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Very interesting :xyx





THREE years ago wrestling legend Ric Flair thought he had hung up his famous robes for the last time.


WCW, the company he was synonymous with, had gone out of business and its bosses had destroyed Ric's confidence and enthusiasm.


But, as the Nature Boy told us in an exclusive webchat, going to the WWE to work with Vince McMahon, Shawn Michaels and Triple H changed his life and got him stylin' and profilin' once again.


Indeed, the star says that his current run at the age of 55-years-old is just as big a thrill for him as his legendary NWA/WCW championship feuds with fellow icons Harley Race, Ricky Steamboat and Sting.


Replying to your questions, Ric gave his candid opinions on everyone from Eric Bischoff and Mick Foley to Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior.


So read on as we go 60 minutes with the Nature Boy and get answers on all those important topics – like just how exactly his catchphrase is spelt.


And you can catch Ric as part of WWE Backlash, which will air live in the UK on Setanta Sport - Sky Digital channel 435 - on Sunday April 18 at 1am and is repeated throughout the week.


Sky Digital customers can watch the show by pressing the 'Select' button on channel 435 or by calling 08708 500 005. NTL and Telewest viewers can see it through their 'TV On Demand' service.







Hi Ric, you're an absolute legend and what I think is so special is that every top star in the WWE today thinks and says the same. How does it feel to be so well respected by your peers?

Charlie, London


It's an awesome feeling and something that I felt I always had. But there was a period of time when I thought I had lost that respect, because I doubted myself.


In the last couple of years of WCW, the company purposely put me in a position to destroy my legacy and downgrade who I was.


It was Eric Bischoff who did that, and he did it because I knew him back before he got started. I helped Eric get his job in charge of WCW, I went and got Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage for the company, I wrestled them both and when they wouldn't do business, I did business.







At the Raw in Greenville where the WWE superstars paid tribute to you, I remember you saying: "The Nature Boy wasn't the Nature Boy for a while, I lost a little confidence…" When did this loss in confidence take place, and was there a moment when you realised you were still the Nature Boy?

Lee Burton, Nottingham


When I said that last June I was referring to what Eric did to me in WCW. I don't have the Nature Boy feel totally right now, but I started getting it back that night in Greenville.


People always ask me what the biggest match or biggest night of my career was. It's easy to look back in time and say it was the first time I won the NWA championship, but right now the greatest moment in my career was that night on Raw.


That was the first time I realised that everything I thought was wrong and had been lost from the industry was right there in front of me. The best professional wrestlers around cared about me, and that's what is important. Not people who were jealous because they never got there or people in executive positions who didn't know anything about me.


The fact that I'm wrestling on top today should tell you what I could have done 10 years ago in WCW. But they didn't want me, because they knew if they featured me other guys could never get over me.







Your promo and match with Sting at the last ever WCW Monday Nitro in 2001 were very moving for a lot of fans. What emotions did you go through?

Navdeep Rehill


I was glad to see WCW close down! The company was an embarrassment to anything I'd ever known or been part of. Vince Russo had turned it into a circus.


I was emotional to be involved in the show but I wasn't prepared to wrestle and I didn't want to wrestle. I was honoured to be there with Sting and I understood what they were doing, but they made me fight. The interview was just something I've always been able to do.


It was such a sad day for the 150 individuals who lost their jobs – with relatively small compensation packages – and the people responsible for that happening should be dead.


I totally blame Eric Bischoff, Russo was just another add-on. The management didn't take into account anyone's feelings, they kept hiring the wrong people and there were no controls in place.


Instead of concentrating on making our product better, Bischoff was consumed with beating Vince. Any success he and the company enjoyed, Eric bought. There was no creative genius.


And he needlessly spent millions of dollars. If Vince bought an aeroplane we had to have an aeroplane, if Vince had ten limousines then we had to have ten limousines. At least when Vince spends money, it's his money.







Is there still any real-life animosity between yourself and Eric Bischoff? Is it hard working with him every week on Raw?

Edwin Bear


I tolerate Eric and he tolerates me. I'm sure he knows how I feel.


