Ric Flair has been retired from the ring for a few years now, but he continues to serve as an ambassador for "sports entertainment."
Over the last several weeks he has done so through a new podcast from MLW Radio.
While most of his podcasts have been fairly innocuous and stringently pro-WWE (where his daughter currently works as the women's world champion, Charlotte), he recently made some negative headlines in a way that has left some wrestling fans furious.
It all started when Ric Flair implied that Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry took a ride on "space mountain" shortly after breaking it off with MLB player David Justice.
The rumors percolated for a few days before finally getting back to Berry, whose representatives weighed in on the matter, flatly denying the tryst ever happened.
Ric Flair Claims He Slept With Halle Berry. Here's Her Response. https://t.co/xT5qDUUubcNot only was there a denial of the sexual encounter, but Berry was said to be "deeply offended" by the implication, accusing Ric Flair of trying to use her as a sexual object to raise his own profile.
— Robert Stutler (@robertstutler1) October 15, 2016
Naturally the topic came back around to the Ric Flair podcast a second consecutive week (the Michael Bisping episode).
During the top four segment at the beginning of the show, co-host Conrad Taylor gave Ric Flair an opportunity to backtrack and issue an apology to Halle Berry.
Rather than take the high road and admit that he made up the story as a joke, Flair doubled down and turned the tables, claiming with a laugh that the real story was not that he, a professional wrestler, had the opportunity to sleep with an award-winning actress, but that she had the privilege of sleeping with Ric Flair.
Flair's response was seen by many as disgusting, especially in an age where women still must contend with being objectified sexually. (See certain comments from a current presidential candidate.)
Now they're putting over Ric Flair like a day after his disgusting old creepy f***ing self bragging/lying about his sex life. #SDLive
— Brother Queero (@sliceofficial) October 5, 2016
Haha Halle Berry's rep denied Ric Flair's disgusting claim that he slept with herHalle Berry, the attack line goes, has every right to be upset that her sexuality was exploited without permission by a washed-up pro wrestler. Even if the story were true, the fact that Ric Flair would be willing to share such an intimate detail from a woman's life without her permission does come across as a bit reprehensible.
— Latesia (@LT_Mizzou19) October 4, 2016
With wrestling moving more towards a PG-rated product, trying to attract wider and more diverse audiences, Ric Flair's foray into the controversial waters of kiss-and-tell creates an incentive for the WWE -- and forward thinking wrestling companies in general -- to back away from the 16-time world champion.
Consider for a moment the way that WWE reacted to the Hulk Hogan video in which the Hulkster could be heard using racial slurs (reminder here from the Mirror).
WWE severed all ties to Hogan and even scrubbed him from the WWE Network as well as the WWE Hall of Fame, many would say with good reason.
It is difficult to see where Ric Flair might have some kind of moral high ground on Hogan here. Using a racial slur and sexually exploiting a woman for your own gain and without any type of consent as to the true nature of the relationship are pretty equal on immoral footing.
That's not to say WWE is guilty in any of this -- just that it's something they, or any company, should consider before opening the door to working with Ric Flair in any capacity in the future.
Perhaps most disconcerting about the issue is that TMZ gave Flair one last chance to set the record straight during a recent interview, and while Ric said Halle Berry was a nice lady, he did not retract the story. In fact, in a way, the compliment that he paid her implied Berry was lying when she dismissed ever knowing who Ric Flair was through her representative's statement.
Ric Flair says he slept with Halle Berry https://t.co/WcEuvUA2gYEssentially, Ric Flair has been misogynistic towards Halle Berry and has implied she is a liar -- twice. It all adds up to one basic fact: the Ric Flair shtick has run its course. It's time to close the door.
— Angela Lane (@AngelaL18284263) October 18, 2016
But what do you think, readers? Should the WWE and other forward-thinking wrestling companies condemn the comments of Ric Flair and refuse to work with him again? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by WWE]