‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair on moving from WCW to WWE

With this post, I have finally used all the content I got from Ric Flair from my time spent with him for the 2010 WWE Championship book. Of course, the majority of our conversations can be found in the book, as well as this larger post. But for now, enjoy these final tidbits from Flair:


What did it mean to have Bobby Heenan by your side during your first WWE run?

Bobby Heenan is the greatest manager that ever lived, and he and I have been friends since I broke in in 1972. To have the rub to be around him was extremely helpful. They sent Hulk and I out to California; we did Oakland, Los Angeles, Phoenix, then back to New York to wrestle in The Garden. Bobby was with me for three days. And when we were flying home on a red eye, he turned to me and said, “I hate you, I hate you, I hate you. I hope your hair falls out and comes back red. When I land in New York, I’m telling Vince we’re done.” Traveling with me is a lot of fun.


Why did you go back to WCW after your second WWE Championship reign ended?

I left because about a month after I dropped the belt to Bret, Vince told me he was going to change the company around and that he wanted to go with younger guys and that I was welcome to go back to WCW. Bill Watts was the boss then and he was calling me every day. I thanked Vince and told him that I would like to do that because I didn’t want to be sitting there stuck in the middle again. As luck would have it, I went back to WCW and Watts got fired a week later.


Is it fair to say Vince helped you get your job back at WCW?

Yeah, he wanted me to be happy. Vince’s greatest saying is, “Ultimately what’s best for you is best for me.” He pretty much handles all of business that way.


Which of today’s Superstars do you think best embody what it means to be a World Champion?

There are only a handful of guys on the roster that can pull that off … Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Undertaker, Dave Batista, Randy Orton, John Cena, Edge, Y2J, Stone Cold. Those guys are really passionate, and get what it means to be World Champion. Being champ is a big deal to them. I wish HBK could be champion again. But some of the guys that are in there for a couple weeks and gone, I don’t even think they understand what it means to be World Champion.


What was it like to return to WWE after WCW closed its doors?

When I came back in 2001, I was only supposed to be there to talk. I wasn’t there two weeks before they asked me if I wanted to wrestle Vince at the Rumble. I said, “I’m not here to wrestle.” Sure enough, though, I was back wrestling. Then came Undertaker. Undertaker was great for me at that WrestleMania in Toronto. That was awesome.

J.J. Dillon on WCW being sold

Much of my recent conversation with WWE Hall of Famer J.J. Dillon can be found in the new WWE 50 book. The portions that didn’t make the book, however, have been published here in recent weeks, including Dillon’s thoughts on Eric Bischoff and Vince McMahon Sr. In addition to these pieces, here is Dillon’s recollection of WCW demise:


What was it like once WCW finally closed its doors?


J.J. Dillon: My contract was paid out, so I got paid for another nine months. Kevin Sullivan got paid for another two years. I had gone there and hoped to retire, so I was disappointed. But I had come to terms with the fact that it was inevitable. It was like sitting in the Titanic and seeing this huge iceberg ahead on the radar screen and yelling to everybody to come look. But everybody looking thought that WCW was a huge indestructible vessel and didn’t even bother looking at the screen until they hit the iceberg and sunk the thing.


The sad part is that WCW had approximately 70 people who were full-time in the business making a living wrestling. It was a talent pool from which Vince McMahon could pick from. And you could go back in time and look at talent that came out of WCW and became huge stars working with Vince: Undertaker, Steve Austin, Chris Jericho, Mick Foley … and that’s just four names off the top of my head that WCW didn’t know what to do with, but Vince did. But Vince couldn’t hire everybody in the business, so it put guys out of work. At least with WCW, there was an alternative product that was never a threat to Vince, even when they were winning the war. All they were was a pool of talent that Vince could’ve tapped into from time to time when he needed a top talent. I was disappointed for the guys who worked there and their families.


Pick up the new WWE 50 book!


On a personal level, I was disappointed because I hated that after my lengthy career, I was involved with something that failed so miserably, even though I was not directly responsible. Every time they talk about the failure of WCW, you don’t hear about my name mentioned as being a contributing factor.


And the third one that I felt bad for was Ted Turner. Here’s a guy who had a vision of taking his small UHF station and making a superstation. And the core of his programming was two things: Wrestling and the Atlanta Braves. If you ask Ted in order, wrestling would be No. 1 and the Braves would be No. 2. Ted worked so hard to protect wrestling from the vultures that looked down their nose at it. He loved it. He had it at 6:05 p.m. for well over 25 years, and then Eric Bischoff undermined that program and killed it.


If you have a successful program with a consistent timeslot, there’s nothing of any greater value in the industry. People always used to tell me that they planned their Saturdays around 6:05. They made sure they were home in front of their televisions at that time to watch wrestling. They were loyal followers that Bischoff didn’t understand the value of.

Visit JJDillon.com  |  Follow me on Twitter  |  Buy WWE 50

Edge on the Invasion angle

While writing the WWE 50 book, I had the opportunity to speak with Edge about what it was like being on the roster during the Invasion angle. Only a portion of our conversation wound up in the book, but here’s a large portion of what didn’t end up in the book for your reading pleasure.


