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The W - Guest Columns - Booking For Dummies-Michaels Vs. Flair
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Booking For Dummies-Shawn Michaels Vs. Ric Flair

The Gist: Each week, I present a simplistic, easy-to-duplicate-in-the-WWE angle or program that is designed to get talent over. Sometimes the talent will be name-specific; sometimes the angles might be tailored to any number of competitors. All the time, however, I’m aiming for quality. So, in this first edition of Booking For Dummies, I present to you: Shawn Michaels Vs. Ric Flair, Chapter Two.

The Players: Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, Randy Orton, Mick Foley.

The Time Frame: Six weeks.

The Angle, Week One: Picking up where this week’s Raw left off, Monday night sees a thoroughly dejected Ric Flair being consoled by his up-and-coming protege Randy Orton; the burnt-out former legend bemoans his tag-team loss to Rob van Dam seven days previously, bitterly disappointed in himself. Orton, however doesn’t seem fazed by the occurrence; giving Flair a hearty slap on the back, he promises that tonight, Ric will feel so much better about himself....

At the beginning of the second hour, Orton-with the uber-swank Evolution entrance, natch-leads his bummed-out mentor out to the ring, appearing unusually chipper. He holds the ropes open for the multi-time former World Champion, and helps him out of his jacket, laying it across the top turnbuckle for safe keeping. Commandeering a microphone from ringside, Orton addresses Ric happily; Naitch ma have felt embarrassed after what happened last week, but he shouldn’t. Everyone has their off-days, even international megastars like the two of them; that’s why, tonight, Orton has persuaded GM Bischoff to grant a “Special Attraction Match” to feature the one, the only, Ric Flair. So, without further ado, he welcomes Flair’s “special” opponent: Spike Dudley. Flair smiles and gives Orton a “Gee shucks, you shouldn’t have” look as “The Runt Of The Litter” power-walks down the aisle; stripping off his shirt but retaining his dress pants, Flair begins hammering on Spike as soon as he enters the ring.

The match proceeds largely as expected; Flair chops the Hell out of the poor li’l ECW alumnus, throwing in vicious low blows at random; at the three-minute mark, however, things take a highly unexpected turn. Slipping free from a back suplex, Spike sneaks in an uppernut shot of his own and, much to the crowd’s delight, the temporary incarceration of Flair allows him to nail the Dudley Dog! Spike covers immediately, but the devious Orton reaches in and pulls the little guy off of his associate at the last second. The ref naturally goes to admonish the third-generation star, but Spike takes matters into his own hands, launching himself over the top rope with high pescado. Orton catches him with ease, and Flair pulls the referee away from the ringside area as his young partner smashes Spike brutally into the ringsteps. Picking his ragged body up, Orton delivers a neck-breaking RKO on the floor, knocking Spike out cold. He nonchalantly tosses the unconscious Dudley back into the ring, where Flair hooks the Figure Four to get an easy pass-out victory. The two Evolution members aren’t done yet, however: After tossing the referee roughly to the floor, Orton proceeds to drop repeated knees into Spike’s chest as Flair mercilessly wrenches in the Figure Four. The beating seems to have no end in sight...

...when “Sexy Boy” floats out of the PA system, signalling the arrival of Shawn Michaels upon the stage. Mic in hand, he fixes a steely glare on the ring then, after paying little to attention to the cheers around him, he begins to speak. The scene before him is a pathetic one, a scene that galls him to witness. A sixteen-time World Heavyweight Champion beating on a buck-fifty kid with the help of a wrestler half his age. It’s a sad, sad sight. By now, Flair and Orton have broken off their attack, and are leaning against the ropes, staring venomously at HBK. Michaels continues regardless; unlike his former idol, Michaels knows what side his bread is buttered; he may have cheated in his day, but he never, EVER expected others to do his dirty work for him. And he certainly wouldn’t sully his legacy by associating himself with such bargain basement tactics as the ones just displayed. Has Ric never heard of growing old gracefully?

But onto different matters. Ric and Randy continue to fume as Shawn announces that, after last week’s altercation, he will be glad to accept Chris Jericho’s challenge to a match in a week’s time. he’s going to show Flair precisely how legends conduct themselves; he’s going to go out there with pride, and if he loses, then so be it. He turns to leave-and walks straight into a steel chair wielded by Y2J himself. Shawn crumples to the floor as Jericho yells maniacally at him; he readies another mighty swing, but the emergence of Kevin Nash from the back sends him scurrying away. Jericho grins in the aisle, joined by Flair and Orton, as Nash helps his friend to the back...

