The SmarK Rant For The Ultimate Ric Flair Collection – Disc Two

The SmarK Rant for the Ultimate Ric Flair Collection – Disc Two

– Moving right along, we come to the REAL draw of this set – Flair’s greatest year, 1989, as he was booking the company and got to work the feuds and matches he really wanted. Having been written off in 1988 as over the hill by the previous braintrust of the NWA, this would prove to be his peak in the sport and some of my greatest memories of his in-ring work.

Disc Two (1989)

– Flair talks about the trade in 1976 that brought Ricky Steamboat to Mid-Atlantic in exchange for One Man Gang and how he’s wrestled Steamboat 3000 times over his career. He notes that Steamboat didn’t know how to be anything but a great babyface, and how people wouldn’t even want to boo him if he turned heel.

– Clips of Chi-Town Rumble, which I REALLY wish they would have included here so I can finally get a copy of that match uncut.

– NWA World title, 2/3 falls: Ricky Steamboat v. Ric Flair. This is from Clash VI, and this is, at the moment, my pick for the greatest wrestling match ever. Flair was the challenger here, having lost it to Steamboat in Chicago, and this show was competing directly with Wrestlemania V (and got murdered in both attendance and ratings as a result), and marked the last time they tried that stunt. The entrances are cut for music rights reasons, but that also spares us the pain of seeing the production guys spell it “Rick Flair”. They start with a lockup and Flair gives him a whoo, so Ricky slaps him. Flair grabs a headlock and takes him down, but Steamboat rides out of it and they take it to the mat until Flair dives for the ropes. Steamboat gives him another slap. Back to the headlock, but Flair turns it into a wristlock and brings Steamboat to his knees with it. Steamboat reverses, and Flair bails and complains to Tommy Young. Back in, they try another lockup and Flair grabs a headlock, but they move over to the ropes and Flair overpowers him, only to get hiptossed, as Steamboat grabs his own headlock for two. Flair rolls him over a couple of times and gets a near-fall, and then tries pushing him off, but Steamboat goes right back to the headlock again. Flair takes him into the ropes, and Steamboat breaks clean because he’s that kind of guy, but Flair isn’t, and doesn’t. It’s CHOPPING time! Steamboat returns fire and it’s ON. He hiptosses Flair out of the corner and follows with a flying headscissors and a dropkick, and back to the headlock again for two. He switches to a facelock and works Flair over with it, then takes him over into a chinlock and back to the facelock again. Flair brings him to the ropes, but doesn’t give a clean break. Back to the chops, but Steamboat knocks him out of his boots and backdrops him out of the corner. Standing dropkick gets two. Flair begs off to stall for time, and then boots him in the gut and rabbit-punches him. Color man Terry Funk is SHOCKED at the closed fist. Steamboat comes back with a rollup for two, and then clotheslines Flair on the rebound from the kickout. That’s so cool. It’s little touches like that which make this a classic. Back to the headlock for two, and into the facelock, as he drops a knee on the neck. Back to the corner, and it’s chop city. Flair Flop and Steamboat gets two. Flair begs off, but Steamboat also gets down on his knees to prevent a cheapshot and grabs another headlock. Flair escapes with an atomic drop, but Steamboat chops him down again for two. Back to the headlock and a shoulderblock gets two. Another one gets two. Another one is ducked by Flair, so Steamboat chops him down for two, and Flair bails. Someone pelts Flair with a cup while he’s out there. Now that’s class. Back in, Flair goes in with a knee and sends him to the chop shop, but Steamboat is down for some of that. “Daggummit” is Terry Funk’s comment on the situation, and I can’t disagree. Flair bails, so Steamboat suplexes him back in, but tries a splash and lands on the knees. Flair brings the chops and gets a Sullivan double-stomp, setting up a butterfly suplex for two. Flair works the count and then tries a ¾ nelson and works that count. Flair gets desperate and holds him down with a knucklelock, but Steamboat powers up again and kips up, overpowering Flair on the test of strength, and that sets off another round of chops. Hiptoss, but Steamboat whiffs on a dropkick and Flair goes for the figure-four, which Steamboat reverses for two, and Flair reverses that for the pin at 19:33 to win the first fall. Of note, Terry Funk on color saw Flair do that as a finish, but failed to learn that lesson because he too fell victim to that reversal at Bash ’89 when he challenged for the title 3 months later. Second fall: They start with the lockup and Flair overpowers him, but Steamboat gets a press slam and goes up with the flying chop, for two. Back to the facelock, but Flair escapes with a backdrop suplex and drops a knee. Another one misses, and Steamboat does the most awesome sequence of