At Sixty, He’s Still The Man

Mark Madden

Is Ric Flair going to wrestle on RAW Monday?

No. Flair’s return to the ring has been teased, even made to seem inevitable. But WWE and Vince McMahon, for some reason, want to make Flair’s retirement the only one in wrestling history that sticks.

Actually, I think I know the reason(s).

*When a 60-year-old outperforms stars half his age, it’s not good for the overall perception of the product. Then again, it’s also not good when the owner’s decidedly ordinary-looking son beats up several major players at a time, but I digress.

*Flair isn’t a WWE creation. It’s why the company has put a drag on his heat many times before. It’s probably a factor now, too.

*Shawn Michaels wants Flair’s retirement match to have credibility so his own retirement match next year has credibility.

WWE can still use Flair occasionally in a non-wrestling role, and it will spike the ratings (as witnessed by this week’s .3 increase).

WWE isn’t the only place Flair can work, though he shouldn’t actually wrestle in ROH or pursue employment with TNA. Wrestling for either of those promotions would give the impression he’d been “sent to the minors.” Don’t believe me. Ask Kurt Angle or Mick Foley.

It’s being reported that Flair has been offered a lucrative tour of Europe. That’s a viable option. Flair would undoubtedly get a rapturous welcome on a continent where he hasn’t been overexposed, where he’s equal parts myth and man, where wrestling fans haven’t been jaded by an abundance of product. Witness the commotion Ultimate Warrior caused in Spain last year.

If that’s the route he chooses, my advice to Flair is:

*Get every single penny up front.

*Don’t use a “name” opponent. You don’t need to. The fans will be there to see you, period. Get a foe that is A) a good worker and B) able and willing to make you look good. Get a veteran that buys into your legacy, like Sean Waltman. Get a younger guy like Trevor Murdoch who looks and works old school. Boy, what a training ground a tour like this could be for Richie Steamboat.

*Win every night. That’s what everyone will be paying to see.

My personal choice for an opponent would be Waltman. He’s clean and sober, he’s a great performer, and he’s a Flair fan. Doing well on a tour like this might be his ticket back to the big time.

Flair will face some criticism if he comes back, even if it’s exclusive to overseas.

But why should Flair be the only wrestler that honors the “sanctity” of his retirement? A significant number of people will pay to see him. The ONLY reason to retire is when that’s not true anymore. (That being the case, shouldn’t 95 percent of TNA’s roster retire?)

It doesn’t matter if McMahon is mad. It doesn’t matter if Michaels is mad. Flair should do whatever his heart and bankbook dictate.

At 60, Flair is still better in-ring than 80 percent of the WWE’s current roster. Left to his own devices, he’s a better promo than all of ‘em. If Babe Ruth never stopped hitting home runs, they’d have paid him to keep playing until he dropped dead.

Ric Flair is Babe Ruth. Can he still hit home runs? He did last year at WrestleMania. The return of an aging superstar slugger would be welcome during an era rendered flaccid by way too many bushers, not nearly enough true big-leaguers.

 

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