While they weren't on the best of terms in WCW, Eric Bischoff realized that Ric Flair played an important part in the companies history. He is even willing to defend him when others have talked down on the two-time WWE Hall of Famer in the past.
While reviewing Ric Flair v. Bret Hart at Souled Out 1998 on his 83 Weeks podcast (Bret's first WCW match), Bischoff spoke to Conrad Thompson about how valuable Ric was in the 90's. There were many in the company who were trying to push him down, however, citing his age. Using a current star, Bischoff was able to cool down the flames of Ric's former doubters.
"A lot of writers were referencing Ric's age and that he wasn't the same old Ric Flair that he used to be," Bischoff stated. "But he was still great, everybody loved Ric Flair. And at 49 years old... Chris Jericho, the darling of the internet, and deservingly so, how old is he, 48? Generally speaking, it is a younger man's business, but Ric Flair in this match, there was nothing wrong."
The match between Flair and Hart went over 18 minutes, with Bret winning via submission. In Hart's book soon after, he talked about how wary he was of Flair's style against him. He went on to discuss how backstage politics concerned Bret on how the match would go. Bret stated he did the match Flair's way. Bischoff didn't appear to take that kindly.
"He (Bret) was such a bitter pr*ck when he wrote that book," Bischoff went on to say. "There is nobody in this business that has ever worked with Ric Flair that wouldn't tell you that Ric made them look better than they really are. From Hulk Hogan on down, talk to "Stone Cold" Steve Austin about that, talk to people who really have a clue and aren't putting themselves over in the book because they think they are a g*ddamn Canadian hero."
Eric went on to say that Hart during that time was constantly trying to put himself over at the expense of everyone around him.
Bret's career in WCW didn't last long, as retired in 2000 after suffering a concussion in a match with Goldberg. During his time with WCW, he won the WCW United States Championship (4x), the WCW Tag Team Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship (2x). Ric Flair would go on to wrestle regularly until his initial retirement in 2008.
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.