Chappell: Like any good book, Ric, yours is full of things that the reader would never know about unless you made the point of bringing them out and highlighting them for us. Just a couple come off of the top of my head.


Like, for instance, who would have ever known that Art Nelson was the wrestler that taught you the importance of bleeding during a match…


Flair: (laughs)


Chappell: And that Tim Woods saved Mid-Atlantic Wrestling by his actions after the plane crash?


Flair: And he never got paid a dime.


Chappell: He just went in there and gutted it out.


Flair: That’s right.


Chappell: Certainly, the book is illustrative of how important your family is to you.


Flair: Yes…very much.


Chappell: And as fans, we knew virtually nothing about your family during the Mid-Atlantic years.


Flair: I know.


Chappell: And you also talk about you and Blackjack Mulligan, one of your best friends, buying the Knoxville territory in 1981 and it failing…and that your relationship with Blackjack was never quite the same after that. And that to this day you miss Blackjack.


I’m proud to say that Blackjack is a good friend of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway…if we can link you all up down the road, we would be delighted!


Flair: Do you ever talk to him?


Chappell: Yes, we’re in touch frequently.


Flair: Oh really? Please say ‘hi’ to him. I just miss that relationship.


Blackjack Mulligan and Ric Flair in the WRAL studio, Raleigh NC, 1976 |  © Greg Stewart / NCDCR

I just never saw Jack for so long, you know? It’s funny, because I know I’ve been in towns and he’s been there…but I got the impression he was just pretty much through with the business.


Chappell: Well, yes and no. I think Jack is comfortable now with his life outside of wrestling…but we did a nearly 50 page wrestling interview a couple of months ago! What a super guy…


Flair: Let me tell you, Jack Mulligan and I…believe me, I wish I could have written about him and I all day long. Jack was the kind of guy; he was just so powerful. Personality wise…in every way. I could have told more stories…I could talk about Jack all day long.


Chappell: Having talked with Jack myself, I ABSOLUTELY believe that!


Flair: We became best friends, we were neighbors…we did everything there was to do. Then all of a sudden, you know, some of the problems took place…which I didn’t touch on a lot.


It hurt me, that a guy that was such a big part of my life…was gone. You know what I mean?


Chappell: I’m sure that had to be extremely tough.


Flair: I had to go my way, and he had to go his, you know what I mean?


Chappell: Yeah, just sort of that fork in the road…


Flair: Yes…and there were never any words between us, nothing like that.


He and I had nothing but fun!


Chappell: (laughs) And, apparently, a lot of it!


Flair: I could write some fabulous stories about him!


Chappell: When I interviewed Blackjack, he had to cut me off after two Ric Flair stories…he said otherwise we’d be on the phone for days! (laughs)


Flair: He’s an awesome guy.


Chappell: Why did you write Ric Flair: To Be The Man?


Flair: Actually, I didn’t really want to do it…they put a lot of pressure on me to do it.


Chappell: Oh really?


Flair: Yep. And then they put even more pressure on me to be honest…


Chappell: I think it’s important to say here that the book covers your whole life and career…and goes far beyond the Mid-Atlantic territory. And you don’t pull any punches on a bunch of people you’ve dealt with over the years.


Flair: There are no punches to pull…it’s nothing I wouldn’t, and haven’t, said to them. And the thing of it is, it’s all documented. It’s just my opinion.


Chappell: I think a lot of people will be very surprised by much of what you write towards the end of the book, when you were having to endure the dying days of WCW and everything that was going on with that. You were having a real crisis of self-doubt…


Flair: Yes, self-confidence…


Chappell: Seeing you in Richmond on RAW last Monday night, you had that same strut again coming down the aisle of the Coliseum just like you did in the Mid-Atlantic days!


Flair: Thank you…


Chappell: But was it tough writing about those down times in the book?


Flair: It was, because it was a very difficult period of my life.


But you know what, the problem with this is that when I look at people that have problems in life…I think of people that have children that are handicapped, people that have been in car wrecks and are paralyzed. There’s a difference between having a hard time in life, and having some issues. Does that make sense?


Chappell: Without a doubt…sometimes we all have to keep things in perspective.


Flair: I’ve had issues. But my life has never been hard from the standpoint that I’ve never lost a child; I’ve never had one of my children get real sick. You know, I had some rough times with my parents, but they were in their 80s…those things happen at that age.


I don’t want anybody to think that I ever had a tough time, you know. I had some issues that I had a hard time dealing with…but in the realm of my life in terms of it ever being BAD, compared to people that really have problems, that’s not what I was trying to say in the book.


Chappell: Yes…your book, in its essence, is a book about wrestling.


Flair: I was merely telling wrestling stories. And telling about some of the things that I went through, both as a performer and as a person. And some of the things that got under my skin…which in a lot of cases I should have dealt with differently. If I’m mad at anybody about those things, I’m mad at myself.


Towards the end with WCW, I just didn’t want to go through another lawsuit, spending more money on attorneys…I mean, otherwise, I would have left WCW long before.


Chappell: This is when Eric Bischoff fired you in 1998 for breach of contract, allegedly for your going to your son Reid’s AAU wrestling tournament. And as you said in the book, at that point you didn’t even have a contract with WCW! And then you counter sued him…and later you finally decided to settle it.


Flair: I know they would have gone out of their way to make my life miserable…again.  If I had been smart, really smart, and not wanted back in the business…like I said in the book, I should have keep my lawsuit in place and I would have been rich---rich beyond belief.


Chappell: Well, Ric, you were flat out in a tough position there. I mean, any decision you made, probably had some downsides for you.


