Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"Project 33" - Match #101 - Flair vs. Misterio

Ric Flair vs. Rey Misterio, Jr.
22 March, 1999
Club La Vela; Panama City, FL
WCW Heavyweight Championship Match

This was not a great match by any means, but it was damned interesting.  I remember watching this live back when I was in college, and I remember everyone being hyped that Rey got the title shot that night. 

At this point in time, Flair was working as a heel, but the crowd loved him no matter what, so he was having a difficult time of things.  No matter what he was doing, he was still getting cheered, because he was Ric Flair.  Every week he was going out and cutting promos full of cheap heat in order to get booed, and it never worked.  WCW had screwed with Flair for so long and his act was looked back on with such nostalgia, nothing he did got booed.  So on this night, Flair held a lottery for whom he would defend the  Heavyweight Championship against, and they made it more than obvious it was rigged.  El Dandy, who was injured in a trios match earlier in the night, had his number drawn, but since he was being worked on by the doctors and was in no condition to wrestle Flair, Misterio stole his number and claimed the title shot. 

The match itself is a contrast in styles.  Misterio was the Cruiserweight Champ at this point, and he had been on a tear being a "giant killer", directly ripping off what ECW had been doing with Spike Dudley.  However, Misterio was not used to working with slower (and older) guys like Flair, who had literally never worked that style before.  The Rey Jr. you see in the WWE now has adapted well to working bigger guys, and has an offense that he can pull off way easier.  Here, against Flair, Misterio is working with a guy who isn't going to use his size to toss him around, but at the same time has no clue how to take a headscissors. 

So, what we have a lot of here are Rey displaying his speed, but Flair taking a bump and not feeding back to take another quick bump.  There are some really awkward spots throughout the match, yet there are also gems like Flair taking a lucha arm drag out of a backslide, Rey hitting a nice guillotine leg drop, and Flair eating a top rope rana from Misterio.

The spot of the match however goes to Arn Anderson at ringside, who just totally leveled Misterio with a clothesline on the outside. 

Interesting match, considering how good Rey Jr. would get at working bigger stiff gringos, and how often Flair would become a bump machine for guys once he went back to the WWE. 

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