As you may have seen right here on Uproxx, Ric Flair recently teamed up with Dennis Rodman to promote fitness game Shape Up, which may, on the surface seem a bit odd. Flair’s isn’t a spring chicken after all, and he’s never been one of the top physiques in the wrestling biz, but if you’ve actually followed the man’s career, you’d know Flair is a perfect spokesman for a fitness game.
Ric Flair has made a career of working harder than anybody else in the business, busting his ass through epic sometimes hour-long matches, and he’s remained in fighting condition well into his later years. Here’s five matches that prove Ric Flair is wrestling’s ironman…
Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat – 2/3 Falls Match (Clash of the Champions VI, 1989)
In 1989 the dastardly Ric Flair and Lou Diamond Phillips-looking sterling babyface Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat engaged in a classic trilogy of matches for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. All three matches were lengthy, but none was as lung-bustingly epic as Flair and Steamboats hour-long 2/3 falls match at Clash of the Champions VI. A lot of old-timers like to brag about wrestling hour-long matches back in the day, but nobody before (and very few since) have matched the pace and intensity Flair and Steamboat kept up throughout their hour-long confrontation. Every headlock and takedown was battled for and Flair sold every bit of offense like he’d been shot with a rifle. Frankly, I get a little winded just watching this match.
Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk – I Quit Match (Clash of Champions IX, 1989)
This match may not be the longest match on this list, but it may be the most intense. Some accuse Flair of being formulaic, but there’s no formula here, just two men fighting with everything they’ve got. Forget Flair’s cartoony flopping and top-rope misadventures – this is as real-feeling as wrestling gets.
The Royal Rumble (1992)
Of course this list wouldn’t be complete without Ric Flair’s most famous test of endurance, the 1992 Royal Rumble. Flair entered at #3 and survived right til the end against a slightly insane field which included Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, The Undertaker, Randy Savage, Jake Roberts, Ted DiBiase, Sid Justice, Jimmy Snuka and more (holy crap does that line-up make the wrestling of today seem depressing). And Flair didn’t just hide in the corner like a lot of other guys who have gone the distance in the Rumble either — he was a focal point from beginning to end, putting on a performance that still stands as one of the best in Rumble history.
Sadly the full 1992 Royal Rumble isn’t available online, but here’s an abridged version.
The fact that Flair didn’t suffer a stroke during his post-match promo is just further proof of the man’s physical fortitude.
PUT THAT CIGARETTE OUT.
Ric Flair vs. Big Van Vader (Starrcade, 1993)
There have been few competitors in the history of pro wrestling as intense as Big Van Vader – dude was a 6’5” wall of solid beef who could still go hard in the ring. Wrestling Vader in his prime meant keeping up a fast pace, while simultaneously absorbing a pretty legit beating, and in 1993 at Starrcade Flair hung in there with Vader for nearly 30 brutal minutes. Hell, Flair even remained fresh enough to hit not one, not two, but three top rope moves in a row during this match (no, really).
Ric Flair vs. Edge – Ladder Match (Raw, 2006)
And finally a match from Flair’s later career. The ladder match is one of the most strenuous, dangerous stipulations in WWE – certainly not a match for a guy who’s pushing 60 to be trying out of the first time, but back in 2006 Flair did just that against World Champion Edge, and the results were actually really good. Hell, if I can still get up and down the stairs at 60 I plan to have a custom title belt made for me, so Flair’s performance here is damn impressive. Also impressive is how few shits he gives about traumatizing his poor daughter Ashley (aka NXT Women’s Champ Charlotte) who’s watching him bleed like a stuck pig from the audience, but hey, it’s not like it scared her away from the business or anything.
So there you have it, you should never take woman or money advice from the guy, but I think these five matches prove Ric Flairs knows something about physical fitness. What are some of your favorite long/physically grueling Flair matches?