“30 for 30: NATURE BOY” – A Bittersweet Tour de Force
By Ryan K. Boman of TheGorillaPosition.com
When ESPN announced earlier this year that they would be unveiling a special about Nature Boy Ric Flair, some die-hard fans were skeptical. Despite the fact that the Worldwide Leader in Sports has won numerous awards with its documentary series, 30 for 30, professional wrestling is rarely covered by mainstream media to the satisfaction of the die-harders.
What they unveiled on Tuesday answered all the questions, in what may be the most honest and open portrayal of the ‘kiss-stealin-wheelin-dealin son of a gun’ thus far. Flair has been portrayed as larger than life for decades, but this undressed look at his life was definitely holding his gators down.
A more candid Flair opened up about his drinking, infidelity and personal demons, intertwined with a well-produced timeline of his career. The use of some animations as cut scenes in the film may throw viewers off at first, but the filmmakers added just enough as to not be a detriment to the seriousness of the content.
While there’s no way to fully document all of The Nature Boy’s in-ring accomplishments, ESPN did their best to stay to true to the history books. Notable appearances from the past include Hall of Famers Sting and Ricky Steamboat, talking about their classic matches, as well as a more modern story from Triple H, discussing how he implored Flair to take better care of himself.
The climax of the entire film is Flair and his family facing life after the death of youngest son, Reid. Some grim realities about the excesses of fame and the dangers of irresponsibility rear their head. The closing scenes can leave anyone watching feeling both sorry for The Champ, and yet still somewhat disgusted by his recklessness.
Visually impressive, with fantastic, rare footage- the Flair 30 for 30 becomes an instant classic and a must-see for any wrestling fan. And for a casual observer, its a great starting place to really learn about Flair and the wrestling world of his era.
Finally, the mainstream media has given wrestling’s greatest champion his just due. It’s been a long time coming, but whether you like it, or DON’T like it… this documentary definitely had ‘the chops’. WHOO!