First published on WrestleEnigma.com
Ric Flair vs. Sting – Clash of the Champions I
Ric Flair. Sting. We all know who these men are. They revolutionized the wrestling business in the 1990s and are still participating in the wrestling world in some sort of way or form. At the first ever Clash of the Champions, these two outstanding performers, entertainers and, perhaps most importantly, wrestlers, had such a tremendous match that it is still remembered almost 25 years afterwards.
Ric Flair’s Backstory:
In 1974, Ric Flair joined NWA, standing for National Wrestling Alliance. In the following year, Flair would obtain his first singles championship in NWA, capturing the Mid-Atlantic Television Championship from Paul Jones. About seven months later, on October 4, Flair would find himself in a twin-engine Cessna 310 plane which, unbeknownst to him or the other passengers on the plane, was heading for disaster. As the plane neared the Wilmington International Airport in southeastern North Carolina, the plane began running out of gas, eventually crashing into several trees and a utility pole a couple miles away from the airplane’s designed runway.
It was later revealed that the 26-year old Flair had broken his back in three different places and had several lacerations. Compared to other passengers of the plane, such as the pilot who was in a six-week coma before dying and John Valentine who was paralyzed for life as a result, Flair was extremely lucky to still be alive. Flair eventually overcame the plane crash, returning to the ring less than a year later. Being forced to change his style in the ring because of the injuries suffered in the car crash, Flair would adapt to a new in-ring style, which is the one that he mostly used during his prime.
On July 29 of 1977, Flair would acquire his first NWA United States Heavyweight Championship from Bobo Brazil at a house show in Richmond Virginia, holding it for 84 days before dropping it to fellow current WWE Hall of Famer Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat on October 21 of the same year. Four years later, Flair captured his first-ever NWA World Heavyweight Championship, holding it for 476 days before losing it to Harley Race on June 10 of 1983. Flair would go on to hold the NWA World Heavyweight Championship for ten times, a record that no other wrestler has beaten to this very day.
Cementing himself as a top dog in the NWA, Flair would form The Four Horsemen in 1986 with “Double A” Arn Anderson, Ole Anderson, Tully Blanchard and their manager J.J. Dillon. This groundbreaking stable would go on to have rivalries with other top stars in the NWA at the time, such as Dusty Rhodes and The Road Warriors. A year later, in 1987, Ole Anderson was kicked out of the Horsemen and was replaced by the upstarting Lex Luger, who would later be kicked out himself. At the first ever Clash of the Champions event, Luger would team up with Barry Windham to defeat Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard, who were still members of the Four Horsemen at the time, to capture the NWA’s tag team title belts.
In the early stages of his wrestling career, not much was known about the man that we currently call Sting. Steve Borden, going under the name of “Flash” formed a tag team with Jim Justice, who we all now know as legendary former WWF superstar, The Ultimate Warrior. The Blade Runners, as they were collectively known upon a heel turn, worked mid-southern territories at the time such as the Universal Wrestling Federation (UWF). Jim Justice would eventually depart from the UWF around the middle of 1986, causing Sting to join a heel stable which consisted Rick Steiner, Eddie Gilbert and his valet, Missy Hyatt. While in Gilbert’s stable, Sting would win the UWF World Tag Team Championship three times, twice with “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert and another time with Rick Steiner. Sting would hold the UWF World Tag Team Championship belts three times during his career, matching The Wild Samoans’ record in the UWF.
A young upstart, Sting would turn face by allying himself with Chris Adams against Terry Taylor and his former ally Eddie Gilbert. Sting was booked to win the UWF Television Championship in late 1987, but instead, the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) bought UWF and not wanting Sting to look weak by having a transitional title reign. A supporter of his since the NWA bought UWF, Dusty Rhodes put Sting in the opening match of the fifth-ever Starrcade event, teaming with Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin against Larry Zbyszko and Sting’s former allies in the UWF, “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert and Rick Steiner. Sting’s first NWA pay-per-view match ended up in a 15-minute time limit draw just as his team was about to get the pinfall victory.
As Sting rose through the ranks in the NWA, beating superstars such as The Sheepherders (more commonly known as The Bushwhackers), Sting also began riling up crowd support with his charismatic personality and his always-improving in-ring arsenal. In early 1988, Sting issued a challenge to the NWA Champion “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair which would happen at the first-ever Clash of the Champions event that was going head-to-head with WrestleMania IV.
In the right corner, sporting purple tights and white boots was Ric Flair, the NWA Champion. Flair’s manager and ally at the time, J.J. Dillon was suspended above the ring in a cage, allowing him to still keep a close eye on the action without interfering on Flair’s behalf. In the left corner was Sting, donning black tights adorned with yellow scorpions. Watching at ringside were the five judges for this match: Jason Hervey, Sandy Scott, Ken Osmond, Gary Juster and Patty Mullen. As both competitors jawed with each other, the referee rang the bell and the action was underway.
Instead of a traditional lock-up before the match, Flair would feign running off the ropes before stopping, strutting and letting out a trademark “Wooooo!” Both men locked up a few seconds after with the more powerful Sting forcing Flair into the corner. Almost as if playing a game of one-upmanship, Sting would give away one of his patented screams to the delight of the crowd in attendance. Both men went back to the collar-and-elbow tie-up with Flair wrenching on Sting’s arm. Sting would fall to the mat and then kip-up back to his feet, breaking the grasp that Flair had on his arm. For the third consecutive time in the match, Flair and Sting would lock up. This time, Sting would put Flair into a side headlock. The veteran Flair would slip through the cracks, countering Sting’s headlock into an arm lock, all the while letting out his signature “Woooo!”s. With the crowd firmly behind him, Sting would shove Flair down to the mat, breaking the arm lock and causing Flair to back off into the ropes.
Sting would then offer Flair a test of strength. A cautious Flair would eventually accept Sting’s test, with Sting quickly overpowering Flair. Flair would turn this around, forcing Sting into the corner and hitting a knife-edge chop on him. Sting would no-sell this powerful chop, forcing Flair into the other corner and then tossing him across the ring like a rag doll. Sting would follow this up with a dropkick, causing Flair to roll out of the ring and rethink his strategy heading into this bout. Back in the ring, another lock up would ensue between these two future legends. This time, Flair had the tight headlock on “The Stinger.” Flair would later transition into a hammerlock, but Sting had Flair scouted, switching the hammerlock on the NWA World Champion. With Flair trying to get out of the hammerlock, Sting would lock on an armlock. Eventually, although writhing in pain, Flair would force Sting into the ropes making him break his submission hold.
Flair, the heel heading into this match, would take advantage of Sting with a body blow and then another chop. Flair went for another side headlock, but Sting pushed Flair into the ropes. After a jumping/ducking sequence by both tremendous competitors, Sting would lift Flair up into the air before dropping him back down to the canvas with a military press slam. Sting would continue to gain momentum with a flying headscissors in the corner, a hip toss and a side headlock takeover for a two count. With Flair in the center of the ring, Sting maintained his side headlock as the ring announcer announced that 40 minutes were left in this match. Flair would finally make it back to a standing position, pushing Sting into the ropes. Sting would rebound with a big shoulder block, knocking Flair down once again. A few seconds later, Sting went back to the side headlock. The same thing would happen once again with Flair breaking the headlock and Sting taking “The Alimony Pony” down with a shoulder tackle.
