Our sister-site WrestleNewz just interviewed the Nature Boy Ric Flair, and they asked him one of the new favorite questions all wrasslers get asked nowadays:
WNZ: If you were 21 years old today, do you think you’d go into MMA instead of pro wrestling?
RF: No, I wouldn’t (go into MMA). I will watch MMA if someone I know is actually in it, but all the guys I know personally are gone. Liddell’s gone — he’s a good friend. Ortiz is gone — he’s a good friend too. Brock Lesnar is gone. The other guys now, I don’t watch, because I don’t care about them. But I’ll tell you: I have been in matches with Bruiser Brody that were tougher than any MMA match! Especially in Tokyo. Same thing with Stan Hansen. Try getting in the ring with him one time in Tokyo, brother. Good lord! And F.Y.I., nobody in MMA could have beaten Harley Race or Dick Slater. Those guys were just that tough. And remember Haku? Don’t ever think that anybody would mess with Haku. If he was a young guy and he got into MMA, my god — he’d have done everything! He was the toughest son of a bitch I’ve ever met in my whole life. No lie, take my word for it.
There’s no denying the toughness of these wrestlers – especially the ones who went through Japan’s sadistic phase where half the bouts took place in electrified rings with weapons wrapped in barbed wire or set on fire – but tough only gets you so far in MMA. Tough doesn’t stop you from losing consciousness to a blood choke, or keep the fight from ending when your arm pops backwards in an armbar.
Speaking of tough, wrestling has a long tradition of keeping guys around way past their expiry date. Tough, but not smart. If there’s one ‘good’ thing to come out of Jerry Lawler’s recent on air heart attack is it’s spooked some sense into some of the more vintage guys in the wrestling industry:
WNZ: Will we see you wrestle again?
RF: I want to be in the ring, but it will never happen again. I said I’d never wrestle in WWE… and then there’s the Jerry Lawler incident.
WNZ: So Lawler’s heart attack has changed the perception of older wrestlers continuing to perform?
RF: Yeah, it really did. I like Jerry very much. What happened to Jerry was terrible, and thank God he’s OK. But I wish people wouldn’t gauge me by what happened to him. Everybody’s an individual. But I think it kind of put a decision on my future in the ring, you know what I mean? And that’s fine, because I went back to the ring in TNA, and that will never happen again.
Jerry Lawler is 63. So is Ric Flair. I’m sure that fact did not escape the Nature Boy.