WOOOOOO… today the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair turns 67 years old!
To mark the occasion Throwback Thursday on WrestlingDVDNetwork.com once again turns Throwback Tribute as we look back at some of the hidden gems and greatest matches of the “dirtiest player in the game’s” stellar, one of a kind career, as seen on the WWE Network.
For more Network goodies on the life and career of the “Nature Boy” check out: Rivalries: Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat; Rivalries: Dusty Rhodes vs. Ric Flair; Quick Hits: Horsemen All Night Ride; Legends of WrestleMania; Legends of Wrestling: Ric Flair & Sgt. Slaughter; “Nature Boy” Ric Flair: The Definitive Collection; The Rise & Fall of WCW; the 2008 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony; and the brand new Stone Cold Podcast featuring Ric Flair.
— NWA World Heavyweight Championship (WATCH)
“Hands of Stone” Ron Garvin vs. “Nature Boy” Ric Flair(c)
NWA World Championship Wrestling • December 15, 1985 (AIRED: Dec. 28, 1985)
Two years before the two would swap the NWA World title, Flair and Garvin met in a special challenge match on World Championship Wrestling. This match, as snug and stiff as anything he two would do later, is but a glimpse of classic battles to come and a must-see for old-school wrestling fans.
— “Non-Title Finals of the Iron Man Round Robin Tournament” (WATCH)
Sting vs. “Nature Boy” Ric Flair(NWA World Heavyweight Champion)
NWA-WCW Starrcade ’89: Future Shock • December 13, 1989
Few wrestlers have had a year like Ric Flair had in 1989. After three classic matches with Ricky Steamboat at Chi-Town Rumble, Clash of the Champions VI, and WrestleWar ’89 (the latter widely considered to be the greatest match ever), Flair went straight into three classic wars with Terry Funk at Great American Bash ’89, Halloween Havoc ’89, and Clash of the Champions IX. After all of that Flair ended the year at Starrcade ’89: Future Shock with two classic matches, one against Lex Luger and this instant classic versus Sting. This match is one of the forgotten gems of the Sting/Flair rivalry and is a true classic.
— NWA World Tag Team Championship (WATCH)
The Four Horsemen (“Nature Boy” Ric Flair & “The Enforcer” Arn Anderson) vs. Doom (Ron Simmons “Hacksaw” Butch Reed)(c) w/Teddy Long
NWA-WCW Halloween Havoc ’90 • October 27, 1990
For many fans The Four Horsemen were as big a part of Ric Flair’s career as the World Heavyweight Championship. This match is a prime example of the chemistry between Flair and kayfabe cousin Arn Anderson. Beyond the chemistry this is a fun, classic tag team encounter.
— WCW World Heavyweight Championship – “Best Two of Three Falls Match” (WATCH – 1:32:14)
“Beautiful” Bobby Eaton vs. “Nature Boy” Ric Flair(c)
WCW Clash of the Champions XV: Knocksville, USA • June 12, 1991
This marked the darkest time, professionally, for Ric Flair. Jim Herd succeeded in changing Flair’s hair and music and nearly succeeded in changing Flair’s ring name as a continued contractual dispute dragged on. As dark a time as this was the “Nature Boy” found solace in the ring. This match marked one of the final televised matches for Flair before being fired by Herd on July 1st and would be the last many WCW fans would see of Flair for nearly 2 years.
— Singles Match (WATCH)
“Nature Boy” Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan
WWF on MSG • December 22, 1991
While Flair was working a TV angle with the late Roddy Piper, Flair was working a house show program with Hulk Hogan, the ultimate dream match. To this day fans question why the two didn’t meet at WrestleMania VIII. This match answers many of the questions. From timing to chemistry, story to finish, these two didn’t mesh at the time. While still a decent match it is nowhere near the classic fans envisioned it would be.
— WCW International World Heavyweight Championship (WATCH)
“Ravishing” Rick Rude vs. “Nature Boy” Ric Flair(c) w/Fifi
WCW Fall Brawl ’93:WarGames • September 23, 1993
Another forgotten gem in the Flair archives, this match is simply a brilliant, classic professional wrestling match. Though Flair loses the match, and the title, Flair elevates Rude, if it were even possible, to a new stratosphere. From the commentary to the action to the environment this match is simply “ravishing”.
— WCW United States Heavyweight Championship – “No Disqualification Grudge Match” (WATCH)
“Nature Boy” Ric Flair vs. Curt Hennig(c)
WCW World War 3 ’97 • November 23, 1997
In one of wrestling’s last great swerves the late Curt Hennig turned on Flair in “WarGames” and ended, for the moment, the Horsemen. This was a great match, hindered only by Flair hurting an ankle while jumping from the top rope to the floor. This marked one of the final real programs for Flair in WCW before tensions between Flair and Eric Bischoff turned personal, resulting in Flair’s career nearly coming to a complete stop creatively.
— “No Disqualification Grudge Match” (WATCH)
“Nature Boy” Ric Flair vs. The Undertaker
WWE WrestleMania X8 • March 17, 2002
In the first real “Streak” match in WrestleMania history Flair and Undertaker beat the bejabbers out of one another in front of 68,000 fans in one of Flair’s best matches in the WWF/E. Arn Anderson’s run-in, nearly 14 years later, is still a thing of beauty.
— WWE Intercontinental Championship – “Steel Cage Grudge Match” (WATCH)
Triple H vs. “Nature Boy” Ric Flair(c)
WWE Taboo Tuesday 2005 • November 1, 2005
While Evolution, in many ways, revitalized Ric Flair’s career, it was this program with Triple H that made Flair relevant again. Eager for “one more run” Flair defeated Carlito for the only Intercontinental title win of Flair’s career at Unforgiven 2005, setting the program with Triple H in motion and ending Evolution. This “Steel Cage Match” is both gruesome and spectacular, a return to form for on the greatest wrestlers ever, doing for Flair what the previous year’s bloodbath with Orton simply could not.
— “Career Threatening Match” (WATCH – 1:18:08)
Shawn Michaels vs. “Nature Boy” Ric Flair
WWE WrestleMania XXIV • March 30, 2008
The final storyline of Ric Flair’s in-ring WWE career got started on the Nov. 26, 2007 edition of RAW (currently unavailable) after Flair announced he would “never retire”. For the next four months, match after match, fans grew more and more invested in the coming finale of Flair’s in-ring career. This match, dripping with history and emotion, as real as any angle in recent memory, lived up to the hype and not only delivered a classic match but a legendary story as well.
Though Flair would later return to the ring for TNA Wrestling, nearly every one considers this match to be the official end of the “Nature Boy’s” career.
For more than 4 decades Ric Flair has been The Man in the world of pro wrestling. By any measure Ric Flair is the old-school “omega man”, the last of the working heels, of the wrestler’s wrestler. More than any other wrestler Ric Flair, the stylin’ and profilin’, limousine ridin’, jet flyin’, kiss-stealin’, wheelin’ ‘n’ dealin’ son of a gun, inspired an entire generation of wrestlers. Ric Flair, from plane crash to World Champion, has lived a remarkable life and a remarkable story that is far from finished. So join us as we send a birthday WOOOO to Ric Flair. Long live The Man.
That’s all for Throwback Thursday – thanks for reading! So, are you a WWE Network subscriber yet? If so, check out the matches. What are your favorite Flair moments? Let us know below.
On a personal note, I will be taking a bit of time off, meaning TBT will be a bi-weekly feature for the month of March. But starting in April the weekly articles will continue once more.
Until we meet again, see ya at ringside!