Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels contested one of professional wrestling’s greatest retirement matches at WrestleMania XXIV, but Michaels wasn’t always his planned opponent.
WrestleMania XXIV featured a number of memorable encounters, but none delivered more than Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels. The match, billed as Flair’s retirement match, received rave reviews, earning three-and-a-half stars from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Dave Meltzer.
Although the duo created magic together, Ric Flair has revealed how ‘The Heartbreak Kid’ wasn’t the only immediate go-to option. Speaking on his To Be The Man podcast, the two-time WWE Hall of Famer acknowledge his former Evolution partner Triple H as another possibility (h/t Sportskeeda Wrestling):
“I think just Hunter [Triple H]. Yeah, I don’t think Randy [was to face him at WrestleMania 24]. I wrestled Randy in a way through, Randy was gracious enough [to wrestle him].”
Triple H instead challenged Randy Orton for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXIV, with John Cena also involved in the match.
Ric Flair spoke further of his retirement match, feeling “flattered” that Shawn Michaels pitched the idea of facing him to send Flair off into retirement:
“Shawn wanted to do it [retire him]. As a matter of fact, I’m so flattered – I think about this – Shawn said, ‘Why can’t I do the retirement speech too?’ I mean, I was so flattered that both he and Hunter [Triple H] wanted to do this.”
Shawn Michaels ultimately defeated Ric Flair at WrestleMania with a Sweet Chin Music, preceded by his famous line, “I’m sorry. I love you.” The moment is one of the most emotional in WrestleMania history.
The sixteen-time World Champion has, ironically, wrestled a further sixteen matches. Four of those came as part of Hulk Hogan’s Hulkamania: Let The Battle Begin tour in 2009, with the others all coming under the IMPACT Wrestling banner. He last wrestled Sting in September 2011.
Ric Flair has since been announced for his final match, scheduled for Starrcast weekend at the end of July. He’s reported to be teaming with FTR to face The Rock’n’Roll Express and “someone else”, with various wrestling legends having been rumoured for the bout.