WWE opened Monday's edition of Raw in Houston with a tribute to President George H.W. Bush, who passed away on Nov. 30. The funeral services for Bush wrapped up on Thursday.
Following the conclusion of the services, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie shared a story about Bush's love of wrestling and meeting Ric Flair in the early '90s.
"I had just started as a young staffer on the (Senate) Foreign Relations Committee. I was working for the ranking member at the time, Sen. Jesse Helms (of North Carolina), and I received a call from the White House. For a 20-something-year-old, that was quite an event," Wilkie recalled. "The operator got on, told me to please hold for the first lady’s office. Mrs. Bush’s secretary got on, and she was whispering. She said, ‘Mr. Wilkie, we have something to request.’ I listened. She said, ‘Does Sen. Helms know a great American personality by the name of Ric Flair?’"
Wilkie continued, "I told her yes ma’am, Sen. Helms actually started televised wrestling in North Carolina in the 1950s. I asked why. She said, ‘We don’t talk about this very much, but the President and Mrs. Bush watch Mr. Flair every Saturday night. They’re going to Charlotte, and they’d like to know if Mr. Flair could accompany them on Air Force One.’ I said I’d get back to her.
"I called the Charlotte office of the National Wrestling Alliance and got his promoter, appropriately named Davy Crockett," Wilkie explained. "I said I have a special request. ... They said, ‘He’ll be there.’ So, there he was, at Andrews Air Force Base, platinum hair, three-piece suit, gold watch, and the first hug Ric gets is from Barbara Bush when she gets out of the limousine. We fly down to Charlotte, we get in the reception line (at the airport), and Barry Goldwater is there, too. Goldwater gets up and asks the president, ‘Where is Barbara?’ And the president tells him, ‘Barry, after 48 years of marriage, I just lost her to someone called Nature Boy.’"
Ric Flair took to Twitter following Bush's death to give his condolences.
My Prayers And Thoughts Are With The Bush Family. I’ve Known The Bush Family Since 1992. I Cannot Explain How Honored I Was To Ride On The Spirit Of America And Spend Time Alone With The President. My Condolences To The Family. pic.twitter.com/mLn8QpQnmm— Ric Flair (@RicFlairNatrBoy) December 2, 2018