EDITORIAL: I don’t want Hulk Hogan earning a WWE paycheck after showing his true colors as being a racist

By Shelton Lee, guest writer


Hulk Hogan (artist Travis Beaven © PWTorch)

The following guest editorial was originally published two months ago PWTorch.com. In light of the news of WWE bringing Hogan officially back into the company and his visitation of the WWE locker room today and tweeting about it, we are re-presenting this point of view.


Two hours.

Two hours of cheers and crying and pleading while my Mother listened from a satellite phone somewhere drenched in sweat, grime, and who knows what else? That was how I fell in love with professional wrestling.

Those two hours every few months – Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, Summerslam, and Survivor Series – were my link to my mother as she fulfilled her duty to the United States Armed Forces. Wrestling was how we bonded, and how she kept my mind from dwelling on the crippling reality that I was growing up in the hands of (mostly) capable aunts, uncles, and grandmas instead of with her.

In order for her to understand those cheers and taunts, I had to be well-versed in the storylines. Knowing who was the heroic do-gooder, like my mother, trying to right a wrong, understanding the motivations of the despicable bad guy who thwarted the hero using every cowardly, nefarious trick to gain an advantage – that was how my mom kept me out of trouble. I cherished those phone calls and the weekly viewing required of me to be knowledgeable of the product, and that knowledge is the reason why professional wrestling holds sway over my life today.

My mother loved professional wrestling. A North Georgia girl, she used to tell me stories about how the neighborhood would crowd into the bottom of her church to watch pro wrestling and cheer on Bobo Brazil, Koko B. Ware, and Sylvester Ritter, otherwise known as the Junkyard Dog.

As a Mid-South and NWA fanatic, she expressed her blackness – that irrepressible strength she derived from her daily struggle growing up in the remnants of Jim Crow – by cheering on Ritter as he defeated the monstrous King Kong Bundy, those “Long Haired Bastards” (Mom’s words) the Fabulous Freebirds, and that “loser” Ted DiBiase, whose loaded glove sent Junkyard packing.

My mom used to tell me that the only time she hated wrestling was when JYD was forced to wear that “demeaning” collar, or when he was scheduled to face other black wrestlers such as Ernie Ladd or Kamala. She took special pleasure in watching Junkyard defeat each one of his foes using his strength, wits, and guile – emphasis on wit!

I’ve never asked her, but when she recounts these stories I imagine that young Mary projected her own fears and struggles into the fists of Ritter; his matches were not just wins and losses, they were a struggle against the very powers of Jim Crow, or its remnants. That Ritter, even with that stupid chain around his neck, was the main event on every show was a powerful, lasting image to my mother. His stories were worth telling. They were worth believing in. He was REAL. That connection is something she would never forget… and something I will always remember.

That said, she hated Ritter’s run with WWF. She hated the dancing, the preening, and most importantly, she hated that he was just another guy. He was no longer special, and as I told her stories of his matches with Harley Race (“Washed up!”) and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine (“Who?”) you could almost hear the bile rise in her throat. She heard me cheer and hum along to the theme songs of Ultimate Warrior, Macho Man, and the top star, Hulk Hogan. She wanted to know why Junkyard never got to knock any of them down a peg.

I would shrug and explain how the evil “Mega Bucks” were about to wrestle the “Mega Powers” and how Macho Man’s jealousy was making him hate Hogan. “These stories are getting worse and worse,” she would say wearily, as I desperately pleaded for Hogan to return to the ring, knowing that Macho Man couldn’t possibly hold off Andre the Giant and Ted DiBiase by himself. Sure enough, Macho was pinned before Hogan could return and, as I cried watching the two friends fight in the ring, all I can remember my mom saying was, “Junkyard would have NEVER left his friend in the ring.”

Much like my mother grew up with Ritter, my formative wrestling years were all about Hulk Hogan. The “24 inch pythons” showed up in every pose I did with my mother or father. I ripped up so many shirts my mom promised to send me to school shirtless if I continued my wanton path of destruction though my Fruit of The Loom tees. My wrestling buddy? Hogan. My brother’s? Macho Man.

You and I both know who won every tag match.

