You can’t say ‘WOOOOOO” without thinking about the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. He dominated the sport of professional wrestling with his obnoxious outfits and boisterous attitude. The fans ate up his wild style and dirty in ring antics, he is still well loved today. It is rumored that he bleached his hair a certain shade of yellow (which most people would assume was just a bad dye job) because when he would cut his forehead, he liked the contrast of the blood against his hair. As a matter of fact his hair was bleached for so many years I wonder if the pigment was stripped away from it. That is how dedicated he was to this sport. Although, I can see how he might be hard to work with because not all people take to such a domineering attitude. It seems a lot of people did not get along with Bret Hart though….so in that case maybe it was him and not them.
Richard Morgan Fliehr (throughout this article I will refer to him as “Ric Flair”) was born on February 25, 1949 in Memphis, Tennessee. His recorded Birth name is believed to be Fred Phillips and may have been changed at the time of his adoption by his adoptive parents, Dr. Richard R. Fliehr and Kathleen Kinsmiller . Although Ric was adopted into a loving family it is widely believed that his adoptions was arranged by Tennessee Children’s Home Society as part of Georgia Tann’s baby-kidnapping operation (if you don’t know about that I suggested you look it up, shit is wild). Not much else is known about his childhood other than he grew up in Edna Minnesota where he attended Wayland academy before moving on to the University of Minnesota.
From 1972-1974 Flair was part of the American Wrestling Association where he trained under Verne Gagne. During his time in the AWA Flair had matches against Dusty Rhodes, Chris Taylor, André the Giant, Larry Hennig and Wahoo McDaniel. Flair would move on to All Japan Pro Wrestling in 1974. During his time their he would earn and defend the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. During this time Flair did a stint with World Championship Wrestling when they teamed up with NJPW in the late 1980’s. In August 1991 Flair signed with the World Wrestling Federation (now known as the WWE in August 1991 and began appearing on television, calling himself “The Real-World Champion”. Flair would repeatedly issue challenges to WWF wrestlers “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and Hulk Hogan, wrestling a team led by Piper at the Pay Per View Event Survivor Series in November 1991 and helping The Undertaker defeat Hogan for the WWF Championship that night.
At the 1992 Pay Per View Event Royal Rumble, Flair won the Rumble match to claim the vacant WWF Championship. Flair entered as number three in the Rumble match and lasted sixty minutes, last eliminating Sid Justice with help from Hulk Hogan, who had been eliminated by Justice just seconds earlier. The “Nature Boy” was really starting to make a name for himself. “Macho Man” Randy Savage then challenged Flair for the WWF Championship as part of the double main event at WrestleMania VIII (Yet another massive Pay Per View Event). Savage would go on to defeat Flair for the title at WrestleMania. On September 1, 1992 Flair would beat Savage to once again claim WWF Championship Title. His second reign was short-lived, however, as he lost the title to Bret “The Hitman” Hart on October 12, 1992. On February 10, 1993 (My 4th birthday!) Ric Flair made his last appearance with the WWF before returning to WCW. It just dawned on me that most the men I mentioned in this article have passed away. Crazy dude. On November 19, 2001 after an eight month hiatus from wrestling Flair would once again return to the WWF/WWE.
Okay, now that I have built things up a bit let’s get on to the real-life feuds and legal trouble. I love you Rick and I’m sorry to expose you like this. Oh god, that just brought back sad memories of watching Shawn Michaels wrestle Ric Flair in his final match EVER (Flair’s final match that is). He told Flair “I’m sorry, I love you” after struggling to “tune up the band” before delivering his finisher “Sweet Chin Music” knocking Flair out and pinning him for the win. They both just laid on the mat after and cried. It was about the damn near cutest thing I have ever seen. Michaels even kissed Flair on the forehead, like the raw innocence of that moment….my hearrrrrt! Woah, sorry I got way off topic there. Anyhow, let’s find out who Flair beefed with. In real life and not just in some story line.
