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Naitch and The Funker


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#1 Loss

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Posted 29 April 2016 - 11:29 AM

This is a thread specifically NOT to compare the two and instead lavish both with praise without arguing who is better.

Terry Funk is in so many ways the living embodiment of pro wrestling. He had global reach. He just lived and breathed the persona in a way few in history have done. Great at every aspect of wrestling and even peerless at some.

Flair had an incredible run that I think is easy to take for granted. He hit a high level consistently, sometimes against great opponents and sometimes against not-so-great ones. He is in other ways synonymous with pro wrestling. He is the model world champion.

Together they had one of my favorite feuds of all time, one hugely responsible for shaping me as a fan.

Keep the love coming. What does Funk mean to you as a fan? What does Flair mean to you as a fan?

#2 Jimmy Redman

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Posted 29 April 2016 - 11:33 AM

How great were they together but!

 

Fucking love that Bash match, from the build to the match to the aftermath, and the postmatch is probably my favourite part. Two guys madly running around killing each other while Jim Ross tries to make sense of the chaos in the foreground...that is some awesome shit.



#3 JKWebb

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Posted 29 April 2016 - 11:38 AM

When I think of Funk, in my head, he's the guy that shows up and steals the show. When he popped up and had the feud with Flair in 89, it blew me away. When he showed up in Memphis vs Lawler, those promos may be my favorite thing ever. I think of the empty arena match, when Lawer shows up, and Funk is making fun of his crown and outfit ... Says something like "there's nobody here you idiot" ... Whenever he shows up anywhere, wherever he is on the card, it always feels like it's the most important thing on the show. And the majority of those times, when it was over, it was the most memorable thing on the show.

#4 Matt D

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Posted 29 April 2016 - 11:40 AM

This is a great social experiment thread if nothing else.

 

It was years after the fact, but I think in most ways that mattered, Ric Flair introduced me to Terry Funk. I started watching wrestling in 90-91, really after Funk was gone from WCW. I stopped watching during the years he was in ECW. When I came back in 98, he was Chainsaw Charlie but that hardly counted. I didn't even know what I was looking at. When I was a senior in high school, some guy on Prodigy was kind enough to send me a comp tape. On that comp tape was Funk vs Flair - I Quit. 

 

And in that regard, Funk introduced me to a different sort of Flair. I had known him from WWF, from WCW a bit, and from the 5 tapes for 5 dollars rentals I could do at the local video story where I could see him against Eddy at Hog Wild or whatever, but I had definitely never seen this Flair, brawling, violent, fighting for his life, desperate, with his back against the wall and wanting revenge. 



#5 WingedEagle

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Posted 29 April 2016 - 11:58 AM

Bash '89 is one of the most enjoyable matches for me to watch.  Others rate higher, but not sure how many are more fun.  From the entrances to the match and everything they do their utilizing both rings, to the post-match it is the kind of spectacle that gets you cheering along for your man while loving every second of it. 

 

The Funker was an early gateway for me into ECW and that whole world back in the day.  Which means you can indirectly give him some credit for getting me back into the game in high school after falling out for a year or 2, and never looking back.  While the AJ 90s crew were what first led me into Japanese wrestling, it was hearing about Funk's work in '70s and '80s All Japan, and my familiarity with him by that point, which led me to jump deeper down that rabbit hole.  This means the wife may not love him, even if she has no idea who he is.

 

I was too young to watch NWA Ric Flair during his prime.  After-40 Flair was still a legend to me because of how he carried himself, how he wore that robe, how he nailed Piper with that chair and then how he won the Rumble no matter how much 11 year old me wanted Hogan to win.  I still have the '92 Rumble on PPV from taping it that day even though I haven't had a VCR for years.  When I finally dove into his older work he made everyone else look like a world-beater.  People I'd written off or never given a chance from every corner of the country looked like they belonged in the role of world title challenger.  His NWA squashes were not the time-fillers I remember growing up on WWF Superstars, but showcases for the champ and an opportunity to put forth something special even in a nothing situation.  Its more subtle, but he's also the wrestler who first made me appreciate doing little things to make a match.



#6 LowBlowPodcast

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Posted 29 April 2016 - 12:34 PM

I agree that the Bash 89 match was great, and in my opinion superior to the I Quit match due to the blood and chaos but also psychology they had going in that Flair had to change his way in order to combat the crazed Funk. I remember seeing the picture of Flair covered in blood and green mist in a magazine and then some 15 years later finally seeing the match and then subsequently 3 years later seeing the PPV version which shows everything from start to finish and the post brawl interview with Ross, Flair, and Sting. Just pure awesomeness from both men and two people that have made me truly enjoy this crazy thing we call pro wrestling.



