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Default September 22nd, 2002: War Games



September 22nd, 2002

From the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina

Attendance: 19,257

Announce Team: "The Professor" Mike Tenay and Bret "The Hitman" Hart






Official Theme Song: "War Games"



Quote:
Hayabusa and Jinsei Shinzaki vs. The Jung Dragons (w/Stacy Keibler)

These two teams went out and had a good opener. It was right at the same level as their first match at last month's PPV, which is pretty impressive considering Hayabusa and Shinzaki are significantly more over in Japan than they are here in North Carolina. The quality was mainly due to the work of Hayabusa and the Dragons though, because Shinzaki was a weak link in this one.

They didn't go all out with the flying this time, but obviously all four guys did plenty of aerial stuff. The ending came when a double dropkick knocked Hayabusa to the floor, and the Dragons hit a double flying senton on Shinzaki to win the match and avenge their loss from last month.



Grade: B
Quote:
Billy Kidman (w/Torrie Wilson) vs. Psychosis

Now that the crowd was properly warmed up, I had Kidman and Psychosis go out and offer up a high flying bonanza. It was one big aerial high spot after the other, from moves off the top rope and dives to the floor. I thought both guys performed well in this style of match, though Kidman was much better. Part of that may have been Psychosis' stamina. He didn't completely gas out or anything, but he did look slightly fatigued by the closing stretch. Speaking of the closing stretch, Kidman hit his Sitout Spinebuster and then delivered the Shooting Star Press to record the pin.


Grade: B
Quote:

DDP was joined in the ring by Bobby Heenan, and Dallas revealed that a mutual friend tipped him off that Kimberly was going to be in the building tonight. He'd tried to find her in the back so they could handle this in private, but she was apparently going out of her way to avoid him because he was never able to find her despite several other people confirming they'd seen her around the building. Since they couldn't do it back there, they'd just need to do this out here. "So please, Kim, come out here so we can put this behind us and move on with our lives," he said. He was sincere enough, but based on the fan reaction during this segment I got the feeling that the 'One More Run' gimmick he's been using has outlived its usefulness, especially in this storyline. We'll need to give him something new soon. Anyway, after a brief pause...






Out came Kimberly, who was all smiles. She joined Dallas in the ring and shook hands with both her ex-husband and Heenan. Dallas thanked her for coming out so they could finally address this. He talked about their real-life divorce, only he made no mention of CM Punk and instead said that they'd simply "grown apart." (That didn't stop some of the smarks from chanting Punk's name.) He said that they might not be married anymore, but he'd always care for Kim and wished her nothing but the best. She smiled and said she felt the same way, and that's why she'd shown up to watch from the back when he challenged Booker T for the world title at Great American Bash, and also came to offer her moral support during his match at Bash at the Beach. Dallas successfully sold the awkwardness as he thanked her for that, but said that he felt it was best if they just go their separate ways. Without dropping her smile, Kimberly nodded.

"I agree, Dallas. It's for the best if we just move on and find new happiness. And guess what? I already have!" she exclaimed. Still smiling, she practically skipped to the back while DDP just stared at her, confused. I kept everyone scripted here because I didn't have a lot of faith in Kimberly to improvise. Her performance wasn't very good even with a script to work off of, but DDP came out of this looking like a much bigger star than the other two (which he is, obviously.)



Grade: B+
Quote:
No DQ:
Rob Van Dam vs. Mortis (w/Father Isaac)


The idea we were trying to establish here was that even though RVD was a veteran of these types of matches from his ECW days, Mortis has a well-earned reputation as an innovator of offensive moves, and having the ability to incorporate weapons would allow him to get even more creative (and dangerous.) To get that concept over I instructed both guys to do everything they could to make this feel like a wild, untamable brawl. Both guys responded well, using weapons like a chair, kendo stick, the ring bell and a camera in ways that made the match feel like an intense brawl rather than a nonsense hardcore match were guys just use weapons to use them. The match was hurt a bit by RVD all but ignoring the extensive work Mortis had done on his legs earlier so he could perform some of his flashy high spots. The match was also shorter than I think most fans were expecting and/or hoping. I don't think the crowd had fully crescendoed by the time we went to the finish, but I made a conscious decision to limit the length of this and some other matches so this show didn't run overly long.

