That, ladies and gentlemen, is the sound of the WWE upper management attempting silence the greatest talker this industry has ever seen. Ric Flair.
The weekend leading up to SummerSlam included a lot of events, many of which centered around the release of the WWE’s new video game collaboration with 2kSports, WWE 2k14. The most notable of which was the WWE 2k14 Symposium. It consisted of a panel discussion, which JR led, featuring the likes of Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan, Rey Mysterio, Steve Austin, Mick Foley, and Paul Heyman. A last minute surprise guest also joined the panel, Ric Flair.
The panel was supposed to consist of JR asking certain WrestleMania themed questions, which all refer back to the “30 Years of WrestleMania” Mode being highly touted for the new game. Questions such as “Which match would you love to see included in the ’30 Years of WrestleMania’ mode?” and “Who would your dream WrestleMania opponent be?” were asked of the panel. Then, in a move that Stephanie McMahon-Levesque surely sees as worse than the botched elbow drop at WrestleMania 2000, Mick Foley noticed that JR had skipped over the newest addition to the panel. This was obviously a strategic move by JR, probably having been in the lobby with Flair before the event, but after being called out his hands were tied.
Stone Cold seemed to be aware of the situation, tried to diffuse it, but at that point they might as well have figuratively thrown the (sometimes poorly written) script out the window. Heyman would take that phrase literally later in the panel, tearing up and tossing pages of JR’s script to the floor.
At that point, Ric Flair did what Ric Flair does best. He talked, he told stories, and stole the spotlight. The Symposium became “Ric Flair Storytime Hour: Sponsored by The Steve Austin Show podcast”. Quite frankly, it was fantastic.
Flair told a touching story about burying his Four Horsemen WWE Hall of Fame ring with his son, Reid, and how Triple H had another ring made and gave it to him when he was down in NXT with his recently debuted daughter. He told the story about how he introduced JR to his wife. For everything someone else was able to get in, he somehow related another story to that. He even managed to have a brief conversation with Mick Foley about a match they had in TNA. Oh, and he plugged his recent two part appearance on The Steve Austin Show podcast no less than half a dozen times. At one point Steve Austin said he was hoping for a few plugs, but “this is ridiculous”.
The symposium lasted a little over an hour, and it’s probably safe to say that Ric Flair monopolized 35 minutes of that. For a man who’s been through a lot recently, it looked like Ric Flair was having fun. For that matter, the crowd, and most of the panel were enjoying themselves as well. Everyone interviewed afterwards seemed to have a laugh about it.
After everything was said and done though, WWE management seemed to not have enjoyed it quite as much. As previously mentioned, the main member of management being Stephanie. Flair commented briefly on this during the first part of his Steve Austin Show interview, saying that he respected the WWE and that he didn’t understand where the problem was.
The McMahon family have known Ric Flair for 20 years. They should know by now that sometimes when you put Ric Flair in a room a little boozed up, bad things can happen. None of those things happened here. We’ve all heard the stories over the years. He didn’t tell Bryan or Ziggler that he’s been “making virgins bleed longer than you’ve been alive” and mere fact that Flair’s pants remained on during the entire event should be chalked up as a win by the company.
The 2k14 team had to be ecstatic. Going into SummerSlam, all wrestling fans were talking about outside of the matches themselves, was an event held by their team for their video game. Did they get all the hokey questions in? No. The buzz was there though. At last look, the video on YouTube was at almost 60,000 hits.
So, Stephanie, where is the real problem here? This event was more entertaining than any Main Event show that’s ever aired, and sometimes more entertaining (and certainly more concise) than an edition of Monday Night Raw. In all honesty, at the very least it should be included on the SummerSlam ’13 blu-ray.
Leading up to this there had been talks of WWE signing Flair, I hope this doesn’t interfere with those plans. Whatever happens coming out of this, the fact still remains… Diamonds are forever, and so is Ric Flair.