Ric Flair

Ric Flair

An article by Mike Mooneyham

Published May 31, 1998

Ric Flair, the target of a $2 million WCW lawsuit, could become the hottest free agent in the wrestling business.

Flair recently filed a countersuit in his hometown of Charlotte. Flair’s lawyers are asking for a hearing that could result in Flair’s WCW contract being nullified and giving Flair the option to join the WWF.

WCW president Eric Bischoff, who last month announced to a locker room full of wrestlers that he was going to make an example out of Flair and sue him into bankruptcy, reportedly wants Flair to return to WCW, but the 13-time world champion is hesitant to rejoin the company where he spent the past several months off television and basically buried by the promotion. Bischoff, apparently feeling the crunch from an increasingly heated and bitter ratings war with Vince McMahon and the WWF, realizes that Flair is one of the top ratings-grabbers in the business, and any defection by Flair to the enemy camp could prompt a major momentum shift.

[ad#MikeMooneyham-336×280]Many insiders feel that the downplaying of Flair over the past year has been part of a concerted effort by Hulk Hogan as he tries to build more power for himself as well as his political allies in WCW, and to damage the power base of such popular performers as Flair and Sting (Steve Borden). Those same insiders raise the issue of equity. Scott Hall, who has a million-dollar deal with WCW, is taking his third hiatus from the company within a year to take care of personal problems and attend drug counseling sessions. His one televised appearance in between recent leaves of absence was in the main event of the Slamboree pay-per-view.

Flair, on the other hand, has been working on a less lucrative contract despite being a bigger ratings draw and a much more dependable performer. There has been some speculation in recent weeks that Hall was pushing to get fired and released from his WCW contract. Hall has 42 months left on his million-dollar deal with WCW, but sources say the WWF is willing to pay Hall similar money. Hall, who got into a fight with Larry Zbyszko at a lounge following a recent Nitro, underwent a divorce this year. Sources say Hall is seeing the niece of a high-ranking Turner executive, and WCW officials are reluctant to make any major waves.