The hand to the ear. The shaking off of every punch and kick. The big boot. The leg drop. The vitamins. The prayers. The cross necklace. All of these things were a part of my wrestling world.

Even when I became a cynical, disillusioned teenager, the newly christened “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan shapeshifted right with me. The leader of the NWO trash talked, cheated, and did whatever he had to do to stay on top, and my jaded world view synchronized with his fall into depravity.

It was glorious! Sorry Bobby Roode, Hogan was there first.

My mother did not watch as much pro wrestling as I got older, but when she did, she often asked me who the black tag team was beating up. The Steiners were beating the Harlem Heat and she would inquire as to why they were not on TV more. She loved the Nation of Domination, telling me, “Ron Simmons is speaking a lot of truth and they don’t even realize it.” She has fond memories of the Rock’s father, and she said if it was not for that “redneck” Steve Austin, ROCKY would be the top star! She wondered why all the black wrestlers were rapping, singing, or generally acting an ass, while the other wrestlers got to be “cool.” She asked why I did not save my money for a Nation of Domination shirt, or why Harlem Heat did not have a shirt. I would tell my mom they were never “cool” enough and proceeded to enjoy the latest NWO beat down, never quite noticing how the Cryme Tymes, G.I. Bros, R-Trizzles, and “DAMN!’s” of the world had replaced that image of strength my mother saw in Ritter so many years ago.

I realized later that my mother was experiencing then what I am experiencing now – my blackness is under attack. Hulk Hogan, the now-disgraced (and outed racist) Hulk Hogan, sent into exile after his disgusting comments were revealed to the world, says he wants back into the WWE business.

Will the largest professional wrestling company, the same one that has provided me with so many memories, friends, and a sense of belonging, decide to bring this man back to be… what? A mentor? An on air personality? A brand ambassador? It defies logic at best, and is tone deaf at worst.You would think that choosing between the disgraced racist, Hogan, and a minority fan, who has spent thousands of dollars attending shows, buying merch, watching television and pay-per-view shows, paying the monthly $9.99 network subscription would be an easy choice, right?  I mean, hell, my beautiful visage is front and center in their latest WrestleMania commercial! You would think that my business would matter. Further, you would think my BLACKNESS would be worth something to them, right?

You would think that keeping people like me, and the large contingent of people who look like me or understand the history of the minority plight, was worth more than providing a coward and a racist one final moment in the sun. Hell, the asshole refuses to even apologize for his racist, slanderous remarks!

Sheesh.

Much like my mother’s disdain for CoCo, JYD, and 2 Cold Scorpio’s run in WWF, I constantly fight the reality of what I see in acts like R-Truth, Titus O’Neil, Apollo Crews, The New Day, and Street Profits today. As a black wrestling fan (and yes, all of these things are both separate and equally a part of how I view what I see), my desire to see them all be successful is tempered by their presentation. Montez Ford has undeniable talent and charisma; he is highly athletic and has picked up on some of the smaller intricacies of the in-ring performance that makes even jaded fans like me cheer and lose ourselves in the moment. He is going to be a star, but…

Big E, back when his last name was Langston, is often the forgotten NXT Champion. His title reign is rarely mentioned, but his repurposed 5 Count Gimmick (made famous by Ritter’s nemesis, King Kong Bundy), his unique look, and his undeniable sense of humor (follow his Twitter account if you don’t believe me) had me pegging him a future world champion and someone this company could build into the next Rock. He was – in my mind – what Bobby Lashley should have been. He should be a huge star, but…

Very rarely are African-American professional wrestlers presented like their white counterparts in WWE, and anyone who says otherwise is a liar. Remember Shelton Benjamin’s “Mama?” How about Men on A Mission? 2 Cold Scorpio? “Sexual Chocolate” Mark Henry? The Godfather? We can dive deeper, but the point remains that if you aren’t dancing or smiling you are most likely an afterthought in the WWE. Their inability to present black wrestlers with any semblance of nuance is maddening. I can imagine what would happen if Apollo Crews or Cedric Alexander were protected like Randy Orton, or given characters like Bray Wyatt, or allowed to speak passionately about their love for wrestling like Daniel Bryan… and I just shake my head.

