Wrestling Observer Flashback–07.08.91

Previously on the Flashback… http://blogofdoom.com/index.php/2016/12/24/wrestling-observer-flashback-07-01-91/

HO HO HO, MERRY CHRISTMAS!  And it’s time for the best Christmas present that I could ever present to you:  One of the most historic issues of the Observer EVER. 

When we last left off, Ric Flair and Jim Herd were in negotiations for a contract extension, and it wasn’t going very well.  Herd gave Flair 30 days notice as a negotiating tactic, and well…

– In the top story of the week, and in fact one of the top stories in wrestling history, Ric Flair was fired from WCW effective immediately when negotiations fell through.  Flair’s contract was scheduled to be terminated as of 08/01, and Flair was scheduled to drop the WCW World title to Barry Windham on 7/1 in Macon, GA.  Flair wasn’t actually expected to show up and do the job in that match, but if he did, then Windham would defend the title against Lex Luger at the Bash instead of Flair.  Since Flair was on vacation and no-showed the title change, they officially stripped him of the title and announced that it would be Luger v. Windham for the vacant title at the Bash in Baltimore.  This is actually the first time the title has not changed hands in the ring.

– The original plan was for Flair to drop the title to Luger in Baltimore.  WCW had been offering $350,000 per year, which would literally cut his salary in half.  Flair wasn’t willing to take such a huge pay cut, and even more wasn’t willing to get paid less than Lex Luger.  And since Luger was the highest-paid guy left, they had to make him champion to justify the pay.  Flair’s role has been to put people over for the past two years, and it really killed his marketability, and now instead of getting rewarded at contract time he’s being punished with a cut-rate contract.  WCW lost upwards of $6 million in 1990 and this is the end result.

– Last week, during negotiations, WCW went to Turner Home Entertainment pushing the idea of changing the PPV main event to Luger v. Windham.  This seemed to be the end goal all along, since they were so severely underpushing the main event and focusing instead on guys like Johnny B Badd and PN News in the advertising.  The belief is that Flair’s role after dropping the title was going to be putting over Dustin Rhodes all summer as revenge for getting Dusty Rhodes fired in 1988. 

– Also, WCW will need to get a new belt made since Flair owns the current one and has little reason to return it.  (This was not true, as it turns out.) 

– Flair is no doubt headed to the WWF, although Dave has no idea what Vince would do with him.  He could also go to Japan, but that would mean changing his style and there’s no guarantees.  Had Flair jumped to the WWF last year, he would have been assured of a WM slot against Hogan in Los Angeles, but now with Sid and Undertaker on the way up there may not be a spot for him.  Dave notes that this won’t be a crippling blow for WCW, because the crippling blows have been coming for the past year and are more like a series of shots to the joints in a skeleton filled with stress fractures. 

– Does “King Hoss Flair” have a good ring to it?

– Back to the Zahorian trial, as everyone from Hulk Hogan all the way up to Vince McMahon was revealed as purchasing drugs from the good doctor.  Zahorian was convicted on 12 counts of selling controlled substances, but he managed to get off on two counts.  Zahorian will be sentenced in two months, and he’s facing 44 years in prison.  His $3.5 million condo has been seized since the jury believed he used it for doing drug deals. He announced that he’ll appeal the decision. 

– Zahorian testified at the end of the trial that he sold steroids to Hogan, and that Hogan had a serious roid problem from 1984 until 1988, when Zahorian miraculously helped him kick his roid habit once and for all.  He also claimed that he considered all his buyers to be patients, even though he never checked any of them and did all transactions by mail.  He claimed that all steroids he gave out were merely to maintain their strength, stamina and muscularity.  However, the smoking gun ended up being Billy Graham, who testified as a SECRET WITNESS on the last day of the trial and made claims about damage to his hip and ankle and liver from the drugs.  And Graham also said he purchased huge quantities in 1988, a year’s worth at a time, which directly contradicts Zahorian’s claim of only selling minimal doses. 

– Roddy Piper gave an interview to the Oregonian, where he claimed that Bruno was exaggerating about the “hundreds of needles” in the bathroom, and that he took the steroids to feed his family and because it enhanced his ability. 

– Dave talks a bit about the realities of muscle tears in steroid users, like Scott Steiner’s bicep tear caused by having too much mass on the arm. 

– Dave thinks that this is only the tip of iceberg, and more problems will come from wrestlers being forced to use drugs to keep up the Joneses. 

