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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

A return with Flair


By MATT GARDNER -- For SLAM! Wrestling

Ric Flair is back.
NOTE: We hope to have a video clip and still photos later in the week.
 'The Nature Boy' Ric Flair has returned to WCW!

From the start of the action-packed NITRO telecast the announcers and the fans alike were, as DDP would say, jacked. For tonight the industry's greatest entertainer was about to make his triumphant and long awaited return to television and reform the most elite group in the history of the fine sport, The Four Horsemen.

As the show started we saw Mike Tenay at the local airport trying to get inside a limousine, with Flair, possibly inside. For the next two plus hours the announcers, namely Tony Schiavone hyped the return of the great one.

Just as WWF RAW was showcasing the likes of Mark Henry and X-Pac the WCW pulled the biggest, grandest, most appreciated ratings stunt in a heck of a long time.

First JJ Dillon comes down to the ring donning a black suit and tie. After telling the fans he's been waiting a long time for this he calls out "The Enforcer" Arn Anderson who goes on to recap for us the preceding year and a half of goings-on. He reminds of how he gave not just any spot, but, dammit, his spot away. How he found out he could never wrestle again and how the Horsemen disbanded.

He went on to have the other three Horsemen come out, Steve McMichael, Chris Benoit, and Dean Malenko. After shaking each one's hand, he went on. The crowd in the arena and the viewing audience was ready. Hell, we've been ready for months.

As Anderson dragged it out as long as he could, he told everyone to be forewarned, that Horsemen were not nice men and that everyone better expect them the way they always were.

Then, finally, after such a long wait he announced him.

As the best darn theme music once again echoed through the arena the crowd went wild, because there standing in the entranceway, on the ramp right in front of the glittering WCW MONDAY NITRO sign was the greatest World champion the sport has ever seen.

Standing there was the man who for 25 years has styled and profiled through the greatest names in the business. Standing there was 14-time World champion and the leader of the Horsemen, "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair.

With tears in his eyes he let out a triumphant and purely heartfelt "WHOOO!"

He walked to the ring crying and mouthing the words, "Thank you." He hugged Dillon, Mongo, The Crippler, Malenko and his best friend Arn Anderson.

The crowd fell silent, to hear the first, poetic words of from the REAL man.

As Anderson handed him the mic, Flair took in, once again, the fans appreciation.

"Thank you," he said, still weeping with honor and gratitude.

He went on. "I'm almost embarrassed by the response, but when I see this I know that the 25 years that I('ve) spent trying to make you happy every night of your life was worth every damn minute of it."

With the tears leaving, right before our very eyes he became the Ric Flair, we knew and loved. His posture straigtened, the tears dried up and the voice became more confident. "Now somebody told me that the Horsemen were having a party tonight, in Greenville. Could that be true, that the most elite group that Eric Bischoff said was dead?"

With his eyes blazing and the crowd exuberantly holding up four fingers, he went on. "Bischoff, this might be my only shot and I gotta tell you I'm gonna make it my best. Is this what you call a great moment in TV? You're wrong - this is real, this is not bought and paid for. It's a real life situation. Just like the night in Columbia, South Carolina when you looked at me, with tears in my eyes, and said `That's good TV.', it was REAL! Arn Anderson passed the torch it was real, dammit. You think Sting was crying in the dressing room like I was on TV. If it wasn't real. This guy, my best friend, is one of the greatest performers to ever live, and you, you squashed him in one night. Then you get on the phone and tell me `Disband the Horsemen.' You know what? I looked at myself in the mirror the next day and say a pathetic figure who gave up and quit. And for that I owe you the fans, and these guys (The Horsemen) an apology."

Then who decides to show up? One, Eric Bischoff. From there Flair called him an "overbearing asshole." Eric fired back with shots, but Flair ended it with "You can't fire me, I'm alredy fired!"

The screen went black and a commercial came on. The new Flair era, which will go until the year 2000 either just began or abruptly ended.

It was so real, so real one could not tell if it was a work. Anyway you look at it, Ric Flair is back. The man with the pen only has so much power, and Flair proved that tonight. Besides that he lit a new fire into the fans who for months have been transfixed by icon wannabes like Hogan, Piper, Warrior and Goldberg. And proved once again, why he's right up there with Muhammed Ali. Ric Flair in every sense of the word is the greatest. WHOOOOOO!!!!

More on Ric Flair