INDUCTION: Ric Flair’s Final Match – It Wasn’t At Mania…But It Sure Should Have Been

29 Submitted by on Thu, 27 February 2020, 20:00

TNA, 2011

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.  

I’m not.

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 heartbreaking 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.  

I guess.  

Kinda.  

Sorta.

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.


Wow, that was more than a bit depressing.  Maybe float a buck or two our way over on Patreon to help pay for our anti-depressants for the month, no?

Written by

Yeah, you know...the WrestleCrap guy. Been here since before day 1, I have. You can hang out with me on Facebook. (I'm on there quite a bit) or follow my exploits on Twitter (I'm on there not quite so often). Thanks, and Keep on Crappin'!
29 Responses to "INDUCTION: Ric Flair’s Final Match – It Wasn’t At Mania…But It Sure Should Have Been"
  1. Autrach Sejanoz says:

    Oh man, Joker Sting (I know, I know, technically he was ‘The Insane Icon’ Sting, but still…). Between this and the Sting inspired by The Crow, what is it with Steve Borden getting his ideas from movies, and making them SO DAMN GOOD?
    Pity the 2019 Joker movie came out after Sting’s in-ring retirement – I would’ve LOVED to see what Sting would’ve done with THAT.

  2. C Boz says:

    First – I agree that this was more of a sad induction. Ric Flair is the best. He deserved to go out on his shield like he did in 2008 rather than in a heap like he did in 2011.

    Second – Flair still took some notable bumps in that match so kudos to him.

    Third – TNA (shakes head).

    And one final note: from how I read the google commentary it says WrestleMania vs Michaels was his final match “for the company”. And that would be true since the company in question is WWE. This does not take away from the simple fact that it should have been his final match, full stop. But don’t blame Google for getting that wrong which it didn’t. Unfortunately, blame Flair for not managing his finances better which forced him back into the ring for those final, horrific years. THAT is what is truly sad.

    • Joe Levinsky says:

      Speak for yourself. Ric Flair’s run in TNA was brilliant. He deserved to end his in ring career on his own time and NOT how he went out in WWE where McMahon made it clear he called the shots and he was ending Flair’s career

      Plus it was a great match. Maybe not the best but around the 3 star level

      • C Boz says:

        Clearly I am not speaking only for myself about the match in question hence RD’s induction. The match simply was not good and certainly not dignified in many people’s views. Flair was a shell of what we saw in 2008. As for his TNA run, my comment above was about TNA not Flair. He makes any show he is on shine.

        A man or woman is entitled to make money however he/she can, legally of course. Ultimately Flair owed nothing to us – he had to work and wrestling was his profession. But remember he did not expect the Sting Impact match to be his last one, Injury sent him into retirement which is not him calling the shots. And I truly believe that no matter what there is something right about his last match being against Sting. Actually, that was the ideal opponent to “retire him”. I just wish his last match would have been more of an epic like the Michael’s one and that he could have gone out on his own terms – you and I definitely agree on that.

        One more thing we definitely agree on: Flair is a living legend and deservedly so.

      • Dr.Gonzo says:

        Thanks for coming by,Russo

      • Steve B says:

        Ric Flair, as with any legend, is entitled to do what he pleases. But that doesn’t mean this was a particularly strong ending to his career. After having only watched this match in full after reading RD’s review, I wouldn’t give it close to 3 stars. Sting could clearly still go, but Flair is lumbering around the ring at such a slow pace that suspending my disbelief was impossible. At no point does this version of Flair seem capable of beating Sting. The Figure Four was slow and deliberate, and Flair wasn’t able to show much strain as if to apply pressure. Credit to Sting for selling the hold, but Flair wasn’t able to sell it offensively. Flair half-heartedly grabs the ropes for leverage, but doesn’t seem to have the strength to sell that either. And the fact that Flair wasn’t even able to bend his back in “selling” the Scorpion Death Lock makes it just look silly. It’s not Flair’s fault – he’s an old man! And he’s entitled to do what he wants with his legacy, but this only detracted from it in my view.

