The WWE Hall of Famer – who inducted his close friend into the prestigious wing in 2006 – hasn’t appeared on the company’s flagship show in almost four years, and he made his comeback to pay respects to the legendary interviewer days after his death.
After a 10 bell salute and video tribute to the star – who sadly died aged 76 last Wednesday (02.01.19) – Hogan said: “Let me tell you something, brother! You know something guys, I came out here wide open tonight, in character, because that’s exactly the way ‘Mean’ Gene would’ve wanted it.
“I want to let all you guys know, ‘Mean’ Gene loved entertaining – and he loved entertaining everybody here in the WWE Universe. ‘Mean’ Gene loved entertaining more than anything that he ever did.
“You know guys, I gotta tell ya, being out here in the ring without ‘Mean’ Gene, you know… he’s not here, but he is right here [in my heart], he’s right here, man. I love you ‘Mean’ Gene. I miss you.”
The crowd chanted “Thank you ‘Mean’ Gene”, before Hulk – whose real name is Terry Bollea – launched into a classic promo referencing many of the legends who have passed away over the years.
He said: “Well let me tell you something ‘Mean’ Gene. I know exactly what you’re doing, brother! You’re up there, and all those angels are singing ‘Tutti Frutti’ on top of those big, white clouds!
“I know that you’re putting the greatest tag match together, brother! The tag match between the ‘Macho Man’ – Oooh yeah! – Randy Savage and the Ultimate Warrior versus ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper and Mr. Perfect.
“And I also know that Andre the Giant is the special referee, brother. And I also know you’re probably breaking up a fight between your close personal friends Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan.”
Hulk – who last appeared on ‘Raw’ in March 2015 but returned to WWE at the ‘Crown Jewel’ event in November last year – appeared choked up, but delivered a classic line as a final tribute to his friend.
He concluded: “So ‘Mean’ Gene, I guess there’s just one question left to ask. All the Maniacs up there brother – what ya gonna do when ‘Mean’ Gene-o-mania runs wild on you, brother?”