I'm not the only one, there are 10 guys in there who want to kick his a*** every time they see him. But we're in a controlled environment and we have to get along.


He's a strange guy and the sad thing about Eric is that everyone who know him knows that if he could go away and get a millionaire to go into business against Vince he'd do it tomorrow. Take my word for it.









EVOLUTION ... Flair with Randy Orton, Triple H and Dave Batista




Hi Ric, who on the current WWE roster do you think has the brightest future ahead of them? And who can wear your old tag as the "greatest professional wrestler alive today"?

Ben, Southampton


Triple H is by far the greatest professional wrestler alive right now, and Shawn Michaels is too when he wants to be. Shawn was the best and then along came Triple H, who is now finally getting his due.


And Kurt Angle is the WWE's Alex Rodriguez, if he can get healthy again he could be the top wrestler of all-time.


I think Randy Orton and Dave Batista have the best shot of making it big, and John Cena is in the top five. Randy and Dave have improved a lot working with Hunter and myself in Evolution.


When Dave and I go on the road as tag team partners – and much to my dismay they're making me work more than I want to – it's great experience for him. He gets to wrestle Shawn Michaels and Chris Benoit, and when you're working with guys like that you going to learn your craft.


Randy is a phenomenal athlete, and his dad was a great performer.


It is just going to take a little bit of time for both of them to find their niche, get their own style and become better talkers.







What do you think of Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit as champions? Do you think the WWE are moving towards the traditional wrestling you always represented?

Tracey, Sheffield


I think they are both very very good and have earned their positions. They'll learn even more with the responsibly of being the champion.


Part of that is being able to work with everybody around you. As a champion you try and get your opponent up to your level, but if you can't you have to be able to hang wherever they are and still have a fantastic match.


I think the WWF/E have always had some great wrestlers on top, but also some people with bad ideas using them in the wrong way.







What was it like wrestling at the biggest WrestleMania ever last month in MSG? How did the main event compare to your most famous matches?



It was tremendous, me and The Rock had a lot of fun and that main event was as good as anything I've ever been in… well maybe not quite as good!


Hunter, Shawn and Chris stole the show, and they stole it at the end of a night where they were match number 12 – and that's a lot. If the crowd were exhausted you wouldn't have known it, as they were thundering. The match was flawless.







You have fought so many legends in the wrestling business – but do you have a favourite feud?



My matches with Ricky Steamboat in 1989 are considered some of the best of my career. I probably wrestled Steamboat 2000 times and I don't think we ever had a bad match.


I've also been involved in so many classic feuds with people like Wahoo McDaniel, Harley Race, Sting and Lex Luger. I was just getting started on one with Steve Austin when he left in 2002.


I also think I've got some major feuds ahead of me, and I would never have said that a few years ago.







Hey Ric, was there a lot of animosity in the early days between the NWA and WWF/E? How did you 'real' wrestlers feel about your more cartoony rivals from up north – especially when Vince buried the likes of Dusty Rhodes and Harley Race?

Martin Winters


I never got involved in that, because a lot of the guys in WWF/E were my friends and I knew they were in a position where they were making a lot of money. I didn't agree with it but when I look back on it I certainly didn't have any animosity towards anybody.


I think people who are offended by stuff like that are afraid of the challenge. I was wrapped up only in myself and my success certainly wasn't hurt by theirs.


I've always felt anytime you start knocking the competition it can come back to haunt you, because you never know where you're going to go. And a lot of guys who did that ended up in a bad way and are not working right now because of it.


Harley went to the WWF/E at the end of his career, and I honestly believe Dusty's lack of success there is because of things he said when he was with NWA.


Dusty had a lot of animosity with a lot of people, because of what he would say about WWF/E on TV. In all fairness to Dusty it was an attempt by him to make us look better but nobody cared, when you start talking about the competition it just makes people aware of them.







Whenever I talk to non-fans about wrestling they always ask about Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior or Steve Austin? Do you ever wish you made your name in the WWF/E rather than the NWA?

Mark, Glasgow


No, because although I didn't have the notoriety they had I had the NWA championship. And I think the NWA championship is recognised to this day as the most prestigious trophy our sport has ever had.


