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A battle of heart and soul
The great American World War II General Douglas MacArthur was always a master of inspiration as he commanded the Allied forces in the Southwest Pacific. At some point, probably with Japanese shells raining down on a remote Philippine shoreline, the General spoke the words, "Age wrinkles the body. Quitting wrinkles the soul." And while the purpose of this article is not in any way to liken SummerSlam to World War II, one cannot help but be reminded of MacArthur's quote when pondering what will become of Mick Foley and Ric Flair tonight. Age has indeed wrinkled the bodies of these two legends, but in a match that can only end when one man screams "I Quit," the souls of these two fighters are truly on the line.
Back in June, Foley lost to Flair in a 2-out-of-3 falls Match at Vengeance, drawing a disqualification when he reverted to his hardcore roots and busted Flair open with a trash can and a barbed-wire baseball bat. Following the match, Foley told WWE.com that, as far as he was concerned, "it was mission accomplished." He had lost the match, but he had successfully embarrassed Flair by reducing him to a bloody heap in front of his hometown fans in Charlotte, NC.
Since then, Flair has gone manic, obsessively trying to lure Foley back into the ring for a rematch to prove that he could beat the Hardcore Legend on his own terms. Flair even suffered the wrath of Big Show on ECW to prove that he is hardcore enough to challenge Foley.
Foley, however, would have none of it. Week after week, Foley appeared to deny Flair his rematch, declaring that he would never wrestle the "Nature Boy" ever again. He explained that his contract states that he wrestles who he wants, when he wants, but that this wasn't even about contracts -- this was purely personal.
"I made a vow back in 1994 that I would never do a thing to help you out," Foley said on RAW.
This revelation opened the door for Flair to bait the Hardcore Legend into accepting his challenge, as he finally attacked Foley's soul on RAW. He cited a passage from Foley's second book, Foley is Good, which stated that Foley's favorite match of all time was Flair's 1989 "I Quit" Match against Terry Funk. Foley took the reference as a personal affront to his career as the Hardcore Legend, and finally accepted Flair's invitation for a rematch, stipulating that it would be an "I Quit" Match.
Foley told WWE.com, "I shouldn't have agreed to it, [but] Ric Flair touched on a sensitive point. He brought up the idea that I wasn't involved in the greatest Hardcore Match of all time, he was. In a perfect case scenario, there'd be no match at all [at SummerSlam]. But because there is, I'm making it a point to make this the most complete and brutal destruction of one man in recent memory."
Flair enthusiastically accepted the terms of the match, his eyes bulging out of his skull as he fired back, "May one of us bleed to death in Boston."
Flair is in frighteningly focused form, having compulsively pursued this match for nearly two months. Foley got a preview of what could be in store tonight when his ECW on Sci Fi appearance was interrupted by an attacking Flair. The Hardcore Legend was bloodied by a slam onto the steel steps, and as he retreated the "Nature Boy" screamed, "You will quit! You will quit!"
This rivalry stems from a mutual dislike for each other that has been brewing since their WCW days in the early 1990s, but it has escalated to a tipping point and now hinges on a personal vendetta. Flair vs. Foley stopped being professional a long time ago. These days, both of these men are on a mission to single-handedly destroy the heart and soul of the other. If MacArthur were alive today, he would give Foley and Flair the same wisdom that he gave those troops in the Philippines.
Ric Flair and Mick Foley are WWE legends. They have accomplished everything imaginable, and have continued to push their bodies to the limit as they have aged. But, as Mick Foley reminded WWE.com, this match is not merely a physical contest.
"The pleasure in this is going to come after the match, because there is going to come a moment in time when Ric Flair is going to admit he was wrong about me," said the Hardcore Legend, growing angrier. "As long as I'm in a match I didn't want, I want to make sure I get something out of it that I do want, and that's Ric Flair's respect."
With this match likely to be a bloody slugfest, as is the case with most "I Quit" Matches, it is clear that the bodies of these men will both be put to the test. However, in a match this personal, the soul is what is truly at stake. Will the "Nature Boy" finally get his revenge? Will hardcore habits dominate again? Can these two rivals ever earn each other's respect? The answers will come when one is left to scream "I Quit" tonight, live on pay-per-view.