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[1990-01-07-NWA-Main Event] Ric Flair vs Bobby Eaton

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This was an outstanding match! Eaton looks fantastic here, and does more awesome things than I could ever point out, but the figure four headlock is genius, as is grinding the side of Flair's head on the ringpost to set up Cornette sneaking in a racket shot. Bobby also takes some beautiful bumps -- the stammering one off of Flair's shoulderblock early on is great, and later in the match, he takes a backdrop and a hiptoss on the arena floor. As for Flair, this is what I imagine a lot of his late 70s/early 80s Mid Atlantic babyface matches were like. Dave was right on when he called this "PPV calibre" in the WON. Flair even puts the figure four on the right leg! (Before getting interrupted). The finish was good too, considering all the interference Cornette had gotten away with. Fun to see the two best wrestlers in the company given time to show what they can do.

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Love the Fanfare for the Common Man flourish at the beginning of Flair's usual entrance. Also love the Flair vs. Cornette dynamic--for two guys who were JCP/WCW mainstays it's amazing how little they ever got a chance to interact. Eaton takes an absurd bump getting thrown off the ring apron into the barricade, which arguably tops the two floor bumps he takes during Flair's comeback. Really great focused work on Flair's throat and neck when Eaton is in control and an awesome fiery comeback by Flair, with a few teases and cut-offs, with a great one being Flair catching the kneedrop off the top which allows him to go to work to set up the figure four. Flair basically wrestles clean until the very end when he gets a chance to use Cornette's racket. It's not quite as great as Bockwinkel in the late '80s in terms of being a crafty cheating babyface outsmarting the heels at their own game, but the dynamic of Cornette and the Midnights meeting someone who can fight just as dirty as them is still there. Good stuff--if this match had run on the Clash of the Champions instead of the match we got it'd be remembered as a classic.

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Man, this was great TV wrestling. It's a shame Eaton never got a significant singles run in WCW, because he had it all -- huge bumps, nasty offense, superb timing, mastery of the heel interplay with Cornette. Flair, meanwhile, just continued his great work from '89 as a tough babyface. The toe-to-toe exchanges in this felt so hardfought and violent. This got me psyched for the year in WCW, a lot of which I haven't seen since it originally aired.

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Excellent match with both guys equally delivering the goods. At one point Eaton is on the apron and Flair hits him with a stiff chop. Eaton just drops right off the apron to the floor. No bracing himself or anything. The backdrop later in the match was pretty crazy too. Loved the finish where Lane comes out to help Cornette distract the ref while Flair has the figure four on. Cornette tries to sneak in the ring and Flair was totally ready for it. Flair had to be like "You're going to try that stuff on me of all people". Flair as a face really worked here.

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How famous was this match because I had never heard of it before but thought it was excellent and not far removed from the Zbysko/Regal SN match or any other match that gets touted up as the best tv matches. Eaton was a bumping machine and Flair works his babyface role well and the payoff for him using the racket to win makes complete sense and works overall with Flair's character. Just a wonderful match that made me look forward to 1990 WCW.

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Flair's selling of Eaton's figure four headscissors is great, especially after that move had been completely killed by Choshu and Tenyru for me. Another long TV match, with Flair as a face, something that is so rare since he was more comfortable as a heel. The 1997, 1998, ans 1999 Yearbooks with Flair are going to drive me nuts for the lost potential of a true babyface Horsemen.

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This was a fantastic match. Have to say, it's a little disorienting at first listening to Lance Russell on commentary, but he adds a lot to this match. Flair opens with a long headlock on Eaton, with Lance pointing out that while it won't get a submission, it could do some damage to Eaton's equilibrium (basically, the opposite of Gorilla Monsoon's "why is he wasting time on that, he'll never get a submission with that move" commentary). Almost on cue, Eaton whips Flair out of the headlock, gets hit with a shoulderblock, and stumbles to the floor, proving Lance's point correct on commentary even if he likely didn't even hear it. Loved that.

