WWE wrestlers react to Hulk Hogan’s Hall of Fame reinstatement
Kofi Kingston says Hogan must make ‘genuine effort to change’
5:42 PMOn July 15, WWE announced that wrestling legend Hulk Hogan (real name Terry Bollea) had been reinstated to the company’s Hall of Fame after a three-year ban for racist comments Hogan made on a sex tape in 2007. In the video, Hogan used the N-word multiple times in reference to an African-American man who was dating Hogan’s daughter, Brooke.
Hours before the video leaked online, WWE terminated Hogan’s contract, removed him from its reality television show and scrubbed his name from the WWE website. The news was met with mixed reaction from wrestling fans, falling mostly along racial and ideological lines. Most African-Americans and liberal-leaning individuals appeared to oppose Hogan’s reinstatement, while some conservative white Americans seemed to believe either Hogan had paid the price for his comments or the entire episode was overblown.
The voices missing from the debate, though, were the WWE employees, specifically the black ones, who had to essentially welcome Hogan back into the fold. After three days of relative radio silence, the wrestlers have begun to use Twitter to publicize their feelings on Hogan’s return to professional wrestling. Below are a collection of tweets, starting with WWE’s most high-profile black wrestlers, The New Day:
Kofi Kingston, one-third of The New Day, released a statement on July 18 that while there is “no argument on whether or not Hogan should have his place” in the WWE Hall of Fame, the group, which also includes Xavier Woods and Big E, has no plans to associate with Hogan until he makes a “genuine effort to change.”
Woods added to Kingston’s original message, while Big E — alongside fellow black wrestlers Apollo Crews and Cedric Alexander as well as white wrestler Seth Rollins, who has lent his voice to issues about African-Americans in the past — retweeted the message to his followers:
Tag team The Usos, made up of Samoan twins Jimmy and Jey Uso, tweeted a message that read, “RESPECT,” which came hours after Kingston’s tweet:
Rumors surfaced earlier in the week that when Hogan arrived backstage at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view event on Sunday, wrestler Titus O’Neil refused to shake his hand and stormed out of the arena. After supporting The New Day’s statement, O’Neil provided his own later the same day, calling the original reports “false and inaccurate” and adding that Hogan’s apology lacked “contrition, remorse and a desire to change”:
Women’s wrestler Sasha Banks, who is black and German, responded to O’Neil’s statement with a heart emoji:
WWE Hall of Famer Mark Henry, who has been employed by the company since 1996, was one of the first wrestlers to comment on Hogan’s return, telling TMZ on July 16 there was a “50-50” split among black wrestlers over Hogan’s re-induction:
Alexander, who was hired in 2016, had tweeted a celebratory message in response to Hogan’s return within minutes of the announcement:
After some social media backlash from Hogan detractors, Alexander clarified that while he might not “like someone personally” it doesn’t mean he won’t “respect them professionally”:
After it initially appeared that only black wrestlers would make public comments, current and former WWE employees who are white, including Finn Balor, Lance Storm, Curt Hawkins and Hurricane Helms, issued support of O’Neil’s and Kingston’s statements: