Previously on the Flashback… http://blogofdoom.com/index.php/2016/12/25/wrestling-observer-flashback-07-08-91/
It’s the Observer issue so huge that Dave has to post it to the archives TWICE to make sure!
So yeah, Flair got fired, let’s get back into it!
– The Flair firing actually made the national news, with papers throughout the country picking up the story, with all coverage being sympathetic to Flair. Some local North Carolina reporters are even calling for a fan boycott of WCW events. (Yeah, but how would anyone tell the difference?)
– Dave wants to point out that this is NOT a defense of Jim Herd or WCW in general, but keep in mind that there’s two sides to every story. And granted, everyone on the WCW side looks like idiots for letting Flair get away. But everyone was playing hardball and sometimes shit happens.
– HISTORY TIME!
– Let’s go back to Chicago in March of 1990, when Flair was asked to drop the World title to Lex Luger, but refused to do so. He was wanting a new contract or an outright release to go to the WWF before he’d agree to drop the title, and in fact Herd gave him neither. What they DID agree on was that if both sides could not agree to a contract extension by a certain date (which Dave speculates had recently passed) then either side would have the right to terminate the contract with 30 days notice given. This would give Flair the escape hatch needed to finally do the Hogan match at Wrestlemania, which in fact is what he was aiming for in 1990. Jim Herd had maintained all along that WCW didn’t have an escape clause in the contract, but it turns out that they DID. So the idea was that WCW would terminate Flair’s contract as of August 1 and then attempt to sign him to a drastically reduced three-year deal of $350K/$350K/$250K. And the company would then drastically cut back Flair’s dates in addition to his money. WCW lost millions since taking over from JCP, and Flair’s contract was the first victim of cost-cutting.
– Although, Dave notes, WCW just offered $500,000 a year to Randy Savage to jump ship, which is way more than they’re offering Flair for someone who is less of a guaranteed draw.
– The reason for the abrupt need to lose the belt to Barry Windham is that the company thought Flair would hold up the company for more money before losing the belt to Lex Luger at the Bash, so they wanted to get it off him ASAP. Ironically, Windham is working without a contract at the moment. So in order to avoid a potential major embarrassment (Flair no-showing the Bash PPV) they instead opted for the guaranteed major embarrassment of firing their World champion. And in fact we’ll never know if the Windham change would have come off as planned, because they fired Flair on 7/1 several hours before the show even started.
– Dave is pretty sure that Dusty Rhodes has been working for this ever since getting the book at the beginning of the year. Ironically, the plan to bury and de-emphasize Flair, by sticking him with El Gigante, backfired and actually increased attendance because it was something different than the endless Flair-Sting matches which had burned out the crowds. On the other hand, Flair was definitely losing his star aura, as the Clash match with Eaton came off like a midcard match, with no one really buying Bobby as a serious challenger. Even if the situation is as grossly unfair to Flair as it comes off, it was still hard to justify $750,000 a year for someone who clearly had his star fading. Ironically, getting fired has suddenly freshened him up again and will instantly turn him into the big deal wherever he goes.
– In another twist, the NWA announced that they were still recognizing Flair as World heavyweight champion, even though they don’t promote wrestling shows any more. The legal team for the NWA noted that WCW can recognize whoever THEY want as champion, but have no right to strip Flair of the NWA title. So this means that Flair can legally work Japan and indy shows as NWA champion. And since the belt is the NWA’s belt, he no longer has to return it to WCW. Further, since the NWA laws say that members can’t recognize anyone but the NWA champion as World champion, that means WCW will be expelled once they crown a new WCW World champion at the Bash. Dave also points out that if the WCW and NWA titles have been separate all this time (which they were) then Flair is actually an EIGHT time World champion after the Fujinami deal. (Eight World titles? No one will ever catch THAT record!)
– Dave thinks that if the NWA is willing to play ball, a Hogan v. Flair match, with Flair as the outsider NWA World champion where the WWF doesn’t want him there but is forced into a one-time match, would make the most money. (Like some sort of Invasion?) But if they just bring him in as a WWF guy and put him against Hogan, all interest in the match will die off by the time they get to Wrestlemania.
– Apparently fans aren’t taking this very well, loudly chanting “We Want Flair” at live events, in something that might get embarrassing for them.
– Back to steroids, as the national shaming of our so-called sport continues, with pieces that are pretty devastating to Hulk Hogan in particular. Even worse, Lyle Alzado coming out as dying from steroids is turning into a nightmare for the WWF, with the angle becoming that Alzado actually glorifies their use, even as they kill him. The message coming from his life is that he would have been too small to play football and succeed, and the steroids were a necessary part of the game for him. The same message appears to cover over to the world of wrestling.
– Hulk Hogan, by the way, is expected to appear on the Arsenio Hall Show this week and smooth things over with a public apology. (Can’t see how THAT could go wrong.)
– Phil Mushnick, future thorn in the side of the wrestling world, launched a scathing piece in the New York Times against the WWF where basically called out the media for buying into the Vince McMahon propaganda about the “wrestling resurgence”, which in reality didn’t exist, and offered even more scathing criticism of former WWF hangers-on like Dick Ebersol, who were more than happy to play into the Vince line of bullshit when it made him money, but then ran away from serious coverage of wrestling when the Zahorian story broke.
– The GWF finally debuted on ESPN on 7/8, and it was a big improvement over the USWA product for the time being.
– Jushin Liger beat Pegasus Kid in a mask v. mask match on 7/4, and Kid was unmasked as CHRIS BENOIT. Sorry, spoiler for those who didn’t know.
– Seiji Sakaguchi is trying to broker a deal for Muta to win the WCW World title and defend in Japan at some point this year.
– Rick Rude debuted for All Japan on 7/6, and he’s not doing his WWF deal, and still got over pretty good. Baba told him not to do the “cut the music” bit or use the Rude Awakening as a finisher.
– To Global, where Tug Taylor is being billed as “the Original Tugboat” and Dave is like “Why would you ever want to brag about that?”
– To WCW, where the Great American Bash tour is FINALLY turning crowds around a little bit.
– The WCW tag title tournament is scheduled to begin on 7/8 and run exclusively on the World Championship Wrestling show. Arn Anderson & Larry Zbyszko will be teaming up as the Enforcers as a part of it.
– Jim Ross continues his campaign against WWF cage matches on WCW Pro: “You know, the cage matches sanctioned by the Girl Scouts of America.”
– Paul E. Dangerously has become so valuable as a commentator and producer that they’re dropping the Missy Hyatt angle and Jason Hervey feud completely and will just be using him off-screen instead of flying all over the place.
– Oz didn’t sign the dreaded $300/night contract and is thought to be on the chopping block as a result. (Big Kev would NEVER be so stupid as to sign that deal.)
– In the WWF, Prime Time Wrestling is getting overhauled again, with Sean Mooney and Bobby Heenan taking over as full-time hosts for the next revamp.
– An “outdoor show” in Vancouver with Hogan v. Slaughter only drew 5500 people. (That actually wasn’t an outdoor show, it was the BC Place, a domed stadium. Today more popularly seen as the exterior location of STAR Labs on the Flash! At any rate, it’s a 60,000 seat building, so that’s pathetic)
– And finally, Dave thinks that the Savage-Liz TV angle is some of the best non-wrestling emotion on a TV show he’s ever seen. And they only had to be married for seven years in real life to pull it off.
Next time: Can that scrappy WCW booking team pull off a PPV without Ric Flair? We’ll find out how history will view Great American Bash ‘91!