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[1985-11-16-NWA-Worldwide] Ric Flair vs Sam Houston

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This whole thing was great, from Flair's pre-match interview to the post-match angle with Dusty. Crockett asks Flair if he hears footsteps, if he might be afraid of the returning Dusty Rhodes, and for a second there I thought Flair might actually smack the little goof. Who does he think he is? Flair's the world champion and he doesn't fear anybody, not Dusty Rhodes and especially not his protege Sam Houston.

The match itself was a quality little nine minutes. Flair was at the absolute peak of his powers in '85, really made Houston look like a million bucks here, but he didn't give him seven of the nine minutes, there was no begging off in the corner, no pleading with God for a reprieve from the mighty Sam Houston. Houston obviously got his offence in, but most of it came off of reversals or when he played up his quickness, sort of catching Flair by surprise. You can even construct a narrative if you like that Flair was taking his challenger too lightly. Either way Houston was really snappy when grabbing a headlock, quick to catch Flair getting to his feet with a dropkick, dropping behind him off a suplex attempt for a roll-up, never afraid to lay into him when Flair would throw chops. There was a cool bit as well where he took Flair down with a really slick drop toe hold, and when you're thinking it's time for the spot where Flair's opponent puts him in the figure-four, Houston just dropped the knee across his leg a few times instead. It was a little thing, but one you appreciate when you've seen twelve thousand Flair matches. That Flair actually sold the leg right through til the end was a nice touch as well. For his part Flair was really fun getting annoyed and throwing Houston out the ring, treating him with a sort of disdain because Sam Houston shouldn't be giving the world champ this much trouble on TV. The finish ruled too. Flair had already gone for one suplex and almost got caught, but then Houston went for broke with a cross body and wound up crashing. Flair really soaked in the moment before hitting that big vertical suplex, shouting something at a fan before holding Houston up there for a few extra seconds. He was still limping a little, but he showed Houston how you really go after a guy's leg and it was somewhat of a rarity that the figure-four was applied with no build up. It was treated as a match-ender and Flair wielded it as a weapon.

The post-match with Dusty coming out wearing his special boot was molten, too. He gave Arn a kick in the ribs and would've done the same to Flair if he hadn't hightailed it. Sam Houston is one thing, but maybe he's not quite ready for a pissed off son of a plumber. Crockett was red hot at this point and they were going through one of those periods where everything was clicking. They couldn't have built up the main matches for Starrcade any better.
 

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