"The Nature Boy" Ric Flair: the sixteen-time World Heavyweight Champion — and a limousine-riding, jet-flying, wheelin' dealin' kiss-stealin' - WOOOOO! - son - of - a - gun!In the "sport" of Professional Wrestling, there are wrestlers, there are superstars, there are legends... and then there's Ric Flair (real name Richard Morgan Fliehr, born in 1949). With a career spanning four decades (starting in 1972), 22 World Heavyweight Title reigns (10 NWA, 8 WCW, 2 WWE and 2 "WCW International" World Heavyweight), legendary matches and feuds with some of the biggest names in the business, and a retirement sendoff that will likely never be duplicated in either scope or emotional impact on the fans, Flair is one of the most famous professional wrestlers who has ever lived, and is arguably one of the three biggest performers in the history of the industry (the other two being Hulk Hogan and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin).For an in-depth look at his career, go check the article on him at That Other Wiki.
"Whether you like them or whether you don't, learn to love 'em, because they're the best tropes going today. Woo!":
At an NWA TV taping in 1986, Flair, Ole, and Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, and manager JJ Dillon were placed in an impromptu interview spot together due to time constraints. The four wrestlers had been working as something akin to a Power Stable before this, but then Arn said "The only time this much havoc had been wreaked by this few a number of people, you need to go all the way back to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse!" during the interview; just weeks later, fans were carrying "Four Horsemen" signs to NWA events. The name stuck, and the Four Horsemen went on to become arguably the most successful and powerful stable in pro wrestling (until the New World Order came along).
WWE would try and duplicate this with Evolution and the Authority but neither ever took off with the fans, so they had to start telling them what the groups were called.
Badass in a Nice Suit: He really loved his suits. Also, this was "Evolution's" gimmick in a nutshell. They gang up on people and they wear suits.
Badass Normal: Unlike some of his most famous opponents, he didn't possess super-strength (Luger, Sting, Hogan) or fly off the top much (Steamboat, Sting.) He instead was just the greatest wrestler of his era.
Blood Is the New Black: Whole hospital refrigerators could be filled with the bags of blood Ric Flair has bled over the course of his career. One of the most common images of him is with his hair dyed solid red and his face a red mask.
Calling Your Attacks: Flair would often telegraph his figure-four leglock by exclaiming, "Now, we go to school!" Some of his best opponents, such as Bret Hart, were Genre Savvy enough to reverse when he did that, though.
Casualty in the Ring: According to popular opinion, and apparently his own desire, his most likely ultimate fate.
Catch Phrase: A ton. Being in the business for four decades tends to allow you that luxury. Among his most famous:
"To be the man (WOOO!), you gotta beat the man!"
"Time to go to school!" (usually just prior to whooping somebody's ass)
"What's CAUSin' all this?"
"...limousine-riding, jet-flying, stylin', profilin', whiskey drinking, wheelin' dealin' kiss-stealin' son of a gun!"
The Chew Toy: Being the Champ so much, and primarily a heel who went out of his way to make people hate him, inevitably led to having a LOT of guys lining up to beat up Flair. In Inside Wrestling's "100 Greatest Wrestlers of the Century" special issue from Summer 2000, the photos for Jerry Lawler, Lex Luger, Roddy Piper, Ricky Steamboat and Sting are all of them battling Flair. Sting and Luger are also included in the "Best of the 1990s" special color section, and the photos for them are also of them beating on Flair. The photo for Flair is of him about to chop Rick Steiner, who, as per his usual for many of his opponents, doesn't look to interested in selling it.
Chick Magnet: Oh, so much. He's famous for his ability to draw women for years and years.
Flair turned on Sting more times than almost humanly possible. He turned on Vader, Mr. Perfect, Randy Orton, Batista, and even turned on fellow Horsemen Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko, in a way, with his David-centric behavior. Perhaps the most triumphant example of this trope, though, was during the 1992 Royal Rumble, when he gave The Barbarian a high-five, circled around in front of him and immediately gave him a knife-edge chop. Raised to funny by commentator Bobby Heenan, who had previously managed Barbarian, pleading with Ric not to turn on Barbarian.
Cool Old Guy: Later in his career, all his dirty cheating and condescending ways had given way to nostalgia, meaning he no longer got booed except when he was associated with guys like Triple H or Hulk Hogan. Notably, he got cheered in the ECW arena after calling the promotion a "glorified stunt show".