Honestly, who can have beef with Mick Foley? Come on Mr. Mankind himself? We all love the Mr. Socko carrying lunatic who literally put his body on the line for our entertainment. Ya’ll remember in 1998 when Undertake threw Mankind off the top of the cell (At Foley’s request) and he fell about seventeen feet into a table, whole world thought he was dead. Dude dislocated his shoulder, got back up and kept wrestling. Apparently, the cell wasn’t stable because Taker “choke slammed” Mankind and he went right through the damn thing falling into the ring, landed on a steel chair and busted his damn jaw. When all was said and done everyone thought Mankind had a huge booger coming out of his nose but NO, it was his own damn tooth! HIS TOOTH WAS UP HIS NOSE! Oh man my favorite part of that match was Jim Ross to shouting, “Good God almighty! Good God almighty! That killed him!” and “As God as my witness, he is broken in half!”. That had me rolling! Dammit, I did it again, didn’t I? Sorry….
In his 1999 autobiography Have a Nice Day!, Foley stated that “Flair was every bit as bad on the booking side of things as he was great on the wrestling side of it”. This was in reference to how poorly Foley thought he was booked during his WCW career when Flair was on the booking committee. Flair responded in his autobiography by writing: “I do not care how many thumbtacks Mick Foley has fallen on, how many ladders he’s fallen off, how many continents he’s supposedly bled on, he will always be known as a glorified stuntman” Yes, you read that right, Mick Foley use to fall on actual thumbtacks during his matches, turning himself to a real life pin cushion. I don’t really understand Flair’s retaliations tactic of insulting Mankind as a wrestler as he never insulted Ric Flair’s wrestling style. I mean, you can’t be good at everything Ric. They would have a match in 2004 while in Huntsville, Alabama, and in 2006 they worked a program where Flair took part in some of the bloodiest and most violent matches of his career- particularly at SummerSlam 2006 in an “I Quit” match which had spots in it involving barbed wire and thumbtacks- trademark weapons from Foley’s days as Cactus Jack. Eventually, they have reconciled and are now friends. Oh yeah, Foley had a bat wrapped in barbed wire, allegedly, real barbed wire. This dude might have been certifiably crazy, he did have three characters “Cactus Jack, Mankind, and Dude Love. Known famously as “The three faces of Foley”. The pair have since reconciled and are now friends. All’s well that ends well.
Ric Flair and Hollywood Hulk Hogan would butt heads occasionally as well. In his book, Flair touched on some real-life tension between the two which largely stemmed from an incident that followed the conclusion of a tag team match between Flair and his son David (Flair) and the team of Curt Hennig and Barry Windham at WCW’s Souled Out pay-per-view on January 17, 1999, in Charleston, West Virginia. However, Flair has said that he and Hogan remained friends despite their differences. Well isn’t that sweet….and boring. I’m a little confused thought because it seems like Hogan wasn’t even part of that match.
Just three more Ric Flair beef involved wrestlers to mention then we will get to the legal issues. I know that is the real reason you guys read my blog anyway. I’m going to be honest; I don’t know much about this next wrestler; the name is familiar but I don’t really remember him. Flair and wrestler Bruno Sammartino had a disagreement over what reports call “the infamous backstage snub” where Flair claims that Sammartino refused to shake his hand at a live event. While Flair claims Sammartino ignored him due to comments made in his book, stating Sammartino was “a Northeast star who couldn’t draw fans outside New York”, Sammartino insists that it is simply due to the fact that Flair is a “liar” and stating: “No, I don’t respect Ric Flair. I don’t respect him at all”. They reconciled and were friends until Sammartino’s passing in 2018. Not going to lie, I didn’t even know the man died. I guess it is nice that they were able to bury the hatchet before he passed.
Flair also had a long-running feud with Shane Douglas, who again I don’t know much about but did call Ric “Dick Flair” pretty often which sounds like something I would do. Douglas would accuse him of sabotaging his match while in the NWA/WCW while wrestling with tag team partner Ricky Steamboat. In turn, Flair responded that Douglas was a guy who always blamed his shortcomings on others. He called Douglas out as well as accused him of steroid abuse during a broadcast of the Internet radio show “WCW Live!” in which he said that he would meet him anytime and anywhere if he would “take the needle out of his ass”. A bold accusation Ric, a bold accusation indeed.
