Speaking on the latest Grilling JR, Jim Ross looked back at the Ric Flair vs. Ronnie Garvin NWA World Title switch and why it happened. Garvin would beat Flair for the championship on September 25, 1987 ahead of November’s Starrcade, where Flair would win the championship back.
Jim Crockett wanted Flair to win the title at Starrcade as it was going up against Survivor Series, so he had to lose it first. That meant whoever got to win it would be just a transitional champion.
Conrad Thompson asked Ross if Flair campaigned for Garvin to be the guy to win the title knowing that Garvin wasn’t a threat to his position at the top of the company. Highlights from the discussion, and the full podcast, are below:
On why Garvin got the shot: “I think that Ric probably realized, and I’m sure it was frustrating, that they didn’t have somebody ready for him. They didn’t get anybody ready for him. That’s where your idea about Dr. Death, or could have been somebody else. Could have been Scott Steiner, for example, let’s say.
Just pick — you know, spitballing here. There were other, new guys that were working for Cowboy that could have come in and got hot with the right booking. That didn’t happen. Doc, or Steiner, or whoever. Ric knew this. He knew that his matches with Ronnie Garvin would be as physically intense as the fans likely would have seen in years on television.
Which counteracted what WWE was doing at that time on top. And then, during that era they were never known as a physical brand of wrestling by and large. There were tough guys, don’t get me wrong. I’m not bitching at the guys. But that was not the presentation, that wasn’t how they were produced.
And he know that that match would be talked about for a long time, like we’re talking about it here today in 2019. And you knew the match would be good, because Ronnie was a hell of a hand.”
On Garvin: “Ronnie had a lot of respect in the business. You know, Ronnie Garvin’s the first guy other than Cowboy that I met, that flew his own plane back in the day. Smart guy.
Saved his money, invested well, he’s mature beyond his age, and he survived the Terry Garvin partnership. And Terry was a wild man. And then of course he’s Jimmy Garvin’s stepfather. So he was just smart, and he took advantage of the opportunity. And Flair knew that Ronnie would give everything he had, they’d have a hell of a match, and he would be a great win for Ric at his event, Starrcade.”