Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes are two of the greatest wrestlers of all time. They wowed crowds together for decades and helped make wrestling as huge a spectacle as it is today. The matches they had over the NWA World Heavyweight Champion are legendary, and Dusty Rhodes became a hero tot he nation as he battled the evil forces of Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen.
The name Ric Flair is synonymous with wrestling. Years after his retirement, the Nature Boy is as popular as ever, still appearing in many forms of media including a number of rap songs.
However, the name Ric Flair almost never came to be. Early on in his career, the Nature Boy (whose real name was a slight variation of his ring name, Ric Fliehr) did not want to use Ric Flair as his in-ring name. Instead, Flair wanted to be known as the brother of Dusty Rhodes. Flair was inspired by Rhodes and viewed him as his idol in wrestling. He wanted to honour the then-NWA Champion by co-opting his name, and be known as Ramblin’ Ricky Rhodes.
Luckily, Ric Flair was talked out of changing his name to copy one of the top stars of the day. There are conflicting versions as to what really happened. Both Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes have corroborated the story, claiming that Flair wanted to change his name to Ricky Rhodes, but both have conflicting answers to the question of who convinced him to keep the name Ric Flair.
In an interview with Steve Austin on his podcast, Ric Flair claimed it was AWA Founder Verne Gagne who convinced him to keep the name Ric Flair, rather than copy his idol Dusty Rhodes.
“I went to Verne [Gagne] and said I wanted to call myself Ramblin’ Ricky Rhodes. He said, “What?” I said I wanted to call myself Ramblin’ Ricky Rhodes and go as Dusty’s brother… He said, “That ain’t happening. What’s wrong with Ric Flair?” Flair said on the Steve Austin Show.
Whilst Flair thinks it was Verne Gagne that convinced him to keep the Ric Flair name, The American Dream Dusty Rhodes thinks differently. In his book, Dusty, Rhodes claimed that Ric Flair came to him to ask permission to take the Rhodes name as his character name, and he was talked out of the decision by Dusty Rhodes himself.
“Back when Ric first started and weighed about 300 pounds, he was driving down the road with me, driving my car as I gave him a ride to the next town. He looked over at me and said, ‘I want to ask you a question…a big favor of you…I got my wrestling name, and if it’s okay with you I want to be a cousin. I want to be “Rambling” Ricky Rhodes.’
I said to him, ‘No! Make your own name. Be your own self. Make something of yourself in your own likeness of what you see…not “Rambling” Ricky Rhodes.’ – Dusty Rhodes in Dusty
Luckily for everyone, Ric Flair kept his name and turned it into one of the most well known names in all of wrestling. He and Dusty Rhodes had incredible matches, which I’m sure would have been much less interesting if one of the men was called “Ramblin’ Ricky Rhodes”.
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