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Superstar Sleeze

[1986-02-14-CWF-Battle Of The Belts II] Ric Flair vs Barry Windham

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NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair vs Barry Windham - CWF Battle of the Belts II 2/14/86

Ric Flair coming out to Easy Lover is so iconic. Probably the most famous match out of Florida since I dont believe we have much of Florida from its Golden Age. 

First Half: To me what makes this match special is Barry Windham's selling. Without a doubt, this is a Ric Flair Championship formula match. We see Windham outwrestle Flair early. He bests him tests of strength, amateur grappling and countering holds. Windham ends up with a nasty mat burn or bruise somehow. Flair has a weird accident running the ropes where his head snaps against the top rope. Flair tries to use motion and chops to take control, but still nothing. Windham does not fall for being lured into the corner. Windham is willing to punch Flair lights out. Windham gets a nice series of moves: Boston Crab, Suplex and Abdominal Stretch. He runs into a knee charging into the corner. It was here I was most impressed with Windham as his selling was superb. I liked that Flair did not immediately take over. He went for a suplex but Windham fell on top of him because Flair was still not strong enough to carry his weight. Flair throws him out and Windham takes a hard bump on the ring steps. I am sure Flair forgot those were there. Big chop and Windham is busted open when Flair slams him into the guardrail. Flair is looking good in control. He misses the kneedrop and Windham slaps on the figure-4. Flair is so good at selling the figure-4. Flair makes the ropes but Windham starts pounding away with rights. The other dimension Windham adds to this match is that he is a good puncher too. Windham misses a dropkick and Flair is able to back over. He locks in a Figure-4 headlock to recuperate and make Windham carry his weight. Windham escapes out the back. So far this is definitely a classic Ric Flair title defense and a contender for Match of the Year, but I have not seen anything that says this is Top 100 of all time material yet.

Second Half: Watching more, I think what Windham brings besides A+ selling is the ability to add brutality, violence and a sense of attrition to the Flair Championship formula. Steamboat thrives on energy and speed to generate heat and buzz. Windham is more about punching Flair hard in the head and ramming Flair into the post to draw blood. I like how Flair was so committed to the piledriver he gets the first one for two. He desperately wants to get back to it, but Windham keeps countering. Lariat and now Windham regains control. Like I said the pace does not pick up, but the violence does as it is all fists and blood. Flair gets a desperation inverted atomic drop where Windham fires off a punch before collapsing to the mat in a heap. Great selljob. Flair uses the sleeper to cement his advantage. Windham escapes that only to eat a suplex. Flair goes for the leg. Figure-4! Windham is really putting on a selling clinic. He turns it over. The last ten minutes is something truly special. I think the moment that captures the match is when Windham misses his kneedrop. The pain and agony is etched on his face while Flair who escaped is hobbling over. It has been a true war of attrition. I love Flair's double stomp. Why did he ever stop doing that move. The ref gets bumped which allows Flair to chuck Windham over the top rope. Is there anyone better at taking that bump than Windham? I dont think so! He just melts across the apron and it looks painful as hell, but it never hurts him. BW will not be denied! MISSILE DROPKICK! No ref, bullshit! They run through some great Windham nearfalls: Sleeper, Lariat and floatover suplex. I was biting on everything, really hot series of neafalls. Windham goes for another lariat, but Flair ducks and comes back off the ropes and it is the crossbody over the top rope. They take turns yanking the other from the apron and it triggers the double countout. 

Stone cold classic. Just pitch perfect Championship Wrestling. Flair's formula works and it is perfectly suited for Windham who is so damn athletic. Like I said Windham was selling great and I liked the feel of this match. To me this falls short of those classic Flair Championship matches against Steamboat, Kerry Von Erich & Terry Taylor. It has a shot at the Top 100, but it is on the bubble. ****3/4

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