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January 2, 2014

Flair, Rhodes have lessons for wrestling offspring

Famed pro wrestler Ric Flair has been visiting Tampa Bay a lot lately, to see a woman.

WWE fans familiar with Flair’s roguish reputation might figure he’s dating an exotic dancer here.

Truth is, he’s stepping out of character with this relationship by playing the role of father to a daughter who happens to be following in his footsteps.

The Charlotte, N.C., resident known as “The Nature Boy” resides in Indian Rocks Beach when visiting his 27-year-old daughter Ashley who is training to be the next star of World Wrestling Entertainment at WWE’s Performance Center in Orlando.

Flair comes to Tampa Bay to be near her. She is his daughter, he explained, and he misses her.

“I tell everyone in the world that I have always been the best father I could be and that I was the worst husband,” Flair said with a laugh rooted in his many divorces.

“Wooo!” he exclaims, his trademark shout.

Is the 64-year-old Flair concerned that Ashley has chosen such a potentially hazardous career path?

Well, he worries she carries baggage.

“There will be added pressure on her,” he said, “because she is my daughter.”

There’s no telling whether Ashley sees the relationship as a plus or minus. WWE prohibits trainees from doing interviews.

But Cody Rhodes has some opinions on the subject.

The legend of his father, the good guy Dusty Rhodes, was born in the wrestling halls of Tampa in the 1970s, and by the time he retired, had spread across the world.

When he broke into the WWE, the fans didn’t want to see “Cody Rhodes,” they wanted to see “Dusty Rhodes Junior.”

Nostalgic, they were looking to satisfy their longing for the days when his father was king.

“A lot of people preferred me to pander to those fans,” Cody Rhodes said. “They wanted me to dye my hair blonde like my dad, do his moves like the jab and the elbow, and talk like him.”

But Rhodes said he was warned by wrestling veterans that copying his father would make him an instant star at the cost of career success.

Nostalgia has a shelf life, they told him, and “Dusty Junior” would grow stale.

So he kept his hair black. He stayed away from his father’s signature moves. He played the villain.

It made for a longer journey, Rhodes acknowledges. In the beginning, many fans were upset he didn’t channel his famous father. He had to work to win them over. And he succeeded, wrestling today as one of the WWE’s top stars.

Still, for every Cody Rhodes there are a handful of second-generation wrestlers who failed because they couldn’t escape their fathers’ shadows, he said...More?

source: tbo.com


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