Why WWE did not book the biggest match ever at WrestleMania VIII
WrestleMania VIII was expected to deliver the biggest fantasy match of all time, however, the WWF failed to deliver it. I explain why.
Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair were the two biggest stars of the 80’s.
Hogan ruled the WWF, while Ric Flair was the No. 1 guy in WCW. In 1991, Ric Flair left WCW and signed with the WWF. Many assumed it was a guarantee that the WWF would build to the biggest fantasy match of all-time, the first ever clash between Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair.
Ric Flair instantly targeted Hogan from his debut, with his promos. The WWF were seemingly going to give it a big 8-month build and deliver the payoff at WrestleMania VIII.
However, that never happened. Instead, the WWF scrapped those plans and Hogan and Flair were paired off with Sid Justice and Randy Savage respectively. I will now outline why the match never occurred.
Ric Flair leaves WCW for the WWF
Early on in the Turner Broadcasting era of WCW, they made the monumental mistake of installing a non-wrestling fan, Jim Herd, as their Vice President.
One of Herd’s first decisions as VP was that 42-year-old Ric Flair was “too old,” to be a top star. In fact, he wanted to repackage Ric as a roman gladiator called Spartacus, overlooking the fact that Ric Flair was actually WCW’s biggest draw, and had been so for several years.
Also read: 28 Best Moments from WrestleMania
After turning down an insulting pay cut, Flair was fired by Herd. What Herd didn’t realise, was that back then, the titles technically belonged to whoever held them, and Flair’s title still represented both WCW and the NWA.
Upon hearing about his upcoming firing, Flair picked up the phone to Vince McMahon at the WWF, which ended up with WWF potentially having both of the country’s top title belts on their show and a dream feud between both champions, Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan.
Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair is on... then off
The original plan in 1992, was for WrestleMania VIII to feature a dream match between Flair and Hogan, but soon after was changed to a double main event featuring Flair vs. Randy Savage and Hogan vs. Sid.
They even announced it on TV and then changed plans. See the video below.
Depending on what story you believe, the story goes that Hulk Hogan was planning to leave after the event, and clashed over losing at the event to Flair. Hogan’s idea was to go out on top, by pinning Flair cleanly and leaving as World Champion.
Vince McMahon disagreed with Hogan and changed the match.
Another school of thought is that Vince was nervous that the match wouldn’t be so special, after having already done a house show run, the other speculated reason was that he was trying to save the match for WrestleMania IX.
Whatever happened, McMahon made the decision to put on a double main event instead, and the dream match didn’t happen until both men ended up working for WCW in 1994.
WrestleMania VIII was not a bad show, but it seemed to mark the start of a 6-year stint where WrestleMania certainly started feeling a lot less special and relevant. That was until
the WWE brought in Mike Tyson for WrestleMania 14, in Boston, and ushered in their ‘attitude’ era, lead by Steve Austin.
For whatever reason, McMahon missed the biggest opportunity of the early 90s.
No matter who won the match, Vince would have been able to promote that he had the one true undisputed champion on his roster and show fans that he had the dominant brand.
On top of that, it was set to happen on the biggest event of the year at WrestleMania VIII in the Hoosier Dome in Indiana. The WWF made some good use of Flair during his short first tenure, like his matches with Randy Savage and Bret Hart, but he ultimately opted to move back to WCW.
It appears that Vince McMahon was backed into a corner. I don’t believe it had anything to do with the house show run or the match not drawing money, but more so with not being able to agree on the finish.
McMahon was in the midst of the steroid scandal and could not have had Hulk Hogan at the front and centre of his company any longer, therefore, making him his WWF Champion made no sense.
However, back in 1992, a WWF show would never close with the heel going over the babyface, and Hogan would not have agreed to such a finish anyway. A DQ finish would’ve satisfied nobody.
Alternatively, Hogan going over and vacating the title, 4 months after it was already vacant and won by Flair at the 1992 Royal Rumble, would have buried both Flair and the title’s significance.
Re-booking WrestleMania VIII
If it had been my call, I would have put Hulk Hogan over at WrestleMania VIII and given fans the dream match. I would have then had Hogan stay on for one TV taping, dropping the title back to Flair.
Hogan staying on for one extra TV taping and dropping the WWF Title on a special edition of Saturday Night’s Main Event, would have seen Flair winning on a smaller stage, but in front of a much wider audience than WrestleMania VIII.
It would allow you to cash-in on Hogan vs Flair, end WrestleMania VIII with the face winning, and the feud would conclude with Ric Flair winning and getting his heat, his credibility and the WWF Championship back.
My WrestleMania VIII Card would have still featured the Bret Hart vs Roddy Piper, Intercontinental Championship match. However, my other top matches would have been:
- WWE Championship: Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair
- No Holds Barred: Randy Savage vs Jake the Snake Roberts
The Undertaker vs Sid Justice
- WWE Intercontinental Championship: Rowdy Roddy Piper vs Bret Hitman Hart
The Road to WrestleMania VIII and beyond
Ric Flair would win the 1992 Royal Rumble, as he did, but I would have had Mr. Perfect assist him in eliminating and screwing Hogan. During the match, I would set up Sid Justice vs The Undertaker.
Sid Justice would be a guest on the funeral parlour and would attack The Undertaker (much like Jake Roberts did in reality, which turned The Undertaker face).
Jake the Snake and Randy Savage would continue their feud and meet in their final encounter at WrestleMania XIII, in a no DQ match, a rarity in the WWF in 1992.
In the main event of WrestleMania VIII, Hulk Hogan would defeat Ric Flair for the WWF title.
In other matches, Randy Savage would defeat Jake Roberts and The Undertaker would defeat Sid via DQ when Papa Shango would interfere, however, the returning Ultimate Warrior would make the save (the finish they used for Hogan vs Sid at WrestleMania VIII).
On television (Saturday Night’s Main Event), Hulk Hogan would drop the WWF title to Ric Flair after passing out in the Figure Four.
Flair would also be assisted by Heenan and Mr Perfect and the three lead programs on TV after Hogan’s depature would be Ric Flair vs Savage, Ultimate Warrior vs Papa Shango and The Undertaker vs Sid Justice.
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