A Big House on the Big Side of Town

Nick Paglino

A Big House on the Big Side of Town
by Mark Madden

I read the Grantland.com article on Ric Flair.

I don’t understand what all the outrage is about.

OK, so Flair outspends his income. How many Americans don’t? But he’s hardly “The Wrestler.” He’s not living in a trailer. He pays $3,683 per month rent. He’s not working independent shows for $50. He’s making over $250,000 per year working for Impact, and other significant income from endorsements. He’s been part of some questionable episodes. He’s also been swindled and stalked.

I don’t see how the Grantland.com article makes Flair a bad guy, or anything less than the greatest wrestler ever.

I bet his shoes still cost more than your house.

Wrestling is fraught with a host of malfeasance: Sexual harassment. PEDs. Recreational drugs. Frat-boy misbehavior that would shame “Animal House.” Cutthroat manipulation. Old-time stars that really are penniless. And a bunch of guys that dropped dead. It's always been the island of misfit toys.

Ric Flair is 62. He’s alive and, all things considered, in good health. He’s not in jail, or drug-addled. He still cuts promos with the best of them. He’s still an above-average in-ring performer. He still knows how to be RIC FLAIR.

So he’s had bad luck with women and money. That doesn’t exactly make him unique. Ric's got plenty of company there.

Ric’s had a great life. It’s still pretty good. He still gets to be RIC FLAIR.

Sometimes, perhaps, that’s part of the problem. But the pros far outweigh the cons.

Ric doesn’t need to be excoriated by wrestling fans. He needs wrestling fans to close ranks and support him. If that sounds like cheerleading, well – excuse me for being a fan, and a friend, of the greatest wrestler that’s ever lived.

Ric gave you countless hours of entertainment. Do you really care if he owes somebody money? You shouldn’t. Does getting drunk on an airplane dilute his legend one iota? It shouldn’t. Heck, he was just being RIC FLAIR.

I spoke with Ric Thursday night. The Grantland.com article never came up. Ric was excited about some things that he’ll for doing for Impact. The great ones look ahead in hope. Other people can look back in anger for them.

I can’t discount the general accuracy of the Grantland.com article. But it has an anti-Flair feel to it. His jump to WWF with the NWA belt – a belt he owned pending return of a deposit – was presented as a criminal act. It wasn’t Flair’s fault when he got stalked, or swindled.

I’m amazed at the IWC’s self-righteousness over the Grantland.com article. You’ll defend Matt and Jeff Hardy, a couple of big-time sleaze merchants who embarrass themselves and their profession. But if Ric Flair is past due on a few bills, you morph into the Moral Majority.

Doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, he’s still RIC FLAIR. If you don’t understand the magnitude of that, you’re not qualified to judge, anyway.

Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM, Pittsburgh, PA (105.9). Check out his web page at WXDX.com. Contact Mark by emailing wzmarkmadden@hotmail.com.

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