Ric Flair

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Ric Flair
Ric Flair in Seoul, South Korea.jpg
Flair in 2008.
Birth name Richard Morgan Fliehr
Ring name(s) Ric Flair[1]
Rick Flair[1]
The Black Scorpion[1]
Billed height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)[2]
Billed weight 243 lb (110 kg)[2]
Born (1949-02-25) February 25, 1949 (age 65)
Memphis, Tennessee
Resides Charlotte, North Carolina[2]
Billed from Charlotte, North Carolina[2]
Trained by Verne Gagne[2][3]
Debut 1972

Richard Morgan "Ric" Fliehr[4] (born February 25, 1949) is a semi-retired American professional wrestler, better known by his ring name Ric Flair.[5] Also known as "The Nature Boy", Flair is considered to be one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time with a professional career that spans 40+ years.[6] He is noted for his lengthy and highly decorated tenures with the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), World Championship Wrestling (WCW), the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, later WWE), and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA). Flair is officially recognized by WWE, TNA, and Pro Wrestling Illustrated as a 16-time world heavyweight champion (eight-time NWA Champion, six-time WCW Champion, and two-time WWF Champion) although the actual number of his world championship reigns varies by source; Flair considers himself as a 21-time World Champion in the NWA, WCW, and WWE.

Flair has won ten NWA Championships in NWA/WCW, as well as three NWA Championships in All Star Pro Wrestling, All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) and Central States Wrestling (CSW). Along with these, he is a six-time WCW Champion, two-time WCW International World Champion, two-time WWF Champion, making him a 21-time world heavyweight champion.[7][8]

In WCW, he also had two stints as a booker—in 1989–1990 and 1994.[9] Flair also became the only man to have won the WWF Championship in a Royal Rumble match, when he accomplished this in the 1992 edition of the event. In 2012, Flair became the first ever double inductee in the WWE Hall of Fame, first inducted in 2008 for his individual career, and for a second time in 2012 as a member of the Four Horsemen. He is also an NWA Hall of Famer (class of 2008). Flair's hair styles and mannerisms are based on those of Buddy Rogers, who previously and famously used the "Nature Boy" gimmick in the 1950s and 1960s. Coincidentally, Flair also followed Rogers in becoming the second man to win both the WWF and the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

Flair was the first WCW World Champion, having been awarded the title following WCW's secession from the NWA in 1991. With that, he also became the first WCW Triple Crown Champion upon being awarded the title, having already held the United States and World Tag Team titles. In 2005, he completed WWE's version of the Triple Crown when he won the Intercontinental Championship, after already holding the WWF (now WWE) Championship, as well as the World Tag Team Championship, becoming the third man to win both the WCW and WWE Triple Crown (after Bret Hart and Chris Benoit). Using the officially recognized totals (by WWE, TNA and PWI) of 16 World Championships and a record-tying five U.S. Championship reigns, Flair has won a total of 30 different major championships between the NWA, WCW, and WWE, with numerous regional titles also to his credit. A major pay-per-view attraction throughout his career, he has headlined WWE's premier annual event, WrestleMania, as well as the NWA/WCW equivalent, Starrcade, on ten occasions.[10]

Early life[edit]

Richard Fliehr (Ric Flair) was born on February 25, 1949 in Memphis, Tennessee.[4][11] In the opening chapter of his autobiography To Be the Man, he notes that his birth name is given on different documents as Fred. At the time of his adoption (arranged by the notorious Tennessee Children's Home Society, later shut down for adoption fraud), his father was completing a residency in Detroit. Shortly afterward, the family settled in Edina, Minnesota, where the young Richard Fliehr lived throughout his childhood. After grade 9, he attended Wayland Academy, a coeducational boarding school in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, for four years (five years total in high school) during which time he participated in interscholastic wrestling, football and track.[12]

As a teen, Flair took a summer job as a lifeguard at a local pool in Minnesota.[citation needed] He received his first exposure to the wrestling business when he met the legendary Vachon brothers.[citation needed] In both 1966 and 1968, Flair won the state private school wrestling championship and was recruited to the University of Minnesota on a football scholarship, where he played alongside Greg Gagne, the son of Verne Gagne.[citation needed] Flair dropped out of college before receiving his degree, and he then worked as a bouncer at a nearby club, where he met Olympic weightlifter Ken Patera, who was preparing for a ring career at Verne Gagne's wrestling school. Patera introduced Flair to Verne Gagne, who agreed to take him on as a member of his training class.[citation needed]

Professional wrestling career[edit]

American Wrestling Association (1972–74)[edit]

Under the tutelage of Josh Klemme[3] and Billy Robinson, Flair attended Gagne's first Wrestling camp with Greg Gagne, Jim Brunzell, Iron Sheik, and Ken Patera at Gagne's barn outside of Minneapolis in the winter of 1971. Flair met Ken Patera when he was working as a bouncer after dropping out of school at the U of M after completing his first year there in 1968–69. They lived together for a while in South Minneapolis. Flair made fast progress, and in December 1972, he made his debut in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, battling George "Scrap Iron" Gadaski to a 10-minute draw while adopting the ring name "Ric Flair."[3] Then weighing nearly 300 pounds with short brown hair, Flair scarcely resembled his future "Nature Boy" image. But he drew attention with his charismatic personality and ring endurance. During his time in the American Wrestling Association, Flair had matches with Dusty Rhodes, André the Giant, Larry Hennig, and Wahoo McDaniel.[13]

Japan (1973–2013)[edit]

Flair first competed in Japan in 1973 for International Wrestling Enterprise, due to a working agreement between American Wrestling Association promoter Verne Gagne and the IWE. After Flair left the AWA for Jim Crockett Jr.'s Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in 1974, he began working tours for All Japan Pro Wrestling. On April 27, 1978, Flair challenged for the NWA United National Championship in a losing effort. Throughout the 1980s, Flair defended the NWA Heavyweight Championship in All Japan against the likes of Genichiro Tenryu, Riki Chōshū, Jumbo Tsuruta, Harley Race, and Kerry Von Erich. On October 21, 1985, Flair wrestled Rick Martel in a double title match where he defended the NWA Championship and challenged for the AWA World Heavyweight Championship, but the match ended in a double countout. As All Japan withdrew from the National Wrestling Alliance in the late 80s, World Championship Wrestling began a working agreement with New Japan Pro Wrestling. In 1989, the working agreement led to a feud between Flair and Keiji Mutoh, who was wrestling under Great Muta gimmick, in the United States for World Championship Wrestling. On March 21, 1991, Flair defended the NWA Heavyweight Championship and challenged Tatsumi Fujinami for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in a double title match on the WCW/New Japan Supershow at the Tokyo Dome. Fujinami beat Flair for the NWA Championship, but later lost the title at the first WCW SuperBrawl PPV on May 19, 1991 in the United States.[14]

