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Grimmas

Bret Hart vs Ric Flair

Bret Hart vs Ric FLair  

30 members have voted

  1. 1. Who you got?

    • Bret Hart
      15
    • Ric FLair
      15


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PWO IS BACK, BAY BAY!

Flair for me. Much longer career, so many more moments of greatness in basically every context, in multiple promotions, against so many different wrestlers

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The very first podcast I ever did was about this topic. I defended Bret then, but I was unsure and not confident in that take. Years and years later and I am very confident in that take.

If you want to argue Flair had more great matches, had more variety of opponents, and settings then sure. You can argue, pretty easily, that Flair had a greatest wrestling career than Bret Hart. However, we are debating who is the greater wrestler.

Flair is stupid. Sure, he has good instincts. Sure, he can make things exciting. Sure. However, I think it's pretty clear Flair didn't put great thought into his matches and most of the time he wasted a lot of time he had in the match and did stupid spots just because that has his spot he did every match.

Bret is smart. The little touches he put into things is unmatched by almost any other wrestler. Two great examples. In 1995 going through tables gained popularity, but were mostly someone lying around like an idiot, but Bret found a way to make a table bump look not stupid (against Diesel at Survivor Series 95). At in IYH, he took on Hakushi and was one of the first wrestlers to take an Asai moonsault without standing around like an idiot, instead he brawled with Hakushi's manager and caught the moonsault out of nowhere.

Bret makes you believe wrestling is a competition, Flair makes you believe wrestling is entertainment. When you are watching Bret vs someone you want to root for Bret (or against) as you feel it's a competition. Everything he does in the ring is realistic in the sense of pro wrestling. Now it's not RINGS, but in wrestling context it's a contest. Flair, on the other hand, makes you root against him because he's a jerk. He does all these things that makes you feel wrestling is silly. He'll get his pants pulled down, he'll do spots that make you laugh. Sure you root against him, but that's because he's either cheating or a sexual abuser, not really because you buy into the match being a contest. The match is more for show.

Bret had way less 60 minute boring draws.

People make the argument that Flair would have a lot of people's best match of their career. While true, it's also true for Bret. However, there is a big difference. With Flair's opponent, they are having a Flair match. The person having their career match could almost be anyone and it would be similar. Bret, though, would cater his matches to his opponent more. He would have Diesel's greatest matches, but having a Diesel match. He would have Waltman's best match, but having a Waltman match. He would have Austin's best match, but having an Austin match.

Bret's offense was better, by far. It looked better and looked like it hurt more.

A huge one for me is finishes. Bret was the best at finishes. So much so that so many people would copy his finishes and use them through out there career.

I could go on and on. Name something that makes a great wrestler and I think Bret did it better than Flair, or I probably don't think it actually is something important. I may be missing something obvious, but Bret > Flair.

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Who cares how much thought Flair put into his matches, if the end result was great? Artistic intention is always a slippery slope. I see no reason why an instinctive performer is superior to a cerebral performer. Hell, some of my biggest gripes with modern wrestling is precisely because they put too much thought into their matches. It loses its sense of organic nature. 

Like Meltzer the other day was making a bullshit point about the number of nearfalls in Flair-Steamboat matches and how there were way more nearfalls there than in the Okada-Omega matches. It completely ignored the fact that only only is every pinfall attempt most certainly not a nearfall, the Okada-Omega matches probably had a lot more thought into the nature and kind of nearfalls, while Flair and Steamboat just..wrestled, tried to win in kayfabe, and let the product speak for itself. One of the biggest reasons I have fallen in love with Flair again in the last 5 years is precisely that feeling of organic spontaneity present in most Flair matches. 

I also have no idea how to respond to an argument about how Flair did not make you care about his matches, which was apparently just for show. Or the point about Bret having less boring 60-minute draws, when the most high-profile 60-min match Bret ever had was a boring snoozefest. Ironically, the best 60-min match Bret has is with....Ric Flair. Just amazing how Flair is the common denominator for SO MUCH of wrestling greatness, eh?

