Remember Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair at Wrestlemania? Me neither, because Vince McMahon shockingly never booked the biggest match of all time at the biggest show of the year.
Two of the biggest stars in wrestling history are undoubtedly Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair. Despite both retiring over a decade ago (sans Ric Flair’s last match which was horrible), both remain rooted in the public conscious and would be the first name out of fans mouths when you ask who their favourite wrestlers were (depending on the location, of course).
A match between the two future Hall of Famers seemed inevitable. When Flair debuted in the World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment, or WWE) in 1991, he and Hogan traded promos hinting at a future feud. However, for one reason or another, Vince McMahon never pulled the trigger and we never saw the two behemoths battle inside a WWE ring.
It has stuck in the minds of fans for years, why WWE didn’t book Ric Flair vs Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania? At times it seemed like the obvious thing to do and the biggest match they could put on. However, the reasons why it didn’t take place until years later in another come make a lot of sense and speak volumes of the characters of everyone involved.
Why Didn’t Hulk Hogan Fight Ric Flair At Wrestlemania?
There are many reasons that have been claimed to be the reason why Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair didn’t happen at Wrestlemania. As two of the biggest stars in the country it seemed obvious that they would be paired together for Wrestlemania VIII – and originally, they were!
Vince McMahon usually decides the main event of Wrestlemania months, if not years, in advance. It is one of the most important matches in the calendar and getting it right or wrong can have huge implications not just for the show, but for the WWE’s year as a whole.
Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair was originally set for Wrestlemania VIII. WWE had booked the pair to face off in house shows on the lead up to the show, with fans getting excited about seeing the WWE World Champion vs The NWA World Champion inside a WWE ring. They sold tickets on live events to the match to gauge interest in the bout and see just how much money they could make by booking The Immortal vs The Nature Boy.
Sadly, the results were not quite as expected. According to multiple source, the ticket sales were not as good as they expected. Fans simply weren’t buying tickets to watch the pair face off enough to justify a big pay per view match. Now, they could be many reasons why fans did not buy tickets to the shows, but clearly Vince McMahon had seen enough to pivot away from the match.
Another reason for the bout not taking place was a tale as old of time in professional wrestling – the wrestler’s ego. Both men were known to want to protect their own spot, with Hogan famously never wanting to put anybody over unless it directly helped himself (“That doesn’t work for me, Brother!)”. His reigns as the WWE Champion had been legendary but he rarely let anyone get one over on him.
Ric Flair could also be stubborn when it came to winning and losing. Given the fact he came into the WWE as the NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion and one of the biggest stars in the United States, he had cause to want to come in with a big victory over the top guy in the WWE. There would have been merits and problems with either men winning, so to save himself the headache Vince McMahon decided just to not book the match at all.
Instead, both men were put into different rivalries with very little crossover. Ric Flair won the WWE Championship at the 1992 Royal Rumble, proclaiming it the “greatest day in my life”. He would go on to defend the title against “Macho Man” Randy Savage in one of the advertised main events of the show, although the bout would only be put 6th on the card despite featuring the world champion.
Meanwhile, Hulk Hogan won the right to main event Wrestlemania once again, as he faced Sid Justice in a blockbuster match. While Sid did not have the star power of Savage or Flair, he would at least agree to put over Hogan which made the bout a hell of a lot easier than it would have been. This was billed as “Hogan’s Last Match”, although he only left the company for a hiatus whilst the controversy of the “steroid trial” died down. He also only won the match by disqualification, hardly fit for a big money match at Wrestlemania.
McMahon’s attempt to push Sid Justice as a top heel could also have been the reason behind the dream match not being booked. However, it seems very short-sighted to miss out on a huge match filled with stars just to try and build someone who, realistically, could never be on their level. Given the fact he lost anyway, this seems like something the company would put out to make themselves look less bad.
It sad we never saw Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair in WWE in their primes, when The Hulkster signed for WCW two years later his first match was against The Nature Boy. His WCW Debut saw him defeating Ric Flair for the WCW Championship, an astonishing accomplishment in his first ever match in the company. This was likely going to be the finish if the pair had fought two years prior and did nothing to harm Flair, although the level of which it elevated the already gigantic Hogan is something to be debated.
They also wrestled years later, when WWE bought out WCW and both Hogan and Flair had jumped ship. Their match was good but nothing close to what it could have been 10 years prior. You can watch that match below.
What did you think of WWE refusing to book Flair vs Hogan? Let us what you think in the comments or click below to read about the Hulk Hogan vs Steve Austin match that never happened
Instead, Wrestlemania VIII