This Day in Wrestling History (7/17) – Hulk Hogan Defeated Ric Flair to Win his First WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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The 1990s were an awesome decade for many reasons, and they had more than their share of This Day in Wrestling History moments, and this one helped turn WCW around.

Since breaking away from the NWA, WCW lost money every year of their existence except for three years in the late 90s, and that’s mainly due to Eric Bischoff and one of the first big names he brought in — Hulk Hogan.

Rebranding a legend

Of course, it was only a matter of time before Hogan would face WCW’s top star for the better part of the last decade plus, so he and Ric Flair began feuding and met at Bash at the Beach on July 17, 1994 in Orlando, Florida.

Special thanks to @awrestlinghistorian for the excerpt.

“The real Ric Flair is a toned-down version of the extravagant character you see in the wrestling shows. He’s always wanting to fly first class. He’s always got a nice suit on. He’s always in the bar buying drinks or ordering champagne. What I like about him is he thinks about wrestling twenty-four hours a day. It’s his life. He never gets tired of it.

“When I met up with him at Bash at the Beach, he was riding high with WCW. But as soon as I stepped into the ring, the crowd cheered me so hard the building shook. And when I beat Ric Flair for the title — the first of six I’d win in WCW — the reaction was deafening.

“Shaquille O’Neal is a good friend of mine. He was playing with the Orlando Magic and just starting to get hot at the time I wrestled Ric Flair for the belt. Shaq was sitting ringside, his eyes as big as saucers, when I finished Ric off. All of a sudden, Shaq jumped into the ring, gave me the belt, and held my hand up. It was awesome, brother, especially since I had been out of the ring for a while and didn’t know what to expect. So I had the steroid trial in my rearview mirror and a long, bright stretch of open wrestling road ahead of me. I was on Cloud Nine.” – Hulk Hogan, Hollywood Hulk Hogan book.

Being the man

Ric Flair has spent his career saying, “To be the man, you have to beat the man” and this was an instance like that and it began what ended up being an awesome period in professional wrestling for everyone.

This Day in Wrestling History is one of those moments we love to look back on fondly. What’s your favorite debut? Let us know in the comments below.

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