When Flair left World Championship Wrestling for the World Wrestling Federation in 1991, he continued to tour Japan in the Super World of Sports promotion, due to an agreement between WWE and SWS. He defended and retained the WWE Heavyweight Championship against Genichiro Tenryu on September 15, 1992 in a match that resulted in a draw. In August 1995, under a WCW contract, Flair participated in the G1 Climax tournament in New Japan Pro Wrestling, where he beat Shiro Koshinaka, drew Masahiro Chono, and lost to Keiji Mutoh. On July 17, 1996, Flair challenged Shinya Hashimoto for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in a losing effort in New Japan Pro Wrestling.[14] Once again under the WWE banner, Flair continued to tour Japan periodically between 2002 and 2008. He successfully defended the World Tag Team Championship with Batista against Dudley Boyz twice in February 2004. On the February 7, 2005 episode of WWE Raw, broadcast from the Saitama Super Arena in Japan, Flair lost to Shawn Michaels in a singles match. In February 2008, Flair wrestled Mr. Kennedy in the Ariake Coliseum and William Regal in the Budokan Hall, both under the stipulation that he would retire if he lost.[15]

On January 2, 2013, All Japan Pro Wrestling announced that Flair would make his return to Japan for the first time in five years on January 26, 2013, teaming with Keiji Mutoh to take on Tatsumi Fujinami and Seiya Sanada. This would have been his first professional wrestling match since his September 2011 loss to Sting on Impact Wrestling and his first for All Japan since March 1987.[16][17] However, on January 26, just moments before the start of the All Japan event, the promotion announced that Flair was forced to pull out of his match because of a "sudden illness",[18] later reported as a badly swollen left leg. Flair was replaced in the match by his son Reid, but also ended up getting involved in the match himself, delivering chops to Seiya Sanada.[19]

National Wrestling Alliance[edit]

Becoming the Nature Boy (1974–81)[edit]

In 1974, Flair left the AWA for Jim Crockett's Mid-Atlantic region in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA);[13] and he soon captured his first singles title when, on February 9, 1975, he beat Paul Jones for the Mid-Atlantic TV Championship. On October 4, 1975, however, Flair's career nearly ended when he was in a serious plane crash in Wilmington, North Carolina that took the life of the pilot and paralyzed Johnny Valentine (also on board were Mr. Wrestling, Bob Bruggers, and promoter David Crockett).[20] Flair broke his back in three places and, at age 26, was told by doctors that he would never wrestle again.[20] Flair conducted a rigorous physical therapy schedule, however, and he returned to the ring just six months later, where he resumed his feud with Wahoo McDaniel in February 1976.[20] The crash did force Flair to change his wrestling technique away from the power brawling style he had used early on, which led him to adopt the "Nature Boy" style he would use throughout his career.

Groomed by Jim Crockett Jr. as his future top star, Flair won the NWA United States Heavyweight Championship when he defeated Bobo Brazil on July 29, 1977; and during the next three years, he held five reigns as U.S. Champion while feuding with Ricky Steamboat, Roddy Piper, Mr. Wrestling II, Jimmy Snuka, and Greg Valentine (with whom he also formed a championship tag team). Flair, however, reached elite status when he began referring to himself as "The Nature Boy" in order to incite a 1978 feud with the original "Nature Boy", Buddy Rogers, who put Flair over in one encounter.

NWA World Heavyweight Champion (1981–86)[edit]

On September 17, 1981, Flair reached the top of the mountain when he beat Dusty Rhodes for his first NWA World Heavyweight Championship. In the following years, Flair eventually established himself as the promotion's main franchise in the midst of emerging competition from Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation. With his outlandish wit and entertaining interview style, Flair embodied the role of the World Champion—sporting bleached blond hair, elegant jewelry, designer suits, and elaborate custom robes while dishing out his trademark chops and figure four leglock. All the while, Flair taunted his opponents with his "Wooo!" shout while boasting that "To be 'The Man', you gotta beat the man!".

In 1982, Jack Veneno and Flair had a series of matches.[21] Veneno defeated Flair for the World Title, but the NWA did not recognize this change.[22] Flair also wrestled matches with Ricky Steamboat throughout the year. Harley Race won the title from Flair in 1983, but Flair regained the title at Starrcade in Greensboro, North Carolina in a steel cage match; afterward, Race and Flair fought in many different matches in early 1984. Flair won the NWA title, officially, eight more times. As the NWA champion, he defended his belt around the world. Flair lost the title to Race and won it back in the span of three days in New Zealand in March 1984. At the first David Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions at Texas Stadium, Flair was pinned by Kerry Von Erich. Flair regained the title eighteen days later in Japan.

He then reigned for two years, two months, and two days, losing his title to Dusty Rhodes on July 26, 1986 at The Great American Bash; Rhodes had been an ever-present foe in Flair's career after Flair helped break Rhodes's ankle on September 29, 1985. Flair regained the title two weeks later. Flair defended his titles against opponents like Harley Race, Ricky Steamboat, Roddy Piper, Kerry Von Erich, Jay Youngblood, Sting, Ronnie Garvin, Magnum T.A., and Rhodes throughout his career, as well.

The Four Horsemen[edit]

In the spring of 1985, the tag team of Ole Anderson and Arn Anderson began aiding Flair (whom they claimed as a "cousin") in attacks against Dusty Rhodes, Magnum T.A., and Sam Houston. A few weeks later, the Andersons interrupted Houston's match against Tully Blanchard, and the three villains combined to rough up the youngster while sending a message to the rest of the NWA. Shortly thereafter, Flair, Blanchard, and the Andersons formalized their alliance, calling themselves the Four Horsemen, with Blanchard's manager J.J. Dillon also coming on board. Upon the group's inception, it was clear that the Horsemen were unlike any villainous alliance that had ever existed. The four rule breakers immediately used their strength in numbers to decimate the NWA's top fan favorites while controlling the majority of the championship titles. Over the years, there would be various incarnations of the group, with Flair and Arn Anderson as the two permanent members, while a number of different wrestlers, including Tully Blanchard, Lex Luger, Barry Windham, Sting, Sid Vicious, Paul Roma, Brian Pillman, Chris Benoit, Jeff Jarrett, Steve McMichael, Curt Hennig, and Dean Malenko, have held the other two spots in the Horsemen.

World Championship Wrestling (1986–91)[edit]

By 1986, wrestling promoter Jim Crockett had consolidated the various NWA member promotions he owned into a single entity, running under the banner of the National Wrestling Alliance. Controlling much of the traditional NWA territories in the southeast and Midwestern United States, Crockett looked to expand nationally and built his promotion around Flair as champion. During this time, Flair's bookings as champion were tightly controlled by Crockett, and a custom championship belt was created for Flair. In 1987, Flair and Barry Windham had a series of matches for the NWA World Championship. Flair defeated Windham at the Crockett Cup tournament and they fought to a time limit draw in January. Flair lost the NWA World Championship due to his flamboyant ways in Detroit to Ron Garvin on September 25, 1987. Garvin held the title for two months before losing to Flair on November 26, 1987 at WCW's first pay-per-view event, Starrcade, in Chicago.

In early 1988, rising star Sting had challenged Flair to a match at the first ever Clash of the Champions. Flair accepted and fought Sting to a 45-minute time-limit draw. In late 1988, booker Dusty Rhodes proposed that Flair lose the NWA World Heavyweight Championship to Rick Steiner in a short match at Starrcade when no agreement could be met regarding the finish to the scheduled main event between him and Lex Luger. Rhodes was fired for various issues within the company, and former JCP booker George Scott was given his role as a booker. Scott immediately negotiated to bring in Ricky Steamboat for a series of matches. On February 20, 1989, at Chi-Town Rumble in Chicago, Steamboat pinned Flair to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. This prompted a series of rematches, where Steamboat was presented as a "family man" (often accompanied by his wife and young son), while Flair opposed him as an immoral, fast-living "ladies man".

