Ric Flair is undoubtedly one of the most popular in-ring competitors in pro wrestling history. Starting in 1972, Flair commenced his career in the squared circle, and it did not take long for him to gain notoriety in the wrestling sphere. For the next 40 years, “The Nature Boy” became the most prolific champion in the history of the business. His career led to becoming the first two-time WWE Hall of Famer, being individually inducted in 2008 and as a member of the Four Horsemen in 2012.
The majority of Flair’s run began in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW), but after major creative differences, Flair spent a short time from 1991-1993 in WWF.
Flair returned to WWE following the close of WCW in 2001 and assumed the role as both an on-air authority figure, as well as an in-ring competitor. In 2002, despite defeating Chris Jericho and winning at SummerSlam, Flair was unsuccessful in winning the Intercontinental Championship from Jericho in a title match at Unforgiven.
However, in 2005, at the age of 56, the iconic wrestler defeated Carlito to win the IC Championship and retained the title for over five months.
In 2008, Flair experienced his final months in a WWE ring as a competitor. Leading up to WrestleMania, Flair was in a Career Threatening Match on the January 14, 2008 episode of Raw against William Regal, which he won. Following this win, Flair competed in a series of career-threatening matches. These included victories against MVP at Royal Rumble, MVP on the January 29, 2008 episode of SmackDown, and Mr. Kennedy at No Way Out 2008.
Vince McMahon also had a match vs. Ric Flair in a Career Threatening Street Fight on the March 17, 2008 episode of Raw.
Ric Flair’s Last Match
At WrestleMania XXIV, Flair competed against Shawn Michaels in what was to be his final match for the company. This retirement match storyline at WrestleMania 24 was arguably that most poignant wrestling match on the card, and ended with Michaels executing his Sweet Chin Music finisher.
Before executing the superkick to Flair, HBK stated the words, “I’m sorry, I love you,” and ended The Nature Boy’s career. Flair walked out of the Citrus Bowl with a standing ovation from the crowd.
Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair
WWE.com did a feature on Ric Flair’s WrestleMania matches, which included WrestleMania 8 against Randy Savage and teaming up with Randy Orton and Batista (as Evolution) against The Rock and Mankind (Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection) at WrestleMania 20. In addition to these matches, Flair competed against The Undertaker at WrestleMania 18, the Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania 22 pay-per-view, and in a dark match at WrestleMania 23 teaming with Carlito against Chavo Guerrero and Gregory Helms in a Lumberjack Match.
Undoubtedly, Ric Flair’s best match at the grandest stage of them all is against The Showstopper. While Flair has credited Dusty Rhodes as his favorite opponent, and Ricky Steamboat and Sting as two of his greatest feuds, his match against Michaels was a well-tied bow in the illustrious career of The Nature Boy.
This article was originally published May 24, 2019.