The documentary Woooooo! Becoming Ric Flair, released on December 26, 2022, on Peacock, chronicles one of the most charismatic celebrities ever to walk this Earth. And from the orphanage to superstardom to a near-death ordeal, Flair’s experienced it all. But how does this documentary fare in telling his prolific and controversial story?
“The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” ― Muhammad Ali.
Woooooo! Becoming Ric Flair Review: Whatever Happened to Richard Fliehr?
Woooooo! Becoming Ric Flair bravely opens with interviewer/narrator Tom Rinaldi asking the sixteen-time world champion and four-time divorcee if he’s Richard Fliehr or Ric Flair.
The 73-year-old ponders the question while sitting in his stunning two-million-dollar home.
From his reaction and the comments of various friends and family, it is apparent that Fliehr is long gone, and the materialistic, hard-partying, skirt-chasing celebrity jock is what remains.
The central dilemma with Woooooo! Becoming Ric Flair is that it can’t make up its mind if Flair’s wild lifestyle is something to be lauded or pitied.
His children, wife, and close friends talk more somberly about excesses – like buying four expensive suits a week and rarely being home for his family.
Meanwhile, there’s a sea of celeb “friend” cameos in the film hailing the “limousine riding” celeb worshipped by prominent athletes, rappers, journalists, and rockers on down.
Rapper Post Malone is partying with and fawning over “The Nature Boy.”
And there’s Ric hugging and high-fiving NFL, NBA, and MLB greats.
And when the filmmakers state that “Diamonds are forever, and so is Ric Flair,” aren’t they, too, buying into it all?
Hey, Hugh Hefner is gone, and Ric’s still the ultimate playboy. How many can party like Ric Flair?
A Near-Death Experience for Ric Flair
Only it’s not much of a party when Ric Flair begins puking green, with his organs start shutting down, landing in a coma, while a traumatized family comes to say their “goodbyes.”
And after months of rehab, Ric Flair goes back to drinking a year and a half later.
In a cringe-worthy moment, he speaks nonchalantly of his current drinking regimen.
Easing the Pain
And, yes, the Woooooo! Becoming Ric Flair documentary is also willing to point out that the drinking eases his pain– a culmination of time spent in an orphanage, the death of his son Reid, guilt over the people he’s hurt, and his missing the wrestling business.
But it’s a mixed message when the suits, limo, and Rolex are showcased throughout.
Were the trauma and pain worth it for the money and fame? When the subject says, “I’m the luckiest man in the world,” we assume so.
You see, he gets to be “Ric Flair.”
There are other issues with the documentary as well.
Pros and Cons on Woooooo! Becoming Ric Flair
Interviewer/narrator Tom Rinaldi uses a heavy-handed technique for a supposed dramatic effect where he’s telling you precisely what Flair is doing as you’re watching it. It’s like instead of calling a match, he’s calling a tragic life.
Flair “puts his arm around his son Reid” works the first time, but after a while, it’s stating the obvious.
Did we need him to read the credits aloud at the end? What purpose does that serve?
And sometimes, like in a dubbed Godzilla flick, the words and actions are awkwardly mistimed. When he pronounces Flair’s original trainer as Verne “Gag-Knee,” you also wonder just how knowledgeable he is on the subject matter he is chronicling.
The film excels, though, in describing Flair’s loss of confidence during his excruciating WCW ordeal, where he’s pushed down on cards and repeatedly humiliated by the nWo. It even has his trademark golden locks unnecessarily shaved off in the ring.
Eric Bischoff also sues him for missing bookings, and Ric’s disdain for Bischoff even now makes for some powerful scenes.
And multiple moments where Flair breaks down from grief and guilt are far more affecting than the typical wrestling documentary. His commentary on the death of his son Reid is just heart-wrenching.
Where’s the Wrestling?
As someone who saw Flair live monthly in his glorious NWA champion ’80s prime, you couldn’t argue all that hard against it. He, indeed, was magnificent.
But where exactly is the filmed evidence here?
They do utilize footage from the memorably dramatic and emotional Shawn Michaels-Flair alleged retirement match. But, of course, he was past his prime at that point.
Instead, the documentarians are far more fixated on the suits, the bling, and the pair of shoes “that cost more than your house” in his NWA promos, which was nailed home ad nauseum.
We "got it” the tenth time. And again, it at least felt like they were glorifying the excesses and materialism.
Glossing over his 2022 return to the ring was also a missed opportunity.
Both a miraculous comeback after nearly dying and a pitiful spectacle of the athlete who hangs around way too long, there was plenty of drama and emotion to be mined there. But WWE docs always lean towards that WWE storyline, and they shortsightedly focused on his WrestleMania "finale" instead.
They also shied away from the notorious “Plane Ride From Hell,” where Flair was allegedly at his wildest and raunchiest.
What Does It All Mean?
Towards the end of Woooooo! Becoming Ric Flair, Ric states that he “feels great.” But clearly, he will never retire or quit being Ric Flair.
And while some may worship the champ and his larger-than-life persona, there is something quite tragic about a man at 73 needing to boast of a six-thousand-dollar custom-made suit made “especially for this interview” to feel like a success.
Woooooo! Becoming Ric Flair made me need to separate the once-in-a-lifetime incredible artist from the flawed human being.
And ultimately, it left me feeling so very sad.
Woooooo! Becoming Ric Flair is available on Peacock in the US and for Sky and NOW subscribers in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy.
Editor’s note: We have since learned that the additional audio description (i.e., “Flair puts his arm around his son Reid”) was a tech glitch on Peacock’s end. If you are also experiencing this, push the down arrow on your remote, go to the sound menu, and switch the language from “English with descriptive audio” to “English.”
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