As indy favorites like Richocet, “Limitless” Keith Lee, and Lio Rush make their way to WWE, my mind races back to this reality slowly confronting me – WWE does not care about my blackness. They do not care about me seeing nuanced black MALE characters (because shoutout to Sasha Banks, Ember Moon, and Bianca Belair for not being pigeonholed into caricature like their male counterparts) fighting for the biggest prize in Sports Entertainment. Apparently, according to WWE, I cannot have calculating heels or larger-than-life babyfaces who do what’s right that have the same hue as me. Although, there has been some progress, any consideration of a return for Hogan is further indications that change will not be forthcoming anytime soon. It only further serves to exemplify the WWE’s tone-deafness towards their black audience.

I want to see Velveteen Dream and Keith Lee wrestle at WrestleMania. I want to see Big E get his hand raised, preferably after a five count (because, “3 ain’t enough man, I need 5!”), after overcoming the odds and being the hero that my sons will one day look up to. I want Richocet to inspire, Apollo to cut a passionate promo, and for Cedric Alexander to be more than a smiling, athletic blur of talent. I want Kofi and Woods to transition away from the pancakes and trombones and show more of their UPUPDWNDWN personality to the world. I want to spend my money watching these brothers compete at the highest level, on the biggest stage, for real stakes, with real stories that make them fully-realized characters, not one-note caricatures.

In short, I just want to see their blackness, in all its glory presented to the world, so that maybe they will see mine. That is the point, is it not? The goal is to reach as many people, regardless of race, ethnicity, or creed while furthering the bond between father/son, mother/daughter, father/daughter, and mother/son. If the WWE can go to Saudi Arabia and understand, and cater to, a social climate that disenfranchises half of the WWE roster (i.e., women), then why would they not try to understand how much Hogan has hurt their black fanbase?

What I don’t want is Hulk Hogan being allowed to earn a paycheck after showing his true colors as being a racist, entitled piece of garbage. In the grand scheme of things, I am a nobody to the WWE. I am a fan. I am also a black man. I have experienced racism, sometimes at WWE events, and I still carry the burdens that comes with racial profiling and unjust policing.

Wrestling is supposed to be the escape – where I can lose myself in the spectacle of the moment. This escape served me well as a young kid coping with my mother being away in the military fighting for the freedom that the Hogan character used to stand for. I want it for people like my mother, who found her blackness in the characters who truly represented her, like Ritter. I want to show my sons that the idea that a black man can be the very best is not just a hope but a reality that plays itself out through their favorite black wrestler on a WWE screen

And sadly, if WWE cannot see how powerful that is to someone like me, it might be time for me to take my business elsewhere.


Submit a guest editorial anytime to pwtorch@pwtorch.com for consideration.


NOW CHECK OUT THIS GUEST EDITORIAL: EDITORIAL: Cutting His Swath, Bruno Put The ‘Pro’ in Professional Wrestling

32 Comments on EDITORIAL: I don’t want Hulk Hogan earning a WWE paycheck after showing his true colors as being a racist

  1. This is kind of stupid. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but this REALLY feels contrived.

    Plus, I don’t see a name on this anywhere. I like the Torch, but shouldn’t there be a byline? Anyone could’ve written this. Editorials, especially written in first person, should carry a name. Only editorials when a newspaper endorses a candidate don’t normally have a name.

    • The byline is at the very top of the page. BY SHELTON LEE, GUEST WRITER

      I can assure you that it’s not contrived; a friend of mine, a pro wrestler, was brought to tears reading this. While I agree that ‘grow up’ about captures my sentiment, for many (and for myself, when I was younger) what seems contrived and earnest can in fact be the way it feels.

  2. I too grew up a Hogan fan and while I hate what he said , I don’t hate the person . The same holds true for Stone Cold , John Cena , Rock , Shawn Michaels , HHH and others in this business that have done some horrible things to others . And yes I as a black male would love to see a black character in wrestling just be a great wrestler without a “jive talking hip hop” gimmick but then they run into being called a sell out or an uncle tom or something . Maybe one day it will happen but I won’t hold my breath.

