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Ric Flair vs Vader (WCW Starrcade 12/27/93)

WCW Starrcade December 27 1993 Ric Flair Vader Flair vs Vader Charlotte NC Title Changes 4.5*

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#21 NintendoLogic


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Posted 08 January 2012 - 12:12 AM

For pure emotion, I think Eddy/Brock at NWO has this beat. But I agree that this is a very good match. As far as "Vader beating up an old man" matches go, I'd say this and the Inoki match are roughly equal. Vader/Inoki is more of a great spectacle, while Vader/Flair is more of a great moment.

#22 jasch

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 11:57 AM

For me, matches that have great emotion are diffcult to rate because the emotion is never as great as the first time I watch it. When I saw this match the night it happened on ppv, I thought it was just about the greatest thing ever. Over the years, while the memory of seeing it the first time remains, I've started picking at its flaws. I think it is still quite good, just not as great 18ish years later.

#23 El-P



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Posted 09 November 2012 - 10:47 AM

Ok, now that I have rewatched it in context, I made a 180° on it. I totally agree with Loss on the Tenryu remark, that's exactly what I thought when rewatching this, Flair basically worked a Tenryu match, going at it with stiff chops and good looking punches. The is the apex of Flair working babyface and shows pretty much what he would have been if he had worked mostly babyface during his career. That being said, I wouldn't call it a great match, although it's a slow build match that gets better as it goes, and the emotionnal post-match does a lot to carry it over the top, but I certainly wouldn't put it in the same category as any Vader vs Sting matches. But a very good to excellent match ? Yep, without a problem. The ending sucks, but the pop it gets is so great that it almost nullifies it, as at this very second Flair is the champ again, has saved his career and everything is good in the best world possible. So, all in all it's a very fine match to end a very frustrating card (cut off Rude vs Boss & Austin vs Rhodes so the Nasties could work 30 minutes, to a DQ no less), and a pretty terrible 2/3 of a year.

#24 Superstar Sleeze

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 10:32 PM

I have no idea what the criticisms are towards this match because of my sheltered internet existence until I found this forum. I have always liked this match a lot rating this as the best match in Starrcade history as WWE did for their DVD set is overkill, but I agree with Loss' assessment that this is best US Match of '93 behind the Sting/Vader strap match. Ric Flair is such a great heel, you forget how amazing he is as a babyface in his matches against Funk, Eaton and Vader he really shows how well he can adjust. There is not babyface shine, which feels a bit unusual, but it is Vader, so it makes sense just have him start overpowering Flair. The usual Vader misses a move gives opponent opportunity follows, which is always great. I love Vader chest first bump onto rails. Vader fucks up Flair's mouth and Flair is not happy. This is a match pits the two best corner workers and verbal sellers in history in my opinion. They work Flair's first knockdown of Vader awesomely. Flair's barrage of punches during the home stretch is incredibly moving. It is something that gets me everytime as you cant help but root for him. The chair stuff and punches on the outside look so vicious. You know you are over like rover when you merely pick up someone's ankle and the place goes batshit. Vader does not submit to the Figure-4, which part of me thinks it should have been the finish because Flair is the babyface. Vader/Harley work their stock spot of missed Vadersault and Harley headbutt onto Vader that always pops the crowd. I agree the tabletop looked fucked up. Only one pinfall attempt in the whole match and yet there was so much drama throughout. It is pretty much everything I would expect from Flair/Vader and they delivered in spades.

#25 Childs

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 10:26 AM

Put me on the side of those who say the backlash against this match went too far. Others have outlined the reasons. Flair took the asskicking he needed to take from Vader and showed great fire during his rallies. I didn't love him using the three straight top-rope moves, because he always looked like shit on those. But that's a quibble. Vader's timing on his cutoff spots was excellent. Race's involvement seemed appropriate given his history with Ric. The idea of the ending worked, even if the execution was a bit weak. I really liked the post-match stuff, with the interviews of other wrestlers, Flair getting emotional and Vader going apeshit in the locker room. Not a transcendent match because of the hiccups in execution, but as a total spectacle, it was really well done.

#26 goodhelmet

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Posted 02 August 2013 - 02:12 AM

The whole build during the show was excellent. Not me of my favorite Flair or Vader matches because I had no emotional attach,ent to either guy at the time I watched the match but I think I want to rewatch it since it has generated so much discussion.

#27 Zenjo


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Posted 11 November 2013 - 11:18 PM

So much had been and gone. A decade after launching Starrcade Ric Flair was back in the main event fighting for the World Title. Harley Race was there to remind him of 1983 as he took a few cheapshots on the outside. Ric's career was nominally on the line, and there was a great hometown crowd to cheer him on. The challenger came in with a game plan to take it long and wear Vader down. To do that he'd have to pay a heavy physical price. The maskadon was soon dominant and bringing the pain. The short comebacks were well timed and effective. The pivotal moment came when Vader hit a sloppy lariat and inflicted some dental damage to the Nature Boy. The response wasn't immediate, but later on Flair thought 'fuck this' and started punching Vader in the mouth. The brutality kept escalating and it was the stiffest Flair match I've ever seen. Back and forth they went with such wild and unpredictable action. Flair was totally immersed in the heat of the battle and the fans were right there with him. A thrilling conclusion and a very special moment when he captures the gold. It was a remarkable babyface performance from someone better known as a heel. He was fighting for his life against a monsterous opponent. For all his thousands of matches this felt like it was the only one that mattered at this moment. He could taste the blood, he could feel the pain. He didn't have to fake anything. It was real emotion. It's so rare that I got totally lost in a match the way I did here. And this is something I've seen multiple times before. I was living through Ric Flair and could feel the emotions he was going through. That's what makes it a great match.

#28 Kevin Ridge

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 03:06 PM

I did not see this until a few years ago and based off the DVDVR 90's results I thought it was a bit overated but still pretty good. Going throught the yearbooks does boost it up though. Flair returned to WCW and say through those awful Flair for the Gold segments. He's a good guy but still begging off Sting in their match. Poor matches with Rude. But then they let Flair go out and look strong as a face. Match with Sid where he was not backing down. Taking it right at Vader in the tag match from Saturday Night. Vader has been a monster in WCW and should dominate Flair. Even with his career on the line though you have Flair fighting back big. Loads of stiff chops and punches. The physical stuff from both guys is great. This was Flair fighting for his career and Vader doing all he could to be the man to end it. Post match stuff is really good too. There is loads of fire in Flair in the ring and with him promos during this period. He would go into early 94 still looking strong under Hogan showed up. This 4-5 month stretch is probably my favorite Flair on the 90s.

#29 PeteF3

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 12:29 AM

Flair, strutting around the ring while barely being able to stand, with a bloody mouth, after finally taking Vader down, is one of the most chill-inducing wrestling images I've ever seen.


This is essentially WCW's answer to Savage vs. Warrior at WM7--a match in which the "moment" and the story and the imagery so overwhelm the X's and O's that it's almost impossible to rate objectively. It's all added by viewing the full context of the Yearbook. At this point, basically every promotion in the world (except UWFI and AAA) was in a worse spot than they were 365 days earlier--most in the U.S. dramatically worse. The wrestling business as a whole seemed to be on life support. And Ric Flair--the Plan B!--for at least a night appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel. In a strictly kayfabe context, Vader has run roughshod over every major WCW babyface--beaten down Simmons, turned back Sting, turned back Davey Boy and Cactus, and put Sid out of wrestling. And Flair was the light at the end of the tunnel.


Getting back to those X's and O's for a second, what Loss said about making the fans wait for a psychological payoff--when talking about Arn and Regal and the leg at SuperBrawl IV, or about the build-up to the Cesaro Swing in the Cena match--really comes into play here. Flair's first tactic is try to play simple hit & run, but Vader's ready for that and won't play that game. *Then*, after weathering Vader's attack, Flair targets the leg, and the crowd goes nuts. Ric could have gotten a reaction by blowing his nose here, but he hasn't forgotten Wrestling Psych 101 either. And in the end, the leg work combines with the hit & run strategy to pay off in victory, as Flair has enough to dodge all of Vader's big bombs (and one from Race, too).


At times this wasn't the easiest Yearbook to get through, and WCW can be blamed for a lot of that. And in '94 I'm sure a lot of the bloom is going to wear even further. But damned if this didn't end on a high note.

