Saturday, January 16, 2016

Ric Flair Doesn't Give Himself Enough Credit

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Ric Flair doesn't always give himself enough credit when talking about his recuperation from the 1975 Wilmington NC plane crash that could have easily ended his career.

Flair suffered a broken back in the October plane crash that ended the career of Johnny Valentine and Bob Bruggers and killed the pilot. Also injured in that crash were wrestler Tim Woods and promoter David Crockett.

During his recent appearance on Steve Austin's podcast "The Steve Austin Show" (that also aired on the WWE Network), Austin asked Flair how long it took before he could get back in the ring.

"So you're in the hospital, you broke your back in three places," Austin said. "How long did it take you to mend up?

"I was back in the ring in eight months," Ric replied.

But Ric doesn't give himself enough credit. And as we've learned over the years, wrestlers are sometimes the worst at remembering specific things about their own careers, especially as it relates to specific dates and periods of time. Flair can be forgiven in this case as it was over 40 years ago, after all.

Flair's first night back in action. January 30, 1976
Ric actually returned to the ring in just under four months. It is one of the most amazing stories of healing and recuperation from a serious injury in the storied history of pro wrestling, especially considering his doctor told him he would never wrestle again.

The airplane crash happened on Saturday, October 4th, 1975. On Friday January 30, 1976, Ric stepped back into the ring at County Hall in Charleston, SC. He teamed in a 6-man match with Angelo Mosca and Blackjack Mulligan to battle Wahoo McDaniel, Tim Woods, and Tiger Conway, Jr.

Exactly 3 months and 26 days after being told he would never wrestle again, Ric Flair was right back in the thick of things.

Being in the six-man contest protected Ric on his first night back and allowed him to ease back into things slowly if he chose to. But lest you think he took that path, the next night, January 31, in Greensboro, NC, Ric battled his main rival Wahoo McDaniel in a singles match, successfully defending his Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship in the process.

Ric Flair was, and remains to this day, a miraculous example of the body's recuperative process under the right circumstances. Combined with Flair's will and determination to make it back, the result was a run that included 16 world championships and one the greatest careers in the history of professional wrestling.

. . . . . 

Ric's conversation with Steve Austin about the plane crash and many other subjects can be heard on "The Steve Austin Show" podcast, available at Podcast One. This particular episode can also be seen and heard on demand on the WWE Network.

Ric Flair has his own podcast "WOOOOO! Nation" available at

Newspaper clippings, as always, from the collection of Mark Eastridge.