On Tuesday night, the world will get to see ESPN 30 for 30's "Nature Boy" for the first time. The story of Ric Flair's legend goes well beyond the ring, but it all began with his prowess inside of the squared circle.
To celebrate the premiere of "Nature Boy", Tim Fiorvanti and ESPN Stats & Info's Sean Coyle worked together to recognize 16 'Flair facts' -- one for each recognized world title reign in his career.
These facts cover almost every era of Flair's illustrious career, but they're just an appetizer for "Nature Boy", which airs at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN and WatchESPN.
We are just 16 days out from the world premiere of "Nature Boy", ESPN 30 for 30's look at the unbelievable life and adventures of the one-of-a-kind Ric Flair. In the lead-up to this event, we'll be sharing 16 facts -- one for each of his record-setting 16 wrestling world title runs -- per day. Fact #1: Flair's first championship in the WWE was won on Jan. 19, 1992, in the 1992 Royal Rumble match -- the first time the title was on the line in the annual 30-man battle royal. That title reign, the first of two world title runs for Flair in the WWE, lasted 77 days; he lost the title to Randy Savage on April 5, 1992, at WrestleMania VIII.
Sixteen days of Ric Flair facts -- one for each of his 16 world titles -- continues with Fact #2: Flair is the only two-time WWE Hall of Famer in the company's history. He was first inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as a solo performer in 2008 -- the day before Flair's retirement match at WrestleMania 24. Flair was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame for the second time in 2012, as part of the Four Horsemen, and he's also a member of the NWA Hall of Fame. (Courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info)
Sixteen days of Ric Flair facts -- one for each of his 16 world titles -- continues with Fact #3: Flair was trained by WWE Hall of Famer Verne Gagne. Flair trained alongside The Iron Shiek, Jim Brunzell, Ken Patera and Greg Gagne in a barn on Verne's property in 1971, and made his professional wrestling debut for Gagne's American Wrestling Alliance (AWA) promotion in December 1972.
Sixteen days of Ric Flair facts, leading up to the world premiere of 30 for 30's "Nature Boy", continues with Fact #4: Despite a decidedly shorter career thus far, Charlotte Flair is already closing in on a few of her dad's number's in the WWE record books. She's already a four-time women's champion -- already 25 percent of the way to her dad's record 16 world title reigns -- and with her win at Hell in a Cell, Charlotte already has 20 WWE pay-per-view wins. That's as many as Ric had in his entire WWE run. (Courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info)
16 days of Flair facts, Day 5: The next pay-per-view on the WWE schedule is Survivor Series, and that's the event where, on Nov. 27, 1991, where Ric Flair made his WWE PPV debut. He teamed with "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, The Mountie & The Warlord to take on Bret Hart, Roddy Piper, the British Bulldog & Virgil. In the 4-on-4 elimination match, Flair was the ‘sole survivor' as the last man standing after multiple participants from each team were disqualified. (Courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info)
16 days of Flair facts leading up to 30 for 30's Nature Boy on Nov. 7. Fact 6: Ric Flair's only official WrestleMania victory came at WrestleMania 20, when he teamed with Randy Orton and Batista to defeat The Rock and Mick Foley. In four other WrestleMania matches, Flair lost to Randy Savage (WM VIII), The Undertaker (WM X8), failed to win the Money in the Bank briefcase (WM 22) and lost his final WWE match against Shawn Michaels (WM 24). Flair did pick up a victory in a tag team match on the eve of WrestleMania 23, partnering with Carlito to defeat Gregory Helms and Chavo Guerrero in a dark match.
16 days of Flair facts, leading up to the broadcast premiere of 30 for 30's "Nature Boy", continues with fact #7: The last belt that Ric Flair held in wrestling was the WWE world tag team championship, which he won with "Rowdy" Roddy Piper on Nov. 5, 2006 at the Cyber Sunday pay-per-view; they defeated Kenny and Mikey of the Spirit Squad. Flair and Piper lost those titles eight days later on Monday Night Raw to Rated RKO (Edge and Randy Orton).
Sixteen days of Flair facts leading up to the debut of 30 for 30's "Nature Boy", day 8: Ric Flair is recognized by WWE as a 16-time world champion, but he's also held a wide variety of other titles during his career. In WWE, he was an Intercontinental and tag team champion; in NWA/WCW, Flair held the Mid-Atlantic championship, the NWA TV title, the NWA/WCW U.S. championship and several different tag team titles.
