Ric Flair has decided to come clean.
“I’ll admit it,” revealed Flair. “I have a man crush on Tom Brady.
“Everybody loves to hate Tom Brady, but I love to love him. He is the best. He is so damn good. I wouldn’t be surprised if they win their fifth ring this year.”
Flair first met Brady this past February during the University of Michigan football’s signing day. Both Brady and Flair were guests of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, and Flair could not believe that Brady requested a picture with the “Nature Boy.”
“His first time back this past Sunday—406 yards?” marveled Flair. “That’s pretty insane. I met him at Harbaugh’s recruiting deal, and someone asked if I wanted to meet Brady, but I didn’t know him and thought he may not be overwhelmed with the ‘Nature Boy.’ He actually asked me for a picture, and he couldn’t have been nicer.”
Flair could only laugh at the comparison between himself and J.J. Dillon with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick
“We haven’t made quite as much money as them,” said Flair. “Not even close.”
The limousine-ridin’, jet-flyin’ Flair returns to Boston this Sunday, holding a meet-and-greet at the legendary Phil Castinetti’s Sportsworld in Saugus.
“I love Boston and I’m looking forward to this Sunday,” said Flair. “Boston is a great sports market, one of the best in the world, and my introduction to Phil was through [the Taskmaster] Kevin Sullivan. I can’t wait to be there.”
A friendship with Boston Bruins great Bobby Orr during the 1970s first piqued Flair’s interest in Boston sports.
“I’m a big hockey fan,” said Flair. “I used to love the Bruins with Bobby Orr, and it was great to watch them play the Canadians. I had a lot of respect for Bruin Hockey and all their tough guys—‘Mean’ Ted Green, [Ken] Hodge, Derek Sanderson, man, those guys made me love hockey back then.”
Flair was reminded that Andre the Giant also had a connection with the Bruins, as he would drink with Orr, Sanderson, and a handful of other players.
“Listen, Andre had a connection with everybody,” explained Flair. “If you drank, then there is a chance you knew Andre.”
Flair is a 16-time world champion in professional wrestling, rests in exclusive territory as a two-time WWE Hall of Famer, and is arguably the greatest wrestler of all time. But he has never wrestled in a Hell in a Cell, which his daughter, Charlotte, is preparing to do at WWE’s Hell in a Cell on Sunday, October 30.
“She has moves to show off that you’re not going to believe, as long as she lives through it,” said Flair, discussing Charlotte’s upcoming battle with Sasha Banks. “She isn’t afraid of anything, and she’s going to go out and make a statement again—and there is no talking her out of it. You didn’t see me do any moonsaults off the top of a cage, but she has something really special in mind for the cage.”
Flair made parallels between his own career and Charlotte’s, noting that Becky Lynch is her Sting, Bayley fills the role of her Shawn Michaels, Nattie Neidhart is her Wahoo McDaniel, and Sasha Banks is Charlotte’s Ricky Steamboat.
“The chemistry she has with Sasha is really unique,” said Flair. “It’s like Shawn and Hunter, or Shawn and Undertaker, or me and Steamboat. Some people you have chemistry with and some you don’t, and she’s found her own good chemistry with Becky Lynch, Bayley, and Nattie, but nothing like what she has with Sasha. They really have good chemistry and they do some stuff that the guys can’t do, which really separates them from the pack.”
Flair lifted the veil of his wrestling philosophy just enough to explain that the business works best when both wrestlers come out of a match looking strong.
“Wahoo and Harley Race are good examples,” said Flair. “They certainly put me on the map, and that’s a little like Charlotte and Nattie. They had a tremendous match in NXT that really helped them both and got Charlotte rolling. I like Nattie a lot, and I actually think Ashley got Nattie back up and running again on the main roster. She hadn’t been in the main event on Raw in three years, and that started a really nice run for her.
“That’s what makes you feel good—when you’re able to help someone who’s so talented get running, and it started with their match on the main roster in Toronto, and it was great. Then there was Night of Champions last year in Chicago when Bret was in her corner and I was in Charlotte’s, and that was great for everyone.”
Flair was an early believer in Charlotte. He thinks she has merely scratched the surface of her talent.
“I always knew she’d be this good,” noted Flair. “She’s only been in the business four years. She’s just going to get better—they don’t get it. She’ll do anything she sets her mind to, like the corkscrew moonsault she did last week on Raw. She told me she wanted to give people something to think about. God Lord, a corkscrew moonsault? Unbelievable.”
Flair became a marquee attraction in wrestling long before live weekly programming was a part of wrestling’s lexicon. Charlotte has quickly evolved into a bona-fide star despite her baptism-by-fire on live television.
“The pressure of being on live TV is good for you,” said Flair. “It takes you a while to get used to it, but she’s got it down now. The fact that both shows are live makes the product better because the people have got to be on top of it. There is no margin for error, and she’s responded to that pressure. No one gets it on day one, but ever since she’s fired ‘The Man,’ she’s had it going on.”
Flair managed Charlotte, but storylines eventually called for their split. Despite his massive popularity, Flair managed to only enhance, and never overshadow, his daughter while in her corner.
“We just needed a way to get her going,” said Flair. “It’s good that I’m out of there. She is such a very nice person, and she is sensitive to her friends and those around her. There is a tough side to her, but people originally resented her because she didn’t work the indies, and all that bulls—. But that’s all in the past, and she’s on top of it now, and she’s, by far, recognized as the greatest of all time. I’m very proud of her.”
Flair thanked his fans for nearly five decades of support, and sent out a “WOOO!” as a token of his appreciation.
“I started doing it in 1974, and thank God I did,” said Flair. “I heard Jerry Lee Lewis do it, and that’s what gave me the idea. It’s everywhere now. I’ve been blessed my entire career, and I’m still blessed now.”
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.