Following a best-of-three falls match with Steamboat that lasted just short of the 60-minute time limit (and ended with a disputed finish where Steamboat retained the title) at Clash of the Champions VI: Ragin' Cajun on April 2, Flair regained the title from Steamboat on May 7, 1989 at WrestleWar. This match was voted 1989's "Match of the Year" by Pro Wrestling Illustrated, and is widely considered among the greatest matches of all time. Flair was attacked by Terry Funk (serving as a judge for the match, as per its stipulations) after the match when Flair refused to grant Funk a title match, telling Funk that he had spent too much time in Hollywood and out of wrestling, and was not a listed title contender. The attack reached its conclusion when Funk gave Flair a piledriver onto the judges' table.

Months later, a "recovered" Flair returned to competition in an emotional match against Funk at The Great American Bash. The two continued feuding through the summer and eventually Flair reformed the Four Horsemen, with the surprise addition of longtime rival Sting, to combat Funk's J-Tex Corporation. This led to an "I Quit" match at Clash of the Champions IX: New York Knockout. Before the match, Funk stated that he would shake Flair's hand if he lost, a promise he kept when he shouted, "Yes, I quit!" after being in Flair's figure four leglock. Flair then kicked Sting out of the Horsemen upon his challenge for the NWA Championship, resulting in a revived feud between the two which had to be delayed due to Sting injuring his knee, forcing WCW to slot Lex Luger as Flair's main challenger until Sting returned. On July 7, 1990, Flair dropped the title to Sting at The Great American Bash. After being unmasked as the Black Scorpion at Starrcade in 1990, Flair regained the title from Sting on January 11, 1991, in front of a near empty house due to the blizzard conditions in the New York City area. Prior to this reign, WCW split their recognition of a World Heavyweight Champion from the NWA, and Flair was subsequently recognized as the first WCW World Heavyweight Champion, while still being recognized as NWA World Champion.

At the Clash of the Champions XIV: Dixie Dynamite on January 30, he wrestled Scott Steiner to a draw. On March 21, 1991, Tatsumi Fujinami defeated Flair in a controversial match in Tokyo at the WCW/New Japan Supershow. While the NWA recognized Fujinami as their new champion, WCW did not because Fujinami had backdropped Flair over the top rope in a violation of WCW rules. On May 19, 1991, Flair defeated Fujinami at SuperBrawl I in St. Petersburg, Florida to reclaim the NWA title and retain the WCW Title. In doing so, he became a nine time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, breaking Harley Race's record of eight reigns. On June 12, at the Clash of the Champions XV: Knocksville USA, he defeated Bobby Eaton in a two out of three falls match.

In the spring of 1991, Flair had a contract dispute with WCW president Jim Herd, who wanted him to take a substantial pay cut. Herd had removed Flair as head booker in February 1990 and wanted to reduce Flair's role in the promotion even further, despite the fact that Flair was still a top draw. According to Flair, Herd also proposed changes in his appearance (i.e. by shaving his hair, wearing a diamond earring and going by the name "Spartacus") as well as his in-ring name in order to "change with the times".[23] Flair disagreed with the proposals, and two weeks before The Great American Bash, Herd fired him and vacated the WCW Championship. While Flair had left for the WWF he was still recognized as the NWA World Champion until September 8, when the title was officially vacated.

World Wrestling Federation[edit]

The Real World Champion (1991)[edit]

Flair signed with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in August 1991 and began appearing on television as one of the most hated heels the next month. Initially, he appeared on WWF shows with the "Big Gold Belt," calling himself "The Real World Champion." Led by his "financial advisor" Bobby Heenan and his "executive consultant" Mr. Perfect, Flair repeatedly issued challenges to WWF wrestlers like Roddy Piper and Hulk Hogan, wrestling a team led by Piper at Survivor Series in 1991 and helping The Undertaker defeat Hogan for the WWF Championship that same night.[24] WCW sued Flair in an attempt to reclaim the belt,[25] but Flair claimed that he owned the belt in lieu of the US$25,000 deposit paid by NWA champions upon winning the title, which had not been returned to him when he was fired from WCW. In the 2008 DVD Nature Boy Ric Flair: The Definitive Collection, Flair claimed that to this day he has never been paid $25,000 deposit, plus interest.[26] Later in the DVD Triple H said that Flair gave him the actual WCW title belt as a gift.

WWF Champion and feud with Randy Savage (1992–93)[edit]

At the Royal Rumble in 1992, he won the Rumble match to claim the vacant WWF Championship. Flair drew number three in the Rumble match and lasted a then-record nearly 60 minutes, last eliminating Sid Justice with help from Hulk Hogan, who had been eliminated by Justice seconds earlier.[24] In so doing, Flair joined Buddy Rogers as the only men to win the WWF and NWA World Championships in their careers.

After a planned program with Hogan was scrapped due to Hogan's hiatus following the WWF's steroid scandal, Randy Savage challenged Flair for the WWF title as part of the double main event at WrestleMania VIII. In the storyline, Flair taunted Savage by claiming that he had a prior relationship with Savage's wife, Elizabeth, and that he had the pictures to prove it (which were later revealed to be doctored photos). Savage defeated Flair for the title at WrestleMania.[24] In July 1992, as Savage prepared to defend the title against The Ultimate Warrior at SummerSlam,[24] Flair and Mr. Perfect sowed distrust between the two by suggesting that they would back one or the other during their match. They actually attacked both Savage and Warrior and injured Savage's knee, an injury that Flair exploited to regain the title in a match with Savage on September 1. His second reign was short-lived, however, as he lost the title to Bret Hart on October 12, 1992.

Flair teamed with Razor Ramon to take on Savage and Perfect at the Survivor Series 1992.[27] Flair appeared in the Royal Rumble in 1993, then lost a Loser Leaves the WWF match to Mr. Perfect on the next night's (January 25) Monday Night Raw in a match taped six days earlier.[28] Flair then fulfilled his remaining house show commitments, making his last appearance on February 10, 1993, before returning to WCW.[29] On The Ultimate Ric Flair Collection DVD, Flair described his first stint with the WWF as "the greatest year and a half of my career, outside the time I spent with Arn Anderson and The Four Horsemen."

Return to World Championship Wrestling[edit]

Retirement teases (1993–96)[edit]

Flair returned to WCW as a face in February 1993 and, as a result of a "no-compete" clause, hosted a short-lived talk show in WCW called A Flair for the Gold as he was unable to appear wrestling. Arn Anderson usually appeared at the bar on the show's set, and Flair's maid, Fifi (portrayed by Wendy Barlow),[30] cleaned or bore gifts. Once he returned to action, Flair briefly held the NWA World Heavyweight Championship for a tenth time after defeating Barry Windham at Beach Blast before WCW finally left the NWA in September 1993. At Starrcade in 1993, Flair was placed in a match, which was billed that if Flair lost, he would retire from wrestling. The match ended with Flair using a chop block and roll-up on the gigantic Vader to win the title for the second time.

