The Top Ten 4.22.08: Ric Flair Matches
Posted by Julian Williams on 04.22.2008
Good morning people and welcome back to another legendary edition of The Top Ten. This is going to be a quick one this week because my computer caught a nasty virus (Damn Internet porn) so I have to write this up during my lunch break at work. I'm giving up a BLT and some cheesy poofs to type for you people so feel loved. FEEL LOVED DAMMIT!! Ok, I know what you're here for so enough beating around the bush, let's take a look at the greatest matches of the greatest wrestler to ever live. WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The Top Ten Ric Flair Matches
Honorable Mention: Ric Flair vs. Barry Windham (Crockett Cup '87)
This was a rematch to the classic they had on World Wide Wrestling and these two easily tore the house down once again. Flair was able to lock in The Figure 4 early in the match, but Windham shrugged that off and began to pummel the crap out of Ric. The crowd was SUPER hot as they really felt that Windham had Flair's number. Windham continued his relentless onslaught on Flair, including punching him so hard that Flair FLEW over the top rope. That was pretty awesome. Flair was able to gain control by countering an attempted piledriver on the floor by backdropping Windham onto the concrete. Flair took over from there, but it wasn't long until Windham fought back and was able to pin Flair for the 3 count following a missile dropkick! Not so fast, though, because Flair had his foot on the ropes so referee Tommy Young restarted the match. Once the match was restarted, the two men created numerous false finishes until Flair was able to grab Windham's tights to get the three count. This is a fantastic match that is definitely worth going out of your way to see.
Honorable Mention: Ric Flair vs. Triple H (Taboo Tuesday '05)
Sure, there are other matches in Flair's career that probably deserve a spot over this one, but this match holds a special place in my heart. That's because in this match, Flair turned into the Nature Boy of old. Prior to this match, Flair had a few decent matches since his return to the WWE in 2001, but nothing really great. This match turned back the clock as Flair busted out some old school goodness. This match rocked my face and what made it even better was that I wasn't expecting too much from it. I knew it would be a good match, but I wasn't expecting anything like what we got. What we got was a hellacious match that included lots of blood and some wicked chairshots on The Game. Flair brought his A game and had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. Triple H, to his credit, took a hell of a beating and even had to be helped out by two refs at the end of the match. Just a fantastic match and another reason why I worship at the Temple of Flair.
Honorable Mention: Ric Flair vs. Kerry Von Erich (WCCW Christmas Star Wars '82)
This match is mainly remembered for the Freebirds turning heel on Kerry Von Erich and setting up the awesome Freebirds/Von Erichs feud, but what is forgotten is that this was one hell of a match. Michael Hayes was the special ref for the match (even though there already an official ref for the match….don't ask) and Terry Gordy was the special outside enforcer to make sure nobody tried to get in the cage. This was a brutal and bloody affair with Flair being busted open early in the match by being repeatedly thrown into the cage and then working on Kerry's leg in order to end the punishment. Flair cinched in the Figure 4 and after a few minutes (literally) in the hold, Von Erich was able to reverse the hold. From there, Kerry gave Flair a taste of his own medicine by working over his legs. Flair fought back and went up top to try to chop down Von Erich, but instead got met with the Claw! That seemed to be the end for Ric, but he was just able to get his foot under the rope. Flair soon regained control by choking out Von Erich despite repeated warnings from Hayes, so Hayes said, "Fuck It" and knocked out Flair. He then told Von Erich to cover for the win, but Kerry refused since he wanted to win the match by himself. That pissed Hayes off and he began to walk out of the cage, but at the same time, Flair recovered to give Kerry a high knee, which knocked him right into Hayes. Terry Gordy, taking offense that Kerry bumped into Hayes, slammed the cage door on his head. That seemed to be the end for Kerry, but he was able to kick out at 2 (which the official ref counted). That pissed Hayes off and he got in the face of the official ref which got him promptly ejected to the back. The match continued and it seemed like Kerry was going to overcome all the odds, until he collapsed due to all the punishment he had received. That automatically gave Flair the victory as everyone was concerned with Kerry's condition. This was an entertaining spectacle with one hell of a heel turn, but it was also an awesome match to boot as Flair led Von Erich to one of his best matches ever.
