In 1983, I was a minor league baseball announcer working in the Double-A Southern League for the Charlotte O’s. Two years removed from college, my life was pretty normal: a wife, a young son and a daughter on the way.
But that was about to change.
One fall afternoon in October of that year, I arrived back at the ballpark after being out on a sales call, when Frances Crockett said she needed to talk to me.
Frances was the boss of the team at that time and her brothers, Jimmy, David and Jackie ran the wrestling business in the Carolinas. The “wrestling business” was Jim Crockett Promotions and Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling.
“They (her brothers) would like to use you to do a television interview with Ric Flair,” she told me. “It will be about a big match he has coming up in November, and it will be at his house. Tomorrow morning.”
Keep in mind here that I grew up in Virginia, was a fan of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling and of Flair’s.
Needless to say I was stunned, although this chance did not come out of the blue. For over a year, I had lobbied to do some wrestling announcing. Now all my efforts had paid off in a shot to interview the “Nature Boy.”
The next morning, at Flair’s home, I appeared on a wrestling program for the first time. It became the biggest part of my career, and Flair was a big part of my movement through the ranks.
I went from doing interviews in 1983 to doing play-by-play in 1984, to play-by-play on SuperStation TBS, to the WWE in 1989, to WCW from 1990-2001 and now, podcasting on MLW radio network.
Flair was a big supporter of mine through the years. I am proud and humbled when people remember some of the classic moments on World Championship Wrestling with me holding the microphone. In some ways I am forever connected to Flair. I wasn’t the first to hold the mic for him, nor the last. I have been there for the big moments, such as the time when Flair, after he “won” a date with Precious, made out with a mannequin on camera:
This video brings to mind a question I am always asked about the Nature Boy. “What is he like in real-life?” The answer is simply, what you see is how he is.
I was also a part of the build up to Flair and Magnum T.A. angle on TBS when in 1985, Magnum T.A. tore up Flair’s suit, gave him a “belly-to-belly” suplex and handed me the world title belt. Flair’s reaction was priceless, as always:
Unfortunately, due to Magnum’s terrible accident that ended his career, the “program” with Flair never really developed.
I was also on hand when Flair showed us his “$600 pair of lizard shoes and $13,000 Rolex:
And when he talked about spending more on spilled liquor than Buddy Landel made in a year:
Yes, I was there when he gave a nod to all the girls at the Marriott in room 806:
And finally, I was right along for the ride as Flair had a present for Ricky Morton of the Rock and Roll Express:
Great memories from the “heyday” of Flair and the Horsemen.
Through the years, I have known Ric Flair both professionally and personally. There has been a lot said and written about his personal life. It’s been one filled with tremendous highs and lows, from being one of the most admired and recognizable superstars of all time to the untimely death of his son, Reid, in 2013.
For the record, I love Ric Flair. He is the one of the most gracious and generous people I have ever met. I never had to pick up a tab–NO ONE picked up a tab–when he was around. It was a side of him that certainly helped lead to financial trouble in the years to come, but that was the way he was.
Not many have seen the side of Flair that I have seen. Sure, he was wild; he made mistakes, some well documented. But he is a part of my past, a part of wrestling’s past…and present.
Wooooo! I am damn proud to witness his legacy firsthand.
And to set the record straight, I never “interviewed” Ric Flair. I just held the microphone.