I just watched Ric Flair’s “retirement” match with Shawn Michaels from WrestleMania 24. It wasn’t the most technically impressive match I’ve ever seen, but in terms of storytelling and playing with the crowd’s emotions, few can top it. More importantly, it was the perfect send-off to Flair’s wrestling career in North America. With rumors swirling that Flair will sign with TNA for a series of matches with Hulk Hogan, I’m totally bummed that “The Nature Boy” is even considering ruining his storybook ending.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s absolutely Flair’s right to make a living any way he sees fit, but he’s not “The Nature Boy” anymore. He hasn’t been for a long, long time. Although I haven’t followed all of his career, I’ve watched a great deal of it. From the NWA to WCW to WWF to WWE, I have no doubt that Flair is the best wrestler of all time. His matches with Harley Race, Kerry Von Erich, Sting, and (especially) Ricky Steamboat were brilliant. He was also able to carry limited wrestlers (Lex Luger) to excellent matches. In the ring and on the mic, nobody was better than Flair and I can’t imagine anyone topping him.
It makes me sad that there’s a whole generation of WWE fans that know Flair as this old guy with a fake tan and loose skin. They see him as this guy that hits his opponents in the balls and pokes their eyes. If Flair works for TNA, there are going to be even more fans that will see this watered-down version of Naitch.
When Yankee great Joe DiMaggio retired in 1951, his brother Tom said, “He quit because he couldn’t be Joe DiMaggio anymore.” Flair can’t be “The Nature Boy” anymore and I wish he’d take a cue from the Fuel song WWE used for his retirement run: “Leave the Memories Alone”.
Eddie Fatu just passed away from a heart attack at the age of 36. WWE fans know him as Umaga. Longtime wrestling fans remember him from the Island Boyz, Samoan Gangtas, and 3-Minute Warning teams. Fatu was part of the legendary Anoa’i wrestling family, which includes The Wild Samoans Afa and Sika, Rikishi, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He was one of my favorite big men for the last few years and it’s sad to see him go so young.
– Last night’s fight between Ali Funeka and Joan Guzman was fantastic…until the decision was announced. While Guzman boxed excellently for two and a half rounds, Funeka pretty much dominated the rest of the fight. Inexplicably, two of the judges scored the fight a draw. This was the worst decision I’ve seen in 2009, by far. It’s sad that Funeka traveled all the way from South Africa to America to get jobbed. Whether the judges were inept or corrupt, bad decisions are way too common in boxing and one of the big reasons the sport is no longer as popular as it was.
– I picked up the two Sinestro Corps War trade paperbacks for my first September Tokyo trip. They totally got me back into Green Lantern. While they weren’t quite as good as the Sinestro Corps Wars, I enjoyed Rage of the Red Lanterns and Agent Orange too. My expectations were low for Sins of the Star Sapphire, but I picked it up anyway so that I could get all the info leading up to Blackest Night. I was shocked (in a good way) by how graphic it was. There’s some really messed up sh*t in there! [Spoilers ahead!]
– I watched my Star Trek Blu-ray last night. It’s such a great movie. Unfortunately, I missed it when it was still showing in theaters and only saw it in September on my way to Tokyo. I guess it doesn’t matter though, since I enjoyed the characterization and dialogue more than the special effects. It’s definitely one of my favorite movies of 2009, but I have to wonder how it plays to younger people that haven’t seen the old shows and movies.
– It’s such an interesting time in the WWE right now. Established headliners like Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, and Triple H only have a few years left. This leaves the younger main-event players like Edge and Randy Orton waiting for some new dance partners. The WWE has been pushing The Miz, John Morrison, Dolph Ziggler, and Kofi Kingston successfully. Seamus and Drew McIntyre have been getting decent pushes as well. I’m especially high on Ziggler and Morrison. Do any of these guys stand out to you? Do you see any of them headlining WrestleMania in 2015?
The artist formerly known as Cactus Jack, Mankind, and Dude Love recently appeared on The Daily Show. I’m talking about best-selling author, former WWE Superstar, and current TNA wrestler Mick Foley, of course. Check out this clip of the hardcore legend busting out his comedic chops with Jon Stewart.
If you haven’t seen Ric Flair’s first promo for Hulk Hogan’s Australian Hulkamania tour, go check it out. If you have seen it, prepare for part II. The Nature Boy and The Hulkster meet to try to drum up interest in the tour.
This promo made me a little sad. Although Flair can still put on a good match with a solid partner like Shawn Michaels or Kurt Angle, he can’t do much with an old, broken down, and extremely limited wrestler like Hogan. I found it amusing that Flair mentioned “the big boot”, but didn’t mention Hogan’s leg drop, which he can’t do anymore because of his hip problems. At least neither of them are as pathetic as “Nasty Boy” Brian Knobbs, who was never that good and is only on the tour because he kisses Hogan’s ass.
To promote the Australian Hulkamania Tour, “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair cut a promo on YouTube. While Flair is still money on the microphone, I’m sad that he’s getting back in the ring. Don’t get me wrong, he was the best in-ring performer of all time and it’s up to him if he wants to make money getting in the squared circle…but his send-off from the WWE and his WWE WrestleMania 24 match against Shawn Michaels were perfect. Hopefully ‘Naitch does well in Australia, but I’d hate to see him tarnish his legacy.
– I received the Wrestlemania 24and Wrestlemania 25 Blu-ray discs. Between videogames and the World Series, I won’t have time to watch the entire cards, but I sure as hell am going to watch the Shawn Michaels matches from each event. HBK/Flair was a brilliant, emotional match that excelled in the storytelling department. HBK/Undertaker was one of the best matches I’ve seen in the last decade.
– Speaking of HBK, what a remarkable career he’s had — especially the second half. I never bought into the “boyhood dream” and I only started really enjoying his matches just before his first hiatus. Since his comeback from back surgery, it’s crazy how good he has been. While he can’t do some of things he used to in his younger days, his storytelling and psychology are the best they’ve ever been. Plus, nobody sells moves as good as Shawn does these days.
– I’m still wondering why the hell R-Truth is on the cover of the WrestleMania 25 box. What’s up?