August 4, 2008
Ric Flair, WWE end contract
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling
In what can only be described as surprising news, Ric Flair and World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. have parted ways.
In a posting on the company website, WWE stated that, "WWE and Hall of Famer Ric Flair have mutually agreed to contractually part ways. After an extraordinary career Ric has chosen to pursue opportunities outside of WWE."
As reported earlier by SLAM! Wrestling in the News and Rumours section, Flair released his own statement, saying, "WWE and I parted on the best of terms. This gives me the chance to pursue new opportunities...corporate speaking engagements, product sponsorships, autograph shows for my loyal fans (who made me what I am today) and film and television roles."
Flair's active WWE career ended at WrestleMania XXIV when he was defeated by Shawn Michaels. Prior to the bout, Flair had been wrestling for months on WWE TV with a stipulation from Mr. McMahon that if the Nature Boy were to lose a match, he would be forced to retire.
Following his retirement, Flair was given an emotional sendoff on WWE Raw. He appeared on Raw two other times subsequently, once to lead Randy Orton into a supposed parking lot brawl (which in reality was a method to lure the Legend Killer into a confrontation with Triple H) and the other time to be part of Mr. McMahon's Million Dollar Giveaway. This would be Flair's final appearance on WWE TV.
Flair's arrival in WWE for his most recent stint took place after the ending of the WCW/ECW InVasion in November 2001. Flair became the co-owner of WWE (in storyline) after Shane and Stephanie McMahon sold their shares in the company. Though he began his new tenure in WWE as a non-wrestling personality, it wasn't long before Flair once again became an active competitor, facing off against the likes of Steve Austin, The Undertaker and Vince McMahon in a variety of matches.
Eventually, Flair would begin to align himself with Triple H, Dave Batista and Randy Orton in the new faction Evolution. The group would help raise the profiles of the younger superstars, while also allowing Ric to gain WWE tag team gold, something he had not done in his earlier WWE career (Flair would also later hold the tag belts with onetime rival Roddy Piper).
Following the breakup of Evolution, Flair would continue wrestling against Mick Foley, Carlito, Edge and others. During this period, Flair captured the Intercontinental Title (another title he had never held), while also competing for the World Heavyweight Championship against Triple H and Edge.
During this time, Flair would also start his own business outside WWE, Ric Flair Finance, which has subsequently closed.
Prior to his most recent WWE stint, Flair had competed in the WWE for two years in the early 1990s, holding the WWF Heavyweight Title on two occasions. He was, to say the least, also a fixture in the NWA and WCW, becoming the face of the companies and holding their titles on 14 (official) different occasions. Flair's prominence with the companies led to him being known as one of the greatest wrestlers in the history of the sport. Through classic bouts with the likes of Harley Race, Sting, Ricky Steamboat, Dusty Rhodes, Terry Funk and a host of others, Flair would gain a reputation for being one of the best in-ring competitors and a master of the microphone.
Stay tuned to SLAM! Wrestling for more on Ric Flair.