The Angle, Week Two: Of course, such a match as Chris Jericho Vs. Shawn Michaels could a main event in any arena in the country...and that’s just where we find it tonight, as the two closely-matched superstars go toe-to-toe in a superb twenty-minute contest. Earlier in the night Jericho is seen dissuading Flair and Orton from running interference; Shawn responds in kind, forcing a promise of no assistance from Nash. And, after a cracking free-television match-up, Jericho gets the win of a life-time by reversing a roll-up for the three-count. The aching Shawn struggles to his feet and, in a supreme act of sportsmanship, offers the hand of friendship. After hesitation, Jericho accepts-and that’s when Orton appear from ringside, jumping at Shawn from behind and delivering a brutal RKO. Flair clambers into the ring and begins directing traffic, then slaps on the Figure Four for good measure; Jericho simply shrugs and, with a nasty grin, makes his way to the back. The show goes off the air as “Big Sexy” lumbers down the aisle, causing Evolution to flee from Michaels’ beaten carcass. Flair stares down the aisle after the angry giant; fear and anger flicker in the Nature Boy’s face as Michaels pulls himself upright, hurt and disappointment evident in his eyes...

The Angle, Week Three: With Shawn, according to Jr, absent for the night, Randy Orton has perhaps his biggest singles match to date, as he preps for a one-on-one showdown with Kevin Nash. He and Slick Ric are seen brushing off the challenge backstage as Randy continues to verbally boost his older friend’s ego, proclaiming him “the Greatest of All-Time” and “The Heartbreak MAN Of The WWE”. Flair simply basks in the compliments-but there seems to be a little uncertainty about his manner as Randy’s big match approaches....

And, in what many would consider an upset, Orton triumphs after a well-timed Flair chairshot and two RKOs. Randy continues to lay the boots to Nash after the victory and seizes the chair form Flair, pounding Nash’s knees; he invites Ric in to join the party but, curiously, Flair declines. Randy simply shrugs and hauls Nash to his feet, ready for an RKO onto the already-crumpled chair-and Shawn sprints down the aisle to a thunderous ovation, laying the fists into the blue-chipper. Orton bails quickly and pulls Flair back up the aisle with him, but Naitch seems reluctant to leave; fixated on the infuriated Michaels, he cannot seem to move. Michaels returns the look and, without turning away, sequesters a microphone. His voice shaking with barely-controlled emotion, Shawn issues what he calls “The final challenge of his career”. He sees Flair out here each week, acting as monkey boy for Orton and Hunter, chopping his legacy into pieces with each passing week, portioning it off for the sake of his ego. And he can’t take it any more. he knows in his heart that Flair is still the Nature Boy he watched all those years ago; he can still go, and he can still take care of himself. So at SummerSlam, Michaels wants that one last match: he and Flair, thirty minutes, Iron Man. He wants the Flair of old. He wants the peerless Flair, the man who didn’t need some bulked-up wannabe sticking his nose in for him. And above all else, he wants one last chance to know who the better man is. He drops the mic and stares fierily at Ric; Orton is still pulling him, begging him to exit, but Flair will not move. Slowly, he nods, his face grave. Shawn returns the nod and, after one last moment of mutual understanding, Flair turns and strides up the aisle...

The Angle, Week Four: At the beginning of the evening, an unusually stoic Flair is shown arriving alone, his expression blank, his eyes wide; he enters the arena silently, his gaze never faltering. Shawn, we hear, is absent for real tonight; he’s with Kevin Nash at a medical facility in San Antonio, attending to his friend’s health. As the night progresses the ongoing Flair saga unfolds; through a discussion with Steve Austin, we learn that Flair has once again been booked in a match tonight, this time against two-time former Intercontinental Champion Val Venis. Flair nods in reply, and Austin goes on to tell Flair how happy he is that he’s accepted Shawn’s challenge. Austin had felt that their previous match was not quite enough when looking at the two men’s histories, and an Iron man match should be just the ticket to rectify that. Flair nods again, silent; Austin goes to speak once again, but Randy Orton has arrived on the scene to provide an interruption. he massages Flair’s ego a little more-which does not get a reaction from the WCW legend-then promises to offer “moral support” during Flair’s match tonight. Flair simply turns to him with a stony gaze, then walks off. Orton follows, and Austin watches after them, then turns away with a mutter of “I gotta make a phone call”....

