By Liam Byrne @tvtimelimit
Ric Flair vs Mick Foley 8/20/06
I Quit Match
It isn’t very frequent that the WWE choose to acknowledge events from the outside world in their storylines and angles. The feud between Matt Hardy and Edge following the real life infidelity of Lita stood out because it was unique due to what felt like the quasi-shoot nature of what was being portrayed. The outing of Rusev and Lana’s engagement led to the quashing of an angle involving Dolph Ziggler as a third party, which was possibly the best outcome possible considering how poorly that feud was playing out. However, these tend to stand out because they are so infrequent.
Another time where the WWE chose to book a feud around real life animosity was when Ric Flair and Mick Foley decided to defy their respective ages and the reality that there best years were far behind them to feud over comments made in each other’s autobiography. Unlike the two previous examples, this wasn’t a falling out that forced WWE’s hand at all, but seemingly a choice to use the ill feeling as a means to heighten the interest in a match between two men who were past their prime at this point. Foley had called into question Flair’s booking in his book; Flair has called Foley a ‘glorified stuntman’. This words were effectively rehashed as a means to kickstart a feud that culminated at Summerslam 2006.
The two had fought at Vengeance just over a month earlier in a two out of three falls contest, a match that Flair had won two falls to nothing. Whilst this might usually negate the need for a second match in the feud, Foley effectively threw away the match after losing the first fall by attacking Flair with a trash can. With the introduction of violence in this manner, the next step would be an I Quit match, a gimmick that Foley had helped to re-introduce to a modern audience (though by losing to the Rock). What this did allow were the requisite smoke and mirrors needed to paper over some of the cracks there might have been in a straight up wrestling match.
Foley jumped Flair before he could even fully get his robe off, channelling his Cactus Jack days with pummelling fists and a running knee in the corner that just lacked that zip of yesteryear. A trashcan to the face had Flair down and Foley ‘bang bang’-ing in the center of the ring, before an early use of Mr Socko and the mandible claw led to our first attempt to force Flair to quit. Wrapping barbed wire around his first, Foley walked straight into a testicular claw and a follow-up low blow as all the shortcuts were being taken. Flair would even steal Socko, barbed wire and all, to chop Foley several times.
Foley bled, Flair would soon bleed. Foley would crash knee first into the ring steps, only to then drop Flair with a barbed wire board upside the head. ‘We want fire’ was the chant ringing out from the crowd with a question as to how far the two men would go to make this a spectacle hanging over the whole contest. A barbed wire board assisted elbow drop would lead to a second attempt by Foley to get the submission; Flair’s refusal would see him get pummelled with the microphone for his troubles.
Thumbtacks were the next weapon as Foley’s war on Flair stepped up a notch. A body slam on the tacks saw Flair unable to even answer the question, with a barbed wire bat raked across his face the next step in the escalating violence. A low blow gave Flair a chance to grab the weapon from his opponent and batter up, smashing Foley several times in the arm with little if any holding back.
In the next ode to Foley’s career, there was a Nestea plunge spot that sent Foley off of the apron and onto a trash can. Not only would this bring out referees and a doctor, it also saw Melina, Foley’s friend, come down to aid him. With the doctor trying to wave off the fight, Flair was having none of it. Melina would throw the towel in as Flair used the bat on Foley some more, but once again, Flair chose to ignore the decision.
The finish would see Foley eventually quit after Flair looked as if he was aiming to hit Melina with the bat. Not only was this another strand to the slightly awkward relationship that played out in Foley’s second book, it also was for naught in the long-run as Melina would turn on Foley soon afterwards. What the match did show was the willingness of both men to go above and beyond to put on a show, no matter what their personal and professional views of each other may have been. Looking back, it makes uncomfortable viewing, but it was better than it had any right to be.