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This Day in Wrestling History (July 1): Ric Flair Leaves WCW

25 years ago today, NWA and WCW world heavyweight champion Ric Flair leaves WCW after he and the company come to an impasse on a new contract. Whether he left on his own terms or was pushed out of the door depends on who is telling the story.

Flair and WCW executive vice-president Jim Herd often clashed, and the two sides only grew more volatile towards each other, especially after Jim removed Ric from his head booking duties in February 1990. Herd, not quite aware of Flair's value to WCW, wanted cut his salary in half and don a new gimmick based on the Greek rebel leader Spartacus.

Flair was set to drop the title to Lex Luger at The Great American Bash in about two weeks, but Ric was having none of that, saying they agreed to drop the title to Sting. When Flair was accused of holding out during contract negotiations by Herd, Ric then offered to drop the world title to Barry Windham. Herd nixed that idea too and decided to not only strip Flair of the world title outright, but send someone for the belt.

And herein lies the problem. The Big Gold Belt, which signified both the NWA and WCW world championship, came with a $25,000 deposit ($44,000 in today's dollars). The idea, dating back to the earliest days of the NWA, was that upon winning the belt, the champion would put down the deposit on it so they don't take off with it to some other promotion. Upon losing the title, their deposit plus any interest accrued during their time as champion was returned to them. Flair at the time of his walkout was only NWA champion since May 19, when he won it at the first SuperBrawl, so Flair probably didn't accrue a lot of interest during this title run.

Not that it mattered; Herd refused to give Flair his owed deposit, so Flair kept the belt. Flair signed with the WWF later that summer while still in possession of the NWA world title belt (which at the time was the Big Gold belt). Flair discussed the situation in the 2003 DVD release Ric Flair: The Definitive Collection:

"(Jim Herd) lied to me about my contract. Then he called me in Daytona and said 'I want you to lose the title.' They wanted me to lose the title to Lex Luger. I said, 'No. No way. You promised it to Sting.' Jim Herd went, 'I don't care what I promised Sting.' I said, 'I do and I'm keeping my word to him.' We had spent all this time building Sting up and he was ready to be the champion. I just said, 'I'm not doing it with Luger and that's all there is to it.' I said, 'I'll be more than happy to send you my contract.' He said, 'You're not holding me up,' I said, 'I'm not holding you up, I'm holding you to your word.' And I already had an opportunity to come up here again. I called him back and I said, 'I'll tell you what I'll do -- I'm not waiting to Baltimore but I'll fly home from my vacation and I'll come to TV in Columbus next week and I'll lose the title to Barry Windham.' He said, 'Well, why Barry?' I said, 'Because Barry deserves it.' And he said, 'Let me think about that.' So I got in a plane, left my family, flew to Charlotte, packed my bag and he called me on the phone and said, 'Just forget about it, I'm sending Doug Dillinger over to get the belt.' And I said,'You better send a check for $25,000 plus interest because that's how much deposit I've got in the belt, which I've never gotten back.' And he said, 'F*ck you.' And I said, 'It ain't f*ck me, it's f*ck you.' Then I called Vince. Doug knocked on my door, I said, 'Sorry, Doug.' He already knew, Doug and I were friends. He didn't like Jim Herd either; nobody did. So I called Vince and I said, 'I'm ready to come.' And he said, 'Really?' And I said, 'Yeah and I got the belt, too.' So that's the way it went down."

Flair's debut would be teased for the remainder of the summer, most notably when future manager Bobby Heenan teased Flair's debut while holding the Big Gold Belt. Ric's WWF debut would come in Prime Time Wrestling on September 9, after which Flair is officially stripped of the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

A few days later, the announcement is made at a WCW house show to a chorus of boos (that's the video above). Without their world title belt (a new one was in the works, but not ready in time for the PPV), the company used a makeshift championship belt for The Great American Bash as a new one was still in the works at the time of the show.