 

Flair also does a great job taking the heat in this one. It's really too bad Flair always preferred being a heel and tried not to stay babyface for too long, because he's really good at garnering sympathy. The arena sounds like it's shaking when Eaton has those figure four headscissors on, trying to rally Flair. When he finally makes his comeback, the crowd is totally with him. Eaton also takes some nutso bumps on the floor near the finish, including a high backdrop on the concrete. Great finishing stretch too, even if Stan Lane coming down seems a bit like overkill.

 

So far, this is my favorite match of the set. They really don't make TV matches like this anymore.

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According to Cornette in the MX scrapbook, the Flair standing tall finish was because Herd was upset that Flair "couldn't even beat Bobby Eaton [of all people]" in their previous match a few weeks earlier.

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Not much to had that hasn't been said, good match -- although I'm probably less high on it than pretty much everyone in this thread. I was wondering who was on commentary, how long did Lance Russell work at WCW?

 

The Cornette / Flair intereaction was also very fun and interesting. I echo some of the analysis of that above.

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Now here we fucking go. Great match and definitely the best one so far on the set. I've never seen this before and hot shit, this rules. I fucking cringed and went "Ah, Jesus!" when Bobby took that backdrop on the concrete. Lance just makes it all even better. Known fact, Lance Russell makes EVERYTHING better.

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This was extremely good. Bobby Eaton, one half of the Midnight Express, was introduced by his manager, Jim Cornette. Ric Flair was the World Heavyweight Champion. Flair was still in his prime here. Bobby Eaton took some nasty bumps. Flair’s reaction to Cornette attacking him with the tennis racket was great. Cornette mocking the Horsemen was awesome. While Eaton is mostly known for his tag team matches, this match shows what an impressive singles wrestler he was.

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Excellent match here and my favorite on the set so far. Both guys really bring it here as Eaton proves he can go as a singles wrestler and Flair shows how awesome he can be as a face. This is a PPV main event level match.

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thisd was one of my new personal favorites, Id never seen this until now, really makes me wonder why Bobby Eaton never got a bigger singles push in WCW, he really was a great wrestler.

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Damn, babyface Ric Flair likes to go to WAR~! Bobby Eaton takes some massive bumps in this one: whip into the steel post, rocket launcher onto the railing, the back body drop on the concrete. I marked out at the beginning when Flair hiptossed Eaton. Years and years of watching him get blocked and then hiptossed, I was so happy he hiptossed someone. Eaton's rights are Truth and cannot be denied. The neck work was a nice touch. Flair getting popped in the head with the racquet scrambling to tear Corny to shreds only to falter in a heap coughing is the greatest thing ever. It was the perfect touch of anger and pain in a great moment. Flair's babyface comeback is scorching hot. This time the Flair Flip connects and Flair is FEELING IT. Strut finishing with the fists up is just so badass. He catches Eaton's foot on Alabama Jam and is going to slap the Figure-4 on the correct leg. Only to outcheat he heels by wailing on Corny and Eaton with the racquet all the while Sweet Stan is distracting the ref. Flair wins. Flair is BITCHIN'. (See what I did there, I read the other threads :P ).

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Amazing Eaton performance and a nice showcase of Flair working differently as a babyface. Lance was great on commentary (and there's his WCW voice again!). Not too much to add, but this was great.

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Never seen this before. Blew my mind. Eaton was bumping like a mad man. The shouldertackle, the irish whip to the ring post & the nasty nasty backdrop.

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I was super excited for this one going in and it lived up to expectations. Face Flair was great to start with Eaton taking some great bumps and just flying all over the place. Loved the neck work and Flair's final comeback was perfect - especially the suplexes to the concrete. After letting Eaton work him over, Flair put in the perfect amount of offense before the finish. I thought the back-and-forth was just beautifully balanced in this one.