  3. Thomas Mossman says:

    Just from the GIFs, you can see how cold the crowd in the Impact Zone is for this match. Only during the Flair Flop does the crowd even noticeably perk up.

  4. Michael W says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t Ric Flair also suffer a mild heart attack during this match as well?

  5. Si says:

    Wasn’t the story that he wanted to return from injury but Lawler’s heart attack made him think again?

  6. Doc 902714 says:

    Matt Hardy suplexed Flair from the ladder in the Mitb match at WM 22. Flair landed awkwardly and you could tell he was in serious pain. Yet, somehow Ric Flair came back to finish the match. I was seriously thinking that Flair should’ve hung em up then. But he came back for that one timeless performance two years later at Mania 24. You actually believed at some points during the match that this was one that he could actually win, even against HBK. But the aforementioned match and this one vs. Sting simply were not.

    Also, Flair and Sting also happened on the first Nitro as well.

    • Chris V says:

      They also fought on the final episode of Nitro, to bookend the show.

      ——————————————————————————————————

      I agree with Joe L. above, in that Flair’s time in TNA wasn’t bad.
      I think he should stayed as a manager though.
      Flair having his own stable, with him transitioning in to a Bobby Heenan type of character would have worked perfectly.
      He didn’t need to wrestle again.

  7. Forest George says:

    RD, I love you. But your review of Flair vs. Sting is highly edited. There is no mention of that Flair flop happening after the superplex. The fact there was a run-in prior to the scorpion death lock. Sorry RD, the match may have been bad and Flair’s last match — but your review is a tad fabricated.

  8. Chris the Bambikiller says:

    Well, Google said “final match *for the company*”…

  9. Al Boondy says:

    Why are both top-rope moves shown as static JPG images instead of animated GIFs?

  10. Mike M. says:

    What I remember most about this part of the Flair era was how he’d mismanaged his fortune, All the scams. The Flair-branded gyms and the Figure Four mortgage company and drunken fights in parking lots with his daughter’s first husband. I was really worried that the Flair legacy was going to wind up in chaos and destitution, and that really would have tarnished the entire mystique of jet flying and limo riding.

    He seems to have righted the ship and the WWE legends contract, along with Charlotte’s rise, which created a prominent role for Ric, are a big part of that.

  11. Ben Jerison says:

    Watching Flair in this match was just pretty sad. This reminds of the movie “The Wrestler.”

  12. JJJ567 says:

    I know Flair needed the money but there’s no real reason he had to keep wrestling. He easily could have just kept working as a manager or authority figure.

  13. Anthony says:

    Flair’s first match after the awesome wwe send off was for the lame Hulkamania tour in Australia. Has that been inducted?

  14. Sid Markbuster says:

    Flair is a legend no doubt, but also is known for having money troubles….Dixie’s money talks, bullsh*t walks, end of story

  15. Peter D says:

    So is the KFC Colonel Rumble from 2018 not canon?

  16. Rusted says:

    Honestly, the Colonel Rumble seems like a more dignified send off than this.

  17. Al Stoltz says:

    I remember being there for this match and the guy in front of kept farting over and over.. it really ruined things for me

  18. Guest says:

    “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”.

    You also for no reason had Shawn doing moonsaults the first of which had him land stomach first on the announce table which broke awkwardly, the second of which was the outside and didn’t hit Flair.

  19. Felicity says:

    Yes, Flair’s hair got sort of Joe-Biden-ish towards the end there. On an irrational level I blame the hair match he lost in WCW. It seemed like his hair was never as thick after that.

    I remember in one of his later WWF appearances he started bleeding *on the way to the ring*. I thought “That can’t be good.”

    But we’re all so much older and more fragile now than we were in the eighties. It hurts to be alive.

leave a comment