The secret history of phantom title changes

Page 2 of 10
December 13, 2012

Flair's Debacle in the Dominican Republic

“The Nature Boy” Ric Flair wasn’t lying when he called himself a “learjet flying, limousine riding, kiss-stealing, wheeling, dealing son of a gun.” When he was the NWA World Champion, Ric Flair was a veritable marathon man, traveling the globe and battling in matches that often went a full hour. One night, he’d be in Japan grappling with fellow WWE Hall of Famer Antonio Inoki; the next, he’d be in Puerto Rico, dueling with Carlos Colon; before heading back to the States to fend off the challenge of stars like Dusty Rhodes and Magnum TA. By hook or by crook, Flair usually managed to escape with the title in hand.

One match in the Dominican Republic didn’t go quite as planned, however, as Flair recalled in his autobiography, “To Be The Man.”  Taking on national hero Jack Veneno in front of a rabid crowd in the capital city of Santo Domingo, Flair found himself in a precarious position, trapped in Veneno’s sleeper hold with the time limit approaching. Just before Flair’s arm dropped for the third time, the bell rang, signaling a draw. But the crowd was at a fever pitch and didn’t hear the bell. They thought they just saw their hometown hero capture one of wrestling’s biggest prizes. With armed military police struggling to hold back the masses, Flair assessed the situation and, in the interest of self-preservation, decided it was best to go with the flow. He left his championship in the ring for Veneno to celebrate with in front of the adoring crowd.

The “victory” was never acknowledged stateside, but Flair returned to the Dominican Republic for a rematch soon after. This time, he didn’t come alone. “The Nature Boy” brought the unpredictable “Rowdy” Roddy Piper to ringside. Flair thought he had the upper hand with Piper in his corner. According to Flair, though, when Piper went to grab Veneno’s leg, some of the military guards at ringside drew their rifles on “The Hot Scot.” Sensing another riot was on the verge of breaking out, Flair grabbed his Dominican opponent and pulled Veneno on top of him for a pin and screamed for the referee to count. The official complied as police began attacking Piper with clubs. “The Nature Boy” managed to escape the fanatical crowd after ordering his opponent to put on the title and celebrate.

Veneno understood the compromising situation they were in and returned the belt to Flair before he left for America. His victories were never recognized by the NWA and the rest of the world, but in the Dominican Republic, he’s a hero.

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