Today in WTF, wrestling icon Ric Flair hooked up with WinView Games, a subsidiary of Engine Media Holdings (GAME.V) to host their inaugural Pre-Slam Livestream Party.
Ric’s career is basically over as of earlier this month but the old narcissist still needs to get the adoration of his fans, so he hooked up with WinView to help pump the WWE’s SummerSlam event. He’ll be taking his viewers on an insider’s tour of his Tampa Bay home, showing off memorabilia, sharing stories and introducing a few of his friends. There’s also a Ric Flair trivia game—because of course there is—where you can win $10,000 in cash.
“I’m always looking for new ways to connect with my fans and keep it real. The Engine Media team has done a great job pulling this together and the WinView Games ‘Game Party’ platform is a great tool for me to continue to grow my personal brand,” said Flair.
If you’re curious about what GAME does, they use their various subsidiaries to create content, distribute tech and analytics, and puts on events for the esports, news and gaming industries. Their money-making proposition involves a combination of direct-to-consumer and subscription fees, streaming technology and data software-as-a-service based offerings, as well as ad-revenue and sponsorships.
Combined, they have more than 1,200 TV, print and radio brands, dozens of gaming and tech companies, and access to hundreds of millions of homes around the world through their content, distribution and tech services. This whole thing with Ric Flair is distinctly on brand for them.
Is that guy going to be alright?
Like plenty of folks from my generation, I was a wrestling fan when I was a kid. I’d switch over from my Saturday morning cartoons to watch the World Wrestling Federation and their usual assortment of larger than life characters playing out in cartoonish dramas that fit right in with the Bugs Bunny and Voltron crowd, and then they’d get in a ring and … wrestle. In retrospect, some of their gimmicks were fairly ridiculous—a warlord from the future, a voodoo shaman and whatever the hell the Ultimate Warrior was supposed to be.
They were entertaining for what they were, and the scripted battle of good versus evil was generally a big sell for a kid like me. They made it easy: Hulk Hogan was good and The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase was not. Case closed.
I outgrew it pretty quickly. Getting a nintendo helped.
I didn’t see anything wrestling related until I was in that cusp age between kid who needs help to tie his own shoes and young adult who isn’t old enough to drink yet (but will find a way). So. Maybe 14. It’s late at night and I’m at an adult house party. The adults are getting drunk in the other room and throwing darts at a dartboard (and occasionally at each other) and I’m cycling through the channels trying to find something cool like Rambo: First Blood Part 2, or Missing in Action II, where Chuck or Sly waste half of the Vietnamese army without reloading, and I come across the Turner Broadcasting Network and wrestling.
Except it isn’t the same as I remember. The production value isn’t as good and I didn’t recognize any of the characters. Perplexed, I decided I’d watch. We had the typical fare—jobber squash matches where some name they’re trying to get over manhandles Joe Schmoe from Skokie, Illinois—and interviews. Except there’s no Brother Love, and actually there is one familiar face, Mean Gene Okerlund. And his interview subject is this white-haired psychopath who takes the microphone, struts around and yells catchphrases and improvs his lines with an intensity that turns him beet red and makes veins pop out of his head, and caps it off with this exuberant noise that sounds like an owl having the world’s best orgasm.
It’s hard to watch an interview with this guy without worrying he’s going to have an aneurysm or maybe need hernia repair surgery in the future. It still is decades later. I ask one of the passing adults if they recognize this guy and the response is, “yeah, that’s Ric Flair. He’s the reason we can’t find good cocaine anymore. He’s snorted it all.”
I outgrew it quickly. Getting a girlfriend helped.
Decades later, and Flair’s not only still alive—I figured he’d have had a coronary by now—but he’s only just been released from his contract with the WWE. He’s 72 years old, on his fourth wife, and is as boisterous as ever. He reminds me of Harlan Ellison, the critically outspoken science-fiction and fantasy legend, in his final years—except that Ellison wasn’t an asshole who went out of his way to alienate everyone around him in his final years, and Ric Flair is… well, still Ric Flair.
Nowadays, I just can’t be bothered with the WWE. The wrestling industry is broken. I went to a impromptu wrestling show put on at my local shopping mall before COVID-19 and had a better time watching amateur wrestlers fling their Dad bods at each other under a thin pretext of a storyline, then I ever would WWE’s glitz and glamour and obvious substance abuse.
We need more of that and less overproduced bullshit and I’m not alone in thinking that way.
Regardless, if Flair’s your jam, you can register at gameparty.tv, and some of the $2.99 ticket price will go to the ALS Association. So that’s not bad.