A short while later, Sting would jump over Flair’s body on the ground, but Flair would rise right back up, going for a hip toss. The fresher Sting would counter the attempted hip toss into one of his own and once again hit a side headlock takeover for a count of two. Sting hangs on to Flair’s head, once again having a side headlock tightly locked in. As J.J. Dillon watches 30 or 40 feet above the ring in a bird cage, Flair is able to flip over and get Sting in a pinning combination for a two count. Sting rolls over and goes back to the headlock. Flair makes it to a standing position a few seconds later, but Sting knocks “Slick” Ric back down and goes back to the side headlock. Sting wrenches on the maneuver, pressuring Flair’s head and using all the strength he can. Flair eventually makes it back to his base, forces Sting into the corner and begins working on him with some blows on the body. Sting turns it around on Flair and goes for the mounted punches in the corner, but Flair blocks it. Flair goes for a punch of his own, but Sting counters it into a couple of big right hands.
Sting gets Flair in the corner and tosses him across the ring. Sting attempts to follow it with a dropkick like earlier in the match, but misses it. With Sting down, Flair does the classic “Flair Flop” (where he walks around and then takes a bump face-first into the mat). With both men down, the referee begins to count both men out. Meanwhile above the ring, J.J. Dillon shouts words of encouragement to “The Nature Boy.” Flair is the first one to get back on his feet and he immediately throws Sting out of the ring through the middle ropes. A mere matter of seconds later, Sting jumps right back into the ring, much to the shock of Flair. Flair recoils into the corner and Sting finally gets the chance to hit the mounted punches as J.J. Dillon looks on. Sting with a big blow to the abdomen and then yet another side headlock takeover for yet another two count.
Sting keeps the side headlock locked on, but Flair counters into a pinning combination for a two count. Sting back to the headlock, Flair back to the pinning combination for another two count. This happens once again as the bout passes the ten minute mark. Flair makes it back to a standing position a short while later, pressing his hand against Sting’s chin and forcing Sting against the ropes. Flair with a big punch to the ribs of Sting and then some chops in the corner. Sting tries to battle back with some clubs to the back and is successful. Sting with three or four kicks to the gut, a whip off the ropes and, for the second time in this bout, executes a big military press slam.
Sting whips Flair into the ropes and catches him with a bearhug. Sting’s arms are tightly wrapped around Flair’s lower back. The resilient Flair attempts to reach the ropes, but Sting, the more powerful man in this contest, forces Flair to the canvas and pins his shoulders down for a count of two. Sting applies more pressure to the bearhug he has applied on Flair as Flair yelps out “Oh, God! My back!” Sting gets frustrated with Flair’s resiliency and decides to punch away at Flair’s head. Sting runs off the ropes and goes for a jumping elbow drop, but Flair rolls out of the way. Flair begs off Sting in the corner, but Sting is having none of it as he whips Flair into the opposite corner. Sting goes for a Stinger Splash, but Flair once again moves out of the way. Sting lands elbow-first into the turnbuckle and goes down holding his elbow.
With both men back up again, Flair once again begs Sting to back off. Sting goes right back on the offensive, not putting up with any of Flair’s tactics, and attempts the mounted punches in the corner. Flair powers out with an inverted atomic drop on Sting and both men are down on the mat again. Flair is the first man back up, rolling out of the ring. Flair walks over to Sting, pulls him out of the ring and whips him into one of the steel barriers at ringside. Sting is obviously hurt as he lets out a scream. Flair pulls Sting back up and tosses him right into the same barrier as before. Flair, now in control of the bout, pulls Sting back into the ring and goes to town on him with knife-edged chops. Woooo!
Flair with a hard whip on Sting that sends him crashing into the opposite corner. That one shook the ring. Flair taunts Sting as J.J. Dillon applauds Flair above the ring. Now it’s Flair that’s working on Sting’s back as he once again whips him into the corner. Flair, the master technician, with a perfectly executed snapmare and then a big knee drop right on Sting’s forehead. Flair once again with the knee drop and then a painful back rake. Flair backs up his “dirtiest player in the game” nickname as he rakes several parts of Sting’s body. As we approach the halfway point of this bout, Flair continues to work on Sting with several chops, blows and then finally tossing him to the hard floor on the outside. Flair grabs a chair from ringside and is about to use it on Sting, but the referee restrains Flair and removes the illegal object from his grasp.
