After more than six years away from WWE, "The Immortal" Hulk Hogan is officially back with the company that facilitated his meteoric rise three decades ago.
Hogan appeared at the very beginning of Monday's episode of Raw in a move that was announced on Feb. 21. The WWE's Twitter account welcomed him back with a YouTube video of his entrance song:
According to WWE.com, Hogan's first official role with the company will be hosting WrestleMania XXX in New Orleans.
WWE shared a photo of Hogan arriving with Jimmy Hart on its Instagram account:
Hogan is arguably the most popular and recognizable figure in the history of professional wrestling, so there is a great deal of excitement surrounding his return to WWE. It remains to be seen what type of role the 60-year-old Hogan will have beyond hosting WrestleMania, but most would probably agree that he is back where he belongs.
Vince McMahon is one of many who feel that way as he expressed his excitement regarding Hogan's return on WWE.com.
In which role would you primarily like to see Hulk Hogan utilized in WWE?
"We are thrilled that Hulk Hogan has returned home to WWE," McMahon said. "It's fitting to have him help us celebrate 30 years of WrestleMania and usher in a new era with the launch of WWE Network."
Not surprisingly, Hogan echoed McMahon's sentiments.
"Words cannot express how excited I am to be back in the WWE family," Hogan said. "I only have one question for the WWE Universe: Whatcha you gonna do when Hulkamania runs wild as the host of WrestleMania XXX?"
Count WrestleZone.com as a fan of Hogan's return:
Hogan working the crowd in the WWE just feels like all is right in the world. #WZNetwork— WrestleZone.com (@WRESTLEZONEcom) February 25, 2014
It's possible that WWE and professional wrestling as a whole never would have reached the heights that they have without Hogan. He was the catalyst behind the Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection in the 1980s, and his presence in the main event of WrestleMania I alongside Mr. T against "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff ensured that WWE would become both a national and an international commodity.
Even after all of these years, there are still plenty of Hulkamaniacs out there who want to see Hogan do his thing. Whether he does it as a wrestler, authority figure or whatever else is very much in question, but there is no doubt that WWE can get plenty of value out of Hogan.
One very logical possibility would be to get him heavily involved with WWE Network, as McMahon mentioned. WWE will take full advantage of its massive video library, and Hogan is obviously a huge part of WWE's history. In fact, WrestleZone.com reported that Hogan's return was initially expected to be announced in conjunction with WWE Network.
Hulk Hogan expected to sign return to WWE very soon, was at one stage planned to be announced at WWE Network event: http://t.co/7Ir1wUMd7v— WrestleZone.com (@WRESTLEZONEcom) January 14, 2014
Wrestling a match is also something to consider from Hogan's perspective, but there are understandably some concerns due to his age. Hogan would be limited, but he could potentially blow the roof off the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans at WrestleMania XXX.
The best feud of Hogan's illustrious career arguably came against Piper, and the 59-year-old Piper hasn't been shy about pushing for a potential WrestleMania rematch, as evidenced by this tweet:
If I did WMXXX with Hogan, I'd train my ass off!, and from bell to bell I'd fight with everything I got! I'd WIN!— Rowdy Roddy Piper (@R_Roddy_Piper) January 11, 2014
Hogan and Piper didn't technically go one-on-one at WrestleMania I, but their feud was the vehicle for that famous tag-team match. A Hogan vs. Piper match at WrestleMania XXX wouldn't be a technical masterpiece by any means, but it would ooze nostalgia and could potentially steal the show if done right.
If WWE is torn about putting Hogan on the card because of his age, putting Hogan in a tag-team match is something worth considering, as well. That would limit his in-ring action and bumps, and he could simply do his "hulk up" routine to send the fans home happy.
Even if Hogan doesn't end up wrestling, there is little doubt that he'll do an excellent job as host of WrestleMania.
Regardless of what WWE decides to do with Hogan, the Hulkster clearly has some big plans for 2014:
2014 is my year it's the year of Hulk Hogan and my perfect life,I totally accept it brother HH— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) January 1, 2014
Most of the focus when it comes to Hogan centers on WrestleMania, but that only represents a small piece of the pie. Hogan is a guy who can potentially be used in an on-screen capacity throughout the year, and he will also provide a huge boost in terms of merchandising, media attention and so many other things that fans often fail to recognize.
Over the past several years WWE has become more flexible from a contract perspective as they have accommodated the likes of Brock Lesnar, Batista, Chris Jericho, The Rock, The Undertaker and a host of others.
WWE almost certainly won't allow Hogan to influence booking decisions like he did during his time in TNA, and that is unquestionably a good thing. Hogan still has a place in professional wrestling, and leave it to WWE to figure out exactly what that place is.
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