There's a line at the end of "Rocky III" that sums up everything you might need to know about the upcoming Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor superfight.
As old foes Rocky and Apollo circle each other in a dusty ring in an empty gym, preparing to playfully spar, Creed, with a half-deadly serious, half-tongue-in-cheek twinkle in his eye, says to Balboa: "You got to remember now, you fight great, but I'm a great fighter." In reality, however, in 2017, when bluster, bravado and trash talk all too often reign supreme over history, facts, common sense, and truth, the upcoming fight between MMA fighter Conor McGregor and boxer Floyd Mayweather is much more than just a guy who fights great versus a great fighter. No, no, no -- this fight has all the makings of some good ol' professional RASSLIN'!
If you're going to compare this clash of combat sports titans to the WWE simply based on a boatload of hype and a few cringe-worthy promos cut between the two during the lengthy lead up to the fight, you're drastically underselling what the WWE does, and the potential of what this fight could become if Vince McMahon put the full promotional force of his sports entertainment spectacle machine behind this behemoth.
So with just about two weeks to go before the bell rings on Aug. 26 at the T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas, here's how it could have played out over the course of just one month in a running diary, had Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor had the foresight to allow the WWE to handle what they do best.
Editor's note: Everything that follows is pure satire, if that wasn't immediately clear, and photos/tweets have been repurposed for the telling of the story.
Monday, July 31
10:00 a.m.: A WWE.com exclusive article drops announcing that later that night on WWE's flagship show, Monday Night Raw, boxing legend and former Wrestlemania performer, Floyd Mayweather will be the guest of The Miz on his in-ring "talk show" segment, "Miz TV." The story goes instantly viral and sets Twitter abuzz with speculation as to why, just weeks before his super fight versus Conor McGregor, he would appear on a wrestling show.
10:47 p.m.: After almost three hours of wall-to-wall hype on Monday Night Raw for Mayweather's appearance on Miz TV, here we go. The Miz introduces Floyd, who walks out flanked by his hulking entourage and makes his way to the ring, "making it rain" $100 bills all the way down the aisle. Miz starts to boast that Floyd may be "money" but the Miz is "AWESOME" and if he really wants to earn a record payday, he'd cancel his fight with McGregor and instead fight him -- but he knows Mayweather isn't up to the task. They lower their mics and start jaw-jacking, nose-to-nose when up on the giant TitanTron screen we see a stretch SUV pull into the arena. Cameras cut to back stage as announcers speculate who could be inside the vehicle.
11:05 p.m.: The door opens and "Bah gawd, it's Conor McGregor! Mystic Mac is on Monday Night Raw! Business is about to pick up," shouts Good ol' JR, the greatest announcer in the history of professional wrestling. (NOTE: In my head, Jim Ross is always announcing Monday Night Raw.) Conor, with his own entourage in tow, makes his way to the ring, interrupting Floyd's Miz TV moment. Once inside, he soaks in the shock and awe and chants of "Holy s--- Holy s---!" and "Conor's gonna kill you, Conor's gonna kill you!" from the crowd before he finally speaks. Into the mic, McGregor simply says, "We don't have to wait until Aug. 26 mate, we can do this right here, right now!" Floyd reaches around the Miz and shoves Conor, instigating a massive pull-apart between entourages. It's pandemonium in the ring as both sides try to keep Mayweather and McGregor away from each other, when amid the chaos, the Miz gets shoved into Mayweather. As he pleads with Floyd that it was an accident, Conor springs loose just as the Miz turns around -- BOOM -- right into a haymaker from Mcgregor that drops him like calculus. Both parties flee the ring as Monday Night Raw goes off the air.
Wednesday, Aug. 2
3:15 p.m.: The Miz tweets at Conor McGregor from his lawyer's office, holding up a warrant for Mac's arrest citing multiple assault charges, "@TheNotoriousMMA still want your Vegas payday? I suggest u show up on Raw & apologize. Otherwise Mystic Miz predicts u spend 8/26 LOCKED UP"
Thursday, Aug. 3 - Sunday, Aug. 6
This sets off an epic Twitter war between the entire boxing, MMA, and WWE universes, including Nate Diaz quoting Miz's tweet, tagging Conor and posting the Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy "You must be so embarrassed" meme. All of the trolling and trash talk lead McGregor to agree to another Raw appearance.
Monday, Aug. 7th
8:03 p.m.: Monday Night Raw opens with the Miz standing in the ring, sporting a comically large bandage over his eye. Miz calls out McGregor for his apology. We wait. And wait. And then suddenly, Floyd Mayweather's music hits. Once in the ring, Mayweather tells the Miz he's on RAW for one simple reason: to protect his money. He's not letting anything get in the way of his payday. McGregor's music hits, and he makes his way to the ring and gets right in the face of the Miz. Now Mayweather is playing peacemaker, fearing his superfight payday is about to go up in smoke until all the chaos is interrupted by Vince McMahon's iconic, "No Chance in Hell" music and swaggering power walk to the ring.