In June 1994, Flair defeated Sting in a unification match, merging the WCW International World Heavyweight Championship with the WCW World Championship. This concluded a slow heel turn for Flair that started when he defeated Ricky Steamboat in a controversial manner some months earlier. Flair later feuded with Hulk Hogan upon Hogan's arrival in WCW in June 1994, losing the WCW World Championship to him in July at Bash at the Beach. Flair lost a retirement match to Hogan at Halloween Havoc and took a few months off before returning as a wrestler and part-time manager in 1995 (explained on-air by having Flair nag Hogan for months until Hogan agreed to let Flair come back).

On April 29, 1995, Flair wrestled Antonio Inoki in front of 190,000 spectators in Pyongyang, North Korea at the May Day Stadium in a losing effort under a joint show between New Japan Pro Wrestling and World Championship Wrestling. The event was broadcast on August 4, 1995 on Pay Per View under the title of Collision in Korea.

He and Randy Savage renewed hostilities when Savage arrived in WCW late in 1994, and their feud continued off and on for almost two years with each wrestler winning the WCW World Championship from each other at different times. Flair defeated Savage in a steel cage match at SuperBrawl VI to win the WCW World title, which saw Savage betrayed by Elizabeth in favor of Flair. The Nature Boy defeated Konnan on July 7, 1996 at Bash at the Beach to win the United States Championship. He vacated it in November of that year due to an arm injury he suffered in Japan, during a match with Kensuke Sasaki.

Feud with nWo (1996–97)[edit]

Once again as a top babyface, Flair played a major role in the New World Order invasion storyline in late 1996 and throughout 1997. He and the other Horsemen often took the lead in the war against Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Hulk Hogan. Flair feuded with Roddy Piper, Syxx, and his old nemesis, Curt Hennig, in 1997 after Hennig was offered a spot in the Four Horsemen only to turn on Flair and the Horsemen at Fall Brawl in 1997. Hennig punctuated the act by slamming the cage door onto Flair's head. After Fall Brawl. Flair would return a month later to feud with Curt Hennig over the US title (which Hennig won from Steve McMichael). Flair would challenge for the title at Halloween Havoc and World War 3, losing both times.

Return from hiatus and various feuds (1998–2001)[edit]

In April 1998, Flair disappeared from WCW television, due to a lawsuit filed by Eric Bischoff for no-showing a WCW Thunder TV taping. After the case was settled, Flair made a surprise return on September 14, 1998 to ceremoniously reform the Four Horsemen (along with Steve McMichael, Dean Malenko, and Chris Benoit). Flair feuded with Bischoff for several months afterward. Flair repeatedly raked Eric Bischoff's eyes during this feud. This culminated in a match at Starrcade 1998 between Eric Bischoff and Ric Flair. Bischoff was victorious after interference from Curt Hennig, a former member of the Four Horsemen. The following night in Baltimore on Nitro, Flair returned with a crazy streak angle in what became one his most notable interview promos reviving the "custom made from head to toe" catchphrase. He began by stripping to his boxers and threatening to leave WCW, demanding a match against Bischoff for the presidency of the company, and later handcuffing himself to the ring. The match was made, and despite the nWo interfering on Bischoff's behalf Flair won and was granted the position of president of WCW. This resulted in a match at Superbrawl between Flair and Hollywood Hogan for the WCW Championship, which Flair lost after being betrayed by his own son David Flair. In spite of this betrayal, Flair signed a rematch at Uncensored 1999 which was billed as a First Blood Barbed Wire Steel Cage Match against Hogan where Flair's presidency and Hogan's WCW World Heavyweight Championship were on the line. Despite being the first to bleed, Flair won the match by pinfall thanks to the bias of the referee Charles Robinson, who counted Hogan out. This match was a double turn for Flair (who turned heel) and Hogan (who turned face). Robinson would be nicknamed "Lil' Naitch", idolizing Flair and officiating all of Flair's matches in his favor.[citation needed]

As on-air President, Flair began abusing his power much like Bischoff had, favoring villains over fan favorites and even awarding the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship to his son David and resorting to whatever means necessary to keep David U.S. Champion. This also led to many more notable promos with Flair proclaiming, "I am the President". Flair eventually formed a stable of followers which included Roddy Piper, Arn Anderson, and the Jersey Triad to keep things in order. Flair's reign as president came to an end on the July 19 episode of Nitro, facing Sting for the WCW presidency. During the course of the match, Sting had Flair in his Scorpion Death Lock, but with the referee knocked unconscious, no decision could be reached. A returning Eric Bischoff came to the ring and began ordering the timekeeper to ring the bell, which he eventually did, awarding the match and the presidency to Sting (who promptly gave it up upon receiving it).

Flair won the WCW World Championship twice during 2000, the company's last full year of operation. When WCW was purchased by the WWF in March 2001, Flair was the leader of the villainous group called the Magnificent Seven. During the final episode of Nitro on March 26, 2001, he gave an emotional speech regarding the company's greatness and his best matches and opponents in WCW throughout the years, including Sting. Later in the night, Flair lost the final match of Nitro to Sting, recreating the first main event of Nitro in 1995. Nevertheless, Flair has repeatedly stated in various interviews how happy he was when WCW finally closed down; although, at the same time, the fact that many people would lose their jobs saddened him.[31]

Return to World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment[edit]

A bloody Flair at WrestleMania X8.

WWF/E co-owner (2001–02)[edit]

After hiatus from wrestling, Flair made a popular return to the WWF in November 2001 as the on-camera co-owner of the company and as a face in Charlotte on RAW in November 2001.[32] Flair reappeared on Raw following the end of the "WCW/ECW Invasion" that culminated in a "Winner Take All" match at Survivor Series won by the WWF.[33] Flair's new on-screen role was that of the co-owner of the WWF, with the explanation that Shane and Stephanie McMahon had sold their stock in the company to a consortium (namely Flair) prior to purchasing World Championship Wrestling and Extreme Championship Wrestling.[34] Flair's feud with Vince McMahon led them to a match at the Royal Rumble in 2002 in a Street Fight, where Flair defeated McMahon.[33] Flair also wrestled The Undertaker at WrestleMania X8 in 2002 where Flair lost after a hard fought battle and interference by Arn Anderson.[35] From then, the "co-owner" angle culminated in early 2002, when Flair controlled Raw, and McMahon controlled SmackDown!.[36] After Steve Austin abruptly left WWE while in a program with Flair, a match was hotshotted between Flair and Vince for sole ownership of WWE, which McMahon won, thanks to interference by Brock Lesnar.[37]

Evolution (2003–05)[edit]

Flair later became a villain by joining Triple H's "Evolution" stable.[38] Flair won the World Tag Team Championship with Batista twice in 2003 and 2004.[39][40] After HHH took time off following Vengeance and for the rest of the summer, Flair would become a fan favorite again by beginning a short feud with Kurt Angle. Later, at Unforgiven in 2005, Flair defeated Carlito for the Intercontinental Championship.[41]

On the October 3 edition of Raw, Flair was attacked by his Evolution tag team partner Triple H, after Triple H threw him into a limousine and smashing into limousine window for using sledge hammer. On November 1, 2005 at Taboo Tuesday, Flair defeated Triple H in a steel cage match. Flair continued his feud with Triple H until Survivor Series, when Triple H defeated him in a Last Man Standing match to end the feud.

