Ric Flair was returning to Raw, with all evidence pointing towards him announcing his retirement.
Flair, though, had the exact opposite in mind; proclaiming he would never retire!
That had "no chance" in sticking when Mr. McMahon strutted down isle and told Flair that's great, as long as he wins. But if loses, he must retire.
Flair beat Triple H, Mr. Kennedy, Randy Orton and others to keep his career intact in dramatic fashion every time.
When it came time for the Road to WrestleMania, Flair challenged one of his best friends, Mr. WrestleMania, the Showstopper, the Main Event, the Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels.
Michaels initially refused, much like The Undertaker to him two years later. Flair, insisted that it did happen, and eventually got his wish.
He told Michaels he would expect nothing less than his A game.
"Remember Old Yeller? They loved that dog. But when it came time, they took him to the back and finished him. This Sunday, the Showstopper is going to take you, Old Yeller, behind a woodshed and put you out of your misery," said Shawn Michaels to Ric Flair.
Sitting in the front row to Ric Flair's WWE Hall of Fame induction just 24 hours prior, Shawn Michaels was now standing in the ring looking the same man dead in the eyes. He knew that if he defeated him, it would be Flair's final match inside a WWE ring.
The first move of the match was as elementary as a shoulder block by Michaels, sending Naitch to his back.
HBK gave second thought to doing Ric Flair's taunt to the man himself, instead awaiting him to get off the canvas to lock up.
Lock up they did, with Flair closing the sequence with a toss of his buddy to the mat. He, to show Michaels how it's done, did his signature strut around the ring.
Tempers soon began to flare. Flair trapped HBK in the corner, pushed him and said 'Old Yeller, huh?' Shawn's reply was a slap right to his face, and told him he was about to put him down.
Flair wiped some blood oozing from his mouth, 'first blood brother' he said before they again locked up.
The two traded slaps to the chest, a craft HBK had learned from the Nature Boy himself. With one mistake, Flair kicked Michaels in the should when he bent down in pain, and was sent to the mat.
Although he obviously possessed more speed, Ric had the mental edge as sharp as Michaels maybe. After all, nobody outsmarted the Nature Boy. Not even a guy of the stature of Shawn Michaels.
We kept a slow methodical pace to things, with neither being able to have control for long. Michaels booted Flair to the outside of the ring, though, opening up the chance for a moonsault off the apron that missed the mark. He crashed into the announce table instead, with his opponent a mere spectator.
As one would expect, they both crawled around trying to recompose themselves before just creeping back into the ring to meet the referee's 10-count.
Flair was the first to really take the momentum and run with it, attempting pinfall after pinfall. Referee Charles Robinson, often referred to as 'Little Naitch" backstage due to his blond hair and Ric Flair fandom, could only get a two count each time.
Michaels showed signs of life with every kick out, and back dropped Flair over the top rope, enabling himself a slight breather in the middle of the WrestleMania instant classic.
Shawn Michaels climbed to the top rope and went for his second moonsault of the night, nailing it onto Flair this time around.
Again, parallel to minutes before, both Flair and Michaels crawled in the ring to just beat Robinson's count of ten.
"Mano a mano," Jim Ross said as the two were exchanging hand slaps again. Michaels then burst off the ropes with an forearm to ground the Dirtiest Player in the Game.
You could sense the tides turning. Shawn Michaels perhaps had stamina that the older Flair did not, taking his first real edge of the matchup.
A silence absorbed the crowd, as they were in awe of what these two artists were painting inside the ring that night. They wondered if they were witnessing the final match of one of the biggest legends professional wrestling has ever had.
Michaels pulled himself up by the ropes, with a grimace. He tuned up the band, and extended his leg as Flair got to his feet.
With hesitation in his mind and heart, he stopped before the kick reached Flair. Ric had a brief moment of surprise before putting his friend in the Figure-Four leglock.
The crowd exploded, in what may have been the only they rooted against Shawn Michaels at this point of his career for; to save the career of their beloved Ric Flair.
Michaels squirmed as all do inside the lock, before having the craftiness to reverse it by rolling over.
Flair reached the ropes, not soon enough in his mind, forcing Shawn to break the hold. With a noticeable limp, he walked around for a minute wondering what move in his arsenal he had not yet used.
We entered a portion of the contest where the two shared numerous near falls, with a mix a technical wrestling, high-flying, and brawling. You could see many similarities in the moveset of HBK and Nature Boy during this time, as was the case the whole match.
As the near was near, Michaels hit a beautiful Sweet Chin Music out of nowhere on Ric Flair.
Jerry Lawler groaned, a reaction many in the crowd in Miami, Florida and the millions watching around the world shared.
Michaels slid his arm across the limp body of Flair. Flair, with an ounce of energy still remaining, managed to kick out.
Michaels got to his feet and pleaded with Flair to do the same. Flair met Michaels with a low blow, showcasing that he's the only man on earth who can hit another man below the belt and be cheered for it.
As dramatic irony would have it, Michaels recovered and locked in Flair's own Figure-four submission in an attempt to put the 60-year-old out of his misery.
While it did not put Flair away, it did weaken him.
One last exchange of chest slaps was in store, although Michaels abruptly ended it with a sudden Super Kick to Flair.
A state of sadness and realism overtook HBK as he got to his feet. He stood in the corner contemplating his future actions rather than tuning up the band.
A sobbing Flair looked Michaels dead in the eye. He was sure to see Michaels mouth the words "I'm sorry" before being hit with Sweet Chin Music.
Charles Robinson counted to three, and a legendary wrestling career had met its conclusion inside a WWE ring.