Bear in mind, the gimmick he was given was that of a creepy stalker, with WWE hoping to bury him (because, you know, they just had to show that WWF veterans were so much better than former WCW wrestlers). It says a lot about the man that he managed to remain likable despite that. The crowd goes from booing him when masked, to immediately cheering as soon as they recognize him.
His 2012 reappearance after Heath Slater, who had been getting squashed by legends/veterans for weeks, actually won a match by defeating Doink the Clown. His music hit, the half of the crowd that was old enough to remember him flipped their lids, and he came down to the ring and extended a hand of congratulations to Slater, who shook it. BANG! Cue Diamond Cutter.