the match, dropping SIXTEEN elbows on the knee, and getting a figure-four. JR: “To say that this will lessen Flair’s mobility would be a drastic understatement”. Flair pulls himself to the ropes, but Steamboat pulls him right back and goes for it again. Flair shoves him off, but Steamboat catches the legs and does a Boston crab to fool Flair, who was countering a figure-four attempt. Great ring psychology. Flair makes the ropes again. Steamboat pounds him with chops to the head as he pulls himself up, but Flair catches a cheapshot and chops him. Funk offers sound advice about going back to the leg, but Steamboat doesn’t listen. They go into a headscissors -> pinfall reversal sequence, a standard for Flair matches, and fight over the backslide and Dragon gets it for two. Flair finally bails, and pulls Steamboat out and into the railing. He necksnaps him on the way in and brings him in with a suplex, for two. Flair tries an abdominal stretch into a rollup now, which gets two. Flair works that count, wearing Steamboat down amateur-style, then moves over and uses the ropes to really put pressure on him. Steamboat fights back with a chop, but Flair slugs him down. Steamboat gets a rollup, but Flair shoves him off. At this point, JR makes a weird comment about the winner of the first fall winning the title, and I get asked about it a lot. What he meant is that if it went to a draw with Flair up 1-0, he wins the title. Steamboat takes him down with a rollup for two. Flair hits him with a chop that nearly has him doing a backflip on the sell, and that gets two. Flair goes up, but Steamboat catches him with a superplex, and Steamboat pounds on the back, a sound strategy with Flair. Double chickenwing submission move, and Flair quits at 34:14 (which was the first time in his career that he gave up according to WCW canon – not entirely sure about reality) to even things up. Third fall: Flair was out for the entire commercial break, but he quickly clips Steamboat and they slug it out in the corner. Steamboat chops him down for two. They slug it out, but Flair gets a kneecrusher and brings Steamboat down to the mat again to set up the figure-four. Ricky quickly makes the ropes. It’s pork CHOPS for dinner as they fight it out and Flair gets flipped, and Steamboat hits him with a clothesline on the run along the apron. Flair begs off again, and takes him down for two in the corner. Back to the chops as Steamboat sells it like he’s getting shot in the chest with a 44 Magnum, and he runs into the boot on the other end of the ring. Flair pounds him down and goes for the leg again, and Steamboat charges him in the corner and misses, slamming his knee in the turnbuckle. Well, you can guess Flair’s next move, as he goes for the kill on the knee and drops a knee on it. And now, WHOO, we go to school, as it’s figure-four time. Dead center, too. Steamboat has nowhere to go, so he opts to fight it instead and exchanges slaps with Flair, and finally powers him over to the ropes to break. They roll right out to the floor, but that allows Flair to slam the leg into the apron a few times. Back in, Steamboat hangs on with a headlock and some chops and he sends Flair into another Flip, and this time Flair finishes the move by going up with a high cross for two. Steamboat goes for a slam, and the knee buckles to give Flair two. That would be notable in the rematch. Steamboat headbutts him down and drops a chop on the head, and goes up with his own high cross for two. That’s a callback to the match where Steamboat won the title in Chicago. So in the same match you have flashbacks AND foreshadowing. Flair chops again , but puts his head down and Ricky gets a neckbreaker for two. Flair tosses him to buy time, but Steamboat comes in with a sunset flip for two. Shoulderblock and Flair grabs a sleeper in desperation, and that seems to work, as Steamboat is going down. Tommy Young gets ready to ring the bell, but Steamer fights out and rams Flair into the turnbuckles, which Flair sells dramatically by falling out of the ring on the other side. Steamboat gets pumped up again, but Flair sneaks in and kicks him in the knee. Steamboat hits him with an enzuigiri and gets two, however. Steamboat goes up and misses a flying splash, and both guys are out. Flair rams his knee into the mat and brings him into the corner for more chops and abuse on the knee. Steamboat tries to walk it off, so Flair follows him, chopping and kicking the knee. Steamboat fights back and they lay in the leather, and Flair goes down. Steamboat is pissed now, despite limping, and pounds on Flair in the corner. Flair tries an atomic block, but Steamboat blocks and clotheslines him for two. Flair comes back with an elbow to the head and a backdrop suplex, and now Flair goes up. You know what happens next. Steamboat tries another chickenwing, but Flair counters and falls back, and leaves his shoulders on the mat, giving Steamboat the pin at 54:26 to retain. What more can you say? One of the few perfect matches. *****

