As revealed here by Richard Gray, Hulk Hogan has sent the WrestleMania rumour mill into overdrive with comments he made during a press conference in Australia. Hogan has thrown his hat into the ring and supposedly told Vince McMahon that he would be wrestling at the next 'Mania at the age of 62. The comments that have really sent the internet message boards into a frenzy are that if it's not a farewell match he will be appearing "just to beat whoever has got the WWE title and be champion again."
It certainly makes sense that Hogan would want to appear as next year WWE are attempting to break the WrestleMania III attendance record of 93,173 when Hogan faced Andre The Giant in the main event, the largest recorded attendance for a live indoor sporting event in North America. Back then Hogan was 33, the biggest name in wrestling and the event was seen as the pinnacle of the 1980s wrestling boom.
Hulk Hogan hasn't wrestled since 2011, two years before his disastrous time in TNA ended, but he has never relied on his wrestling ability. Even at the height of his powers in his 30s he got by using the same routine he was doing in TNA a few years ago. Hogan got over, and got over bigger than anyone until the height of The Attitude era, with his amazing charisma and the ability to control the emotions of the audience, he never took anyone to suplex city.
It isn't the first time recently Hogan has discussed another comeback, in August last year he stated he wanted to wrestle John Cena but also seemed to be teasing a feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin. In a Q&A that can be read in full here Hogan states he is a bigger legend than Austin and that "Maybe he and I should lock up and figure this thing out. That would be a nice match." Coincidentally, Austin appearing at WrestleMania next year is another rumour doing the rounds with it being held in his home state of Texas.
Steve Austin hasn't wrestled in 12 years since he was defeated by The Rock at WrestleMania XIX and hasn't said or done anything to suggest that an appearance is more than an internet pipe-dream. In fact relations appeared to be strained between the two parties with Austin failing to appear over the WrestleMania weekend, Chris Jericho replacing him as the WWE Network podcast of choice and Austin openly criticising John Cena for devaluing The Stone Cold Stunner with his poor springboard imitation. The rumours have been so rife Austin felt the need to publicly deny a rift with McMahon on a podcast last month. If Hogan was intent on going over as it sounds then that immediately rules out Cena.
The more likely WWE comeback at WrestleMania is that which was teased at this year's event, The Rock's return to face Triple H in a mixed tag team bout with Ronda Rousey and Stephanie McMahon. The more likely nostalgia match after that is the much talked about "Icon vs Phenom" Sting vs Undertaker, but that is now doubtful after the way Sting's match with Triple H played out.
I would suggest that this is a case of Hogan blowing hot air again as he has done on many times previously and as recently as last year when he was talking up a WrestleMania 31 comeback. Perhaps Hogan's ego is still such that he believes if he puts it out there that he wants to appear, the sheer tide of public excitement will leave McMahon with no choice. He would be mistaken, Hogan is still popular as a nostalgia figure, but as Mark Moore dissects in his book "Total Nonstop Attenuation" Hogan has not been a main event ratings draw for many, many years.
Unlikely conversations aside, the fact is he hasn't taken a single bump nor done anything that involves and real physical exertion since his latest return to WWE in February 2014 as he has been unable to pass the required tests. If the anecdote is true Vince McMahon is likely to have simply been humouring Hogan as he knows full well that he cannot pass the WWE fitness examination and is therefore retired whether he likes it or not. As much as McMahon likes to book his big name part timers for WrestleMania he is not stupid and knows exactly how to book Hogan these days and that does not include defeating the likes of Seth Rollins or Brock Lesnar for the title. More likely is a promo or bit-part in a run-in along the lines of what we saw during Sting vs Triple H this year.
Despite what Hogan did to WCW and TNA and his more than questionable in-ring ability nobody could argue that he is deserving of a farewell match for all he has achieved. Ideally something tasteful that also serves to elevate a star of the future. Another title run however would do nothing but send viewers to TNA or ROH and would be another kick in the teeth for mid-carders such as Dean Ambrose crying out for direction in their careers.