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The Ric Flair Thread


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With Ric Flair appearing to finally be retiring this year, I thought this would be a good chance to do a Ric Flair thread, focusing on the ups and downs of his career, favorite matches, best moments, where you think he ranks among the all-time greats, etc.

 

Even though he's not the same Ric Flair he was once was, him not being around at all will be kind of strange, and unless someone here was a big fan in the 60s, I don't know that any of us really know wrestling without the guy. He's definitely the only wrestler on television today that was around in the early days of cable that is still a fixture (unless you count Vince McMahon).

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Flair like Abdullah the Butcher and Hulk Hogan will never retire. I agree that he will probably be on the booking team. I wouldn't mind him being on the announcing team with Cole on smackdown.

 

I know people talk about how he's a shell of his former self now and shouldn't be wrestling, but I think he was much worse from 98-2000. I don't blame him because If I was a big as he was and jobbing to Bischoff, Russo and David Flair, i'd half ass it too.

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I don't think he will ever retire from the business. I can see HHH giving him a spot on the booking committee someday.

No doubt. He's already signed an extended contract, but my understanding is that it's not a wrestler's contract. I do see him doing public appearances for WWE for years to come.

 

But I think the days of seeing him as an on-camera fixture are nearly over.

 

I know people talk about how he's a shell of his former self now and shouldn't be wrestling, but I think he was much worse from 98-2000. I don't blame him because If I was a big as he was and jobbing to Bischoff, Russo and David Flair, i'd half ass it too.

I agree on '98 and '00 for the most part, although he showed during that time he could still talk people into buying PPVs if he was given interview time, as the buyrates for SuperBrawl IX and Souled Out '98 were pretty impressive. The mental institution and heart attack crap hurt him quite a bit though, as it was obviously stuff done for no reason except to embarrass him.

 

I would say 1997 was worse for him than '98, '99 or 2000 though. 2000 had the win over Jarrett and the head shaving, but that was about it. The only shining moment I thought he had in '97 was the promo by phone he did directed toward Hennig and Hogan where he vowed revenge and disbanded the Horsemen.

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Flair's TV match at the beginning of '87 with Barry Windham and a live 60-min draw I saw between him and Ronnie Garvin at the Baltimore Civic Center were the seminal moments that taught me wrestling could be more than a WWF cartoon. I think he holds the same kind of place for thousands of wrestling fans who actually care about the matches. So yeah, he's pretty damned important, even if the very best Japanese workers and a few others have eclipsed him in my pantheon. I suspect I might never have cared enough to find those other guys if not for Flair.

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Not to mention you've watched hundreds of matches and aren't completely sick of him, that's a sign of how great he was too. Watching WCCW from 1983 and NWA Saturday Nights from 85-86 on 24/7 drive it home how he could talk a crowd into a building as well.

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I believe Flair had input in booking at this point, but I've never been completely clear on who was truly booking WCW pre-Hogan in 1994. Anytime Flair booked during any of his runs, it was usually just specific parts of the card, but not overall. It may have been Terry Taylor.

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I'm wondering what other folks opinions are on the statement I made in the WCW thread that the Flair-Bischoff spat is what really ended the run of Ric Flair as a top level performer.

 

His in ring work was on a slow decline, but to me it seems as the combination of losing so much steam from being off TV and then being booked in humiliation angles after returning was the end of people viewing him as a credible top level guy.

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  • 2 months later...

I was reading the Flair bio that Meltzer did back in '94 that he has been sending out to new subscribers this week, and people who are re-upping their subscriptions. It's 90% stuff we already know, but it's still really good. Flair was rightfully overshadowed by Hulk Hogan as a draw in the 80s, but was an impressive standout draw in his own right, and that sometimes gets overlooked. At the end of 1985, Flair had headlined 7 of the top 10 money shows in American wrestling history. Pretty impressive for a guy who still had another 5 years or so as an in-his-prime headliner. Starrcades '83, '85 and '86 were all huge money shows, and he also headlined in front of crowds of 30,000 against guys like Nikita Koloff and Carlos Colon. I didn't realize the attendance for the '85 Bash was so high. His feud with Terry Funk was also the biggest money feud WCW had ever had ($100,000 houses regularly) until 1996, when he broke his own record.