– And speaking of the perfect match

– NWA World title: Ricky Steamboat v. Ric Flair. This is the famous WrestleWar rematch, with the judges at ringside. They start with the lockup and Steamboat takes him down with an armdrag, but Flair overpowers him. Steamboat comes back with a hiptoss and armdrag, and they exchange slaps in the corner. Back to the lockup, and Flair gets a cheapshot and opens the chop bidding at two, but Steamboat fires back and the shit is ON. They just unload and it STILL hurts to watch, even after all those times seeing the match. Steamboat finally backdrops him and he bails. Back in, Flair grabs a headlock, but Steamboat powers out with a wristlock and goes to the armbar. See, just to show how much they had to offer, they didn’t even TOUCH on the arm stuff in the 2/3 falls match, and that’s like 20 minutes worth of stuff right there! Steamboat works on the arm and overpowers him, then back down into the armdrag again. They work on the mat and it ends up with Steamboat in control of a hammerlock. Flair fights up, but Steamboat takes him back down again with the hammerlock and keeps working on the arm. Flair brings him into the corner and uses some forearms, and slugs Steamboat down. Back to the chops and he starts working on Steamboat’s ribs with some rights, but Dragon fights back with more chops and Flair is forced to Flop. Back to the armbar. Steamboat takes him down with a hammerlock and bridges off it as Flair argues with Tommy Young in a cute bit. Flair takes him into the corner with a fireman’s carry, but Steamboat jumps over him and hiptosses him into a dropkick, and Flair bails. Steamboat heads up to the top, but Young talks him into staying grounded. That buys Flair some recovery time, as he kicks Steamboat in the ribs on the way back in, but he gets armdragged again. Steamboat cranks on the arm and takes him down, but Flair hiptosses him to take over. Elbowdrop misses, however, and Steamboat goes right back to that armdrag. Flair powers him into the corner and works the ribs over, then goes back to the chops again. He adds a cheapshot and they slug it out with chops, as Flair tackles him again and tosses him. Steamboat jumps right back in and kicks Flair’s ass with more chops, and Flair gets hung in the Tree of Woe. Steamboat adds a shot and Flair dumps him again on a criss-cross. Flair kicks him in the head on the way by and chops him right into the front row. Steamboat gets upset and chases Flair back in, coming in with a flying chop and ramming his face into the mat. Flair Flip and he gets clotheslined on the apron, and back to the armbar again. Steamboat tries a crossbody and flies through the ropes, however, which allows Flair to slingshot him back in and take over. Kneedrop and more chops, and a backdrop suplex gets two. Flair works the count and drops another knee, then goes to a butterfly suplex, which gets two. Elbowdrop gets two. Flair misses a chop and Steamboat goes for a crossbody, but Flair hotshots him and chokes away while arguing with Young. They brawl outside and Flair suplexes him on the floor. He tries a suplex back in, but Steamboat rolls him up for two. Back to the chops, but he misses one and Flair hits him with a crossbody that sends both guys to the floor. Back in, Flair goes up, and you know what. Now Steamboat makes the comeback and slugs away in the corner, setting up a backdrop out of the corner. Flair catches a cheapshot, but Steamboat gets a rollup for two. Flair goes to a facelock, but Steamboat brings him to the top for a superplex. That sets up the chickenwing, but Flair hooks himself in the ropes to foil that plan. Steamboat goes up for Plan B, and the flying chop results. Back to the top, but Flair “accidently” falls on the top rope and Steamboat tumbles to the floor and injures his knee. DUM DUM DA DUM! Might as well toss chum to the sharks. Steamboat limps back to the apron, and Flair zooms in for the kill and suplexes him back in. He works the knee over and it’s figure-four time, as the crowd turns on Steamboat and starts cheering Flair. Steamboat fights his way to the ropes, but Flair keeps on the knee. Steamboat finally fights back with the enzuigiri, but tries a slam, and the knee gives way, as Flair cradles for the pin at 31:31. Watching back to back, I like the Clash match better because of the deeper psychology, but this is still pretty f*cking awesome and might be preferred by some because of the faster pace. *****

