The Monday Night Wars were a pivotal time in wrestling. Not before nor since did more people watch wrestling every Monday Night on television. And up until that last ever WCW Monday Nitro, it was built on the likes of Sting vs Ric Flair.
The Last Ever Nitro – Ric Flair vs Sting
The final episode of WCW Monday Nitro started with an incredible promo by Ric Flair. You can see the emotion in his eye as he says goodbye to WCW, whilst also cutting a promo on Vince McMahon.
Ric Flair talks directly to McMahon through the camera. He tells him that his dad, Vince McMahon Sr, voted for Flair to be the NWA World Heavyweight Champion. He says that Vince McMahon will never be “One of the boys”, and never experience what they experienced. Flair tells McMahon that he doesn’t know what it’s like to “Wrestle for an hour, cut yourself 5 times and bleed for 45 minutes”. This is disingenuous by Flair, as he’s cut himself and started crying 5 times before he hits the ring most times.
Flair ends the promo, after saying his famous “Kiss Stealing, Wheeling Dealing” catchphrase, with a challenge. He says about his greatest rivalry in WCW. The 16 time champ says that WWF wasn’t his best rival, that was for the suits in the office. His greatest rival was Sting. He fought many battles with Sting over the years for WCW’s top prize. He challengers the Stinger to a match in the main event. Flair says that “He won’t get another chance”. Clearly he wasn’t planning to wrestler him in TNA ten years later.
Before the match, the camera cuts to Sting, alone in a dark room. In his famous black and white face paint, he is surrounded by baseball bats, hanging from the ceiling. He is incredibly cheerful and hyped up it seems, which seems unusual for a man whose company is about to die. He accepts the challenge of Flair, declaring that he “wouldn’t miss this historic night for anything”.
Sting then mentions about what will happen to him, once WCW is out of business. He then says, as his catchphrase denotes, “There’s only one thing sure about Sting, is that nothing’s for sure”. This certainly foreshadows his future, where everybody would have expected him to sign for WWE, and face the Undertaker at Wrestlemania. Instead, he sat out a few years before forging a new legacy as the face of TNA.
WCW then show a really, really long video of “WCW Spring Break”, which is really unnecessary for a company that’s closing down in about 20 minutes. Then, a shot of Vince McMahon walking down a hallway is shown, in case this night wasn’t quite enough about him.
Ric Flair makes his entrance first, to a very muted and emotional crowd. The event took place outside, so any sound the crowd do make doesn’t sound as loud as it could. The commentators, Tony Schiavone (now at AEW) and Scott Hudson discuss where their next pay check will be coming from. It’s light hearted banter, but it’s sad once you remember Schiavone was working in Starbucks before AEW.
As Flair enters the ring with a “Woo!” the camera pans to the crowd, who are all holding up 4 fingers in the air. It is the symbol of the Four Horseman, the legendary Flair led stable which ran roughshod over WCW. Flair was in his trademark blue robe, with matching trunks, knee pads and boots. Breaking up the typical Ric Flair look is a black “WCW Monday Nitro” shirt. Some may say it’s because he’s saying goodbye to the TV Show that’s been his home for the past 8 years. Others will say he’s old and out of shape, so covers up his body with a t-shirt. Either way, Flair is WCW and the fans love him.
Next out, after a short break, is the Icon, Sting! With his incredible WCW-era music (why did WWE not use it for him in 2014?) he enters to another muted cheer, but louder than Flair. The announcers put Sting over as “Mr WCW”, stating that when it was “In vogue” to leave WCW for WWF, Sting stayed. “Even Ric Flair left” the announcers decree. Despite being the star of WCW for so many years, not even Ric Flair can match the Stinger. The fans are cheering for both men, knowing that this is the real end for WCW. Signs in the crowd indicate that these people are WCW for life, and wont be following the midcarders over the WWF.
One thing to note is that, if you’ve ever seen a Sting or Ric Flair match, you’ve seen this match. But that does not make it bad. Not by a long shot. Sting comes into this match in incredible shape. He’s clearly been hitting the gym, and the time he’s had off has clearly been of great use. Sting hadn’t appeared on WCW since November 2000, when he was injured in a match with Scott Steiner. The last ever match on WCW Monday Nitro, Ric Flair vs Sting, was his big return, and sent the WCW fans off with a great memory of the Stinger.
The match begins, and both men run to the ropes, stretching them and test their strength. The pair lock up, and Sting uses his power to push Flair to the ground. Flair, in anger, pushes “Lil Naitch” Charles Robinson, who pushes him back, with vigour. The crowd pop, and it’s great seeing Charles Robinson get a chance to shine in this final WCW Nitro.
A pair of shoulder tackles by Sting knock Flair to the ground. Sting gets cocky, pointing as his cheek and daring Flair to hit him. The pair separate, and begin to circle each other. The pair lock up again, and Flair has Sting backed into a corner. He unloads chop after chop, reddening the Stinger’s chest more with each chop. After a few chops, Sting jumps into life, throwing Flair into the corner. He hit him with kicks and strikes, which Flair doesn’t really seem to sell at all. I’ve noticed Flair’s lack of selling punches a few times, and wonder if it’s just one facet of his game he wasn’t great at.