 

Most of the discussion around Flair centers around his matches, and I think his drawing power is sometimes underplayed because his peak happened at the same time as Hulk Hogan's, and the perception sometimes is that the WWF was the only successful company at the time.

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I have watched a TON of Flair over the last few months. Just for discussion sake, these are the matches that have been nominated so far for the NWA and All Japan projects.

 

NWA

Rock N Roll Express vs. Ric Flair & Lex Luger (Superbouts 4) (Need Date)

Greg Valentine vs. Ric Flair (Handheld 9/24/80)

Ric Flair vs. Ole Anderson (Indian Strap Match) (Handheld 11/28/81)

Ric Flair vs. Harley Race (2/28/82) (AJC 68)

Jack Brisco vs. Ric Flair (7/27/82) (Lynch Mid Atlantic 1.2)

Ric Flair vs. Roddy Piper (9/1/82) (Lynch Mid Atlantic 2.2)

Ric Flair vs. Bruiser Brody (St. Louis 2/11/83)

Harley Race vs. Ric Flair (8/31/83) (Lynch Mid Atlantic 3.1)

Ric Flair vs. Harley Race (Cage match) Starrcade 11/24/83) (Flair DVD)

Ron Garvin vs. Ric Flair (Georgia 6/17/84)

Ric Flair vs. Wahoo McDaniel (Battle of the Belts 9/2/85)

Ric Flair vs. Dusty Rhodes (Starrcade 11/28/85) (Flair DVD)

Ronnie Garvin vs. Ric Flair (12/28/85)

Ron Garvin vs. Ric Flair (Superstars on the Superstation, 2/2/86)

Ric Flair vs. Barry Windham (Battle of the Belts 2/14/86)

Ric Flair vs. Ricky Morton (Cage Match) (GAB 7/5/86) (4 Horsemen)

Ric Flair vs. Dusty Rhodes (Cage match) (GAB 7/26/86) (Bloodbath)

Dusty Rhodes vs. Ric Flair (Pro 8/23/86)

Ric Flair vs. Barry Windham (1/20/87) (Flair DVD)

Ric Flair vs. Barry Windham (Crockett Cup 4/11/87)

Ric Flair & Lex Luger vs. Jimmy & Ron Garvin (TV 6/27/87)

The Four Horsemen & JJ Dillon vs. Dusty Rhodes, Nikita Koloff, Road Warriors, & Paul Ellering (Wargames) (GAB 7/4/87)

The Four Horsemen & War Machine vs. Dusty Rhodes, Nikita Koloff, Road Warriors & Paul Ellering (Wargames) (GAB 7/31/87)

Ric Flair vs. Ron Garvin (Cage Match) (Starrcade 11/26/87)

Sting vs. Ric Flair (Clash 3/27/88)

Lex Luger, Dr. Death & Nikita Koloff vs. Ric Flair, Barry Windham & Arn Anderson (Houston 6/10/88)

Dusty/Nikita/Luger/Dr. Death/Ellering vs. The Four Horsemen & Dillon (Wargames) (7/16/88) (Four Horsemen)

Midnight Express vs. Ric Flair & Barry Windham (Clash 12/7/88)

Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger (Starrcade 12/26/88)

Ricky Steamboat vs. Ric Flair (Chi-Town Rumble 2/20/89)

Ricky Steamboat vs. Ric Flair (Handheld) (Landover 3/18/89)

Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat (Clash 4/2/89)

Ricky Steamboat vs. Ric Flair (Wrestlewar 5/7/89)

Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk (GAB 7/23/89)

Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk (I Quit) (Clash 11/15/89)

 

 

 

All Japan

Ric Flair vs. Jumbo Tsuruta (10/9/81)

Ric Flair vs. Ric Steamboat (6/4/82)

Ric Flair vs. Jumbo Tsuruta (6/8/82)

Harley Race vs. Ric Flair (5/22/84)

Ric Flair vs. Kerry Von Erich (5/24/84)

Ric Flair vs. Jumbo Tsuruta (4/24/85)

Ric Flair vs. Jumbo Tsuruta (Non-Title Match) (10/19/85)

Ric Flair vs. Rick Martel (NWA Title vs. AWA Title) (10/21/85)

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Ric Flair vs. Ric Steamboat (6/4/82)

Of the singles matches that aired in full on the well known Tabe Flair vs. Steamboat comp, this was the worst of them to me. It's still an okay match but Flair in All Japan suffered from a similar problem generally to what some people have said about Flair in Mid-South: he's stil Flair but it just doesn't seem to quite have the same magic.

