Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan – First Blood

Tonight’s induction, Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan at Uncensored ’99, is one of those matches I thought for sure we’d written about on WrestleCrap decades ago. As it turns out, I’d read about it in Pro Wrestling Illustrated

…in The Death of WCW (which turns 20 this year!)…

…and in The Death of WCW: 10th Anniversary Edition (which turns 10 this year!)…

…but never on this site. In fact, of the three inductions of dumb Hogan-Flair finishes at WCW Uncensored, none of them even mention the 1999 edition. Well, much like the Nature Boy in his last match, this cannot stand. So tonight, here it is:

Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan – First Blood

Ever since late 1998, Ric Flair had been riding high, having beaten Eric Bischoff for temporary control of WCW. However, it came crashing down when Flair’s own son joined up with Hollywood Hogan, costing Flair the title at SuperBrawl.

As WCW President for a few more weeks, Ric Flair gave himself a rematch against Hollywood Hogan. But this time, they would “fill [their] shoes” in a steel cage with no door and barbed wire on the top.

Mean Gene was concerned. A steel cage? No door? Barbed wire? Filled shoes? That could mean only one thing, and he couldn’t say it on TV.

So Ric Flair spelled it out. Not only would he and Hogan fill their shoes, they’d also:

  • make like 1985
  • pay the price
  • load it up
  • have it out
  • give America what they haven’t had in ten years.

“And you know what I’m talking about”, said Flair.

We did not, in fact, know what he was talking about.

For the English speakers reading this, I’ll spell it out: he was talking about blood, the red liquid that carries oxygen and nutrients to the body’s cells.

Unfortunately, the Turner networks barred all but the most oblique references to this substance…

…so, decades before Bray Wyatt had us scanning QR codes for clues, WCW had its viewers logging on to their website to find out what this cryptic promo meant.

What it meant was that the Hogan-Flair match would have First Blood rules, where the object was to make your opponent bleed.

Now, if I were promoting a main event based around blood, and my TV network wouldn’t let me show blood, or say the word blood, or even refer to blood, I’d find a new selling point quick.

And to be fair, WCW did come up with some other stipulations: not only was Hogan’s title on the line, but if Flair won, he’d be President for life. If he lost, though, he’d be banned from WCW for life.

And while these stips sounded important, Hogan had already made Flair retire forever, also on pay-per-view, also in a world title match, also in a cage, less than five years earlier.

To make matters worse, neither Hollywood Hogan nor Ric Flair showed even the slightest interest in those stipulations. Instead, the hot topic on Nitro and Thunder was Ric’s son David Flair. With his title on the line, Hogan delivered a lengthy sit-down monologue about Flair being a bad dad…

…and with his career on the line, Flair chatted with Arn Anderson about Flair not being a bad dad…

…and with a pay-per-view to sell, WCW replayed these segments twice a week until Uncensored.

Not until the main event of the Thunder before Uncensored did the announcers point out that, hey, this could be Ric Flair’s last match ever on TBS (against freaking Disco Inferno).

That Sunday night at Uncensored, the broadcast team could finally say the b-word, promising a First Blood match between Hollywood Hogan and Ric Flair.

But right before the main event, Flair admitted that the First Blood stipulation could be kinda lame…

…so to make sure the match didn’t end on a busted lip or a paper cut, it would be up to the referee’s discretion to stop the match.

Rick Flair #1, Southern Football

Things were about to get violent, like in Rambo: Referee’s Discretion Part 2.

Early in the match, Hogan locked Ric Flair in his own Figure Four leglock, which, the announcers were quick to point out, could not win the match by itself. After all, it was a First Blood match. But Hogan knew what he was doing (except when he released the hold on a rope break).

A minute later, Hogan threw Ric Flair face-first into the cage…

…Flair bladed…

…and the First Blood match was over. Right?

Instead, the referee pretended not to see Flair’s cut, and so did the announcers, despite Flair bleeding not only on camera…

…but onto the camera.