8:11 p.m.: Vince McMahon enters the ring and tells everybody to calm down. Says he doesn't have a horse in the race and "quite frankly, I don't care if Mayweather vs. McGregor ever takes place. I don't make a dime either way, but since you're on my show, in my ring, on my TV time, that I pay for and you assaulted my employee, that affects MY money. So now you owe me an apology!" Then Vince gets in Conor McGregor's face and says, "So from one Irishman to another, Conor McGregor, GET ON YOUR KNEES AND APOLOGIZE. OR THE FIGHT IS OFFFFFFFFFF!"
8:19 p.m.: This immediately triggers UFC President, Dana White to rush out to the ring, take the mic and tell Vince right to his face, "You know what Vince, I've waited a long time to say this: From one billionaire to another, shut the f-..."
8:22 p.m.: Now Stephanie McMahon's music interrupts the situation. Vince's daughter and the Raw commissioner enters to the top of the ramp and tells everybody to shut up because she has an idea on how to resolve this mess. She proposes The Miz, with Floyd Mayweather in his corner take on an opponent of Conor's choosing, whose back Conor will watch from their corner. This match will take place at the end of the night and if Team Miz/Mayweather wins, Conor must apologize. If Conor's team wins, the Miz must drop his lawsuit, allowing their superfight to take place as planned.
8:30-10:30 p.m.: Multiple backstage vignettes show Conor looking for his surrogate for the main event. But to no avail: It turns out his tweet from August 2016 hasn't aged well with the WWE locker room.
I didn't mean no disrespect to the @wwe fans. What I meant to say was that I'd slap the head off your entire roster. And twice on Sunday's.
-- Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) August 7, 2016
10:39 p.m.: First, Miz and Mayweather make their way to the ring. Then Conor McGregor is introduced, and he makes his way to the ring alone as the announcers point out that he had great difficulty finding any member of the WWE roster willing to take his side. McGregor grabs the mic and says, he doesn't need someone to fight his battles for him, he'll face the Miz by himself, right here, right now, when all of a sudden, the lights go out and after a few beats of uncertainty, Finn Balor's music hits. Finn atop the ramp says for one night only, he chooses country over company and sides with his fellow Irish countryman.
10:51 p.m.: Ten or so minutes into the match, the Miz, in desperation, pulls the referee in front of him to bear the brunt of Finn's signature running drop kick. With the ref incapacitated, Floyd and Mac enter the ring and all hell breaks loose once again between their entourages. Now, at Vince's behest, the WWE locker room empties to join the fight. Seeing this, Dana White, ringside, waves his arms, and through the crowd flocks a handful of UFC fighters. Which triggers Floyd Mayweather Sr. to run out from backstage, waving his arms signaling a hit squad of boxers to join the Pier 6 brawl.
As Floyd is held back in one corner and Conor in the other, with Miz in the middle of the ring, cooler heads seem to prevail for a moment until Floyd and Conor break loose and make a beeline for each other. Just as they're about to reach each other, Miz, attempting to keep the peace, takes a straight right hand to the other side of his face, this time from Floyd Mayweather, as Monday Night Raw goes off the air.
Monday, August 14th
9:52 p.m.: On Monday Night Raw we find out that earlier in the day, WWE lead announcer Michael Cole flew to L.A. to sit down with the Miz for his first comments since he was punched out for a second time, first by Conor McGregor, and then last week by Floyd Mayweather. The Miz is seated, wearing sunglasses, with two large bandages protruding from behind each lens. Cole asks the Miz the question that's on the collective mind of the entire sports and pop culture world, "What now?" Miz launches in to fiery promo about how he's been assaulted twice in consecutive weeks, tarnishing his A-List status, his pride as an athlete, and his manhood -- and now he no longer cares about apologies and lawsuits and money, because all he cares about right now is blood.
Miz whips off his shades, revealing his heavily bruised and bandaged eyes, looks straight in the camera and says, "Conor McGregor, Floyd Mayweather, I promise you: Your superfight in two weeks in Las Vegas will not take place, and it won't be because of a lawsuit, and it won't be because of an apology. Your $100 million fight will not take place because neither of you will even make it to T Mobile!" Cole follows up, "Miz, is that a threat?" And Miz responds, "You're damn right it's a threat. Conor, Floyd, show up to Raw one more time next week and find out. I dare you!" And with that, the Miz rips off his lavaliere microphone, whips it at Cole and walks out of the room.