#30 flyonthewall2983

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 07:18 PM

When Buffer is introducing him, you can see that the response is legit getting to Ric, in a positive way. Nearly everything turned upside down for him from a professional standpoint from when Turner bought out the Crockett's, to when he got fed up with Herd and left. Flair got his mojo back in WWE for certain, even if they didn't use him as well as they could have you could see his confidence had returned. Even when he returned to WCW, and was stuck in things long-time fans found embarrassing (he liked the "Flair For The Gold" segments, but felt they should have been given more time), his enjoyment of what he was best at was undeterred.


It's rare in life that things come full circle, but for that night it must have for him. 

#31 dawho5

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Posted 08 September 2014 - 06:15 PM

I fail to see how this is overrated.  There is so much emotion packed into this match.  Yes, the finish was sloppy looking and maybe not exactly what you would want.  But you know what, the last 7 or 8 minutes of the match (after the big Flair comeback started) were all ugly wrestling.  Flair was determined to not lose and started laying in shots on Vader to even things up and going after the leg.  Vader was trying desperately to find something that would put Flair away once he had him down before Flair caught up to him (which he was doing quickly).  The finish didn't have to be picture perfect and I would argue that it would have been a sin if the figure four had gotten the victory.  Flair was scrapping for every inch because Vader wasn't giving any of it up.  Race was making things even more difficult.  Race accidentally headbutting Vader and being shoved out by the ref was a perfect setup for exactly the finish that happened in my book.  Flair had to take that opportunity to try to put Vader away by any means necessary while Vader was dazed and Race was incapacitated. 

#32 bkord123

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Posted 14 October 2015 - 05:22 PM

In case anyone wants to talk about this a year later, I just saw this match yesterday for the first time in many many years. I have to say I was a bit disappointed. A couple things off the top of my head:


- Obviously the finish coming out of nowhere and not really a convincing pin

- Flair's selling at times bordered on comedic

- A couple really noticeable misses: one top rope fist and a knee-drop by Ric. Also a corner boot by Vader.

- Flair should never go to the top rope because even when he connects, it's awful. An overhand fist? Eh.


I didn't hate it and there were some great moments. But I've been hearing people mention it lately and was expecting more. I was thinking a great finish would have been Flair running up behind Vader when he goes to the top and either powerbombs him or back suplexes him for the pin.


Loved the Flair-Garvin Starrcade fwiw.

#33 JKWebb

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 01:36 PM

#124 - placetobenation.com/countdown-top-500-matches-of-the-90s-150-101/2/


Put me on the love this match and moment side.  The build throughout the PPV is incredible, and there is so much emotion surrounding this match (and coming out of it) that I don't care about some minor misses or flaws technically happening in the match.  Flair takes a beating.  The ending is wonderful.  To get lost in wrestling while watching something like this is all that I can ask for.  There aren't too many moments like this out there, and man do I enjoy this one.  I get chills watching bloody Flair go toe to toe with the big man. 

#34 garretta

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 04:36 AM

Love the moment? Possibly. Love the match? No way.


Look, it's great for Flair that he got to win the title that he's synonymous with again in his hometown, with the crowd on his side as only a hometown crowd can be. Hearing Sting and Steamer pay tribute to him was great, as was seeing his family, and his honest emotion in the postmatch interview was a welcome change from his usual cockiness.


But his performance in the ring deserved ​none ​of it. He looked like a pathetic old coot in this match, and the only reason he won was because an older, even more pathetic coot thought he was the same guy he was back in 1973 and tried to come off the top rope in his goddamn dress shoes. If Harley doesn't stun Vader with that laughable attempt at a headbutt, Flair isn't set up to win. Even the winning move looked awful; if you trip a guy who weighs four hundred fifty pounds, naturally he's going to take longer than three seconds to get up. That's physics, not athletic ability.


I figured out that they were going for a Rocky vibe in the first few seconds, but even Rocky gave Apollo as good as he got once in a while. It's like they told Ric to go out and wrestle like Hulk Hogan. He was literally all punches, chops, and posts, with his only wrestling hold being the figure-four. Well, guess what? Flair's a horrible ​Hogan. The original was sitting at home that night, and he'd have had me believing in his ability to take Vader out a hell of a lot more than Flair did. Vader squashed Flair like an ant for the vast majority of this match, and nothing Flair did suggested that he can't do it again on another night and take the belt back, plus end Flair's career the hard way.


