A2Z Analysiz: Nature Boy Ric Flair – The Definitive Collection (Shawn Michaels, Ricky Steamboat)

DVD Release Date: July 8, 2008

MATCH #1: Jack Brisco vs. Ric Flair, Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, 8.18.82

Flair cuts an unbelievably racist promo before the match, since he doesn’t want to wrestle the black guy (not sure who that is) in the ring. Wahoo McDaniel comes out to have words, but he gets held back by Mike Rotundo and someone I don’t recognize. When Flair eventually goes into the ring Jack Brisco has replaced the other guy, and that is who Flair will have to wrestle. He is initially hesitant but eventually agrees. They exchange wrestling holds in the early going, with Brisco taking the first advantage. This would be during Flair’s first reign with the NWA Title. Brisco controls the arm and counters Flair’s attempts to get out of it. This goes on for a while before Flair finally escapes and starts throwing chops, but Brisco answers him right back with fists. Brisco hits a cross body block for two; Flair throws Brisco to the floor on the kick-out. He hits Brisco’s head against the turnbuckle a few times and brings him back into the ring for a hard bodyslam. He hits a knee to the head and then a piledriver. Brisco kicks out. Flair tries a suplex, but Brisco slips out right into a sleeper hold, and Flair counters that with a back suplex. Then Flair then goes after the leg and puts on the Figure Four Leglock. Brisco turns it over and Flair reaches the ropes, then Brisco pulls him back into the ring and now he works on the leg. He puts on his own version of the Figure-Four but Flair slips out and gets a small package for two. They do the bridge up / backslide spot, and Brisco gets the pin at 10:41. The crowd going nuts and the commentators saying they had never seen that before is pretty funny given today’s landscape. The match itself was a good TV match for its time, and it’s always fun to see Flair at this point in his career.
Rating: **¾

MATCH #2: Two out of Three Falls Match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship – Kerry Von Erich vs. Ric Flair©, World Class Championship Wrestling, 8.24.82

Looks like this match took place less than a week after the last one. Kerry is, duh, quite over here. He had to beat Harley Race to earn this title shot, which will be two out of three falls. They start off very quickly and the crowd is hot as Kerry controls the action early on, despite Flair’s best efforts. He starts off using the head scissors. He also uses the headlock. Flair tries going to work on the arm but Kerry bests him at that as well. Flair knocks Kerry to the floor and brings him back in the hard way. He tries a series of chops and forearms but Kerry fires up and goes right back on offense. Flair comes back with a boot to the gut that may have been a little low. Flair also pulls Kerry’s hair to keep the advantage, which everyone in the crowd can see but the referee can’t. That’s why he’s the dirtiest player in the game, folks. He misses an elbow drop and then Kerry reverses an Irish whip into the abdominal stretch. He adds the Iron Claw as well but Flair will not quit. Flair hits a back suplex but Kerry comes back with a dropkick. He hits another one, but when he tries a third, Flair hangs on to the ropes and Kerry crashes into the mat. Flair drops a knee on the head and Kerry kicks out. Flair hits a piledriver, called a “reverse head and atomic drop” and Kerry kicks out of that too. He tries another one but this time Kerry backdrops him down. He goes for the Claw but Flair gets wise and blocks it. He blocks Kerry back in the corner and for some reason the referee tries to pull Flair off and winds up eating one of Kerry’s punches. Kerry hits a flying body press but there is no referee. Now a backup referee comes down and Kerry puts on the sleeper. Flair passes out and Kerry apparently wins the first fall at 20:58. But wait! The original referee is back in and declares that Kerry Von Erich is disqualified for striking the referee. The crowd is VERY unhappy with that decision.

