by:Fritz Capp

Is Flair Still with WCW???

The recent non-appearences of Ric Flair on television has prompted the wrestling reporting world to run amuk with every conceivable report and rumor as the what is actually going on with the former 13 time world heavyweight champion and his employer WCW.

With WCW being as hush hush as it can on the situation it leads to a lot of specualtion. The quietness is being prompted at least in part by the recent ratings loss to the WWF with Bischoff not wanting to show that there is indeed trouble in the southland. This combined with a lot of the workers in WCW stating their displeasure recently, some going as far as to say they will not renew their contracts when they are up.

But what of Ric Flair? And how much does he really mean to WCW and the way the promotion is headed? Let's take a look at the events that have led us to this column.

On Monday April 6th Nitro, Tony Schiavone announced that Ric Flair was going to make an appearence on the upcoming Thunder and make an important announcement on his future in professional wrestling and at the same time he was going to issue a challenge.What the challenge was to be was not elaborated on. As Thunder slowly approached we started to see reports that Ric Flair in fact may not appear due to the fact that his son was wrestling in ameteur competition in Detroit, something which he had notified the WCW officials long before it was to happen telling them that he was going to attend this event.

With the no show by Flair on Thunder everyone figured that of course he would show up on the following Nitro. Again this was not the case. He was scheduled to appear with the Nitro Girls at Clemson University, something I must say struck me as kind of strange. But not only did he not show up at Nitro, he also no showed the Nitro Party. The only mention of Flair that night on Nitro was that he couldn't make the event due to inclement weather conditions. It was after this that the rumors of Ric Flair being fired by WCW started to rear it's ugly head.

It is fact that Ric Flair signed a "Letter of Intent" with WCW. This is almost as binding as an actual contract. This letter of intent also binds Flair to WCW through the year 2000.To fire Ric Flair WCW must go through a certain process then to relinquish his services. It would be the same way that they notified Sean Waltman that his services were no longer required or wanteed by WCW. This to date has not happened yet.

It has been reported that Eric Bischoff once again, like he did with Waltman, gathered all the workers together bad-mouthing Flair and stating that he was going to make an example of him. Considering that he did this with Waltman and followed through on his threat it would be pretty safe to say that Bischoff may have been believed by some of the guys which prompted Konnan to go on one of the WCW hotlines and say that Flair had been fired. Then again, Konnan's message could have been a plant by the WCW officials themselves.

It is not hard for Bischoff and WCW to look northward and see the success of the Austin/McMahon fight going on in the WWF. Week after week either McMahon, Austin or both come across your television screen in an ongoing feud that has people watching and wondering what is going to happen next. It is also easy to see that Flair like a lot of the workers in WCW was starting to get lost in the shuffle of the overabundence of talent that WCW has. I have been saying for awhile now that there is no way that WCW can keep all the ego's happy in that locker room with everyone feeling they deserve the next push.

Ric Flair recently spoke to PWBTS columnist Kathy Fitzpatrick and had this to say: "As far as I am concerned, I've been fired." It was also stated that Ted Turner himself is getting into the situation; which would be confirmation of other reports that suggest that "higher-ups" were getting into this situation. Assuming that Flair is not working Kathy (and this is some involved work), this would show that the Ryder report of "no contractual change" may be accurate for nothing more than damage control reasons by WCW.

Ric Flair is supposed to be at Profiles in Payne on May 2nd. The stipulation says the match is if Flair wins he will reform the 4 Horsemen but if he loses he will have to quit wrestling. A lot can be read into this match. One, if this match does go down and Flair loses everyone will be able to say that Bischoff planned to fire Ric all along and that WCW just needed a vaible angle to show the fans why he was gone thus eliminating the "bad guy' moniker that Bischoff would have just for firing Flair. If Flair wins the match, then all these past weeks were nothing more than a promotional ploy to keep people interested in watching WCW. (It is a fact that while WCW was winning the rating wars the federation on everyones lips especially the past few months have been the WWF, is this WCW's counter punch to that?) But one question looms, "What if Flair no shows here also?"

The fact that WCW may think that it can survive without Flair is questionable. Wasn't it during the time that Flair was not on television that the WWF gained momentum? There can and I am sure will be an argument made in that direction. It also makes you wonder how much more momentum the WWF could gain if they could procure the services of the Nature Boy. Personally I cannot see Bischoof allowing that to happen though.

What I do see (again if this is not an elaborate work) is Bischoff putting Flair on permanant suspension pretty much akin to what Vince McMahon did to the Ultimate Warrior. What this would mean to Flair is that he would be tied to WCW without pay until the end of his contractural letter of intent. He would not be able to work for another company. Bischoff would just sit him down in the ultimate show of power. Unlike the Warrior, Flair cannot afford to be just sat down. While Flair posess's a thousand times more talent than the Warrior could ever hope to attain, Flair is not getting any younger and any hopes of getting in the ring "one more time" would pretty much be vanquished if Bischoff decided this was the way to go. Bischoff could also be using this as a ploy to put Flair in the mindset to just gop along with what he wants Flair to do. I persoanlly do not see Flair backing down off of his stance though. Ric Flair has done more for the soprt of wrestling than almost anyone ever in the business and I am sure he will not let a former announcer gone corporate to tell him how things are going to be. I believe Ric Flair has to much pride for that. And it is well deserved pride. Only time will tell the end to this saga. But then again, we could be seeing Bischoff/Flair at the next PPV couldn't we?

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