As the match wore on, Tenay and I sold the story that for RVD to overcome Mortis' spectacular and creative offense, he was going to need to be less flashy and more vicious. Van Dam drove that point home by ducking a chair shot and hitting the Van Daminator, then picking up the chair and simply smashing Mortis across the back and ribs about a half dozen times. He followed up with the Five Star Frog Splash for the win; he came down awkwardly and drove his knee into Mortis' ribs, which was not intentional. I couldn't tell if Mortis was legit hurt or just selling in the aftermath, but I wouldn't have time to check on his condition until after the show.



Grade: B
Quote:

Arn Anderson summoned Etsuko Mita and Manami Toyota to his office. He apologized for not booking their title match on this show, and both women were still unhappy with him for that and made it clear. He explained that they had not been left off the show as a slight; just the opposite, it was being saved for a very special moment. He revealed that negotiations were well underway between WCW and their television partners for a new, one hour weekly TV show that would be devoted exclusively to the women's division. The show should debut in October, and the very first episode would be headlined by Toyota challenging for the championship! That appeased both women, and they left in a much better mood than they'd entered. I wish we could've given a name and/or premiere date here, but neither are set in stone yet. We have to wait until Saturday Night is off the air before we can finalize anything, and I'm still not sure what I want to call the show. Maybe I should ask for fan opinions on our website?


Grade: B-
Quote:

"Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels vs. American Dragon {}

Chavo joined Mike and I on color for this match. He was there to further his story with his "protege" by criticizing American Dragon for being ungrateful for everything he'd done for him. He did that, but focused too much on his story to the exclusion of everything else, and it took away from the story being told in the ring.

This match wasn't bad at all, but I expected it to be a bit better. I'm sure it would've been a different story if I'd given them more time and allowed them to really build up to a big finish, but again, I was looking to conserve time here. They did what they could in the time they were given, but this won't be a highlight of either guys' year or anything. Anyway, Daniels' air of superiority was being stripped away bit by bit here. With every moment that Dragon used his mat wrestling skills to wear Daniels out, the Fallen Angel's claims of being "God's gift to the Cruiserweight division" looked to be in jeopardy. But he had an insurance policy...









Out came Brian Adams, who entered the ring while Daniels argued with the ref and surprised Dragon with a Choke Slam. Daniels took advantage with the Angel's Descent to steal the title; meanwhile, mentor Chavo watched from commentary and did nothing to help.


Grade: B-
Quote:

Separately, Bischoff and Flair cut final backstage promos to hype tonight's War Games match. There was nothing to complain about in Eric's performance. He did his job in saying that the team he assembled was unstoppable, they were going to dismantle Flair's team, Flair wouldn't be getting his five minutes in the cage, and his career was over. But this segment belonged to Flair, no question about it. We got a vintage Flair promo tonight. He was fantastic, and the fans in Greensboro ate up every second of it.

"Bischoff, Empire, tonight you walk into MY world! You step into War Games, but not only that, you're stepping right into the heart of Flair Country, WOO! The Horsemen ruled Greensboro! The Nature Boy RULED Greensboro! Right here, Greensboro Coliseum, Thanksgiving 1983, the first ever Starrcade, I stepped into a steel cage with Harley Race, one of the toughest men to ever lace a pair of wrestling boots, and I won the world's heavyweight championship! One year later, same time, same place, I beat the "American Dream" Dusty Rhodes in the Million Dollar Challenge with "Smokin" Joe Frazier as the special referee! I've beaten the best of the best right here in the Greensboro Coliseum! And you think you're going to end it all tonight, Bischoff? You think your boys are going to end the career of the Nature Boy tonight? Over my dead body!

