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‘Woooooo! Becoming Ric Flair’ shows the character and man are one and the same

The Peacock documentary takes apart the trials, tribulations, and the persona of the dirtiest player in the game

Texas v Texas Tech Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images

“There’s a Richard and a Ric. Who are you?” Ric Flair’s cultural impact notability transcends behind the confines of the wrestling ring. It’s in every single “WOOOO” you hear and synonymous with styling and profiling. The aura of the Ric Flair character is an attitude of luxury, excess, and a profound sense of confidence. Those tools powered Richard Morgan Fliehr through a 50-year wrestling career with 16-world title reigns (Flair claims it’s 21). Kayfabe requires the suspension of disbelief – both from an audience and performer perspective. Wrestlers like The Undertaker and Andre the Giant seem like they can make the impossible possible. The same can be said for Flair himself – the jets, the partying, the limos, and the $5,000 suits all feel like a never-ending part of his world. The character was somehow the hopes and dreams of the man manifested in the squared circle,

Who is Richard Fliehr, exactly? Or is Ric Flair Richard turned up to the highest volume? Woooooo! Becoming Ric Flair strives to break through the two molds – finding that the character often serves as a protector for the man. Much of this sounds larger than life anyway – Flair survived a plane crash, a lightning strike, and medical complications later in his life. Some of the stories were covered in Flair’s ESPN’s 30 for 30. As this is a WWE production, his time in TNA Wrestling later in his career and the controversy from Vice’s Dark Side of the Ring “Plane Ride From Hell” episode are left to the wayside. Flair himself acknowledges that “he lived everything he said.” That’s good and bad. For every title win, there was the tragedy of losing his son Reid to divorces and health struggles from his long drinking history. Going back to his childhood, coming from an orphanage in Memphis, Tennessee, this life that Flair has built feels like one only he could live.

Flair claims he never wanted to wear the same thing twice on television, and that’s why he bought four suits a week for 36 years. That’s an insane amount of devotion to a character. However, while Flair plays up the liveliness we’ve all come to know, there’s a pensive nature when looking back at moments in his life. He’s often filled with tears when speaking about how much his children mean to him and the crowd's adulation. For all the loud proclamations, Flair is still a man who struggles with the common threads of self-doubt. Self-doubt for the man who has owned 200 pairs of alligator shoes? If father time truly comes for us all, it’s even more apparent in wrestling. Ric Flair survived a then WWF 90’s youth movement and the death of WCW until his (then) last match against Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 24 to stamp his face on wrestling’s version of Mount Rushmore.

With all these expectations, there’s a lot to live up to. Becoming Ric Flair goes into the health scare that lands Flair in a medically induced coma. To many people’s surprise, Flair notes he still has drinks to this day (on a set schedule). The man has lived his life veering close to the edge and doesn’t seem as though he’s stopping anytime soon. Flair had a grand event billed for his last match ever, even with a pacemaker. He would later rebuke and say, “I will never retire.

We always wonder about athletes in sports after they retire and if they can transition to whatever this concept of “real life” is. For Flair, the world is a stage as he continues to place his imprint on the DNA of pop culture. It’s a symbiotic relationship that both keeps him going and younger generations can mimic. The difference now is that we know it comes with a price – a toll Flair wears through grief and a constant search for approval. But with a flash of a smile and the beckon of his trademark call, his legacy lives on.