Ric Flair has been physically attacked by at least three of his four wives.
In a 2005 divorce case with Elizabeth Harrell — wife no. 2 — Flair’s lawyers detailed their accusations. “On more than one occasion,” they wrote, “Plaintiff (Beth) has assaulted the Defendant (Flair), striking him about the head and body in an effort to provoke him into a physical confrontation.”
In 2009, Flair filed a criminal complaint against Tiffany Vandemark — wife no. 3 — whom he accused of “hitting him in the face with a phone charger.”
And in 2010, Flair and his current wife, Jacqueline Beams, returned to their Charlotte, N.C., home after dinner at the Lodge Restaurant. There, for reasons never made explicit, Jacqueline punched him repeatedly in the face. She was arrested.
The story of Ric Flair was once about a college dropout who rose through the ranks of professional wrestling to become a legend. It was about his nickname, “The Nature Boy,” and his signature figure four leglock, both lifted from an older wrestler named Buddy Rogers. It was about his multiple championships, his bleach-blond hair, his fast-talking patter (by his own reckoning, Flair was a “stylin’, profilin’, limousine-riding, jet-flying, kiss-stealing, wheelin’-n’-dealin’ son of a gun!”), and his signature, trademarked cry: “WOOO!”
Today the story is about a man known in the court system as Richard Morgan Fliehr, 62, born in 1949 and adopted by parents who raised him in Minnesota. That’s what he was called this past April, when a judge ejected Fliehr from his Charlotte home because he couldn’t pay his rent. That’s what he was called in May, when he faced an arrest order for an unpaid $35,000 loan. That’s what he’s called on the paychecks from Total Nonstop Action, a second-tier outfit where he’s still compelled to perform despite suffering from alcoholic cardiomyopathy, and where almost everything he earns goes toward old debts: lawyers, ex-wives, the IRS, former business partners, and anyone who made the mistake of lending him money.
Richard Fliehr declined to comment on the legal matters discussed in this story.
The Mecklenburg County courthouse in Charlotte contains thousands of pages documenting Fliehr’s legal adventures. There, it’s possible to unearth the gory specifics of a lifetime: how he passed out after attacking his son Reid in a fit of anger after the boy broke his drunken mother’s arm by pushing her out of an elevator; how he lost a fistfight with his daughter’s boyfriend; how he exposed his genitalia to airline attendants.1 One can also read how Fliehr allegedly flew into steroid-induced rages against his wife and children; how he suffered anxiety attacks and at least one nervous breakdown, how he broke his back in a 1975 plane crash; how he was mistreated by powerful bosses such as Eric Bischoff; how he bought millions of dollars’ worth of jewelry for the women in his life; how he was cited for letting a drunk 20-year-old woman drive his car in North Carolina; how he used the same NWA title belt as collateral for two different loans.
Taken together, the information produces a rough timeline that illustrates Fliehr’s self-destructive impulses. It includes excesses that Hollywood screenwriters wouldn’t have the audacity to invent, and yet it follows its own logic — one bad decision comes after another, each magnifying the damage of the one to follow.
1990: Fliehr’s poor decision-making expressed itself from the beginning of his professional career, but the consequences began to emerge after his 40th birthday.
He had a lifelong enemy in the IRS. Throughout the ’80s, he did not pay his taxes. Finally, the state of North Carolina issued its reckoning: a 1990 notice that he owed more than $62,000 in back taxes from 1982, ’83, and ’88. Fliehr presumably paid without consequence. He wouldn’t always be so fortunate.
In November 1990, Fliehr was caught traveling 95 mph in a 65 mph zone in Beckley, W.Va. He was forced to apply for a restricted license so he could drive from airports to his wrestling events. The superior court granted his request almost a full year later.
The same year, a woman named DeAnn Siden began to stalk Fliehr. Siden spent the next eight years following him from city to city, getting kicked out of wrestling venues, and eventually threatening his life. She claimed the two had an affair.
