By Liam Byrne @tvtimelimit
Ric Flair © vs Magnum TA 9/28/85
NWA World Heavyweight Championship Match
Over a six month period, Magnum TA would face off against Ric Flair at least twenty times as he finally moves into a position to challenge the elite under the NWA banner. Having had success in Mid-South with runs as North American Heavyweight Champion and one half of the tag team champions, his acquisition by Jim Crockett Promotions saw him almost instantly thrust into the United States Heavyweight Title picture. At a time when this belt legitimately meant you could lay claim to being the number one contender to the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, TA would embark on a series with Flair with its highpoint being the main event of the first AWA Superclash.
That the NWA title was being defended on an AWA show was a story in and of itself. With the WWF expansion continuing apace, AWA, WCCW and JCP joined forces in an effort to remain competitive against the monolithic onslaught of McMahon’s army. Superclash was a supershow, including such matches as the Fabulous Freebirds taking on the Road Warriors, Jerry Blackwell fighting Kamala in a bodyslam match and the booking of Mil Mascaras, Jumbo Tsuruta, Genichiro Tenryu and Giant Baba amongst others. Still, the NWA title was still king and it would be Flair and TA who saw out the show.
The less charitable wrestling fan may argue that Flair has a types of match that he recycles ad nauseum; those who see Flair as one of the greatest would suggest that he has archetypes that fit the opponent he is up against, fits the situation and suits the purpose as necessary. With the opening exchanging of holds, it looked as if this was Flair in his worker role, aiming to go move for move with TA and outwrestle him. This was as much about allowing TA to showcase not only his power moves, but his wrestling chops. A dropkick and a press slam would have Flair begging off within minutes, seeking a timeout that wouldn’t be granted.
A back body drop gave TA the first two count of the match as the hungry challenger threatened to swallow up the champion with his multi-faceted offense. It would take an overzealous attempt at another dropkick to cost Magnum his advantage, with Flair using his ring awareness to hold onto the ropes and take control. Methodically wearing away on the challenger, Flair grabbed his first nearfall after a beautiful butterfly suplex before following up with an abdominal stretch with the first sign of rule-breaking as he yanked at the tights for leverage.
A missed kneedrop saw TA pounce and lock on Flair’s own figure four for a huge reaction from the crowd. Once more, going to the well a second time initially cost TA as Flair kicked his way out of a second leglock attempt, but a backslide almost had the champion down for the count. Searching for some respite, Flair sent TA to ringside, only to choose to follow him and send the challenger into the ringpost shoulder first. A punch to the face would halt a sunset flip into the ring and Flair again on top.
The rules continued to be broken as leverage was sought and hair was grabbed. The two men ended up fighting over a Flair crucifix attempt after some more work on the shoulder, yet it would be TA who would slap on a sleeper hold in the center of the ring to wear out the champ. The resulting pinfall was broken by a foot on the rope, but it felt like only a matter of time before TA was able to overcome Flair. TA would even reverse the figure four and earn some measure of revenge by sending Flair into the ringpost, busting him open. You can never truly count Flair out, but he had a lot of luck when a TA belly to belly suplex took out the referee as well. In all the confusion, a resulting roll-up saw Flair reverse it by grabbing the tights and getting the three count.
It was always unlikely that TA was going to win the belt at this time, especially on a mostly AWA card. Unfortunately for TA, any plans for a potential title run in the future were curtailed by the car crash that ended his career. With the NWA, WCCW and JCP falling out over the gate receipts for the event, it would also start what would effectively become the curse of Superclash; an event that rarely seemed to go by without some promotional drama in tow.