Ric Flair’s Last Match

Ric Flair’s Last Match
Date: July 31, 2022
Location: Nashville Fairgrounds, Nashville, Tennessee
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, David Crockett, Ian Riccaboni

We had to get here eventually and I’m not that happy about it. This is a show that I haven’t really wanted to watch since it was announced and that hasn’t changed since. While I absolutely respect what he did in the ring, I’m not the biggest Flair fan and seeing him do something this risky isn’t something I particularly needed to see. The good thing is that this is a full show and the undercard looks pretty awesome, but it’s all leading to one thing and that has me dreading the show. Let’s get to it.

This is billed as a Jim Crockett Promotions event for old times’ sake.

Pre-Show: Ren Narita vs. Yuya Uemura

They go with the grappling to start and get to a standoff as Crockett seemingly has no idea who either of them are. Tony doesn’t either, but at least he seems more interested. Narita gets the better of a chop off (Crockett: “They wish they could be Ric Flair.”) and kicks him in the back a few times, only to run into a dropkick.

A running clothesline in the corner sets up a running bulldog out of the corner before starting in on the arm. Something close to Antonio Inoki’s cobra twist has Narita in trouble but he comes back with a German suplex for two. Back up and they slug it out until Narita counters a charge into a belly to belly suplex with a bridge for the pin at 5:58.

Rating: C. This isn’t designed to be a great match or anything close to it but they were able to go out there and do their moves until one of them got the pin. That isn’t a bad thing and it works very well for a spot like this. Good enough match here as Narita and Uemura continue to showcase themselves well and grow in front of your eyes.

Bunkhouse Battle Royal

Sinn Bodhi, James Storm, Bully Ray, Mance Warner, 1 Called Manders, Gringo Loco, Kommander, Joey Janela, Kal Herro, Big Damo, Blake Christian, Crimson, Jordan Oliver, Rickey Shane Page, Wolfie D, Effy, Matthew Justice, Crowbar

It’s a brawl to start (of course) but after about a minute, here is Nick Gage to lead a GCW invasion, as he promised last night at a GCW show. Storm hits Herro with the Eye of the Storm and tosses him out and there goes Damo as well. Some double teaming takes Crimson out and Loco moonsaults out onto Damo to eliminate himself. Kommander runs the top rope and eliminates himself as well and Janela tosses Wolfie D.

Bodhi whips out a spare ring rope for some choking but gets kicked out. Effy crotches Crowbar on top and plays D-Von in an old What’s Up. The Ray tosses him, as well as Justice, Manders and Oliver in a roll. We’re down to Warner, Ray, Storm and Janela, with the latter two being knocked out. Ray drops Warner and loads up a table, with Warner being powerbombed through. Then Warner tosses him to win at 11:23.

Rating: D+. You’re only going to be able to get so much out of this as it was a pretty fast battle royal with an invasion angle going on in the middle. Warner winning is fine, and it was nice to see them go that route instead of the expected way with Storm or Ray. Not much to see here, but you know what you’re getting with a battle royal.

Warner wins a cowboy boot and belt buckle because of course he does.

Bob Caudle (92 years old on Tuesday) welcomes us to the show and sends us to ringside.

Motor City Machine Guns vs. American Wolves

Scott D’Amore is on commentary and Chris Sabin works on Davey Richards’ wrist to start. Richards spins out and kicks the arm for the break, only to get armdragged into the corner. Edwards comes in but Shelley tags himself in and slaps on a sleeper. The Guns start taking over in the corner with the alternating kicks but Richards comes back in for a cheap shot. Some alternating kicks put Shelley down and commentary starts making Rock N Roll Express vs. Midnight Express comparisons.

Richards puts Shelley down and gets a running start to kick Sabin off the apron. The Wolves grab stereo submissions but Sabin Edwards away and into the other two for the double break. Richards dragon screw legwhips Shelley’s knee onto the ropes but misses a top rope double stomp. Shelley takes both Wolves down at once and the hot tag brings in Sabin to clean house.

