Whooooooo! It's Saturday! Welcome to the one and only Phat Daily Column. Yes, this column is late today, but I had some things to handle here at home during the morning/afternoon, so blah.
For today's column, we'll look at "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair during his great years in the WWF. Now I've got quite a bit of requests to do a full Ric Flair biography, but many columnists or writers have already tried that on the internet and also, Ric Flair is currently writing his autobiography, so we'll let him tell his life story.
Plus, I only have about an hour to write a column before I go out for the evening, so on to the PDC!
Vince McMahon immediately picked up Flair after this terrible falling out in WCW. Vince had his eye on Flair throughout the years, but couldn't get him since the NWA/WCW had him pretty well tied up with some nice money contracts. The WWF was in great need of a heel during the summer of 1991, since the top heels were guys posing like they were from Iraq to relive the Desert Storm War in the WWF. Flair was a perfect pick up at the time, and he came into the around the Fall of 1991. Flair claimed to be the REAL world champion of wrestling, as he actually still had the NWA (or WCW?) title with him, since he owned it in real life. It was a pie in the face for Ted Turner, and they begged and begged for Flair to sell the title back to them. Flair eventually did, and then used an older title belt, instead, to keep the self proclaimed world champion angle going. The WWF would even censor the title, on various WWF television shows, when Ric held it up high. Flair would also acquire the services of Bobby Heenan as an additional spokesperson, and Curt Hennig as a "trainer". Heenan would eventually focus on announcing more, while Hennig would always stick around until later.
Flair's arrogant attitude caught the eye of one Roddy Piper, who was beginning his greatest run of wrestling during this time. Piper continually called Flair out, and even set a challenge for him at Survivor Series 1991. Flair's team consisted of Ted Dibiase, Mountie, and the Warlord, while Piper had Bret Hart, Virgil, and the British Bulldog to help him. Flair cheaply "survived" this match when a large brawl erupted, disqualifying everyone but Flair, who was tossed on the outside. The push was on for Flair, who would show up later at Survivor Series.
Later on at the same show, the main event was Hulk Hogan vs. the Undertaker. At the end of the match, Ric Flair made his way down and helped the Undertaker win his 1st World title by placing a chair under the Tombstone that Hogan was receiving. I believe this was supposed to be an early stepping stone for a possible Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan match at Wrestlemania 8, which would have been an incredible money match back then. Instead, a few events occur which hinder what could have happened, although it still provided a good Wrestlemania in 1992.
After Survivor Series 1991, the WWF immediately put out a follow-up Pay Per View featuring a rematch between the Undertaker and Hulk Hogan called Tuesday in Texas. At that show, Hulk Hogan resorted to cheating to win the match, which prompted WWF president (or figurehead) Jack Tunney to declare the World Title vacant due to the controversial ways the belts were exchanged at the 2 Pay Per Views. The belt would be up for grabs at Royal Rumble 1992, which provided for a great show.
At Royal Rumble 1992, Ric Flair's push to the top was to be complete. However, his Wrestlemania opponent was changing. The Nature Boy was #3 in the Rumble draw, and he lasted about an hour, bloody and all, to win the WWF World Title. Flair eliminated Sid Justice, who was also a big WWF pick up from 1991. Sid was insanely popular by the fans back then, and you can easily hear that when Hulk Hogan cheaply pulls Sid over the top rope to make Flair win the Royal Rumble. With the emerging Sid, the WWF decided to change the main event of Wrestlemania 8 to Hogan vs. Sid, instead. Plus, Hogan claimed that he was going to "retire" after Wrestlemania to focus more on his movie career. Now whether or not he did that to avoid the match with Flair is unknown, but this isn't a Hogan column, so we'll move on.
So Flair needed a Wrestlemania opponent to defend the World Title. Hogan was declared the #1 contender at a press conference, which pissed off Sid Justice to no ends. Sid would later turn on Hogan at a Saturday Night's Main Event during a dream tag match against Flair and the Undertaker. Hogan was soooo upset at Sid that he wanted to lose his #1 contender's spot just to wrestle Sid out of anger! Who could fight Flair now? Well, a certain wrestler rose from the ashes after a few bad years as a heel.
That man was Randy Savage. Macho Man was fresh off an incredibly hot feud with Jake "the Snake" Roberts, which put him back in place as one of the top faces in the WWF. Savage finally finished off Jake the Snake, who was about to wage war with the Undertaker. Flair needed an opponent, as did Savage. They were obviously put together, and the creative team at the time scrambled for ideas to actually give the feud some heat. Look no further than Miss Elizabeth.
