THE "NATURE BOY" INVADES THE MUM CITY
In just the past several years, Bristol, Connecticut has been able to see some of the biggest wrestling names in the ring just a few feet in front of them. From Kurt Angle to Christian Cage to Jerry Lawler to Samoa Joe to Rowdy Roddy Piper, the list goes on and on.
But this coming Saturday, the biggest of them all will make a special appearance at WrestleFest XIII at Bristol Central High School. Ric Flair – considered by many to be the greatest wrestler in history – will headline the show with a special in-ring interview.
And while the fans that pack the Central gym are likely to give "The Nature Boy" one heck of a welcome to the Mum City, Flair is more than ready to return the favor and send them home a happy group.
"Whatever I need to do to get them to remember me is what I’m going to do," Flair said in an exclusive interview with The Bristol Press. "I’m begging everyone to come down and see what will happen."
One person he won’t have to beg to come to Bristol is Jimmy "The Mouth of the South" Hart. The all-time great manager is out for some revenge on Flair after he was put in a Figure 4 leg lock during an earlier altercation.
"I got a bone to pick with Ric Flair," Hart said. "The last time I saw him, he put the Figure 4 on me in Charlotte. I got a surprise for him."
But don’t expect to see Flair worried. In fact, he’s not even thinking twice about a potential showdown with the manager.
"I’ll squash Jimmy Hart," he said. "He’s not even big enough for me to squash."
That potential matchup is just one of the many that will be featured at WrestleFest XIII come Saturday night. In addition to Flair and Hart, the show will star Kevin "Big Sexy" Nash, former WWE tag team champion Paul London, Velvet Sky, NEW champion Jason Blade and the retirement match of Bristol’s own Kurt Adonis.
For his part, Flair is ready to give local wrestling fans a show they won’t soon forget.
"Whether it’s 2,000 people or 200, they’ll be getting the same show from me," Flair said. "I love it."
As wrestling fans might know, Flair retired from in-ring action recently after a legendary 35-year career. And even though he still believes he can mix it up with the best of them, he isn’t about to go back on his word.
"Retiring from wrestling and just having fun with my sons now has been the highlight of my career," Flair said. "The retirement was too special for me to come back."
Flair is now mentoring his sons, including Reid, who will be wrestling in Bristol Saturday. He also is willing to teach the up and coming athletes about the business, but the advice comes with a warning.
"I’ll give them all the advice I can give," Flair said. "But if you ask me, don’t ask anybody else. Just think about it. After you ask Ric Flair about wrestling, you’re going to go ask someone else if Flair was right. Get a grip on that."
It’s almost impossible to get a grip on the fact that Flair’s wrestling career was likely over before it even started. Back in October 1975, Flair was in a horrific plane crash that took the life of the pilot and paralyzed Johnny Valentine. Flair was lucky to escape alive, but he did break his back in three places and was told that he would never wrestle again.
"I wouldn’t accept that," Flair said. "I just didn’t take no for an answer. I was full of myself even back then."
Six months later and Flair was back in the ring and the rest is history.
Flair went on to become the face of the NWA and later WCW. He also had two successful runs with the WWE, including his first from 1991-93 that he called the best time of his life. He won world championships and countless other titles in what became the greatest wrestling career of all time.
It was good enough that many would say he is the best ever. But for Flair, the industry and his career was all about respect.
"It is a huge honor to be considered one of the best," Flair said, "but I don’t get wrecked over it. For me, it was respect. I would rather be the most respected guy than the greatest.
"I never took time off. I worked hard. I was able to change over the times. I feel very honored to be part of it all."
"I knew I was really good at what I did," Flair said. "I believed in my ability. The only thing that mattered to me was what I thought and what the promoter thought. I knew I was the best, so I didn’t lose sleep over that."
Wrestling fans might not be getting much sleep leading up to WrestleFest XIII this Saturday, and for good reason.
"Michael O’Brien is paying me a lot of money to come to Bristol," Flair said of the NEW promoter. "So sell that place out because it’s going to be a fun night."