"Maybe I'm not the man that I was in 1983 anymore. Maybe the wheel of time has turned on Ric Flair. But tonight, you're going to find out that even if I'm not the man I once was, I'm still more man than any of you! Tonight, we walk that aisle and enter The Match Beyond. With the Stinger, Phenomenal AJ and big Sean beside me, we will destroy your Empire and your delusions of greatness! And after it's done, Bischoff, I'll destroy YOU! WOOOOOOOOO! GREENSBORO, LET'S DO IT ONE MORE TIME! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"



Grade: A*
Quote:
"Big Poppa Pump" Scott Steiner (w/Midajah) vs. The Unnatural (w/Father Isaac)

I wasn't interested in trying to get a classic out of these two guys at this point in the show. I just wanted them to put on a solid, psychologically sound match that told a good story, and that's what I told them to do. That's exactly what this was. It wasn't a MOTY contender by any means, but it was a good match that did its job. Dustin works well as this Unnatural character, which is sort of a darker twist on his old Goldust persona (without crossing over into the trashy stuff Vince had him do late in his run there.) He was able to get some good heat on Scott with some aggressive brawling and shady heel tactics, but Scotty made his big comeback with a flurry of suplexes and slams. He showed no ill effects from his strained back on Nitro as he tossed The Unnatural's 230-pound body around the ring with ease. Once he slapped on the Steiner Recliner, it was all over.


Grade: B


Steiner called for the microphone after the match, but Dustin wasn't his focus. He called out Booker T, calling him a "whining bitch" (hopefully our censors had their fingers hovering over the mute button the minute Scott Steiner grabbed a live mic.) He said he was sick and tired of listening to Booker T whine about his spot and about not being given main event matches. "You want a main event, boy?" he hollered. "I'll give ya a main event ass kickin'! I still got a guaranteed world title match anytime I want it from the UFS, and I'm takin' it at Halloween Havoc! So shine that belt up real nice in your crack house in Harlem or wherever the hell you go when you ain't showin' up for work, because I'm takin' it back from you just like I did last year!"

I may wince at some of the stuff Scott says, which flies in the face of our family-friendly approach. But I can't deny that the guy can talk, and he was very good tonight. Judging by the fan response to this promo, I think they're already looking forward to the main event of Halloween Havoc.



Grade: A*
Quote:
Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk

I view these guys as two of the future pillars we'll be hoping to build the main event scene around. They could very well be the two top stars in the company in the not too distant future, and I viewed this singles match as something of a test run to see how they'd work together without Matt and Lance in the picture. If this match was any indication, my faith in both Jeff and Punk is well-founded. Taking advantage of some of the matches earlier in the show that were kept comparatively shorter, I gave them plenty of time to start off slow and take their time to build the crowd up. It worked. After a few brief moments for Jeff to shine at the beginning, Punk took control with some ground work while jawing at the crowd and doing his best to get them behind Jeff. That was an easy task tonight, especially in Jeff's home state of North Carolina. The fans were hot for him, urging him to fight back, and they popped big when he ducked a Punk lariat and dropped him with a mule kick to begin his comeback. Neither of these guys are really at the main event level yet as far as name recognition, but they still stole the show with this electric match. Just imagining what they might be able to achieve if we can get them over to that level has me very excited about the future of this company.

Punk regained control with a thumb to the eye and went for his Devil Lock DDT, but Jeff slipped out of that and countered with the Twist of Fate. After flashing the Hardy hand signal, Jeff removed his shirt (to the approval of many of the female fans) and went to the top rope for the Swanton Bomb.







Before he could hit it though, Lance Storm ran out from the back and shoved him off the top rope in clear view of the referee for a DQ.