I have the original belt at home and I know a lot of guys wish they had it. You just have to look at the champions who wore it - people like Dory Funk Jr, Jack Brisco, Harley Race and Gene Kiniski.


I also have a copy of the bigger belt, which Triple H has on Raw right now. I don't have the original of that though and I don't even think Hunter has, I've heard Hogan kept it. That certainly isn't right, but that's Hogan!










with his title belt in 1992




I loved your run in the WWF/E in the early 1990s when you won the Royal Rumble and two world titles, but why did WCW let you take their championship belt with you?

Jonny, Richmond


The NWA champion always had to put up a $25,000 deposit for the belt, and when NWA rolled into WCW they never gave me my money back. So it was very simple, all the company had to do was write me a lousy cheque.


But they wouldn't pay me the money they owed me. Jim Herd, who was in charge at the time, said: "Screw it, just take the belt and go".


Did Jim Herd realise the impact it would have turning up on someone else's show with the title? No, he didn't care he was an idiot. It's not even a question of me being fair to him – the man was an absolute idiot.


I said, "you'll be gone in two months buddy," and he said, "f*** you". I replied: "No it's not f*** me, it's f*** you. Watch where the belt is next Monday!"


I loved my spell in the WWF/E from late 1991 until early 1993, it was one the best 18 months of my life. I got to work with Roddy Piper, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and Bret Hart and travel with Bobby Heenan, Curt Hennig and Ted DiBiase.


And you know what happened when I went back to WCW? They gave me $36,000 for my deposit plus interest, and Jim Herd was long gone.







Were you disappointed that you never had a match with Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VIII or any other WWE PPV – considering it was truly a dream bout for fans for almost a decade? Were you a fan of the Hulkster?



It was a disappointment at the time but nothing that I dwelled on.


I still don't know for sure what happened, but I think at the time Hogan was holding them up to go and make a TV series and they didn't want to give him the championship belt just to have him leave.


That's one theory, the other is that they wanted to plug Randy Savage back in as champion. But when Elizabeth left that killed Randy.


It would have been a huge match then, but when it happened in WCW two years later it wasn't the same… not even close.


I wasn't a fan of Hulk Hogan, but I liked him personally.


The problem with Hogan was he always had creative control of his character and his career with WCW, and I think he wished he had that in the WWF/E.


You could never book Hulk Hogan, it was a case of asking him and have him say "yes" or "no" and then change his answer 10 times after he'd gone home and thought about it. That was very difficult.







Vince McMahon seems to have really changed his tune from ignoring NWA/WCW history to releasing the Ric Flair Collection – which was almost all dedicated to it – and inducting Harley Race into the Hall Of Fame. Have you been an influence on his change of heart?

Paul, California


I'd like to say I have, but I don't think so.


Vince has always treated me fantastically, I think he has the same respect for me that I have for him. I'm only a couple of years younger than he is and we have a lot in common. We both grew in the business together and his father was on the NWA board of directors, so I knew his parents quite well.


I think that there's been a lot of influence from Hunter and Shawn, who argue for the wrestling part of the business to take precedence over the entertainment side.


Hunter is not only a nice addition to the McMahon family as a person, he's also a very smart guy. And Shawn pushes Vince, he used to push him too hard, but now he pushes creatively and challenges him. My observation is that Vince works better when he's challenged.







Who's the best person you've ever stolen a kiss from and was there any wrestler you couldn't match "drink for drink and woman for woman"?

Barry, Kent


My wife will be reading this so the best person I've ever stolen a kiss from is… my wife!


Woman for woman no one could touch me but drink for drink I had a very difficult time with Mike Hegstrand (Hawk) and Roddy Piper! But those were the only two.


Ricky Steamboat didn't drink much, and Hunter reminds me a lot of him. Triple H has a more intense personality and doesn't drink at all, but they are both so into their bodies and their training.


Although if I'd met Hunter 20 years ago I'd have ruined him… and he knows it!