Kerry responds by becoming a house-a-fire right at the start of round number two. He puts the sleeper, or “sleep hold” as the commentator calls it, back on, but Flair counters it by tossing Kerry to the arena floor. Kerry starts working on Flair’s leg from the floor, and then back in the ring he goes after it even harder. Flair counters with his chops and does some choking as well. Kerry battles back and these two have barely stopped. Flair starts tenaciously attacking the knee. He hits a big delayed vertical suplex and this time hits the elbow drop. He then locks on the Figure-Four Leglock, which is Flair’s “submitting hold.” Kerry turns it over and Flair keeps it going until they reach the ropes and the hold is broken. Flair goes right back to the knee but Kerry fights back with the Iron Claw. Flair’s head starts to bleed from the awesome power of Kerry Von Erich’s Claw. Flair finally succumbs to the hold and Kerry evens the match up at 32:58.

Kerry wastes no time going right after Flair, but the champion is game and gives it right back to him. The two slug away at each other uncontrollably and the referee calls for the bell at 35:02, and Flair retains the title. The fight continues long after the bell, as referees and wrestlers come out to try and pull them apart. Von Erich didn’t seem to feel like selling much in the early going, but once they settled into a groove these guys tore it up and had the crowd with them the whole way. Fritz Von Erich comes down after the match to try and steal some of the spotlight by protesting the decision.
Rating: ****¼

MATCH #3: NWA World Heavyweight Championship Match – Ric Flair vs. Harley Race©, Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, 8.31.83

Race is the champion at this point, I believe in the midst of his seventh reign. Flair is the early aggressor but Race outsmarts him and starts unleashing headbutts and a knee drop. He follows that up with a neckbreaker, but misses the follow-up headbutt. Flair comes back with some chops and drops a knee of his own. A solid chop gets two for Flair. Race thumbs him in the eye and goes back on offense. Flair comes back and whips Race into the turnbuckle and backdrops him on the way out to get a near fall. Flair then goes to the front face lock. Race powers out and hits a suplex to break the hold. He misses an elbow drop and Flair hits a back elbow for two. A big bodyslam gets two. Race comes back with a headbutt to the gut and then one to the head. Then he drops a knee on the face, and does so a few more times. He sets up for the piledriver but Flair backdrops his way out of it. He punches away and hits another back body drop, and then locks on the abdominal stretch. Race hip tosses his way out of it and then hits an elbow drop for a near fall. Race hits a big clothesline and drops a knee to the face. Race tries to whip Flair into the corner but Flair reverses it and throws Race’s shoulder directly into the ring post. Flair kicks Race in the face and gets a two-count. Flair goes to work on the arm now, using a hammerlock to wear the champion down. Race pushes Flair into the corner and takes control. Flair fires back with a knee to the gut and a chop. He then puts on the Sleeper. Race breaks the hold with some good old fashioned cheating. Flair tries the Flying Something off the top rope but Race recovers and slams Flair down. Then Flair tries the top rope Flying Something Pt. 2 and Race knocks him down. Race controls for a bit, and tosses Flair outside the ring for more punishment. Race sets up for the piledriver on the concrete, but Flair backdrops him over. Flair then delivers an impressive vertical suplex. He tries the figure-four again but that goes nowhere. Flair avoids the audience avoiding the spot they set up for them. That’s quick thinking. Race abuses Flair outside the ring for a bit, and then back in the ring Flair tries the figure-four once again. Then out of nowhere, here comes Dick Murdoch, who Flair fights off, and Cowboy Bob Orton, who hits Flair with an elbow off the second rope to earn the disqualification at 21:34. That match was given away on free TV, and what a great match to give away. They hit each other hard, rarely slowed down, and always looked like they were going at each other with hatred. I suppose I would hate a guy if he put a $25,000 Bounty on my head too.
Rating: ****

MATCH #4: Ric Flair, Arn Anderson & Ole Anderson vs. Dusty Rhodes, Magnum TA & Manny Fernandez, World Wide Wrestling, 12.15.85

