Lasting legacies that stand the test of time in a positive are very hard to obtain, they can take many years to establish and mistakes along the way can end them in an instant.
When you look at the history of professional wrestling, there are few performers that had as big of an impact on the wrestling business for almost 50 years like the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Often called one of if not the GOAT amongst fans for his matches in this business and his sheer status as an icon in this business. There are very few performers that have a household name that even non-fans that have never watched wrestling in their lives know the name of Ric Flair. For almost 50 years, Flair has not only been an icon in wrestling, but a pop culture celebrity.
That is not to say Flair hasn’t had controversies in his life from multiple divorces, tax/financial issues and of course the allegations of what may have taken place on a plane 20 years ago when he may have been drunk. I’m not getting into any of those controversies in this piece. Like I said, it can take a lifetime to build a legacy and it is very easy to lose it.
Fourteen years ago, WWE gave Flair arguably the greatest retirement celebration that has ever been given to a wrestler. Considering Flair was the heart and soul of JCP/NWA/WCW for so many years, that was a testament of how much respect Vince McMahon and the WWE roster had for Ric Flair. No one else before or since has gotten a sendoff like Flair got in a manner of three days, he was inducted into the WWE HOF, had his last match at WrestleMania 24 and had a Raw sendoff.
That final match against Shawn Michaels, was an absolute classic and the perfect final match for Flair’s career to end on. Shawn grew up idolizing Flair and is the reason he got into the business. Flair has wrestled some of the greatest wrestlers in the history of the business and inspired arguably the GOAT in my opinion, Shawn Michaels to get into the business and Triple H as well. Think of all the people that got into the business because of those two and Flair was inadvertently responsible for them as well, because Flair ignited that spark for Shawn and Hunter to get into the business.
When the news came out that Flair was coming out retirement, I immediately received a message from a friend asking me my thoughts on it. The truth is I had several thoughts on the matter, the first being why risk his health to do it, because as it well known he had a major health scare in 2017 that almost led to his death. After kicking out of the grim reaper’s pinfall at 2, Flair did the absolute most carny wrestling thing ever, literally cut a promo video to his fans from the hospital on his Twitter and wearing new merch that was available for purchase on his website.
It was the definition of naitch being naitch, the fans continued to rally around Ric wishing him a speedy recovery. My friend said don’t you think this will tarnish his final match with Shawn and my response was the 2008 sendoff was tarnished years ago, when Flair came out of retirement for that horrible Australia tour with Hogan and his TNA/Impact Wrestling run. Flair’s last official match was in Impact Wrestling in 2011 against his longtime rival, Sting. Needless to say, this match was a far cry from their classics in WCW.
It is no surprise that Flair is less than happy that this was his final match, but as Flair said during the press conference for his Last Match, he did the Australia and Impact run because he needed the money. Now, it is not about the money it is about ending his career on his terms. My feeling has always been when you’ve reached legendary status like Flair or Undertaker for example, who am I to tell you to retire? You’ve more than earned the right to wrestle as long as you want and retire on your terms. Personally, I think his WWE retirement should have been it, but it is not our call as fans and if Flair wants one more chance at ending on a high note, I say let him go for it.
The thought that crossed my mind and likely a lot of fans at 73 years old and with all his health issues including a pacemaker, he could die in the ring. This is a topic that Flair addressed at his press conference, that he knows he could die in the ring, but doctors have given him the green light. Before this final match was announced, Flair told the NY Post, “I’d rather die in the ring than spend another mouth in the ICU”. Flair loves professional wrestling, so being willing to die in the ring doing what he loves doing just to entertain the fans one last time is fitting for Flair. Myself along with all the other fans around the world hope that it doesn’t happen, and Flair is able to get that one last moment of glory that he craves to end his career on his terms. Ending his career under the JCP banner, the promotion that launched his career and made him into a superstar is a fitting full circle moment.
Although a final opponent hasn’t been announced or whether this will be a tag team match or one on one is unknown. My personal guess or hope would be a 6-man tag team match, Flair & the Rock & Roll Express vs FTR & Sting. I think that would be fitting that all these men that had great careers under the JCP banner and FTR, a team that has nothing but respect for its history. FTR is also the perfect team that could make this all work with older talent. Regardless, I’ll be watching to see Flair strut down that aisle one last time.
