WWE: How a Ric Flair Return Would Help and Hurt WWE
While the legal eagles continue to fight over the details, the rumors of Ric Flair returning to the WWE after several years away continue to swirl.
There has been buzz over the exact role that the "Nature Boy" would play once he finally shows up in Stamford, Conn. Could he return as a Raw or Smackdown general manager? How about a color commentator? A talent mentor?
Or, God forbid, could he return to some in-ring action in an effort to put other Superstars over?
The ideas are unlimited. So is the debate about the effect that a Flair return could have on a company that seems to be looking to past stars to boost slipping ratings. Flair could be good for WWE. Flair could be bad for WWE.
Let's look at some of the positives and the negatives of a Ric Flair return.
1. Positive: Name Recognition
What wrestling fan has not heard of Ric Flair? For 40 years, he has WOOOOO-ed his way to multiple championships in just about every wrestling organization.
He has had a major effect not only on the style of wrestling we see today, but also how wrestling is presented. When he burst onto the scene in 1972 with his flashy robes and bleached hair, Flair was perceived as a rebirth of Gorgeous George. He opened the door for future pretty-boy characters like Rick Rude, Shawn Michaels and Dolph Ziggler.
But unlike George, Flair's wrestling ability more than backed up his bravado. Love him or hate him, he made you want to watch. He could do it as a singles attraction, a tag team partner or a member of a stable like the legendary Four Horsemen. Remember, he is the only wrestler to be inducted twice into the WWE Hall of Fame.
He was, and is, the best to ever lace up a pair of wrestling boots.
From a pure legacy standpoint, having Flair back in the fold gives WWE something to hang its hat on.
2. Positive: A Mentor or Manager to Young Talent
Ric Flair has probably forgotten more about professional wrestling than most Superstars today would ever remember. He has seen it all, done it all...even caused it all.
So what Superstar in his right mind would pass on the opportunity to learn at the knee of the master?
Flair is equally adept at being a mentor both behind the scenes and at ringside. His business acumen and mere presence would serve him well as the storyline leader of either Raw or Smackdown, giving instant credibility to that position.
Some people would love to see Flair replace Vickie Guerrero as the manager for Dolph Ziggler. After all, Ziggler's flamboyant in-ring antics are so much like Flair's that you often feel you are watching Flair himself.
Up-and-coming wrestlers would probably line up from here to Hoboken, N.J., and back just to have a moment of his time. That is, if the veteran Superstars have not taken their place in line.
3. Positive: A Knowledgeable Broadcaster
In four decades, Ric Flair never met a microphone he did not like. Or that did not like him.
The man has seen enough ring action to be able to dissect every move or every thought a wrestler would have in the ring. The golden pipes may have been slurred some by age and hard living, but they still have some magic in them.
Imagine pairing him with Michael Cole or Jim Ross. They could rival Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura in their heyday. And if you were to put him in a three-man booth with Cole or Ross on play-by-play and JBL or Jerry Lawler on color, it would be as much fun to tune in and listen as it would be to watch.
4. Negative: Lots of Baggage
We have looked at some of the positives of bringing Ric Flair back to WWE. Now, here are a couple of negatives.
First and foremost is Flair's recent track record. He reportedly owed a great deal of money to many people and has been sued to get that money back. His personal life has resembled a soap opera, with arrests, assaults, road rage, reports of embezzlement and a fourth divorce.
With all those distractions, it could make you wonder if he would be able to give his total attention to a WWE role.
5. Negative: What If He Thinks He Still Can Wrestle at 63?
It's a fact of life in athletics. The run comes to an end. Sometimes, the athlete can recognize it. Sometimes, he cannot.
It's often called "Muhammad Ali Syndrome" when an athlete just cannot seem to realize his competition days are over. It happened to Ali. Brett Favre and Evander Holyfield also fell victim to it.
And apparently, so did Ric Flair. Watching him wrestle into his 60s was painful at best. The style was gone, and it became obvious that he only was doing it for a paycheck.
Now, who's to say that once Flair gets back to WWE, the bug bites him again, and he wants one more time in the ring. He's 63 and is nowhere near the physical specimen he once was. Would WWE or Flair want that to be the last thing people would remember about him?
Two words to remember: Jerry Lawler.
So What Do You Think?
There is no question that Ric Flair's name is synonymous with professional wrestling, He is and always will be a living legend. He undoubtedly would be welcomed back to WWE with open arms.
The question is, would his return generate the headlines that WWE so desperately seeks? Or would those headlines quickly turn to headaches?
Let us know what you think.
Follow Bill Atkinson on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963.