Vintage Vault Pre-Viewing: The WWF at Madison Square Garden 3/23/92

Hulk Hogan and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. “Nature Boy” Ric Flair and Sid Justice (w/ Dr. Harvey Wippleman)

We come to a pretty historic point here as we enter Madison Square Garden for the last time in this reboot and this also happens to be the last MSG house show to be televised until 1997. In the seven years that we have been in this building, we have seen the best and worst of the WWF as we came across some hidden gems that most have probably never seen before to those matches that should be kept in the vault and never seen again. For this show, we have a match that on paper looks like a great main event as we have Hogan and Piper teaming up after being vicious rivals only 7 years ago and they face the WWF Champion and the red hot Justice. It is pretty interesting seeing Hogan and Flair facing off one more time before Wrestlemania since Hogan is now feuding with Justice, but it is pretty cool seeing these four guys in one match especially so close to Wrestlemania.

Since the last house show, Hogan and Justice continued the build to their WM match on TV through promos as it was heavily hinted at that the match would be Hogan’s last match, and Flair would ramp up his feud with Randy Savage by claiming that Miss Elizabeth was his at one point and even produced photos of the two of them as Savage denied these. Meanwhile, Piper would build to his match with Bret Hart at WM as the two would cut promos on each other. Considering the only match at WM hyped in this match was Hogan/Justice while Piper and Flair were just there to fill out the teams in essence, it was still a huge main event given the star power in the match.

Hogan and Piper give a good promo before the match and they get a big pop from the crowd while Flair and Justice were red hot as heels. Piper starts off the match with Flair and they square off as Flair taunts Piper before locking up with Piper backing Flair into the corner and the ref forces a break, and they lock up again with Flair backing Piper into the corner and he shoves him only for Piper to slap him in the face. They lock up again with Piper hooking a headlock and he knocks Flair down as Flair rolls outside to regroup before returning to the ring, and they lock up with Flair getting a knee in and he backs Piper into the corner before pounding on him. Piper battles back and fires up on Flair before knocking him down and he continues to pound on him in the corner, and Flair attempts an atomic drop though Piper blocks it and pokes Flair in the eyes before pounding on him in the corner. He whips Flair into the other corner and hits a backdrop before hitting a running kneelift as Flair goes to the wrong corner and Hogan gets a shot in from the apron, and Piper knocks Flair down only for Flair to rake the eyes and Piper blocks a hiptoss before hooking a backslide for a two count. Flair argues with the ref and Piper knocks him down before whipping him inside out in the corner with Flair landing on the apron, and Hogan hits a big boot on Flair on the apron and knocks him to the floor before throwing him back into the ring. Flair begs off as Piper grabs him by the hair and tags Hogan only for Flair to escape and he begs off briefly before tagging Justice, and the two men have a staredown as Justice gets a knee in and he pounds on Hogan before kicking at him repeatedly in the corner. He continues to pound on Hogan who grabs at his leg and Justice kicks at him before hitting a slam, and he poses to taunt the crowd and he stomps on Hogan before choking him on the ropes in the corner. He tears at his face and kicks on him in the corner before pounding on him until Hogan blocks a ram into the buckle, and he gets a back elbow in and rams Justice into the buckles before pounding on him in the corner and he whips him into the other corner before splashing him. Justice recovers quickly and gets a kick in before pounding on Hogan as Flair taunts him from the apron, and Justice chokes Hogan on the ropes and kicks at him repeatedly as Piper makes a blind tag and he fakes Justice out as Hogan hits a slam on Justice. Piper pounds on Justice on the mat and slams the back of his head into the mat repeatedly as he continues to pound on him for a one count, and Justice gets a kick in and takes Piper to the mat with a headlock until Piper escapes with a headscissors and Justice nips up to escape the hold. Justice hits a clothesline on Piper and he taunts the crowd before giving Flair a high-five and he stomps on Piper, and he hits a backbreaker on Piper and tags Flair who pounds on Piper in the corner before stomping on him and he chokes him with the tag rope. Justice gets a shot in on Piper and continues to choke him with the tag rope as Flair hits a snapmare for a two count, and Flair tosses Piper through the ropes to the outside as Justice grabs a chair and hits Piper in the back pretty weakly with the chair. Justice stomps on Piper from the apron as Flair pulls him back into the ring and pounds on him in the corner as Piper tries to battle back, and Piper reaches for the tag only for Flair to rake the eyes and Piper ducks a shot before hitting a clothesline on Flair. Justice tags in as Flair grabs Piper’s leg to prevent him from tagging and Justice stomps on Piper, and he slams Piper’s head into the mat and kicks at him before hitting a hangman’s neckbreaker on Piper. Justice goes up to the middle rope only for Piper to nail him coming in and he fires up on Justice who backs him into his corner, and he rams the shoulder into Piper repeatedly as Hogan comes in and scratches Justice’s back until the ref forces him out. Flair tags in and hits an atomic drop on Piper before hitting a snapmare and he goes up top only for Piper to grab him and toss him to the mat, and Piper crawls to the wrong corner first and Flair grabs him as Piper avoids him repeatedly and Hogan gets the hot tag. He fires up on Flair and whips him into the corner before hitting a backdrop and he hits a pair of clotheslines, and he gets a shot in on Justice as Flair begs off and Hogan hits the big boot before hitting the legdrop as Wippleman distracts the ref. Justice gets in the ring with the bag and he hits Hogan in the back with it before putting Flair on top of him for a two count, and Hogan starts to hulk up as he no-sells Flair’s shots in the corner and hits an atomic drop before raking Justice’s eyes as he gets in the ring. Piper comes in and all four men brawl as Justice rakes Hogan’s eyes and tosses him to the outside, and Hogan stalks Wippleman as Piper pounds on Flair in the corner until Justice nails him from behind and tosses him to the outside. Hogan rolls back into the ring as Justice hits an axehandle on Piper off the apron and Hogan hits a clothesline on Flair which gets the three and he wins the match for his team.

The match itself was really good as both teams worked hard and put on a pretty fun tag match. It was cool seeing Hogan and Piper team up here while Flair and Justice also looked good given that they were allies two years ago in WCW, and they had really good chemistry and put on a solid match that was really over with the crowd. It was a bit weird seeing Piper here as Savage made more sense given that he was going to face Flair at WM, but I could see why they wanted to keep them apart until WM to build the heat and this in essence pays off both Piper/Flair and Hogan/Flair that had been brewing since the end of 1991. I thought it was smart to have Hogan and Justice not do too much together as it kept their issue hot as well going into WM and Piper played a great face-in-peril. I was shocked to see Hogan pin Flair clean here as this match screamed having a DQ or countout and it probably didn’t make Flair look good losing clean here so close to WM, but the crowd was red hot for the match and they did pop big time for Hogan and Piper when they won. Hogan and Piper get the win over Flair and Justice and both men move on as they head to WM and we have the end of an era here at Madison Square Garden.

Final Grade: ***1/2