Ric Flair is getting ESPN's 30 for 30 treatment and wrestling fans around the world have known that for some time. However, fans awaiting the film finally have some details as the director of the film, Rory Karpf, who directed the 30 for 30 films The Book of Manning and I Hate Christian Laettner (Ric Flair appeared in the latter) spoke with Sports Illustrated about the new Flair project, aptly titled Nature Boy.
Karpf says that he's always wanted to do a wrestling-based 30 for 30, and there's few people in the history of the wrestling business with more subject matter to discuss than Ric Flair.
"In the wrestling world, the viewer isn't sure what's real or what isn't, but 'Nature Boy'–Ric Flair wasn't just a character. He was real. The wrestler he portrayed in the ring was also the man he was outside the ring. I found that to be fascinating. He's led a crazy life that's a natural for a 30 for 30. Plus I just love pro wrestling."
As the film is still in the editing process with archived footage left to obtain and a few interviews left to shoot, it's not yet known if the Ric Flair documentary will be 90 or 120 minutes long, but what we do now know is that besides an interview with Ric Flair himself, Nature Boy will feature interviews with some of Flair's greatest in-ring opponents and teammates, including but not limited to Sting, The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, and Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat. Karpf has also shot footage with Flair's Four Horsemen stablemates Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson and also with WWE Hall of Fame announcer Jim Ross and former WCW President Eric Bischoff, which should make for some very entertaining television, as the relationship between Flair and Bischoff was certainly an interesting one given the fact that Ric actually sued Bischoff at one point.
Ric Flair's children, including current WWE Women's Champion Charlotte (real name Ashley) will also be featured in Nature Boy, as will Flair's first wife, Leslie.
The main era of focus will be the 1980s, considered by many as the greatest generation in the history of professional wrestling, when Ric Flair took on Hulk Hogan for the title of wrestling's most popular star. While Hogan was the focus of Vince McMahon's then-WWF, Flair was the star of the NWA and later WCW and both helped bring wrestling into the mainstream. Karpf continues on his fascination with Ric Flair.
"Hulk Hogan and Wrestlemania had become household names and meanwhile, Ric was in a rival organization. I wanted to explore what specifically made Ric so great and what specifically makes for a great pro wrestler. Why is he considered the greatest of all time? How is that determination made? Unlike the NFL or NBA there really aren't stats and metrics we can use like touchdowns, points scored or championships to determine greatness. Wrestling is pre-determined. But it is very athletic and the performers are definitely athletes. I wanted to give wrestling its just due in comparison of other sports."
Nature Boy doesn't have an exact release date yet, but it could happen as early as this fall. Given ESPN's good relationship with WWE, obtaining wrestling footage really hasn't been a concern for Karpf, so expect plenty of Ric Flair wrestling action in the film to go along with all of the personal drama, tragedy, laughter, and heartbreak that is the world of Ric Flair.
"Hopefully they'll have an emotional, visceral reaction. I think this is a film where the viewer can laugh, cry and hopefully 'Woooooo!' I try to make my films accessible for everyone, so my ultimate goal is to make a film enjoyable for wrestling and non-wrestling fans alike."
Ric Flair? 30 for 30? Yeah, I'm thinking that will probably go quite well. Will you be watching?
[Image via WWE]