Ric Flair Q&A: ‘It’s a positive thing to hold WrestleMania’
Sports.YahooRather than postpone or cancel WrestleMania amid the global coronavirus pandemic, WWE opted to relocate its biggest event of the year from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, to its Performance Center in Orlando. The event will take place across two nights, with no fans and only essential personnel on the premises.
Yahoo Sports spoke with Ric Flair, a two-time WWE Hall of Famer and 16-time world champion, about the unique circumstances of the “Showcase of the Immortals,” performing with little-to-no fans in attendance, his concerns for his daughter, Charlotte, and about her upcoming match.
Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity
Yahoo Sports: Looking at the unique circumstances that WrestleMania is being held under, is this something you have ever had to deal with, wrestling without fans? What do you make of what the performers and athletes have had to go through on WWE as of late?
Ric Flair: I’ve never wrestled in an empty arena, but I have wrestled in front of 25 or 30 people, back at a fair in Kansas when I was traveling world champion, so I do know what it’s like to wrestle in front of very few people. The difference is that this is WrestleMania and I do believe the talent will be excited for it.
In this case, you need to look past the number of people in attendance and look to the event. The wrestlers have trained all year for this event and this moment, so they are going to give their very best. They will find a way to get around the lack of a live crowd because there may never be a WrestleMania again. There’s no guarantee that some of the kids on the show this year will be back. WWE does the best they can to involve as many people as possible, but that’s not a given, [for some] this may be their last chance to be on a WrestleMania. It’s great to have a crowd behind you, but I still think it’s going to be entertaining.
YS: As a parent of a WWE star, was there any added concern with Charlotte taking part in WrestleMania with everything going on? Do you believe this the right decision to move forward with the event rather than postponing it?
RF: I most certainly think it’s a positive thing to hold WrestleMania. That being said, I’m as concerned as any father or parent would be about the wellness about everybody involved, my daughter included. However, if I would have tried to tell my daughter that I didn’t want her to participate, she would have hung up on me, blocked my number and done it anyway.
WWE is observing all of the precautions, they are distancing. Yes, they are getting in the ring, but it was presented as an option. Everybody had the option of staying home and not participating. There was no peer pressure, no financial pressure. People elected to be a part of it and it’s what they wanted to do.
No matter how hard we practice social distancing, there’s going to be some contact. I had people come into my house yesterday to put in some new gym equipment. Was I rubbing shoulders with them? No, but they were in my house. It’s hard to stay inside alone and not be around anybody, but I can guarantee the WWE is taking every possible precaution when it comes to hygiene and the virus. People do need this outlet.
YS: You had some health issues a few years back. Did that experience make you rethink how the current pandemic is unfolding as opposed to 5 or 10 years ago?
RF: I like to think I’m more responsible and more aware of things like my immune system and my heart now. They probably aren’t what they were and I have responsibilities to my beautiful wife, step-children, children, grandchildren to take care of and think of. That’s the priority for me, to make sure everybody is taken care of and in a good place at the end of the day.