The wrestling business is an extremely political one. Due to the finishes being pre-determined, some wrestlers have become infamous in jockeying for the top position, holding others down to keep their main-event status.
Ric Flair has a few reputations. The most public is that he is one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. In his NWA/WCW days Flair had built a massive following in the South, his ability to sell out shows in that region was unmatched. He stayed at the top of NWA as it became WCW, fighting hard to keep his position as new boss Jim Herd tried to oust him. Flair moved on to the WWE and quickly won the world title there, but did not last too long and found himself back in the WCW during their most competitive years with the WWE.
Flair was known for his intense and entertaining promos, as well as his flashy style in the ring, taking cartoon-sized bumps, flipping up when hitting the rope, and doing the dead man's walk before slamming face-first into the mat.
Flair's other reputation among some wrestlers (most notably Bret Hart) is that he was considered a poor in-ring worker, who mastered cut-throat politics to keep himself on top. Shane Douglas had his childhood visions of Flair shattered once he began working with him in WCW. Hart produced an epic letter of smackdown after Flair leveled personal remarks his way. Hart said his father Stu called Flair a “routine-guy”. It’s evident if you watch many of Flair’s matches just how similar they are. Flair tells a great story but it’s the same every time.
Outside of the ring Flair has publicly insulted many wrestlers, provoking almost as many real-life feuds as he had in the ring. Because of this, there was no shortage of wrestlers to add to this list, but for now, we give you the top 10 wrestlers that (at one point or another) hated Ric Flair.
10. Scott Steiner
Steiner cut an infamous shoot promo directed at Flair on WCW television. He made a few disparaging comments about Flair, most notably that he stole his gimmick from Buddy Rogers. Steiner ended the promo with “WCW sucks!”
Steiner stated that after the vicious promo, JJ Dillon and Flair tried to have him fired, which resulted in a suspension.
Steiner was hardly fazed, considering it time off. In WCW fashion, the suspension included pay.
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9 Jake Roberts
Roberts was a working veteran for years before his Snake gimmick with the WWE, so his career coincides nicely with that of the Nature Boy. Roberts was recently doing an interview on WrestlingVoiceRadio.com and snuck in two quick barbs against Flair (and Warrior). When asked about Flair’s second WWE HOF induction he replied: “Why does he have to be inducted twice? Is it because he didn’t remember the first time? Or did he have his t--s done….Did I say that out loud?" He cut straight to the chase later when talking about writing his memoirs with “I’d like to knock some of the guys that I hate like Ric Flair or Ultimate Warrior, but I won’t. Did I say that out loud too?” No other details were given, so Roberts hatred remains as secretive as his character.
8 Jim Herd
Not a wrestler of course, but an influential figure at the time. Jim Herd and Ric Flair did not jive in WCW. Herd is famous for being a former Executive of Pizza Hut who was strangely put in charge of WCW. Herd takes a lot of flak but he did a few things right. He liked how Steve Austin looked on camera enough to hire him, he was the forerunner for using pyrotechnics and also signed pre-Undertaker Mark Calaway. Herd seemed to have an eye for talent it not for gimmicks and development.
Flair had the title at this time but Herd wanted to desperately get it off him and move on with younger guys like Lex Luger and Sting. One of Flair’s greatest strengths and secret to his longevity was his ability to play politics. He knew that survival relied on holding the belt. Herd is constantly insulted for suggesting Flair cut his signature hair for the “Spartacus” character, but when you think of Flair's character it could have worked. Having him as a sort of warrior king who believes himself a god wouldn’t be hard for him to pull off.
After demands to take a huge pay-cut, drop the belt, and take a much lower spot on the card, Flair eventually left for the WWE, taking the big gold belt with him.
7 Kevin Nash
Flair provoked this one. On TV, Flair was asked about Nash as a wrestler and Flair summed it up with “ great look….no talent”. Nash gained significant power in WCW, insulated with his new “clique” of Hall, Hogan, and Bischoff. With Nash able to book himself in more important matches than Flair, i.e. beating Goldberg, it’s easy to see how Flair could build up animosity towards him.
Nash has taken the high road, as he responded to Flair’s comments with his signature relaxed tone. He even sympathized with Flair as “going through hard times….owing the IRS money”. Nash ended with “you might be a 15-time champion…but it’s fake.”
