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August 4, 2008

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.”

Posted by Kevin Eck at 4:09 AM | | Comments (9)
        

Comments

I don't understand why the WWE couldn't just put Flair on a Legends' contract that lets him do indy appearances, but makes it so he is still aligned with the company.

Jerry Lawler works indy events all the time.

Good points Kev, but I must quibble a bit with one of them:

I'm always leery of when media types tell an athlete to stay retired. Who are we to tell someone that they can or cannot do something? By virtue of the fact that he wrestled until he was nearly 60, it is safe to say that Flair loved wrestling. If he wants to keep doing it, and someone pays him to, then by all means, Naitch, keep knife-chopping guys.

That being said, his best days are behind him (that match with Vince in March was brutal), but I still think a good worker like Kurt Angle, Christian Cage or AJ Styles could bring out the best in Flair.

Keep up the good work Kev, regardless of whether Jack in Hebron approves.

I was really disappointed when I found that out earlier today. I'm sure it will be great for him to be able to tour but it's not the same to me. I missed 95% of his WWE tenure (stopped watching from 01 to Jan 08; wasn't a fan in the early 90's) already so when he retired while I understood entirely, I figured at least he could keep making appearances etc. Now I won't even get that. My memories will forever now be doomed to only see live his run with WCW. Hopefully, I will be able to see him do something if goes around the indies.

Jeff Jarrett is still alive? I had no idea. Seriously. I love your occasional column, but this is the first time I checked out your blog. Love it. Thanks.

This seems similar to the Brett Favre situation. The WWE doesn't really want him anymore, but they don't want anyone else to have him either.

The Naitch should be allowed to attend autograph signings and functions like the NWA Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, where he can be around his true fans. Let's face it, the Naitch in the WWF/WWE never seemed right (early 90's and recent run). He wasn't a McMahon creation, so he was never allowed to truly flourish.

I wonder how long it will take Vince to can Double A now? The horsemen should reunite and give Vince and old-fashioned parking lot beatdown.

There is one scenario where I would want Flair to wrestle again, a final match/fued with Sting. I was saying back when they were building his retirement angle that Sting should be the one to put him down, and that WWE should try to work something out with TNA to make it happen. I would love seeing them go toe to toe one last time.

If he didn't damage his legacy by wrestling 15 years past his prime, I fail to see how a return to action could do much harm. Still, I understand his desire to go out and pursue more lucrative ventures and not be bound by the WWE's rigidity. Obviously TNA should jump all over this opportunity, as just having him being associated with the company increases its credibility. I have to wonder how much of this is influenced by Naitch's legendary (in a bad way) money management skills, which I'm pretty sure you're already away of Kevin.

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: One can certainly argue the point that Flair shold have retired years before he did. I just think it would be a shame for him to come back and ruin the greatest sendoff any wrestler has ever gotten. The HOF induction on a Saturday, wrestling his final match at WrestleMania on a Sunday and getting a farewell ceremony on a Monday. To me, coming back would cheapen all of that.

You're an idiot. Flair still wrestles better than most people two times younger than him and to have him wrestle in TNA would be GREAT!

Kev , did Jake just call you an id..... ?
That's sacrilegious !

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: That's OK. I can take it.

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About Kevin Eck
The Baltimore Sun's Kevin Eck blogs about professional wrestling.
E-mail Kevin.
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