TJR Review: Ric Flair Interviewed by Steve Austin on WWE Network's Broken Skull Sessions

A new episode of Steve Austin’s “Broken Skull Sessions” interview show premiered on WWE Network on Sunday. The guest was the legendary Ric Flair, who Austin called repeatedly “the greatest of all time.” It’s a sentiment that a lot of wrestlers and fans would agree with.

I’m not going to write a full play by play of the 1 hour, 40-minute discussion because there was so much that they covered, but I do recommend you check it out. It’s going to be hard for me to mention everything discussed, so consider this just a snippet of what was discussed. I’m also going to be out of order in terms of when things were discussed. The reason for that is because I watched it on Sunday afternoon while laying on the couch and now I’m writing about it on Monday morning.

They talked about Flair’s health scare in the summer of 2017. Flair was grateful for his wife Wendy being by his bedside every day. Flair talked about the long process of getting better, how he lost his memory for a few months and then having multiple surgeries last year. Flair said he’s doing okay now at 71 years old.

Flair spoke about how he was influenced a lot by “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers and then Flair got to wrestle him. Flair went on to use the “Nature Boy” nickname as well. Flair spoke about how what Rogers was doing was different than everybody else, so Flair thought he needed to do something to stand out and that’s what led to him wearing robes. Flair told a story of his dad wearing a suit to work (he was a doctor) because it made him look professional, so Flair used that same line of thinking in his wrestling career.

They had a fun discussion about some of the famous spots Flair did in matches like the front first Flair Flop, the bump over the turnbuckle onto the apron and of course Flair taking a slam off the top rope in nearly every match. It was pretty funny watching this as Austin laughs at the clips of Flair doing the bumps we have seen him do so many times.

There was a brief discussion about the plane crash in 1977 that Flair was involved in. They mentioned somebody died and two wrestlers were paralyzed after that. Flair spoke about how much that made him change his style because he was 270 pounds, then he went down to 180 pounds and Flair wrestled most of his career at around 240 pounds. Austin talked about how he also changed his style after the 1997 neck injury he suffered that led to him wrestling more as a brawler. Austin thought Flair was the perfect size for his style.

There were some funny stories like Flair mentioning the two wrestlers that hated taking chops from him the most: The Undertaker and Bret Hart. Flair said that Undertaker would tell him that he gets to do just three chops in their match.

Ric Flair reveals which legends hated his chops the most: The Broken Skull Sessions

Austin put over Flair as the best wrestler ever and complimented him on his heel work. Flair talked about it as if it came natural to him. Flair admitted he wasn’t a great babyface. I can think of some great babyface performances from him like Starrcade 1993 against Vader, but Flair is most known for being arguably the best heel ever. Flair joked that he barely had any offensive moves, he couldn’t even hit a good dropkick and didn’t even do clotheslines. Flair said he just had the chops and punches.

They talked about how Flair is still popular in pop culture with rappers using him in videos and he’s getting in commercials. They spoke about how people still like the “Woo” thing. Flair said it was important for him to spend money on expensive suits and watches in order to make him stand out.

There was an interesting discussion some of the wrestlers today are doing moonsaults and superkicks. Flair said somebody wanted to use a superkick, so they asked Shawn Michaels (when Shawn was still wrestling) and Shawn was still wrestling. Flair said what used to be a finish when he started has changed drastically. Flair commented on Wilbur Snyder using an abdominal stretch as a finish and Austin said that Harley Race has a suplex finish. Austin said that guys like Undertaker and Big Show said the same thing…less is more.

Flair’s list of the five guys he wrestled that were the most over (popular) with the fans: Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, Kerry Von Erich, Dusty Rhodes and Ricky Morton. Flair specifically mentioned Morton in the Carolinas and being so popular with the girls there. I thought he would have said Sting, but maybe he just forgot about him.

Flair enjoyed his first WWE run from late 1991 until early 1993. It was about 18 months. Flair would go on to win the WWE Title twice in 1992 losing it first to Randy Savage and later to Bret Hart. When asked about not having the match with Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 8 (1992), Flair said he didn’t know why WWE chose not to do it, nor did he ask about it. Flair noted that they wrestled at live events, which he thought was a bit of a mistake too. Flair said that Vince and Hogan had different ideas while talking about Hogan wanting to do TV/movies like Thunder in Paradise. It seemed like Flair didn’t seem upset about not having a big match with Hogan in his first WWE run. Flair said Vince told Flair that Vince wanted to use younger talent more, so Flair went back to WCW. It wasn’t a case of being mad about it. They just went their separate ways.

