Just as a side note - I think I'm appreciating the Hall of Fame more this year than I ever have since I know the guys being inducted... exception of course being last year, but that's what happens when Bret is on your list of all-time favorite wrestlers.
But back on topic. I'll admit it. I never thought much of Ric Flair when I first saw him. It's hard to appreciate someone who had his prime when I was still in diapers, so when he came back to the WWE in 2001, I wasn't all that impressed. I didn't know what it was about him that made people think he was the best wrestler of all time, especially since I didn't see how he could possibly be better than say, a Chris Benoit or Kurt Angle in the ring. I wish I could say that it was this class that sold me on Ric, but the man himself sold me with his feud that he kicked off with Mick Foley last year. His promos were absolutely unbelievable, and those two were the highlight of Raw for me for weeks on end with their top-notch, amazing promos leading up to their big match. After reading the piece that ranked him #1 wrestler of all time, I had to find the promo referenced in it as being the single-best interview that's ever been given, and I had luck. YouTube is amazing like that: http://youtube.com/watch?v=Et7KRoFs-F8
I could go on and on about how brilliant Ric Flair is, but what I really wanted to touch on is the man's longevity in the business. He's been around for what, over 30 years now? And he can still wrestle and put on a show. Just earlier last month, when he did a backstage promo with Carlito, I was once again reminded of how long he's been around and how long he's been able to make his shtick work for him. He's similar to a Hulk Hogan, in that he's smart and knows where to pick his timing and have a big match, although for all intents and purposes I think Flair is a thousand times the performer that Hogan is. That's a bold statement, yes, but Flair legitimately seems to love the business of professional wrestling, whereas Hogan just knew how to maximize his own profit from it. Not to mention, Hogan is nowhere near the wrestler that Ric Flair is.
I know that a few weeks ago, I put up a post about how I thought older guys should step down and help pave the way for younger guys to take up the spotlight. I think one of the things I'm realizing is how hard it is for those older guys to leave after so many years of being involved in the wrestling business. To think that Ric Flair in particular is over 50 years old and still does the occasional "I Quit" match or a ladder match, a ladder match of all things, is amazing. I'd say if anything, that alone earns him the right to be the #1 wrestler/performer of all time. Yes, he borrowed his name and borrowed a lot of what he does from Buddy Rogers, but he took Buddy Roger's schtick to the next level. Just the fact that whenever any wrestler does a chop the fans respond with a "whoooo" is enough to prove that Ric was and still is the man.
Sometimes I wonder though if maybe I'm just being biased, especially with my view of Hogan (not a fan). I could deal with never hearing "well ya know something brother?!" ever again, but personal feelings aside, I truly do believe Ric's character has so much more flexibility than Hogan's has ever had. But the question is why? How come the thought of Ric competing in a match every week is acceptable but the thought of Hogan getting involved every week is enough to make most people cringe? I personally think it's Ric's persona and has nothing to do with either man's physical performance. Hogan, even as an old and broken down old man with replaced hips and knees and whatever else he has, is still invincible. Ric is more real, and I think if more guys copied the flexibility of his persona, maybe wrestling would be at a better state than it is now... thoughts?