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Bret by a country mile. I don't even think Flair has more volume than Bret. He does have some classics but also the distinction of having the most matches on tape that I would never want to watch again. I don't necessarily hold his touring matches against him (even if they are incredibly rote), but so much of his Crockett run doesn't hold up either. Matches against Dusty, Nikita, Windham, Garvin, Luger, Sting where he's just bumping around and stooging like a rich man's Honkytonk Man.

I forget who here made the comparison, but Flair is not too far off from an 80s version of Kurt Angle. He really could have used an editor to cut down his matches or insert some plot points beyond "NWA Title Match".

Quote

Who cares how much thought Flair put into his matches, if the end result was great? Artistic intention is always a slippery slope. I see no reason why an instinctive performer is superior to a cerebral performer. Hell, some of my biggest gripes with modern wrestling is precisely because they put too much thought into their matches. It loses its sense of organic nature. 

That's all fine and good but it doesn't apply to Bret. His matches never lost the feeling of competition or struggle. Randy Savage was the same way. If anything, Flair's matches usually have one or two spots where you can see he's clearly calling spots, or having awkward miscommunication with the other wrestler, that takes you out of the action.

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45 minutes ago, kid dracula said:

This is really lame.

In a wrestling sense, he's not a smart worker and does a lot of dumb things.

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2 hours ago, Frankensteiner said:

That's all fine and good but it doesn't apply to Bret. His matches never lost the feeling of competition or struggle. Randy Savage was the same way. If anything, Flair's matches usually have one or two spots where you can see he's clearly calling spots, or having awkward miscommunication with the other wrestler, that takes you out of the action.

My point was to defend working on "good instincts" without "putting too much thought" into matches. Even if that makes you look "stupid" somehow. 

Also let's not act like Bret did not have stock bumps and spots which he shoehorned in every match. Anything cool he did would become a regular feature of all his matches going forward

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1 hour ago, Grimmas said:

In a wrestling sense, he's not a smart worker and does a lot of dumb things.

This is how people talk about Ric Flair, who was recently voted as the greatest wrestler of all time: he was a dancing monkey. His owners would take him from town to town, let him out of his cage and into the ring, and he would do his tricks for the nice people who bought tickets. With time, he learned that if he did a really special trick, like flipping over the turnbuckle, he would get even more peanuts thrown to him from the crowd; and so he always made sure to do that one.

Bret Hart, on the other hand, was an elite-level genius. He demonstrated this the time that he fought with a guy while waiting for another guy to jump on him. And by taking the same sternum-first bump into the turnbuckle every night, despite the fact that every other wrestler who ever lived was able to take turn around and take it on their back.

I don't find the idea that Bret is better than Flair to be offensive, but I do think it's offensive to call Flair stupid and dismiss his career as some kind of joke. 

15 hours ago, Grimmas said:

Bret, though, would cater his matches to his opponent more. He would have Diesel's greatest matches, but having a Diesel match. He would have Waltman's best match, but having a Waltman match.

Yes, and Flair would have a different match with Lex Luger than he would have with Ricky Morton. And they were both different than the match he would have with Ronnie Garvin. This has been litigated over and over again. If those are "Flair matches," it's to his credit. 

 

15 hours ago, Grimmas said:

Bret makes you believe wrestling is a competition, Flair makes you believe wrestling is entertainment.

I cannot imagine watching Flair/Steamboat and thinking that Ric is putting on some kind of clown show, like he's Santino Marella. I don't think I've ever seen a series of matches that more closely replicate the exhilaration of watching a great fight. The idea that that's "entertainment" and what Bret was doing is true sport -- I don't get it, man. Maybe someone would argue that the Steamboat matches aren't representative; but I would suggest that Flair has at least as many classic matches that run totally counter to the criticisms of him as Bret has classic matches, total. 

I'd be interested to know how you respond to the criticisms against Bret. Why did he only deliver when he was given the chance to put on a "spotlight" match? Why does he have so few memorable TV matches? And what are you supposed to do if you're taking a moonsault and there's no one nearby to brawl with?

