RAW Reunion was three hours of seeing superstars from the past celebrate the history of the long running Monday night show.It didn’t bump the ratings much but it was festive and surprising as could be, featuring guest appearances and 24/7 title changes galore. With few exceptions (e.g., Bret Hart and Goldberg), everybody from RAW history, particularly the Monday Night War period, was present and accounted for. That included Hulk Hogan, who received TV and promo time. Hogan also hugged Ric Flair (an odd moment in itself given their history).
On the stage behind them was none other than former 5-time WCW champion and part-time WWE commentator Booker T. And that made for one of the most serendipitous photos ever taken. During the Hogan-Flair embrace, Booker glowered in Hogan’s direction behind his back; and if looks could kill, the “Hulkster” would be six feet under right now, brother.
Hogan fell into hot water when he was caught on tape having an affair and spewing epithets against African-Americans, allegedly because of who his daughter was dating. Hogan tried to preserve his image and explain his choice of words. His attempt rang hollow with critics, doing more harm than good. Despite asking for forgiveness, not much was forthcoming in the court of public opinion. People he worked with — from Virgil to Dennis Rodman — defended him while others, such as Mark Henry, stood by the company’s decision.
Hulk Hogan’s WWE Return
In 2018, Hulk was reinstated and slowly reintroduced. Then, last April, Hulk was a guest on Booker T’s podcast to “clear the air.” It was a civil conversation and Booker stated transgressions should not define a person. Maybe they’re cool and the Internet is making something out of nothing again, but the photo tells a different story. Heat could be lingering — and for more than one reason.
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Aside from racism, as atrocious as that is, there is a deeper issue that reflects just as badly on WWE. Hogan being welcomed back with open arms as suddenly as he was proscribed and Benoit-ed from existence is a slap in the face to guys like Booker who had to scratch and claw to get where they are today.
Book busted his ass in WCW’s waning days to become one of the few reliable homegrown wrestlers left when a handful of his colleagues jumped ship. He came from poverty and was on the wrong side of the law before he turned his life around. The WCW World Heavyweight belt was the grand prize for all that toil. It was everything he struggled for.
Contrast that with Hogan who went to WCW and had the red carpet rolled out for him. Heck, they gave him a parade at Disney World. And it didn’t take long for him to reach the top of the card and the title picture either. Booker T’s fanfare was a lot subtler.
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Then Vince McMahon bought WCW and inherited an entire roster sans Hulk, including Booker. Vince kept him around, and though it worked out, it wasn’t smooth sailing in the beginning. The trend continued for the next few years. A lack of faith kept Triple H from dropping the title to him at WrestleMania 19. When he finally won the big one again for the first time in almost a decade, they couldn’t perceive Booker as a star on his own merits. So, a goofy crown was put on him and his bare feet were recurrently exposed to the world.
Booker T And Hulk Hogan In 2019
Now it’s 2019 and all that is ancient history and both men are Hall of Famers — except Hogan had his status revoked briefly. That’s practically ancient history as well, at least WWE would like it to be. They want an excuse to do business with who they think can draw money and are too eager to sweep Hogan’s faux pas under the rug.
Booker T doesn’t have the same baggage. He probably isn’t the one who can step in and take Hulk Hogan’s place when Vince needs to call upon an ambassador or a legend to make an appearance yet he wouldn’t be an undesirable choice.
The point is Hogan gets off easy and keeps receiving that sweet old special treatment. His spot hosting, opening or closing a show is always his for the taking regardless of what he pulls, even if his actions have a chance of putting Vince out of business. Given that, it might be time for WWE to reconsider its working relationship with the “Hulkster” and close the book on him for good.
He doesn’t have to go away completely; just leave him off TV and stop giving him paydays. With the Network, we will always have the memories and that’s all you need. Dig that, sucka!