And so, at the opening of the second hour, Flair makes his way to the ring-alone-for his match with Val Venis. His usual swagger seems much more subdued; he seems a step off for the first few sequences of the match, as Val takes him down and generally has his way with him. The tides change after two or three minutes, however, as Val lands badly on a second-rope dive, tweaking his knee; Flair zooms and, like the proverbial shark, goes straight to work on the injured wheel. A cacophony of boos rings through the arena as Flair sets to work warming up for the Figure Four; Randy Orton is sauntering down to the ring, arrogance personified. Flair seems distracted by this; Randy simply stands outside the ring, clapping and cheering his mentor. But the damage is done; Val slowly takes advantage of Flair’s disorientation, firing back with clotheslines and his Russian legsweep chain to retake control. he comes off the ropes looking for a swinging neckbreaker-and Orton casually trips him, yanking him out to the floor. The referee is busy with the winded Flair as Orton grabs Val for an RKO; Flair, however, is having none of it. Pulling himself to his feet, he shouts at Orton, demanding that he release Venis. Orton pauses, then backs off, a thunderous look upon his face as Flair pulls Val up to the apron. Looking for a suplex into the ring, Flair instead falls victim to a Val schoolboy. he reverses at the last second, grabbing a handful of tights for a three count. Flair has picked up a solid victory on his road to SummerSlam; but Orton is not done. As Flair gets his hand raised by the referee, Randy slides back into the ring, delivering a crushing RKO to the dazed Val Venis. Flair whirls around, fixing him with an enraged look; he seems in two minds as to where or not to admonish his young cohort. His villainous side gets the better of him, as he backs off, allowing Orton another RKO before quietly asking him to back off. The two heels make their way back up the aisle, leaving Val crumpled in the ring...

The Angle, Week Five: It’s standard tag-team build-up this week, as Michaels and the not-quite-healed Kevin Nash get their chance at a spot of pre-SS revenge against Flair and Orton. The match runs at about eight minutes, as Flair desperately tries to keep things straight and legal, restraining his eager young partner at several points as things unfold. The usual melee erupts at around the six-minute mark; Shawn takes Orton out to the floor and brawls wildly with him, leaving a clearly unnerved Flair alone against the big man. Nash casually tosses the smaller competitor around, but falls victim to some classic Flair cheap shots; an eye rake, a donkey kick and an uppernut slow Nash down no end. He retains control, however smashing Flair down with a big boot. Orton, meanwhile, disposes of Michaels with a high-impact whip into the crowd barricade; Shawn flips over into the crowd, totally addled. Clearly satisfied, Orton grabs a chair from the timekeeper’s position and, as Nash comes off the ropes in the ring, nails him in the back of the legs with a nasty shot. Nash drops to the floor, agonised, and the staggered Flair-having not seen Orton’s cheap shot-hooks the Figure Four, assuming Nash to have re-aggravated his knees. The big guy is left with no choice but to tap out; Flair gets another victory. The replay, however, leaves him wishing he hadn’t; after witnessing Orton’s interference he rounds on the youngster, his frustration evident. The two bicker as a groggy Shawn hauls himself over the outside barricade-and the sound of breaking glass causes the crowd to rise to it’s feet with cheers!

Co-GM Stone Cold Steve Austin strides out from behind the curtain, immediately drawing both Flair and Orton’s attention away from their squabble. Not wishing to wait for his music to cut, Austin angrily berates Orton, calling him a “little bastard” and remonstrating him for his cheap-ass winning strategies. he most certainly does not approve of Orton at the best of times, and in particular he doesn’t want the chair-happy “rookie” ruining a potentially great match at SummerSlam. That’s why he’s made another a certain crazy S.O.B....who would be more than happy to don those stripes one last time! A squeal of brakes welcomes out the returning Mick Foley, his face set as he shakes Austin’s hand. Without uttering a word, Foley walks purposefully down the aisle, his gaze set upon the man who viciously assaulted him several previously. Orton readies himself for Mick’s arrival-but the resurgent Shawn Michaels crashes into him from behind, sending him flying over the top rope! He lands directly at the feet of the “Hardcore Legend” and, with a squeal of horror, scurries up the ramp, high-tailing it as quickly as possible. Shawn yells after him-a crucial error, as the still-present Ric Flair nails him hard from behind, planting a vicious kick between his legs. Shawn drops to his knees, clasping his family jewels in pain, and Flair looks ready to hook a Figure Four-but instead, he simply shoves Michaels away, rolling out of the ring. Foley helps both Michaels and Nash to their feet as Flair, with a howl of frustration, backs up the aisle....