Honestly, I'm not even sure I'd have used Flair in this spot at all after what I saw. I don't know exactly where I would ​have used him, but a hometown/nostalgia pop wouldn't be enough to get me to book a match like this. Let him team with Sting and win the tag belts from the Nasties, or put the U.S. belt on Austin earlier and have him take Dustin's place. They needed another Sid to get in there with Vader, and the best candidate out there was still seven months away from debuting in WCW.


That's right, I'd have put Hogan in this spot over Flair a hundred times out of a hundred, hometown hero or no hometown hero. Flair was just too small and too old to be messing believably with a man twice his size. Maybe if Hogan had made his debut here and saved WCW from the scourge of Vader instead of debuting against a legitimate regional icon like Flair whom the fans wanted to cheer because he'd been one of theirs for over twenty years, Hulkamania would have stood at least a fighting chance in WCW.


I feel kind of bad for appearing to take a great big dump on a legit feel-good moment, but Dusty, Bischoff, and company were thinking about the big pop instead of trying to make the best possible match here. Assuming that they couldn't get Hogan on such short notice, what was the matter with Sting? Sure, the tag title match would have had to be changed, but it's not like he and Hawk were getting near the belts anyway. Have Sting beat Vader here, then drop it back at Spring Stampede and set up Hogan for Bash at the Beach. 


Actually, Flair could have gone for World title glory after all. I know he and Rude had just had two pay-per-view matches in a row, but Flair could have made the same promise to retire if he didn't beat Rude once and for all this time. Have Flair beat Rude here, then do a unification match with Flair and Vader at some point early in the summer where Vader has to cheat like hell to win. Hogan (who's in the building) notices, comes out to defend Flair, and the hype for Bash at the Beach is in full swing.


Getting back to this match for a moment, the commentary was mostly straightforward, but I liked Tony running down Flair's previous Starrcade history, conveniently forgetting that he was disqualified against Dusty in '85, he and Nikita were both DQed in '86, he was pinned clean by Sting as part of the Ironman Tournament  in '89, and he lost as The Black Scorpion to Sting in '90. Still, for all of that, his point was made, as was Jesse's about none of it being worth a hill of beans now,    


I liked the mic picking up Vader and Harley's taunting as well, particularly Harley's "You wanted him, Flair!" I would have howled if Ric had heard him, turned to him, and gasped out, "Not like this I didn't!"


We haven't seen the last of this confrontation, and now that the sentimentality's out of the way, let's hope that these two have a reasonably competitive athletic contest in them the next time they meet.


That's it for '93. See you in '94, folks!

#35 Superstar Sleeze

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 01:09 AM

WCW World Heavyweight Champion Vader vs Ric Flair - WCW Starrcade 1993


How can you not get emotional watching this? The opening video package is amazing. Vader showing up in the Ribera Jacket saying we are going to have a party and he likes this kinda party was great. Flair being picked up by Okerlund in the limo was cool. "If there is no more Ric Flair, who will go Wooo?" - Fan to Flair in 1993, amazing. The world without Ric Flair is going to be a lot less fun. Vader is such a great brute. I love that double fist pump Ric Flair gives on the entrance way. He loves pro wrestling. Pro wrestling loves him.