– As a part of the long-awaited debut of the Global Wrestling Federation, the Dallas Sportatorium has been renamed the GLOBAL DOME and is now in an unidentified city.  The tournament for the first GWF TV champion ended with the Patriot beating Buddy Landel in the finals.  Reports are that the show went smoothly and was better than expected, although there were no big names.  They’ll be running additional tournaments for a tag title, light heavyweight title and North American title upcoming.

– Famous Dallas villain Duke Keomuka (father of Pat Tanaka) passed away at age 70 on 6/30 after heart surgery that was thought to be successful initially. 

– Eddie Gilbert has quit the USWA yet again, this time because he felt like Eric Embry was “burying him”.  In fact, Gilbert and Bill Dundee have never gotten along, and Embry booked them together in a program like a big meanie.  Eddie is trying to get back into WCW , but there’s still hurt feelings over how badly the relationship ended last time. 

– In addition to rookie sensation Rob Zakowski, also working in the Memphis area is Ed Farhat’s nephew Terry, who goes by the name or Samu or Sabu.  Zakowski also worked for Farhat in Detroit as Rob The Polish Prince.

– In the biggest news out of the Global tapings, Pedicino has announced that he’s going to install AIR CONDITIONING in the Sportatorium.  That alone should be worth a huge attendance boost.

– To the WWF, where there is HUGE heat on the Mountie character in Canada.  Basically the RCMP is on the warpath against the character, trying to get the WWF to drop the gimmick completely.  The WWF capitulated to a certain degree by airing disclaimers that Mountie has no actual association with the police and has never trained with them.  The RCMP’s statement was that they spent years talking to children in schools about the police, and here’s one jerk on TV zapping people with a cattle prod and making them look like assholes.  (I’m paraphrasing there, of course.) 

– Shane Douglas is back from teaching for the summer and working dates on the road, and Dino Bravo is also back to replace Hercules (who failed a drug test and is out for six weeks as a result.) 

– Mr. Perfect is missing tons of dates due to his back injury.  They announced on the 7/1 MSG show that he’ll be defending the IC title against Bret Hart at Summerslam. 

– At a recent Prime Time taping, a fan wore an NBC t-shirt and they made him put a WWF shirt over top of it.  So that tells you where THAT relationship stands.

– As noted, the TV taping for WCW on 7/1 in Macon was supposed to feature a surprise title change with Windham beating Flair, but since Flair didn’t show up they just announced he was stripped of the title instead. 

– The official story on Dan Spivey is that he was asked to put over Tom Zenk & Rick Steiner in a tag match with Stan Hansen and refused because they’re the current tag champs in Japan and Baba would freak.  So to punish him, they told him to put over PN News every night, and next thing you know, he’s fired.

– Word is going around that anyone who won’t sign the $300 per night deal is going to be removed from TV immediately. 

– All the syndicated shows are done through the end of July, and have references to the Bash finish and to Ric Flair in them, so the WCW production monkeys have to go through and edit them ALL out.

– And finally, the original plan for Halloween Havoc was Luger defending the WCW World title against Mr. Hughes.  That may change now. 

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL.  Back with more after Boxing Day.

  • RawisStoned

    Wait…You mean real Mounties don’t actually use cattle prods? Also I would say that Jacques Rougeau represented the Royal Mounted Canadian Police very well, what with being the greatest intercontinental champion of all time and such.

    • Boomska316 .

      I’ve always thought of it as a major overreaction on their part. As if no law enforcement agency has ever parodied or portrayed in a negative manner in fiction before.

      • I’d imagine Cobb County didn’t like the Big Bossman when he was a heel.

        • The Badger King

          But was his portrayal so out of line from reality that they felt the need to complain? Have we never seen corrupt Southern law enforcement officials? At that time, the only portrayal of the RCMP was Dudley Do-Right.

          • Charlie Owens

            That would’ve been an interesting move: bring the Mountie in as a super noble face.

      • Ludwig Bore-ya

        I mean really. The DOJ didn’t get all bent out of shape by how the FBI were portrayed in ECW.

  • hansmoleman

    But then in retrospect, was Flair going to WWF really that big a story, in the end?

    I mean, to us, hardcore fans, yes, indeed it was.

    But wasn’t Flair considered past his prime in WCW anyway? I mean, they were trying to push him down the card, as he wasn’t really drawing well? Not that anyone else was or would have at that time, of course.

    and in WWF he didn’t really impact business all that much? The ‘dream match’ with Hogan wasn’t that good for business?

    was Herd really in the wrong for letting Flair go? sure, there were the ‘we want Flair’ chants, but perhaps he saved some money by letting him go?

    • It was the biggest story to me and all my friends. I had quit watching WCW and barely watched the WWF around that time. Flair got me to stick around for at least a year.

      Also.. My very first PPV purchase was Royal Rumble 1992. Definitely worth the money.

