WWE aired their tribute to Gene on Monday’s edition of Raw, and put Hulk Hogan at the center of it.
Hogan showed up “in character” and “wide open” — his words — because that’s how Mean Gene would’ve wanted it, then segued into a Gene tribute video.
“You know something guys, I came out here wide open tonight in character because that’s exactly the way ‘Mean’ Gene woulda wanted it,” Hogan told the crowd at the Amway Center in Orlando.
“I want to let all you guys know, ‘Mean’ Gene loved entertaining, and he loved entertaining everybody here in the WWE universe.”
“I love you, ‘Mean’ Gene. I miss you.”
The crowd began to chant, “Thank You, ‘Mean’ Gene” … Hulk stopped his rant to listen.
Okerlund passed away last week at the age of 76. A few days later, WWE announced that Hogan would make his return to be the master of ceremonies for ‘Mean’ Gene’s televised send-off. That news was met with plenty of resistance from social media as many fans aren’t yet ready to see or forgive Hogan for his racial slur scandal a few years ago. After being tapped using highly inflammatory language, Hogan was essentially excommunicated from WWE. But in the summer of 2018, Hogan was reinstated, and the next move on his retribution tour would be a physical appearance at a WWE show. That happened at Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia in November.
But this was Hogan’s first real appearance. Crown Jewel was not a pay-per-view, and it aired during obscure hours. With Hogan showing up on Raw, WWE gave him quite the platform, but with him returning only to say goodbye to Okerlund, it’s not as easy to protest Hulkamania.