I'll be honest this is more lopsided than I remember, but it is fine by me because Vader was in a ridiculous groove at the time point in his career. There may be no wrestler at working heat segments ever. That's a big claim, but his brutality is totally engrossing. You cant take your eyes off Vader destroying an opponent. You see tuffs of blond hair burst into the air with each massive blow. Flair taking it to Vader early was the wrong idea. Flair chops and Vader just shoves him. "You aren't man enough" Vader twists him into a Greco-Roman Knucklelock and beats the shit out of him. Flair is the king of verbal selling and the way he hollers in pain is great. Of course, what makes Vader a great heat segment worker is how he feeds for his babyface to get hope spots. Vader misses and eats the railing. The electricity when Flair chops and punches was amazing. Flair has great, great punches. We don't talk about that enough. Harley interrupts this comeback and Flair takes a wicked bump on the floor. Vader DESTROYS Flair. Huge superplex! Punches and forearms. Wicked clotheslines. He busts open Flair real good on a lariat to the mouth. Flair "You son of a bitch!" Flair bleeding from the mouth adds to this grittiness. The fact he is in way over his head against this unstoppable monster. Vader starts to give Flair more opening. A missed splash here and a missed splash there. Vader locks up Flair again and this time Flair goes to the eye. Then Flair just unloads with punches and CHOPS HIM IN THE FACE! Off comes the mask. Vader's face is cut up and red. Hell Yes! Flair goes for the leg. The crowd comes alive. You can hear the excitement in Tony's voice. Wraps the Grizzly Bear's leg around the post and then the chair to the knee. Vader tries to attack. Flair just starts beating the shit out of his face while Vader yells "Hit me! Hit me!" Flair crowns him with a chair. That is the one sequence I always remember. This comeback is positively electric. It is the ultimate fist pump. You want to know you are over? Pick up someone's foot and see a crowd lose their shit. Flair picks up Vader's foot to setup for the figure-4 and the crowd goes wild. Vader still has some fight in him. Missed Vaderbomb! Figure-4! This should have been the finish. I know Vader submitting might have hurt his image but damn it would have been great. Vader gets control again after he makes the ropes. MISSED VADERSAULT! Insane spot. Flair covers. Harley headbutts Vader. Fun spot, but not necessary. The finish sucks as Vader does get back up and then Flair tabletops for the win. Doesn't matter Flair wins and it is one of the loudest pops of all time.


Great performances by both wrestlers. Vader comes across as an unbeatable monster. Flair is selling like a champ and really does feel over his head. What I love about Flair's offense it is all chops and punches! He came to fight! This match comes across as a fight and Flair is fighting for his life! Vader is the king of the missed move and does a great job giving Flair openings and selling for Flair's molten hot comebacks. I actually really liked the finish stretch just not the finish. Big fight feel and a big fight that delivered. Long Live The Nature Boy! ****1/2

#36 Microstatistics

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Posted 23 April 2018 - 06:41 PM

Interesting match in that some think it's overrated and some think it's a classic. I'm in the middle with it. Really good hard hitting stuff and plenty of emotion. Flair was a great babyface. Vader was Vader. ***3/4 


#37 ShittyLittleBoots

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Posted 20 June 2018 - 01:38 PM

Love the story leading up to this one, and they wrestle according to it perfectly. Vader gives Flair a classic Big Van Vader beating while Flair does some of his finest babyface work with those PUNCHES & CHOPS. Fantastic dynamic, fantastic drama. ****1/2

#38 CapitalTTruth

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Posted 20 June 2018 - 08:04 PM

Always loved his match. I feel like i am entering a phase of fandom where I have a greater appreciation for these high-emotion matches. I think it is because great matches in a vacuum are almost easy to come buy in 2018, but this sort of emotion is really hard to make happen. This is a great match that holds up.

#39 flyonthewall2983

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Posted Today, 01:13 AM

Getting back to this match for a moment, the commentary was mostly straightforward, but I liked Tony running down Flair's previous Starrcade history, conveniently forgetting that he was disqualified against Dusty in '85, he and Nikita were both DQed in '86, he was pinned clean by Sting as part of the Ironman Tournament  in '89, and he lost as The Black Scorpion to Sting in '90. Still, for all of that, his point was made, as was Jesse's about none of it being worth a hill of beans now


Though Jesse and Tony were never as combative as a lot of teams were during this time, you can feel Jesse rolling his eyes a little as Tony's going through that history. What I liked about the WCW approach to commentary is that it wasn't as combative and head-biting-off you'd feel sometimes from Gorilla and Bobby or Vince and Jesse. Even when they had more pronounced heel color guys like Jim Cornette or Heyman, they didn't get as colorful as they would be if they were doing promos. 


I liked the little moment of Jesse letting Flair get his chair to bash Vader and just letting it happen. It's an understated tweener moment, because he's letting the babyface get the upper hand...but also letting him be the dirtiest player in the game too. 


I watched this match again today, and as I said before you can really see in those opening moments the emotional rush Ric is getting from that crowd. Before watching it I watched a clip of Vader talking about it, and it's a great performance by him too. Whether you rate the match high or not, it's clear to me at least that they gave their all that night. 

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: WCW, Starrcade, December 27, 1993, Ric Flair, Vader, Flair vs Vader, Charlotte NC, Title Changes, 4.5*

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