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IT'S TIME FOR RIC TO BE FAIR TO FLAIR, WILDKAT: THE ARENA'S LAST INDEPENDENT, WHERE RAW GREATLY IMPROVED LAST NIGHT AND MORE

By Mike Johnson on 2017-06-06 16:37:00

ITS TIME FOR RIC TO BE FAIR TO FLAIR

Last night, we reported on PWInsider.com that WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair was injured after Flair posted photos to his social media showing an obviously mangled hand as well as post-medical treatment photos of Flair with his hand in a cast, as well as injuries to his face.  Flair, in his usual cavalier boasting, claimed he had gotten into it with a "Warriors" fan but in all likelihood, it's just a colorful boast to cover whatever the reality of the injuries are.

As someone who once crushed his left hand in a car wreck, the photos of Flair's hand looked very familiar - because they looked much like my hand after that wreck, where the crash tossed my arms before me as the dashboard crushed in.  From what knowledge I have of what caused my injury, the multiple surgeries and all the physical and occupational therapy that followed, I can pretty much state this - whatever happened to Flair likely didn't happen in a fistfight, especially in an era where the second any celebrity as much as jaywalks, everyone is filming them on their phones and trying to sell the footage to TMZ.

I'll just let it out - I'm worried for Ric Flair.

I say that as someone who was lucky enough to grow up during what I consider the prime of Ric's career, when he and the term "NWA World champion" were one in the same, and as someone who considers Ric to be the best talent professional wrestling has ever seen - and not as someone attacking or throwing shade - Ric, whatever the behavior might have led to those injuries, for his own good, he needs to knock it off.

The world sees Ric Flair as pretty much the walking embodiment of all that is great about professional .  He's the essence of the NWA and WCW.  Yes, there are as many stories about business deals that went sour as there are memories of amazing matches, but Flair is pretty much Teflon to his audience when it comes to bad publicity. 

People just love Ric Flair.  They love the "Nature Boy."  They love the body of matches he created, the feuds he fought and the promos he cut.  They look upon Ric as a living legend, and for good reason, but perhaps it's time that Ric sees that in himself. 

I can't claim to know what goes on in the mind of Ric Flair and we know he's seen his share of tragedy and that, understandably, has to weigh on him, but for his own good, I sincerely hope that Ric realizes it's time to slow down, treat himself in the same light 99% of fans would treat him, take care of his health and most importantly, it's time for Ric Flair to be fair to Flair.  

No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes, but as Ric continues to get older, I sincerely hope we aren't heading towards the moment where he makes a spectacular mistake that makes WWE, which already seems to have quickly distanced itself as quickly as it signed him to a new deal, cut their ties, or something worse and unthinkable. 

If anyone's body of work meant that they should walk off into the sunset with a happy ending, it's Ric Flair's. 

I remain concerned that his ending will be anything but happy, and that he might be his own cause of that.   I hope that Flair really did bust his hand up fighting some fan, but with all my heart, I know that's likely just some larger than life story - because that's what wrestlers from his generation did to show how tough they are - and I'm not saying Ric isn't tough, I'm just saying I am concerned...and I hope others are too.

At the end of the day, however, just as it was on Ric Flair to carry his challengers to the best match of their careers, it's up to Ric to carry himself through life and to protect himself, the way he protected the NWA World championship in his heyday.  There isn't a person in the world that doesn't want to see Ric celebrated and treated as a legend - and the only person that can take that away from is Ric is himself.

I hope he takes care. 

IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT MATTER

I really enjoyed last night's Monday Night Raw.  In fact, I liked the show a lot more than I enjoyed watching Extreme Rules on the WWE Network the night before.  While Extreme Rules had a a fantastic main event, a good part of the show, to me, lagged on and felt very "fill in the blanks" here.  Several of the matches had no real reason for me, as a viewer, to feel connected to the match, even with the stipulations.

I don't know if WWE recognized this or it was just a by-product of the company's storylines, but the next day, I felt like the company was doing it's best to try and move some of the undercard and midcard talents into stories that made the viewer want to see what happens next, or at least give them the reason to want to be interested.

Over the last several weeks, there's been the mystery of who has been attacking Enzo Amore.  This week, it was Big Cass (who some have surmised has been the culprit) laid out, setting the stage for Enzo to push for the injured Cas to still compete before finally turning to Big Show to replace his usual partner.  Who has been attacking Cass and Enzo?  Was Cass setting Enzo up this week?  Was Enzo acting a little too heel-ish in the aftermath?  Who's chain was that Cass came up holding when he was roused from being KO'd.  All is not well and WWE has set the table well to see what will happen next.

Then, there's the Kurt Angle texting situation.  We know something is amiss and we know Corey Graves has intel that he's not sharing.  Over the last two weeks, it's been a solid job by both involved at treating this as something that "shouldn't be happening on the air" and again, they have my curiosity piqued.

Even the Goldust and R-Truth storyline, featuring two characters who had been left for dead at the bottom of the card as comedy characters, has been interesting.  I've really enjoyed the Goldust return to form with the old interviews in the director's chair and this week, R-Truth's "Dolemite" style response was short but intense and well done.  If they are going to rehab these characters and give the audience a reason to care about them, much less about them fighting each other, this is a good first step.

In the past, attention to detail for the undercard talents has always proven to be a positive.  In a perfect world, they get over and are primed to move up to the next level, having built credibility with the audience.  Even if that isn't the case, it's always a lot more interesting and fun to watch characters with defined goals as opposed to the ones who just float aimlessness without meaning.  The audience will never care about the latter.  The former, you have a fighting chance to care about them.

WWE was trying to provide that fighting chance last night on Raw and I hope to see that turn into a trend in the weeks to come.

THE LAST INDEPENDENT

It's weird to say there will ever be a "last" anything in pro wrestling, since the last person to actually retire and stay retired was, well, I have no idea - but this Saturday 6/10 at the 2300 Arena, Luke Hawx's Wildkat Sports will be a literal fish out of water, as the New Orleans-based promotion runs South Philadelphia.  On paper, it's a crazy excursion and one that I've had my concerns about making money, but it's also, under the current landscape, going to be the last independent show presented by the venue that isn't promoted by House of Hardcore or Ring of Honor - who signed a joint exclusive deal with the legendary venue right after the Wildkat date was booked.

Luke Hawx told PWInsider.com in past interviews that he didn't book the date out of ego or even for personal glory (after all, he's the one fighting Wolverine and The Rock in major feature films this summer in small, supporting roles), but to give back to his students and his locker room as Wildkat.  Knowing that being based in New Orleans doesn't make an independent talent geographically desirable (go Google flights to and from the Big Easy and see for yourself), Hawx nonetheless wanted to give his talents a chance to be seen by a different audience and hopefully, gain the attention of other independent promoters in the Northeast so that they can potentially pick up more work outside of the Gulf Coast.

It's an honorable idea, even if the idea that the show will make huge bankroll is a longshot at best.  Some might say the idea is crazy because how good could the talents be, but having seen many of them up close and personal over the years, there are quite a few who are indeed ready for the big time. 

Steve Anthony, who is in a four-way on Saturday, is as good as anyone in professional wrestling right now.  If he was living in NYC or Philadelphia, he would have been all the rage and likely would have huge buzz on the Internet.  I rarely write this about anyone, but the fact he isn't signed to a national TV deal is complete bullsh**.  He's that great.

Buku Dao, aka the "SituAsian" was at one point on WWE's radar for the Performance Center before the deal was yanked and as a smaller, Cruiserweight talent, he's incredibly crisp and has the ability to tell great stories, not just as an underdog due to his size but as a pure professional wrestler.  Facing veteran Crowbar on Saturday, he's likely to have a standout match.

Matt Lancie reminds me a lot of an old school brawler in both his look and his work, sort of a young Dick Murdoch or Bob Orton.  Just a good technical wrestler with a bad streak who beats people up.  I think he will continue to excel as he matures and is nowhere near his peak.

There are others as well, including J Spade and Soccoro, as well as talents from the Monster Factory waiting to break out and be seen by the masses.  The show will also feature a number of familiar faces to both ECW fans and veteran fans of the Northeast independent circuit.  It's a packed weekend for pro wrestling on the independent scene (when isn't it lately?) but I am really looking forward to this show, not for the names I know, but for those who this will be their first time in the venue as spotlighted performers - and because it could very well be (for now), the last independent show in the venue.  Saturday's show features:

*Wildkat Sports champion Stevie Richards vs. Luke Hawx.

*Devon "Crowbar" Storm vs. Buku Dao.

*Ruby Reyes vs. Renee Michelle.

*Steve Anthony vs. Blk Jeez vs. Papadon vs. Bestia 666.

*Rory Gulak vs. Nick Comoroto

*The Pump Patrol vs. Gabriel & Manny Soriani.

Also scheduled to appear are The Blue Meanie, Joel Gertner, Matt Lancie, Socorro, J.Spade, talents from The Monster Factory and more.

For additional information and tickets, visit www.wildkatsports.com

 PWInsider.com will have live coverage of Wildkat this Saturday.

Mike Johnson can be reached at MikeJohnsonPWInsider@gmail.com.

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