Rumour has it that Ric Flair will be returning to the ring later this month, but not for WWE. Instead, he'll be appearing at an All Japan Pro Wrestling show in Tokyo on Jan. 26, likely in return for All Japan training his son Reid in their dojo, in order to prepare him for a future WWE career.
Hot on the heels of Ric Flair's one-off return to WWE television, where "The Nature Boy" turned heads by getting physical with CM Punk, Paul Heyman and The Shield, in an intense brawl also involving Kane, Daniel Bryan, and Ryback, as well as an interview with Mark Madden last week where Flair re-expressed his desire to wrestle for WWE again... comes the news that he'll be lacing up his boots again this month, but not for one Vince McMahon.
According to Dave Meltzer of f4wonline.com, Zach Arnold of FightOpinion.com and Puroresu Spirit: All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) announced earlier today that Flair would be appearing at their Jan. 26, 2013 show at Tokyo's Ota Ward Gym, presumably in a wrestling match.
This is a deal that has been many months in the making, as Flair had been in negotiations to wrestle as Keiji Mutoh's tag team partner on a major AJPW show last September, but at the time they couldn't agree to financial terms.
Sweetening the deal this time around, is that Ric Flair's son, Reid, has been signed to a three month contract to train at All Japan's dojo, perhaps even working some opening matches at their events. Such a package deal led to Ric appearing for Ring Of Honor (ROH) in the spring of 2009, but Reid never wrestled for the independent promotion (after having a car crash and being charged with driving while impaired and possession of black tar heroin).
The short term nature of Reid's All Japan agreement suggests that the tour is to prepare him for a WWE developmental deal like his sister Ashley recently signed, who is currently working in Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) as Charlotte.
If he does wrestle for AJPW, then it would be Flair's first match in 16 months, since a disastrous match for TNA at their Impact tapings against Sting, where he blew up so badly at one point there was concern backstage that he was having heart trouble, and later tore his triceps.
Thankfully, by now, he should be fully healed up from that muscle tear, but one questions whether it is a good idea to work in a foreign land, at age 63, where it will be difficult to communicate with his opponents, and they work a much more physical style.
Hopefully, he comes out of the ordeal completely unscathed, but that will only increase his desire to wrestle more frequently. That's a double-edged sword, as eventually, Father Time will catch up with him again and he'll end up with another serious injury from doing a spot that guys his age shouldn't be doing. I'd rather Flair would err on the side of caution, but that just isn't in his risk-seeking personality.
At least when he returns to WWE for good, Vince would put his foot down at the first sign of his body breaking down again. It can't happen soon enough!