As a guest of Mark Henry and Dave LaGreca on Siruis XM’s Busted Open Radio, Titus O’Neil spoke at length about the situation surrounding Hulk Hogan’s reinstatment into the WWE Hall of Fame and speech to the locker room on Sun., July 15.
O’Neil touches on much of the same ground he and Kofi Kingston of The New Day covered in their written statements last week. But in laying out the scene and his reaction to it for Henry, LaGreca and their audience, Titus paints a more detailed picture of what Hogan said in Pittsburgh and why he and others felt it wasn’t enough to atone for the racist statements made by the man behind the famous wrestling character:
“I think I pretty much summed up everything in my statement, both on Twitter and Instagram...
At the end of the day, the company made a decision. I support the decision. I actually support having one of the most iconic figures in WWE history in Hulk Hogan be in the WWE Hall of Fame. What I don’t support is the apology that was given in regards to, you know, the words and the actions he exhibited years ago. To me, when you have true remorse for being sorry about doing something it’s pretty simple. You don’t have to be prepped to say certain things and you definitely don’t want to make excuses.
And I just feel like the inconsistencies with - from the time that it came out, to last week were so across the board that it’s just like sitting there - it was uncomfortable for me, and I just feel like I want to give the character Hulk Hogan a chance and I want to give the man Terry Bollea a chance to redeem himself not just for his minority fans, but for people who don’t have that same mindset. And from a personal standpoint when there were not many heroes on television at 41 year old people today, I can honestly say that Hulk Hogan was not only a hero to me and to other minorities, but the words that he spoke, he truly let a lot of folks down, both white, black, everything in between. And so I feel like when you make that type of mistake, it’s not just for the time being, but it’s for generations of people, both past and present that you’re trying to make amends to.
And I feel like when you come in a genuine sense that you should do that with no excuses whatsoever and, so you know, Mark expressed how he felt in the meeting which was very spot on of how he felt and then I saw reports that it was a 50/50 split you know with certain people. I respectfully disagree with that, but that was from his perspective and I have always looked at Mark as the leader. And if Mark had made those types of comments, and I don’t feel like he would have came back to the table that same way. Because I know Mark as a man. I don’t know Terry Bollea as a man.
But again, I made a statement, I pretty much lined out everything I had to say. It was pretty much in concordance with what New Day said, you know, we don’t not want him into the Hall of Fame - that would be ignorant to say I don’t want to give a chance that really helped build this business and helped me in the position that I’m in. But at the same token, I’m not trying to be part of a reclamation project when there’s not true remorse behind that reclamation project. If it’s done for show, I can’t be a part of that. I don’t think any members of The New Day or anybody else for the matter, especially those of minority descent and background want to be a part of that reclamation project, so that’s all I have to say about that...
I don’t have a problem with Hulk Hogan being in the Hall of Fame. I don’t have a problem with Hulk Hogan the character being a part of WWE history.
The man Terry Bollea? I have zero respect for the way he came about his apology. It was not an apology and I still feel very strongly about that. He doesn’t have to prove anything to me, he doesn’t have to prove anything to you [Henry] and the end of the day he’s a grown man that made a mistake and however he goes about correcting that mistake, I think that’s all on him. But at the end of the day we’re all role models. White, black, hispanic, indifferent - it does not matter. This platform that we have within the WWE should be able to promote diversity, not only diversity, but also inclusion.
A lot of times, people throw that word diversity around, but they never really use inclusion. The women’s revolution, the new pay-per-view (PPV) we have coming up, Evolution, that’s showing inclusion. That’s a long ways away from where we - when I even came here seven years ago. Where women were getting three and four minute matches. Now they’re main eventing. Things like that - evolution. I want to see evolution of Terry Bollea as a man, with regards to how he’s responding to this... it wasn’t a mistake. It was an action... saying that ‘I’m a racist’ is not a mistake. And then on top of it saying what kind of dude can and can not date your daughter is not a mistake.
If he had just used the ‘n’ word as the Papa John’s CEO did, that’s a bad choice of words and that’s a mistake. But you clearly said on several occassions in one sitting that you’re a racist and that the only type of dudes that are capable - the only type of ‘n’ words that are capable of dating your daughter are the eight foot ones. I’ve been living my entire life, I’ve never met a man that’s eight foot tall in my entire life. So - like I say man, just own up to what you did, what you said, if that’s not who you are, let that be shown with your actions, not your words...
This is not about a second or a third chance. This is about a man making, not a mistake, but making a decision to make statements that he truly felt in his heart - I believe at that time. He may not feel that way now. He may regret it. But to come out and say, ‘you know, I didn’t know I was being recorded’ and ‘you know, be careful what you say’ and ‘I don’t remember what I said - I don’t remember saying that stuff’. When you start off an apology like that? Dude, you lost me already. I wanted to give him a chance. I didn’t know what that meeting was about going in, but I wanted to give him a chance. And he legitimately screwed that all up.
Because, again, it’s not about making a mistake. It’s not a mistake. You’re talking historically using language and saying things that a lot of people in our business unfortunately have used and said in the past. And although our business has come a long way from where it used to be, there’s still some people in this business who spoke that way that just aren’t recorded, or haven’t been. So, you know, Hulk Hogan or Terry Bollea is not the only person who’s used those types of comments. I know that for a fact. You [Henry] know that for a fact.
But he was the one who was exposed to using those comments, so he’s the one who needs to handle the situation publicly on a consistent basis with his apology. And his apology doesn’t just need to be in words. I’d rather it not be in words. I’d rather it be in action to be honest with you. Because the words have been all over the place ever since it came out...
To say that you grew up that way, when it first came out, that you grew up that way and that’s the way people talked around, you know, the guys that you hung out with. First of all, dude, you grew up in the 60s. I don’t know any black man that would allow you to call him that in the 60s. You grew up in South Tampa, you went to Robinson High School. I live in Tampa. Robinson High School was not a predominantly black school in the time that he came to high school. Most of the guys, his counterparts that he wrestled with - Mike Graham, Eddie Graham’s kid, Steve Keirn - these guys all went to high school with him. So don’t tell me, that that’s how you spoke in the 60s. There’s no realistic way that you can even come close to telling me that that was okay with any black man at that time.
So again, the inconsistencies of the apology along with the lack of remorse and contrition with the apologies, are the reason why I felt, and many others felt in that meeting that this was a complete waste of our time.”