  3. Your hypocrisy and your racism is on full display. If you want people to judge you by your character and not by your skin, then stop worrying about your “blackness” being under attack. Just be a person. Your race religion sexual orientation or gender should not be your identity stop treating it as such or at least stop projecting the idea that is what everyone else sees when they look at you.

  4. Get over yourself kid. If anyone’s racist, it sounds like your Grandma was. 90% of the nation isn’t racist, Terry isn’t either. Most intelligent people judge others on their character and actions other than the color of their skin. He deserves a place in WWE, most fans want him there. I’m sure WWE won’t miss your 9.99 a month too badly. And to everyone who judges him for a stupid mistake he made years ago, maybe look back on your own life and everything you’ve said and done, I’m sure you’re every bit as guilty of saying or doing something stupid as well. I k ow I am.

  5. If the word white was to replace black in your article, there would be an outcry of racism shouted at pwtorch. Your tone is blatantly racist. I’ve heard many black atheists and music stars spew their racist remarks, which are far worse than what Hogan said, in the national media and to my face.
    If you want Hogan to lose his livlihood for his remarks, then they all should lose their livelihood. Hogan has apologized for his remarks while the rest justify theirs. You can’t be onesided with your views, it just adds to the problem.

  6. How can anyone be a Terry Bollea fan in 2018?

    The first commenter, “Rod”, wrote pithily “Grow up”.

    Well Rod, the thing about “growing up” is that an adult puts away their childish things, or at least puts them in context of the whole of life.

    Hulk Hogan/Terry Bollea is among the most childish of things. An adult clinging to nostalgia for their childhood over the very ugly reality of what Hogan (and frankly a great deal of wrestling) has revealed himself to be (in several different contexts, btw), is just sad.

  7. This writer sounds racist himself, as does his mother. Why would his mother want him to buy a Nation of Domination shirt? They were presented as villainous bigots. Why did she dislike watching Junkyard Dog wrestler other black men? Why is the author so incapable of forgiveness?

  8. Shelton/Sam: so you are saying that anyone (who was recorded against their knowledge) that said something negative (years ago) using foul language when talking about one person in particular that he knew, had dealt with and was also involved with his daughter against his wishes, should NEVER be able to hold another position with the company he helped make what it is today? So in your world I guess there is no such thing as apologies or “doing your time and paying for your crime”?!? Give me a break. All criminals are not punished the same. Go listen to Booker T’s podcast and what he said about Hogan. I’m honestly really shocked that Wade Keller and the Torch even posted this “editorial”. Here’s some revisionist history: Shawn Michaels, the Hall Of Famer that is affectionately known as Mr. Wrestlemania was one of the biggest assholes ever in the company before he “found God”. It is well-documented the very public things he said and did to hurt others…and that was mostly his coworkers in the same company, yet he was never fired in fact he is revered and held in the highest esteem still to this day…but Hogan was recorded years ago (privately and against his knowledge) talking bad about a guy outside WWE that he felt was not good for his daughter and he is still in exile…and it sounds like if Shelton, Sam or Wade had anything to do with it, he would stay that way. Think about that for a second. He’s an adult that talked negatively about another adult that he knew and felt strongly about the influence this person had on his daughter. I bet everyone reading this has a memory of blurting something out in anger that they wish they never said and are thankful it wasn’t recorded and played over and over on national media. He’s Hulk Hogan, he didn’t get to be where he was by being a racist. There is a difference between a coffee drinker and someone who drank a cup 9 years ago. I ask this question: if it were you and someone recorded you talking about your daughter’s white boss being a prick and you got fired from your job, would you give you a second chance? Your personal private comments would probably have no bearing on your job because your recording wasn’t being drug through the media and “experts” like yourself wouldn’t be spouting off saying you should never be allowed to earn a paycheck ever again. All I’m saying is one moment doesn’t define us. Booker T & MVP both were incarcerated and look what they have done since they got out. Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea) deserves a second chance to make it right and go out on top.

    Here’s my email if you would like to reply: tdobud@yahoo.com

  9. I agree Hogan should not be brought back. Not because he said bad mean words that make people cry. But because of the entire John Graziano incident. Call me crazy but I’d rather have mean things said about me than be a vegetable for the rest of my life.

