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#1 Posted on 14.7.04 0208.51 Reposted on: 14.7.11 0210.27
Ric Flair defended his NWA world title against former three-time AWA world champ Nick Bockwinkel at an AWA show in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, on January 16, 1986. Ken Resnick and Scott Hall called the action.
The match was joined in progress just after the ten minute mark. Flair tried for a snap mare, but Bockwinkel turned and countered with a backslide for a hot near fall. Flair ate a shoulder block, then ran into a drop toe hold into a leg grapevine by Bockwinkel.
Bockwinkel and Flair looked gassed for a minute, then Bockwinkel turned over the grapevine and went for the figue four. Flair kicked Bockwinkel off and tried for a monkey flip, but Bockwinkel applied a boston crab instead.
Bockwinkel and Flair caught each other with shoulder blocks and both men went down, prompting Ken Resnick to observe "both men on the brink of exhaustion" at approximately the fourteen minute mark.
Bockwinkel made an unsuccessful cover following the collision, then tried for a body press, but Flair put his knees up and caught Bockwinkel in the midsection. Flair then hit a double footstomp to Bockwinkel's abdomen and followed with a "Whoo" and a pelvic thrust to someone in the audience.
Flair resumed his assault with a vertical suplex and a figure four leglock, though Bockwinkel was able to turn it over and reverse it after about thirty seconds. Flair broke the hold and tried to apply it again, but Bockwinkel caught Flair with an inside cradle for a hot near fall.
Bockwinkel got a pair of near falls from a back body drop. Flair threw Bockwinkel out of the ring. Flair caught Bockwinkel with a neck snap over the top rope. Flair followed up with a series of stomps and then caught Bockwinkel in a sleeper hold.
Bockwinkel escaped the sleeper hold by diving into the corner and ramming Flair's face into the top turnbuckle. Flair retained control and decked Nick with a chop. Flair climbed to the top rope, but Bockwinkel caught him. Flair grabbed Bockwinkel's hand and moved it to the center of his own chest, then hurled himself off the top.
Flair spun around and began begging off, but Bockwinkel peppered Flair with punches and caught him with a payback sleeper hold at the twenty minute mark. Flair faded to the canvas and Bockwinkel went for a cover, but Flair put his foot over the bottom rope.
Bockwinkel went for the sleeper again, but Flair countered with a back suplex for a near fall. Flair stalked Nick for a boot to the face, but Bockwinkel caught the foot, took Flair down, and applied a payback figure four. Flair tried to sit up, but Bockwinkel slapped him in the face and drew a big cheer. Flair eventually made it to the ropes.
Flair tried for a vertical suplex, but Bockwinkel reversed it for a near fall. Flair caught Bockwinkel coming in with a double leg takedown and went for a cover with his feet on the ropes, but Bockwinkel was able to raise a shoulder.
Bockwinkel ate a shoulder block from Flair, but dodged a second charge and caught Flair with a reverse roll for a hot near fall. Bockwinkel whipped Flair into the corner and Flair flipped upside down before falling back into the ring. Bockwinkel caught Flair against the ropes with a punch and Flair flipped backward over the top rope down to the floor.
Flair rolled back in under the ropes and caught Bockwinkel with a knee to the gut to take control. Flair took Bockwinkel over into a side headlock, Nick countered with a headscissors, but Flair escaped and slid on top for a cover. It looked like Bockwinkel was supposed to bridge up, but all he could do was roll a shoulder up.
It looked like the match might fall apart as Nick rolled Flair over and then helped him back to his feet while letting go of him to give him control. Flair caught Bockwinkel with a kick to the midsection and attempted a sitting piledriver, but Bockwinkel countered with a back body drop.
Bockwinkel caught Flair with several punches against the ropes, but Flair jumped up so that he was sitting on the top rope, then grabbed Bockwinkel in a facelock and pulled him out to the floor. Both men were counted out in just a little over 26 minutes.
At first glimpse the action in this match appeared "solid" with the notable exception of the flubbed bridge spot right before the finish of the match which was not covered well at all.
But a closer look reveals that much of the action was hollow, a bunch of spots thrown together in haphazard fashion. Flair's double footstomp to the abdomen was a great follow up to the counter knees to the stomach, but Flair then went to a vertical suplex followed by a figure four.
Bockwinkel fared no better. He set up his sleeper by tossing Flair off the top rope and he set up his figure four by catching a stomp and taking Flair down to the canvas. He hadn't worked on Flair's leg much prior to that, other than the leg grapevine which was not subsequently sold.
Resnick and Hall hyped the pace of the match and it never slowed down for long during the sixteen minutes that aired, but it also never seemed to gain momentum. Neither man kept control long enough to put together compelling phrases of offensive moves or to create anticipation for their false finishes. Bockwinkel's hottest near falls came off fluky looking counters into pinning combinations.
Flair and Bockwinkel made an effort to provide good action, but in the end they didn't create a dramatic or memorable match that lived up to the expectations of the matchup.
"Flair and Bockwinkel proceeded to put on what can only be described as an all time classic. The fact that tape of this match is either non-existent or lost has only added to the match's mystique. the reality is that if the tape were found it could likely never live up to expectations because of word of mouth over the last twenty years and columns like this one.
Nevertheless, when folks talk about the old barn having its last match this past week, I will always remember the greatest match ever at the arena. Ric Flair vs. Nick Bockwinkel, sixty minute draw." - Don Callis, Slam Sports