    • johntcole

      In Flair’s book he used the Dan Marino comparison in regards to him allegedly not drawing well.

      • Manjiimortal

        Flair’s drawing power had been going down steadily since 1987, and in his WWF run he also didn’t draw shit. Flair at the top of his stardom was a regional star in the Carolinas, and he also had some drawing power in Georgia, but all that started going down the drain by mid 1987.

        • johntcole

          So you don’t agree that it all shouldn’t have been put on him to draw?

          • Manjiimortal

            I simply say that Flair should have dropped the belt in 1988 and phase him out of the main-event. It was JCP/WCW’s fault that they allowed Flair to have his way and remain in the main-event. If things had gone well in 1991 Flair should have been playing a gate-keeper role and remained outside the main-event because he wasn’t drawing.

          • Boomska316 .

            The Apter mags were all over Flair for being a weak champion. Of course at least some of that had to do with Dusty’s booking. I actually think him going to the WWF for a year or so freshened him up somewhat.

          • Manjiimortal

            Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that, when Flair returned to WCW in 1993 he wasn’t doing much for them until the Starrcade PPV did a better rating than the 92 edition (0.55 vs 0.50) with a larger gate too. But that was about it too.

          • Robert Hawkins

            And I would argue that had more to do with a legit world title main event after Vader’s long reign than Flair himself per se. Starrcade 92 was the very definition of a throwaway card. Who really cared about Battlebowl or the King of Cable. Flair was a decent ratings draw in the Nitro era though, particularly in 98 but as a main eventer, you are right. Luger should have gotten the run in Bash 88

          • Manjiimortal

            David vs Goliath is a story that always works, and one WCW very rarely went with.

          • Jeremy Rinehart

            I kind of agree with you, with the exception of Flair vs. Funk in 1989 did WCW’s best business until the nWo

          • Manjiimortal

            Actually, the Flair/Luger rematches after the Bash 88 show did the best business WCW would have for years after that, plus the Bash 88 show did a better number attendance wise (13.000 vs 12.500), a greater gate ($208.000 vs $188.000) and a considerably bigger buyrate (2.2 vs 1.5). Same thing for the Clash show that followed each PPV.

        • Jordan

          He drew well again later on, especially circa 1998 and early 1999. He was WCW’s top draw until they turned him at Uncensored.

          • Manjiimortal

            Might be, don’t have all the numbers but I do know SuperBrawl 99 did WCW’s last great buyrate with a main-event of Hogan/Flair.

          • nwa88

            Its hard to determine who drew the buyrates as Hogan was generally much more successful than Flair on PPV in WCW, but also more successful with him as well.

            Flair did draw great ratings though for his Nitro segments for the most part from 1997 to 1999.

    • Jeremy Rinehart

      I don’t blame Herd for getting rid of Flair. He had to cut payroll and Ric wasn’t justifying his contract

      • Mr. P

        I’m honestly beginning to think the bigger mistake was putting the belt on Flair in January. It wasn’t like the relationship went sour very quickly. Herd had been trying to move on from Flair a year before he actually did. Summer 1991 would have gone by smoother if Flair wasn’t champion at the time.

        • Jeremy Rinehart

          Like someone else mentioned above, build to Sting vs. Flair, title vs. career in a cage at Starrcade ’90. Sting wins and Flair heads to the WWF.

        • Manjiimortal

          It’s the old same mistake every fricking wrestling promoter in the history of ever makes. They try a new thing, but if the new thing doesn’t work as they expected they go back to the old thing, which by that time, 99 out of 100 times, is already past its expiration date.

          Flair had once been a draw, he wasn’t anymore, but because he had been one years ago he was regarded as being safe.

      • zbinks

        It could’ve been the right decision, but Jim Herd’s execution was boneheaded, at best. It’s also clear that it’s a decision he was forced to make, but not a decision he was actually prepared to make.

  • In the end, Lex Luger never defended his title against Mr. Hughes so WCW put up the next best black man…Ron Simmons!

    • Next in line: Pez Whatley

  • Comdukakis

    that mail order thing on Zahorian contradicts Bret Hart’s book where he details lining up at the tv tapings with guys taking home multiple bags (and even having to ship due to the large quantities) of drugs.

    • I would believe both. Give them the quick fix at the taping, and then give them a large supply by mail for in-between.

      • Comdukakis

        I’m sure it was both, I just read scott’s recap as implying that Zahorian testified that he only did mail order.

        • He did testify exactly that. Obviously he was lying.

          • Ludwig Bore-ya

            It made sense to only admit to the things they could prove.

  • Boomska316 .

