Flair's side of the story
WWE.com speculated that Ric Flair was going to Raw in his hometown of Charlotte, N.C., to announce what few of our fans wanted to hear -- his retirement speech.
Obviously, these assumptions were incorrect. However, Mr. McMahon attempted to expedite the retirement process by telling the Future Hall of Famer the next time he is unsuccessful in the ring he has to retire. WWE Champion Randy Orton was waiting to capitalize, but failed with help coming from Chris Jericho on Flair's behalf.
In a candid sit-down interview with WWE.com, Flair revealed what he was thinking throughout his tumultuous night in Charlotte.
"I never expected Mr. McMahon to do that to me, to treat me like that," Flair said, shaking his head in disgust. "I also didn't expect Randy Orton to immediately challenge me after Mr. McMahon dropped the bomb that if I lose, I'm out. I mean, I hadn't competed in six months, not even stepped inside of a ring, and then I'm thrown into a match with the WWE Champion," Flair angrily explained.
"I'm sure Vince had his reasons for doing this, although, honestly, I'm not really sure of all of them," he continued. "But I do know from working with Mr. McMahon all these years that he wants the best out of everyone that works for him. Maybe he thinks I'm past my prime … and maybe he's right," he reflected. "But now, every time I perform, knowing it could be my last time as a WWE Superstar, I'll give every ounce of energy I have for myself, this great industry and most importantly, for all of our great fans. This is a major challenge that will force me to be the best I possibly can be."
Flair said that in the hours prior to his match with Orton he sought solace in an empty room inside the arena. He sat quietly mulling over his decades in the industry that transformed him into one of the most endearing legends our fans have seen. In the silence, he noted the clock on the wall, tick by tick, moving more slowly than normal. It seemed as if time was stopping for Naitch, giving him more moments to savor all that he has accomplished, yet nervously anticipate the challenge of Randy Orton before him.
"I was trying to come to terms with the fact that everything I'd worked for in my career, everything I worked to achieve could be ripped away from me involuntarily," Flair said.
"I sat by myself and tried to wrap my head around everything that just transpired, and it was very hard," he said, a tear welling in his eye and streaming down his face. He wiped the tear from his cheek and took a deep breath. "I thought to myself: How can I beat Randy Orton? What can I do? This is the same guy that took out John Cena, Shawn Michaels and Triple H …"
His chin trembled and his hands balled into fists. Another deep breath. He regained composure and switched his train of thought. When he resumed, he picked up mid-match with Orton.
"During my match, I had one glimmer of hope," he said, referring to the Figure Four Leg Lock he clenched on the Legend Killer in the center of the ring. "But when Randy reached the ropes and I was forced to break the hold, I thought I missed my one opportunity. I honestly thought it was over, that my career was going to end in Charlotte."
But just as Flair's walls seemed to break down, enter Chris Jericho, who served as the spark Flair needed to get the win -- in patented Dirtiest Player in the Game style with a low blow followed by the roll-up.
"I owe Jericho my thanks," Flair said with a smile. "Without Chris' distraction, I would not have been able to win that match and I'd no longer be a WWE Superstar. Chris knows that, I know that and I'm pretty sure Randy Orton knows that, too," he continued with a grin on his face. "My only hope is that Jericho completes what he came here to do, save WWE from Randy Orton. I also hope he does what I and others before me have not been able to do -- unseat Orton as WWE Champion," Naitch said.
"I've been given another chance, the opportunity to compete another day. I learned a lot from this experience today," he said with an ear-to-ear smile. "And if it ended tonight, if it ends tomorrow or if my career ends years down the line, I'll be able to sit back and say to myself, ‘It's been a hell of a run.'" Flair began to slyly laugh. "And you know I'll go out the same way I came in: Stylin' and profilin'."