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Ric Flair v Sting


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Ric Flair v Sting - NWA Starrcade 1989


While the event itself was an anti-climatic conclusion to a great year for the NWA, the booking for this tournament could not have been any better than it was. Going into this match, if Flair won this encounter by pinfall or submission, he would win the match. If Sting won the match under the same circumstances, he would win the tournament. If the match went to a draw, Lex Luger would be the winner of the tournament, based on the point system.


The last time these two faced each other in a high-profile singles match shockingly saw midcarder Sting take Flair to a 45-minute draw; he had never secured a win over Flair, but then again, Flair had never secured a win over him either. The truth remains, however, that Flair was in the middle of the highest point of his career, and defeating Flair would be a daunting task. They deviate from the typical Flair formula here, perhaps helped by the fact that both are babyfaces. Sting keeps up with the champ every step of the way when Flair starts off by taking it to the mat, and Flair even rolls outside, showing frustration. He finds an opening and takes it, benefitted by the fact that he's been in pressure-packed situations far more times than his opponent, and a simple "Whoo!" to the crowd, smirk on Flair's face, or most effectively, applying a fireman's carry and setting him on the middle rope, is enough to at least partially make Sting nervous. The Flair formula comes back into effect after the first five minutes, at which point Flair zones in on the leg. Considering the time constraints of the match, he probably should have started this much earlier and teased the figure four a few times, but time was the enemy of this match in many ways -- it didn't give them the opportunity to fully expand on the story, it didn't give Flair enough time to build the figure four, and they didn't get to the finish in time either, which made for a strange moment where the ringside announcer was announcing time increments every 60 seconds, and they had to keep going anyway, because they hadn't worked completely to the finish.


I'm still convinced, however, that the first five minutes of this match are the best five minutes Flair and Sting ever had against each other. This was intended to position Sting in strong fashion heading into 1990, but a knee injury while working an angle that probably shouldn't have even been booked put him on the sidelines, and when he came back, his momentum was largely gone. It's a good match, and Flair raising his hand afterwards is a nice touch, but it's more of a reminder of how things might have been than anything.



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