When it comes to dream matches, everyone has their own ideas.
In fact, the last time I wrote a slideshow on this very subject, the majority of comments began with a notion similar to “yeah, that’s alright, but THIS is what I would have picked.”
Meanwhile, as the guy who puts some real effort into everything he writes, I am left sitting there, speechless. Like Milton in Office Space, I’m watching everyone else enjoying birthday cake, and my plate is empty.
In other words, I’m like “what about me?”
But the fact is, what we do as Featured Columnists is editorialize, and readers do not always agree with our opinions. That’s just the nature of the beast.
So, the bottom line is, some of you will get this, and some of you will not.
Because a dream match that has been in my head for quite sometime now revolves around the Best in the World, and the Best of all Time.
Okay, again, it’s an editorial, people. Take a breather and try not to lose it.
CM Punk, the current WWE champion, versus the 16-time world champion, the Nature Boy, Ric Flair. For me, it does not get any better than this.
Now, just to clarify, this is not the 63-year-old Ric Flair who has either been either helping TNA, or ruining his legacy, depending on who you listen to. The Nature Boy we’re discussing is the 30-something Ric Flair who was stylin’ and profiln’ back in the old school NWA.
This is the same Nature Boy who made a career out of taking the best that individual territories had to offer, and making them look better than they could with anyone else. No matter how big, or how small a hometown star was, Flair made it look as though that man had every chance in the world to walk away with the gold on that night.
Ric gave in order to get. He did it the right way every time he stepped into the ring. He understood that by making his opponent look good, he would also look good in the process.
It should, because this is the way that the best workers have always done business. It’s the Horsemen way. And, it’s also Punk’s way.
Punk is the type of talent who goes into a match with the intent of knocking them dead. Giving maximum effort in every bout, Punk is like Jerry Lee Lewis strutting past Chuck Berry in Great Balls of Fire, challenging him with “follow that, killer!”
Man, I’m really making with the movie references on this one, right?
Punk is easily at his best when facing off against another worker who takes pride in his craft as much as the WWE champion does. The pace of the match becomes a bit slower, but more intense, as each man takes his time to tell the story of the rivalry in every move presented in the contest.
For those of us out there who appreciate good old-fashioned mat wrestling, the era of Punk could not have come at a better time. And, the era of Flair ended way too soon.
Flair represented a time when the art of storytelling in the ring was not classic, it was the norm.
Though he was the top guy in Jim Crockett Promotions, he was not alone in terms of ability. Dusty Rhodes, Magnum TA, Roddy Piper, Wahoo McDaniel, the Midnight and Rock & Roll Express; all of these stars brought a real work ethic, and dedication to their craft.
But, as the years went by, and Vince McMahon’s company became stronger, the days of the hard-working pro wrestler who left it all in the ring gradually became overshadowed by the overly polished sports entertainer produced by WWE.
This is not to say that there are not some very talented performers who are still coming up through the business, trying to make it at the highest level. But it is apparent that often times, these men and women are the exception, rather than the rule.
Now, as pro wrestling fans, we find ourselves debating the merits of these workers, and actually questioning if the majority of them even deserve a main-event spot in the first place.
Enter the taped fist fighter from the Windy City.
Punk has been a hot button topic of conversation since last year, when his ascension in WWE began with a pipe bomb on Monday Night Raw. He went from being underused to overexposed in the eyes of many fans, and now a great number of them are of the mind that he has grown stale.
For the 1980’s NWA, and the bleached blond, limousine-riding champion who reigned supreme, this would likely not have been a problem.
For Flair’s generation, a worker was typically not thrust into the spotlight as the result of one promo, or even one match. If a star like CM Punk were a part of that locker room, and had caught fire the way he had last year, then the company would have begun the gradual build up, pairing him with the best talent they had, bringing him up to the top.
And, once he got there, he would have faced Ric Flair.
Flair made guys. Pure and simple. Punk, like Sting, would have been the up-and-coming star who fans latched onto and wanted to see. The only thing he would have needed is the rub to get him where he needed to go, and Flair would have provided that. For me, the highlight of Sting’s career was his work with Ric, and I daresay this would also have been the case with Punk.
Would Punk have been the top draw in the NWA? Perhaps not. After all, much of Punk’s appeal is that he so closely resembles Rowdy Roddy Piper, another workhorse who was one step away from being the main guy in his day.
Fans during that time may have viewed Punk as being in the same vein as an unpredictable, dangerous personality who was not suited to wear the gold for an extended period of time.
Then there’s the fact that Flair was the proven money maker, battle tested, and pushed above all others. Everyone else revolved around him, and he was the man to beat for a very long time.
Now, this is sounding familiar. Are we talking about Ric Flair or John Cena?
To see Flair versus Punk, with both men in their prime, is a dream match for this writer. As much as I enjoy the showbiz side of the industry, I am always a pro wrestling fan at heart. And, this match is exactly what I as a fan want to see.
Let the disagreements begin.