When Ric Flair announced that he was going to take part in one more professional wrestling match, 14 years removed from his WWE retirement match at WrestleMania 24, it left a bad impression among more than a few fans of the sport. Sure, “older” wrestlers are working matches with increasing frequency, with 63-year-old Sting wrestling matches on AEW television at an impressive clip, but Flair is an old 73, with multiple injuries, ailments, and a coma on his resume over the past few years alone.
Let's just say when a wrestler jokes that they “won't take their blood thinners” before a match, it's probably not the safest idea to hold the contest.
So why, then, would Flair do the match? Why would he risk something catastrophic happening in the ring, risk never seeing his grandchildren again, and or worst of all, risk getting embarrassed and tarnishing the legacy that clearly means the world to him in order to risk wrestling a dud? Well, because for one more night, Flair “gets to be (himself) again, (he) gets to be The Nature Boy.”
Do you know what? All things considered, there are way worse reasons to take part in an athletic endeavor; especially one that has the potential to draw in hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of dollars, and secure that final curtain call that Flair didn't really get in in 2011, when Flair lost a 12-minute match to Sting on TNA's Impact Wrestling program. For one final night, Flair got to be “the man,” and even if that match wasn't on par with his bout against Shawn Michaels in 2008, it more than worked as the capstone of a very good card.
Ric Flair went out surrounded by his former WWE friends and foes alike.
If ever there was a match, a show, or a Pay-Per-View designed explicitly around making a single wrestler feel like the greatest of all time, it was Ric Flair's Last Match. Besides the name – which is pretty on the nose – Flair's last match featured a recreation of the Jim Crockett set/ring/presentation, had Tony Schiavone and David Crockett on commentary, and featured about a dozen performers who had direct connections to “The Nature Boy” in on way or another. It also, unsurprisingly, featured more than a few celebrity cameos from Flair-adjacent performers from his illustrious career too, from Cody Rhodes, to Kurt Angle, to even the final opponent from his TNA run, String, who talked up Natch as the man who launched his career, elevated his career, and provided him with the infrastructure needed to have a long and prosperous career.
As the show progressed with more and more tributes with each passing match, and Flair's final big moment inched closer and closer along, with none other than The Undertaker – and Bret Hart, who, weirdly, wasn't shouted out by the camera team – taking a seat ringside to watch the festivities, the reality started to set in – 73-year-old Ric Flair was going to wrestle a match against 55-year-old Jeff Jarrett with Jay Lethal and Andrade El Idolo rounding out the match, and he very well might die in the ring, as Frank The Clown of Warrior Wrestling pointed out during the card's pre-show.
After a very extended introduction for Jeff Jarrett that saw the former SummerSlam guest referee get into fights with more than a few members of the crowd – including one unlucky fan who landed a face full of water from Double J – Andrade El Idolo and then “The Nature Boy” walked down the ramp to the thunderous applause of a white-hot crowd and strapped in for a 26-minute match filled with twists, turns, intrigue, and a faked heart attack spot for good measure too.
— BATTLE (@battleonair) August 1, 2022
Working far more of the match than many a fan initially expected, Flair pretty much cycled through his greatest hits inside the Starrcast ring, chopping the chests of his opponents, strutting around, and even putting in a few figure fours for good measure. While everything didn't work out exactly as planned, as there was a very strange spot featuring Karen Jarrett and Flair's oldest daughter to cover up a very clear blading job, and the finish saw Ric pin Jeff with the Figure 4 despite having his shoulders on the mat too – which should have resulted in a double-pin – the match ultimately culminated as it should have – with Ric Flair getting to be “The Nature Boy” for one last night while his adoring fans cheered him on into the greener pastures of retirement once and for all… unless he shows up on Monday Night RAW to challenge Cody Rhodes to a match as “The American Nightmare” suggested.
— #StarrcastV (@StarrcastEvents) August 1, 2022