Ric Flair spoke with Sports Illustrated about John Cena tying his world title record, his daughter Charlotte’s continued success in WWE, and also touched on Jay Lethal and Seth Rollins.
The “Nature Boy” Ric Flair was celebrated as wrestling’s only 16-time world champion, an honor he now shares–and happily, he adds–with John Cena.
“I have no problem with John Cena tying the world title record,” said Flair. “John has an incredible work ethic.”
Flair noted that his daughter, Charlotte–who made the move last night to Smackdown Live as part of the “Superstar Shake-Up”–could even surpass his record.
“She’s already a four-time champion,” said Flair. “She’s so athletic, she is a female Kurt Angle. She’s way past asking me questions. She tells me things now.”
Foot Locker and WWE just announced a partnership of limited-edition footwear and apparel collection with a collection of Puma products featuring exclusive merchandise of six WWE Legends (Flair, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Ultimate Warrior, the “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Andre the Giant, and The Undertaker). The 68-year-old Flair is grateful that more people are beginning to see wrestling the way he views the profession.
“This is the respect the guys are due, and I’ve always seen us in that light,” said Flair. “There’s nothing more athletic in any sport than the wrestlers. The fact that some of it is choreographed shouldn’t reflect on the abilities, skills, and work ethics that go into. I think it’s great for both brands.”
The current WWE talent still pay their respect to Flair whenever he appears backstage. Flair admitted that he is grateful to be remembered so fondly by a younger generation of wrestlers.
“That means a lot to me,” said Flair. “It means I did something right. It’s a very tough, insensitive business. If you’re good to people and work hard with them, and I was never selfish–I wanted my opponent to look as good, if not better, than me when I was in the ring with them.”
As much as Flair does respect the active talent, he did mention his pet peeve during a WrestleCon panel over WrestleMania weekend.
“It’s this thing where guys duck the clothesline,” said Flair. “If you watch a three-hour WWE program, you’ll see thirty guys ducking the clothesline. How do you miss a guy with a clothesline? How do you do it? It’s a transitional spot, and it drives me crazy. Nobody ducked Road Warrior Animal and Hawk’s clothesline, and nobody damn sure ducked Stan Hansen’s clothesline.”
Flair asked for his favorite talent outside of WWE, and he shared that it is Ring of Honor’s Jay Lethal, who arguably does a better Ric Flair impersonation than Flair himself.
“I do wish that Jay Lethal was in WWE,” said Flair. “He’s an incredibly nice guy, and he’s a good talent, so I don’t know why Jay never made it to WWE.”
The future of the WWE, Flair revealed, is in the hands of Seth Rollins.
“That’s the guy to watch,” explained Flair. “Seth needs to be a bad guy again – he’s not nearly as good being a good guy – but he’s a tremendous performer. They had him in the right spot, but then he got hurt. Seth can really go.”
Flair also asked to thank fans for their support over the past four decades of his career.
“Thank you for all the respect,” said Flair. “I hope I’ve never disappointed you. I worked hard and tried to give you my all every night, whether it was 100 of you or 100,000. Thank you for all the respect, and we’re carrying on that legacy through my daughter now.”