Ric Flair signed with WWE (then the WWF) in 1991 after a long tenure as the National Wrestling Alliance’s touring world champion. He was still champ when he made the jump, and brought the famous Big Gold Belt to WWE television.
The obvious thing to do was to “unify the titles” by pitting Flair vs. longtime WWE standard-bearer Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VIII in 1992. It was the ultimate dream match. People had wondered for the best part of a decade.
WWE didn’t do it.
Instead, WrestleMania had a double main event of Flair (defending the WWE title he won at the ’92 Royal Rumble) vs. Randy Savage, and Hogan vs. Sid Justice. Justice had eliminated Hogan at the Rumble, then was the last man eliminated by Flair.
Not doing Flair-Hogan at ‘Mania made no sense.
But these videos reveal the reason.
Flair and Hogan did several house show matches after Flair came to WWE. WWE owner Vince McMahon said they didn’t draw, and that’s why he changed WrestleMania.
That’s nonsense. I saw that match at the Civic Arena. The place was packed.
But, as you can see from video of that match at New York’s Madison Square Garden, the crowd was split. There was a huge “We Want Flair” chant before the intros, and a big pop when Flair appeared to defeat Hogan.
That’s at MSG, WWE’s spiritual home. The NWA champ gets big-time babyface support.
McMahon and Hogan couldn’t have that. Hogan had to get a 100 percent babyface reaction. Against Flair, he didn’t. That nixed Hogan and Flair doing the main event at ‘Mania.
Would McMahon compromise drawing power and what the fans want by way of indulging personal preference and a moody star?
Of course, he would. He’s done it many times.
Hogan was petty, as was McMahon on his behalf. When Justice eliminated Hogan at the Rumble, it was done fairly even though Hogan acted like a friend had betrayed him. Crowd reaction supported Justice, as did announcer Gorilla Monsoon. But future broadcasts of the elimination edited fan reaction and Monsoon’s comments to support Hogan.
Flair lost the title to Savage, got it back, then dropped it for good to Bret Hart. In WWE, Hogan avoided working with Flair like the plague. They didn't main-event a pay-per-view until 1994, when Flair was in World Championship Wrestling and Hogan joined him.
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