Friday, Aug. 18
6:26 p.m.: The Miz appears on SportsCenter where he's asked about his recent involvement in the lead-up to the megafight between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather next weekend. Miz reiterates that the fight will not take place because neither Floyd nor Mac will ever make it to Vegas. When asked to clarify his statement, Miz tells the world to tune into Monday Night Raw this week for a major announcement regarding the future of the Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather fight.
Saturday, Aug. 19 & Sunday, Aug. 20
Speculation and hot takes run rampant online and in print about what the Miz's announcement could be and if the much anticipated "fight of century" is really in jeopardy of not taking place. Vegas odds are fluctuating out of control. Promoters are scrambling to assure ticket holders, cable providers and pay-per-view customers that the fight is still happening. It's chaos as the combat sports world and the WWE Universe are in total and unprecedented upheaval. Record numbers of subscribers tune into the WWE Network to watch SummerSlam, hoping for some kind of update, but The Miz, Mayweather and McGregor are nowhere to be found. Both fighters' camps are radio silent.
Monday, Aug. 21
8:03 p.m.: The final Monday Night Raw before the Aug. 26 superfight between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather. Throughout the evening, The Miz refuses to come out of his personal locker room, and there's still no word on when or if either McGregor or Mayweather will appear on the show as the Raw announce team plays up the possibility to the tilt throughout the night.
10:51 p.m.: The Miz exits his locker room and makes his way to the ring for his long awaited announcement. As he puts himself over and cuts scathing promos on the UFC, the WBC, and both the Floyd and Mac camps, he finally says it's time for the announcement that will rock both he UFC and boxing worlds along with the WWE Universe and quite possibly throw the megafight into disarray. And because his announcement is so important to all parties involved, he invites the entire Raw roster down to the ring, including Vince, Stephanie, and Triple H, to hear it in person. Then he points to the UFC and WBC luxury boxes and invites all parties to make their way to the ring area through the crowd. So now surrounding the ring is the entire WWE Raw roster, a host of UFC representatives and a contingent of boxing royalty.
11:04 p.m.: As The Miz begins to launch into his announcement, he's interrupted by Floyd's music and entrance. Mayweather makes his way to the ring, gets right in the Miz's face and says, "I don't care what your announcement is, you ain't messin' with my money." Floyd grabs Miz by his jacket lapel and cocks his fist, pausing for maximum crowd reaction, looking left and right, whipping the crowd into a frenzy with each turn of his head. Just as Floyd is about to sock the Miz again, the moment is interrupted by the beeping sounds of a heavy-duty truck backing up.
Cameras cut to the right side of the entrance ramp where a Guinness truck is backing into the arena. It comes to a stop a few feet from the ring, and Conor McGregor emerges from the driver's seat. He walks to the back of the vehicle, unlatches a hose, and starts spraying the ring with thick, black, foamy Guinness Stout, putting his Irish spin on the iconic Stone Cold Steve Austin moment from 1999. He drenches Miz, Mayweather, Vince, Steph, Triple H, the entire Raw roster, as well as team UFC and all of the boxers. Everyone is slipping and sliding and soaked as Raw goes off the air.
Saturday, Aug. 26
11:32 p.m.: The cross-promotional, megafight is finally here: Three rounds in, with Floyd playing mostly defense to McGregor's showboating and fruitless attempts to land more than a few stray punches on Mayweather, Miz's music hits from out of nowhere, midmatch -- distracting Floyd and the referee, and allowing Conor to land a low blow on Mayweather. When the ref turns around, Conor drops Floyd, now defenseless, with a staggering left cross, right to the jaw. The ref counts to 10 and declares McGregor the winner. The Miz then rushes to the ring and jumps into Conor's arms as they dodge a barrage of beer cups and hot dog wrappers heaved into the ring by the irate Vegas crowd. By now it's clear: The Miz and McGregor were seemingly in cahoots all along, instantly anointing the pair as the most hated men in all of boxing, MMA, and WWE.
Sunday, Aug. 27
12:09 a.m.: At the postmatch press conference, officials declare the fight result thrown out, Floyd is declared the winner on points, and Conor makes the announcement that The Miz was originally planned to make on Raw earlier in the week: He's signed an exclusive contract with the WWE.
And just like that, Floyd remains undefeated. Both fighters get paid. And Conor McGregor becomes the biggest WWE superstar/anti-hero since "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.
Andrew Goldstein is a former WWE creative team member who now works as television show runner, writer, and producer in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @angegold and listen to his podcast, "Sorry I've Been So Busy" on iTunes.