The crowd is already going crazy and the match hasn’t even started yet. Dusty wants to start with Flair, so naturally Flair tags Arn in. Fernandez ends up starting for the good guys, and they trounce the Andersons in the early going while Flair stays on the apron. The babyfaces work on Ole’s arm and the crowd is just losing their collective shit. Flair finally enters the ring but he gets abused by Rhodes and Magnum too. We go to commercial and when we come back the Horsemen (not yet called such) have isolated Magnum. He makes the hot tag to the Bull though, and he beats up Arn and Ole. Flair gets a brief comeback but Manny continues to fight back. Arn finally takes him down and tries to wear him down with a chinlock. The Horsemen control Fernandez until it breaks down to a big brawl, with Arn and Dusty fighting outside on one side of the ring, with Flair and Magnum on the other. Ole and Fernandez fight inside the ring, and when no one is looking Arn waffles Fernandez with a chair. Rhodes puts the figure-four on Flair, but Ole covers Fernandez to score the win at 11:54. That was a pretty basic TV match but man this crowd just made it into something special. It was obvious that Flair and the Andersons had great chemistry together.
Rating: ****

MATCH #5: NWA World Heavyweight Championship Match – Sting vs. Ric Flair, NWA Clash of the Champions, 3.27.88

Fact: I have never seen this match (when I originally wrote this review three years ago). This is in the midst of Flair’s fifth reign with the title. The time limit is 45 minutes instead of the usual 60, due to TV time restraints. This is such an important match that JJ Dillon is suspended above the ring in a cage and we’ve got three judges on the outside of the ring.

Flair outwrestles Sting in the early going, but Sting counters with the strength advantage. Sting absorbs Flair’s attacks and sends Flair reeling to the floor with a dropkick. They continue following that pattern, with Sting able to counter Flair’s attacks and even score a near fall with a side headlock. Every time Flair tries to get out of the headlock Sting counters it and maintains the advantage. Flair eventually does recover and unloads a few chops, but Sting fights right back out of the corner and hits another gorilla press slam. Sting then goes to the bear hug to further wear Flair down. Flair escapes from that and the battle spills to the floor, with the champion in control. Back in the ring Flair continues to work over the challenger. They go back to the floor and Flair whips Sting into the guardrail a few more times and chokes him on it. Back in the ring Flair’s blows suddenly have no effect and Sting knocks Flair over the ropes to the floor. Referee Tommy Young chooses not to disqualify Sting for that. He sets Flair up against the post and tries a clothesline but Flair moves. Back in the ring Flair works on the arm but Sting comes back with a clothesline. Sting delivers a suplex and tries the Scorpion Deathlock but Flair grabs the ropes and 25 minutes have gone by.

Sting stays on offense but gets overzealous and winds up throwing himself to the floor. Sting hits a cross body from the top rope for two. Flair then comes back and starts work on the knees. Flair eventually locks on the figure-four, and uses the ropes for additional leverage. Sting eventually fires up and turns the hold over, putting the pressure on Flair. The hold gets broken and Flair tries to suplex Sting to the outside, but Sting reverses it and they’re back inside the ring. The crowd is going crazy. Sting tries a splash but Flair gets the knees up. Sting reverses a whip and puts the abdominal stretch on. Flair hip tosses his way out of it but then misses an elbow drop. Flair goes up top but Sting blocks it and slams him down. That gets a near fall, so Sting pulls Flair over to the corner from the outside and crotches him there. Back in the ring Sting puts Flair in the figure-four leglock. Flair reaches the ropes to break the hold, causing Sting to ask JJ Dillon, “Now you know how to party or what?” I love the things wrestlers say.

Flair tries to bully the referee, who totally stands up for himself. Sting then whips Flair into the corner and the momentum takes him all the way to the floor. Back in the ring Sting is on fire, just beating Flair from pillar to post. Sting hits a clothesline for a near fall. He tries the Stinger Splash but Flair avoids it and Sting takes a bump to the floor. Flair just keeps trying to avoid the challenger now. Sting gets a sunset flip for a near fall and there’s less than two minutes left. Flair does the Flair Flip in the corner and actually hits the body press but Sting rolls it over for a near fall. Flair tries to fight back but Sting is too fired up. He hits five punches in the corner and then the Stinger Splash. He puts Flair in the Scorpion Deathlock with 30 seconds to go. Flair’s selling of the move is great, and he’s able to avoid giving up so we have a time-limit draw at 45:00.