During the time of the stalking, Fliehr had been married to his second wife, Elizabeth, for seven years. They would have two children, Ashley and Reid. His first marriage to Leslie Goodman lasted from 1971 to 1983 and produced two other children, David and Megan.
1991: In August, Fliehr switched from WCW to the WWF. The NWA filed a lawsuit against him, angry that he was using his NWA title belt from 1990 in televised WWF promotions. Fliehr refused to return the belt, but a judge ruled that he could not use it for any commercial purpose. Additionally, he was barred from referring to himself as the NWA champion.
1992: DeAnn Siden, the stalker, gave birth to a girl named Tiffany. She claimed the child was Fliehr’s.
1996: Macrolease International, a New York company, sued Fliehr for failure to pay $66,000 in gym equipment and fees for his Gold’s Gym in Hickory, N.C. They earned a default judgment, meaning that Fliehr chose not to plead or defend himself in any way. This is the first documented sign of Fliehr’s inability or refusal to repay his debts.
In March, Fliehr was arrested for letting a 20-year-old woman named Colleen McCune drive his car with a blood alcohol content almost twice the legal limit.
1997: A Charlotte painter named John Henighen received a $1,500 judgment for work on the Fliehr home. “We painted their large house inside and out,” he wrote. “Had one day’s work left for one painter and they would not let us complete the work and have not paid a red penny towards all the painting we did, which took 3 weeks or more and she Mrs. Fliehr treated us badly. Rude.”
1998: Fliehr, unhappy with a proposed three-year contract with WCW, missed several appearances and was sued as a result. He countersued soon thereafter, complaining of mistreatment, especially by executive producer Eric Bischoff. While his appearances were being reduced, wrestlers like Hulk Hogan were promoted. Fliehr and his lawyers alleged that Bischoff treated him “in an increasingly hostile, rude, threatening and degrading manner. … [Bischoff’s] language is crude, rude and ‘socially unacceptable’ even in the world of professional wrestling. He has threatened to bankrupt Plaintiff, put Plaintiff out of work, banish him to some foreign country and has referred to him as ‘garbage.'”
They settled, and Fliehr stayed with WCW until 2001.
On January 3, DeAnn Siden phoned Fliehr and threatened to kill him and her own daughter if he didn’t meet with her. She later phoned Elizabeth multiple times, voicing threats such as, “You will be sorry, you bitch!” and “You bitch, you are not going to get away with this!” Over the next month, Fliehr and Elizabeth identified several of her calls coming from the McDonald’s restaurants where she worked.
After these calls and years of confrontations, Fliehr finally had his lawyers pursue criminal warrants for Siden’s arrest.
In response, Siden made the bizarre move to file a domestic violence complaint against Fliehr. In the complaint, she said he had threatened to kidnap her if she didn’t bring her daughter to visit from Houston, and “would tie me up, beat me up, and rearrange my face.” She contacted Fliehr and told him she would drop her suit if he dropped his. Instead, a judge issued an injunction preventing her from having any contact with the family.
That seemed to end the drama, at least as far as Fliehr was concerned. In 2003, Siden was arrested for stalking another wrestler, Kurt Angle, and threatening to kill his wife.
Bad Money: The Early Signs of Trouble
2000: A judgment against Fliehr showed $15,000 in back taxes, interest, and late penalties to the state of North Carolina from 1989.
Branch Banking and Trust (BB&T) received a default judgment in March for the more than $20,000 Fliehr and Elizabeth owed on a loan. Again, Fliehr chose not to make any plea or defense after the suit was filed. Matters would soon become more critical, and he could no longer afford to stay above the legal fray.
