ESPN’s highly anticipated “Nature Boy” aired last night and it lived up to the hype. Ric Flair is a living legend and I want to stress the word living because I have no idea how this man is still alive. Even if you have never watched wrestling before, my guess is you have heard of Ric Flair. Besides Hulk Hogan, Flair was the most recognizable wrestler in the 1980s and he didn’t even wrestle for WWE, which is NUTS. The robes. The flashiness. The promos. The in-ring work. Ric Flair had it all and then some. Everyone wanted to be like Ric Flair even if you didn’t like wrestling. LeBron James called him the inventor of swag. Snoop Dogg called him a major influence in how he wanted to portray himself to the public. He was the dirtiest player in the game.
The man had promos for days. To be the man, you gotta beat the man.
I haven’t even touched on his in-ring ability and performances. For those who don’t know wrestling, in simplest terms, you need to be able to talk and you need to be able work in the ring. Talkers and Workers. Most of the time, you fall on one side or the other. The all-time greats and the legends of the sport can do both. Ric Flair is at the top of the list. If you watched the 30 for 30, you heard about how he was an absolute workhorse, wrestling for an hour almost every night. Most champions in wrestling are supposed to be the aggressor and look dominant. Ric was the exact opposite. He brought out the best in his opponents and sold like a mofo just to get a crowd reaction. Look at this flop!
Did I mention he liked women and booze? It’s INSANE that this man is still alive. Here are the two quotes that most people will remember.
“I’ve been with 10,000 women…maybe.”
“‘How much do you drink a day?’ I said, ‘I’ll drink at least 10 beers, and probably five mixed drinks.’
10,000 women and 15 drinks a day. I don’t think I’ve seen 10,000 people and I for sure would be dead if I drank that much. Ric said he did that for almost 30 years. THIRTY YEARS!
However, the quote that will stick with me is from Shawn Michaels.
“Ric is my friend, for better or worse. I knew he couldn’t stay away from this stuff. And again, I knew when they wanted him to go that he didn’t want to go. … Ric doesn’t love Richard Fliehr. I don’t know that he’s ever taken the time to get to know him, or to find out who in the world he is. He only knows who he is through the image and gimmick of Ric Flair.”
Ric Flair was Ric Flair both in and out of the ring. His gimmick took over and he did not know how to separate them. I actually worked for WWE for close to 4 months. I traveled every week to shows all over the world. It’s a brutal, brutal grind. I saw firsthand how some superstars could not be themselves outside of the ring. They were in character 24/7. It was sad to see, but it happens all too often. Between the lack of support from his parents to his son’s tragic death, Ric lived a tough life. He struggled with alcoholism and he didn’t really know how to be a father at times. Heartbreaking stuff. It was not all glamorous.
I’m glad the 30 for 30 ended on a positive note with Ric celebrating with his daughter, Charlotte (Ashley), after she won her first championship. It’s inspiring to see that Charlotte really didn’t want the wrestling lifestyle, but she’s doing it in honor of her brother. A truly touching moment.
If you have not seen the 30 For 30, I highly recommend it even if you don’t like wrestling. I had the honor of spending some time with Ric while working at WWE. He was the nicest guy you could ever meet. He also was the most charismatic person in the room. That’s just how the Nature Boy rolls.