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Ric Flair Interview

M (Mark): Do you play many wrestling games, and what do you think of your video game likeness?

 

R (Ric): I don’t play any of ‘em.

 

M: What initially drew you to the wrestling industry? Did you have any other plans before becoming a wrestler?

 

R: I liked it as a kid growing up, but I didn’t have any plans to become a wrestler until about a year before I started.

 

M: What initially drew you to it? Where you always a fan?

 

R: I was always a fan but me and Kevin Pattero, he was a friend of mine who trained for the Olympic games in 1972… he and I became very close friends and roommates and I kind of rode his coattails into the business.

 

M: Where did the nickname ‘The Nature Boy’ come from?

 

R: Buddy Rodgers.

 

M:  How did it feel to win your first World title?

 

R: It was very; it was awesome at the time. It was a huge honour. To be the World Champion in 1981 was a huge honour.

 

M: How long had you been wrestling before you got a title shot?

 

R: Oh, I started wrestling at the end of 1972, ’73 actually. So it was 7-8 years.

 

M: After you had the plane crash, did your resulting back injury affect your in-ring style to any extent?

 

R: No.

 

M: How long was it before you got back into a plane?

 

R: I was back in a plane the day I started back wrestling… in a big plane. We had a big plane, and each week it got smaller.

 

M: What actually happened?

 

R: We ran out of gas.

 

M: In mid-air?

 

R: Yes, at four thousand feet.

 

M: What is the worst injury you have ever suffered in the square circle?

 

R: Er, when I cracked C-5 in my neck.

 

M: How did you do that?

 

R: Somebody gave me a DDT, and I landed on my head. (Turning to a waitress) May I have diet sugar?

 

M: How did it feel when the WWE Superstars paid tribute to you in Greenville last year?

 

R: Greenville, that was very, very nice. That was probably one of the most rewarding moments of my life. If not the most rewarding at that point in time.

 

M: Was it a complete surprise?

 

R: Yes. I had no idea. I had no idea until that day that I was even wrestling Hunter for the title.

 

M: With Evolution, are WWE hoping to create a modern day Four Horsemen?

 

R: Hmm. I don’t think they’re concerned with the four horsemen, I think that they’re just… they’ve seen the success of groups before. They had DX and they’ve had other groups, and I think Evolution is… they run with something for a while and they enjoy a success. You know, they either disband for one reason or another. I think they see a lot to Evolution right now. They’re a very productive part of the company. And I also see they think, I also think they see possibility down the line for different feuds between Evolution, if we ever break up. I don’t foresee that but I think, looking at the wrestling business. See the Horsemen never wrestled against each other. I wrestled Arn one time, which was; the company made us do it. It wasn’t, it just wasn’t something that came. But I think that the business is different now. They look to see the different personalities wrestling each other. I think it’s always a possibility.

 

M: What were your thoughts when the original Horsemen broke up, and they brought in new members such as Chris Benoit?

 

R: I thought Chris Benoit was worthy of being a Horseman. I thought Dean Melinko was. Obviously I thought Steven Michael was, though obviously he was inexperienced, I thought he was a perfect fit as a horseman. I did not like the Paul Roma deal. I did not like Sid Vicious or about two or three guys that they put in there, I just couldn’t see it. I couldn’t stomach it, but I had to.

 

M: Did you enjoy your time as Raw Co-Owner, and were you glad to get back into the ring?

 

R: I enjoyed my time as Raw Co-Owner.

 

M: Because you didn’t get beaten up as much?

 

R: Yeah. Actually I got beat more! I got beat up a lot as Co-owner but it was ok.

 

M: How much control do you have in your characters direction on television?

 

R: None.

 

M: In WCW they used to put a clause in their contracts where they would get control over their own characters.

 

R: They did. Not a good idea at all.

 

M: When you climb up to the top turnbuckle, your opponent quite often throws you back down to the canvas. What move are you trying to do there?