Last but not least we have Bret Hart, I honestly never really cared for the guy so this one doesn’t really surprise me. Flair and Hart had an ongoing off-screen feud throughout 1993. In October 1993, Hart gave a radio interview in which he said Flair “sucks” and described his workplace, WCW, as “minor league”. In Flair’s autobiography, he accused Hart of over-exploiting the death of his brother Owen and the controversy surrounding the Montreal Screwjob (if you are interested go and read my article about that match). Ok Ric, you were in the wrong forever bringing Owen into this, may the gods rest his soul. Flair also claimed in his autobiography that despite Hart’s insane popularity in Canada he was not a solid money-making draw in the United States. He also criticized Flair on what he thought to be insults Flair made towards fellow wrestlers Mick Foley (well he did insult Foley) and Randy Savage, both good friends of Hart. Hart went on to criticize Flair in his own autobiography, mainly regarding his in-ring talent and his balding pattern. Ok, that is pretty funny. Hart and Flair have since reconciled and are now on good terms.
Now on to the good stuff…. drum roll please! “RATATATATATTA”! That was a poor excuse of a drum roll. THE LEGAL BATTLES! In December 2005 a judge in North Carolina issued warrants for Flair’s arrest after a road rage incident. If people knew how to drive maybe this wouldn’t be an issue! I have a tiny bit of road rage myself which is probably why I’m on Ric’s side. During this incident Ric Flair allegedly go out his car grabbed the other motorist by his neck and damaged his vehicle. Alright, maybe I’m not on Flair’s side. Flair was charged with two misdemeanors, injury to personal property and simple assault and battery. This incident was widely mentioned on WWE programming, most notably by fellow wrestler the “Rated R Superstar” Edge.
In September 2007, Flair opened a financial business called Ric Flair Finance. In July 2008, Flair Finance filed for bankruptcy. After Flair’s debut in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling his former employer, Ring of Honor, filed a lawsuit in 2010, alleging that Flair owed them over $40,000 and that he had not appeared at several events that he was contractually obligated to have been at. The lawsuit never settled in an agreement. Highspots Inc. Would later claim that Flair had given them the NWA World Heavyweight Championship belt as collateral for a loan to pay what he owed to ROH. In May 2011 a warrant was issued for Ric Flair’s arrest for being held in contempt of court for violating the terms of his settlement with Highspots. If Flair had failed to comply, he could have potentially faced 90 days in jail. On June 25, Highspots released a statement over their official Facebook page stating that an unknown person had paid off Flair’s debts.
Before I wrap this up, I did want to mention that in August 2017 we almost lost the Nature Boy after he was hospitalized and put into a medically induced coma for 12 days. Years of exorbitant drinking caught Flair harder than he could ever anticipate he was in the early stages of kidney failure, on the brink of congestive heart failure, needed a pacemaker and had a section of his bowel removed. He admitted that use to have 15 alcoholic beverages a day before his brush with death. Rick Flair was diagnosed with the very serious condition Alcoholic cardiomyopathy which was the cause of the above-mentioned issues. I think one of the cutest moments was when Ric surprised his daughter Charlotte on air to celebrate her WWE Championship with her after he was able to go home. Ric Flair would be on the brink of death again in 2019, the than seventy-year-old had surgery to replace a pacemaker and remove a blood clot, causing a fan frenzy online. Ric has sense mentioned that he now understands the severity of what being a former alcoholic has done to his body.
Ric Flair was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for “The Rolex-wearin’, kiss-stealin’, wheelin-dealin’, limousine-ridin’, jet-flyin’, son of a gun”. I think a lot of wrestling fans will always want to relive the days when Ric Flair was on top of the world. And I have a feeling that when the time does come for us to say good bye to the Nature Boy there will be a lot of very sad people in the world. WoOoOoOoOo!