What’s causing all this?
If you don’t know that catchphrase, shame on you. If you don’t know that the man who spoke those words behind dark glasses and a million dollar smile is now currently a free agent, then let me be the first to tell you.
Ric Flair is on the market.
For fans of my generation who grew up on Jim Crockett Promotions and the classic NWA, Ric Flair is it. The 16 time World Champion was the walking, talking, embodiment of what it meant to be the best in the business.
His charisma commanded attention, his personality captivated audiences, and his wrestling skills put him in a class all his own. Ric Flair did not have to remind you that he was the man on top of the wrestling world, though he did quite often. The fact was, if you did not know who he was, and he walked into the room, then you would automatically know that he was somebody.
And, now the limousine ridin’, jet flyin’ son of a gun is, according to the Wrestling Observer, via Wrestlezone.com, no longer under contract to TNA. So, what does this mean?
It’s time for a homecoming.
It may be just speculation right now, but the rumor of Ric’s return to the house that McMahon built, and his supposed spot as Dolph Ziggler’s new manager, is already floating around. And, considering that a talent with the pedigree of Ric Flair is likely not going to work for an independent promotion with no worldwide stage, then it’s perhaps a safe bet that we will be seeing him back in a WWE ring very soon.
For me, this is gold. The Nature Boy, the 60 minute man, the dirtiest player in the game, standing beside the one heel in WWE who just cannot seem to get to that all important next level. This is a prime example of excellent booking.
That’s right, kids, WWE is still capable of doing that.
Ziggler is physically not all that different from Flair in terms of his character, and his overall presence in the ring. His bleached blond hair, his swagger, and his supreme arrogance, is very reminiscent of the Nature Boy, and as far as his ring work is concerned, Dolph is only getting better.
I have to say, I have not always been that much of a Ziggler fan. In the beginning, he was just another worker with a silly name, a generic cookie cutter WWE Superstar who looked to do nothing but make fans laugh, providing comic relief with one exaggerated expression after another.
But, a funny thing happened to Dolph on the way to obscurity: he proved he could hang.
Despite whatever crazy gimmick, gear, or storyline, that a Superstar may end up with, the biggest concern at the end of the day for many fans is the guy’s talent between the ropes.
Can he go? When he gets in the ring, can he put on a show, pull you in, and make you care about what he’s doing? Love him or hate him, when the final bell rings, will you remember his match the next day? If the answer is no, then that Superstar will likely make for some entertaining moments, give a few smiles along the way, and then slowly become nothing more than a novelty act.
But, for those workers who stand out, for those who make fans want to pay to see them perform, then the sky is the limit. There is no predicting the heights they can reach, or the legendary moments they will create along the way.
In my mind, Dolph Ziggler more than fits the mold of the top tier Superstar, the guy who sets the bar for those around him, and raises it every time he’s in the ring. He’s a hard worker, a man who has earned his place, and is now looking to go even further up the food chain in WWE.
And, getting a hand from Ric Flair may be just the way that it happens.
Ric obviously has his fair share of critics, fans who look at him and see nothing but a veteran who has stayed past his time, and is offering nothing to the business at this point. In their minds, Shawn Michaels has surpassed him as the best of all time, and there is no point in a WWE return after his time in TNA was all for nothing.
Everyone has their view on the man, there is no doubt about that. But, ask yourself if Shawn Michaels considers himself the best ever, over Ric Flair. More importantly, ask the talent in the TNA locker room, guys like Robert Roode, James Storm, Gunner, AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, if they feel that Ric contributed nothing to them, or to TNA as a whole.
No matter what fans feel about Flair right now, the truth is that if he does return to WWE, the company who knows how to not only market him, but use him effectively, then he will be successful. And, if he does indeed become the manager of Dolph Ziggler?
Then, Dolph is getting the World Title. Simple as that.
Why? Because Ric will actually give Dolph what he needs to prove he can handle being a top guy? Because he can help elevate him in the minds of the company that need to know if he’s ready, and the fans who want to see if he can do it in the first place?
But, for me, the real reason that Ric’s presence virtually guarantees Dolph’s championship victory is the fact that he’s there. All of Ric’s accolades, his accomplishments in the business, his reputation as a bankable star, all of that, will be thrown squarely behind Ziggler, who will get the biggest rub of his career thus far.
Personally, I don’t know how the guy could lose.
Ric left on good terms with WWE, both as a character and as a talent, and considering his image is still intact with them, there is every reason to believe that if each side wants to do business, that Ric will be treated fairly, and be made to look good. And, Ric’s part in all of this?
Just be Ric Flair. Strut. Smile. Use every catchphrase in the arsenal, and use every dirty trick in the playbook.
And, when he does all of that, he does it not to get himself over, but to get Dolph over.
Suddenly, Dolph goes from being the guy who might get a shot, to being the guy who has to get a shot. His status is elevated, and he capitalizes on it. It’s really just that easy.
What’s causing all this? Maybe the better question is who’s causing all this.
Time to come home, Ric. Style and profile one more time.