The SmarK DVD Repost – The Ultimate Ric Flair Collection

“Dear Scott,
Longtime reader who can’t wait for the new book to come out. Since this may
very well be Ric Flair’s last match at Wrestlemania I was wondering if you
could repost your rant on the Ultimate Ric Flair Collection DVD.
Thanks and Enjoy Wrestlemania!
-Michael Shibley “

I sure can!

The SmarK Rant for the Ultimate Ric Flair Collection DVD – Disc One.

– Yes, it’s FINALLY here, as I ordered from Highspots in November, but the infamous shortage from Sony’s end meant that it didn’t ship until December, and then it got held up in Customs for two weeks before finally arriving yesterday, allowing me to anxiously tear off the wrapping like one final Christmas present and dive in. Some things are WORTH waiting for, however. Like this rant, and since this set is so ridiculously huge and I’m a media whore, I’m splitting it up into three separate rants, one per disc.

– And since I’m in that kinda mood, I’m gonna redo ALL the match recaps.

Disc One (1983-1987).

– Opening montage of Flair’s big moments and catchphrases (how come he doesn’t use “What’s causing all this?” anymore?).

– Flair talks about winning his first World title in 1981 and what an honor it was. Classic interview clips and footage from Japan is included.

– Next up, a clip of Harley Race winning the title from Flair in 1983, doing the old “double back suplex” pinfall thing. More clips of the rematch, and Bob Geigel awarding Jim Crockett the Starrcade match. Man, they’re pulling crazy shit out of their ass here. Unbelievable.

– NWA World title: Harley Race v. Ric Flair. This is a cage match, and the main event of the first ever Starrcade in 1983. Gene Kiniski is the special referee. Another cool touch about the WWE’s library is that they have the FULL match, complete with the entrances in their entirety and all the crowd reactions. Man, what a great job that would be – just sitting around in the editing rooms and going through all this old stuff. Lockup and Flair takes him down with a headlock, which gets him nowhere. Flair starts him with a chop and goes back to the headlock, but Race breaks on the ropes and gives him a knee. Flair returns the favor on the other side and chinlocks him, which turns into another headlock, but Race gets the high knee. He misses the falling headbutt, and Flair chops him down for one. Back to the headlock for Flair, but Race rolls him over a few times, and Flair rolls over into a facelock instead. He holds on and tries a suplex out of it, but Race reverses for his own, and gets two. Elbowdrop misses and Flair goes for a slam, but Race falls on top for two. Race drops a knee (all this use of the knee remind you of anyone?) and some more in the corner for the choke, but Kiniski pulls him off. Race keeps pounding Flair down and drops another knee, setting up a piledriver and an elbowdrop for two. Race sees the bad neck and drops an elbow on it, and a neckbreaker gets two. He drops more knees on the neck, drawing a count from Kiniski. Race lets him up and then tosses him into the cage, which (surprisingly) doesn’t draw blood. Shoulderbreaker gets two. Flair comes back and slugs away at the gut of Race, but a headbutt puts Flair down again and Race drops a headbutt. Back to the cage goes Flair, but he fights back, so Race puts him into the cage again, and now there’s blood. Race goes to work on the cut in the corner, but Kiniski pulls him off and Flair comes back with chops. Race sneaks in with a headbutt, however, and tries to whip Flair into the corner, but it’s reversed and both are out. Race goes into the cage and now he’s bleeding, so Flair goes to work with a kneedrop and starts going to work on the cut. Piledriver gets two. Now Flair goes for the neck, which is almost an anomaly considering his usual MO, and gets a butterfly suplex for two. Back to the cage a couple of times, drawing the ire of Gene Kiniski, but Race goes low with a headbutt to turn the tide again. Flair eats some cage in dramatic fashion, but keeps fighting back. Race keeps slugging him down, but Flair chops him down for two. Elbowdrop and he peppers Race with fists and does some strutting (and bleeding), and a backdrop suplex sets up the figure-four. Race powers him over, however, and they’re in the ropes. Race headbutts him down again, but a suplex attempt is reversed by Flair for two. Race headbutts him down again and goes up with a diving headbutt, which gets two. Vertical suplex gets two. Race keeps working on the cut, which has now turned Flair’s hair red and sends him back into the cage again, but now Kiniski drags Race away by the hair to break it up. Race goes for another suplex, which Flair reverses to a delayed vertical suplex, but he misses an elbowdrop. Race grabs another headlock, but accidentally headbutts Kiniski. They slug it out in the corner and Flair staggers Race, and goes up with a flying bodypress, as they trip over Kiniski and Flair gets the pin and the title at 24:01. This was a slower pace than most fans today would probably be accustomed to, but it all top-shelf stuff, with perfect execution throughout. The only flaw would probably be Kiniski’s refereeing job, but you can’t really hold that against the wrestlers. ***** Flair’s post-match celebration and in-ring speech is also included.

