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Michael Bochicchio of Highspots talks about their legal dispute with Flair

There is a lengthy and extremely interesting interview here (MP3 file, the interview portion begins roughly 30 minutes in) with Michael Bochicchio (the owner of Highspots) in which he talks about his legal dispute with Ric Flair that culminated recently in an arrest warrant being put out for "The Nature Boy." Noting he has recieved "hate mail" from fans of Flair for victimising their icon, Bochicchio mentioned this was his first interview he's done and is his attempt to get his side out there. He claimed recent reports from Dave Meltzer about the warrant situation were, as Michael claims, "filled with inaccuracies", and  what convinced him to finally do an interview. Michael also disputes Meltzer's claim that Michael was owed $35,000 and a few hundred autographs. Michael claims he's owed far more than that ($66,000), as well as a commision, and that the $35,000 was only a mediation agreement. It's a fascinating story, and, if we believe Bochicchio's version of things, Flair does have a lot to answer for.  Bochicchio notes that he had considered Flair a friend (Flair introduced him to several of his family members and took him to one Wrestlemania) and bailed him out during "a tough time in his life", only to be betrayed. He says he felt comfortable lending Flair money because Flair made a huge amount money from his various deals and endorsements that that he felt he and Highspots would be assured payment. He also claims he didn't see the "real Flair" till later on, when the deal soured: "I didn't feel Ric Flair would stab me in the back the way he did." 

In regards to the famous "NWA belt as collateral" story, the businessman notes had the belt for "over a year"  and had "no idea" that someone else was claiming the property (Conbraco Industries, Inc) until he put the belt up for auction to pay off what Flair owed. Bochicchio also noted that two years ago he encouraged Flair to take WWE's deal (for $250,000 per annum), feeling it would be a better place for him, but that Flair ultimately ended up going to TNA because he was offered $400,000 a year. Flair also makes money from deals with Coca-Cola and the North Carolina state lottery This was a problem in WWE, but not TNA, who are not as restrictive with outside projects, and was likely a factor in him signing with them on top of the higher guarantee.  Noting the large amount of money Flair makes, the host wonders why Flair can't simply pay. "Where he can't, or is choosing not to," Michael says, "is only a question Ric Flair can answer."

Michael also said that while Flair was in Atlanta for WWE's Hall of Fame ceremony (Michael resides nearby) that he offered him the chance to do an afternoon autograph session in a nearby hotel and that "whatever Flair brought in" would come off his debt. He said Flair firmly refused that offer, and that he would have to pay Flair the usual amount for any autograph sessions he did.   He also said that Ring of Honor were still owed a huge amount of money, but it was likely that with ROH's recent sale, Sinclair Broadcasting would be unwilling to pursue the matter. 

One of the hosts notes he isn't surprised by the story, since Ric has had a repuation for mismanaging money for years, and does indeed "live the gimmick" of  his on-screen persona (limos, jet, parties). Bochicchio claimed this was true, and he had learned this from hanging out with Flari socially: "The Ric Flair that you see on TV, is the real Ric you see any other time of his week, at the bar and gym... I think, after all he's seen in wrestling, he's distorted from reality." He claims that Flair's celebrity in Charlotte, North Carolina has helped keep him in a bubble. He also complains about the idea that Flair is in a bad financial shape mainly due to alimony, claiming that Flair makes more than enough from TNA and outside deals to cover his alimony and then some. But that his current problems stem from his insistence on still living a lavish lifestyle. Michael admits, from his personal experience, that Flair is "very generous" with people in his social circle, and often treats them to free drinks, trips, first-class seats...etc.

Strangely, Michael claims at the end that he is still a fan of Flair's, and would love to work with him again. Hmmm. Some people don't learn.

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