2001: Back in 1999, Fliehr and Elizabeth purchased $19,871.21 worth of furniture and financed it through Household Bank, operating in North Carolina. Fliehr left the repayment to his wife, as he did with most financial matters, and the family suffered the consequences. Elizabeth was tricked by the bank into paying more than $26,000 on the principle, and they didn’t sue until it became clear that Household still showed a balance of $7,921.07 plus interest accruing on the account. In September, bank representatives called Fliehr at 1:30 a.m., threatening his wrestling earnings. The bank asked if Fliehr thought he deserved special treatment. In a different phone call, Elizabeth heard a voice in the background say, “Tell him you’re Steve Austin.” Austin was a popular wrestler at the time.
The case was settled out of court. It’s tempting to see this incident as an innocuous case with a relatively small penalty (especially by Fliehr’s standards), but it gives the first hint of Elizabeth’s method of dealing with money.
In November, Fliehr returned to the WWF.
2002: In May, Fliehr and a group of other wrestlers, including Scott Hall (“Razor Ramon”) and Virgil Runnels III (“Dustin Rhodes a.k.a. Goldust”) were on a chartered flight back to the United States after a series of shows in Europe. They began drinking, and the situation quickly deteriorated. Two flight attendants, Taralyn Cappellano and Heidi Doyle, would compile their allegations into a 2004 lawsuit. Chief among the chronicled misdeeds was Fliehr’s sexual aggression. He wore nothing but a jeweled cape, the flight attendants said, and “flashed his nakedness, spinning his penis around.” He separately grabbed each woman’s hand and placed it on his crotch, and then “forcibly detained and restrained” Doyle “from leaving the back of the galley of the airplane while he sexually assaulted her.” Other wrestlers on the flight passed out syringes to the flight attendants with instructions to dispose of them. The specifics of the assault aren’t clear. At other points during the flight, Hall licked Doyle’s face, told her he wanted to “lick her pussy,” and asked Cappellano to “suck his dick.” Runnels advised Cappellano that, “You and me are gonna fuck.”
Fliehr has insisted that there’s no truth to the allegations, but WWE settled with the women out of court.
In May, a man named Troy Wilkinson sued Fliehr for failing to pay him a share of a project involving the sale of “Crown Point,” which likely related to gyms managed by Wilkinson in which Fliehr owned an interest. Fliehr admitted to owing Wilkinson $35,000 plus interest, though Wilkinson was demanding only $22,500 at the time. The two settled out of court.
2004: The federal government issued a lien on Fliehr’s property and rights to property for $874,000 owed in back taxes from 1994, ’95, ’96, ’98, and ’99. A lien is a claim on property used to secure any tax debt. It stops short of a levy, which actually takes the property to pay the debt. This was the first of the really significant sums demanded by the government.
Ward Cagle, a Charlotte resident, sued Fliehr in July for breach of contract. Cagle had loaned Fliehr $40,000 in 2000, and Fliehr had agreed to pay the money back within 70 days. Nearly four years later, it was still unpaid. He did write Cagle a check in April 2001 for $44,000 (the loan plus interest), but it bounced. The men settled out of court, with Fliehr reportedly paying Cagle $10,000 and giving him a motorcycle.2
2005: Peter Wirth, a general contractor and part-owner of Testa & Wirth, put a lien on Fliehr’s home in Charlotte due to $107,000 Fliehr and Elizabeth owed for work done on their home. “I will be able to get a list of people who say the Fliehr’s [sic] do not pay their bills,” Wirth wrote. “I thought of them as true friends and keep doing work for them figuring we might straighten out at the end. … Mrs. Fliehr was well aware of the past due bills and smart enough to know all of the work she asked for would have to be paid for.”
Among the work Wirth’s company performed was the installation of a $9,000 cedar ceiling, a $5,000 circular staircase, and almost $4,000 in marble work. Wirth’s name would come up again before long.
Fliehr was also sued, again, by BB&T for repayment of $35,000 on a $400,000 loan they’d given him in 1998 to start “Flair with Wood,” a business that operated his Gold’s Gym in Hickory, N.C. “It seemed like it would be a home run in Hickory,” Fliehr later said. He went on to speak about his partners in the enterprise, saying, “They just robbed, stole, cheated, and left me holding the debt.” He told lawyers he couldn’t sue them because they lived in Dallas, Texas, and the DA and BB&T wouldn’t press charges. “They didn’t have to,” he said. “They had me.”
