wrestling / News

Eric Bischoff Explains The Value Of That Ric Flair Brings To AEW

November 4, 2023 | Posted by Andrew Ravens
Ric Flair Sting AEW Dynamite Image Credit: AEW

On the latest episode of Strictly Business, Eric Bischoff talked about Ric Flair signing with AEW and bringing his energy drink sponsorship deal with him. You can check out some highlights below:

On AEW signing Ric Flair: “You know, I’m happy for Ric. Professional wrestling is Ric Flair’s life. Ric Flair left Richard Fliehr behind a long time ago. I’m happy for Ric because Ric loves the business. He loves being around the business, it’s good for Ric. It’s really good for Ric. The Woooo! Energy thing is obviously a great opportunity for the people who are behind [the drink] to get some national promotion and exposure. That’s a good thing. It makes it easier for the distributors who are trying to sell that drink and get it into the retail outlets around the country to have a little bit of experience with that. With the Hulk Hogan energy drink way back, got it into 3500 Walmart stores nationwide. It’s hard, it’s hard to penetrate the retail market. And this is a lever and a leverage point that I’m sure the sales team behind Woooo! Energy is going to be able to leverage and take advantage of. So it’s a win for Ric personally, it’s a win for the people behind Woooo! Energy. And let’s see what it means. Time will tell.”

On Flair’s deal reportedly being similar to that of Randy Savage’s WCW deal in the sponsorship covering most of his contract: “Well, obviously, if what Sean [Ross Sapp] reported is true — and I believe it probably is, or Sean wouldn’t have reported it. Yeah, it’s very similar to what I did with Randy’s case. By the way, just a slight correction here. The Slim Jim deal covered 100% of Randy’s salary. So all of it got it, covered all of it, and did for a couple of years. So [we] got Randy for free. And that’s why it’s a win. It’s a win for Ric, it gets him close to a business that is his life. Really, it’s in his genetic makeup, his DNA. Someone were to take some of that DNA and replicate it and clone Ric Flair or Richard Fliehr, it would end up being Ric Flair. And there’s no denying how much Ric loves the business. So it’s a win-win and potentially a win-win-win. We’ll just have to wait and see how much of a win it is for the [AEW] product.”

On how the sponsorship pays for the contract of Flair or Savage: “It’s really simple. In Randy’s case, based on what Slim Jim wanted in terms of product integration, we were able to afford that. When I say afford that, we were able to execute what they were hoping to get, but we put a price tag on it that was exactly the same as Randy Savage’s ask. $750,000 from Slim Jim and $750,000 for Randy, and WCW got Randy Savage essentially with no impact at all on our budget. Oh, they [Slim Jim] were thrilled because we bent over backward. You know, I don’t know if you remember any of those shows early on, but Randy would come out center stage, and we’d be throwing Slim Jims to the audience, and we had Slim Jim turnbuckles and Slim Jim all over the place. And you know, throughout the show, there were Slim Jim references. It was in programming, not a commercial. Because people tune out of commercials, but they can’t tune out of programs. And there was a ton of in-program exposure for Slim Jim, so they were thrilled. I mean, I think we had that contract for close to 3 or 4 years if I remember right. So it was very, very, very effective.”

On the value that Flair brings to AEW: “You know, nobody has a crystal ball, and nobody knows what’s in the mind of Tony Khan and his creativity, or if Ric will have any influence over that. But I think, you know, just my first gut instinct is that Ric will end up managing. He’ll end up being a mouthpiece. He’ll end up representing some young talent who’s on his way up and needs that credibility. That needs, as they say, in the wrestling business for years now, the rub. And who better to get a rub from than a guy like Ric Flair? That’s what I see. I really can’t see Ric doing much in the ring other than maybe a run-in or a, you know, involvement, but not necessarily matches. But more than anything, I think Ric’s gift of gab in his persuasiveness on the mic will probably lend itself more than anything to what we see on camera. I don’t know how much work will get involved behind the scenes, but that could be interesting as well. Look, Tony needs somebody. He needs somebody. You know, Ric doesn’t have a lot of television experience. He’s got decades and decades and decades of success as a wrestler. In terms of formatting and actually writing television, I don’t think that’s necessarily Ric’s strength. But if you can tap into his mind and his experience and his understanding of psychology, and help translate that into perhaps better storytelling. I think that could be very valuable.”

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Strictly Business with an h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.