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Ric Flair Almost Appeared on WWE TV During Monday Night Wars

The Monday Night Wars provided some classic moments in pro wrestling history. While we saw many surprises during that time period, Ric Flair and Jim Cornette recently revealed one planned surprise that would have delivered one of the most memorable of the war.

Ric Flair recently had Jim Cornette on his podcast and they dropped a bombshell. In between Flair’s anti-marriage rants (which are the greatest rants in broadcasting today mind you), they talked about a failed attempt to get Flair on WWE TV in 1998, which was closer than you think from happening.

Jim Cornette: In 1997 this was my favorite, when you were in the car circling the Greensboro Coliseum.

Ric Flair: Yeah

Cornette: On the WWF pay per view night and Vince was, I was on the phone with you and the lawyer was on the phone with you and we couldn’t get the lawyer to agree to let you come inside the building.

Flair: Yeah, that was it because I was going to. What they were going to do and it was Jim’s idea, went to Vince, I was going to come and sit down and bring my son Reid who had just won the AAU Nationals. Jim Ross was going to get up and say, I was going to sit in the front row right? Jim Ross was going to say, correct me if I am wrong Jim, if I remember it right, “Ladies and Gentleman tonight we’re, we have with us a special guest. A champion a great wrestling champion”, and they were going to walk over and congratulate Reid (laughs). So he was all excited about this.

Cornette: The shot was going to be because at the time Ric was with WCW

Flair: They weren’t paying me. Remember? I sat a year without a paycheck because the minute I cashed a paycheck that recognized the fact that I had a contract. It was the Bischoff stuff.

Cornette: Basically I wanted that shot to be everybody in the Greensboro Coliseum when he came in and sat down in the front row during the first match people would have blown sky high and then for Jim Ross to say, “We have a great wrestling champion in the front row we’d like to congratulate”, and go over and interview Reid and Ric is just sitting there never saying a word. It would have been the greatest appearance of all-time.

Flair: I know, I would have died for that moment but…

(Conrad interrupts and asks who shot it down)

Flair: Jerry McDevitt and John Taylor.

Cornette: There was always attorneys involved.

Flair: Yeah well at that point it was like, what happens was they (WCW) kept paying me and I didn’t have a contract. But if I cashed the check, I went like eleven months without cashing a check. I was only married twice and I had enough money in reserve (laughs). Right now I have to borrow five to pay the coat check girl to get out of CBS today from Conrad (laughs). No things are good to be honest with you. I’m doing great. It was just one of those deals because I was dying to do it, I wanted to stick it up their butt. The other side of the story to Jim is that Arn and all of those guys wanted me to come back to WCW. I was already torn. Does that make sense? My friends were there, I had friends at WWE too, my friends were there actually John Taylor gave me good advice which my other attorney hated, he said “You can sit home,” because I would have gotten rich. I sued them back as you know right? Because as Jim will tell you, Bischoff got up in a meeting in front of 75 people said I’m going to break Ric Flair, going to break his family, teach him, which a Vice President of a company like that can’t do. I would have gotten rich beyond belief but I probably would have had to wait five years to get the money.

Now a few things to note about this story. In looking back through WWE archives, there was no PPV in the Greensboro Coliseum in 1997. Unforgiven however did take place on April 26 at the Coliseum. Flair also didn’t have his fallout with WCW until 1998 and Reid won the AAU title in April 1998 so I am sure that Corny got the year wrong, which is forgivable.

The story seems true in that the timing of the PPV certainly lines up with Reid’s AAU win. There was also way too much detail involved between both guys to make me think otherwise. This was the first that I ever heard this story and in looking back at Wrestling Observer Newsletter archives, Dave didn’t report it. He certainly could have reported it at another time but I didn’t see it during this time period.

Something else to point out regarding the Observer. What is ironic about all of this is that Dave’s report in the May 4, 1998 Observer was that WCW and Flair were close to a settlement.

The two sides were said to still be at an impasse, but apparently at least a somewhat cordial impasse. There is an apparent realization that with the three-year contract and the bitter competition on the U.S. scene, that, similar to Owen Hart in the wake of the Bret Hart Survivor Series finish, inevitably Flair will return and more likely then not when he does, some form of an angle will be worked stemming from what has taken place. If that is the way things work out, it will validate the theory by many within the organization that it was all, or at least a great part of it, a work from the beginning, although at this point virtually everyone well connected to the parties that is aware of the current maneuverings due to the fact lawyers are involved and settlement talks have taken place recognizes the problems with Flair and Bischoff and the lawsuit itself, which still exists and is being used by media throughout the Southeast mainly as comedy fodder to show that pro wrestling isn’t real, are not part of a ruse.

It seems really strange that Flair would go to such great lengths to screw with WCW as they were ironing out his return. It doesn’t seem strange that his lawyers would have shot it down knowing that they were close to a settlement. Although with that all said, Flair didn’t actually return to WCW until September, five months after Meltzer’s report. So it is possible that there was more of an impasse than Dave realized at the time.

With everything said, the sight of seeing Flair walk into the Greensboro Coliseum during a live WWE pay-per-view in 1998 would have been nothing short of awesome. I can’t think of many other moments during the Monday Night Wars that would have been more memorable.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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