Ric Flair, also known as “The Nature Boy” is one of the longest lasting professional wrestlers in recent memory. It all began in the early 1970s, and Flair went farther and longer than anyone could have imagined. With a career that spanned over 40 years, he was wrestling professionally before some of today’s superstars were even born!
Flair has become one of the most famous and influential wrestlers in the history of the sport, largely due to an unrivaled sense of confidence. Wherever Flair goes, hilarious soundbites seem to follow. His matches are chock full of strutting and showboating, and of course patented Flair soundbites. In a sport that thrives on super egos, Flair is perhaps the quintessential mold of a WWE wrestler.
Of course, one does not sustain such a long-lasting career without achieving accolades along the way. Naturally, he has set a lot of “firsts”. Flair was the first WCW world champion, and first WCW Triple Crown champion. He is now over 65 years old, yet continues to make various appearances inside the ring.
But we could go on for days listing accolades from someone who has been in the business as long as Flair has. What follows are some of the things perhaps even some of the more seasoned Flair fans might not know. Here are 10 unbelievable things you probably didn’t know about WWE’s Ric Flair.
10. He Was Inducted Into the WWE Hall of Fame Twice
Flair was inducted into the Hall of Fame based on his individual accomplishments in 2008 as part of an incoming Hall of Fame class that included Eddie Graham, Rocky Johnson, and Mae Young. Flair then in WrestleMania XXIV the very following day. The high of his recent induction did not last, however; he lost to the then 42-year-old Shawn Michaels.
Several years later, Flair was inducted again, but this time as a member of the ultra-famous wrestling group The Four Horsemen. The group comprised of Flair, Arn Anderson, Ole Anderson, and Tully Blanchard, was extremely successful throughout the 1980s. At one point in time, all four members held control of the biggest NWA championship belts. The induction gave Flair yet another claim to fame, and one accolade not many can top.
9. The Actual Number of His Championship Reigns Is Unknown
Because his career spans over so long a time period, extending back to fledgling professional wrestling years, the exact number of Flair’s championship wins is actually unknown. He is officially recognized as having 16 world heavyweight championships, at least according to the WWE. That total would include eight NWA championships, six WCW championships, and two WWF championships.
While sixteen is a grand total many wrestlers would love to boast about, Flair actually believes the true number tops that, claiming he is a 21-time World champion. Whatever the case, Flair is a proven champion with a legacy that is literally too large to capture with statistics.
8. He’s Struggled With Frequent Financial Issues
While he has certainly lead a storied career, and racked in plenty of money in the process, Ric Flair actually falls into the stereotype of millionaire athlete with lingering money problems. Many athletes find they quite enjoy the taste of success they’ve been granted, but go on to spend lavishly at times it would be more prudent to save their money. Flair is noted for extravagance, unfortunately it sometimes has repercussions outside the ring.
Due to divorces, business related issues, and government collections, Flair was a total of $1.7 million in debt by 2009. His troubles extended into the next year, when his ex-employer ROH claimed they were owed $40,000 from unfulfilled contract obligations on Flair’s end. Hopefully, the 66-year-old Flair can get his affairs in order, but for now it is a small tarnish on his legacy.
7. He’s Been Divorced And Remarried Four Times
Flair has had his share of marriage problems as well, which have partly played into his troubles with money. Flair married his first wife in the 1970s. The two were married for 12 years, and raised two kids together, before they divorced in 1983. Flair would remarry the same year to Beth Harrell-Fliehr, who actually made several appearances in WCW.
Beth and Flair divorced in 2006 after 23 years together. Once again, Flair remarried the same year. Starting to notice a trend? Flair has actually been married and divorced four times, and his fourth divorce is still pending, but in the meantime Flair has begun dating again, this time with a woman named Wendy Barlow. Though he’s well into his sixties, it’s fair to say the man still has game.
