January 31, 2002
Ric Flair was preparing to make the biggest decision of his life on the Jan. 30 episode of SmackDown!, and the stage was set for an emotional broadcast as the show kicked off from The Scope in Norfolk, Va.!
The show kicked off with a battle of champions, as Undisputed World Wrestling Federation Champion Chris Jericho took on one half of the Tag Team Champions, Tazz, in a non-title match. Jacqueline served as referee for the bout, which saw Tazz put up a great fight, and soon locked Y2J in the Tazzmission. But while locked in the hold, Y2J pushed Jackie away long enough to nail Tazz with a low blow. He followed up with the Breakdown, and pinned Tazz for the victory. After the bout, Jackie begrudgingly raised Jericho's hand, which upset the Undisputed Champion, so he locked her in the Walls of Jericho as revenge!
Backstage, an emotional Ric Flair prepared to walk to the ring.
The APA were playing cards in their office, talking about how much they were looking forward to seeing the movie "Rollerball." Bradshaw revealed to Faarooq that he had actually grown up with one of the stars of the film -- LL Cool J! Bradshaw even said the song "Mama Said Knock You Out" was written about him! As the APA were talking, the stars of "Rollerball" -- L.L. Cool J. and Chris Klein -- came over to play cards with them!
Faarooq asked LL Cool J about the song, and Bradshaw quickly changed the subject! The foursome was soon joined at the table by the other star of "Rollerball" -- Rebecca Romijn-Stamos! The APA said they were prepared for a star such as her, and they reached into their file cabinet and pulled out a cocktail and a vegetable tray! But Rebecca said she just wanted a beer -- and she chugged that sumbitch down!
Ric Flair headed to the ring to a standing ovation, and the Nature Boy began to cry because of the emotional homage from the crowd. Flair said it was fair to say that he and the people had bonded over the years, and that there was a lot of history with him and Norfolk, which is what made what he had to say even harder. He said he had to make the right decision for the greatest sports-entertainment company in the world. He said the business isn't just about the wrestlers, it's about the fans. He said there were young stars in the business who needed to be taken care of. He said he was in Norfolk to say good-bye.
He said a year earlier, he didn't get to say goodbye, he was just gone. But now, he could say goodbye and thank the fans. The crowd cheered for Ric as the Nature Boy continued to fight back tears. Flair thanked all the fans for everything they'd done for him. He said he had tried to entertain everyone, and he loved doing it, but it was time for the company to go forward, so he was selling his stock to Vince McMahon.
He said there were guys like Stone Cold and The Rock who didn't need to go through the nWo -- they needed to go forward, and they deserved the fans' support. But he said his own time was done, and it was a good time to say goodbye. He said he wanted to walk out the door with his head held high.
The crowd chanted "We Want Flair!" as Ric said good-bye. He said he would never be in a ring again, so he wanted to cherish the moment. He said he hoped his children and parents were proud of him, because he was proud of what he had done. Flair then put down his microphone and left the ring to a standing ovation.
Next up, Christian defended the European Championship against Diamond Dallas Page. DDP surprised the champion with a Diamond Cutter, and then pinned him to capture the European Title! Page celebrated with the people after his win, as Christian threw a temper tantrum in the ring!
A limo arrived in the parking area at the Scope, and out walked Vince McMahon, who had a huge smile on his face. Vince was followed by several of his lawyers, and told them this would be a night to remember. Coach caught up with Vince, and informed him what Flair had said. Vince said that Flair's decision to sell didn't surprise him, and said that Flair would sign the documents on Vince's terms, and would say goodbye on Vince's terms. Vince then proclaimed that they would sign the documents publicly, right in the middle of the ring!
Goldust made his latest appearnace in a myseterious video, saying he was tired of hiding. He again made mention of this mystery person, who he suggested was waiting for the madness to end. Goldust promised to reveal himself to his mystery man this Monday on RAW, who would never forget the name Goldust.
Jim Ross conducted a sit-down interview with Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley, and the subject of the interview was her career and her marriage. J.R. said that since her failed investment with ECW, her career has been on a downslide, so she was hanging on desperately to her husband's coattails. Stephanie told the fans to wait and see what she was capable of. Stephanie said the fans should give her some credit for what she did this summer -- not only nursing her husband back to health, but also purchasing her own company and forming the Alliance. She said she was the epitome of a career woman, and if she'd never listened to her brother in the first place, she would be a success right now.
