Ric Flair diminishes his legacy every time he steps into the ring further past his prime, but he's not likely to stop wrestling until his body forces him to.
The Nature Boy was scheduled to wrestle for All Japan Pro Wrestling on Jan. 26. According to PWTorch, Flair was either pulled out of the match because of deep vein thrombosis or because Flair "forgot to bring his attire in with his suitcase to the arena."
Neither version of the story says that Flair decided against getting in the ring because—to paraphrase Danny Glover of Lethal Weapon—he's too old for this crap.
Flair is one of the greatest, if not the greatest pro wrestler ever.
Hall of Fames, world championships, main events; he's had it all. Other wrestlers dream of having half the career that Flair did.
It's a career with no end in sight, though. At 63 years old, Flair is likely not done in the ring.
Are You Going to Walk Away from the Blood, the Guts and Glory?
Pro wrestling retirements usually don't stick. Shawn Michaels is the exception.
How difficult it must be to go from walking into sold-out arenas with music blaring and ecstatic crowds to the silence of retirement. Leaving the ring for home can mean trading jolts of adrenaline for mowing the lawn.
Ric Flair looks to have far more Dave Kidney in him than Shawn Michaels when it comes to hanging up his boots.
In 2011, Flair fought in a cage match at TNA's Lockdown event, bleeding from his head, James Storm spanking Flair's bare backside. Had it not been for his medical issue or perhaps forgetting his ring gear, Flair would have wrestled this past Saturday.
The fact that Flair has been around WWE or TNA for this long in some fashion says a lot about his life-long love for the business. Flair hasn't stepped away from the game long enough for us to miss him.
Maybe he just can't.
Stone Cold Steve Austin, on the other hand, seems pretty darn content in his post-WWE life.
Steve Austin @steveaustinBSR
Must be my lucky day. Not only did I see the Worlds Tallest Thermometer, I also just passed Inspection. ... http://t.co/KW4E4nkS1/17/2013, 7:03:28 PM
Is there a way for Austin to rub some of that sentiment onto Flair?
I've Got More Cars Than Most of You Got Friends
The other driving force behind Flair sticking around so long is money.
Shane Ryan of Grantland did an excellent, detailed story on Flair's long history with financial issues. Ryan writes of Flair's habit of spending beyond his means, the drain of his divorces, being threatened with eviction.
Ryan describes Flair's litany of bad decisions as "excesses that Hollywood screenwriters wouldn't have the audacity to invent."
Flair lived as if he were the playboy gimmick he's played for all these years.
That need for constant income forces him back into the ring.
What else is he going to do to repay his debts other than wrestle? How else is he going to maintain the extravagant lifestyle that has been his undoing?
Flair's trade is chopping chests.
He doesn't have the luxury of Edge's youth and good looks. He did look quite dashing once, but today's Flair is probably not what tons of TV producers are looking for.
Diamonds Are Forever, and So is Ric Flair
In a promo on Raw in 2007, Flair said, "I will only retire when I am dead in this ring."
Of course, he said that for dramatic effect, but there is a ring of disturbing truth to that statement. Six years later, he looks as if he can't resist the magnetic draw of the ring.
Flair passed up one of the most poetic and beautiful last chapters to a career.
Shawn Michaels mouthing, "I'm sorry. I love you" before superkicking The Dirtiest Player in the Game was as moving as career-ending matches go. It was better than John Elway going out with a Super Bowl win, better than Michael Jordan's shot over Byron Russell to win the NBA Finals.
It seems, though, that Flair rode off into the proverbial sunset, only to find out he didn't like the view.
His troubled finances and his entangled relationship with wrestling will have him slapping on the figure-four until he simply can't stand.
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