Tonight on Monday Night Raw at 8 PM EST on the USA Network, The WWE is promoting a 70th birthday celebration for, arguably the greatest wrestler of all time, The Nature Boy Ric Flair. The majority of wrestling fans know a lot about Flair’s history. However, between the near perfect matches and the captivating interviews he did, a lot of fans find it difficult to decide which moment from Flair’s nearly 40 year career was their favorite. For me it’s a little easier, my favorite Ric Flair moment is him capturing his first WWF (What the WWE was called at the time) Championship in the 1992 Royal Rumble Match.
In the 1980’s Flair was the main attraction for the WWF’s main rival promotion, Jim Crockett Promotions, who would be rebranded World Championship Wrestling after being purchased by Ted Turner in 1988. While Turner had the finances to invest in WCW, his executives he hired to run the company were inexperienced in the wrestling business. One such executive was Jim Herd who had a very public difference of opinion with Ric Flair, the first WCW Champion. Herd would go on to fire Flair even though he was WCW Champion, so Flair did the obvious, he signed with the WWF while still possessing the WCW Championship. Afterwards, WCW would hold a match between Lex Luger and Barry Windham to crown a new champion with a new championship belt; however, Flair still possessed the belt that a lot of fans recognized as the WCW Championship. Flair would appear on WWF television several times with the belt referring to it as “The Real World Championship”.
When Ric Flair arrived in the WWF, a lot of fans dreamed of a potential WWF Championship Match between Flair and current champion Hulk Hogan. Hogan however had a deadly challenger to deal with first. At the 1991 Survivor Series PPV, Hogan lost the WWF Championship to The Undertaker after interference from Flair and Paul Bearer, the manager of The Undertaker. Hogan would recapture the championship six days later at This Tuesday in Texas, this time, overcoming interference from Flair and Bearer. The controversial endings to both matches caused current WWF President Jack Tunney to declare the WWF Championship vacant and an Undisputed Champion to be crowned at the 1992 Royal Rumble.
The Nature Boy Ric Flair made history that night. He competed for over an hour out lasting 28 other superstars including nine former and future World Champions and fourteen WWE Hall of Famers. This spectacular performance is something that every wrestling fan needs to view at least once. I was mesmerized that night and became a wrestling fan for life. All thanks to one man, The Nature Boy Ric Flair. So that was Ric Flair’s greatest gift to me, Happy 70th Birthday Nature Boy. You deserve it!