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Bret Hart vs. Ric Flair


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Bret vs. Ric  

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  1. 1. Who was better

    • The Nature Boy
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    • The Excellence of Execution
      48


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Flair fairly easily wins for me. Bret's greatest matches are all timers but so all the nature boys. Everything else from longevity to more great matches with a wider variety of opponents swings in the favor of the Nature Boy.

 

This thought is striking to me in this debate. I think the Flair vs. Luger Wrestlewar 1990 match is better than every match Bret Hart had except vs. Owen at Mania 10 and the two Stone Cold matches. I don't really know if it would be a top 20 Flair all time match for me and its certainly not usually talked about as one of his best all time matches.

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Prior to the 80s project, I was sorta done with Flair. Hated the old man, ranting Flair from WWE. Had seen all the Flair-Steamboat I could stand for a lifetime. Then the 80s projects and all of the matches that popped up on the sets made me rethink my position on Flair and I actively look for Flair matches from the 80s to watch. I have been really disappointed with 80s era Hart Foundation and 90s WWf might be the least appealing American promotion for me so it is hard for me to get excited about BRet Hart matches. Five years ago, it would have been the complete opposite but I am firmly in Flair's corner on this one.

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Switch one vote from Flair to Bret. I misclicked. Maybe it was my subconscious.

 

For purely subjective reasons I pick Bret. Flair might be the better performer. I like Bret's ringwork more.

You knew deep down that Flair was better even though you want to like Bret better on the surface. Having said that,I have no idea how you fix the poll results.

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I have to go with Bret. Flair was great and had so many great matches, but there is just something about him that makes me lose interest. His matches often feel like they are filled with great moments and parts, but as a whole are kind of lacking. While Flair was a master at selling and working the crowd and looking good doing everything, he was not a master storyteller. Bret was a master story teller and to me, story telling is the most important part of a match.

 

Story telling and logic, that is. While Bret was taking the time to make everything make sense. For an example, instead of just taking an Asai moonsault and standing around and waiting, he'd brawl with the manager and turn around at the last second. Those little touches, make the match feel more like a sport and less like a show. On the other hand, Flair would always try the top rope jump and fail every match. It was so dumb. Also, everybody would put him in the figure-four, even if they never used the figure-four. It's stuff like that, that Bret would never do and, to me, makes Bret the better in ring wrestler.

 

Flair is kind of the Angle of his day, at times. Worried more about getting his stuff in, then telling a great story.

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It's kind of offensive to every sensibility I have as a wrestling fan that anyone would think Bret Hart is better than Ric Flair, so I should probably sit this one out. Funk, Lawler, Jumbo, Tenryu, Misawa, Kawada, Santo, Casas and Kobashi I may not agree with, but I don't think it's a baseless argument. But a completely bland tag wrestler turned all-time great WWF-style worker who was never at any point the best wrestler in the world - and never proved that he could have a great match outside of his house style - is supposed to be better than a guy who had great matches in just about every territory he ever worked, against guys with wildly disparate skill level, and in foreign promotions? A guy who only had great matches in one wrestling promotion that consistently delivered subpar matches?

 

What's next? Are Shawn Michaels, Ted DiBiase, Curt Hennig and Tito Santana better than Flair too? I try to keep an open mind and stay civil when disagreeing with people, but come on. The WWF style was shitty. Bret made it less so. For that he deserves a ton of credit. But the idea that you can compare their careers is completely laughable.

 

Oh, but how could I forget? Flair getting slammed off the top turnbuckle is a repetitive spot that people are tired of. So that makes Bret better. Talk about being so caught up in trees that the idea that there is a forest is completely lost. Have fun in this thread.

 

I'm sorry if I'm being a jerk. Please don't take it personally. But this is, with all due respect, stupid.

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Sorry, people. I still think this is a baffling comparison, but I hate calling things stupid and being rude. I just felt like I needed to get the point across in a dramatic way. It's not a stupid discussion at all if people want to talk about it. It was an overreaction. I think Flair is eons better than Bret, but I could have made that point more peacefully. Please proceed.

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But a completely bland tag wrestler turned all-time great WWF-style worker who was never at any point the best wrestler in the world - and never proved that he could have a great match outside of his house style - is supposed to be better than a guy who had great matches in just about every territory he ever worked, against guys with wildly disparate skill level, and in foreign promotions?

 

Let's not overstate Flair's versatility. Flair/Steamboat, Flair/Windham, Flair/Jumbo, and Flair/Kerry may have all taken place in different promotions, but they were worked in basically the same style.

