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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Ric Flair Does Not Need To Retire
August 29, 2005 by Jacob Kuhn


Why did he come back" After a couple of 'retirements' he made his way back into the sport. Everyone was worried about him tarnishing his legacy as the greatest of all time. Shouldn't he have gone out while he was on top" In his returns, he wasn't the man that he was in his prime. The fans and journalists were all saying it was a mistake. Despite all of that, however, Michael Jordan made his return to basketball as a player for two years with the Washington Wizards.

Now, while this article is not about Michael Jordan, I feel it's an important comparison to be made. Before anyone jumps all over me, I am not putting Ric Flair in the same category as Jordan. There are very few athletes in the world who are in the class that the six time NBA Champion is. Still, there are some similarities.

While he has never been the most popular wrestler in the sport, Ric Flair has undoubtedly been one of the most influential. Many consider him the greatest wrestler of all time, including myself. If Hulk Hogan can be compared with Babe Ruth, then I think this is a more valid representation. Flair doesn't have the fame and name recognition of Jordan, but in terms of ability and performance, he is Professional Wrestling's equivalent. Jordan, however, stopped playing basketball when he was fifteen years younger than Flair is now.

So, at fifty-six years of age, shouldn't Ric Flair hang up the boots"

It's something that I hear from a lot of wrestling fans. There is nothing new about it, however. People have been saying it for over fifteen years or longer. As a fan, I have even said it once or twice myself. Flair should retire and keep his legacy as intact as possible, right"

Not only should Flair not retire, but also he is currently doing nothing to tarnish his legacy. In fact, the "Nature Boy" is adding onto that legacy.

Hear me out before I get 1000 responses telling me that I am insane. Don't tell me that Flair is not the caliber of wrestler that he used to be. I know that. Don't tell me it sickens you how he appears to be Triple H's boot lackey. I see that too. Also, don't say how Flair hasn't held a World Title since May of 2000. I pay attention. Please, don't send emails saying how rarely Flair wins a match. I watch all of his bouts.

How then is Flair adding to his legacy, despite all of these things"

He's doing it because of these facts, not despite them. At only five years Flair's junior, Hulk Hogan still thinks he deserves to be the top wrestler in the world. He thinks that by beating everyone as he clunks around the ring adds to his status as 'immortal.' While I agree that Hogan has been an important and integral person to this sport, he fails to realize what Flair has realized. His day is over.

One of the things that has made Flair great throughout the years is his humility in the ring. Yes, his character has always been brash and cocky. That has rarely translated into his matches, though. Flair has always put over the wrestler he faces in the ring. He has gone up against some of the worst wrestlers in history and made them look better than they could have ever done themselves. In his heyday, he was always able to put on an equally impressive offensive performance. Now that Flair knows he is no longer the top tier World Champion that he once was, he continues to do his job to make others look good.

Perhaps Flair is being a little selfish in that most of his promotion is steered towards Triple H. Not even "The Game" can toot his own horn the way Flair does it for him. But even when he is telling everyone how great Triple H is, he stills gets into the ring and makes his 'enemies' look good.

Hulk Hogan, on the other hand, doesn't believe that he should ever lose a match. He has stated it plainly in his biography that he doesn't understand why wrestling promotions try to put over other wrestlers when they already have him as an established star. With every new match following the same routine for the past twenty years, he is adding absolutely nothing new to the sport. Also, he practically has no flexibility and stumbles around the ring like a man twenty years older than he is. Yet, legions of fans keep chanting for him to have "one more match" over and over again.

Whether these are the same people who are calling for Flair's retirement, I don't know. As a fan of wrestling for twenty-five years, I know that those who like Hogan don't tend to like Flair and vice versa. But, this logic fails me because I can't understand how Hogan should be encouraged to continue and Flair be dogged to retire.

Although a shadow of his former self, Flair is still a capable athlete. He can't do a lot of the moves that made him famous, but that hasn't kept him from adapting. Nowadays he makes his cheating more obvious, and although he always does that move where he gets caught on the top turnbuckle, I always find myself cheering when he delivers that anticipated low blow to his opponent. Most importantly, Flair can still move. Unlike many men younger than him-Hogan, Kevin Nash, Randy Savage-Ric Flair still has flexibility and doesn't look like he can't walk much less wrestle. Also, when he wants to, Flair can still put on an impressive match. We need to look back no further than his steel cage match with Randy Orton at Taboo Tuesday to realize he can still put on a killer performance every now and then. He didn't need to be carried by Orton; the way Shawn Michaels carried Hogan at Summerslam.

