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Is Professional Wrestling Legend Ric Flair Becoming a Real-Life Randy the Ram?
August 26, 2011 12:50 AM   Subscribe

While Hulk Hogan may have been professional wrestling's biggest box office star of the past generation, from a critical standpoint, Ric Flair is widely regarded as the most talented wrestler of the modern era in terms of actual in-ring ability, as well as being known as one of the best promo men (the ability to give entertaining interviews promoting upcoming matches) in the history of the business. In recent years, however, Flair's legacy has been tarnished, with his name more likely to be making news for any number of embarrassing out of the ring incidents and dire financial situation as for his in-ring exploits, to the point where comparisons to Randy “The Ram” Robinson are not out of place. Grantland explores Ric Flair's fall from grace in "The Wrestler in Real Life".
posted by The Gooch (39 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Man, I have this terrible to watch Suburban Commando now...
posted by Chekhovian at 12:53 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ric Flair has been physically attacked by at least three of his four wives.

In a 2005 divorce case with Elizabeth Harrell — wife no. 2 — Flair's lawyers detailed their accusations. "On more than one occasion," they wrote, "Plaintiff (Beth) has assaulted the Defendant (Flair), striking him about the head and body in an effort to provoke him into a physical confrontation."

In 2009, Flair filed a criminal complaint against Tiffany Vandemark — wife no. 3 — whom he accused of "hitting him in the face with a phone charger."

And in 2010, Flair and his current wife, Jacqueline Beams, returned to their Charlotte, N.C., home after dinner at the Lodge Restaurant. There, for reasons never made explicit, Jacqueline punched him repeatedly in the face. She was arrested.


Girls, you can't be the first, but you can be next.
posted by three blind mice at 12:58 AM on August 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Grantland.com is good journalism. I hope they thrive.
posted by flippant at 1:05 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is a terrible name, though.
posted by lumensimus at 1:07 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Girls, you can't be the first, but you can be next.

Domestic abuse: hilarious when women do it!
posted by rodgerd at 1:15 AM on August 26, 2011 [10 favorites]


lumensimus: I agree, but when or if (relatively) nonsensical names become household ones, whether or not they're terrible becomes moot.
posted by flippant at 1:18 AM on August 26, 2011


Domestic abuse: hilarious when women do it!

You you want to be The Man, you have to beat The Man.
posted by three blind mice at 1:23 AM on August 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


Before I read any of these bound-to-be-depressing articles, I'd just like to give a hearty "WHOOOOOOO!" for the Naycha Boy.
posted by ShutterBun at 1:24 AM on August 26, 2011 [13 favorites]


I read this earlier (and had thought about posting it, because yeah, Grantland has some good stuff). It's pretty bleak, and a bit mind boggling at the same time. Evidently, the man just doesn't believe in paying bills, showing up to court when sued over the same bills, or paying taxes. And somehow, he's still spending thousands of dollars a month on travel and restaurants. He's making something like $22k a month from TNA (though that varies) of which a good chunk goes to alimony, debt, and back taxes, and he's still spending himself into a hole. He should, by all means, have been retired for years, but he's broke, so he keeps wrestling. I wouldn't be shocked at this point to hear that he had died in the ring. Saddened a bit, but not shocked.
posted by Ghidorah at 1:32 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ouch. A great read, but man, he's no longer one of the Four Horsemen...he's up against 'em.
posted by ShutterBun at 1:52 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


The next to last link directs back to Metafilter. Great post though, thanks!
posted by waitingtoderail at 2:35 AM on August 26, 2011


The actual second-to-last link is for The Wrestler (which seems more and more relevant each time one of these stories comes out.
posted by ShutterBun at 2:41 AM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is pro wrestling. That Ric Flair is still alive is an amazing accomplishment.
posted by Yakuman at 3:02 AM on August 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


That Ric Flair is still alive is an amazing accomplishment.

Space Mountain may be the oldest ride in the park, but it still has the longest line.
posted by three blind mice at 3:45 AM on August 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


Woooooo!
posted by hal_c_on at 3:49 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


*throws jacket to the ground, drops and elbow on it*
posted by pyrex at 4:15 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Comparing Ric to Hulk reveals exactly why NWA was so superior (in wrestling and in entertainment value) to the WWF.

WOOOOO!!!
posted by Rykey at 4:29 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Flair and his current wife, Jacqueline Beams, returned to their Charlotte, N.C., home after dinner at the Lodge Restaurant.

