If you, dear reader, are viewing this text, it means I have finally put the wraps on an induction I’ve started and stopped about 437 times in the last three months: behold, in all it’s glory, the YAPAPI INDIAN STRAP MATCH.
In hindsight, I’m not quite sure why I couldn’t get through this one. I’ve seen worse build ups, seen matches that were way more horrible. I can only think that it may be due to the WCW overload I’ve experienced the last 12 months or so as we penned and finally wrapped up the new Death of WCW 10th Anniversary Edition. Otherwise, I really have no excuse…other than to use said intro to shill this fabulous new tome, which you can preorder here.
It’s funny in hindsight to think that Hulk Hogan versus Ric Flair was at one time nothing more than a fantasy dream match that seemingly could never happen. In the mid 1980s, Flair was ruling the NWA, Hogan the WWF, and the only place you could see them together was on the pages of Pro Wrestling Illustrated. When the time finally came that they were both in the same promotion, the promotion in question (WWF) had no real interest in even bothering to have the two battle. Sure, there was a series of house show matches, but consider this: Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair, the bout of legend, wasn’t just canned as a WrestleMania match, the pairing never even appeared on a WWF pay-per-view! It wasn’t until the Hulkster’s arrival in WCW that they battled mano y mano in main events. When they did, it generally generated huge business. Not only for their first match in 1994, but all the way until 1999, when the two did big numbers at Superbrawl 1999. So it’s no shock that the company would want to go back to it when the bottom was truly falling out.
But this time, they wanted to give it a twist…an INJUN TWIST. Now don’t blame me for not being politically correct. I’m just reporting the facts here.
So yeah, early 2000. Hulkamania is running mild, and Hogan is buddies with Jimmy Hart. On the heel side of things, Flair is chumming up with Lex Luger as part of Team Package. Really, they called their partnership: “TEAM PACKAGE”. That is a name that I think even the gay porn industry would likely reject as being too blatant.
The madness begins with the latter duo finding poor Jimmy backstage walking past a table containing the following items: a giant bag of popcorn, an empty water container, and four or five half empty cups of coffee. I know that WCW was in dire shape by then, but that’s the poorest excuse for catering I’ve ever seen. Anyway, they beat the crap out of him and start dragging him out to the ring, pummelling him the entire way.
You’d think Hulk Hogan, who we’d just seen doing an interview talking about his match with Luger, would run out to make the save, but instead he patiently hung out backstage (through a commercial break!!) until “American Made” started blaring.
I very, VERY frequently questioned why anyone would ever want to be friends with the Hulk Hogan character. Think about it – Paul Orndorff turned on him for ignoring his phone calls and Andre turned on him because he never bothered to offer him a title match. Let’s not even get into how he ‘helped’ Bret Hart at Mania IX. Then we’ve got poor Jimmy Hart, supposedly his best friend, getting the ever lovin’ crap kicked out of him, and Hogan is standing around waiting for his music.
What a d-bag.
I’m kinda glad that Flair whipped him with his weight belt.
Trust me, though – that gladness would be short-lived.
So Flair shows up on the following Thunder carrying around the aforementioned belt as a trophy…
…and then Hogan shows up on the following Nitro in a pre-tape promo with the same belt.
After the Hogan promo, Flair comes out before the live crowd with the belt asking how Hogan is going to strap anyone since he has his belt. Adding to the confusion is Tony Schiavone noting how Hogan had plenty of belts so Flair just had one of them. And then Flair again stating that he had Hogan’s only belt. Stuff like that happened constantly in WCW around this time; it’s best to just accept that as a fact instead of expending any type of real energy toward whatever emotion (humor/confusion/rage) you may have towards it.
Besides, you’ll need that energy for the Hulkster’s promo.
It’s a legendary one to be sure, and largely the reason that people have any recollection of this match at all. In it, Hogan speaks of riding with Jimmy Hart in a “slow rolling coffin!” And that Hart nearly breathed his last breath! But before he passed on, Hart gasped to him “Yapapi!”
Or maybe Jimmy was asking for “apple pie.” That would sound good after Hart’s usual meal of beans and potatoes, come to think of it.
But no, Dude! It was Yapapi, as in Yapapi Indian Strap Match, Jack!
You know, the match none of us had ever heard of ever, Brother!
