I know the backstory of why we got Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice instead of Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair as a main event at WrestleMania.
I know why we did NOT get the match that so many of us wanted.
And you know what? I don’t care. It’s a bunch of crap. I don’t care that Hogan vs. Flair didn’t draw well on a largely unadvertised house show run. I don’t care there was no good finish available for such a match as Hogan was leaving and Flair was staying. I don’t care that there were logical, thought out reasons for why we didn’t get it.
I WANTED THAT MATCH.
And the saddest part of all? It was in my hometown, so I was going to get to see it!
But I didn’t get it, you didn’t get it. In fact, it wasn’t presented on a big stage until Hogan went to WCW and they realized, “You know what? I bet folks would pay to see this.”
WCW figured it out. Why didn’t Vince?
And the stupidest thing, the most maddening part of all this, is that fans were told they were getting Hogan vs. Flair at WrestleMania!
If y’all thought Vince only recently started trolling his fanbase, well, this induction will educate you that it’s been going on far longer than any of us would like to admit.
So the fun all started at the legendary 1992 Royal Rumble, arguably the greatest match in WWF history. Ric Flair went nearly bell to bell and won the held up WWF title by last eliminating Sid with the help of Hulk Hogan, who appeared to be the biggest cry baby ever yanking the big over the top rope after he’d already been eliminated. Seriously, I have zero idea what they were thinking there, as they definitely wanted Hogan to be portrayed as the hero (as is evidenced since they piped in cheers to mask the loud boos in subsequent airings of the match ending). The crazy thing is all these years later, I’ve still never heard a valid explanation of that match’s ending.
Regardless, that leaves us with Ric Flair needing to defend his title at WrestleMania. The question: who should be his challenger?
I mean, obviously it should be Hogan, but let’s build some intrigue!
So we get a press conference overseen by the greatest inept authority figure in pro wrestling history, Jack Tunney.
He introduces us to the potential challengers: Roddy Piper, The Undertaker, Sid, Randy Savage, and of course Hogan. One of the reasons I always loved that 1992 Rumble is because it featured so many huge stars during the WWF’s glory period. This little clip here almost brings chills – that is a murder’s row of big names to be sure.
Amazingly, Tunney made the right decision for the WrestleMania main event: Ric Flair would be defending the title against…
Really, was this that hard?
You want to maximize pay-per-view buys (back when this really did matter!), you’d make it Hogan versus Flair.
The other potential challengers weren’t thrilled, but there was one guy far more upset than the rest: big ol’ Sid. Why he was so furious he couldn’t even tear up whatever papers he had in his hands!
That there is a POUTY FACE.
Pretty sure RD Jr walked around with a full diaper as a baby and never looked that upset.
As much as I think switching the main event was an idiotic idea, I have to say that Sid’s frown might just make up for it.
To all those people who over the years asked why Sid would always get chance after chance after he’d vanish for whatever reasons (often times to play softball, no joke), just look at that face. Sure, the dialogue was fine (the dual highlights of which is him claiming that he didn’t get the title shot because he wasn’t a big movie star like Hogan and that Jack Tunney was, and I am quoting here, BOGUS!!!!), but you could put Rhapsody in Blue in the background and odd are there are still folks who’d want to see him pummel somebody.
But hey, who cares about Sid? Especially since we got the dream match announced, complete with graphic and everything! Imagine young RD, ticket in hand, salivating at what the Apter mags had been teasing for years: the battle of the biggest champions in pro wresting finally colliding!
Immediately after this announcement, we got one more show, a Saturday Night’s Main Event, wherein Hogan and Sid were to be tag partners.
And yeah, we know how that turned out. Sid turns on Hogan (look at the chump crying in the background!) and suddenly, that Hogan vs. Flair match begins to vanish before our very eyes.
On the plus side, we did get a great segment with Sid destroying Hogan’s buddy Brutus Beefcake’s Barber Shop. While some would note that Sid threatening to rearrange Beefcake’s recently reconstructed face was the highlight (this would be after the guy had that horrible parasailing accident so it was pretty heinous), I respectfully disagree.
No, that would be Sid smashing things into oblivion, and in the process, getting himself completely covered in talcum powder.
That’s somehow a really Sid thing to do. And again, just imagine Rhapsody in Blue in the background. You’d still want to pay to see the guy, right?
I mean, I would too – just not against Hogan at a WrestleMania when we could have gotten the first ever PPV match versus Flair.
