Ric Flair, one of the best pro wrestlers of his generation, just survived a major health scare. The 68-year-old Flair, who began using the name “Nature Boy” in the 1970s, had a great catchphrase – “WOO!.” His “Woo!” is so well known that there was even a Total Nonstop Action Wrestling tour named after it.
Flair was thought to be near death earlier this month after surgery for multiple organ issues. But his fiance, Wendy Barlow, posted on Facebook on August 28 that she witnessed a miracle.
“He is doing very well for a man who has been through so much,” she wrote. “He will begin physical therapy shortly and will be stronger than ever and back out enjoying all the fans sooner than you would think. I can honestly say I have witnessed a miracle.”
Flair, or someone who runs his Twitter account, also tweeted that Nature Boy “WILL be back.”
Here’s a look at Flair’s famous “Woo!” catchphrase.
1. Flair Said the Catchphrase Was Inspired by Jerry Lee Lewis’ ‘Great Balls of Fire’
In Flair’s 2004 memoir Ric Flair: To Be The Man, he wrote about how “Wooo!” came to be. He said that while he was driving to the WRAL studios to film commercials, he heard Jerry Lee Lewis’ rock ‘n’ roll classic “Great Balls of Fire.” In the song, Lewis can be heard screaming “Woo!”
“Not long afterward, I gave it a try,” Flair wrote. ”Everywhere I go, the people are shouting ‘Wooo! There goes the big boss man,” I declared (unaware that some fifteen years later, Ray Taylor would be using that name in the World Wrestling Federation).”
Flair also wrote that the Wooo! started out with less than four “o”s. “It would later grow longer and louder,” he wrote.
2. TNA Called Their European Tour in 2011 the ‘Maximum Wooo!’ Tour
Flair retired from WWE in 2008, although he would later appear in several episodes and events. However, he later had an ill-advised tenure with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling from 2010 to 2012. Flair’s “Wooo” was even part of the league’s “Maximum Wooo!” Tour in Europe.
Flair’s relationship with TNA went south over money. In January 2011, he pulled out of the European Tour before it reached the U.K. and Ireland because he wasn’t getting paid before the matches. In May 2012, Flair tried to get his contract terminated, and that led to a court battle between TNA and the WWE over contract tampering. Court documents showed that he was fired by TNA.
As Uproxx noted, Flair once said in an episode of his Ric Flair Show podcast that he regretted joining TNA.
There [are] a couple of things I regret. Number one was ever going to work for TNA. That’s my own fault. It was just a lot of money to wrestle 65 days a year, right? 65 days and make a lot of money. Do you know what I mean? Not WWE money, but pretty good money to do nothing. And I made a lot of friends. I like Kurt Angle very much and I like [James] Storm and [Bobby] Roode. I liked AJ [Styles]. Everybody treated me great. I mean, I don’t have any bad things to say about TNA or the people there at all. After being in the WWE, it’s pretty hard to work any place else because you’re always comparing them no matter how hard you try not to.
3. Audiences Yell ‘Wooo!’ When Wrestlers Perform His Knife-Edged Chop
Back in 2010, WrestleZone reported that Vince McMahon banned the knife-edge chop from WWE matches. He still kept the “straight down” chop though.
However, referee Jimmy Korderas told Right After Wrestling that the move had actually been banned for years. Flair and Shawn Michaels were the only ones allowed to use the movie. Korderas even said there were “no chops!” signs posted at the gorilla position.
4. Flair’s Podcast Was Called ‘Wooooo! Nation’
From May 2015 to April 2016, Flair hosted a podcast called Woooo! Nation. After taking a break, the podcast was renamed The Ric Flair Show and he continued hosting recording new episodes until December 2016.
When the show came back, it was posted on the MLW Radio Network and co-hosted by Conrad Thompson. “Conrad and I look forward to WOOOOO™ Wednesdays on MLW Radio starting this coming week,” Flair said in a statement.
Episodes of the show are still available at Stitcher.com.
5. Flair Had Other Great Catchphrases, Like ‘Limousine Ridin’, Jet Flyin’ Son of a Gun’
Like all wrestlers, Flair had plenty of other catchphrases to chose from. He was also a “limousine ridin’, jet flyin’ son of a gun!”
“I’m not a rock star, but I can dance and sing my fanny off. I just happen to be a kiss-stealing, wheeling, dealing, limousine-riding, jet-flying son-of-a-gun that you knot to be – Wooo! – the World’s Heavyweight Wrestling Champ, customly called Slick Ric Flair,” he recalled bragging in his book.
Another famous catchphrase he had was “To be the man, you gotta beat the man!” In his book, he wrote that he once told a fellow wrestler, “You have to go to bed every night saying to yourself, ‘To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man.’ And, pal, to beat Ric Flair is a whole different world than you know!”