Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How Ric Flair WOOOOOOO-ed Me

As a child, I ate my vitamins and said my prayers, to be like Hulk Hogan. Now that I am a full-grown adult, I strut around and yell WOOOOOOO, to be like The Man.

Growing up, Ric Flair was a second thought. Hulkamania was still running wild, although scandal and mediocrity was creeping into the WWF universe. WCW, in my mind, was a second-tier outfit, and for all I knew, they had to change their name from NWA to prevent a lawsuit with Ice Cube and Eazy-E. Flair’s boatload of titles didn’t impress me, either; Joe Montana had four Super Bowl rings and I still hated him.

Years and years passed, and no matter how hard The Hulkster tried to soil his reputation as my favorite non-Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat wrestler, he was still The Real American. Hogan Knows Best, Mr. Nanny, Thunder In Paradise and his ill-fated spaghetti restaurant, “Pastamania”, did nothing but further endear myself to Mr. Terry Bollea. No messy divorce, steroid scandal, or “Fingerpoke of Doom” could push Hulk Hogan off my Mount Rushmore of Awesome.

No, in order for Hulk Hogan to cede his rightful position as The Coolest Professional Wrestler of All Time, a more flamboyant man would have to beat him.

That man would be one Richard Morgan Fliehr, who years before he became a wrestling superstar, was left on an abandoned doorstep as a baby and survived a horrific plane crash early in his career. Instead of fighting Andre The Giant and The Ultimate Warrior, Flair had to deal with guys such as Harley Race, Dusty Rhodes, and a poor-man’s Tom Selleck wannabe by the name of Magnum T.A. And before Rhodes, Rowdy Roddy Piper and Ricky Steamboat joined the WWF (and before Flair briefly did himself), they all battled Flair, either with Mid-Atlantic Wrestling or Georgia/World Championship Wrestling.

What are the differences between Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan, you might ask? Why, Tom, they are both old men in their late fifties or early sixties, gallavanting in their underwear decades after they should have retired. Why Tom, both of Flair and Hogan stole their acts from previous generations of professional wrestlers. Why Tom, both of them have severe financial and domestic issues, especially Flair. Why Tom, the only difference I see between the two are that Ric Flair’s moobs are sagging just a bit more!!!

Okay, okay. But Ric Flair had and still has one thing Hulk Hogan tried to have but never fully wielded: SWAGGER. Flair could make everything he did, everywhere he went seem like the coolest place to be. I kinda sorta like the Carolina Hurricanes, solely because Ric Flair is such a big fan, and if I ever had the opportunity to purchase a ticket from the North Carolina Education Lottery, I would just because of the commercials Ric did that I saw on YouTube. In fact, I dare you to log onto YouTube, type in the name “Ric Flair” and not waste at least two hours watching Ric Flair being the most likable Yuppie this side of Gordon Gekko.

Hell, I’m swaggering a little as I type this, by the very nature of the Nature Boy’s spirit. Wrestling is a choreographed sport, but like any Broadway musical, fancy-shmancy dancing is not everything; you’ve gotta have ZAZZ. You have to be the cock-of-the-walk. No matter how much it hurts, you have to go out there every night and pretend that it matters, pretend that your personality on the ring is exactly the way of live your life, even though countless hours of travel and rehabilitation await you.

It’s hard to be a living superhero, like Hulk Hogan, when you know all those kids will eventually lose at least some of their respect for you. But for Slick Ric, he never had our respect in the first place, and in that way he was free to be the wheelin’ dealin’ son-of-a-gun that could possess the machismo to seduce any woman, and the brawn to defeat any man. Ric Flair could even pull off wearing elaborate gowns and bleach blonde hair. Flair had and continues to have the flamboyance of Liberace and the animal magnetism of Alan Rickman.

Forget about putting Ric Flair on my Mount Rushmore of Awesome. Space Mountain is a monument onto himself.

1 comment:

  1. There were certainly wrestling fans that I recall at my school in the late eighties, but I could never get into it. I found the idea of muscle-bound men acting tough in their underwear to be super weird. And yet I read things like Batman, and he is a muscle-bound man in his underwear too, so what's up with that?

    During Marchmania I've been trying to pinpoint why wrestling repels me whereas I can have fun with other stupid things. And I think that ultimately I like intelligent characters. I have a great admiration for intelligence, and I don't see a lot of behind the eyes of most of these wrestling heroes. I think it's why I also dislike sports. Did I mention that Batman is a scientist?