I don't think he tried to be or wanted to be Ric Flair. Did he emulate and do Flair-ish things? Yes. But that doesn't mean he wanted to be him. In 2003 he sucked, no doubt about it. But he was injured and simply too big for his body to be able to move around comfortably. Rock and Austin were gone, the influx of WCW talent did nothing to quell the dip and he just flat out had a bad year. In fact, the only good thing he did that year, apart from the awesome match with Shawn right at the end, is this:
Gets me every time lol.