On January 19th, 1992, the WWF Championship was on the line in the most unlikely of scenarios as Ric Flair becomes the Undisputed WWF Champion. As part of the 1992 Royal Rumble, the Nature Boy Ric Flair had joined the company. While under the advisory of Mr. Perfect and management of Bobby’ The Brain’ Heenan, the Nature Boy would style and profile into the 30-man battle royal.
With the event taking place at the Knickerbocker Arena in Albany, New York, Flair would be competing for the vacant WWF Championship. The event involved the likes of Ted DiBiase, Sgt Slaughter, Sid Justice, and Hulk Hogan.
In what would be the fourth annual Royal Rumble event, the rules and regulations of the event had changed. As fans have come to know, it is the winner of the Royal Rumble that would challenge the champion at the time for a title match at WrestleMania. However, this time, the stakes were unlike they ever had been in the past when it came to the (then WWF) Championship. What was it about this match on this night that made it so significant in the company’s history?
History in the Making
It would be the first time the WWF Championship would be on the line during this particular match. Before the match was set to begin, Howard Finkle would share the match stipulations and what would ultimately be at stake. The first that would draw number 1 in the Royal Rumble was The British Bulldog, Davey Boy Smith. Ted DiBiase, accompanied by Sensational Sherri, would enter the match second. However, with DiBiase unaware, it would be the British Bulldog that clotheslined the Million Dollar Man to knock him over the top rope to the floor.
After the first two minutes of the match passed, the Nature Boy Ric Flair would enter the ring as the third participant accompanied by Mr. Perfect. On commentary, Bobby’ The Brain’ Heenan was absolutely livid at the decision for Flair to be the one to draw the third number. There were moments in the match that certainly led fans to believe that Flair was going to be eliminated. However, what was unusual early on was that the British Bulldog actually lifted Flair over the top rope but didn’t try to knock him down to the floor.
The reason appeared to be simple, as the fourth participant of the match would make his entrance. Brian Knobbs would come out with Jimmy Hart to try his luck next in the matchup. As the match moved on, the ring began to fill up. And as it did, the odds of Flair and the Bulldog winning began to diminish. Flair would prove throughout the match to show why he was the dirtiest player in the game. He would use a low blow to take down the Bulldog at one point in the match.
The Biggest Threat in the Match Would Slowly Be Eliminated
As the match continued, the threats in this match would continue to be eliminated. Roddy Piper, Jake Roberts, and The Undertaker were all eliminated at one point or another throughout. However, it wouldn’t be until the final four men were left in the ring where the most drama appeared to take place. Hulk Hogan, Sid Justice, Randy Savage, and incredibly Ric Flair all remained.
Hogan attempted to eliminate Flair, while Sid Justice attempted to eliminate Randy Savage on the opposite side of the ring. While Justice had Savage resting over the top rope, Flair managed to break free and charged at Justice from behind. As Flair hit him with a knee to the back, Justice was able to use his momentum to push Savage over the top rope to the floor.
It was now down to three men, with Flair being the smallest of the three in the ring. However, when it appeared as though Hogan was in the midst of eliminating Ric Flair, Sid Justice intervened. With Hogan unsuspecting of what was about to take place, Justice threw Hogan over the top rope to the floor. Hogan couldn’t believe it. He felt as though he and Sid had some form of alliance or bond, only to be eliminated from the match.
As Sid was preoccupied in the ring, Hogan grabbed hold of Justice’s hand as it rested over the top rope. That gave Flair the opportunity to lift Justice up from behind and have Hogan help in pulling him over the top rope. Much to Bobby Heenan’s glee Ric Flair was the winner and declared the undisputed Heavyweight Champion. Heenan left the broadcast area and celebrated with Mr. Perfect and Flair at ringside over the miraculous win.
“Let me just say, after carrying the belt that proclaimed me the real world champion, I’m gonna tell you all, with a tear IN MY EYE, this is the greatest moment in my life. When you walk around in this life, and you tell everybody you’re number one, the only way you get to stay number one is to be number one.
And this is the ONLY.. title.. in the wrestling world that makes you number one. When you are the king of the WWF, you rule the world; think about it like that, Mr. Perfect…, The Brain, Whoooo!” – Ric Flair.
Ric Flair Becomes Undisputed WWF Champion
Flair proceeded to outlast the remaining 28 competitors to capture the championship. It is interesting that Flair had only found moments before arriving in the arena that he would win the title. It should also be noted that at age 42, Ric Flair lasted over 59 minutes to win the championship. Flair has always been an athlete tied with incredible cardiovascular ability, and his stamina was certainly on display here.
After winning the title, Flair gave what has long been called the ‘tear in my eye’ speech. To watch it, please see the video posted below that as well.
Flair’s win was among the most memorable in his career. It was a moment that he all too well could reflect on and value what it did for him and his career.
“What made it special was, number one – I didn’t know I was going to win it,” he said. “And number two, I had just left Atlanta (WCW) with no self-confidence; I just couldn’t figure out how Jim Herd couldn’t see who I was; he didn’t understand.
I went from Atlanta to Albany, New York, and my life changed in one day. Literally one day, that’s the truth.
“One day I was just trying to figure out what I was going to do, and the next day I was the champion.” – Ric Flair recalling winning the 1992 Royal Rumble and becoming the undisputed WWF Champion.