#7 ElHijodeGorgeousGeorge

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Posted 29 April 2016 - 02:13 PM

The thing that amazes me is how really both careers weave around each other in a way. When Flair hit his stride in the early 80's, Funk was "winding down" and after his WWF run did movies while Flair just got better and better. To me, that is why the '89 feud is so great because in so many ways it was the old guard coming back to find that this younger, fitter guy had taken his thunder and it drives him nuts. 

 

Both guys are the complete antithesis of each other in some ways but in others, they're much the same. Funk parlayed his prestige into the then-popular deathmatch style and created a whole new career for himself while with Flair, he did much of the same after WCW died. The indeliable image that made me see this comparison was the Flair-Big Show ECW match with Flair on his knees telling Show to bring it just torn to bits. 

 

tl;dr Funk and Flair are the pinnacle.



#8 Dylan Waco

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Posted 29 April 2016 - 02:13 PM

I've said this before but without the Flair v. Funk feud from 89 I would never have become a hardcore/life long fan.  It was that feud that took me from the level of being a fan, to being obsessed.  It was that feud that pushed me into a collectors mentality, and even started me down the early road to tape trading.  It was that feud that revealed to me the best about pro wrestling's dramatic storytelling elements and arguably it's worst as well (I got into more than one fight at school over that feud).  

 

One thing I've never really talked about in regards to the feud is that it provided a wonderful distraction, and a great escape for me as a child during a period of great devastation.  While the feud kickstarted at the GAB 89 in July, it reached a fever pitch to me at Clash VIII in mid-Sept. in Columbia, SC when Funk came out of the crowd and tied a bag over Flair's head.  I witnessed this live and remember the fallout from it, but what probably isn't remembered for those outside of the area is that less than two weeks later the South Carolina lowcountry was devastated by Hurricane Hugo.  We were without water or power for two months.  With no school, I spent most of my days walking around my neighborhood which had been completely destroyed (our house was actually the only house on the block that did not have a tree go straight through it) and fantasy booking the Flair v. Funk feud.  My dad would hook the t.v. up to the car battery and we would watch two blocks of television a week - wrestling on Saturday morning and TGIF (hey, I was eight!).  But there was no TBS, and that killed me.  I remember watching a scrambled version of Halloween Havoc at a friends house who lived 4 blocks away, but we didn't have any power until early Nov., and no cable until  11/14/89.  I remember this date well because the very next day I got to watch the Funk v. Flair I Quit Match live.  It was the first wrestling show I'd watched inside my home in close to two months.  I have always been partial to their match from GAB, but in many respects the New York Knockout match is the most important match to me as a fan because it was the anticipation of it, the build that I was largely creating in my own mind for it, and the circumstances surrounding it, that made me a fan forever.  

 

People know that Terry Funk is my favorite wrestler ever.  There are many reasons for that, some familial (he was and is my dad's favorite as well and I was reared on him), and some more personal (he's maybe the only wrestler I can think of who has never disappointed me in a wrestling performance).  But Flair is also one of my five favorite wrestlers ever.  As a Carolina kid he was pro wrestling in many respects to me, and I probably saw him live as much as anyone who rated in this poll.  While Terry Funk was my families wrestler, Ric Flair was my regions wrestler.  In 1989 both my family and my region suffered great loss, and it was Funk and Flair's feud that helped me through it as much as anything else.   



#9 BlueGuy

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Posted 29 April 2016 - 03:16 PM

At their peak, both guys did everything about as well as you could possibly hope.

 

I think Terry Funk said it best one time when he was asked one time about Ric Flair's place in history. To paraphrase, he said something like Ric Flair is the very best Ric Flair there will ever be, just as he's the very best Terry Funk there will ever be. He added that there are guys who've come along who have sort of tried to emulate them (Michaels and Foley immediately come to mind), but they're the originals, and like a select few others, their place in history is at the very top.



#10 Childs

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Posted 29 April 2016 - 03:31 PM

I've said it elsewhere but one of my great wrestling fan regrets is that I was away at camp and missed the '89 Bash match in Baltimore. Never really got to see a vintage Funk performance live, though I did see plenty of Flair main events and, just as his rep would suggest, he always brought it. That Hugo story resonates. I have a lot of family from Charleston and Columbia, and I'll never forget visiting the following summer and seeing how many houses along the coast were just gone.