Ric Flair celebrates his 1992 Royal Rumble Match victory

Flair loved working with Sting. Flair praised Sting for never getting tired when they would have long matches and Sting’s connection with the crowd. Austin put over Flair for really making Sting into a bigger star. Austin credited Flair for knowing how to shine him up and Flair said Sting was one of the best guys he got to wrestle. Flair said he wrestled Sting so many times, just like Steamboat and credited Sting for being one of the nicest guys.

Flair credited two wrestlers for helping “make” him in his career: Harley Race and The Undertaker. In Race’s case, he was the veteran NWA Heavyweight Champion that put Flair over as the new champion. As for Undertaker, Flair thanked him because Undertaker wanted to work with him at WrestleMania 18 in 2002 and it really gave Flair some confidence back. Flair also said Shawn Michaels made him in his last WWE match too.

They had fun talking about how when Austin walked out of WWE in 2002, WWE chose Ric Flair to put over Brock Lesnar after Austin refused to do it. Flair was laughing about how he didn’t want to do it, but he was joking when he said that. Austin once again talked about how he wishes he handled it differently.

There was a lot of talk about Flair losing confidence when he returned to WWE in November 2001 as one of the co-owners of the company. Flair didn’t think he would be wrestling that much, but then he wrestled Vince McMahon at Royal Rumble 2002. I thought that was a very fun match. Flair said it took him a long time to feel confident. They didn’t mention it, but it was probably something to do with Flair being in his 50s during that run in WWE in the 2000s. It’s not easy being a great wrestler in your 50s because most guys are retired by that age. Flair got emotional saying he felt lucky to be called the greatest of all time by people as great as Austin.

Flair loved being a part of the Evolution group with Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton. Flair said that Hunter told Flair that everybody knew who he was and told him to go out there and do what you do. Flair thought Orton was the best worker in the business today. Flair praised Batista for working hard too. Flair joked that he hopes he’s still alive for when Evolution gets inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame so he can get his third Hall of Fame ring. Flair is already in the WWE HOF as an individual wrestler and as part of the Four Horsemen.

Flair put over Austin, Hogan and Undertaker as three of the top guys ever. He praised Austin and Hogan for being the biggest draws while Undertaker has the longevity with nearly 30 years as that character. Flair said guys like him, Shawn Michaels and Triple H are there too. When Flair and Hogan were at the Raw Reunion show in Tampa last year (July 22, 2019) and Austin got the loudest pops, Flair looked at Hogan as if to say this guy (Austin) is really over.

I really enjoyed the discussions about three of Flair’s most famous matches in WWE:

Royal Rumble 1992 – They both spoke about how it may not have been a great match technically (Austin said it was great for a Royal Rumble match), but the amount of star power in the match made it special and because the WWE Title was on the line. Flair said in that match, there were so many Hall of Famers so it meant a lot more and today, it’s harder to say that. Flair said he wasn’t tired working 60 minutes because he was so used to wrestling that long in his career. When they mentioned the post-match “tear in my eye” speech where he said it was the greatest moment of his life, Flair said he just thought of it and said “real world champion” it was also a shot at WCW for the way they treated him on his way out.

Undertaker vs. Flair at WrestleMania 18 in 2002 – Flair was really grateful that he got to wrestle Undertaker and that Undertaker asked to wrestle him. They covered a lot of things in the match like when Arn Anderson hit Undertaker with a spinebuster, Flair getting busted open and when Flair wasn’t able to do the turnbuckle spot the first time, Undertaker told him to do it again, so Flair did it. You can tell that Flair loved working with Undertaker.

Shawn Michaels vs. Flair at WrestleMania 24 in 2008 – Flair praised Michaels heavily for this performance. Flair said right before they got out there, Shawn told him that he (Shawn) will call the match, Flair shouldn’t say a word and that Ric should just follow along. Flair laughed about the spot where Shawn let Flair body slam Shawn off the top rope because that’s a spot from nearly every Flair match. I thought it was a great match, especially considering Flair was 59 years old and Michaels led the way. Austin loved the ending of the match with Michaels saying “I’m sorry…I love you” and then the superkick to win the match. Flair said he was overwhelmed by the crowd while adding that he felt like the luckiest guy in the world.

Austin and Flair both thought that Shawn Michaels was the best in-ring performer in wrestling history.

“Stone Cold” plays word association with Ric Flair at the Broken Skull Bar

When Austin asked Flair about going to TNA after his 2008 WWE retirement, Flair said he did it because he needed the money. Flair said there were guys there he liked, the schedule was easy and he needed the money. Flair enjoyed being there with Kurt Angle, Sting and Hulk Hogan, but he hated working for Eric Bischoff. Flair said he apologized to Vince profusely for even doing it.

