With Ric Flair’s “Last Match” coming up in Nashville, TN, Matthew Roberts takes a look back at some of the known matches Flair had in Music City during his long and storied career.
Many observers have noted that it seems odd that Jim Crockett Promotions are teaming up with The Nature Boy to have his “last match” in Nashville, an area where they rarely booked and that was not necessarily known as Flair Country. But that’s not to say that Flair has no history at all in Nashville, as this rundown of his matches in the city shows.
7th May 1989: Nashville, TN – Vs Ricky Steamboat
NWA WrestleWar 1989 | Music City Showdown
This is the final match of the historic 1989 trilogy, which some still say was the best series of matches of all time. Some may have felt the pressure of following two all-time classics with a third but these two simply did what they did best and scaled the heights again. There’s probably an argument that the 2/3 falls match at Clash of the Champions that was in the middle of the trilogy was slightly better than this but that’s just being picky. These are two of the greatest, arguably at their creative peaks, putting on an absolute master-class. And it still holds up to this day. If you’ve only ever seen “old man” Flair and don’t know what the fuss was all about, watch this. If Ricky Steamboat is only a name you know because many who came after him hold him in such high regard, watch this. Even better, it’s followed up by one of my all-time favourite angles with Terry Funk. If you are a wrestling fan, you MUST see this.
8th March 1992 – Vs Hulk Hogan – WWF House Show – Nashville, TN
17th May 1992 – Vs Randy Savage – WWF House Show – Nashville, TN
In between these two matches came WrestleMania VIII, where Flair dropped the belt to Savage. So whilst neither of these matches ended in a clean finish, it was WWF Champion Flair who lost by Count-out to Hogan, but challenger Flair who lost by DQ to Savage two months later…
11th August 1992 – Vs Jerry Jackson – WWF Wrestling Challenge – Nashville, TN
11th August 1992 – Vs El Matador – WWF Summerslam Spectacular – Nashville, TN
Pulling double duty at a TV taping, this is mostly of interest for Flair’s match with Tito “El Matador” Santana. And it’s not bad at all. Santana always was a decent worker and suits Flair down to the ground as an opponent. There’s never any real doubt about who is going to win but it’s fine for what it is.
16th January 1993 – Vs Bret Hart – WWF House Show – Nashville, TN
Was it a coincidence that Flair was once again in the main event World Title match on a Nashville house show? He wasn’t far from leaving the WWF at this time so perhaps no surprise that he lost this one clean to Bret.
27th December 1995 – Vs Lex Luger Vs Sting – WCW Starrcade 1995
27th December 1995 – Vs Randy Savage – WCW Starrcade 1995
Starrcade 1995 was built around WCW Vs New Japan (that forbidden door is a new concept isn’t it?) but there was perhaps the feeling that that alone wouldn’t sell. Hence Flair pulling double duty in this concept. The three way against Luger and Sting was to decide who would face Savage for the title.
There are a number of issues with the three way. The rules of it being one-on-one with one man on the apron waiting to be tagged in is as much of a mess as you might imagine. The fact that it goes nearly half an hour is pure overkill and Flair’s opponents here are really spent by the end of it. That we go through all that just to get a Countout ending seems just irredeemably stupid. Flair wins of course to set up his next match.
Given that Flair has worked for half an hour and goes straight into his match with Savage means that we’re unlikely to get a classic but it’s a decent match that doesn’t outstay it’s welcome. As a slice of “the dirtiest player in the game” it’s an entertaining look at Flair, who wins when his Four Horsemen buddies run in and attack Savage, with Arn Anderson smacking the Champion with an object. It makes the second time that Flair wins the World Championship in the very same venue as his last match.
13th May 1996 – Vs VK Wallstreet – WCW Monday Nitro
One thing about WCW Nitro in its early days was that you would often get slightly strange matches like this. Where a genuine main-event guy like Flair works with someone totally not main event like VK Wallstreet (who for fans who might not know is Mike Rotunda/IRS) doing a gimmick that is supposed to be antagonising Vincent Kennedy (VK. Get it?) McMahon. It’s even odder because Wallstreet is a heel. As is Flair he gets all the cheers. Even though it takes a little help from Woman at ringside for him to pick up the win. Post match Flair and his ladies do a promo with Mean Gene which enables, via NFL references I don’t get, him to put over “staying up all night long”.
21st August 1997 – & Curt Hennig Vs Konnan & Syxx – WCW Clash of the Champions 35
By 1997 the famed Clash of the Champions series has really lost it’s edge given that Monday Nitro was giving away stellar cards on free TV every week. As such this seemed like a way of getting people on TV and furthering a storyline that would pay off elsewhere rather than anything more vital. Hennig is new to WCW and Flair wants him to be a Horseman. Konnan and Syxx are representing the nWo. As you’d perhaps expect given the clash of styles on show here this is pretty much a mess, and only interesting for Hennig nearly inadvertently costing his team the match before he pins Syxx.
23rd July 1999 – Vs Sting – WCW House Show
28th January 2000 – Vs Kevin Nash – WCW House Show
As if to show that Flair in Nashville doesn’t do things by halves, his two WCW House Show appearances come against top-level competition. A clean defeat to Sting was followed up by a DQ loss to Nash.
19th May 2002 – & The Big Show Vs Stone Cold Steve Austin – WWE Judgment Day
On the quiet, this is a stacked card (Guerrero/RVD, Edge/Angle, Jericho/Triple H in a Hell in a Cell, Hogan/Undertaker) although, in reality, it was only a mildly successful show. Austin is close to walking out on the WWE due to problems with the booking and a re-hash of his Vince feud with Flair taking the part of the evil matchmaker etc won’t have helped. It’s fine as a slice of nostalgia but that’s about it.
21st October 2002 – & Triple H Vs Kane & Rob Van Dam – WWE RAW
This is the infamous night of the “Katie Vick” video. If you know, you know. If you don’t know then consider yourself lucky. This is your tag team main event match on Raw and is pretty standard for one of those. Kane and RVD are no threat to HHH (we’re in peak “not jobbing to those guys” territory) so there’s precious little drama. Jerry Lawler, on commentary, keeps on bringing up the Katie Vick video which makes the match even less important. Flair does the j-o-b to RVD’s Five Star Splash as we have to somehow protect HHH whilst continuing his feud with Kane.
30th April 2007 – & Carlito Vs Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin – WWE RAW
For context, on this show, Vince McMahon is ECW champion and swanning around in a Durag. Torrie Wilson is with our boy and Carlito. This is one of those nothing matches that is a set-up for something else, i.e the Carlito heel turn. What comes before that is largely forgettable although the post-match brawl (it went to a no contest) between the two was fiery enough. It was all designed to set up their PPV match at the upcoming Judgment Day.