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[1991-11-13-WWF-New Haven, CT] Ric Flair vs Bret Hart

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Is this the best Coliseum exclusive ever? Again, I have to say, both guys should stop their whining. Flair and Bret worked very well together, even though they thought they didn't. I thought this bordered on great. There was one time toward the end where there some signal crossing, but Flair hasn't looked this good since the Pillman match in April, and Bret hasn't looked this good at any point in 1991. I loved the sequence where Flair got mad about Bret's punches and wanted to duke it out, then lost two exchanges in a row and completely changed his tune. Flair is basically working his formula here, but he's doing it well. The spot where they both tumbled over the top that Bret complained about in his book/online rant against Flair years ago is something I couldn't seem to find, so I'm not sure what he was talking about. Considering that they had probably never worked together before this, with the usual WWF assistance in layout, there is no reason these two couldn't have had a stellar match on PPV around this time.

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Not recalling the passage from the book, I guess there was a miscommunication towards the end where it looked like Flair called for a rolling reverse cradle and it didn't come, and Flair got sent over the ropes quickly afterward. It was covered very well by both men, in any case. This is Flair-by-numbers but in the WWF that's a refreshing sight--even in an odd role as Intercontinental title challenger, it may well be the closest WWF equivalent to Flair as the traveling champ. You could take this match and run it in Stampede in 1984, just swapping out Perfect for JR Foley or someone to set up future grudge matches.

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I believe correct date for this match is November 13th. On the recent Bret dvd he talks about initial meeting with Flair where Ric had high praise of Hart’s work. He respected Flair at time of match so he let Flair dictate the action. Again, he feels Flair didn’t have any ring psychology. Bret thinks this match was a change of the guard from Flair’s era on to Bret’s era where they did more as far as excitement and action.

 

On to match. Fink botches the introduction for Mr. Perfect. Agreed that the make fine opponents for one another. It may be the Flair formula but he feels fresh in a way working with someone new and getting away from WCW. Perfect doesn’t get involved too much until the end. Bret pulls down both his straps like he is Lawler. Really good match for both guys at this time.

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Really good stuff between these two besides Lord Al and Mooney on commentary. Flair looked motivated and added some new touches like the test of strength, the punch battle, and the work on the leg to set up the figure four. The finish was cheap but worked for me here and kind of played up what would happen at Survivor Series. Really good stuff and Flair looking like Flair.

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Pete said it best; this was a classic NWA World title match held in a WWF setting. Both guys looked really motivated here, which Lord Alfred noted on commentary. Each man got his spots in, but they didn't feel as if they were being done just to do them. The one exception might have been the referee shoving match; referees were seldom if ever touched in the WWF except when they needed to bump, and they never touched the wrestlers, which accounts for the line from His Lordship about Tunney being in attendance for the match (which wasn't true either in reality or kayfabe; if it was, they'd have shown him) and Earl Hebner being due for a trip to his office.

 

I was watching this match mostly to see how they worked together after hearing about the controversies between them, and if there was any basis for problems. I never saw it. Bret fit into Flair's formula as well as any WWF wrestler possibly could, yet still fought back and didn't just let Flair get his spots in without working for them, like a lot of guys in WCW did. I loved the brawling sequences, which looked surprisingly stiff, and the scientific wrestling was probably better than in any WWF match which has made tape in the last two years.

 

As for Curt, I still don't think he's the best fit as Flair's manager, but he added a lot to the contest without having to bump, which still would have been painful for him at this time. I liked how he dragged Flair to the ropes to break up Bret's sharpshooter, and I don't think I've ever seen anyone actually hit the ropes with their hand to cover up the fact that they were vibrating after one of the wrestlers used them for leverage, like Curt did to cover up for Flair here. It's a spot more heel managers should have thought of, and I'm surprised Curt had enough presence of mind to do so after such a short time as a manager.

 

The countout finish was to be expected; Flair had no business with the IC belt, yet he couldn't lose either, clean or otherwise. Bret's slip off the apron probably would have been Curt holding Bret's leg if Curt had been up to par physically, but as it was, it was a fresh finish in a match that didn't figure to be important enough to need one.

