A recent episode of “Wooooo! Nation” with Ric Flair featured former WCW color commentator, and current Pittsburgh sports radio broadcaster Mark Madden. Courtesy of my good friend Mark Adam Haggerty and DailyWrestlingNews.com, below are some highlights:
This show tends to run off the rails from time to time, so it’s up to producer Conrad Thompson to act as the conductor. Engineer? Who drives a train? Conrad asks broad questions and gives both Madden and Flair time to respond on various issues. Ric says that he first met Mark Madden in 1986 when he came to a show at the “Igloo” in Pittsburgh to present the “Nature Boy” with a commemorative plaque. They actually met nearly a year earlier when Madden conducted an interview with Flair for the Post-Gazette. That’s why he was bringing a plaque—it was the article. They start with small talk, and Conrad asks Madden if he’s ever wanted to get back into wrestling. He says that he’s not upset he never got into it again because there isn’t a place for someone like him given today’s political climate. He says that most WWE and TNA broadcasters focus on the positives and never highlight the negative, which is something he was known to do as a “heel announcer.”
Conrad asks Mark what led to his exodus from World Championship Wrestling just months before the promotion was purchased by Vince McMahon. He says that while it wasn’t his choice to leave, he was happy to go given the current state of the company. He says that Diamond Dallas Page was the one who convinced the “Powers that Be” to fire Madden. When Conrad asks why, Mark says: “Because DDP was a sensitive bitch and I heeled on him pretty hard this one time and he didn’t like it.” Mark Madden says he coined the nickname “D.D.Me” because he feels Diamond Dallas Page is the most self-serving person to ever work in the industry. “Hogan looked tame by comparison!” Of DDP Yoga, Mark Madden says: “If it works that’s fine. And the stuff he’s doing with Jake and Scott Hall is fine. I just trust charity a lot more when somebody doesn’t call a camera crew every time they do something.” DDP wanted to go on Madden’s radio show about ten years ago to promote DDP Yoga when it was still “in its infancy,” and when he called the radio station he told Mark’s producer: “Oh I’m an old friend from WCW.” Upon hearing the news, he told his producer: “Fuck that guy, we’re not friends.” Several weeks later, DDP was talking to Kevin Nash, and Dallas told him that Madden refused to have him on his show. Nash said, “Page—you got him FIRED!” DDP was so unaware of anything but himself that he responded with: “You think he’s still mad about that?” Conrad asks if DDP is the most overrated wrestler of all time. Madden says, “He was a competent midcard wrestler, but favoritism and cronyism is what put him over the top.”
Conrad asks both Ric and Mark for their comments on the NWO’s “Four Horsemen” skit. Mark says that he felt some parts were very funny, including Sean Waltman’s depiction of Ric Flair. Flair said that he didn’t particularly care one way or the other, but was hurt because of how it “crushed Arn.” Ric says that Arn had a 12-year old son at home watching his father depicted as a drunk. The worst part, to Ric, was the fact that the entire segment was written and produced by Terry Taylor—one of Arn’s longtime friends and colleagues. When the promo was over, Sting walked up to Ric and told him: “That’s the coldest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.” Ric says that Kevin Nash lampooned the “real emotion” between Ric and Arn, which hurt them both deeply. What bothered Ric most was that the Horsemen were offered no chance to make a rebuttal.
Conrad asks Mark if WCW announcers had to contend with a list of words they couldn’t say, or if producers were ever “screaming in their ear.” Mark says that if there was a list, he didn’t know about it. And probably wouldn’t have followed it. He says that “guys who worked for Vince” would come in and start yelling in the headset—guys like the aforementioned Terry Taylor. Mark eventually told them, “Listen, if you have a good idea—and I mean a GOOD idea, then tell me. Otherwise stay out of my way.” The overproduction in the headset is said to have ceased from that point forward. Mark says that Tony Schiavone is one of the greatest wrestling broadcasters of all time, but perhaps overworked himself. He was at one time appearing on Nitro, Thunder, Saturday Night, and pay-per-views. In addition to his on-air duties, Tony was in charge of the other announcers, and had an array of duties around WCW’s office. Tony has moved on to work in baseball broadcasting, and Ric mentions that he threw the first pitch at a recent game. Ric says, “I’ve got to get to a place where I can throw the ball to home plate.”
They talk about Ric Flair’s WWE sponsored autobiography that Mark was asked to “tweak” after the original author failed to deliver what Triple H and Vince McMahon envisioned. Mark says that he was brought into a board room with Ric, Vince, and Hunter, and Vince said: “This book isn’t good enough. Can you make it better?” Ric says that Mark made his book legible and Madden interrupts: “Uh, no—I made your book great.” They both agree that the problem wasn’t the original author’s style, but his affinity for Bruno Sammartino and ignorance toward the true legacy of Ric Flair. Madden says the book needed to be written by a Ric Flair fan, because otherwise, this “is just a book about some wrestler.” Ric says that the first author made him sound like Freddie Blassie: “He made it sound like every other word out of my mouth is F, F, F! I’m not going to pretend I don’t say it, but not like that.”
They wrap things up and talk about the current state of TNA. Mark Madden blames all of their troubles on the ego of Dixie Carter. He says that her ego will not allow her to take a step back, and let people who know what they’re doing take control. He says that going backwards in terms of paying talents per appearance is a sign of the end, especially since there are only a handful of drawing stars left under contract. He says that Kurt Angle is in a strange predicament; he calls him a “Top 5” athlete who belongs in the same conversation as Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels. He says that Kurt has always been the greatest wrestler as long as he’s been performing, and that hasn’t changed since he’s gone to work for TNA. Mark feels that the “stench of TNA” is what makes people feel that Kurt Angle isn’t as good as he used to be. They slow down the conversation and talk about basketball and college football, before sending things home for another week on “Wooooo! Nation.”
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