Ric Flair’s latest CBS Radio podcast episode was released at midnight today. In the snippet above, after talking for a few minutes about the death of his former AWA opponent Nick Bockwinkel, Flair addressed the elephant in the room — the moment on Raw in which his son Reid’s heroin overdose was mocked by Paige in a promo for her upcoming match against Charlotte at this Sunday’s Survivor Series.
Cageside Seats has a lengthy transcription of Flair, who, if you listen to the audio, sounded very broken up about the angle. He’s had to revisit his son’s death in interviews for his upcoming 30 for 30. This, combined with the fact that the tragedy just occurred in 2013, means it’s fresh on his mind. When the segment aired, one figured that he must have signed off on it in advance, or at the very least been given a head’s up, but he said this wasn’t the case:
"“I never heard a word about it. I started crying while I was watching it. Nope, nobody called me and nobody has called me today. That would indicate that they just assumed that that’s good. So I don’t have an answer for that.”"
Flair said that he trusts Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and Michael PS Hayes have Charlotte’s back behind-the-scenes in WWE. Notably absent from this group was Vince McMahon, who still has final say over what makes television. “One person approves everything,” Flair said, without naming names.
Nevertheless, while you can read between the lines, Flair never came out and overtly castigated the booking — he clarified upfront that he was going to refrain from voicing his true opinion because he did not want to adversely impact his daughter’s career. Despite the fact that Charlotte is the Diva’s champion, her debut on the WWE main roster, where talent walks on eggshells to appease the boss, was just four months ago; her father said that even if she felt uncomfortable with this storytelling that she wouldn’t be inclined to “rock the boat.”
Ric’s ex-wife Elizabeth, who is Charlotte and Reid’s mother, was especially upset about the angle:
As Flair’s podcast co-host noted, this segment has drawn comparisons to the time Randy Orton told Rey Mysterio Jr. that Eddie Guerrero is in hell. Professional wrestling is a very strange beast. For heels to get legitimate heat, they have to cross the line of what society deems acceptable decorum. Feuds that feel personal are the most compelling, and this angle has ensured that the upcoming Paige/Charlotte match is must-see for engaged fans.
Vince McMahon might be the devil, but all of the attention from this — right down to the conversation emanating from Flair’s podcast — is more than has been paid to the women’s division in years, or maybe ever. But, at the same time, many feel that this instance was a time where the insensitivity was beyond excessive, and there haven’t been many defenders of it.