We all know over the years that the Nature Boy has been a kiss stealin' son of a gun who makes all the girls cry. We also know that you're a happily married man. You've always been one for "living the gimmick" so has Mrs Flair ever gotten overly suspicious?

Jeff Meadows


Oh yeah, more than overly suspicious, she's been over-the-top suspicious. It's caused a lot of rows. She's never accepted it as part of my job description!


We get along great and in all fairness I've put my wife through a lot of bad times. Not intentionally, but eventually everything catches up with you.


I met my wife in 1979 and we were travelling every day. When I first became NWA champion in 1981 I was gone on the road for 330 days a year. I'd work 380-400 times a year, twice on Saturday and Sunday – and you can never have a night off when you're the champion. I took my wife with me a lot, especially overseas, but it was still very tough.


Now the guys have it really easy. The kids complain but they don't even know what we used to do. International tours are perceived as being hard – because you leave after Raw and are then non-stop until you come back for next week's Raw – but you fly first class, stay in the nicest hotels and eat the best food. Travelling 3000 miles a week in a car, that was hard!







How many children and grandchildren do you have? Is David still in the wrestling business after being let go by the WWE and will Reid be following in your footsteps too?

Caroline, Hartlepool


I've got four children and I'm going to have my first grandchild on May 9 from my daughter Megan.


None of my kids are in the wrestling business right now. I think David would like to work for the WWE again, but he was there when they picked up 25 new guys from WCW and ECW and had 50 on contract.


Some of the guys weren't going anywhere and are still going nowhere. People like Nathan Jones - that deal was just a disaster. They tried a thousand ways to get Nathan involved but he just didn't have it in his heart.


It was very difficult for David to be moved out and I don't know if he's emotionally ready to go back. He'd need to be assured of some security. He does still work independent dates periodically if the money is right.


Reid is an amazing amateur wrestler and I wasn't a patch on him at his age. He's 16 and has been a national champion three times, a six-time All American and nine-time state champion.


If he elects to do it, he will be an awesome professional wrestler. He has lots of personality, almost too much and he can beat me in a fight right now.


He's a big kid, willing to learn and all the WWE guys have seen him as he loves playing around in the ring. Shelton Benjamin, who is a fantastic athlete, is coming down to work out with him for two days during the summer.









WOOOO ... Ric gives Simon LilsBoy his famous chop




Hi Ric, I think this is the most important question you'll be asked today – Can you clear up how many world championships you've won and how woo is spelt?

Danny, Bristol


I've probably won the world championship 22 times, 16 that have documented. The others were when we were on tour and I'd lose the title and then win it back. For example I lost the belt to Harley for two days in New Zealand. That total includes my two WWF/E titles.


I don't know for sure how to spell it – I think it's w-o-o-o-o. There's no h in it, I don't say "who" - it's woooo!







Hey Ric, every match I see you in nowadays you go to the top rope and always get thrown off. When was the last time you hit that move?

Kyle, Philadelphia


Thirty years ago! And I think I got it once in 1991.







Hey Nature Boy, what were you talking to President George Bush about when you had lunch with him recently? I hope you put the Figure Four Leg Lock on his sorry ass! Would you ever run for political office?

Lewis Cook


We talked a lot about fitness, as he's got a bad knee. He used to run every day but now he's swimming. I knew his father very well and he's a really nice guy. I am a big supporter of George and he knew who I was and introduced me in his speech, although I don't know if he's a fan.


The Republicans want me to run for Governor Of North Carolina. I get asked every year, but I don't want to while I'm still in the wrestling business.


I went to see Jesse Ventura – who was Governor Of Minnesota – and that made me realise how huge the time-commitment is.


I'm not ready to do that. When I finish with the business, I'm just going to relax and enjoy spending time with my family and grandkids.







How are you responding to the charges of sexual harassment that have recently been made against you, Scott Hall and Dustin 'Goldust' Runnells by two female flight attendants on the "WWE flight from hell" in May 2002?

Brian Nisbet


I don't even know what they're talking about, none of that happened. I really don't have a comment as there is no truth there.


And the claims have been made two years later. If it was bad then, why didn't something happen then?







