J.R.'s Superstar of the Week - Ric Flair
Greetings from under the 200X black Resistol hat from WWE's resident Okie who had a great time in Orlando, but was happy to get back to Oklahoma before having to gear up and leave again this Sunday night to travel up to Albany, N.Y., for Monday Night Raw.
Without question Monday's Raw from Orlando was one of the most memorable broadcasts, if not the most memorable broadcast, in the 15-plus-year history of WWE's flagship television program. One extraordinarily special person facilitated that timeless memory.
Monday's Raw was definitely the "Ric Flair Show," which is why there is no one but the "Naitch" who could even be considered the Monday Night Raw Superstar of the Week.
We, fans, all gravitated to the genre of wrestling for various reasons. For me, it was the passion of the competitors, the surprises, drama and the athleticism of the combatants that hooked me early on in my life. Monday's Raw was a prime example of all those qualities. All the feedback that I have read on the Internet and that I have heard from my friends and guests at "J.R.'s Family BBQ Restaurant" in Norman, Okla., has been overwhelmingly positive.
I have often compared Ric to Michael Jordan, who influenced an entire generation of round ballers and was the best hoops player ever in the NBA. You can name the best player ever in your favorite sport and that's what Ric Flair has meant to our business.
I started watching wrestling religiously in 1964 and I have yet to see anyone who has ever come close to surpassing Flair. Most likely no one ever will.
Ric's work ethic, passion for the product and physical toughness should be the mold that every young wrestler patterns himself after. No one loved being a wrestling star more than Ric, no matter if he was being booed out of the arena or embraced as he was Monday night by his peers, friends and fans.
I often wonder what wrestlers the young developmental athletes study down in Tampa at the WWE training facility. There are many great wrestlers that should be studied, but none more thoroughly than Ric Flair.
Some people have expressed concern on how Ric will adjust to life after the "Nature Boy," but I don't have any concerns on Ric's post "Naitch" life. Ric will remain with WWE in a public relations role and will continue to contribute to the business he loves and will be trading in his Figure-four Leglock for corporate functions and media events. Life will be good for Ric Flair and no one deserves it more.
Some other random thoughts:
With the return of Cryme Tyme -- who, to the best of my knowledge, have never "vacationed" at Riker's Island per the King -- the reuniting of the sudden duo of London & Kendrick -- who seem to have more of an attitude -- the talented Cade & Murdoch, and the tag champs Holly & Rhodes, one could make an argument that business is picking up on the tag team scene on Monday Night Raw.
William Regal is evolving into an effective General Manager, but his decision to make a Santino Marella vs. Maria match still baffles me, though the "Anything Goes" stipulation proved to humiliate Marella, the noted Subway sandwich stealer. Did anyone ever figure out what Maria ever saw in Santino in the first place?
Not sure why Batista was giving HBK the angry glare on Raw as Shawn had to do what he had to do at WrestleMania when Michaels' victory retired Ric Flair. Flair demanded that Michaels bring his "A" game and out of respect for Flair, HBK did just that. Batista holds Flair in high regard as we all do, but Batista copping an attitude at Shawn doesn't seem totally fair to me.
It would not hurt my feelings to see more Jericho-CM Punk matches, but that might be hard to do with Punk still on ECW … or will Punk migrate over to Raw?
I have enhanced respect for Big Show after his amazing performance at WrestleMania XXIV against The Greatest Fighter in the World, Floyd Mayweather. Both "Money" and The World's Largest Athlete should be commended for their efforts at ‘Mania, where my expectations of that contest were blown away.
The monstrous Great Khali seemed to be laying the ground work for a bout with Show on Monday night, which might give new meaning to "bowling shoe ugly" in the battle between Godzilla and King Kong. My money is on Big Show even though Khali is apparently a national treasure in India, but I don't expect this contest to occur in Bombay.
Randy Orton has developed into a superb WWE Champion especially when one considers that 92 percent of the AT&T Mobile subscribers who voted on the outcome of the Triple Threat WWE Title bout at WrestleMania voted for either Cena or Triple H. Orton is still an arrogant and conceited human being, but no one can deny the third generation Superstar's ability. Just ask Matt Hardy, who might be better served to stay over on SmackDown and call it a day. Indeed, the "Age of Orton" has arrived. T-shirts are coming soon.
Some have asked why Dusty Rhodes wasn't involved in the in-ring salute to his old friend and rival, Ric Flair, on Monday night. Dusty recorded his comments earlier in the day as we mentioned on the air and then left the arena with a personal matter to attend that he could not postpone. The Oliver Stone conspiracy theorists let their imaginations run wild with this matter based on what I read. Lighten up, Francis.
How cool was it seeing the Four Horsemen in the ring with Ric for the first time in 20 years? J.J. Dillon now lives in Delaware and works in the Delaware Prison System. Tully Blanchard is still living in North Carolina and is involved in the ministry, as I understand it.
Ricky Steamboat may be a little greyer these days, but "The Dragon" looked like he could still go. The matches I had the privilege of calling between Steamboat and Flair in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s were all-time classics. Steamboat is Ric's all-time favorite opponent and if you watch some of their mat classics, you will easily understand why.
It is always good seeing former NWA kingpin Harley Race as we did over the weekend. Harley is the man Ric Flair puts atop the list of the legit, baddest men Flair ever encountered.
Bobby Heenan is still battling through his multiple surgeries to his jaw after battling cancer. The reason I bring this up is two-fold. One, let's all keep Bobby in our thoughts and prayers as he works diligently in rehab to re-learn to talk. Secondly, Bobby once told me that when 2008 Hall of Famer Gordon Solie passed away all the Smirnoff Vodka trucks in Tampa would drive with their lights on. My pal Gordon would have loved that classic Heenan one-liner.
We have lots of WWE Hall of Fame and WrestleMania XXIV stories along with updated Q&As from many of our fans at www.jrsbarbq.com that I invite you to check out.
Be well and count your blessings. I hope to see you in Albany, N.Y., on Monday Night Raw.
Be sure to check out J.R.'s Family Bar-B-Q Restaurant at www.jrsbarbq.com.