So we go to the judges. The porn star voted for Flair. Gary Juster gave it to Sting. Sandy Scott declares the match a draw. So what’s the point of you being here then Sandy Scott you wishy washy jerk? Anyway this is a very famous match for a reason, because it launched Sting into the upper echelon of the NWA. He was obviously very green at this point, but Flair made him look like a million bucks and the crowd heat was off the charts. The finish was colossally stupid though, as it would seem with the judges there they wouldn’t have a draw, and then one of the judges calls it a draw? What a waste of time.
Rating: ***¾

MATCH #6: NWA World Heavyweight Championship Match – Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk, NWA Great American Bash, 7.23.89

Flair comes accompanied by four lovely ladies, just because he is The Nature Boy. This would be in the midst of his seventh reign. The match starts outside the ring and goes right after the challenger. Funk tries to stall but Flair goes right back to the floor and goes to work on him again. Funk goes into the ring and rolls right back out to throw a chair. Back in the ring they trade punches and chops, as JR busts out “middle aged and crazy” for Funk, and this is only 1989. They go right back to the floor and Funk rams Flair’s head into the post. Funk stays in control and suplexes Flair back into the ring. Funk starts going for the neck, which he injured with a piledriver on a table back on May 7. Flair rolls to the apron and Funk tries to suplex him back in. Flair reverses that and they both go tumbling to the floor. They trade chops out there and Funk tries to get back in the ring and Flair pulls him back out and they continue chopping each other and going to the eyes. Back in the ring Funk tries the piledriver but Flair backdrops him and they’re right back on the floor.

Back in the ring Flair starts dropping knees. Flair then hits Funk with a piledriver, and the crowd loves it. He follows that up with a second piledriver. Funk gets back to his feet and stumbles out of the ring and starts crawling towards the back. Flair follows him and sends him back towards the ring. Flair forearms him down and gets a near fall. He hits the back suplex and locks on the figure-four. Gary Hart is able to slip Funk the branding iron and he hits Flair with it to break the hold. Flair is busted open now and Funk goes to work on the cut. Funk then hits a piledriver and Flair gets his foot on the ropes to avoid being pinned. Funk goes outside and removes the mat at ringside, and then uses his wrist tape to choke Flair. Funk tries a piledriver but Flair backdrops him. Back in the ring Funk hits a couple of neckbreakers. Hart is trying to tell Funk to go for a pin but he would rather beat Flair up some more. Flair gets control of the branding iron this time and he nails Funk with it. Back in the ring Flair is in control and Funk is bleeding now as well. Funk gets control and goes for the Spinning Toe Hold but Flair grabs the leg and tries the figure-four, and Funk reverses that to an inside cradle but Flair rolls it over to get the pin and retain at 17:23. Flair knocks Hart down but can’t thwart The Great Muta, who sprays the Green Mist. Sting comes out to make the save and it’s a big brawl. That was an awesome and intense fight between two of my favorites of all-time, and the post-match stuff elevated the whole thing. They would go on to do better.
Rating: ****¼

MATCH #7: Ric Flair vs. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, WWE at Madison Square Garden, 10.28.91

Flair is still wearing the WCW World Championship belt at this point, and Bobby Heenan is still his advisor. Flair backs Piper into the corner to start and gives him a clean break. He does it again and this time Piper spits at him. Flair does it a third time and this time Piper slaps him right down to the mat. Piper sets referee Hebner up on the top turnbuckle, and now I feel better about Jimmy Valiant doing it to me in 2003, knowing I’m not the only referee that happened to. Jimmy Valiant is a weird old man, yo.

