As a professional wrestling fan, that was a sound that we all know. It was the call of “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. But even as a lifelong wrestling fan, I had no idea about some of the twists and turns that happened in the life of the man known as the “limousine-riding, jet-flying, kiss-stealing, wheeling-dealing, son of a gun.”
The new documentary of the life of Ric Flair dropped today on Peacock and it was as sensational as it was shocking. Set around interviews from Tom Rinaldi, Ric Flair talked about the ups and downs he had over the years as one of the greatest to ever lace up a pair of boots.
We weren’t in the doc more than a few minutes and my jaw dropped. When Rinaldi asked Flair was his birth name was, I was expecting him to say “Richard Fliehr” but instead he said “Fred Phillips.” My jaw dropped open. He said he did not know that until three years ago. Turned out that Ric Flair started life in an orphanage and that he may have been stolen from the hospital as a baby as a black market baby. Unbelievable.
Then the doc went through every major event in the life of Ric Flair, from the plane crash he survived that led to him sustaining a broken back, to being struck by lightning, to the death of his son Reid, to his near death experience from drinking.
And of course, they focused on his career in the world of professional wrestling, from his time under Verne Gagne in the AWA to his days as NWA and WCW Champion and his time in the WWE.
One of the main themes of the documentary was how the real life Richard Fliehr had disappeared inside the character of Ric Flair and how even Ric himself was unsure of who Richard Fliehr was.
It detailed a lot about the lack of confidence issues he dealt with later in his life around the profession that he had been thriving in for decades. It is fascinating to see Ric Flair speaking as if he had no confidence in himself while everyone interviewed spoke of him as the greatest of all time.
They interviewed multiple individuals about Flair, not just contemporaries of his, but other big time names. We heard from Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Charlotte Flair, Booker T, Eric Bischoff, JJ Dillion, Hulk Hogan, Lex Lugar, Sting, Dave Bautista, as well as Mike Tyson, Stephen A. Smith and Post Malone.
Some of the most emotional moments of the doc came when discussing the overdose death of Reid Fliehr, Ric’s youngest son. They spoke to the entire Fliehr family and the heartbreak was clear. When Ashley “Charlotte” Fliehr spoke about her brother, whom she had broken into the wrestling business with and she said she felt guilty at times because she was living Reid’s dream, it was heartbreaking.
The loss of Reid was a triggering factor in Ric Flair’s near death from drinking. Somehow Flair survived the bout, despite being given a 15% chance of survival, but he continues to drink. I’m not sure what kind of a picture that paints of Ric Flair, but it was a moment that I found disturbing.
There did feel like the early days as NWA/WCW champion was brushed through quicker than I would have liked, though I understand that you are looking at a long career for a great performer and something had to be brushed through. They mention it, but it just did not feel as if they focused enough about it.
Ric Flair is mor than just a character. He is more than just a persona. He is a legend and, no matter what you may think of him, Woooooo! Becoming Ric Flair is a powerful and intriguing look at a man and his identity.