– Onto Big Dust, as Flair talks about the fun of working with him in the ring (which is funny because Dusty was the only guy who could drag Flair below *** in the 80s). Various clips of interviews back and forth (many of them out of sequence) are spliced in here. It would have been neat to have Flair talk about the switch to the Big Gold Belt in 1985, actually.

– NWA World title: Ric Flair v. Dusty Rhodes. This is the main event of Starrcade 85, and it’s the seminal Dusty Finish. If you’re talking about the absolute textbook example of what I hate about Dusty’s booking in the 80s, this is the match. They exchange struts to start and Flair takes him to the corner and starts chopping, but Dusty fires back and gets the Flip Flop and Fly right away. Flair bails. Back in, Flair starts chopping, but Dusty comes back with elbows and overpowers him. Bionic elbow and Flair backs off again and takes a breather outside. Back in, Flair tries a headlock, but Dusty reverses to a hammerlock and they go to the mat, giving Dusty his first break of the match. Flair goes for the broken foot, but Dusty backs off. Flair tries chops again and that seems to work a bit better, so he drops a knee and gets two. Back to the bad foot, and now Dusty has to take 5. Back to the apron, as Dusty elbows Flair in the neck on the way back in, and steps on his ankle. He lays down on the knee and it’s Dusty Rest Break #2. Not counting his time outside the ring. Flair comes back and tries a suplex, but the gravitational pull of Dusty’s ass is too great, and Dusty goes back to the leg again. Flair fights up, and grabs a sleeper, and you don’t have to ask Dusty twice for THAT spot. He manages to escape by ramming Flair into the turnbuckle, however, and wraps Flair’s leg around the post. Flair tries more chops, but Dusty gets his own and then takes Flair down with the most ridiculously lazy snapmare I’ve ever seen. I mean, how do you skimp on a SNAPMARE? He misses an elbow, however, apparently winded from the exertion of the snapmare, and Flair goes up, but Dusty slams him off and goes for his version of the figure-four. Flair shoves him off, and Dusty injures the bad foot again. Now Flair tries the figure-four, but Dusty shoves him off. Again, same result. Flair starts stomping the bad foot, but Dusty comes back with a headbutt and they slug it out in the corner until Flair is whipped to the other side for a Flair Flip, and they brawl on the floor. Flair eats post and Dusty elbows away on the apron. Back in, Flair tosses him, but Dusty goes up with a crossbody-flop for two. Dusty comes back (despite never really selling for Flair) and hammers away on the mat, then elbows him down and pounds away in the corner. Flair Flop results. Dusty slugs away and Flair goes down again and backs off, and it’s another Flair Flip, allowing Dusty to catch him in the gut coming down. Flair finally kicks out the bad foot again to slow down Big Dust, and NOW, WHOO, WE GO TO SCHOOL. In Dusty’s case, McDonald’s College. Figure-four, but Dusty fights back and reverses. MAD COW! MAD COW! Oh, wait, that would make him Canadian then. I retract my insult. Flair chops away, but Dusty no-sells and fights back with bionic elbows and a lariat. That gets two, and Dusty flattens Tommy Young on the kickout. He’s knocked out of the ring, just so we REALLY get the point, and Dusty goes for the figure-four. The Four Horsemen run in and Dusty looks to heroically fight them all off single-handedly, but Ole nails him from behind with a knee and second referee counts two for Flair. Dusty cradles Flair for the pin and the title at 22:07. BUT WAIT. The next week on TV, it was announced that Dusty didn’t actually win the title, because the first referee was knocked out, and Flair was given it back. And that, my friends, is a Dusty Finish. **1/2 The problem with Dusty is that Flair could work the proverbial ***1/2 match with a broomstick because he’d just plug the other guy into his formula and it didn’t matter who it was. However, Dusty insisted on working HIS match, and the results didn’t click with Flair.

– Next up, Dusty’s booking lieutenant, Barry Windham. Flair puts him over and talks about how smooth a worker he was and how he never really got his due. Apparently he could hang with Flair drink-for-drink and woman-for-woman. That’s a pretty big compliment.

