One of the worst kept secrets in wrestling this year is how Ric Flair wants to return to WWE, and will do so (as soon as the company has dealt with the lawsuit TNA filed against them for allegedly tampering with his contract). It must be killing Vince McMahon deep down inside to have to listen to his lawyers and keep Flair on the sidelines while Monday Night Raw's ratings are in the toilet.
But rest assured, one day, hopefully very soon, he'll be back in a featured role on WWE television. Like Mick Foley though, it thankfully won't be as an occasional wrestler, despite Flair believing he still has a good match or two left in him.
When Vince McMahon gave him the biggest retirement sendoff in WWE history at WrestleMania 24 in 2008, he was adamant it would be a legitimate ceremony, and Flair would never wrestle another match for his company. Over four years later, having recently seen Jerry "The King" Lawler suffer a heart attack shortly after working a tag match on Raw, McMahon's views are likely to be even more steadfast today than they were in the past.
According to an interview with wrestlenewz.com, it seems Flair has rather begrudgingly accepted the fact a WWE return will mean he'll never lace up his wrestling boots again. When asked the rather obvious question of whether he'll wrestle again, he sadly lamented he can't foresee circumstances becoming possible in WWE:
"I want to be in the ring, but it will never happen again. I said I’d never wrestle in WWE… and then there’s the Jerry Lawler incident."
Flair went on to say he thought it was "unfair" that Lawler's heart attack had changed the perception of whether it's safe for other wrestlers of a similar age to continue to perform or not:
"Yeah, it really did. I like Jerry very much. What happened to Jerry was terrible, and thank God he’s OK. But I wish people wouldn’t gauge me by what happened to him. Everybody’s an individual. But I think it kind of put a decision on my future in the ring, you know what I mean? And that’s fine, because I went back to the ring in TNA, and that will never happen again."
This sentiment matches the thoughts he gave nearly three months ago to Headline News, when he strongly defended Lawler's right to still wrestle at age 62, despite the near tragedy that occurred, and he clearly believed he should be allowed to do the same -- if he so wished.
However, the evidence suggests it's in Flair's best interests to never wrestle again. Before Lawler's heart attack, he had suffered no major health issues, or injuries, from continuing to work at such a ripe old age. The same cannot be said of Flair, whose final year in TNA was plagued with physical damage.
At a house show match in London, England against Douglas Williams on Jan. 29, 2011 he tore his rotator cuff. He refused to have surgery on it in order to finish his dates, and so he wouldn't have to be on the shelf for so long. His last match in TNA with perennial foe, Sting, for the Sept. 15, 2011 Impact was an unmitigated disaster -- with spots being blown left and right, Flair getting so winded at one point there were fears he was suffering from heart issues, and finally, tearing his triceps after taking an ill-advised top rope superplex from his opponent.
On top of his body breaking down, Flair admitted to being diagnosed with alcoholic cardiomyopathy in 2002 in his autobiography To Be The Man, which would suggest he's suffered from heart problems for over a decade. Last year, he claimed he had been misdiagnosed, after Grantland.com briefly mentioned the malady in their exposé of his debt problems.
Even if true, he still leads a stressful, unhealthy lifestyle, which would suggest he's better off steering clear of the ring.
What do you think Cagesiders? Do you think this is for the best, like I do, or are you disappointed that Flair won't be able to fully erase the sour taste of his final wrestling performance in TNA by having one last match in WWE?