Ric Flair has been wrestling since 1972 and won the first of his 16 World Championships in 1982. Over the course of the past four decades, many of his feuds have helped shape the sport of professional wrestling. This is a list of his five greatest feuds. There are many factors involved in my decision of what was put on and also left off this list. Some of the criteria used include the popularity of the feud at the time, how it has held up over time, the length and impact of the feud, and whether any of the matches during the feud were must-see.
1. Dusty Rhodes
During the '80s, these two men battled for supremacy in the NWA. Ric Flair's first NWA World Heavyweight Championship victory was against Dusty and the feud was on. The two men battled in the main events at Starrcade, the biggest show for the NWA, in 1984 and 1985. While the two men continued to battle each other in singles competition, the feud soon engulfed the entire company as Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen waged war against Dusty Rhodes and his allies. This led to the first-ever War Games match which featured Dusty Rhodes, Nikita Koloff, The Road Warriors, and Paul Ellering beat The Four Horsemen and JJ Dillon. The feud between these men was the first runner-up of the inaugural Pro Wrestling Illustrated Feud of the Year Award in 1986 and the gang war won the award in 1987.
2. Ricky Steamboat
Their trilogy of matches between Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat in 1989 are considered the greatest series of televised matches in wrestling history by many who witnessed them. Those matches alone are worthy of placing this feud on this list. However, these were not the only two times the two men have battled one another. Over a decade earlier, the two men tore the house down in many arenas when they battled for the US Championship. When the NWA decided to fight back against the WWE expansion, it was Ric Flair and Ricky Steramboat that headlined their first show at the Meadowlands Arena which was geographically close to the WWE's most mportant arena of the era, Madison Square Garden. Even after their classic matches in 1989, the two men would battle again on PPV in 1994.
Ric Flair and Sting's first major battle was a 45-minute draw that took place at the first Clash of the Champions in 1988. Despite going head-to-head against WrestleMania IV, this is the match that most fans remember most from that day. By 1989, Sting and Flair became allies and Sting joined a new incarnation of the Four Horsemen. His time in the group didn't last long as he kicked out of the group and injured his knee on the same night. Sting came back a few months later and won his first NWA World Heavyweight Championship from Flair at the Great American Bash in 1990. Over the next few years, Flair and Sting became friends and enemies on several more occasions. In a fitting tribute to this feud, the final match in WCW history was between these two men. The feud was rekindled in 2011 in TNA Wrestling.
4. Lex Luger
Sting and Lex Luger rose to the top of the sport around the same time and Ric wasn't going to allow either of these two men replace him as "the man". Lex Luger became a member of the Four Horsemen in 1987 and left the group by the end of the year. He spent most of 1988 feuding with the group and had PPV matches against Flair at both the Great American Bash and Starrcade. Luger and Flair spent most of 1989 away from each other but rekindled their feud again the following year when Sting was injured. The two men had some great matches with each other that year which all ended controversially. During this period of time, Luger was the US Champion which made him the number two man in the company. Sadly this feud ended with a thud instead of a bang as the two men were about to face off for the title at the 1992 Great American Bash. Flair left the company with the title a few days earlier which made Luger's first World Title victory very anti-climactic. Their paths would cross again in later years but never again with the same intensity as it was years earlier. This feud won the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Feud of the Year Award in both 1988 and 1990.
5. Hulk Hogan
During the '80s, wrestling fans debated who was the better wrestler. In 1991, fans finally thought they would get the answer to this question when Flair entered the WWE with his WCW World Championship belt and immediately began insulting the title that Hulk Hogan held. It appeared the two men were on a collision course to fight at WrestleMania VIII but the announced match was scrapped from the show. The two men finally battled one another on PPV in 1994 at Bash at the Beach. Hulk Hogan won their initial series of matches and even forced Flair to retire following one of those losses. Flair would eventually return and had the Four Horsemen join forces with the Dungeon of Doom to rid WCW of the Hulkster. Their plot failed and then the unimaginable happened. Hulk turned to the dark side and formed the new World order. The feud with the Horsemen resumed but only this time with Ric Flair as the fan favorite. The feud would continue on and off for the next few years until Hulk left WCW.