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COMMENT





Who's best is personal
Flair's book behind debate
By CYRUS
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Ric Flair's book To Be The Man continues to do well at stores everywhere and generate controversy within the industry, mostly for his comments surrounding Bret Hart. As discussed here last week, Flair says Bret was not an upper echelon talent and adds that he never drew money. However, the most controversial remark surrounds the death of Bret's brother Owen Hart.

In the book, Flair offers that Bret cared more about the incident in Montreal, and gaining revenge for it, than he did about his own brother's death. While one can opine on the merits of the talent-related remarks, this one point is both disgusting and undermines many of the valid points that might be found in the book.

To suggest this fiction about Bret is ludicrous to anyone who knows Bret well. In fact, to suggest such a thing about anyone is an invasion of what should be a personal matter. Why Flair chose to take this tack I have no idea. While much of the rest of the diatribes on Bret and Mick Foley could be used as an angle to do business, this clearly falls outside that boundary as well as the ones of good taste.

Having said that, what is really interesting here is that you have Flair, Hart, Foley and, by extension Shawn Michaels, who along with Triple H is Flair's current running buddy and fellow legend, all critiquing one another's work. For those of us who fall into the mere mortal category, pointing out deficiencies in the work of any of these men is kind of like criticizing Leonardo Da Vinci for not making the Mona Lisa a bit bigger: Ridiculous.

Frankly, I think that being part of such an elite club and then trashing one another demeans them all. Who started what and when really is inconsequential. Anyone stating that Flair, Michaels or Hart are anything other than the very best the business had to offer and three of the greatest of all time has about as much credibility as someone who will state that Wayne Gretzky really wasn't all that great.

Whether they like each other or not (and it is fairly clear that Flair and Michaels like each other a lot, that Bret respects Foley, that Foley is more careful about what he says than the rest and that Bret dislikes both Flair and Michaels), perhaps more importantly, Flair's pals Triple H and Michaels have a distinct opinion of Bret and Flair may well have formed some of his central thought process with that influence.

The bottom line is that Flair was unquestionably the best wrestler of the 1980s. Also true is that in the '90s (the time period that Bret cites in drawing his less than favourable opinions on Flair's work) both Hart and Michaels were better (and much younger) in the ring than Flair. Flair was better than both in interviews, but then again he was and still is better than everyone in interviews.

What is not so clear is whether Bret or Michaels was the best wrestler of the '90s.

Flair votes for Michaels of course, but what is really interesting is that there are valid arguments on both sides. Bret was better if you like believability (Bret was especially better than Shawn as a heel in this regard); Shawn was better if you like more acrobatics and flash.

While this makes life interesting for pundits, the great debate (on the talent issue) is one I have a hard time getting excited about. Whom would you rather watch, Gretzky or Bobby Orr? Jim Brown or Walter Payton? Wilt Chamberlain or Shaq? The answer, of course, is simple. It is a case of personal preference. One thing is for sure: none of them was as bad as the others are saying.

This one point is both disgusting and undermines many of the valid points that might be found in the book.

RELATED LINKS

  • Ric Flair: To Be The Man reviewed
  • More on Ric Flair


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  • Order the book everyone is talking about
    Ric Flair: To Be the Man