Ric Flair’s departure from WWE
The rocky business relationship between Ric Flair and WWE has taken another sudden turn. WWE announced on its Web site late last night that the company and Flair had mutually agreed to part ways, confirming what had been reported by several wrestling Web sites hours earlier.
It also was reported that Flair’s representatives have informed promoters that he is now available to be booked for appearances without having to go through WWE. WWE recently vetoed several appearances for Flair, including one at the Maryland Championship Wrestling show in Dundalk a couple weeks ago.
Flair’s abrupt exit from WWE comes just four months after the WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony was built around him, and his retirement match against Shawn Michaels arguably stole the show at WrestleMania XXIV. When his 35-year in-ring career ended, Flair, 59, began working as an ambassador for WWE, a role he said that he enjoyed and one he seemingly could have had for as long as he wanted it.
Judging by WWE’s use of Flair in current and upcoming projects, it’s obvious that the company wasn’t expecting to lose him. Not only had Flair just recently started doing a video feature on wwe.com called Stylin’ & Profilin’ with Ric Flair, but his career is scheduled to be celebrated all next month on WWE 24/7 and Flair is a panelist on the next Legends of Wrestling show on the same channel.
At this point, it is unclear if Flair’s frustration over not being allowed to pursue certain business opportunities is the main reason for him leaving WWE. One can speculate that he might have desired more of an on-camera presence, as he had only made a couple of cameo appearances on WWE television since retiring. Another contributing factor could be that Flair’s short-lived finance company went out of business last month.
It’s difficult to predict exactly where things are headed. I suppose there is a chance that Flair and WWE could repair their fractured relationship, as they have done in the past. Last September, Flair reportedly gave WWE his notice due to being unhappy with his diminished role, but eventually things were worked out and the story line of Flair having to retire if he lost a match was green-lighted.
There also is the possibility that TNA will make a play for “The Nature Boy.” Flair would probably feel right at home surrounded by former WCW colleagues such as Sting, Booker T., Kevin Nash, Jeff Jarrett, Scott Steiner and Vince Russo. Well, maybe not Steiner and Russo. Or perhaps Flair will not align himself with either company. If your name is Ric Flair, appearing at independent shows, fan conventions and signing shows is a lucrative business.
One thing I definitely don’t want to see is Flair tarnishing his legacy by putting the tights back on. As the song says, “Leave the Memories Alone.”