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15 minutes ago, kid dracula said:

I don't find the idea that Bret is better than Flair to be offensive, but I do think it's offensive to call Flair stupid and dismiss his career as some kind of joke. 

Yes, and Flair would have a different match with Lex Luger than he would have with Ricky Morton. And they were both different than the match he would have with Ronnie Garvin. This has been litigated over and over again. If those are "Flair matches," it's to his credit. 

I cannot imagine watching Flair/Steamboat and thinking that Ric is putting on some kind of clown show, like he's Santino Marella. I don't think I've ever seen a series of matches that more closely replicate the exhilaration of watching a great fight. The idea that that's "entertainment" and what Bret was doing is true sport -- I don't get it, man. Maybe someone would argue that the Steamboat matches aren't representative; but I would suggest that Flair has at least as many classic matches that run totally counter to the criticisms of him as Bret has classic matches, total. 

I'd be interested to know how you respond to the criticisms against Bret. Why did he only deliver when he was given the chance to put on a "spotlight" match? Why does he have so few memorable TV matches? And what are you supposed to do if you're taking a moonsault and there's no one nearby to brawl with?

1) I don't think Flair's career is a joke and never said that. 

2) I didn't say every single Flair match was identical. There was obviously exceptions. What I meant is Flair seemed to care more about having his match and getting his stuff in then tailoring the match to his opponent.

3) I don't know how you took what I wrote as me taking Flair as a comedy wrestler. Again, this is a general thing and of course there is exceptions. Flair's worked thousands of matches.

4) Yes Flair had more classic matches, I said that in my post.

Q) Why did he only deliver when he was given the chance to put on a "spotlight" match? 

A) I've seen enough nothing house show matches with Bret that he worked really hard to make them good. Yes, Bret would do better in spotlight matches. Yes he tried harder when it was more important, however to pretend he didn't deliver good matches when the spotlight was off is something I disagree with.

Q) Why does he have so few memorable TV matches?

A) His ratio is pretty good. WWF TV was not designed to have good TV matches, but he did deliver many times. Memorable TV matches: vs Savage (SNME), vs Owen (Action Zone), vs Benoit (Nitro), vs Kid (Raw), vs Hakushi (Raw), vs DDP (Nitro), w/ Neidhart vs Islanders (All-American Wrestling), vs Dynamite Kid (Prime Time Wrestling).

Q) And what are you supposed to do if you're taking a moonsault and there's no one nearby to brawl with?

A) Don't take one. Jaw with a fan and turn around in time. Tie your shoe and look up in time. Whatever works and isn't you standing around like an idiot waiting.

Flair is great, I don't know why you are thinking I'm treating Flair like a comedy guy who isn't top 200. I'm comparing him to Bret and I feel Bret is a lot better.

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13 minutes ago, Grimmas said:

Flair is great, I don't know why you are thinking I'm treating Flair like a comedy guy who isn't top 200. 

Because you said that Flair makes wrestling look silly, whereas Bret makes it look serious. I don't think that's a fair criticism. 

I happened to see Bret vs 1-2-3 Kid the other day. I thought it was a really strong match and a lot of fun, but I wouldn't say there were no moments of unreality that took me out of the match. For instance: at one point Bret has Kid beat, and he goes for the sharpshooter, but Kid's too close to the ropes. So, surely Bret just pulls him to the middle of the ring and puts on the sharpshooter, right?

In fact, what he does is give Kid a precious moment to recover, and then picks him up and puts him on the top rope (where Kid is most dangerous!) and goes for a superplex that is naturally countered. Surely if I was in a "real" contest, as Bret is supposed to be, I wouldn't make such an obvious mistake? Maybe this would make sense if Bret's character was an arrogant bully, but that's not him at all. 