– NWA World title: Ric Flair v. Barry Windham. This is the famous “one-hour” draw from World Wide Wrestling, where they devoted the ENTIRE show to the one match. Windham grabs a headlock and overpowers Flair to start, and he backs off. Flair gets his own headlock and they reverse off that on the mat, leaving Windham in control of the arm. He holds an armbar and gives Flair a clean break in the corner. Flair gives him a “Whoo”. But a tentative one. Back to the headlock, and Flair takes him into the corner again and chops away. Windham comes back with a hiptoss and a slam, however, and calmly goes back to the headlock and gets two. Smart move. Flair fights out and chops him down, but Windham takes him down and goes back to the headlock again. Tommy Young, greatest referee ever, slides out of the ring to check on it, in order to remain in position. I love stuff like that. They exchange shots and Windham won’t bite on Flair’s bait, backing off and waiting for him to lock up again. Back to the headlock and Flair forces him back to the corner again and goes back to the chops. Windham fires back double, however, and hiptosses him into a dropkick. Flair backs off and tries to sucker Windham in, but Barry sucker-punches him first and Flair takes a walk. Back in, Flair takes him down, but Windham goes right back to his headlock, controlling the match. Nice thing about Windham’s headlock spot is that he’s constantly kinetic, readjusting his ring position and moving. Flair hotshots him as they go to commercial, and return with Windham holding a headscissors. Flair rolls him to the ropes, so Windham takes him down with the headlock again. Windham pounds away and slugs Flair down, but gets tossed and abused outside. Windham gets sent into the railing as Flair starts to take over and Barry bumps all over outside like a ragdoll. Flair necksnaps him on the way in and sends him into the post, and works on the arm on the apron before snapmaring him in. Armbar, as Dusty Rhodes on color explains the basics of wrestling to us: “You break down one part of a man’s body, then another part, and pretty soon he’s broken down completely, and that’s when you go for your finish.” That about sums it up, actually. Flair works on the arm and starts chopping in the corner, but Windham keeps fighting back, so Flair takes him down with a hammerlock on the mat, which gets two. Back to the chops in the corner, but Barry won’t go down and keeps fighting back. They slug it out bigtime and Barry gains control and pounds away with the pummel in the corner, triggering a Flair Flop. Flair chops back, but Windham hangs with him all the way and Flair goes down again. Windham hammers on the forehead, but Flair takes him down with a pin in the corner for two. Using the ropes, of course. Windham sends him out of the ring and they brawl outside as we take another break, and return with Flair getting two in the ring. Flair drops a knee and chops away, and then elbows him right out of the ring. Back in with a suplex, but Windham counters and slugs him down. That gets two. They slug it out again and Windham grabs the headlock, but Flair shrewdly gets the backdrop suplex out of it and slaps on the figure-four, positioning himself between Windham and the ropes. Which means he can use them, of course. Young catches him and breaks the hold. Flair goes back after him with a kneecrusher and back to the figure-four, but Windham reverses for two. They fight in the corner, but Flair tosses him again, so Windham gets pissed and sunset flips in for two. Flair grabs the sleeper, but Windham slips out and kicks Flair in the face, then follows with a lariat from the second rope for two. Windham slams him and goes for a splash, but hits the knees. Since when did Windham ever use a splash? They fight over a suplex and Windham gets it, but can’t make the cover. He opts to go up instead, but misses a flying elbow, and Flair goes for the knee, and misses THAT. Windham decides to go for the knee now and then slugs him out to the floor, which is actually to Flair’s advantage because it’s a timout. Windham follows and pounds on the leg outside, and back in Windham gets his own figure-four and slugs Flair down for two. Flair makes the ropes, but Young kicks him off because you have to be IN the ropes, not REACHING for them. He makes them properly, however, and Windham breaks the hold, but stays on him. Good man. Flair goes to the knee, however, and they slug it out, but Flair goes down. Another break as Flair gets another kneecrusher and we return with them slugging it out again. Flair’s hiptoss is blocked with an abdominal stretch, but Flair finishes the hiptoss and Young is bumped. Windham goes up with the missile dropkick (and that was state of the art offense in 1987), which gets two. Windham grabs a sleeper, but Flair escapes with a backdrop suplex and comes in via the top rope with a high cross, but Windham rolls through for two. Flair overpowers him and Windham gets another sleeper. Rollup gets two. Flair goes back to the knee and Windham slugs away in the corner and gets two. They slug it out again and Windham explodes out of the corner with a lariat and gets a delayed vertical suplex and a kneedrop for two. One minute left. Flair tries a hiptoss and Windham reverses to a backslide for two. Flair goes up and gets slammed off with 30 seconds left. Powerslam gets two. Another lariat gets two as time expires at 30:52 aired, 45:00 total counting the stuff that was cut out for commercials. Literally non-stop action, and they didn’t even cover HALF the stuff they were capable of. These two used to do NINETY-minute draws! Friggin’ AWESOME and in a world without Wrestlemania III it would have been MOTY for 1987. If you ever want to see 30 minutes fly by in what feels like 10, check this out. *****

Bonus Features:

Okay, when you go to the Chapter menu and select one of the three matches, you get a list of bonus materials for each match. Under “Harley Race”, there’s the following stuff:

– A Race promo building up to the match, where he puts a $25,000 bounty on Flair’s head (sound familiar?) and offers anyone who can get rid of Flair the money.

– Clips of a Race-Flair match from 1983, as Dick Slater tries to claim the bounty by doing a run-in, and then brings Bob Orton with him, as a beatdown results. They give Flair a spike piledriver, and Flair sells it like death. Roddy Piper makes the save. Backstage, Race pays out the money, as promised.

