SummerSlam 2002

Chris Jericho vs. Ric Flair
This match sounds better on paper than it likely will be. Flair was involved in a lot of supposed “dream matches” in his second WWE run, though very few of them ever lived up to expectations. Mind you, nearly all of them were vast improvements on the majority of his WCW matches post-1998. Flair comes out to his WWE rip-off theme, which I actually prefer to ‘Also Sprach Zarasthura’, which is sacrilege, I know. He is donning plain black tights tonight rather than something colourful, which is less satisfying. Flair in red or baby blue is his best look. Jim Ross thinks this is Flair’s first ever appearance at SummerSlam, which is not true. It’s his first match, but he was heavily involved at SummerSlam ’92 in the Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage match. Jericho skins the cat early on, but Flair has seen that one dozens of times from Ricky Steamboat and he knows how to respond: with a mighty chop. Y2J has a great time chopping Flair back, and I am sure he is as disappointed as I am when Flair botches his upside down bump in the corner. Jericho takes control with an axehandle from the top to the outside, prompting Flair to scream, “Oh god!” into the camera. Flair’s verbalisation of his selling is amongst the best around.

He rallies with hard chops, but runs into an elbow and a missile dropkick. Jericho is quick, that is his answer to Flair’s veteran wiles. Jericho even takes a page out of Flair’s “dirtiest player in the game” book, distracting the ref by untying a turnbuckle pad so he can choke Flair out with his wrist tape. Flair comes back by giving Jericho a bump he is very familiar with, a slam from the top. It’s almost like watching Flair work against a tribute act to him. Flair’s other offence mostly consists of chops, which he gleefully pelts Jericho with. They go back-and-forth for a moment, then Flair tries to do the Walls of Jericho, but he can’t manage it and goes to a half crab instead. Jericho reverses into the figure four, and that is pretty much all of Flair’s move set utilised between them now. Flair reaches the ropes, then immediately taps, which makes no sense. If you are in the ropes, why do you need to tap? It doesn’t count anyway because Flair reached the ropes first, and Flair follows by putting on the hold and tapping Jericho almost immediately. I enjoyed this. The little kid in me who loves Ric Flair got a kick out of seeing him run through his routine, and he did it with enough competency and vigour to make it entertaining.
Final Rating: **½

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