Earlier this week, the wrestling world buzzed with the news of Ric Flair's fresh multi-year contract with All Elite Wrestling (AEW), marking another chapter in the storied career of the 16-time World Champion who has graced the rings of NWA, WCW, and WWE.
Yet, amidst discussions of what the 74-year-old icon could bring to AEW, questions have arisen about the appropriateness and timing of this contract, considering Flair's complex legacy marred by controversy. Renowned wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer weighed in on the situation in the latest edition of the "Wrestling Observer Newsletter," articulating concerns about Flair's long-term viability in the contemporary wrestling scene.
Meltzer acknowledged Flair's diminished status compared to his heyday and referenced the troubling assault allegations that re-emerged from Vice's 2021 "Dark Side of the Ring" episode, which revisited the infamous 2002 "Plane Ride from Hell." Despite Flair's multiple denials of the incident, the allegations have cast a long shadow over his career.
Flair's AEW Future Uncertain
Within the wrestling community, Meltzer noted some rationale behind the decision—specifically, the potential for Flair to bolster Sting's final bow in wrestling, slated for March 2024.
Nevertheless, he expressed surprise that Flair's contract extends beyond this anticipated event. Before the public revelation of his AEW debut, plans were already afoot for Flair's branded energy drink to be marketed at AEW events, hinting at a partnership brewing well before the announcement.
Indeed, it was only one evening before Flair's appearance on "AEW Dynamite" that his multi-year contract was finalized, Meltzer revealed. Adding a new twist to the saga, sources close to the negotiations suggest that AEW may also consider Flair for a mentorship role within its talent development program, leveraging his vast experience to guide the next generation of wrestlers.
While this facet of Flair's engagement with AEW has yet to be officially announced, it points to a multifaceted strategy that AEW hopes will justify the investment in Flair's enduring yet contentious wrestling legacy. As the story unfolds, the wrestling world will see if 'The Nature Boy' can successfully parlay his legendary status into a valuable asset for AEW or if the shadows of his past cast a pall over this latest venture.