Now that ESPN has announced that Ric Flair will be the subject of a “30 for 30” documentary in the near future, does it mean other professional wrestlers will be featured as part of one of the best series the sports network has produced since its inception?
There is no doubt Flair is one of the most polarizing figures in the business, even years after his retirement.
His character has stood the test of time as a performer over five decades in a business that has completely changed since the days of him learning his craft in an old barn where Verne Gagne taught him to become a legend.
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To say there will never be another Flair (and no his daughter Charlotte won’t come close) is an understatement if there ever has been one in this business.
While there is an almost guarantee that John Cena will tie Flair’s record next year and possibly surpass it – with Flair’s blessing – no one was as entertaining in the old NWA or even WCW throughout the years.
He is a legend in the business, an enigma in the public eye, and a catch phrase that continues to conjure up images of him “going to school” while he made everyone in the ring look like a million bucks.
All too often, the term icon is used to describe athletes or entertainers. Flair is every bit of the term and then some.
He lived his character as if his life depended on it. He created a sense of believability that may only be surpassed by Mark Calloway’s Undertaker persona. To say Ric Flair is professional wrestling is no tall tale, it’s the truth in so many ways.
But Flair’s time in the ring, especially in the 1980s was perfect for the first real change in the “sport” as Gordon Solie used to call it.
The secrecy of wrestling met glitz and glamour – the colorful NWA World Champion who walked around with the silver spoon in his mouth, partied like a jet setter and lived each day like it would be his last.
Angelo Mosca, Sr. once told Flair, that “If you live past you are 30, you are overstaying your welcome.”
Flair is now 66 and still gets out there in the ring and riles the crowd like few others can.
And when you can still do that, with a generation of fans who may not have seen his work in person or in their lifetime, that speaks volumes of how damn good you are.
I met Flair when I was in South Carolina a number of years ago and then again in Gainesville of all places. As a fan, meeting one of my idols was without a doubt one of the highlights of my writing career.
Flair wouldn’t remember me from any other star-crossed fan, but he was genuine, and real and took his time to talk with me, the writer at the time who had a hard time doing his job.
The documentary to appear on ESPN might be the culmination of everything that is good about Flair, and yes, there are some things - demons outside the ring and exposed in the media - that have proven the champion to be mortal and at times a real wreck of a human being.
Alcoholism, domestic violence, tax issues, broken marriages, the death of his son, Reid, and troubles with money. They all add up, and yes they prove even our heroes and superstars are human.
Flair is still the icon in this business and respected by those who are in the Gorilla position each and every night on Raw and every other wrestling program worldwide.
With Flair and others who paved the road for wrestling, there is nothing today to stake a claim on. No matter how different matches are portrayed, it is the work of Flair, Harley Race, Dusty Rhodes, Dory Funk, Jr and countless others who make what we see possible.
Some wrestlers are never able to walk away from the business. Flair is one of those performers. Hopefully, the documentary will portray that part of him as well.
As long as there is a breath in his body, Flair will forever be a part of this business. He may not be an in-ring performer anymore, but his daughter carries on his legacy with him being a major part of the storyline.
Just knowing in 38 years of being a fan of this soap opera Flair has contributed to my love of this business. Seeing it all played out in a documentary now is priceless – not just for the man behind the character, but for the writer who is writing about him in this article.