    “Dave talks a bit about the realities of muscle tears in steroid users, like Scott Steiner’s bicep tear caused by having too much mass on the arm.” You mean like quad tears?

  • johntcole

    “Also, WCW will need to get a new belt made since Flair owns the current one and has little reason to return it. (This was not true, as it turns out.)”

    Huh? Was Flair lying about the $25,000 thing?

    • He had a $25000 deposit on the belt, but that didn’t actually give him ownership of the belt. The NWA ways owned it.

      • johntcole

        So they could still legally take it back, why didn’t they?

        • Boomska316 .

          Since the NWA was technically a separate organization from WCW they still considered him their champion. At least I’m guessing until it started showing up on WWF TV. I’m pretty sure the NWA was basically a paper company at that point though. I think it was WCW itself that put pressure on Vince to return the belt.

          • johntcole

            Oh yeah, forgot about the clusterfuck that was the WCW/NWA titles.

        • chrisH

          I would think WCW owned the belt. Turner bought out Crockett, who paid for the belt to be made in 1986.

        • HartKiller_09

          Well he was still in possession of it so if he doesn’t agree to send it back, what can they do? I think they either threatened or began legal action and that’s when they stopped using it.

        • Alan

          I believe “plus interest” was a sticking point.

  • “Rob The Polish Prince”

    Not something I could see audiences chanting along with. Glad he changed that.

    • Rolling Perogie > Rolling Thunder

    • Alan

      He lucked out. A lot of polish princes end up in the South African military for some reason.

  • johntcole

    Eddie Gilbert could have been a great heel for WCW in 91 through 92.

    • Boomska316 .

      He could’ve been a lot of things if he’d manage to stay in one place for any length of time.

  • “At a recent Prime Time taping, a fan wore an NBC t-shirt and they made
    him put a WWF shirt over top of it. So that tells you where THAT
    relationship stands.”

    But, but, I thought Vince loved peacocks…

  • zahidf

    Is flair’s first wwe stint now seen to be a massive flop? I would have thought the rumble and savage feud alone would make it worthwhile

    Didnt the savage/flair or piper/flair programmes do well at the box office as well

    • Savage/Flair was a complete bomb. Don’t know with Flair/Piper. I figured they were only working when it wasn’t Flair/Hogan booked, and we all know how that went (good the first go around, poorly (as in “about the usual numbers they did before Flair) for the rematches).

      • nwa88

        Honestly not really even sure where that impression comes from that the rematches did poorly while the initial run was great. I’m thinking it’s all based on the two NY shows?

        New York:
        11/30: 15,000
        12/29: 11,000

        The 12/29 show was only a month after the 11/30 and was a matinee, so I don’t know why anybody would expect that to go up.

        However when they ran it twice in Philadelphia, they did much better for the rematch on 1/11/92 than 11/30/1991 (12,842 vs 10,318). Actually their 1992 matches drew better than the 1991 bouts, although there were obviously way more 1991 matches.

    • Comdukakis

      I think some people do unfairly but they aren’t being reasonable. His house show program with Hogan raised the numbers. WWE was struggling before Flair came in. And yeah he and Savage didn’t set the world on fire but nor did anyone else after them. The business was just dying at that point and I wouldn’t blame either guy for that. The core audience was growing into high school and college (I graduated in 91) and wrestling just starts to take a backseat to being a teen or a young adult and WWF was also seen as “kid or family” programming at a time when teens were searching for something edgier (such as Grunge and alternative music taking off).

      • JasonMK

        The Flair/Savage house shows were mainly after WM8, while Savage was champion. Nobody was interested in Flair chasing Savage. The heat was Savage trying to take the title from Ric, which he already did. Afterwards, they tried to make the heat about Savage defending Liz’s honor, but she wasn’t involved at that point.

      • nwa88

        Yeah, Hogan/Flair was about the last really profitable touring feud they ran until 1998.

        I think the core audience thing is underappreciated. The WWF tried to go all in with the kids in 1990, but they didn’t hit their mark with that audience and on top of it they lost the older audience.

    • y2j420

      I loved his running from 1991 – 1993…Flair being in the WWF in 1992, along with Savage, Hart, Michaels, and so on made that year the best year in terms of matches IMO…I absolutely LOVE 1992 WWF…

    • Mr. P

      When we say flop, we mean financially. I don’t think many here will argue that it was a flop from an entertainment standpoint. Savage/Flair is one of my favourite feuds ever. But it didn’t draw.

  • Jeremy Rinehart

    Luger vs. Mr. Hughes…. good grief, that sounds putrid

  • Jeremy Rinehart

    Honestly, Flair leaving was best for both parties.

