Ric Flair’s recent endorsement of The Miz is a joke, too transparently phony to be anything other than a business decision on the part of the WWE.
If there's anything the wrestling world likes to do it is try to recreate past successes by doing the same thing again. The WWE has tried before, but this time they are trying with 16-time world champion Flair.
On the surface, Flair seems to be going along with his endorsement of Miz as his heir. But the passing of the torch, if you will, happened too fast, for what appears to be no reason other than Miz needing a push and Flair needing a job.
It started when Flair was a guest on Miz TV. Miz began the interview asking Flair what was his personal biggest moment in the 20-year history of Raw. This quickly broke down into an exchange of "Really?" back and forth, followed by strutting and wooing.
For his part, Flair looked like he was enjoying himself. Miz came off like he has since his face turn: lost, somewhat unsure how to walk the line between being funny and being a jerk.
Miz then goaded Flair into saying one of his famous catchphrases. Flair is always great when he speaks on the mic, but this one came off as forced. Even the crowd was mostly unresponsive.
After Antonio Cesaro came down to insult Flair, Miz was a little slow in coming to the Nature Boy's defense. It too felt forced and unemotional.
When the big moment came, with Flair letting Miz put the figure-four on the fallen Cesaro, there was no reaction from the crowd. Michael Cole let the viewing audience know Flair was "passing the torch of the figure-four."
It's too transparently phony.
There was no reason for Miz to be bestowed Flair's signature move. The two have had zero interaction. Flair wasn't mentoring him.
The answer lies in something Flair said during the interview, when Miz prodded him to use one of his most famous catchphrases. Flair said, "I need a job, brother."
That's just it. Flair doesn't need there to be another Flair.
Passing of the torch is one thing. It's an acknowledgement of stepping aside; letting an up-and-comer of the next generation take the mantle of standard-bearer.
It's another thing altogether to create a clone, to declare someone the next whomever and give him or her a new move set. It was painfully clear to see Flair only doing what he was paid to do.
Wrestling can get away with all kinds of stunts and gimmicks, from a guy walking around as a rooster to a yeti to a guy with Tourette’s.
But Miz can't become the next Flair because the WWE gave him the figure-four. It doesn't work that way.
Think back to Sid Vicious. He first came to the WWE in 1991 as Sid Justice. Shortly thereafter he served as the special referee for the SummerSlam bout between team of Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior vs. Sgt. Slaughter, Col. Mustafa and Gen. Adnan.
After the match, Hogan invited Justice to pose in the ring for the fans. With Hogan's growing interest in movies, Justice was in line to become the next Hogan, the next headliner.
But while he had Hogan's size and larger-than-life persona, he didn't have Hogan's charisma or personality. Justice thrived more as a heel, which is where he began to go after the 1992 Rumble, when he eliminated Hogan.
If the WWE wants a new Flair, passing on moves can’t do it for the Miz. It takes more than that, plus a suit and tie.
Flair was attitude and lifestyle, a skilled storyteller in the ring who could sell his opponents better than he could sell himself. The embodiment of success, real or not, he rode in limousines, flew in jets, had pretty girls on each arm. He created a persona that made people want to be him.
Miz shouldn't be pushed as the next Flair, and Flair shouldn't be pushed to endorse him as this. Instead, Flair should be used as guide for Miz. Be with him at ringside, speak for him when need be.
Making Miz the next Flair is a mistake. What he needs is a character that makes kids in the crowd want to be the next Miz.
Flair borrowed heavily from "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers, including his look and finishing hold. Hogan copied "Superstar" Billy Graham.
But both Flair and Hogan made what they took their own. It was never forced and neither man was considered the next Rogers or Graham. They borrowed and made it their own.
Miz needs to do this or, no matter how many times Flair endorses him, it'll be too phony.