“Nature Boy” Ric Flair enjoyed a storied career in the WWE during two stints in the 1990s and 2000s. The push for Flair to come to the WWF started in 1984, soon after Hulk Hogan took the WWF Championship and a nationwide debate ensued about who the real world champion was. After nearly a decade of build-up, Flair finally fought Hogan in a series of matches in late 1991 and early 1992.
Wrestlers who had never squared off against Ric Flair, such as a young Shawn Michaels, lined up to fight him. However, because of Flair’s late arrival to the WWF, fans were robbed of the Naitch wrestling the following eight “great” opponents in ‘80s:
7. Captain Lou Albano – Albano managed to hit the major WWF arenas once a year in the ‘80s to actually compete in the ring (usually for a feud). Had the two fought, not only would Flair have sold for Albano, but the race would have been on to see who could gig themselves first.
6. Bushwhacker Luke – I’m not sure if Flair ever fought Luke Williams when he was one of the crazy Sheepherders, but luckily we were spared seeing the Nature Boy get his head licked by Luke when the Bushwhackers played their act for comedy.
5. Zeus – Actor Tom “Tiny” Lister’s forgettable career as Zeus might have moved up a notch had he faced Flair, but the gods did not look down favorably upon Lister. This match would have been a challenge for even Flair to turn around.
4. Outback Jack – A Vince McMahon reaction to the success of Crocodile Dundee, Outback Jack would have been painful to watch with Flair thanks to Jack’s sloppy offense.
3. The Red Rooster – Anyone who talks about bad gimmicks in today’s WWE or TNA needs to search You Tube for matches with Terry Taylor when he played the Red Rooster. Taylor fought Flair under his actual name and more serious persona outside the WWF, but thankfully Naitch never had to face Taylor with his red Mohawk and chicken walk.
1. Mr. T – Yes, the interviews would have been priceless, and perhaps a match between the two would have been okay, but fighting Mr. T. would have gone against everything Flair represented as an NWA champion in 1985 and 1986.
Now, you may ask why the late Frankie Williams, perhaps the ultimate WWF jobber, isn’t on this list. Well, I was surprised to learn from the History of WWE website (http://www.thehistoryofwwe.com/70smsg.htm) that Flair actually fought and defeated Williams in a WWWF card as Madison Square Garden on April 26, 1976 (the same show that Stan Hansen’s bodyslam broke Bruno Sammartino’s neck legitimately).
Scott Wallask has followed wrestling for 30 years and writes about growing up watching the WWF in the 1980s on his blog the Boston Garden Balcony.