 

R: (Laughs) I don’t know. I haven’t executed it in so many years, I’ve forgotten! (Laughs)

 

M: (Laughs) So a move in your arsenal is just getting slammed off the top turnbuckle…

 

R: That’s it!

 

M: Because you get up there, and they always throw you back off again.

 

R: And the people always go… Oh my God! They love it. Sports entertainment.

 

M: What are the positive and negative aspects of working in the wrestling industry?

 

R: The positive and negative aspects? I can’t think of any negative. The positive are the money, the comradery, the prestige, the notoriety. A lot of pluses.

 

M: Do you find the travelling schedule hard?

 

R: No, it’s nothing compared to what I used to do. Actually very mild.

 

M: There used to be sometimes where you were wrestling every night?

 

R: We never do that now. We used to wrestle every night, 385 times a year. For ten years. 365 days. Never had any holidays off, ever. Holidays were always two-day venues. Two event venues. Afternoon and night.

 

M: How did you see your family?

 

R: We didn’t see our family. Just saw them in passing.

 

M: Now you get about ten days at Christmas?

 

R: Two weeks at Christmas. Plus, we only work… the most I ever work is three days a week. Very rare that I will work four.

 

M: Do you do house shows?

 

R: I do some, yeah. They don’t ask me to do a lot and all. And if they do, you know, if I’m involved in a scenario where they need me to be in it, I don’t mind. They always work around my children’s schedule, their sports, and stuff like that. That’s been very important to me.

 

M: You’ve got a match against Shelton Benjamin this Sunday. Have you been in the ring with him yet, other then tag matches, to practise?

 

R: I don’t practise.

 

M: What is your most embarrassing moment? Are there any times where you have had to refrain from laughing in the ring?

 

R: No. I laugh a lot in the ring when I’m having fun.

 

M:  Do you have much to do with Eric Bishoff backstage, after your turbulent history at WCW?

 

R: Just in passing. What would I say, um, just to be politically correct. We exchange pleasantries and that’s about it.

 

M: Did you sue WCW?

 

R: After they sued me.

 

M: Why did they sue you?

 

R: For going to my sons’ National Wrestling tournament, which I had time off for in advance, and they tried to change it all.

 

M: Do you think WWE should bring back the WCW brand, or perhaps some of its wrestlers such as Sting?

 

R: I don’t think there’s anything positive in the WCW brand at all. It was dead when they brought it. They were going to bury us when they did business.

 

M: Would you like to see any of the wrestlers come back into the WWE?

 

R: Who?

 

M: What about Sting?

 

R: I’d love to see Sting come back. The guys that had the potential to make any money and draw any money, they came. The ones that made it, made it, and the ones that didn’t, didn’t. The list of those who made it, there’s lots… the list of those who didn’t make it are longer then the ones who did.

 

M: There was only a handful that initially went over to the WWE.

 

R: Only a handful. There was only a handful of guys who were even qualified to work at the WWE.

 

M: If you had to pick one, what would be the defining match or feud of your career?

 

R: The defining match?

 

(Two young Irish girls approach Ric for his autograph, to which he happily greets them. Having spelt out their names, Ric informs them of WWE’s forthcoming visit to Ireland in May. Ric clearly has a lot of time for his fans, which he demonstrated throughout the interview).

 

R: Yes Sir…

 

M: What do you consider the defining match or feud of your career?

 

R: Hmm, I don’t think there was one. I can’t name one. Not because I had a lot of great feuds, but it would be hard to say the defining feud.

 

M: Which were your personal favourites?

 

R: Steamboat, Sting, Dusty, Terry Funk. I enjoyed the thing I did with Savage a couple of years ago when I had two girls.

 

M: I’ve actually still got the magazine from when you had the pictures of Miss Elisabeth.

