Friday, February 1, 2013

Nature Boy Ric Flair: The Definitive Collection

Directors: Kevin Dunn
Distributor: WWE Home Video
Released: 7/08
Featured Talent
Arn Anderson, Steve Austin, Batista, Tully Blanchard, Nick Bockwinkel, Jack Brisco, Jim Brunzell, John Cena, Jim Cornette, David Crockett, J.J. Dillon, Edge, Ric Flair, Ashley Fleihr (daughter), David Fleihr (son), Megan Fleihr (daughter), Reid Fleihr (son), Tiffany Fleihr (wife), Dory Funk Jr., Greg Gagne, Michael Hayes, Bobby Heenan, Shawn Michaels, Gene Okerland, Bob Orton Jr., Randy Orton, Bruce Pritchard, Harley Race, Baron Von Raschke, Dusty Rhodes, Jim Ross, Triple H, Greg Valentine, Kevin Von Erich

The Good
Generally speaking, the WWE’s documentaries on legendary pro-wrestlers have been good. They usually have the footage, interviews and a version of the story that is a worthwhile watch - at least once. This documentary, while a good retrospect of Ric Flair’s legendary career, lacks the depth that his excellent autobiography did. It is positive though and many people want to see those highlights and hear those stories. In that sense, it delivers. This was a big step-up production-wise as it featured some really fun graphics (depicting the NWA’s control over the US, Flair’s touring and title defenses), it also had some good lighting and presentation for the newer interviews and it really captured the past in a nostalgic way (as opposed to low-rent way). It was fun to hear Flair and some of his running buddies talk about his early days and peak when he was living the high life. There was a lot of focus on big feuds and rivalries, which has gone over well in recent WWE Legend documentaries. There really were no surprises here and it was basically a feel-good type documentary, which one has to expect. As always there were some great interviewees: Harley Race, Jim Cornette and David Crockett were all great and brought so much to this piece.

The Bad
As with almost all WWE documentaries, this lacked depth. It was missing that critical side that even Flair’s autobiography had. His financial woes, his lackluster WWF run and his burial in WCW are largely glossed over. There is no Eric Bischoff, Hulk Hogan or Mick Foley to offer some criticism, heck, Ricky Steamboat is not even on this! Although the list of interviews is solid, there were definitely some MIAs that could have added insight. Terry Funk really jumps out, but he is yet to appear on a WWE documentary. There also is some due criticism of the WWF/WWE that is sadly missing. His `91-`93 run is deemed a success, although it is acknowledged that not booking he and Hulk Hogan in a pay-per-view match was strange. While he had a good showing and had some great matches, he was not the larger than life character that he had been in JCP and was another legendary NWA champion reduced to something far less than he deserved to be like “King” Harley Race, Hoss (Dory) Funk and “The Common Man” Dusty Rhodes before him. As for his return after WCW died, well, it is clear that with the exception of a few instances, Ric Flair was not utilized well. One of the greatest interviews of all-time was seldom left to cut his money promos, a figure who could draw in the older fans was over-used and jobbed out and that final run that should have carried him into his final match was pathetically executed. All of these facts are swept aside, so we can hear him talk about the few things that were done right. While one has to expect that in a WWE production that does not mean that it is okay and the credibility of this documentary takes a hit as result. As for the matches, let's just say they did an average job complimenting the previously released "Ultimate Ric Flair Collection."

The Rating: ****1/2