  • “(This was not true, as it turns out.)”

    It wasn’t? But Flair brought the belt with him to WWE. Or did they remake it to sell the point that he never lost?

    • TomaxAndXamot

      Flair eventually returned the belt for his deposit + interest.

    • HartKiller_09

      He put a security deposit down on it when he won it. They hadn’t paid it back yet so he took the belt with him.

  • Rainbow Sherbet

    Here’s a Great American Bash 91 commercial, featuring bottom text scroll revealing that Ric Flair is no longer the champion and will not be at the event. Also, the Observer is absolutely right that WCW was pushing the ever-loving shit out of PN News at this time, as he “graces” us with what is called the “Bash Rap”. Needless to say, PN News’ rapping makes the Insane Clown Posse sound like Kendrick Lamar.

    • If PN had any talent he could’ve freestyled another rap in a second. Snoop Dogg could’ve

    • Charlie Owens

      You have just insulted both ICP and Lamar. APOLOGIZE!

    • johntcole

      P.N. News is still wrestling, damn.

      • Charlie Owens

        Good lord why? The only good thing about him was his finish.

    • RawisStoned

      How that rap didn’t go triple platinum is beyond me.

    • JRH

      Not as good as the Wrestle War 90 rap:

    • nwa88

      I remember one afternoon I found a channel that ran these promos back to back to back, a 30 second version, a minute long version and a 3 minute version. I was seriously pumped haha.

  • y2j420

    The announcement of Flair being stripped of the title:

    https://youtu.be/lug4JnlsJdE

    • Mrs.EmilyBettJAWAS

      I don’t know who the jabroni talking is, but that sounded like a pop to me when Flair being stripped was announced.

      • nwa88

        It’s Gary Michael Capetta and why wouldn’t they pop big? Flair’s a big heel.

        • Mrs.EmilyBettJAWAS

          I’m well awate of Capetski. I meant the jabroni seemingly doing commentary over the video. I think he needs to see an otolaryngologist.

          • nwa88

            haha

      • y2j420

        I think the cheering was simply the fact that Ric Flair’s name was said and they thought there was a chance he was going to show at that event…

        • JAWAS ♥ SMOAK

          Maybe. I just know that 13-year-old me was thrilled by the whole turn of events, since it likely meant Luger waa getting the belt. And now that I know Flair wasn’t drawing on top anymore, I think Herd made the right call. 1991 WCW Steamboat and Rude >Flair.

      • TooDarkMark

        I was at the show. It was a huge loud boo, with half the audience leaving, and then chants of we want Flair through most of the matches. It was the worst show as far as fan reaction I’ve ever been too.

    • Bettis

      Good find. That’s from the Meadowlands show on 7/3. I’ve got that fancam. Pretty good stuff but it shows how crummy house shows look versus TV tapings.

  • Matt Johnson

    One thing I’ve always wondered is how can the WWF make you put on a different shirt? As long as it’s not vulgar or anything, how can they make a fan wear something different? Is it something in the disclaimer when you buy a ticket? Even so, I don’t think that buying a ticket to an event should make you forfeit the right to wear something as long as it’s not vulgar. That’d be like a sports team making all the fans wear stuff supporting them no matter who they root for.

    • They can’t really MAKE them do it, but the fans get free t-shirts, and if they dont want to wear them they could always be moved to a different section off camera.

      • Matt Johnson

        I’d imagine that the seats would have to be of equal or better value than what they paid for their original seats.

    • Diamond Jim Lowe

      Establishments have the right to enforce dress codes, so long as they don’t discriminate against protected rights (i.e. they can’t tell a Sikh to remove their turban).

      • BODConscience

        It’s a public sporting event. It’s not a Hollywood night club.

        • Diamond Jim Lowe

          It’s live scripted television show. The better comparison would be to the Price Is Right or Oprah.

        • Telthorst

          Well, it’s a private sporting event.

          • ADF

            The WWF doesn’t actually own the building, though, so why would they have the authority to enforce a dress code? Do they have agreements worked out with the buildings about this sort of thing?

  • Jeremy Rinehart

    With Flair gone, WCW was able to bring in Rick Rude, build the Dangerous Alliance, build up Vader and rebuild Sting. I’m not sure any of that happens if Flair stays. On the other hand, Flair had new life breathed into him by feuding with Piper, being with Heenan and Perfect, the she was mine before yours feud and by winning the WWF Title in the Royal Rumble

    • Justin Stark

      Yep, I for one didn’t miss Flair at all during this period.