The missile dropkick/Downward Spiral combination drops Richards for two but Edwards is back in with a superkick. Edwards’ backpack Stunner sets up the top rope double stomp with Sabin having to make a save. Sabin cutters Edwards and it’s the Dream Sequence for Richards. Skull and Crossbones finishes Edwards at 10:49.

Rating: B-. This was the kind of hot opening match you want to have and it worked well. These teams are going to have a solid match against each other through talent alone and that was on display here. The Guns are one of the best teams of their generation and the Wolves were good if you can handle Richards, making this a fast paced opener, as it was designed to be.

Video on some great moments of Jim Crockett Promotions.

Various wrestlers are here, including Vickie Guerrero, Santino Marella, Al Snow and Mick Foley.

Killer Kross vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr.

This is an MLW showcase. Scarlett Bordeaux is here with Kross, who has hair for a weird look. Smith drives him into the corner for a clean break to start so Kross takes it to the mat. The headscissors is escaped with a nip up and Smith cranks on the arm. The hammerlock goes on and we go to a wide shot for no apparent reason. They trade belly to back suplexes before a slugout goes to Smith. Back up and Kross pulls him into the Krossjacket but Smith flips back to escape. A t-bone suplex drops Bulldog again and it’s the Quickening (running forearm to the back of the head) to finish for Kross at 5:25.

Rating: C. They kept this one quick but the only thing that mattered was the belly to back suplexes. Smith is someone who should have all of the tools to be a top star but the lack of charisma hurts him a good bit. Then you have Kross, who feels like a killer (appropriately enough) and just isn’t that great in the ring. Mix those two together and you have something, but for now it’s two people missing something important.

More legends (Booker T., Shawn Michaels), plus Will Sasso, talk about what Ric Flair means.

Jonathan Gresham vs. Konosuke Takeshita vs. Alan Angels vs. Nick Wayne

The winner gets a future Progress World Title shot and I’ve never actually seen Wayne. He gets A LOT of praise though but I’ve never seen a match. Ian Riccaboni joins commentary to spruce things up a bit. Gresham seems a bit more enthusiastic here than he did at Death Before Dishonor. Angels and Gresham start things off but Gresham is sent outside and since lucha rules (because of course it is), Wayne comes in and sends Angels outside. Takeshita comes in with a running clothesline to put Wayne on the floor but it’s too early for the dive.

Gresham is back in to kick Takeshita down but Angels takes Takeshita’s place. Back in and Takeshita forearms Angels down before blasting him with a clothesline. Wayne grabs a Code Red for two on Angels but has to flip out of Takeshita’s German suplex. The Blue Thunder Bomb drops Wayne for two and everything breaks down. Angels and Wayne moonsault off the top and out to the floor for the big crash. Back in and Gresham drops Takeshita and Wayne, setting up the suicide dive to Angels. Gresham takes Angels back in and, after shrugging off the cradle attempt, tied Angels up for the rollup pin at 5:38.

Rating: C+. This was a fast paced match with so much crammed in that it felt like it could have been twice that long. Gresham is the most successful star here and him going on to the title match makes sense, though Wayne was looking smooth while he was in there. Takeshita was good as usual, with Angels continuing to be fast but small, which leaves him as just kind of a person.

Cody Rhodes sends in a video talking about how great he and his dad both think Flair is.

Rock N Roll Express vs. Brian Pillman Jr./Brock Anderson

That would be Ricky and Kerry Morton with Robert Gibson in their corner to counter Arn Anderson. Pillman and Brock have the 1990s Horsemen shirts to make things extra awesome. Nick Aldis joins commentary as the revolving door continues. I’m not sure if the bell rang but Pillman and Kerry start things off with Pillman taking him down without much trouble. They trade wristlock reversals until Kerry kicks him in the face to take over.

Pillman gets caught between the Mortons and pingponged back and forth with right hands. Brock comes in and wants Ricky, who kicks him into the corner and hammers away. It’s back to Kerry for the double dropkick but Brock takes Kerry into the corner for the tag off to Pillman. Kerry manages to send Brock into Pillman in the corner for a breather and the hot tag brings in Ricky. Everything breaks down and a Pillman cheap shot sends Ricky into a gordbuster to give Brock the pin at 7:39.