But this article isn't a Hogan/Flair contrast. While the idea appeals to me, it's not the direction I wanted to go here. That's a debate that will probably go on for a very long time.

To me, Ric Flair can remain in wrestling for the same reason that Michael Jordan was entitled to play basketball again. Even with diminished skills, Jordan's contribution to basketball was so great that he had every right to play it as long as he was enjoying himself. He earned that through many years of hard work. No, it wasn't as fun seeing him play as in his many years in Chicago, but he didn't need to make his decision to make the fans happy. He had already done that for a long time.

The same is true with Flair. He did so much for Pro Wrestling and entertained so many people for so long that he deserves to stay in the sport as long as he is having fun. If that's an itch that he needs to scratch, Ric Flair has earned the right to scratch. His contributions, past and present, are undeniable. Most importantly, by using this stage of his career to put over other wrestlers, Flair is carrying himself the same way he did in the many years he spent as World Heavyweight Champion: with dignity, respect and class.

by Jacob Kuhn ..


Dave Hansen wrote:
Jacob, the issue that you have brought up does indeed apply to every sport. The older guys in every area of athleticism are constantly hounded with questions about their retirement. Not only Hogan and Flair in the world of pro wrestling, but look back at Emmit Smith in the last days of his career on the Cardinals, Johnny Unitas with the Chargers, John Stockton with the Utah Jazz....hell, even time-tested musicial groups like The Rolling Stones, and Aerosmith. Everyone dogs people like that for contiuning on past their prime, but really...why shouldn't they" The bottom line is, if you're still enjoying what you do, and you're still making good money doing it, why the hell should you quit" I mean, I don't want to see guys like Hogan and Flair in the main event above guys like Angle, Benoit, Cena, and Batista anymore than the next guy, but if people are still chanting their names and paying good money to see them...then who am I to argue with that" Anyone who watches Flair every week on RAW-- whether he be trading verbal jabs with Carlito, or choking someone out with his jacket when the ref isn't looking--can not deny that he's obviously still enjoying the hell out of himself. And the fans still love him. Flair could do nothing on RAW except stick his head out of the back and wave, and the fans would all still jump up and go "WOOOOO!" So why should he stop" Fans clamor for old guys to retire because they're only thinking about their own entertainment, and what they feel is in the best interests of the program. But when you consider that it's these guys lives and careers you're talking about, how can you tell him that he "must retire"" If I'm 56 years old, and I still love going out there every week, and the fans still chant my name and cheer for me, and I'm still making great money...I'm not going to stop no matter what some ranting internet people say! And when it comes to "tarnishing his legacy," well, that's a bunch of crap. Can anyone honestly say that if Flair came out wearing a chicken suit next monday and got the crap beaten out of him by Candice Michelle, they would like his classic battles with Ricky Steamboat from the 80s any less" You'll still love his old stuff every bit as much. I don't know about you, but I don't care how many crappy sequels to any of my favorite movies come out, I don't let them ruin my opinion of the original. WOOOOOOOOO!
Dev Hasan wrote:
Okay...you put down Hulk Hogan cause he was "carried" by Shawn Michaels. Im not going to comment on that cause I didnt see the match and I ain't the type of person who would go "that match would suck" before seeing it.

Triple H you talk about fair enough, I love The Game's gimmick and everything he does but there is one man who Ric Flair could just simply NOT out-wrestle.

The man who he couldent out-wrestle, is simply and probley the best there is, the best there was, the best there ever would be.....hint hint.

Now Im going to get alot of "Ric Flair fans" come to me and tell me Flair carried Bret....Bret's matches never stank. Bret didn't do the same boring stuff Flair did in his "prime" climb up the turnbuckle and do one of his stupid drops then get hit by 20 stiff right hands and just do one of the most un-funny and un-entertaining drops in the history of wrestling (In my opinion of course)

If any of you are real people and not the same kiss each other asses people, you would of seen the World Title match between Bret and Flair.....OH WAIT! JUST!! so I can get this clear Flair was in his "PRIME" cause he was the WWF Champion then. Hart just out-wrestled him easily as that. And you could see Flair was getting stressed out about it in the match, no wonder he hates Bret so much and bashs Bret's skills, anyone who says Bret's wrestling is crap, is a total dumbass.

I could name you alot of Bret's matches that I DID SAW and let me tell you this...I DID SEE with my very two eyes to see he was the greatest. HBK vs Bret, Bulldog vs Bret, Taker vs Bret, Bret vs Benoit, etc, etc where better matches then of any I saw of Flairs.

If you all go on about something that happened 20 years ago a match you HEARD not saw with your very own eyes that was "a classic" then your just another b.s guy with a b.s story just like those other Flair fan's I caught out loads of times, when they never actually witnessed the match, they just heard what other fans heard or saw.

As for Orton carrying Flair, Orton can't carry anyone yet, he isnt even experinsed yet, Benoit had to carry Orton at Summerslam and not even Benoit made him look good as Randy did 2 moves to win the match (trust me, I counted)

Flair doing the "moves" he did back then, yet again, let me just move back to the Flair vs Bret match, the only move Flair did in that match was a damn suplex and Bret must of used his whole arsenal of moves and his excellent technical abilitys. And no...it wasnt the ONLY Ric Flair match I saw, I saw enough of them in WCW. Just bring out your exuses, please.
JimmiMack wrote:
i believe that ric flair's days as the wwe champion or world champion are well and truly over but i still believe that he deserves to be something like ic champion...
Randall Flagg wrote:
Ehh, I'm torn on this one. Flair isn't the "wrestler" he used to be. He's got that gut going, you can sometimes catch him looking lost in the ring, and it's hard to suspend your belief long enough to expect a near-60 year old man to be competitive with someone half his age and in much better shape.

On the other hand, he's as good on the mic as ever (tis sad he's mostly used to sing Toucan Sam's praise though), and if you overlook his few shortcomings, his matches are still entertaining. And the Flair Flop is the absolute best non-offensive move the business has ever seen.

If he'd hit the gym a bit more and firmed up the flab, I'd say let him wrestle as long as he wants. Maybe even give him one last clean World title win, as a Thank-You for his 30-odd years of excellence. But even if/when he retires, Vince HAS to find some on-screen time for him. Flair would be the perfect heel manager. Just put him a situation similar to Evolution, except keep him out of the ring, and let him handle the mic duties for his boys. He'd be the perfect compliment to some of the younger guys (Shelton Benjamin comes to mind) who can get it done in the ring, but aren't quite stick-friendly. That way he could still take the occasional bump, but specialize in what is now his strong suit.
Angelique wrote:
I am a huge wwe fan and have watched wrestling all my life and my favourite would have to be the Undertaker, he is the one that would have made alot of us wwe fans watch with his amazing talent and career, even though he's getting old don't mean anything, he still got it and if he want's to retire he should but personally i do not want him to retire because he's just so awesome, I wished he beat Orton up at Summerslam Orton looks like an ungrateful person but maybe it's just the way he has to be on screen, but it made sense when i thought about it he's just pushing himself aside and pushing the young superstar up, I respect the Undertaker a hell of alot, he has proven he is a legend, a icon and definately should be a hall of famer. I enjoy watching him everytime he comes on even if he's not there and the lights go out in the ring it just makes me happy seeing him. UNDERTAKER WILL ALWAYS BE THE MAN IN THE WWE HE ROCKS!!!!
David Temrick wrote:
I think one of the things that old school wrestlers like Ric Flair understand is that the future of Wrestling is in the young guys coming up, not the established names. Hulk Hogan in my eyes is one of the first "selfish era" wrestlers. He won't lose to anyone and he's got the name to pull the strings in his favor. In my eyes guys like Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels and now John Cena are the few who are willing to give the young guys a shot at making an impact.

Shawn Michaels can still give great performances, and yet he seems more willing than ever to put over his opponents no matter what he personally feels about them. I know he wasn't always like that, but people do grow up. John Cena is on top at the moment, and yet look at how he was willing to put over Chris Masterson. Granted the "Masterpiece" has the keys to being great someday, he's still very new. Cena is also far from a veteran himself, but here he is putting over Masterson.
Ian Stuart wrote:
Having just read your article on Ric Flair I am in full agreement with you, Ric Flair is one of the greatest ambassodors of the wrestling world and ranks as one of the true greats of the business. Ric has matured like a fine wine, whilst not always being to some peoples taste he is still a fine vintage and an inspiration to many a fan and up and coming wrestler alike. I have been a wrestling fan since the American style was shown on English television some 15 years ago and initially regarded him with contempt for the way he won his matches. However as I have matured as an adult and a wrestling fan who now understands some of the ins and outs of the wrestling business and why matches are one and lost in the manner they are I have come regard Ric Flair as the consumate proffessional and would love to see him lift the title one more time (I know this will never happen). My nephew and niece are 8 and 9 years old and think Ric "is rubbish". I am constantly trying to educate them in the matter and often suffer abuse from their father for being a boring wrestling fan but I wil continue to try until they see the error of their ways.
Jacob Kuhn directed to Dev Hassan:
I don't see how your comments really have anything to do with my article. But, for the record, I have been watching Ric Flair matches for 24 years. That's a lot longer than a lot of wrestling fans have been alive. So yes, I have seen his matches and not just heard about them.

Now, as far as Flair being in his prime when he was WWF (not WWE) Champion, that was hardly the case. Ric Flair was 43 years old when he first won the WWF Championship. Flair's prime was in the 80's, when he wrestled amazing matches against Terry Funk, Ricky Steamboat, Sting, Antonio Inoki, Barry Windham, Carlos Colon, Bob Backlund, Rick Martel and way too many other wrestlers to mention. And if you watch his matches as much as I did and still do, they were hardly routine.

I am a huge Bret Hart fan, and I always will be. My article is about what I think of Ric Flair. It has nothing to do with you drawing a comparison to Bret Hart. And I have the Hart/Flair match on tape and have seen it many times. The match was terrible. Even Flair admits that nowadays and he was wrestling injured. That was the main reason he dropped the title at the time.

But you don't seem to understand what makes Flair great. It's not that he's an awesome offensive wrestler. What makes Flair great is that he can make other wrestlers look good. Sure, Flair has always gotten his butt kicked throughout all of his matches. That's humility and dignity on his part. He's going out of his way to make the other wrestler look better than they are. That's what makes him so great. While other wrestlers are only concerned about how they look in the ring, Flair wants to make the opponent look better.

So, I am sorry you don't get it. But as great as Bret Hart is, he's not Ric Flair. He has not had the impact Flair had. And I make no excuses because I don't have to.
Christopher "MR FN BALLS" Gilmartin wrote:
Hey if Flair has it in him to go give us great matches great, if not I can live with a world where The Nature Boy has become a not only one of the greatest world champs ever, not only one of the greatest heels ever but how about one of the greatest managers ever. He has helped HHH in how many title reigns, and how about Batista and Orton there has to be some influence on their careers. Do I even need to bring up that Jarrett, Sting, Luger and Benoit were all members of the four horsemen" all of them have been World Champs! So what if Flair could take a "RAW" talent (LOL) lets say Tyson Tomko" and he could mold him into a muscle bound Heel Champ, that body with Flair's influence that scary! (HHH scary) Anyway either or I still like to hear a WOOOOOO on WWE TV. To be the man, you have to beat the man. Flair is the man it really doesn't matter how many people have beat him. A true mark of a great heel, he lies to us and were taken in Hook, Line and Sinker.
Dev Hassan wrote:
Towards the author of this. I aint judging your knowledge in wrestling or anything...but I just saw you say Ric basically jobbed to Bret because he was "injured"" he didnt job to Bret because he was injured, the REAL reason Flair jobbed to Bret because once Hulk Hogan left the WWF - Vince had ideas of making Bret his next big superstar and he did. Basically it was Hulk Hogan as the big star back then slowly before the famous Attitude Era it was Bret and basically Vince wanted to move on again like he moved on from Hogan to Bret now he wanted to move onto Stone Cold Steve Austin and of course slowly onto The Rock.
Jacob Kuhn wrote:
Dev, you are correct, Vince McMahon did want Bret to be his next big champion. But the reason that Ric Flair dropped the title to Hart WHEN it was dropped was because he was injured. Flair was definitely going to drop the title to Bret, it just wasn't supposed to happen when it did.

