Ever since I’ve been following wrestling the two names that I’ve often heard mentioned as the black and white of wrestling are Hogan’s and Flair’s.
I get Hogan. But I don’t get Flair.
I get Hogan cause people don’t say anything about Hogan’s wrestling. They just talk about him as the man who revolutionized business. I get that.
Maybe I hadn’t been paying attention. Maybe. So I decided to pay attention. Not 1, Not 2, Not 3, Not 4, but 5 matches will be paid attention to to understand WHAT THE BIG DEAL ABOUT RIC FLAIR ANYWOOO is all about.
#1 RIC FLAIR VS STING (CLASH OF THE CHAMPIONS I – ’88)
It is said that Flair was so good at putting over his opponent that a new star was born; Sting!
Watching this match today, I can’t see how it helped Sting. Sting was good right from the start. Going the distance only made him look weak. (Maybe I am forgetting history here.) The way Sting was going, he should have won the match in 5 minutes. That he couldn’t finish it even after 45 minutes tells me that the guy just doesn’t know how to pick up a win.
Yet, if there was anyone who wrestled that night, it was Sting. Right from the get-go Sting was all energy and moves – beating the hell out of Flair. ‘Hit the finisher and pin the mother!’ But no! Flair rolls away and comes back. Comes back and how! I mean Woo! With chops to the chest and knee drops to the head. The greatest wrestler of all time! Two offenses! Chops and Drops. Oh and the figure four. Make those three offenses. Wooo!
Flair did not at any point look like a world heavyweight champion. He looked like a guy who had woken up to find that he was in the middle of the ring with a belt around his waist. Thankfully, the NWA style of wrestling and hot fans helped Sting carry the match decently. But not so lucky was a certain Bret Hart.
#2 RIC FLAIR VS BRET HART (AND THE NEW WWF CHAMPION …)
A championship match! A new champ to be crowned. One of the greatest wrestlers of all time vs the wrestling god. And what we get is Snoozecade.
Blame it on it being a house show. Blame it on it being a clash of styles. Blame it on Ric Flair not getting a decent cup of coffee in the morning. But the match was terrible.
It was gut-wrenching to see Bret Hart desperately trying to tell a story by going after Ric Flair’s arm and build up a decent match and Ric Flair coming back with Chops to the chest and Knee drops to the head. Oh and the figure four! Wooo!
It finally reached a point where Bret Hart had to pull down his singlet and do a Stinger to strike terror into Ric Flair. Thankfully Bret won and we didn’t have to see much of Ric Flair in WWE.
#3 RIC FLAIR VS VADER (STARRCADE ’93)
Anybody can have a great match with Vader. He is that good. There is so much big-man psychology to be tapped into. Sting has had great matches including the brilliant Slamboree ’94 (yeah, the finish wasn’t great). The big man even got Hulk Hogan to wrestle for a change. But this is Ric Flair. The god. Can you make him dance? Let’s find out.
Nope. 15 minutes into the match and all Flair’s done is 3 sets of chops, 1 drop to the head and a failed figure four. Then Flair attacks Vader with a chair and gets cheered for it. The match completely goes down from this point. Harley Race who is on Vader’s corner is distracting the Ref as Flair is doing all the dirty stuff on Vader! Really? Really?? Really??? I don’t mind all this on weekly TV. But on PPV? Then Flair pulls Vader’s leg and rolls up and he becomes 12 times the man! Woooo…!
3-4 sets of chops, 1or 2 knee drops and 1 figure four! Flair’s whole offence in 25 minutes. And he wins! Wooo! Maybe gods don’t have to do much to win. Actually just an FPD is enough!
#4 RIC FLAIR VS MACHO MAN (WRESTLEMANIA VIII – ’92)
All hail King Macho! This was not a great match, but there was lot of drama that made up for it. Honestly not the kind of match I enjoy, but at least it got Ric Flair to something different. But if anyone stole the show that night, it was Savage. But then again, it’s not easy to one up Savage, is it? Even if you are a wrestling god?
#5 RIC FLAIR VS RICKY STEAMBOAT (CLASH OF THE CHAMPIONS VI – ’89)
I saved this one for the last. Cause I know that’s what all you Flairaholics have been muttering under your breaths all this while. Flair vs Steamboat. Flair vs Steamboat. Where the hell is Flair vs Steamboat?
Here it is!
This was a good match, no doubt – except for a few cartoonish pin attempts. Flair did more than just chopping and dropping, but I didn’t see a wrestling god in this match either – unless we are talking about the other Ric. Steamboat. I haven’t seen many of Steamboat’s matches. So this one was an epiphany of sorts for me.
His move set was quite astounding; his retaliatory chops on Ric Flair devastating and his intent in the ring convincing so much so that he came across as a mean, no-nonsense SOB with that killer instinct that makes wrestling look real.
It isn’t difficult to see why this was given 5 stars (although I disagree), but I reckon 3 of those stars were purely Steamboat. Steamboat was so good that it was as though he was thinking on his feet throughout the match to Flair’s premeditated move set. Every move of his looked improvised as though he was ready for any eventuality.
All right, now…
Not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4 but 5 matches down! All against 5 different individuals who we know are among the best in the world. But I still don’t get it! I don’t get what the big deal about Ric Flair is all about!
Flair doesn’t ever look like a threat in any of his matches. He looks like a guy who gets championship spots because he is Ric Flair. Period. But why ishe Ric Flair? That I don’t get.
He has a certain amount of aura which I’ve never seen in any other wrestler. His is the most breathtaking entrance ever. And the confidence and charm he exudes are inimitable. But all that vanishes the moment the match starts. Then it becomes a meaningless drill of chops, drops and figure four.
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