Hulk Hogan to Make First WWE Raw Appearance 4 Years After Racial Slur Controversy
The WWE Hall of Famer hasn't appeared on Raw since it was revealed he made racist comments on a leaked sex tape
Hulk Hogan is making his return to the WWE.
The wrestling legend — whose real name is Terry Bollea — hasn’t appeared on the company’s cable programs since 2015, when it was revealed he made racist comments on a leaked sex tape.
But Hogan will be returning to the organization’s flagship program, Monday Night Raw, on Monday to pay tribute to longtime wrestling announcer “Mean” Gene Okerlund, who passed away last week at age 76, according to a release.
Hogan and Okerlund’s careers were intertwined for decades, as the two shared an entertaining chemistry in countless televised interviews throughout the “Hulkamania” era of the 1980s, which propelled the former into an international superstar.
“[He was the] best partner I ever had. We never rehearsed or did anything scripted from a writer,” Hogan, 65, wrote on Twitter after Okerlund’s death last Wednesday. “Gene would ask me ‘hey big man what do u want to do?’ I would always answer ‘just follow you brother’ and it worked from 1980 – 2017.”
In 1993, Okerlund even followed Hogan to WCW, the WWE’s foremost rival at the time. Okerlund would return in 2001 when WWE bought WCW.
The WWE quickly moved to distance themselves from their longtime star after the sex tape was leaked, and removed him the Hall of Fame and limited their references to him.
While Hogan said he resigned from the entertainment company following the revelations, WWE stated he was fired.
“WWE terminated its contract with Terry Bollea (a.k.a. Hulk Hogan),” the company said in a statement in 2015. “WWE is committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds as demonstrated by the diversity of our employees, performers and fans worldwide.”
But Hogan’s relationship to the company has warmed over the last year, and he was reinstated to the Hall of Fame and served as host for the WWE’s Crown Jewel pay-per-view last November in Saudi Arabia.
In an interview with PEOPLE in 2015, Hogan apologized for the remarks he made, which were in reference to his daughter’s Brooke Hogan’s love life.
“Eight years ago I used offensive language during a conversation. It was unacceptable for me to have used that offensive language; there is no excuse for it; and I apologize for having done it,” Hogan said at the time.
“This is not who I am. I believe very strongly that every person in the world is important and should not be treated differently based on race, gender, orientation, religious beliefs or otherwise,” Hogan told PEOPLE.
“I am disappointed with myself that I used language that is offensive and inconsistent with my own beliefs.”