 

Harley Race vs. Ric Flair (5/22/84)

On the other hand, I thought this might be the best match I've seen these two have on tape. Certainly a lot better than the Starrcade '83 main, which in my opinion isn't really saying that much. Thanks Gene Kiniski. Of course even then it wasn't as good as the Jumbo/Kerry Von Erich main event. ;-)

 

On the NWA list aren't you also missing the Flair/Steamboat match from the Meadowlands in 1984? Hell I thought that was their best match that wasn't the 2 out of 3 falls match. I'd be shocked if that match was outright not nominated.

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Ric Flair vs. Ric Steamboat (6/4/82)

Of the singles matches that aired in full on the well known Tabe Flair vs. Steamboat comp

Just FYI, I've updated and expanded this, making my own 9 disc set of the feud that's as complete as possible, including promos & angles. :)
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6/8/82 and 6/8/83 are two different matches. The 6/8/83 match is a 60-minute draw, 2/3 falls, that recently aired on G+. It never aired on Classics. Prior to the recent airing, only 40 minutes of the match were available. I still haven't seen the completed version.

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I'm wondering what other folks opinions are on the statement I made in the WCW thread that the Flair-Bischoff spat is what really ended the run of Ric Flair as a top level performer.

 

His in ring work was on a slow decline, but to me it seems as the combination of losing so much steam from being off TV and then being booked in humiliation angles after returning was the end of people viewing him as a credible top level guy.

 

It definitely took a lot of wind out of his sails but then I thought he rebounded nicely with some quality work in WWE. His WM match with Undertaker was especially good and he even carried Vince to a good match. It's been the last year or so when he's really declined...it feels/looks like he's aged 30 years in the last 3.

 

I could still watch an entire DVD filled with nothing but his World Championship Wrestling promos though :)

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Sounds fun though to be honest I can't make it through even the Tabe one without several breaks anymore.

 

That's not really a knock of Flair's formula though. I'd say the same thing about watching, say, 10 Southern formula tags in a row. The formula obviously works and is plenty entertaining, I just don't want to sit through it 10 times in a row anymore. I also hit the same wall with Ditch's 1990's AJPW ballot he ran on DVDVR not long ago, by 1996 I was just dying for matches that did anything against the grain but without being, you know, an Albright/Sabu tag team.

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Fellas, keep in mind that those are the matches that have been nominated so far. That does not mean that we forgot or left out matches. It means that it has not been watched yet as part of the project. My likely #1 for All Japan will be Tneryu-Jumbo from 6/5/89. I haven't even nominated it yet. That doesn't mean it won't be on there.

 

 

 

Harley Race vs. Ric Flair (5/22/84)

On the other hand, I thought this might be the best match I've seen these two have on tape. Certainly a lot better than the Starrcade '83 main, which in my opinion isn't really saying that much. Thanks Gene Kiniski. Of course even then it wasn't as good as the Jumbo/Kerry Von Erich main event. ;-)

I have enjoyed the Harley-Flair feud. I know there are a couple of matches I need to watch that haven't made the list yet but here is what I wrote about the ones I watched so far...

 

Ric Flair vs. Harley Race (NWA Title in Atlanta, GA on 02/28/82) (20:39)

- Another Flair-Race match I enjoy much more than the Starrcade match. Big bump early on as Race tries a falling headbutt on Flair on the concrete but Flair moves and SPLAT. After that, Flair pounds on the head, rams Race into the ringpost, gives some vicious elbows and punches the cut. To counter, Race stops Flair’s momentum with a headbutt that knocks both guys out. Great sequence! Even with the earlier headbutt damaging him, Race relies on it for the rest of the match punishing Flair. Still, Harley’s selling after every one of them is great. Both guys end up bleeding buckets. The ending is great and shitty at the same time. It is a screwjob double DQ but it worked out great. Flair swings, Harley ducks and he pops the ref. They go outside and Harley tries to grab Flair to ram him intothe ringpost but grabs the ref and rams him instead. Another great sequence. I really have to watch all the Flair-Race matches back-to-back on the set but this is a definite nomination.

