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Case Number 13980: Small Claims Court

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Nature Boy Ric Flair: The Definitive Collection

WWE // 2008 // 480 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // July 3rd, 2008

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All Rise...

Judge Ryan Keefer's life defies any sort of definitive label.

The Charge

"Diamonds are forever, and so is Ric Flair. Whooo!!!"

The Case

Before we get started, I think you should know that I've pimped out Judge Bill Treadway's review of The Ultimate Ric Flair Collection and suggest you read it before proceeding further. Aside from picking up some handy terminology, it mirrors many of my thoughts about Flair as an athlete and wrestler.

You know, it's symbolic there would be yet another match compilation spread out over several discs that's dedicated to the life and work of Ric Flair, 16-time World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion. I say that because back in 2003, it seemed like Flair was departing into the good night to spend more time with his family. However, in wrestling, you can never really say goodbye just once, and Flair's career lasted several more years, culminating in an emotionally-charged loss to Shawn Michaels in WrestleMania XXIV in March 2008. The original three-disc Ric Flair collection was released in 2003 to rave reviews. Considering how much superlative work Flair's been part of, there was still a treasure trove to be had from it, which the WWE smartly went back to the well on. In 2007, Flair and his buddies in the "Four Horsemen" were the subject of a two-disc set, and this new version is presumably the last, best collection of matches in the Flair library, aptly calling it the "Definitive Collection."

So fans of the Nature Boy, you're probably wondering what matches are on the set, right? Well, let's get down to it:

Disc Two

• Ric Flair vs. Jack Brisco Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling August 18, 1982
This was a Flair staple; wrestle an unknown has-been/never was or scoff at the possibility of having to break a sweat. And with a quick bait and switch, Flair wrestles Brisco in a quick 10-minute television match that is fun for the drama more than anything else.
Rating: **3/4

• Ric Flair vs. Kerry Von Erich World Class Championship Wrestling August 24, 1982
Back in the day, the World Champion used to have to go to various territories to defend his title against the popular face from that territory; Von Erich was the young up and comer that faced Flair in a best of three falls match. This is the first of many extended matches on the disc, lasting well over 40 minutes and presumably the entire broadcast hour of World Class Championship Wrestling. The crowd was great and Flair helped carry Von Erich to the next level of popularity.
Rating: ****1/2

• Ric Flair vs. Harley Race Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling August 31, 1983
Flair defends the NWA Heavyweight title against the man whom he beat one week earlier at Starrcade for it in a match that is full of mat-based action. While the run-ins at the end take the bloom off the rose a little, it's still a solid match.
Rating: ****

• Ric Flair, Arn & Ole Anderson vs. Dusty Rhodes, Magnum TA and Manny Fernandez World Wide Wrestling December 15,1985
Um, OK? This is a curious choice, and considering that Flair doesn't get into a lot of action in the match, would probably be better suited for the Four Horsemen DVD more than anything. But hey, seeing Magnum TA wrestle again sure brought back memories.
Rating: **1/2

• Ric Flair vs. Sting Clash of the Champions March 27, 1988
Perhaps this is to apologize for the six-man match that was the previous inclusion, as this legendary match from WCW's first Clash of the Champions broadcast is here in all its glory. Flair and Sting battle in a tooth and nail matchup that goes the full 45 minutes in another jewel of the Ric Flair crown. If you haven't seen it, see it. If you've seen it, see it again.
Rating: *****

• Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk Great American Bash July 23, 1989
This one is more recent, following the Funk ambush of Flair after yet another memorable match with Ricky Steamboat in '89, and these guys spent as much time out of the ring pummeling each other as they do in the ring. I remember how these guys flat out didn't like each other, which probably isn't true in real-life, but still can be felt a bit here.
Rating: *****

Disc Three

• Ric Flair vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper October 28, 1991
I like the pairing, but for whatever reason, I thought that these guys tangled more than a few times before, and this selection is an oddity, unless it's Flair's first match in the WWF or something. Either way, nice thought, selection could have been better, as Flair was really overselling the whole "arrogant champion" angle for my taste.
Rating: ***1/4

• Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat Spring Stampede April 17, 1994
While I would have liked to see the WWE complete the trilogy of matches between these two in 1989, this 1994 match is firmly in the good but not great territory for me. And the double-countout finish didn't help either.

• Ric Flair vs. Triple H Taboo Tuesday November 1, 2005
Fast forwarding a decade, you've got a match for the Intercontinental Championship, in a steel cage no less. In character, both guys couldn't stand each other and bled copious amounts during this half-hour long battle, and this wasn't all that bad, I think because of how much of an old-school vibe this seemed to possess.

• Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels WrestleMania XXIV, March 30, 2008
The last hurrah, the final countdown. Flair's retirement had been looming for months; following a speech at the WWE Hall of Fame, Michaels helped retire Flair in a half-hour battle that showed Michaels giving it everything he had, as he usually does. Without all of the drama, this would be an okay-ish match, but it's got it, and it's worth watching the last 10 minutes alone, great drama.
Rating: ***3/4

What's on Disc One you ask? Well, a two-hour look at the professional life of Flair, from training with Verne Gagne through the final, fateful match. If anything, this might be the barest meat on the bone, as much of the material seems to repeat itself from two sources: Flair's book "To Be the Man" and The Ultimate Ric Flair Collection. If you've been through those, then you're not really learning much more here, aside from what happened since Flair's "Retirement Match" in 2003, which includes a lot of emotion, for good reason.

Technically speaking, things are pretty straightforward in the ole' full-frame and two-channel stereo category. The footage looks like it did back in the day, which certainly made me feel nostalgic. While there aren't any extra matches, most of the material is focused in the promo area, specifically from 1982 to 1987, where Flair was at his peak. The first promo is a little on the un-PC side, but the rest are great, as Flair is frequently telling the crew, "Don't wrap me up!" All in all, 10 promos total almost a half hour in length. Along with that footage (found on Disc Three), Disc One has some additional interviews, which are funny; particularly the stuff where Flair is hanging out with Dusty Rhodes and Dick Murdoch. A three-minute long musical tribute follows, set to Fuel's "Leave the Memories Alone." Disc Three also has Flair's farewell address on RAW, with applause and tributes from the entire roster of superstars. There's an additional 10 minutes included here that did not air which is equally emotional.

Is it all worth it? Well, there are a few other matches that could have been included that would have made for great stuff. I doubt they can go back to the well once more now that Flair is retired, but I can always dream. If they don't, this is still a worthy complement to the existing sets and a must-own for fans of one of pro wrestling's legends.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 94

Perp Profile

Studio: WWE
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 480 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary
• Sports
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Additional Footage

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