Retirement (2006–08)[edit]

At the end of 2005 Flair had a feud with Edge, culminating in a WWE Championship TLC match on Raw in early 2006. On the February 20 edition of Raw he lost the Intercontinental Championship to Shelton Benjamin.[42] Flair then competed in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match at WrestleMania 22, but didn't win. Flair then took some time off in mid-2006 to rest and marry for the third time; he returned in June to work a program with his real life rival Mick Foley that played off their legitimate past animosity.[43] Flair defeated Foley at Vengeance in a 2 out of 3 falls match, then at SummerSlam in an "I Quit" match.[44]

Flair and Shawn Michaels in 2007.

Subsequently, he was involved in a rivalry with the Spirit Squad on Raw. On November 5, 2006 at Cyber Sunday, he captured the World Tag Team Championship from the Squad with Roddy Piper.[44] On the November 13 edition of Raw, Flair and Piper lost the Tag Titles to Rated-RKO,[45] due to a disc problem with Piper and had to be flown immediately back to the USA as soon as Raw was off the air. On November 26, 2006 at Survivor Series, Flair was the sole survivor of a match that featured himself, Ron Simmons (replacing an injured Piper), Dusty Rhodes and Sgt. Slaughter versus the Spirit Squad.[44] Flair then left television due to his divorce hearings. On the December 11, 2006 edition of Raw, Flair returned to team up with DX again. They defeated Rated-RKO and Kenny Dykstra.[46]

Flair then began teaming with Carlito after Flair said that Carlito had no heart.[47] Flair defeated Carlito in a match after which Carlito realized that Flair was right.[48] Flair and Carlito faced off against Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch in a number one contender's match for the World Tag Team Championship but were defeated. The two teamed up at WrestleMania 23, and defeated the team of Chavo Guerrero and Gregory Helms. After weeks of conflict between Flair and Carlito,[49][50] the team split up when Carlito attacked Flair during a match.[51] At Judgment Day, Flair defeated Carlito with the figure four leglock.[52] His career was put at risk following a match with Randy Orton on June 4, 2007.[53]

On the June 11 edition of Raw, Flair was drafted from Raw to SmackDown! as part of the 2007 WWE Draft.[54] He briefly feuded against Montel Vontavious Porter[55][56] and rejoined forces with Batista to feud with The Great Khali; the alliance was short-lived, however, as Flair was "injured" during a match with Khali.[57][58]

After a three-month hiatus, Flair returned to WWE programming on the November 26 edition of Raw to announce "I will never retire".[59][60] Vince McMahon retaliated by announcing that the next match Flair lost would result in a forced retirement.[59] Later in the night, Flair defeated Orton after a distraction by Chris Jericho.[59][60] It was revealed on the 15th anniversary of Raw that the win or retire ultimatum only applied in singles matches. Flair won several "career threatening" matches against the opponents such as Triple H, Umaga, William Regal, Mr. Kennedy, and Vince McMahon himself among others.[61][62][63] On March 29, 2008, Flair was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as a part of the Class of 2008 by Triple H. Flair became the first active wrestler to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. The day after, Flair wrestled at WrestleMania XXIV in Orlando, Florida, losing to Shawn Michaels.[64] This match was voted the 2008 PWI Match of the Year. Flair's fight to keep his career going garnered him the 2008 PWI Most Inspirational Wrestler of the Year award.

Part-time appearances (2008–09)[edit]

Ric Flair at WrestleMania XXIV

On the March 31, 2008 edition of Raw, Flair delivered his farewell address. Afterward, Triple H brought out many current and retired superstars to thank Flair for all he has done, including Shawn Michaels, some of the Four Horsemen, Harley Race, and Chris Jericho, followed by The Undertaker and then Vince McMahon. Along with the wrestlers, the fans gave Flair a standing ovation. This event represented a rare moment in WWE as both the heels and the faces broke character and came out to the ring together. The Undertaker's and McMahon's entrances, however, were not shown on the TV taping of Raw for the week in order to preserve their characters, more in the case of the Undertaker as it involved him hugging Flair and then raising his arm in victory, but were included in Nature Boy Ric Flair: The Definitive Collection DVD as extras.

Flair made his first post retirement appearance on the June 16, 2008 edition of Raw to confront Chris Jericho about his actions during a rivalry with Shawn Michaels. He challenged Jericho to a fight in the parking lot, rather than an official match, but was ejected from the building by Vince McMahon.[65] The following year on February 9 Flair once again confronted Chris Jericho on Raw. Jericho was attacking Hall of Fame members and Flair demanded he respect them, before punching Jericho.[66] Flair appeared a month later to distract him during a Money in the Bank Qualifying Match. Jericho then challenged Flair to come out of retirement for WrestleMania XXV; instead Flair managed Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka and Ricky Steamboat in a three-on-one handicap match at WrestleMania in a losing effort.[67][68][69]

On May 17 Flair returned to WWE during the Judgment Day pay-per-view, coming to the aid of Batista, who was being attacked by The Legacy (Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase). On his last appearance in WWE, on the June 1 episode of Raw, Flair challenged Randy Orton in a parking lot brawl match, after an interference from the rest of The Legacy, the fight ended with Flair was trapped inside a steel cage and was punted by Orton. After Raw, Flair left WWE when his contract expired on June 2, 2009.

Ring of Honor and Hulkamania Tour (2009)[edit]

The Main Event of Hulkamania Tour in 2009, Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan.

Flair signed with Ring of Honor (ROH) and appeared at the aptly titled Stylin' And Profilin' event in March 2009, clearing the ring after an ROH World Championship match ended with a run-in.[70] He soon served as the company's ambassador, in an on-screen authority role, and appeared on the television show Ring of Honor Wrestling in May to cement his role.[71] After a number one contender's match ended in a time-limit draw, and the following week a double count out, Flair announced Ring of Honor Wrestling's first ROH World Title match as a four-way contest.[72]

On November 21, 2009, Flair returned to the ring as a heel on the "Hulkamania: Let the Battle Begin" tour of Australia, losing to Hulk Hogan in the main event of the first show by brassknuckles.[1] Hogan defeated Flair again on November 24 in Perth, Australia, after both men bled heavily.[1] Flair also lost to Hogan on the two remaining matches on the tour.[1][73]

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling[edit]

Fortune (2010–11)[edit]

On the January 4, 2010, live, three-hour edition of Total Nonstop Action Wrestling's Impact! television show, Flair as a babyface made his debut appearance for the company arriving via limo and later observing the main event between A.J. Styles and longtime rival Kurt Angle.[74] It was later reported that Flair had signed a one-year deal with the company.[75] In the past, Flair has openly stated that he was loyal to the McMahons and wanted to end his career in WWE, however he had not had contact from WWE since June 2009 and decided to sign with TNA Wrestling after waiting for the call from WWE for six months.[76]

