Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan.
Seven months ago, on March 30, 2008, Ric Flair â<80><9c>retiredâ<80> from professional wrestling and soon after parted company with WWE. Hulk Hoganâ<80><99>s last high profile appearance was SummerSlam on August 20, 2006 when he beat Randy Orton. Now, he is focused on his marginally successful Celebrity Championship Wrestling on CMT.
Whatâ<80><99>s the significance, you ask? We are seven months into a wrestling business without Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan being in high profile positions.
Iâ<80><99>m not trying to downplay what Hogan and Flair are doing. They are enjoying success beyond the realm of WWE and TNA. But neither in a major promotion? I knew it would happen someday, but here we are. A wrestling business where we cannot count on seeing either man on an upcoming national broadcast or pay-per-view.
Hogan vs. Flair, to me, was the last true dream match. Throughout almost the entire eighties decade, everyone speculated what would happen if the â<80><9c>Hulksterâ<80> and the â<80><9c>Nature Boyâ<80> would meet in the ring. It never seemed likely. Both men were ensconced in the cocoon of their respective promotions. Hogan in the WWF. Flair in the NWA/WCW.
Thanks to the pinheaded Jim Herd, Flair went to the WWF in 1991. The dream became reality. Or was it a nightmare.
Everyone got chills when they saw Bobby Heenan parading around with the NWA strap and uttering a name we never thought we would hear. Seeing Flair come out on that now famous episode of Prime Time Wrestling was a â<80><9c>mark outâ<80> moment for even the most cynical fan. Flair finally facing off with Hogan on Paul Bearerâ<80><99>s â<80><9c>Funeral Parlorâ<80> interview segment was almost too much to comprehend.
The match would happen. Hogan vs. Flair. Surely on a major network broadcast or WrestleMania.
Nope. In a botched move that rivals the â<80><9c>Invasionâ<80> angle of 2001, Vince McMahon shanked the creative football. It missed the uprights. In fact, it never came close.
Still, we had Hogan and Flair in the same promotion. There was still magic, no matter how mediocre it turned out as far as a payoff in the form of a high profile match.
Years later, Hogan followed Flair to WCW. Seeing them together wasnâ<80><99>t so special anymore. We became accustomed to the two of them encountering each other. The magic was gone.
Today, we have a Hogan and Flair-free wrestling business. Scratch that. Thanks to a new direction in WWE, itâ<80><99>s not â<80><9c>proâ<80> or â<80><9c>wrestling.â<80> The â<80><9c>sportsâ<80> is gone from â<80><9c>entertainment.â<80> To save a few bucks in taxes, Vinnie Mac is finally extricating those dirty words and becoming a true entertainment mogul.
But I digress.
Flair and Hogan have been such a strong part of the WRESTLING business for so many years, we just got used to them being around and being together. We may see them again on WWE or TNA television. We may see a match between them again. But, for now, they are pursuing lower profile endeavors.
No Flair. No Hogan. Who woulda thunk it?