J.R. asked about what had happened on RAW, when she accidentally cost Triple H a match against Booker T. Stephanie said she had made a mistake, and everyone made mistakes. She said after all the good things she had done, you couldn't get on her case for one mistake. Footage was then shown from RAW of the backstage blow-up between Triple H and Stephanie after the bout, and Stephanie looked like she was about to cry watching the footage.
She said it hurt her feelings, but she forgave Triple H, and that's what love and marriage were all about.
J.R. wanted to talk about her marriage. He said there were rumors about infidelity early in their marriage. She said she would never cheat on her husband, and she couldn't believe J.R. was asking that question. J.R. then asked if she thought Triple H would ever cheat on her, and Stephanie said Hunter never even looked at other women, because there was no other women who was as beautiful, sweet, loving, and good in bed as she was!
J.R. asked about all the temper tantrums and yelling on TV, saying her actions on TV were sometimes childlike. Stephanie said that all fans see if what is on television, and they don't see how happy they are in day-to-day life. Stephanie said J.R. could take all the rumors and questions from fans and shove them. Stephanie said she would give J.R. personal answers -- ones that he didn't want to hear. But as far as her marriage was concerned, she was going to prove to the world how much Triple H loved her. She thanked J.R. and left to go take care of something, saying it would prove to the world just how perfect her marriage was.
The stars of "Rollerball" continued their poker game with the APA, when they were approached by Booker T. Booker confronted LL Cool J and asked why he wasn't invited to the premier of "Rollerball," and the APA were. He also asked why he wasn't the lead in the movie!
LL Cool J said Booker wasn't in the movie because there was no scene where someone gets their ass kicked in a grocery store! Booker then challenged the APA to lace up their boots, so he could show them who the real star was!
An emotional Ric Flair ran into Earl Hebner backstage, and gave him a hug goodbye.
Intercontinental Champion William Regal provided color commentary as the Dudley Boyz -- accompanied by Stacy Keibler -- took on Rob Van Dam and Edge. Prior to the bout, the referee searched Regal for brass knuckles, but couldn't find any. Stacy soon went over to sit on Regal's lap -- and he took out a pair of brass knuckles, which had been hidden in the back of Stacy's shorts! RVD nailed D-Von with the Five-Star Frog Splash, but Bubba planted RVD with a powerbomb. Edge nailed Bubba with a spear for a two-count, and Regal then got up on the apron and tried to knock out Edge with the knucks, but Edge moved, sending Bubba crashing right into Regal. Edge then hit Bubba with the Edge-ecution for the pinfall.
Booker T paced backstage and talking about destroying the APA and the stars of "Rollerball." He was approached by Test, who asked to be Booker's tag partner against the APA, because he wanted to impress Rebecca Romijn-Stamos!
Vince McMahon was getting some coffee when he was approached by Howard Finkel, Brooklyn Brawler and Harvey Whippleman, and Vince asked them how their wives and families were doing. He then excused them all, and enjoyed his coffee alone.
Lilian Garcia interviewed a disappointed Kurt Angle, asking about his state of mind after losing his shot at the Undipsted Title at No Way Out. Kurt said he was sick of hearing about him losing, and he wasn't a loser. He said he'd accomplished everything he'd ever set his mind on, and he was a winner. Lilian said that wasn't true, because he hadn't won the Royal Rumble. Kurt asked Lilian who the hell she thought she was, and that the Rumble was his until Triple H had snuck up from behind and tossed him out. He said that was his only chance to win the Rumble on his first try, and he would never forgive The Game for that. Kurt said Triple H thought he was special, but Kurt was even more special. He said he was bigger and badder than The Game, and tonight, he would go Olympic on Triple H's ass.
The Rock was warming up in his locker room when he was approached by Ric Flair. The Nature Boy said goodbye and wished Rock luck, and Rock thanked Flair for all the memories.
Next up, the APA -- accompanied by "Rollerball" stars LL Cool J, Chris Klein and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos -- took on Booker T and Test. Bradshaw picked up the win for his team, pinning Test after the Clothesline from Hell! The APA celebrated with their movie-star friends after the match!