#11 Cross Face Chicken Wing

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Posted 29 April 2016 - 04:33 PM

I still take out my Terry Funk rubber action figure from when I was a kid to teach my son and nieces and nephews about wrestling. I choose Funk because he pretty much embodies why I love pro wrestling.

 

Flair is my No. 1 because no matter what new setting or era I see him in, he's the best performer 99 percent of the time. Even when I feel like, "Sigh. Another Flair match...." I always end up enjoying what I just saw on my screen.



#12 KrisZ

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Posted 29 April 2016 - 06:19 PM

I've said this before but without the Flair v. Funk feud from 89 I would never have become a hardcore/life long fan.  It was that feud that took me from the level of being a fan, to being obsessed.  It was that feud that pushed me into a collectors mentality, and even started me down the early road to tape trading.  It was that feud that revealed to me the best about pro wrestling's dramatic storytelling elements and arguably it's worst as well (I got into more than one fight at school over that feud).  

 

One thing I've never really talked about in regards to the feud is that it provided a wonderful distraction, and a great escape for me as a child during a period of great devastation.  While the feud kickstarted at the GAB 89 in July, it reached a fever pitch to me at Clash VIII in mid-Sept. in Columbia, SC when Funk came out of the crowd and tied a bag over Flair's head.  I witnessed this live and remember the fallout from it, but what probably isn't remembered for those outside of the area is that less than two weeks later the South Carolina lowcountry was devastated by Hurricane Hugo.  We were without water or power for two months.  With no school, I spent most of my days walking around my neighborhood which had been completely destroyed (our house was actually the only house on the block that did not have a tree go straight through it) and fantasy booking the Flair v. Funk feud.  My dad would hook the t.v. up to the car battery and we would watch two blocks of television a week - wrestling on Saturday morning and TGIF (hey, I was eight!).  But there was no TBS, and that killed me.  I remember watching a scrambled version of Halloween Havoc at a friends house who lived 4 blocks away, but we didn't have any power until early Nov., and no cable until  11/14/89.  I remember this date well because the very next day I got to watch the Funk v. Flair I Quit Match live.  It was the first wrestling show I'd watched inside my home in close to two months.  I have always been partial to their match from GAB, but in many respects the New York Knockout match is the most important match to me as a fan because it was the anticipation of it, the build that I was largely creating in my own mind for it, and the circumstances surrounding it, that made me a fan forever.  

 

People know that Terry Funk is my favorite wrestler ever.  There are many reasons for that, some familial (he was and is my dad's favorite as well and I was reared on him), and some more personal (he's maybe the only wrestler I can think of who has never disappointed me in a wrestling performance).  But Flair is also one of my five favorite wrestlers ever.  As a Carolina kid he was pro wrestling in many respects to me, and I probably saw him live as much as anyone who rated in this poll.  While Terry Funk was my families wrestler, Ric Flair was my regions wrestler.  In 1989 both my family and my region suffered great loss, and it was Funk and Flair's feud that helped me through it as much as anything else.   

Yeah this is a mic drop post if there ever was one.......this is what fandom of any form of entertainment is all about



#13 offspring515

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Posted 29 April 2016 - 06:56 PM

Yeah Dylan I don't post much here but that post just made me really proud to be a wrestling fan.

#14 mprice

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Posted 29 April 2016 - 09:44 PM

That was an awesome post, Dylan. Excellent way to put things into perspective. As for me, when I got the Flair WWE DVD set I was hooked to the late 80s stuff from the NWA. When the second 3 disc set came out, I picked it up quickly because I knew the GAB Flair/Funk match was on there and I just had to see it. I was definitely not disappointed.

#15 Timbo Slice

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Posted 29 April 2016 - 11:24 PM

Funk 2, Flair 4 for me. I remember Dylan talking about GAB 89 and I went back and revisited it because it had been awhile and it really lit me up. Then I saw it again when I was going through all the pre-Hogan NWA/WCW stuff on the Network and it still resonated with me, as did that entire feud.

 

I was one of the guys who wanted to remind people who were tearing down Ric's case for #1 that the piling on got to a point where it was difficult for me to take criticism of a lot of people in this project seriously. The tearing down became easier to do than the defending. I ended up going with Lawler because the sheer scope of his career and how good he was for basically four decades was enough for me to take notice of his greatness, but there was no better peak than Flair's and no more varied career than Funk's. It's a boring choice so to speak, but there's a reason he was the consensus #1 guy coming into this. It's hard to knock off a guy like that.



