56-year-old Hulk Hogan and 60-year-old Ric Flair are renewing their epic rivalry in the ring this month. Hogan has organized the "Hulkamania: Let the Battle Begin" tour, which is a series of wrestling events in Australia. And, it is highlighted by Hogan taking on Ric Flair.
For Hogan, it will be his first match since defeating Paul Wight (aka WWE's The Big Show) in a mid-2007 independent match. His last World Wrestling Entertainment match was against Randy Orton at SummerSlam 2006.
Ric Flair is stepping out of retirement for this match. His last match was at WrestleMania 24, in 2008, against Shawn Michaels. Initially after retiring, Flair moved into a sort of "goodwill ambassador" position for WWE. He went to events and engagements and whatnot and represented WWE. But, he was receiving a lot of offers to appear for independent wrestling promotions and cut promos and things of that nature. So, he cut ties with WWE in the summer of 2008 and made several appearances in non-wrestling roles with various smaller promotions. It was reported that he was commanding up to $15,000 for appearances.
There's been a lot of criticism for this. Of course, the biggest criticism centers on their age. Flair is 60. Hogan is 56. Flair hasn't wrestled since March, 2008. Hogan hasn't wrestled since August, 2007.
Their physical well-being has also been brought up. Flair hasn't suffered any major injuries over his career, but at 60, he has to have a lot of wear-and-tear on his body. Hogan had back surgery earlier this year. He's also had numerous surgeries on his knees. He also had hip replacement surgery a few years ago.
Hogan's last great match was against Shawn Michaels in 2005. Flair's last great match was against Shawn Michaels in 2008. Michaels won't be in the ring to carry either of these two. Hogan has never been what one would regard as a "ring general," a person who could carry lesser opponents to great matches. Flair was considered one of the greatest ring generals of all time, but he's at least 20 years past his physical prime and about 5 years past the last time he was regularly having good matches.
There are also a lot of people who feel as though Ric Flair is destroying a great moment, in what was the final few days of his career. His last three days as a wrestler involved being inducted into the WWE Hall of fame, having his final match with Michaels, then having a final moment to say goodbye on Monday Night Raw. (Click here for part 1 & click here for part 2)
We're not sure what the future holds for Flair and Hogan right now. Hogan recently signed a contract with Total Nonstop Action wrestling, which I blogged about recently. He has yet to debut for the company and nobody really seems to know what his role with the promotion will be. In an interview with Larry King, Hogan said that the upcoming tour with Flair would be his opportunity to see if he can handle competing in the ring anymore.
It's presumed that Hogan will have some sort of on-air role with TNA Wrestling. There seems to be no word on if he will be wrestling. There is also no word on whether or not he will have a backstage role. There are a lot of rumors, of course, but nothing concrete.
The signing has no effect on the Australia tour. But, an interesting thing to think about is where this leaves Ric Flair. He signed a 3-year deal with Hogan's wrestling tour, since it was believed that this would be the start of something bigger (or at least something that happens again).
It has been believed that the only thing stopping Flair from signing with TNA before was his relationship with WWE. But, he wanted to return to WWE in a non-wrestling role earlier this year and WWE was not receptive to it and stopped using Flair after a couple weeks. No new contract was signed between the two.
So, could Flair possibly head to TNA Wrestling as well? I don't know. I guess we'll figure out a lot more after the "Hulkamania: Let the Battle Begin" tour wraps up.
There are several more wrestling stars on the Hulkamania tour, including Ken Anderson (the former "Mr. Kennedy" in WWE), Rikishi, Brutus Beefcake, The Nasty Boys, Shannon Moore, and others.
So, nobody's really sure what's going to happen. Below is the last match Hogan and Flair ever had, on an episode of Monday Night Raw from 2002. It's nothing special, but if they can at least recreate something similar, then they should be okay.