While Ric Flair became synonymous with the WWE in the later stages of his career, that wasn’t always the case.
Earlier in his career Flair was a permanent fixture at the top of Jim Crockett Promotions, the main rival to Vince McMahon’s WWF promotion. ‘The Nature Boy’ would win his first NWA World Heavyweight Championship from Dusty Rhodes in 1981 to establish himself as the main man in Crockett Promotions.
As Jim Crockett Promotions morphed into WCW in 1988, Flair was still sitting pretty at the top of the card. ‘The Dirtiest Player In The Game’ would remain in WCW until he famously jumped to the WWF in late 1991, where he would go on to win the 1992 Royal Rumble with a tear in his eye.
However, speaking to the Wrestling Inc Daily, Flair has lifted the lid on rebuffing an attempt by WWE Chairman Vince McMahon to get him to join the company three years earlier. Two of Flair’s former partners in the Four Horsemen, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard had already made the move, becoming
The Brain Busters and winning the WWF Tag Team Championships.
Flair was asked if he was tempted to follow his former stablemates, but explained that not even a proposed match with Randy Savage could break his loyalty to the NWA.
“No,” Flair said emphatically. “I just talked to Vince [McMahon]. They wanted me to come and wrestle Randy Savage, but I was just too loyal to the NWA. When you’ve been the NWA World Heavyweight Champion, how do you just skip out? Everything is a work in pro wrestling except when you are the NWA Champion. And it should be that way for anybody. ”
The 16-time World Champion was later asked about the formation of The Four Horseman, commenting that in his role as travelling NWA World Champion he effectively became a recruiter for Jim Crockett.
“When I was a traveling NWA World Champion, I basically turned into a recruiter [laughs],” recalled Flair. “Every time I liked someone, I tried to get them to Carolina [to join Crockett]. So, I met Tully in Kansas City and Arn in Pensacola. I don’t recall how we exactly got together but I think they decided to make Arn a brother to Ole, which was a great rub for Arn.
When I returned [from my travels], Bill Watts brought in Arn. Then one day, after Arn and or Ole became tag champions, we were all in the ring together. Arn just raised his fingers and said we’re The Four Horsemen. It just happened out of nowhere. That’s exactly how it happened. Arn was a very smart guy, I don’t even know if he put any thought into it. I always tell kids the importance of leaving an impression.”
Despite their long relationship in the Four Horsemen and beyond, Flair has spoken on how he and Anderson no longer speak, owing to a lack of communication following his son Reid’s death.
Although he wrestled his last match in 2011, Flair is still a constant presence in WWE, where he can currently be found managing Lacey Evans in an on-screen battle against his daughter Charlotte.
H/t to Wrestling Inc for the transcription.