In 1991, Randy Savage ended his time as a heel after the retirement match between he and the Ultimate Warrior, and he also married Miss Elizabeth at Summerslam 1991. Elizabeth and Macho became a very strong couple again, as Jake the Snake even used Liz to gain heat against Savage in that intense feud. Ric Flair would give use revealing pictures of Miss Elizabeth, which he promised one night on WWF television. Nature Boy whipped out some pictures of himself and Elizabeth, together, while Flair was saying "before she was yours, Macho, she was mine". So really, he was dogging Macho Man for getting sloppy seconds, which actually drew lots of heat for their Wrestlemania 8 match.
The match at Wrestlemania 8 was a dandy. Probably the best match of the night, although Piper vs. Bret Hart was right there behind it. It was hyped as part of a "double main event", while the other half, Hogan vs. Sid, was a terrible bust with bad timing and stupid run-ins. Macho Man won his 2nd and final WWF World Title that night, and afterward, he revealed that the Ric Flair pictures were doctored up from pictures of Macho and Elizabeth together. But Flair was far from through with Savage.....
At Summerslam 1992, Macho Man fought a rematch with the Ultimate Warrior, which was pretty logical booking. Flair and Curt Hennig interfered like crazy during this match and made Randy Savage lose via countout to keep this evil feud going. In September of 1992, though, Ric Flair would get more revenge on Randy Savage in a match for the World Title. With the help from his new henchman, Razor Ramon, Ric Flair won his 2nd WWF World Title. Things shook up after this, though.
Sometime during Flair's second World Title reign, he suffered some sort of ear injury which resulted in a shake up of his equilibrium. Now I'm not so exact on the specifics of this injury, here, but it's said to affect Flair's ability to perform to this day. With that, and now sagging ratings, Vince McMahon wanted to create a new star and push him immediately to the World Title. As I've heard on the Wrestling Observer Live lately, WWF officials and Vince McMahon had a meeting to discuss the future of the company. They then decided to put the World Title on Bret Hart, since he was really, the best overall wrestler the company had at the time and he was still relatively fresh and full of potential. In October 1991, Bret Hart won the World Title off of Flair, as Flair's final days were coming to a close.
But hey, why not keep feuding with Randy Savage? Flair and Razor Ramon kept dogging Randy Savage about how they ruined Savage's title reign, and then challenged the Macho Man to go and find a partner for a match. Savage then asked Flair's personal trainer, Curt Hennig, if he'd like the role. Hennig quickly said "yes", which angered Flair. I believe Hennig was recovering from an injury during his role as the trainer, and this was his way of coming back to the ring. The tag match was booked for Survivor Series 1992, which resulted in a disqualification to set up something big for Curt Hennig. After this, Flair and Hennig would fight in a loser leaves the WWF match.
With Flair's new health problem and the wanting of elevating younger talent, Ric Flair asked if he could return to WCW sometime soon. Vince agreed to do this, since he was pretty satisfied with the work he got out of Flair for about a year. So with that, Flair lost the loser leaves the WWF match to Curt Hennig, thus hopefully elevating Hennig to the next level. Flair would return to WCW for a hellish year of 1993, become the head booker for the first half of 1994, be a big part of WCW Nitro, and then have more problems with key members of WCW management until WCW finally shut down and sold in March of 2001.
But hey, for the year Ric Flair spent in the WWF, it was quite productive. It gave them a heel that they were lacking, and it allowed for some loyal WWF fans to finally get a taste of how great the Nature Boy truly was. I'm still for the notion that the WWF should have still pushed for Ric Flair vs. Hogan at Wrestlemania 8, but then again, Savage's career wouldn't have been revitalized if that were to happen, either would the opportunity be created for Curt Hennig, as well. It should also be noted that WCW played off a lot of Ric Flair's feuds from his WWF run. In 1994, they finally did some Hogan vs. Flair matches. In early 1998, WCW did a few Bret Hart vs. Ric Flair matches. Curt Hennig would turn on Ric Flair, after accepting a Horsemen "spot" at Fall Brawl 1997, and fight Flair afterward. Roddy Piper and Ric Flair had a "friendly" feud there for a while in WCW. But the biggest feud was definitely with Randy Savage, with Miss Elizabeth turning on Macho Man and joining Ric Flair. The WCW World Title went back and forth between those Macho and Flair during that time.
It's said that Flair and Vince McMahon had a pretty good working relationship during this time, which fuels a lot of speculation about having Ric Flair in the "new" WCW or just bringing him into the WWF as some kind of role. I'm sure Vince would gladly take him if he would accept a Time Warner/AOL buyout, or if the ratings get really bad after a while. Only time will tell.
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