Home Ric Flair is All Elite: Tony Khan announces multi-year deal with WWE Hall of Famer

Ric Flair is All Elite: Tony Khan announces multi-year deal with WWE Hall of Famer

Chris Graham
ric flair
Photo: All Elite Wrestling

Tony Khan’s latest effort at gaining cultural relevancy for his struggling AEW pro-wrestling promotion was announced Thursday with word that the company has entered into a multi-year deal with controversial WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair.

Flair, 74, made his debut with the company last week, hitching his wagon to the final run for his former rival in NWA and WCW, Sting, who is planning to finish up his wrestling career at AEW’s “Revolution” pay-per-view early next year.

Chris Graham: AEW News and Notes

Flair’s association with AEW apparently won’t end there.

The multi-year deal announced by AEW includes word that the Wooooo! Energy drink endorsed by Flair will become the exclusive energy drink of AEW.

No, seriously.

“Last Wednesday, the ‘Nature Boy’ made his epic return to TBS, more than 35 years since the Flair vs. Sting rivalry first began on the Superstation. It’s truly an honor to welcome the legend himself – and Wooooo! Energy – to AEW,” Khan said, per a statement from an AEW press release.

“Ric cemented his legacy as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all-time long ago, and now his world-renowned persona and his amazing wrestling mind will be major assets to AEW’s programming and our position globally. Most importantly, it’s fitting that the final chapter of Sting’s iconic career will unfold on TBS with Ric Flair by his side.”

Khan had been rumored to be interested in bringing Flair on board to the AEW roster back in 2021 around the time that a “Dark Side of the Ring” episode entitled “Plane Ride from Hell” detailed allegations from a flight attendant that Flair had sexually assaulted her in 2002.

The fallout from the allegations, which Flair has denied, seemed at the time likely to push Flair out of the mainstream going forward.

Khan seems to be banking on the notion that time heals all wounds.

To wit, there’s this quote attributed to Flair from the press release:

“I’ve been in the wrestling business for over 50 years,” Flair said, per the release. “Together with AEW and Wooooo! Energy, I’ve never been more excited, and I’ve never had more energy! When the Nature Boy promises a show, you know how it’s gonna go! Wooooo!”

It’s worth noting that Flair’s first appearance on AEW’s flagship weekly TV show, “Dynamite,” on Oct. 25, was a ratings disaster, drawing an average of 760,000 viewers, per data from Wrestlenomics, 22.6 percent down from the show’s opening segment.

The viewership for “Dynamite” in 2023 year-to-date is down 20.1 percent from where it was to this point year-to-date in 2022, averaging 871,000 viewers per episode to this point in 2023, compared to the 1.09 million that “Dynamite” had averaged to this point in 2022.

The hope is obviously there that Flair will help turn things in the right direction.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].