Ric Flair in WWF. Four words, in that very order, never thought conceivable. Not before 1991, anyway. Before the age of the Internet, unless you were amongst the early few subscribers of the dirtsheets, spoilers and backstage happenings were not commonly known to the everyday fan. So imagine the surprise of watching WWF Prime Time Wrestling on September 9, 1991, when out waltzes Ric Flair alongside Bobby Heenan cradling his WCW World Heavyweight Championship belt like a baby. It was one of the most shocking moments in wrestling history!
What led to Ric Flair, an NWA/WCW guy through and through, crossing enemy lines?
Ric Flair opens up about why he shockingly abandoned WCW for arch-rival WWF in 1991, taking the championship belt with him.
“Jim Herd is the total reason I left.
He had a lot to do with the destruction and bankruptcy of the company – 10 years before it did bankrupt. He will go down as the biggest idiot of all time.
It was nothing I did – you know you have a right to protect yourself.
It came about over $25,000…
There was a time in my life when I thought I was invincible.
I knew I was the best at what I did – I never thought of myself better than other people in any other way, apart from the wrestling where I knew I was the best wrestler alive.
I went from that character to a guy who was forced to cut his hair, a guy who Jim Herd wanted to wear an earring. He wanted to make me into a gladiator! He was taking an established commodity – who’d been the flagship of the company – and changing it stupidly.
When the NWA was in existence it was controlled by a board of directors. Whoever the champion was, they had to put up a $25,000 bond. It was a statement to say that the champion wouldn’t leave with the belt.
I put up a bond for 25 grand and when I asked for my money back, Herd said, ‘Fuck you and the belt!’
Herd was so arrogant that he just said fuck the belt – those were his ways of talking. He thought he was a tough guy.
I said, ‘It’s not fuck me, it’s fuck you – watch where the belt is next Monday…’
I called Vince and I said, ‘I’ll come [to the WWE] as the champion if you want me to be…’
I sent the belt to WWE and Bobby Heenan took it out on TV the next week.
“He said, ‘Fuck you and the belt!’ He will go down as the biggest idiot of all time.”
[Flair versus Hogan at Wrestlemania] was the original game plan and I’ve heard a number of reasons why it didn’t happen. I don’t know for sure but there were political issues and things going on with the company. But it was nothing I was too upset about.
As soon as WCW realized the damage, they filed a lawsuit to have me send back the belt.
All over 25 grand! Here you have a company spending millions of pounds on nothing, and they couldn’t give me my 25 grand.
I was really hurt by all that happened, especially after I’d been there so long.
I said to Herd, ‘I’ll give you three months [to return my deposit]’, and guess what? Ninety days later he was gone!
Ultimately, when I came back, they gave me the 25 grand plus interest…
I enjoyed my time at WWE. I just enjoyed the working environment. I was amongst good friends.
After a year and a half, WWE were looking to downscale me, and I had a great relationship with Vince. I told him that WCW had offered me a great deal [to come back]. He told me that I had done a great job, had been a great businessman and that I should do what was best for me.
So I went back straight back into the turmoil and it got worse instead of better.
What I didn’t realize when I went back was the animosity my leaving had caused, because it hurt the company.
All over a lousy 25 grand…”
Watch Bobby Heenan introduce “The Real World Champion” Ric Flair to WWF on Prime Time Wrestling, Sept. 9, 1991:
Fixing to read more Ric Flair stories? Be sure to check out these other great stories on our site:
- RIC FLAIR: Revealed! – His Greatest Stories
- WAR OF WORDS! – RIC FLAIR and BRET HART Each Explain Why the Other Is: “Not the Legend He’s Cracked up to Be!”
- RIC FLAIR on Internet ‘Smarks’
Quote above contributed by Matt Pender and shared here with thanks to our friends over at ‘Wrestling’s Glory Days’ Facebook page.