In addition to the main event of Flair’s match, Conrad Thompson has done an amazing job of making this show have that special MUST SEE feel. It has that specialness to it and the card that they have announced already for this show is very promising. Personally, I think I’m more excited for this card than I was AEW’s Forbidden Door. This is a show where that Forbidden Door has been completely removed off the hinges and the industry is coming together to pay tribute and be a part of Flair’s last match. So far as of this writing, Impact Wrestling, AAA, NJPW and MLW are all having a presence at the show. Nick Aldis said in a promo at Alwayz Ready, that Flair personal called him about the show. Although not officially announced I think we will see an NWA presence at the show considering how much Billy Corgan respects Flair and what he did for the NWA. It also wouldn’t shock me if Tony Khan sends some AEW talent as well since he is friends with Flair. Although unlikely it would be amazing if WWE sends someone there to at least make an appearance, whether it be Hunter and/or Shawn. It would be amazing if they let Charlotte wrestle on the show as it would be incredibly classy if WWE lets that happen. It is not completely out of the question considering how close Vince and Ric are and WWE once again adding the Wooooooo! back into the opening.
Von Erichs vs Briscoes
This is an absolute dream match that I didn’t think we would ever see, and I think these men will absolutely deliver. As the two teams of brothers face each other for the first and maybe only time, it will be an MLW vs Impact/ROH match up. It is also fitting that Von Erichs are performing on the show considering Flair’s history with the family. This is one of those dream matches that wasn’t on every fan’s list, but when it was announced fans went yes that should be a great match.
Fenix vs Taurus vs Laredo Kid vs Bandido
I honestly think this fast-paced match will likely open the show based on the card so far. These four men will be flying all over the place as they bring the lucha libre style to JCP for the first and only time ever. I think this match has the potential to be a great show opener if they chose to do so or at a minimum entertain the crowd wherever they are on the card.
Rachel Ellering vs Deonna Purrazzo vs Jordynne Grace
This is a match that will absolutely deliver as these women have established themselves as some of the best in the world. In my opinion, Deonna is very much like Flair in that she has embraced the Virtuosa character like Flair has embodied the Nature Boy character. Deonna steps into that ring with the presence that she is better than you whether she is holding the women’s championship or not. Jordynne reminds me a lot of Beth Phoenix as she is an absolute powerhouse in that ring. Rachel Ellering is that second generation talent that has yet to really get a big break in this business, but on arguably the biggest stage she has gotten from a global audience, she will show the world she belongs in this match.
Clark Connors vs Ren Narita
To be perfectly honest, I don’t get to watch too much NJPW, so this is a match when it was announced that I had the least amount of interest in. The reason being I have only seen these men wrestle once or twice, so I’m not really familiar with them. However, being on this show is an opportunity for these men to make an impression on myself and other fans as well that may not be familiar with them. Having two hungry young talents that have only been in the business about 5 years is a great move here. On a show that is embracing the past, it is also embracing the young and future stars of this business.
Killer Kross vs Davey Boy Smith Jr.
This is another match that when it was announced that my first thought was this is a match that could surprise a lot of people. These are men that can wrestle the strong style and the technical style as well. Davey representing the Hart Family here and knowing Flair’s history with Bret Hart in and out of the ring, it makes it fitting that the Harts be represented here. Both men have the will, desire and ability to put on a great match here.
The Wolves vs MCMG
This to me is the match that has the potential to steal the show. The Wolves as a team haven’t teamed together for a long time, but they have held tag team gold everywhere that they have been together. The MCMG is one of my favorite tag teams of all time and like the Wolves they have held tag team gold everywhere they have been together. Both teams are some of the greatest tag teams in the history of the business. Both teams make whoever they are facing better for having faced them whether it is in victory or defeat. These teams will bring the best out of each other and is a match I’m very much looking forward to as this is a rematch from their only match together 12 years ago where the MCMG went over.
Josh Alexander vs Jacob Fatu
This is a dream match that like the previous match I mentioned could steal the show. These men have never faced each other at all. Josh Alexander has established himself as the heart and soul of the modern Impact Wrestling and carries himself as a great World Champion. Jacob Fatu is arguably the heart and soul of MLW, although no longer the champion of MLW, he dominated MLW as its champion. These men will beat the hell out of each other, and I expect this to be an absolutely war as the Impact World Championship is being defended for the first time ever against an MLW wrestler. It also fitting that Fatu is representing the Anoa’i family, which has a strong history in the business and Flair has crossed paths with members of the family over the years including The Rock.
Like I have said this is a show that has my interest and this coming together of talents from multiple promotions creating this dream match show, is incredible to see as a fan. To see so many promotions wanting to take part in a show to honor Flair is an incredibly classy gesture. Flair’s legacy in this business is unquestionable as one of if not the GOAT. He has made more stars in the ring than almost anyone. Despite having 16 officially recognized World Championship reigns, tied with the most with John Cena, Flair lost almost as much as he won. According to Cagematch:
Total number of matches:
Total number of wins:
Total number of losses:
Total number of draws:
Flair has given everything to this business, and it is awesome to see the industry, his peers and the fans getting together to give Ric Flair one last big sendoff to end his in-ring career.
Photo Credits – JCP/Starrcast, WWE & Ric Flair’s Twitter