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[1993-12-27-WCW-Starrcade '93] Ric Flair vs Vader

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I'm a little surprised this match made the set. I thought most had it pegged as overrated, in similar respects to the Dyno vs. Tiger Mask series.

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I'm a little surprised this match made the set. I thought most had it pegged as overrated, in similar respects to the Dyno vs. Tiger Mask series.

Overrated or not, it's historic.

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If there's a title change in a major promotion where footage exists, we'll have at least a clip of it. This one we'll have in full because it's been contentious enough.

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I'm a little surprised this match made the set. I thought most had it pegged as overrated, in similar respects to the Dyno vs. Tiger Mask series.

Overrated or not, it's historic.

 

Which I agree with, man. I'm not a part of the overrated community. Well, maybe a little ;)

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It's the most sympathetic I've ever seen Ric has ever been as a babyface. He never really had a David/Goliath program with a guy of Vader's strength and size, which makes this unique in Flair's career. Add to it that he's putting his career on the line, and setting it in his backyard, it's ready made to be a good angle.

 

You probably all know this but it bears repeating that he later had it put in his book that Hogan called him the next morning, congratulating him on the match and told him he had a tear in his eye at the end. A big part of me takes that with some salt, but the little bit that's left thinks that would be nice if it were true.

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You know, I have wondered if that's where Bret got his idea of all the boys in the back having tears in their eyes after watching his matches.

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I totally agree with Will and Loss' choice of this. It was highly rated at the time and it's a historically significant match. Look... if we all suddenly agree that Savage-Steamer at WMIII sucked and was ruined by Steele, it doesn't take away from the fact that it was:

 

* an IC change at the time when they were more rate and the belt meant something

 

* it was massively praised at the time

 

* these are two pretty big stars in one of their most remembered matches

 

Gotta be on. And JIP doesn't cut it.

 

Yearbooks aren't just to cover the 200 "best" matches of a year. Will has a format for something like that. The Yearbooks are suppose to give us not only the top matches, but also the big ones, and famous ones, and a healthy helpling of the storylines of the year.

 

Flair-Vader... it's big, famous, and has been debated since it happened. Perfect thing for a Yearbook.

 

Even if it was the planned match (Sid taking the title from Vader), it would need to go on. :)

 

John

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Very underrated match. I had it pretty high in the SC WCW list.

It was #7 on the much bigger DVDVR '90s vote. The SC vote was more "on further review"... a re-rating, if you will. Not sure what the overall consensus is at this point, but at the very least it's been given a fair hearing.

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This has never been underrated. It got a ****1/2 from Dave at the time, and as Ditch points out has done well since then.

 

It's underrated if one has the belief that _any_ criticism of something, and failure to have unanimous consent to the greatness of said thing, makes said thing "underated".

 

If that's the case, then Ric Flair is underrated because people point out a few goofy things he does. Is that the next re-re-re-revisionist meme:

 

"Damn... Ric Flair is really underrated. Why hasn't he ever been pimped as great?"

 

Posted Image

 

John

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The SC Poll was Turner Buyout to the Death of WCW. Being right around Top 50 in that stretch isn't underrated: 12+ years of a promotion that wasn't exactly short on good matches. Basically to get in the Top 50 a match on average had to be one of the 4-5 best matches of a given year.

 

Apply that standard to AJPW from 1988 to the 6/2000 split as it's roughly the same amount of time as the WCW poll. Then ponder me calling the Kawada-Albright underrated because it came in 51st. Not really at all. I may have it a bit high for whatever reason, but 51st in that promotion? 101st? That's actually doing well. :)

 

John

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This has never been underrated.

I dunno about that, there was a long period in the Torch where Wade kept saying that X match was better than Flair vs Vader at Starrcade when there was no reason to bring it up.

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The SC Poll was Turner Buyout to the Death of WCW. Being right around Top 50 in that stretch isn't underrated: 12+ years of a promotion that wasn't exactly short on good matches. Basically to get in the Top 50 a match on average had to be one of the 4-5 best matches of a given year.

 

Apply that standard to AJPW from 1988 to the 6/2000 split as it's roughly the same amount of time as the WCW poll. Then ponder me calling the Kawada-Albright underrated because it came in 51st. Not really at all. I may have it a bit high for whatever reason, but 51st in that promotion? 101st? That's actually doing well. :)

 

John

That might actually be an interesting poll :)

But I agree with you on all accounts.

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Ok, why did people fall out of love with this match? How did it happen? This is maybe the most genuinely emotional PPV main event in history, and this type of fan response (not just popping, but genuinely caring about the wrestler to the point where they stick around and insist he come back out to acknowledge them after he has left) is something only a very small handful of people in wrestling history could pull off.

 

Also, as a match, this is incredibly compelling. The Inoki match from the Tokyo Dome is something I enjoy, but no way is Ric any less game than Inoki was in that match. Considering the stiff shots he took to get the match over, I'm not sure where one can really make that criticism. Considering that Flair responded in kind by laying in his own shots, I'm not sure where the criticism of him not adapting could come from. Considering his selling performance drawing the crowd in, and his victory getting one of the loudest pops in history.

