"If wrestling can be considered an art form, then [Ric Flair] is using oils, and the many others merely water colors."
—Jim Ross, Starrcade 1988
"The Nature Boy" Ric Flair: the sixteen-time World Heavyweight Champion -- and a limousine-riding, jet-flying, wheelin' dealin' kiss-stealin' - WOOOOO! - son - of - a - gun!
In the "sport" of Professional Wrestling, there are wrestlers, there are superstars, there are legends... and then there's Ric Flair (real name Richard Morgan Fliehr, born in 1949). With a career spanning four decades (starting in 1972), sixteen (at least) World Championships, legendary matches and feuds with some of the biggest names in the business, and a retirement sendoff that will likely never be duplicated in either scope or emotional impact on the fans, Flair is one of the most famous professional wrestlers who has ever lived, and is arguably one of the three biggest performers in the history of the industry (the other two being Hulk Hogan and Stone Cold Steve Austin).
For an in-depth look at his career, go check the article on him at That Other Wiki.
- Also Sprach Zarathustra: Became his entrance music, and is pretty much universally associated with him in pro wrestling.
- Arch Enemy: Quite a few, but his most memorable opponents were Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, Sting, "The Franchise" Shane Douglas, Mick Foley, and, of course, Hulk Hogan.
- Badass Grandpa: After his return to WCW in 1998, Flair was pretty much this for the next decade.
- Badass Long Robe / Badass Longcoat: A sparkly, befeathered, occasionally-pink ring robe. And yet still manages to look masculine.
- Bittersweet Ending: Ric Flair vs. Sting closing out the final WCW Monday Nitro.
- Blood Is the New Black: Whole hospital refrigerators could be filled with the bags of blood Ric Flair has bled over the course of his career. One of the most common images of him is with his hair dyed solid red and his face a red mask.
- But You Screw One Goat!: On one episode of TNA iMPACT!, Ric Flair claimed to have engaged in carnal relations with Zenyatta. Zenyatta is a race-horse.
- Calling Your Attacks: Flair would often telegraph his figure-four leglock by exclaiming, "Now, we go to school!" Some of his best opponents, such as Bret Hart, were Genre Savvy enough to reverse when he did that, though.
- Catch Phrase: A ton. Being in the business for four decades tends to allow you that luxury. Among his most famous:
- "To be the man (WOOO!), you gotta beat the man!"
- "Time to go to school!" (usually just prior to whooping somebody's ass)
- "What's CAUSin' all this?"
- "...limousine-riding, jet-flying, stylin', profilin', whiskey drinking, wheelin' dealin' kiss-stealin' son of a gun!"
- "Time to ride Space Mountain!"
- "It may be the oldest ride in the park, but it still has the longest line!"
- "I am God!"
- And, of course, "WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Flair turned on Sting more times than almost humanly possible. He turned on Vader, Mr. Perfect, Randy Orton, Batista, and even turned on fellow Horsemen Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko, in a way, with his David-centric behavior. Perhaps the most triumphant example of this trope, though, was during the 1992 Royal Rumble, when he gave The Barbarian a high-five, circled around in front of him and immediately gave him a knife-edge chop.
- Also, Fortune. He formed them specifically to be his future expy of the Horsemen motivated by taking back prominence in the company they helped build, but then as soon as that purpose turned them against Hulk Hogan's blatant new-generation nWo ripoff, he would show that for him it's all about the power.
- Combat Pragmatist: As "The Dirtiest Player in the Game" as well as an avid fan of nut-shots, this trope fits him to a T.
- Cool Old Guy
- Demoted to Extra: Especially after Hulk Hogan joined WCW, and during the Monday Night Wars.
- Easily-Distracted Referee: Flair utilized this trope to its fullest advantage.
- Eye Poke: One of his signature moves.
- Face Fault: The "Flair Flop", in which Flair would get hit a few times, stagger forward, then fall flat on his face.
- He's even Flair Flopped onto a board covered in barbed wire.
- Fighting Dirty: Flair was a master of this. He wasn't given the nickname "The Dirtiest Player in the Game" for nothing. Thumbs to the eye and kicks to the groin were among his favorite illegal tactics.
- Finishing Move: The Figure Four Leglock.
- Flung Clothing: Some of his promos towards the end of WCW would see him rip off his suit until he was down to his underwear... and to add salt to the would, he would drop elbows on his suit jacket.
- According to pretty much everyone, Flair was fond of doing this while partying too.
Triple H: "Ric, I know I've told you this a thousand times but for God's sake, man, put your pants on!"
- Game-Breaking Injury: Flair would use chop blocks, kicks, ANYTHING that would weaken an opponent's legs and/or knees to soften them up for the Figure Four.
- God Am I: In TNA, he literally thinks that he is the wrestling form of God. Not a god. God.
- Good Is Dumb: Inverted, as Flair would famously lure Sting (aka "the dumbest man in wrestling") into the Four Horsemen and then turn on him, kicking him out of the group. And he did it twice.
- Groin Attack: Pretty much every heel during Flair's heyday used the Low Blow. Flair turned it into an art form.
- Hijacked by Ganon: Flair was shoehorned into the infamous Black Scorpion angle in 1990.
- Insult Backfire: The widespread "Woo" after using one of Flair's moves used to be a Take That devised by Shane Douglas. It later became an endearing Shout-Out.