Grade: A




Matt ran out for the attempted save, but the True Heroes were ready for him. They withstood his initial charge and used their 2-on-1 advantage to overcome him, battering him with punches before dropping him to the mat with a double back suplex. The Heroes put a beating on both Hardys, working them over with chairs despite officials trying to get them to stop. They shoved past the referees to grab the microphone and made their point clear: they were the top tag team in wrestling, and they were coming to get their belts back. They even posed with the belts briefly for good measure before dropping them at the feet of the fallen Hardys. This entire angle was only added to the lineup shortly before the show began, but more on that later.


Grade: B+
Quote:

Piper was out first to provide the introduction to the Piper's Pit segment. He reminded us about the vicious beating Rey Misterio Jr received from Booker T at Bash at the Beach, in which he suffered the Book End on the exposed concrete floor and was stretchered to the back. That was the last we'd seen of Rey until a recent sit-down interview with Bobby Heenan, but tonight was to be his first time to address the fans live and in person since Bash at the Beach.

"What's it gonna be, folks?" Piper asked. "Is Misterio gonna return to the ring and wow us all with his amazing flying moves, or did Booker T beat the will to fight right out of him? I don't know any more than you do, so let's find out together right here and right now! Ladies and gentlemen, my guest, Rey Misterio Jr!"











Rey did indeed come out, but he was back under the mask. He answered Roddy's question in no uncertain terms: not only was he medically cleared to return, but he was focused and ready mentally to pick up where he left off. He explained that he'd put the mask back on because he was embracing his roots and heritage, and also going back to basics. "Booker T might have thought that he put an end to Rey Mysterio Jr. at Bash at the Beach, but all he did was give me even more motivation! I fight not just for myself; I fight for mi familia! Rey Mysterio Jr. is back, and I'm going to be better than ever!"

We kept things scripted here to avoid the potential of Rey screwing up. Unfortunately Tenay hurt things with his commentary, doing too big a hard sell about how historic this was and coming across as phony.



Grade: B+
Quote:
Davey Boy Smith vs. Disco Inferno

No one took this match seriously heading in, and that was kind of the point. This match was here to let the crowd cool off and relax after the Hardy/Punk match, which I correctly believed would be an epic. We kept it short (only slighter longer than the average TV squash match) and made no real effort to try and get Disco over as a credible threat to win. He was here to lose, and that's what he did once Davey hit the Running Powerslam.


Grade: C+
Quote:

Rick Steiner vs. Shane Douglas {}

Rick is only a mediocre worker at this stage of his career, so it was going to be up to Shane to carry the load in this match. That's nothing new to him after his program with Mark Jindrak, and he was up to the challenge once again. This was a pretty good match, largely thanks to Douglas, who led Steiner through the match and helped him come across as a credible challenger as he sold for Rick's suplexes and basic power offense. Shane's work might not be flashy, but he's developed into one of our more reliable workers (and is generally a great promo as well.)

Carrying over from the buildup, the story told was Douglas trying to work Steiner into a blind rage and goad him into wrestling recklessly. That strategy seemed to backfire when a slap to the face riled up Rick, and he started reeling off punches and Steiner-lines. The assault kept up even as Douglas was backed against the ropes, and when Rick didn't let up despite his warnings, referee Nick Patrick stepped in to try and pull him back. That was all the opening Douglas needed to punch Steiner in the face and hit the Franchiser to retain the title.



Grade: B
Quote:

We began stalling for time as the War Games cage was set up. The first thing we did was air a short video promoting the second annual Stu Hart Classic, beginning tomorrow night on Nitro.


Grade: C
Quote:

Next up was a promo from Booker T "live" from his home in Houston (we actually taped it earlier in the week, but kayfabe!) He responded to Scott Steiner's announcement from earlier by saying he was happy about defending his title against "Big Poppa Pump" at Halloween Havoc. It was a chance for him to right a major wrong.