Things got ugly in a hurry, by which I mean Hogan pantsed the Nature Boy. I’m not saying Ric Flair showed his ass in every cage match, but one fan was so sure of it that he brought a roll of toilet paper…

…which sailed majestically through the air, over the cage walls, and into the ring, where it remained for the rest of the match.

Finally, the bloodshed was too obvious to ignore. “Is that an incidental cut on his head?” wondered Schiavone. No, it was very much deliberate.

But the match continued anyway, and the announcers chalked it up to “referee’s discretion”.

Less understandably, Hulk Hogan didn’t say a word to the referee about stopping the match, even after slamming Flair’s bloody face into the cage…

…biting him…

…gouging him with barbed wire…

…and scraping his wound across the chain link fence, all to no avail.

Eventually, even the announcers had to admit this was BS, giving up on the First Blood stipulation entirely.

“Hogan doesn’t seem to mind at all”, noted Schiavone, since he got to keep beating on Flair. Sure, he couldn’t win the match anymore, but at least he could have some fun.

Hogan then dropped the leg on Flair and covered Flair, only for Charles Robinson to refuse the count.

“Remember”, said Mike Tenay. “This is insignificant. A pinfall will not win you this match.” Yeah, stupid. What part of “First Blood” didn’t you understand, Hogan?

Finally, Hogan got frustrated, what with him making Flair bleed and pinning him for good measure and still not being awarded the match, and all.

Flair then nailed Hogan with a foreign object, busting Hulk open. Did that mean Hogan lost? Of course not. Crooked referee or not, that wouldn’t be fair.

Instead, Flair tried to pin Hogan, even though pinfalls didn’t count. Except now they did apparently, as the referee counted to two.

But Hogan kicked out, Hulked up, and gave Flair the big boot and leg drop before pinning the Nature Boy.

Hesitantly, Charles Robinson started counting the pin…

…but he delayed so long that Flair kicked out at one.

When Hogan got in the ref’s face, Mike Tenay pointed out that this was a First Blood match, which couldn’t end until someone bled. Duh! All that blood loss must have clouded Hulk’s thinking.

Schiavone, who just a few seconds earlier had yelled at Hogan to “cover him”, agreed with Tenay…

…shouting “Referee’s discretion” like magic words that would somehow make this match make sense.

Then he took another look at Flair and Hogan’s shiny red melons and abruptly changed his mind. “Well, you obviously can forget about that now.”

If that weren’t enough inconsistency, Flair’s son David had come down to ringside with Torrie Wilson to cheer on Hogan. After Nature Boy spat on him and thrusted his crotch at his girlfriend…

…David yelled at his own dad to “kick out” of Hogan’s pin, forgetting he was supposed to be rooting against him.

After a ref bump, Arn Anderson rushed to the ring and handed Flair a tire iron, which Naitch used on Hogan behind the referee’s back.

What was he afraid of? That he’d be disqualified in a First Blood match? Well, at this point, anything was possible.

Flair then slapped the Figure Four on the unconscious Hogan. Charles Robinson delivered a fast count to award Flair the match, the title, and the WCW presidency. And the fans were…

…confused. This finish was intended as a double-turn, though the announcers (like the audience) didn’t seem to understand this. Instead, Schiavone, Tenay, and Heenan celebrated the big night for the Four Horsemen…

…while Ric Flair celebrated becoming WCW President for life.

He lasted two months.

“Never did we expect it to pan out like this”, declared Schiavone truthfully. I mean, listen to this broadcast and tell me the announcers were clued in to anything.

But with an entire day to reflect, Tony sang a different tune the next night on Nitro. Yes, Flair might have cheated a bit, but it was awesome.

In his official recap, he never once mentioned that both men bled buckets throughout the match, only that Flair won after using a tire iron.

The only person who noticed anything seriously amiss was Mean Gene, and he was a lifelong Hogan shill, so who would believe him?

“It was First Blood, damn it!”

Now president for life, Ric Flair declared a new era, telling fans to “pretend the wrestling business [was] starting all over again”….

…which was easy when his match had just set WCW back a decade.


Veer Mahaan is still coming.

Discuss This Crap!