As Canoe recounted, on October 4, 1975, Flair and several other wrestlers were flying to a show in a small Cessna plane.
Apparently, the pilot dumped fuel because the plane was too heavy, what with all the bulky wrestlers chilling inside, and the old bird ran out of gas and crashed just before reaching its destination.
In fact, he basically stole it from another wrestler: the original Nature Boy, Buddy Rogers.
He didn't just use Rogers' nickname, either — like Flair, Rogers was a flamboyant, braggadocious, arrogant ladies' man with bleach-blonde hair, a mastery of a figure-four leglock, and a habit of strutting more than he walked.
He started hardcore rehabilitation and was back in the ring by February 1976.
Years later, Ric Flair "borrowed" the gimmick wholesale, and in 1979, Rogers reappeared to challenge the young upstart.Had he, he would likely have been gone decades ago.As it stood, Flair's back was broken, and doctors told him he would never wrestle again.The pilot died, a wrestler named Johnny Valentine was paralyzed for life and had to retire, and Flair broke his back in three separate areas.Amazingly, that was the preferable fate, as he was apparently originally supposed to sit in Valentine's seat.When he returned to the States, he had the belt and everyone pretended the Venano thing never happened.