Coincidentally, much like the last time that these two found themselves on the outside during this match, Flair once again whips Sting into the same steel barrier. Flair is the first man back in the ring, but a weary Sting follows him back in. Flair with some knife-edged chops, a bionic elbow and a headlock punch. Sting, however, is having none of it and begins to no-sell Flair’s offense. The crowd is going bananas. Sting with some punches on Flair and then finally a big right hand to knock Flair over the top rope and out of the ring. Sting positions Flair against the ring post and attempts a Stinger Splash, but Flair moves out of the way and Sting’s arm crashes right into the post.
Flair has the definitive advantage as Sting rolls back into the ring. Flair wrenches and pulls on Sting’s arm. With the crowd firmly behind “The Stinger,” Sting rises back up to his feet. Flair tries to push Sting to the ground, but Sting kips back up, reminiscent of how he did at the beginning of the bout. Sting with three right hands to the head, a knee to the abdomen, a chokehold and then mounted punches in the corner. Sting performs a big hip toss and catches Flair with a clothesline. Sting covers for a two count. Flair tries to squirm out of the ring but Sting catches him and suplexes him back into the ring.
Sting looks around at the crowd and then decides it’s time to go for the finish. Sting grabs both of Flair’s legs and crosses them. Is he able to turn Flair over? Yes, he is! Sting has the Scorpion Deathlock perfectly applied, but his ring positioning is what keeps him from not getting the win right here. Flair quickly goes to the ropes, causing Sting to break his patented submission maneuver. Sting goes on the offense, this time in a very methodical manner, choking Flair with his boot in the corner. Flair tries to come back with a knife-edged chop, but Sting comes right back with a huge punch to the head. Flair falls flat on his face and Sting tries to take advantage of it. Sting rolls Flair over and goes for the cover. One, two, but no, Flair has his foot on the bottom rope.
Sting with another big toss across the ring. Sting attempts a clothesline, but Flair pulls the top rope down and Sting’s own momentum throws him over the top rope. As Sting makes it to the apron, Flair grabs Sting and snaps his head off the top rope. Flair tries to regroup, but Sting is right back up, mounting the top rope. Sting executes a flying crossbody ¾ around the ring for a big nearfall. Sting with a side headlock, but Flair counters it into a knee breaker and both men are down once again. Flair makes it to his feet at the count of eight as Sting tries to use the ropes to bring himself back to a vertical base. Flair with a kick to the back of Sting’s knee, obviously setting up for his signature Figure 4 Leglock. Another big knee breaker from the NWA Heavyweight Champion of the World, causing Sting to roll out of the ring. Sting hobbles around the outside, trying to make it back into the ring. Once he does, Flair goes right back to the knee, systematically dissecting Sting’s lower limbs. Flair with an elevated back suplex at the thirty minute mark.
Fifteen minutes remain in the contest as Flair grabs Sting’s left leg. The crowd knows what Flair is going for. The Figure 4 Leglock is locked in! Sting is in the middle of the ring. As the referee checks on Sting, Flair uses the ropes to put extra pressure on Sting’s legs. Flair once again uses the ropes as a distracted referee checks on Sting to see if his shoulders are down on the mat. Out of nowhere, Sting begins getting a rush of adrenaline and he pulls Flair away from the ropes. The fans are fully behind Sting, cheering for every move or facial expression from their number one babyface. Sting motions for the crowd as he attempts to flip over on his stomach to revert the pressure on Flair. Flair breaks the hold and both men are back down.