– Ric Flair, with a neckbrace, from his house, announces his retirement as a result of the piledriver. DON’T DO IT, RIC! Oh, wait.

– Soon after, Slater & Orton are squashing a couple of jobbers, when Ric Flair makes his return and lays them out with a baseball bat. That’s the spirit! He gives an impassionated promo afterwards, tearing off the neckbrace and declaring his return to wrestling, promising to bring Orton & Slater to their graves, because the baseball bat is the only partner he needs now. Now THAT’S a wrestling promo!

– Finally, the NWA press conference in October 83, to announce the site for the Flair-Race rematch. These people should NOT be attempting to act. This runs about 10:00.

– Pre-match interview with Harley Race, as he hangs out in the dressing room with the Briscos and Greg Valentine.

– Pre-match interview with Ric Flair, as he hangs out with Steamboat & Youngblood, and he responds to Race’s comments.

– More pre-match comments from Race, as he’s now with Orton & Slater, and they all give their two cents.

– One last pre-match interview, this time with Flair & Wahoo.

– Onto the post-match interviews, first up Flair and his newly-won belt. The races give him a champagne bath, but of course Dusty Rhodes has to butt in and make it about himself.

– Harley Race gives his thoughts after losing his last World title. He says that he’s not packing it up and going away, but he did just that, jumping to the WWF soon after.

– And finally, Flair, Steamboat & Youngblood all show off their new belts.

Next up, stuff pursuant to the Dusty match:

– The most glorious moment in Horsemen history, as the Four Horsemen break Dusty’s ankle in an awesome angle. Flair was being double-teamed by the Koloffs in a cage match after beating Nikita, but Dusty makes the save. After he clears the ring, the Andersons storm in and destroy him and Flair locks the cage. Never trust a Horseman. Flair puts Dusty in the figure-four until he breaks the ankle, and the babyfaces finally break into the ring and chase off the Horsemen.

– Flair gives his side of the story, cementing his heel turn, pointing out that he may be a jerk, but he’s still got the belt. He puts over Tully and the Andersons, foreshadowing the official formation of the Horsemen.

– Dusty Rhodes is interviewed about his injury, and basically he’s upset because Flair lives the jetset lifestyle and other people are out of work. Dusty’s one to talk.

– Tony explains the controversy behind the supposed title switch, and Tommy Young even gets promo time as he gives his side of the story. In a banana yellow jacket. Well, it WAS the 80s.

– Flair gives a very dated promo about “Who Shot JR”. He respects Tommy Young’s call in getting him the belt back. Your basic classic Flair promo.

– Finally, Dusty’s rebuttal to Flair. He promises to mess Flair up, real bad. Them’s strong words.

And of course, all the stuff surrounding the Windham match:

– Tony interviews Windham & Garvin after defending the US tag titles, as we flash back to Windham saving Tim Horner from Tully, and a Four Horsemen beatdown is the result. He promises REVENGE.

– Flair issues his rebuttal, calling Windham a whiner and showing off his new suit.

– Another interview with Windham, as he rolls video of a match with Flair (and a REALLY good one at that) that turns into a huge brawl between the babyfaces and the Horsemen. About five minutes of the match is shown before it degenerates into a schmoz.

– Dusty Rhodes analyzes the situation in the closing segment of the hour-long Flair-Windham show.

– And we finish with Flair’s dressing room comments to Windham.

Plus EASTER EGGS!

– Highlight the Barry Windham: Keeping Up With The Champ selection from the Chapter menu and press right, and you get a bonus Flair interview where he goes off on whatever is on his mind at that moment in a crazy manner.

And that’s just the first disc! Be back tomorrow for the SECOND one, as we get to 1989 and the classic Steamboat and Funk matches!

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 fucking 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!

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

– Okay, last one, as Flair heads north for the first time since his rookie days and immediately steals the show.

– We start with Flair debuting on Prime Time Wrestling, and Flair gives his side of the split with Jim Herd. Herd wanted him to cut his hair and change his image. So one day he told Flair to drop everything and fly to some city and lose the title to Lex Luger, and then later Barry Windham. Flair refused and they asked for the belt back, but Flair wanted his $25,000 back, so Herd told him to keep the belt. Vince’s take on it: “Bring the belt too.”

