Since arriving in WCW in the summer of 1994, Hulk Hogan was been at the top of the promotion. Hogan had littler trouble with Ric Flair, whom he defeated at Bash at the Beach in July to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Hogan ended up also beating Flair at Halloween Havoc in October to retire his hated rival. With Flair out of the way, a new challenger needed to be found.
That challenger would be found in the form of the current WCW United States Champion Big Van Vader. At Starrcade 1994, Vader was able to defeat Hogan’s buddy Jim Duggan to win the championship. Also at the event, Vader confronted Hogan backstage and made it clear that he was issuing a challenge towards the champion. The biggest challenge of the champion’s first reign as champion in the company.
They would first meet at Clash of the Champions XXX on January 25th, 1995. Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage had defeated Butcher and Kevin Sullivan in the main event. After the bout, Vader came out and would powerbomb Hogan. Hulk would actually no-sell the powerbomb and along with Savage send Vader to the floor. Considering that is Vader’s finishing move, having him no-sell the move prior to their first pay per view match is just the most ridiculous thing I’ve seen. Why not just have Vader lay Hogan out?
Their first singles match would take place at Superbrawl V on February 19th, 1995. Hogan wasn’t greeted with an overwhelming positive reaction which made for an interesting atmosphere. They would battle for fifteen minutes until Hogan retained the championship by disqualification. Since Hogan no-sold Vader’s finish the month prior, Vader returned the favor by kicking out of the leg drop at a count of one. It was actually a good match, and the DQ finish was needed to keep the feud going. Oh, the DQ was because Ric Flair got involved and attacked Hogan. Yeah, retirement angles never last in wrestling.
Seemingly not strong enough to face Vader on his own, Hogan teased having the “ultimate surprise” for Vader at Uncensored on March 19th. The tease made some believe that it was the Ultimate Warrior. That wasn’t the case at all. At Uncensored, Vader would get another shot at the WCW World Heavyweight Championship at the pay per view. The match would be contested under a stipulation, though. The stipulation being a strap match.
In what was one of the most confusing and idiotic booking decisions in WCW history, Hogan retain the title. The way he retained? Hogan ended up manhandling a interfering Ric Flair and was able to drag Flair around the ring and touch all four corners. What is idiotic about the whole situation is that Flair wasn’t booked in the match and was actually, in storyline, retired. So, there was no reason for this. If you don’t want Vader or Hogan to lose, you shouldn’t book the angle.
At Slamboree 1995 on May 21st, Vader would team with Ric Flair to take on Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage. Of course, Hogan and Savage went over as Hogan pinned Flair after a leg drop. At least they are protecting Vader, right?
They wouldn’t wrestle at Great American Bash in June ’95, though they would have a segment on the Main Event prior to the pay per view. Vader would get physical with Bockwinkel claiming to be fed up with what was going on. This led to Hogan attacking him from behind before other babyfaces stepped in.
In the blow off to their feud, Hogan and Vader squared off at Bash at the Beach on July 16th, 1995. What I find humorous is that the show took place on an actual beach. Free of charge. Zero money being earned for the company. The match this time around took place inside a steel cage. Hogan was able to escape the cage by climbing out over the top. Afterward, Vader would begin a babyface turn as Flair came out to berate him for losing the match. The face turn would never materialize as Vader would be fired a few months later for an altercation involving Paul Orndorff backstage.
The feud started off rather promising between Hogan and Vader, but Hogan’s seemingly refusal to drop the title hurt this one pretty badly. In my opinion, Hogan should have dropped the strap to Vader at Superbrawl V. Hogan would have held the belt from July 1994 to February 1995, which is a decent run. Vader could’ve worked with a guy like Savage at Uncensored 1995 while Hogan took two months off. Then, Hogan returns at Great American Bash 1995 and reclaims the gold from Vader inside the cage a month earlier than he did. Mainly, so there can be a gate for the event instead of making it a free event.
They were protecting Vader throughout the feud, which can be appreciated, but it damaged the feud a great deal. Plus, the treatment of Ric Flair during the feud was just awful. The things he had to do for the company in 1995 would make anyone depress and not feel appreciated at all.
This should have been a huge feud for the company and I really feel like this should have been a time when Hogan was chasing the championship. While Vader was protected, he wasn’t made out to look strong at all. So, it is probably a good thing that he was fired and went to the WWF in early 1996.
I’m giving the overall feud a thumbs down. A big waste of an opportunity.
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