Flair is the first man up, going back to work on Sting’s lower limbs. Flair moves to the apron and pulls Sting up. Flair attempts to suplex Sting to the outside on the concrete, but Sting counters it into a delayed vertical suplex. Sting runs off the ropes, looking for a big splash but instead encounters both of Flair’s knees on his way down. Back to his feet, Flair whips Sting into the ropes but Sting counters into an abdominal stretch. Flair eventually reverses Sting’s submission hold into a hip toss. The ring announcer announces that ten minutes are left in the contest. Flair attempts an elbow drop, but Sting moves out of the way. Regardless, Flair is the first man back up, moving to the apron and going to the top rope. Flair goes for a high-risk move but Sting is back up to his feet. Sting tosses Flair into the middle of the ring and crawls over into the cover for a two count.
Sting grabs both of Flair’s legs and goes to the outside. Sting pulls Flair into the ring post groin-first. J.J. Dillon calls for a disqualification above the ring as Sting stomps on Flair’s leg back in the ring. Sting grabs Flair’s legs and locks in Flair’s own figure 4 leglock! Sting wants to beat Flair with his own submission maneuver. It’s looking bad for Flair right now. However, Flair, out of desperation, manages to grab the bottom rope. Flair is hurting all over at this point of the bout. Sting now has Flair in the corner and he hits some mounted punches followed by another big hip toss. Sting goes back to working on Flair’s lower limbs, positioning Flair’s ankle on the bottom rope and then coming down full force on Flair’s shin. A frustrated Flair hobbles back up and shoves the referee who shoves him back into the ground for a big pop.
Sting grabs Flair and whips him into the corner, with Flair during his classic Flair Flip (flipping over the turnbuckle onto the floor/apron) and landing on the floor. Near the five judges of his bout, Sting grabs Flair by the head and slams his head onto one of the steel barriers at ringside. All the judges scramble out of their seats while Sting slams Flair’s head onto the judges’ table. Sting grabs Flair and tosses him against the ring post. Flair’s brains are scattered as he falls over a steel barrier and into the crowd as a result of that shot into the ring post. Sting pulls Flair back into the ringside area by the hair and enters the ring as the ring announcer lets the crowd and the competitors know that 40 minutes have passed in the match and that 5 minutes remain. Flair makes it back to the apron and thrusts Sting in the stomach with his shoulder. Flair goes for a sunset flip, but Sting is just too much. Sting floors Flair with a big punch. Sting goes to town on Flair with a back rake and some body blows.
Sting once again has Flair in the corner and goes for the mounted punches for the fifth time or so in this 40+ minute wrestling match. Flair pulls Sting out of the corner at the fifth punch and hits an inverted atomic drop to no avail. Sting no-sells it and knocks Flair down with a big clothesline. Sting covers, but Flair has his foot on the bottom rope. Sting whips Flair into the corner and goes for the Stinger Splash. Sting once again misses his signature splash in the corner and falls over the bottom rope to the cold concrete floor. Three minutes remain as Sting rolls back into the ring on instinct perhaps. Flair reaches down and pulls Sting back up to his feet for some knife-edged chops. Sting comes back with a single punch and locks in a side headlock. Flair tosses Sting into the ropes, but Sting comes right back with a big shoulder tackle.
Sting goes for another one, but Flair locks in a sleeper hold. Sting, somehow, manages to counter Flair’s sleeper hold and tosses Flair head-first into the top turnbuckle. Both men are down and the referee begins to count both men out. Flair is the first man up and he tosses Sting to the outside through the middle rope. Sting pops right back up and climbs onto the apron. Sting with a shoulder thrust and he attempts a sunset flip. Much like Flair earlier in the match, Sting is unable to get Flair down to complete the maneuver. Flair kneels down and grabs the top rope. One, two, but no! That would have been over right there, but the referee saw Flair grab the top rope for leverage. The referee removes Flair’s hands from the top rope allowing Sting to complete his sunset flip. One, twoooooo! Another two count from “The Stinger.”
