As noted, the legendary sixteen-time World Heavyweight Champion, "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair, was a guest on our own WINCLY Podcast last week. On the subject of Vince McMahon influencing WWE's creative decisions, Flair's belief is that Vince is becoming less involved in the process.
"I think Vince leaves a lot of the creative up to other people now. That's my understanding," Flair said. "And where, at one time, you could say he was in total control of creative, I don't think that's the case anymore. And I see that they're moving people in, and out, and around now; I think they're trying to figure out exactly what's going on. This is one of those times in the business where they are looking for 'The Guy'... 'The Guy' being Hulk Hogan - I'm going WWE - 'The Guy' being Roddy Piper, 'The Guy' being Shawn Michaels, 'The Guy' being Hunter [Triple H], 'The Guy' being Undertaker, 'The Guy' being The Rock, 'The Guy' being Stone Cold."
Despite there not being a surefire person at the top of the company, Ric still keeps up with WWE programming each week. Flair thinks that investing in Ronda Rousey and Brock Lesnar's characters throughout 2018 put WWE in a difficult position post-WrestleMania because the two talents weren't around to keep viewers engaged.
"I think that Roman was going to be 'The Guy' and then, of course, the illness set him back. I think he still can be but it's hard," Ric said. "They have some great talent [in WWE], great wrestlers, but they're having some hard time, in my estimation, figuring out who 'The Guy' is. And it's not because they're not talented. I think they're just getting crossed, and mixed feelings, and mixed emotions from different people. You'd have to have been a wrestler for a long time to see that. But you watch the show, if you watch it weekly like I still enjoy watching, mostly because of my daughter. I like to see what the girls are doing on RAW now and I always watch SmackDown and see what she's doing.
"They usually come out of WrestleMania with three or four angles, or really good things to run with, and they literally came out of WrestleMania this year, for the first time in a long time, I think, pretty flat," Flair continued. "So, it's just hard. Ronda [Rousey] went away, Brock [Lesnar] went away, and you've got to move forward. They had a tremendous WrestleMania; made a statement with the women and all that. I think the women proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they deserve that spot and main event. And then they pulled it off even going in the ring at 12-o'-clock at night, they still had a phenomenal match and the fans stayed to watch it. But the next day, they needed to come up with something as big and I just think that it's hard to do that every year."
Flair acknowledged how challenging it must be for the staff to produce worthwhile, engaging stories throughout the years of WWE programming. He commends Triple H and Stephanie in particular for their abilities to juggle a full family and demanding job life.
"They have the wrestling with SmackDown, and RAW, and they have NXT," Flair said. "And here's Hunter literally working four days a week and then figuring out a time to get his workout in because he's like Vince, would rather work out at 2-o'-clock in the morning rather than miss a workout, and then find a time to be creative. And Stephanie, who is the best heel on a regular basis and the best heel they have right now even not being on TV, is home with the kids. Which I think is her decision. It's hard to do both when they get to that age where they need their mom, and I get that. But I used to turn the show on just to see Stephanie and I think a lot of other people did too, so, now you've got to find a new heel."
Flair named a handful of current WWE stars that, he believes, have the potential to become "The Guy" at the top of the company.
"They've got some phenomenal talent [in WWE right now]. I'm not saying they're not carrying the torch, I'm saying that they haven't, in my opinion, decided who they want to carry it," Flair explained. "You've got Roman [Reigns], you've got Seth [Rollins], you've got AJ Styles, all three tremendous. Randy Orton: there isn't a better worker in the business, when he wants to work, than Randy Orton. But Randy has been there. When he does those interviews where he says he's been here for fifteen years and done it all, that's the truth! That's how fast time has gone by. Randy Orton, if you take his size into consideration, his looks, it's hard to say Randy is not 'The Man'.
One individual that Flair is especially impressed with is the dastardly, Baron Corbin. Flair appreciates Corbin's ability to take creative directions that are given to him and apply them to his craft.
"You know who my hat is off to as a talent, that has really survived everything, and comes out every week and does a really good job? Baron Corbin," Flair stated. "Baron has figured out a way that, alone, could make you a lot of money for a long time, taking on everything. From being the GM, to being the whipping boy, to doing this and doing that, because he can talk and he can work. And he doesn't mind [having to do these things]."
Flair took a moment to praise R-Truth's recent 24/7 Title gimmick before he expound even further on his affinity for Corbin.
"I love R-Truth. Are you kidding me? That's a whole different subject! I wasn't even thinking in terms of R-Truth; R-Truth is fantastic. That whole thing [with the 24/7 Championship] is genius," Flair said. "I just think that Baron Corbin has been handed every ball that you can hand him and he's pulled it off. I mean, there's a reason that he's still there, and I think it's because you can beat him and he'll come out and act like a heel. He talks like nothing ever happened. I hate that they keep referring to the fact that he retired Kurt Angle and all that. I didn't like that but that's only because I love Kurt Angle and have so much respect for him. All Corbin is doing is what he's handed."
"The Nature Boy" Ric Flair's new RicFlairShop.com is now open featuring Ric Flair t-shirts, hats, posters, backpacks, pillows and more. Flair's full interview with Wrestling Inc was included as part of a recent episode of our WINCLY podcast. It can be heard via the embedded audio player at the bottom of this post. In the full interview Flair discusses his recent health issues, rumors he was supposed to appear at AEW Double or Nothing, Cody Rhodes smashing Triple H's throne, Vince McMahon's creative input in WWE, WWE's need for another top star, Eric Bischoff's new WWE creative role, his role in signing Hulk Hogan to WCW, a creative idea he has for his daughter Charlotte and more.