Flair in Asbury Park, New Jersey in 2011

On January 17 at Genesis, Flair helped A.J. Styles cheat to pin Kurt Angle and retain the TNA World Heavyweight Championship thus once again becoming a heel.[77] On the following episode of TNA Impact!, Flair announced that he was going to make A.J. Styles the next Nature Boy.[78] In addition to Styles, Flair began informally managing Beer Money, Inc. (Robert Roode and James Storm) and Desmond Wolfe as a loose heel alliance. Flair has also confirmed that he will return to wrestling in TNA.[5] On the February 25 edition of Impact!, Hulk Hogan announced that both he and Flair will make their in-ring TNA debuts on the March 8 Monday night edition of Impact!, when Hogan and Abyss face Flair and Styles in a tag team match.[79] On the March 8 Monday night edition of Impact! Hogan and Abyss defeated Flair and Styles, when Abyss pinned Styles.[80] Afterwards, the returning Jeff Hardy saved Abyss and Hogan from a beatdown at the hands of Flair, Styles and Beer Money, Inc.[80] At Lockdown Team Flair (Ric Flair, Sting, Desmond Wolfe, Robert Roode and James Storm) was defeated by Team Hogan (Hulk Hogan, Abyss, Jeff Jarrett, Jeff Hardy and Rob Van Dam) in a Lethal Lockdown match.[81] On the April 26 edition of Impact! Flair was defeated by Abyss in a match, where Flair's and Hogan's WWE Hall of Fame rings were at stake and as a result Flair lost possession of his ring to Hogan.[82] The following week Hogan gave the ring to Jay Lethal, who returned it to Flair out of respect. This, however, was not enough for Flair, who attacked Lethal along with the members of Team Flair.[83] After Styles dropped the World Heavyweight Championship to Rob Van Dam, then failed to regain it in a rematch and later was pinned by Jay Lethal, Flair adopted Kazarian as his newest protégé, seemingly replacing Styles as his number one wrestler.[84][85]

On the June 17 edition of Impact! Flair announced that he would reform the Four Horsemen under the new name Fourtune, comparing A.J. Styles to Arn Anderson, Kazarian to Barry Windham, Robert Roode and James Storm to Ole Anderson and Tully Blanchard and Desmond Wolfe to Lex Luger, while also stating that each of them would have to earn their spots in the group.[86][87] Flair made a return to the ring on July 11 at Victory Road, losing to Jay Lethal.[88] On the July 15 edition of Impact! Flair announced A.J. Styles and Kazarian as the first two official members of Fourtune and two weeks later added Robert Roode and James Storm as the final two members of the group.[89][90] On the August 5 edition of Impact! Flair faced Lethal in a rematch, this time contested under Street Fight rules, with the members of Fourtune banned from ringside. Flair managed to win the match, after an interference from Douglas Williams. The following week Williams and Matt Morgan were added to Fourtune, as the stable attacked EV 2.0, a stable consisting of former Extreme Championship Wrestling performers.[91][92] On September 23, Flair headlined a live event in Oklahoma City titled Lord of the Ring in his honor. Competing in his first TNA house show match, Flair lost to Kurt Angle in the main event.[93] In the weeks leading to Bound for Glory, Flair's stable's name was tweaked to Fortune to represent the expansion in the number of members in the group.[94][95] On the October 7 live edition of Impact! Flair was defeated by Mick Foley in a Last Man Standing match.[96] At Bound for Glory Flair was in Fortune's corner, when Styles, Kazarian, Morgan, Roode and Storm were defeated in a Lethal Lockdown match by EV 2.0 members Tommy Dreamer, Raven, Rhino, Sabu and Stevie Richards.[97]

Immortal (2011–12)[edit]

Flair wrestling Douglas Williams in the main event of TNA's Maximum Wooo! tour of Europe.

On the following edition of Impact! Fortune formed an alliance with Hulk Hogan's and Eric Bischoff's new stable, Immortal.[98] On the November 18 edition of Impact! Flair returned to the ring, competing in a match, where he faced Matt Morgan, who had been kicked out of Fortune the previous month. Morgan won the match, after Douglas Williams turned on the rest of Fortune, when they interfered in the match.[99] On January 25, 2011, it was reported that Flair had pulled out of TNA's Maximum Wooo! tour of Europe mid–tour, after monetary disputes.[100] After missing a show in Berlin, Germany, Flair returned to the tour on January 27 in Glasgow, Scotland, reportedly apologizing to the locker room prior to the show.[101][102][103] On January 29 Flair wrestled his only match of the tour, defeating Douglas Williams in London, tearing his rotator cuff in the process.[104][105] During Flair's time away from TNA, Fortune turned on Immortal, becoming a face group.[106] Flair returned at the February 14 tapings of the February 17 edition of Impact!, turning on Fortune during a match between A.J. Styles and Matt Hardy and jumping to Immortal.[107][108] On the March 10 edition of Impact!, Flair defeated Styles and Hardy in a three–way street fight, contested as more of a two–on–one handicap match.[109] On April 17 at Lockdown, Immortal, represented by Flair, Abyss, Bully Ray and Matt Hardy, was defeated by Fortune members James Storm, Kazarian and Robert Roode and Christopher Daniels, who replaced an injured A.J. Styles, in a Lethal Lockdown match, when Flair tapped out to Roode.[110] The match was used to write Flair off television, as the following week he was scheduled to undergo surgery for his torn rotator cuff, however, Flair ultimately chose not to have the surgery as it would have required six months of rehab.[111][112] Flair returned to television in a non–wrestling role on the May 12 edition of Impact!.[113] Flair would not appear again for three months, until making his return on August 9 at the tapings of the August 18 edition of Impact Wrestling, confronting old rival Sting and challenging him to one more match. In exchange for Sting agreeing to put his career on the line, Flair promised to deliver him his match with Hogan if he was victorious.[114][115] The match, which Flair lost, took place on the September 15 episode of Impact Wrestling.[116][117] During the match Flair tore his left triceps on a superplex spot, sidelining him indefinitely from in-ring action.[118] Since the match, Flair mostly was accompanying Immortal member Gunner to ringside, while also feuding with Garett Bischoff, alongside Eric Bischoff.[119][120] In May 2012, Flair tried to have his TNA contract terminated, which led to TNA filing a lawsuit against WWE for contract tampering and eventually firing Flair on May 11.[121][122]

Return to the independent circuit (2012)[edit]

It was announced on July 8, 2012 that Flair was to appear at Insane Clown Posse's wrestling promotion Juggalo Championship Wrestling at the Gathering of the Juggalos weekend.[123] However, his appearance at the event was cut short after he was struck with a water bottle thrown from the crowd, at which point he declared he was not going back out in front of the Juggalos.[124]

Return to WWE (2012–present)[edit]

Ric flair 2014.

On March 31, 2012, Flair became the first person to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame twice, the second time as part of the Four Horsemen.

On December 17, 2012, Flair returned to WWE on the annual Slammy Awards show to present the 'Superstar of the Year' award to John Cena, who in turn gave the award to Flair. While speaking to the crowd, Flair was interrupted by the WWE Champion CM Punk and Paul Heyman, and subsequently got into a fight with the champion that ended with him locking Heyman in the Figure Four Leg Lock. After clearing the ring, Flair was interrupted and assaulted by The Shield, until Team Hell No (Kane and Daniel Bryan) and Ryback helped Flair fend off the group.[125] On January 14, 2013, Flair returned on the Raw 20th Anniversary special, as a guest on The Miz's Miz TV. Flair and The Miz were interrupted by Antonio Cesaro, but Flair knocked Cesaro down with a few of his signature chops, and let The Miz use the Figure-Four Leg Lock on Cesaro, which he eventually adopted as his finisher.[126] Flair's next appearance was on the March 4 "Old School" edition of Raw, where he was in Miz's corner during his match with Dolph Ziggler.[127] On the July 17 episode of NXT, Flair accompanied his daughter Charlotte for her debut match which resulted in a winning effort.[128] He made an appearance on Old School Raw on January 6, 2014 with other former Evolution member Randy Orton confronting Flair.

