Ric Flair has never shied from the spotlight -- nor from acknowledging his status as a legend in the pro wrestling game. Flair will participate in Monday night's "Legends Night" episode of Raw, appearing alongside fellow WWE legends such as Hulk Hogan, Booker T and Mark Henry.
"I'm honored that they think enough of me to have me represent the company," Flair told CBS Sports. "I certainly know I'm a legend. I think they just picked me because I'm the oldest."
Flair, 71, has seen his share of health scares in recent years but his passion for the business of professional wrestling has not wavered. While WWE has navigated the COVID-19 pandemic, Flair has been following the promotion closely, even during the months-long stretch his daughter, Charlotte Flair, was on the sidelines.
After Charlotte returned at December's TLC pay-per-view to team with Asuka and win the women's tag team championship, Ric was shown backstage at the ThunderDome inside Tropicana Field in Tampa, watching the match on a monitor. It was just another day of keeping up with "the product" for the legend.
"I make my wife, who is a fan but now is more than a casual fan, watch with me," Flair said. "She's an opinionated fan now. That's the worst, right? We watch all three shows. I watched more than I thought I was when my daughter was off. I wanted to stay up with the women's division and everything. We watch all the time and we enjoy the product. I think COVID and competition for programming has caused problems, but I think the company continues to thrive, and for everything that might seem different they come up with something unique and a surprise. This ThunderDome thing has become huge, the virtual audience has become huge -- the graphics, the technology. I think the company is No. 1 commodity in sports entertainment, period. I'd argue that with anybody."
Charlotte Flair's return and immediate title win was met with some familiar criticism from corners of wrestling fandom who have taken issues with her consistently being pushed as the top star in the company, rarely without a title and always at the top of the card.
Ric has seen -- and reacted to -- the criticism of his daughter in the past. But when asked who it affects more, father or daughter, his answer is simple and comes on the heels of a big laugh, "Me."
"I'm not so much bothered by it," Flair said. "I just laugh at it. It's really sad the impact that social media can have on people. She's got thick skin. Wrestling is the only sport where somebody can't be the best. If they can argue on TV who is better -- Aaron Rodgers or Mahomes, right? Or they can argue who is better -- Justin Thomas or Tiger Woods, right? In other words, there's someone that's the best in everything, right? Of course there is. She's the best. That's tough to argue about. What do you want to argue about? Who's the better athlete? Who played Division I sports? Who was an All-American in high school? What's there to argue about? When she walked out the door at TLC, what did you think? That's star-power."
Ahead of his appearance at Legends Night, Flair has little doubt that his daughter has already established herself as a legend, even with plenty of years left ahead of her in the business. And no criticism on social media will sway him from his confidence that Charlotte is not only the top female star on the current WWE roster but the best to ever set foot in the ring.
"She's the best woman on the roster, but she's the best woman of all time," Flair said. "I've been in the business 49 years. Give me an example of who you think is better. You can't. I love Trish [Stratus], I love Lita. But I can walk into a room and say my daughter is the best. We can sit and debate it. I'll have that debate just like you, and I can have the debate about Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes."