Sunday, August 28, 2016

Dream Team: Flair & Valentine (Part 7)

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Before diving in to Part 7, check out all the previous installments of the "Dream Team."
Parts: 1  2  3  4  5  6

On the World Wide Wrestling television program that was taped on May 28, 1980 from the WRAL TV studios, Greg Valentine called Ric Flair out to the set and seemingly sincerely said to Ric, “I would like to say one thing. I know you’re the U.S. Champion, you’re a very good U.S. Champion…I wanna tell you that right now. I still have a lot of respect for you, Ric. I wanna say one thing, and I want all the people to hear this as well as you. I’ve made a mistake. I know it’s hard for you to believe that I’m sayin’ this, but I’ve made a mistake. I’ve done a lot of thinking; I’ve done a lot of thinking the last couple of weeks.”

Valentine continued, “Six months ago I came in from New York and I asked you to be my partner again [as we learned in Part 6], and I was very rude to you. Right here, I think it was in this same studio. But I would just like to say right now that it’s never been the same in the ring without you, it’s never been the same outside the ring without you. When we were together that two to three years, it was the most fantastic time in my professional wrestling career…I want you to know that. And I’m speaking from the bottom of my heart, I’m sincere, this is no joke. I wish you would take me or at least consider, or think about it, take me back as your partner. I’m not asking you to come on my side to be my partner; I’m asking you to take me back. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

This feature includes CLASSIC AUDIO from May of 1980
at the bottom of this post.

Announcer Rich Landrum was shocked, and said, “Ric…this is a surprise to me. I would NEVER expect this.” Ric incredulously responded, “I can’t believe what you’re saying. You realize the money we’ve thrown away by you not thinkin’ about this earlier? Remember what I told you? I said on this side of the fence you get to enjoy life; you get nice letters from people that believe in you. You get to enjoy life without people throwin’ stuff at you and callin’ you names. You get to hold your head up high. I told you this six months ago! I can’t believe you’ve come out here.”

Flair paused, and then continued, saying, “I tell ya, I think you’re a helluva man for standin’ out here and admitting it, if you’re sincere. And I really wish you were, because if you and I, if I could believe you were sincere, and you and I could get it together again brother, I got two guys, three guys in line that just couldn’t handle Valentine and Flair standin’ side by side again! But, I just find it hard to believe that you’d call me out here.”

Valentine quickly responded, “Let me say one more thing. Now, maybe a lot of the fans don’t know this…we had one heck of a wrestling match just about a week ago in Greensboro, North Carolina for your U.S. belt, your gold you call it. I just want to say, we went the time limit, it was a sixty minute time limit, it was the toughest match I’ve ever had in my professional wrestling career. I just wanted to let you know that you’re the most fantastic wrestler of all-time, I mean I’m sincere, I’m sincere, you’re one tough dude. Nobody could beat us together in that ring. And I still have all the respect and admiration, I always have for you Ric. I mean, we were the best of friends. I just want to seal it, and I want you to think about being my partner, and I just want to shake your hand, really. I mean, at least do that, at least think about it.”

An emotional Nature Boy said, “Aw man, you know you make my heart flutter when you talk to me like that, because if I could believe you brother…” Valentine interrupted, “I’m sincere; I am sincere.” Flair continued, “If you’re sincere, and you want to come over to my side of the tracks, you wanna lead that life that I’m leadin’ right now? Hey, I’m gonna give it some serious thought. If you can stand out here, Valentine I’ve never said you weren’t a man. And I’ve never said you weren’t a double-tough guy; I’ve told everybody that. I’ll always respect you. You’re on, and I’ll give it some thought.”

Anderson's Army
Ray Stevens, Jimmy Snuka, and The Iron Sheik
Ultimately, Flair gave Valentine the benefit of the doubt and the “Dream Team” reunited, and their first match back together was on June 8, 1980 in the Greensboro Coliseum. Ric and Greg were booked to battle the nefarious team of Jimmy Snuka and the Iron Sheik, managed by Gene Anderson. The tag team match started normally, but it turned out to be anything but a normal tag team bout!

When Flair attempted to tag Valentine in when Ric felt he needed a breather, Greg refused to tag. After that snub, Ric made another attempt to tag his “Dream Team” partner, and the nightmare for Flair began in earnest. Valentine jumped off the apron of the ring, and clearly had no intention of ever assisting Ric. Clearly, Valentine had suckered Flair! Without a tag team partner that would assist him, Ric was brutalized by Snuka and the Sheik before being pinned. If that was not bad enough, Valentine then joined the beat-down, grabbed the cane that Gene Anderson sported in his managerial capacity, and cracked Flair in the face with it. This vicious blow broke the Nature Boy’s nose, and led to a major feud between the “Dream Team” members that went on hot and heavy for the remainder of 1980, including multiple switches of the United States Heavyweight Championship. Valentine would even call himself the new “Nature Boy!”

After this major blowup between Flair and Valentine in 1980, it seemed impossible that the “Dream Team” would ever operate as a tag team again. But lo and behold, fast forward to the end of 1982 and early 1983, and Flair and Valentine would reunite one final time, for a memorable last hurrah!

Stay tuned for the final installment - - PART 8 of the "Dream Team!"