 

Sean Mooney has no business calling a Flair match, period. As much as I don't mind Flair being one of the boys more or less, hearing him called a "superstar" by Sean felt second-rate. There was no mention of the feud between Bret and Curt, and they never talked about how Bret beat Curt to win the IC belt in the first place, which didn't mean much but would have been a nice nod to history. I did appreciate Sean referring to the "outlaw belt", though; no other WWF announcer has put it quite that succinctly.

 

They're already trying to soft-peddle Hogan/Flair, and worse than that they're changing their own storyline by claiming that Flair never wanted to face Hogan and that Hogan is the one trying to goad Flair into a match. Why would he want to do that? Does he want to be the Real World's Champion? It may seem like nitpicking to bring that up, but when the entire reason for Flair's presence is supposed to be that he came looking for Hogan after Hogan had ducked him for ten years, this attempt at changing stories midstream comes across as totally ridiculous.

 

In a way, this was almost too good not to be on regular TV. I think a nationally televised countout win over Bret would have established Flair as someone worthy of being called the Real World Champion and really put some intrigue into his house show matches with Hogan. As it was, it's probably the best dark match ever to be released exclusively on Coliseum Video, and maybe one of the best matches ever to be held at a WWF syndicated taping.

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Great, great match that does fit the Flair formula, but I think Bret works within that formula really well. I loved the spot towards the end where they went through all of the roll-ups but did it in a really natural, smooth way and at a pace that made sense for two guys 20 minutes into a match instead of trying to do them really fast for effect. Not sure how either guy thought this didn't come off because I'd agree it's the best I've seen from both in 1991 (and probably 1990).

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Guess I'm the only one to agree with Bret and Flair that they had little chemistry.

This was a bit of a mess. No real rhythm and there were some clear mixups. Flair really didn't come off as much of a threat to Bret as he lacked any sort of offensive moveset and didn't compensate with heel tactics. The first big Bret sell spot consisted of an inverted atomic drop, knee drop and two whips to the corner. Yet Bret sold it like he was near death, despite not taking too much from Flair for the first 6 minutes.

That continued as the match went on. It was generally fine, but they didn't play off each other and Bret especially seemed like he was going through the motions. Not to the extent of the Hogan/Typhoon match that preceded this on the VHS tape (total generic Hogan match), but it sure didn't feel like either man went out to have a memorable first meeting.

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WWF Intercontinental Champion Bret Hart vs Ric Flair - WWF 11/13/91

Man, Ric Flair just feels weird in the WWF. Both wrestlers are ring generals in the sense that they can have a match unto themselves. They have enough offense and spots that they can just plug another wrestler into their match seamlessly and not bat an eye. On this night, they went full Flair. There was even Bret "Total Package" Hart no selling in the corner, egging Flair to hit him harder in the chest as he pulled his straps down. I have often said Bret had the deepest offensive arsenal in North America in the 90s, but he did not get to show it off here. He mainly stuck to punching. He has a great punch and knows how to grind an opponent down. I think thats what this Flair match called for. Flair likes his firefights with Steamboat, Wahoo and Garvin. Bret does not chop but he does throw a mean worked punch. Flair has great hair to grab. Bret had a handful of Flair's bleached hair and he fire one off and you can see tuffs of the white hair come off. I dont really feel need to expound much more. It is a lot of the usual Flair spots and Bret is a great babyface who could punch his way out of trouble and could also sell his ass off. I did like the drop toehold into the Sharpshooter tease. The Flair bridge/backslide spot got a big pop. The Figure-4 vs Sharpshooter war was great. The ending was botched as you could tell Flair wanted to get over the top rope differently. They ended up and over the top. Perfect yanked Hart down from the apron and Flair wins by count out. Sean Mooney does a terrible job saying Bret slipped from the apron. Goddamnit, Sean. Killing the babyface and the heel there, brutha. For a lesser opponent, I would say this is a great Flair broomstick match. But this is Bret "Hitman" Hart you want a little more when it is two of the all-time greats locking it up. It is Flair by the numbers with a basic countout finish to protect both. Very enjoyable way to spend 20 or minutes, but not that BRET VS FLAIR match you really want. ***1/2

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