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Loss

[1991-07-06-WCW-Saturday Night] Jim Herd fires Ric Flair

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Jim Herd announces that they have not been able to come to an agreement on a contract with Ric Flair after a year of negotiation. Therefore, the WCW World title is vacant, and Flair is gone. Luger will still get a title shot at the Bash, but Herd stops short of announcing his opponent. Herd wishes Flair the best in the future. Jim Ross and Paul E. are shocked, which I think sort of goes against what they should be doing, which is playing down the significance.

 

Later in the show, Herd announces that Luger will face Barry Windham, which might not be so bad if Windham hadn't been presented as just another guy for the better part of a year. The announcers sell excitement over that, so I will at least credit them for that.

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One week before the Bash, WCW's main man is out. Considering the complete absence of any significant build to this cage match I can't envision this hurt things that much. Not an indictment of Flair, but an indictment of what a mess WCW was even before their franchise player was let go.

 

Herd does what Capetta did in New Jersey, which is hype up Luger vs. Windham. Capetta emphasized that a new World Champion would be guaranteed, which was a smart move to make and one that should have been repeated here.

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Curious but did the WCW fans consider this to be an angle/storyline? It is interesting to see them discuss it the way they did and wish Flair the best in the future. Ross and Heyman are shocked. Luger keeps the title shot at The Bash and Windham has been chosen as his opponent. Ross and Heyman treat it has a big match to have signed.

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This had to have been a shock to people not in the know.

 

Paul E on his phone after the announcement was a nice touch.

 

Herd announces the new main event for the Bash.

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And so the first, and best Flair era in WCW ends.

 

I completely disagree with Loss; up until Herd's announcement, Flair was WCW, bigger than any wrestler in the company, and in the eyes of no less than Ted Turner, bigger than the company itself. You don't pull a Vince McMahon and treat his departure like it means nothing. Not everything has to be a hype job or sales pitch, even in wrestling. It's okay to acknowledge that the biggest name in the company is gone and there may be uncertain, maybe even hard, times ahead, which was certainly the vibe JR and Heyman were giving in the first part of the segment. I think it enhances their credibility that they were just as shocked as the fans were by the news; if I'd been watching and they'd dismissed Flair and gone on to hype Luger/Windham as if nothing was wrong, I'd have been screaming at the TV, "Are you guys NUTS? Your champion, the best champion you've ever had, walks out the door headed for New York and you don't even care? What the hell kind of fly-by-night outfit are you running, anyway?"

 

The excitement picked up for the Windham announcement, of course. I'm not sure who else they could have picked except maybe Arn, but if they were doing a double turn, that wouldn't have worked out at all. Neither would bringing back Muta from Japan for a Clash rematch. One interesting thing they could have done if they'd had more time was retroactively declare the Clash match a World title bout, thus making Luger champion. He begins to wrestle like his old heel self in the days leading up to the pay-per-view, and JR and the other announcers are first concerned, then alarmed. Then they do the turn at the Bash, and it's revealed that Race has been advising Luger from a distance for the last month. That would likely have worked out better than what we got, which to me seems to have been done because Dusty didn't know how to book a babyface champion who wasn't himself. I'll be interested to see how the Luger/Race partnership actually plays out.

 

Herd looks a lot more comfortable on camera than Jack Tunney ever has, which gives his pronouncements a little more gravitas. All the gravitas in the world can't dress this debacle up, though.

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