Flair and Hulk Hogan's characters being friends for the Immortal scam.
Defiant to the End: Ric's final WrestleMania match. Facing a mandate that he would be fired the next time he lost, Ric specifically chose to face Shawn Michaels, Mr. WrestleMania, because if he didn't face the best then it didn't mean anything. At the end of the match, Flair (legitimately, if tales are to be believed) had trouble even standing and holding his fists up, telling Shawn to "Come on! Pull the trigger!" He knew it was his last match, and it would end in nothing short of an epic climax.
The "Flair Flop", in which Flair would get hit a few times, stagger forward, then fall flat on his face while his legs went back and up in the air a bit. As time when on his opponents would often back off to watch the inevitable flop. Some would even visibly geek out over the spectacle.
Fighting Dirty: Flair was a master of this. He wasn't given the nickname "The Dirtiest Player in the Game" for nothing. Thumbs to the eye and kicks to the groin were among his favorite illegal tactics.
Nearly died in a serious plane crash in 1975 and broke his back in three places. He was told he'd never wrestle again. However after exhaustive comprehensive rehab, he returned to the ring six months later.
Flair would use chop blocks, kicks, ANYTHING that would weaken an opponent's legs and/or knees to soften them up for the Figure Four.
Genre Blindness: Crossed with an inversion and literalization of Heel Face Door Slam: Spent much of July and August 1997 trying to recruit Curt Hennig for the Four Horsemen, with Hennig finally agreeing after Arn Anderson's "I'll give you my spot" promo on the August 25 WCW Monday Nitro. At WCW Fall Brawl 97 on September 14, the NWO (Kevin Nash/Syxx [Sean Waltman]/Buff Bagwell/Konnan) defeated the Horsemen (Flair/Hennig/Chris Benoit/Steve "Mongo" McMichael) in War Games when Mongo submitted after Hennig had turned heel, handcuffed Benoit and Mongo to the cage and finished the job by literally slamming the cage door on Flair's head. What makes this genre blindness is that Hennig had already proven two months earlier that he couldn't be trusted when he turned on Diamond Dallas Page in their match against Scott Hall and Randy Savage at Bash at the Beach. On top of that, earlier at Fall Brawl, the NWO had attacked Hennig, and he had shown up for the match with a cast on his arm. This was a recycling of the angle from the October 21, 1996 Raw, where Triple H had "injured" Mr. Perfect prior to what was supposed to be Perfect's return to the ring after a three-year absence, leading to Perfect essentially suckering in WWE Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion "Wildman" Marc Mero into defending his title, since Helmsley had said that he wouldn't wrestle Mero unless the title was on the line. Helmsley won the match and the title after Perfect turned on Mero and hit him with a chair.
GodAm I: In TNA, he literally thinks that he is the wrestling form of God. Not a god. God.
Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Due to being on TBS in prime time on November 27, 1986, the worst threat Flair could throw at Nikita Koloff during their Starrcade match was, "Now I'm gonna kick your butt, you son of a gun!"
Happily Adopted: Flair was part of a "black market" baby brokerage scheme based out of the infamous Tennessee Children's Home society; he doesn't definitively know his birth name or the names of his biological parents.
Insult Backfire: The widespread "Woo" after using one of Flair's moves used to be a Take That devised by Shane Douglas. It later became an endearing Shout-Out and is guaranteed to be heard whenever a wrestler chops an opponent in the corner.
Keet: As AJ Styles intimated, Ric Flair may be older than him but acts younger. He would talk about Flair going to be later than him, getting up earlier, partying all night and still finding time of the gym while on the road.
If he rips off his pants, like he did on the December 28, 1998 Nitro in a promo where he demanded a rematch against Bischoff after Bischoff beat him the night before at Starrcade, RUN!
Like a Son to Me: In TNA he has AJ Styles and Kazarian, who even got into a fight for Ric's love until he decided to make them a part of Fourtune, where he was a Team Dad of sorts for about eight months.
Motive Decay: Betraying Fortune for Immortal caused this big time for his role in TNA, both in-universe and out. In-universe he betrayed his own plans to both finally defeat Hogan once and for all and to remake the Horsemen with TNA homegrown talent and proved it was all about the power for him. Out-of-universe he seemed to float around with no purpose, as there wasn't exactly much potential to elevate amongst the Immortal ranks, what with the one young rising star in Gunner being lost in the shuffle up until 2012. He was such an ineffectual member with Immortal that people were speculating he was being a Reverse Mole to help either Fortune or Sting with taking out Hogan, but this never materialized.