Sting grabs Flair and tosses him into the turnbuckle, but Flair once again does the Flair Flip. This time, however, Flair lands on his feet on the apron and runs over to the top rope. Flair with a big crossbody, but Sting rolls over for a count of two. Both men are back up. Flair with a chop, Sting no-sells it. Flair with a kick to the gut, Sting no-sells it. Two more chops, another no-sell. Sting with three punches to the head, a kick to the gut and then the mounted punches in the corner! Sting whips Flair into the corner, Stinger Splash! Flair is in big trouble. Sting grabs both of Flair’s legs, twists them and turns Flair on his back with 25 seconds left. The Scorpion Deathlock is locked in! Can Flair hold on? 10! 9! 8! 7! 6! 5! Flair is screaming in pain. 5! 4! 3! 2! 1! The bell rings. Flair didn’t tap and now it’s up to the five judges at ringside to decide who the winner of this amazing bout is. Not only will they decide the winner, but they will also decide who the new NWA Heavyweight Champion of the World will be before the night is over.
As the judges discuss between each other, J.J. Dillon, Flair’s manager and adviser at the time, is lowered down to the ring from the bird cage he was trapped in to ensure that no shenanigans would ensue during the match. After a brief pause, both competitors were back up to their feet. The referee and ring announcer were also in the ring to announce the winner and NWA Heavyweight Champion of the World. Patty Mullen has voted for “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Big boos from the crowd for that. Gary Juster has scored the match for Sting, evoking a positive crowd reaction. The third judge, Sandy Scott, has declared the match a draw. No reaction for that one. Therefore, by the decision of those three judges, this match has been declared a draw! None of the other judges have apparently casted in their votes. Still the NWA Heavyweight Champion of the World… “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair!
Sting is livid and so is the crowd. On the other hand, however, J.J. Dillon and Ric Flair are ecstatic as the NWA Heavyweight Championship of the World will remain with The Four Horsemen! Flair eventually leaves the ring with his advisor J.J. Dillon in tow and goes to the back as Sting remains in the ring, furious over the decision made by the five celebrity judges.
Following their first historic match at Clash of the Champions, Flair and Sting have had many different battles over the last few years. After the Clash, both men competed against each other at house shows more times throughout the year, with Flair walking out still wearing his NWA Heavyweight Championship of the World every single time. Later in the year (1988), Sting would feud with Flair’s fellow Four Horsemen members, Tully Blanchard and “The Enforcer” Arn Anderson. At The Great American Bash pay-per-view event, Sting teamed up with Nikita Koloff to to take on Anderson and Blanchard in a match with a 20-minute time limit. Eerily similar to his match with Flair, Sting had the Scorpion Deathlock applied on Blanchard when the time limit expired. Since there were no judges for this match, Blanchard and Anderson retained the titles.
To kick off the year in 1989, Sting had a one-hour bout versus Flair in Atlanta. The two once again put on a masterpiece only for the match to end in a draw. Flair and Sting’s paths would cross again at the 1989 Great American Bash event where Flair was wrestling Terry Funk in a match for the NWA Heavyweight Championship of the World. After Flair retained his title in a grueling match, The Great Muta (one of Funk’s stablemates in Gary Hart’s J-Tex Corporation) jumped Flair from behind and began putting the boots on him. Always the hero, Sting rushed to Flair’s aid. Flair and Sting would feud with The Great Muta and Terry Funk during the year with Sting and Flair being victorious over Muta and Funk in a Thunderdome match at that year’s Halloween Havoc televised event.
This alliance with Flair would cause Sting to join the newly-reformed Four Horsemen alongside Flair, Ole Anderson and Arn Anderson. Sting ended 1989 by defeating Flair at Starrcade with a roll-up to earn the number one contendership right for Flair’s NWA Heavyweight Championship of the World. Fearing a title loss, Flair and The Andersons would expel Sting from The Four Horsemen. After suffering a legitimate knee injury, Sting’s quest for the title was momentarily derailed, but not for long. Sting would capture his first NWA World Heavyweight Championship at the 1990 Great American Bash after countering Flair’s patented figure four leglock into a small package.