  • Rainbow Sherbet

    Vince McMahon: “So Canada wants to start a fight over the Mountie character? I’ll show them! But how? Hey, what’s Pat Patterson’s dream journal doing over here…”

    (Entry from Pat Patterson’s dream journal): After losing the jailbird match to the Big Bossman, the Mountie ends up sharing a cell with someone who just loves the way leather feels on the skin…”

    McMahon: “Patterson, you’re a genius!”

  • HartKiller_09

    I have two thoughts on Flair as time’s gone on.

    1) How long was Flair supposed to be on top before it was acceptable to take him out of the main event? Because “Poor mistreated Ric” was a thing pretty much into 1998.

    2) As selfless as he always claimed to be, I highly doubt a man who spends money the way he does didn’t care about how much of it he made.

    • Mr. P

      1999 actually, but at that point it made sense. Flair was over HUGE when he came back from his suspension/firing in the fall of 1998, so it made sense to capitalize on it. He was the most popular guy in the company for a little while there. The great buyrate they had at Super Brawl shows there was interest, and that was cut nearly half by Uncensored the next month. He wasn’t a long term solution, but they left a lot money on the table by how they handled that whole Flair/Bischoff&Hogan feud.

      But in 1991, heck in 1988, it was time to start moving on from him being the focus of the promotion. I can understand 1988 because he had been carrying the promotion for years. It is easy to see in retrospect that it was the start of the decline, but that can be difficult to tell in the moment. By the 90s it was obvious.

  • Hammertime

    Jim herd gets a lot of deserved flak for his running of wcw but he was right in trying phase flair out. In an ideal world Sting would of still Beaten flair at the Gab90 for the title and then beat flair in a retirement/loser leaves wcw match at starcade 90 instead of this black scorpion nonsense happening.

    Then flair could of been released from his contract after starcade and still had his WWF run while sting could of defended his world title against windham and koloff before dropping it to Luger at GAB91.

    Then during the fall of 91 Luger will be defending the world title against a returning steamboat and sting will be feuding with a returning rick rude for the US title.

    • thejob111

      I kind of have a bit more respect for Herd going through this time period. He wasn’t as awful as everyone made him out to be. He has atrocious ideas (but good grief how many bad ideas have we seen from wrestling promoters anyway?) but some of his business ideas are good.

      • Hammertime

        Using flair’s money to bring in Steamboat and Rude was a good business and creative move.

    • johntcole

      Pretty sure Flair wasn’t responsible for the Black Scorpion fiasco.

      • Hammertime

        Was not suggesting he was, just saying a build towards a rematch between flair and sting at starcade with a loser leaves town stipulation would of been far better than all the black scorpion stuff.

    • Comdukakis

      Steamboat? Really? I love the guy’s workrate but if anyone can be accused of being a flop on top it’s that guy

  • johntcole

    I’m still wondering what Flair in the WWF circa 1988 would have looked like.

    • Manjiimortal

      Out of place?
      I think he could have worked as an houseshow opponent against Savage for a number of months, but once that was done, and the Implosion of the Megapowers got going, he’d fall to the midcard much like Ted Dibiase and all those guys that did an houseshow run against the champion at the time.

    • Hammertime

      WWF in 1988 was still very cartoony and aimed at kids who would never of heard of the NWA so Flair might well of been booked like Harley Race was during that period when he was working for Vince as a veteran with a gimmick of some sort. Vince would not have acknowledged his past or any connection with Anderson and Blanchard.

      • Justin Stark

        Too bad really because that was an invasion angle just waiting to happen.

      • That doesnt make sense. 1991 WWF was waaaay more cartoonish than 1988 WWF and he let Flair be Flair. Vince is many things, but he’s not stupid. Who knows who he would have feuded with, but he wouldnt mess with Flair’s gimmick.

        • johntcole

          In theory he feuds with Hogan and headlines Mania 5. But that would have cancelled out the Megapowers Explode angle.

      • justicegris

        I think Vince allowing the Brainbusters to come in essentially as themselves means Flair would probably be okay. He wasn’t one to discard a character that already worked.

        • ADF

          Plus, I get the impression that McMahon and Flair have great chemistry and rapport behind the cameras. McMahon’s business mindset was always very face-oriented (a tradition that predated his time with his own company), so I’m not sure he would’ve known how to book Ric Flair as a top heel (especially since he already had his own version of Flair’s character in the Million Dollar Man), but I don’t think he would’ve gone all-out in an effort to destroy him or anything.

  • Adam Moore

    Honestly, it’s not like Herd was really unreasonable in what he was trying to do. He botched it horribly, sure, but not wanting to give Flair $750K when business was so bad is perfectly understandable.