"Errbody knows I shoulda never lost this title in the first place, man! When you "won" this title from me last year at Bash at the Beach, you didn't pin me and I never quit! You spent the next five months walkin' around with MY title, but now it's back where it belongs! Now you think you're stealin' it from me again at Halloween Havoc? Guess again, dawg! This belt ain't goin' nowhere, not this time! See you at Halloween Havoc, sucka! And to you chumps in the War Games match tonight, have fun killin' each other in MY main event spot, 'cause next month the champ's comin' back to the spotlight where I belong!"



Grade: B+
Quote:

War Games!
Team Flair ("Nature Boy" Ric Flair, Sting, Sean O'Haire and AJ Styles) vs. The Empire (King Corino, Chris Candido, Chuck Palumbo and TAKA, w/Eric Bischoff and Tammy Sytch)

If Team Flair wins: Ric Flair gets 5 minutes alone in the cage with Eric Bischoff!
If The Empire wins: Ric Flair must retire!


Beginning the match...

AJ Styles and TAKA

We had the two cruiserweights start the match off. Obviously the structure of the match limited what they could do, as far as taking away their high flying spots. Both guys did the best they could to adjust though, and they had a pretty entertaining and fast-paced opening period. Even though he was limited in what he could do, I thought TAKA adapted to the circumstances very well. He got some heel heat, but when he went to throw AJ into the cage, AJ blocked it with his foot and caught TAKA with an elbow to the face. A vertical suplex lift into a neckbreaker had AJ firmly in control as this five minute opening period expired, but he was about to have a fresh member of The Empire to deal with.


Entering the cage second for The Empire...

Chuck Palumbo

The newest member of The Empire joined the fray. Styles was ready and took the fight right to him. Despite Palumbo being the bigger and stronger of the two, AJ held his own until TAKA recovered and got back in the mix. With both Empire members working together, they soon had Styles at their mercy. They battered AJ, whipped him back-first into the cage and executed a tandem move where Palumbo used a belly to back suplex while TAKA simultaneously came off the top rope with a double foot stomp. Before any further damage could be done, the timer for this two minute period neared its end and the fans began counting down for the next entrant. Team Flair broke from their huddle on the floor with Sting approaching the door, prepared to enter as soon as it was unlocked. Just when he was about to, though...


Bolting right past Sting and entering the cage for Team Flair...

Sean O'Haire

Sean O'Haire just couldn't wait to get his hands on his former partner. He ignored the agreed upon strategy, shoved Sting out of the way and ran through the open door. He went straight for Palumbo, tackling him through the ropes and into the second ring. He got on top of Chuck and just started unloading with punches to the face, and when TAKA tried to intervene O'Haire grabbed him by the throat and launched him over the ropes and back into the other ring! Palumbo begged off, but O'Haire was relentless, punching, kicking and choking him as he backed up into the corner. Chuck's performance wasn't too impressive tonight; even with AJ and TAKA having some of their greatest strengths taken away by the cage, he was probably the weakest part of this match. O'Haire really thrived though, and was one of the standouts.


The third man in for The Empire...

King Corino

O'Haire was one of the standouts, but King Corino was THE standout. He was right at home in this match, and as a result he was quite easily the MVP of this main event. He warily stepped around O'Haire as he entered the cage, but Sean was so focused on his former friend turned bitter enemy that he ignored him. Corino took advantage of this by going over into the other ring and attacking AJ Styles. Styles met him with an initial barrage of punches, but doubled over in pain when Corino caught him with a knee right to the ribs that had been damaged by TAKA's top rope double stomp earlier. The self-professed King rocked Styles with punches, and TAKA finally recovered to help him subdue AJ with a Spike Piledriver!

