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Superstar Sleeze

[1985-06-01-Mid South-New Orleans, LA] Ric Flair vs Terry Taylor

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NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair vs Terry Taylor - Mid-South 6/1/85

 

My recollection is that this a contender for one of the best matches of the 1980s and is one of my all-time favorite Flair matches lets see how it holds up.

 

First Twenty Minutes: Fuck yeah, this holds up. Incredible opening twenty minutes. I love how Flair always starts off clean against Taylor before working himself up into a lather. I think he underestimates Taylor and thinks he can take him by conventional means only to realize he is in for one helluva fight. I love Taylor's body language in this. He is confident and you believe in him to become the world champion. Taylor grabs a couple headscissors early out of a Flair headlock. Flair is bit annoyed, but he goes back to his strategy of taking it to the mat. Taylor rides a hammerlock. There a ton of little details to watch for in this match. Flair is selling the arm and pulls the ropes to try to loosen it up. Watch closely you will watch Taylor try to pick up that arm, but cant quite find an opening until Flair forces his hand by coming in with a collar elbow tie up trying a suplex attempt, but Taylor blocks twice before Flair gives up. Flair takes him down twice with drop toeholds, but both times cant hold Taylor. Taylor/Flair now work a side headlock sequence that blows the Reed one outta the water. Tons of interesting stuff. Taylor cranking to stop Flair from getting a knee crusher. Flair tries movement to gain an advantage, but on the second attempt Taylor does not even humor him and drops down into a headlock when Flair drops down. Smart, conservative wrestling. Taylor wrenches the front facelock and I love how Flair goes for a suplex and Taylor wrenches hard and the way Flair hollers and then falls it is just so perfect. These are the things that make him better than everyone else. Flair drives Taylor into the corner three times and finally forces a break. Now tempers flare and a fire fight breaks out. Taylor to his credit does not back down. He goes blow for blow with the heavy-handed Flair in just a great sequence. I love Flair feigning with the left only drop low into the midsection with the right. Just a great spot. He throws Taylor out and he rushes back in the ring. Vero's Hero is here to fight, muthafucka! They fire off into the corner, love how Flair bullies him in the crowd only for Taylor to rifle back. The ref interferes and hooks Taylor's arm and Flair nails that short knee to the family jewels of Vero's Hero. With that the twenty minute mark is reached and the Nature Boy is finally in control. I loved, loved how they built into this fight. You see Flair goads him into this. He knows that in the chaos there will be opportunities to sneak in a cheapshot. He got Taylor off his smart, conservative gameplan and he is reaping the benefits. I am so excited for the next twenty minutes!

 

Final Twenty Minutes: They don't relent for one second in this match. Flair punches Taylor right in the face and I love Taylor grabs his face and sells it. Flair is incensed and is choking Taylor. He grabs an arm and they work a good armabr sequence. Flair uses the ropes and hair to control Taylor. Flair goes for chops in the corner, but loses control and is sent flying into the opposite the turnbuckle. Flair tries to get a suplex quickly, but Taylor drops down the back and it is a sleeper. Taylor actually gets a suplex in before eating knees. Taylor don't quit. He is up and rocking Flair with rights until the Flair Flop. This portion feels like an up and down the court basketball game as they start throwing out nearfalls until Flair thumbs him in the eye to finally stymie Taylor. Flair, who clearly realizes he is starting to get in over his head, applies the Figure-4 hoping to end the match. Taylor reverses the pressure. Flair is still nominally in control as Taylor is selling the leg, but misses the kneedrop and he ends up in the figure-4. Flair pushes Taylor off on the second attempt. He thinks now is the time, it is the time to fly. RUH ROH! He sure does go flying. Taylor is on fire with the punches and general intensity. Taylor rattles off nearfalls again, crossbody, backslide. Flair grabs a sleeper on a criss cross, but cant hold Taylor who drops down and kicks him off into the ref. So when Taylor gets another backslide there is no ref. Flair rakes the eyes and throws Taylor over the ropes. He needs to get the ref to count him out! Doesn't work out. Flair suplexes him back in and a big elbow to Taylor he is trying to get up only gets two. Taylor slugs it out with Flair just throwing bomb after bomb. Flair flops on his face. Taylor just needs that one big move. O'Connor Roll will this be it...Flair reverses he has the tights...1, 2, 3!

 

Incredible match. I think what I like the most about is the intensity of both combatants. You really believed that this match was the most important thing in the world. The sense of urgency was very high throughout the match and never relented. Taylor was really awesome in this. He was firing off some great shots. The back half once Taylor made his initial comeback was Flair cheating like a muthafucka to win the match. Eye thumb sets up the first figure-4, but Taylor persevered through that. Then the rake of the eyes and throwing him over the top rope. Taylor survived and overcame. However, you could tell he just did not have much left in the tank and Flair yanked the tights to win. It was a war of attrition and they fought like hell. It is matches like this that are the reasons I love pro wrestling. *****

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There's something about Flair's black and white robe. My first exposure to him as a kid was when he showed up at Survivor Series with the big gold belt, Bobby Heenan raving about him being the REAL World Champ, pomp out the wazoo...and that incredible robe. As a four year old it was the definition of regality and I've been a mark for it ever since. Maybe the black and white brings out his inner bastard as well, because there was a five minute stretch of this where he was as surly as I've ever seen him. The first fifteen minutes were fairly standard Big Match Flair. He wasn't rampant with the cheapshotting and mostly played by the rules. He'd beg off once or twice, kind of flirt with being a dickhead, but for the most part he behaved himself. Taylor wasn't buying whatever Flair was selling and Flair kept finding himself being taken over or having his head squashed in a front facelock. The build wasn't anything new, but these two work it well together. Then Flair got chippy and it led to them absolutely lacing into each other. At the best of times he's pure hubris, but this wasn't hubris; he was pissed and wanted to fight. He's the world fucking champ and who is this wannabe? Taylor backs him into the corner, winds up for a left hand, the ref' stops him short...and Flair knees him in the balls. I've made comment about being burnt out on Flair plenty of times, but I could watch this Flair all day and it's disappointing we didn't get to see him do it more often. He really cleaned Taylor's clock for a spell there, chopping him to ribbons, dropping the knee across his forehead, stomping him in the corner, throwing nasty little body shots, blatantly choking him, popping him with an AMAZING right hand that Terry sold like it broke his face -- just a great little segment. I wish it lasted longer. The last fifteen minutes never went off the rails as such, but it became more of your standard Flair fare. Standard isn't necessarily a knock because standard Flair fare is still a very awesome thing to lots of people, but I can really go either way these days and I much preferred it when he was bullying Taylor. They seemed to maybe run out of ideas down the stretch as well, going to the backslide spot a few times and reaching a point of diminishing returns with the nearfalls. I lost count of the number of times Taylor grabbed a headlock to set up the next rope running sequence, but it built to a fever pitch and it's hard to come away thinking Taylor didn't look all the better for it. Still though, some of the brawling in that mid-match stretch was as potatoey and awesome as the best Flair/Garvin or Flair/Wahoo exchanges I've seen. I'd rather they filled more time with that.

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