Published Sept. 13, 1998
Ric Flair will make his long-awaited return to pro wrestling Monday night at the new Bi-Lo Center in Greenville in one of the most anticipated Nitros ever. Flair, who was suspended and subsequently sued by WCW for not appearing on a Thunder show on April 9, could make an appearance as early as tonight during WCW’s Fall Brawl pay-per-view in Greensboro, N.C.
The background behind Flair’s absence from the profession has been well documented in this space. His return offers no concessions to WCW. Neither his nor WCW’s lawsuits have been resolved, and he will work for WCW on a day-to-day basis, without a contract.
Can Eric Bischoff be trusted to accord Ric Flair with the respect and dignity becoming of a 13-time world champion whose popularity has transcended the boundaries of professional wrestling? Time will tell.
[ad#MikeMooneyham-336×280]The Ric Flair-WCW issue came up last weekend during an interview with a Baltimore radio station. Bischoff initially said he couldn’t comment on Flair due to litigation. Alluding to a recent column, however, Bischoff did offer the statement that “Mike Mooneyham is a mark for Ric Flair, and he doesn’t know the whole story.”
OK, Eric, please share. Tell me and thousands of other wrestling fans what we should know about Ric Flair. As for being a “mark” for Ric Flair, if “mark” equates with “friend,” I’ll gladly plead guilty to the charge.
Bischoff goes on to say:
“Ric Flair took time off that he never asked for, that he wasn’t scheduled for, and put WCW in a bind. I had to make a decision. I had to draw the line, and say, `OK, am I going to let Ric Flair get away with this so the 130 people that I have under contract realize that any time they don’t want to show up for a show, they can just basically stick it to WCW and no-show, or do I draw a line and make people realize there’s policies, there’s procedures, there’s agreements, and this is a business and we have to act professionally and responsibly. And I drew the line on Ric Flair because Ric Flair, in my opinion and according to his agreement and the agreement that we had with his agent, acted unprofessionally, unresponsibly, and I had to draw the line. It’s unfortunate because Ric Flair is a big-name talent and he’s a guy that could have continued to be a contributor, but unfortunately we’re not seeing eye-to-eye with regard to that subject.”
This all invites some pertinent questions. What, Eric, is your agreement with the agents of Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, et al? As far as making an example of Flair to discourage the rest of your crew not to “stick it to WCW and no-show,” why don’t you start at the top and work your way down? Ric Flair was a minor player in your scheme of things when you trashed him in front of your crew.
Perhaps Eric Bischoff has not lived down South long enough to fully appreciate Ric Flair’s significance to this industry and what he has meant to fans in our neck of the woods.
I’ll be glad to share a few things about Ric Flair the man that possibly Eric Bischoff doesn’t know. He’s a man who feels so passionately about the business that he’d leave it before disgracing it or watching his reputation tarnished. I’ve witnessed firsthand the love he has for his family – his mom and dad, his wife, his children. I’ve seen up close the sincere and heartfelt affection he has for his best friend in wrestling, Arn Anderson, when Arn went down with a career-ending injury, and the real tears he shed when Arn made his retirement speech. I’ve personally seen Ric Flair take time out of his schedule to autograph pictures for hospital-bound children, to place a call to someone whose spirit needed a lift, to go completely out of his way to brighten someone’s day.
Yes, Eric, I’m a “mark” for that and I always will be. I have a lot of friends in this business, and I pick my friends on what they are, not who they are. I first met Ric Flair 22 years ago and knew he had something special back then. My hunch was right. There’s a reason behind Ric Flair’s popularity that neither you nor Hulk Hogan apparently comprehend.
Thirty-five years of experience in the business has given me a fairly broad perspective from which to judge character, the pulse of the business and the feelings that fans have for the profession and its performers. I can say without reservation that, in those 35 years, no single performer has captured the collective heart of wrestling like the Nature Boy.