Ric Flair has been “stylin’ and profilin'” for four decades in the wrestling industry. He is a 16-time World Champion and many have dubbed him: “the greatest wrestler of all time”.
Having taken a recent break from the WWE, before he returns to our screens, “The Nature Boy” caught up with skysports.com’s Richard Parr.
skysports.com: Hi Ric, welcome to skysports.com. You’ve been off our television screens for a couple of months now. When will we expect to see you return to the WWE and what have you been up to during this hiatus?
Ric Flair: I would expect to be back in a couple of weeks but I don’t have a starting date yet. I actually have been working on my new company ricflairfinance.com and spending a lot of quality time with my wife and enjoying the time off.
skysports.com: With John “Bradshaw” Layfield being a financial expert did you ask him for any advice?
Ric Flair: I actually asked him for a lot of advice initially. He gave me some good advice.
skysports.com: Because before wrestling you worked in insurance, correct?
Ric Flair: Ha, yes I did but I was just making a dollar along the way back then.
skysports.com: Obviously since then you have had an illustrious wrestling career. With you returning soon we will be approaching Wrestlemania 24 in Orlando, Florida next April. Who would you like to face and why?
Ric Flair: I don’t have one person, there would be a list of five or six people if I had a choice of who I would wrestle but I don’t want to put myself into that corner. But I would love to be part of it, if it works for the promotion. If it is do I think I can contribute? The answer is yes but the promotion has to make that decision.
skysports.com: How disappointed were you that you were not on the card for Wrestlemania in Detroit this year?
Ric Flair: Very. Very.
skysports.com: Ok, looking back on your career you were part of WCW during the infamous “Monday Night Wars”. Having worked at the WWE since: what do you think was the difference between the two companies for the WWE to win the war?
Ric Flair: I can give you three words. Organisation, respect for the product and talent relations. There were no controls for the talent in WCW. The talent told the promotion what to do. It never works.
skysports.com: You were part of two of the most famous stables in wrestling history in the “Four Horseman” and “Evolution”. Your two prodigies in Evolution are now the WWE Champion and the World Heavyweight Champion in Randy Orton and Batista respectively. Could you tell from an early time that these two would elevate themselves to champions? How much do you think them working with yourself and Triple H affected them?
Ric Flair: First of all both of them came loaded with ability and both eager to learn. And I think we lended them maturity and they of course forwarded respect, which could feel instantly. You can tell in one conversation if they respect you. Which was great for me. I don’t think Hunter is as focused on stuff like that as me in this point in his career. But it’s very nice to have that kind of respect from people. We really enjoyed working with them, we enjoyed the questions they asked and we enjoyed the trips together. And of course the company made it a flagship group. It was a great time. Nothing will ever replace the “Four Horseman”. That was a different time. I was fortunate to be with some great performers of that generation and some great people. I don’t think I have enjoyed anything as much since the 80s as I enjoyed with “Evolution”.
skysports.com: You mentioned the respect from Randy Orton and Batista. How do you feel when you hear and see all of the respect and admiration from the fans? For example last month the WWE was in the UK for the Survivor Series Tour and even though you weren’t scheduled to appear the fans were screaming “Wooo’s” in honour of you throughout the night. How important are the fans to you?
Ric Flair: It’s funny you mention that question and I say this when people ask me questions about wrestling in Europe who aren’t in this line of work. What’s really, really nice for me and what should be for any athlete with some mileage on him is that in Europe athletes get great, they don’t get old. And that’s just my take on it. We’re revered in such high esteem it’s amazing. I love wrestling out there. The level of respect they afford me is second to nothing, that’s the honest truth.
With my success I wouldn’t leave until the crowd got their money’s worth. If it took an hour that’s how long I would be out there. That’s what I felt about myself and what the fans deserved. I think that has translated and made me what the fans admire now.
skysports.com: With young wrestler’s coming through, to be a great wrestler do you think it has more to do with genetics or experience to help you tell a story in the ring?
Ric Flair: I think it is experience but I think it is wanting to be that person, wanting to have that knowledge and it’s wanting to take that next step. The parameters that we work in now, with the short matches on television, the idea of telling a story can be impossible. That’s why the story is told in so many different ways through the promotion and the body of the show. Sometimes there isn’t time to tell a story in the match. A lot of the hype for the matches is built up on the outside. Now if the guys have got twenty minutes to wrestle, then the fans are going to get a great story. If it’s something the fans really want to see it can be told in ten minutes. But a lot of that, as you know, is brought by other vehicles in the show prior to them getting the ring. The guys who really turn it on can turn it on. The guys who can’t turn it on because they don’t have the ability, get lost in the shuffle.
skysports.com: Out of the current crop of young Superstars which are the ones who you think have the potential to be future champions or even legends?
Ric Flair: Well I guess you would call them young guys but I would say three: Orton, Cena and Batista. But I consider three or four guys in the promotion who have obviously already achieved that. We’re talking about Hunter (Triple H), Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker, they are the first names that come to mind. They have legendary status right now and all three can wrestle twenty, thirty minutes and give the fans a phenomenal match. But it took time; all three have been in the business for 15 to 18 years. They didn’t arrive with that level of ability; they brought that level of ability with them. They didn’t arrive to that level of greatness in two years.
I think the three guys I mentioned, Orton, Cena and Batista have the ability to be in that category but it takes time.
skysports.com: Talking of legends, it is really a matter of rather when, than if, you will be inducted into the “WWE Hall of Fame”. Have you been told about any possibility of being inducted next year at Wrestlemania 24 in Orlando, Florida?
Ric Flair: I’ve heard talk of it but nothing has been confirmed. But if the WWE think it is the right time I would certainly be very obliged and proud to be in that position. My problem is I take it too serious. And when it happens it will be a very real moment for me. It will be something I will cherish and my family will cherish forever.
skysports.com: Who would you want to induct into the “Hall of Fame”?
Ric Flair: It’s funny you ask me that, I’m not sure right now but if I had an answer now it would be Triple H.
skysports.com: You said that you expect to return to the WWE in a few weeks. How long to you plan to continue for?
Ric Flair: For as long as they can put up with me! They can’t keep a good man down!
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