The Angle, Week Six: IN a show-opening interview the special guest referee for the thirty minute Iron man Match, Mick Foley, addresses the live Raw crowd. He thought it couldn’t get any better than returning to the WWE back in June; he thought it couldn’t get any better than refereeing one of the most brutal Hell In A Cells in history. He was dead wrong. This Sunday, he has the privilege-the HONOR-of calling the shots in perhaps the biggest dream match of all-time. He’s going to make sure that the fans get the classic match that they so desire; no-one will mess things up this Sunday. So, without further ado, he would like to welcome one of the participants in said match: Shawn Michaels. HBK makes his way swiftly to the ring and, after giving Mick his props, turns to addressing this Sunday. He barely begins to speak, however, when a loud “WHOO!” echoes around the arena. A hardened-looking Ric Flair struts down to the ring, clad in full Armani suit; he climbs into the ring smoothly, and requests his own mic from ringside. After a tense staredown, he speaks: After what happens last week, he’s got one thing to say. He’s sorry. He’s sorry for nailing Michaels from behind. He’s sorry for all the crap that’s got in the way of what may very well be his last great match, period. He’s sorry that this showdown couldn’t simply be icon Vs. icon, just like it should be. And he pledges that, come Sunday, it’s just going to be the two of them, WHOO, seeing just-who-the Man-IS. Shawn smiles a little; there is no humor to be found in his face. he offers his retort: As far as last week, he’d expect nothing less from “The Dirtiest Player In The Game”. There’s no need for Flair to apologise; it may just be the two of them this Sunday but, just like old times, Shawn’s going to bring every trick in the book. Because, deep down, he knows Flair will to. He lowers his microphone and stares intently at Flair, their eyes locked; and, in a hardly surprising move by now, Randy Orton emerges from under the ring, springboarding in with a clubbing blow to the back of Mick Foley. Foley goes down as Orton turns his attention to Michaels; he charges with a big right hand, but at the last second Flair hooks his arm, shoving him backward into the centre of the ring. Randy looks on, shocked; slowly his face grows angry. He shoves Flair a little-and Flair pops him one in the face! Orton hits the deck, rolling outside and staring up at Ric, more in shock than pain. Flair, meanwhile, shouts abuse at him, telling him to “get his ass OUT of my business”. He turns back to the ring-and Michaels WAFFLES him with Sweet Chin Music. Orton sprints to the back as Michaels exits the ring, shrugging at the slowly recovering Ric. He simply looks back at Michaels and, with a smile creeping across his lips, nods slowly. The match is on-it’s Michaels Vs. Flair, legend Vs. legend, one-on-one...

The Match: Positioned third from the top-just behind the two title match main events-the thirty-minute Iron man Match does not, in any way, disappoint. With Foley calling things right down the middle between the aging legends, things get off to the natural slow start; but, after the first ten minutes escalates into an all-out wrestling masterclass, Michaels sneaks in the first pinfall at 12:38, hitting Sweet Chin Music dead-on for an easy three-count. He cradles Ric immediately, looking for a second fall, but Naitch musters just enough to kick out. The match continues on; Michaels clips his knee in a brawl on the floor at the sixteen minute mark and, reverting to the Nature Boy of old, Flair goes in for the kill, battering Michaels’ legs with everything he can throw at him. Flair gets ready for Figure Four at the twenty-one minute point, but Michaels boots him shoulder-first into the corner; a seemingly out-of-it Ric stumbles back into the centre of the ring, and Michaels schoolboys him. But, like Val Venis three weeks prior, Michaels has fallen prey to the oldest trick in the book; having obviously played possum, Flair reverses the pin easily, snatching the tights for a pinfall to even things out. From there things get fast and frenetic as each man throws everything possible at the other, desperately going for that all-important third fall; neither can get that elusive three-count, however. And, at the twenty-seven minute mark, things change drastically.

