Sometimes you’ll go through your entire life without discovering why life is the way it is. How did I end up working for an association? Why does this business meeting have to be so early? How does Cameron Diaz still get work?
I, too, wondered these same types of questions until I stumbled upon the greatest 20 seconds mankind has ever seen. In the midst of a typical wrestling promo in 1985, Ric Flair – aka The Nature Boy – took off on a 20-second tirade that would alter the course of history and explain away why everything is the way it is.
First of all, look at that picture above right now. Notice that everything about that image is purely magnificent. His beautiful golden-white locks. Those wonderful aviator shades. The red button-up shirt with a pure gold necklace aroud his unkempt chest hair. Look how high those slick gray pants go up on his waistline. We’re not dealing with a normal human being here. This is Ric Flair. The Golden Stallion. More god than man.
Now get ready for the most wonderful 20 seconds of your life. While addressing Buddy Landel, a rival wrestler, Flair lets him know who he’s dealing with.
If it’s possible that I’m exaggerating, I don’t want to hear it. Skip to the 1:49 mark for the life-changing moment.
“You’re talking to the Rolex wearin’, diamond ring wearin’, kiss stealin’, wheelin’ dealin’, limousine ridin’, jet flyin’ son of a gun. And I’m having a hard time holding these alligators down. Woo!”
Got that? Now, let it soak in. As a service to you and everyone you know, I’ll go ahead and help break down what made this promo so fantastic. In case we didn’t know, Landel was talking to the…
This is where the Nature Boy makes it clear that this entire promo is about to get real. He’s not here to play games. The man is wealthy because of his work and he’s not afraid to flaunt that golden Rolex on his left wrist. But notice he doesn’t quite hold it up to the camera, showing a rare display of moderation. It remains to be seen if this was intended or just a setup for came next.
Bam! There’s that sparkly jewel upon his pinky finger. Flair throws that hand up to the camera as if he forgot about the restraint he showed just milliseconds ago. Now, we have a couple of theories here. Either Flair made an intentionally cocksure move to show arrogant humility in the first part of the rant so he could blast us in the face with that shimmery greatness, or he legitimately attempted to hold back until his natural excitement took over and he couldn’t help it. Either way, we can all agree it’s better this way.
We then reach part three of the monologue in which Flair begins to let his natural body movements shine. With each word in this section, he cocks his head to each side while beginning the process of getting his hands involved. His right hand swings with a controlled violence from left to right mid-statement. This was just a precursor for what lay directly ahead of him.
He just can’t help himself. It’s been nearly 10 words since he last belted out a “Woo!” and he just has to fit it in somewhere. Why not right here? It’s sort of an intermission, Ric Flair-style. It doesn’t last but for half a second, but the impact is evident. I’m not sure if it’s more impressive that he squeezed it in right when he got his hand motion started kicking into overdrive, but the nuanced little self-fist-pump before jumping into wheelin’ dealin’ sets the rest of the speech into a natural motion.
Remember when we were children and we’d pretend to drive by using the classic imaginary steering wheel? You better believe Nature Boy busts that bad boy out for wheelin’ dealin’. He makes two sharp right turns to signify that he’s headed in the right direction- and you’re a fool for thinking he’s going left. His entire body begins to emerge from its slumber with a couple of quick snaps until you begin to realize wheelin’ dealin’ isn’t the one about his vehicle.
Oh, you thought wheelin’ dealin’ meant being in a car? Not in Ric Flair’s world. The master of the wrestling business totally psyched you out because he doesn’t need to drive a car. He has drivers take him where he needs to go as he barks out orders with an even sharper arm motion than we’ve seen thus far. This is also the stage where we hear the slightest of voice cracks from Flair, showing the emotion and intensity in his words.
But it isn’t because he doesn’t drive at all — Ric Flair flies jets. And he flies them straight through your heart with the exuberance that only the Nature Boy can display. Soaring through the air, you can’t miss the way Slick Ric goes all in on this final adjective phrase because he knows you can’t handle anymore. He’s stylin’ and profilin’ and he’s going to show mercy from here on out. But for this final one, he gives all he’s got before finally telling you what he actually is.
Yep, he’s a son of a gun. They don’t call Ric Flair the dirtiest player in the game for nothing. He’s a flat-out alimony pony (he’s gone through 4 divorces) without a care in the world. But despite that carefree spirit, there is one little thing that he can’t quite get a grip on.
Those alligator-skinned shoes of his can’t quite seem to control the Golden Stallion himself. He’s having so much trouble with him that he needs to rebalance himself on the interviewer, who’s fighting hard to compose himself in front of the Flair. What a finish from the Nature Boy, who caps off his sensational 20-second rant with the only “Woo” he’s got left in him. From that point on, the rest of the world was history.
So what have we learned from those epic 20 seconds back in the early 1980s? Go all out. Let ‘er rip and do big things, because you never know if you’re going to end up changing the course of history.