When Ric Flair returned to WWE last week for the Slammy Awards edition of Raw, he brought with him a sense of excitement and manic energy that the company's increasingly bland flagship show has been desperately lacking.
Indeed, Flair—who presented the prestigious Superstar of the Year Award to John Cena (via WWE.com)—was the undisputed highlight of a flawed three-hour show.
His back-and-forth verbal confrontation with disgruntled WWE Champion CM Punk was tremendous, particularly the moment when Punk implied he was about to shoot on the Nature Boy with some harsh home truths, only for Flair to interrupt and happily volunteer a joke about his messy personal life (Flair is currently in the middle of his fourth divorce).
His lively brawl with The Shield—the heel trio were about to attack him while he was alone in the ring until Team Hell No came to the rescue—was also terrific and compelling television.
Unsurprisingly, the viewers agreed too: As ProWrestling.net noted, Flair's segment was the highest-rated part of the show.
Per reports from F4Wonline.com, Flair's appearance on the show was only intended to be a one-off. (The current TNA/WWE lawsuit would make signing him to a long-term deal tricky.)
Disappointing news, for sure, but it seems inevitable that he will be back at some point because his comeback served as prime evidence as to why America's No.1 wrestling company needs him back on a full-time basis.
First of all, as noted, Flair is a big ratings draw.
Even after all these years, folks are still eager to see him. At a time when Raw's viewership is struggling badly—they've done some awful numbers over the past few months—the company could sure use Flair to help carry the show.
There are also plenty of things for him to do.
Making him Raw General Manager, or giving some other authority position, seems the most obvious choice. The GM role itself is rather old and tired—A.J. Lee's stint, in particular, was woeful—but with his magnetic personality and overwhelming charisma Flair could easily revitalise it.
He could also be a manager to some up-and-coming star and help establish them on the top tier (Dolph Ziggler's name is regularly thrown around as someone who could benefit from association with Flair).
There are a multitude of possibilities for Flair when/if he returns.
Of course, that's not to suggest signing Flair back would not have any repercussions. Indeed, the Nature Boy's highly publicised tumultuous off-screen life should at least give WWE some pause.
Aside from his complicated divorce which, as TMZ notes, has seen sordid allegations get thrown around all over the place, Flair is also facing significant problems regarding his unpaid taxes. As Charlotte Observer.com recently reported, the wrestler owes major money to the state and federal government.
After a lifetime of reckless and outlandish spending (Shane Ryan's impeccably well-researched 2011 article for Grantland.com on Flair's finances is still an unnerving and astonishing read) it would be nice to think the 63-year-old grandfather is finally ready to start behaving more responsibly.
But sadly, that doesn't seem to be in the cards.
Flair is simply too in love with his wacky, fun-loving party boy persona to ever shed it and truly grow up. It seems there will always be some dreadful scandal or other marring his not-so-private life as he continues to live like a wild 20-year-old.
This not only has unfortunate implications for Flair, but for any company that hires him.
As a major billion-dollar corporate entity with a professional and upright image to project, WWE may be better off avoiding any association with a trouble-magnet like Flair.
But considering the terribly stale state of the current Raw product, and how desperately it needs some major star power, he is probably worth the risk and bad publicity.
Hey, people already know Flair has been less than a saint in his personal life and it doesn't stop them from liking him. WWE require a presence like Flair on their show and should, therefore, sign him as soon as possible.
Of course before they do, they might want to have a word or two with him about keeping a lid on his turbulent personal life.