Triple H, October 2011:

“When I grew up, I hated Hogan. I thought he was terrible and didn’t like to watch him. I was like Punk in a way. I liked the Steamboats and Flairs and the ones that could go. Would I be right in saying that Hogan was the wrong guy to go with, and they should’ve changed directions and gone with Steamboat because he was the better wrestler? Ludicrous.” - Triple H. October, 2011.

Road to Royal Rumble 2016

Thursday, December 01, 2016

(Two notes – it’s the 11th anniversary of the Counterfactual, thanks for reading.  Two, the real world Trump election has consequences here; when we get to the build for Survivor Series 2016 and my election storyline plays out, I’ll discuss how I changed the finish because of Trump.)

Survivor Series was here.

(Stay to the end.  There’s a twist.)

The Road to the Rumble starts the following night – RAW again opens in Edge’s “office” as his Dario Cueto gimmick continues.  With him is Christian.  Here’s what we learn.

-Christian, who is on a job action, essentially walking out on WWF after Brock killed Joey at Summer Slam, says he is not returning yet. 
-Brock is returning as scheduled, his suspension lifts at the Rumble.
-Joey is not returning at all.  He has recovered from his injuries but is choosing to step away from the promotion.  Renallo is now the permanent lead announcer. 
-Christian refusing to go back to work costs him his job.  Edge fires him. Edge looks like he's aged five years on this job. 

Here’s the card for the Rumble.  It’s a good show. 

WWF Title: Lumberjack Three Way Dance: Kevin Steen (w/Pac and Generico) v. Brock Lesnar (w/Devitt and Sombra) v. Nick Nemeth (w/ Sheamus and Barrett)

IC: Dean Ambrose v. Mystery Opponent

Mask vs. Mask: Pac v. Kalisto

Tags: New Day (Kingston/Langston w/Woods) v. Rusev/Dos Caras (w/GHB and Lana)

Chris Jericho v. El Generico

Women’s Title: Charlotte Flair v. Becky Lynch

Roman Reigns-Uso v. HHH-M

Loser Loses Identity Parking Lot Brawl: Luke Harper v. Harper (w/Bray)

Number One Contender Tables Match: Usos (Jimmy/Jey) v. Rhodes (Cody/Dustin) v. Dudley Boys

WWF Title: Lumberjack Three Way Dance: Kevin Steen (w/Pac and Generico) v. Brock Lesnar (w/Devitt and Sombra) v. Nick Nemeth (w/ Sheamus and Barrett)

Mask vs. Mask: Pac v. Kalisto

Chris Jericho v. El Generico

 -We learn about the parameters of the title match, the mask match, and Generico’s PPV debut during one in ring segment on the opening RAW.  Renee calls to the ring Steen, who is seconded by Pac, and then Nemeth, who comes to the ring with Regal/Barrett/Sheamus, and then Heyman, who arrives with Devitt and Sombra.

Steen kept his title with some aid from Claudio at Survivor Series, we learn that no one has heard from Claudio since he walked up the ramp the night before.  As a result we get this stip, a rematch between Steen and Nemeth in which each will be allowed two lumberjacks, who can get involved in any action on the floor.  Brock, you may recall, has a contractual rematch that necessitates his being placed in this match – his last shot at the WWF Title given his attack on Joey at Summer Slam.
Nemeth will have Sheamus/Barrett as his lumberjacks.  They lost the tag titles at Summer Slam and, demonstrating their commitment to Nemeth’s winning the WWF Title for Underground, don’t have a match at the Rumble to complicate their evening.

