On Tuesday, November 7th, ESPN’s 30 for 30 series premiered a new documentary about the life, career, and legacy of Ric Flair. “Nature Boy” was an honest and unvarnished look at the highs and the lows of perhaps the biggest legend in professional wrestling history.
The film featured archival footage, interviews with wrestling legends, Flair’s family, and Flair himself. The film went through Flair’s early life, his rise to the top of the wrestling world, and his struggles with alcohol abuse, infidelity, and the tragedy of losing his son Reid to a heroin overdose. It was enlightening, entertaining, but also sobering.
Here are a few of the most powerful moments from the show that laid out the improbable life Ric Flair had.
His Daughter Discussing His Absenteeism
Wrestling fans have met his daughter Ashley (known as Charlotte Flair in WWE), But the documentary introduced us his oldest daughter Megan from his first marriage. Flair admitted he was never home and was on the road constantly while on top of the wrestling world. This quote from his eldest daughter underscored the toll it took on her, growing up without her father.
“Most of the time I would get things from my dad instead of time….He would say, ‘I’m gonna come to your basketball game next Friday,’ and he wouldn’t come. Things like that. So – and yeah, as a kid, it’s disappointing.”
Discussing The Enduring Cultural Impact Of Flair
If you mention Flair’s name, chances are someone will “WOOOO” or quote one of his lines. The documentary talked about the legacy of sports and entertainment that Flair’s bravado created. From Snoop Dogg to Tom Brady and a host of other athletes, Naitch’s stylin’ and profilin’ made everyone want to be The Man. Here’s Snoop discussing what Flair means to him.
We wanted to be flamboyant and, you know, the kiss-stealin’, wheelin’ and dealin’. We wanted to be all of that. He was a part of our culture and our life. That’s why we love him and we cherish him”
Ric’s Legendary Partying And The Toll It Took
Flair’s drinking and partying is, for better or worse, a large part of his legacy. The documentary contrasted “Ric Flair” with “Richard Fliehr.” Ric hid Richard, buried under one-night-stands and booze. Ric was always on. Always partying. And it led to some shocking encounters, including this story he told of meeting with a sports psychologist and detailing his alcohol problem:
‘You drink every day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and you’ve been doing that for how long?’ I said, ‘Well, let me see. It’s 1989, I started in ’72, you do the math. Almost 20 years.’ He said, ‘That’s not possible.’ I said, ‘Oh yeah, it is.’
Why he wrestled into his 60s: Love And Money
Even though he “retired” in 2008, Flair continued to wrestle for a few more years on the independents and in TNA. But why? Flair’s rationale was two-fold. His entire life was wrestling, and he couldn’t step away from it. The other less noble reason was he needed the money. Flair’s financial problems are notorious, and he had to stay in the ring to pay taxes and alimony to his multiple ex-wives.
The death of his son Reid
However, the most gut-wrenching and flat-out depressing part of the documentary detailed the death of his young son Reid from a heroin overdose. Reid wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps, but perhaps the pressure was too much for him. Ric feels guilt and remorse over his son’s death, and it drove him deeper into drinking and depression.
“I say it every day: ‘God, I wish you were here. I had so much fun with you. And I regret the fact that I sometimes was your best friend instead of your dad.’ ”
Finally, I would recommend checking out the documentary on ESPN. The interviews and the insights are gold for fans of old-school wrestling fans.
Did you watch “Nature Boy”? What did you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below.