Judge Ryan Keefer's life defies any sort of definitive label.
"Diamonds are forever, and so is Ric Flair. Whooo!!!"
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:
• Ric Flair vs. Jack Brisco Mid-Atlantic Championship
Wrestling August 18, 1982
• Ric Flair vs. Kerry Von Erich World Class Championship
Wrestling August 24, 1982
• Ric Flair vs. Harley Race Mid-Atlantic Championship
Wrestling August 31, 1983
• Ric Flair, Arn & Ole Anderson vs. Dusty Rhodes, Magnum TA
and Manny Fernandez World Wide Wrestling December 15,1985
• Ric Flair vs. Sting Clash of the Champions March 27,
• Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk Great American Bash July 23,
• Ric Flair vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper October 28, 1991
• Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat Spring Stampede April 17,
• Ric Flair vs. Triple H Taboo Tuesday November 1, 2005
• Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels WrestleMania XXIV, March
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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