Steen will have Pac and Generico – Generico’s still on the shelf from the War Games injury suffered over the summer, but he’ll be cleared for the Rumble.  He’s cleared of all other commitments and now makes his PPV debut against #7, the Triple Crown Winner, Chris Jericho who returns to the WWF in this match.  Pac really heeled on Kalisto at Survivor Series, attempting to rip off his mask in response to repeated taunts from Steen, calling he and Claudio soft, calling them trash – as a result, the rubber match between the two will be a mask vs mask. Regal digs at Steen here – he’s broken Claudio, Claudio should have taken the deal to join Underground, when he left ringside last night he looked like a shell of himself.  Regal says Steen did that – and he did that with Pac as well, he’s broken them down to a state of unrecognizability.   Steen says Regal is scared – scared of what a vicious Pac will do to Kalisto, scared of what a tougher, harder, crueler GDI will do to Underground and the rest of the WWF.    

Brock will have Devitt and Sombra, both of whom have grown closer to Heyman in Brock’s absence.  Heyman dismisses both Nemeth and Steen, Underground and GDI – Heyman says when the unbreakable beast Lesnar returns, the Paul Heyman Guys will again be in control of the WWF Title.

Not a bad deal, right?  Generico's WWF PPV debut - Brock's return - and the blow off match to a hot Pac/Kalisto feud ends in a mask match.

We’ve got 3 other title matches.
 IC: Dean Ambrose v. Mystery Opponent
Tags: New Day (Kingston/Langston w/Woods) v. Rusev/Dos Caras (w/GHB and Lana)
Women’s Title: Charlotte Flair v. Becky Lynch

Ambrose took the IC from Bray at Survivor Series; he’s feeling himself and challenges anyone in the world to try to take it from him.  During the build, we get the debuts of both Rich Swann and Cedric Alexander, both of who lose to Ambrose.  Ambrose will take on another newcomer at the Rumble.

New Day took the tag titles at Survivor Series; their face turn continues against the heel group led by GHB.  GHB blames Obama for New Day holding the tag belts, New Day takes GHBs limo and calls it reparations.  It’s more comedic than not, with New Day presented as more knowing than the broadly ridiculous GHB.  Note, Lana seconded Dos Caras at Survivor Series, and in this build, when they wrestle as singles, she continues to do so – there’s one match where GHB can’t be there with Dos Caras and Lana still goes out there with him, she holds the ropes open for him, does the full valet thing.

Charlotte took the Women’s title from Paige at Survivor Series with Ric heeling on Paige and therefore busting up 4-Ground.  As mentioned in the Survivor Series write up, Charlotte then fires Ric the following night and is now a solo act.  Becky beats Paige definitively in this build as she takes on her former stablemate for the strap.

The mystery opponent options are the highlight in that block - probably lots of speculation about who that might be, particularly given what's coming at the end of the build (told you there was a twist).

And the remaining 3 matches:
Roman Reigns-Uso v. HHH-M
Loser Loses Identity Parking Lot Brawl: Luke Harper v. Harper (w/Bray)
Number One Contender Tables Match: Usos (Jimmy/Jey) v. Rhodes (Cody/Dustin) v. Dudley Boys

Reigns pledged to destroy all of Direct to Video; Orton went down Summer Slam, The Miz at Survivor Series and that just leaves Hunter.  He comes out of the executive suite to take on an asskicking babyface in Reigns. 

Sandow’s turning into Luke Harper’s doppelgänger finally comes to a head; their parking lot brawl prior to Survivor Series impacted both men and leads to this – a parking lot brawl at the Rumble in which the loser can no longer be Harper. It’s unclear the parameters of that, but the announce promises us a full identity tear down, one of these men will look very, very different the next time we see him following this match. 

The Dudley Boys returned to the WWF at Survivor Series to attack both the Usos and the Rhodes Brothers – the three teams will have a tables match at the Rumble – winners to go onto Mania to wrestle for the tag titles.  The veteran Dudleys - multi-time ECW, IWGP, TNA, and WWF tag champs want one last ride - both the Usos and the Rhodes Brothers have some desperation, will they get another shot if this one goes by?

That parking lot brawl is almost certainly a good match, it's another blow off to a long term angle and Luke Harper is a tremendous brawler.

