11:41 PM ET
Marc RaimondiESPN Workers Author
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Ric Aptitude did his trademark strut. He led the group in chanting “Woo!” The legendary professional wrestler even bled, the colour purple drenching his face and recognizable white hair like it might have within the Seventies or Nineteen Eighties.
And fittingly, Aptitude’s remaining wrestling match ended Sunday night time right here at a sold-out Municipal Auditorium with the figure-four leglock, the ending transfer that’s synonymous with “The Nature Boy.” Aptitude, 73, was the winner, in fact, in a tag workforce match alongside companion and son-in-law Andrade El Idolo in opposition to the workforce of Jay Deadly and Jeff Jarrett. The attendance was practically 10,000, per broadcast supplier Fite TV.
Aptitude was clearly exhausted by the top of his first match since 2011, however he was wholesome sufficient by the top to stroll out underneath his personal energy and do an interview with longtime wrestling broadcaster Tony Schiavone. After the match, Aptitude was helped out of the ring, and he greeted his household within the entrance row, in addition to pro-wrestling luminaries The Undertaker, Bret Hart and Mick Foley.
“I had one in all my greatest matches of my profession right here with Ricky Steamboat,” Aptitude mentioned. “All my household is right here. We made jokes about me being married 5 occasions. All the children are right here. One spouse, however all my granddaughters. My mates are right here. I swear to God, guys. If I did not have sufficient stress on me tonight, f—ing Child Rock walked into the locker room tonight.”
The grueling match was practically half-hour lengthy and, whereas it was clear Aptitude was not the identical man who transcended professional wrestling within the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s and Andrade, Deadly and Jarrett did the majority of the hard-hitting strikes, Aptitude was capable of maintain his personal weight. He landed chops and punches, his donkey kick low blow and even took a vertical suplex from Deadly, with whom he educated for this match to get ring-ready.
The end got here when Jarrett, a legend in his personal proper performing in his hometown, landed his signature guitar shot on Deadly unintentionally when Andrade pulled Aptitude away. Aptitude’s different son-in-law and the cardboard’s promoter, Conrad Thompson, threw Andrade a pair of brass knuckles from the entrance row, which Andrade handed to Aptitude. Aptitude landed a brass-knuckles shot on Jarrett after which put him within the figure-four leglock to finish the match.
“This match is a very powerful of my profession,” mentioned Andrade, an AEW star who’s married to Aptitude’s daughter and WWE standout Charlotte. “… That is unbelievable. I do not even have phrases for this. [Flair] feels higher than guys 20 years outdated. He is an inspiration to me.”
Aptitude is a former 16-time world champion and a two-time WWE Corridor of Famer. He is one of many best wrestlers within the historical past of the enterprise, and his stardom has crossed over into the mainstream, even within the present day. Aptitude has been featured in a number of music movies by prime hip-hop artists, together with a music written about him known as “Ric Aptitude Drip” by Offset in 2017. He was the chief of the influential 4 Horsemen faction in wrestling, and his matches and work on the microphone are iconic. A lot of his catchphrases — and naturally, the traditional “Woo!” — are nonetheless repeated at this time.
Aptitude’s fashion and swagger — full with costly fits, diamond-encrusted robes, eye-catching jewellery and crocodile-skin footwear — have been emulated properly past the wrestling world.
Aptitude wore a gown that was estimated at practically $40,000 to the ring Sunday night time. However that is the place the glitz ended and issues bought extra down and soiled. Halfway by the match, Aptitude took a razor blade to his brow to trigger bleeding, a pro-wrestling method so as to add depth to a match. Deadly mentioned Aptitude doing that was his greatest concern, due to the unpredictability of how a septuagenarian Aptitude would react to a reduce.
“That is the unknown variability,” mentioned Deadly, who additionally wrestles for AEW. “I hate to present an excessive amount of away in wrestling, however Ric, he likes to do what’s known as strolling and speaking. There is not lots that is deliberate. However I can foresee how a variety of the strikes will go. The one factor I am unable to foresee is how a lot he’ll bleed, is it controllable? Was it an excessive amount of? It was out of our arms.”
Jarrett was emotional after the match, saying it was “overwhelming.”
“It is his final one,” mentioned the 55-year-old Jarrett, a WWE Corridor of Famer who works as an govt in WWE. “If something goes fallacious, it is on me. It is on others. I am so rattling completely satisfied for Ric, I do not know what to say. … As a spectator, y’all watched it and went residence tonight. Whenever you’re collaborating, it is an entire different degree of stress that I’ve by no means been underneath.”
A bloody Aptitude was helped up the ramp to the again by Andrade. Deadly, who had been an enemy in storyline, got here out, and he and Aptitude fell into an extended embrace. Aptitude had been extremely appreciative — and trusting — of Deadly to get him ring-ready for his remaining match.
“I mentioned, ‘I f—ing love you, you are the f—ing man, I am attempting to be such as you once I develop up, since you’re f—ing nice. You are the best wrestler within the f—ing world’,” Deadly mentioned. “He begins crying and says, ‘Thanks. Thanks a lot.’”