Hey there wrestling fans and welcome to another countdown of Pounding 7’s. This week I will countdown a favorite of mine. The top 7 Ric Flair opponents. As you all know, Ric Flair has had some great feuds over the years. Who will make the countdown? Who will miss the cut? How will our editor, David criticize me this week? Let’s get right to it!
Cody wants to know about a Ric Flair opponent that may or may not make the list.
Was there any truth to having Ricky the Dragon Steamboat turn heel upon his return to the WWE?
Well Cody, lets hear it straight from the horses mouth. It was discussed that when he came back to the WWE in 1991, Vince wanted to turn him heel. Steamboat strongly considered it. This is a direct quote from Ricky Steamboat himself.
“When you are a face for a long time and you turn heel, your stock value immediately goes up, especially if you’re able to pull it off in the ring and on the mic. Then you ride that horse as long as you can. When it starts to falter, and when attendance drops, then you can turn back babyface. And your stock value goes up again. I never did the turn because Pat Patterson simply told me that it would probably ruin my career… I just wanted to experience what it felt like on the other side of the fence. As we all know, the heels have the most fun out there in the ring.”
So there you have it, who better to answer your question than Steamboat himself.
This week we take you back to 1994 during Owen Hart’s heel run. It started at Survivor Series when the Hart Family faced off against Shawn Michaels and his Knights. Owen was the only one who was eliminated for the Hart family and he blamed Bret for it. After the match he came back down to the ring and shoved his brother and yelled at the rest of the family. A week later, he challenged Bret to a match, in which Bret declined. Shortly there after they decided to clear the air, and became partners and channeled that energy to face off for the WWE Tag Team Championship. This match happened at the Royal Rumble. Bret injured his leg and was not able to tag in Owen. The referee ended up stopping the match because Bret could not continue. Owen helped Bret up and then kicked his leg out from under him turning heel in the process. He would go on to Wrestlemania to defeat Bret at Wrestlemania X, and would challenge for the WWE Championship for the remainder of the year, ultimately costing Bret the title against Bob Backlund at Survivor Series 94.
Before we get to the top 7 Ric Flair feuds, lets get to some honorable mentions.
The Garvins- As much as it will pain my editor and chief David, I have to put the Garvin’s at least as an honorable mention. They had a huge feud with Flair and the Four Horsemen for alot of the late 80’s. Flair was always trying to get Precious, who was married to Jimmy Garvin, and the two fought in many matches, including the Great American Bash. Ron Garvin actually defeated Ric Flair for the NWA Championship in September 1987, before losing it back to Flair at Starrcade 87.
Lex Luger- Flair and Luger had a great little run in 1988, and again in 1990. Throughout the summer of 88, Flair nearly lost the NWA title to Luger at the Great American Bash, but due to a cut above Luger’s eye, the referee stopped the match. The two again competed for the title at Starrcade 88, which was won by Flair. In 1990, due to an injury to Sting, Luger stepped in and would face off again with Flair for the title at Wrestle War, and again inside a cage at Capitol Combat. Luger was unsuccessful in both attempts at capturing the gold, but they would still have a nice series of matches throughout their career.
Kerry Von Erich- Not too many will remember this feud between Ric Flair and the Von Erich’s. In 1984, Flair who represented the NWA as the World Champion, would routinely face off against David Von Erich and of course his brother Kerry. Kerry would go on and defeat Flair to capture the NWA World Championship. He would not hold the title long as he lost the title back to Flair just a couple weeks later, but these two matches were awesome, and the feud between them would span over the course of a year.
7. Harley Race- Who better to start off the countdown with one of Flair’s first feuds. Who can forget the epic battle at Starrcade 83, in Flair’s home town of Charlotte NC. Flair captured the championship over Race which started Flair’s dominant run in the 80s. Race, who was at the time, the most dominant World Champion in the NWA, would never hold the title again after losing it to Flair.
