I've been meaning to post about this all week, but haven't had much of a chance. As some of you may know Wrestlemania was a week ago today, and as some may know I'm kind of a wrestling fan. Now, I had dropped out of the weekly grind of it all sometime last summer, but I still followed my WWE on the net and caught little bits here and there. I watched the Royal Rumble in January, and did the same with Mania last week. I'll comment on the rest of Mania during my next News and Notes, but for now I just want to comment on one thing, Ric Flair's retirement match vs. Shawn Michaels.
To get you up to speed... Flair, a former 16 time world champion, had been on the decline for a long time now. He still competed, but it was definitely time to hang it up, not saying it as disrespect, but all good things end some time. However,WWE chose to honor this great champion with a fitting storyline. Win or retire. This went on from the beginning of this year till last Sunday, and it became quite the great streak that put Flair back in the proper limelight for one last ride. He beat everyone that came including many big names like Randy Orton and Triple H. Then it was announced that they were putting Flair into the WWE Hall of Fame the night before Mania and you just knew the time had come. Honestly though, as soon as they started this storyline I knew it would climax at Mania, it would be fitting and classy of the WWE to extend this privilege to Flair, and he more than deserved it. Kudos to them for doing so.
So, Flair chose Shawn Michaels to be his dance partner in his final hurrah. Can you have chosen better? Nope no way. Michaels is one of the best ever and is known to deliver at Mania in phenomenal ways. Plus Flair and Michaels have always shared a bond akin to a teacher/mentor and respected friends and coworkers so it just felt perfect. This match, to me, knowing full well that Flair was losing, was the reason to watch Mania. Everything else didn't matter.
And so these two greats fought, and Flair brought it all out in style for his last match, and it never felt at any time that Michaels carried the older vet on his shoulders. They fought tooth and nail, and delivered not only one of the most fantastic matches I had ever seen, but culminated one of the better storylines in the WWE's recent history. See, for those that don't watch wrestling, when a match like this comes along you realize that physical storytelling is an artform when told by masters such as Michaels and Flair. They wrenched out every possible emotion for those of us that watched on, baiting and swerving us and killing us with every move. By the end, to quote my pal Chris, it was like a Greek Tragedy when it was all said and done.
So, Michaels beat Flair, and Flair retired with an emotional tear jerking ending. Seriously. The next night, the WWE celebrated this great man, bringing out all kinds of performers new and old for a tribute to Flair. I too want to say thank you to the man. He changed my views of wrestling in the 80's when all I had ever seen was WWF with his NWA matches. He brought it up several levels for me with his emotion and intensity and guile. I cheered when he came over to the WWF and won the world title at the Royal Rumble. I've cheered on every version of his 4 Horsemen. (Yes, even the Paul Roma one!) He's had some of the better matches in history against Ricky Steamboat, Terry Funk, Sting, and now Michaels. He's been the epitome of class and championship material. A ring general and a showman, a jet flying, wheel dealing, limousine riding, space mountain climbing SOB, and I thank him for all of it not to mention all of the blood, sweat, and tears. He's made this long time fan happy on many occasions.
So while I'm sad that he won't be competing again, he's more than earned this. Have a happy retirement, Flair. Wooooo!!!