– Royal Rumble 1992: This was for the vacant WWF World title, which was vacated by Jack Tunney when Hogan cheated against Undertaker at the Tuesday In Texas PPV. And Bobby Heenan is on color commentary, and truly reached his peak with this match. #1 is British Bulldog, and #2 is Ted Dibiase. Sherri Martell was still managing him, a couple of weeks before switching to Shawn Michaels. Bulldog attacks to start, but runs into an elbow, and Dibiase chops him in the corner. Clothesline and Dibiase stomps him, and gets a suplex. Gutwrench suplex and fistdrop and he gets another suplex, but can’t toss Bulldog. He turns his back and ends up the first guy out, after only 1:20. #3 is of course Ric Flair, and Bobby has a coronary. Bulldog shoves him down to counteract the strutting, and gets a press-slam, but chooses to slam him instead of dumping him on the floor. Flair comes back and whips him into the corner, but Bulldog clotheslines him. Flair tries going low, but Bulldog clotheslines him again and tries to dump him, with no luck. Jerry Sags is #4 as Bulldog slugs away in the corner, and he helps Flair out with a double-team. They work Bulldog over, but he clotheslines both of them and tries to toss Sags. He hangs on, but Bulldog dropkicks him off the apron and out at 5:26. So it’s Bulldog and Flair again, and they slug it out in the corner, into a Bulldog powerslam, as Haku is #5. He lays out Bulldog, as expected, and then he turns on Flair, who comes back with chops. Flair rolls out of the ring to avoid any further niceties, as Haku piledrives Bulldog, and then he comes from behind and rakes the eyes. Funny how Haku’s whole image would change a few months later when he jumped to WCW. Haku works Flair over in the corner, but Smith dumps him at 8:00. Shawn Michaels is #6 in his first big appearance as a single. He too goes right after Flair and wins a slugfest, then backdrops him out of the corner and superkicks him. He goes for Bulldog next, but gets press-slammed and clotheslined. He lands on the apron, but pulls himself back in and gets jumped by Flair. They fight on the ropes, but Shawn pokes him in the eye and slugs away. Bulldog sends him into the corner and crotches him on the top rope, and Flair tries to toss him again, with no luck, as Tito Santana is #7. He too goes right for Flair and tries to put him out over the top, but Michaels saves. Flair hits Santana with a backdrop suplex as Bulldog fights with Shawn, but Flair saves with a low blow. He tries to toss him, but Santana saves and Bulldog hangs on. Flying forearm for Flair, and Barbarian is #8. Gorilla’s ominous “Barbarian doesn’t like Flair” to goad Bobby on is pretty funny. Barbarian tries to dump Bulldog, and Flair helps, but he’s not going anywhere. Flair goes for Tito instead and loses a slugfest, and then lets Shawn go after him. People fight on the ropes and Kerry Von Erich is #9, nearing the end of his career. That’s two former World champions in the match already. He goes right after Flair and slugs him into a Flair Flop, and hits Shawn with a discus punch that Shawn sells with an equal number of spins. Bulldog slingshots Shawn into the corner and tries to slam him out, but Shawn goes to the eyes to save himself. Meanwhile, Von Erich pounds on Flair and Repo Man is #10. He goes after Shawn while Bulldog remains tangled with Flair and Tito takes on Barbarian. Bulldog & Kerry team up on Shawn, and then Flair & Barbarian lay in chops on Kerry. This is about the point where you need some eliminations to speed things up. Greg Valentine is #11, and I don’t forsee him cleaning house. He goes for Flair and they sadly ignore all the history between them, as they exchange chops and Flair loses. If this was in the post-Attitude world, JR would go nuts spewing history. Everyone pairs off and Kerry slugs Shawn over the top, but he hangs on. Flair and Valentine are exchanging some nasty chops in the corner while Kerry & Bulldog try to unhook Shawn’s foot and get rid of him. Nikolai Volkoff is #12, and he goes for Hammer and then settles for Barbarian. Well, no point in overshooting. Flair and Hammer go back to chopping the shit out of each other, but Bulldog interrupts. Too many people in here – there hasn’t been an elimination since Sags. Valentine puts Flair in the figure-four, as Repo dumps Volkoff at 21:28. Big Bossman is #13, and of course he goes right for Flair and then just beats the crap out of everyone as Valentine gets tossed at 22:33. Bossman tries to get rid of Shawn, but he hangs on. Repo Man saves and gets tossed for his troubles at 22:59. Now there’s a natural feud they never thought of for whatever reason. The car thief v. the prison guard! Flair backdrops Davey out at 23:38, followed by Kerry at 23:50. Things are thinned out a bit as Tito & Shawn eliminate each other at 24:07. Hercules is #14, and guess who he goes right for. Flair and Barbarian share a moment, and then Flair turns on him, because he’s Flair. Barbarian press-slams him while Hercules pounds on Bossman, but Herc dumps Barbarian at 25:15, and Flair dumps him in turn at 25:18. Bossman seems to be next, but he hangs on and hits Flair with a lariat. Spinkick and he charges, but misses and hits the floor at 25:55. Bobby wants