Ric Flair's 10 Most Memorable Tag Team Partners

"The Nature Boy" Ric Flair, considered by many to be the greatest professional wrestler of all time, is often praised for his singles accolades. The 16-time World Champion spent the better part of four decades wrestling the top talent pro wrestling had to offer, from the days of the territories up to his run in WWE. Given his solo achievements, he is not often thought of as a tag team wrestler. However, Flair also has nine world tag team championship reigns over his stints in Jim Crockett Promotions and WWE to go along with his 16 world titles (which could be 21 or 25 depending on perspective). As a tag team wrestler, Flair could certainly hold his own, and his tag team accomplishments only serve to add to his legendary status.

Flair held rank in two of the greatest four-man heel stables of all time: The Four Horsemen and Evolution. However, he did not team with every member of each stable with regularity, and wrestled alongside some of his most memorable partners even before the creation of the Horsemen. Others appeared to be unlikely allies on paper, even sometimes taking on the role of former and future rivals. Nevertheless, Flair's tag team career is nothing to sneeze at and is worth examining in the context of "Naitch's" legendary run in wrestling. Here are Ric Flair's 10 most memorable tag team partners.

Arn Anderson

Wrestling purists might consider Arn Anderson, a Four Horsemen stablemate of Ric Flair's, to be "The Nature Boy's" most memorable ally. Particularly during his '80s run in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling/Jim Crockett Promotions/WCW, Flair would seldom be seen without Anderson. Known as "The Enforcer," Anderson helped legitimize Flair as a force in the '80s and tagged alongside him upwards of 230 times. However, as well as Flair and Anderson meshed as characters and wrestlers, the two never captured tag team gold. While Anderson is known as one of Flair's most important tag team partners, "Double A" is perhaps even more widely recognized for teaming with fellow Four Horsemen member Tully Blanchard. Anderson and Blanchard held the NWA World Tag Team Championship twice, and the WWF World Tag Team Championship once, where they wrestled as The Brain Busters.

Flair and Anderson teamed with one another up until WCW's dying days when Anderson retired and eventually took a job with WWE as a road agent. Unfortunately, the longtime friends had a falling out, according to Flair. Last year, Flair appeared on "The WINC Daily" podcast and blamed a lack of communication on his lack of relationship with Anderson. "That's one of the reasons Arn and I aren't close," Flair said. "How do you not text? We don't do anything anymore. We don't talk. When it's close to [deceased son Reid Flair's] birthday, I get emotional. Like I said, one of the greatest. It's got nothing to do with business. You just struggle with the people who you think will be there for you, and the people that you don't think will be there are. Nothing's bigger than the love of your children."

Rip Hawk

Even the greatest wrestler of all time needs a mentor. Rip Hawk, a tag team partner of Ric Flair's for several years in the '70s, had an instrumental role in "The Nature Boy's" career and the two even tasted tag team gold on one occasion. According to Dick Bourne of Mid-Atlantic Gateway, a young Flair bore a striking resemblance to Hawk, so much so that many thought Flair to be Hawk's nephew. As a seasoned veteran, he took the flamboyant and cocky Flair under his wing, even if he could not fully control his partner's behavior. "Ric was a real case, always very flamboyant, always wanting to be noticed," Hawk told Slam Wrestling. "Some of the promoters got upset with him — don't do this, don't do that. I was like that myself. But he was one of the new breed, coming in a wild era and he proved himself."

Flair, who is also known by his moniker, "The Dirtiest Player in the Game," owes some of his reputation to Hawk, who helped him round out his moveset with "roughhouse moves" and instilled in him the killer instinct that led him to become a 16-time world champion. On the 4th of July, 1974, Flair and Hawk defeated Bob Bruggers and Paul Jones for their first and only NWA Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship and went on to hold the belts for five months. However, with Flair's star rapidly rising, he started to outgrow his partner who retired from wrestling in 1982. "I really appreciated what Hawk did for me but it was the right time to move on," Flair told "Inside Wrestling" in 1976. "I outgrew his leadership." Hawk passed away on December 22, 2012 at the age of 82, but lived long enough to see his former protege retire from WWE in 2008 (though not from wrestling altogether).

Lex Luger

Ric Flair's history with Lex Luger can be traced back to Luger's debut in wrestling. He wrestled an unproven Luger in a world title match roughly one year after "The Total Package's" debut in 1986, and the two remained steady rivals throughout the existence of WCW. However, they were also occasional allies, with Luger acting as a member of The Four Horsemen between 1987 and 1988. While Flair and Luger teamed occasionally as stablemates, they became a formal tag team during WCW's last full year of operation in 2000. Known as Team Package, Flair and Luger teamed 10 times and even competed for WCW tag team gold against Buff Bagwell and Shane Douglas after making the finals of a one-night tournament at Spring Stampede 2000. Given the history and in-ring styles of both men, Flair and Luger seemed to be a decent fit on paper for a promotion hurting for tag teams during its dying days.

While the quality of WCW's flagship show, "WCW Nitro," took a considerable dip by the time Team Package came to be, Flair continued to shine with a microphone in his face and displayed an on-screen rapport with Luger few others possessed. While Luger was known for being a divisive locker room character during these years, Flair always had a soft spot for him and generally enjoyed working with him in every capacity. "I really like Luger," Flair told his former "Wooooo Nation Uncensored" co-host Mark Madden. "I have a lot of time for him. To come back from [his health issues], I think he is a really remarkable human being and I'm glad to see he's in a good place."

Triple H

One of Ric Flair's best friends and closest backstage allies, Triple H teamed with Flair regularly before the formation of Evolution and on occasion after the stable came to be. Flair's alliance with Triple H began after Rico upset "The Nature Boy" during a 2002 singles match on "WWE Raw." Triple H, who had recently been awarded the World Heavyweight Championship by General Manager Eric Bischoff, verbally dressed Flair down backstage, lighting a fire beneath "The Nature Boy" that led to their on-creen alliance. In reality, Flair had been lacking confidence in his in-ring abilities for several years up to that point and credits "The Game" for helping him rediscover his mojo. As a result, Flair's onscreen relationship with his future Evolution stablemate became a case of art imitating life.

After Flair officially joined Triple H's side by helping him retain the Big Gold Belt at Unforgiven 2002, "The Nature Boy" operated primarily as a manager and in-ring ally to "The Game" in the months leading up to the birth of Evolution, wrestling occasional singles matches along the way. However, as a tag team, Flair and Triple H lacked the in-ring track record Flair had with other partners. In fact, after defeating Rob Van Dam and Bubba Ray Dudley in their debut match together after Unforgiven, Triple H and Flair dropped every traditional tag team match they had teaming alongside one another until they defeated Chris Masters and Carlito on an episode of "Raw" in 2005. All told, Flair's tag team with Triple H made this list primarily due to the meaningful role both men played in the creation of Evolution, a stable that dominated the "Raw" main event scene through the summer of 2005.

Batista

Ric Flair had a much better track record of teaming with Batista, Evolution's "Animal." Flair and Batista came up victorious more often than not while teaming together, and Flair's influence helped mold Batista into the superstar he is today, whether in pro wrestling circles or in Hollywood. With Triple H and Randy Orton focusing on singles title pursuits, this left the remaining members of Evolution to chase the World Tag Team Championship, held at the time by the Dudley Boyz. General Manager Eric Bischoff ordered the Dudleys to defend their belt in Tag Team Turmoil at Armageddon 2003, and while the ECW originals appeared to prove successful in the endeavor, Bischoff ordered one more entrant into the match: Flair and Batista. As a result, the Evolution tag team made quick work of the Dudleys to earn Flair his first WWE title in more than 11 years and Batista his first of many to follow.

Despite winning the belts under questionable circumstances, Flair and Batista proved their worth as the "Raw" tag team champions, defending the titles on multiple occasions over the next two months. While the team may have hit a snag against Rob Van Dam and Booker T, Flair and Batista quickly regained the gold eight days after WrestleMania 20, an event where they teamed with stablemate Orton to take on the Rock 'n' Sock Connection. Flair and Batista held the belts for another month before succumbing to Chris Benoit and Edge. Flair and Batista continued to team through the beginning of 2005 up until Batista turning babyface and breaking off from Evolution. Even with Batista on the outs and feuding with Triple H, "The Animal's" onscreen respect for "The Nature Boy" never wavered.

Charles Robinson

Like many referees to come along before and after him, longtime WWE "SmackDown" and WCW referee Charles Robinson actually began his career as a wide-eyed wrestler. Like many more aspiring wrestlers, the Charlotte, North Carolina native came up through the ranks idolizing Ric Flair, but standing at just 5-foot-6 and weighing 150 pounds, Robinson seemed better suited for a referee role. He went to work for WCW in 1997, but found himself utilized as more than just a run-of-the-mill referee. He became the Four Horsemen's hand-picked referee in 1999, aligning himself with his idol. Robinson's partiality towards the Horsemen set off "Macho Man" Randy Savage, leading to a match pitting the undersized Robinson against Savage's girlfriend Gorgeous George at Slamboree 1999. Robinson lost the match, however, with the stipulation being that Savage would be reinstated to the WCW roster with a Gorgeous George victory.

The storyline between Savage and The Horsemen continued eight days later when Savage, teaming with Madusa, took on Flair and Robinson in mixed tag team fare. Robinson, who had been dubbed "Little Naitch" due to some physical similarities he shares with "The Nature Boy," joined his idol on the walk to the ring and even got to wear one of his signature robes. However, the match brought an end to Robinson's career as an in-ring competitor with Savage laying in his signature Elbow Drop a little too deep. "[Savage] collapsed my lung, cracked some vertebrae in my back, and my wrestling career was over," Robinson told WWE commentator Corey Graves on his podcast, "After the Bell." "I was supposed to tour with Ric all summer long and we were supposed to do the tag. Well, if that would've happened, who knows what it would've done to my referee career. I'm of the mindset things work out the way they were supposed to."

Greg Valentine

Greg "The Hammer" Valentine is one of a select few wrestlers to win a world tag team championship with Ric Flair. In fact, "The Hammer" and "The Nature Boy" are three-time tag team champions, winning the NWA World Tag Team Championship twice and the NWA Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship once. The two old school heels also wrestled more than 100 matches together over a seven-year period, so an argument can be made for "The Hammer" being as memorable a Flair tag team partner as anyone. Also known as "The Dream Team," – a name also later given to Valentine and Brutus Beefcake in WWE – Flair and Valentine shared another connection: The 1975 Wilmington Plane Crash. A 26-year-old Flair found himself aboard the same plane that crashed and paralyzed Johnny Valentine, Greg Valentine's legitimate father and storyline brother. One year later, Flair and Valentine's son became a tag team during a time when Flair began to come into his own as a performer.

Valentine went on to have a noteworthy singles career in his own right, but much like he did while teaming with Rip Hawk, Flair began to overshadow Valentine, creating tension within "The Dream Team." However, when Valentine left for Vincent J. McMahon's World Wide Wrestling Federation in 1978, Flair turned babyface, aligning himself with one-time rivals such as Blackjack Mulligan and Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat. Valentine returned to the Mid-Atlantic Territory in 1979 just in time to begin a feud with Flair after "The Nature Boy" declined "The Hammer's" invitation to reform their tag team. However, "The Dream Team" would reunite just a couple years later when Flair became a heel once again and embarked on one of his most notable singles runs as the focal point of the NWA World Championship division.

Roddy Piper

Despite their status as two of the greatest talkers of all time, Ric Flair and "Rowdy" Roddy Piper did not cross paths very often. Piper briefly feuded with Flair in the Mid-Atlantic territory in the early '80s and the two had encounters in both WWE and WCW during the '90s, but the two seemed to be more kindred spirits than bitter enemies. When Flair needed a partner for his World Tag Team Championship match against The Spirit Squad at Cyber Sunday 2006, Piper won the fan vote to become "The Nature Boy's" tag team partner for one night only. Naturally, Flair and Piper defeated The Spirit Squad to become the tag team champions of "Raw."

The WWE and WCW legends held the belts for just eight days, but Flair's babyface momentum at the time made his alliance with Piper stick out. Additionally, Flair and Piper might have gotten a longer run with the belts but Piper was legitimately told he had cancer after the Cyber Sunday match. As a result, Flair and Piper dropped the belts to Edge and Randy Orton, Rated-RKO, on the November 13, 2006 episode of "Raw" in Manchester, England. "It was a great honor, at our age, for Roddy and I to be tag team champions," Flair told Conrad Thompson on his old podcast, "The Ric Flair Show." "It gave us both a big ego boost you like to get when you get older. But the damn thing [was] he got sick. He tried his hardest, but he just couldn't go to the ring that night. He actually went to the ring but we were in and out in six seconds. It was just who Roddy is, a man and a half. He's just one of those guys you're always going to miss."

Blackjack Mulligan

When Ric Flair turned babyface after Greg Valentine's 1978 departure to the WWWF, he formed two of the most important tag teams of his career, one of which came alongside Blackjack Mulligan in the Mid-Atlantic territory. Flair and Mulligan's experience teaming together rivals that of Flair's "Dream Team" tag team with Valentine, as the unlikely partners also teamed together in over 100 different matches. At 6-foot-6, 325 pounds, Mulligan also stands out as one of Flair's largest regular tag team partners, but the two only came together after engaging in an intense feud with one another in the time leading up. Mulligan's brutish style contrasted nicely with Flair, one of wrestling's up-and-coming showman who could also hold his own in the realm of technical wrestling.

Flair and Mulligan won the NWA World Tag Team Championships on August 12, 1979 when they defeated Baron von Raschke and Paul Jones. The title victory marked Flair's first championship win since turning babyface, and the post-match celebration also served to add credibility to the titles. The old rivals celebrated as if they were long-lost friends with Flair leaping into his partner's arms to sell the elation coming off the win. Mulligan went on to feud with Andre the Giant, but also became well known for his tag team prowess as he got to team with the likes of former fellow Texas Western College football players Dusty Rhodes and Dick Murdoch, as well as his son and future Four Horsemen member Barry Windham. However, his tag team with Flair proved instrumental in the "The Nature Boy" discovering a babyface charm that would follow him for the remainder of his career.

Ricky Steamboat

Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, who is considered by many to be one of Ric Flair's greatest opponents (if not the greatest), also had a little-known tag team run alongside "The Nature Boy." Flair and Steamboat teamed up around the time Flair formed his tag team with Mulligan. The commonality shared between the two alliances Flair held at the time had to do with both Steamboat and Mulligan's status as former rivals of his. Though Flair's association with Steamboat is most fondly remembered for their 1989 feud, they are also remembered for their matches with Baron Von Raschke and Paul Jones. However, Flair believes he and Steamboat made for better enemies than friends on camera.

"When Steamboat and I were partners, we did great," Flair told Mark Madden on an episode of "Wooooo Nation Uncensored." "But once again, it's two different styles. Steamboat, who could work with anybody, [was] the greatest babyface of all time. I just kind of went up and down the apron and got it. I certainly couldn't follow his stuff so I just added to it what I could." The storyline reason behind the team had to do with Steamboat's feud with Wahoo McDaniel over the NWA United States Championship. With McDaniel turning to Tully Blanchard for an additional helping hand, Steamboat called on Flair, his former adversary and NWA World Heavyweight Champion at the time, to help even the odds. Flair went on to form the original Four Horsemen alongside Blanchard, Ole Anderson, Arn Anderson and J.J. Dillon, but it is interesting to remember a time when Steamboat and Flair were in lockstep and Blanchard was the man behind enemy lines.

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