Ric Flair vs. Kerry Von Erich (WCCW Christmas Star Wars 12/25/82)

Match Reviews

There’s a great match buried in there somewhere. 

The best section of this comes around the second act when Flair zones in on Kerry’s surgically repaired leg as a target of attack. It’s here that the two are left to their own devices for the most part, with Michaels Hayes feeling like less of a distraction than he does elsewhere. This also feels like the most vicious Flair is in the whole match, very much a wounded animal after Kerry opens him up on the steel. Kerry, for his part, is pretty good on the sell too. He’s able to milk a lot of sympathy out of the figure four spot, and Flair’s over the top howling at the reversal makes it all the sweeter.

Unfortunately, either end of the match never really lives up to that. The opening half feels a little aimless. Not compelling enough as a championship-style bout, and never heated enough to be a brawl either. Meanwhile, the back half has its own problems that we’ll get to in a bit.

The overall issues here though is PS Hayes himself. That’s not to say that he’s overzealous refereeing ruins the match. I don’t think it’s that simple though he does serve to disrupt the natural rhythms of the match at multiple points. It’s a bigger problem at play here that, especially in hindsight, it’s clear that the focus of the match isn’t really Kerry and Flair at all, but rather setting up the soon to be iconic Freebirds/Von Erichs feud. Flair comes across as a secondary character in his own title defense, what with the emotional peak here being Gordy slamming the door on Kerry’s head.

The way they get to the angle isn’t the smoothest though. It, by definition, acts as an intrusion with Hayes’ refereeing literally putting a halt to the action. Kerry and Flair are in a tough spot too with the match continuing into a final finishing stretch after the emotional high of the Freebirds turning on Kerry here. There’s not much they can do with the time left though Flair does try to up the violence with a more brawling approach. It’s all somewhat for naught though when the finish feels as silly as it does. Kerry knocks a bleeding Flair dead on his ass with the Discus Punch but then stumbles down to sell the concussion from the cage door which leads to the referee calling for a stoppage on Kerry’s behalf. Just a weird choice when the champion’s bleeding and unmoving in the middle of the ring, but sure, let’s focus on Kerry there instead. 

Flair was right to complain about David Manning’s refereeing. 

Rating: ***1/2

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