 

A guy who only had great matches in one wrestling promotion that consistently delivered subpar matches?

Shouldn't that count in Bret's favor, though? Having a great match in 90s WWF was a far more daunting task than having one in 80s JCP or All Japan.

 

The WWF style was shitty. Bret made it less so.

The touring heel champ style was shitty. Flair made it less so.

 

Anyway, you asked me what I thought each guy's best matches were in the other thread, so I'll answer it here. For Bret, his best matches were vs. Austin at Survivor Series (which, again, is the greatest US match of all time) and WM13, vs Mr. Perfect at KOTR, vs. Owen at WM10, and vs. Davey Boy at IYH. For Flair, his best matches were vs. Funk at the 89 Bash and vs. Steamboat at the Chi-Town Rumble. Note that both of those matches are quite a bit shorter than a typical Flair title match and are tighter and more structured as a result. I have to say that the last time I tried to watch Flair/Luger from Wrestlewar, I turned it off halfway through because it was boring me to tears. Same with Flair/Windham from the Crockett Cup.

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(1) I define versatility as the ability to have great matches with wrestlers who have varied skill level, not necessarily the ability to work different types of matches.

 

(2) What makes the NWA champ style shitty? It's what wrestling was entirely based on until the WWF expansion.

 

(3) If you are bored by Flair vs Luger at Wrestle War '90, but find Misawa sticking his knee in Jumbo's back while pulling back his arms for minutes at a time exciting, so be it.

 

***

 

Here's a point of clarification that I think is worth adding to this thread.

 

I do think Bret was a more talented wrestler than Flair. But I don't think being more talented is enough to make him better.

 

In fact, I could probably name 100 wrestlers more talented than Flair. At a minimum.

 

But the run is what propels Flair above Bret (and everyone else) for me. The sheer number of great matches from 1982-1989, on that schedule, in that many promotions, with that many wrestlers, is something that can never and will never be duplicated or topped.

 

Could Bret have done it? Possibly. Might he have done it better? Possibly. But he didn't. And that's the point.

 

Plenty of people can be better at Flair at plenty of things. And they are. But none of it changes anything, because they can't compare to his output.

 

So I think that's a key difference. I look at the career run, not the nuts and bolts. There is definitely an argument that Bret was better looking at the nuts and bolts. But I don't put much stock in that argument, because I don't think it has any respect at all for context. It just doesn't seem relevant to break wrestlers down into the sum of their parts, and decide the wrestler with the higher sum is better. It strikes me as a pointless exercise. I'd love for someone to explain why it isn't.

 

You could probably put Daniel Bryan above Flair too when looking at actual talent and ability to do things well in the ring. But anyone who would do so would be clueless.

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I will probably go into more depth tomorrow, but for me it's a personal thing, how I feel matches are put together. It's my idea about what wrestling is and should be. I think Flair is better at doing what Flair does than Bret is at doing what Bret does, but I like what Bret does more. On the other hand, what Ric did was wildly more successful over a longer period of time.

 

If I am saying which of the two I'd rather watch and which of the two I like more, I'd say Bret.

 

Bret is better at doing the things I care about than Flair is.

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(1) I define versatility as the ability to have great matches with wrestlers who have varied skill level, not necessarily the ability to work different types of matches.

Sure. But Austin, Owen, Hennig, Davey Boy, Waltman, Nash, Undertaker, Yokozuna, and Piper all at least arguably had their best matches with Bret. If that's not versatility, what is?

 

(2) What makes the NWA champ style shitty? It's what wrestling was entirely based on until the WWF expansion.

There are lots of things that wrestling used to be based on that are no longer relevant, like having the cardiovascular conditioning to go 60 and being a legit badass so your opponent couldn't shoot on you and take the title. But yeah, the whole deal where the champ spends the match bumping and stooging and escapes by the skin of his teeth because the local hick promoter didn't want his guy to do the job isn't really my thing.

 

(3) If you are bored by Flair vs Luger at Wrestle War '90, but find Misawa sticking his knee in Jumbo's back while pulling back his arms for minutes at a time exciting, so be it.

It was just one spot, and it wasn't that long.

 

Here's a point of clarification that I think is worth adding to this thread.

 

I do think Bret was a more talented wrestler than Flair. But I don't think being more talented is enough to make him better.

 

In fact, I could probably name 100 wrestlers more talented than Flair. At a minimum.

 

But the run is what propels Flair above Bret (and everyone else) for me. The sheer number of great matches from 1982-1989, on that schedule, in that many promotions, with that many wrestlers, is something that can never and will never be duplicated or topped.

