After all these years Ric Flair is still relevant in an era of professional wrestling that has changed so dramatically they actually don’t refer to it as wrestling at all, it’s sports-entertainment or that’s what Vince McMahon’s trademark way of not only promoting, but marketing his brand on television is since he bought his Father’s company in the 1980s. Ric Flair has that much respect from everyone who’s ever been a superstar in the entire industry, so when you’re great you have ability to adapt for certain situations which include a broader spectrum when we witness such a presentation. So why can one of the greatest to ever lace up a pair of boots still continue to thrive? He’s traveled the territories as an NWA World Heavyweight Champion headlining Main-Events with other icons such as Dusty Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat, Kerry Von Erich, Harley Race, and many others knowing he that he came from a more heavily well-known professional wrestling culture.
Flair himself never made the jump to work for Vince McMahon Sr. I’m not saying given an opportunity too, that he wouldn’t or have entertained such an idea. But, let’s face it, Flair was making great money doing unbelievable business with all of the NWA’s top stars and with him being one of those top guys and major draws. “The Nature Boy” was The Man in wrestling. Jim Crockett promotions were fortunate when they started getting bigger stars to come work their territory and get exposure for their TV in those days, specifically their markets. Verne Gagne trained Flair and he first started wrestling in the AWA. It was the year of 1974 when he went to work for the Crockett Family’s Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and a star was born as they say. He dressed in Armani suits, wore those expensive loafers and a gold Rolex watch on his wrist and not only could he wrestle, Flair was just as great as a talker on the microphone during interviews as he was a worker inside the ring. His promos were legendary.
Flair came up with such lines “As Stylin and Profilin, To Be The Man You Gotta Beat The Man.” If you were one of the many lucky ladies to have a ride on Space Mountain with Natch, and also Flair along with Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson, and Ole Anderson made up the original 4-Horseman one of the greatest groups in all of wrestling. Lex Luger and Barry Windham were members of the Horsemen at different times. Whoever the lucky woman was or she is going to be guaranteed a good time and a night they won’t forget. I think as fans we start to see by these examples why Flair could fit the WWE system, WWF at the time, he could fit that entertainment aspect Vince liked. Not to mention Vince was well aware of Flair having been the one guy to elude him and his father all those many years before because he knew how skilled and amazing an in-ring wrestler Flair really was. To be honest Flair naturally always wanted to go and work in New York and the Northeast. Flair had also been so dominant everywhere else so why not. All it took was poor management by Turner hiring Jim Herd, who was not making a good impression at all with a lot of WCW’s top talent during his time as head of WCW.
Flair had also been a booker for WCW. He’s the guy who put Sting, their franchise star on the map. Flair did that for lots of wrestlers he believed in and who he’d make money with which is smart and made sense. Well it did not take long for Flair to not get along with his new boss Herd. Flair grew frustrated with the direction the company was going. He saw the writing on the wall, this was his chance to make a move to work for Vince McMahon and the WWF. He so happened to be still NWA World Champion while leaving World Championship Wrestling for the Word Wrestling Federation for what he felt were much greener and more prosperous pastures in that era. Vince being an ultimate opportunistic businessman and promoter learned Flair wanted to be a part of some major plans for his company and of course he was still their champion made the offer even better. Flair signed with the WWF August of 1991 and he debuted with Bobby Heenan and Mr. Perfect Curt Hening with the NWA World Title Belt on WWF TV. To say that was monumental would be putting it very mildly as well as controversial for those times in the wrestling business. Vince was the competition for Turner’s WCW. Not only to get their biggest star but also for him to represent that company as their champion was big. Flair would go on to work matches with stars like Macho Man Randy Savage, Bret Hart and others. Flair would make a return to WCW in February of 1993 until it was bought by Vince McMahon’s WWF in March of 2001.
Flair would make his return to the WWF later that in 2001 on Raw in Charlotte, North Carolina where in the segment we saw him confront Vince McMahon with Kurt Angle. He then told Vince that Shane and Stephanie McMahon sold their shares in both WCW and ECW to him making Flair a storyline co-owner of the WWF. Flair would continue to enjoy success wrestling and adding to his storied career and legacy in wrestling and sports-entertainment. Flair had been featured in top spots on the card on the WrestleManias from his first run and second run with the company. He also headlined JCP’s Starrcade that eventually became a WCW Pay-Per View. Flair is a two-time WWE Hall of Famer going in alone in 2008 and he went in as a member of The 4-Horseman in 2012. Flair would continue to make appearances and be involved with many different storylines in the coming years with the WWE.
Many have been critical of how Flair is being utilized on TV recently with the company. Currently Flair has been involved in his daughter Charlotte Flair’s feud against Lacey Evans on Monday Night Raw over the past few weeks, Ric having been the dirtiest player in the game is at it again by tripping up Charlotte causing her to lose her matches. I tell you why Flair’s been brought back to do more television lately. Even at his age, he’s still got more charisma than anybody today. Flair a legend who everyone looks up to, they all respect him and for what he’s done in the business.
Vince and Triple H along with Ric know how to generate classic heel heat, and nobody knows that any better than Flair. By positioning Lacey Evans who is a new star in the making this has to be a dream come true to have The Nature Boy be on your side feuding with his own daughter. It makes for interesting television is what that does. Go back to all those eras mentioned where Flair was on top of everybody, I mean everybody. The thing fans disliked about Flair he always knew how to cheat to win. Ric can help Evans, a new wrestler, accomplish so much in a short amount of time by pairing her up with such a recognizable and historic figure. And for Evans to work with Charlotte that’s big in itself.
Vince and Triple H see Flair’s value and it still shows even in today’s modern wrestling. When you’re a great wrestler, a great talker, and in all a great performer then that to me is a formula for success right there.