Rating: C. I get what they were going for here and the Express vs. Horsemen theme was a good idea, but Ricky and Kerry doesn’t have the same ring as Ricky and Robert. Pillman is someone else who seems to have a bunch of the tools but it hasn’t quite clicked yet. The match was another case where it wasn’t bad, but nothing I’ll remember in about five minutes.

JJ Dillon is here.

Bandido vs. Black Taurus vs. Laredo Kid vs. Rey Fenix

It’s a brawl to start with Taurus clearing the ring early on. Fenix and Kid are left alone with Kid shrugging off a chop and hitting a tornado DDT. A tiger driver plants Fenix but Kid misses a dive. Taurus comes back in and gets kicked in the face in the corner. Bandido is back in as well and gets caught with a rolling cutter from Fenix. Bandido sends Fenix outside and hits the one armed gorilla press on Kid.

There’s the running headscissors on Taurus but Kid knocks Bandido outside. Taurus dives onto everyone at ringside and then beats them up back inside as well. Bandido catches Taurus up top but he’s fine enough to super gorilla press Kid back down. Everyone is staggered and Taurus is sent outside, where Bandido nearly breaks his neck on a dive but manages to turn it into a Destroyer on the floor.

Bandido takes Kid up top for a super backflip fall away slam down onto Taurus and Fenix and everyone is down on the floor again. Back in and Taurus plants Bandido but Fenix makes the save with a top rope double stomp. Fenix’s Samoan driver finishes Taurus at 11:50.

Rating: B. When you put these four on the card, you do it so they can have a match like this. They had a very entertaining match with all kinds of high spots and fast paced action, which is all you would have needed here. It’s not about making sense or having any logic behind it, but rather about popping the crowd every chance they can. As usual, it worked.

Jim Ross wishes Flair well and thanks him for everything.

We recap Impact Wrestling World Champion Josh Alexander defending against Jacob Fatu. This is the match that got my attention more than anything else so this should be a heck of a fight.

Impact Wrestling World Title: Josh Alexander vs. Jacob Fatu

Alexander is defending and Fatu is part of the Anoa’i family with the nickname of the Samoan Werewolf. Tom Hannifan joins commentary this time around. Fatu charges at him to start and Alexander hammers away in the corner. Back up and Fatu uppercuts his way out of trouble, only to get elbowed in the face. Alexander starts cranking on the ankle but Fatu, who is built like Umaga, is back up with a running hurricanrana.

Fatu goes up but gets superplexed right back down. That doesn’t slow Fatu down, as he runs the corner and hits the Whisper In The Wind into a handspring moonsault, because he can do that. The running hip attack misses in the corner though and Alexander is back to the ankle. A powerbomb onto the knee gets two on Fatu, who is sent out to the apron.

Fatu’s slingshot is broken up and the running crossbody to the back puts him on the floor. Fatu is fine enough to run Alexander over and the top rope moonsault gets two back inside. Alexander manages to roll some German suplexes, only to walk into a pop up Samoan drop. Then Mark Sterling and the Major Players run in to jump them both for the DQ at 10:30.

Rating: B. Yeah this worked and the ending was about all they could have done. You don’t want one of the top stars of either promotion losing so doing the run-in is as logical as it gets. I could still go for Fatu to get a spot on a major roster at some point in the future because he is one of those freak athletes you do not find very often. Alexander continues to be one of the best stars going today and having him as the centerpiece of Impact is a great idea. Good match here and I expected nothing less.

Post match the beatdown is on but Diamond Dallas Page of all people runs in and Diamond Cutters Matt Cardona for the save.

An attempt at an interview with Jeff Jarrett finds his father Jerry Jarrett….and Jerry Lawler too. Lawler helped train Jeff so he’s ready to see Flair lose in his last match. Flair stole the strut from Jackie Fargo and ran out of Memphis the first time he faced Lawler, so it’s time to get rid of him for good. Lawler can still cut a fine enough heel promo.