(Native American history lesson: while the crack WrestleCrap Research Team could find nothing on a “Yapapi” tribe, they were able to find a Native American contingent called the “Yavapai”. Sadly, their wikipedia does not have any references to professional wrestling strap matches involving Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair. Maybe one of you good Crappers could correct this oversight?)
In his promo, Hogan goes completely bat crap insane, talking about strapping Flair so badly that his skin will bubble and burn. Also, that his eyes will roll back in his head and smoke will come out of his nose. This would be Hogan’s own eyes and nose the Hulkster is talking about here, not Flair’s. Why Hogan would want this to happen to himself is never explained.
But hey, for good measure and to tie it all up, he beats the poor floor into oblivion.
But this was just the start, as we would get more clinically insane promos from the Hulkster in the following weeks.
Important information about wrist movement, sweating from head to toe, STRAPMASTER JIMMY HART, Ric Flair’s hide, and most importantly, DOUBLE STRAPACACTION, JACK!
Oh, and also Hogan crawling around while the Nature Boy’s “raw pink meat” is in the area.
Beat the floor, Hulkster!
All this lunacy led to the actual match itself at Uncensored 2000 where Hogan was out before the bell even rang, interfering in an epic (ha ha, no) Sid Vicious vs. Jeff Jarrett title match. You know, Sid, another old Hogan friend. Eh, at least this time he actually helped the big guy retain his title. He was then was laid out by “Big Poppa Pump” Scott Steiner.
I know Steiner cut all kinds of absurd promos on Flair, but man, he could have had a field day with Hogan. Not really worthy a #wcwruinseverything tag, but it is too bad we never really got that feud.
So the match starts with Hogan on his back, so Flair immediately hooks what appears to be an 85′ strap to each of their wrists. I mean, really, that thing is comically long. Flair takes the early advantage and begins to waffle him. Fans are so enthralled with this action that one immediately holds up sign proclaiming “I’m Going to WrestleMania.”
Same crowd didn’t seem to care much when StrapMaster Jimmy came out from the backstage area. Maybe if he was just a bit more bug eyed, they would have.
Flair’s dominance lasts, no joke, 30 seconds before Hogan takes over. This after being clobbered with a guitar by Steiner and strapped by Flair.
I generally don’t ever agree with Mark Madden, but I have to say he was very funny in his commentary of this match, talking in the most snide manner possible about how Hogan was a great man, greater than anyone he’d ever seen. This while Hogan does the old 10 count punch in the corner. Then does it again. Then Flair falls down, and Hogan mounts him for ANOTHER 10 count punch. Then he drags him outside, beats him up some more. Finally, Hogan gets worn out.
So Jimmy Hart starts beating on Flair instead. Somewhere I’m sure Rusty Brooks was telling his grandkids, “Even I got more offense against Hogan that this.”
Lex Luger finally comes out to even the odds, smacking the Hulkster atop the head with a chair as Miss (Way Hotter in WCW Than She Ever Was in The WWF) Elizabeth looks on in the background.
Back in the ring, Flair ensures Hogan doesn’t immediately take back over by wrapping his fist in what appears to be gauze.
Pretty sure I heard DDP screaming, “Hey bro, what are you doing? I need that for my ribs!!”
Despite the announcers telling us several times the only way to win this match by touching all four corners in succession (and Flair getting three of them already!), Naitch goes for a pin. From here, I will turn to our erstwhile WCW announce crew:
Schiavone: “Hogan kicks out!”
Madden: “Kicks out of what? You can’t pin a guy in this match!”
Schiavone: “Yes, but you can always kick out!”
Sho nuff, Hogan kicks out, and follows that up with a big boot to Flair. The Hulkster touches corner one, touches corner two, touches corner three…and then Luger comes back out, and HE gets a big boot to the face.
A leg drop later, Hogan pins Flair for a three count. Then just to make sure we all know who is superior…
…he hits corner four as well.
Madden (utterly depressed): “It’s like sweeping a double header, I guess.”
Yeah, I guess so too.
Finally, I should note one more thing: remember at the beginning of this when I mentioned that Hogan and Flair in February of 1999 drew a huge buy rate for their match? This match drew 10% of what that one did. This is not hyperbole: WCW had lost NINETY PERCENT OF ITS PAYING AUDIENCE in the span of 13 months. To paraphrase my Death of WCW co-author…
NO BUY FOR YAPAPI!