Rory Karpf, director of the upcoming ESPN 30 for 30 “Nature Boy” was the guest on this week’s Ross Report. Karpf talked about his background as a wrestling fan, what led him to Ric Flair and what wrestler ESPN initially wanted to feature:
“I grew up in Philadelphia in the 1980’s, a huge wrestling fan. I mean, enormous. I kind of just fell in love with it, watching on Saturday mornings. Ric wrestled for the NWA and they came to a place called the Civic Center in North Philadelphia. It wasn’t the nicest section of town, so my dad took me once when I was eight years old and I think he vowed never to take me ever again. So I’d become friends with kids in school who liked wrestling and whose parents would take us. I would kind of seek out my friendships based on wrestling.
“I just loved the whole aspect of this alternate reality with these larger-than-life characters. I stayed a wrestling fan throughout college when the Attitude Era was going on. I’m a huge admirer of (Jim Ross), of course. What happened with Ric was he actually appeared in a (30 For 30) film I did called I Hate Christian Laettner. He appeared in one interview bite talking about what makes a good villain. Believe it or not, the response on Twitter, it started trending that Ric Flair was in the film and ESPN noticed that. For the longest time, ESPN just wanted to do a film on Andre the Giant. That was the only wrestler they were interested in. But then the notice that Ric got kind of piqued their interest.
“They asked me what I knew about Ric. What I knew was that he wasn’t really playing a character, that he was considered by many to be one of the greatest of all time. I was really interested in exploring what makes the greatest wrestler of all time. Also, in a sport or athletic competition, whatever you want to call wrestling, when you’re not sure what reality is, what’s real and what’s not real, this is a guy that was pretty genuine, and I found that very interesting as well.
“(Bill Simmons) was fascinated with Andre the Giant. I think he’s doing that film now for HBO. (Andre) is definitely compelling, for sure. I just didn’t feel for me that he was as multi-dimensional as Ric.
“What’s great about Ric is he’s more relevant today than he’s ever been. What other wrestler can you say that about, that is actually more popular now? I mean, they’re wearing his cleats at NFL games, they’re still doing his chant. He was ahead of his time by, like, 30 years. All the NFL players, the NBA players, all the athletes love Ric. They’re not quoting Hulk Hogan, they’re not quoting the Ultimate Warrior or even Randy Savage, but these guys are going around quoting Ric today.”
To hear the interview in its entirety, check out the Ross Report on PodcastOne.
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