Despite being booked in Hollywood, a very special place in the careers of more than a few WWE Superstars, with performers like Hulk Hogan and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson incorporating the city's name into their moniker, WrestleMania 39 only had two surprise guest appearances on the show, neither of which had much of an association with the City of Angels.
The first return belonged to Pat McAfee, who went on to beat up The Miz with San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle in the house the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers built in Inglewood. Though the spots were fun, they didn't really have a connection with the city in the same way as The Miz's co-host for the proceedings, Snoop Dogg. Then came Shane McMahon on Night 2, a man who is associated with New York more than anywhere else, who promptly tore his quad and had to be helped out of the arena as a result.
Were either of these returns the stuff of legend? No, neither will be remembered in the same way as “Stone Cold” Steve Austins' return in 2022, but as it turns out, there was almost a return that very well could have been, as, according to Hogan in an interview with Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour, he was propositioned about working an angle with Shane O Mac but ultimately declined the offer because of his back issues.
“You know what’s so funny, Shane McMahon called me,” Hogan said via Fightful. “He goes, ‘Hey, you got one more in you, old man?’ I said, ‘Take it easy with the old man stuff, brother.’ I said, ‘What do you want to do?’ He goes, ‘All you gotta do is stand in the middle of the ring, and I’ll come do it.’ I said, ‘Right now, my back needs a little more work, but that’s something we can talk about next year.’ I’ve always wanted to have a retirement match. I’m not moving around the way I should be, so I’m going to keep working and keep training and keep doing rehab and see where I’m at about six months from now. All I found out in the wrestling business, brother, is you never say never.”
Wait, what? Fear not, WWE fans, for Hogan had more to say on the topic, and it's very interesting indeed.
Hulk Hogan hasn't closed the door on a WWE retirement match.
Discussing his conversations with Mr. McMahon's baby boy a little further, Hogan noted that the duo linked up at an event at Madison Square Garden and discussed how Shane wanted to give the “Hulkamaniac” a proper retirement match to not only draw a massive number at a “Premium Live Event” but also to honor the Hall of Famer's legacy.
“I talked to Shane probably about three months before WrestleMania, and he happened to be at Madison Square Garden, and I guess there’s a place in Madison Square Garden where they got the Hall of Fame, and they’ve got my boots up there, and they got my tights,” Hogan said. “He took a picture standing in front of it, and Shane called me at home. He goes, ‘Hey, look at that picture I just sent you.’ I looked at it, he goes, ‘Well, you got one more in you?’ I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ He started running storylines by me to try to ramp us into that mode. I said, ‘Those were all good storylines, whether you’re coming at me like, ‘Hulk, you quit. My father made you and you left, you walked out on my father,’ which I did. Or go the opposite way, that ‘my dad did you wrong,’ because him and his dad go back and forth all the time. ‘My dad did you wrong, I wanna revitalize your career.’ There’s several things we came up with. I told him, ‘I just need to get my feet underneath me more. Now’s not the time, not this WrestleMania, definitely not. Let’s talk about four or five months from now and see where I’m at.”
At 69 years old, Hogan wouldn't be the oldest man to step into a professional wrestling ring, as Ric Flair famously wrestled his “final match” in his 70s, and at 74, he's continued to hint at wanting to get back into the ring once more. Still, Hogan hasn't wrestled a match since all the way back in 2012 as a member of TNA, and considering his well-documented health issues, it's hard to imagine him doing much in the ring, especially against a performer like Shane O Mac, who famously tore his quad attempting a leapfrog at WrestleMania 39.