Fliehr eventually paid off the $35,000. He sold the Hickory club.
Divorce from Wife No. 2 — Elizabeth
Fliehr left his wife in February 2005 for his “safety, health and wellbeing.”
In the divorce settlement, Elizabeth accused Fliehr of “cruel and barbarous treatment,” which included all of the following: abandoning the family, failing to provide love or affection, slapping her, kicking her, choking her, biting her, pulling her hair, verbal and emotional abuse, demeaning her in public, exposing his genitalia to the parties’ friends, acquaintances, and even complete strangers, excessive use of alcohol and prescription drugs, steroid use and attendant bouts of rage and violence, adultery, exposing the children to his “paramour,” crippling them financially because of his spendthrift ways, starting a fistfight with his son Reid at a wedding reception, taking his son to a strip club and serving him alcohol, opening up wrestling scars in order to appear bloody after he called the police on her, insulting her friends with racial slurs, bragging about the size of his genitalia, calling Beth fat, old, and a slut, accusing her of dressing “sexily” for other men, saying she would be “nothing in this town” without him, demanding sex, and, finally, forcing her to have sex.
She withstood it all, she noted, despite suffering from a cracked lumbar, osteopenia, and high cholesterol, and stood by Fliehr “in the midst of his nervous breakdown and frequent anxiety attacks.” Not to mention the times she played his “loyal wife” during skits, bleached his hair, picked out his wardrobe, and helped in developing the “Nature Boy” persona.
In turn, Fliehr had some accusations of his own. Elizabeth, he said, was emotionally unstable, “as verbally abusive as any person [he’d] ever known,” and physically violent. She spoke in a vile and profane manner, using the word “fuck” as a “noun, adjective, adverb, exclamatory remark and in every other way one can imagine.” She told her kids to “fuck off” and told Fliehr to “get fucked.” She projected her weaknesses and faults on others, was “mentally and physically slovenly,” and lounged around the house. She was mean-spirited, belligerent, and had nothing nice to say about anyone. Further, she refused to engage in a meaningful or intimate relationship, and even encouraged him to look outside the marriage. She would often assault him in an attempt to provoke a fight, and was compulsive in her habit of making things up about Fliehr to humiliate him.
In her original affidavit, Elizabeth gave some insight to the couple’s lifestyle and subsequent debts. She and Fliehr were accustomed to spending $5,500 per month on clothing and more than $2,000 per month on dining out, as well as $750 per month for a home lease that had expired. In Fliehr’s response, he noted that Elizabeth had requested $17,000 per month for child support, despite the fact that both children were grown and out of the house, and $950 per month in gas. These demands were curtailed in later versions of the affidavit.
The Fliehrs acquired more than $750,000 in jewelry throughout the course of their marriage. He owned 20 guns — nine Magnums, four shotguns, four rifles, one 9mm semiautomatic pistol, and two other 9mm handguns.
But the truly lasting legacy of the marriage, especially for Fliehr, would be debt. Before the settlement was finalized, the couple already owed more than a million dollars. Most of those debts stayed with Fliehr and were aggravated when Elizabeth was awarded a lump sum of $140,000 and $15,000 per month in alimony for two years (a total that declined gradually as the years went by). Fliehr would eventually owe her more than $700,000. Combined, they were also liable for $1.15 million in taxes.
Lost somewhere were the two children, particularly Reid, who Fliehr admitted had “significant difficulties in the past two years, some of which are the result of the dysfunctional family dynamic in our home.” He had been arrested during the divorce proceedings (he was bailed out by Fliehr’s lawyer), and Fliehr attributed this at least partly to his upbringing. Reid Fliehr has since been arrested for assault and battery, possession of black tar heroin, and DWI. Ashley Fliehr, too, would clash with the law. In 2008, she was arrested for kicking a police officer after her father got in a fistfight with her boyfriend.