- Intergenerational Friendship: With Shawn Michaels and Triple H, the former of which wrestled Flair in his WWE "retirement" match and the latter inducted him into the Hall of Fame.
- Large Ham
- Leitmotif: Also Sprach Zarathustra, Flair's famous entrance theme.
- Let's Get Dangerous: When Ric Flair whips his jacket off, that's when shit gets real.
- Like a Son to Me: In TNA he has AJ Styles and Kazarian, who even got into a fight for Ric's love.
- Lovable Rogue
- Mad Eye: Oh my god, Naitch's crazy-eyes must be seen to be believed.
- Man of Wealth and Taste: His ring attire is the Badass Longcoat mentioned above. Outside the ring, it's high-price suits and stupidly expensive watches.
- Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: Again, he wasn't called "The Dirtiest Player in the Game" for no reason.
- Out-Gambitted: The Perfect Plan was one thing, but Randy Savage had the last laugh; he convinced Mr. Perfect to split from him and Razor Ramon to be his partner at the 1992 Survivor Series. That decision would lead up to a Loser Leaves Town match on Raw between Flair and Mr. Perfect. Perfect won.
- Pixellation: When Flair brought the NWA Title to the WWF, it was pixellated due to legal reasons, and it was explained that Flair's NWA Title was not sanctioned by the WWF.
- The full story here is that Flair, like every NWA champion, had put down a $25,000 deposit on the belt. Since he kept winning, his deposit was never returned. When he was fired/resigned from WCW (without having been made to drop the title), the deposit was never returned so Ric kept the belt and took it with him to WWF. WCW filed a lawsuit which led to Ric wearing a WWF tag title at house shows and the Pixellation but the court still wasn't happy. In the end, WWF decided "hell with it" and put the world title on him. If it hadn't been for the lawsuit, the Hogan-Flair feud would have been far longer.
- Popularity Power: WCW audiences proved how much this trope works via their sabotaging the main event of The Great American Bash 1991; the crowd chanted "We want Flair!" practically non-stop during the match, in protest of Flair being fired from WCW.
- This wasn't just sabotaging the main event; the crowd sat on its hands in protest for the entire undercard, resulting in just about everyone half-assing their matches, before launching into the deafening "We want Flair!" chants during the main event, which were loud enough to be heard despite WCW cutting the crowd microphones; they were even picked up on the ring and announcer mics. And all this when Flair had been the most hated heel in the company going into the pay-per-view!
- The Plan / Massive Multiplayer Scam: Let's just say it was the Perfect Plan. In the weeks leading up to the Randy Savage-Ultimate Warrior WWF Championship match at Summerslam 92, Ric Flair and Mr. Perfect teased being in one of their corners. During the match, the two liberally attacked Savage and the Warrior, leaving more doubt into their (and the fans') heads. Warrior won the match by count out, but not the title. A few weeks later, Flair beat a weakened Macho Man for his second WWF Championship.
- Power Stable: The Four Horsemen in the NWA/WCW; Evolution in WWE.
- To wit: The Horsemen were arguably the most famous and popular stable in wrestling history up until the rise of the nWo, and at the height of Evolution's success, all four members simultaneously held every men's title exclusive to Raw.
- In TNA, he started Fourtune, basically a new-generation Four Horsemen of TNA Originals who for a while were the top heels in the company, delivering Horsemen-style beatdowns to everyone on the roster.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Happened a few times in Flair's career, notably his "Real World Champion" gimmick in his first WWF run and his firing/rehiring in WCW in 1998.
- Also, the Horsemen's gimmick. According to Arn Anderson, it became a "full-blown shoot".
- The plane crash that broke his back caused him to alter his style in-ring. To the end, he never took another drop directly on his back (its slightly to the side).
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Flair dismantles Carlito in one of the greatest examples in professional wrestling history.
- Rule of Cool
- Serious Business: Over half of Flair's career was during the days of kayfabe being unbroken.
- Sobriquet: The Nature Boy (though not the first one), Naitch, The Dirtiest Player in the Game, Slick Ric.
- Spell my catchphrase without an "H" His catchphrase is often misspelled as "Whooooo!"
- Ten-Minute Retirement: Played straight a few times, and sort-of averted after his retirement following WrestleMania 24; while he has yet to wrestle another match in America, he wrestled against Hulk Hogan during Hogan's 2009 tour of Australia. He has also wrestled on Impact! now and while this, especially coupled with his absolute Tear Jerker of a sendoff at WWE, naturally created a Broken Base, he definitely showed everyone that he's still got what it takes to work the match and the crowd.
- Theatrics of Pain: If Flair wanted you to believe he was in pain, he would make you believe it.
- Throw It In: At an NWA TV taping in 1986, Flair, Ole, and Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, and manager JJ Dillon were placed in an impromptu interview spot together due to time constraints. The four wrestlers had been working as something akin to a Power Stable before this, but then Arn said "The only time this much havoc had been wreaked by this few a number of people, you need to go all the way back to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse!" during the interview; just weeks later, fans were carrying "Four Horsemen" signs to NWA events. The name stuck, and the Four Horsemen went on to become arguably the most successful and powerful stable in pro wrestling (until the New World Order came along).
- Underwear of Power
- Verbal Tic: Rhymes with "boo"...