#16 shoe

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Posted 30 April 2016 - 01:56 AM

I just finished going through 1989 footage for the Crockett set. The Flair/Funk feud had delivered some of the best promos ever.

#17 El-P

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Posted 30 April 2016 - 03:17 AM

I became a Ric Flair fan the minute he showed up on WWF T.V. Wait, rewind. At this time in France, we only had WWF TV. Wrestling was WWF. Two years earlier, when I went on vacation with my parents through Great Britain, I saw in a window shop a few wrestling toys. The logo was not WWF, much to my surprise. It was WCW. Logo sucked. And there were these guys with superhero names : Lex Luger, Sting and Ric Flair. back in 1991. When Eddie Carpentier announced that the following week, there would be the debut of "The real World's champion" Ric Flair, I was excited. That was the guy from the other federation. And he was the Real World Champion ? Eddie Carpentier, who I guess didn't care much about WWF corporate history, even said that Hogan was only the WWF champ while Flair was the true World champ. Well, he used to say Rick Martel had been the World champ to on TV. When Flair showed up, he looked like an old-school wrestler to me, yeah, even in 1991. The robe a-la Greg Valentine/Rick Rude, the matching color tights/kneepads/boots, the non bodybuilder body. And the promos, with French subtitled. I didn't get everything, but I was mesmerized. Royal Rumble 1992 was my very first "special event", as they said, showed on TV. I was pulling for Flair. I was a mark. And when Flair won, I popped like crazy. I never cared for Hogan. I wanted either Flair or Sid to win, but I was a Flair fan. The post-match promo was the greatest thing I ever heard. From there, I was done. I had no idea about the NWA legacy, the Steamboat feuds, the Four Horsemen, Dusty. All of this would came later on. Then in 1996, WWF TV was replaced by WCW Nitro. I was not happy. I was a WWF mark. I thought Rey was "too small" the first time I saw him. I thought Hogan and Savage looked old and that it was just WWF rehash. But Flair was there. And shit, he was with Liz, who was hotter than ever, and a heel. And this other Woman. I always loved glamour in pro-wrestling. Ric Flair was still *it*. And that Arn Anderson, who looked like an old math teacher, well, he was pretty good too after all. And yes, I was still a Ric Flair mark. And I became a Nitro fan quite quickly. I wanted Flair to jump to RAW in the spring of 1998. I wanted Flair vs Austin. Instead, we got the Attitude era and Vince McMahon winning the Royal Rumble. And Owen Hart dying. I stopped following WWF. WCW was my only hope for US wrestling, and Ric Flair although way passed his prime, was still Ric Flair.

 

Wait ? The last hope ? Not really. By early 1997, I got the Internet and heard about that ECW promotion. The greatest thing ever. Violence, sex, blood, swearing. Revolutionary stuff that had never been done before. And there was a legend of pro-wrestling over there. Terry Funk. I read about Terry Funk on a french WWF Magazine, years earlier, during a WrestleMania recap. There was even a picture of that insane cowboy looking guy. And then he showed up at Royal Rumble 1997, that I watched on a Sky broadcast, my first PPV in English. And then I saw him on that Mania tape I bought (well, I bought the entire Mania collection released in 1997, 1 to 14) at Mania 2. The guy was fun. He looked insane indeed. And then I saw a bunch of ECW stuff on a German channel. And then more on a channel called Bravo, I believe. The joy of satellite TV. And I became a fan of Terry Funk in ECW. I knew about the history, so when I began buying tapes, I bought some old All Japan Tag Team League compilation from the 70's, and some FMW with the Onita match, and the IWA Deathmatch tournament (like everyone else, Terry Funk was Mick Foley's mentor, and I loved Mick Foley) and those 1989 NWA PPV's with the Flair matches. Every time, Funk was different, yet himself. And he was incredible to watch. Then he showed up in WWF as Chainsaw Charlie, then I bought more tapes, then wrestling videos started pop up on Internet. Terry was everywhere, old, young, bloody, heel, face, crazy, hilarious, Memphis, WCW. Terry was everywhere and Terry was the perfect pro-wrestler.

