Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Ric Flair's Silent Interview

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

At the very end of 1974, it appeared a tremendous new tag team was about to dominate Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. Ivan Koloff and Ric Flair had joined forces, and it appeared they would be an unstoppable tandem.  But alas, this dream team pairing fizzled out soon after its formation, but it reminded me of Ric Flair’s only TV interview where he uttered nary a word!

The interview in question was on the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling Year in Review television show, hosted by Bob Caudle, which was taped on December 11, 1974. At that point in time, the “Russian Bear” Ivan Koloff was the reigning Mid-Atlantic Television Champion, having dethroned Paul Jones in a very controversial title match in the WRAL TV studios in Raleigh on October 30, 1974. Ric Flair had just been dethroned as a co-holder of the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champions on December 6, 1974 and was on the hunt for a new tag team partner as Rip Hawk was about ready to leave the territory and join the upstart International Wrestling Association (IWA).

Caudle began the interview, “Fans with us at ringside right now of course, Ivan Koloff and his partner there behind him, Ric Flair.” Normally Flair would start a verbal barrage and rant, but not on this night and Koloff would explain why.

The Russian Bear growled, “Koloff like to say one thing first. Mr. Flair-ski still suffer now, cannot talk, from the crazy Paul Jones. Use karate on him…illegal to use karate.” An animated Ric Flair in the background was gesturing demonstrably as Koloff spoke about him being hit in the throat by Jones, but not a word was said by the normally verbose Flair!

Ivan then began to talk in tag team terms, saying, “Paul Jones, Tiger Conway, you STEAL belts from Mr. Flair-ski…tag team champion belts. Mr. Flair-ski and Koloff work out in gym now, for long time…we work out and know each and every move. Every time we make move we know what we do, and we work out together for long time. Now Koloff here…Mr. Flair-ski tells Koloff how you steal belt from him. Now, we gonna come after you and take belts back because Mr. Flair-ski and Koloff number one tag team wrestlers.” Flair again dying to speak but unable to, was quite entertaining with his facial expressions as the interview wound down.

Koloff boasted in conclusion, “We too strong, we too big, too good condition…we will beat you very easy and it will be very good pleasure, very nice pleasure for Koloff to be tag team partner with Mr. Flair-ski. And we will not be easy on you! We will hurt you very bad, because you try to make fool of Mr. Flair-ski too, besides Koloff, Paul Jones. We will come after you and we will make you look like fool and we will take tag team belts back again, and we will keep them!”

The silent Ric Flair nodded in the affirmative vigorously as Ivan concluded. However, Caudle brought a dose of reality to the proceedings commenting, “Well, of course Paul Jones and Tiger Conway, they’re gonna have an awful lot to say about that, and they’re just as mad at you as you are at them of course.”

Ivan gruffly finished, “They will probably keep talking like Paul Jones always talks, but talk will not get it done. We will get it done! We will win belts!”

Flair’s voice returned in the coming days and he and Koloff battled Jones and Conway a number of times over the next month, but they could not capture the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Titles. Then suddenly Ivan followed Rip Hawk’s lead and bolted for the IWA as well, and Ric had lost a second partner to the fledgling national promotion. The Flair-Koloff tag team that had the potential for greatness, had been snuffed out in its infancy. And my lasting memory of this short-lived dream team remains and will always be the normally talkative Ric Flair’s silent interview.