What’s The Status Of Ric Flair?

To be the man, you gotta beat the man, right?

Recently, I wrote a column about the status of Charlotte Flair, the tremendously talented second generation star that was the topic of controversy over the past few months, particularly because of an in-ring segment with Becky Lynch that went off the rails and supposedly led to Charlotte being escorted from the building by security to avoid any further conflict. I wondered if all of this drama, including a match with Nia Jax that briefly became a legitimate scuffle on live TV, might be a way to her to force her way into a release and potentially join Andrade in AEW? As I wrote at the time, Charlotte is one of the most protected and featured performers on the WWE roster so she really doesn’t have any reason to complain about her spot in the company. Granted, it appeared like most of the opportunities she was given earlier in her career was based more on her last name than anything else, but there’s no doubt that she was evolved as a competitor to become a polished pro in the industry.

As we saw at Survivor Series, Charlotte vs. Becky was physical, but remained professional and they had the best match on the card, albeit a rather bland show.

A few months ago, Ric Flair requested and was granted his release from the WWE, prompting speculation that he wanted to accept a big money offer from Tony Khan to join All Elite Wrestling. A few weeks later, the Dark Side of the Ring episode that covered the infamous plane ride from Europe in 2002 aired, and a stewardess accused Flair of trying to force himself on her, which Flair has denied. Regardless, the optics of the situation didn’t look good, and outside of a settlement between the flight staff and the WWE at the time, it just depends on what story you want to believe. Obviously, if Flair tried to force himself on a staff member then he’s a scum bag, but it’s important to note that he wasn’t subject to an investigation so it really is a he said/she said situation.

The aftermath saw his signature “woo!” edited off of the WWE TV intro and car insurance commercials that featured him were taken off the air. The negative publicity saw any potential deal with All Elite off the table for any time in the foreseeable future, and despite what he said on his new podcast, I absolutely think that Flair was in talks with AEW, which is the reason he initially requested a release from his WWE contract. As far as I know, the WWE deal he had allowed him to work outside projects like the autograph circuit and commercials that were a regular part of his schedule. It appears like the WWE contract paid him a downside amount so that the company could have him on the books for when they wanted to use him on television. At 72, if Flair can make top money from Tony Khan then he should take it, but to attempt to claim that his WWE release wasn’t a path to bigger money outside of the WWE banner is foolish.

As we’ve seen at various points since his WWE retirement in 2008, for whatever reason, Flair flip flops on his status with the company, depending on his specific circumstances. In a rather odd series of tweets, Flair claimed that WWE is trying to erase his legacy, and that they have refused to return two of his championship belts. In a really disappointing situation that doesn’t need to be completely repeated here, Flair asked for his WWE release in 2008 after his retirement to pursue more money upfront from outside vendors through the autograph circuit and appearances to make alimony payments. At the time, Flair inked a deal with merchandise website, High Spots for his first shoot interview and the rights to be the vendor of his autograph sessions. Flair also asked for a loan from the organization and put up the NWA Heavyweight title from his heyday as collateral. It turns out Flair didn’t actually own the belt because he already put it up as collateral for another loan. Flair also signed and was paid in advance for a series of appearances for the still independently-owned Ring Of Honor, but didn’t make the appearances before he signed with TNA in 2010. At one point, Flair had lawsuits against him for breach of contract from both High Spots and ROH. As he mentioned on the most recent episode of his “Wooo Nation Uncensored” podcast, Triple H bought the NWA title from Flair for $50,000 to help him get the debts paid involved with the belt. Flair went on to say that the WWF title that he won at the Royal Rumble in 1992 was gifted to him because the company planned to replace the title. It’s unclear if Triple H bought the WWF title at the same time of the NWA title or how it relates to the situation.

Flair claims he wants his belts back, and as I said, I haven’t heard anything about Flair with a WWF title in his possession previously, but as far as the NWA belt, it’s not Flair’s belt if he willingly sold it to Triple H. Flair was paid for it because he needed the money, and it’s rather ridiculous for him to ask for something back that he doesn’t own.

Flair’s odd gripes with the company continued when he complained about Becky Lynch’s response to comments he made about the Becky/Charlotte hostility. Flair complained he “made nothing” from “The Man” trademark that he sold to WWE in 2019 and that Becky “made millions from it.” A screenshot of a report that Flair sold the trademark was included in the tweet. Obviously, Flair contradicted himself because if he sold the trademark to the company then he made money from it.

Flair outside of the WWE umbrella is a little concerning because he isn’t involved in as nearly as much controversy when he’s under WWE contract. Flair has a history of making some rather outlandish comments, and a weekly podcast where he can talk unfiltered might not be the best choice for his public image. For example, on the Steve Austin show several years ago, Flair claimed that he was in Puerto Rico the night that Bruiser Brody was murdered by Jose Gonzalez, but match results from the era show that he wrestled at The Great American Bash tour that night.

That being said, I think all of this with the sudden complains about the belts and the trademark are just ways for Flair to get publicity for his podcast. He talked about it at length on episode two and you still don’t hear a clear answer as to why these complaints have surfaced now or any explanation about how his trademark was violated if he already acknowledged that he sold it to the company before he signed his most recent WWE deal. He said in episode two that he made more money from the first episode than he did his first year wrestling so obviously, he has a financial interest to get listeners for the show.

Make no mistake about it, Ric Flair is one of the greatest to put on a pair of boots and finally, he’s getting the pop culture recognition he deserves that somehow eluded him in his heyday, but it’s disappointing that at his age, he’s still involved in controversies rather than enjoying his legacy. Again, I’m not sure a podcast is the best choice for Flair, but if he’s making money with it then it makes sense. Mark Madden, despite his on-air persona based on pro wrestling, is a really good guy so hopefully, he can he Flair on the rails. When the dust settles from the Dark Side of the Ring controversy, I wouldn’t be surprised if Flair surfaces in AEW, but the whole situation is a rather bizarre way for him to conclude his WWE career.

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

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

E mail drwrestlingallpro@yahoo.com | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta