Badseed's Bottomline Supplemental #12
To Be the Man
Written By: Ric Flair with Keith Elliot Greenberg
Published By: World Wrestling Entertainment
This Article Was Republished With the Permission of YBFREE.com
When I first started watching wrestling, I did not know the NWA from a whole in the wall. Other federations were good, but everything paled in comparison to the WWF. Then, I was lucky enough to catch NWA on television twice a week and I enjoyed it because of stars like the Road Warriors, Arn and Ole Anderson, Dusty Rhodes, Magnum T.A., Nikita Koloff, Tully Blanchard and of course the Nature Boy Ric Flair, who I was supposed to hate, but ended up making me enjoy the NWA even more than the WWF! The NWA felt more real and Ric Flair was as real as they got.
Flair was already a three-time champion when I started watching NWA and has since held the World Title 13 or 16 (depending on your count). Flair brought a level of excitement to wrestling that was unparalleled at the time. His brilliant promos and his ability to make even a prelim bum like Ricky Santana look like a superstar made him a worthy ring general. With the exception of Roddy Piper, Flair was the only bad guy worthy of cheering.
To Be the Man is a wonderful look back at the career of Ric Flair, starting with an unknown tale about how Flair was actually kidnapped in a baby theft scam. Taken from his birth mother, who was told he was dead, Flair was adopted by a loving couple, who he still deeply loves. Flair discussed his early childhood years, struggling with what was probably ADHD, to loosing his virginity at 14. What he could not apply himself at school, he applied to women and there are interesting stories there that did not stop because he was married…twice. Eventually, Flair realized the damage he had done and made a commitment to be a great husband and father.
From his start in the AWA, to the WWE, and when everyone (including Ric Flair) thought his career was over Flair provided one tantalizing tale after another of success, heartbreak, friendship and betrayal. We learn about the plane crash that almost took Flair out of wrestling before he ever won his first World Title. There was even a time when Flair actually looked up to Dusty Rhodes before their eventual falling out.
Flair even discussed the tension between himself and Eric Bischoff and the altercation when Bischoff debuted with WWE. Flair explains why he resents Hulk Hogan and how Hogan tried to bury Flair in their matches. He even goes into detail about the brutal unscripted whipping of his son, David Flair in a storyline that Flair had to cooperate with while he was handcuffed to the ring ropes.
Flair not one to be shy in the insult department made several strong accusations that were nothing short of controversial. Flair claimed that Bret Hart used Owen Hart’s death to push his own agenda with Vince McMahon. He even criticized Hart’s wrestling ability, which surprised me, because I have always admired Bret Hart’s matches and his work ethic. Flair also claimed Kerry Von Erich, who he beat for the world title, was so drugged out at times that Flair would even have to perform some of Kerry’s moves for him. It was also clear from To Be the Man that Flair does not respect Sid Vicious. But he never elaborated on why he allowed him into the Four Horsemen , nor does he talk too much about Barry Windham and why he never gave up the belt to him.
One of the most controversial comments Flair made questions Mick Foley as a wrestler, which I felt was clearly unfounded. Flair stated Foley could never compete for greatness if he was not a part of the WWE machine. I remember how great Foley was in WCW, ECW, before the WWE. Ask Austin, Rock, HBK, Undertaker or HHH, even Randy Orton, about how grateful they are for the matches with Foley that helped them in their careers. Foley helped make champions. He delivered some of the most memorable matches of our time. I think Flair’s comments are in response to Foley’s remarks in Mick Foley: Have a Nice Day on his booking practices. Truly Flair'scomment was in poor taste, but it was quickly washed away with all the other great stories like how the NWA World Title changed hands in an unscripted moment out of Flair’s fear for his life during a Caribbean tour. There were also great stories about the respect Flair has for Ricky Steamboat, Sting, The Undertaker, HHH (who he mentors), and the McMahon Family, who he states have gone above and beyond to make Flair feel like the legend he is. Comments from other stars show just why Flair is in a league by himself and how no one could ever match his greatness no matter how many world titles they win.
To Be the Man is the story of a wrestler who started out with nothing, worked his way up the ladder, partied hard, loved beyond his means, overcame obstacles, and still does it in the ring every Monday night for the fans. Space Mountain may be the oldest ride in the park, but it still has the longest line. He is the man and this is his story. Whoo!!!
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