NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Ric Flair did his trademark strut. He led the gang in chanting “Woo!” The legendary professional wrestler even bled, the colour purple drenching his face and recognizable white hair like it could have within the Seventies or Nineteen Eighties.
And fittingly, Flair’s last wrestling match ended Sunday night time right here at a sold-out Municipal Auditorium with the figure-four leglock, the ending transfer that’s synonymous with “The Nature Boy.” Flair, 73, was the winner, after all, in a tag staff match alongside companion and son-in-law Andrade towards the staff of Jay Deadly and Jeff Jarrett. The attendance was almost 10,000, per broadcast supplier Fite TV.
Flair was clearly exhausted by the tip of his first match since 2011, however he was wholesome sufficient by the tip to stroll out below his personal energy and do an interview with longtime wrestling broadcaster Tony Schiavone. After the match, Flair was helped out of the ring, and he greeted his household within the entrance row, in addition to pro-wrestling luminaries The Undertaker, Bret Hart and Mick Foley.
“I had one of my best matches of my career here with Ricky Steamboat,” Flair stated. “All my family is here. We made jokes about me being married five times. All the kids are here. One wife, but all my granddaughters. My friends are here. I swear to God, guys. If I didn’t have enough pressure on me tonight, f—ing Kid Rock walked into the locker room tonight.”
The grueling match was almost half-hour lengthy and, whereas it was clear Flair was not the identical man who transcended professional wrestling within the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s and Andrade, Deadly and Jarrett did the majority of the hard-hitting strikes, Flair was in a position to maintain his personal weight. He landed chops and punches, his donkey kick low blow and even took a vertical suplex from Deadly, with whom he educated for this match to get ring prepared.
The end got here when Jarrett, a legend in his personal proper performing in his hometown, landed his signature guitar shot on Deadly by chance when Andrade pulled Flair away. Flair’s different son-in-law and the cardboard’s promoter, Conrad Thompson, threw Andrade a pair of brass knuckles from the entrance row, which Andrade handed to Flair. Flair landed a brass-knuckles shot on Jarrett after which put him within the figure-four leglock to finish the match.
“This match is the most important of my career,” stated Andrade, an AEW star who’s married to Flair’s daughter and WWE standout Charlotte. “… This is unbelievable. I don’t even have words for this. [Flair] feels better than guys 20 years old. He’s an inspiration to me.”
Flair is a former 16-time world champion and a two-time WWE Corridor of Famer. He is one of many best wrestlers within the historical past of the enterprise and his stardom has crossed over into the mainstream, even within the present day. Flair has been featured in a number of music movies by high hip-hop artists, together with a track written about him referred to as “Ric Flair Drip” by Offset in 2017. He was the chief of the influential 4 Horsemen faction in wrestling, and his matches and work on the microphone are iconic. A lot of his catchphrases — and naturally, the basic “woo!” — are nonetheless repeated immediately.
Flair’s type and swagger — full with costly fits, diamond-encrusted robes, eye-catching jewellery and crocodile-skin footwear — have been emulated effectively past the wrestling world.
Flair wore a gown that was estimated at almost $40,000 to the ring Saturday night time. However that is the place the glitz ended and issues acquired extra down and soiled. Halfway by means of the match, Flair took a razor blade to his brow to trigger bleeding, a pro-wrestling approach so as to add depth to a match. Deadly stated Flair doing that was his largest concern, due to the unpredictability of how a septuagenarian Flair would react to a reduce.
“That’s the unknown variability,” stated Deadly, who additionally wrestles for AEW. “I hate to give too much away in wrestling, but Ric, he likes to do what’s called walking and talking. There isn’t a lot that’s planned. But I can foresee how a lot of the moves will go. The only thing I can’t foresee is how much he will bleed, is it controllable? Was it too much? It was out of our hands.”
Jarrett was emotional after the match, saying it was “overwhelming.”
“It’s his last one,” stated the 55-year-old Jarrett, a WWE Corridor of Famer who works as an government in WWE at present. “If anything goes wrong, it’s on me. It’s on others. I’m so damn happy for Ric, I don’t know what to say. … As a spectator, y’all watched it and went home tonight. When you’re participating, it’s a whole other level of pressure that I’ve never been under.”
A bloody Flair was helped up the ramp to the again by Andrade. Deadly, who had been an enemy in storyline, got here out, and he and Flair fell into an extended embrace. Flair had been extremely appreciative — and trusting — of Deadly to get him ring-ready for his last match.
“I said, ‘I f—ing love you, you’re the f—ing man, I’m trying to be like you when I grow up, because you’re f—ing great. You’re the greatest wrestler in the f—ing world’,” Deadly stated. “He starts crying and says, ‘Thank you. Thank you so much’.”