32 years ago today in Atlanta, Georgia, Ron Garvin defeated Jake Roberts to win the NWA World Television Championship. On the same show, The Spoiler defeated Brad Armstrong to win the NWA National Heavyweight Championship.

17 years ago today, WWF announces on their website that they have signed Chris Jericho to a mutli-year contract.

The announcement catches WCW by surprise, as they had made a lucrative offer in a last-ditch effort to keep Jericho. His WCW contract prevented him from being able to appear on television for another month, so until his debut, the WWF promoted it via a "Countdown to the New Millennium" clock. The countdown would not expire until shortly after 10pm ET on August 9, the time and date of Jericho's WWF debut.

13 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in Rochester, New York (WWE Network link), Team Angle (Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas) defeated Eddie Guerrero & Tajiri to win the WWE Tag Team Championship.

7 years ago today, WWE signs Serena Deeb to a developmental deal. She joins the main roster about six months later as a converted audience member of the Straight Edge Society. Deeb is released in August 2010 allegedly for not living out her gimmick in public.

7 years ago today, Xtreme Pro Wrestling owner Rob Zicari, aka Rob Black and his wife Janet Romano, aka Lizzy Borden, were sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison and two years of supervised probation. The sentence comes three months after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute obscene materials.

The couple were indicted in August 2003 for selling graphic pornography through the mail and the Internet and sending said materials to a Post Office box in the Pittsburgh area. The federal investigation of the couple and their company, Extreme Associates (the parent company of XPW), came after a 2002 film featuring his wife in simulated rape scenes was profiled on the PBS Frontline. Had the couple stood trial and were found guilty, they could have been fined up to $5 million and sentenced to a maximum of 50 years in prison.

Zicardi regained ownership of XPW in 2012 from Big Vision Entertainment (he first sold it in 2004), and though a couple of reunion shows were done, a planned reboot has never materialized.

4 years ago today, Lauren Williams, best known to wrestling fans as Angelina Love, announces via Twitter that she had requested and has been granted her release from the company.

"To all my wonderful fans, just want to let you know I have been granted my release from TNA. It was completely amicable parting of ways and I want to thank TNA and all of its employees for the wonderful journey I've had there over the years. Now I'm on to the next amazing chapter of my life! If you are looking to book me please contact John at Thank you so much!"

Of course, Williams didn't stay gone; she returned to the company in March 2014. She found love during this run, dating and eventually marrying Wesley Richards, aka Davey Richards. Angelina gave birth to the couple's first child, David Vincent Richards, in March 2016.

It's a happy 34th birthday to Carmella Danielle Garcia, born Carmella DeCesare.

The 2004 Playboy Playmate of the Year was the subject of a lot of controversy during her brief time in WWE. She was a contestant on the RAW Diva Search, finishing first runner-up to Christy Hemme. Despite not winning the competition (and not being very well-liked among the locker room), she was signed on to the company, but did not last long; she was released following Taboo Tuesday in October.

In 2007, DeCesare married NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia. The couple have four children together. Today, Carmella is the vice-president of Garcia's charity, the Garcia Pass It On Foundation.

It's a happy 49th birthday to Pamela Denise Anderson.

The Canadian-born actress/model/producer/author/activist has appeared on more Playboy covers than any model ever with 14, including their last ever nude issue released late last year.

Wrestling connection: Pamela was the big selling point for the 1995 Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania XI. Originally scheduled to valet for Royal Rumble winner Shawn Michaels, she valet instead for WWF Champion Diesel.

Interesting side note: Anderson is believe it or not Canada's Centennial Baby, being the first baby born on the one hundredth anniversary of the country's founding.

BONUS! From 14 years ago today, Jeff Hardy challenges the Undertaker for the Undisputed WWE Championship in a ladder match. The bout was voted the Match of the Decade at the RAW 10th Anniversary special in 2003, and was named one of the greatest matches in RAW history in 2012.

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