 

Could Bret have done it? Possibly. Might he have done it better? Possibly. But he didn't. And that's the point.

 

Plenty of people can be better at Flair at plenty of things. And they are. But none of it changes anything, because they can't compare to his output.

 

So I think that's a key difference. I look at the career run, not the nuts and bolts. There is definitely an argument that Bret was better looking at the nuts and bolts. But I don't put much stock in that argument, because I don't think it has any respect at all for context. It just doesn't seem relevant to break wrestlers down into the sum of their parts, and decide the wrestler with the higher sum is better. It strikes me as a pointless exercise. I'd love for someone to explain why it isn't.

 

You could probably put Daniel Bryan above Flair too when looking at actual talent and ability to do things well in the ring. But anyone who would do so would be clueless.

The truth is, I don't really disagree with this. I can't in good conscience place Bret in the GOAT conversation precisely because his peak was so short. And Flair absolutely belongs in that conversation due to the sheer volume of good-to-great matches under his belt. But when it comes to whose best-of compilation I'd rather fork over money for, I'd take Bret in a heartbeat.

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It's kind of offensive to every sensibility I have as a wrestling fan that anyone would think Bret Hart is better than Ric Flair

I feel the same. After watching lots more 80s Flair matches, and after being let down by so many of Bret's most-hyped matches, I prefer Flair as a worker. Throw in the '80s Flair promos and it isn't even close. Flair was The Man on The Mic.

 

I have a sense that a big portion of Bret's fandom revolves around his being on top in WWF for years and being arguably the best worker of any WWF ace. There's no case for Hogan or Undertaker or Rock or Cena as an all-time great technician, but Bret has a veneer of respectability.

 

The thing that gets me is how thin Bret's top matches list is for someone touted as a top 10 level worker.

 

-vs Perfect

-vs Owen

-vs Austin

-vs Bulldog

-vs Backlund

-vs 1-2-3

-vs Piper

-vs Benoit

 

A lot of those are only standouts because they took place in promotions that hardly ever did technical wrestling: '90s WWF and 1999 WCW. Bret vs 1-2-3 is a fine Vet vs Young Lion match but those are a dime a dozen in Japan, and Flair certainly made lesser young wrestlers than Waltman look like a million bucks. Bret vs Benoit from Nitro is a lot like the Eddie vs Dean ECW farewell; analyze the actual content without the emotion surrounding the event and it's not special. Bret vs Piper is good but not mindblowing. Bret vs Perfect are all rock-solid technical bouts, which Flair did hundreds of times. Likewise with Bret vs Backlund. Bret vs Bulldog from Summerslam is absurdly overrated. Bret vs Owen from Summerslam '94 doesn't hold half a candle to Flair vs Morton as a cage match.

 

I think Bret vs Owen from WM10 and Bret vs Austin from WM13 are overrated but I'm well in the minority there. I really love Bret vs Austin from Survivor Series '96.

 

Bottom line is that it seems like Bret has a good handful of very good bouts and like 5 or so legitimately GREAT matches that stand up to scrutiny. Flair has hundreds of good matches and dozens of great matches, against a MUCH broader spectrum of opponents.

 

It doesn't even seem like a fair comparison.

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I'd take Bret Hart vs. Luger a lot more seriously, personally. Now that would be an interesting one.

 

I have a sense that a big portion of Bret's fandom revolves around his being on top in WWF for years and being arguably the best worker of any WWF ace. There's no case for Hogan or Undertaker or Rock or Cena as an all-time great technician, but Bret has a veneer of respectability.

This will be taken as complete sacrilege, but I would watch a best of Hogan before I'd watch a best of Hart.

 

Now, the worst of Hogan would probably be several tiers worse than a worst of Bret. But I'd still rather watch Hogan's best of at this point.

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It's kind of offensive to every sensibility I have as a wrestling fan that anyone would think Bret Hart is better than Ric Flair

I feel the same. After watching lots more 80s Flair matches, and after being let down by so many of Bret's most-hyped matches, I prefer Flair as a worker. Throw in the '80s Flair promos and it isn't even close. Flair was The Man on The Mic.

 

I have a sense that a big portion of Bret's fandom revolves around his being on top in WWF for years and being arguably the best worker of any WWF ace. There's no case for Hogan or Undertaker or Rock or Cena as an all-time great technician, but Bret has a veneer of respectability.

 

 

 

Bret has a veneer of respectability and the "technical wrestler" gimmick. But I think you can make a case that Cena is the better working ace. He certainly does very well in the category of standout matches. And I suspect he's a better tv match wrestler than Bret too.

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