Each child used a Yukon Denali, Jet Skis, a Sundancer boat, and a Land Rover between them.
In April 2005, the IRS began to seize Fliehr’s WWE earnings to pay back taxes.
In November, while stuck in a Thanksgiving weekend traffic jam, Fliehr was charged with assault after a motorist on I-485 in North Carolina said Fliehr grabbed him by the neck and kicked the vehicle’s door. Witnesses to the incident never showed up for court, and the case was dropped.
2006: Gary Wright of the Charlotte Observer reported that Elizabeth’s attempt to have Fliehr held in contempt for not sharing his Carolina Panthers season tickets failed.
A company called Conbraco Industries, which manufactures water valves, filed a suit against Fliehr for repayment of a $300,000 loan. According to a source close to the situation, Conbraco provided Fliehr with the financing to open 10 Gold’s Gyms. When the gyms were sold or closed, Fliehr still owed more than $200,000. He stopped making his regular payments in April 2003.
Conbraco eventually received a favorable judgment; Fliehr owed them $185,000 plus interest from 2003 and $10,000 in attorney’s fees.
Fink’s Jewelers filed an action against Fliehr for $81,000 plus interest. Receipts show that Fliehr bought at least $76,000 of jewelry in a four-month period between November 2004 and February 2005. The case is ongoing.
On May 27, Fliehr married his third wife, Tiffany Vandemark. As his marriage to Elizabeth came to an end, he allegedly cashed in an annuity to buy a $100,000 engagement ring for Tiffany. He also bought her a Louis Vuitton bag and a Rolex watch. The wrestler Triple H was his best man.
2007: Greg Leon, who owns seven restaurants in South Carolina, loaned Fliehr $47,750 in October. According to Leon, Fliehr and Tiffany visited him at the time of the loan to decide on collateral. Fliehr offered to give him the engagement ring off Tiffany’s finger, but a female friend of Leon’s balked at the notion, and Leon reluctantly said no.
“I should have taken the ring,” he said, “but that’s just degrading.” Instead, Fliehr gave him a Rolex watch, a motorcycle, and a boat. When it became clear that the debt wouldn’t be repaid, Leon sold the Rolex. The boat and motorcycle, however, turned out to have no proper title. The boat is at a marina and the motorcycle stays in Leon’s garage. A South Carolina judge awarded Leon a full judgment against Fliehr in early 2008, but the full amount hasn’t been repaid.
When asked what it was like dealing with Fliehr, Leon said he regrets ever having done business in the first place. “I thought he was an honorable man.”
But Fliehr had been a victim, too. Earlier in the year, he and his ex-wife finally began to realize the extent of their financial mismanagement. They filed a complaint against Scott Storick (among others), a man who had been their financial advisor and had gradually milked them in a staggering multiyear process.
The Storick Episodes
In the simple version of the story, alleged in a lawsuit, Storick repeatedly convinced Elizabeth to purchase replacement life insurance policies for herself and Fliehr. He told her that it would be a better deal for both, when the truth (speaking broadly) is that life insurance policies accrue money as they age, and prematurely dumping one before it pays off is a waste of money.
The problems began in 1994. At the time, Fliehr had whole life insurance with Guardian, a low-risk policy that accrued value over time. The beneficiaries were Fliehr’s parents and Elizabeth. Scott Chamberlain, a representative of Principal Life, convinced the Fliehrs to switch their coverage to a universal life policy by showing that the premium payments would be less and the death benefit more. What he didn’t explain was that because universal life policies oftentimes fluctuate more wildly with the market, less cash is guaranteed. Also, the new policy essentially meant that the insurance company could charge higher premiums if they determined over time that Fliehr — already an aging professional wrestler who would later admit to using steroids — was increasingly likely to die.
