I've been a fan of pro rasslin' since I was a kid. In fact, some of my best memories are of me and my brother stretched out on the floor of our living room on Saturdays, cheering on The Four Horseman and debating whether or not Lex Luger belonged in that group of extraordinary showmen.
For the record, he didn't.
There was something special about watching Ric Flair wrestle. He was the show; the man gave everything he had to give each and every time he stepped into a ring, then later upped the ante with his unparalleled work on the mic. The robes, the hair, the 60 minute match, the "Whoo-hooo!: Flair recognized what every good carny knows: put out the extra effort to give fans what they want, butts will go into the seats and you draw more money.
And Flair drew more than anyone back in the day.
More money, more blood and more respect than any other worker.
For the first time ever, I bought a WrestleMania pay-per-view Sunday evening. The overall show was fun, but I bought it because I knew it was Flair's retirement match. His final lose-and-you-must-retire match, against Shawn Michaels. Just before he pinned Flair, Michaels broke kayfabe by whispering: "I'm sorry. I love you."
Then, he kicked Flair in the head.
It was a fitting tribute for a legend.
I wiped a tear after the three-count. The tear was mostly for Flair, but part of it was because I miss stretching out in the living room with my brother, dodging brain busters and trying to counter the figure four leg-lock.
"To be the man, you gotta beat the man."
Rasslin' will never be the same.