They start the chain wrestling and Piper ends that series with another slap to the face. Monsoon sells this as Flair’s debut in MSG, but they put his actual debut match from 1976 on the first Flair DVD, so there goes that. Meanwhile, Flair has taken over on offense and chops Piper in the corner. Piper fights out and hits a series of jabs and a spinning roundhouse to knock Flair adown and he rolls to the floor. Piper follows him out and throws him into the barricade and then the steps. Back in the ring I see Flair execute a leapfrog for the first time I can recall, but Piper slugs him down. He tries the same in the corner but Flair is able to fight out. Flair drops the knee. Piper comes back with a backslide but Flair kicks out and keeps trying to throw Piper to the floor but he jumps right back in the ring. That’s a cool spot. Flair finally keeps Piper outside the ring and knocks him down in the aisle. Back in the ring Piper makes a big comeback and hits a series of moves culminating with a clothesline over the ropes to the floor. The referee takes a bump and Piper ties Flair up in a small package but no one is there to count. A new official comes down to the ring, and Piper gets a school boy for two. Flair tries the Flair Flip but Piper clotheslines him. Since the referees are both not looking, Flair grabs a chair and waffles Piper with it, and Piper kicks out! Piper puts on the sleeper, so Flair back suplexes his way out of it. Flair goes up top and Piper gets up and slams him down. They get up and trade punches and chops. Flair goes for a back body drop but Piper gets a neckbreaker instead. Piper goes out and grabs a chair, which the referee stops him from using. Piper punches Flair over the ropes, and when Flair gets back on the apron he punches Piper down, and then uses the ropes for leverage to pin Piper at 11:41. So I guess all that stuff about Piper never losing until facing Bret Hart at WrestleMania VIII is bogus. Piper uses the chair on the referee and Flair because he’s pissed about being outsmarted by the better wrestler. Anyway this was a really fun match and it’s too bad they never did it on a bigger scale.
Rating: ***½

MATCH #8: WCW Championship – Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat, WCW Spring Stampede, 4.17.94

I don’t recall if I’ve ever seen this match either. They start chain wrestling right away of course, with both men pretty evenly matched. I wonder if these two ever worked against each other in WWE in ’91, maybe on Prime Time or something. Steamboat starts going after the arm and uses the side headlock. Flair tries to intimidate the challenger but Steamboat slaps him right back. The challenger then hits a series head scissors and dropkicks. Steamboat then hits a chop off the top rope for a near fall. Flair takes a powder. Back in the ring they start trading chops and Steamboat is especially fired up, so Flair takes another powder. He gets back in and Steamboat takes over once again and goes to the headlock. Flair tries to drop down on an Irish whip but Steamboat halts and locks on the headlock again. Heenan goes off on a funny bit about how Arn Anderson and Steamboat aren’t really Flair’s friends, they just like hanging out with him because he picks up the checks. Flair makes a brief comeback but Steamboat gets a flying head scissors and once again goes back to the headlock. Steamboat hits some shoulder blocks and Flair tries to throw him to the floor but he skins the cat and gets a school boy for two and then goes right back to the headlock. He switches it up a little bit and goes to the front face lock. Steamboat gets a back body drop but then misses a dropkick. Flair takes over now with his usual offense, including the knee drop and chops. Steamboat once again fires up and knocks Flair down with a chop. He throws Flair off the ropes and Flair comes back with a cross body block and they tumble to the floor. Flair breaks the count and goes for a piledriver. Steamboat back body drops him instead. Steamboat charges at Flair up against the barricade but Flair moves and Steamboat crashes his ribs into the steel. They go back inside and Flair goes to the top rope, but Steamboat stops him and hits a superplex. That gets him a two count. Steamboat whips Flair into the Flair Flip, but Steamboat chops him down to the floor. Steamboat hits a chop to the top of the head from the top rope. Back into the ring we learn that 20 minutes have gone by.