Legacy[edit]

Flair yelling "Wooooo!".

Flair was often popular with the crowd due to his in-ring antics, including rulebreaking (earning him the distinction of being "the dirtiest player in the game"), strutting and his shouting of "Wooooooo!" (Flair got the inspiration from Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire") Flair's moveset became limited in the last ten years of his career due mainly to his age and years of competition taking a toll on his body, but remained a visible character. The "Woooooo!" yell has since become a tribute to Flair, and is often shouted by the crowd whenever a wrestler performs a knife-edge chop, one of Flair's signature moves.[2] From the late 1970s, Flair wore ornate fur-lined robes of many colors with sequins during in-ring appearances,[2] and since the early 1980s, his approach to the ring was usually heralded by the playing of the "Dawn" section of Richard Strauss' "Also sprach Zarathustra" (famous for being used in the motion picture 2001: A Space Odyssey and for the introduction to Elvis Presley's concerts of the 70s). Flair also described himself as a "limosine-ridin', jet-flyin', kiss stealin', wheelin' dealin', son-of-a-gun (who kissed ALL the girls worldwide and made em cry)."

On May 19, 2003 in Greenville, South Carolina, Triple H defended the World Heavyweight Championship in a match against Flair.[129] After Raw went off the air, most of the people who were backstage came out to honor Flair, including Vince McMahon, the Undertaker, Shane, and Stephanie McMahon.[129] Triple H then appeared, and after a stare down, he placed the World Heavyweight Championship belt on Flair's shoulder and embraced him. Flair then gave a speech thanking everyone for the tribute.[129]

Flair released his autobiography, To Be the Man, in July 2004.[130] The title is taken from one of his catchphrases, "To be the man, you gotta beat the man!"

Over the years, Flair has personally trained Stan Lane, Scott McGhee and David Flair, his son, to be professional wrestlers.

On the February 18, 2008 edition of Raw, Shawn Michaels announced Flair as the first inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2008. The induction ceremony took place on March 29, 2008, with Triple H inducting him. This made him the first, and, as of 2014, only, person to be inducted while still an active competitor.[131] On March 24, 2008, Mayor Bob Coble, of Columbia, South Carolina, declared March 24 to be Ric Flair Day in Columbia. Flair also received the key to the city.[132] Flair was later inducted into the NWA Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Georgia, his second straight Hall of Fame induction in four months, but he did not participate in the event. He received the key to the city of Greensboro, North Carolina on December 5, 2008, to commemorate Flair's victory in a steel cage match against Harley Race at the inaugural Starrcade event.[133] April 18, 2009 was declared "Ric Flair Day" in Charleston, West Virginia and he was presented with the key to the city by the mayor.[134] Also, on June 12, 2009, Flair was presented with the key to the city of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina[135] and, in September, he received the key to the city in Marion County, South Carolina.[136] On July 17, 2010, Flair made a special appearance at Scotland Motors in Laurinburg, North Carolina and received the key to that city, as well.[137]

On October 19, 1998, it was declared "Ric Flair Day" in Minneapolis, Minnesota by Mayor Sharon Belton[138] and on November 15, 2008, it was declared "Ric Flair Day" in Norfolk, Virginia.[139]

On April 15, 2008 Flair was honored in Congress by a representative from North Carolina, Republican Sue Myrick, who praised his career and what he means to the state.[140] On September 29, 2008, it was announced that Flair's signature sequin covered robe that he wore at WrestleMania XXIV, in what was to be his last match, would be placed in the pop culture section of the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.[141]

Flair also lends his voice and image to the Carolina Hurricanes hockey team. During home games, he appears on the monitor giving his trademark "Wooooo" whenever the Hurricanes score a goal.

In 2002, Flair was named the greatest pro wrestler of all time in the magazine article 100 Wrestlers of All Time by John Molinaro, edited by Dave Meltzer and Jeff Marek.[142]

On January 9, 2012 it was announced that the Four Horsemen would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame making Flair the first person to have been inducted into the Hall of Fame twice.[143]

Personal life[edit]

Family[edit]

Flair married his first wife, Leslie Goldman-Fliehr, on August 28, 1971. They would have two children, daughter Megan and son David, before divorcing in 1983 after 12 years of marriage. On August 27, 1983, he married his second wife, Elizabeth "Beth" Harrell-Fliehr. Promoter Jim Crockett Jr. served as the best man for Flair and Beth's wedding. They would have two children, daughter Ashley and son Reid. Beth would also make periodic appearances in WCW between 1998 and 2000. Flair and Beth would divorce in 2006 after nearly 23 years of marriage. On May 27, 2006, Flair married his third wife Tiffany VanDemark-Fliehr, who was a fitness competitor.[144] On August 7, 2008, Tiffany announced that she had filed for divorce from Flair. The divorce would be finalized in 2009, ending the marriage after three years.[145] On November 11, 2009, Flair married his fourth wife, Jacqueline "Jackie" Beems-Fliehr, in Charlotte, North Carolina.[citation needed] It was announced on September 3, 2012 that Ric Flair will be going through his fourth divorce. The divorce is still pending. In the meantime, Ric is dating Wendy Barlow ("Fifi-The Maid" from Ric's WCW interview segment "A Flair For The Gold!") as documented on ABC TV's Celebrity Wife Swap where he swapped wife/girlfriend with Roddy Piper and his wife Kitty. At the end of CWS there was a graphic card for the "In Memoriam" for Reid Flair with a picture of Ric and Reid.

Flair's son David is a semi-retired professional wrestler. Flair's younger son Reid, who signed a developmental contract with WWE near the end of 2007,[146] was an accomplished high school wrestler and made several appearances on WCW television along with his sister Ashley and half-sister Megan. In 2004, Flair became a grandfather at the age of 55, when his older daughter, Megan Fliehr Ketzner, gave birth to her first child, a daughter named Morgan Lee Ketzner on May 9.[147][148] On May 17, 2012, it was reported that Flair's daughter Ashley has signed with WWE.[149] On March 29, 2013, Reid died from an accidental overdose of heroin, a muscle relaxer and Xanax.[150]

Family arrests[edit]

Flair's daughter Ashley was arrested on September 5, 2008 for assaulting a police officer.[151] The incident occurred after police were called to a fight involving Flair, Ashley, and her boyfriend.[151]

Reid Fliehr was arrested on June 23, 2007, for assault and battery, and was released after posting bail.[152] On March 4, 2009, Fliehr was arrested for driving while impaired in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, and was released after posting $1000 in bail.[153][154] Fliehr was arrested again on April 26, 2009. After crashing his car, police found black tar heroin inside it, and he faced felony charges.[155] He was also charged with driving while impaired, driving with a revoked license, and possession of drug paraphernalia, and was released after posting $15,000 in bail.[156][157] He later overdosed twice in 2011.[158]

Legal issues[edit]

In December 2005, a judge issued arrest warrants for Flair after a road rage incident that took place in Charlotte, NC in which Flair allegedly got out of his car, grabbed a motorist by the neck, and kicked the door off the motorist's sport utility vehicle.[159] Flair was charged with two misdemeanors, injury to personal property and simple assault and battery. This incident was ridiculed on WWE programming, most notably by the wrestler Edge.[160]

In September 2007, Flair opened a financial business called Ric Flair Finance. In July 2008, Ric Flair Finance filed for bankruptcy.[161]

