Following Dave Bautista’s vicious attack on Ric Flair that ended Monday’s WWE Raw, the former Evolution teammates trade threats on Twitter. Over the last several weeks, WWE had been heavily promoting last night’s episode of Raw, which emanated from Atlanta, and was to feature Flair’s 70th birthday celebration. “The Nature Boy” had experienced some of the greatest highlights of his career in Atlanta, which was a hotbed for former WWE competitor WCW back when Flair was cementing his status as one of the greatest world champions of all time.

For years, Flair was far and away the most decorated champion in the history of professional wrestling, having won fourteen world titles in WCW and two in WWE over the course of his long career. Well, that number depends on whose title lineage one trusts, although WWE - which now of course owns everything WCW - officially recognizes Flair as a 16-time champ. Flair’s record has yet to be broken, although John Cena tied it a couple years back, much to the chagrin of many longtime fans.

In the latter part of his time as an active in-ring performer, Flair served as the elder statesman of the heel faction Evolution from 2003 to 2005, alongside Triple H, Randy Orton, and Bautista. Flair was a mentor to both Orton and Bautista on and off screen, and is well-known to have remained close friends with them in the years since. Flair and Bautista’s real-life relationship is actually what made Raw’s ending so shocking. The last thing anyone expected was for “The Animal” to brutally beat down one of his closest friends, but that’s exactly what he did. Now, Bautista and Flair have traded barbs on Twitter, which can be seen below.

In the context of WWE storylines, Bautista attacked Flair in an effort to bait Triple H into a match at WrestleMania XXXV. Bautista has said several times in recent years that he would like to square off with his old rival HHH one more time, and this looks to be WWE’s path to getting there. It makes sense, as Flair is not only a close friend of HHH, but also his childhood idol and someone “The Game” puts on a pedestal. While Bautista could also have conceivably attacked Triple H’s best friend Shawn Michaels, his lack of a personal connection to Michaels wouldn’t have provided the story with the same dramatic impact.

Now, all that’s left is to see how long it takes for the WrestleMania match between Bautista and Triple H to be made official, and what stipulations will be added. It’s hard to imagine the two titans battling in just a regular match, especially when their best WWE encounters in the past were weapons-filled brawls. One assumes the match will at least be no disqualification so that Flair can come out and get his revenge, possibly by hitting one of his patented uppercuts to the groin.

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Sources: Ric Flair, Dave Bautista