Thirty years after driving Ric Flair from World Championship Wrestling, Jim Herd has finally spoken out about his dislike of ‘The Nature Boy’ and one of wrestling’s most famous stories.
On-screen rivalries in professional wrestling are an everyday occurrence. They’re the fabric, the lifeblood of the industry that keeps people coming back. However, feuds off-screen can often become more infamous than those we witness and that was the case when former WCW Executive Vice President Jim Herd and Ric Flair clashed heads in the early nineties.
While both men had huge problems with each other behind the scenes, stemming from Flair’s position as head of the booking committee, the biggest moment of their ill-will came when Jim Herd told the legend that he would be required to cut his signature bleached blonde hair, and adopt a Roman gladiator gimmick by the name of Spartacus.
With Kevin Sullivan – a member of Flair’s booking committee – opining that they should change Babe Ruth’s number while they were at it, every member of the table nixed the idea despite Herd believing Ric Flair’s time as a main event player was firmly over.
Now, Jim Herd has expressed his side of the tale in an exclusive interview with Conrad Thompson of AdFreeShows. Stating that the legendary story is false, he talked at length about the Spartacus rumour and his sheer scorn of ‘The Dirtiest Player in the Game’:
“When you’re brainstorming those things, you get all kinds of feedback from those guys. That’s where the lie that I wanted to change Ric Flair’s name came from. That came from one of the meetings, but it was never considered. One of the things that was considered, and he didn’t like it so it became — there was a wrestler were going to call The Zodiac Man. Every match, at the end of the match, you could go out the door and they would throw these discs that were redeemable at fast food places. They would catch them and if you could prove you were a Leo after the match, you’d get another disc. It got so complicated, but his name was going to change every month with a different promotion. I think Ric heard we wanted him to be the Zodiac Man. It was just another lie that came out of those meetings. A lot of it was tongue in cheek in those meetings.”
The tale of Spartacus caused a major rift between the two men and that hostility simmered to boiling point when Flair refused to take a pay cut, move away from the promotion’s main event picture and drop the WCW World Heavyweight Championship to Lex Luger after the promise that he would do the job for Sting.
Compromises went nowhere and in the end, Ric Flair was fired from the company in 1991. Not long after, both ‘Naitch’ and the WCW title appeared on WWF television.
Jim Herd wasn’t done just dispelling the well told tale of Spartacus, however. Seemingly still holding a grudge against arguably the greatest wrestler to step inside a ring, Herd went on to speak about Ric Flair’s forehead, the way he used to bleed and how controversial he found wrestling’s first mega-star:
“There was a lot of controversy with Ric, he…..I just saw Ric a month ago on some show, what’s the guy’s name, the bald headed guy [Steve Austin] who has a show on now, he interviewed Ric. I looked at Ric’s forehead and I said, ‘They must’ve taken part of his ass and put it on his forehead because all those cuts are gone,’ which is great. Ric was a guy that you couldn’t control out in public and he did a lot of different things that we didn’t agree with, Turner didn’t agree with. Believe me, during all this time, if you didn’t get a pass from Turner, you got no pass at all because he controlled everything through me. I took the lumps when they came and as long as I maintained his dynamic, which was making it rain dollars, he didn’t interfere.”
After Jim Herd departed World Championship Wrestling in 1992, Ric Flair returned one year later after looking at the lights for Mr. Perfect in a Loser Leave WWF Match on Monday Night Raw.
Credit for the interview: AdFreeShows
h/t for the transcription: Fightful