Yeah, if you ever want to see Ric Flair, you can stop by The Lodge just about any night of the week. While you're there say hi to my husband, who'll be sitting at the other end of the bar.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 5:13 AM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Something about that grantland piece was distasteful to me, can't quite put a finger on it. Maybe I'm misremembering, but it seemed like 95-100% of it, including all the quotes, were pulled from court records. And aside for him saying Flair declined to talk there wasn't much mention of him seeking out other people involved either. When the whole premise of the piece is "hey, remember that guy you used to like? His life is all fucked up and sad now," it seems to me cowardly not to confront the people whose fuckups you're going to be reviewing in 5,000 words of excruciating detail. They have their side of things and it's your responsibility to include it, or at least show you tried. Ex wives, coaches, wwf promoters...didn't see much from any of them. I wouldn't quite describe writing this piece the way he did as unethical, but it still seems shitty.
posted by Diablevert at 5:28 AM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


As a minor fan of WWE, who's been watching Monday Night Raw for years - Flair became a massive annoyance on the show ages before they finally let him go. Old, slow, embarrassing to watch, coasting on his name and reputation alone. For years I kept wishing someone would work up to the guts to tell him it was time to hang it up. I can fully believe it was really a combination of no one willing to tell him that - and his inability to listen even if they had.

At least Stone Cold Steve Austin seems to be keeping his dignity in retirement.
posted by dnash at 5:32 AM on August 26, 2011


I read this article yesterday, and by the time I got to the end, I was skimming, not because I was uninterested, but because it was just too painful. Here's a guy who was on top of the world--certainly the pay he's making now with TNA is peanuts compared to what he pulled in for years with the WWF (though maybe not with NWA)--and he just frittered it the fuck away. It kills.

I happened to catch the first few minutes of TNA Impact a couple months ago, and all I saw was washed-up talent: some guys who made the megabucks--Hogan, Flair--and some who probably earned a pretty good living--the Dudleys, the Hardys--but none of whom seemed particularly capable of putting on a good show anymore. It was, frankly, depressing.

It's a story that's become a trope at this point, and what's the solution? A guy like Flair, who really seems to have no money sense at all, was probably a lost cause from Day One. But anybody else, the guys making good-but-not-great money, who wind up with life-altering injuries, who wind up working through the pain, doped to the gills... can they be "saved?" Is McMachon just too powerful, too vindictive, too shrewd for these guys to (ever) organize, to help themselves?
posted by uncleozzy at 5:35 AM on August 26, 2011


Can't this guy declare bankrupcy and be done with it?
posted by amazingstill at 7:03 AM on August 26, 2011


Ric Flair: The Saddest Story in Pro Wrestling
posted by Trurl at 7:04 AM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I always found him gross. I was more of a Macho Man type of girl. But now he's dead so...moving on.
posted by stormpooper at 7:12 AM on August 26, 2011


As a minor fan of WWE, who's been watching Monday Night Raw for years - Flair became a massive annoyance on the show ages before they finally let him go. Old, slow, embarrassing to watch, coasting on his name and reputation alone.

I only caught his last year with them. Naturally, he wasn't what he once was. But great performing artists are capable of expressiveness even after their physical abilities go into eclipse. - i.e. the late recordings of Billie Holiday. No one could sell the agony of leg punishment like Flair. And the crowds adored him. His "farewell" match against Michaels at Wrestlemania was not just entertaining; it was moving. It would have been a magnificent end to a legendary career.

I am going to continue pretending that it was.
posted by Trurl at 7:28 AM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've always had mixed feelings about Flair. He strikes me as someone who learned his mic skills and crowd-baiting in rings without TV, where he had to be bigger than life to sell the persona. On TV, especially as ECW and other promotions began to challenge the sequins-and-flash style with blood and hardcore, Flair started to feel too big for the room (even when the room was a huge sports arena). His ring persona didn't alter to match the new trends.

Other guys managed that - I'm thinking particularly of Hogan when he joined WCW's New World Order. In the years when NWO, Degeneration X, and ECW brought us guys like Mick Foley, the Dudleys and the Hardys etc., Flair seemed out of place. I don't ever remember seeing a kid wearing a Flair shirt.
posted by catlet at 7:44 AM on August 26, 2011


Can't this guy declare bankrupcy and be done with it?

Not really. There's no way he'd meet the means test for a Chapter 7. And a Chapter 13 would require a credible repayment plan acceptable to the court (pretty hard to see how that happens given his long track record), plus wouldn't even address his biggest problems, back taxes and enormous alimony and child support. He's pretty screwed. It could probably be done, if he were willing to make major, major life changes, which is the whole point, he isn't willing or capable.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:06 AM on August 26, 2011


> And somehow, he's still spending thousands of dollars a month on travel and restaurants. He's making something like $22k a month from TNA (though that varies) of which a good chunk goes to alimony, debt, and back taxes, and he's still spending himself into a hole. He should, by all means, have been retired for years, but he's broke, so he keeps wrestling. I wouldn't be shocked at this point to hear that he had died in the ring. Saddened a bit, but not shocked.

If you changed the words "in the ring" to "onstage," this could be about Elvis in the '70s.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:20 AM on August 26, 2011


I'm sorry to disagree with the post, but no one beat Macho Man for in-ring technique and promos. Sorry, but it's not even close.

OHHHH YEAH!!!
posted by Fister Roboto at 8:23 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sad story. I've been a wrestling fan since the 80's and while I was never really a fan of Flair - I sometimes enjoyed watching him, and think he was an interesting tv personality.

This article highlights so many problems with fame, money, and our perverted value system.

