30 for 30: Nature Boy ESPN documentary review
On November 7, ESPN will premiere 30 for 30: Nature Boy, a 1 hour 17-minute-long documentary that dives deep in Ric Flair’s life, from his very early beginnings as a child, all the way to how we know him today: A two-time WWE Hall of Famer and 16-time World champion.
“The Nature Boy was my wrestling character. The Nature Boy wasn’t fake. The Nature Boy was me,” Flair says in one of the opening lines. Throughout the next 77 minutes, Flair recounts stories that for some might be outrageous, but for The Nature Boy, it was normal. “I’ve sacrificed everything for wrestling,” Flair adds. If I said it on TV I did it. I lived my gimmick.” Indeed he did.
30 for 30 investigates his life deeper than any other documentary on Flair so far. When asked how many women he slept with, Ric replies, “Realistically? 10,000!” The director is lost for words. “Ermm…” Karpf says from behind the camera as an awkward pause follows. “Isn’t that terrible?” Flair adds.
“I’ve never seen a guy having his pants pulled down more than Ric Flair,” Sting recounted. The two share a very strong friendship, with Sting saying that Flair took him under his wing when he was coming up in NWA/WCW and the rest, as they say, is history.
Flair was not your typical dad and he hated staying at home. “I was bored at home and couldn’t wait to be with the guys,” Ric said. His lifestyle involved getting from town to town, wrestle, drink, drink again, get a woman, and start over again the next day. His first wife Leslie said that he loved his kids, but she doesn’t trust him as he’s not a family man. “But I can’t badmouth him because he loves my kids. He’s Ric Flair,” Leslie recounts.
His kids hated the fact that he was never at home and Flair says that between 1972 and 1999 he was never at home. He was selfish and all he wanted to be was The Nature Boy Ric Flair.
His drinking became a big problem, and former coworker Baby Doll said that she doesn’t know how he still has a liver. “There’s no way I should be alive after some of the stuff I’ve done,” Flair said, certainly some eerie words considering what Flair went through lately.
His relationship with Hulk Hogan is also highlighted in the documentary, with Flair saying they were on the opposite sides of the spectrum, with Hogan selling milk and vitamins and he was selling sex and booze. “He’s ten times better than I am. It’s a no brainer,” Hogan candidly says.
The saddest part of the documentary comes when the topic about his son Reid is tackled. Triple H said that problems with Reid were evident but Ric was in denial. HHH recounted how Reid failed a few tests before trying to get hired by WWE and when he confronted Ric, Ric said it must be a mistake. “Because it’s you, I’ll re-test him.” Triple H said. “I’m telling you I’m going to re-test him so he knows it’s coming now.” Unfortunately, Reid failed the subsequent test in a more spectacular fashion than the first one.
Ric’s problems following his son’s death drove him to hard drinking. “I drank myself to death for a year,” Flair tells director Rory Karpf. Triple H is shown being frustrated telling Flair to straighten up, making use of a couple of F-words for good measure.
With his son dead, it was up to Charlotte, real name Ashley, to carry on her brother’s dream. She was never interested in wrestling, but she knew she had to do it for him. “The greatest moment of my wrestling career is Ashley winning that title, nothing in my career ever gave me that feeling,” Flair says with his face beaming with pride when talking about his daughter.
Other topics discussed in the 30 for 30 documentary are going to school, training with Verne Gagne, the plane crash, the origin of Woooo!, winning the title for the first time, his feuds and relationships with Dusty Rhodes, Hulk Hogan, Ricky Steamboat, and Sting, the Four Horseman, cheating on his wife, the art of selling, leaving WCW, his second run with WWE, retirement, moving to TNA, and more.
Interviewed for this documentary are Jim Cornette, Ricky Steamboat, The Undertaker, Arn Anderson, Sting, Tony Schiavone, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Jim Ross, and many more. Two of the most obvious omissions from this documentary are his former bosses Eric Bischoff and Vince McMahon, who are nowhere to be seen for the sit-down interviews.
This is a fantastic documentary that should not be missed by any wrestling fan. It’s a real eye-opener and you will get to know the sacrifices, wild stories, triumph, and heartbreak that Flair went through to become the stylin’, profilin’, limousine riding, jet flying, kiss-stealing, wheelin’ n’ dealin’ son of a gun! Wooooo!