It’s hard to imagine that there are a lot of lifelong, diehard wrestling fans out there breathlessly anticipating the debut of Magic Mike XXL on July 1. So, it could have been genuinely surprising and subsequently hilarious had the follow-up to the 2012 male stripper blockbuster been able to keep a lid on a surprise piece of casting, because people probably would have lost their limousine ridin’, jet flyin’, kiss stealin’, wheelin’ n’ dealin’ minds when “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair suddenly appeared on the big screen with Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello and Matt Bomer. Then again, someone would have eventually noticed Flair’s credit on the Magic Mike XXL IMDB page, so the cat would have been let out of the bag sooner or later.
Ultimately, it was Manganiello, also known as Big Dick Richie, who broke the news when he shared an image of him and Flair pointing at each other on the set last October, calling the Nature Boy’s presence the “latest piece of inspired casting.” Several days later, Flair confirmed his mystery role on Stone Cold Steve Austin’s Unleashed! podcast, and yet the news barely registered beyond wrestling rumor sites and message boards, most likely because it was a blurb that came after stories about Flair’s early years, that time he lost his championship belt, and how he was making (at the time) a fitness video with Dennis Rodman.
While Flair couldn’t reveal his actual role, he told the Texas Rattlesnake enough to confirm that it will be a truly memorable cinematic experience.
Flair: “I told you I’m doing this Magic Mike thing, right?”
Austin: “You told me! How did it go?”
Flair: “I’m not supposed to talk about it, so I can’t say anything, but I guarantee you, Steve… I’m going to win an Academy Award.”
Naturally, we could chalk this up to the greatest showman in wrestling history being the best at self-promotion, but while people at Warner Bros. were probably thinking, “Okay, Ric, that’s enough,” he pulled the curtain back a little more.
“Do not give me a minute-and-a-half to talk in promo form. With the verbage they gave me… I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ I had never seen the movie, I didn’t know much about it. But they gave me a minute-and-a-half and I did one take, and I’ll just say this: Channing Tatum said it was the greatest thing he ever saw in his life. But I had about 35 cups of Starbucks coffee, so I was ready.”
As Vince and I have tried to explain to people in the past, Magic Mike was a surprisingly great movie that could be enjoyed by everyone, so long as you’re not the kind of bro who won’t watch a film about male strippers because “That’s f*ckin’ gay, bro.” However, when the sequel was announced, and with Matthew McConaughey hanging up his leather chaps for good, we pumped our brakes a little. The first film was pure lightning in a bottle, and a sequel would only end up being rehashed bulge-bouncing and ladies screaming as if their cats were being slaughtered. That is, until Tatum and Reid Carolin decided to take the second adventure on the road.
So now we have a story of Magic Mike presumably getting the Tampa gang back together to head to a stripper convention/competition in Myrtle Beach to prove that they are indeed the best. Along the way, they have to strip for mature women across Florida and the South, picking up new friends like Donald Glover and Michael Strahan, while apparently competing against a gang of Twilight-themed strippers (not a joke). And somewhere in this wonderful story, Flair makes an appearance. I predict it’s for one of three scenarios:
1. He’s the emcee of the competition and a legendary male stripper, and obviously no one can get a room filled with horny women going quite like the NAYTCHA BOYYYY. At a minute-and-a-half, this would be the logical explanation, but it would be even better if Mike’s team wins when another team is caught cheating, and Flair takes the Golden Dildo, or whatever the trophy may be, from the cheaters, hands it to Mike, and then lets out the most sensational “WOOOOOOO!” that has ever graced the big screen.
2. He’s an actual competitor and a male stripper still going strong at SIXTY-BY GOD-WOOOOOOOOOO!-*struts*-SIX YEARS OLD! While it’s not the performance that today’s women came to see, he’s still met with a standing ovation when he delivers his Academy Award-worthy retirement speech to the audience.
3. Taking a page out of the hilarious ending montage from 22 Jump Street, Magic Mike XXL imagines what Mike, Richie, Ken, and Tarzan will look like in the next 20 sequels, and Flair will be the star of Magic Mike: Feelin’ Fine at 69. It’ll be like someone added full frontal male nudity to Cocoon.
Whatever role Flair might be playing in Magic Mike XXL, we can only ask the film’s marketing team in the nicest way possible: Do not spoil it by releasing a clip before the film is in theaters. The surprise is still mostly intact. Let’s keep it that way, so it’ll be way more fun when we strap in for another ride on Space Mountain.