A ‘flair’ for the theatrics

New documentary highlights the daring life of wrestler Ric Flair


Photo courtesy of ESPN.com

Story by Nick Mitchell, staff writer

“WOOO!” The unmistakable call of the Nature Boy, Ric Flair, is etched into the minds of Americans everywhere. Whether you are 6 or 60, there’s no doubt you’ve heard of the greatest wrestler of all time. ESPN’s renowned documentary series, “30 for 30” explores the fantastic lifestyle and legacy of Ric Flair in their latest installment.

Flair’s interesting childhood is the first topic of the film. He was adopted by a quiet family by the last name of Fliehr. Flair grew up in Wisconsin, playing football and track but took a special interest in wrestling.

Flair enrolled in college at the University of Minnesota where he partied and drank with fraternities every week. Flair’s disinterest in classes led him to drop out of college and pursue his love of wrestling. This was a disheartening part of the film, which wrongly glorified Flair’s sexual misconduct and drinking habits. The angle the producers took was unjust in this aspect.

He entered a wrestling camp held by Verne Gagne, expecting to excel due to his athletic abilities. However, the camp proved to be quite a challenge. I found their routine grotesque and unnecessary, but its results paid off. Gagne forced the participants to run up and down 21 flights of stairs like firemen, carrying a person on their back while doing so. After that, they would walk up the stairs in their hands while someone held theirs legs. Many had bruises covering their faces due to their muscles giving out.

Flair was so fed up with the difficulty of the training that he left. Gagne tracked Flair down to his house and slapped him. Flair immediately went back to training.

The extreme difficulty of Flair’s training paid off, and he joined the American Wrestling Association. There he truly became who we know Flair as today.

Flair grew up in Wisconsin, playing football and track but took a special interest in wrestling.”

— Mitchell

“I was a Rolex wearin’, diamond ring wearin’, kiss stealin’, wheelin’ dealin’, limousine ridin’, jet flyin’ son of a gun,” Flair said on his past life.

However, not everything was as happy as it seemed for Flair. He was unfaithful to his wife and had an affair with many women. Flair himself claimed to have had an affair with over 10,000 women. I found this unbelievable, and it seems to be another time the show glorified Flair’s habits.

Flair touches on one of his biggest motivations to become successful in the documentary: a near-death plane crash in 1975. Flair broke three vertebrae during the crash, but this only drove him to fight harder for his success.

By the end of Flair’s illustrious and wild career, things were headed for the worse. Flair’s tipping point was the death of his son in 2015. The documentary showed never-before-seen recordings of Flair’s 911 call after his son overdosed. There is no mighty wrestler in this call, just a broken father who wants to save his son. This was a touching and dark part of the film, a much needed escape from the alcohol-filled escapades of Flair.

Overall, the documentary highlights a different side of Flair’s life. It proved its point of telling the tragedy of Flair’s life. Flair apologized for breaking his family and for his awful habits. However, the film glorified Flair’s childish behavior and bad habits. It did not condemn his habits for the evil they truly are. In spite of this, hearts will still be broken and tears will be shed by watching this fantastic documentary.