I’m not sure of the percentages, but it’s clear reaction to the nominal main event of Ric Flair’s Last Match last night (July 31) in Nashville is split.
For some, Ric Flair & Andrade El Ídolo’s victory over Jeff Jarrett & Jay Lethal was the kind of spectacle they want from professional wrestling, and a celebration of one of the most important figures in the history of the business as he wrote the ending of his own in-ring story. For others, it was a shameless money grab that diminished Flair’s legacy and reinforced the general public’s worst conceptions of wrestling.
Realistically, it was all of those things at once. But hopefully, we can all agree it’s not something we need to see the 73 year old Nature Boy do ever again, regardless of how many doctors give him the go ahead, or how talented his ring partners.
As was thoroughly documented in the build up to Sunday’s show, Flair’s medical history makes something like that 25 minute match a scary proposition. There were moments where it looked like he was in real danger, and I don’t just mean when The Dirtiest Player in the Game feigned a heart attack to get a signature eye poke in on Lethal.
Naitch was completely gassed well before the finish, at one point calling for a hot tag while unable to stand. He also couldn’t sit up while executing the winning Figure Four, leading to this awkward moment...
... and why were his shoulders on the mat?
flair telling andrade "i passed out" pic.twitter.com/w2OnR16skG— forever botchamania (@Maffewgregg) August 1, 2022
Amazingly enough, he reportedly came through it all okay:
PWInsider.com is told that Ric Flair was checked out by two doctors backstage in Nashville after his PPV bout and we are told he is “great”, according to someone who spoke with him after the show. The doctors were waiting for him the second he returned to the locker room area.
And even fulfilled the promise he made in the arena to go get f***ed up with a fellow WWE Hall of Famer in Music City:
Update: Ric Flair is completely fine after his final match and at his after party right now in Downtown Nashville, hanging out with Kid Rock, family and more.— Marc Raimondi (@marcraimondi) August 1, 2022
That’s a big part of why I hope Ric’s retirement really sticks this time. He’s shown no signs of slowing down outside the ring. His medical team advised him to abstain from alcohol after his near death experience in 2017, and he said at that point he’d quit drinking. But (as is sadly the case for a great many addicts), he couldn’t keep that promise. His alcoholism was part of the build for Ric Flair’s Last Match, and he told TMZ last week:
“I guarantee I’ll be drinking every night. I don’t do good when I don’t drink at night.”
Some of that may just be maintaining the legend of Ric Flair, something Richard Fliehr has long struggled with. But if you saw clips of The Roast of Ric Flair from Friday night, you know the drinking isn’t all a work.
Which is fine, or at least a matter that’s between Flair, his doctors, and his loved ones. But it’s not going to lead to him being in better shape for Ric Flair’s Last Match II next year. Each subsequent match increases the likelihood the “jokes” about Naitch dying in the ring will end up becoming a reality.
Perhaps that would be a fitting end for him, and one he might even want. But it would be traumatic for everyone else, and leave a stain on pro wrestling forever.
Love or hate what happened in the ring, we can acknowledge that Flair got that one last Nature Boy moment he wanted in Tennessee this weekend.
From here on out, Ric, please get that glory via non-wrestling appearances and telling stories on podcasts.