Hulk Hogan vs. “Nature Boy” Ric Flair (w/ Mr. Perfect)
We now come to the last Madison Square Garden show of 1991 and it has been quite the year as things feel very different than from where we were when the year started. As we start looking towards 1992, it still seemed pretty obvious that we would get Hogan and Flair as the main event of Wrestlemania especially following what happened at This Tuesday in Texas. Knowing that the winner of the Royal Rumble would become the new WWF Champion, I’m sure many felt confident that either Hogan or Flair would win and they would meet in Indianapolis for the title. However, things were changing much more than many were seeing on the TV screen as Vince was about to come under some heavy scrutiny for the next few years, but it still seemed like a lock that Hogan/Flair would happen especially with it happening here.
Since their last match back in November, Flair would get involved in the Hogan/Undertaker title match at This Tuesday in Texas though Hogan would overcome it and win the title for a fourth time, and on the 12/7 Superstars President Jack Tunney announced the title was vacant and would be put up in the Royal Rumble. Hogan and Flair would continue their feud on the house shows though Flair would occasionally face Roddy Piper again, and the two would cut promos on each other on TV as they were both announced for the Rumble. It was going to be weird seeing these two face off here with the title not on the line, but again it seemed like all signs pointed to them finally having their big title match at Wrestlemania.
Flair and Perfect were pretty hot as heels and Hogan gets the big pop from the crowd though even that seems to be dwindling at this point, and after being in the middle of the show last month these two get the main event spot this month. Flair and Perfect waste no time and stomp on Hogan to start the match only for Hogan to duck a double clothesline and he hits a clothesline on Flair, and he chases Perfect out of the ring and rakes Flair’s eyes as he rams him into the buckle. He hits a backdrop on Flair and knocks him over the top to the floor as Perfect helps Flair regroup, and Hogan goes outside and chokes Flair with his shirt before ramming him into the guardrail and he pounds on him. He throws Flair back into the ring as Flair begs off and Hogan stomps on him in the corner before raking the eyes, and he whips Flair into the other corner and pounds on him before taking the tape off his hand and he chokes Flair with it. He whips Flair back into the other corner and splashes him as Flair flops to the mat and Hogan pounds on him, and he chokes him with the tape again and whips him inside out in the corner as Flair rolls outside to regroup. Hogan goes outside as well and pounds on him before raking the eyes and he rams Flair into the post, and Flair flops to the floor as he tries to battle back only for Hogan to no-sell his shots and Flair rolls back into the ring. Hogan grabs the leg and pounds on Flair before returning to the ring and he hits the big boot as Flair falls through the ropes to the outside, and Hogan goes outside again and pounds on him before hitting a back suplex on the floor. Hogan gets on the apron and mocks Flair before going back to the floor and he throws Flair back into the ring, and Flair begs off again and Hogan pounds on him in the corner before whipping him inside out in the other corner as Flair tumbles over the top to the floor. Hogan goes outside again as Flair rakes the eyes and Hogan blocks a ram into the post before ramming Flair into the post, and he pounds on Flair and throws him back into the ring as Flair begs off again and Hogan hits a headbutt. He pounds on Flair and knocks him down twice as Perfect distracts Hogan and Flair kicks Hogan in the knee, and Flair rolls outside and trips Hogan up as he rams his knee into the apron and he rolls back into the ring. He distracts the ref as Perfect grabs a chair and hits Hogan in the knee with it as Flair drops a knee on Hogan’s knee, and Flair attempts the Figure-4 only for Hogan to shove him off and Flair tries again only for Hogan to again shove him off. Flair grabs the leg and pulls on it before again attempting the Figure-4 only for Hogan to shove him off again, and Flair rakes the eyes and goes up top only for Hogan to grab him first and he tosses him to the mat. Hogan kicks at Flair’s leg twice and goes outside as he drags Flair to the corner and he rams his knee into the post twice, and Hogan returns to the ring and hits a kneebreaker on Flair before hooking a Figure-4 of his own on. Flair pokes the ref in the eyes and Perfect gets in the ring only for Hogan to hook him in a small package and he releases the hold, and Perfect pulls a pair of brass knuckles out of his pocket and Hogan stalks him in the corner as Perfect tosses the knuckles to Flair. Hogan chokes Perfect in the corner as Perfect rolls to the outside and Flair begs off before nailing Hogan with the knuckles, and he tosses them back to Perfect and gets a two count as Hogan hulks up and he no-sells Flair’s shots. Hogan pounds on Flair and hits the big boot as Perfect rolls outside and Hogan goes after him, and Flair rakes the eyes only for Hogan to block a ram into the post and he rams Flair into the post before rolling back into the ring as the ref counts Flair out and Hogan wins the match. After the match, Flair rolls back in the ring and nails Hogan from behind before whipping him into the corner only for Hogan to fire back with a clothesline, and Flair rolls outside and heads to the back with Perfect as Hogan celebrates in the ring.
The match itself was good as both men worked hard and put on a solid match that was almost more like a squash as Flair hardly got any offense in and Hogan dominated for the majority of the time they got. It was a bit weird as it seemed like they were just treating Flair as another challenger for Hogan and not making it feel special like it should be given these are the two biggest stars of the 80s, and now it is making me wonder if by this point the possibility of seeing these two at Wrestlemania was not going to happen. Especially after the way their last match back in November went, it was even weirded to have the match happen like this as Flair should’ve looked a lot more stronger especially if they were going to go the way they were thinking. Having said that, these two did still have good chemistry and the ending does protect Flair a bit by having him get counted out and Hogan still hasn’t pinned him. The crowd was into the match and they did pop for Hogan when he won. Hogan gets the win over Flair by countout, but this issue is not over yet.
Final Grade: ***