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Charles (Loss)

[1998-01-05-WCW-Nitro] Ric Flair and Bret Hart

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Flair comes out to a huge pop. He gives kudos to Sting and then turns his attention to Bret Hart. We are seeming to get some legit animosity here. Flair questions how Bret can call himself the best when Flair is right there. Bret's terrible music fires up and out he comes. Bret gets a great reaction and you have to remember that WWF hadnt been to Atlanta in years, really since Bret was a main event star. Flair and Bret take shots at each others sayings. Flair says that maybe in Canada Bret is a big deal, but not in Atlanta, GA. Bret repeats his saying to Flair's disdain. Flair runs down the lists of Race, Kiniski, Brisco, and Funk Jr. He then challenges Bret to really dig deep and that there is no way he could think he was a better performer than Flair. Jackets get taken out and Bret says again that he thinks he is better than Flair. Flair tells him that he is going to have to prove it in the ring one more time. Great angle.

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I missed this stuff when it happened live but can remember reading about it a year later on DDT Digest and thinking the entire angle sounded really well done. Actually watching this stuff, it was even better than it sounded. Such a simple but effective way to set up a feud. Flair is a guy whose whole identity is built around being "the man". He has just spent the past 3 1/2 years in the shadow of Hulk Hogan, but at the very least the loyal WCW fans still knew that Flair was good in ways that Hogan never was or could be. Now in walks Bret Hart who, at least in theory, can lay claim to being as great of a wrestler as Flair. It makes total sense that Flair would be miffed by his presence.

 

Flair is great here staying on the right side of the line that separates "justifiably annoyed" and "whining". Bret's attitude is a perfect contrast to Flair's. Flair gets worked up about the perceived slight (Bret calling himself "the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be) while Bret calmly and continually needles him. Great start to the build.

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Cue that thread on this board. :D I know the whole of WCW should not be feuding with just the NWO but I found it strange at the time that these guys went into feuding with one another since they each just had issues with NWO. Flair looked like he had the swagger back though after being beat down the previous years in WCW. He definitely had the chip on his shoulder about being the best in the ring when it comes to anyone but especially Hart. Ric telling Bret to say that thing Hart always says about being the best to his face. Bret obliges with a smirk on his face. Pretty fun interaction. Oh yeah, Hart's WCW theme music was awful.

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Ric Flair in a huge dome where his voice echoes on his promos just feels right. Flair takes exception to Bret calling himself the best and is interrupted by Bret and his God awful country music entrance. Bret doesn't really get a superstar reaction in Atlanta, which is probably in part because Flair came out first. Flair dares Bret to call himself the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be while Flair stands in the ring. Bret takes him up on the offer and adds a "Whoooo" on the end of it for good measure.

 

"I'm not saying I'm what I was ten years ago. Ten years ago I could go out there with a broom, now I need somebody with a heartbeat." -- Flair gives the first quotable line of the year

 

I really like this simple build, but I also think Bret needed to feud with someone more relevant out of the gate. That sounds like a strange thing to say about Flair, but he had been on the sidelines so long at this point. Still, this was awfully effective and I thought both were very good in this.

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This was an electric confrontation. The established company star taking exception to a high profile newcomer is a well worn story, so it comes down to the men involved to make it interesting. The two legends certainly managed to do it here. It's a logically booked feud, don't get used to it Bret.

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I'm still kind of bored by Bret, against all odds, but Flair was treeeemendous here. He knew when to kiss up to the crowd, he knew when to play up the Nature Boy shtick, and he knew when to get serious. And he also gets off a ton of killer lines. This is essentially a broomstick performance as an interview, which pains me to say considering I thought Bret was the best man on the mic in wrestling in '97.

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Flair is brilliant here. He may need a heartbeat for an entertaining match, but he could still cut a promo on a broomstick. To be fair, Hart was the perfect sparring partner here, but Flair in the Dome wins by knockout.

 

Rating: Best promo of the year so far.

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