Briscoes vs. Von Erichs

That would be Marshall and Ross Von Erich, Kevin’s sons. Ian Riccaboni is back on commentary as Mark takes Ross down to start. Marshall comes in to slam Mark but it’s off to Jay for a running clothesline. The Briscoes take over on Ross in the corner and the Von Erichs are sent outside for a big dive from Jay.

Back in and Jay hammers on Ross but a shot from Marshall puts the Briscoes in trouble for a change. That doesn’t last long as Jay gets over for the tag off to Mark and house is cleaned in a hurry. A shotgun dropkick sends Marshall into the corner as everything breaks down. Redneck Boogie is broken up and Marshall’s claw slam only gets two. Jay’s neckbreaker sets up the Froggy Bow to finish Marshall at 7:48.

Rating: C+. I haven’t seen the Von Erichs in a bit and they have gotten a bit better since then. It’s nice to see them looking more polished in the ring, which comes with experience. That being said, the Briscoes are one of the best teams of this generation and there is no shame in losing to a team that good. Nice enough match here, but the Von Erichs were overmatched.

Sting is grateful for Ric Flair.

We recap Jordynne Grace defending the Impact Knockouts Title against Rachael Ellering and Deonna Purrazzo. Not much of a story here but we need a women’s match on the show.

Impact Wrestling Knockouts Title: Jordynne Grace vs. Deonna Purrazzo vs. Rachael Ellering

Grace is defending. They trade the rapid fire rollups to start with no one being able to get anywhere. Purrazzo is sent outside so Grace and Ellering shake hands before starting up as well. Grace sends her into the corner and hits the running knees to the back, with Ellering seems to have hurt her ankle. Purrazzo is back up and sent right back to the floor, leaving Ellering to hit an STO into a middle rope spinning legdrop for two on Grace.

Back in and Purrazzo can’t get the Queen’s Gambit on Grace so Ellering comes in to beat on both of them. Grace spinebusters Ellering, who gets caught in a Fujiwara armbar from Purrazzo. With that being a problem, Grace grabs a choke on Purrazzo for the break. Back up and the Grace Driver plants Purrazzo and a rear naked choke makes Ellering tap to retain Grace’s title at 9:11.

Rating: C+. Another match that was fairly fast paced but without a ton of drama for the main event. Grace is a heck of a powerhouse and a good champion while Purrazzo has been the star of the division for a good chunk of the year. That left Ellering there to take the fall and it came at the end of a perfectly decent match.

We recap the main event, which is Ric Flair having his last match because he wanted to do it one more time. Then Jay Lethal no showed a podcast so Flair ripped into him, despite the two of them being friends. Jeff Jarrett wasn’t pleased so he and Lethal beat Flair down, drawing blood, because of course they did. Flair got Andrade El Idolo, his son-in-law, and the tag match is set. If this sounds not so great, it’s because it isn’t.

Undertaker and Michelle McCool are sitting next to Mick Foley.

Ric Flair/Andrade El Idolo vs. Jay Lethal/Jeff Jarrett

Karen Jarrett is here with Jeff and Jay. Jeff even shoves Conrad Thompson during his entrance so you know it’s serious. Flair, wearing the Big Gold Belt (looks to be the original too), uses the WWE version of his theme with the WOO to start. Kid Rock is at ringside (because of course he is) and Flair is wrestling in a sleeveless shirt, which is probably best for everyone at the moment. Flair and Jarrett start things off but it’s off to Lethal before anything big happens.

Lethal takes him down without much trouble and we’re at an early standoff. A headlock takeover takes Lethal over but he’s back up for an exchange of slaps in the corner. Lethal wants Andrade, who springboards in, making this a pretty run of the mill match instead of what we’re here to see. Some elbows to the face put Andrade in trouble but he’s fine enough to hiptoss Jarrett.

