A Big House on the Big Side of Town, Pt. 2; Response to Fans

Nick Paglino

by Mark Madden

My Ric Flair column certainly drew a volatile response. I’d like to address that, and answer certain specific queries posed by the great unwashed.

*Here’s a partial list of wrestlers worse off than Ric Flair: Umaga, Test, Brian Adams, Chris Benoit, Mike Awesome, Bam Bam Bigelow, Earthquake, The Public Enemy, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Candido, Big Boss Man, Hercules Hernandez, Road Warrior Hawk, Mr. Perfect, Davey Boy Smith, Terry Gordy, Rick Rude, Brian Pillman, Junkyard Dog, Dynamite Kid, the Hardy Boyz.

*You’re right, Ric Flair DOES need to be held accountable: By his family, friends, peers and creditors. But NOT BY YOU.

*The single most ridiculous statement regarding my defense of Flair goes something like this: “If it’s OK for Flair to do what he’s done, then it must be OK for Chris Benoit to murder his family.” Uh, no. Being in debt doesn’t carry quite the gravitas of a double murder/suicide. The former situation can be remedied. The latter can’t. The two are in no way comparable.

*Some seem to have a problem with my friendship with Flair, a relationship that dates to 1989. Knowing Ric doesn’t disqualify me from writing columns about him. You have full disclosure. I write OPINION pieces. If you disagree with my opinion, fine. That doesn’t make you right and me wrong. Furthermore, my connections and experience in wrestling go a long way toward fueling my columns and making them interesting reads.

*What, exactly, does my weight have to do with ANYTHING? Please refrain from behaving like a fourth-grader. It makes you look foolish, not me.

*Some feel that if a lesser wrestler, one I didn’t know, was guilty of Flair’s alleged malfeasance, I would be much harder on that lesser wrestler. Well, DUH. Mickey Mantle was drunk off his ass most of his LIFE, but New Yorkers still love him because he hit 536 home runs. Mantle was a folk hero to Yankees fans – heck, to baseball fans in general – despite his problems. Legends get wiggle room. Flair’s the greatest wrestler of all time.

I’ve come a few other realizations based on the reaction to my Flair piece:

*The jerks who read this website are too young to have respect or realization when it comes to how good Flair was and exactly what he means to the wrestling business. That goes for the whole damn geeky IWC. They just see this old man who does grotesque blade jobs. Do a little research. Watch a little tape. Flair was AMAZING. And he’s still pretty good, definitely in the upper half of current workers. They should make him Sin Cara.

*No matter how much of the Grantland.com article was accurate and how much of it wasn’t, Flair is in NO WAY comparable to Randy “The Ram.” That’s the point the article sets out to make. It fails. Fruit of a poisoned tree. If the article’s main point fails, how credible is the article?

*Flair has never let his behavior affect his work. For example, he’s never wrecked a main event because he was WASTED. Hello, Jeff Hardy.

Bruce Mitchell of PWTorch.com has sound advice for those of you offended by Flair’s alleged behavior: “Don’t buy a ticket to see a wrestler unless you’re sure he’ll spend his share of the take in ways you’ll approve of.”

Some criticize Flair for wrestling at 62. How old is too old? How long is too long? Lou Thesz wrestled regularly until he was 63, and got canonized for it. Thesz worked his last match at 74. Terry Funk is 67, and he’s still wrestling. Criticism for Funk is non-existent. Funk has had more “retirement” matches than anyone in wrestling. It might (OK, probably not) shock you to learn that Funk’s “retirement” matches were designed to manufacture a cash windfall. Thesz kept wrestling because he needed a buck, too.

There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a business, first and foremost. Zero nobility attached.

Flair used to be the darling of the dirt sheet/Internet set. When did that dissipate? Some of the venom spat toward Flair is SHOCKING.

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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