Viva La Flair

Less than two weeks after his abrupt release from WWE, Ric Flair appeared at AAA’s signature event, Triplemania in Mexico to be in the corner of Andrade, who is engaged to Charlotte, the daughter of the former 16-time champion. On the surface, this might look like more of a PR move for AAA to grab some buzz, but the chaos within the management of the organization, details that very few reading this would care to know, has more or less minimized the company’s standing from an international prospective. AAA, a group with a very storied history, attempted to break into the US market on a more main stream scale over the years, but it always falls flat and usually results from lack of leadership. Within recent months, the previous attempts at expansion, including the Lucha Underground project that fizzled out rather quickly, were the subject of lawsuits over the rights of each project.

In short, a Ric Flair appearance in Mexico does more for the key figures involved in the specific match than it does for AAA as a promotion.

However, the appearance is newsworthy because it gives a clear indication of his post-WWE plans and the domino effect it might have around the wrestling world. Being his future son-in-law, it makes sense that Andrade would have Flair in his corner, but will that translate to All Elite Wrestling? Again, it makes sense, but a lot of it depends on the other moving parts with the organization, particularly its already extensive non-wrestler roster. As I mentioned in an article about Ric Flair’s release, it was reported by The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer that Flair had a lucrative contract with WWE, an agreement he re-signed in January 2020 after he officially rejoined the company the previous year. Assuming that Flair did have a major contract, the only logical reason for him to request a release is for bigger money elsewhere, and that’s nothing wrong with that, that’s capitalism. That being said, the only place to get better cash than WWE in the sports entertainment industry is AEW, at least for certain talents. Also as I discussed in the previous write-up, you have to respect the work ethic of Flair in the ring and he was undoubtedly one of the hardest-working performers in the history of the business. You simply won’t find a match where Flair mailed in a performance or took a night off after the bell rang for a paying audience. That said, Flair’s financial decisions weren’t exactly at the level of his wrestling skills so sadly, even at 72, he can still use the biggest paydays possible. Again, The Nature Boy’s financial problems are well-documented and if he can still get big money in pro wrestling at his age, he should take it.

Of course, the next question is, how will All Elite utilize Ric Flair, specifically in a way that will justify a hefty contract? That could be either through direct revenue or the intrinsic value of brand awareness that he can generate from a PR standpoint.

After the news of Flair’s release from WWE, Hall of Famer, Booker T speculated on his podcast that Flair might get back in the ring again, saying that Ric isn’t a managerial guy. On one hand, Booker is right because with as much passion as Ric has for the business, it’s doubtful he will be content just at ringside. For example, even during his Triplemania appearance, he was physically involved in the match, throwing chops at Kenny Omega in the ring. As we known from his ill-fated TNA stint, Flair as AJ Styles’ manager was a concept that was solid in theory, but lacked in application. While AJ is really solid on promos now, more than a decade ago, trying to put him in a robe with Ric Flair on the mic only allowed the legendary grappler to unintentionally overshadow one of the top stars in TNA at the time. That being said, nobody wants to see Ric Flair back in the ring as an active wrestler, particularly after his health scare a few years ago. In some ways, it would almost be irresponsible for a company to book him as a wrestler after the life-threatening illness in 2017.

Granted, Flair was still an active wrestler in TNA during the time that he was alongside Styles so maybe a manager role would be more useful now because he has a different mindset toward the sport. It’s very possible that Triplemania could’ve been a preview of Flair’s role in AEW, depending on how much the company truly wants to invest in Andrade. The Mexican star only had one match so far in All Elite and with the news of Daniel Bryan and CM Punk on the horizon, he’s not a main part of the AEW conversation. If Tony Khan views Andrade as a potential major star for the organization in the future, and the lucha star has the skills for it, then it makes sense to pair him with Flair after The Nature Boy arrives in AEW.

Where that puts Chavo Guerrero, who showed up not too long ago, is a completely different question. This isn’t a jab against Chavo, but why exactly is he being used as a manager? Again, if Chavo can get a payday from AEW then good for him, that’s capitalism. But, it’s not as though he was known for his mic skills throughout his career. Sometimes, signing former WWE stars just to get the social media moment of signing another WWE star isn’t worth it because if there’s not something useful for that particular talent to do then what’s the point? Obviously, if Flair is paired with Andrade then there’s not really a reason for Chavo to also be involved.

That speaks to a different situation, with the addition of Ric Flair, regardless of who he’s used as a manager for, it’s another addition that could lower the importance of other non-wrestlers in the company. For example, theoretically, Jake Roberts on a show to cut promos is a great concept, but what money promos has Jake had the chance to cut in recent months? Granted, maybe Tony Khan signs some of these legends as a show of respect, which is fine to a certain extent, but there’s also the business reality of the situation. Despite the debut of Rampage as a second television show, the argument could still be made that there are way too many people on the roster. Yes, I know there are two Youtube shows, but those are more or less cannon fodder in the grand scheme of things.

Speaking of the grand scheme of things, while this Triplemania appearence basically confirms that Flair will surface in All Elite, it makes you wonder how Tony Khan will utilize the major talent that will join the company within the next few months and more importantly, if the way those talents are utilized will be effective to continue to solidify the company in the industry.

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta
E mail | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta