In America, the fourth Thursday of November is reserved for Thanksgiving, where we show our gratitude for our friends, family and food in our lives. Also, we watch a lot of football, even if the Detroit Lions are playing. The WWE created their Survivor Series PPV with this spirit of Thanksgiving in mind, or at least toward with the idea of capitalizing on the collective family audience. The first few Survivor Series PPVs even took place on Thanksgiving. In the long run, moving the PPV to Sunday is the better call: more and more Americans spend Thursday nights camping out for Black Friday deals anyway.
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In Canada, the tradition is a little different. Thanksgiving falls on the second Monday in October. Also, they don’t have Black Tuesday; they just put on Robin Sparkles’ “Let’s Go To The Mall” when it’s time to shop. More importantly, Canadian Thanksgiving is tied into a key wrestling moment. 20 years ago, Bret “Hitman” Hart faced The “Nature Boy” Ric Flair for the WWF World Championship.
On October 12, 1992, Bret faced Flair in what amounts to a house show in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. This match, on paper, was not a big deal because at the time it wasn’t. At the time, Bret’s highest profile match was his loss of the Intercontinental Championship against The “British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith at SummerSlam a few months prior. Ric Flair spent most of 1992 feuding with Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior and “Macho Man” Randy Savage, whom Flair defeated for his second WWF title reign. October 12 had a Challenger with no momentum against a Champion, arguably fighting beneath him
By wrestling standards, however, you have 2 of the best wrestlers ever, with a third – Mr. Perfect – at ringside. And on that day, they took what was on paper and turned into an origami crane. Flair played up his overconfident demeanor, showboating for the crowd and toying with his lesser opponent. Bret used that chip on his shoulder from the SummerSlam to fuel him through this match. Bret wrestled more aggressively than normal: he didn’t break any holds before the ref counted to 4 (He has ’til 5!) and wasn’t above yanking on Ric Flair’s tights down to get Flair over in a sunset flip. Flair took this in stride after being caught with his pants down, literally and figuratively. But The Hitman countered, even hooking Flair in his own Figure-Four leg-lock!
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Flair, pants down and figure-foured, rebounded; he is the champion after all. Bret had to pull another trick from his playbook. Instead of trying to out dirty the “Dirtiest Player In the Game,” Bret pulled down the straps! That’s the equivalent of Hulking Up for everyone that’s not Hulk Hogan (Kurt Angle, for example, has run with this move and now it’s synonymous with “It’s About to Go Down.”). That momentum led Bret to apply the Sharpshooter to defeat The Nature Boy and win his First WWF World Championship.
If you ever need a reason to give thanks on Canadian Thanksgiving, just look at this match. Bret’s win goes hand-in-hand with the WWF’s catchphrase, “Anything Can Happen Here in the World Wrestling Federation!” Because this match wasn’t televised, the only way to see this match was through a Coliseum Home Video release, which was also unheard of. Plus, it didn’t even come out right away! So in addition to giving thanks to this match, please be sure to give thanks to YouTube.