University of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh made good on his promise of a “Signing of the Stars,” bringing in WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair for the Wolverines’ signing day.
“I can’t stand Ohio State, I got no time for Michigan State!” declared Flair. Whoa, slow down there, dude. It’s good to know your audience, but let’s not say anything anyone’s gonna regret about MSU. Flair also talked about his small connection to the school, revealing that he signed a letter of intent to play for Michigan back in 1968. Of course, he ended up playing football under a scholarship from the University of Minnesota, on the same team as legendary wrestling promoter Verne Gagne’s son Greg. Flair didn’t graduate, instead eventually pursuing pro wrestling.
Despite being a former Golden Gopher, Flair’s football allegiances seem to flop around more than the Nature Boy when he gets in the ring. While Flair was born in Tennessee, he came up a Mid-Atlantic man in wrestling, and is synonymous with South Carolina. In 2008 he was given the key to both the cities of Greenboro and Columbia. He’s been known as a consummate Gamecock fan, attending numerous home games and supporting his long-time friend Steve Spurrier during his tenure as head coach. The Carolina roots run deep for his family as well. His daughter, current WWE Divas Champion Charlotte, went to Appalachian State. There she was a two-time state champion and player of the year in volleyball, and a four-time All-American cheerleader.
Pro football is the same story. In 2014, Flair caught heat with Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith after giving a pep talk to the San Francisco 49ers prior to their wildcard matchup against the Packers. Event though it was a publicity stunt to hype the city’s (adjacent) hosting of WrestleMania 31 the next year, Panthers fans didn’t take too kindly to his public show of affection. Some even sent death threats, because if sports and wrestling Twitter have taught us anything, it’s that fans can say whatever they want on the internet with zero repercussion. Flair then missed the 49ers-Panthers divisional round playoff game, but not due to the backlash. In true Flair form, the guy had a bench warrant out for his arrest due to outstanding spousal support payments.
So listen, are we gonna take this declaration of his Wolverine fandom as something real and true? Probably not. Do we widely accept that Flair will probably say nice things about any sports team with either the right business connection or paycheck? Probably yes. Are we going to keep our fingers crossed that this is all part of a (hopefully successful) strategy to bring WrestleMania to the Big House? Actually, yeah. Ann Arbor’s kinda perfect. So perfect, in fact, this may be the only time in my life I’ll ever say GO BLUE!