For fans of professional wrestling icon Hulk Hogan, the last 24 hours have not been kind. A transcript of a video recording of Hogan from eight years ago has surfaced, featuring Hogan using racial slurs and even flat out admitting to being racist. This has resulted in WWE terminating his contract, and scrubbing their website clean of any mention of Hogan, as well as rescinding his 2005 Hall of Fame induction.
As expected, these recent events have extended to the upcoming video game from 2K, WWE 2K16. As it stands, Hulk Hogan is being completely removed from WWE 2K16.
2K has released a statement to IGN regarding the issue:
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.
Hulk Hogan is arguably the most famous professional wrestling star of all time, but even so, his removal from WWE 2K16 may not be as major as some fans might believe. While WWE 2K15 heavily featured Hogan, including a collector’s edition based entirely around him, the upcoming WWE 2K16 is based around “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and the Attitude Era of the late 90’s instead. Unless 2K16 features a lot of WCW-based content, this means that 2K16 can easily avoid using Hogan, as Austin and Hogan have hardly interacted over the years, and during the Attitude Era, they were working for entirely different companies.
That being said, WWE 2K16 supposedly features the largest roster in the history of the franchise, and in order for 2K to be able to legitimately make that claim, they would need as many wrestlers as possible. Only cover athlete Steve Austin along with Bad News Barrett, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Finn Balor, Paige, and Seth Rollins have been confirmed for the game to date.
WWE 2K16 marks the second time the franchise has tackled the Attitude Era in the last few years, with WWE ’13 set during the Attitude Era as well. Presumably, WWE will look to license the likeness of many former employees as to properly tell the story of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in the game, and while the lack of Hogan may upset some fans, there should still be plenty of old school professional wrestlers to fill out the ranks, plus Hogan has nothing to do with Austin’s story.
With the focus on Steve Austin and the late 90’s Attitude Era in the then-WWF, 2K and WWE have dodged a PR bullet. As previously mentioned, the collector’s edition of WWE 2K15 was a celebration of Hogan, and furthermore, the main game mode of WWE 2K14, 30 Years of WrestleMania, also featured Hogan front and center. If this scandal came about during the development of either of those titles, it would’ve been a much more damaging situation for 2K.
WWE 2K16 will be available October 27th for PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.