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We have a new WWE segment of the year

I live in the midwest and was directly in the path of the derecho when it tore through a few states. It knocked my power out for the entirety of Monday night and into Tuesday morning. When I finally got it back and was allowed to catch up on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw I was shocked.

The show is, by and large, a dumpster fire of a program, a creative mess of epic proportions, and yet this week it was, dare I say it, actually good? Sure, this RETRIBUTION angle is painfully dumb, but even that served a larger purpose, at least in how it affected the main event segment.

My god, that main event segment.

My savior, Sean Rueter, already wrote about how good Ric Flair was, so I hardly need to go into too much detail with all that. But the whole bit deserves some serious praise.

Pro wrestling often works best when you don’t take it too seriously but I tend to like it best when it grabs me and makes me take it seriously. That’s what Randy Orton did when he got in Flair’s face and told him how he’s old and washed up, that all he’s worth anymore are the tears he sheds so often, that he’s a liability, that he took Orton under his wing only to try to make him into the son he wishes he had, that he’s not who he once was, that who he was wouldn’t need a pacemaker to keep his heart going, that who he was never would have slipped into a coma, that he’s a whore for the spotlight now and only out for himself.

None of this is real, but I’ll be damned if it didn’t feel like it.

When Flair responded by taking the microphone and telling Orton that, yeah, he’s not what he once was, and yeah he did slip into a coma but it taught him that he really just wanted to tell the people he loves what they mean to him and how grateful he is to have gotten the chance to come back and do that, I nearly lost it. “All I am right now is Charlotte’s dad,” he said. “And want to be a part of Randy Orton’s life. ... I ain’t Ric Flair anymore, you’re right, but I’m a big fan of you. And you’re the guy to break my record. That’s all I want.”

Orton took the microphone, threw it to the side, and gave that man a hug, the way any human with a beating heart and an empathetic bone in their body would want to, and it felt okay for only as long as the realization that this is Randy Orton and it is not okay, and the ensuing low blow just crushed you all over again. It crushed you almost as much as the next realization, even colder than the first, that you’ve seen this before and you know what comes next, and Ric would be leaving, and goddamn that son of a bitch Randy Orton for doing all of this.

It hits just as hard watching it a second or even third time. A truly masterful piece of business by two of the very best.

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