Steamboat continues the onslaught and we see a Flair Flop. Flair gets up and throws Steamboat to the floor but Steamboat comes right back in with a sunset flip. Flair blocks it by punching him in the face. He tries another knee drop but Steamboat blocks it and puts the figure-four leglock on. Flair can’t reach the ropes so he pokes Steamboat in the eyes instead. Steamboat takes a powder. Flair tries to suplex Steamboat back in but he falls on him for another near fall. They do the bridging up spot and fight over a backslide. Steamboat gets it and scores another near fall. Steamboat gets a small package for two. Steamboat stays on the attack and chops Flair right outside the ring to the runway. Now 25 minutes have gone by. Flair tries suplexing Steamboat out to the runway but Steamboat blocks it and chops Flair back inside. He knocks Flair to the floor again and tries a chop off the apron but Flair gets his boot up. They trade shots with Steamboat still on the apron and Steamboat wins that exchange. He goes up top and hits a flying cross body for two. They get up and Flair hits a clothesline and then goes to the top rope. Steamboat slams him down and goes up himself and goes for a splash but Flair moves out of the way. Flair then goes for the figure-four but Steamboat blocks it with his hands! No wonder everyone in ROH was doing that in 2004. Flair finally locks the hold on in the center of the ring. Steamboat is able to make the ropes. Flair continues to work on the knee. Flair goes for another figure-four as 30 minutes have gone by. Steamboat gets him in a small package for two. He follows that with a backslide for another near fall. Steamboat sets Flair on the top rope and delivers a superplex all the way from the top! Both men are down for an eight-count before Steamboat can make the cover and Flair kicks out! The referee gets non-violently knocked to the floor so he can’t immediately count on Steamboat’s O’Connor Roll and Flair kicks out at two. Steamboat then goes for the Double Chicken Wing and rolls him back for the three-count to apparently win the WCW World Title at 32:23.

Another referee comes down and there appears to be some controversy, as the refs confer with Commissioner Nick Bockwinkel. One referee is saying that both men’s shoulders were down, and since it’s a draw the champion retains the title. Steamboat is unhappy with this development. I always thought that the title was declared vacant as a result of this and Flair had to win it back in a match with Steamboat a few weeks later on WCW Saturday Night. I guess I should watch that match and see what the commentators say, because that would affect the number of World Title reigns Flair has! Anyway the match was fantastic, as could be expected from these two. They played off their old matches but brought out some new stuff too, and if not for the two classics at WrestleMania X this probably would have been the match of the year.
Rating: ****½

MATCH #9: Steel Cage Match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship – Triple H vs. Ric Flair, WWE Taboo Tuesday, 11.1.05

Flair has been the champion since 9.18.05 and this is his second defense. These two had a couple of fun TV matches in 2002 and 2003, but they weren’t really feuding then so this one is instantly more interesting. It’s pinfalls, submissions, or escape from the cage to win.

Flair gains the early advantage over his much younger, stronger opponent. He dominates with chops and punches, until HHH comes back with the Harley Race High Knee. He chokes Flair with his boot in the corner. Flair fights out with chops and punches, but HHH counters with a spinebuster. He punches Flair a few times and throws him into the cage, busting the champion open, so he does it again. HHH snap mares Flair down and hits a knee drop right to the bloody head. Flair gets caught between the ropes and the cage and HHH scrapes his face into it and slams his head into it a few times. HHH then delivers a Stinger Splash and Flair is bleeding pretty heavily. HHH continues to attack the injured bloody head. HHH climbs to the top but Flair is right behind him and delivers some chops. HHH comes back with headbutts and punches to the head. They both get knocked down crotch first on the top rope.