And it was at this point everything seemed to go into total cruise control, with the company not even doing its full on hype job. And if you don’t believe me about that, then consider this:
We don’t even get Tunney announcing the change to the main event himself! No, it’s Lord Alfred reading a letter Tunney has written about the situation.
Wait, did he mail this to Alfred? Did he fax it? Was faxing even a thing in 1992?
Seriously, this is the WRESTLEMANIA MAIN EVENT. What on earth was Tunney doing that was so important he couldn’t make time to come to announce this himself?
Or was he just wanting to stay out of the public eye due to so many people being ticked off about the change?
In order to attempt to salvage things, we got a bogus “will this be Hulk Hogan’s last match ever?” storyline. What made this even more insulting is that Hogan never said he was retiring, it was just hinted at here and there, with something of a nod and wink. No one with any brain would have really thought Hogan was leaving.
Of course, no one with a brain would have changed the main event either, but whatever.
Which leads us to the match itself. And let me tell you, this may be the worst WrestleMania main event of all time. As I sit here and think back, I remember folks thinking Hogan vs. Bundy at Mania 2 was bad…that thing is a ***** Dave Meltzer certified classic compared to this.
On the plus side, the match does start with both guys attacking each other before the bell. I remember a Randy Orton-Triple H Mania match that was built up for months, a real blood feud, and it started with them locking up in the middle of the ring. So Hogan and Sid did better than them for like thirty seconds at least.
From there we get a thrilling test of strength. Now look, I know that was a Hogan staple and we saw it all the time. But this one lasts, no joke, THREE MINUTES. Hogan goes down, starts to come back up, then goes down, then comes back up. Then Sid knees him in the stomach. Then he hits a kinda sorta choke slam as Hogan lies on the mat for another couple of minutes.
Sid eventually gets so tired of beating Hogan down he just goes over to the corner and cuts a promo.
No, really, he does.
And it’s a pretty dang terrible promo.
Sid has a history of doing promos. Sometimes they’re good. Sometimes they’re bad. Sometimes they are both, like that hilarious promo where he claimed that he (Sid) had half the brain of Kevin Nash. Or the time when he started a live promo, and asked Jim Ross if he could start over.
This? This was just a bad promo that made no sense, which you can listen to here.
Seriously, this is WRESTLEMANIA. THE MAIN EVENT. Cut a promo if you want, big guy, but make it a great one or a horrible one, dude!
Just when you think things can’t get any more thrilling, well, they don’t. Instead Sid hits Hogan in the back with a doctor’s bag.
Yes, like the one a doctor from 1940 would carry a stethoscope around in.
As a reminder, this is a WrestleMania main event. Trust me, I had to keep telling myself that as I sat in the Hoosier Dome that night.
Next we get Sid appearing to gentle massage the Hulkster’s left shoulder. My neck has been hurting a bit lately, I wonder what Sid would charge to give it a tune up.
Even Hogan looks like he’s falling asleep!
There have only been maybe four moves in this match, but it feels like it’s hitting the 25 minute mark already. Can this thing just end?
Sid hits a really jankity looking power bomb, and of course Hogan kicks out and starts Hulking up. Same drill we’ve all seen a hundred times. But that’s when everything starts going awry with folks missing time cues left and right.
So Hogan starts pummeling the big guy, then hits the leg drop. After a count of two, Sid kicks out and Harvey Wippleman comes into the ring and the ref calls for the bell. Umm, what?
According to various sources, Papa Shango was to interfere prior to the three count. That didn’t happen. And for the record, this was the first time someone kicked out of the vaunted leg drop during this Hogan run in the WWF. That should have been HUGE. Instead, everyone just looked at each other in a confused manner.
What a mess.
Eventually, Papa Shango does make his way down to the ring and he joins in to beat Hogan to a pulp. Gorilla explains that Hogan has won the match by DQ due to Papa Shango’s interference.
Not sure how that was possible since Shango showed up a good minute and a half after the bell rang, but this is also the guy who told us people were “literally hanging from the rafters” in a half-filled Boston Garden for years on end so who am I to judge?
The rest as we know is history – the Ultimate Warrior (or Kerry Von Erich dressed as the Warrior as folks would tell you at the time!) shows up and saves the day. I won’t lie – I was there, and we all thought that was cool.
But you know what would have been even cooler?
What we were promised.