The WWE is having a wild and unpredictable 2021, with lots of big changes happening both behind the scenes and in the ring. The company is still coping with financial losses suffered due to COVID-related setbacks, and has released a wide swath of superstars so far, including Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman and more. The latest superstar to reportedly make a WWE exit is one of pro wrestling's most iconic names: Ric Flair.
While one's instinct may be to immediately get buck about the WWE cannibalizing its talent-filled roster just as it's getting back to live shows and in-person pay-per-views, this doesn't appear to be one of the many cases where Vince McMahon & Co. come off as monstrous. According to WrestlingInc, the reason Ric Flair was released is because he specifically requested the exit at some undisclosed point, and it has reportedly now been made official.
Practically speaking, it's not necessarily a massive surprise that Ric Flair is bidding the WWE farewell for one reason or another. The last time he was part of a proper storyline was back in the first months of 2021 as part of a lurid romance with Lacey Evans, who took leave in February after announcing she was pregnant in real life, though not for Flair's love child. It was odd for Flair to bow out at that point, though he later spoke out against that particular story arc while talking with ESPN's Ariel Helwani back in May, saying:
In this instance, I didn't (feel comfortable). It didn't make a difference. One thing I've learned is that you're not going to win a war when someone has their mind made up. . . . No, I didn't like that one. To [Vince], I'm always going to be 'kiss stealin, wheelin' dealin,' which is great because he likes that even though he hated it when I used to say it. ''80s heels don't draw! Go lead by example! If I put you in the first match it's because where you belong!' You're not going to win the argument. He's smarter and he's the boss.
Considering how Ric Flair has been in the business, if he still can't finagle his way out of an unwanted storyline, does anyone really have a shot at it? In any case, Flair is also 72 years old, and obviously doesn't have the ring presence and brawling skills he used to, though it's still fun to watch him take a few licks when the occasion calls for it. But if he's not being utilized for his stylin' and profilin' talents, then that's as good a sign as any that it was time for him to strut on out the door.
At the time of this writing, the WWE has yet to publicly announce Ric Flair's release similar to how it has announced other exits in the past. I doubt anybody out there had any big theories for how Flair was going to make a big splash at SummerSlam 2021 in the way that people theorized about John Cena's return, as well as that of The Rock, but I guess now we know that won't be happening. While waiting to see where Flair will pop up next, stay tuned to our 2021 Fall TV schedule to see what's coming around the bend.