Commentary by Mike Mooneyham
Published Sept. 26, 1999
Last week in this space I offered a suggestion as to how WCW might begin its rebuilding process in the post-Eric Bischoff era. Turner Sports president Harvey Schiller could make no better move than to name Ric Flair as company president. New executive vice president Bill Busch already has implemented a number of measures to trim the company fat, but WCW also needs a leader to point the company in a new creative direction.
No one is more deserving of the position than Flair. He always has been WCW’s “go to” guy, the one individual who cares enough about the company to carry it on his back and stick with it through thick or thin, often to the detriment of his own reputation. It now seems only fair that he officially be asked to take the reins of WCW – not as a president whose hands are tied and who allows his top stars to dictate the direction of the company, but as a president who has complete control over the creative aspects of the organization and can provide strong leadership.
The chore will be far from easy. Pay-per-view buyrates, television ratings, merchandising and house show attendance have steadily declined. Morale has been at an all-time low. The company has been in a state of chaos for far too long. Long-term planning has been almost nonexistent, with the company looking for hotshot angles and quick fixes, most recently evidenced by the turns of Hulk Hogan, Lex Luger and Sting, none of which should have any long-term impact on the ratings.
Unlike Bischoff, Flair realizes that a new leader cannot be influenced by the personal agendas of other wrestlers, nor can the wrestling product be camouflaged by bringing in celebrity athletes, television personalities or rock acts.
Shawn Michaels may have put it best when he recently said on a WWF Web site audio interview:
“Kevin (Nash) went (to WCW) for the money and he makes no bones about that. He doesn’t have it in his heart when he’s there. He had it in his heart here, and that is something the WWF brings out of you because only in the WWF is it anybody’s ball game. Down there, it’s decided when you come in the door where you’re going to be at. That’s one reason I never wanted to go.”
Michaels added that Nash joked about becoming WCW booker and giving himself the title because, as Nash explained, “Hey, when it’s your movie, you get to write the ending.”
Michaels said “you’ve got too many guys sown there, going into their contracts, who are saying `I want creative control.’ Creative control is just a fancy word for saying, `I want to be able to do this when I want to do it.’ You can’t have that in this business. If you’re not willing to listen to somebody else and take suggestions, you give your boss limitations on what he can do for you.”
My second suggestion would be for the company to appoint someone to an expanded human resources position. This would not be a mere title, but a hands-on job that would address the growing needs and concerns of those in the business, including health, morale and family issues. Never before in the wrestling profession has there been such an urgent need for that type of role.
My recommendation is individual who has worked for WCW for the past three years but has been greatly underutilized. Ted DiBiase, long one of the most respected workers in the business, would be an ideal choice for the job. DiBiase’s abilities as a communicator and motivator have been lauded nationally, but more importantly though not as publicized has been his willingness to work with wrestlers on a personal level.