 

Since then, I got a little bit tired of Ric Flair big match style.Not tired of Flair himself. Flair will always remained one of my all-time favourites. I never got tired of Terry Funk's match though. Probably because it was never the same, he could improvise like nobody's business, he was just insane and brillant. I voted Terry #3, but in all honesty, Terry Funk is probably my favourite pro-wrestler.



#18 Ship Canal

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Posted 01 May 2016 - 08:48 PM

Some thoughts on Funk:

I had Funk at 1 and Flair at 2. 

In some ways this final positioning was really me trying to weight the subjective and objective. I was more than happy to have either guy at number one based on in ring stuff alone, but Funk edged it when it came to things outside of that and what he represents to me personally. Now, don't go thinking that is to say I don't have an emotional connection to Ric Flair - I most certainly do, but its a very different one than I have with Funk. 

What really gets me about Funk is the sheer amount of pathos that drips off some of his best angles and promos. Perhaps its my somewhat maudlin nature but I find there to be far more of an emotionally moving, challenging aspect to some of Funk's greatest achievements in terms of character work than there is in Flairs. Flair can hook me in with a narrative mid match, easy, with something he does in the ring. He can cut a barnstorming, all time great promo before and after the match too. But for whatever reason, and to paraphrase Funk's famous adage, at his best, I just believe in Funk more.

I'm not one of those who refers to pro wrestling as an artform because I'm worried about about people erroneously holding onto notions of high and low culture and having a pop at me for loving it, I don't think the fundamental bits and pieces of what make pro wrestling arresting and brilliant need to be ratified by the academy or recognized in literary journals because I think that's a fundamentally short sighted and reactionary notion of what art is...  Actually, I sometimes quite perversely enjoy the disdain that is heaped on pro wrestling by its detractors. I like a lot of stuff that's considered trashy or base and I personally draw no distinction whatsoever between "high" and "low" culture, so what I'm about to say about Funk and pathos shouldn't be read as me trying to recast him as peak Brando here or anything like that. I'm not saying he "transcends the genre", the kind of phrase I'm always deeply uncomfortable about because its usually used as a backhanded disparagement of the genre itself rooted in elitism and anyway wrestling is a medium, not a genre. So that's not where I'm coming from.

But when I look at something like the Lawler empty arena match, like Funk marauding through the Memphis studio set shirtless with one eye smashing his head off a chair what I'm seeing is the absolute, pathetic vulnerability of the kid at school who bullied everyone because he never had a chance, because he hated himself in his own skin. I'm also seeing the frustrated, self loathing deadbeat dad who pisses every paycheque up the pub toilet wall because his kids won't speak to him any more. I'm seeing someone who is coming across as at once an absolute physical threat, a real malign presence but at the same time has let his self destructive streak take over completely because he has no self worth left. That's there in lots of heels, sure it is.

But none of them have ever hit me in the gut with it like Funk has. Watch him throughout the whole interaction with Lance before Lawler turns up in the empty arena match - he's constantly appealing for validation and approval from Lance (who is a magnificent foil as the paternal stand in for so many people watching, too). There's this genuine sense of tragedy that just beams through the performance. I can't imagine anyone else approaching anything that makes me feel as conflicted or as sad as that. I've no doubt the same match would still be a superb piece of pro wrestling TV if it involved Flair instead of Funk. But I don't think its something that would stay with me quite so permanently and powerfully. 

Is this because Funk is a great actor? Perhaps not in the commonly understood sense, and he would completely veer off into OTT and mannered stuff himself throughout his career. But when he wanted to do layered, implied, straight up heartbreaking shit that leaves me ruminating on it for days, he's the best. He's a great actor within the expectations and formula of pro wrestling. And I love that. Its genuine craftmanship and I never ever get the feeling that he'd rather be doing anything else, that this was just a means to a monetary end. I feel like more than just about any pro wrestler ever Terry Funk understands that there can be a nobility in the willing suspension of disbelief in a horribly cynical world and he won't dumb things down for me as a fan. 

And I say all this as someone whose only live experience of Funk was of him stumbling around the ring with an uncooked turkey on his head during a disastrous WCW tour of the UK in the late 90's. Its not only that he embodies the sublime to the ridiculous, its that I think he understands the strengths and limitations of both those extremes better than anyone else. Without that innate quality, his run as the aging gunslinger back for one last challenge in ECW, one last shot at redemption doesn't have the heft it does. You could plug another guy in there, course you could. You could book it the exact same. It would probably even have a similar result. 

But it wouldn't be one that I'd find anywhere near as affecting. Funk has that special connection with me. 






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