At the beginning of Impact TNA I like to say “TNA, we are struggling.” Well, after watching the Hall of Fame, Wrestlemania, and the farewell segment, I think it’s safe to say that living legend Ric Flair is indeed the true icon of professional wrestling.
Just under a year ago, when Ric Flair was working for Carlito and was reeling through the lower ranks of WWE, I wrote a very negative article titled “Ric Flair from Designer to Desperate,” asking WWE to put him out of his misery. Little did he know that just a few months later, the company would finally learn what Ric Flair is all about and give him the kind of sendoff that only Flair can deliver.
Before his five-star match against Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania, there was a certain degree of panic and concern about how it would all turn out. There were rumors that WWE had turned down an initially good angle for Flair’s retirement from Steve Austin and then Naitch had a falling out with the company, leading to him taking time off camera. Hell, even those loyal to TNA thought he might jump ship (in hindsight, how horrible that would have been!)
They eventually resolved all of their relationship issues and WWE and Flair were back on the same page, although the story of “losing a match and getting fired” left little to be desired. Facing the workers, being kept off Raw for 2 weeks and then losing, but continuing to maintain his career on Smackdown did not make him a threat to his career and led many to believe that WWE was not putting their full force behind him. that. We barely got a classic Flair mic. Maybe it’s because Vince still saw Ric as a WCW guy (God forbid he furthers a talent you didn’t create) or maybe the writers, who are mini Hollywood Vince clones, didn’t “get” what Ric Flair was. . Why should they? He was never a major player in the company so they probably wouldn’t know better, I mean part of what Vince looks for in new creative hires is not to be die-hard fans.
Then came the biggest factor in this retirement angle: Shawn Michaels. A bad reserve and creative failure, no matter how bad, can never stop someone like Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair from shining through and making it their own. The cream rises to the top in any scenario. Some may argue that Flair needed to pass the torch, but in this case it was. Flair was the most important in the 70-80s and still dominated in the 90s, HBK was the most important in the 90-00s and will continue to dominate until the 2010s.
Were they friends, weren’t they friends? Did they really respect each other or not? Were they jealous? Would HBK make a superkick Flair? OLD YELLA! All of these factors came together to set the wheels for a classic fighting story. But one that was finally told in the ring as it should be.
The Hall of Fame is something I look forward to every year, despite being too young to have seen any of the members in their prime (not to say I don’t have the tapes). But this year was special, not just because Ric is the only active performer to be admitted, but because there was a special heart-pounding atmosphere that said, this is the end of an era. Every year you get those heartfelt messages and acceptance speeches, but you can see from each person’s face at this year’s ceremony that Flair is the man and that everything that was said about him was not silly. That was true. I’m 17 years old and I shed a tear: what the hell was happening to the people who grew up idolizing Flair?
For me, most of Wrestlemania is like all PPVs. They have some good games that I want to see and the rest I only listen or watch with part of my attention. This one was different, simply because of Ric Flair. Something during that Hall of Fame rekindled my passion and I sat and watched every part of Wrestlemania from start to finish without a break and loved it. Watching the recap videos still sends chills. The sheer enormity of it all was overwhelming and if non-fans can’t sit there and be inspired by this event then they are not human.
The match itself was 5-star, perhaps Flair’s best match in the last 20 years. I’m afraid it was the last “old school” game we’ll see, where a story begins, grows and ends in the ring. When Flair stood up crying with his fists raised and Michaels said “Sorry, I love you,” he was proud to be a fan of wrestling. If those who say otherwise are wondering why we watch wrestling and not the UFC, then this is why. The UFC could never and never will pull the strings of the heart like this game did, period. The result was as good as the match itself: we all wanted Flair to win, but in the context of the story, like the end of a movie, the logical and more realistic conclusion came about. If the saga ended there, he would have died happily, but the actual tissues had not yet been reached.
The next night on Raw was Ric Flair’s farewell speech. What makes this even more special was the fact that Flair had no idea what was going to happen, it was like a surprise birthday party. Flair came out to the ring and cut a pretty generic thank you and goodbye promotion, he went to put the microphone down and “boooom” Triple H’s musical success. Flair didn’t know this was going to happen, so he seemed confused. Hunter gave him a hug and Flair burst into tears. “I was doing very well until you came here.” Helmsley said “if you think these people and I am the only person who wants to thank Ric, then you are wrong … my fingers are starting to get hard.” He waved his finger and the Riders came out! Followed by a host of major legends in Ric Flair’s career, along with the younger stars and ultimately the entire locker room.
Every fighter under contract, fan in the arena and spectator at home (at least I did) chanted “thank you Ric.” What an amazing feeling, it made me feel part of a great family of fighters. We don’t need anyone else. This for us people who understand and respect the business and we want to thank the man who made the business what it is!
THANK YOU RIC FLAIR – Dusty called you a national treasure, well I’m from the UK and I call you an international treasure. Your legacy will live on in all the stars you helped and in all the fan DVD collections.
What’s next for Flair? Well, he won’t be in the ring again, unless it’s with his son Reid, who is currently in development. He’s still under contract for several years, so there’s a chance he’s an on-air character, although I don’t think he’ll make his departure cheaper by doing that. From now on, I have heard that he will dedicate himself to Public Relations and advocacy for the company, as well as helping his son train and run his own Ric Flair Finance company.