Ric Flair’s Golden Spoon
Many have tried, but few can match the promos Ric Flair was wheeling out routinely during his heyday. Whether heel or babyface, the self-styled ‘Nature Boy’ knew exactly how to get people listening. Unstoppably brilliant when given the platform to talk, Flair proved each time why he was the biggest star in the territory.
This infamous example comes from 1987, and what makes it so effective is the little elements of truth slipped in. Ric Flair’s promos were so good because he really believed in what he was saying, and that comes across to the fans – it’s mighty difficult to not pay attention when somebody is speaking with such conviction.
Somehow, even though he’s rubbing it in people’s faces that he has tremendous wealth, Flair comes across as passionate and almost likeable, again because his words carry amazing confidence. Just try and watch this one without getting goosebumps.
Zeus Zeus Zeus!
Hogan, Austin & Rock
Bret, Steamboat, Piper & Flair
Andre said Fuck That!
The Mega Powers! – Survivor Series ’88
Kurt Angle vs Daniel Pruder
On the Nov. 4, 2004 episode of SmackDown, Kurt Angle had challenged contestants from WWE reality show Tough Enough to best him in the ring. The probable narrative was big, bad Olympian destroys a handful of green upstarts. Angle steamrolled through his first foe, Chris Nawrocki, breaking his ribs in the process. Daniel Puder refused to be the next victim, to accept that storyline. He proceeded to write his own. After tussling with Angle for a few moments, Puder gripped Angle’s right arm, forced it into an awkward angle and by his own admission, tried to break it. Puder said, “I caught him in a key lock, pulled him into a kimura and tried to snap his arm off.” The referee watched as Angle’s arm went further and further the wrong way. He knew he had to do something. Disaster neared. He delivered a hurried three-count despite Puder’s shoulders not being fully down on the mat. Angle hopped up and shouted at his opponent. He berated Puder who stood face to face with him, unmoving. WWE had made Angle look dominant, a master mat-wrestler. What would it have done to his credibility to have some guy the majority of fans didn’t know beat him decisively or even worse, shatter his arm? Puder did his best to turn those few seconds into a name-making opportunity.
Taping His Fists Up And Threatening Shawn Michaels
The most infamous backstage story about Undertaker is always going to be the occasion he taped his fists up and threatened violence against Shawn Michaels.
Taker did this because he had got sick and tired of seeing Shawn mess around with WWF business. The Heartbreak Kid had pulled out of a planned loss to Bret Hart at WrestleMania 13 due to an injury (which some believe he faked), he later went on to ‘screw’ Bret Hart at Survivor Series 1997 in what was a shock to the entire locker room. By conspiring with Vince to change a result without his opposition knowing, Michaels had betrayed the entire locker room – Undertaker was legitimately furious.
When it came to WrestleMania 14 it was the turn of Steve Austin to get a run with the WWF title. Austin was the hottest thing going and a genuine shot for the WWF to become a financial success again. Would Michaels do the right thing and put the star over? Undertaker as locker room leader was taking no chances. He got in Michaels face and showed his fists, letting the egotistical star know that if he did anything other than put Austin over he would face the consequences.
The Ultimate Warrior earned in excess of $2 million per year as a WWF headlinerin 1990-1991 (he specifically received a one-night payoff in excess of $650,000 for his match with Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania VI, and a one-night payoff of $550,000 for his bout with Randy Savage at Wrestlemania VII). In order to lure him out of retirement in 1998, WCW had to pay Warrior $1 million upfront.
The Iron Sheik was reputedly offered $100,000 by AWA promoter Verne Gagne to double-cross and legitimately injure Hulk Hogan in thier WWF title match on January 23, 1984 at Madison Square Garden. To preserve his relationship with Vince Mcmahon jr. and Hogan, Sheik declined Gagne’s alleged offer.
Sid ‘Vicious’ Eudy was offered a three-year contract by WCW, worth $400,000 per annum, in early 1991. Eudy rejected the deal and signed a contract with the WWF.
Rick Steamboat turned down a $225,000-per-annum offer from WCW in summer of 1989 and left the company. A man of principle, ‘The Dragon’ felt he was worth closer to $300,000 per year and would not work for less then his asking price.
Leon ‘(Big Van) Vader’ White was one of the top 3 earners in pro wrestling in 1993. That year, he signed a four-year contract with WCW, worth $625,000 per annum, and an eight-match deal with Japan’s wroked shoot UWFI, which paid him a not inconsiderable $25,000 per match.
Lex Luger, another muscle-bound star of the 1980’s, earned $500,000 per year as WCW champion in 1991-Feb 1992. As c0-host of Vince Mcmahon’s short lived World Bodybuilding Federation bodystars programme, also in 1992, Luger earned $350,000 per year. As a wrestler Luger made more then $350,000 per year for most of his 1993-1994 run in the WWF – and earned in the $500,000-a-year range from WCW when he returned to the league on his first episode of Monday Nitro on September 4, 1995. Luger’s annual WCW salary rose to $750,000 a few years later and then leapt to somewhere in the region of 1.25 million by 2000.