In a match that could only be held at Wrestle Mania, Rick Flair will try to keep his career alive by taking on HBK. The indication is this most likely will be the end of the line for Flair allowing him to bow out on wrestling’s biggest stage. This would be the ultimate nightcap for what will no doubt be a tremendous weekend for the Nature Boy. On Saturday he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in front of a sellout crowd at Amway Arena. And let me be the first to say retirement could not come soon enough for him.
Now, right now some of you are stating to think I’m a Flair hater, but that’s far from the truth. I loved this guy growing up and like all wrestling fans I often imitated his famous “WHOOOO” and other quotes. I would rate him as the best wrestler ever to enter the squared circle. So to say I hate Flair is far from the truth. He needs to retire because he is not the Nature Boy anymore, and has not been for at least the past 10 years. Case in point, co-editor Matt Loede and myself were at a sports bar one night watching a WCW pay per view in which Flair took on Terry Funk in a hardcore match. The announcer referenced the “stunned silence” of the crowd due to the two legends in the ring. Trust me the silence was due to boredom. The match was like watching my father take on the next door neighbor, and no one would pay for that.
Flair is well past his prime and his fellow competitors need to work extra hard to make the old man look good. In no other sport due you see men pushing 60 still competing, let alone still winning. Only in Wrestling where the results are predetermined can an old man beat young bucks. It has nothing to due with him being the Dirtiest Player in the Game that he is able to survive. In a way its sad to see this shell of a former great still dragging himself to the ring. And as fans we need to get over this obsession of wanting to see these former greats like Flair and Hogan come out and put on a poor performances. It’s only our memories of their great matches that trick us into thinking what we see now is still those moments.
Believe me folks, if it is truly Flair’s last match there will be a bit of sadness in my heart. And there is no doubt the standing ovation he will receive at the Citrus bowl will be one of the greatest send offs in sports history. I just wish he would have gone out on the top so he can be remembered as the greatest Heavy Weight Champ of all time, not a washed up old man who needs gimmicks to make him significant.
As for Shawn Michaels, he will get the honor of being the only man to end the Nature Boys career. This will only add to the Show Stopper mystique at Wrestle Mania. And in my opinion he is the right man to do this. His respect of Flair will allow the two to give a great match that will make Flair look good in defeat. I see this one resembling Hogan/Rock at Wrestle Mania 18. The Rock could have embarrassed Hogan, but instead acknowledged him at the end of the match as both received an ovation. For this match I can see HBK somehow disappearing from the ring after his win to allow Flair to stand alone and take in the moment and receive the thanks he so richly deserves. This will no doubt be an emotionally charged match and a fitting send off to one of the greatest of all time.