Sunday, April 14

Ric Flair’s Heart Attack On WCW Nitro

Although he’s had ups and downs throughout his tenure, the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair has had a compelling history regarding his in-ring career in World Championship Wrestling. Being a multiple-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion, no one denies that Ric Flair accomplished much throughout his WCW career until the organization got bought out in 2001.

However, while Ric Flair has had many memorable WCW moments in a positive light, there are some moments in his WCW run that some feel were in bad taste and damaged Ric Flair’s on-screen character. A case in point is the “heart attack” angle on a December 1998 episode of WCW Nitro, where Ric Flair appeared to have a heart attack in the ring after giving a passionate promo calling out Eric Bischoff.


Ric Flair’s Short-Lived & Forgotten Run With Ring Of Honor, Explained

After retiring from WWE in 2009, Ric Flair showed up in Ring of Honor for a short stint, before leaving the promotion in controversial fashion.

UPDATE: 2024/03/12 20:00 EST BY MICHAEL CHIN

Ric Flair was one of a number of wrestlers who had a number of poor moments in late-stage WCW as the company fell apart and the on-screen product reflected the real life chaos behind the scenes. This faked heart attack left a bad taste in the mouths of so many fans. Nonetheless, it made matters worse that The Nature Boy reprised a very similar angle during the Ric Flair’s Last Match event, mid-main event. Now that The Dirtiest Player in the game is a part of AEW as an on-air personality, it introduces questions as to whether he might–against everyone’s better judgment–broach such an angle yet again.

Criticisms Of Ric Flair’s Late Career In WCW

Despite A Great Career In Wrestling, Ric Flair Wasn’t Always Used Well

  • Ric Flair has a controversial reputation, but his skills as a wrestler were beyond reproach.
  • Ric Flair was subjected to a number of nonsensical or embarrassing angles in late stage WCW.
  • Ric Flair feigning a heart attack live on TV was a real low point.

There’s no arguing that Ric Flair is among the best professional wrestlers in history, despite having somewhat of a controversial reputation in the industry. Even going back to his run with WCW during the 1990s and early 2000s, which has been subjected to heavy criticism, including from The Nature Boy himself, Flair has always maintained his star power throughout his career.

However, despite maintaining his legendary name value, even wrestling past his prime, it’s worth noting that certain aspects of Ric Flair’s in-ring career are worth criticizing. After all, he was part of convoluted angles with his son David, a storyline that saw him getting buried in the desert by The Filthy Animals, and working with the not-so-celebrated Magnificent Seven faction.

One particularly ignominious occasion that came across poorly for Flair and WCW alike was the “heart attack” angle in late 1998 on an episode of WCW Monday Nitro.


10 Worst Things WCW Did With Ric Flair

Ric Flair was one of the leading figures of World Championship Wrestling. But that doesn’t mean WCW didn’t misuse The Nature Boy from time to time!

Ric Flair And Eric Bischoff’s WCW Feud In Late 1998

Ric Flair’s Feud With Erich Bischoff Became One Of WCW’s Hottest Angles

  • Real life bled into storylines as real life legal issues between Eric Bischoff and Ric Flair informed their wrestling angle in 1998.
  • Ric Flair rallied The Four Horsemen against Eric Bischoff’s nWo.
  • Ric Flair vs. Eric Bischoff was one of the most anticipated matches of WCW Starrcade 1998.

To give thebackstory, Ric Flair was involved in a heated feud with WCW president Eric Bischoff in 1998. Flair and Bischoff’s on-screen rivalry stemmed from real-life animosity between the two wrestling personalities that included even a legitimate lawsuit Eric Bischoff filed against Ric Flair for no-showing a WCW event. Furthermore, Flair and Bischoff got set to face off at the upcoming Starrcade 1998 PPV, as The Dirtiest Player in the Game wanted nothing more than to get his hands on Bischoff for allegedly mistreating him throughout his WCW run.

Bischoff may have been an on-screen character for WCW, but he was no in-ring grappler. However, because of the intensity between him and Flair, as it also made for quality TV, he was going to get in the ring with one of the best professional wrestlers in the industry.

Ric Flair Has A Heart Attack On Nitro

Ric Flair’s Fake Heart Attack Came Without Warning And Caught Fans Off Guard

  • Ric Flair cut one of his most impassioned promos on WCW Nitro in the build to Starrcade 1998.
  • Ric Flair lost control, dropping elbows as if he were hitting Eric Bischoff in the ring.
  • When Ric Flair collapsed, fans thought he was suffering a legitimate medical issue.

On a December 1998 episode of WCW Monday Nitro, almost two weeks before Starrcade, Ric Flair gave a passionate in-ring promo threatening Eric Bischoff in their upcoming PPV match. Flair has given many aggressive promos calling out his enemies, but something was overwhelmingly different about this specific in-ring promo on WCW Nitro.

For instance, as Flair called out Bischoff to hype his match against him on PPV, The Nature Boy started performing wrestling moves in the ring like a madman while “Mean” Gene Okerlund was trying to interview him. As one could see the intensity in Flair’s eyes during his wild in-ring promo, one could believe that he really hated Bischoff, whether it was just for show or not.