That rendered AJ a nonfactor, and Corino and TAKA returned to the other cage to help Palumbo. O'Haire fought with wild fury, but that only got him so far against a 3-on-1 attack. The Empire members finally got the better of O'Haire and brought him to his knees, and Corino and TAKA pinned his arms behind his back. Palumbo was much more courageous with O'Haire now helpless, and he trash-talked his former partner and slapped him across the face! O'Haire's eyes went wide with fury, but he could do nothing but kneel and take it as Palumbo sized him up and gave him a big boot to the face. The Empire members posed and celebrated their handiwork while looking over to the Team Flair door, where participant number three was about to enter.



Coming in third for Team Flair...

Sting

With both Styles and O'Haire down on the mat, things weren't looking good for Sting. He stepped into the ring nearest his door, where AJ was still out, and thumped his chest as if to dare all three Empire members to come and get him. They smiled and made to do just that--and that's when the Stinger struck. He ran full-speed and dove clear over both sets of ropes to wipe out all three of his foes! Knowing the element of surprise would be fleeting and he needed to continue to strike while he had the momentum, he picked up the fatigued TAKA and tossed him back into the other ring. Corino was up to his feet first, and Sting hit him with punches and backhand strikes before hurling him halfway across the ring with a hip toss. Palumbo got up next by pulling himself up in a corner, and Sting was ready to greet him with a Stinger Splash! I have to say that even though the crowd popped pretty good for Sting, he didn't look too great in this match. He barely even cleared the ropes on that diving crossbody, and wouldn't that have been a match-killer!

Anyway, Sting had cleaned house, and O'Haire soon recovered enough to join the attack. He went right back to beating on Palumbo, while Sting focused on Corino. AJ was still down and selling the Spike Piledriver, but TAKA wasn't in any condition to capitalize either. Things were going Team Flair's way, but it was now time for the final member of The Empire to enter.



The final man in for The Empire...

Chris Candido

Our cameras captured Tammy Sytch whispering instructions to Candido while Bischoff subtly slipped something into his hands. He entered the ring and charged straight at Sting, knocking him back against the ropes. The plan quickly became apparent: Bischoff had given him handcuffs, and he was going to try and cuff Sting to the ropes. Sting struggled though, and after knocking Candido back with a headbutt, he hit him with a big punch that sent the cuffs flying. It looked like he'd dodged a bullet, but then Corino kicked him below the belt. That dropped Sting to his knees, and Corino scooped the cuffs off of the mat for another attempt. Candido assisted him, and together they succeeded in cuffing Sting's hand to the ropes. Corino took a moment to mock Sting by "holding up his dukes" just out of his range, and then The Empire set about destroying their remaining opponents.

AJ Styles was first; he had recovered and was faring pretty well against TAKA in the other ring, but Corino and Candido put a quick stop to that. The three of them battered Styles and launched him face-first into the cage! AJ crumpled to the mat, bleeding from the head, and it was now all four members of The Empire against Sean O'Haire. The big man actually fought off Candido and TAKA for a moment, but Corino craftily approached from the blind side and chop blocked the big man's knee. That dropped O'Haire, and all four members of The Empire worked him over until the cage door was set to open for the final time.



And last but not least, the final man to enter the cage...

Ric Flair

THE MATCH BEYOND BEGINS!

With Styles bloodied and down, Sting handcuffed and O'Haire the victim of a 4-on-1 mugging, things looked bleak for the Nature Boy. Faced with these odds, Flair actually turned away from the cage door. Mike and I wondered if he was having second thoughts, especially with his career hanging in the balance, but he wasn't actually fleeing. Instead he was walking towards the other ring, where Bischoff was still standing! Upon realizing what was happening, Eric's cocky smirk turned into a look of fear. He ran up the aisle (no ramp this time due to the two ring setup) in a blind panic. Flair began chasing him, then noticed that in Eric's haste he'd dropped the baseball bat he'd brought to ringside. Ric smiled, picked up the bat and brought it with him as he entered the cage at last.