the match stopped right now. Roddy Piper is #15 and that’s not good for Flair. He slugs away in the corner and backdrops him, then hits him with a high knee and they brawl outside. Back in, Piper slugs away and gets the EYE POKE OF DOOM and a clothesline, then goes OLD SCHOOL with an airplane spin. Sleeper, which seems a bit counterproductive in a match where you need to get guys over the top, but luckily for Flair, Jake Roberts is #16. He sits back and lets Piper finish Flair, and then attacks him from behind and slugs him into the corner. Jake was the hottest heel in the promotion at this point, which was a little sad because his personal life was falling apart. Jake then turns on Flair and goes for the DDT, but Piper breaks it up. Flair puts Roberts in the figure-four and is free to use the ropes, but Piper kicks on both of them. Heenan rapid changes of heart are hilarious. Jake tries to dump Piper as Hacksaw Duggan is #17. He goes for Flair and clotheslines him out of the corner, then pounds away on him. He goes for Roberts next, but Piper attacks him from behind and they tussle briefly before Flair walks in and gets mixed up with Piper. Roberts gives Duggan an atomic drop to shut him up, as Piper exchanges chops with Flair. If this was 1985 this would be a ****1/2 tag match, easily. IRS is #18 as Flair tries to get Duggan out, but IRS saves and goes after Duggan. Piper is on the brink from Roberts and Flair, but Duggan saves. IRS & Flair double-team Piper, while Duggan handles Roberts in the corner. Jimmy Snuka is #19, and he wants Flair, too. He gets a headbutt and a double-chop, and Duggan pounds away and then turns his attention to Roberts, but can’t get him out. Piper lays into Flair with chops and tries to toss him, but no go. Roberts tries, same result. And Undertaker is #20, so expect some deadwood to be cleared. Snuka at 37:12 to be exact, which makes for a rather lengthy 12 minutes between eliminations. He chokes Flair out in the corner and then goes after IRS, but Flair saves. Randy Savage is finally in at #21, and he wants Jake, but the Snake is living up to his name and hiding. Savage gets waylayed by Undertaker, so Roberts chooses to come back in, but Savage hits him with an elbow and goes up for the axehandle. High knee puts Roberts out at 39:31, and Savage seemingly eliminates himself to keep beating on him, but he would keep competing. Jake’s buddy Undertaker rolls out and pulls Savage off and sends him back in. Meanwhile, Piper is back after Flair, and Duggan pounds on Undertaker, with little effect. Flair stomps on Savage in the corner and goes low on Undertaker, which has no effect. Dead man don’t have gonads, apparently. Berzerker is #22, but Duggan gives him an atomic drop right away. Undertaker chokes out Piper in the corner and Flair goes after Savage and tries to suplex him out, but Savage suplexes Flair back in instead. Funny spot as Undertaker chokes out Flair and Piper joins in, only to have Undertaker choke HIM out, too. Virgil is #23, so look out everyone! His first victim is…um…no one, actually, as he gets beat on by the midcard jobber brigade and choked out by Undertaker. UT tries to get rid of Flair next, but he hangs on. Col Mustafa (Iron Sheik) is #24. I’m almost happy to see Hogan coming up so he can get rid of some of these losers. Things slow down a lot with too many people in the ring, one of the only points in the mach where it does slow down. Piper hammers on Flair and Rick Martel is #25. He goes for Virgil, but Flair jumps him with a chop. Martel slugs away and tries to take him out, but IRS saves. Mustafa gets dumped in a melee at 48:50, which makes 9:00 between eliminations. That’s two very lengthy segments with additions and no subtractions. Finally, Hogan is #26, so kiss about half of these guys goodbye. He goes for Undertaker and Flair but gets ganged on by the heels. UT is gone at 50:58 via a clothesline. Berzerker at 51:07. Virgil & Duggan eliminate each other at 51:28. Flair pokes Hogan in the eyes as Skinner is #27. Well, that’ll swing the pendulum the other way. He goes for Piper as Hogan tries to slam Flair out, but IRS saves. Skinner is out at 54:20 as Sgt. Slaughter is #28. Flair takes over the all-time record at this point, although they had the gall to take it away the very next year, letting Bob Backlund break it. Spite, gotta love it. Everyone is kind of bunched up on the ropes and Sid is #29, and now there’s some impressive star power in there as we near the end. He attacks IRS instead of Flair, but can’t get him over. Flair & IRS work Hogan over, but Sid gets his hands on Flair and pounds away. Warlord is the last guy in at #30. Flair goes up and gets slammed off by Hogan. At this point, back in 1992, no one watching had any real clue who was gonna win, which was a rarity for these things back then. Hogan and Flair brawl out and Flair gets suplexed on the floor, as Sid sends Sarge out at 58:58 via his trademark bump. Back in, Hogan hits Flair with the big boot. Piper pulls IRS out by the tie at 59:51. Had to see that coming at some point. Martel goes after Piper while Hogan & Sid team up and dump Warlord at 60:01. Sid dumps both Martel & Piper at 60:39, and we’re down to the final four.