To deafening heel heat Randy Orton, clad in slacks and a tight blue shirt, strolls to the ring, surveying the action on the outside. This throws all three legends present in the ring off their senses; Foley, Michaels and Flair ALL seem to be expecting Orton to pull some stunt. He doesn’t disappoint; after a catapult into the buckles, Shawn gets the second schoolboy of the match, rolling Flair up tightly. Foley drops to his knees for the count-and Randy drags him out to the floor. Mick angrily swings at the upstart but Orton ducks, sending Foley’s fist crunching into the ringpost. The hardcore legend, obviously in pain, stumbles backward-and Orton throws him roughly into the steps, incapacitating him. Orton gloats a little, then grabs a chair from ringside; he climbs up onto the apron but, rather foolishly remains focussed on the fallen Foley. And that’s when Flair strikes; wresting the chair away from his now-former student, he brings it down hard on Ortons’ head. He’s knocked for a loop, tumbling off the apron and smacking into the announce table as a befuddled Foley pulls himself upright near the steps. Flair shouts angrily at Orton, throwing the chair out after him-and, turning back, falls prey to a nasty rendition of Sweet Chin Music! Michaels slumps into a cover as Foley slides back into the ring-but Ric kicks out at the last nanosecond! The frustrated Shawn pounds the mat angrily and drags Flair roughly to his feet-and Flair sweeps his legs out, grabbing hold and rolling into the Figure Four in one fluid motion! The crowd goes batshit as Michaels pulls himself towards the ropes with all his might-and, with around thirty seconds to spare, he just manages to make it. Flair releases the hold, his blood now pumping, charged with adrenaline; dragging Michaels back into the centre of the ring, he twirls round again, looking for the F4. But in a classic counter, Michaels pulls him down into an inside cradle. With five seconds to spare, Foley drops to his knees, and the count is made; as Flair leaps to his feet the bell is rung. Michaels wins, two to one.

The crowd launches into a standing ovation as both men get to their feet; Foley raises Michaels’ hand, and an exhausted Flair offers the hand of friendship. Michaels takes it without hesitation, pulling Flair into a huge in the process as Foley watches on, applauding. The peace doesn’t last long.

Leaping into the ring with astonishing speed, Orton smashes Flair hard in the spine with his steel chair; the Nature Boy goes limp in Michaels’ arms as Randy rounds on Foley, levelling him with an absolutely horrific shot to the head. he drops like a stone, bleeding heavily; Flair meanwhile, is on his knees in front of Michaels. Michaels looks angrily up at Orton-then pie-faces Flair, shoving him down! The crowd goes into shock as HBK leaps over Flair, hugging Orton, then turns his attention back to his fallen opponent. Bitching Flair out, the newly-bastardised Heartbreak Kid locks on the Figure Four; Orton drops to his knees and screaming wildly in Flair’s face as Michaels watches on, grinning. Finally a gaggle of refs and the recovered Foley manage to clear the scene; Michaels and Orton regroup at the top of the ramp, raising each other’s hands....

The Aftermath: And so, the next night on Raw, we bear witness to Michaels announcing his retirement-“For now”-from active competition, pledging to aid his hot young prospect Randy Orton in achieving “just as much as I have”. With a bona fide victory over the Nature Boy Michaels has nothing left to accomplish; now, it’s up to Orton to do him proud. See, unlike Flair, he’s not going to use Orton vicariously to relive his Glory Days; he’s simply going to be there to make sure Randy gets exactly to where he should be: at the top of the mountain. And, while he’s there, he may as well give his ol’ buddy Hunter a hand too. He realises now that he was foolish to think he could hang with today’s megastars; now, he just going to be happy being there for ‘em.

The Future? Phew, what a mammoth plan....but where to go from here? Well, a Michaels heel turn is beneficial for any number of reasons; it freshens up his already tired face act, it gives him a reason to wrestle less, and it guarantees a continues star presence next to Orton. And the Flair face turn? Well, with Flair and Foley both gunning for him, we could have ourselves a brand-new career-ender on our hands...and, when the Michaels/Orton partnership finally disintegrates, Randy can duke it out with the “Sexy Boy” too. Plus, as outlined above, the scenario allows for the perfect climax to both Flair and Michaels’ big-time careers: A huge match, no bruised egos, a relatively clean finish, and benefits for those future stars associated with them. neat, huh?

Next Week: The Secret to A-Train’s Success!

Old School

Hail To The King, Baby

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#2 Posted on
Very good column, Old School.

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Big Bad

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#3 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.54
Turning heel doesn't seem like the Christian thing to do.

Over 1650 posts and still never a Wiener of the Day! But I'm not bitter!

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"I don't understand the creative process. Actually, I make a concerted effort not to understand it. I don't know what it is or how it works but I am terrified that one green morning it will decide not to work anymore, so I have always given it as wide a bypass as possible."-- William Goldman

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Good stuff. Still can't stop laughing at Goldberg being deactivated. Classic.
- CANADIAN BULLDOG, Satire of the Seasons (12/15/03) (2003)
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