There is so much talk in pro wrestling these days about a “Forbidden Door,” the unexpected collaboration between companies or when a star crosses over from one place to another. We’ve certainly seen our fair share of this in 2022.
However, Conrad Thompson is taking it to another level with the card he has put together for Ric Flair’s Last Match. A celebration of the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, Thompson’s father-in-law and arguably recognized GOAT. WWE gave Flair a sendoff in 2004 at Wrestlemania 24, but that didn’t stop the legendary 16-time champion from getting into the ring since then.
Now, 73-year-old Flair will walk the aisle one more time teaming with another son-in-law and All Elite Wrestling star Andrade El Idolo to face WWE Hall of Famer Jeff Jarrett and AEW/Ring of Honor Jay Lethal. Much like this main event, the undercard in Nashville very much spotlights pretty much every major pro wrestling company in the world.
“It’s going to be a big day for wrestling fans. It has taken a big effort to pull this together, and I’ve had a lot of help from a few folks who know a lot more about wrestling than me,” Thompson told the media during a conference call ahead of the event.
“Ric has accomplished a whole heck of a lot in his nearly 50-year career and still carries a lot of respect globally in the industry. Not just from fans, but the folks who work behind the camera and mutual offices…we’re looking to have a who’s who. Wrestling without borders. Some of this stuff shouldn’t happen but somehow it will. And it didn’t happen because I was a good salesman. It happened because of Ric Flair’s legacy and his contributions to the business. Ric Flair and David Crockett for that matter. We sure are excited for Sunday night.”
Thompson is a mortgage guy who turned his lifelong pro wrestling fandom into big business. The Alabamian truly tapped into the nostalgia of the marketplace with a series of popular podcasts featuring top names striking a cord. Thompson parlayed that into live shows and a multi-day fan convention called starcast.
“The Podfather” calls Ric Flair’s Last Match a show essentially put together by the fans for the fans. The event was initially going to be married at the site of starcast at the Nashville Fairground, but demand was so high it was moved to a much bigger Nashville Municipal Auditorium. Thompson knows the history as he explained “It’s the same building [Flair] beat Randy Savage for the world title. The same building he ended his trilogy with [Ricky] Steamboat and won the world title.”
Ric Flair’s Last Match infuses an old-school atmosphere under the banner of Jim Crockett Promotions. At the same time stars of the present and future are being featured including the generational talent of many legends.
“This is going to be a celebration much like ECW’s One Night Stand was for me as a longtime ECW fan,” Thompson said. “I jumped at the experience. That’s what we tried to do with this docuseries leading up to the show. We wanted it to look and feel like when Jim Crockett Promotions promoted it in the 1980s. Just the 2022 version. We hope folks dig it.”
The three-episode docuseries, narrated by music star Darius Rucker, helped set the stage for Flair’s bow as a pro wrestler. Thompson knows the training and the pressure the consummate performer put on himself. The organizer makes no bones about the finality surrounding the build of Ric Flair’s Last Match.
“Bands have farewell tours over and over, but that’s not what we’re doing here. I want to be clear,” Thompson said. “This has been a one-off, and it has always been a one-off. But I know Ric has had that bug for a long time. I’ve been close to Ric for nine years now. Occasionally, and I mean every few months, we’d be hanging out and it would randomly come up. What if?
Thompson also sees the milestone evening as properly honoring Flair one more time. Doing it the right way.
“He regrets wrestling after Wrestlemania 24. What a perfect sendoff WWE gave him with that Shawn Michaels match and the next night on Raw. That’s a sendoff that nobody, not just in wrestling but sports gets. It was really special. But for a variety of reasons, he did wrestle after that. Unfortunately, his last match was on a soundstage in Orlando.
“Not to be disparaging, but it was just a random TV show. It wasn’t a celebration that could mirror or rival what happened in 2008. I’m not saying we’re going to be able to either. But it just feels like there will be more of an effort to celebrate his legacy. “I’m not planning to do a tour…the reality is, there will not be another Ric Flair match with me promoting it. This is Ric Flair’s last Match.”
Starcast V programming streams July 29-31 on FITE TV.
Ric Flair’s Last MatchJuly 31, 6:05/5:05, FITE TV and Pay-Per-View