As a guest on the Ariel Helwani MMA Show, Ric Flair spoke about signing with WWE in 1991 for a year and a half and how much that time in the company meant to him. Over the years, Flair described his frustrations with Jim Herd in WCW as the reason for him joining WWE. Herd once proposed to Flair that he cut his hair and change his name to Spartacus, which ticked off the Nature Boy.
Flair admitted that he wasn’t sure that if he didn’t go to WWE in 1991 that he would have had the opportunity to go back there in 2001. He also said that the time he spent with WWE from 2001-2008 made him who he is today, noting that if it wasn’t for those years, many people might not know who he is.
“Once I got [to WWE], I was fine, I just had to get away from that,” Flair said. “I had a bunch of friends there, I had another year and a half, greatest time of my life, and the worst mistake I ever made [was leaving]. If they hadn’t asked me back in 2001, I don’t even know if I’d been on this show today. They brought me back and [Triple H] would take nothing less, ‘You’re the only one who doesn’t know who you are Ric.’ When you’ve lost it [in your head], it is really hard to get it back. You can only be broken so many times.”
Flair continued to explain why he left WWE in 1993 after just a year and a half. He said when he returned to WCW, the company did not know what to do with him, which really upset him.
“Vince [McMahon] said to me ‘We’re going to go younger,’ and he said ‘if you want to go back, they’ve been calling me everyday so I’m sure they’ve been calling you, go in and go’,” Flair recalled. “I went back, between the time I left there and got there, management had changed and Ole Anderson was now in charge, he looked at me and said ‘You just got beat last night on T.V. in a loser leaves town match with Curt Hennig, what good are you to me?’
“I thought to myself, I’ve been with WWE? WrestleMania? Royal Rumble? This place is in shambles. I looked at him and said I can compete every Monday Night and be a bigger star than anybody you got right now. All I did was work hard and a thousand guys that could say ‘Thank you Ric for making me who I am.’ That was my job and I didn’t look at it as a job.”
During his appearance on Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Sessions, Flair mentioned that he’s dealt with anxiety throughout his career and had confidence issues during matches in WWE against The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels. Flair spoke about anxiety and how at one point in his career it got so bad that he couldn’t leave his own house.
“I had agoraphobia for a while where I couldn’t leave my own house,” Flair said. “It was in the 90s. Literally for about a month I’d have a hard time driving out of my driveway and going to the airport to catch flights. I felt like if I wasn’t in my house or my backyard, if I wasn’t there, I was lost. I wasn’t having any fun, it’s hard to explain. Wrestling when you can’t feel your hands, especially when I’m going to do a flip or push off somebody for a backdrop, it was brutal.”
Flair continued to discuss the happiest time in his entire life. Despite having had one of the most memorable wrestling careers ever, Flair admitted that right now is the happiest time in his life.
“Well, the happiest I’ve ever been in my life is right now,” Flair said. “I don’t even have to think twice about that. The other second happiest time was in the 80s, the most rewarding time was with the WWE from 2001 to 2008. Most fun the 80s, happiest right now, number one I’m healthy, number two I’ve got the greatest wife in the world. I say this because I deserve a lot of blame for anything that’s failed in my prior life, but when you’re not there because you’re at work, it’s hard to figure out where the blame comes from.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.