Flair's final stand?
The events of last week are living proof that anything can happen in WWE. In a matter of days, John Cena and Batista became former World Champions, while Edge and Kurt Angle took their spots atop the RAW and SmackDown rosters. It just goes to show that there are no certainties in the world of sports entertainment. Except one -- Someday in the very near future, the WWE Hall of Fame will undoubtedly be opening its doors to another one of sports-entertainment's best -- Ric Flair. The Nature Boy has arguably had the greatest career in the history of the business. When it comes to win/loss records, all others pale in comparison. But is it possible that Flair's greatest performance of the 21st century actually came in a losing effort? Further more, did the Nature Boy end his illustrious career on a loss?
Monday night, deep in Flair Country, the Nature Boy came within seconds of becoming a 17-time World Champion. With his daughter, Ashley, cheering him on from the front row, a bloody Flair ascended the ladder and had the WWE Championship within grasp. But before he could clutch the prize, Lita grabbed his leg, preventing him from picking up the win. A mere moments later, Edge's closed-fist knocked Flair off the ladder. The Rated R Superstar then grabbed the belt, signifying the end of the match and possibly the end of Ric Flair's 30-plus year career.
In the blink of an eye, the Nature Boy went from possibly becoming a 17-time World Champion to people wondering if he will ever be the same again. And if Monday night's loss was in fact Flair's last stand, will that match mar his amazing resume? The answer is an emphatic "NO!"
Instead, if Monday was Flair's last match, he can now walk away with his head held high, knowing that his last match was one of the most storybook performances of all time. Think about it -- do you remember Gorilla Monsoon's last match? How about Harley Race or Bruno Sammartino? Chances are that you don't. That doesn't mean that they were any less great. But think about how memorable it could've been if they ended their careers with that emotional exclamation point.
After Monday's TLC Match, whether it's against his will or not, Flair now has the opportunity to go out with one of the most amazing matches in recent memory. Despite coming up short, WWE fans will always be able to look back at this match and call it one of the Nature Boy's best ever. From start to finish, everything about the contest was pure magic. The entire crowd in North Carolina, affectionately known as Flair Country, was firmly behind the Nature Boy. When it looked as though he was going to pull the WWE Championship from the arena ceiling, you could feel the crowd's anticipation grow, even if you were watching from home. Embedded in that emotional crowd was the Nature Boy's daughter. She watched on as her father, who is twice the age of most RAW Superstars, was tossed from 15 feet in the air. She cringed when Edge jumped from 25 feet onto her bloody father. And she cried when it became painfully clear that the end had come… possibly forever.
When it was all said and done, and the Nature Boy was left a bloody mess in the middle of the ring, it would have been easy to say that this was not Ric Flair's night. In reality, though, that couldn't be farther from the truth.
So was Monday night the last time we will see Ric Flair compete in the ring? Hopefully not. But if it was, what a way to go out.
WATCH this Ric Flair video, highlighting his career and the TLC Match.