    And as for the article in general, Shelton Lees mothers own obvious racism is not an argument against Hulk Hogans.

  10. “And sadly, if WWE cannot see how powerful that is to someone like me, it might be time for me to take my business elsewhere.” See that’s the problem with WWE, every fan is expendable, and i understand that, it’s a business, not made entirely for you or me.

    And this i don’t mean as an instult (I’m From Finland with broken english) But i very much doubt that there is even one person in world, who haven’t said / been racist even at least once in their life, no matter what skin color. “long haired bastards” might sound racist to someone else. My hero is Chuck D, so you know that even as i’m white, i respect people equally, who deserve to be respected.

    And one thing that i think people forget too easily, is that these things change so fast in the world. I’m 34 and when i was at 2th grade, our history books had the N word to describe the people in Africa and such. So, it was teached to us just as a word to something, not as an insult. Of course 20 years later you can go to jail for saying it, crazy times. I’ve read my grandmas and suchs school books and the language was even more savage, but they didn’t say anything about whites being better, it was just a word to describe people in Africa.

    Sorry for long post and sorry if i insulted anybody, wasn’t my intention at all. I think Hulk should be in WWE coz Hulk made WWE (with help from every race and type of people.)

  11. The writer of this editorial can take his article and stick it straight up his ass. I do not normally say bad things about a writer or a columnist on PW Torch but I will say this writer is a complete asshole and his article about Hogan is nothing but a pile of monkey poop. Hogan will be more then welcome back to WWE by me.

  12. “Hell, the asshole refuses to even apologize for his racist, slanderous remarks!”

    Wow, talk about ignoring the facts in order to push a narrative. You should work in Washington.

  13. I am sure Hogan is embarrassed and mortified by what he said and even moreso that it was made public. But every man can grow and change. It will never be forgotten, but WWE is a big platform and if somehow he can apologize and atone and help others with his humbling, he should be allowed to do it. He is too old to wrestle, but he is never too old to atone for what he did wrong. Hopefully he will take this opportunity and do positive things with it.

  14. Kinda shocked Wade would even publish this. Look Shelton, Hogan said something negative in private about a man he knew that he was angry about and didn’t think he was a good influence on his daughter. It was unfortunate but he was being recorded against his knowledge and without consent. Everyone reading this has said something they regret in a moment of anger; I don’t care who you are, you have done it. To say he doesn’t deserve a second chance is ridiculous. The reason this site is alive and well is partly due to Hulk Hogan’s contributions to wrestling and WWE. Wade please consider removing this “editorial” from the site, as it serves no other purpose than to continue to add more fuel to the fire of negativity and hatred. Remember, the court found in favor of Hogan because he was taped against his knowledge and Gawker distributed to the world. Imagine if that were you. I’m very sad for you Shelton that you have nothing better to do than spend all that time writing your story about how Hogan “wronged” you and the black community. BTW the same guy prior to John Cena granted more Make-A-Wish wishes than anyone before him. Didn’t remember that did you? Just the one private comment he made one time about someone he was angry towards as a concerned parent. Like Rod said above: Grow up.

  15. Hogan did nothing wrong, whether you agree with what he said or not.
    He was not making a public statement.
    He was having a private conversation between the four walls of a private home, and being filmed without knowing. What he says in his own privacy in a home, is his business.
    If you disagree, than maybe we should have a CCTV camera with live streaming in your own home, so whenever you say something politically incorrect, between the 4 walls of your own home, which I’m sure everyone has on more than 1 ocassion, you can lose your job and income. Sound fair?

  16. The most telling thing about this long winded post, and generally every argument on social media, is when the writer conveniently leaves out details that would hurt their initial argument. That would be leaving out Bobby Lashley, who I might add, went over clean against the top guy in the company Sunday. He has been presented as a badass, nice guy, military guy. Of course the original poster would still find something to complain about. Because that’s what people do these days….complain.

  17. So Shelton, let’s be clear about this. Hogan, was filmed committing adultery/having sex with another man’s wife. After this, he uses a racially insensitive term. Your great beef and your argument for why he shouldn’t be let back into the WWE?….a racially insensitive comment….while sleeping with another man’s wife.
    Let me be clear. You are morally bankrupt.

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