 

There was talk recently of Stan Lane's kicks sucking. jdw correctly pointed out to keep it in proper perspective, because for whatever we can say about those kicks, people bought them. Likewise ... for whatever you may want to say about Flair not adapting to Vader (which is not really accurate, but we'll pretend it is), people were into him.

 

Watching a match like this makes the case for Ric Flair as the greatest of all time as much as anything does that came years earlier, when he was still in his prime. I have been down on this match myself for a number of years, but watching it in context with the rest of 1993 footage, the only U.S. match I'd put above it is Vader/Sting at SuperBrawl, and that's closer than you'd think.

 

In terms of the offense, this reminded me in some ways of a really great Tenryu match. Tenryu didn't have a ton of moves. Tenryu had a few things that he did really really well. That's Flair's performance here -- chop hard, punch hard, bump hard. This is also one of the last times Flair didn't really narrow his stuff to build to the figure four. We get him posting Vader, placing his leg on the bottom rope and dropping his weight on it before applying it, instead of just doing a belly-to-back suplex or clipping him, which is what we'd get later.

 

Great way to end the yearbook on a high note, and anyone who doesn't like this match who hasn't watched it in the last year or two should watch it again.

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For pure emotion, I think Eddy/Brock at NWO has this beat. But I agree that this is a very good match. As far as "Vader beating up an old man" matches go, I'd say this and the Inoki match are roughly equal. Vader/Inoki is more of a great spectacle, while Vader/Flair is more of a great moment.

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For me, matches that have great emotion are diffcult to rate because the emotion is never as great as the first time I watch it. When I saw this match the night it happened on ppv, I thought it was just about the greatest thing ever. Over the years, while the memory of seeing it the first time remains, I've started picking at its flaws. I think it is still quite good, just not as great 18ish years later.

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Ok, now that I have rewatched it in context, I made a 180° on it. I totally agree with Loss on the Tenryu remark, that's exactly what I thought when rewatching this, Flair basically worked a Tenryu match, going at it with stiff chops and good looking punches. The is the apex of Flair working babyface and shows pretty much what he would have been if he had worked mostly babyface during his career. That being said, I wouldn't call it a great match, although it's a slow build match that gets better as it goes, and the emotionnal post-match does a lot to carry it over the top, but I certainly wouldn't put it in the same category as any Vader vs Sting matches. But a very good to excellent match ? Yep, without a problem. The ending sucks, but the pop it gets is so great that it almost nullifies it, as at this very second Flair is the champ again, has saved his career and everything is good in the best world possible. So, all in all it's a very fine match to end a very frustrating card (cut off Rude vs Boss & Austin vs Rhodes so the Nasties could work 30 minutes, to a DQ no less), and a pretty terrible 2/3 of a year.

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I have no idea what the criticisms are towards this match because of my sheltered internet existence until I found this forum. I have always liked this match a lot rating this as the best match in Starrcade history as WWE did for their DVD set is overkill, but I agree with Loss' assessment that this is best US Match of '93 behind the Sting/Vader strap match. Ric Flair is such a great heel, you forget how amazing he is as a babyface in his matches against Funk, Eaton and Vader he really shows how well he can adjust. There is not babyface shine, which feels a bit unusual, but it is Vader, so it makes sense just have him start overpowering Flair. The usual Vader misses a move gives opponent opportunity follows, which is always great. I love Vader chest first bump onto rails. Vader fucks up Flair's mouth and Flair is not happy. This is a match pits the two best corner workers and verbal sellers in history in my opinion. They work Flair's first knockdown of Vader awesomely. Flair's barrage of punches during the home stretch is incredibly moving. It is something that gets me everytime as you cant help but root for him. The chair stuff and punches on the outside look so vicious.

 

You know you are over like rover when you merely pick up someone's ankle and the place goes batshit. Vader does not submit to the Figure-4, which part of me thinks it should have been the finish because Flair is the babyface. Vader/Harley work their stock spot of missed Vadersault and Harley headbutt onto Vader that always pops the crowd. I agree the tabletop looked fucked up.

 

Only one pinfall attempt in the whole match and yet there was so much drama throughout. It is pretty much everything I would expect from Flair/Vader and they delivered in spades.

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Put me on the side of those who say the backlash against this match went too far. Others have outlined the reasons. Flair took the asskicking he needed to take from Vader and showed great fire during his rallies. I didn't love him using the three straight top-rope moves, because he always looked like shit on those. But that's a quibble. Vader's timing on his cutoff spots was excellent. Race's involvement seemed appropriate given his history with Ric. The idea of the ending worked, even if the execution was a bit weak. I really liked the post-match stuff, with the interviews of other wrestlers, Flair getting emotional and Vader going apeshit in the locker room. Not a transcendent match because of the hiccups in execution, but as a total spectacle, it was really well done.

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