Ric Flair Has Direct Response To Sexual Assault Claims After Controversial Dark Side Of The Ring Episode

ric flair emotional on 30 for 30 nature boy

For any wrestling fans who enjoy taking looks behind the kayfabe curtain, Vice's Dark Side of the Ring docu-series is a treasure trove of scandals and accusations from all across the world of pro wrestling. The most recent Season 3 episode centered on the infamous "Plane Ride From Hell" that followed the WWE's UK-set pay-per-view event Insurrextion in 2002, and which led to several wrestlers losing their jobs, while others (such as former WWE superstar and exec Ric Flair) facing other consequences for their actions. While much of the information in the Dark Side episode wasn't new or groundbreaking, Flair once again came under fire for sexual misconduct allegations made at the time.

To briefly sum up Ric Flair's reported involvement in the exceedingly drunken plane ride, the wrestling icon allegedly walked around wearing just his signature in-ring robe, which wasn't noted for being tightly closed. Two flight attendants claimed that Flair grabbed each of the women's hands and made them touch his genitals, while one further alleged that he forcibly restrained her in the back of the airplane and sexually assaulted her. While Flair denied the claims at the time, the women eventually filed a lawsuit that was settled out of court by the WWE, without any of those details going public.

Following a weekend full of wrestler-fueled commentary about the Dark Side of the Ring episode, Ric Flair took to social media with quite a lengthy statement, although it was one that curiously changed a couple of times through deleted posts. In his words:

Every person that I've worked with has said not to post a response; but l've never run from past behaviors before and 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 Kampf, 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.'

While it arguably makes circumstantial sense to point to the life-spanning 30 for 30 docu-series installment "Nature Boy" as a defense, neither the installment nor filmmaker Rory Karpf's discretion hold much water as legitimate proof of anything. And it's also a strange move for Flair to imply Karpf is a liar except for when he's talking about not finding other incidents of alleged sexual misconduct, since that just inspires further scrutiny. It probably also doesn't help that Ric Flair's pro wrestling persona was glorified for being god's gift to womankind, and that recognition hasn't exactly worn off.

Still, Ric Flair went on to defend himself by pointing to all of the past indiscretions that he has owned up to, including his battles with substance abuse, as well as making quite a few regretful choices that affected his family and relationships.

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 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.

Following his Twitter response  Ric Flair then released another statement to Wrestling Inc., providing some clarification regarding accusations about him swinging his penis around on the plane ride. In his words:

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.

It remains to be seen if anything further will come from this. It's possible the Dark Side of the Ring co-creators could provide further commentary or evidence of what went on in that infamous trip that ended Curt Henning and Scott Hall's then-current stints with the WWE. Or maybe the upcoming episodes about Chris Kanyon and the XPW will have fans taking the conversation elsewhere.

Dark Side of the Ring airs new episodes on Vice on Thursdays at 9:00 p.m. ET. Be sure to keep up with all the other big shows hitting the small screen soon with our 2021 Fall TV schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.