J.R.'s Superstar of the Week - Ric Flair
This is another tough call this week, and perhaps not for the reasons one would assume. Being old school, and damn proud of it by the way, I like for a wrestling match to be competitive and to see the strategies evolve over time in the ring. This usually involves a one-on-one match, my personal preference, or a tag team match. I am not, and have never, been a Battle Royal guy, by the way. For a variety of reasons, there was not a one-on-one match on RAW that had the match time to really get a contest rocking Monday night in State College, Pa.
The imposter Kane interrupted what may have been a solid contest between Kane and Randy Orton.
Torrie vs. Candice may have been wet, wild and entertaining, but it was a novelty match. It was fun to watch but wasn’t a stem-winder if you catch my drift. Seeing Torrie and Candice soaked from our ringside vantage point and getting paid for it isn’t a bad deal, even if I did get hit with a water balloon. Who cares? My suit dried. The view was worth it.
The DX reunion was hot and the crowd went, as Pat Patterson would say, “banana”, when HBK made his return. However, Triple H had to face five men going in, even though only four of the male cheerleaders made it to the ring. The excitement was there, and when Michaels and The Game reunited, it was one of those special moments we don’t get to see often enough.
Hacksaw Jim Duggan is one of the toughest guys I have ever known in this business dating back to the Mid South Wrestling days in the 80’s, prior to “Hack” joining WWE. Duggan was also a New York state amateur wrestling champion in high school and a standout college football lineman at SMU in Dallas. Jim is also a cancer survivor and a man I have great respect for. But ol’ Hack, as much as I do admire him, was no match for Umaga at this stage of Duggan’s career. Back in the day, this match would have been an ass-kicker, I promise you, if it happened in the Sam Houston Coliseum in Houston or the Myriad in Oklahoma City for example. But that was then. Umaga is just too young, too strong and athletic for Hacksaw in 2006.
Carlito and Johnny Nitro both have excellent upsides. After watching thousands of matches over the past 30 plus years, I have detected flashes of brilliance from each of these young men. However, because the match went short due to Shelton Benjamin’s interference, what kind of grade can one give Nitro vs. Carlito? Melina’s entrance is always memorable for most of us but the match never had a chance to cook thanks to the IC champion. When will Benjamin, Nitro or Carlito light it up? Perhaps, at Vengeance.
John Cena was on fire emotionally and physically in his short stint in the ring vs. Edge, but due to Lita’s interference and the ECW wrestlers getting involved, this was another match that got side-tracked before it really had a chance to catch fire. Don’t get me wrong, I want to see Edge vs. Cena go, but it did not get to happen in Happy Valley.
So who is the RAW Superstar of the week?
It’s a legend who dropped but one elbow, and that was on an inanimate
object, and who returned to the ring looking rested, refreshed and ready to
style and profile. My selection for RAW Superstar of the week is “The
Naitch”…Ric Flair. The Nature Boy and Mick Foley had me
riveted to the monitor, and I was hanging on every word they said when they
verbally confronted each other in the ring. This was the kind of interplay
that helped make me a fan as a kid growing up in Oklahoma. Was I shocked
that Foley walked away from a fight? Yes. Could I understand why Mick
declined to partake in physicality? Absolutely.
Foley, who turned 41 last week, was beat to hell, but it still surprised me somewhat, to be totally honest with you, that the complex Foley did not take Flair up on the Nature Boy’s offer to “give me your best shot.”
Perhaps the ECW event Sunday night took more out of Foley than we all know. Or, could it be that Foley is having an internal battle with himself over what is right and what is wrong at this stage of his career? I do know that both Foley and Flair personally don’t like each other, and really never have since I have known them which is approaching 20 years and dates back to the old Ted Turner WCW days. (By the way, the famous “I Quit” match Mick referenced between Flair and Terry Funk in 1989 was a match I broadcast with the late, great Gordon Solie on TBS. It was one of the greatest moments of my career working with”The Dean”. Does any one else remember Solie saying “two words…six letters…I Quit”?)
So this week, the Nature Boy gets the nod as RAW Superstar of the week, and he did not even have a match.
We get to do it all over again Monday from Rochester, New York. I am looking forward to traveling to Rochester as my late friend and mentor Gorilla Monsoon always loved to visit there, and I had the honor of making this trip with Gorilla on more than one occasion. Ah, the memories.