16 days of Flair facts leading up to 30 for 30's "Nature Boy" continues with fact #9: Ric Flair's final official match came at WrestleMania 24 in April 2008, when he lost a retirement match against Shawn Michaels. On the night after he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, Flair ended his in-ring career with the company inside of the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, in front of one of the biggest WWE crowds in the company's history.
16 days of Flair facts leading up to the premiere of 30 for 30's "Nature Boy" continues with fact #10: Despite his official retirement at WrestleMania 24, Flair was physically active as part of a parking lot brawl against Randy Orton in January 2009 that spilled out to ringside. After they exchanged strikes for more than 10 minutes, Orton's compatriots Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase Jr., The Legacy, helped Orton deliver a punt kick to Flair's head.
We're getting closer and closer to the conclusion of 16 days of Flair facts, with ESPN 30 for 30's "Nature Boy" just five days away. Fact #11 looks deeper into Ric Flair's history with Shawn Michaels. While Flair's last WWE match, with Michaels at WrestleMania 24, is one that fans will always remember, it wasn't the only time they met in the ring on pay-per-view. Flair defeated Michaels at 'Bad Blood' in June 2003 -- albeit with an assist from Randy Orton and a steel chair. Flair and Michaels also had two other televised one-on-one matches. Flair also picked up a win over Michaels all the way back in December 1991, during his first run with WWE, on Prime Time Wrestling. Michaels' lone win over Flair before WrestleMania 24 came in February 2005 on Monday Night Raw, which was filmed in the Saitama Super Arena in Japan.
16 days of Flair facts, leading up to Tuesday's premiere of 30 for 30's "Nature Boy", continues with fact #12: Ric Flair accumulated a number of different nicknames throughout his career. The first, and most famous one, being "The Nature Boy". There's also "Naitch", "The Dirtiest Player in the Game", several allusions to "Space Mountain" and, dating back to some of his most famous promos, the "Limousine riding, jet flying, kiss stealing, wheeling dealing, son of a gun."
16 days of Flair facts, leading up to the premiere of ESPN 30 for 30's "Nature Boy" on Tuesday, hits fact #13: Despite several different interpretations of Ric Flair's world title reigns in the NWA, WCW and WWF, the WWE currently recognizes 16 world title reigns for Flair over the course of his career. In these officially recognized reigns, Flair only defeated two men for world titles multiple times -- Dusty Rhodes (twice) and "Macho Man" Randy Savage (three times). Though the circumstances of his title losses are up for more debate, the only wrestler to defeat Flair multiple times for a world title was Savage, who did it once in the WWF and once in WCW.
16 days of Flair facts leading up to the premiere of 30 for 30's "Nature Boy" hits fact #14: Though some of Ric Flair's title reigns are not recognized or are up for some debate, there's no question as to the longest world title reign of his career. On May 24, 1984, Flair defeated Kerry Von Erich in Yokosuka, Japan to begin his third recognized run as NWA world heavyweight champion. Flair would hold the title for more than two years -- 793 days, to be exact -- before he'd lose the title to Dusty Rhodes on July 26, 1986. Rhodes held the title for just two weeks, before Flair won the title back in Missouri and started another title reign of 412 days.
16 days of Flair facts leading up to the premiere of 30 for 30's "Nature Boy" hits fact #15: Ric Flair is the only two-time WWE Hall of Famer, but by the time all is said and done he could also become the first-ever three-time WWE HOFer. In addition to being a founding member of the legendary Four Horseman (and the only one to be in every iteration of the group), Flair also helped form Evolution in the WWE alongside Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton -- each individually guaranteed a HOF spot in their own right with a combined 33 world title reigns. At WWE's Armageddon pay-per-view on Dec. 14, 2003, the group achieved the rare feat of holding every major title at the same time; Flair and Batista were tag team champions, Orton was Intercontinental champion and Triple H was World Heavyweight champion.
16 days of Flair facts leading up to the premiere of 30 for 30's "Nature Boy" hits its end with fact #16: In the minds of most wrestling fans, Ric Flair shares the mantle of most iconic WCW superstar with Sting -- and it's all too appropriate that Flair and Sting's careers were consistently intertwined. They faced off on the first-ever edition of WCW Monday Nitro on Sept. 4,1995, and had the last match ever aired on Monday Nitro on March 26, 2001.