Honorable Mention: Ric Flair vs. Edge (Raw, 1/16/06)
I'm sure that many of you, like myself, were thinking, "What the fuck" when reading that Ric Flair was scheduled to take on Edge in a TLC match for the WWE title. Ric Flair had never been in a ladder match EVER in his illustrious career, so all of us were expecting a train wreck. What we got was a pleasant surprise as these two went out and put on one hell of a match. Edge's splash from the ladder in the ring to a prone Flair on a table set on the outside of the ring is one of those highlights you'll see for years to come in the WWE. When Flair dumped Edge off the ladder and through a table set on the outside, you really thought that the Nature Boy was about to capture his 17th world title. Edge was able to recover(with help from the slut-tacular Lita) and retain his title, but the winner of the match didn't matter because it was just a thoroughly entertaining match that none of us were expecting.
Honorable Mention: Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger (WrestleWar ‘90)
This match and the match between these two at Great American Bash ‘88 are interchangeable, but I prefer this one just a little bit more. First off, this match went more action packed and even though it had a crappy finish, it wasn't as bad as the horrid finish to the GAB match. Believe it or not, there was a time when Lex Luger could actually go in the ring and this is a classic example of it. This was a match for the NWA World Title and Luger was hungry from the outset of the match. Not only did he want to become champion, but he wanted revenge for Sting, who the Horsemen had taken out. He completely dominated the early going and it seemed like it was going to be a long night for Flair. Flair was eventually able to takeover the match by focusing on Luger's leg and dissecting it. Flair eventually slapped on the Figure 4 and it seemed like all hope was lost for Luger, but then Sting limped down to ringside to inspire his friend. Luger was then able to power himself to the ropes and began to run all over Flair. He was able to get Flair up in the Torture Rack and just when it seemed like the title was changing hands, The Andersons came out and attacked Sting. So Luger had the choice of either keeping the Rack on Flair to win the title or to save his friend, Sting. He chose to save Sting and that resulted in him getting ganged up on by The Andersons which prevented him from getting back into the ring before the count of 10. Sure, it was an ASS of an ending, but it actually made some bit of sense because who would stand by while their friend is getting beat down and do nothing about it? This was a great match that showed that Luger could go and that Flair was in a league all his own of making other guys look like superstars.
Honorable Mention: Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk (Great American Bash '89)
This was the main event for what some (not me) call the greatest PPV of all time. The backstory for this match was that Terry Funk was a judge in the final match between Flair and Steamboat and after Flair won, he asked for a title shot and once Flair declined, Funk went apeshit and beat the hell out of Flair including a piledriver on a table. This match was filled with fast paced, intense and violent action. Both men just beat the holy hell out of each other with Flair piledriving Funk twice, Funk WHACKING Flair in the head with a branding iron, Flair returning the favor by CRACKING Funk in the head with the same branding iron, and Flair backdropping Funk on the concrete floor. The match ended after both men unsuccessfully tried to lock in their submission moves and once Funk went for an inside cradle, Flair countered by rolling into it and getting the 3 count. This was just an awesome, brutal match that is a testimony to how great both men were during their prime.
10) Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels (Wrestlemania 24)
This match deserves a spot on the list for being Ric Flair's final match. This match deserves a spot on the list for being a damn good bout. This match DEFINITELY deserves a spot on the list for being one of the most emotional and heartbreaking matches of all-time. What else can be said about this match? This is easily the most emotional match I've ever watched. Sure, we all knew it was Flair's final match, but I don't think any of us were certain of the outcome until that final Superkick. Seeing Shawn Michaels struggle with himself about whether or not to deliver the kick was very emotional, but didn't compare to when he kicked the crap out of Flair and immediately started to hug him on the ground, as if to apologize, while Flair laid there crying, knowing his career was over. Powerful stuff. The match itself was even better than I expected and I was seriously concerned about Shawn Michaels ribs after that hellacious table bump. The people complaining that this match didn't have enough blood and that ‘Naitch didn't cheat enough are completely missing the point of this match. Flair didn't need to bleed because this wasn't a blood feud and I actually liked to see Flair not bleed for once, especially in his final match. He was able to walk away with his head held high knowing that he just gave one of the best in the business today all that he could handle and more. And Flair didn't need to cheat endlessly because he was toe to toe with HBK for the majority of the match. Whenever he was in some danger, he'd pull out a dirty move, but I liked the fact that Flair stayed competitive in the match due to his wrestling ability and not him poking eyes and giving low blows every two seconds. That's something that was constant in recent Flair matches, but the Nature Boy of old would only pull out a dirty move when he was in trouble, he wouldn't rely his whole offense on cheap moves. Overall, this match was an all-time classic and a match that I will never forget for as long as I live.
9) Ric Flair vs. Vader (Starrcade '93)
Flair came into this match as a huge underdog because at this time, Vader was virtually unstoppable. He had run right through top guys like Sting and Cactus Jack and it seemed like nobody could stop his path of destruction, especially an aging (even at that time) Ric Flair. This was a match for the WCW World Title which Vader had a stranglehold on for most of 1993. In the early portions of the match, Vader did indeed appear unstoppable as he took all of Flair's punishment like it didn't even faze him. He proceeded to give Flair one hell of a beating with some absolutely stiff shots and it seemed like we had a massacre on our hands. But then all of a sudden, Flair started fighting back with some stiff shots of his own and began to target the big man's legs. After a few attempts, he was able to lock in the figure four and it seemed like Vader was done for, but he was just barely able to make the ropes. After some more brutality between the two, the end came when Vader's manager, Harley Race, gave Vader a diving headbutt by accident and even though the big man was able to recover from that, he wasn't able to kick out of a cradle after Flair clipped his knee. This match was brutal, emotional, engaging, and highly entertaining. In other words, classic Flair.
8) Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage (Wrestlemania 8)
This match was about as personal as you can get because Ric Flair bragged about having an affair with Miss Elizabeth and promised to reveal a scantily clad photo of Liz after he won the match (which as a horny eight year old automatically made me root for Flair). This match was a great back and forth contest which saw The Nature Boy focus and Savage's knee and dissect it to the point where Savage could barely stand. Flair seemed to be in total control and ready to set up for the figure four, when Savage was able to catch the Nature Boy in a rollup and take a page out of Flair's book by grabbing onto the tights. This gave Savage his second WWE Title and this was a great payoff to a fantastic storyline. I'm still bitter about never seeing that Liz pic, though. Damn Macho Man.
7) Ric Flair vs. Harley Race (Starrcade '83)
Classic, classic, classic match. This one had it all. It was over the prestigious NWA Heavyweight title. It had the $25,000 bounty storyline(which would later be poorly duplicated by HHH and Goldberg) where Harley offered 25 G's to whoever took Flair out. Dick Slater and Bob Orton, Jr. answered the bounty and jacked up Flair's neck. Flair teased retirement only to come back and chase them off with a bat then give a CRAZY Flair promo. And we all know that CRAZY Flair promos rule. This match took place at the first Starrcade and was the first time that Flair was introduced as being from North Carolina. It also had the awesome Flair entrance with the turquoise robe that looked like the costume of Banshee from the X-Men(Bonus points for you if you actually know who the hell Banshee is). Flair bled like a champ, Race beat him down like a badass, but Flair still pulled it out and the crowd went crazy. An awesome, historical match.
