Ric Flair recently appeared on the WWE Network edition of the "Stone Cold" Steve Austin Podcast and reminded everyone why retirement is a good thing.
What you are about to read hurts to write. It hurts because, in his day, there was none better than "The Nature Boy," and "his day" lasted a heck of a long time.
Ric Flair guided the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and the WWF/WWE through their most popular years, lifting a gimmick from Buddy Rogers and taking it to the next level.
On the mic and in the ring, there was none better than him.
It's why he was entrusted with 16 world title runs, and why at WrestleMania XXIV, he received one of the most touching and amazing sendoffs of any performer in professional wrestling history.He earned all of that, so do not think this is coming from a place of malice.
That said, the podcast leaves a bad taste in your mouth for a number of reasons.
First of all, there is nothing quite as sad as a performer, who stays too long past his prime. Ric Flair continues to pop up on television to strut his stuff and "woo" his way into live audience's hearts.
Unfortunately, it all comes across as more punchline these days than anything else.
While you could buy into him as a legitimate heel back in the day, he's now the annoying guy who gets too drunk at the party and acts as crazy as he possibly can for the attention in the hope that everyone will like him.
What once was cool has become terribly needy, and each appearance in or near a WWE wrestling ring devalues his legacy.
However, this is mainly a rant against the podcast, so that's where the focus will remain.
Just why was it so disheartening to watch?
Start with the fact that there wasn't a whole lot of new material here. Most of these stories had been told countless times, and if you're a hardcore fan, you can repeat them in your sleep.
Aside from that, Ric Flair delivered each telling with the tone of a man, who was a little too comfortable living in the past.
Particularly appalling was the anecdote he shared about his time staying with "a bunch of the guys" at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.
Flair stopped just short of delivering a blow-by-blow description of his "wild" and "crazy" encounter with some female escorts he ordered up from a guy named Buddy that he knew who worked at the hotel.
The story had two basic purposes: 1) to illustrate that Ric Flair essentially paid for sex; and 2) to brag about all the money and the partying he did when he was younger.
What's worse, the first women that Buddy sent up to the room apparently weren't "Frank Sinatra" level, so Flair sent them away and told his contact to "pretend this is Frank Sinatra," and send up the good stuff.
As he proceeded to talk about women as if they were slab-of-beef commodities to be bought and sold, there was a twinkle of pride in his eyes that sort of made you want to vomit.
Why? Because it was pretty clear this was a human being, who had grown very little.
Pretty much everyone expected Ric Flair lived this sort of lifestyle in the 1980s when he was a man in his mid-30s. However, most fans hoped that by the age of 66, there might have been some personal growth.
Also discouraging was how Flair appeared to have no problem abandoning his disgust and disappointment in the WWE for using his late son's overdose in a crude story angle late last year.
In comments reported by CBS Sports at the time, Flair opened his heart and speculated that his daughter was a part of the angle because she essentially didn't feel comfortable rocking the boat.
He also criticized that he hadn't heard about the angle ahead of time, and that he "started crying" while he was watching it.
You couldn't have told that from the podcast, however.
Ric Flair went to bat for WWE as if it were an acceptable part of the business and also regurgitated something similar to the response WWE gave at the time the angle broke.
It was all Ashley's (Charlotte's) idea. She was doing it all for Reid.
The Ric Flair, who discussed the angle on the SCSA Podcast sounded a lot more like a paid PR talking head than a father, and that was utterly disappointing.
Finally, going back to the "living in the past" criticism, it seemed like Ric Flair was uber proud of his fiscally irresponsible lifestyle as he "competed" with the late Dusty Rhodes to see who could have the better car or the bigger house.
It was all the worst parts of the baby boomer generation rolled up into an XL-sized has-been burrito. But don't take my word for it. Listen for yourself below.Do you think Ric Flair needs to call it a day and stop making public appearances, or does "The Nature Boy" still have more to give?
[Image of Ric Flair via Flickr Creative Commons c/o Matt Brink]