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  1. #1

    The Fragments that Form Flair, the Greatest World Champion. Vol: 1

    The Fragments that Form Flair,
    the Greatest World Champion.
    Vol: 1

    I’m bound to attain the fragments that form Ric Flair in experiencing for the first time some of his matches and by reliving his others. By that I mean, Flair’s been broken into many intangibles that make him the best champion, and they’ve been spread across the internet for us to find. Therefore, I’m journeying to dig each piece out of the selected bouts, assemble them together, and hoist them up like it's Starrcade 83. Every piece of evidence we gather will be submitted in the records and be mounted to prove Ric is what he’s been said to be, the greatest world champion of all time. Let’s start our search engine!

    Https://RicFlair/Chris Taylor/AWA/Chicago Illinois/Chicago 1973

    Who can discern the futures of two men or why their paths turn out to be happy or sad? The only pre- Mid Atlantic match found on the web for Flair, exhibited him opposite of a super heavyweight at six feet and four inches, Chris Taylor. Taylor, being a bronze medal winning Olympian who resembled the sky with pale fluff and large mass humping through the bluest spandex, would be Verne Gagne's cash cow, and Flair would only be a steady hand to milk the nipples. A CBS morning news special hi-lighted Taylor’s prowess against Ric Flair. The special told the one-sided story of Taylor dominating young Ric with a Billy Robinson taught hip toss and submitting him with a backbreaker. The newscaster stated Chris Taylor could, someday, be world champion.

    There’s another video of the same match, however, with the AWA’s nineteen-eighties hindsight. In this, Greg Gagne and Eric Bischoff commented much more on the upcoming Nature Boy than CBS did, and Ric’s offense is shown. At the time of this re-airing, Taylor had already passed away at a young age, and Flair had become the greatest World Champion the industry ever saw. And I don’t use the term “greatest World Champion” without merit.

    Notwithstanding, when measuring the man on the other side of Chris Taylor, you don’t see much of the future NWA champion. This match is the only one I could find in the course of his thirty year plus career without the bleach blond hair. At two-hundred seventy pounds plus, Flair looked more like Adrian Adonis than he did the sixty-minute man. Yes, he’s on the heavy side of the years where he dropped thirty pounds! He’s in no shape or form the cardiovascular god that exemplified great nineteen-eighties wrestling, for he admitted that ten-minute matches wore him out, back then. For he beefed up by working out with Ken Patera, eating five whoppers at Burger King routinely, while taking the fat with the muscles. Even with the fat, there’s two things that made him Ric. One, the fire in his striking. He didn’t knife edge chop to the “woos” of the audience, but he gauged at Chris Taylor’s eyes with equal fury. He charged at Taylor, seemingly more with the control of a king than with the shame of a Big Whopper. Even then, if a moment gave itself to Flair, he wouldn’t leave it unseized. Even then, he bumped in a way to make his opponent look like a morning news story! Because aside from his striking, his bumping mattered. He bounced backwards against the mat from the throws of the big man. He fell on his face with agony as intense as his future promos would be outrageous. He indulged in those moments against Chris.

    Yet, Flair’s earliest career doesn’t boast of his perseverance. Rather, it concedes twice he tried to quit Verne’s training but was dragged back. Fate gripped his hair and trunks and rolled him not only in the ring but back in it, when he tried to get counted out. If he hadn’t been adopted, he may not have ended up meeting the people who led him to become a wrestler. Who knows what he was born to? But he was ruled by the court to be an abandoned, dependent, and neglected child. Nevertheless, the same world that took Chris Taylor long before his time, allowed Flair to be adopted into privilege and be trained by a man who made him keep going despite of himself. The world which bestowed such a crude fate for Taylor put Flair in a territory to meet Dusty Rhodes, drive around Superstar Billy Graham, and to be noticed by the man who brought him to the Mid-Atlantic, Wahoo McDaniel.

    While he stole a kiss on lady luck, there’s no doubt, Ric, without the Nature Boy moniker; without the bleach; without a marathon match; without the style or profile; without the knife edge chop or figure four leg lock but only with his soul—only with his soul—merited the consideration of men like Verne, like Dusty, and like Wahoo. He had it.

    The hearth of Ric Flair, his very soul, has been attained. And I deem his soul to be fire!

    Https://RicFlair/Swede Hanson/Mid Atlantic/1974

    And its only with fire that he said goodbye to the AWA to set Crocket’s Mid Atlantic ablaze. There’s something about a man willing to give up and fail that makes him also willing to risk the little he has— but the all he has— to go for double or nothing. For in life, high rewards take high risks. Flair took Wahoo up on the offer to leave the AWA without having money to bring his wife with him to Charlotte, North Carolina. Flair moved from the mid-west to wrestle for Jim Crocket Jr, who’d just taken his dad’s territory, Mid Atlantic. These years, one could say, were the genesis for WCW, as Jim Crocket Jr’s Promotions would evolve into it, and the genesis of the Ric Flair we know today. Crocket Jr. had something to prove; Flair had a bet to wage. Superstar Billy Graham’s wife dyed Flair’s hair, and he wore tie-dye trunks, a look he may not have gambled on in the mid-west. Because, this fresh start meant he’d already thrown his chips on the table. With nothing to lose and still much heavier, he patterned himself more after Dusty and Graham than anyone.

    Flair, the new guy in town, found himself in the middle of a dispute between old wrassslin tag partners, Swede Hanson and Rip Hawk. Hanson acquired a fresh young partner, Tiger Conway, and like an old ex getting even, Rip had to get one of his own. Flair got to be Rip Hawk’s Tiger. Though Flair sort of got sucked into a spat, it wasn’t without its spoils. The man who’d have a career with a waist that hardly ever went naked, won his first Title with Rip. They became the Mid Atlantic Tag champions!