Final four: Hulk Hogan, Sid Justice, Randy Savage, Ric Flair. Savage gets dumped by a Flair high knee at 61:10. Hogan slugs away and Flair lands on the apron, as Hogan stomps him off, but Sid jumps and dumps Hulk at 61:33. Hogan whines and cries and then grabs Sid’s hand to pull him out, allowing Flair to dump him and win the WWF World title at 62:02. Flair retreats as Hogan and Sid do their little soap opera, but they cut away before the crowd turns on Hogan. This was the Rumble that set the standard for them all. *****

– Ric talks about Sting as they tease us with the 45-minute Clash match by showing the last minute of it.

– “Unification” match: Sting v. Ric Flair. From Clash 27. And don’t even get me started on the reasons behind this match. Sting was the International World champion and Flair was the actual WCW World champion, and just leave it at that. Flair goes for the arm to start, but Sting keeps kipping up. They trade hammerlocks and Sting shoves him down, so Flair bails to the ramp and regroups. Back in, Flair grabs a headlock, but Sting escapes and gets a press-slam. And hey, why not another one? Flair bails again and stops for a Flair Flop outside, and stalls. Back in, Flair goes to the eyes and tries a chop, but Sting is having none of that. He hiptosses Flair and follows with a trio of clotheslines, and Flair bails again. Way too much stalling thus far. Back in, Flair finally takes over with a cheapshot, but Sting no-sells and comes back with a hiptoss, only to whiff on a dropkick. Flair goes for the leg, but Sting comes back and Flair bails again. Flair decides to start chopping, but Sting fires back…and misses the Stinger Splash. And NOW Flair takes over, dumping Sting behind the ref’s back and laying in the chops. Back in, Flair necksnaps him on the top rope and drops a knee. Another one gets two. Back to the chops, and a backdrop suplex, but Sting escapes the figure-four. Flair gets a back elbow and grabs a sleeper, but Sting fights out of it and sends Flair into the corner. Sting knocks him down and gets a sloppy slingshot into the corner, but Flair bails. Sting suplexes him back in for two. Flair Flip and Sting clotheslines him off the apron, then brings him in for another clothesline, which gets two. They go up and Sting brings him down with a superplex, but goes for a flying splash and misses. Flair gets a suplex, but Sting no-sells and hiptosses him out of the corner, into a dropkick and a press-slam. A clothesline puts Flair on the floor, so Flair slickly hides behind Sherri Martell, who was supposedly on Sting’s side that night. Sting follows with a pescado and wipes out Sherri as a result. No one ever said she was afraid to take a bump. Back in, Sting gets a backslide for two. Clothesline and he checks on Sherri, but Flair rolls him up for the pin at 17:11 to unify the belts. I gave this a really good rating back in like 1998, but they didn’t click at all here and Flair seemed really off his game. *** Flair & Sherri reveal their alliance and team up on Sting afterwards, but Hulk Hogan makes the save, which doesn’t get half the pop they were probably banking on.

– Finally, the Ric Flair celebration in Greenville, as Flair talks about how nice it was. And that’s it.

Bonus Materials:

Easter Egg right off the bat, as you can either highlight the WWE logo directly with your mouse on the computer, or select “Play” and hit left on your DVD player, then hit enter to get a promo from Flair from the 80s.

First up, the Royal Rumble section:

– Bobby Heenan and the Big Gold Belt annoys the staff of Prime Time Wrestling and gets them ready for the arrival of Ric Flair.

– Later in the show, Heenan finally introduces the REAL World’s champion, Ric Flair. He makes sure to have a red carpet ready for him.

– Flair makes an appearance on the Funeral Parlor. He offers the usual threats to Piper and Hogan and talks about how he’s been calling him out for 10 years with no answer. “While you were out in Hollywood making movies, Thunderlips, I was winning World titles!”

– Flair, on the way to the ring for a squash, stops to attack Piper at the commentary table, and the resulting brawl sees Vince McMahon take a chairshot from Piper, which would mark the first time he would get involved and take a bump on TV. Of course, it was a wooden chair, but it was a simpler time. This was a SUPER-hot angle at the time and really cemented Flair’s status as the top heel in the promotion.

– Another Flair interview, nothing much of note.

– Flair gives the post-match celebration with Heenan and Perfect after winning the Royal Rumble.

Next up, the Sting section:

– From 1989, Sting gets kicked out of the Four Horsemen by Flair and the Andersons. Weird to put that in this section, since it’s 5 years before the pertinent match, but I guess it adds to the history between them or something. Ole unceremoniously kicks him out of the group but offers him a chance to live if he cancels the match with Flair for the WrestleWar PPV. A freak injury would actually take care of that for him later that night and Lex Luger would take his place and work a ****1/2, 40-minute classic with Flair instead. The remaining Horsemen would do a six-man match against the supposed heel faction lead by Great Muta later in the night, which produced a surreal reaction from the fans where they turned Muta babyface by default because the Horsemen were now the strongest heels on the show.

