No professional wrestler has had a career like Ric Flair’s, and no one probably will. His career spanned forty years and covered every inch of ground and every championship imaginable. And while the ride inevitably had to end, it was still heartbreaking on this day in wrestling history, March 31, 2008, when Ric Flair retired.
Being the man
Beginning in 1972, Flair quickly became the face of professional wrestling for a majority of fans as he took over the top spot in the NWA (National Wrestling Alliance) until the WWE and Hulk Hogan took the world by storm in the early to mid 80s.
Even then, he continued to keep the NWA afloat with his feuds against Sting and Dusty Rhodes. His stable, the Four Horsemen, made him the top heel in professional wrestling and created a natural rivalry between him and the top babyface, the WWE’s Hulk Hogan.
The pair quickly became a dream match for fans and shared the cover of magazines everywhere.
Over the years, Flair wrestled in and won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship before returning to WCW, the closing things out in the WWE.
His final match
He survived several “end of career” matches, including a Street Fight with Vince McMahon, and beating William Regal, MVP, and Mr. Kennedy along the way.
Ric Flair’s farewell tour had built up anticipation for what would be his final match against Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 24 on March 30, 2008.
The match had everything we’d come to expect from “The Nature Boy” as he gave Michaels everything he could and refused to quit. All but beaten, a teary-eyed Michaels told him, “I’m sorry, I love you,” before hitting Flair with his Sweet Chin Music.
It was one of the most beloved yet heartbreaking moments in sports entertainment. As Flair left the ring, he was given a standing ovation by the fans. It was the perfect way for the most prolific champion in history’s career to end. Flair had always been the big stage. No matter where he went or what he did, he always made the shows feel bigger than they were.
The WWE acknowledged his career as he became the first two-time inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame. He was inducted in 2008, then in 2012 as part of the Four Horsemen.
Ric Flair has influenced countless wrestlers over a couple of generations and remains a pretty active figure with the online community and meet and greets.
Age may have slowed him down, but Ric Flair will always be stylin’ and profiin’.
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