Flair talked more about having millions in the bank, then owing over $1 million to the IRS once, $2 million to the IRS once and said no bankruptcy. Flair said he can count about $1 million or $1.5 million now and everything is paid for. Flair also spoke about how Vince McMahon loaned him a lot of money as well when Flair needed the help – Flair said that it was $800,000 that Vince loaned him and Flair paid him back. Flair talked about paying three ex-wives alimony money. Flair has been divorced four times in case you don’t know. He was honest about how wasn’t responsible, but his new wife Wendy (former Fifi in WCW) has really helped him with that.

Flair spoke about Dusty Rhodes as his favorite opponent since they wrestled so many times. Flair talked about how Dusty was a genius, he was charismatic and he could talk. Throughout the discussion, Flair had compliments for some of his other favorite opponents from the NWA/WCW days like Ricky Steamboat, Sting, Ricky Morton, Terry Funk, Kerry Von Erich and Barry Windham to name a few.

Flair said that the 1980s era was his favorite era while putting over the incredible roster they had in NWA such as Dusty Rhodes, The Four Horsemen, Rock N Roll Express, Midnight Express and so many others. Flair also talked about how great the Attitude Era was thanks to guys like Austin, Rock, Undertaker, Foley, Triple H and so on.

Towards the end of the interview, Flair had a lot of praise for daughter Ashley (Charlotte Flair) for being one of the top women in the business over the last five years and she continues to get better. They didn’t mention Ric’s son Reid passing away at age 25 likely because it would have made Ric feel uncomfortable. Ric only mentioned him saying that Ashley got into wrestling because it was Reid’s dream, which is a story that Ric and Charlotte have told many times before. Ric said that Charlotte is better in the ring than he ever was. They said that people always want to compare Charlotte to Ric, but that’s not fair and noted that it’s not like Mike Rotunda (Irwin R. Schyster) gets compared to Bray Wyatt, who is his son. It’s a good point. Austin said that Charlotte’s career stands on its own and Ric agrees. Me too. She’s awesome.

There were a lot of references to Ric Flair’s drinking and partying life. You can tell that he regretted some of it because of all the divorces, but he spoke about how he was used to spending life on the road. Austin said he was used to being on the road too. They both talked about being on the road nearly every day, then you’re home for a day or two and you want to be out on the road again.

To wrap it up, Flair said that he thinks about his legacy because he wants to be remembered for the good things, not the bad. Flair said he never did anything illegal. Flair said he probably could have been there for more for his family and could have been wiser. Flair talked about how he thought it was cool that he got to influence a lot of people. Flair said he hopes the positive stuff that he’s done outweighs the negative. They showed a clip of a Raw episode in Greenville, SC when wrestlers paid tribute to Flair after Ric’s match with Triple H that night and Flair said that was a special night too. Austin ended it saying that Ric was the greatest of all time and they ended it saying they loved each other.

 

Final Thoughts

This was a really good interview by Austin, which is no surprise because of how much he likes and respects Flair. You can tell that Flair loved Austin just as much. There were times when it turned into a conversation more than an interview as well since they are friends that have accomplished a lot in pro wrestling. A lot of the things they said were stuff that Flair has said in other interviews, but there was plenty of insight into his career as well.

I have seen all of the episodes of Broken Skull Sessions on WWE Network. This is the only one I have written about in-depth, but if I had to rank them so far it would go like this.

1. The Undertaker – It was really cool to see him break kayfabe so to speak and talk about things in his career.

2. Bret Hart – The Hart/Austin feud is my favorite in WWE history, so I loved hearing them talk about their careers together. I’ve heard them talk before, but it never gets old to me.

3. Ric Flair – They went for nearly two hours, but it was easy to get through. I love Flair stories and I love that he’s in good health after the problems he had a few years ago.

4. Big Show – Good stories throughout this one with Show showing that he has matured a lot in his career.

5. Kane – It was fine and Kane is very well spoken obviously as a mayor of Knox County. They had fun reliving moments together while laughing about the silly stuff Kane did in his career.

6. Goldberg – I was never much of a Goldberg fan, so it was hard to get into it. Austin gets along with him well, though.

Austin is a great host because he is friends with the guys he talks to, so they’re willing to tell him some funny stories and I like the way the conversation flows.

You can watch this episode of Ric Flair on Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Sessions on WWE Network on demand any time.

Thanks for reading.