Monday, April 25, 2016

Ric Flair: The "Drug Store Wrestler"

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

“In your area” promos that Paul Jones and Ric Flair cut for a match at the Richmond Arena in Richmond, Virginia in the spring of 1975 would bring about two new monikers for Flair that I had never heard Ric called before. One name would become synonymous with Flair to this day, while the other was probably never heard again after this Richmond match.

The promos were done on April 23, 1975 promoting a championship bout in Richmond for the Mid-Atlantic Television Title between the champion Flair, and his bitter rival and former TV champion, Paul Jones. The TV announcer for these Richmond promos was the legendary Bob Caudle.

May 2, 1975   Richmond VA
Paul began his promo, “You know Bob, you’ve heard of drug store cowboys…dressed up like a cowboy sitting on a bar stool at a drug store? Well, Flair, I wanna know one thing. Are you a drug store wrestler, or are you a wrestler that has the ability to be a champion? Well, you gotta do one thing; you gotta prove it to me! Where’d you get that big belly at, from eating banana splits? Where’d you get those 22 inch arms, from drinking cherry cokes? I think you are a drug store cowboy; I mean a drug store wrestler!”

A fired up Jones continued, “But you gotta prove it to me that you aren’t, Flair. And let me tell you something else, I guarantee you I’m goin’ to be in Richmond early. And I guarantee you that I’m gonna walk around town, and if I’m gonna check every drug store and if I see you on that bar stool I’m gonna knock you right off that bar stool right there. And then that night, I’m gonna get you in the ring where I can win the belt in front of everybody.”

Paul finished up his promo by saying to Flair, “You’ve embarrassed me, you’ve harassed me…you’ve caused me to lose sleep at night! Just because you STOLE that belt from me! The people don’t wanna see you wear that belt; the people wanna see Paul Jones, Number One, wear that belt. And after Friday night in Richmond, you’re gonna see right wear the belt belongs…right around ‘Number One’s’ waist. So let me tell you something you drug store, soda jerk…you better be ready!"

A very angry Ric Flair a little later in the show responded back to Paul saying with lots of venom, “I want to answer Jones; I was sittin’ in the back and heard Jones shooting off his mouth. Well let me tell you something Jones, if you call having blonde hair that Elke Sommer likes running her fingers through; a body that looks like it was carved out of granite by Michelangelo, and a body that Raquel Welch would give her right arm to rub suntan oil on every day…YES, I am a drug store wrestler! That’s my answer to you!”

Ric wasn’t through, as he then told Jones, “Let me tell you something else Paul Jones. Along with this belt…the day I won this belt I went out and bought a Cadillac. I went out and bought a house. I bought a whole new wardrobe, and I bought a couple of my girlfriends a whole new wardrobe. And you know why? Because this belt right here is 100,000 big ones a year; that’s just sittin’ home, that’s not goin’ out the front door. Just owning this belt makes me a very wealthy young man. It brings my life style way up here, high in the sky, just the way I like it! I like pretty ladies coming by early in the morning, pretty ladies coming by in the afternoon, pretty ladies coming by at night.”

Flair concluded his promo by having Bob Caudle hold his TV belt exclaiming, “Jones, I like everything I got right now because I’m wearing that belt and because I’m the champion. And if you think for one minute that you’re gonna get in that ring with me Friday night and do me damage, pound knots on my head, mess with my body, mess with my mind, mess with anything about me you’re wrong! Jones, I’m gonna take you like any bare wild animal would, and I’m gonna break one of your arms and then maybe you’ll be walking around drug stores looking for somebody else to beat up on, because it won’t be the Nature Boy! WOOOOO!"

In the last sentence of his promo, Ric referred to himself as the “Nature Boy” for the first time that I had ever heard. That name, of course, has stuck with Flair though the next 41 years. The “drug store wrestler” nickname bestowed on Ric by Paul Jones, luckily didn’t stick!

The May 2, 1975 TV Title bout between Ric Flair and Paul Jones was a hot battle that saw Flair leave Richmond with his belt still intact, but it was tough for any match to live up to those two incredible promos preceding it. The promos that I will always associate with the “Nature Boy” reference that I heard for the first time of thousands upon thousands more times to come, and the “drug store wrestler” reference that I never heard again!