6) Ric Flair vs. Barry Windham (World Wide Wrestling, 1/20/87)
This was the legendary one hour (actually 45 minute) draw on Worldwide TV which some felt was right up their with Savage/Steamboat as the greatest match of 1987. I honestly can't disagree because this match was non-stop action and had you on the edge of your seat for the entire duration. Barry Windham may be one of the most underrated performers of all-time and being matched up with Flair automatically made this an instant classic. What's so great about this match is that it seemed so effortless meaning that sometimes when watching a match, you could see the wrestlers strategizing about the next spot, but in this match everything was so damn fluid. It was truly a wonder to behold. Windham dominated the early portions of the match by using his speed and strength as an advantage over Flair, but soon Flair gained control by working over Windham's arm. Windham was able to slug Flair to get back into things, but it wasn't too long until Flair went after Windham's leg. Barry fought off the onslaught to begin working over Flair's leg and it became a game of who was going to make the other submit first as both men targeted each other's leg. The final minute was breathtaking as Windham did everything in his power to pin Flair before the time limit was reached, but Flair was barely able to kick out of a Lariat just as time expired. Awesome match that often gets overlooked, but it definitely is one of the greatest matches of both men's careers.
5) Ric Flair vs. Sting (Clash Of The Champions I)
This was the match that made Sting's career. Flair bumped all over the place for The Stinger in this match and I still feel to this day that in this match, Flair automatically turned Sting into a main event player. Sting was an up-and-comer at this point, but after this match he became the biggest face in WCW(well NWA at the time). This was for Flair's NWA title and there was a 45-minute time limit. Sting took it to Flair in this match and had the champ on the ropes at numerous times. With 30 seconds left before the time limit, Sting was able to lock in the Deathlock, but Flair held on until the time expired. The match was declared a draw(which incidentally was funny since before the match it was declared that there MUST BE A WINNER) and a star was born in Sting. He would go on to achieve great success in WCW, but this is the one match that turned him into the face of WCW for over a decade and he definitely has Flair to thank because 'Naitch put him over HUGE in this contest.
4) Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk (Clash Of The Champions 9)
Five Letters. Two Words. I Quit. Those words spoken by the great Gordon Solie made it seem like uttering those words would be so simple, but these two warriors would engage in an intense battle before either one even thought to say it. Flair dominated early with some wicked chops, but Funk proved himself to be a tough son-of-a-bitch by absorbing those stiff blows and fighting back. Funk would then dominate the next portion of the match with some hard left hand shots and some insulting slaps to the face. Those slaps were enough to awaken Flair and from that point on, all hell broke loose. Flair chopped the hell out of Funk all around ringside and tried to get his hands on Funk's manager, Gary Hart, which enabled Funk to gain control. Then in a great little sequence, Funk asked Flair if he remembered about his injured neck (from the plane crash) and told the ref to ask Flair to quit before he piledrived him and when Flair refused to quit, Funk not only piledrived him in the ring, but piledrived him on the floor as well. Brutal stuff at the time. Funk continued to dominate and tried to set up a table, but Flair fought back and then, in one of the coolest spots ever, Flair threw Funk across the table and headfirst into a steel chair. It's hard to describe, but awesome to look at. Flair dominated the rest of the match, but Funk showed incredible resiliency by taking the onslaught by Flair and not quitting until Flair locked in the Figure-4 in the middle of the ring and Funk had no choice but to quit. A great, intense brawl that set the standard for all I Quit matches that followed.
3) Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat (Chi-Town Rumble '89)
This was the first encounter between Flair and Steamboat in their legendary 1989 series of matches and this match gave a sign of all the greatness that was to follow. Steamboat was a family man who wanted to bring honor and prestige back to the World Heavyweight Title and Flair was the stylin', profilin' Champion that thought of Steamboat as a bore. Steamboat was able to dominate early by winning some lightning quick exchanges and surprised Flair by just how quick he was. Flair was able to regain control later in the match with some wicked chop. Then these two men had one of the best exchanges I've ever seen as Flair flipped over the top rope and climbed to the top for a crossbody, but Steamboat was able to counter into a roll up for a two count and when both men got up, Flair was able to hit a reverse atomic drop and apply the Figure-4. That's the kind of stuff that leaves you breathless as a fan, just a terrific exchange. Steamboat was able to get to the ropes to break the hold and after both men exchanged some stiff shots, Flair ran the ropes and crossbodied Steamboat over the top rope. Flair dominated from that point on and seemed to be on the verge of retaining his title until Steamboat fought back and came off the top rope with a crossbody that knocked not only Flair out, but the referee as well. With the ref out, Flair tried to take advantage, but Steamboat was able to roll him up to pick up the three count and the World Heavyweight Championship. Despite the ref bump, this match was absolutely flawless but who knew that these two would go on top this terrific performance.
2) Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat (Clash Of The Champions 6)
This was the rematch to their classic encounter at Chi-Town Rumble and this match was contested under 2/3 falls rules. The first fall was intense as both men slapped each other in the face and chopped the shit out of each other before getting down to some frenetic action. The chops that these two gave each other sounded like gunshots going off, they were just absolutely VICIOUS. The first fall ended after Steamboat missed a missile dropkick which made Flair go for the Figure-4, but Steamboat was able to counter into a roll-up, but then Flair REVERSED that into a roll-up of his own for the three count. Steamboat started the second fall feverishly knowing that his back was against the wall. He delivered some wicked chops before dropping about 14 or 15 elbows in a row onto Flair's knee. Flair seemed dead to the world by that point until Steamboat locked in a Boston Crab which had Flair screaming in agony. Flair was able to fight out of it and get back into the match until Steamboat was able to hoist him up into a Double Chickenwing and that proved to be to much for Flair as he submitted and lost the second fall. That was monumental not only because it tied the match up, but because it was the first time Flair had ever submitted. Flair realizing that he was in bad shape, immediately went after Steamboat knee in the third fall and was soon able to cinch in the Figure-4. Steamboat was able to make the ropes, though, much to Flair's chagrin. Then, in one of my most markish moments ever, Steamboat sends Flair to the buckle but Flair does the Flair Flip and when he tried to run over to the other turnbuckle, Steamboat chops the shit out of him and knocks ‘Naitch down on the apron. I jumped out of seat and applauded the first time I saw that, great stuff. The fall continued with some great back and forth exchanges until Steamboat got Flair up in the Double Chickenwing again, but this time Steamboat's legs had sustained too much damage and they buckled underneath him. This made Flair land on top of Steamboat, put seeing that his shoulders were down, the referee counted the three count against Flair, despite the fact that his leg was under the bottom rope. Thus, Steamboat retained his championship, albeit under controversial terms. This classic match would then be followed up by…..
1) Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat (WrestleWar '89)
Many people prefer their Clash VI match, but I still think that this match is the best pure wrestling match I've ever seen. This match also had a clean finish unlike their two previous encounters, which ended in controversy. This contest also started to signal a babyface turn for Flair as the crowd was behind Steamboat, but you heard some very audible cheers for The Nature Boy. This was a great back and forth contest where it seemed like either man at any given moment was going to pick up the win. The near falls left you breathless because they were so believable. The ending was great and an homage to Steamboat's match against Randy Savage as Steamboat scooped up Flair for a slam, but Flair was able to counter the slam into a rollup for the three count. The carnage that followed this match is equally as memorable as Terry Funk, who was a ringside judge, went on a vicious assault of Flair (including a piledriver on a table) for not granting him a title shot. All in all, this is one of the greatest matches ever wrestled for one of the greatest feuds ever and, in my opinion, it is easily the best match in the history of WCW.
Ok, I'm going to go eat now. But be sure to leave your comments and join me next week when the topic will be The Top Ten Spotfests. Until then, go wash your ass!