TV Review: 30 For 30: Nature Boy Ric Flair
Updated: May 27, 2019
‘Widely considered the greatest wrestler of all time, ESPN focuses on one of the most gifted and celebrated professional wrestlers of all time, Ric Flair. A unique journey documenting his peaks, valleys and longevity in the wrestling business. ‘
So recently ESPN released their 30 on 30 episode dedicated to Ric Flair ‘The Nature Boy’ and I don't normally watch these types of shows. I will watch a select few of the WWE 365’s or specials on people but when it's outside of WWE I typically will not watch them but this one is dealing with ‘The Nature Boy’ so I couldn't pass it up. It would be interesting to see what they discuss especially with his recent health issues as of late.
Now the interview was conducted by Rory Karpf who has won a number of Emmy’s and also a Peabody award so there is some credibility to it and should be solid from start to finish. There were a lot of little cameos by other wrestlers like Hogan, Sting, The Undertaker who apparently made coffee and snack for the interview crew when they visited him for his part in the interview. As well the interview was composed of two separate interviews done with Flair about 16 months apart.
Rory was also quoted as saying “People say some tough things but, to his credit, he accepted it all. He didn’t ask for anything to be changed. He was very proud that he was the first wrestler, the only wrestler, to have an ESPN ’30 for 30′ done on him.”
The interview starts off about his childhood and being adopted and his adopted family and the strained relationship he had with them at an early age and when he went to boarding school where he got involved in sports and lead to him meeting Greg Gagne who brought him to his dad’s wrestling camp.
It moves to the time when Ric tried to actually quit wrestling and Vern tracked him down gave him a good smack and dragged him back to the school knowing that he had the ‘It’ factor. They move on to his beginnings and not knowing anything and his early days and then to his injury from the plane crash where he broke his back which laid him up for some time.
They bring up his escapades on the road and speak to his first two wives about him being on the road and not being there for the family. How he tended to buy gifts for them as opposed to giving them his time which is what they wanted. A couple of articles go on to talking about how this glorifies his sexual misconduct and I can potentially see what they mean I didn't get any glorification of it especially when they talk to the kids and wives. It shows the consequences and backlash of his escapades so I'm not exactly sure how that glorifies it in any way. Ric doesn't deny any of it and at this point in his life he appears to be genuinely sad what effect it had on his kids.
They get to talking about Dusty and he praises him for some time as well as Steamboat which is mutual. The surprise in fact was Hogan admitting that Flair was ten times better than he ever was. Also how Flair couldn't have left WCW earlier because it would have affected a lot more lives than his own. They bring up the Wrestlemania retirement match which always brings a tear to my eye especially the close up on HBK when he says ‘I'm sorry I love you’
They bring up a time when he visits a sports psychologist and in a humorous angle got the shrink on the couch after what Ric told him how much he drank daily and was still alive to tell the tale. Ric even brings up the idea that he has constantly thought how he was still alive after everything he has been through. Frankly after listening to this I wonder the same thing. Now he wasn't always the most in shape guy especially later in his career but after everything his put his body through knowing that. It was damned impressive.
They briefly touch on his return to the rib in TNA. I almost wish they would have brought up the Jay Lethal impression because I think it's a classic moment late in his career but it's also a pretty long clip. But then they bring up Charlotte and Reid from his 2nd wife and at that point I will warn you prepare to get out the tissues because it tugs on the heartstrings quite a bit.
The last bit discusses how Reid wanted to live the life and took up wrestling and passed away at a young age due to the issues he was going through and how Charlotte kept her promise to him and got into wrestling for him. They kept trying to bring Reid in before he passed away but kept failing the wellness tests and Ric kept lying to himself about it. The bad news came in late 2013 when he was found in his hotel room dead. Ric fell on hard times yet again and was in a drunken stupor for pretty much the next year.
I think honestly if it wasn't for Charlotte carrying on Reid's dream that Ric probably wouldn't be with us to this very day. The powers above certainly gave him a damned good scare recently. The wrestling community came out in droves among various social media platforms and some thought that was the last that we had seen of the the Nature Boy. I wasn’t sure at the time but I am glad that he has pulled through and we can still get the odd appearance of the Nature Boy from time to time just like at the end of Charlotte’s recent title win.
The documentary flowed very well and I was entertained by the stories told of Ric’s early days . Equally saddened by the latter stories about Reid and his passing and the toll it took on the Nature Boy. This special takes you on an a solid emotional roller coaster and answers some of the questions that I am sure some of the public was looking to find out perhaps not all of them but some of the blanks are filled by Rory’s line of questioning.
4.5 out of 5 Beards
I will leave a couple of other Rory Karpf quotes that I managed to find on this particular interview that I liked as well
“I thought always thought Ric Flair would be a great subject because he’s relevant today. What wrestlers can you say from that era are quotes today in rap songs and athletes are doing their chants? They’re wearing Ric Flair cleats at NFL games. I pitched (ESPN) on (the idea that) we could explore why he was relevant and why athletes revered him and why wrestling could be and should be looked at as a sport, and they were game by that point.”
“I think Ric, on one hand, he has an indescribable charm almost like a little kid with his hand in the cookie jar. At the same time, if you’re very selfish and lived your life a certain way, there’s ramifications. Two of his closest friends in wrestling are Shawn Michaels and Triple H, but they say some hard truths in the film. Triple H calls him a consummate liar. Shawn Michaels says the ‘Nature Boy’ is just a myth. For me, hearing those people say it carries so much more weight.”