Following 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 appear at.[162] Due to ROH's purchase by Sinclair Broadcasting Group it is uncertain if they will continue to seek legal action against Flair.[citation needed]

In August 2010, Highspots Inc. filed a lawsuit against Flair alleging that Flair had never repaid $35,000 that they had loaned him. Flair has also struggled with tax debt. Highspots also claimed that Flair had given them the NWA World Heavyweight Championship belt as collateral.[163][164]

A warrant for Flair's arrest was issued in May 2011 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.[165][166] On June 25 Highspots released a statement over their official Facebook page stating that somebody had paid Flair's debts.[167]

Politics[edit]

Flair has long supported Republican political candidates in North Carolina politics.[168] In 2000, Flair explored the possibility of running for governor of North Carolina,[168] but he never filed the papers.[169]

In the 2008 presidential race, Ric Flair declared his support for the Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. He said of Huckabee, "[Huckabee] is a quality person, self-made, a great family man and he has a great vision for our country. And I'm here to excite the crowd."[170]

Real life feuds and backstage problems[edit]

Bret Hart[edit]

Flair engaged in an off-screen rivalry with Bret Hart. In Flair's autobiography, Flair criticizes Hart for over-exploiting the death of his brother, Owen Hart, and the controversy surrounding the Montreal Screwjob.[171] Flair also claimed in his autobiography that, despite Hart's popularity in Canada, he was not a formidable money-making draw in the United States, a claim which Hart dismissed as "plain ridiculous" in a column written for the Calgary Sun.[172] Hart claimed that he drew greater revenue than Flair, citing his headlining performances on consistently sold out tours throughout his WWF career, while Flair wrestled to allegedly near-empty arenas. He also criticized Flair on what he perceived as insults to fellow wrestlers Mick Foley and Randy Savage, both personal friends of Hart. Hart acknowledged a decline in the WWF's popularity during the mid-1990s, but he and others felt that this was largely attributed to the WWF's well publicized sex and steroid scandals, as well as WCW's acquisition of former top WWF stars.[172][173][174]

Shane Douglas[edit]

Flair also had a long running feud with Shane Douglas, who would refer to him as "Dick Flair" and accuse him of sabotaging his push in the NWA/WCW after getting a solid push and a rub from his tag partner Ricky Steamboat.[175] Flair, in turn, responded that Douglas was always the guy that would blame 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 "took the needle out of his ass." They were able to come to a working relationship during Douglas' last stint with WCW.[citation needed]

Mick Foley[edit]

Flair has also had problems with Mick Foley. In his 1999 autobiography Have a Nice Day!, Foley said, "Flair was every bit as bad on the booking side of things as he was great on the wrestling side of it."[176] 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, 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." [177] However, they have reconciled and are now friends. The story was also translated into an onscreen feud in the WWE, which included an I Quit Match between the two at Summerslam 2006.[178]

Hulk Hogan[edit]

In his book, Flair also touched on some real-life tension between himself and Hulk Hogan which largely stemmed from an incident that followed the conclusion of a tag match between Flair and his son, David, and the team of Curt Hennig and Barry Windham at WCW's Souled Out pay-per-view on January 17, 1999, in Charleston, WV.[179] Flair described Hogan and members of the New World Order coming out to attack them, as well as Hogan whipping an incapacitated David with a leather belt as Flair was forced to look on. "What no one had told me was that Hogan would try to be cute and whip David over and over again. ... there was Hogan—with all his experience, and all his celebrity—trying to be cute. He whipped David like a dog. It was sickening, and I'll never forgive him for it", Flair wrote of the incident. Despite this, the two have managed to maintain a working relationship, both in Hogan's promotion and in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling.

Bruno Sammartino[edit]

Flair and wrestler Bruno Sammartino had a real-life disagreement over what reports call "the infamous backstage 'snub'" where Flair claims that Sammartino refused to shake his hand at a live event."[180] 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,"[180] Sammartino disagrees. Sammartino referred to Flair as a "liar," stating, "No, I don’t respect Ric Flair. I don’t respect him at all."[181] Sammartino contends that Flair disrespected him, and not vice versa.[citation needed] However, recently the two met following Sammartino's Hall of Fame induction. The two reconciled and Bruno consoled Flair on the recent loss of his son Reid.

In wrestling[edit]

Flair performing his signature figure-four leglock on Hulk Hogan during the Hulkamania Tour.
Flair delivering knife edge chops to Jay Lethal.
  • Nicknames
    • "Ramblin'" Ricky Rhodes[1]
    • "(The) Nature Boy"
    • "Naitch"
    • "I Da! Ba-Loot!"
    • "The Dirtiest Player in the Game"
    • "Stylin' and Profilin'"
    • "The Man"
    • "The Alimony Pony"
    • "Jet Flying, Limousine Ridin', Kiss Stealin', Wheelin' Dealin', Son of a Gun"
    • "Space Mountain"
    • "The Sixty-Minute Man"
    • "Slick Ric"
    • "The Real World Champion"
    • "The Master of the Figure-Four"[190]
    • "The Golden Stallion"[191]
    • "Wrestling God"
    • "The Original Party Animal"
    • "The Man"

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Flair at the 2008 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony.
  • International Wrestling Institute and Museum
    • George Tragos/Lou Thesz Hall of Fame (2013)[192]

1Flair did win the Mid-Atlantic version of the NWA United States Championships six times and the six reigns were recognized even after World Championship Wrestling took control over the championship and renamed it the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship in 1991. After WCW's purchase by WWE, the lineage of the championships were kept and used to give the WWE United States Championship a prestigious history. However, WWE does not recognize some of the reigns of some wrestlers when the title was still the Mid-Atlantic NWA United States Championship. As of now, only five of Flair's six reigns with the NWA United States Heavyweight Championship (Mid-Atlantic version) are officially recognized by WWE.
2His last four reigns with the championship were after Jim Crockett, Jr. sold his promotion to Ted Turner in November 1988, which became World Championship Wrestling. The NWA World Heavyweight Championship was defended exclusively in WCW until WCW's withdrawal from the National Wrestling Alliance in 1993.
3Title reigns are not recognized by World Wrestling Entertainment.
4He won the title for the third time in Kallang, Singapore. Records are unclear as to which promotion hosted the event.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab "OWOW profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Ric Flair profile". World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved 2011-03-31. 
  3. ^ a b c "Ric Flair". SLAM! Wrestling. Retrieved 2007-11-13. 
  4. ^ a b "Power Slam". This Month in History: February (SW Publishing). January 1999. p. 28. 55. 
  5. ^ a b Allely, Phil (February 11, 2010). "Flair to wrestle for TNA". The Sun (London). Retrieved 2010-02-15. 
  6. ^ "Ric Flair Pro Wrestling Living Legend Media Man Australia". Mediaman.com.au. Retrieved 2011-09-19. 
  7. ^ "Ric Flair Return". Hulkamania: Let The Tour Begin. YouTube. November 1, 2009. Retrieved 2010-02-04. 
  8. ^ a b c d NWA World Heavyweight Title history[1] At wrestling-titles.com
  9. ^ Foley, Mick. Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks (p.160)
  10. ^ See WrestleMania VIII, and Starrcade 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990 (as Black Scorpion), 1993 and 1995.
  11. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0282310/bio
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