Yesterday (Sept. 20), as signs mounted that the Dark Side of the Ring episode on “The Plane Ride From Hell” was going to have consequences for Ric Flair in a way that decades of stories about his behavior hadn’t, Flair tweeted out a statement.
It was a curious one, even as celebrity “apologies” go. For one thing, it was built around the word of someone (filmmaker Rory Karpf, who worked with Flair on the ESPN 30 For 30 dedicated to his life & career - and who Flair misidentified as “Rory Kampf”) the WWE Hall of Famer said was a liar. For another, as was the case with much of what we saw on the latest episode of Dark Side of the Ring, Flair was refuting the claim he made someone touch his penis - not that he cornered them while his penis was exposed.
A follow-up statement issued to Wrestling Inc - who conducted the interview with Karpf that Flair took a quote from in his original comments - tries to address both issues with his tweeted remarks.
“To clarify, the ‘helicopter’ as it was called, is accurate. I wish I could blame it on youth, but it was a case of drinking too much and being inappropriate and I apologize for that (and have countless times over the years).
“I made some bad decisions during dark periods in my life, and it is something I’ve spent a significant part of years I was given by the doctors in 2017 trying to make right.
“I condemn sexual assault in any way, shape or form. I could (and have) written books (as have others) that have covered my transgressions. I’ve made some terrible decisions, but I’ve never forced myself on anyone in any way. Period.”
It’s a thorny issue. The stories aren’t new, and the way they’ve been depicted in the past is evidence of how they were viewed within pro wrestling and the greater culture until very recently. But in a post #MeToo and #SpeakingOut world, things that were “ribs” even five years ago are no longer acceptable. And until last week, we’d also never heard the stories from the perspective of a victim, or anyone who wasn’t cheering on Flair’s living-the-gimmick actions.
Is there anything he can do or say to atone at this point? Should there be?