Flair comes in so Jarrett bails before hitting that strut. An Irish whip is blocked and Flair does his own strut, plus a crotch chop for fun. Flair chops away and kicks an interfering Lethal low, which is enough to send Jarrett up the aisle for a breather. Back in and Andrade gets in some kicks to Lethal’s ribs, allowing Flair to choke away in the corner. Some chops put Lethal down and Andrade comes back in, only to get taken down as well.

Now Jarrett can come in to stomp away, setting up another strut. Lethal’s Black Machismo (a name that has Crockett VERY confused) ax handle gets two on Andrade and the basement dropkick gets the same. Andrade counters a belly to back suplex from Jarrett but they bump heads for a double knockdown. The tag brings in Flair, who gets a Figure Four on Lethal but Jeff makes the save.

Karen slips in a high heel to bust Flair open, meaning Megan Flair (Ric’s daughter/Conrad’s wife) goes after her for the catfight over the barricade. Flair pokes Lethal in the eye to escape but gets taken back inside, where you can see him being VERY blown up. Lethal hits a suplex with Andrade having to make a save, leaving Lethal to hammer away even more. Hail To The King misses though and the tag brings in Andrade to clean house. A middle rope DDT gets two on Jarrett and Lethal superkicks Jarrett by mistake.

Andrade poisonranas Lethal and the ref is bumped, which is all this match needed. Flair tags in, despite laying on the apron at the time. Flair literally crawls over to Lethal for a cover but there’s no referee, so Jarrett brings in the guitar. That hits Lethal by mistake (duh) so Conrad throws Andrade some brass knuckles. Flair uses them on Jarrett and the Figure Four goes on. Cue another referee so Flair can pin the unconscious Jarrett (in the Figure Four) at 26:48.

Rating: D+. That’s about as generous as I can go as this was one of the hardest things I’ve sat through in a good while. Flair looked every bit of 73 years old out there and that was one of the worst possible outcomes. Seeing him laying on the apron and barely able to move was sad and the match was overbooked beyond belief in ways it didn’t need to be. If this is a ten minute match and they keep things as quick as they can go, it could have worked, but trying for some epic deal was a horrible idea.

The other problem is who was in there with him. I know there is a history/connection with most of them, but you would have go to pretty far down the list of Flair’s history to find Lethal and Jarrett. It comes off more like “here’s the best we can get to say yes” rather than someone special. The other problem is that needing them to be in the ring so long so Flair can recover left us with an only so interesting handicap match.

All in all, this is about what you had to expect: Flair talking up the match rather well and not being able to deliver in the ring. It was a passable match with the other guys in there, but this was all about Flair and at the end of the day, he wasn’t able to make it work. Cut this down to about 10-15 minutes and it could have worked, but it felt like Flair was dragged through this rather than going out on a happy note.

Post match Flair goes to ringside to thank some legends (Undertaker, Foley and Bret Hart, who are sitting together) before talking to Tony Schiavone. Flair talks about how he can’t believe how great this was and he’s in one of the best wrestling towns in the world. Then Kid Rock told him he was here to be entertained, just in case Flair didn’t have enough pressure on him. They’re hitting the town tonight, which isn’t quite how I was expecting such a speech to go.

Andrade hands Flair the Big Gold Belt and Flair hugs Lethal to end the show.

We get some credits, including a montage of Flair photos and Bob Caudle giving us the signoff (as he did back in the day).

Overall Rating: B-. This is a weird one as the main event is awful but that’s the only thing on the show that matters. I’ve heard this compared to a big boxing pay per view where no one watches anything but the last fight and that makes a lot of sense. The rest of the show was quite good and works as a heck of an indy show, but the main event didn’t work and dragged everything else down.

The other problem is the feeling of the show, as it might have been nice to have one more match, but it felt forced in a way. It’s like Flair decided it was time to praise him again and everyone had to line up with their nice things to say. The problem is they did that fourteen years ago on a bigger stage and after a better match. It didn’t feel fun or special, but rather “ok, he got what he wanted so let’s try to have a good time”. The Flair stuff was sad, and as good as the rest was, that’s all that mattered.

 

 

 

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