Plus, I did not say Flair dropped the title to Hart BECAUSE of the injury. I am saying the match sucked big time because of Flair's injury. Both Bret Hart and Ric Flair have since said that the match was terrible and it was. Was Flair at his peak performance, then perhaps the match would have been good.

Giving Bret Hart the belt was maybe the smartest thing Vince ever did. Flair was then and still is a fish out of water in WWF/WWE.
david woolley wrote:
i agree with u ric flair has kicked some serious ass and i agree that he is better than hogan he can wrestle better and if he loses a match he doesnt walk out of the wwf in my opininon undertaker , ric flair and bret hart are the 3 best wrestlers in the history of wrestling ive actualy made a webstie about ric flair hes so good
Jeremy McKinzie wrote:
I totally agree with Dev Hasan on October 23, 2005's article that another fan wrote that said Ric Flair doesn't need to retire. Dev said Flair couldn't outwrestle Bret Hart and he wasn't lying! Flair couldn't outwrestle Bret in the past. Trust me I know what I'm talking about, I've seen Bret vs Flair matches including the one which Bret won his first of five WWF titles and from what I saw in that match and many others, Bret carried Ric for the whole match! Bret unfortunaetly has had health problems now but he could still beat Flair in his sleep! Dev, you know what you're talking about bro, which is more than I can say for the author who wrote the article. When was the last time he saw a Ric Flair match! Last time I checked Ric Flair is over 50 years old, hasn't been in a Main Event title match since the TLC with Edge for the WWE title in which was beaten miserably, and the only "moves" Flair has in his aresenal are chops, a chop block, low blows, and eye pokes. Those aren't even wrestling moves! Who couldn't do those" Tell me when was the last time you saw Ric Flair do an actual wrestling move that wasn't a dirty move besides a Figure Four Leg Lock, and he can barely do that! Ric Flair has gone from being a "Main Eventer" at least in Vince McMahon's eyes to a mid carter whose recent rivalries include being against mid-carters like male cheerleaders and a samoan truck, bulldozer or whatever he's supposed to be Umaga. If Ric Flair doesn't need to retire, why doesn't Vince give him a title shot at the WWE title. I'll tell you why. Because Flair's too old, he knows his arsenal is worse than John Cena doing the 5 moves of doom (F-U, ST-FU, Spear, tackle, punches) and despite what Ric Flair die-hards might want to believe, Flair can't wrestle a match without looking like he's going to die. Look back at Wrestlemania 22 when he suffered a suplex from a ladder and hurt his knee. Flair was screaming at the top of his lungs and not to mention when Edge and Randy Orton bashed his brains in a couple of weeks ago with Con-Chairto's, Flair looked like he was going to have a siezure. Flair's the oldest guy on the roster, with no in-ring talent and for goodness sake, he can't cut a promo to save his life. We the WWE fans are getting tired of Wooooooooooooooo on the microphone every week. That's all Ric Flair was ever good for anyway considering the fact that he never had a "prime" of his career because the other wrestlers like Bret Hart carried the man in all his matches and now we are tired of Woooooooooooooo. We are tired of Flair strutting around in a bath robe. We are tired of Flair's stupid promos. We are tired of a senior citizen still trying to wrestle. If Flair wants to stay around and mentor the younger superstars, then by all means go right ahead but do it from backstage and keep him away from the eyesight of the WWE fans. But please, please, I will say this to Vince McMahon, no matter how bad your roster may be right now, no matter how many of your guys are juming to TNA, if you never do anything for the WWE fans again in your natural life, if Flair doesn't want to retire, like you do everyone else just force him to retire or FIRE HIM, like you do everybody else that works, and doesn't work for you (like the audience on RAW you fired a couple of months ago) Case stated above, FLAIR NEEDS TO RETIRE NOW! NOT NEXT YEAR AT WRESTLEMANIA, NOT 10 YEARS FROM NOW, NOT WHEN THE MCMAHON'S GO BANKRUPT, NOT WHEN THE XFL COMES BACK, BUT RIGHT NOW! At least that's one good thing Flair could do in his sad and sorry career.
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