology.
After he was reinstated by the company last summer, Hulk (real name Terry Bollea) spoke to the WWE locker room. His comments at that time were not accepted across the board, with black wrestlers like The New Day and Titus O’Neil in particular saying Hogan wasn’t really acting in a way which showed remorse for his remarks or demonstrated he’d learned why they were wrong, but more like he was sorry he’d been caught making them.
For his part, Hogan seemed surprised by the response. He also claimed none of the performers who had an issue brought them up during his speech or while he was backstage at Extreme Rules.
It looks like at least two of the people involved have addressed their issues with that first attempt at reconciliation. Per this tweet from Big E of The New Day, he and Hulk had a chance to talk before WrestleMania 35. While he doesn’t go into too many details about their conversation, E is now publicly saying the Hall of Famer listened to his concerns. It sounds like he’s accepted Hogan’s apology and is ready to give him another chance:
I’d like to think everyone deserves a path to redemption. I appreciate @HulkHogan taking the time to apologize & hear my position today.
— Florida Man (@WWEBigE) April 7, 2019
Some may still want to see more action from Hogan which demonstrate he understands how hurtful and harmful his words and the feelings behind them were.
But especially on a night where so many celebrated Kofi Kingston winning the WWE title on the Grandest Stage of Them All, a belt Hogan once held for more than four years, this seems like another positive step toward a New Day.