30 for 30: Nature Boy – A Heartbreaking Look at a Swaggering Genius

30 for 30: Nature Boy Plot Summary:

ESPN’s documentary series focuses on professional wrestler “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. The documentary explores Flair’s successes in the ring, as well as his devastating personal life.

I’ve watched professional wrestling for over 30 years. I’ve seen countless Ric Flair matches. I’ve watched the WWE produced documentary. I’ve read the articles on him, and his legendary exploits. I know the tragedies he went through during his life — the plane crash, the loss of his son. I’ve even interviewed his daughter, current WWE Superstar, Charlotte Flair. So yeah, I know a lot about Ric Flair.

And yet, I sat there mouth open, blown away, and I’ll admit it — at times with a few tears in my eyes — as I watched ESPN’s 30 for 30: Nature Boy.

The creators of this 30 for 30 took this story, one wrestling fans know intimately, and retold it in a brilliant, multi-faceted, and emotional manner. Their use of interviews — from Flair’s family to a rare not-in-character Undertaker to a blunt Triple H – combined with insight from Flair himself, gives us a new perspective on the 16-time champ.

And if you think this doc is just for wrestling fans, you’d be sorely mistaken. The film comes off, at times as a celebration of a man’s work, a cautionary tale, and an American tragedy. Flair’s bravado comes off as both intoxicating, and foolhardy; his tears both heartbreaking, and infuriating. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never watched a match before in your life, you will adore this documentary.

It’s remarkable that this film was able to convincingly portray Flair as both hero, and villain in a matter of a seconds. And it’s not unfair in its portrayal, and the main reason is, they get the truth, or a facsimile of it, straight from Flair’s mouth. Flair is the film’s greatest asset – much like his wrestling persona (which he became consumed by) – he is a captivating, and charismatic individual that you easily both love, and hate. He’s charming, but greatly flawed, and he presents both of those aspects of his personality without hesitation.

In short — 30 for 30: Nature Boy — may be one of the best wrestling documentaries ever created, and it’s only fitting it be about one of the greatest wrestlers of all-time.

Rating: 10 out of 10

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site’s podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites

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