Over on Dark Ride, we've got a multi-tag team feud:

American Alpha - managed by Swagger
The Revival - managed by Arn
Ciampa/Gargano - managed by Noble
Nicholls/Haste - managed by Dean Malenko

And we've got video promos by a man who says he's arriving after the Rumble - Austin Aries.

Aries cuts promos on Joe - says there's another former ROH and TNA champ, Joe's not a snowflake, Joe's not a unicorn - there's another - it's him, Austin Aries, and he's coming to Dark Ride right after the Rumble.

Finally, the twist.

In the last show before the Rumble, the go-home Fight Night, right in the middle of the show, there's an unremarkable match, say Killings v. Epico.

Out of the crowd, wearing streetclothes, without any build or fanfare - he just climbs right out of the crowd and into the ring -


Is Shinsuke Nakamura.

He tells Killings and Epico to beat it.  They do.

He takes a mic out of his back pocket and in broken English says...

"You...know who I am.  But you don't...know why....I'm here."

Nakamura smiles - and exits out through the crowd.

That's the buzz the rest of the night and the rest of the week on the programming on WWF Network (WWF Network has daily programming, think ESPN - there's pretty much always a couple of guys arguing about something).  Why did Shinsuke Nakamura - one of the great wrestlers in the world - show up in the WWF three days before the Royal Rumble?

With that extra kick - this sure feels like a show you do not want to miss.

WWF Title: Lumberjack Three Way Dance: Kevin Steen (w/Pac and Generico) v. Brock Lesnar (w/Devitt and Sombra) v. Nick Nemeth (w/ Sheamus and Barrett)

IC: Dean Ambrose v. Mystery Opponent

Mask vs. Mask: Pac v. Kalisto

Tags: New Day (Kingston/Langston w/Woods) v. Rusev/Dos Caras (w/GHB and Lana)

Chris Jericho v. El Generico

Women’s Title: Charlotte Flair v. Becky Lynch

Roman Reigns-Uso v. HHH-M

Loser Loses Identity Parking Lot Brawl: Luke Harper v. Harper (w/Bray)

Number One Contender Tables Match: Usos (Jimmy/Jey) v. Rhodes (Cody/Dustin) v. Dudley Boys

Call your cable company.  It's Royal Rumble 2016!

Survivor Series 2015

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

The build is here.

The 29th annual Survivor Series is in Atlanta.

(Dark – Devitt/Sombra w/Heyman d. Nicholls/Haste
              Joe d. Crews)

Your announce is Mauro Renallo, calling his first WWF PPV, a decade after Joey Styles debuted at Survivor Series ’05, and Regal, calling his 11th. Regal doing the show without the counterweight of Christian should be really obvious as he cheers for the GDI guys, it’s particularly blatant in Pac/Kalisto and the title match.

Clips play of every opening tag match in Survivor Series history.
1. (1987) Killer Bees defeating Power & Glory
2. The Rockers defeating Demolition
3. Hulk Hogan/Dusty Rhodes d. Hercules/Ultimate Warrior
5.Beverly Brothers d. Natural Disasters
6. Beverly Brothers d. Nasty Boys
7. Heavenly Bodies d. Headshrinkers
8. Smoking Gunns d. Heavenly Bodies
9. Public Enemy d. Louie Spicoli/Marty Jannetty
10. New Age Outlaws d. Savio Vega/Bob Holly
11. Nation of Domination d. Godwinns
12. Hardys d. Brian Lawler/Scott Taylor
13. Hollys d. New Age Outlaws
14. Hardys d. Dudleys
15. Edge/Christian d. Hardys
16. Dudleys d. Hardys DQ
17. Dead Men Walking d. Bashams
18. Randy Orton/John Cena d. GHB/Anal Cysts Conway
19. Johnny Nitro/Joey Mercury d. DMW
22. GHB/Mark Henry d. Undertaker/Cody Rhodes
24. