I can't really see how you can make that claim about Flair.....and not HBK when I've seen you pimp his work a lot in the past. Michaels was essentially the carbon coby of Flair in elaborate and goofy bumping in the 90s as a heel, albeit more athletic and utilising more high risk offence.
I can't fathom how a Flair match can be dull, especially when you say he's one of the most entertaining people for you to watch. He's always doing something in a match to make a basic hold more entertaining, his bumping and selling alone should be enough to make a match more than dull, and well 'dull' is something I could understand someone using to describe Bret given how most of his matches were just holds and ring work with little character or crowd participation. Compare Bret working holds to someone like Arn Anderson: 1 guy is just putting on a nice armbar, the other is doing little things like working the fingers in the armbar, pulling a glorious facial expression that conveys arrogance, taunting his opponent or posing to the crowd and getting a reaction. I'll leave it up to you to deduce who's the guy merely putting on a hold and who's the one trying to make that hold more dramatic and bigger in the context of the match.
Hart/HBK being better worked than Flair/Steamboat frankly is just astonishing to me, but your opinion none the less. Hell the fact both Bret and Shawn were unco-operative in their selling and blowing off the other guy's offence should be enough evidence to demonstrate why its not on Flair/Steamboat's level. Add in the poor pacing of the match and the structuring as well as poor story that wasn't executed at all well because both guys hated the other and had no intention of making the other look good and you have a pretty crap match. Flair vs Steamboat was a perfect face vs heel dynamic, with both men going beyond ring work to demonstrate their characters with Flair being conceited and arrogant and Steamboat bumping and selling like a hard working man determined to prove he was on the level of World Champion Flair. Add in the flawless execution, bumping, selling, pacing and crowd control as well as them utllising their charisma to make 60 minute matches fly by and not drag (something HBK vs Hart never was able to do) and you have a terrific chemistry which produced sensational matches that could appeal to fans who prefer selling, to fans who prefer a working story that was elaborated and developed throughout the match, a clear face vs heel dynamic with a perfect mix of working holds and heel schtick to pop the crowd at key moments.
Flair's bumping for me is what makes his matches so good. You can say they're goofy and nonsensical but when you take into account his whole act was to put over his opponent as a world beater whilst maintaining his credibility as champion him bumping like a madman and doing exaggerated KO bumps always popped the crowd into believing their hometown wrestler was moments away from beating the champion. I'd sooner have someone like Flair try to bump emphatically in these types of matches to get the crowd interested than a guy just doing run of the mill bumping that can't generate the reaction. Hell Michaels and Steamboat and Ricky Morton all made their legacies as all time sensational FIPs and sellers by bumping emphatically and dramatically off of their opponent's offence to get the crowd behind them. Flair was essentially a heel version of them by bumping above and beyond other heels becauase it got the crowd off of their feet when he'd collapse from his opponent's offence and got them into the match. Sure it could look very 'goofy' on occasion but pro wrestling is all about trying to hook a crowd into a match, there are numerous 'lolwat' moments in every match which make wrestling look staged and a show (Savage's double axe handle off the top rope for example). Flair's act may not be the most realistic of all styles but it did what his job had to do by pulling a crowd into a match, got a baybface over as a credible opponent with how much he was bumping and made a match naturally engrossing and entertaining which is what world title matches should be. The fact he was a genius at usually bumping at key moments that added to the working story of the match is another thing to love about him.
Antoniomare007 never seen the Crockett Cup match but plan on changing that later today maybe or at the very latest tomorrow.
No comparison between HBK and Flair as far as I can see.
Shawn had the agility of a gymnast, the emotion of an oscar winning actor, the heart of a lion, the showmanship of a street entertainer and unparalleled coordination and timing. Apart from the stupid front flip into the ropes that he copied of Flair, I don't see any other similarities. Shawn's bumps were usually sickeningly authentic and often looked like he was genuinely hurt.
As for the Iron Man Match, it would have got a far greater reaction had that type of bout been done in the Steamboat/Flair era. As it was audiences had become too impatient to tolerate that kind of contest in the mid nineties and didn't appreciate its patient build. For me its a near perfect match that makes the world championship look like a million dollars. Both men so good that they can't outdo the other for a near fall in an entire sixty minutes match. Amazing chemistry, emotion and authentically structured with regards to a cautious approach that builds towards an increasingly fast pace towards the end. I only have it at four and a half stars (don't do 3/4 ratings) because of the crowd but the last half hour is comfortably the best wrestling I have ever seen.
The points you make about Flair are all sound and his approach is what brought the crowd into his matches. But then look at a guy like Bret Hart who managed to draw the crowd in whilst also making wrestling look like an authentic sporting contest. I much prefer watching Bret look genuinely hurt whilst selling than watching some guy ham it up for all its worth as his opponent has him in a headlock. Flair is the most entertaining wrestler I've ever seen but I don't just watch wrestling to be entertained. I think a great wrestler is a combination of someone who can show personality, emotion, technical fluidity, convincingly sell, effectively time the big moments and make you truly root for or against them depending on their role. Now I can tell that you think Flair ticks all that boxes and more but for me he doesn't and that's why I don't see him as one of the all time greats as an in ring performer.
"Hey, Shawn just worked my arm over for the first half of an hour long match... I think when we move into the second half I'll forget it ever happened! Yey!"
Just to confirm that in defence of Flair, you're having a go at two men doing something that makes no sense inside of the middle of the ring. Well personally I'd much rather an athlete neglect to work an arm than see a man walk like a zombie before falling flat on his face.