How did you come back so quickly (in four months) from the plane crash that broke your back and should have ended your career in 1975?



There wasn't time to feel sorry for myself or go away and rehab for a year and a half, I just had to get myself ready. I really worked hard for a long time to get back. I lost 70lbs in body weight and I've never been nearly as big since.


I haven't had any problems from coming back and, touch wood, my back feels fine. The only difficulty I have is whenever someone throws me off the top I can never land flat anymore, I always end up on my side.







Of all of the Four Horsemen incarnations, which one was your favourite and how do Evolution compare?

Ernesto Lou, Panama


My favourite was Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Barry Windham and myself.


Evolution is a different group entirely. Hunter is the best in the business, but Dave and Randy are just young kids learning the ropes.







Who do you travel with and who are your best friends in WWE? Are you as close to Evolution as you were with the Horsemen?

Aaron Rosenthal, Sidcup


The Horsemen had a great run and we really lived that gimmick! We did everything together and were all best friends, and I still am with Arn.


I wouldn't say I'm good friends with Dave or Randy, but Hunter and I are very close.


Hunter travels with the McMahon family now he's married to Stephanie, and behind the scenes I travel a lot with Shawn Michaels – as we don't really have anyone else there from our generations.


When we travel internationally, I ride with Hunter and Shawn. It's very rewarding for me travelling with those guys and we have so much respect for each other. But we don't debate who is the best… they already know!









UNKIND TO MANKIND? ... Flair doesn't rate Foley




Do you ever watch NWA:TNA and how do you feel they are continuing your legacy?

Ali, Southall


I've watched it a couple of times and what I saw of it was terrible. Anything that Vince Russo is involved with is going to be bad, I'm sorry but he's a cartoon character.


Jeff Jarrett is a good performer, but some of the stuff they've had on it with Raven and others wasn't enjoyable. I wouldn't pay a dollar to see Raven headline.


I've never seen a good match on NWA:TNA. People talk about the high-flying stuff but that's not wrestling. That's just raising the bar and one of the reasons the WWE has toned back down is those guys won't last five years.


It doesn't translate into money and when someone gets jumped on from a guy on a ladder, how does he come back? That's why people say wrestling is fake, because they say nobody could do that and they're right. I respect the fact those guys can do it, but so what.


It is like Mick Foley – falling off a building does not make you a wrestler. Where would he be if he hadn't fallen on a bed of thumb tacs?


I get along with Mick, he's drawn a lot of money and been very successful - but he's not a great wrestler by any means. He's a stunt man. He couldn't have even got started when I started in the business.


Could Mick wrestle for an hour? Does anyone think he could go for 60 minutes tomorrow against Chris Benoit or Eddie Guerrero? You're kidding, he's out of shape. I'm just telling it how I see it.


They'll replay that bump Mick took off the cage and through the table forever, but where do you go with that? He can only wrestle one style of match.


Look at Steve Austin, probably the biggest star the WWF/E has ever had, did he do any hardcore wrestling? Did Hogan, The Rock, Hunter or Shawn Michaels? No.


You've got to build your company around guys who can wrestle. Hogan was not a great wrestler but he brought everything else to the ring.







Hi Ric, when is your autobiography coming out and will it be as good as Mick Foley's?

Stu, Blackpool


It's out on June 28 and everyone who has sent in questions should read my book, you'll all love it.


I've not read a wrestling book yet, but I can't imagine Mick Foley's life story after being in the business for 10 years is anywhere near as good as mine.







Howdy Ric, now you're 55-years-old have you ever thought about retiring?

Daniel, Cardiff


I honestly thought I'd quit two years ago. Even when I came back to the WWE I never agreed to work. I said: "I'm definitely not going to wrestle again." But Vince talked me into it!


I think I'll wrestle for maybe one more year. I wouldn't mind being a road agent for the WWE, but it's a very demanding job with long days and I don't know if I'll be able to put the time in.







What do you think of superstars like Brock Lesnar and The Rock leaving wrestling to fulfil other ambitions, do you think it's selling out? Could Brock have been one of the all-time greats?

Billy, Stockport


I think it's down to individual choice. Rock's intentions were known for years and I'm a big fan of his.


