Even at age 56, Ric Flair can still steal the show.
That became evident once again on this week’s Monday Night Raw when Flair turned back the clock with another outstanding outing.
This time, a bloody Flair lost to World Wrestling Entertainment champion Adam “Edge” Copeland in the first “TLC” (tables, ladders and chairs) match of his 34-year grappling career.
WWE’s placement of the Flair-Copeland bout in Raw’s main event with the show airing opposite a live Ultimate Fighting Championships special on Spike TV shows how much trust the promotion has in the “Nature Boy.”
“I just feel bad that I’m not real good climbing ladders,” a laughing Flair said Wednesday in a telephone interview. “That’s one of the dramatic parts of the match, but I don’t know if it came off that way because I had never done that before. I’ve been through tables before, but not always with that kind of impact.”
Flair’s performance is further proof that he is back in the groove that made him the greatest grappler in wrestling history. Flair said a recent feud with Paul “Triple H” Levesque shook him out of a funk that had continued to linger from the late 1990s in his final years with World Championship Wrestling.
“I just feel like I’ve got my self-confidence back,” said Flair, whose battles with depression are documented in his 2004 autobiography “To Be The Man.” “I’ve dealt with that for a while now. The thing with (Levesque) got me over the edge. I feel a lot better now than when I first came to work in WWE. I feel I have a lot more value to the company.”
Flair’s work inside the ring also helps him temporarily forget about his problems outside of it. Flair, whose real name is Richard Fliehr, was arrested in November after being charged following an alleged road rage incident in his hometown of Charlotte, N.C. Unflattering allegations made against Flair by his wife Beth in divorce proceedings then surfaced in the media.
Flair said he is rolling with the punches, even with WWE mentioning his arrest and divorce as part of his storyline feud with Copeland.
“I really don’t mind,” Flair said. “Actually, the divorce is the best thing that has happened to me regardless of how much it’s going to cost me.”
Now that his program with Copeland is winding down, Flair said he doesn’t have a preference about his next feud. Flair said he would like more interview time on Raw but understands why WWE has recently given the microphone to younger talent that isn’t nearly as established.
“WWE just has to decide what exactly they want to do with me,” Flair said.
“I think (Levesque) and I had arguably the two best matches on the past two pay-per-view (shows), but the next day (WWE) is pushing John Cena because he’s younger and they have to sell merchandise.
“As long as (WWE) let’s me do stuff around my kids’ schedule, I don’t mind working. In fact, I’m better when I’m working on a regular basis. I’m happy being with WWE and the money they’re paying me. It’s a good deal.”
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Q: Whatever happened to Barry O?
_ Taha Jamil, Las Vegas.
A: The brother of “Cowboy” Bob Orton and uncle of WWE Smackdown champion Randy Orton, Barry O (real name Barry Orton) is best known in wrestling for alleging sexual misconduct among WWE front office employees in the early 1990s. Now going by the stage name Barrymore Barlow, the 47-year-old Orton shifted from wrestling to acting after a lengthy battle with drug abuse and has directed a movie about methamphetamine addiction (“Tweak the Heat”) that he hopes to release later this year.
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