When Fliehr and Elizabeth figured out what happened, Storick entered the equation. Also a Principal Life agent, he “exhibited great concern” about Chamberlain’s mismanagement and guided the Fliehrs into buying a Principal whole life policy. But he left out the fact that Fliehr’s original Guardian policy, with all its accrued value, had yet to expire and could still be used. Instead, he led them through the process of surrendering that policy in favor of the new one. The new annual premium was more than twice the Guardian rate, and Storick benefited from the commissions. (The policy was put in Elizabeth’s name “to prevent Mr. Fliehr from borrowing against the cash value of the policy.”)
Storick became close to the couple as time went on. He was their main financial advisor and became so trusted that “Mrs. Fliehr confided to him the combination of her home safe.”
That’s when the policy churning began. In 1998, he sold Elizabeth a life insurance policy from Guardian, his new company. When he became a Travelers agent in 1999, he convinced Beth to replace both of Fliehr’s Principal policies with Travelers universal policies. In 2000, he had Beth replace her own policy with a Travelers option.
Every time he made a switch, Storick approached Elizabeth as a friend, promising her that he’d found a better deal. Instead, Fliehr and his wife forfeited any accrued money, exposed themselves to greater risk, and lined the pockets of Storick and his successive companies.
In 2002, when Storick went to General American, it happened again. Two new policies for Fliehr.
By the time it was over and the divorce was settled, every active policy was surrendered to Elizabeth, though none of them were worth anything like their purported payout value. Fliehr was left without life insurance (at a time in his life when he was becoming less and less insurable) and with a net cash loss around $270,000.
But it didn’t end there. If it was so easy for Storick to churn their life insurance policies, why not sell them annuities too? An annuity is a stock market investment, with the idea that at a specified date you’ll receive annual payments. Many investors use them as retirement security, but the key aspect of an annuity is that it acts slowly. There’s rarely an immediate benefit, and taking money out early often comes with associated penalties.
By telling Elizabeth that annuities were good substitutes for a savings account, he convinced her to buy 12 annuities for $1.24 million between 1994 and 2003.
In one particularly ruthless case in 2003, he advised Elizabeth to repay money borrowed from Fliehr’s mother by purchasing two final annuities totaling more than $700,000. He didn’t tell her that annuities are perhaps the worst kind of investment for debt purposes since they take too long to pay out. In the end, almost all of this money was levied by the IRS for back taxes.
In early 2000, Storick told Elizabeth that in order to use $150,000 she’d made from the sale of Fliehr’s gyms as collateral for a different loan, she would have to put the money in a mutual fund. This advice, nearly absurd in its inaccuracy, was swallowed hook, line, and sinker. She listened, and lost $53,000 to the market by 2003.
After the divorce Fliehr received less than $150,000 on all annuities, after an initial investment of $1.24 million.
Storick couldn’t keep the Fliehrs to himself. In 1999, he introduced Fliehr to Peter Wirth, the contractor who would later sue the family for unpaid work. Within a year, Storick and Wirth convinced Fliehr to invest $220,000 in a commercial real estate project. Next came a new project and an investment of $142,000. Then another for $101,000. A series of maneuvers by Wirth followed (including contracting the construction of an office building to his own company, Testa & Wirth, at a discount rate). By the time Fliehr’s divorce went through, he’d made no return on the property investments and had lost almost $150,000.
Fliehr sued both men, eventually settling out of court for $230,000. Of that total, $60,000 went to his lawyers, and the remaining $170,000 went to pay part of the $708,000 he owed Elizabeth in back alimony payments.
After it was all over, Elizabeth Fliehr still considered Scott Storick a close friend.
2008: A Charlotte golf club, The Tournament Players Club of Piper Glen, received a $5,000 judgment against Fliehr for unpaid membership fees.
Blair Academy, a New Jersey private school attended by Reid, won a $33,859 judgment for unpaid tuition.
Chris Porter, a business partner, sued Fliehr for $115,000 on a $140,000 loan.