HHH grabs a steel chain and tries to nail Flair off the ropes with it but Flair gets the boot up and both men are down. Both men are up and Flair delivers chops and tries to lock on the figure-four but HHH punches him with the chain and gets two. HHH continues working on Flair’s open wound. HHH then puts on the figure-four leglock but Flair won’t give in. Flair turns it over and then HHH gets to the ropes. HHH tries for another figure-four, but Flair kicks him into the cage and now he is busted open too! Now Flair is going nuts, biting, punching, and chopping the Game. Flair even lands a delayed vertical suplex, and then goes to work on the challenger’s left leg, which is the one he injured back in 2001. Flair puts the figure-four on now. HHH breaks it by throwing the referee at Flair. Flair gets up and goes to the top rope and hits the fist to the head but it gets two. Flair hits a blatant low blow and crawls over to the door. HHH rolls him back into the ring, and he came with a chair. HHH takes it away from him and goes to hit him in the head. Flair comes back with the testicular claw and chops HHH at the same time. He goes for a back body drop but HHH counters with a Pedigree attempt. Flair counters that and back body drops HHH onto the steel chair. HHH gets up and Flair cracks him in the face with the chair. He hits him twice more for good measure. That’s gives Flair enough time to crawl right out of the cage and retain the title at 23:45. That was an awesome match between two guys who would obviously be willing to make each other look good. It’s amazing that Flair could still have four-star matches in 2005, but here’s the proof.
Rating: ****

MATCH #10: Career Threatening Match – Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels, WWE WrestleMania XXIV, 3.30.08

Before the interview they run the video package for how this match came about. Shawn was so perfect in this entire scenario, and it’s pretty evident that these are the two greatest wrestlers of all-time, and there’s no room for debate in my mind. Flair’s interview is short and sweet – he says his game plan is simply to be the man. Sounds like a good idea to me.

They start off slowly, with Michaels asserting his quickness, and Flair doing his best to keep up. Michaels slaps Flair in the face and Flair’s mouth is bleeding. Flair unleashes the chops early on. The crowd is definitely behind Flair in this one. Flair actually hits the cross body off the top, and then starts going to work on the leg, even trying the figure-four, but Shawn kicks him to the floor. Shawn tries an Asai Moonsault but Flair moves and Shawn takes a nasty bump on the table that legitimately could have broken his ribs. Back in the ring Flair gets a near fall and goes to work on Shawn’s certainly injured ribs. A vertical suplex gets two. Michaels comes back and back body drops Flair to the floor, and then this time connects with a Moonsault off the ropes. Back in the ring at nine, they trade chops for a bit, and then Michaels hits the flying forearm. He follows up with the Savage Elbow and motions for Sweet Chin Music. The crowd reaction here is great. Michaels doesn’t pull the trigger and Flair grabs the legs and puts on the Figure-Four Leglock. Michaels turns it over but Flair quickly gets the ropes. They trade some near falls but neither man can hold the other down. Flair goes back to the leg with a chop block. Flair tries the Figure-Four again but Michaels gets a small package for two. Michaels tries an enziguiri but Flair ducks and this time gets the Figure-Four. Michaels reaches the ropes and the crowd disapproves. Flair styles and profiles, and that gives Michaels the chance to hit Sweet Chin Music but he’s slow to follow up. He finally covers and Flair is able to kick out at two. Michaels tries a go-behind but Flair hits a classic low blow. Michaels kicks out at two. He gets up and puts on his weirdo version of the figure-four. Flair reaches the ropes and delivers a thumb to the eye for good measure. A schoolboy rollup gets two. They get up and trade chops again, and Michaels hits another Superkick out of nowhere. Michaels gets up and goes to the corner for Sweet Chin Music, but he looks hesitant. Flair knows what’s coming. Michaels clearly says “I’m sorry, I love you.” He then delivers Sweet Chin Music and ends Ric Flair’s career at 20:23. Sure, Flair is a bit slower than he used to be, but this match is what wrestling is all about. It is brilliant storytelling, and a beautiful match between the two greatest wrestlers that ever wrestled. I’m sure some may disagree with the rating, but I love, love, love this match.
Rating: *****

The Pulse: While any Ric Flair disc that only has 10 matches can’t be considered “definitive,” this is a great companion piece to the earlier Ultimate Ric Flair Collection and the Ric Flair & The Four Horsemen DVD. Of the 10 matches here, seven of them reach four stars or higher, so there’s really some great stuff here.

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