Flair: But resolving it any other way would have been a terrible way to end up my career. Being in a huge lawsuit with Time-Warner over somebody that treated me like sh*t. I mean, that would have been hardly the way, the last way, anybody would have wanted to end up their career. You know what I mean?


Chappell: Surely…that would have undoubtedly been even worse on you.


It’s great to read in the book, how things have been so much more positive for you since you returned to WWE after WCW bit the dust in 2001.


Flair: Yeah, that’s entirely true. I had no idea that I still had that kind of respect from those kind of people. I had no idea that I had that kind of rapport with people.


I mean, when somebody has convinced you that you’re not worth anything to anybody anymore, and they spend a lot of time doing it…you start believing it yourself. Does that make sense?


Chappell: Of course. And it’s very clear from the book that Bischoff and those later years in WCW took quite a toll on you. Still, for all of us fans who always think of Ric Flair as the epitome of self-confidence, it’s pretty amazing to now know that you battled that significant period of self-doubt. But I think it just goes to show that we’re all human…even Ric Flair!


Flair: Like I wrote in the book…the first time I talked to Vince about that I’m sure they were going, ‘What???’


Chappell: Well, I think that’s what makes the book so fascinating. Because people are going to see a side of you that they never knew existed. And very few people at the time knew about.


Flair: Well, yes, and it’s the truth. I’m not sure how it will all play out. None of this was written to hurt anybody’s feelings.


Chappell: You mean your book as a whole?


Flair: Yes. Anybody I said something about…said something about me. And if they’re mad about it, then they’re a hypocrite. Those people had no problems saying things about me.


Chappell: That’s right…in the book your comments are almost always in direct response to what someone has already said about you.


Flair: Like the stuff with Hulk Hogan. You know Hogan and I…the best thing about Hogan and I is that we agree to disagree.


And Hulk…I make no bones about Hulk Hogan---he always took care of himself. I mean, that’s always the way he operated.


Chappell: No doubt about that.


Flair: He was that way, always has been…and I’m sure he’ll continue to be that way. But he doesn’t care!


That’s the difference between Hogan and I. When I leave, I’d rather have the respect of and the relationships I have with all these people…from the McMahons to the wrestlers. And have that level of respect and self-esteem…that I have for the conversation I’m having with you right now.


Rather than walking out the door, you know, angry or mad or upset over a payoff, or an amount of money, or a position, or a match I had to win or lose…it isn’t worth that to me.


Chappell: The differences between you and Hogan are striking, to say the least…


Flair: It isn’t worth it…that’s what I was trying to say. But, it wasn’t that I was knocking Hulk. He’s a businessman, and wrestling comes second to him.


Chappell: In the book, what really seems to have gotten to you on Hogan, is when Hogan got your son David in there in a NWO angle in WCW during 1999 and legitimately whipped the ‘you know what’ out of him with a belt. He just went too far with it. You were handcuffed to the ring ropes as part of the angle, and had to watch it.


Flair: Yeah, and anybody that watched that, knows that too.


And I couldn’t even say anything to Hogan after that. You’d be surprised how that would translate into, ‘Oh, you’re whining for your kid.’


Chappell: Yeah…pressing it too hard probably would have made things even worse for David. .  

Flair: Exactly.


Chappell: Well Ric, I know we need to wrap this up soon, you have another interview scheduled shortly…but I did want to ask you if you have any book signings lined up in Virginia and the Carolinas---the Mid-Atlantic area!


Flair: (laughs) Can I tell you something?


Chappell: Of course.


Flair: (laughs) This is a sad thing, but about half of the WWE staff here doesn’t understand who I am.


Richmond, Norfolk, Charlotte, Columbia, Greenville, Charleston, Greensboro, Charleston, West Virginia…the staff doesn’t know who I am!


Chappell: (laughing)


Flair: Instead of having me in those towns, they have me going off to Podunk, Rhode Island, or somewhere, next week…


Chappell: (laughing hard)


Flair: We could sell 100,000 books in Richmond if I go there…in one day! I keep trying to tell them that!


Chappell: You got that right!!


Well, I have seen a couple of your signings already set in North Carolina, including Charlotte…so I know the Mid-Atlantic area will be well represented! And the good folks at WWE got you into Richmond for RAW last Monday, and I saw the Smackdown Pay Per View the night before in Norfolk, so I’m confident they’ll get you back down to Virginia!


I’ve talked to your publicity folks, and hopefully we’ll be able to post your upcoming book signings, particularly in Virginia and the Carolinas, on our site.


Flair: Very good.


Chappell: In closing Ric, could you give a shout-out to all of your old Crockett fans that we sort of cater to on our website?


Flair: Through the Mid-Atlantic Gateway?


Chappell: Yes, that would be fantastic!


Flair: (pauses) Hey, this is the Nature Boy Ric Flair and I’ll never forget the 25 years I spent in the Mid-Atlantic. And thanks to all of you at the Mid-Atlantic Gateway, the memories will continue forever. Thank you. WOOO!      AUDIO CLIP


Chappell: Wow, I hope that recorded well! Because we can make that an audio clip that visitors to the site will hear when they access your interview. If that’s permissible, we’ll try to do that.


Flair: Oh sure! No problem.


Chappell: I think that will be a great addition to your interview…an audio greeting from ‘The Man’ himself!


Flair: Thank you, sir, very much.


Chappell: Ric, we are honored that you would take time to be a part of our website. We really appreciate you and everyone at WWE for making us a part of this publicity tour for your book. We’re certainly delighted to help spread the good word to the Mid-Atlantic community about Ric Flair: To Be The Man.


Flair: Thank you. Thank you very much, David.