The Marty Smith Podcast: WWE Icon Ric Flair Explains the Origin of His Famous ‘Wooo!’ Catchphrase

by Chris Haney

This week, The Marty Smith Podcast welcomed WWE legend Ric Flair to the show to talk about his storied wrestling career. As a lifelong fan of “The Nature Boy,” host Marty Smith is very familiar with Flair’s five-decade long career in the ring. Whether you’re a wrestling fan or not, at some point you’ve likely heard some iteration of Ric Flair’s famous ‘Wooo!’ catchphrase. Yet Marty had never heard the Hall of Fame wrestler talk about how he came up with his simple yet iconic catchphrase.

These days, Flair’s ‘Wooo!’ catchphrase is part of pop culture history. It’s not only referenced in the wrestling world anymore, it’s transcended the sport and taken on a life of its own. The catchphrase is referenced in movies, TV shows, music, and on countless memes and GIFs on social media. You can find it plastered over all kinds of apparel and memorabilia. It’s everywhere. So, Smith made sure to get to the bottom of how it all began.

“Where did ‘Wooo!’ come from? Where did it come from?” Smith simply asked. Short answer: Jerry Lee Lewis.

Back in the 1970s, Flair was on a long road trip performing for wrestling fans all across the nation. During a stretch of one trip, Jerry Lee Lewis’ 1957 hit “Great Balls of Fire” came on the radio. In segments of the song, Lewis would belt out “Wooo!” and Flair loved the energy behind it. He adapted it for his own wrestling character, and as they say, the rest is history.

However, as Flair continued to answer on The Marty Smith Podcast, we also got an extended anecdote about the wrestler moving to the South, and it’s a gem to say the least.

Ric Flair Opens Up About Moving to Charlotte, NC in the 1970s

As a child, Ric Flair was adopted by parents Kathleen and Richard Fliehr and raised in Edina, Minnesota. “The Nature Boy” started his professional career in the Midwest, but it didn’t take him long to take up residency in the South.

While touring the nation with various wrestling promotions, he’d frequently end up on the East Coast. Eventually, he decided to settle down in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1974, and let’s just say the Queen City wasn’t the burgeoning metropolis it is these days.

“It was in the ’70s when all we did is drink beer and listen to country music,” Flair said as he continued to talk about the early days of his famous career.

“Until I had got down South, I had never listened to country music. I mean you’re from Minnesota and you’re moving to Charlotte. When I got there we’d just brown bag ’em,” Flair said as everyone laughed. “And you know it Marty, Charlotte was just strip clubs, massage parlors, there was no banks. There was nothing going on there except brown bags and motorcycle gangs. I swear to god. In 1974, it was not [great around there].”

“And then The Nature Boy showed up,” the host of The Marty Smith Podcast added.

“Yea, it was me and [NASCAR legend] Richard Petty. Wrestling and racing,” Flair said. “I still keep in touch with Richard. But that’s what it was [back then in Charlotte]. I kinda grew with the city, you know? I just love Charlotte, I loved being there.”

Make sure to check out our full interview with Ric Flair on The Marty Smith Podcast in the video above, or listen to his whole conversation on Spotify, Apple, or wherever else you listen to your favorite podcasts.