Sting then flings Flair out of the corner with a hip toss, which Flair coincidentally lands on his hip. That looks painful. He quickly gets to his feet to be met with a high dropkick. Impressive, for a man of Sting’s size. Whilst he looks average size in WWE, he was still a legit 6’2 in his day. Flair rolls to the outside, as Sting gestures to the crowd to get off their feet.
Some classic wrestling spots, Irish whip, drop downs, leapfrogs, etc. follow. Eventually, Sting gets the upper hand, lifting Flair above his head for an impressive Gorilla Press. I know Flair can’t land on his back due to his surgery years ago, but landing on his side and hip looks very painful. Sting then gets Flair in the corner, and hits the classic “10 punches” spot. Flair walks out of the corner, stumbles and does the famous “Flair bump”. If you can’t tell by now, this match is really just a “hit the classic spots” type match. Usually I’d say this is lazy wrestling, but this match is a love letter to WCW. These two ARE WCW, and these spots ARE WCW.
Flair gets up, and hits a chop which Sting no sells completely. Laughing at Flair as he grabs the Nature Boy by the collar, the crowd pop for Sting. But then, the dirtiest player in the game drops to his knees. He grabs Charles Robinson, distracting the referee. He then proceeds to land a hard shot right between the testicles, giving the Stinger quite the stinger.
Sting falls to the ground, grabbing his newly bruised plums. Flair takes advantage of his blatant cheating, and proceeds to kick and chop Sting until he is on the ground. He then hits the signature jumping knee into the head of Sting, before he starts strutting and wooing, as he has all those WCW Monday Nitro’s before.
A few more chops before Sting retaliates, which leads to an awkward Irish Whip spot where nobody seems to know who’s doing what. Flair fixes that mystery with another chop and a woo, before heading to the top rope.
Now, if you’ve never seen Ric Flair wrestle before, this is important. Ric Flair won his first NWA World Heavyweight championship with a flying cross body from the top rope. It was the greatest moment in his life, pinning Harley Race in the middle of the that ring. Truly an iconic moment.
Since that day, it’s fair to say he NEVER HIT THE MOVE EVER AGAIN. I’m sure you could count on your fingers how many times he hit it after this match. I know he hit it once against Shawn Michaels, and once against Carlito, but they may be the only times.
So obviously, Sting jumps up and tosses him off the top rope. “Not today” said everyone, probably, as soon as Flair even thought about ascending the ropes. Sting then attempts a dropkick on the Nature Boy, but Flair holds onto the ropes as Sting falls flat on his arse. Flair then locks in his famous Figure Four leg lock, which Flair himself proclaims “I never beat anyone with it”. Hyperbole of course, but he did rarely win with it.
Sting struggles for almost a minute of the match, desperately trying to find a way out. Luckily, he managed to roll onto his front, reversing the tension and putting all the pressure on Flair’s old, withered knees. Flair gets to his feet, and tries to chop Sting again. He once again no sells it, instead flexing his muscles, Hogan style, as the crowd erupt in cheers for Sting.
Sting then throws Flair into the corner, and hits him with a brutal Superplex. A man at the age of 406 like Ric Flair should not be taking bumps like this. But hey, it’s the last ever WCW. Lets kill the old man.
Sting then locks in the Scorpion Death Lock. The crowd are firmly behind the Stinger, and are willing him to break Flair’s back and make him humble. Luckily for Flair, he taps out before Sting puts him in a wheelchair. Sting wins and is the last man to win a match on WCW Monday Nitro, vs the legendary Ric Flair.
We all know what happened next.
Vince McMahon appeared via telecast to announce that he now owned WCW. Shane McMahon then appeared on screen, declaring that “the name on the contract does say McMahon. Shane McMahon. I know own WCW.”
Neither men featured would take part in the WCW Invasion of WWF. Ric Flair would join a year later, taking over RAW as general manager and instigating the very first Brand Split. Sting would join 12 years later, saving Dolph Ziggler from Triple H and NOT MENTIONING WCW AT ALL. NOT EVERYTHING IS ABOUT WCW VINCE.
Anyway, despite Sting making it perfectly clear he didn’t join WWE because of WCW, WWE made it all about WWE vs WCW. The NWO, for no apparent reason, helped fight off DX as he lost to Triple H at Wrestlemania 31. Yes he lost. No, I don’t get it either.
Sting now resides in AEW, as partner of the young star Darby Allin. He has wrestled twice, and at the age of 62 is still going strong.
As a match in a vacuum, it was okay. If you’ve never seen either man wrestle, you’ll enjoy it. They get all the hits in, albeit slower than they used to, due to injuries and age piling up.
If you have seen them wrestle before, and are a fan of WCW, you will love it. Being the end of WCW, these men do everything to remind you of the good times. They hark back to their classic matches, and hit all the spots you want out of Ric Flair vs Sting match, and being on the last ever WCW Monday Nitro, made it very emotional.
I can’t rate this high. I just can’t. Flair was slow, plodding, and out of shape. Sting looked good, but his great performance just made Flair look even worse. But I can appreciate the emotion behind it, what it meant to WCW and it’s fans. The match bookended what was a great time in wrestling in WCW, and harkens back to an era that had almost 10 million people watching wrestling every Monday night. That will never happen again.
2 Stars out of 5
[table id=2 /]
To watch this match on the WWE Network Click Here
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.