In 1993, Flair made the move back to his home company of WCW, much to the relief of screaming fans everywhere. And he did it just in time to line up an epic match with the current Heavyweight Champion and boost WCW’s ratings at their next pay-per-view showdown. The magic of Ric Flair strikes again.
Here are our favorite moments from his return to WCW in the 90s.
Flair Returns to WCW, Challenges Vader
In true Nature Boy style, Flair entered the ring in coat and tie to make his return announcement, surrounded by security to protect him from crazy (attractive) female fans, of course. Flair reminded everybody that he never actually lost his WCW title and challenged the current Heavyweight Champion Vader to a match for the belt. Of course, this started a series of great promos and weeks of build-up to Starrcade ’93.
“And to you, Vader, being the man and staying the man are two different things. WOO!”
Flair vs. Vader at Starrcade 1993
Vader was the most popular and dominant wrestler in the WCW at the time, so obviously WCW staged Flair’s comeback to play off that. Their feud ended with an agreement that if Flair won, he got the title. But if he lost, Flair would leave the sport of wrestling. We all knew that would never happen though…
Their match showed that Flair could wrestle with literally anybody and put on a great show, no matter how different their styles and sizes. Flair was perfectly set up as the hometown hero as Starrcade was conveniently located in North Carolina that year.
Vader entered the ring accompanied by Flair’s former opponent Harley Race who was itching to see Flair get pummeled after having been beaten by him for the title back in the day at Starrcade. Big man Vader dished out a beating in this title-versus-career match, but The Nature Boy showed he could take it, always coming back for more. The crowd was wild, the stakes were high, and both wrestlers totally delivered.
In an abrupt finish, Flair became the WCW Heavyweight Champion for the 11th time. It was one of Vader’s best matches and one of Flair’s most fun championship wins.
Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat at Spring Stampede 1994
Yes, these two met up again in a match that’s not often talked about. But when they get in the ring together, it’s always brilliance. Flair defended his title in a match that lasted over 30 minutes, showing that he’s still got it. Headlocks, a battle outside the ring, punches, chops, the Figure-Four, and of course, Flair flailing in dramatic agony and pain.
The match ended in a draw as Steamboat got Flair in a Double Chicken-Wing and both men’s shoulders stayed on the mat for a count of three (for the double pin). This was their last pay-per-view match together one on one. Ahh, the end of an era…
Flair vs. Hulk Hogan at Bash at the Beach
In 1994, we finally got to see this famed matchup in a pay-per-view setting… just several years later than expected. Fans everywhere had been waiting for this one – the two biggest personalities in wrestling in the ring together – but for some reason, the WWE didn’t cash in on it.
WCW did it just a little bit later, and while tensions and expectations weren’t quite at their peak anymore, it was still larger than life. Aside from their fame, the two were totally different characters. According to Flair, “He was selling vitamins and milk. I was selling sex and booze.”
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No, it’s not a technically magnificent match, but Flair displayed his depth of talent yet again and it was sheer entertainment because of the superstars involved. They were both HUGE. It pitted the comic book, ultimate physical specimen versus the real, gritty, arrogant scumbag. And while the two had several rematches, this one early on was new and exciting. Hogan had just come to WCW and it was his first match.
Hogan drew in the crowd and Flair made him look so, so good.
“Ric Flair is 10 times better than I am.” – Hulk Hogan
Halloween Havoc 1995
The long-running feud between Sting and Flair apparently didn’t lose any steam during Flair’s brief stint away from WCW. They had a few bigtime matches in 1994, including a reunification of the title match and a headlining spot at Clash of the Champions. But at Halloween Havoc, we were reminded again of why we all love Ric Flair.
This was a tag-team match between Sting and Flair and Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman. In the weeks leading up to the fight, we learned that Sting really wanted to trust Flair but deep down, he just knows he’s a liar. The Nature Boy swears up and down that he’s a changed man… but we know better. Sting eventually teams up with Flair despite feeling like he might get betrayed, threatening to murder Flair if he tries any funny business. Well, you can guess what happens. Watch it here.
Flair, supposedly attacked backstage beforehand, fakes an injury and pretends to wait on the edge of the ring for Sting to tag him in. Still in his dress pants, Flair watches Sting take a load of punishment from Anderson and Pillman as he begs for the tag. And sure enough, right as Sting tags him in, Ric hits the ropes and returns to pound him in the face. Sting then gets triple-teamed by Anderson, Pillman, and “the dirtiest player” in the sport. Oh, poor, naive Sting.
The Nature Boy proceeds to reunite the Horsemen, and Flair once again proves why he’s the best bad guy ever.