Professional wrestling icon Hulk Hogan is in line to make a surprise return to World Wrestling Entertainment this week, more than three years after he was fired by the company after an audio recording of Hogan making racist remarks was released by the National Enquirer.
Hogan was immediately scrubbed from WWE’s website and television programming in the wake of the scandal, but the company has gradually eased its restrictions on Hogan over the years. Fans freaked out in 2016 when Hogan was name-dropped during a pay-per-view broadcast – but references to the WWE legend have since become less taboo, and he was reinstated to the WWE Hall of Fame earlier this year.
Pro Wrestling Sheet reported Wednesday that Hogan will serve as the host for WWE Crown Jewel, a pay-per-view event scheduled for Friday in Riyadh Saudi Arabia. Despite pressure from politicians and considerable backlash from fans in the wake of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder inside a Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey, WWE has decided to push forward with the event – which will be the second pay-per-view staged in Saudi Arabia this year.
It’s unclear if WWE’s audience is ready and willing to accept Hogan back into the fold, but his presence at an already controversial event isn’t likely to go over well on social media. Hogan tipped off his role at Crown Jewel and hinted at a potential return to WrestleMania recently in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel.
Via the Orlando Sentinel:
“There are a lot of plans in the works. I’m looking forward to going to Saudi Arabia with the WWE, looking forward to WrestleMania – but yeah, we’re moving forward at a rapid pace. It’s exciting to have this opportunity again after all these years where I was there and gone.”
Upon being reinstated to the WWE Hall of Fame in July, Hogan was invited by WWE to interact with the current roster backstage at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view. At the time, the company said in a statement that Hogan received a “second chance” due to contrition and work in the community.
“After a three-year suspension, Hulk Hogan has been reinstated into the WWE Hall of Fame. This second chance follows Hogan’s numerous public apologies and volunteering to work with young people, where he is helping them learn from his mistake. These efforts led to a recent induction into the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Alumni Hall of Fame.”
WWE Crown Jewel will air at 12:00 p.m. ET Friday on the WWE Network.
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