The rise and near fall of one of the greatest wrestlers of all time: "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair "Woooooo!” When ANY wrestling fan heard this sound, along with the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey, they knew they would be in for the event of a lifetime. This “Stylin-n-profilin” heel knew how to keep the fans entertained, and the ladies swooning. Most of all, he was the HARDEST worker in the wrestling business today, and has earned the right to be “the man”. This is none other than the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, and in his books To Be the Man, Flair not only shares with great detail about his life in the wrestling business, but also the backstage politics, back-stabbing, and the many problems a wrestler faces. Flair also shares how this affects his personal life, not only on himself, but most of all, on his many marriages, and his family.
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Flair begins with his birth, and the interesting even controversial details surrounding it. Apparently, he was one of many unfortunate infants who were taken from their biological parents, through deceptive and criminal means. During the late 40's a now disreputable adoption agency, known as the Tennessee Children's Home Society in Memphis, would take infants born to unsuspecting unwed mothers, very poor parents, and single moms, and sell them to desperate parents, and/or anyone who wanted a child. This is the very organization that sold babies to Joan Crawford! It would late b exposed I the 1950's and become no more. Flair goes on the share how he was blessed to be given to very loving parents, who were not only affluent, but very gifted. Given the name Richard Morgan Fliehr, he was raised just outside of Minneapolis Flair was a distracted student, who became a talented athlete, and party boy. He would then get hooked on wrestling thanks to his father taking him to his first match, and watching it constantly on TV. Through a chance meeting with Ken Patera, he was able to begin to fulfill his dream of becoming a professional wrestler. He then moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1974, made a name for himself through the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling promotion. It was there, patterning himself after Buddy Rogers, Wahoo McDaniel and many other greats, that he dyed his hair blonde, got himself gaudy and spectacular robes, and called himself “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. He then goes on to share one the scariest experiences in his life: being in a plane crash that nearly killed him. As a result of this plane crash, he broke his back, and it nearly forced him to retire. In 1981, he would not only recuperate, but go on to win the NWA (National Wrestling Alliance Championship), and many more. During this, he traveled more than any other wrestler known, working almost EVERY day of the year, sometimes twice in one day. He would work through birthday's anniversaries, and the births of his children, because it was expected of him, and he even once wrestled eighteen hour-long matches, during a fourteen-day stretch. Mastering not only the art of wrestling/performing in the ring, he mastered the art in ring and out of ring wrestling promos, learning from the best. Due to this, he experienced success as the world champ for a record breaking total of 16 times. It was during this time, that he not only wrestled this persona, but he LIVED it, with, excessive spending/living, wild partying, and much more. Unfortunately, it cost him dearly not just in his marriage, but it nearly cost him his relationship with his children. During the 80's he wrestled greats, such as Roddy piper, Macho Man Randy Savage, Psycho Sid, Lex Lugar and many more with what is now the WWE, and he wrestled other greats such as Sting, when he became a regular in the now defunct WCW. While in WCW, he was led to believe he would be treated with the respect he rightly earned, but thanks to the devious dealings of individuals such as Eric Bischoff, and Hulk Hogan, they stacked the deck against him with their backstabbing and sneaky backstage politics which was a staple within the wrestling business. Flair goes into great detail on how Hogan insisted on being “top billing” in the business, and disrespected him at EVERY turn. It was also during this time period, the company waged a nearly successful war against the WWE, but that would fail, because they spent exorbitant amounts of money on talent that never really delivered, or they failed to utilize the great talent they had there. He recalls how they (Bischoff, Hogan and MANY others) took the WCW title, and tarnished it, by giving it to unworthy individuals, including Dennis Rodman, and David Arquette, in a cheap promo of a movie. Fortunately, Arquette did have respect for it unlike Rodman, and showed it by treating the WCW wrestlers and more to drinks. He even did the honorable thing and defended it, like any wrestler should, and lost with honor. By this point, Ric is depressed, and emotionally drained. So much so, that on his last match with WCW, he wrestles Sting, with a T-shirt on, because he is out of shape. He even loses a business to a hurricane! Ultimately, WCW would lose to WWE, and be sold to Vince McMahon, where Ric would arrive broken, and feeling worthless. At this point, he is befriended by a young man in the business that is also incredibly talented, Paul Levesque A.K.A. Triple-H, who with the help of many other wrestlers there restores not only his confidence in himself, but his abilities, but most of all in himself. He is at this point, able to live the motto he says to everyone else: “To be the man, you've got to beat the man.”
Best part of story, including ending:
I really loved his description of the backstabbing and underhanded politics within the business in his day, especially how they WCW tried to sue him over the WCW title, and they failed!
Best scene in story:
I was really into the match he had with Ricky "the Dragon" Steamboat where the actually used sandpaper on each other in an attempt to ruin their "pretty boy" looks. I thought that was original!!
Opinion about the main character:
I disliked his neglect of his wife and children, and his excessive spending. It cost him a great deal, but he did learn a bit from it.
This book is about Ric Flair (Richard Fliehr) and his exploits inside and outside the ring. It's a very fast read covering a thirty year career with anecdotes from his family as well as other wrestlers. You'll get to learn how hard it is to balance family with the rigors of being on the road 300 days out of the year. The book covers his starting out with Verne Gagne; running in the freezing cold winters, doing hundreds of squats and push-ups, and practicing in an old ring in a barn. The book also covers his time as NWA heavyweight champion in the 70's and 80's, his time in the 90's with WCW and all the politics that went along with that.
The review of this Book prepared by Bobby Blades