According to Fliehr’s response to the lawsuit, Porter had convinced Fliehr to start a company called Ric Flair Finance, which was “intended to use the fame popularity of Fliehr in order to build a lead generation company for mortgages.” Porter told Fliehr that they didn’t need a lender or broker license to start the online company, which would generate leads and pass them to lenders for a fee. Fliehr advertised the company on WWE television broadcasts and before a NASCAR race in Delaware. When RFF finally launched, the “business model … turned out to be completely illegal.” North Carolina shut down the company for noncompliance.
C&G Leasing sued Fliehr for $130,000 plus interest owed on a loan to rent gym equipment. In a deposition with C&G lawyers, Fliehr said he stopped making payments because “I couldn’t afford to make them,” and continued: “I’m saying that the crux of the matter is, I will make it good. I just can’t do it today. That’s where I’m at with a couple other things. … Right now, I can’t do it. I’m going to court for a divorce on Tuesday, and things are tight again. The last divorce cost me $5 million. This one is costing me a lot, too. I never really saw it coming.”
William K. Diehl, Fliehr’s former attorney, demanded $180,000 in fees. “In the past, you have promised to pay me, but you have failed to do so,” Diehl wrote in a letter. “I will also want you to bring me up to date on exactly the status of your obligations to Beth. You mentioned last night that she’s excited that you have left Tiffany and she wants you to come home. Great idea!”
The letter also reveals that Fliehr signed a consulting deal with WWE and was planning to start a reality television show.
In August, Fliehr signed a security financing agreement with Conbraco. As collateral for the $185,000 he owed the company, he put up two championship belts, wrestling gear, a Rolex watch given to him by Shawn Michaels engraved “To Be the Man,” framed magazine covers, an autographed poster of Michael Jordan, a poster of Fliehr and Vince McMahon, and any future earnings from the Storick lawsuit (these were never collected by Conbraco since they went to paying Elizabeth’s alimony).
In September, Fliehr got in a fight with the 22-year-old boyfriend of his daughter Ashley at an apartment in Chapel Hill, N.C. When officers responded, they found Fliehr bloodied and bruised, lying on a bed. They described him as “elusive,” and said he “just wanted everything forgotten.” The Associated Press reported that Ashley “became belligerent and kicked an officer.” She was charged with resisting arrest.
The Divorce from Wife No. 3 — Tiffany
Just two years after their wedding vows, Fliehr and his third wife were separated.
In June 2009, Tiffany hired a moving company to retrieve her possessions from Fliehr’s house. She allegedly broke into the home using a shovel. In the process, she destroyed five “Flair Bear” stuffed animals and took 25. Also taken from Fliehr’s house were 12 action figures, two handguns, three robes, a ruby necklace, and Fliehr’s dog. One of the destroyed Flair Bears was found in a “lewd and lascivious” position in Fliehr’s pool.
The ruby necklace was worn by Fliehr’s mother and given to him after her death as an inheritance.
The dog was a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Natch. Fliehr confirmed with his veterinarian that not only did Tiffany take the dog, but also had the “temerity to re-name Defendant’s dog.”
Fliehr, at this point, had debts totaling $1.7 million. He now earned a $32,824 net monthly income from WWE.
Tiffany was $754,948 in debt. “I struggled to maintain our living expenses along with an enormous debt that I had amassed during my previous marriage,” said Fliehr. “I borrowed hundreds of thousands of dollars from WWE, my family, and friends to make ends meet. Tiffany and I also accrued marital liabilities related to our own failed business ventures? Tiffany knows as well as anyone that we have no assets and a lot of debt.”
Fliehr, bereft of a life insurance policy, had been persuaded to buy a new policy through Tiffany’s mother. Tiffany was designated as an owner as well as a beneficiary, with 75 percent of the payouts going to Fliehr’s children. Following their separation, Tiffany canceled the policy, leaving Fliehr, again, without life insurance.
