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Jim Ross on How Jim Herd Wanted Ric Flair to Lose the World Title to Lex Luger in 1990, Explains Why Luger Didn’t Even Want to be Champion

February 25, 2020 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Lex Luger 1997 WCW Title

– On the latest edition of Grilling JR, Jim Ross looked back at the WrestleWar 1990 event. According to Ross, former WCW Executive Vice President Jim Herd was putting pressure on Ric Flair to lose the world title to Lex Luger at the event.

Flair and the booking committee, including Ross, were apparently adamant for Flair not to lose the belt. Flair had handpicked Sting as the next holder of the title, but Sting was injured at the time. When asked to drop the belt to Luger, he apparently refused and said he’d only drop to Sting. Sting’s injury at this time apparently led to Herd wanting to put the belt on Luger, and Herd was a person who seemed to not be a big fan or believer in Flair as a main eventer either. Additionally, Ross explained how Lex Luger didn’t even want to be given the world title at the time and didn’t think he was ready for a run with the belt. Below are some highlights.

JR on Herd putting pressure on Flair to lose the belt to Lex Luger: “There was, and I think the booking committee were all in unanimous opinion that that was not the thing to do, and it wasn’t the thing to do. But Herd being a half-assed mark and listening to others on the outside, ‘Well, you gotta have a title change!’ No, we don’t have to have a title change. We have to have to have a title change based on what? Explain to me, make your case as to why a title change is required or necessary? You can’t. So, it’s so subjective anyway. Luger didn’t come out that match the worse for wear. We told a story where Luger was supposed to become the champion on more than one occasion. Of course, the cards didn’t fall right for him. Flair and his cronies made sure at the end that wasn’t going to happen. So, I think it helped Lex get over more, but there’s no doubt in my mind — I don’t remember ever calling a better singles match that Luger was in than this one. So, I thought it was a high spot in his career to that point, and Flair went above and beyond. But we were all going to support Flair on this deal when Herd talked about, ‘We’re going to change the title.’ That was because Herd didn’t get along with Ric and because Herd’s ideas of what Ric should be were not respected or embraced. That’s what that was about. It wasn’t about Lex. It wasn’t about really about the title. It was really about beating Flair, and it wasn’t the time to beat Flair, especially with Lex in 1990.”

Ross on how Luger wasn’t ready to be world champion: “It just wasn’t meant to be. He wasn’t ready for it. You can’t do everything off an 8×10. The 8×10 can’t be a measuring stick. It was in various promotions over the course of time, but it just didn’t make sense at that point. And I’m not gutting and quartering, as we said earlier, Lex at all. He had the great look. He had been there for a long time. His game had not caught up with his look. So, him winning that title a year later at least was better thought out than just the knee-jerk of, ‘Well, we don’t have Sting, so we gotta do this.’ No, we don’t have to do it because you still got the champion, who had the babyface run in him, even though Ric always was hesitant — pushed back on a babyface turn because he loved being a heel. He loved being Ray Stevens. He loved being a guy that was looked as the great villain, a polarizing villain. And all the while, he was overall one of the most popular guys in the entire roster by far.”

Ross on how Luger didn’t even want to be champion at the time: “I remember that he didn’t have great confidence in his own work. I think that having to follow Flair can be the kiss of death for a lot of people because most people could not follow his act. We all received — and Ric cosigned — that Sting was going to be the guy. He had been prepared, he was ready, Sting was so much more athletic than Lex. And he had the paint, the look, all demographics connected with him. I think Lex made a very smart decision by saying, essentially, ‘I’m not ready for the title.’ And he had some very valid reasons, and what you said about the only opponent to draw money with was Ric, again poor booking on our part.”

“So, I think Lex probably made a very humble and honest decision that he was not ready. He had the same feeling that many of us did that he probably wasn’t ready right now, but we can probably bring you farther along, we can continue to elevate your game if you can go out there and have the match, that they had by the way, with Ric. So, smart move by Luger. He was right. It’s not going to be the thing to do. The roster was not set up for him, very un–advantageous, but man, I got back and look at this card, and I think, ‘Jiminy Christmas.’ Look at the talents we talked about that could’ve been — What about Scott Steiner vs. Flair? You telling me that wouldn’t work? Or Rick Steiner? Either one of them, but we didn’t think that far outside the box. But I admire Lex’s thoughts on that. That was a pro’s way of thinking. It’s not the right place. It’s not the right time. I don’t need the belt right now, and I respect Lex a lot for saying that.”

If using any of the above quotes, please credit Grilling JR with an h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.