Harley Race vs. Ric Flair (8/31/83)

- Race takes it to Flair early but each time he goes for a big punishing move (falling headbutt, big elbow drop), Flair moves out of the way. Flair briefly gains control but Harley regains it with a sweet clothesline that Flair sells like death. There were also some small touches I really got a kick out of like Flair’s boot to Harley’s head or Flair chopping Harley so hard he bounces off the ropes and falls to his knees or Flair’s elbow drop. The end interference sucked but the Orton piledriver on Flair makes up for it. I like this one so much more than the Starrcade match. I have a feeling the Starrcade match will be voted higher but this might be my favorite American Race match. Maybe someone can refresh my memory on the great American Race matches. Maybe it just happens that I am tired of seeing the Starrcade match on every DVD release. This was just point/counter-point and who could capitalize the most off the other guy’s mistakes. Awesome match and definite nomination.

Harley Race vs. Ric Flair (5/22/84)

- Another awesome Flair-Race matchup. I think this might do better on the All Japan set due to it not being compared to a couple of the NWA nominations. A lot of great back and forth action here as each man takes advantage of the other’s arrogance. This is the theme of the match when the other guy grabs control. You see it when Race goes to the top rope only to have Flair throw him off in a nice display of poetic justice. You see it when Flair tries to overpower Race only for Race to pick him up for a huge press slam. It was there when Race was posing while Fair ran the ropes and successfully executed the rare body press. Then, only seconds later, setting up the Figure-4, it was more important for Flair to shout out his “Wooo”, allowing Race to kick him off sending Flair’s shoulder into the ringpost. This allowed Race to hit that diving headbutt off the top rope onto the shoulder for the pin. Great stuff and a slam dunk nomination.

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Fellas, keep in mind that those are the matches that have been nominated so far. That does not mean that we forgot or left out matches. It means that it has not been watched yet as part of the project. My likely #1 for All Japan will be Tneryu-Jumbo from 6/5/89. I haven't even nominated it yet. That doesn't mean it won't be on there.

Point taken.

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I'm wondering what other folks opinions are on the statement I made in the WCW thread that the Flair-Bischoff spat is what really ended the run of Ric Flair as a top level performer.

 

His in ring work was on a slow decline, but to me it seems as the combination of losing so much steam from being off TV and then being booked in humiliation angles after returning was the end of people viewing him as a credible top level guy.

 

It definitely took a lot of wind out of his sails but then I thought he rebounded nicely with some quality work in WWE. His WM match with Undertaker was especially good and he even carried Vince to a good match. It's been the last year or so when he's really declined...it feels/looks like he's aged 30 years in the last 3.

 

I could still watch an entire DVD filled with nothing but his World Championship Wrestling promos though :)

 

You know, I would actually say that Flair rebounded somewhat in the last few years after accepting his role as a higher-profile American version of Mitsuo Momota and working the "broken down old man" style accordingly. I mean, he's not a fraction of what he was in the 80's, but then, not too many people are. But I'd dare say he's better now than he was when he first came to the WWE (and his last years in WCW, for that matter). I can get behind the idea of Flair as a sneaky old bastard fan favorite who's starting to bear a striking resemblance to my grandma.

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The worst time of Flair's career was 03-04 where he was consistently the worst guy on WWE tv visibly calling spots, tripping over himself and bringing nothing to the table. Evolution was really a bad arrangement for Ric all around and it showed.

 

A combination of smarter booking and Flair giving up on being something he hasn't been in years has made him actively good for the last three years. At times he has been great, though in a totally different way than before. Since 05 he has had matches with Edge, Foley, HHH, Big Show and Angle worth tracking down. The truth is that Flair is a pretty good garbage wrestler for reasons that have a lot to do with who he really is at this point in his life.

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