No Indoor Voice: Ric Flair speaks a hitherto unknown language communicated through woos and pelvic thrusts.
Pixellation: When Flair brought his NWA/WCW World Heavyweight Championship belt to the WWF, it ended up being shown as a mess of pixels due to legal reasons, and it was explained that Flair's NWA Title was not sanctioned by the WWF...The full story here is that Flair, like every NWA champion, had put down a $25,000 deposit on the belt. Since he kept winning, his deposit was never returned. When he was fired/resigned from WCW (without having been made to drop the title), the deposit was never returned, so Ric kept the belt and took it with him to WWF. WCW filed a lawsuit which led to the censoring of the NWA/WCW belt and Ric wearing what looked like a WWF tag title at house shows. In the end, WWF simply put their own world title on him. WCW later reacquired the belt from Flair for a hefty $38,000.
The Plan/Massive Multiplayer Scam: Let's just say it was the Perfect Plan. In the weeks leading up to theWWF/E World Heavyweight ChampionRandy Savage vs.Ultimate WarriorSummerSlam 1992 match , Ric Flair and Mr. Perfect teased being in one of their corners. During the match, the two liberally attacked Savage and the Warrior, leaving more doubt into their (and the fans') heads. Warrior won the match by count out, but not the title. A few weeks later, Flair beat a weakened Macho Man for his second WWF Championship.
WCW audiences proved how much this trope works via their sabotaging the Lex Luger vs. Barry Windham main event of The Great American Bash 1991; the crowd chanted "We want Flair!" practically non-stop during the match, in protest of Flair being fired from WCW.
This wasn't just sabotaging the main event; the crowd sat on its hands in protest for the entire undercard, resulting in just about everyone half-assing their matches, before launching into the deafening "We want Flair!" chants during the main event, which were loud enough to be heard despite WCW cutting the crowd microphones; they were even picked up on the ring and announcer mics. And all this when Flair had been the most hated heel in the company going into the pay-per-view!
The Pornomancer: His "nature boy" gimmick, basically Hugh Hefner on speed. In his younger days, Flair's trash talk would invariably end in promises to steal his opponents' girlfriends.
The Four Horsemen in the NWA/WCW; Evolution in WWE.
To wit: The Horsemen were arguably the most famous and popular stable in wrestling history up until the rise of the nWo, and at the height of Evolution's success, all four members simultaneously held every men's title exclusive to Raw.
In TNA, he started Fourtune, basically a new-generation Four Horsemen of TNA Originals who for a while were the top heels in the company, delivering Horsemen-style beatdowns to everyone on the roster.
Ring Oldies: Wrestled his first match in the AWA in December of 1972. He retired from full-time competition from the WWE in a grandiose sendoff angle in March 2008 at the age of 59, but continued to wrestle part-time for TNA and other indie promotions until officially announcing his retirement in December 2012 at 63, almost exactly forty years after his debut.
Rule of Cool: Okay, those chops really do hurt but why bother when you can just punch a guy instead? Because the chop makes a louder noise, WOOO! To that matter, why keep using the figure four leg lock when it has an obvious counter and never won you a single of your sixteen titles? Because it looks cool, WOOO!
Played straight a few times, and sort-of averted after his retirement following WrestleMania 24; while he has yet to wrestle another match in America, he wrestled against Hulk Hogan during Hogan's 2009 tour of Australia. He has also wrestled on Impact! now and while this, especially coupled with his absolute Tearjerker of a sendoff at WWE, naturally created a Broken Base, he definitely showed everyone that he's still got what it takes to work the match and the crowd.
He has apparently retired for real as of late 2012, announcing that he had no plans to ever get back into the ring, citing the heart attack suffered by Jerry Lawler a few months earlier as driving home the dangers of even a physically fit man of his age continuing to subject himself to in-ring competition.
Theatrics Of Pain: If Flair wanted you to believe he was in pain, he would make you believe it.
Underwear of Power: For all that talk about his money and expensive clothing, this is all he wrestles in.
Wrestling Family: His sons, David, known for his time in WCW from 1999 until the end, and Reid, who competed primarily in the North Carolina area and All Japan Pro Wrestling before dying on March 29, 2013, of what has since been determined to have been an accidental overdose of heroin and other drugs. Flair's daughter, Ashley, is in WWE NXT as Charlotte.note Ric is billed from Charlotte, NC.