 

R: Yeah. I mean that was fun but that really was kind of a tense period for them because they really were breaking up back then. I know the woman I had, the woman I had and Liz, in WCW against Savage, that was kinda fun. But I think my fondest memories would be with Sting, and Steamboat, Dusty and er… I made a lot of money wrestling Wahoo McDaniel and Jack Mulligan too. It’d be hard to pinpoint one.

 

M: Which new wrestlers do you think will be the future main eventers in WWE?

 

R: Which new wrestlers do I think will be the franchise wrestlers? Erm, well Batista and Randy Orton will I think, for sure. John Cena’s drawing well. I’m not as familiar with the young guys on Smackdown as I am… I think Shelton Benjamin’s going to do very well. It’s hard to think of new guys, whose names I’m not familiar with. I mean, right now off the top of my head, I’d say Cena, Batista, Randy Orton, Shelton Benjamin. Guys that are an immediate help and fix right now. You know, your not talking about guys like Guerrero and Benoit, you’re talking about the really young guys.

 

M: Yeah.

 

R: Yeah. Those would be the three that would come to my mind as being the three best right now.

 

M: Who are they trying to make the focus of the company at the moment? The Rock’s left, Goldberg, and Brock went.

 

R: The only one that mattered there was - who did you say, The Rock?

 

M: Yeah.

 

R: The other two didn’t matter. They weren’t selling tickets and they weren’t selling Pay Per Views.

 

M: Who do you think they are going to try and put in the spotlight next?

 

R: I think they already have. Shelton Benjamin. I mean, I want to tell you that Goldberg drew a lot of money. He didn’t. He was here, we didn’t have one arena sell out, we didn’t draw any money. He didn’t affect the ratings, and I’m sure he didn’t affect the buy rates. They just… It was a once in a lifetime deal with WCW, and you know, he was grossly overpaid at that period of time. And the contract holdout pretty messed up things. Plus the fact that a lot of people there refused to do business with him. So WCW was just a total cluster f*ck.

 

M: He didn’t have any good matches in his time in WWE at all.

 

R: Bill? Well, I think the run that, the run with 160 matches or whatever it was, was pretty interesting. But the minute he got at main-event level and had to wrestle, this guy, I don’t remember him having a very good match. Do you?

 

M: No.

 

R: But it wasn’t his fault. He didn’t have the experience. He didn’t have opponents who wanted to wrestle him.

 

M: I think he ended Bret Hart’s career in WCW.

 

R: Well, I’ve heard that story but I don’t know.

 

M: Are there certain wrestlers who do work more stiffly, that people are less willing to work with?

 

R: No, that wouldn’t have anything to do with that.

 

M: If you could wrestle anyone from any era, with any stipulations, what would your dream match be?

 

R: I’d like to wrestle Hunter again. And of course, if I had to pick out one guy, it’d be Steamboat or Sting. Or Harley Race, But I mean, that’s not going to happen so…Steamboat or Sting would be great, but it’s not going to happen.

 

M: What would the stipulation be?

 

R: None.

 

M: Why did you leave WCW in 1991?

 

R: Over a contract dispute.

 

M: You left with the Heavyweight title didn’t you? Did they end up buying it back?

 

R: No, they ended up… I ended up giving it back. But to get me back they had to pay me the money that they owed me.

 

M:  Were you originally scheduled to wrestle Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania 8?

 

R: I was told that, yeah. But I could never make that… it was never etched in stone.

 

M: What was your opinion on the Brock Lesnar and Goldberg’s Match at Wrestlemania 20?

 

R: I didn’t see it.

 

M: You didn’t?

 

R: Was it good?

 

M: (Laughs) You know when the Rock went against Hogan, the crowd made the match to a certain extent. Well, it was the same with this one, but for the wrong reasons. They were booing before they did anything, and I think it put them off.

 

R: The Rock and Hogan had a good match.

 

M: Yeah they did. How many hours a week do you spend training?

 

R: Usually about eight. Eight to ten, yeah.

 

M: You lasted over an hour and went on to win the 1992 Royal Rumble. Did you have to alter your training regime to prepare for long matches?  