Following Flair’s threatening message to Bischoff, he appeared exhausted as he fell down near the turnbuckle. As Flair was holding onto his arm, looking like he was in the middle of having a heart attack, medical personnel ran by to check on him and escort him safely out of the ring. It looked like fans witnessed a real-life heart attack take place.

Ric Flair’s Heart Attack Was A Work

Ric Flair’s Medical Issue Was Staged To Stir Up Drama Around His Match With Eric Bischoff

Ric Flair Heart Attack Nitro

  • The realism of Ric Flair’s worked heart attack was a testament to his skill as a performer.
  • WCW later explained Ric Flair hadn’t had a heart attack, but rather had been poisoned.
  • Ric Flair’s match with Eric Bischoff at Starrcade went on as planned.

Although the angle looked realistic, Ric Flair’s heart attack in the ring was just part of the entertainment. In fact, Flair and Eric Bischoff went on to have their scheduled match at the Starrcade 1998 PPV, as there’s no way Flair would be in the ring so soon if he actually suffered a heart attack. It was indeed revealed later by a storyline doctor that The Nature Boy had actually been poisoned instead of suffering a heart attack.


That Time WCW Put Ric Flair In A Mental Hospital, Explained

Towards the end of its lifespan, WCW made some pretty strange booking decisions, and putting Ric Flair in a mental hospital is one of them.

Ric Flair Called Back To A Fake Heart Attack In His Last Match

Even Ric Flair Admitted That Feigning A Cardiac Issue During His Last Match Was A Bad Idea

Ric Flair's entrance Last Match

  • Ric Flair returned to the ring for one last match over the weekend of SummerSlam 2022.
  • Ric Flair teamed up with his son-in-law Andrade against Jeff Jarrett and Jay Lethal.
  • Outside the ring during the match, Ric Flair pretended to have a heart attack.

One might have thought Ric Flair would learn his lesson when faking a heart attack on WCW Nitro was so poorly received and that he wouldn’t go back to a spot like that. However, when The Nature Boy garnered one last spotlight inside a wrestling ring–headlining an event that was literally titled Ric Flair’s Last Match over SummerSlam 2022 weekend–he wound up returning to the idea.

A big point of drama going into his final match, pitting him and his son-in-law Andrade against Jay Lethal and Jeff Jarrett, was whether Flair belonged in a ring at that point. He hadn’t wrestled in a decade and hadn’t looked very good in his most recent efforts for Impact Wrestling. Moreover, could it really be safe for a 73-year-old man to be wrestling?


Ric Flair’s Last Match: 8 Things Fans Could Only Observe If They Were In The Arena Live

Ric Flair’s Last Match made good use of hype videos to get things done off screen, and the fans gave a huge reaction to the luchadors.

Flair’s last match came off reasonably well on its own terms–understanding that it was a nostalgia match and The Dirtiest Player in the Game was working around some pretty severe limitations. However, one universally panned spot saw Flair brawling outside the ring near his family, only to stop and momentarily feign that he was having a heart attack. In kayfabe, it was a distraction tactic to gain the upper hand on Lethal. In reality, the spot was widely criticized and even Flair himself admitted afterward that it was in poor taste.

Would Ric Flair Fake A Heart Attack Again?

Ric Flair Is Still A Part Of Pro Wrestling And May Remain So For Some Time

  • Ric Flair may be done in the ring, but may never truly retire from the wrestling business.
  • Ric Flair is now signed as an on-air personality for AEW.
  • Ric Flair and AEW hopefully have the good sense not to toy with a heart attack angle again.

If there’s one universally accepted truth about Ric Flair, it’s that his career in professional wrestling can never truly be called over. The Nature Boy was losing matches with his career on the line as early as the mid-1990s, and looked like he had hung up his boots for good when WCW closed its doors. He wound up working his way back into solid in-ring performance in his WWE tenure to follow, and even when that door closed, he came back to wrestle in TNA, later staged Ric Flair’s Last Match, and most recently surfaced in AEW.


Why AEW Fans Hate Ric Flair, Explained

“The Nature Boy” signed a short-term agreement with AEW and fans aren’t too happy to see Ric Flair standing beside Sting.

Ric Flair has a non-wrestling role in AEW, and between headlining a major indie event predicated on his true retirement from the ring and his advancing age, it’s unlikely fans will see him work another proper match. Nonetheless, as long as he’s a part of a major wrestling promotion’s presentation, there’s no telling what shenanigans he might get up to. It’s fortunate Flair himself admitted his last phony cardiac event was ill-conceived. Tony Khan and AEW probably have good enough judgment not to try to convince him otherwise, so hopefully we’ve seen the last of The Nature boy pulling this sort of stunt.

Although Ric Flair’s had many incredible angles throughout his in-ring career, faking a heart attack in late 1998 was the very opposite–an ill-conceived spot that rightly drew criticism for being in such poor taste. And to make things even worse for The Nature Boy, he lost to Eric Bischoff a Starrcade thanks to the interference of the New World Order (though he did get his win back in a feel-good moment the next night on WCW Nitro).

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