Jump to content
Pro Wrestling Only

[1991-10-03-WWF-Battle Royal at the Albert Hall] Ric Flair vs Tito Santana


Loss
 Share

Recommended Posts

  • 3 months later...

Flair works hard but feels out of place in this environment. It's been fascinating to see how awesome he was at the beginning of 1990 and watch how much he has declined as we near the end of 1991. The match has Coliseum Video taping-level heat even though there were two good workers in the ring. Flair tries every trick in the book to get the crowd going crazy, but can't sustain any heat. Tito really sells Flair's attack well, but this crowd just doesn't ever go beyond polite in their response no matter what they do. I'm used to hearing Jim Ross call Flair matches, and hearing Gorilla do it puts in perspective how horrible he was at talking about wrestling.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

I know there was little control over these things, but man, London was about the last possible ideal spot for Flair to make his in-ring WWF debut. Both guys work hard, but the figure four is just a routine mid-match hold and Flair eats a bunch of near-falls before getting a cheap victory with a rollup and tights grab. I won't hold the WWF fully responsible because that's just how Flair rolls, but for a practical debut match in front of an unfamiliar audience that was SO not the way to lay this match out. This needed to end with Flair taking Santana's knee apart and getting a submission win. It would also have the benefit of not giving Monsoon anything to bitch about. Other than playing up the "patented figure four" he doesn't do jack shit to get Flair over.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think Santana is the better of opponents for Flair to face on his debut. I'm also a fan of the Royal Albert Hall. I do agree this this was not the proper setting for Flair's in ring debut in WWF. Flair needed a semi clean victory via figure four to put him over.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 10 months later...

I didn't like this at all. Flair slapping on the figure four for no reason, giving Tito way too much offense, and trying to cheat his way out of every situation doesn't make him look like much of a threat as the "real world champion". Gorilla doesn't help matters by rubbing it in. Flair even has a big hand full of tights to secure the victory.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

I'm not really sure what the consternation's about; this was by-the-book early nineties Flair, a WCW World title match that happened to take place on WWF television instead. The only thing different was that Gino was calling the action in place of JR. Other than that, this was the same old same old, right down to the press slam off the top and the shoving match with Dangerous Danny Davis. Tito was a perfect first opponent for Flair because he allowed Flair to work the style of match that he was comfortable working, which translated surprisingly well to the WWF.

 

I had no real problem with the figure-four spot or the finish either; since when has the figure-four meant anything in a Flair match other than an easy reversal, and since when has Flair beaten anyone with a reputation clean as a sheet? Seems like about 1984 on both counts to me. You guys seem to be asking for a Flair that neither Vince, Crockett, nor Turner has booked since Ric homesteaded in JCP after the Crocketts bought the TBS slot in '85. (I know he traveled after that, but not nearly as much.) Besides, Vince still had plans for Tito, as we'll see when he wrestles Taker; it wouldn't have done anyone any good to turn him into a sacrificial lamb, even for Flair, and submitting to his own hold (which the figure-four still was, even at that point) was simply not going to happen.

 

Maybe it would have been best for Flair to destroy a few jobbers first, then go against the Santanas of the world once he'd shown his skills to the WWF audience. Then again, I don't believe Vince wanted Flair to be seen as particularly skilled, because the last thing he wanted was for the average Hulkamaniac to think that Flair could even keep up with Hogan, let alone beat him. I have a bad feeling that if Hogan/Flair had ever made it to pay-per-view during this run, we'd have been looking at 1/23/84 all over again, with Flair as Sheik. If Flair would have even lasted ten minutes with Hogan on that kind of stage, I would have been shocked.

 

Gino treated Flair like any other heel newcomer around this time; he wasn't about to make him seem like anything special, especially with Heenan as his partner. That granted, I thought he was particularly hard on Bobby, and the byplay that was so funny for so long on Prime Time is really developing an edge to it that makes me uncomfortable. Bobby didn't help by being as far over the top as he was, either. I've seen the '92 Rumble, and his performance there was peerless. The problem is, that match was for the World title, and Flair was fighting for his life against twenty-nine other guys who were trying to kill him. Here, he's only fighting Santana, who most people know is on the downside of his career. To hear Bobby screaming, yelling, and unable to breathe to the point of almost asphyxiating himself over a midcard match is overkill of the highest order and only serves to make both him and Flair look ridiculous. Add to that the kind of asides that sound good in the studio but almost universally fall flat during actual match commentary, and you have yet another poorly called match, of which there have been too many in the WWF lately.

 

This wasn't too bad for a first match, but I'm glad there are better performances to come for all concerned.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Same as it ever was" was precisely the problem, since the consensus at the time and as it appeared watching the Yearbook was that WCW Flair was stale as month-old bread and could have used a change of scenery (or a babyface turn), and there was some naive hope that the WWF would provide it. "This is how Vince always did things" doesn't really fly either, considering what a huge left turn in booking philosophy is coming for the WWF in just a couple months' time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

True, but Vince wasn't thinking quite differently enough to make sure that the man who was still the walking symbol of his chief competitor got over well enough to threaten the spot of the man who made his promotion a household word. Flair was there because he'd had enough of Atlanta (and vice versa), so it was either take the legdrop for Hogan and play dead doing it or retire, at least in the States. He probably knew going in that he was going to look second-rate when push came to shove, that Vince wasn't going to treat him with any kind of real respect, and still he went. It's only because Hogan had to lay low due to circumstances beyond anyone's control that he wasn't squashed flat by Hogan once and for all at Mania VIII and proven to be a bum (in the Hulkamaniacs' eyes, at least) once and for all. So why change things up and bust his ass when it wasn't going to do any good? What would Flair have gotten out of it except hurt?

 

Maybe I'll find some good stuff (other than Rumble '92) in Flair's run as I go along, stuff that leads me to believe that Vince actually cared about making him look half-decent, but I'm not holding my breath.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 years later...

I get all the downplay of this match. It's the same tired Flair formula match that really doesn't belong on TV. So I chose to look at Santana and what he did with it. I'd say even though he was being phased down, he still had quite a bit left in the tank. He sold when it made sense, and well. He brought the fire on offense and made things look really good too. The flying forearm looked great, partially due to Flair. So while I would not say this was a hugely successful debut for Flair, it was certainly not a disappointment. Unless you were looking for a really spectacular in-ring debut for Flair.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • GSR changed the title to [1991-10-03-WWF-Battle Royal at the Albert Hall] Ric Flair vs Tito Santana
  • 8 months later...

If anybody is looking to watch this match on the WWE Network,  it's annoying as there are no "bookmarks" or whatever they are called for  Batle at The Royal Albert Hall. Anyway, the pre match Mean Gene interview is at 22:24, entrances start at 23:30, bell rings at 25:58.  It's under the Home Video Classics section. 

I thought it was funny during the Figure 4 spot when the ropes were shaking because Flair had just let go so the ref wouldn't catch him, and Heenan tried to tell Gorilla that one of the camera men had bumped into the ropes causing them to shake. Also I liked the pulling the tights finish, but I guess booking wise it does make Flair look weak to use that trick to beat Santana. I am sure that Vince at this point really saw Flair in the long term as a cowardly mid card heel not a main eventer he could use.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

They get a lot of time, and Flair shows a lot of arse for lower midcarder Tito Santana. It's great that he made Tito look good, but it doesn't help his case of being 'the real world champion' and potential threat to Hogan when he's struggling to beat a ham and egger like Tito. Anyways, the match was fun. It felt like a slower paced match you find on most house shows. Watching Flair trying to cheat his way to another victory is always going to be at least slightly entertaining. 

★★¾

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...