I like Brock very much too, but I don't think he was smart in his timing. I think he should have waited until after WrestleMania to announce his retirement, because for a couple of days it seemed to get more attention than the event. It actually didn't, but it didn't make the situation any better.


I don't think it was due to Brock, as he's not a malicious guy. I think he was ill-advised by somebody telling him he could get more publicity retiring at that time.


Brock can be considered one of the best big guys we've ever had - because with his athletic ability he could do a lot of stuff you wouldn't imagine – but he wouldn't have become one of the all-time greats.


He's very good but he's not a talker. When he talked he didn't sound like a giant, the fans didn't get what they saw. And to be one of the greats you've got to love the business, and I don't think Brock ever loved it.







Legend has it that Ric Flair could have a good match with a broom, but were there any opponents you just couldn't get a good bout out of?

Danny, Minnesota


Oh yeah, the list would be endless. The problem for them was I wouldn't leave the ring until I got a match. If we were meant to go 15 minutes and we hadn't had a match, I'd make them work for 45 minutes until we got one.


The worst guy I ever worked with was the Ultimate Warrior, I just couldn't get a match out of him. He was a huge player and a very nice guy, but I can't tell you with a clear conscious that he was a good wrestler.


He got very rich in his time. Hey, maybe that's my problem - I should have learned more about politics and lifted more weights!







Hey there Slick Ric, who do you feel is the greatest wrestler of all-time?

Simon Baillie


I've been in the ring with everyone, so I can determine who the greats are and the four best wrestlers I've ever seen are Harley Race, Shawn Michaels, Triple H and Ricky Steamboat.


It's not fair to call Steamboat the greatest of all-time, as he never wrestled both ways, but as a babyface he was the best wrestler I've ever been in the ring with.


I tell Shawn sometimes that he's as good as Steamboat, but only when he wants to be.


Hunter's the best there is right now, and Harley was in a league by himself too when he was younger.


I put myself ahead of all of them! Not really, I don't think about that – it's for the fans to decide.



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It's conflicting when two wrestlers you love hate each other. Honestly though' date=' it does seem like Flair really does have an axe to grind with Foley.[/quote']


Could not agree more, I'm a huge fan of both Foley and Flair, both really hate each other it seems. With Foley it will probably go back to his days in WCW when Flair was booking, and Flair probably hates Foley because Foley slagged Flair off his book.

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I should have learned more about politics and lifted more weights!


Don't worry Ric, you've always got your best friend to help you there.


Anyway, I'm disapointed they didn't use one of my questions as many of the ones they asked were pretty similar to the 4000 that I sent in, but I actually enjoyed reading that a lot. Flair is very honest, and even although some of the stuff he said was pure mince, it was a good read. Infact, it makes me want to pre-order his book right now, because it should be damn good.

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With Foley it will probably go back to his days in WCW when Flair was booking' date=' and Flair probably hates Foley because Foley slagged Flair off his book.[/quote']


Flair said in his interview that "I've not read a wrestling book yet,..."

How would he know what Foley said about him.

And how can Flair say his book would be better than Foleys,

"I can't imagine Mick Foley's life story after being in the business for 10 years is anywhere near as good as mine."

How can he say that after not even reading it.

I doubt Flair would be able to write a book better than Mick can. Mick is a great writer and it would take Ric some doing, a lot of time and effort and maybe some editors and writers to get his biography as good as Foley's.

He may have interesting stories, and would detail his career a great deal, but it wouldnt be as well writeen and possibly as funny as Mick made his - both of them.

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of course Flair has read Foley's book. The reason Flair says "I've not read a wrestling book yet" is because he considers Foley to be a stuntman, and not a wrestler. It's all there in black and white in the interview - at least that's what I get from the interview.


He doesn't consider Foley to be a wrestler, so when he read Foley's book he didn't believe he was reading a "wrestling book".


I didn't realise the animosity from Flair towards Foley and Bischoff was so strong, and found it very interesting that Flair thinks Bischoff would go into business against Vince again, at the drop of a hat.



Edited by Boyo
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