Hulk Hogan vs. “Nature Boy” Ric Flair
As we were heading to the end of the year, there was a lot of anticipation as to when Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair would finally face each other in the ring. Since Flair arrived to the WWF in September, you knew that the obvious path for him was the showdown with Hogan possibly at Wrestlemania which would make sense given they were the two biggest stars at the time. But a wrench was thrown into the mix when Hogan lost the WWF Championship to the Undertaker at Survivor Series thanks in part to Flair, so now you wondered if the match between them would not be for the title or if Hogan would regain it at some point. Before we get to that, we do have them meeting here in MSG which I would imagine was going to be for the title before Hogan lost it, but it was still going to be big seeing these two finally get in the ring together.
This issue has been building since Bobby Heenan showed up with the NWA World Heavyweight Championship and declared that Flair was coming in, and as we saw at Summerslam Heenan tried to issue a challenge to Hogan on behalf of Flair only for Hogan to slam the door in his face. When Flair finally arrived, he continued to call out Hogan including a memorable promo on the Funeral Parlor where he called Hogan “Thunderlips” and said he was winning World Titles while Hogan was making movies. The two would have their first match on 10/22 during the Wrestling Challenge taping and had their first house show match on 10/25, and 3 nights ago at Survivor Series Flair cost Hogan the WWF Title to the Undertaker. There was a lot of anticipation seeing these two finally face off here in MSG even though some starch was taken out with Hogan not being champion, but just having them finally meet was enough to make up for it.
Hogan gets the big pop from the crowd while Flair was red hot as a heel, and in an interesting decision this match is not the main event as it is stuck in the middle of the show. Flair stalls on the apron to start the match and Hogan goes outside as he chases him back into the ring, and Flair stomps on Hogan coming in and he pounds on him in the corner before raking the eyes and he continues to pound on him. Hogan rakes the eyes and scratches Flair’s back as he pounds on him in the corner and he whips him into the other corner before splashing him, and Flair flops to the mat and begs off in the corner as Hogan pounds on him and bites him in the face. The ref pulls Hogan away as Flair again flops to the mat and he gets a shot in only for Hogan to hook a headlock and he knocks Flair down, and he blocks a hiptoss attempt and hits a clothesline on Flair before hitting a second clothesline that sends Flair over the top to the floor. Hogan goes outside and rams Flair into the guardrails repeatedly before pounding on him and he hits a suplex on the floor, and he pounds on Flair and sends him past the guardrails into the crowd as he throws him back into the ring and Flair begs off. Flair gets a kick in and rakes the eyes before hitting a back suplex on Hogan who no-sells it and he hits a clothesline, and he whips Flair inside out in the corner and he grabs Flair in a knuckle lock only for Flair to rake the eyes again. He pounds on Hogan who no-sells his shots and he kicks at Flair repeatedly in the corner before whipping him inside out in the other corner, and Flair lands on the apron and Hogan hits a clothesline that knocks Flair to the floor as Flair heads to the back. Hogan goes outside and follows him down the aisle as he pounds on Flair and he throws him back into the ring, and Flair attempts to hotshot Hogan on the top rope only for Hogan to block it and they exchange eye rakes as Hogan knocks Flair down. He scratches Flair’s back as Flair rakes the eyes and goes up top only for Hogan to nail him and he tosses Flair to the mat, and he hits a clothesline on Flair and pounds on him before hitting the big boot and the legdrop which gets the here though Flair gets his foot on the rope and the match continues. Hogan argues with the ref as Flair kicks him in the leg repeatedly and Mr. Perfect comes down to ringside, and he gets on the apron and distracts the ref as Flair rolls outside and he rams Hogan’s knee into the post before rolling back into the ring. He distracts the ref as Perfect rams Hogan’s knee into the post and Flair wraps Hogan’s leg around the rope, and he drives his knee into Hogan’s knee twice in the corner and pounds on him before slamming down on his leg. Perfect rams Hogan’s knee into the apron and Flair drops a knee on Hogan’s knee before kicking at it, and he yanks at Hogan’s knee and hooks the Figure-4 on as Perfect provides leverage from the outside. Hogan turns the hold around on Flair who breaks it and Perfect puts a pair of brass knuckles on Flair’s hand, and Flair nails Hogan with the knuckles which gets the three and he seemingly wins the match. However, officials come out and one of them pulls the knuckles out of Flair’s tights as the first ref reverses the decision and awards it to Hogan by DQ, and Flair attempts the Figure-4 again only for Hogan to kick him off and he pounds on him on the mat before throwing him over the top to the floor.
The match itself was pretty good as both men worked hard and put on a solid match that was almost like a squash as Hogan pretty much dominated the whole match until the end when Perfect got involved to help Flair. Obviously, you knew they weren’t going to go all out here as they wanted to save that for the big PPV match that seemed to be coming, but at the same time you almost wonder if maybe they should’ve kept them apart and not done the match until Wrestlemania. Having said that, they did decide to do the match here even though it wasn’t the main event which was very bizarre and even weirder is that match went under 10 minutes, but again they clearly just wanted to give everyone a taste as to what they were going to get when these two met on PPV. As I mentioned, the match seemed like a squash as Hogan in essence dominated Flair and Flair needed Perfect’s help to gain control, and the ending was fairly weak as Flair could’ve stolen the win here by nefarious means. The crowd was into the match and are at first not happy when Flair wins, but they pop when the decision is reversed. Hogan gets the win over Flair by DQ and this issue isn’t over yet.
Final Grade: ***