Mr. McMahon looked over the papers backstage, and his lawyers said it was a rock-solid contract between he and Flair.
A tag-team megamatch was up next, as Kurt Angle and the Undertaker took on Triple H and The Rock.
The action-packed bout saw Angle vent his frustrations on both Rock and The Game, but the People's Champion and Triple H kept fighting back. Triple H looked to have the match won with a Pedigree on Angle, but as he went for the pinfall, Taker ran in with a steel chair and nailed The Game, ending the bout in a disqualification. Taker again nailed The Game with the chair after the bell, and was about to strike Triple H with the chair for a third time until Rock knocked Taker from the ring. Rock continued to assault Taker after tossing him from the ring, until Taker roared back, throwing Rock into the steel steps! He was about to use a chair to crush Rock's larynx, until Rock battled out of it. Rock soon gave Taker a Rock Bottom right through the announce table! Back in the ring, Angle locked Triple H in the ankle lock, and refused to let go for several minutes! When Triple H finally escaped to the ramp, Angle went after him and locked him in the ankle lock on the ramp!
Flair was walking backstage when he ran into his best friend, Arn Anderson. The two men hugged, and a somber Flair continued his walk to the ring. Elsewhere, Vince McMahon and his lawyers headed towards the ring, and Vince had a huge smile on his face.
Moments later, Vince strutted to the ring, accompanied by his lawyers. The smiling Federation chairman said he was sure there were many in the crowd who thought he wanted Flair in the ring so he could humiliate him.
Vince said that wasn't the case; he said he simply wanted to teach Flair and the fans a lesson. The lesson was that perception is not always reality. He said Flair is perceived to be a winner in the squared circle and one of the all-time greats, which Flair had proven at the Rumble. But in life, Vince said, Flair was a loser, just like all the fans. Vince said that in real life, when the Flairs of the world were pitted against Vince McMahon, Vince always won. Vince said he hoped the fans didn't buy the crap Flair had said earlier, that Flair was signing the documents for the fans and the future generations. Vince said Flair didn't give a damn about the fans, saying he cared more about the fans than Flair ever did. Vince said Flair would sign the documents because Flair had lost to him.
Vince said there was a line in the contract that he would own and control 100 percent of Federation stock. The only bad thing, Vince said, was that Flair inserted a clause stating that Vince was prohibited from bringing in the nWo, which Vince said was a damn shame. He publicly acknowledged the individuals who signed conditional contracts to come to the Federation, knowing that Flair may try to prevent their arrival. Vince said it was a damn shame fans wouldn't be seeing the nWo in the Federation because they would have destroyed the Federation, and revolutionized sports entertainment.
Vince then introduced the man who would be signing his life away -- Ric Flair.
Flair's music began to play, but Vince demanded that they cut Flair's music, and that the Nature Boy walk to the ring with no big entrance or hoopla. He said Flair was walking the aisle for the last time. Flair slowly walked to the ring with his attorney, and Vince said he felt sorry for Flair, because Flair's last "Woo!" was heard in a town like Norfolk, Va.
Vince invited Flair to have a seat at the table that had been set up in the ring, and Vince sat across from him. Vince slid the contract across the table to Flair and handed him a pen. Vince told Flair not to have second thoughts about signing. Flair stared Vince down, and looked out to the crowd. He then looked Vince in the eye and stood up, looking around at the sold-out crowd at The Scope. Vince stood up too, and told Flair not to listen to the people, and to instead listen to his conscience. Vince asked Flair to think about future generations of superstars, and he demanded that Flair sign the contract. Flair did indeed sit down, looked Vince in the eye and signed his first name. Vince demanded that Flair sign his last name, but all of a sudden, the sounds of broken glass were heard, and out came Stone Cold Steve Austin!
The Texas Rattlesnake grabbed the microphone from Vince, and as Vince screamed at him, Austin just said, "What?" Austin said Vince was full of crap. He asked the crowd if they thought Flair should tear the contract to pieces and tell Vince and the nWo to go to hell, and they said Hell Yeah!Vince went to grab the contract, but Flair picked it up, punched Vince in the face, and ripped up the contract! Flair threw the torn pieces of the contract onto Vince's prone body, and he and Austin downed a celebratory beer as SmackDown! went off the air!