By Mike Mooneyham

May 21, 2006

Prosecutors last Monday dropped misdemeanor charges against 16-time world wrestling champ Ric Flair in a case that had attracted considerable publicity in Flair’s hometown of Charlotte.

Charges were dismissed against Flair, who had been accused of assaulting another driver on Interstate 485 near Charlotte last year, because witnesses did not show up for court on Monday.

Flair 57, was accused last November of getting out of his vehicle, grabbing another driver by his neck and then kicking the door of the 28-year-old man’s Toyota 4Runner. The longtime Charlotte resident was charged with injury to personal property as well as simple assault and battery.

Flair denied the allegations and said the truth would come out in the end.

“I wouldn’t in Charlotte, North Carolina – or anywhere else – grab anybody because I’m me. What am I going to gain by grabbing somebody?” he said after the incident. “It just tells me how big a star I am in Charlotte and how starved they are for excitement.”

Ric Flair

Ric Flair

Flair, one of the city’s best-known celebrities, was the target late last year of media bashing over the alleged “road rage” incident and details of a messy divorce that were made public in the Charlotte Observer. Flair and his wife of 22 years, Beth, separated in February 2005.

Longtime Charlotte sports talk host Mark Packman was one of many who took the media to task.

“Ric Flair has really been mistreated by the local media and that’s a shame. He’s one of the nicest guys on the planet and he has been a positive influence and treasure to the Charlotte community. And I for one will be rooting for him.”

Packman said that in addition to the road incident, the Observer and other media outlets took liberty to include other Flair issues from the past in their coverage, including the divorce that was featured on the front page.

“The Observer has produced some quality work on important issues, but this was pathetic and a desperate act to sensationalize the news,” said Packman.

Packman noted that the divorce papers from Flair’s marriage were issued in February 2005, but not publicized until December.

“That’s timely news? Front-page headline news in the Observer? Perhaps the National Enquirer has invaded the Observer’s editors. I hate that anybody has to go through a divorce, but when it is played out in public it can get ugly and uncomfortable. It seems to me that the Observer and other news outlets are enjoying piling on Nature Boy. If this matchup was taking place in the wrestling ring, the media would have been disqualified.”

Flair, whose divorce was finalized earlier this month, will wed for the third time May 27 in the Grand Caymans to Tiffany VanDemark.

Flair, who recently signed a one-year contract extension with WWE, is scheduled to return from his honeymoon in Costa Rica in time for the June 12 Raw show at State College, Pa.

– WWE reportedly has secured a weekly timeslot for its new ECW show on the Sci-Fi Channel. ECW is scheduled to debut in mid- or late June.

The Sci-Fi Network is part of the NBC Universal family.

– WWE reported that Wrestlemania 22 drew an early estimate of 922,000 buys worldwide. That mark would put it on track to surpass one million buys worldwide for the third straight year.

WWE also predicted that the release of the Wrestlemania DVD on May 23 likely will become the best-selling WWE DVD ever. The DVD will be a three-disc set featuring the complete WM22 card, plus Saturday Night’s Main Event, the complete Hall of Fame banquet and more extras.

– Wrestler Steve Doll reportedly is gravely ill and on life support after his kidneys shut down last week at Baptist Hospital in Nashville.

Doll, 42, has suffered through a number of ailments since undergoing major back surgery last year and was moved into the intensive care unit in late April.

Doll, working as Steven Dunn, teamed with Timothy Well as a mid-card team known as Well Dunn in the WWF during the early ’90s. He was a headliner in the Memphis and Pacific Northwest territories during the late ’80s when he teamed with Scott Peterson and Rex King as The Southern Rockers.

Doll formed a tag team with Reno Riggins as The Tennessee Volunteers in Music City Wrestling in 2000, and the two later opened a wrestling school based out of Nashville.

– “She spawned Madonna, socialized with Bob Hope and had liaisons with NFL players, major celebrities, the No. 1 man on the FBI’s Most Wanted List and at least three members of the WWE Hall of Fame.”

That was Dave Meltzer’s spicy lead on a wonderfully written obituary for roller derby icon Ann Calvello, who passed away in March at the age of 76, leaving her mark on more than just that psuedo-sport, a pro wrestling on wheels that once thrived on television and on a major-league basis.

Meltzer donated the bulk of a recent issue of his Wrestling Observer newsletter to Calvello, and it’s well worth the read. For more information or rates, contact Wrestling Observer at P.O. Box 1228, Campbell, Calif. 95009-1228, or e-mail [email protected].

– Former WWE Diva Stacy Keibler was hospitalized last week after suffering what was described by entertainment TV show “Access Hollywood” as “a minor seizure” at the ABC Upfront presentation – the fall schedule presentation to advertisers – in New York City.

Keibler was sent to the hospital Tuesday, where doctors ran tests and released her in “good health,” according to a statement from her publicist.

Doctors told Keibler she is allowed to do whatever activities she wants to and is not ill, her publicist told Access. Keibler, still under a WWE deal until July, springboarded into the mainstream during her stint as a finalist on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” She is scheduled to host the Preakness Stakes – the second leg in the Triple Crown horse race – in her hometown of Baltimore over the weekend.

– Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s feature film “Southland Tales” is premiering at the Cannes Film Festival in France. The film also stars Sarah Michelle-Gellar and Kevin Smith.

– TNA X-Division champion Samoa Joe suffered torn knee ligaments at TNA tapings last week. Joe suffered the injury when his knee locked while delivering a kick to David Young during a match taped for TNA Xplosion.

– The Wrestle Reunion show scheduled for Memorial Day weekend in Spartanburg has been rescheduled for Oct. 7 reportedly due to poor advance ticket sales.

– George’s Sports Bar, 1300 Savannah Highway, will air the Judgment Day pay-per-view at 8 p.m. tonight. Cover charge is $7.