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[1991-04-13-WCW-Saturday Night] Ric Flair vs Brian Pillman

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Wow. This was a fantastic match. The February '90 match is the more known one for many reasons -- a high television rating, a better time period for Flair coming off of a heel turn, the last weekend of Ric as booker -- but I think this is the way better match. Flair looks better than he has at any point in 1991, and Good Lord are they ever working stiff here. Some of those shots are incredibly violent, especially when Pillman chops Flair so hard that he actually lacerates his chest. It's not just the chops that are stiff -- they seem to have turned everything up a notch and are really laying in all of their shots. Everything just *looks* really, really good. Pillman puts on the type of performance that could have been potentially star-making if it wasn't happening in an inept promotion, against a champion the company was actively trying to bury, in a time period where matches on television shows weren't so throwaway in nature. I think they were trying to protect Pillman with the DQ win, but I really think he would have gotten more out of losing -- with maybe one really key surprise kickout before losing. Flair/Pillman was a feud that had great potential to be a series over a few years where Flair wins each time, but Pillman puts forth a stronger showing every time. Until the shit finish, the body of the match was like that. Pillman showed a lot more aggression than he had, and they were playing into him getting revenge against the Horsemen for Wrestle War. I'm not sure what happened with Pillman at this point, but I think even more than the 1989 push that just sort of ended, this was their big chance to make him a player. And as we'll see, that's not quite the route they took. I think because of Pillman's size, they didn't realize what they had. He probably wasn't going to carry the promotion, but there's no reason he couldn't have been at the level of a 1985-1986 Ron Garvin, or a 1987 Barry Windham -- a worthy, capable challenger to the world title.

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What's a bit sad is that it didn't get one of these spots:

 

Clash of the Champions XIV

January 30, 1991

WCW World Champ Ric Flair drew Scott Steiner (24:25)

 

WrestleWar 1991

February 24, 1991 in Phoenix, AZ

The Four Horsemen (Flair, Windham, Vicious, & Zbysko) beat Sting, Brian Pillman, Rick & Scott Steiner (21:50)

 

SuperBrawl

May 19, 1991 in St Petersburg, FL

WCW World Champ Ric Flair pinned NWA World Champ Tatsumi Fujinami (18:39)

 

Clash of the Champions XV

June 14, 1991 in Knoxville, TN

WCW World Champ Ric Flair beat Bobby Eaton (14:26) in three falls

 

 

It couldn't get Wargames or SuperBrawl. But you really wish that it got either the January Clash or the June Clash. They were both disappointing, and in the long run meaningless. Well... Steiner's challenge was meaningful in getting out of people's minds that he could be a top guy.

 

Instead, Pillman-Flair came a few years before the expanded schedule of more PPVs and Clashes popping up between, where Flair-Pillman would have been a good match for the Clash to lead into something bigger for Flair at the next PPV.

 

Really looking back... that January spot would have been perfect to lead into Wargames, with the Horsemen coming in to take advantage of Pillman and Sting & the Steiners running in for the brawl save. Just the visual works better: smaller Pillman holding his own against Ric, forcing heel run in & beatdown, with the Big Guns of the face side running out for the save. Then Pillman wanting "revenge" at the Wargames plays in even more.

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I agree with Loss that this was a step up from their excellent match the year before. Flair liked to work hard and obviously got jazzed for Pillman, who wanted to go shot-for-shot with him. Pillman, in turn, put over the standard Flair attack like a million bucks. It is a shame that they never got to work a big match on a Clash or PPV, because they were gold against each other.

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I too always wondered why the 90 bout gets more praise because I've always liked this more. These guys were just laying into one another. At this time Pillman might be the best worker in WCW. The announcer's really put over the revenge factor, and Pillman delivers in spades. Just a great match.A real shame for the feud that never was.

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I actually think the '90 match was a tad better. This had a very hot crowd by Center Stage standards but that audience was absolutely nuclear. I had less of a problem with the bullshit finish being a bullshit finish, and more with the fact that Arn is out acting as Flair's errand boy again right after declaring that he was his own man. That's pretty bad quality control on somebody's part. But the body of the match was pure gold.