Ric entered the fray with an equalizer--but would it be enough against four enemies, with no partners in a position to help him? We were about to find out. After looking back and forth between each other uncertainly with no Bischoff there to guide them, King Corino took control and barked out orders to the rest of the group. They cautiously advanced into the next ring, and moved in as one. Flair got in a hard bat shot to the ribs of TAKA, and got a good whack in on the leg of Palumbo to drop him to his knees, but he couldn't take all of them at once. Corino and Candido tackled him to the mat and began punching him in the face. Ric fought back wildly, but couldn't fight them off. The gambit had failed.

Out of nowhere, with blood covering his face, AJ Styles flew into the picture with a huge flying clothesline that sent himself, Candido and TAKA all flying over the top rope and into the next ring! Palumbo looked confused as to what to do next, and then O'Haire solved that dilemma for him by spinning him around and into a Samoan Drop! It was now Flair and Corino, one on one! A rejuvenated Nature Boy went to town on Corino with a big chunk of his offensive arsenal, including chops, a running knee drop and the atomic knee crusher. The fans in Greensboro 'Wooed' along with him as he stepped through and dropped back into the Figure Four! Everyone could sense the tap out coming as Corino tried in vain to find some means of escape.

Except Corino had one more ace in the hole, and now he played it. He reached into his tights, slipped a pair of brass knuckles on his hand and clobbered Flair right in the face! Escaping the Figure Four was child's play after that, and he now had free reign to batter Flair. He mocked Flair with a strut and a woo, then picked up the bat from the corner of the ring where it had wound up. He raised the bat over his head and smashed Flair in the leg with it! That woke Ric from his dazed state, as he was now screaming in pain! Not content with that, Corino raised the bat and struck Flair's leg a second time! Only then did he drop the bat, and in the ultimate insult, he applied Ric's own Figure Four! Flair was howling in pain!

O'Haire saw what was happening and turned to help, but TAKA dropkicked him in the back of the knee and effectively took his legs out from under him. Styles tried to leap over his opponents to get back into the other ring and make the save, but Palumbo caught him out of midair and rammed him into the side of the cage. No help was coming, but Flair refused to quit despite the immense pain in his legs. In-ring referee Nick Patrick looked as if he wanted to call for the bell, but Flair screamed "Don't you dare, dammit!"












Arn Anderson, WCW Commissioner--and Ric Flair's best friend--came running down to ringside. He beat his hands against the cage, wanting to enter and help his friend, but knowing he couldn't. He begged Ric to quit, but Ric shouted "NEVER!" Arn took his glasses off, rubbed his hands across his face--and told outside referee Charles Robinson to stop the match! Flair continued screaming no, and Robinson looked petrified, but Arn again told him to stop the match. Heeding the orders of his boss, Robinson called for the bell, ending not only the match, but the 29-year pro wrestling career of Ric Flair.


Grade: B+


Eric Bischoff returned to ringside as the bell sounded, grinning from ear to ear. He and his group celebrated, but they headed to the back quickly. I didn't want them out there too long, because I knew the crowd in Greensboro would be emotional after the ending of the match. They weren't the focus anyway.


Grade: B


As the smoke cleared, the new reality set in: a reality without the Nature Boy. Tenay and I sold the shock of Ric Flair's legendary career coming to an end, but I think I did much better in that role than Mike. The referees helped free Sting of his handcuffs, and the defeated team gathered around Flair. They helped him up to his feet, but he shoved them back, wanting to walk (or limp) on his own. He looked straight at Arn Anderson and began cursing him out. Even without a microphone, the cameras could still pick up words like "backstabber" and "sell-out." Arn tried explaining that he was only looking out for Ric's long-term health, but Ric was having none of it. Sting stepped in to try and play peacemaker, but Flair continued screaming at his longtime friend as the PPV went off the air. Arn did a good job here as the conflicted man who'd made an extremely difficult choice, and Ric and Sting weren't bad either.


Grade: A

Show Overall Grade: A
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