The Controversial Move That Changed Wrestling, Ric Flair’s Arrival In The WWF

Ric Flair’s Unexpected Appearance In WWF

Photo Credit: Pro Wrestling Stories.

Ric Flair in the WWF. Words never thought conceivable. Not before 1991, anyway.

Before the Internet age, 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 those watching WWF Prime Time Wrestling on September 9th, 1991, when out waltzes Bobby Heenan cradling Ric Flair’s NWA 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?

Why Ric Flair Left WCW for the WWF in 1991

Photo Credit: WWE.

In an interview with mediaman.com.au (H/T: ‘Wrestling’s Glory Days’ Facebook page), Ric Flair opened up about why he left WCW for the then WWF with his WCW World Title in tow.

Jim Herd’s Role

Photo Credit: WWE.

"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…

Mismanagement And Decisions That Led To WCW’s Downfall

Photo Credit: WWE.

"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.

Bond For The NWA Title

Photo Credit: WWE.

"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, ‘**** you and the belt!’

Herd’s Dismissive Attitude Towards The Championship Belt

Photo Credit: WWE.

"Herd was so arrogant that he just said **** the belt – those were his ways of talking. He thought he was a tough guy.

"I said, ‘It’s not **** me, it’s **** you – watch where the belt is next Monday…’

The Call To Vince McMahon

Photo Credit: WWE.

"I called Vince, and I said, ‘I’ll come [to the WWE] as the champion if you want me to be…’

Bobby Heenan’s TV Appearance

Photo Credit: WWE.

"I sent the belt to WWE, and Bobby Heenan took it out on TV the next week.

WrestleMania Match Plans

Photo Credit: WWE.

"[Ric Flair versus Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania] was the original game plan, and I’ve heard several reasons why it didn’t happen.

“I don’t know for sure, but political issues and things were happening with the company. But it was nothing I was too upset about.

Lawsuit And Reclaiming The Belt

Photo Credit: WWE.

"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…

Return To WWE And Departure Again

Photo Credit: WWE.

"I enjoyed my time at WWE. I just enjoyed the working environment. I was amongst good friends.

"After a year and a half, WWE was 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.

Legacy Of A Decision

Photo Credit: WWE.

"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…"

Roddy Piper and Ric Flair: A Less Familiar Story

Although Roddy Piper rightly gets credit for propelling Hulk Hogan into sports-entertainment supremacy and pop culture prominence (though arguably not enough), the story of how he helped lay the foundation for the rise of Ric Flair is far less familiar.

"Ladies and gentlemen, King Richard, the legend, is dead!"

Although Roddy Piper gets credit for propelling Hulk Hogan into sports-entertainment supremacy (though arguably not enough), how he helped lay the foundation for the rise of Ric Flair is a tale far less familiar!

You can learn more about the surprising backstory of their storyline here.

Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat: The Surprising Tale Behind The Magic

Ricky Steamboat and Ric Flair lock-up at Chi-Town Rumble, February 20, 1989.
Photo Credit: WWE

RIC FLAIR: "One of my greatest blessings was the day Ricky Steamboat walked into the office of Jimmy Crockett in Charlotte, North Carolina."

1989 was a special year that saw Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat have a trilogy of matches for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

At one end of the feud was Flair, one of the most iconic figures in professional wrestling history, the poster boy of the NWA (and WCW later on) whose promos and heartfelt passion for the world title were always evident.

Learn more about the surprising story behind their trilogy of matches.

Ric Flair and Terry Funk: Another Feud to Remember

In 1989, Ric Flair and Terry Funk had the unenviable task of trying to top the legendary Flair versus Steamboat trilogy of matches. They did that (and then some)!

In 1989, Ric Flair and Terry Funk had the unenviable task of trying to top the legendary Flair versus Steamboat trilogy of matches. They did that (and then some)!

It was a rivalry that almost became too much to handle for Ric Flair.

Read: Ric Flair and Terry Funk – Another Feud to Remember

Rick Rude: A Ravishing Man with a Tragic End

Rick Rude was more than "Ravishing."
Photo Credit: WWE.

“He refused to budge.”

Rick Rude was a unique, once-in-a-lifetime kind of wrestler. He went by the nickname “Ravishing” — and rightfully so. He had a solid moveset, great looks, and unbridled arrogance with the in-ring skill to back it up. He played hard in the ring but even harder out of it.

Learn his tragic story.

Mr Perfect Curt Hennig – A Great Life with an Unfortunate End

On camera, Curt Hennig was arrogant, and he backed up his Mr. Perfect persona brilliantly. However, outside of the ring, it was a different story. Here is the story of an extraordinary life with an unfortunate end.

On camera, Curt Hennig was arrogant, and he backed up his Mr. Perfect persona brilliantly. However, outside of the ring, it was a different story.

Learn the story of an extraordinary life with an unfortunate end.

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Matt Pender is an old-school wrestling fan who currently lives in New Zealand. He is also a musical performer with his band OdESSA who can be investigated at the link above.