Destroy oneself to save oneself

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December 29, 2007

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- In one instant, Ric Flair and Triple H's ecstasy went to agony, thanks to Mr. McMahon.

The "Nature Boy" and The Game eyed each other uneasily. Just one minute before, Triple H warmly hugged the man he had idolized and congratulated him on somehow defeating the monstrous Umaga and avoiding forced retirement. These two are more than friends and former teammates in Evolution. They are more than mentor and student; Flair is like a father to Triple H in the world of sports-entertainment and The Game is almost like a son to "Naitch." (WATCH

But on a New Year's Eve edition of Raw, these two will be forced to destroy each other. Under the orders of the Chairman, Flair must get a victory over The Game or his career will be over.

Every match is a do-or-die situation for Flair as, under the Chairman's mandate, he will be forced to retire the next time he loses. Two weeks ago, many observers -- even Flair -- conceded that the 348-pound Umaga could end his career. After all, the Samoan Bulldozer has injured and pushed elite Superstars like Triple H and Jeff Hardy to the limit -- and they're still in the prime of their careers, and Flair is admittedly in the twilight of his. But the 16-time World Champion endured a savage beating, and managed to eke out a victory over Umaga via count-out.

Jaws dropped in the HSBC Arena and our fans exulted in Flair's victory. But the collective air of the Nature Boy's supporters was knocked out of them with Mr. McMahon's announcement. The unstable Chairman, seething and despondent over his beer-soaked humiliation at Raw XV and Triple H's habit of having fun at his expense, thought he could teach The Game a lesson in a 2-on-1 Handicap Match involving Raw GM William Regal and Executive Assistant Jonathan Coachman. But when The King of Kings was victorious, McMahon was enraged and decided to go after Triple H's heart -- his friendship with Flair. (WATCH)

What will The Cerebral Assassin do? The 11-time World Champion relishes his place in history and the heat of competition. But is Triple H, the self-proclaimed "One True Destroyer," willing to battle his mentor and end the career of a man who has been such a great influence in his life?

And what about Flair? Is the "Dirtiest Player in the Game" willing to play dirty against one of his former students? Is he willing to play the dirtiest of tricks against, arguably, the Superstar he respects most to save his career? When Flair sees Triple H, he sees what he was in his prime. He wants Triple H to bring his "A" Game -- he wouldn't have it any other way. But is the Nature Boy willing to vanquish a piece of himself to save himself?

Perhaps these questions and many more raced through Triple H and Ric Flair's heads as they realized they would be facing each other. The sun may set on Flair's remarkable career as 2007 closes. As the Dirtiest Player in the Game and The Cerebral Assassin locked eyes, they saw each other's reflection -- and realized only one may be able to survive as a New Year dawns.

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