Shane "The Franchise" Douglas VS. "Nature Boy" Ric Flair: A Long Time Coming!
Pt. 1 - The Challenge (featuring an eight man tag between The Four Horsemen VS. TEAM ECW)

"Nature Boy" Ric Flair


On that day, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair won his third WWF World Title while his long distance rival Shane "The Franchise" Douglas regained his ECW Heavyweight Championship.  After the event, a party took place to celebrate the day but some unreported conversation (if you catch the drift :) ).

During the night, Shane Douglas was getting ready to go home with his new fiancee Francine (whom he proposed to after his match with The Rock).  As they were leaving, he just happened to bump in Flair, who was walking by along with Tully Blanchard, Barry Windham and Arn Anderson. The two both said "excuse me" until they looked up to see who the other was.  There was a tense moment as both men glared at each other. Both Flair's comrades and Francine had concern looks on their faces as they didn't know what to make of this.  Meanwhile, seeing what was going on and sensing a possible Horsemen attack, WWF Intercontinental Champion and former ECW Champ TAZ calmly gathered WCW World TV Champ Rob Van Dam, Sabu, and New Jack over behind Douglas and Francine.  They quietly stood behind "The Franchise" but both Flair and Douglas were oblivious to everyone as they still kept their eyes on each other.  Finally, Flair broke the uneasy silence with a serious but calm tone of voice.

FLAIR:  Now's not the time.  Someday Douglas, we will meet but not tonight.  Enjoy your win.

DOUGLAS:  Yeah, not tonight (looking at Francine finally).  Great victory for you too.

They nodded at each other with respect as the two men went their way.  As Douglas and Francine were leaving, a familiar voice called out to him.

TAZ:  Yo, Douglas!

TAZ and Douglas, who have never been great friends, were civil and even friendly at times during this short conversation.  Near the end of it, TAZ gave Shane some words that would forge his destiny.

TAZ:  Hey, I think you should go for it.

DOUGLAS:  Go for what?

TAZ:  Go after Flair, not tonight of course but this era is the time to do it.  Think about it, since that "Stone Cold" Steve Austin/Magnum T.A. feud, doors that were closed to us have now been opened.  You've been wanting to kick Flair's behind for years.  I mean, pick your spots brother, but you should consider going for it soon.

DOUGLAS:  To tell you the truth, I wanted the match to happen right then and there but now wasn't appropriate.

TAZ:  You are right.  Make it happen in the ring with no excuses.  Push him, do whatever you have to do.

DOUGLAS:  Well, thanks TAZ but I don't think Flair will need much pushing to face me.

TAZ: Yeah, the fire was in his eyes but he can be had.

The two men then shook hands and exchanged parting words.  TAZ nodded to Francine as well as "The Human Suplex Machine" went back inside.

Meanwhile, a similar conversation was taking place inside between Arn Anderson and Ric Flair.

ANDERSON:  What was that about Flair?  I mean, Douglas has always been a second-rater.  Sure, he's king of the ECW but who can't be king of that fed? Has he ever been anything anywhere else? No and you should just ignore him.

FLAIR:  That's easy for you to say Arn.  You are not the one that he has been shooting his mouth off to for the last few years.  It is me that he is talking to.  I am the World Champion.  Doesn't matter whether the initials are WWF, WCW, NWA, or even ECW.  When Ric Flair wears the title, it is a world championship.  Hey, I just didn't want anything to go down tonight.

ANDERSON:  But Ric, you have nothing to prove to anyone, much less him.

FLAIR:  Arn, that's where you are wrong.  Sure, no one would blame me if I didn't accept a challenge from Douglas and maybe I don't have to prove myself to anyone else.  But, I do have to prove it to myself.

Anderson looked his long time friend in the face and saw a fire in his eyes that he hasn't seen in years.  He then put his arm around Flair.

ANDERSON:  Hey, Ric.  Let's get back to the party.  If you want Douglas, I don't think you'll need to seek him out.  He'll come for you.

Flair looked back at Anderson and nodded in agreement.  The two friends then walked back to the party.


between Diamond Dallas Page and Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Shane Douglas made some off-camera remarks that would reach "Nature Boy" Ric Flair later the next day.  He made them in the ring when the show went off the air but the tape machines picked them up.  These comments would also be shown later on ECW TV the following weekend.

DOUGLAS:  Well, that was one hell of a pay per view!!  Now, everyone has been asking me about the rumors about a near face-off between myself and "Nature Boy" Ric Flair back at WrestleMania.  Well, the rumors are true.  We did have a face off and I throw this challenge out to the man that so-calls "styles and profiles"!!  Flair, if you have the guts or, better said, if you have the balls (this got a loud cheer from the ECW Arena crowd), face me once and for all!!  My ECW title vs. your WWF title.  It has been a long time coming Flair!!  You know it and I know it!!  You know something, I had a conversation with TAZ after the face-off and he said that I should go for it.  For the first time ever, I agreed with him!!  So, I have only one thing to say, "Flair, Flair, Flair, Flair!!"

Douglas gets a chant going among the crowd chanting the name of Ric Flair.  The next morning, a tape of Douglas' comments was sent to the private suite of The Four Horsemen, who were getting ready for a Nitro event in Topeka, Kansas.  The other Horsemen looked at the tape AND at Flair and saw a look in his eye. A look that they've seen many times.

WINDHAM:  Now Ric, let this guy blow off steam.  He's nothing. You are a legitamate world champion. He's just a Flair-wannabe.

FLAIR:  Guys, I understand what you are saying but answer this, if I don't take on this guy. I will always wonder, could I have taken him?  Fellas, I have to do this.

The Horsemen try to persuade "The Nature Boy" but Flair was already out the door.


On an edition of WCW Monday Nitro, Flair made this statement in the ring with "Mean" Gene Okerland.

FLAIR:  Gene, I know that everyone is used to me being flamboyant and all but tonight, Ric Flair is all business.  Now, anyone that saw the ECW pay per view last night knows that ECW Champion "The Franchise" Shane Douglas made a challenge to me, as he has done the last few years.  Well, I am prepared to give you an answer Douglas. I......

As Flair began his speech, Deep Purple's "Perfect Strangers" blared out.  Marking the entrance of Shane "The Franchise" Douglas.  He comes down (with his wife Francine) dressed up (Flair is dressed to the hilt as always) and confronts Flair.

DOUGLAS:  Well, this is the announcment that I've been waiting to hear.  What is it Flair?

FLAIR: answer is YES!!

A loud cheer goes up from the crowd.

DOUGLAS:  Okay, I named the stakes, you name the place.

FLAIR:  How about three weeks from now in Baltimore, MD at the "Antonio Inoki Wrestling Festival"?

DOUGLAS:  Old man, you got it!!

As Douglas turns to walk away, Flair attacks him from behind with a forearm to the back of th head!  Flair then puts him in the corner and begins his series of chops but Douglas fires back and the two men are into a wild donnybrook in the ring.  As Francine looks on, here comes the Horsemen as they gang up on Douglas.  Flair and Co. are trying to do a number on "The Franchise" as Francine makes a gesture to the back.  At that point, out comes WWF Intercontental Champion TAZ, WCW World TV Champion Rob Van Damn, and "The Human Sacrifice" Sabu to help even up the odds.  There is a four way fight with Douglas VS. Flair, Anderson VS. TAZ, Windham VS. RVD and Tully VS. Sabu.  Security comes down to break up this fight and restore order but you can feel the heat between the eight men.

Later on, with permission from WWF Owner Vince McMahon and ECW executive Paul Heyman, WCW executive JJ Dillion signed an eight man match between The Four Horsemen VS. Douglas, TAZ, RVD and Sabu for later in the program.


The Four Horsemen are introduced together as they make their way to the ring in grand style.  In contrast, the theme used by "Team ECW" (as dubbed by the announce team of Tony Schivone and Bobby Heenan) was TAZ's "War Machine".  The four men came running down together and entered the ring surprisingly controlled but intense nonetheless.  As the four men discussed strategy, a chant went up from the crowd saying "Franchise-Flair, Franchise-Flair".  Shane stayed in the ring as well as Flair.  A roar went up from the crowd as the two men circled each other and tied up.

The Four Horsemen (Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson, Barry Windham and Ric Flair) VS. TEAM ECW (TAZ, Shane Douglas, Rob Van Dam and Sabu) (Eight Man Tag Team Match)

Flair forced Douglas back into a corner and gave a clean break surprisingly.  He did let Douglas know that he was there by saying his famous "WHOOOO" yell.  Douglas then ties up with Flair again.  This time, Ric puts him into the corner and planted a quick knee into the gut of Douglas followed by a hard chop that stunned the "Franchise".  Flair then threw a right hand to the jaw of Shane.  Flair gave Douglas another chop but this time, Shane answered back with one of his own.  The two trade chops back and forth with Douglas getting the upper hand.  Douglas whips Flair into the opposite corner.  When Flair comes out, Shane nails him with a back drop followed by a dropkick.  Flair decides to tag out to Arn Anderson at this point.  Arn comes wanting a piece of Douglas.  Shane shakes his finger at Anderson, smiles at him, and tags in "The Most Miserable S.O.B. In Wrestling" in the form of TAZ (I matched up these two because they seem to match up real well physique wise and skill wise).

The two are tentative at first but then Anderson sneaks in a quick knee to the gut followed by a left hand punch to the back of TAZ.  Anderson then attempts to whip TAZ into the ropes but TAZ reverses it with an arm-twist, hooks up Arn's head and arm, and executes a suplex!!  Anderson's head and shoulder really took a hit there.  TAZ follows up with good, old fashioned boots to the chest but Anderson counters with a headbutt to the guts.  Anderson then grabs a front-facelock on TAZ and tags in Windham.  Windham throws a right to the ribs of the WWF Intercontental Champion.  Windham whips TAZ into the ropes and goes for a backdrop but TAZ counters that with a kick to the head that knocks Windham down.  TAZ quickly tags in "Mr. Monday Night" Rob Van Dam.

RVD gets into the ring but Windham catches him with a right to the gut.  Windham then whips "Mr. Monday Night" into the ropes and goes for a clothesline.  RVD ducked it and went for a spinning roundhouse kick.  Windham ducked it but RVD countered that with a quick second attempt that connected with Windham's face and chest.  Van Dam follows that with a spinning legdrop on the second generation star from Sweetwater, TX.  RVD then hits the ropes and nails Barry with his tumbling sintan back splash on Windham.  RVD goes for the cover but Windham kicks out as well as a little assist from Tully Blanchard as he came in for the save as well.  Tully quickly tags into the bout and manages to catch RVD as he was getting to his feet with a quick knee to the gut.  He goes to work with right hands on RVD but it turns into a stalemate as both men are trading fists with each other.  Tully grabs a side headlock and backs into the ropes with Van Dam.  RVD then makes a blind tag to Sabu.  "Mr. Monday Night" fires Tully into the ropes and does a split in the middle of the ring.  Tully goes over RVD and gets nailed by Sabu as "The Human Sacrifice" springboards of the top rope with a leg lariat to the jaw of Blanchard.  Sabu then puts Blanchard in position for his "Arabian Moonsault" bodypress and manages a two count.  Sabu then puts Blanchard into a corner.....or should I say HIS corner!!  Sabu taunts the Horsemen for just a second, drawing Flair into the ring.  The ref is busy getting Flair out as the Horsemen protest the ass-whipping that Blanchard receiving from Douglas, TAZ, Sabu and RVD (image all four of those muthas beating on you)!  Blanchard is nearly out by the time the ref returns to the action.  As Sabu moves back in on Tully, the native of San Antonio, TX uses a clever manuver and uses Sabu's tights to pull him into the Horsemen corner!!  Now, it is now the Horsemen's turn to whip some ass as the lay into Sabu!! Here are some words from Bobby Heenan and Tony Schivone.

SCHIVONE:  The Horsemen are now laying into Sabu!!

HEENAN:  Well, Douglas and his group did it earlier so this is just payback!!

SCHIVONE:  I like this.  Just let all of them go at it.

As the commentators relay the excitement to the fans (for once), Sabu is now the one half dead as Flair is tagged in.  Flair lays into Sabu his some of his vicious chops.  They open up one of the many scars on Sabu's chest.  Flair snap mares him down, hits the ropes, and performs his patented knee drop......that misses!!  Sabu then gets up and puts the figure four on Ric Flair!!  The other Horsemen come in but Douglas, TAZ and RVD come in as well and put the other members of the FH in figure four leglocks as well!!  The Horsemen manage to get out by racking the eyes of their opponents but everyone in that camp comes up limping.  The Horsemen still have Sabu as Windham manages to get him on the top rope and executes his patened superplex on him!!  Windham gets up and celebrates his stunning manuver, not seeing TAZ come into the ring.  TAZ spins him around and hooks him in his "T-Bone TAZplex"!!  TAZ quickly heads back to the corner to await a tag.  Windham manages to tag in Flair just as Sabu tags in Douglas!!  The two long time rivals are going at it again as Douglas fires Flair into the ropes and nails him with a backdrop.  Douglas then hits Flair with a snap suplex but holds on.  He picks up Flair and performs the move again and still holds on.  Douglas then picks up Flair and holds him in a standing verticle suplex for about 10 seconds before sending him crashing to the mat.  "The Franchise" covers Flair for a two count.  Douglas picks up Flair but the old veteran catches him with a knee to the guts followed by a chop to the chest.  Flair then goes for another chop but Douglas avoids the contact, gets in his own knee to the gut and catches Flair in his "Pittsburg Plunge" (fisherman's buster) for a sure three count had Arn not made the save.  TAZ comes in a knocks Anderson out of the ring.  Windham comes on but is caught with a flying bodypress by Van Dam that sends both men out of the ring.  Tully and Sabu have hooked it up again as well.

Meanwhile, there is a thunderous crash as TAZ executes a head and arm suplex on Anderson through a table on the outside!!  Meanwhile, Flair has retook the advantage with a lowblow on Douglas.  Flair then goes for his figure four leglock but Douglas turns that into an inside cradle for a three count!!  Douglas has pinned Flair and has gained a psycological edge going into their one on one confrontation.  TAZ, RVD and Sabu come into the ring to celebrate this win and they carry Douglas off from the ring.  Meanwhile, Flair and the Horsemen regroup but that "fire" that has been burning in Ric's eyes is there again.  This time, it is blazing!!

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