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Charles (Loss)

[1991-10-28-WWF-MSG, NY] Ric Flair vs Roddy Piper / Interview: Ric Flair

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Ric Flair makes his first appearance at MSG in 15 years, and the hardcores on the front row seem especially excited to see him, flashing the four fingers and holding up Flair merchandise. The heat for this match is great! Gorilla annoys me by talking about how it's Flair's "lifelong dream" to work in this arena. I think this is almost the precise point when Flair started working his matches in more abbreviated fashion and opted for a go-go-go style. There's no matwork here. There's no opening feeling out process. They are just throwing punches, and Flair is taking bumps for Piper while the crowd pops. Part of it is changes in wrestling, part of it is Flair aging, but his matches tended to be a lot more rushed from here forward.

 

Flair pins Piper with his feet on the ropes, which is a big deal, as a pinfall job from Piper during this time period is pretty rare. They go overboard to give Piper his heat back, and while this feud seems hot, I wish it could have just ended with Flair getting the win and then bailing.

 

Flair calls Hogan out after the match, as they'll be headlining MSG next month. It's a good interiew, but I think Flair/Piper could have continued longer as a buffer feud to keep Flair and Hogan apart.

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Now this is more like it--huge reaction for Flair, lots of boos and lots of cheers. Even Gorilla and His Lordship put over his ring skills to start with. Surprisingly cautious start but the heat is tremendous, and this turns into a nicely laid out match with some good near-falls, a particularly good one coming after Flair clobbers Piper with a chair. It's not as good as Piper's match with Perfect the previous year but it's a much more promising Flair match than the Tito bout, in a much better setting. I even have to admit that Gorilla and Hayes were actually pretty good here, I guess taking Heenan out of the equation forced them to call the action instead of harass the Brain.

 

Flair's post-match interview indicates that he's ready to move on to Hogan. "When are you gonna HULK UP??"

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Heenan actually managing Flair ringside. This was fun with really great crowd heat. Little use of rest holds in match with Flair just bumping all over the place for Piper. Ric gets a big pinfall even with the use of the ropes. Don’t see Piper lose to much like that.

 

I wasn’t big on Flair going after both Piper and Hogan on his arrival as the Piper feud is put aside now to focus on Hogan at the next show.

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Great atmosphere for this match with the crowd giving Flair a huge reaction. Gorilla and Lord Alfred is a commentator booth in hell for me and they don't disappoint by not hitting the right notes of this match at all and not paying attention to the feud these two have built up on tv. The action was good here but rushed. Maybe my favorite Piper vs. Flair match though that I have seen on tape. Flair has some great punches in this and even wins with a pinfall using the ropes as an assist.

 

Flair cuts a good backstage promo throwing some insults Hogan's way.

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This felt off to me somehow. I wasn't expecting JCP Flair circa 1985, but there was something almost too desperate about how Flair wrestled this match. I know he's very seldom gotten anything close to a clean win since forever, but if ever Flair needed a semi-clean pin at the least, it was now, with Hogan looming on the horizon next month on the biggest stage they would ever have in the WWF.

 

To be more specific, Flair should have gotten the pin with the chair shot, and Piper should have done a stretcher job after Flair put the figure-four on him postmatch and held it for at least two or three minutes. That way, Vince's need to have heels almost always cheat to win would have been satisfied, and Flair still would have gotten over as someone who could injure Hogan and end Hulkamania for good. Instead, Flair's shown to need to cheat just to survive against an opponent who's tougher and more manly, and should be a total pushover for Hogan. Nothing new, you say? No, but remember that when Flair pulled that act most of the time for Crockett and Turner, he did it to protect the World title, which made it understandable. Here, what on earth is he protecting? The belt he wears means nothing now, and Gino and His Lordship's plaudits aside, he showed next to none of the wrestling skills he supposedly has in this bout, which he always did for Crockett and Turner even at his most cowardly. To put it bluntly, it seemed that Piper would have wiped the floor with him but good if Flair had only fought fair.

 

I think we've finally hit on one of the reasons Hogan-Flair didn't draw on the house show circuit. If Flair wrestled like this against Piper, and everyone knows that Survivor Series is coming up (which, don't forget, cost thirty dollars just to rent, before any pay-per-view parties one may have chosen to throw), and Hogan is wrestling Flair at the local arena within two weeks of the pay-per-view on either side, which card are you going to choose if you can only afford one, especially with Savage's reinstatement being teased and Hogan defending against the much scarier and more physically imposing Taker? I know which one I'd choose, and I watched TBS enough to know exactly who Flair was and what he was about. As I said earlier, if the "title" of Real World Champion was on the line, even in the same way the Million Dollar Belt was at SummerSlam (which obviously would have meant using another belt) I could have understood this finish, but not under these circumstances.

 

Was I the only one who thought that Heenan looked like he had no idea what to do at ringside? Maybe it was just rust, but he wasn't himself at all. They tried to use distraction spots, but if he was distracting anyone on this night, it was by reputation alone. He'd have been better off staying at ringside with Gino and Alfred, cheerleading for Flair as only he could.

 

I don't think Flair got the standing ovation Gino claims he got, but he sure got a lot bigger response than most people not named Hogan got in WWF arenas at this time. Also, I wouldn't be too hard on Gino's comment that it was Flair's lifelong dream to work at MSG. Most wrestlers would have given their intimate parts to work in New York, even if they were megastars elsewhere. Besides, Flair's bout there fifteen years before barely counts; who's Pete Sanchez compared to Roddy Piper? I liked the commentary here otherwise. They put Flair over without drooling too much over him undeservedly, the way JR and Tony did at times in WCW.

 

I wonder if Flair got in trouble for using the "Whatcha gonna do?" schtick against Hogan during his interview after the match. One would think that Hogan wouldn't exactly care for that, never mind the use of the insider term "Hulk up".

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If I understood commentary right, this seems to be Flair's MSG debut. Feel free to fact check that for me. Really basic old school match that works quite well, if you ask me. Early babyface shine for Piper until Flair is able to cheat his way back on top. Loved the desperation Flair showed here, taking the tiniest openings to get the advantage back. Piper made for a great FIP and actually looked really good fighting from underneath. Loved the spot where Piper wouldn't let himself be tossed out. Heel shenanigans take over but I didn't really mind, they didn't detract too much from what the match was. Then, we get a historic Piper job! Holy shit, I marked out!

 

***3/4

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I watched it today it thought it was a total blast. I had seen it long ago, but I've been watching the build with all the promos leading up to it. I've really enjoyed all of it.

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Good match and I thought both guys worked really hard. They cut a pretty good pace in front of a crowd that seemed more pro-Flair than I would have figured. As much as I agree with garretta's ideas about what should have happened, I would guess Flair himself was fine with the way this ends. It fits his MO to a T. One thing I think that needs to be remembered is Flair liked being the heel that made it look like the babyface should have won.

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