    As seen in the video, he didn’t jet fly or limousine ride just yet, but the fire was on display. The kid who grew up loving promos more than matches, now got to jive like Billy Graham and Dusty Rhodes. And years before they made him the Nature Boy, he’d, now, picked up a “woo!” to separate him on the microphone from the great talkers, who he admired. He saw the camera and seized the moment. That soul of his, fire itself, danced. He targeted Swede’s partner in the promo, but no match with Tiger was found. However, footage of one with Swede Hanson was.

    No doubt, Flair’s association with Rip Hawk led to his bout with Hanson. Flair, in the footage, undoes his first of many championship belts. At the beginning of the bout, the younger of the Mid-Atlantic Tag Champions did something you’d be hard pressed to find him do later in his career. He locked up with Hanson and overpowered him with the strength of a Superstar Billy Graham, then flexed both arms. Though he had fat, he had more strength here than later in his career, and though he wore the bleach hair by this time, he seemed to take inspiration more from the bigger men. He’d not crossed paths with Steamboat and Funk and was far from doing sixty-minute matches. Just as earnest as he’d be later about his ring ability, he was then about his strength. Of course, in true heel fashion, Flair lost the second test of strength to Hanson, this time being pushed against the turn buckle. Then, Flair hastened right into a body slam. To sell the pain, young Flair reached his arm around his upper torso as if he were locked in a back armbar and tapped the mat with his foot. Muscle Ric, still, ignited in the sell.

    Round Ric, who wanted to be Superstar, did take the advantage and work the back of Swede with double ax handles which led to bear hug after bear hug from Ric! The way round Ric moved about with pride, he seemed to think the muscle covered the fat and not the other way around.

    This one was prior figure four, prior Nature Boy, prior marathon world title matches! It was a world where Ric Flair wore Billy Graham’s trunks, posed with his flexes, and did his bearhugs. This was fat Flair, and fat Flair was as confident and wild as the greatest champion that he became. If fat Flair saw the Superstar at a party with ladies doing body shots off the bronzed body sculpture of the gods, fat Flair would have ripped his shirt off with an expectation to get shots off his belly fat, too. Fat Flair walked behind his protruding chest shamelessly, while getting bested by Swede Hanson. But fat Flair had charisma and won the championships, too!

    Flair’s wildness, his charisma, and his arrogance has been attained and has been purified in the hearth of his soul, and his bleached hair has been placed on the mantle of the fireplace like a periwig.

    There’s still much to attain, much to prove, and much growth to be seen soon; for much of the man was made in Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling. Order, order, order in the court and listen, because the next exhibit submitted shall include the Hammer!
    Last edited by Benjamin Button; 05-11-2019 at 01:26 PM.

  2. #2
    Its weird seeing Flair from back then. You can tell he was influenced at first by Dusty Rhodes in his promos.

    Usually being a powerhouse makes you more marketable, but if Flair never dropped the weight he'd never have wrestled all those 60 minute matches that made him famous.

    While there was obviously room for improvement in his wrestling matches, you could see even back then he knew how to talk and sell his matches.

    Good column.
    Last edited by RIPbossman; 05-11-2019 at 04:38 PM.

  3. #3
    Beautiful Fandom Mystic's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2018
    "Fragments" is a good word to describe Flair. We are all fragments of many things but few people have been so put together and so openly in pieces at different times. This is an era that I'm not as familiar with, back when he was almost Rambin' Ricky Rhodes.

    Really good start. What is Ric Flair minus the chops, minus the figure four, minus the robes. Kind of taking everything away to put it back together.

    Jesus, that one promo is a Dusty ripoff meets the looks of Adrian Adonis meets dollar store looking sunglasses.

    Not seen such a transformation since:

    Last edited by Mystic; 05-11-2019 at 06:34 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    I love reading historical columns about great wrestlers who I don't know much about where there early days are concerned. I had no idea Ric was almost 300 pounds! That was a shocker for sure. It's also hard to picture him without his bleach blond hair which seemingly personified him. I've yet to watch the evidence you've provided here but I'll most certainly do so in the time. I thought that Ric Flair was always the way his most memorable persona portrayed him to be. It just goes to show that you never start out as the true reflection of who you are, but instead have to mould the fragments of who you could be into the best possible version of yourself.

    Great column, looking forward to more.

  5. #5
    RIP- I'd say definitely influenced by Dusty in promos and some by Graham. Influenced by Graham in his style and wrestling. he thought he was a powerhouse, and he was pretty built up. I agree. the confidence of Flair was there, back then, but his matches improved, immensely, without the extra weight on and as he built what I'd argue is better psychology in his matches.

    Mystic. Man that is one hell of an origin story for Barny. First time I've ever seen it. I think Flair minus all those things was confidence and fire...Maybe, not will since he quit at a lot of things then...I think even will was beat into him. It's funny because in his later years, its the one thing he seemed to have early on "confidence" that he struggled with. He had the house he'd been building for decades, but was struggling to keep it from collapsing on his deteriorating foundation.

    Don, I think the best gimmicks are an extension of the man..Maybe, the 300 lb Flair is one extension of what he could have been, while the Nature boy we know is what he became. And yes a lot of moulding went into ol' Nature boy!

    And "Becoming the Nature Boy" is in the works!

    Thanks all!
    Last edited by Benjamin Button; 05-15-2019 at 02:26 PM.

  6. #6
    The Brain
    Join Date
    May 2018
    I've marked all these videos to be watched as soon as I have time! Great piece, I LOVE the history of Flair prior to 1989, in part because it is rarely discussed in any kind of detail, yet it contains some of the greatest wrestling in all of history. Great idea, great execution, love the writing so far. Hope we get lots of volumes before all is said and done!

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