6. He Has a Serious Case of Road Rage
Listen, we all fly off the handle sometimes. Whether it be a particularly stressful day, or someone who has royally peeved you off, sometimes you just have to let out some steam. But god help you if you are on the receiving end of Ric Flair’s road rage.
In 2005, a driver in Charlotte, North Carolina said he noticed someone behind him flashing their lights. The man pulled over and the car pulled alongside him. That’s when he recognized Ric Flair. Flair allegedly grabbed the driver by the neck and damaged his vehicle. The incident has since had an impact in wrestling storylines, as Edge poked fun at Flair later that year in a RAW event.
5. He Has a Trademark Yell
Very similar to Daniel Bryan’s “Yes!” chant, Ric Flair has his own version of a coined phrase. Flair frequently yells “Woo!” during and after matches, usually as a way to strut and play to the crowd. Crowds have associated the yell with Flair’s wrestling persona, and go crazy when he shouts it out, oftentimes returning the favor.
Flair has found himself in a variety of standoffs in which the coined phrase has played an integral role. Many other wrestlers yell “Woo!” as a dig at Flair, or simply to rile him up. Usually they are rather successful. While certainly not the most intimidating of chants, it has become rather popular with the wrestling crowd, and is one of the easier ways to recognize a true Flair fan.
4. He Has the Keys to Several Cities
Flair has become rather famous in cities across the United States, with many seeing him as an influential sports figure. Minneapolis, Minnesota declared October 19, 1998 to be “Ric Flair Day”. It was the first such honor for Flair, who was moved by the honor. Apparently, it was the birth of an interesting fad.
Years later, Columbia, South Carolina decreed Ric Flair day, giving him the keys to the city. A few months later he was to receive the very same honor from Greensboro, North Carolina. Charleston, West Virginia has also gotten into the mix, along with Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. All in all, Flair seems poised to unlock the entire United States, one key to the city at a time.
3. His Videogame Promotion Skills Need Work
Flair was a member of a panel for WWE’s promotion of their newly released wrestling videogame WWE 2K14. Also present on the panel were Mick Foley, Daniel Bryan, and many other legends who were considered the faces of the league at the time. Unfortunately for the league, Flair appeared to be intoxicated and constantly derailed the conversations.
To be fair, this was in a particular bad stretch in Flair’s life. His son had just died after overdosing on medication, and nobody can fault the man for being in a bad place. Still, the WWE should have recognized the poor timing of the promotion and perhaps withdrawn Flair from the panel.
2. He’s Relied On Swagger
Flair’s style of wrestling is one that has kept him in the limelight for years. It’s also what initially made him famous. Rather than relying on promotional skills of higher up authorities, Flair took matters into his own hands. He turned to “Styling and Profiling”, his self-named approach to infusing attitude into his matches, and his approach to life in general.
Typical Flair matches include excellent, dramatic interviews. Flair (as his name suggests) had a knack for drama, as anyone familiar with his more recent “woo-offs” is well aware. But Flair’s talents transcended the microphone, as audiences were captivated by this wrestler who could talk the talk and walk the walk. Flair’s in-ring performances were full of the same attitude, and the result has been one of the longest wrestling careers we’ve ever seen.
1. He Rubs Other Wrestlers the Wrong Way
Many WWE wrestlers have feuds. These are largely scripted; events set up by the league to generate a hype factor, and in turn revenue for upcoming billed matches. Sometimes these feuds bleed over into reality, as the wrestlers make things a bit personal. Ric Flair seemingly has a larger than usual list of those he’s made angry over the years.
As an example, he and Mick Foley have butted heads, according to Foley’s successful memoir “Have a Nice Day!” Foley accuses Flair of being terrible both inside the ring and outside as a member of the booking committee. Flair then supplied his response in his own autobiography, dubbing Foley a “glorified stuntman.”
In the end, the WWE is a league of characters and egos, and making them literally butt heads inside the ring will often lead to the figurative result outside of it.