There are times throughout WWE's five-decade history in which real-life animosity bled over into storytelling. In summer 2006, that was the case as Mick Foley and Ric Flair engaged in a feud born in the pages of their autobiographies and intensified by bloody and violent assaults on each other.
One of the most intense and hate-fueled rivalries on Monday Night Raw at the time, Foley vs. Flair was a program that had no right being as good as it was. Consisting of some truly stellar promo work and some intensely passionate beatings, fans were captivated by the seemingly legitimate hatred that existed between the two.
Chapter one of their rivalry would culminate at the Vengeance pay-per-view in June.
But first, take a stroll down memory lane and relive some of the key moments that resulted in the epic encounter between two Hall of Famers.
Mick Foley was in the middle of a career renaissance in 2006.
After a classic Hardcore match at WrestleMania 22 against Edge, Foley made a shocking heel turn and aligned himself with the Rated-R Superstar.
He waged war with ECW originals Terry Funk and Tommy Dreamer and cut some outstanding promos ahead of the One Night Stand pay-per-view in June.
At the ECW-centered event, Foley and Edge defeated Dreamer and Funk, ending that program and allowing him to turn his attention to a man who had completely and utterly disrespected both his career and his manhood a year earlier in an internationally released publication:
I don't care how many thumbtacks Mick Foley has fallen on, how many ladders he's fallen off of, how many continents he's supposedly bled on, he'll always be known as a glorified stuntman.
The above quote, from the 2005 autobiography Ric Flair: To Be The Man, was a direct shot by Flair to Foley, in response to an accusation that the Nature Boy was instrumental in the downfall of his WCW career.
The quote completely downplayed every accomplishment Foley ever achieved and understandably enraged him. He struck out at Flair with heated and passionate promos during their rivalry and the 16-time heavyweight champion struck back, echoing the same claims he made in his book.
It led to a very intense, personal rivalry at a time when Monday Night Raw was headlined by D-Generation X, male cheerleaders and poop jokes.
In highlight form, of course.
The match between Mick Foley and Ric Flair at Vengeance 2006 was what one could consider an appetizer for the main course that would eventually come at SummerSlam in August.
Dubbed a 2-out-of-3 Falls match, their contest was a very solid bout between two of the industry's best and most beloved. Without the crutch of a special stipulation that allowed for brawling and weapon use, they were forced to wrestle a slower, more meticulous and smarter match than they otherwise would have.
With strong psychology that saw Flair catch the hardcore-minded Foley with an inside cradle to win the first fall, the two ring veterans told a story fans could understand and invest in.
Of course, Foley's rage got the best of him, leading to him blasting Flair with a trash can and drawing a disqualification.
The outcome, though not necessarily satisfactory, allowed for the feud to continue into another month.
The feud between Foley and Flair intensified in the weeks following Vengeance. They continued to build their program based on strong promos, leading to an "I Quit" match at SummerSlam.
In that match, Flair threatened the safety and well-being of Foley's friend Melina to convince the Hardcore Icon to say the two words he vowed never to say.
The feud ended there. In the years that followed their matches, the two would reconcile outside the ring, coming to an understanding regarding the words, and actions, that led to the disagreements between them.
Their issues were rekindled during their time in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, leading to a Last Man Standing match that took the wrestling world surprise. Even older than they were during their feud in WWE, they had an excellent match that proved that, when they were on, few were better.