 

One piece that I thought was genius (and I may or may not be completely imagining this) but after Cornette first jabs Flair in the throat, Flair chases him around the outside before he lays down, clutching his throat. The ref is watching now - and presumably could infer what Cornette did and DQ Eaton - BUT Bobby jumps down and immediately chops Flair in the throat on his way down. Did I read too much into this? Most likely, but I thought it was awesome psychology to cover for the illegal strike and then, of course, continue to work the throat/neck for the rest of the match.

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I think this is one that I like even more this time around. I've actually re-watched it a few times since originally posting in this thread. I think this match more than anything else in 1990 shows the lost potential of a babyface Ric Flair. There was absolutely no reason to turn him.

 

Something we've seen play out in wrestling many times is that when established headliners get to a certain point where they can still contribute but have a really strong resume behind them, they turn babyface because fans see them as "theirs" and just don't want to boo them anymore, regardless of how they made their name. By 1989, Flair had entered that point in his career. If anything, I think the heel turn decreased his relevance. I don't know that he was the guy WCW needed to build around anymore, but he was absolutely a guy that was going to mean a lot more in the big picture as a top babyface than he would as a top heel. I also think he would have been more effective in passing the torch to a new top heel than he would have been in passing the torch to a new top babyface. It doesn't mean that he can't effectively portray a heel, but it does mean that it's not the best role for him at this stage of his career. People wanted to cheer him.

 

As for Bobby Eaton, what else can really be said? This match shows that if presented properly, there's no reason he couldn't have been a solid, upper midcard singles heel, especially with Cornette in his corner.

 

This is the case for a lot of my favorite matches for the decade (even though this was taped on December 14 in Peoria I've since learned), but it's especially true of this match -- it's more an interesting glimpse of what might have been than it is a promise of something awesome fully realized. Ric's decade was all over the place and he came out of the 90s a broken man, but this match proves that it didn't have to be that way. It could have been so beautiful, as an 80s pop singer with the same first name as his third wife once said.

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Most of my comments have already been taken, so I'll just add that Lance Russell's commentary made this match. His familiarity with Bobby and Corny (even if most of the audience wasn't aware of it, since it came from Memphis), his selling of the Funk piledriver as still dangerous to Flair's neck a month after the angle was blown off, and his selling of Bobby, who'd very seldom wrestled singles in the NWA and theoretically should have been easy pickings for the World champion, as a dangerous threat really added to my experience. This match would have most likely been the best American match on Disc 1 regardless of who called it, but Lance made it even more of a slam dunk. How he didn't end up on TBS more (maybe even alongside JR on Saturday Night, at least until Jesse came along) is something I'll never understand.

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"Bumping" Bobby Eaton. People taking bumps from the apron to the guard rail always make me cringe and Eaton's was no exception. Bobby really showed what he could do here and I liked the story of him going after Flair's neck as it's still fresh in the audiences mind what Funk did to it less than a year ago.

 

Flair showed that there was still mileage to be got out him as a babyface. Using the racket to win felt more like "turnabouts fair play" as opposed to "cheat to win".

 

Lance Russel was excellent in calling all this

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Eaton is really grinding with his neck work. I love a match with brutal looking work that's not just stiff strikes. That's really where the art comes in. This is an easy pick for me over the 2/3 falls match from the Clash in '91.

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I do think this match is better than the Clash match as well. Lance Russel does "make everything better." So much has already been said, but yeah I loved it! Would love to hear Bobby Eaton's thoughts on it today, since I believe I've heard him say the match at the Clash is a personal favorite of his. He really delivered here. Great stuff

 

Edit:

 

Adding - Loss had this listed as #401 - Top 500 Matches of the 90s

 

http://placetobenation.com/countdown-top-500-matches-of-the-90s-450-401/2/

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I wish Flair had stayed as a babyface, it felt so fresh to see him interacting with the Midnights and Cornette, Lance Russell commentary is an added bonus.

 

Bobby Eaton singles matches from 85-90 are always a rare treat, he had a fun series with Dusty over the US Title on TV in early 88

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