'Huge fanbase' to see wrestling legends

2014-07-18T18:15:00Z 2014-07-18T19:46:44Z 'Huge fanbase' to see wrestling legendsBy Jon Gold Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Most of our lives can be recalled incrementally, a day here, a moment here.

For a legend, though, one who has lived four decades in the spotlight, whose head has been smashed in more often than a baby cries for his mother, it’s all one giant blur.

Luckily Ric Flair doesn’t need much to recall the highlights of his life, he gets a little help. With the WWE’s new venture, the WWE Network, he’s getting even more help.

“People remind me every day,” said the 65-year-old Flair, wistfully. “The WWE network has given everybody new life. It gives us the opportunity to reach new people. There’s a huge fanbase that loves wrestling from the ’80s more than now. Five-year-old kids know now.

“And they can all go ‘woooo!’ ”

There it is, the signature call that “The Nature Boy” has used for more than 35 years.

Fans in Phoenix (today) and Tucson (Sunday) will get a chance to hear it this weekend, as Clickjab Entertainment is putting on its first Wrestling Fanfest in Arizona. The event will bring some of the biggest wrestling legends of the last few decades to the state, icons such as Bret Hart, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Sean Waltman and Bill Goldberg.

All are Flair’s sometime adversaries and sometime allies, guys he has pounded the pavement with, as well as their heads.

“It’s always nice to catch up with the guys,” Flair said. “I talk to Goldberg a couple times a year, I’ve always been a big fan of Bill’s. Of course I’ve got a man-crush on Edge. He’s that good and that nice a guy. Kevin, Scott, X-Pac, Bret Hart — Chris has really got a cool event put together.”

Chris is Chris Click, a concert and sports promoter, who did some scouting, saw the draws at some of the big wrestling fan conventions across the country and for whom a light bulb appeared.

“I went to the ones back East — New York, Wrestlecon in New Orleans around Wrestlemania — and I said, ‘Hey, I think this could work in Phoenix and Tucson,’ ” Click said.

Flair said he expects a good crowd because “Arizona is great; Phoenix and Tucson, we’ve had some big events there.”

“I just hope it works,” Click said. “You’ve got to bring the names for people to come.”

Delving back into the world of professional wrestling for a second time — ClickJab Entertainment put on the Ultimate Halloween Brawl in 2010, with appearances from legends such as Rob Van Dam and Tommy Dreamer and even basketball star and part-time wrestler Dennis Rodman — Click knows what the draw is. He’s a fan himself.

“These wrestling fans, coming from everywhere, get to meet their heroes,” Click said. “They get so excited. I think it’s their dreams.”

Flair has seen it firsthand for decades, even if he doesn’t tell the tales you’d expect.

“I don’t have a real crazy fan story,” Flair said. “People are so respectful it’s ridiculous. The respect they have for us as individuals, athletes, whatever we are in their eyes — it’s phenomenal.”

Wrestlers seem to share a special bond with their fans, one that creates lifelong attachments, even with the occasional heel turn.

“I just think they live vicariously through the personalities,” Flair said. “The classic example, everyone wanted to be Steve Austin. They wanted to go to work and tell their boss off. Now you’re watching The Rock on the ESPYs, and some guys capture the imagination, and they won’t budge on it. Who’s more entertaining in sports than the wrestlers? Richard Sherman tried to be but … he’s not WWE status yet.”

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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