 

R: No.

 

M: How does wrestling now compare with the territorial days?

 

R: No comparison.

 

M: It’s more sports entertainment now.

 

R: It’s more sports entertainment, and it’s much easier. People think it’s hard to travel to the airports. 9/11 has made our travel difficult, with the security laws and that. As far as comparing what we do to driving 3,000 miles a week, making fifty bucks a night, sometimes one hundred bucks a night, it’s a lot different. Guaranteed contracts, first class air fare, Hilton hotels in London, Champaign. Waddaya want? What more could you ask for!  

 

M: What do you like to do in your time away from the ring?

 

R: I do stuff with my kids and play with my boat.

 

M: So that’s like your main hobby?

 

R: Yeah, boating’s my main hobby. My kids are my main hobby but, now they’ve gotten older, they’ve forced me to do things without them. I do a lot of things with my boat. My wife and I enjoy boating.

 

M: Has your boat got a name?

 

R: Queen Elisabeth.

 

M: After the huge success of your DVD, is there any chance of a second compilation?

 

R: Oh I’m sure there is. They’ve got enough stuff on me to make about ten of ‘em. I’m sure there’ll be another one.

 

M: Who else would you like to see one released on?

 

R: I’d really like them to do a Four Horsemen.

 

M: You would?

 

R: Yeah. Not… you know the money is irrelevant right now. I just think that it’s important that those guys get their dues. You know Arn, and Tully, and Barry and Ole. You know I hope they don’t… if they do make one they don’t put Roma and that in there. The glory – the heyday 80’s is the best wrestling group of all time. The best collection of wrestlers ever put together.

 

M: Are you still in contact with them very often?

 

R: No. I mean, I talk to Barry periodically. Maybe once a year.  Arn I talk to all the time. Tully – a couple of times a year, that’s it. Ole – I see Ole maybe once every two years. But, What were we talking about? We were talking about how everything over here is very service orientated. The people are. Even my son he said, during the day, he goes. This is a sixteen-year-old right. He said everybody is so polite. He must of said it to me five times if he said it once. And the guy that took ‘em today. He took ‘em to the mall, and they went somewhere else. (Laughs) The guy took ‘em to a ladies lingerie show. (Laughs) You guys are mad! He goes, Dad I walk in there and their trying to sell me lingerie and they all put it on and modelled it for me. He loved that, you know. He was there for…

 

M: Where was that?

 

R: I don’t know where it is! Some place one of the drivers took ‘em. He told the driver, he said, I want to, I’m thinking of buying some lingerie for my girlfriend. He’s joking right. The driver took him to somewhere where they… he looked at this and the girl went and put it on. It was too much.

 

M: And he’s sixteen?

 

R: Yeah he’s sixteen.

 

C: He’s loving it here I tell you.

 

R: Oh yeah, he’s loving it, are you kidding? He doesn’t want to go back.

 

M: So does he travel around with you a lot?

 

R: I’ve taken him to Japan twice. I took him there for the, they had a tournament. All kids. Twelve and under Nationals in Japan. Freestyle tournament. He took second there which was huge. But it was a great time. They did what they call home stays where we went on a team. We stayed with families of other team members from Japan. And then after the tournament was over, you know how ceremonious the Japanese are? It was like going to the Superbowl. Three thousand kids at a wrestling tournament. All Japanese, and one American team. It was awesome. When that was over we went and stayed in Tokyo for ten days. He had a ball. He was ruined. I took ‘em to Rapungee. I mean, once you’ve been to Japan, you like sushi and steak. You know, it’s like twenty dollars for a coke! It’s very expensive there. He had a ball. But I really like London. I like, you know, Manchester, Birmingham. I really find this place very nice. Loved Australia. I thought that was awesome. Singapore, Hong Kong. Malaysia’s off the chart. Kuala Loompa. You know, we went right into Malaysia, where they have the… Did you ever see that movie where they have James Bond? Not James Bond. With Sean Connery and a real good looking girl, Angelina…

 

M: Angelina Jolie?