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What is up with Flair’s entrance music? Hard chops from both guys and Flair’s chest is bloody. Both guys are continuing to lay in the chops. Flair getting upset at fans who are trying to bring attention to him using the ropes repeatedly. Now that’s a referee bump. Arn helps Flair adding pressure to the figure four but Gigante saves. This was built as a grudge match and damn did it deliver. They were whacking the hell out of each other. Pillman looked like a big star in the making. Excellent match.

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It is a pick 'em when deciding between this and ''90 match. I am going to make the case for the '90 case, which may make it seem like I am slighting this match, but that is not my intention. I actually think '90 match felt more like a war with Pillman going to bat for his friend, Sting and being generally disgusted by his idol Ric Flair's actions. He comes out hot out of the gate and overwhelms Flair early. Eventually Flair is giving as good as he is getting, but that match is classic Flair with Flair making Pillman's offense look amazing and eventually they do some bs finish.

 

This match made Pillman's heart look bigger than El Gigante. Now GAB '90 until his WWF run is my big Flair blackhole. Having watched his match with Steiner from Fall of '90, I saw a different Flair who was more concerned with getting his offense in rather than his opponents. This strikes me as someone who maybe feeling insecure about his position in the company and having an identity crisis. Maybe Flair reacted to this by taking control of larger chunks of matches to portray himself in a more positive light. That is not a bad thing, he cheats like a mutahfucka throughout but he clearly is on offense way more than expected as he is constantly cutting off Pillman. So it is not Pillman's offense that is being showcased but rather his ability to withstand Flair's dirty tactics. He does eventually get the visual pin to put over Air Pillman. Flair looked great on offense with a couple suplexes, chops and a low blow. I would hazard to say this is the best Flair looked in 1991. I prefer the 90 match because I thought Flair kind of went overboard with the jawing with the fans. I love a good jaw session especially when Flair is gesturing that he is going to take someone's lady friend on a Ride On Space Mountain, but I liked the general nonstop war between the two in 1990.

 

We can all agree that is a shame these two never had a higher profile match.

 

Finally, if I were so inclined to join the Flair debate (for the record Flair is the greatest wrestler ever in my mind), I would screaming from the mountaintops how different the '90 Pillman and '91 Pillman matches are and it is NOT just the haircut.

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Surprisingly stiff as both men were laying in the chops. Flair even bleeds from the chest. Consistently good action and full length. Even the DQ didn't matter because they'd already told the story. It was the classic tale of spunky youngster proving himself against a veteran champion. Pillman survived a lot of punishment and Flair put him over without going overboard. It's a fine art doing this right. For whatever reason my mind drifted back to John Cena's WWE debut vs Kurt Angle. Angel went way too far in trying to put over what was then an unknown and it all got really silly. You have to go by your opponents status and give accordingly. But that's Flair vs Angle for you.

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Why did you have to point out JDW that they really should have had a showcase match against each other on at least a Clash.

 

Is Flair's entrance music the one remain from the Spratan suggestions? I will rank this over the 90 match and think it's one of the best matches of the year. Incredibly violent and sold as a grudge match by Ross. I liked how Flair tried to ground control Pillman so his temper wouldn't flair up throughout the match. Flair's promo work has been solid in 91 but he has yet to have as good a performance that compares to some of his greater years. He is able to acomplish that here and this is one of the best short term feuds of Flair's career.

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I'm doing this without reading the other comments, so apologies if I repeat things others may have said.

 

I'm getting really, really tired of bullshit finishes. They ultimately render even the best matches totally meaningless and wastes of my time as a fan. The latest example is here; would it have killed Flair to get pinned, or even Pillman to get pinned in the figure four? It's not like Flair hasn't been pinned in non-title situations before; hell, he's been pinned many times without there even being a match. Pillman losing with Flair needing help from Arn would have not only put him over as being so tough that it took two men to beat him, but it would have built up the Pillman/Arn match the next night on Main Event.

