Well, if you had "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair in your office pool as a surprise entrant for Sunday's Royal Rumble, you'd better be ready to fork over some cash.
Not only because he was in Japan on Saturday, but he was also scheduled to compete for NJPW and had to pull out of the match due to an undisclosed health issue.
As noted earlier, Ric Flair missed his return match today for All Japan Pro Wrestling. Flair announced before the show he couldn't wrestle due to doctor's orders. Flair apologized and revealed his son Reid would be teaming with The Great Muta instead. Flair was taken to the emergency room before the show due to a sudden health issue. Doctors told him there was no way he would be able to wrestle. People backstage noted that Flair's left leg was badly swollen.
Flair ended up being ringside for the match and interfered, hitting a chop on Seiya Sanada. Sanada and Tatsumi Fujinami defeated Muta and Reid Flair. Fans in attendance were talking about offering refunds and then were upset when nothing was offered.
Overall, I have to say, that I am still surprised that Flair continues to wrestle. The fact is, at 62, Flair has nothing left to prove in this business. At this point in his career, he should be doing fan appearances, wrestling panels, or special signings and not concerning himself with in-ring happenings.
Keep in mind, Ric Flair is going to do what he wants to and will continue to make money doing so. Unfortunately, he stands to make more money in the ring than out, as fans still enjoy seeing him wrestle for nostalgia purposes.
Don't get me wrong, I am not hating on the legend, I just feel like he has paid his dues and needs to find another outlet in the business. Ultimately, pro wrestling has become this sub-culture, offering several opportunities for former stars outside of the ring.
Especially now, when Indy promotions like PWS Wrestling have been thriving by bringing in stars from the past to promote their events. In fact, almost every month, the company features a legend and uses them for fan meet-and-greets.
That being said, Flair should take this illness as a sign and walk away from future in-ring appearances. As a longtime fan, I think I can speak for the majority of wrestling fans by saying that Flair would be best served as a manager for stars that have ring talent but no mic skills.
If he were to go that route, he could wind up becoming a modern day "Classy" Freddie Blassie or Bobby Heenan. Keep in mind, Blassie, in particular, was a legend in the business prior to becoming a manager. Much like Flair, he held several World titles and was quite the star during his wrestling days.
Luckily, he was smart enough to parlay his fame into a managerial gig and continued to be involved in the sport he loved so much.
In the end, I am hopeful that the WWE brings him back as a manager and build a powerful old-school stable around him. To me, this could be the one-thing that would keep him in the spotlight, without having to get his hands dirty.