Hulk Hogan wants another WWE match, but any bout at this stage of his career would only be a pockmark on a Hall of Fame resume.
As appealing as a potential clash with John Cena would be in terms of drawing fans, Hogan's age would make it more embarrassing than entertaining. The Hulkster is better off leaving the uncomfortable image of him hobbling in the ring out of fans' minds.
Cena vs. Hogan has long been a talked-about match as both men are the pillars of their eras.
It's the kind of matchup fans love to dream about, discuss or play out in video game form. The real thing would just be a mess.
That hasn't stopped him from longing for it.
In an interview on The Matthew Aaron Show (NSFW warning: link contains brief profanity/adult language), Hogan said the following:
My goal is to perform in the ring again. It's not if, it's when because I've been training like crazy. The thing is, my back doesn't hurt at all. My back's perfect. You know, I finally got my back straightened out. Now, you know I'm really trying to get myself in that type of shape because if you get in that WWE ring, you got to bring it like The Rock says. You know, that last time I brought it, they were begging me to take it back.
If one dismisses that as just him getting overzealous in the moment, look back to other interviews. The former WWE champ clearly has a comeback and Cena on the brain.
After WrestleMania 30, Hogan told Bryan Cheung of the St Mary's Athletics blog that he had one more match in him:
When asked who he'd like it to be against, Hogan named Cena, citing the drawing power of the match. He joked that Levi's Stadium would need additional seating to accommodate the demand for that bout at WrestleMania 31.
He's right in that a clash of two of WWE's biggest names ever would sell tickets, but the timing isn't right.
Hogan vs. Cena would have been a great match if their paths had crossed earlier. The Hulkster, though, is now 60 years old.
His last singles match was three years ago and, per CageMatch.net, that was a collision with Sting at Bound for Glory 2011 that received underwhelming reviews.
PWTorch's James Caldwell wrote, "They tried to deliver an acceptable match considering the physical limitations in the ring. Add in a few bells and whistles, and it went about as well as anyone could reasonably expect." Nick Paglino wrote on WrestleZone,"...for Sting and Hogan, it was much better than I anticipated."
The gist of these reviews and others was, "Hey, that wasn't as terrible as we thought it would be."
Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez had worse to offer on Wrestling Observer Radio. Both men said (NSFW warning: link contains brief profanity) that Hogan should never get back in the ring again.
His babyface turn would have been a fine last hurrah.
Celebrating with Sting, bloody brow and all, in Philadelphia that night would have been an enduring final image of him. He and Sting managed to work a decent match, but it was clear throughout that both men, especially Hogan, were proverbial shells of themselves.
Hogan's movements were wooden. He only took a handful of bumps and at times, waded through the ring as if it were filled with wet concrete.
Add three years to Hogan's age and three years of ring rust. That's what a would-be dream match with Cena would be up against.
Hogan told The Matthew Aaron Show in the aforementioned interview that his back is better now.
It was just two years ago, though, that Hogan underwent hip surgery, as he shared on Telly.com. In 2013, doctors operated on his knee multiple times in a matter of weeks, per F4WOnline (h/t WrestleZone).
That won't give WWE confidence in allowing him to compete in the ring. Even if officials give him medical clearance, how much can fans expect from him?
A match filled with headlocks and staredowns loses its dream quality in a hurry.
Chances are Hogan puts on a cringe-worthy match like Bret Hart did against Vince McMahon at WrestleMania 26. Hart had no business being in the ring in his 50s after a stroke, just as Hogan doesn't at his age and with his long history on the operating table. The Hulkster will be lucky not to get hurt.
The trouble is that pro wrestling has a culture of not letting go.
Fans chant "One more match" at retired wrestlers. Retired wrestlers return long after they can be anywhere near as good as they were in their prime.
Ric Flair had a chance to go out in style, losing to Shawn Michaels in a tremendous showing at WrestleMania 24.
Rather than exit with grace, The Nature Boy held on. He wrestled for years past that "retirement match" with TNA, adding only disappointing performances to his legacy.
That's what Hogan would do with a comeback match.
Sure he could ride his star power and charisma to an electric moment or two, but do we want to see a broken-down version of our hero? Do fans want to see him put up a stinker of a WrestleMania bout or worse yet, witness him suffer an injury?
Hogan doesn't need to wrestle again. It's best to leave the audience wanting more rather than overstaying one's welcome.
About a potential comeback, Ricky Steamboat told FHM Malaysia's Syed Rafie, "I've been there and done it against Jericho and I proved a point, so there's no sense in jeopardizing that. Everyone who saw me work that match said I did good for my age. They have a good memory of that and I'd like to leave it at that."
That's how Hogan should be thinking. He is one of the greatest stars in pro wrestling history, a Hall of Famer deserving of a spot on WWE's Mt. Rushmore. There's nothing left for him to accomplish in the ring.
Only stumbling awaits him now.
He is a fabulous statesman and spokesperson for WWE and shouldn't deviate from that role to chase some dream that can't be caught.
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