– An interview with Flair from 1988, as he’s apparently reeking of sex appeal. Only Flair can pull off a line like that with a straight face. He hypes the Clash match with Sting and gets some funny innuendo about how Sting has only 15-year old girls for fans, and Flair’s fans are all legal and thus know what his REAL greatest attribute is.

– The pre-match interview at Clash 27, as Sting gives a bizarre interview about being a great white shark, complete with sound effects.

Finally, the Greenville section:

– Another Egg here, as selecting “Main” and then hitting right to highlight the beer can in Flair’s hand, and then hitting enter will unlock his Titantron video. It loops twice. There’s some cool old footage buried in there, actually.

– “Rick” Flair v. Pete Sanchez. From March 1, 1976. This was Flair’s WWWF debut match. He would have been 25 at that point, if my math isn’t off. They lockup and Flair gives him a clean break, but Sanchez gets an armdrag. Flair slugs away on the ropes, but Sanchez takes him down with an arm wringer and works on the arm. Flair escapes and gets taken down with another armbar. Flair gives him a knee to the gut to escape and a sort of proto-Whoo (more of an “owwww” really) and goes to work on the arm himself. Vince suddenly starts doing commentary here. Flair holds an armbar on the mat, but Sanchez flips out of it. Flair stomps away but Sanchez makes the comeback and we get a Flair Flop. Sanchez starts stomping, but Flair comes back with some knees to the gut and hotshots him. He misses the elbowdrop and gets whipped into the corner (no Flip), and Sanchez does it again and this time Flair is in the Tree of Woe. He puts his head down on a whip, however, and Flair catches him with a knee and gets a delayed vertical suplex for the pin at 10:04. Well, it was no Flair-Steamboat, but for early Flair, not terrible or anything. *1/2

– Flair and jobbers Keith Larson & Ron Ritchie do some amateur wrestling in 1982 as a workout for Flair. Ritchie would later become a fairly big star in Stampede Wrestling. He quickly pins both guys with some amateur moves, and then taunts color man Roddy Piper, so Piper pops into the ring and he’s ready for action. Flair even takes the down position. Piper rides him down, but Flair goes to the ropes. Next, Flair wants to be up, but Piper escapes his takedown attempt. Another try, and this time Flair punts him in the ribs and it turns into a pro wrestling match. Piper gives him a neckbreaker and pins him. Piper talks shit, so Greg Valentine assists Flair with a beatdown and they rub his face in the cement.

– Next up, Bill Apter gives Ric Flair the “Wrestler of the Decade” award in 1989.

– From the final Nitro, Flair addresses the fans before his match with Sting.

– RAW World title: HHH v. Ric Flair. From the May 19 2003 RAW, this was Flair’s fake face turn as they spent the whole show building him up as a contender in Greenville, SC. HHH wants him to lay down, but Flair offers a handshake instead and then pulls it back. They fight over a lockup to start and HHH gives a clean break, but gives Flair a whoo, and you don’t do that. Flair chops away, but gets elbowed down. HHH goes for a suplex, but the ribs are hurt, so Flair whips him out of the ring and into the railing. They brawl outside and Flair suplexes him on the floor, and back in he gets another suplex for two. HHH comes back with a MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER and slugs away in the corner. Flair comes back with chops, but it’s a Flair Flip and he actually finishes the move, hitting a double axehandle. Flair slugs away and chops him down, then clips the leg and gets the figure-four. HHH makes the ropes, but Flair goes to the leg again and chops him in the corner. HHH grabs a sleeper, and the ref is bumped on Flair’s escape. HHH gets the facecrusher and grabs his belt, but misses on the swing and Flair goes to the eyes and then kicks him in the nuts. Beltshot gets two. Flair goes for another figure-four, but HHH reverses to a Pedigree attempt. Flair escapes that and goes for his own, but HHH gets the real one for the pin at 7:24, sucking the life out of the crowd. Pretty average effort from both guys. **1/2 We get the Nash stroll-in and Austin announcing HHH v. Nash for Bad Blood, and then the show goes off the air and we continue on, as everyone comes out from the back for the Ric Flair tribute, completely suprising him. The whole RAW roster, plus all the McMahons, come out to pay tribute, and HHH gives him the belt. Awwww. Flair gives a tearful speech to the crowd to end things.

The Bottom Line:

With an absolutely ungodly total of SIX ***** matches, this is clearly the single greatest compilation of wrestling available on the market, and the scary thing is that there’s STILL more available! It leaves off in 1992, and they didn’t even touch the epic Flair-Savage feud over Elizabeth, or the Flair-Vader retirement match, or the entire Flair-Hogan feud, or the later WCW years. Plus they skipped over the Lex Luger feud in 1988-90, and the first match with Sting. Given the sales, I think we can expect a volume 2, and it should rule equally.

What more can I say? Best DVD the WWE has ever put out, and they finally seem to have a grasp on what the audience WANTS. And I want MORE FLAIR!

Highest recommendation!

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