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Posts Tagged ‘Brad Armstrong’

MWR Tribute: “Nature Boy” Ric Flair

Posted by Admin on April 5, 2008

Missouri Wrestling Revival Tribute:
“Nature Boy” Ric Flair

by Joshua Ray
MWR Owner-Editor

(Ric Flair as Missouri State Champion in 1983 [Credit: http://www.rfgolds.com/].)
A Tribute

(Ric Flair and the infamous Four Horsemen! [Internet photo database])

36 years of pro wrestling excellence has come to an end, as “Nature Boy” Ric Flair wrestled his last match at Wrestlemania 24 just a few short days ago on March 30, 2008. I am a huge “Naitch” fan, so I wanted to put together a fitting MWR Tribute to the man known as “The Man” to most of the professional wrestling world. I will be bringing Ric Flair to Missouri in this tribute, connecting him to the Show Me State in a way which I sincerely hope will be befitting of a true champion.
This might not be the definitive history of Ric Flair in Missouri. I admit that my research might not have uncovered every single detail about his connection with our great state. It will be a great tribute, though. In my mind, Ric Flair is the greatest World Heavyweight Champion of all time, and this is the least I can do for him. I have been researching every bit of known information about Flair for nearly two weeks.
I’ll leave out less significant events such as individual house show appearances. While I’ll include them in the match totals, the focus is to point out the noteworthy history of the “Nature Boy” as it pertains to Missouri. Feel free to comment on anything included in this tribute, as well as anything I might have left out or any personal reflections.


Ric Flair and Missouri at a Glance

Ric Flair is on record as wrestling 80 times in Missouri in his 36 year career. While the average breaks down to just over two matches per year in the Show Me State, 55 of his Missouri bouts occurred between his Missouri debut on August 6, 1977 and October 16, 1987. This period includes the time in which he set an amazing standard by which most other champions could not meet, as he wrestled 6 or 7 times each week. This averages to just over 5 wrestling matches each year in Missouri alone.

In the winning of his first and only NWA Missouri Heavyweight Championship, Flair wrestled four times in the same night in a tournament. He became the title’s 33rd holder. That wasn’t the only belt he won in Missouri, though. Flair also won two NWA World Heavyweight Titles by defeating Dusty Rhodes on both occasions. On the flip side, he lost 2 NWA World Heavyweight Titles to Harley Race, and his only Missouri Heavyweight Title was lost when he was defeated at the hands of David Von Erich.

Flair only wrestled two tag team matches in the state of Missouri. He teamed with Arn Anderson for one to defeat El Gigante and Sting on April 27, 1991 in St. Louis. For the other one, he teamed with Barry Windham in a losing effort to El Gigante and The yellow Dog (A Masked “Flyin” Brian Pillman). As another piece of trivia, Flair only guest refereed one match in the state of Missouri. The match was between “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Undertaker on April 21, 2002!

“The Man” has wrestled in seven cities within the Missouri state border. Those cities are (matches in parentheses) St. Louis (51), Kansas City (20), Joplin (2), St. Joseph (2), Cape Girardeau (1), Springfield (3), and West Plains (1).

With all of these connections to the state of Missouri, Flair was inducted into the inaugural class of 2007 of the St. Louis Wrestling Hall of Fame on February 24, 2007.

(Bret Hart giving Flair a taste of his own medicine [Credit: www.wwesuperstars.org])

Personal Reflection

As a young kid (the entire 1980s), I was always partial to the National Wrestling Alliance. Yes, I enjoyed the World Wrestling Federation and all of the glitz and glamor that organization had to offer, but there was just something that resonated in my soul with how the NWA presented itself. It seemed more real, with the heroes more believable in my eyes. Hulk Hogan might have been my favorite wrestler at the time due to his looks and his cartoonish stand for all that was American and good, but Dusty Rhodes, The Rock N Roll Express, Magnum TA, Ricky Steamboat, Kerry Von Erich, Brad Armstrong and later Sting would round out my list.

Why did those simpler and less “larger than life” wrestlers capture my imagination and have me rooting for them just as hard as my favorite wrestler in the entire world at the time, Hulk Hogan?

“Nature Boy” Ric Flair.

He was as bad as a person could be. He had money. He had women. He loved to cheat. Worst of all, he always found a way to win! I hated him with a passion in my younger days. I can still remember getting so excited when somebody would defeat him for the NWA World Title, only for him two win it back so shortly later. I loved to hate him.

Later, i would learn to respect him. His Royal Rumble performance in 1992 was probably the point in my life (I was 11) where I started realizing he was more than just a bad guy. Sure, I still hated him… but he had just lasted an hour in one of the hardest matches to win! He had found a way, yet again, to win the gold. This time it was for the WWF!

Over the years, Flair might not have been center stage or in the main event, but it was obvious that I wasn’t the only fan to respect him and treat him like royalty. Most of the time he was getting the shaft and was nearly buried by terrible booking after his NWA glory years:

– Black Scorpion
– Feud with Robocop and Sting
– Nearly being forced to shave his head, wear an earring, and call himself “Spartacus”
– Late WCW (everybody was bad then, but let’s move on)
– His recent jobber status in WWE before his “retire” storyline

(Ric Flair versus Hulk Hogan in WCW [Internet photo database].)

The great thing about Flair was that he transcended all of that. He was great, and people knew that anything lame about Flair couldn’t possibly be his doing. The man has been a living legend for many years. He’s just finally getting that recognition on a more formal level.

So here’s to Ric Flair.

The greatest of all time! (An issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated with Ric Flair on the cover. [Credit: www.prowrestlingillustrated.com])

Thoughts from Brian “Flair” Kelley:
If you know me then you know that Ric Flair is my favorite wrestler. Ric Flair is the last real wrestling champion, and I am grateful that I got to live with him wrestling since my youth. Before Vince told the world that it was predetermined, there was still a kind of magic that the fans believed in. The magic that every match meant something, whether it be when he broke Dusty Rhodes’ leg or when he was having the greatest scientific matches of all time with Ricky Steamboat. You knew you just had to see it.

Flair was the guy the boys wanted to be, the women loved and the men hated. Flair made you stay home on Saturday nights for just a little longer, just so you could see who he was going to wrestle and what would he say before and after.

Don’t lie, men. You know you have tried one of his pickup lines at least once on a girl.

When I think of Flair today, I still mark out for him. Truth be told, I always will. There has never been a wrestler who can keep my attention the way he did. I feel as if Flair never reached his potential as far as marketing goes, though I wished he would have been given that chance. This is by no means to slight anyone else, because thank goodness for Hogan, The Rock and Austin… three men who really boomed as far as merchandise sales go, but I wish Flair had been given that ball to run with. Maybe it was for the best, though. Flair now has longevity and respect, and when something of Flair’s comes out the people want it, as they showed with the Flair DVDs and book sales.

There is no doubt that I would have always liked wrestling, but “Nature Boy” Ric Flair made me love it.

References:
– Derkweiler.com [http://newsgroups.derkweiler.com/archive/rec/rec.sport.pro-wrestling/2006-05/msg11691.html]
– Slam Wrestling [http://slam.canoe.ca]
– WWE.com
– Wikipedia
 
 

 

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