    • Manjiimortal

      And when it was clear that he had little to no more drawing power left. It makes sense from both a business and financial sense, but those are areas pro wrestling has always been rather ignorant of…

      • Comdukakis

        you can keep saying that, doesn’t mean it’s true.

        • Manjiimortal

          How isn’t it true? WCW’s business had been on a downwards spiral since 1987, and Flair was the big star for almost all of that time period.

          • Comdukakis

            Causation and correlation. Two different things

          • nwa88

            Yeah there are just too many factors and we really don’t have enough information to do more than speculate on this stuff. I mean, there are hundreds of house shows where we just never got attendance or gate numbers.

    • Hammertime

      It was the same with the road warriors the year before where they were barely drawing and yet they were still picking up 500k a year each. Wcw got steamboat and rude in for the money they were paying flair while the Steiners were more than adaquete replacements for LOD at 300k a year each.

      • Comdukakis

        and yet Steamboat and Rude didn’t move the needle one bit either.

        • I’d blame Watts for that.

    • DNice

      I think Flair was mostly right on this one. His drawing power diminished a lot because he had been a good company guy for the past few years and tried to help make other guys. He should have been rewarded for trying to help the business and instead he got punished for it.

      • Justin Stark

        I don’t think either were 100% right or wrong. I think Herd was right in not wanting to give Flair that much, but wrong in also going so low. I think Flair also not dropping the title looked bad.

        • nwa88

          I agree — in the end, I think both Flair and Herd came out looking bad and both probably hurt their own bottom lines.

      • Jeremy Rinehart

        Back in 1987, Flair should have realized that Dusty’s booking was killing his drawing power and the importance of the World title. Flair, like Hogan and Savage in the WWF, should have demanded to beat people cleanly.

        • Matt Johnson

          He was pissed over Dusty’s booking. JJ Dillon talked about it in his book. He said that Flair, Tully and Arn were getting sick of Dusty making them look like idiots every night at house shows without them ever getting anything over on him. JJ was in a tough position b/c he was their manager but he was also Dusty’s booking assistant. They would go to him to see if he would convince Dusty to give them more offense while JJ was also trying to placate Dusty. He ended up going to Crockett who sort of smoothed everything over.

          • Jeremy Rinehart

            Ric not putting his foot down much earlier was a major problem, but, hindsight is 20/20

    • Kenola

      I don’t blame Herd for having the position that he did, but to just fire your top guy outright like that?

      • Herd has to pay Flair to come in and do the job at that ppv. Luger beating Windham did nothing for Luger.

    • RG-Dallas

      Herd doesn’t sound like that much of a “loser” in retrospect.

  • Reading these recaps have easily become a highlight of my day. I remember seeing wrestling for the first time during The Twin Towers-MegaPowers Main Event match when I was 5 years old, but it was in the summer of 1990 during the Earthquake-Hogan feud that I became a regular viewer. I stumbled back onto The Blog a few weeks ago when I saw a link while scrolling through Twitter. These have been a blast to read and a trip down memory lane.

  • nwa88

    To be fair on the Flair pay cut, it was going to be 700k for year one, 350k for year two, and 250k for the final year of his contract for 1993/1994 with less dates along the way. Of course Flair wanted to work more than that, but the idea was definitely to move Flair out of the main event scene.

    • Sexy Miz

      That’s not at all fair to Flair.

    • Hammertime

      What did flair make when he joined the WWF? I seem to remember that when he returned to wcw in 1993 he signed a one year contract for around 350k a year so I am guessing he didn’t make anywhere near 700k in the WWF.

      • mfm420

        at least according to flair’s book, while vince never put it in writing, he told vince what he was making in wcw ($700k a year) and claims the entire time he was there, he never made less than that (though he never said the exact figure). and also he owed 200k to the irs at the time, vince advanced him the money without flair asking for the advance (i’m assuming he just docked flair’s pay, also assuming he was fine with it because he could screw over wcw by using their belt)

        • Comdukakis

          take anything Flair says with a grain of salt. Flair was in his WWE worship period when that book was written

          • mfm420

            very true there (flair’s one of those guys, like hogan, while i like both, pretty much every time they tell a story, you just take it like that, a story, until/unless you can find proof)

          • johntcole

            Well Vince has always been super cool to him.

          • RG-Dallas

            Which ended the minute he quit the first time after Vince wanted him to stay retired for good. In fact, even currently on the shoot podcast scene – Hogan and Flair are buddies again. Wrestlers are two faced and bipolar, it does seem like.

        • Hammertime

          Not convinced he would of made that as the WWF were not paying guaranteed contracts back then and business was well down in 92/93 and flair would not have asked to be released from his contract to go back to wcw on a 50 percent pay cut.