– The win is of course immediately followed by Flair’s face turn, as judge Terry Funk congratulates him and wants a title shot. Flair thinks he needs to earn one (what is this, the WWE?), so Funk lays him out and absolutely beats the shit out of him, finishing the job with a piledriver through the judges’ table that puts Flair out of action until July in an awesome angle. Sadly, THAT match is not included, but at only ****1/4 it would only drag the DVD down. However, the REMATCH is included

– I Quit match: Ric Flair v. Terry Funk. Funk takes a swing at Flair to start and they lock up, but Flair dodges him and chops him right out of the ring. Back in, Flair unloads the chops and whips him from corner to corner, and then chops him out of the ring again. Flair follows with more chops against the railing and Funk backs off. Back in, Flair eschews subtlety and chokes him out, but Funk slugs back and kicks him in the face on the apron. Funk headbutts him down and pounds on the neck, elbowing him down and tossing him. Funk just kills him with shots on the railing, and then pops him one with the mike. Flair slugs back and they head back in, where Funk slugs him down again and fires away in the corner. He calls him an egg-sucking dog while punching him in the face, which is enough for an extra * from me. Flair atomic drops him to escape and comes back with a chop, but Funk catches a neckbreaker and slaps him around. Flair has had enough, however, and gives him the chops, and they head outside again, as Flair crashes onto him and murders him with chops. Funk tries to escape by going into the ring, but Flair pulls him out and rams him into the railing, and adds more chops. Funk retreats into the ring again and Flair badgers him with the mike, trying to choke him into submission. Flair goes after Gary Hart, however, and Funk clobbers him from behind and gets another neckbreaker, keeping on the weak neck. Funk taunts him over the PA before piledriving him, but Flair won’t quit. Funk drops a leg and tosses him, and piledrives him on the floor now. Flair still won’t quit. Back in, Funk pounds on the neck with elbows, and then takes him outside and slams him on the table. Flair comes back with chops as Funk sets up the table against the ring, and then rams Funk into it. Funk takes a walk, so Flair dives on him and sends him into the table, as he slides across it and hits his head on a chair. Ouch. Back to the chops, and Flair drops him crotch-first on the railing and then adds a chop for good measure. If in doubt, go for the family jewels. Back in, Flair drops the knee and Funk crawls back up, so Flair brings him down with an atomic drop and starts to work on the leg. He alternates kicks to the knee and chops, but Funk won’t go down. Finally the shots to the knee are too much and Funk has to run away, so Flair tackles him in the aisle and gets a running kneecrusher on the floor. Suplex back in and Flair goes for it, but Funk fights him off. A good old poke to the eyes works just fine, and Funk tries a suplex from the apron, but Flair reverses and suplexes him onto the apron, and goes back to the knee. He dodges Funk’s crazed punches and finally slaps on the figure-four in the middle of the ring. Funk fights it off a while, but eventually has nowhere to go and says “I Quit” at 18:35. The last 5 minutes were just Flair mechanically destroying Funk’s knee in classic fashion, and the whole match set a standard for I Quit matches that was never quite touched again. *****