 

Instead, we get a Gigante run-in, which might sell a few more tickets to the Omni but does nothing for fans like me (at sixteen) sitting in my living room in Imperial, PA. To make it all worse, Gigante's main action was with Arn, who won't even be in the tag match the next night. Either do the Horsemen run-in with Windham or have Gigante come down after Pillman loses and make sure he chokes out Flair, not Arn. I guess Dusty figured he'd try to kill two birds with one stone, but the stone badly misfired as far as I'm concerned.

 

I was going to talk about how they portrayed Pillman as one of the toughest men ever to put on a pair of tights, how Flair seemed scared of him from the get-go, and even how completely obnoxious Heyman was on commentary, but this match doesn't deserve it after that finish. It deserves nothing but......well, nothing. As I've said, I want my matches to go somewhere definitive; clean finishes aren't always necessary, but don't make the match totally irrelevant after making me spend fifteen minutes watching it. If you want Gigante to be what the fans remember, then put him in the ring against Flair and leave Pillman out of it. I'm not the biggest puroresu fan going, but I'm glad to be done with American wrestling for April after these last few bouts. At least I know the Japanese care enough about their matches not to ruin them with needless crap at the end.

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This is one of those matches that I usually recommend to friends that are fans of Flair and/or Pillman, but probably don't remember it (or have never seen it).

 

This match is great. It's full of intensity, and I love how fired up Pillman is right from the start. Even a monster chop from Flair won't slow him down. He's out to prove a point, and they just beat the crap out of each other. Flair's chest gets busted open from the chops. He has to grab a chair to get Pillman to cool down, and so he can gather his thoughts. The vicious chops continue. Pillman goes after the leg of Flair. I've seen the 90 match, and I do think I prefer this one. It seems to be more memorable. Flair gets back on top and works his usual antics. They push the toughness of Pillman, and Flair does a pretty funny thrust at someone in the crowd. Flair keeps trying to pull out the W with feet on the ropes, and he shows his frustration to the crowd. They go back to beating each other as a sort of hope spot for Pillman, which ends with a low blow. Flair pulls out some slaps to the face while Pillman is down, and you really want to see it get handed back to him. The exchanges continue to be brutal. I love the story they are getting over with Pillman, and I think both guys really delivered in their roles here. Great match!

 

#434 - placetobenation.com/countdown-top-500-matches-of-the-90s-450-401/

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I don't worry about whether I think the 90 match or this one are better. I think they are both incredible and wish they had made Pillman a big time challenger for Flair so we got matches throughout the 90s. Top notch work from both and it's hard for me to think that nobody in the WCW offices took notice of how amazing Pillman has been when given the chance.

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WCW World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair vs Brian Pillman - 4/13/91

Pillman was at the height of his babyface singles career embroiled in a feud with Windham & the Horsemen. Here he takes on The Man himself. This is a very transitionary point in Flair's career and not just in his hair style. He is transforming into his Dirtiest Player In The Game character liberal cheating...feet on the ropes multiple times, low blow, eye rake and jaw jacking with fans & ref. These were all present in the 80s but he takes it to 11 in this match and incorporates it into almost every spot. It is Flair vs Pillman so it is still very much in the vein of Flair vs Garvin with the tremendous fire fights. I love how Flair would crowd In the corner. It was chop-clinch to avoid retaliation. We get the wrinkle of Pillman attacking the leg with the ringpost and then the half-crab. Flair gets that Inverted atomic drop and it is a very entertaining heat segment. The 1990 match was about a physical Flair this is can Pillman withstand the cheating. The moment that really put over this match to me is Flair slapping Pillman in the face after a kick out. It seemed so degrading. You just wanted Pillman to roar back and that's exactly what he did! Pretty unique Flair spot with the eye rake blinding Pillman and him dropkicking the ref to set up the visual pin on Air Pillman. I totally bought on Pillmans shoulders being counted down in the Figure-4 with Arn assisting (I watched this before but forgot the finish). El Gigante makes the save because Brian Pillmans leg was going to break before three sizes too big heart was. It sets up the Flair vs Gigante loop.

ill echo my sentiments from before Flair vs Pillman in 1990 and 1991 are GREAT matches but they are drastically different and it is not just Flair's hair cut. ****1/4

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