When WWE won the Monday Night War and the WCW guys ended up coming in, did you ever fear for your spot with all the new guys being added to the roster?

Edge: I never feared it because I always figured I’d kick ass enough that they’d have no choice but to put me on, and I know Christian felt the same way. I believe we were feuding with the Hardys at that time and I know they felt the same way. We figured we’d be OK because we were bringing something to the table that nobody else was.

I never feared for my spot. But I also didn’t know how it was all going to flesh out. I remember we were all standing there watching, and saying, “Wow, that’s pretty huge.” But we didn’t know who was going to come over. Was Steiner going to come over? Was Goldberg going to come over? Was Sting going to come over? I thought, “This is great; I’m going to get to wrestle Sting.” At the same time, I also thought that no competition is horrible for the industry and that’s kinda what ended up happening.


Did you take any joy in being the one to unify the Intercontinental and United States Championships?

Edge: It was so muddied with the amount of titles that there were that you almost had to do it. It was a shame to see it go because of the history that it had. I was happy to be able to unify them, but at the same time, it was two WWE guys fighting over it. There weren’t any true WCW guys … that’s where it all got watered down and basterdized. It wasn’t truly promotion vs. promotion, or what it could’ve been. Test and I were both WWE guys. I think it lost a lot of steam in the fans’ eyes.


Shortly after that, the Intercontinental Title was abandoned. What did you think of that happening to such a prestigious championship?

Edge: There are some things that get taken for granted. That’s one of them. It’s the IC Title. It means something. To me as a fan, it was the springboard; it was the stepping stone … If you could do it there, you were going to get a shot to do it in the main events. Savage, Steamboat, Bret, Shawn, Perfect, Rude and that era of the IC title, that truly was the match that I wanted to watch. It shouldn’t have gone away, obviously.


What was the overall feeling like backstage during the Invasion angle?

Edge: It felt very unorganized. It was one of those things where it became like the nWo where there were 50 members … it was ECW, it was Shane, it was Steph… It was like, “What it is going on here?” I was one of the performers and I couldn’t understand and follow the thread. It was too confusing. It was just watered down.

For more behind-the scenes stories on the Invasion angle, pick up the new WWE 50 book.

Also, follow me on Twitter.

Flair’s championship years

When news of Ric Flair’s recent legal woes hit the Internet, I found myself genuinely upset for the “Nature Boy.” Not only is he a legend who transcends the industry, but he was also pretty cool to me on a personal level, which makes his recent issues even more troubling to me.

My most recent dealings with Flair came not that long ago while I was researching the WWE Championship book. He was no longer with WWE, but he still spent plenty of time helping me with the project. Here are some of his quotes that didn’t make the book, which, coincidentally, you can buy here.

Was your original transition from WCW to WWE a difficult one for you?
Actually, the opportunity came at the perfect time of my career because WCW at the time didn’t see me as part of the championship picture. I had become a utility player. So the opportunity to come to WWE and become champion, which was never a provision, was exciting.

I had been with the NWA since 1974, when I first came to Charlotte. When you’re an NWA guy and NWA Champion, you become very loyal to that brand. So the hardest thing at the time was to leave the NWA. But everybody at WWE was just excited to have me on the roster and that’s what made the difference to me.

You brought the classic “big gold” title with you. How did that come about?
That was the WCW Title. It was the belt that Crockett gave me… the one that he bought to replace the old belt. Myself, Jack Brisco, Harley Race, Kiniski, both Funks, Dusty Rhodes… there were only about six of us that ever wore that belt. Then they retired it and Crockett bought that phenomenal belt, which Hogan now has in his house as a result of walking out of a pay-per-view ad arguing with Russo.

WWE Encyclopedia cover unveiled

Since WWE.com released the cover of the upcoming second edition of the WWE Encyclopedia, I’ve received an overwhelming amount of comments. If I haven’t replied to all of you yet, please know that I am truly grateful for all your support.

Most comments were simple “congrats,” while others commented on how fun the cover is and some wanted to know how this edition differs from the original. Well, I haven’t seen the completed product yet, so I can’t speak to all the new parts. But I do know that there are somewhere around 200 ALL-NEW entries from a wide array of names, including:

  • Daniel Bryan
  • Al Wilson
  • Kanyon
  • Anonymous Raw General Manager
  • Jamison
  • Joe McHugh
  • Brodus Clay
  • Matt Morgan

Also, all the entries that were in the original version that needed updating were certainly updated. But that’s not all, there’s tons of new photos, title histories, pay-per-view updates and much more.

Of the nine books that I’ve had the privilege to pen, I must say that I’m most excited about this Encyclopedia, mainly because of all the support and feedback I’ve received on Twitter and Facebook. For that, I thank you all; keep the communication coming.

Oh, and PRE-ORDER THE BOOK HERE … you know, before it’s sold out.