I don't hold this sequence against Bret or the match, because these kinds of moments are inherent to pro wrestling. In a sense, the only "realistic" wrestling finish ever is that Danielson match where he elbows Nigel McGuinness to death -- if your opponent is on the edge of defeat, just keep hitting them! But still, the moment of unreality was avoidable; Bret could have slapped on the sharpshooter only for Kid to somehow counter it, for instance, and then they could have built to the superplex spot from there. 

Anyway I'm intrigued by this idea that everything Bret does is hyper-logical (I know that is his own claim about his work). I haven't seen every one of the TV matches you mention so maybe I will check them out. 

 

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People keep claiming that Bret added "little touches" to all his matches that made them so much more realistic or whatever, and the only example they ever give is that Hakushi moonsault. Which would be great if that was the only dive Bret ever took, or if it played any role in the finish, but that's the extent to which this claim is actually substantiated. There were plenty of little cool moments sprinkled throughout Flair's matches too, but because they usually also include really epic big moments, no one really talks about them. 

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4 hours ago, MoS said:

 

My point was to defend working on "good instincts" without "putting too much thought" into matches. Even if that makes you look "stupid" somehow. 

Also let's not act like Bret did not have stock bumps and spots which he shoehorned in every match. Anything cool he did would become a regular feature of all his matches going forward

I don't think there's anything wrong with working on instincts but the point with Flair is that he often did his spots without much rhyme or reason or simply with the intent to pop the crowd (one that comes to mind and just killed me was him going to the top with 1 min to go while trying to run out the clock against Windham in the TV draw).

Yes, Bret had his stock spots too but he never utilized them in a way where they weren't a logical part of the match. 

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Flair is great”

”Flair is stupid”

I don’t care to go down Flair vs Bret again and don’t have a horse in the race. But it’s hard to say those two things above and try to have a reasonable debate on which guy is better. 

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Due to the nature of their careers, positions, promotions, and longevity, they're difficult to really compare directly. I think Bret is certainly better at the physical and mechanic aspects of pro wrestling. His matches were structured like actual contests, his moves looked more devastating, his selling better, and there was a physical authenticity to Bret's movements that almost no wrestler ever has had in my mind,  where Flair's were generally more like an amusement park ride or stunt show spectacular. Flair also probably has literally hundreds more significant matches on tape with nearly every talent imaginable than Bret has. Bret was also in a promotion where good matches were rarely ever something much  thought was given to while he was in it. He also had a much worse roster of talent to wrestle with when he was in a position to have long top of the card matches.

All that said to say I think Bret was a better wrestler, Flair was a better entertainer, and entertainer is not a pejorative in this sense. Flair's matches, especially mid to late 80s on when the 60 minute broadways became fewer and fewer, Flair's matches are pure entertainment matches. It's less about what makes the most sense at all times and more about what is going to excite the crowd the most in the moment. And honestly, at this stage I think his "prime" years are actually the least interesting or entertaining years of his career. Most people would probably peg those years at 1985-1989 or so, and in the past year or two, I'm finding myself enjoying his pre-1981-84 and the absolute unhinged insanity of 1994-1999 or so where he is just batshit and drunk 24/7 and his matches are 100% just the hits much more than his "peak".  Flair in the early Nitro era is WILDLY entertaining at all times he's on screen. I do not believe Bret was having wrestling matches as good on Raw as Flair was being entertaining on Nitro during the same time frame. 

I also think Bret's matches are more unique and memorable for it, especially when he has multiple matches with the same opponent. And also rarer due to not wrestling in serious matches on TV nearly as often as Flair.  We're talking about the "little touches" Bret added to his matches, but I don't think those touches were spots or anything. I think it was the way he got up off the mat. The way his legs were splayed on the mat after a bump. The way he sold exhaustion. The way he threw a punch or uppercut or kick that somehow looked so much more impactful than anyone else. I will say Flair was probably better at having fun/entertaining short TV matches against mid card/low card guys more than Bret was. I think I'd rather watch an 8 minute Flair vs American Males Bagwell match on Nitro than a 10 minute Bret vs Adam Bomb or Mantaur match on Superstars.

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