A TRIBUTE TO THE "NATURE BOY" RIC FLAIR

WOOOOOOO!!!.......WOOOOOOO!!!.......WOOOOOOO!!!........WOOOOOOO!!!........WOOOOOOO!!!

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I WANT EVERYBODY TO READ THIS ARTICLE FROM FORMER WCW ANNOUNCER AND CURRENT RADIO SPORTS TALK SHOW HOST MARK MADDEN. TRUST ME LADIES AND GENTLEMEN I HAVE READ EVERYTHING THERE IS TO READ ABOUT RIC FLAIR AND THE ARTICLE BELOW BY MARK MADDEN IS ONE OF THE BEST ARTICLES I HAVE EVER READ ABOUT RIC FLAIR. IT IS FANTASTIC!!!

Nature Boy had Flair for dramatic

By Mark Madden, Times Sports Columnist

"Itís been said a million times that Ric Flair is arguably the greatest wrestler of all time. Iím still waiting to hear the argument."

Paul Levesque, a/k/a Triple H, March 29, 2008.

There isnít one, Trips. Not that you needed to be told.

He shared his entrance music with Elvis, and his singular undisputed excellence as well. Over the course of his 36-year career, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair settled the issue of wrestlingís greatest ever in a decisive manner matched perhaps only by Michael Jordan in basketball.

Or perhaps not. Jordanís NBA comeback at 38 turned out to be ill-advised. Flair, meanwhile, stole the show at 59 ó 59! ó with his retirement match at WrestleMania eight days ago.

Wrestlingís detractors like to throw around words like "fake." But it was never fake with Flair.

Suspending disbelief is the goal of the bastard athletic soap opera that is pro wrestling. Great performers do it most of the time. Good performers do it some of the time.

Flair did it every time. He did it every time regardless of the quality of the foe, the size of the crowd, televised or not. He did it hurt, he did it tired, he did it over 300 times per year in his prime, he did it for 60 minutes some nights, he did it twice some days, he did it while making his opponent look better than he really was and he did it far better than anyone else.

Having worked in the business, Iím as jaded as a wrestling fan can be. But when Shawn Michaels had Flair pinned at WrestleMania, I lifted my shoulder even as I sat watching on my living-room couch, trying to make Ric kick out one last time. Thatís how much Ric Flair still makes me believe.

Sadly, my help wasnít enough. As planned, Flair lost, and his career was over.

Iím still not sure why Flair is retiring. Heís still a better in-ring performer than 90 percent of the WWE roster. When heís turned loose, heís still the best interview there is. People still want to see him.

But thatís OK. Maybe itís time anyway.

And while Flair may be done as a full-time wrestler, it seems inevitable that weíll see a father-son tag team of Ric and Reid Flair on some special occasion. Reid is 20, and was born to be a wrestler. Letís just hope the burden isnít too heavy, because he has the toughest act ever to follow.

As much as Ric Flair has meant to me as a performer, he means more to me as a friend. We first met over 20 years ago when I profiled him for a local paper, and we worked together at World Championship Wrestling. He is a genuine, caring man, a great father, and while heís slowed down a bit in the party department, heís responsible for killing a frightening amount of my brain cells. I never have a better time than when Iím with Ric Flair. He made me a New York Times best-seller, too.

But friendship doesnít cloud my judgment when it comes to Ric as a performer. I could write about the Flair-Ricky Steamboat series in í89, Ricís glory days in the Mid-Atlantic territory, the Royal Rumble in í92, or all those great promos with the Four Horsemen, but that would be lost on most of you.

So just ask a wrestler who the best ever is. Ninety-nine percent will say Flair. No one in any profession is more beloved and respected by his peers.

Not only is Flair the greatest wrestler ever, but his name will never die. Never mind the video, never mind all the press clippings, never mind the books. Go to a wrestling show. Whether itís the WWE in Mellon Arena or an independent show in a little gym, just buy a ticket, sit down and wait for a wrestler to throw a chop like Flair was famous for.

"WHOOOOO!" Whether itís 15,000 fans or 15, I guarantee you will hear Ric Flairís trademark exclamation thunder from just about every larynx in the house. Today, tomorrow and forever.

There may be an encore, but there wonít be a successor. They only made one.