The “Nature Boy” Ric Flair is considered by many fans, fellow wrestlers, and journalists to be the greatest professional wrestler of all time. His career lasted forty years, and he’s wrestled all over the world, winning over 20 championships (16-time World Champion).
But on top of his in-ring career, it was how he was outside of the ring that has always garnered attention. For decades, he lived a lifestyle of partying, women, and expensive materials. Flair famously described himself as a “limousine-ridin’, jet-flyin’, kiss stealin’, wheelin’ dealin’, son-of-a-gun (who kissed all the girls worldwide and made em cry)”.
However, in May of 2002, on a private WWE (then WWF) charter flight back to the United States from England, Flair allegedly sexual assaulted a flight attendant. Many other antics and issues occurred on that flight, dubbing it “The Plane Ride from Hell”. While it’s been known for years the antics on the plane, it wasn’t until a recent episode of Dark Side of the Ring where it was discussed more in-detail. Terri Runnels, Jim Ross, Rob Van Dam, Tommy Dreamer, Mike Chioda, Justin Credible, and Scott Hall told stories about the flight. Also heavily featured was Heidi Doyle, the flight attendant who allegedly had to endure very disgusting antics against her will on the flight.
Grantland.com reported on the plane ride from hell:
‘Two flight attendants, Taralyn Cappellano and Doyle, would compile their allegations into a 2004 lawsuit. Among the chronicled misdeeds was [Flair’s] sexual aggression. ‘He wore nothing but a jeweled cape, the flight attendants said, and ‘flashed his nakedness, spinning his [male part] around.’
“He separately grabbed each woman’s hand and placed it on his crotch, and then ‘forcibly detained and restrained’ Doyle ‘from leaving the back of the galley of the airplane while he sexually assaulted her.”
Flair would later insist there was no truth to these incidents, though the WWE eventually settled out of court with both women.
And on Monday, Flair tweeted out a detailed response to the episode and allegations:
Every person that I’ve worked with has said not to post a response; but I’ve never run from past behaviors befor eand I’m not going to start now. I want to clarify a few things: About four years ago, I gave ESPN full access to my life for a “30 for 30″ special. They covered taxes, financial issues, adultery, divorces, the passing of my child and drinking/partying AT LENGTH. Rory Karpf, desperate to matter for another 15 minutes, did an interview about it this morning. When Rory’s lips are moving, he’s typically lying, but one part of what he said was the God’s honest truth:”
“I’d never heard that he had forced someone to touch his genitals,” Karpf admitted. “Everything with Ric that was construed as negative I tried to address in the 30 for 30. His drinking, his philandering, his adultery, his money problems, there’s quite a bit, but never, at least in the people that I spoke to, no one ever brought up that he would force himself on somebody.” I allowed my personal life and the lives of my wife and children to be turned upside down for one reason: Whether it’s good or bad, even the really bad, the truth has to matter. Even in wrestling.
“My issues have been well documented over my 40+ year career. The impact of drinking too much (which nearly killed me 5 years ago) has been told time and time again. The reason Rory (or anyone else for that matter) never heard stories of me forcing myself on ANYONE is simple: it never happened.”
Flair, on Tuesday, released a second statement denying sexual assault allegations but admitting to ‘the Helicopter’:
“To clarify, the ‘helicopter’ as it was called, is accurate. I wish I could blame it on youth, but it was a case of drinking too much and being inappropriate and I apologize for that (and have countless times over the years).“I made some bad decisions during dark periods in my life, and it is something I’ve spent a significant part of years I was given by the doctors in 2017 trying to make right.
“I condemn sexual assault in any way, shape or form. I could (and have) written books (as have others) that have covered my transgressions. I’ve made some terrible decisions, but I’ve never forced myself on anyone in any way. Period.”
What happens from here on out remains to be seen. CarShield has paused his commercials, and WWE has removed him from their intro videos. AEW, originally planning to sign him, looks to be far from that. And many are wanting justice.