Ric Flair: Has He Lost All Control of His Image?

Travis TaylorFeatured ColumnistMarch 14, 2013

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 18:  Ric Flair gestures during a press conference for 'Hulkamania - Let The Battle Begin' at Star City on November 18, 2009 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

It was supposed to be a good thing that Ric Flair returned to the WWE. But after witnessing his association with The Miz and his odd behavior around the ring, has Flair lost all control of his image?

As the 16-time former world champion, he shouldn't be the gag in the middle of the ring.

Flair has always had one of the most recognizable personas and looks in the world of professional wrestling. The designer suits, the long blond hair, the limousines and jets, the world title tucked neatly under his arm. In the '80s he would come to ringside with a bevy of beautiful women on each arm.

The look went along with the persona of one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. Never a joke, Flair was style and grace wrapped up in the confidence of who and how great he was. This was the man who carried the NWA and WCW. The man who made a star out Sting and wrestled Ricky Steamboat in one of the greatest matches of his career, let alone all time.

So what's happened since then?

Flair now is a shell of his former self. This has nothing to do with his in-ring abilities. The man is 64 years old. Combined with his recent health problems, there is no surprise that his athletic abilities are on the decline.

Gone now is the Flair of old, the one who was confident in who he was, the one who had an edge to him whether against a face or a heel.

Now the WWE has Flair the weirdo, the crazy old guy who at times doesn't seem to know what's going on around him—or doesn't care. He seems to be relishing in taking what made him stand out in the past and heightening it to comical proportions.

In his prime, watching him faint after being hit was fun. But watching him faint for no reason isn't funny. Nor is it funny seeing him elbow drop his jacket. Yes, it gets a reaction from the crowd, but it degrades Flair in the process. 

For a man with a 40-year career, this can't be his own idea.

Look back to when Flair was on Miz TV in January of this year. After several exchanges of "Really?" and some strutting, Flair let loose a telling line. Prodded by Miz to use more of his catchphrases, Flair said, "I need a job, brother."

That's just it.

Flair is doing whatever he needs to do to earn money. If that includes making a mockery of all his mannerisms or giving a lackluster endorsement to a guy chosen as his successor, he'll do it.

His money troubles have been documented by Grantland.com and his costly divorce from wife No. 4 has been equally covered here on Bleacher Report.

Because Flair is apparently in need of finances, he may have no choice to but to go along with the ridiculing of his image. Instead of building Flair up as one of the all-time greats or utilizing him as an effective manager, he is a sideshow attraction.

It's a sad end to legendary career.