Although Extreme Rules isn’t a PPV that people get very hyped about–it’s not on par with WWE’s bigger events like Wrestlemania or the upcoming Summerslam–something huge happened during the show to make it quite notable. Hulk Hogan, who had been banished from the company due to racist remarks, returned to a WWE ring for the first time in over three years, since his last appearance at Wrestlemania 31. However, he was never on camera, although his place in the WWE Hall of Fame has been secured (again).
Earlier on Sunday, Hogan was spotted in Cleveland, which is about a two hour drive away from Pittsburgh, where Extreme Rules was taking place. This got a lot of people talking about whether or not Hogan would appear on the show. Later in the day, WWE stated that the superstar has been reinstated into the Hall of Fame. Knowing all this, it was a surprise to many fans when Hogan didn’t have a moment on the July PPV.
On the Kickoff Show, it was mentioned that Hogan was backstage during the event. That, along with a tweet from Hogan–seen below–gave fans a lot of hope that the Hall of Famer would show up. But when would he come in? Would it be during the early moments of the show, during Reigns vs. Lashley, or maybe even during AJ Styles vs. Rusev? Regardless, fans got excited over nothing, as Hogan never came out, which is a bit problematic since WWE’s coverage of its relationship with Hogan prior to the PPV overshadowed Extreme Rules as an event. I guess we’ll all just wait until Summerslam to play the “will he, won’t he” game one more time.
Just met with the @WWE Superstars and on all levels the volume of love and support was overwhelming. I’ve been praying for this day and I finally feel like I made it back home. Only Love 4 the #WWEUNIVERSE brother HH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) July 15, 2018
Hogan was shunned from WWE back in 2015, when a sex tape of the wrestler was released, and in it, he went on a racist tirade. WWE terminated its contract with Hogan, and he was removed for the company’s website and the Hall of Fame. Over the past year, the two have been repairing their relationship, and back in March, rumors circulated that Hogan would appear on the 25th anniversary of Raw. When he didn’t, more rumors began that Hogan would be coming back after he appeared in HBO’s Andre The Giant documentary. Many speculated he would return at Wrestlemania 34. Again, Hogan wasn’t there.
He began working for WWE–then WWF–in late 1979 after Vincent J. McMahon picked him up from Georgia Championship Wrestling. When McMahon’s son, Vince bought WWF in 1982, he decided to make Hogan the centerpiece of the show because of his look and charisma. Hogan is the main reason WWF blew up during the ’80s and early-’90s. He wasn’t just the most famous wrestler in the world, he was one of the most famous people in pop culture. Hogan left WWF for WCW in 1994 and formed the NWO with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, which fueled what would eventually be known as the Monday Night Wars between WCW and WWF. While Hogan hasn’t wrestled with WWE since Summerslam in 2006, he’s appeared numerous times to host events and give a leg drop here and there to other wrestlers.
For more Extreme Rules, check out our live coverage of the event.