 

R: Oh, no.

 

C: Catherine Zeta Jones.

 

M: Entrapment?

 

R: Yeah, Entrapment, yeah. We stayed in one of those Twin towers. I thought that was just in the movies. But those twin towers are in Malaysia.

 

C: Really?

 

R: Yeah. We flew over there at night. We would go to this hotel. Opened up the curtains in my hotel room, you know. Who are you with?

 

M: Smackdown5.com. It’s primarily a wrestling games website.

 

C: A one-stop shop for all wrestling news and information.

 

M: I also promote wrestling events and stuff…

 

R: You make good money doing this?

 

M: Not a huge amount, but I get a lot of stuff for free.

 

R: How old are you?

 

M: 23. I got a free trip to LA, so that was pretty good.

 

R: That’s great! Congratulations.

 

M: Thank you.

 

M: If the chance arose, would you like to pursue a career in movies?

 

R: No, I mean, I’ve seen Hunter’s schedule for Blade 3. I’m going to stay in wrestling.

 

M: You have had a long and successful career, how many more years do you think you will participate actively in the ring?

 

R: A few more years. I’m working on opening a restaurant, which will be ready in a year.

 

M: Will it contain wrestling memorabilia?

 

R: Some, but it’ll be a sports themed restaurant.

 

M: With Shelton Benjamin winning matches for 3 consecutive weeks on Raw, what do you think his chances are at Backlash?

 

R: None.

 

M: What other matches on the card are you looking forwards to?

 

R: Hunter, Shawn and Benoit’s match. Their match at Wrestlemania was very good and I’m looking forwards to the rematch.

 

M: What advice would you give to people wanting to get into the industry?

 

R: Don’t!

 

M: Time for some name association. Say whatever comes to mind. Harley Race?

 

R: Tough.

 

M: Vince McMahon?

 

R: Genius.

 

M: Triple H?

 

R: The best.

 

M: Hulk Hogan?

 

R: Huge star.

 

M: Terry Funk?

 

R: Great.

 

M: Randy Orton?

 

R: Unlimited potential.

 

M: And finally, Eric Bishoff?

 

R: Selective memory.

 

M: Have you ever had a match with your son David?

 

R: Yes, once.

 

M: Who won?

 

R: I did.

 

M: What do you think of the Eugene Dinsmore character?

 

R: I haven’t seen much of him. It sounds like it could be good.

 

M: I attended the Insurrection Pay Per View before the so-called ‘Flight from Hell’. Do you think the events on the flight have been over-exaggerated in the media?

 

R: Yes. Put it this way. Two top executives, Stephanie and JR were on the flight. Do you really think they would have allowed anything to happen?

 

M: True. You’re known as the dirtiest player in the game. What’s the worst thing you have ever done to win a match?

 

R: I’ve done a lot of things to win, there’s not really one that stands out.

 

M: Finally, you say ‘To be the man, you have got to beat the man’. What man did you beat?

 

R: (Laughs) I am the man.

 

M: Yes, but by your logic you had to beat a man to become the man.

 

R: Er…no. It’s just something that I say.

 

M: (Laughs) OK. Well, thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me today.

 

R: You’re welcome. It was good to meet you.

 

M: Good luck at Backlash this Sunday.

 

R: Thanks. Don’t miss my match against Shelton Benjamin this Sunday!

 

M: Absolutely!

This exclusive interview with WWE Superstar Ric Flair was

conducted by Film-Reviews.net's webmaster Mark O'Connell.

The interview took place at the Conrad Hotel, London on Friday

16th April 2004. Woooooh!

Any information taken from this

interview MUST be credited soley to

www.Film-Reviews.net and may not

be duplicated without permission.

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   Ric Flair and Mark O'Connell

 The interview takes a turn for the worse...

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