Before I type another word, let me say one thing, and let me say it emphatically:
I LOVE RIC FLAIR.
Some of you may fail to grasp that concept, especially considering I am inducting his final ever match into WrestleCrap. That’s insane, right? The WrestleMania XXIV match against Shawn Michaels was in many ways amazing. And of course it was Ric’s last bout. I mean, just ask Google. It will tell you:
But there’s just one issue.
Google is wrong.
And to that end, I should also note something else and I will also do it equally emphatically:
RIC FLAIR’S FINAL MATCH WAS NOT AT WRESTLEMANIA.
IT WAS NOT AGAINST SHAWN MICHAELS.
Ok, that’s enough crazy large type for one evening. But I felt it necessary to lay some ground rules tonight since I know there is a large portion of the world that will simply look at “Ric Flair final match” and “WrestleCrap: The Very Worst of Pro Wrestling” and think I am a friggin’ idiot.
And let me say one more thing – the Shawn-Flair match is one I would never, ever induct. While it wasn’t off the charts, it was a bout that had a ton of drama and told a story that was incredibly emotional.
The Raw the following night which served as the tribute to Flair’s amazing legacy was one of the greatest wrestling shows I’ve ever seen. It was truly a fitting end to the career of one of the true all time greats in the business.
Except, again…it was NOT the end of Ric’s career. No, you see, following that big send off Ric didn’t go home. Instead he went to…
…TNA-Impact of all places!
And that last match Flair had? The incredible one folks genuinely loved? Not the finale. In fact, the final time Flair stepped foot in the ring as an active competitor, he didn’t know the curtains were about to close on his career. There was no real planning, no storyline, nothing.
It was anything but WrestleMania.
Despite what Google would tell you, Ric Flair’s final match didn’t take place at WrestleMania – it took place on a random episode of Impact. September 15, 2011 to be precise. And while all this sounds like an utter disaster, it did have one thing – one thing – going for it.
That would be his opponent:
Amazingly, in what would be Flair’s swan song, he would in fact take on none other than Sting.
Flair and the Stinger had an amazing rivalry, dating back to the 1980s and the legendary Clash of the Champions encounter that in many ways cemented Sting as a true super star in the business. The pair had countless bouts throughout the 90s. They were in fact the final match on the final Nitro that ever aired. So while nothing else about this night was in any way, shape, or form fitting to be Flair’s farewell to active competition, at least his opponent was.
As the two circled each other and for a moment…for a moment…it was like 1988 all over again.
But then the match started in earnest and…well…
…it all fell apart.
And it was just kinda sad.
Not kinda in fact – it was REALLY sad.
The legendary Nature Boy could barely move. You could tell he was giving it everything he had but depressingly there was just nothing left in the tank. The poor guy was moving in slow motion. It was just heart-breaking to see.
Even his legendary mane was gone – seriously, watch the clip above closely. Is that the top of Flair’s head or is it Hulk Hogan’s?
And remember the chop battles of yore?
What on earth is this?
A game of patty cake?
No idea there. But it was just a hint of what was to come.
The entire encounter can be summed up thusly: Flair in molasses, desperately trying to conjure up magic long gone.
I don’t know if this is really the very worst of pro wrestling, but it is definitely the most depressing of pro wrestling.
It then became the most horrifying of pro wrestling, as Flair naturally went to the top rope to be hurled to the mat. If we saw this once in his career, we saw it 10,000 times. But on this occasion, poor Ric barely cleared his rotation, almost landing right on top of his head.
All of this was of course horribly sad but nothing – nothing – could prepare me for when Ric took over and we all bore witness to…
…the world’s slowest figure four leg lock.
I…I’m just at a loss for words.
Following that up with what I would charitably call a parody of the famous Flair strut had me reaching for the Wellbutrin.
And the Flair flop?
Yeah. That was there too.
Just when I was starting to think it couldn’t possibly get any worse, it did…and for all the wrong reasons.
So Sting takes Flair to the top rope and hits him with a GIGANTIC superplex.
Flair regained his feet, but just barely. And everyone could see something was very wrong.
Sting very gingerly put Flair into the Scorpion and that was the end.
Not just of the match, but of Flair’s in-ring career.
That superplex spot? That saw Flair badly injure his left triceps. While he would attempt to rehab, he was never able to truly recover and he would finally, mercifully call it a career.
When I first started writing this induction, I was annoyed that if you Google “Ric Flair’s final match”, all you will get is mentions of the Shawn match at Mania. The TNA match is never mentioned. I wanted Google to be more accurate than that so the world would know what was REALLY his last match.
In hindsight, let me just say thank you, Google.
This match is best left forgotten.