Bonus Materials:

There’s an Easter Egg right off the bat, as selecting “Main” in the chapter menu and hitting right will bring up a Flair promo, as he rants about Dusty Rhodes.

First up, under the Ricky Steamboat section

– Ric Flair & Barry Windham v. Ricky Steamboat & Eddie Gilbert. This was Steamboat’s return to the NWA, as Gilbert signed up for a match with the Horsemen and recruited a mystery partner. The match is cut down to about 7 minutes by clipping the Eddie Gilbert heat segments, so I don’t really feel comfortable rating this version of it, but the full one is about ****1/2, give or take. The important thing is that it ends with Steamboat pinning Flair off a high cross to set up the title change.

– Steamboat works out with three wrestlers – Dustin Rhodes (VERY early in his career) and a pair of jobbers. It’s not a match, just a series of wrestling sequences meant to help Steamboat prepare for Flair. This draws out Flair, who’s upset at three scrubs being equated with his greatness, and he gives a classic ranting promo while the match is going on. Flair gets rid of the jobbers and Steamboat calls him into the ring, so Flair attacks him and they have a quick brawl and Flair gets schooled.

– The Flair-Steamboat debate from Clash V, which I’ve covered elsewhere. Nothing really exciting.

– Flair’s lawyer makes a statement about the controversial finish of the Clash VI match.

– Jim Herd makes one of his few on-air appearances, as Jim Ross interviews him about the controversy.

– Steamboat cuts a promo and accepts Flair’s challenge for a rematch.

– Flair responds.

– And Flair does a pre-match interview with Lance Russell before the WrestleWar match.

Next, under the Terry Funk section

– Flair returns after the injury with a press conference, announcing his return at Great American Bash 89.

– The amazing angle from Clash VIII, as Terry Funk runs in during a tag match with Flair and suffocates him with a plastic bag. You just don’t get that kind of dedication to your art these days.

– Terry Funk gives an interview hyping Clash IX, and promises to shake Flair’s hand if he should lose. Which he did, on both counts.

– Flair offers his rebuttal.

– Another Flair promo about the I Quit match.

– Couple of quickie video clips from Funk and Flair to build up the match.

– Funk gives an interview with Jim Ross in the arena before the match.

– Flair gives his pre-match interview.

Next, three bonus chapters:

– The Plane Crash. This was the segment from Confidential about the plane crash in 1975 that broke Flair’s back, featuring interviews with Flair, David Crockett, and other people from that era. Runs about 8 minutes.

– History of the Horsemen. Another Confidential segment, which is a VERY abbreviated history of the Four Horsemen hosted by Arn Anderson. About 6 minutes.

– A Day In the Life of the Horsemen. The second part of the Confidential piece, running another 5 minutes. You can unlock an Easter Egg here, by pressing left while highlighting this chapter name, as Flair gives his usual crazed promo about nothing in particular on World Championship Wrestling.

And there’s still ANOTHER disc to come! This one would be a keeper alone, with 3 hours of Flair and all three matches being legitimate ***** classics in my opinion and vital parts of any wrestling collection. Hell, the three matches on this disc make up most of the Flair comps I used to do back when I traded tapes. It would have been nice to include the Chi-Town Rumble match, just to have the complete set on one disc, but they certainly picked the best two of the three matches to include. Absolutely awesome stuff all around.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the final disc, and my overall thoughts on the set!