6. Randy Savage- Flair came to the WWE, he started a feud with Hulk Hogan. When that proved to be unsuccessful, he then entered into a feud with The Macho Man Randy Savage. He claimed that at one time, he had an affair with Savage’s wife, Elizabeth. During their match at Wrestlemania VIII for the WWE Championship, Flair had said that he had revealling pictures of Elizabeth. They never surfaced and Savage went on to defeat Flair for the title. He held the title for the entire summer before dropping the belt back to Flair. When they both appeared in WCW, the rivalry rekindled and they traded off with the WCW title on multiple occasions. During a match with Savage at Superbrawl, Savage’s long time manager turned on him and cost him the title, joining Flair in the process.
5. Terry Funk- Terry Funk was a former multiple time NWA Champion, and upon his return to the NWA in 1989 as a judge for the Flair vs Steamboat match, Funk viciously attacked Flair, injuring his neck in the process and putting him out of action for two months. He would go on to defeat Funk at the Great American Bash, and then at Halloween Havoc would team with Sting to face Funk and the Great Muta in a Thundercage Electrified cage match. The feud would end at Clash of Champions IX, when Flair defeated Funk in an I Quit match.
4. Hulk Hogan- A match that was a decade in the making. Was considered to be a dream match to many wrestling fans in the 80’s. The top guy in the NWA vs the top guy in WWF. This finally happened in 1991, when Flair jumped ship to the WWF and immediately started a feud with Hogan. The matches turned out to be horrible and even took a turn that the projected Wrestlemania match between Hogan and Flair was cancelled. Flair would leave the WWF shortly after, but just a few years later, Hogan signed with WCW, and the two faced off again, this time for the WCW Championship. The two would have much better matches, and would trade wins for the title later in the 90’s. Flair would eventually lose a title vs career match to Hogan at Halloween Havoc 94, but Flair would be reinstated a short time later.
3. Dusty Rhodes- During the late 70’s and mid 80’s, the rivalry between Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes was one of the most entertaining feuds in history. Two of the most charasmatic wrestlers in all of wrestling, combined with a huge array of talent inside the ring, and on the mic. Ric Flair won his first NWA Championship when he defeated Dusty Rhodes in the late 70’s, and the two traded wins for the championship in the mid 80’s as well. As legend has it, Flair and Rhodes competed more than any other wrestlers against each other during that decade, and typically would go nearly 60 minutes every single day. They even would wrestle during an afternoon show, then travel 3 hrs to the next venue and wrestler another 60 minutes.
2. Ricky Steamboat- Could have very easily been the number one ranked wrestler on this list. Steamboat and Flair had a great feud in the early 80’s and had some epic matches. It was put on hold while Steamboat jumped ship to the WWF in 1985. When he returned in 1989 during an episode of Championship Wrestling on TBS, Steamboat appeared as the surprise partner of Eddie Gilbert, and pinned the NWA Champion clean. He would go on to defeat Flair a month later at Chi-Town Rumble to win the NWA World Championship. The two would have three epic match-ups. Chi-Town Rumble. A Two out of Three falls match at the Clash of Champions VI, and then the finally at Wrestle War 89, when Flair recaptured the NWA title. They rekindled their feud briefly again in 1994, and had yet another great series of matches, where Steamboat came close again to win the WCW Championship off of Flair.
1. Sting- I went back and forth here between who in fact would be the number one feud for Flair between Sting and Steamboat. It was very close. Utlimately I have to give it to Sting, as the feud really started in 1988 when the two faced off against each other in a time limit draw at the first ever Clash of the Champions. Sting would go on an join the Horsemen in 1989 before being exciled from the group. He then defeated Flair for the World Championship at the Great American Bash, 1990 and continued to feud with Flair and the Horsemen. Flair dawned the mask of the Black Scorpion in an attempt to get the title off of Sting. He won the title back in January, 1991. The two would face off in the first ever Nitro, as well as the last Nitro ever. They can also stake the claim that they were the last match ever to appear on Monday Nitro in 2001.
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