The story of Ric Flair was once about a college dropout who rose through the ranks of professional wrestling to become a legend. It was about his nickname, “The Nature Boy,” and his signature figure four leglock, both lifted from an older wrestler named Buddy Rogers. It was about his multiple championships, his bleach-blond hair, his fast-talking patter (by his own reckoning, Flair was a “stylin’, profilin’, limousine-riding, jet-flying, kiss-stealing, wheelin’-n’-dealin’ son of a gun!”), and his signature, trademarked cry: “WOOO!”
Today the story is about a man known in the court system as Richard Morgan Fliehr, 62, born in 1949 and adopted by parents who raised him in Minnesota. That’s what he was called this past April, when a judge ejected Fliehr from his Charlotte home because he couldn’t pay his rent. That’s what he was called in May, when he faced an arrest order for an unpaid $35,000 loan. That’s what he’s called on the paychecks from Total Nonstop Action, a second-tier outfit where he’s still compelled to perform despite suffering from alcoholic cardiomyopathy, and where almost everything he earns goes toward old debts: lawyers, ex-wives, the IRS, former business partners, and anyone who made the mistake of lending him money.