The first thing that stuns me is that the pro wrestlers on tv wrestling get these egos and personaes so grossly out of step with their actual financial means. Flair DID make a lot of money wrestling, and if he'd been content with a house in the suburbs, grilling meat on the deck, and driving a modest sports car he'd still have millions and be able to have a pretty comfortable lifestyle signing autographs and meeting people at comic book conventions or independent wrestling events. Wrestling is a job. Why do so many of them try to live their gimmick? Flair was a worker... just a working stiff, not an heiress like Paris Hilton or an industrialist like Richard Branson and he tried to look like them. What hurt Flair was spending so lavishly, and grossly out of proportion to what a near-senior citizen working as a professional athlete should expect to draw.

I'm also stunned by the investment/insurance salesman Flair dealt with. Wow. That guy is a financial terrorist. Is the U.S. financial system really that unregulated? Is that guy in jail? Couldn't a man with Flair's resources find ONE trustworthy accountant, lawyer or business partner. Some wrestlers like Jesse Ventura seem to do pretty well.

I mean clearly Flair is not an angel, but it was a pretty sick system that drove him in some crazy directions and never managed to help set him on the straight and narrow.
posted by Intrepid at 8:48 AM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


When my buddy Mike and I would ride our bikes to see Star Wars at the $1 theater, we'd always go by Flair's house. Sometimes he'd be out mowing the lawn and stuff, and we'd wave, and he'd wave back. Then he moved to a ritzier neighborhood, right across the street from Black Jack Mulligan, his bitter rival, and they'd have cookouts and play street football with the kids--I know this because Mulligan's son had been in my class the previous year. (I also carpooled with the Super Destroyer's daughter, and Baron von Raschke used to come to our band concerts)
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:59 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


The appeal of Ric Flair was not so much in his workrate, (which declined precipitously starting in the 90's) but in the defiant, old school nature of his gimmick/ring persona. While tje rest of the wrestling world was changing in the 80's & 90's, Flair steadfastly refused to disavow the "sequins & tights" era of classic wrestling of the 50's & 60's. And while I'll always remain transfixed by sheer weirdness of Macho Man's promos, NOTHING can even come close to the sego and bombast of a Naytcha Boy promo. Even in the over the top, high spot era of wrestling in the 90's and 2000's, Ric Flair could make all that feel small

It's a shame that his life is so f'd up, and yes, Vince McMahon is the devil and OMG! Steroids! and all that, but its hard for me to feel that sorry for Flair. Just flat out ignoring court dates and walking away from his debts all the time? The tragedy of Ric Flair is largely one of his own creation. Sounds like he has a hard time separating Ric Flair from Rick Fleihr.
posted by KingEdRa at 9:52 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm just happy his legacy has left us the 'Whoooo!' screamed out by all the fans in various hockey arenas after the home team scores a goal.
posted by mannequito at 11:32 AM on August 26, 2011


Well...at least he wasn't at the Gathering of the Juggalos?

That's all I got.
posted by ostranenie at 12:40 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Diablevert, I think I know what you mean--the sheer numbing detail of "he owes this guy this much, and that guy that much" reminds me of Wired, Bob Woodward's book about John Belushi, in which he mentions every single freaking time that Belushi bought cocaine in the week or so before he died. Yeah, Bob, we kind of got the idea that Belushi did a lot of drugs because, you know, he died of an overdose of them. This thing is similar; the article that Trurl links to above may be a bit amateurishly written (and, in general, the site looks a bit like a pro-wrestling version of LOLCats), but at least it's empathetic.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:55 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder if Flair has the same low-level repeated head trauma problems that seem to be screwing up the lives of linebackers.
posted by Decimask at 3:42 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a minor fan of WWE, who's been watching Monday Night Raw for years - Flair became a massive annoyance on the show ages before they finally let him go.

They didn't let him go.

After his "retirement" match at Wrestlemania 25, they gave him one of the big send-offs they do for top talents. Though in his case it was significantly expanded with all sorts of cavalcade. Vince then transitioned him into an "ambassadorial" role, where he flew around, did PR, and took zero bumps, for $500k per year. It was basically a "job for life" out of respect for his contributions to the business and because they did not want Flair to do exactly he is doing now. An honest-to-god pension in a business where that rarely happens.

But Flair wanted to earn more and control his dates. He hasn't been particularly good at either.
posted by parliboy at 3:47 PM on August 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Hey guys!! You think Vince McMahon hasn't suffered? You have any idea how many funerals he's had to go to? Jet fuel is not free. And the cost of multiple PR teams to handle all the bad press? Have you ever spent ten minutes with someone in public relations?

Oh, and you think erasing the entire history, mention, significance, and contributions of arguably the hardest working and best wrestler in the world--Chris Benoit--who happened to kill his family partly as a result of his refusal to stop working or decades of untreated concussions? You guys have any idea how hard it is to ERASE someone?

So selfish you guys.
posted by cbates76 at 10:36 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


For a story that (to me) seemed maybe a bit closer to Randy The Ram's own, look no further than Beyond The Mat, in particular, the scenes revolving around Jake The Snake Roberts. Eerily similar.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:13 AM on August 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


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