Hulk Hogan will appear on WWE television for the first time since 2015 on Friday when he will serve as the host for the company's Crown Jewel event set to take place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, WWE confirmed to CBS Sports on Wednesday. Hogan returning to host the event was first reported by Ryan Satin of Pro Wrestling Sheet.
It was a strange road to get to the confirmation of Hogan's return on Wednesday. It began with Hogan's likeness surfacing on the superstars page for the Crown Jewel event on the company's website, leading speculation of his involvement with Crown Jewel. Later in the day, however, the picture disappeared, making it look as if the company was simply gauging the audience as it pertains to Hogan's return before making its final decision. Turns out, that was not the case; the final call has been made. As we look back, though, the news of Hogan's return was seemingly confirmed a little over a week ago. In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel, whether intentional or not, Hogan openly admitted that he was traveling with the company to Saudi Arabia, thus all but confirming his Crown Jewel status.
"There are a lot of plans in the works," Hogan said. "I'm looking forward to going to Saudi Arabia with the WWE, looking forward to WrestleMania -- but yeah, we're moving forward at a rapid pace. It's exciting to have this opportunity again after all these years where I was there and gone."
This will mark the return of Hogan for the first time since he was exiled from the company over past racially insensitive remarks that came to light back in 2015. He was removed from the WWE Hall of Fame and had not made any appearances with the company over a span of nearly three years. This past July, Hogan was reinstated to the Hall of Fame, foreshadowing that WWE was aiming to bring him back into the fold on a more regular basis.
He also spoke to the locker room at that time in an incident that drew a wide range of responses from WWE superstars, some positive but mostly negative -- at least those made public. Most notably in the wake of Hogan's meeting with the current locker room, prominent Aftrican-American superstars The New Day and Titus O'Neil released lengthy statements that questioned the sincerity of the apology that was offered up by Hogan.
Considering how controversial the Crown Jewel event has already been for WWE with the company holding it in Saudi Arabia just months after an American resident and Washington Post journalist was murdered at the nation's consulate in Turkey, adding Hogan to the mix is certainly a surprise. Two of WWE's top superstars, John Cena and Daniel Bryan, pulled out of the show over the last week, and this may be WWE doing whatever it can to add brand-name star power to an event that is being torn apart at the seems.