During Sting’s NWA World Heavyweight Championship title run, a new face emerged in the NWA ranks called The Black Scorpion. The Black Scorpion and Sting would feud for months before Sting would beat The Black Scorpion with a flying crossbody at the 1990 Starrcade. Post-match, Sting would reveal The Black Scorpion to be none other than “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. On January 11, 1991, Sting’s championship reign would come to an end when he was defeated by the very man he beat at Starrcade, Ric Flair.
After a few years without any notable contact, Sting would defeat Big Van Vader for the WCW International Championship. WCW had split from NWA at this point, thus explaining the title name change. At the 1994 Clash of the Champions event, the WCW International Champion Sting would battle WCW World Heavyweight Champion Flair in a title unification match which Flair won, ending the existence of the WCW International Title.
On the first ever WCW Monday Night Nitro, Sting would battle Flair in yet another match which would end with Flair defeating Sting by disqualification after Arn Anderson attacked Flair in the middle of the bout. In late 1995, Flair convinced the still-babyface Sting to team up with him against Anderson and Brian Pillman. Late in the match, Flair turned heel, betraying Sting and reforming The Four Horsemen with Pillman, Anderson, Chris Benoit and himself. Sting would then relentlessly attack Flair during a match on WCW Monday Nitro, locking the Scorpion Deathlock on him until Sting’s on-screen ally at the time, Lex Luger, convinced him to let go off “The Dirtiest Player of the Game.”
Perhaps one of Sting and Flair’s most famous matches happened at the last WCW Monday Night Nitro ever in 2001 where Sting and Flair battled against each other again with Sting making Flair submit via the Scorpion Deathlock submission maneuver. Both rivals would then hug it out post-match, honoring WCW and its last event ever.
In 2010, both Sting and Flair found themselves in TNA. However, Sting was absent until March 8 of that year. Sting would return during a match in between Hulk Hogan and Abyss vs. AJ Styles and Ric Flair. As Sting stood between the two teams, Sting teased attacking Flair and Styles with his trademark black baseball bat, but instead smashed Hogan and Abyss with the bat, turning heel in the process. On March 22, 2010, Sting was made the captain of Ric Flair’s team at Lockdown where they would face Hulk Hogan’s team. Team Flair would lose to Team Hogan at the event.
In August of 2011, after taking a short absence, Flair would return to TNA in the midst of a feud between Hulk Hogan and Sting. Flair would back up Hogan, challenging Sting to a match. Sting accepted the match with the conditions that if he lost, he would retire, but that if Flair lost, Sting would get to put his hands on Hogan at Bound for Glory. This match would happen on September 15 with Sting defeating Flair decisively with the Scorpion Deathlock.
Although this was a stellar bout, I believe it is not one for everyone. Some people might get bored with the repetitive moves and the fact that there are not many high spots or flashy spots in the match. However, the story Sting and Flair tell is amazing. Sting is the up-and-coming flashy star who is looking to cement himself while Flair is the top dog who looks to remain as the top dog for his heel stable. Sting brings the power game to the match and Flair, who usually matches or has superior strength than his opponent, has to resort to methodically attacking body parts throughout the match.
Although the action is good for the first 30 minutes of the match, it is nothing big. Yet, the crowd reacts to every move that these two in-ring masters do, making it such a great environment to be in. For an example of this, see Punk vs. Cena at Money in the Bank 2011. For an example of a dead crowd killing a great match, see Roode vs. Storm at last night’s TNA Lockdown pay-per-view. The crowd is so into the match that every move, tug or chop makes them react, whether it is to jeer Flair or to cheer on “The Stinger.”
I highly recommend this match for those who like a classic style of wrestling and for those who are looking to get to know more about wrestling. The legacy of this match is still around today and all these reasons are why I believe this was the greatest Clash of the Champions match of all time. The competitors were into it, the crowd was into it and it was full of great, simple action.