Ric Flair v Terry Taylor (4/28/85)
Well this was fucking great. Before watching this today, I don't think I'd watched a Flair match in about a year. I was just really burned out on him, and after my 467th time watching him and Ricky Steamboat wrestle, I knew it was time to take a break from him. I mean, that's not so much a criticism of Ric Flair. You're only going to be able to watch something so often before you start to get sick of it. I think I got sick of Flair because I'd seen so much of him. I didn't want to watch him wrestle Steamboat or Luger or Kerry Von Erich, because I'd seen it all a bunch of times, and most importantly I'd seen it all fairly recently. I wanted to watch guys I hadn't seen six million matches of. I wanted to watch Koko Ware and Buzz Sawyer and Yoji Anjoh. So I put Flair to the side and watched those guys. A year later...well, I don't really want to go back and watch the Flair/Steamboat matches again just yet. A year isn't THAT long. But if you give me some "fresh" Flair, I don't think I'll have any problem watching a bunch of it. I've seen all the Flair matches on this set, but that was like 5 years ago or some shit, so that kind of counts as "fresh," right? And it's not like I've seen 800 Ric Flair v Terry Taylor matches, anyway. This starts out with Flair offering a handshake and playing by the rules. He's a good sport, Flair. Just gets a bad rap. It's all pretty basic stuff in the first third, but it's a Flair match so you know he'll always keep it moving in one way or another. You can just see him getting more and more wound up at Taylor being in control, telling the ref' to break things the very second Flair reaches the ropes and rolling out to take a breather. He catches Terry coming off the ropes by chucking him to the floor, and as he's holding the ropes open for him to get back in he just drops the nice guy bullshit and starts putting the boots to him. I love it when Flair just goes at someone like a wild animal, choking them, stomping them, chopping them to shreds, etc. There's a great moment where he has Terry in an armbar and Taylor starts punching his way out of it. He has Flair backed up in the corner, but as he goes to throw one more big shot Karl Fergie grabs his arm to stop him short and Flair just kicks him right in the dick. This is also about as well-protected as I've seen the figure-four as a Flair finisher (I actually don't think Flair in general was ever handled as well as he was with Watts). Flair doesn't really go after Terry's leg until the last few minutes, but Taylor fights like a trooper to keep him from putting it on. Then Taylor winds up getting the leg tangled up in the ropes and Flair starts stomping him in the kneecap. Taylor manages to reel off a desperation atomic drop, but he uses the bum leg and does as much damage to himself. Flair sees it and pounces, and Fergie has no choice but to stop the match. It's a great finish, and one of the only Flair matches that I remember where it's the figure-four that ends it. I honestly wasn't sure how much I was going to like this. I know I liked it a lot when I first saw it, but at that point I hadn't been sick of Flair for a while. It totally held up, though (and gives me confidence that the other Flair matches on the set that I liked a few years ago will hold up, too), and Flair going from good sport at the beginning to begging off, cheating asshole at the end reminded me why I thought so highly of him for years. This is fucking with the Reed/Neidhart v TA/II cage match as the best thing I've re-watched so far, and I'm stoked for the other two matches in the series (I might even get to them this year!).