          • mfm420

            true, flair did have a tendency to stretch the truth (but, going back to wcw if it really was a paycut would have meant being closer to home, working fewer days, and at the time, owned a bunch of gyms and stuff that supposedly were making him good money, at least according to him. grain of salt there, i know)

            also, by late 92-early 93, wwf really had nothing for flair to do (hell, with backlund back, they even had the “old, former world champ who can work and put over whomever” guy under a deal)

          • nwa88

            Not sure about the WWF, but Flair’s WCW salary for 1996, 1997, and 1998 was $514k, $488k, and 780k respectively.

          • HartKiller_09

            I think Vince told him he wanted to go with the younger guys and Flair decided he was better off going back to WCW. I don’t know if money had anything to do with it other than knowing he’d be making less of it in a reduced role.

  • Michael Weyer

    I know folks side with Flair a lot on this but seriously, he had to know how damaging this would be for the company jumping with the belt and all. Shows how Flair could be just as bad holding to the spotlight as Hogan or HHH.

    • Supermark25

      Would you cut your vacation short for a job that you were bbeing fired from for not taking a pay cut?

      • HartKiller_09

        Doesn’t mean he had to jump with the belt.

        • He gave the office $25K with the understanding that if he ever did jump with the belt, he’d forfeit the money.

          Seems to me that when the office decided not to give him the money, he had every right to do what he did. Hell, it incentivized it.

          • HartKiller_09

            It seems like the sort of dick-move that would be called a dick-move if it were anyone but Flair.

          • Like if Dusty had jumped in 1986 and done something similar?

          • JasonMK

            Here’s the deal with Flair leaving with the title: that belt was created to be awarded to the champion recognized by the NWA. Then WCW, a subset of the NWA, and the promotion that employed Flair, decided earlier in 1991 to recognize that same NWA champion as the WCW champion as well. When Jim Herd stripped Flair of the title, that was the WCW title, not the NWA title. Flair was still the NWA champion and the belt was the NWA world championship belt and the NWA didn’t seem to have any problem with Flair still having the belt until Vince started playing his games with it.
            My point is you can’t compare this to other title holders because WCW.

          • Phrederic

            I dunno.

            I basically always side with workers over management.

          • ADF

            Especially since Flair would have known that by bringing the belt with him Vince and the WWF were going to mock it. Does it really look good to have Roddy Piper spit on it? Did Flair have such a vendetta against Jim Herd that he didn’t care about Vince using the opportunity to have one of his guys literally spit on his legacy?

        • RG-Dallas

          Flair jumping with the belt should have been business. Here is the undefeated WCW/NWA Champion and he is challenging us. It should have been the nWo before the nWo. Honestly for a WWF storyline, Flair as the RWC wasn’t that bad. He actually fitted in better than some would have expected.

          • johntcole

            But again, litigation would have killed it either way.

  • JasonMK

    Thank you Scott for a wonderful Christmas gift. It was a true Christmas in July… of 1991.

  • Grampa Mongolian Stomper X

    Was the Mountie deal less about “you’re making us look bad” and more about “you’re using our copyrights and not giving us a cut”?

    • Diamond Jim Lowe

      That was certainly a factor.

    • RG-Dallas

      You can’t expect a police force to come out and say that immediately. It kind of stereotypes them into what Jacques was protraying them as. It did lead to the debut of black-haired Dino Bravo challenging him in Canada for a couple of years before getting killed.

      • Thank you for mentioning black haired Dino Bravo.

    • TheOriginalDonald

      Probably-Benton Fraser, Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He first cam to Chicago on the trail of his father’s killer…….

  • Justin Henry

    “HE’S MAKING US LOOK LIKE ASSHOLES, MAN” – John C. Reilly, RCMP Spokesman

  • Flair would have been better off in WWF if he didnt come in with the belt. Seriously. WWF had been portraying WCW/NWA as bush league for years and then they expected fans – the marks, like me as a 10 year old – to instantly believe Flair was on Hogan’s level. I didnt buy it at the time.

    Would have been much better served to just have Heenan bring him into the WWF as the NEXT World Champion, do the Piper feud to heat him up & then win the Rumble. The belt stuff hurt Flair.

    • riraho

      Hmm well my group of friends was 100% the opposite. We watched NWA and Flair was a BIG deal and the NWA title on WWF tv was a really BIG deal. I’d still consider it in like the top 5 shocking/memorable things I’ve seen watching wrestling.

  • Phrederic

    Fuck the police.

  • Starscreamlive

    Installing air conditioning in the Sportatorium never happened did it?

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