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Primetime belonged to #Ric Flair on Tuesday night, and this time, it wasn’t alongside the late, great Bobby “The Brain” Heenan to talk smack about Hulk Hogan and the late, great Rowdy “Roddy” Piper. (There are entirely too many “late greats” in the business. Being a #Wrestling fan is hard.) The “Nature Boy” had his own “30 for 30” documentary air on ESPN and it snatched the attention from any and everyone who was remotely familiar with the name. The docu-series produced by ESPN Films is highly regarded as one of the best sources for retellings of the most riveting stories in sports. Episodes that focus on a single athlete tend to excite sports fans the most, but the energy surrounding this one was different.

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Ric Flair was larger than life in the 70’s and 80’s. His reputation for being a flashy womanizer that lives a lavish lifestyle was magnetic at a time when pro wrestling was not “fake.” The fans believed that everything happening in the squared circle was actually happening and they believed the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair was who he said he was whether they loved or hated him. As the years went by, wrestling fans became savvier about the inner workings of the choreographed theatrics that make up the world of “sports entertainment.” However, the authenticity of Ric Flair’s character is preserved, and the man is now viewed in a mythical light because as it turns out, he was never playing a role.

Stylin’ and profilin’

“You’re talking to the Rolex wearin’, diamond ring wearin’, kiss stealin’, WOO, wheelin’ dealin’, limousine ridin’, jet flyin’ son of a gun!”

Even though he was spewing such narcissistic jargon, he carried himself in a way that debunked any notion that it was all an act.

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You couldn’t teach the swagger Flair possessed if you tried; it was all him. Stories would make rounds in the industry and eventually, out to the masses. In the ESPN documentary, you hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. From buying his limousine and making a mansion his home, the “Nature Boy” readily details the extravagant lifestyle he once lived. When Flair was asked how many women he has slept with in his life, he answered without hesitation, “Realistically? …. 10,000.” On average, that would be a different woman every night for 27 and a half years, give or take. That’s insane.

“All the women want to be with me, all the men want to be like me.”

Apparently.

The things Ric Flair would say in his promos on TV, he would back up in real life. Some of his remarks were unfavorable, but fans appreciate, in retrospect, the realism he brought to their television sets. His popularity transcends the world of professional wrestling and this “30 for 30” showcases how far his influence has reached.

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Fellow colleagues, artists, TV personalities and athletes share what “The Naitch” means to them. Video clips of football players using his signature catchphrases in pregame huddles and songs in which rappers name-drop him play as they’re speaking. Soon after, the documentary takes a dark turn when his triumphs are plagued with tragedy.

Richard Fliehr is only human

To be the greatest of all time in one field means other fields will be met with incompetence. Ric Flair was on the road all the time, as a majority of entertainers are, especially wrestlers. While his family lived in mansions, they missed out on quality time with him as a husband and father. In 1975, Flair was in a plane crash that broke his back in three places, and he was the lucky one. The pilot later died in the hospital, others suffered multiple injuries, and one was paralyzed from his own bone ramming into a spinal column. That trauma would drive anyone to drink, except Ric Flair already drank excessively. Specifically, he drank ten beers and five mixed drinks every day for 20 years, according to him. He now suffers from a heart condition called “alcoholic cardiomyopathy” from years of alcohol abuse. The “Nature Boy” was real but Richard Fliehr had some serious impediments preventing his personal life from being as great as his career.

Lawsuits and other legal issues are briefly discussed in the documentary but the hardest part to watch of all is his recollection of his son’s death. On March 29, 2013, Reid Fliehr accidentally overdosed on a mixture of heroin, Klonopin, and Xanax with his father by his side. Seeing Ric Flair struggle to explain what happened in that hotel room in Charlotte, NC that day, barely getting his words out, is absolutely heartbreaking. The 911 call was particularly jarring. An audibly desperate Ric can be heard begging for paramedics. The throat lump this portion of the documentary guarantees only becomes more intense. The dejecting story remains a tearjerker but morphs into an inspiring one.

Wrestling runs in the family

Ashley Fliehr, better known as Charlotte Flair, talks about living her little brother Reid’s dream for him. A montage of the similarities between Ric, Reid, and Charlotte in the ring bring out any tears that might have stalled up until that point. For wrestling fans, the story makes you want to root for Charlotte to have the best career she can have. Her timeline in the WWE so far has been nothing short of spectacular. She spearheaded the “Women’s Revolution” with three other amazing talents, and they are dubbed the “Four Horsewomen.” The name was taken from Ric Flair’s stable back in the day, the “Four Horsemen.” The “Women’s Revolution” in wrestling marks a time when the transition was made from women being recruited for their looks and being referred to as “divas” to putting on hard-hitting matches and getting more time to perform on TV, sometimes in the main event.

Charlotte’s importance to the company hasn’t depended on who her father is in a long time. Despite undeniably being her daddy’s little girl, she has already stepped out of Ric Flair’s shadow and made a name for herself in the ring. She claims to be genetically superior to all the women in the locker room, and her athletic ability along with her accolades are proof that she is who she says she is. The montage in the documentary shows how much like her dad and little brother she is and that even though she has an identity of her own, she will keep Reid’s dream alive and “do it with flair.”

Charlotte, her half-sister Megan and her older brother David, who is also a wrestler, are fit to carry on the Flair legacy, but they won’t need to go the extra mile to do so. What Ric Flair accomplished in his career will be a pop culture highlight forever. His limited appearances on TV don't affect how much he is thought of as he continues to be regularly referenced. A “30 for 30” episode only reinvigorated our collective admiration for the “Nature Boy.”

The documentary glosses over so much of his life, and for those who know his story, it feels a bit rushed. At the same time, the moments that are incorporated are significant enough to satisfy any viewer who desired a more in-depth look. The truth is, there’s too much history there to fit in a single presentation. By the end of the episode, Ric Flair is asked how he wants to be remembered when he’s gone. At this point, a question that would be eerie to hear the answer to if he hadn’t kicked out of a medically induced coma less than three months ago sounds almost rhetorical. His answer was on everyone’s mind before he had a chance to reply. “…as the best, most entertaining wrestler of all time.”

There’s only one thing to say to that. …..WOOOOOO! #Prime Time Television