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To be the man, you've got to meet the man
Meeting Ric Flair a once in a lifetime experience.
By JASON CLEVETT - SLAM! Wrestling


Fan Steffanie Beekman poses with Ric Flair. Photos by Jason Clevett

EDMONTON - After his retirement, Ric Flair became a hot commodity. As a result, he received his release from WWE so he could focus on opportunities away from the company. One of those opportunities is to meet and greet fans from around the world at conventions, independent events, and speaking engagements. When Flair recently came to Edmonton, VIP meet and greet packages were snapped up in days.

Priced at $250, the package included a ticket to the show, poster, laminated VIP pass, and one-on-one time with Ric himself, including autographs and a photo. Demand was so high an additional VIP package for $175 not including the ticket was added for before the show.

Fans arrived early for the 2:00 p.m. session, and waited in the lobby with eager anticipation. Finally, the doors were opened and they filed in. Promoter Kevin Radomski went through the rules -- Ric wouldn't sign skin or cloth but anything else would be fine. With that, "The Nature Boy" was introduced and strutted on to stage to take a seat.

To be so close to one of wrestling legends was awe-inspiring. The first few people were at a loss for words.

"I saw people shaking when they went up to the table," Radomski said. "You forget how powerful and amazing it is for people to experience this."

As people got comfortable with him, the banter started. Flair signed everything: posters, DVDs action figures, magazines and a replica championship belt.

PWA promoter Don Ferguson was one of those attending the first session. As someone who often includes autograph sessions in his events, he said the event was well run.

"Meeting Ric was amazing. What an awesome guy," he said. "It is great to be able to meet a wrestler and not have to deal with the headaches of organizing it myself!"

Despite having been "on" for four and a half hours, Flair was just as cordial at the post show VIP event. Eleven-year-old Hunter Gros received the package as a gift from his Dad and could barely contain his enthusiasm afterward.

"I think it was pretty awesome. He told lots of stories [from] before I was born. Meeting him was pretty cool." Gros got some trading cards signed. "I said thank you for signing my cards and that he is the best. After meeting him I like him even more."

Many people spoke of how Flair had influenced them. During the question and answer session one brave man stood at the microphone and spoke about how he broke his back and it was Flair's return from a broken back in a plane crash that helped inspire him to walk. Others were influenced by his personality and style.

"It is because of Ric Flair that I dress nice as much as I can, stylin' and profilin' and following his footsteps," said Carlo Demellaro. "It seemed like a once in a lifetime opportunity. The show was supposed to end at 5:30 and it ended at 6:10 because he wanted more questions. He was very modest and humble and it was a great experience. It really was worth the price, a dream come true to talk to the man. I never thought I would do this in my life."

Of course, the best way to get Flair's attention is be an attractive woman. His face lit up when they came to the table, and he continued his reputation as a womanizer with casual flirting and kisses on the cheek. Steffanie Beekman had a unique photo as she kicked her leg up around him, much to "The Nature Boy's" amusement.

"It felt very good. He is infamous for being crazy about the ladies. I got a picture with him and get a little close and it was cute," she said. She attended the event with her boyfriend, who is a huge fan. "I have watched a lot of the DVDs and learned about him. He is a legend in the industry and it was a huge opportunity. Not too many people come to Edmonton so you have to jump on it when you can. It was a very intimate cool show."

SLAM! Wrestling's own "Bloodthirsty" Bob Kapur flew from Toronto for the event and to visit friends.


Flair and promoter Kevin Radomski.
"Ric Flair is a guy I always wanted to meet and listen to tell stories. Tonight was a great opportunity, I couldn't have asked for anything more. The event was great and something I would like to see come closer to Ontario. Ric Flair's drawing power is universal. It would have been nice to just go across the street instead of the country."

Having been working in the industry as a journalist, Kapur has met and spoken to many wrestlers. Meeting Flair was a whole new ballgame for the writer.

"Having met so many, you kind of lose the 'markness' for lack of a better term. I got it again meeting him which was fantastic. Being at his retirement [at WrestleMania 24] makes this night special. I was a Flair fan before my friends had ever heard of him. I followed the NWA in Apter magazines when WWF was the only product we could watch," Kapur said. "Seeing his last match was one of the most emotional things I have ever seen, and seeing his RAW farewell was even more off the charts. As a memento I had him sign the Hall of Fame program because it was a very meaningful moment for me as a wrestling fan."

As for me, this Calgarian wasn't going to go all the way to Edmonton for this story and not take advantage of the opportunity to meet him. Last year when Flair was still with WWE, he had been scheduled for a signing in Niagara Falls and I was booked for a phone interview with him. He left the company before that could happen. For him to come close to home and meet him face to face, it truly is an unforgettable experience. I shook the hand of "the man" and it's something myself, and the dozens of others lucky enough to participate, will ever forget.

RELATED LINKS

  • Photo gallery from "An Evening with Ric Flair"
  • Ric Flair bio and story archive

    Jason Clevett spent two days in Edmonton and six hours on the road to partake in this event. For Ric Flair, even going to Edmonton is worth the sacrifice.