6 Mick Foley
Mick Foley has performed some of the greatest stunts in wrestling history. But unlike a Hollywood stuntman, Mick doesn’t get any soft padding to land on. Instead he’ll burst through a chain link fence and plummet 20 feet to the ring. Ric Flair, in his book, described Foley as not a wrestler, but a “glorified stuntman”. Flair is famed for his long-distance matches, his control and feel for pacing is legendary. However Flair has stated he doesn’t think of Foley as an athlete who can go the distance.
Foley got wind of this and refused a handshake from Flair, prompting a scuffle. It didn’t go the distance. The two have since made peace.
5 Shane Douglas
Shane Douglas stated: “Ric was the reason I got into the business. I idolized him, and when I met him, he fell so far short of my expectations. Not as a wrestler, but as a man.”
Douglas went on to say he noticed Flair obsessing over keeping his main-event status, going so far as to hold down other promising young talent. Having his childhood vision of Flair shattered had a large impact on Douglas, who had to speak his mind, letting Flair know how he felt.
When Douglas would return to WCW he used this real-life heat to fuel the feud with Flair, cutting an intense promo on WCW Thunder in February, 2001. The promo is so convincing it's advertised as a real shoot on a few youtube clips.
4 Ole Anderson
Described as “miserable” by Bobby Heenan, it makes sense Anderson would make it on our list. Ole Anderson has been very outspoken about the transition to the WrestleMania style of wrestling. He came from an era that prioritized strong holds and toughness, he was not a fan of the showboating and less-credible looking style. Ole rose to a management position with WCW during this transition and struggled mightily working with Flair. To add fuel to the fire, Anderson and Flair wrestled for the same territory and would compete to draw crowds, with Flair selling out every time, and Anderson coming up short.
Anderson went on record with his book disparaging Flair’s wrestling ability, stating Flair wrestled the same match, every time.
Anderson may have more moves in his arsenal, but Flair definitely entertained more people.
3 Eric Bischoff
Eric Bischoff had risen to power in the WCW after pushing Hogan, Nash, and Hall. With WCW’s rich guaranteed contracts and lack of organization, the locker room lacked a team dynamic, with many splintered groups. Ric Flair clashed with Bischoff so badly that legal action was taken.
Here is an excerpt detailing a part of the legal exchange. “…claimed Bischoff treated him “in an increasingly hostile, rude, threatening and degrading manner…[Bischoff’s] language is crude, rude and ‘socially unacceptable’….threatened to bankrupt Plaintiff, put Plaintiff out of work, banish him to some foreign country and has referred to him as garbage.”
It makes no sense; how can you put garbage out of work?
The two even had a backstage scuffle while both were working for the WWE in 2003, but were quickly pulled apart by officials.
2 Bruno Sammartino
Bruno is another from the older generation of wrestlers that disagreed with the emphasis changing from in-ring wrestling to over-the-top showmanship. He made statements in the past that he would be embarrassed to be in the WWE HOF with non-wrestlers and that he was quite happy being in the Pro Wrestling HOF (of course a few conversations with Triple H changed that).
When asked about the "Nature Boy” Bruno didn’t waste any time. “He’s an idiot. A first class pathetic idiot…I started walking towards him to say hello and he turned away and ran.”
1 Bret Hart
Bret Hart is legendary not only for his wrestling, but his integrity. After Flair had written that Hart couldn’t draw any money and that he exploited his brother Owen’s death, Hart finally let loose an epic letter that deserves its own article.
Hart exposed Flair as being a “three, dressed up as a nine”. He mentioned that Flair’s lack of in-ring ability had caused injuries to Hart, and made for mediocre matches. He states that Vince McMahon agreed with him that Flair couldn’t hack it in the ring, relying on the same routine and Buddy Rogers' high spots for his entire career.
Hart also didn’t take kindly to Flair going after Mick Foley and Randy Savage. Hart stated: “You’ll find nary a wrestler that would describe me, Savage or Foley as back stabbers or sneaky liberty takers, but with Flair you better take a number!”
Hart closed with this.
“I’d like to punch Ric Flair right in the nose - but I’d probably have to kick somebody in the ass to do it!”
As we've seen time and time again, time heals all wounds in the wrestling business and the same seems to ring true for Hart and Flair. They seem to be on very good terms with each other. Their involvement in the Natalya/Charlotte match in NXT last year really brought them together. It's good to see two legends burying the hatchet.
If you're still trying to figure out why so many people had a problem with Flair, maybe you should check out this video:
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