The Great Escape

Throughout his illustrious career, Ric Flair has never been afraid to use any and every tactic in the proverbial book to survive. Based on this, he has earned the nickname "The Dirtiest Player in the Game." At Taboo Tuesday, the Nature Boy proved the moniker to be a worthy one once again, pulling a page deep out of his playbook to defeat Triple H, a page entitled "The Great Escape."

Fans had three choices for the Flair-Triple H battle, but Ric Flair begged and pleaded with the fans to put them inside a Steel Cage. The fans responded, with 83 percent voting for the Steel Cage Match…but were they really aware of what they were getting Flair into? He may be the Intercontinental Champion and one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) wrestlers of all time, but it's very easy to believe he was in way over his head at Taboo Tuesday.

First of all, Triple H is a master inside steel structures, for lack of a better term. He has won two of the three Elimination Chamber Matches, and is the master of the Hell in a Cell Match. While there are subtle nuances between those other structures and your standard Steel Cage, the basic match premise is the same: two or more bitter rivals confined in a small space covered by cold, unforgiving steel. And when you look at the numbers, Triple H's record in those matches is second to none. He is truly a Cerebral Assassin, and uses every piece of leverage he can when inside the steel. Want a measure of his success? Inside the steel, Triple H has retired Mick Foley, regained the World Heavyweight Championship, and destroyed the legendary Shawn Michaels. 

Secondly, Ric Flair is not a young man. Is he the greatest wrestler in the history of the business? Perhaps, but time takes its toll on everything, and Flair is no longer the man who used to go an hour with the greatest every night. Just this year, the sports world has seen several of its greatest forced to realize that they didn't have it anymore. Jerry Rice may be the greatest wide receiver in NFL history, but retired because he couldn't make the Denver Broncos as a backup. Jack Nicklaus has won 18 majors on the PGA Tour, yet failed to make the cut in every PGA tournament he played in this year. The list goes on, but you get the point. The Ric Flair of 2005 is obviously not the same Ric Flair of the 80s and 90s. But he's far from washed up, which he continues to prove time and time again.

Tuesday night on pay-per-view, Flair reminded us of his greatness once again. With the odds seemingly against him, Ric Flair dug down deep inside, and used his intestinal fortitude to pull out the victory. Whether spurred on by hatred, the desire to remain Intercontinental Champion, or some other motivation, Flair proved that he was still the Dirtiest Player in the Game. After a brutal beating left him bloody and battered, Ric Flair found the strength to pull himself off the mat, escape the Pedigree, and bash Triple H with a steel chair multiple times. And as Flair looked down at the chair, Triple H lay beaten in a pool of his own blood, and redemption was a few steps away.

In the end, Ric Flair stepped through that cage door and won the match. But by the time he did so, he had already proven he still had game. Ric Flair may be a step slower than he was 20 years ago, but at Taboo Tuesday, he stood toe-to-toe with Triple H and took everything The Game could dish out. Bloody, bruised, beaten…victorious. At Taboo Tuesday, The Nature Boy made "The Great Escape," proving once again that he is "The Man." 


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