One aspect of the Hulk Hogan racism controversy that we haven't covered in great detail yet is how his WWE firing affects the company's licensing partners. As we mentioned in our Saturday rumour roundup, WWE immediately sent word to all their partners to suspend work on any projects involving Hogan, but what does this mean in practice?
On July 23rd, one day before Hogan was fired, it was leaked online that The Hulkster would be a playable character in the WWE 2K16 video game. The very next afternoon, hours after Hogan had been fired by WWE, a 2K Sports representative told Polygon that Hogan had been pulled from the game, citing that they were respecting WWE's decision over the matter:
"We are highly respectful of the way that our partners choose to run their business and manage our partnerships accordingly. We can confirm that Hulk Hogan will not appear in WWE 2K16."
Polygon also asked whether 2K planned to remove Hogan from their previous WWE video games, but it seems that no decision has been made on that yet. The representative's response was that it was a "fair question", but that they had "no other comments at this time."
According to Dave Meltzer on his latest Wrestling Observer Radio show, Mattel is in the process of following suit, meaning no new Hulk Hogan figures and removing figures already made from packs about to be distributed to stores.
All Hulk Hogan merchandise has already been pulled from WWE Shop and all episodes of Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling cartoon have been removed from the WWE Network, but matches and video specials of his remain on the channel. However, Meltzer noted that WWE are in the process of deciding whether other Hogan footage should also be removed and what exactly should stay up.
Meanwhile, Hogan has continued to retweet messages of support from his fans and friends, and thanked them again for doing so:
Thank u Maniacs 4 the love and support,it's amazing how many people know who I really am and stuck by my side,I will always keep my head up— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) July 26, 2015
Because of the love and support u have shown me ,thank u from the bottom of my heart oh love HH— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) July 26, 2015
This PR strategy has come under criticism by Dave Scherer of PWInsider.com, who argues that:
"NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO BE DOING THAT HULK! The wound is way too fresh for him to be going on the offensive. It’s fine for people to tweet supportive things about him, but he should really lay low and let others do the talking for him."
I think that's smart advice, as I'm sure I'm not the only one who rolls my eyes a little at some of the defences being retweeted when he was taped using racial slurs, expressing his disgust at his daughter dating an African American and openly admitting to being "a racist, to a point".
At least Hogan hasn't brought any attention to his peer "Rowdy" Roddy Piper's appearance on the Rich Eisen Show, whose out-of-touch, incoherent and rambling response to the outrage made the business look bad and helped nobody. His argument seemed to be "boy, you guys are sensitive," because he was subject to homophobic and racist abuse from fans throughout his career and no-one batted an eyelid, and there's bigger issues to focus on in the world today like "people who walk 5 miles for water every morning", whilst also criticising the media for not reporting all the great things Hogan has done as a celebrity. You may want to watch the segment for yourself though, as it's hard to make sense out of nonsense:
There's still no word on whether The National Enquirer will live up to their promise of "more to come" on the Hogan story and what that would entail. If they do make good on their vow, then tomorrow might be another bad day for the Hogan's image.