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Friday, 28 March 2008

Booking Ric

It’s fair to say that as Wrestlemania fast approaches, the main event is not really the main event.

WWE probably hoped that their main draw and chief attraction would be Big Show v Floyd Mayweather. Instead, another non-title match has probably usurped everything on the card, and will likely be the most anticipated match in Orlando this Sunday.

Ric Flair will take on Shawn Michaels in what has been widely expected to be Flair last ever match. Flair’s retirement angle has been staccato since it started some six months or so ago. Sometimes it seemed that WWE had given up on it, or at least relegated to low status. Throughout, The Nature Boy has grasped every opportunity to show his talent on the stick, and every now and again we get a classic Naitch moment.

His build to a Mania match with HBK had, for me, not been what it could be, until last week. I thought some time ago that Michaels needed to play the heel role he did against Hulk Hogan and did for a time against John Cena last year. This week he really did. The match now has an edge to it, which means all the difference.

There is no doubt that it will be an emotional experience. There is also no doubt that the crowd will be right into the occasion. The thing is, is there doubt about the finish?

Well, in some eyes it appears not, but I would suggest the outcome is far from cut and dried.

The general consensus is that Michaels will prevail and that will be it for the storied career of Ric Flair. I think that this is the kind of situation that WWE love and can exploit the prevailing attitude to produce an amazing moment.

Would you like to know how I would book it? Of course you would.

Firstly, I’d have Michaels cut a promo similar to his Old Yeller one on Raw, and then when both guys are in the ring, have Ric offer a handshake, but HBK either cheap shots from it or just plain refuses. Michaels is still going to have his fans, so this kind of tactic makes him more of a heel, at least for one night.

As far as the actual outcome of the match goes, after the predictable amount of near falls and close shaves, Ric gets the win, possibly with a small package or the like. But he should win, cleanly, but with a surprise tactic and not make Michaels looks too weak.

So the big swerve occurs, and the unthinkable happens. Flair wins, and is not retiring yet. After that, there is only one way to go. Ric to challenge the new WWE champion, either Cena or Triple H, at the next Pay Per View.

If people bought Wrestlemania to see Ric’s last match, imagine how many will order Backlash if Naitch has a WWE title shot. Some will buy to see him win the title, some will still want to see his last match.

I wouldn’t have him win it. I’d have another close contest end with Ric not quite getting it, but kicking out of the opponent’s finisher and prolonging the inevitable a little bit. I’d prefer to see this match with Triple H than Cena, but it depends on how the longer term future is set out for the title.

Anyway, that’s how I’d do it. For Ric Flair to get the win when most are expecting him to retire on Sunday would give him one hell of a final Wrestlemania moment, on top of his Hall of Fame induction.

There is still time for Ric to be the man.

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