For the second time this year, Ric Flair returned to Monday Night Raw. For the second time this year, his appearance meant absolutely nothing.
All Flair did was predict that John Cena would win at Battleground, proving he understands the business quite well. This must have rubbed Roman Reigns the wrong way, and he ominously strolled through the crowd to confront “Slick Ric.” Instead of him superman-punching the 65-year-old to prove he’s not to be messed with, he and Flair amicably shook hands.
In an homage to Triple H and Eric Bischoff, Cena handed Flair the “big gold belt” on the entrance ramp, making the “Nature Boy” a 17-time world champion (unofficial).
Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy watching Flair style and profile as much as the next guy. He’s a 24-hour entertainer who knows how to work an audience. He was at his licentious best with Renee Young, strutting his stuff and laying it all out on the line without a care in the world. Terry Funk may have coined the phrase “middle-aged and crazy,” but Flair has perfected it.
Gleeful insanity aside, I have no idea what the purpose of the segment was, and it’s very clear that the WWE has no idea how to use him. It was the same story on Apr. 28, which was the last time Flair made his presence felt on Raw. That segment also went nowhere, but it was a big ratings success, so Vince McMahon and co. decided they needed to bring him back for good.
At a time when WWE Network subscriptions are at a premium, they’re willing to try anything to entice people to open their wallets for $9.99 a month. The problem, however, is that they brought him back without any plans for what to do with him — despite having several months to figure it out.
He’s going to need to fill a role in the product eventually. You can only go so far making sporadic, meaningless appearances, and people tend to lose interest if they’re not given a direction. I don’t doubt that he’ll eventually have something meaningful to do, but nobody knows what that is just yet … not even the WWE.