Despite his troubles, Fliehr gave each of his children $1,600 per month for allowance. He spent $14,000 on Christmas gifts in 2008, bought Tiffany $200,000 worth of jewelry and a 2006 Porsche, spent $1,300 per month to dine out, and lived in a home that cost $5,000 per month.
Fliehr paid $7,000 per month as part of a separation agreement, but the payments lasted only until mid-2009. By May 2010, all matters had been settled and the case was dismissed.
2009: Fliehr’s contract with WWE expired in June, and he was hired soon thereafter by TNA. As of February 2011, he made $22,000 per month with the organization (though the figure, a source told me, can fluctuate from month to month).
He filed a June complaint against Tiffany for assault and stalking after she hit him with a cell phone charger while trespassing near his home. In the complaint, one question asks whether the defendant abuses drugs or alcohol. Fliehr circled “alcohol” and wrote “a lot” in the space provided.
On November 11, he married Jacqueline Beems, his fourth wife.
2010: Three months into their marriage, Jacqueline was arrested for punching Fliehr in the face after a night on the town. She spent three hours in jail.
The State of North Carolina issued a certificate of tax liability against Fliehr for $45,000 in back taxes from 2008.
The federal government placed another lien on Fliehr’s property for $627,758 in back taxes from 2005 to 2008.
Fliehr purchased a new Corvette and Camaro, both immediately subject to the IRS lien, leaving a total purchase balance of $110,000.
Ring of Honor, a wrestling promotion company, won a judgment for more than $40,000 against Fliehr for his failure to make contracted appearances.
Fliehr trademarked his familiar cry of “WOOO!” to make a trust for Jacqueline and his children.
2011: Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, Fliehr’s former lawyers, sued him for $88,000 in legal fees. They had helped him in his divorce proceedings against Tiffany and also advised him on other matters, such as how to protect trademarks such as his signature phrase: “To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man.”
Wells and Donna Hall, property owners, received a default judgment against Fliehr for $17,000 in unpaid rent from 2010 and damage to property.
The Morehead Inn won a $4,000 judgment for money owed after a party Fliehr threw for his daughter Ashley.
In April, Fliehr received a judgment of ejectment from his home on Sharon Road in Charlotte. He was $4,542 in arrears on rent. The judge ordered that he “be removed from the premises.” A source close to the situation says that Fliehr has caught up on rent and is still living at the property, which costs $3,683.00 per month.
As of February, TNA had not paid him royalties for six months.
He and Jacqueline still spend four to five thousand dollars per month traveling and dining out.
On May 26, an order for contempt and arrest was issued on Fliehr for failure to pay $35,000 he owed to Highspots, Inc., a wrestling merchandise company. They had previously tried to sell an NWA title belt Fliehr used as collateral to recover the loan, only to discover that it was already being used as collateral for Fliehr’s debt with Conbraco.
Michael Bochicchio, the owner of Highspots, told me that he’d arranged a six-figure deal with Fliehr for promotional appearances and DVD projects, but that it fell through. He became Fliehr’s friend during the process, and still describes him as “the greatest wrestler of all time.” Soon, Fliehr asked to borrow money. The initial sums were small, only a few thousand, and were consistently repaid. Then he began asking for more.
“I felt like, you know what, this is still a good investment for my business,” said Bochicchio. “I didn’t mind doing it.”
Fliehr put up the title belt, which Bochicchio called “the holy grail of wrestling merchandise,” as collateral. When the deal fell through and Fliehr still owed $35,000, Highspots tried to sell the belt. They had an offer of $100,000, but soon discovered the conflict with Conbraco.
“We made our bed with Ric Flair, and it took us two years to get out of it,” Bochicchio said. “He has absolutely no plans for the future. He could never separate Ric Flair from Richard Fliehr.”
Shane Ryan is a staff writer for Grantland. Follow him on Twitter at @TobaccoRdBlues.
Correction: A version of this story previously said Ric Flair was in a plane crash in 1974. It was 1975.
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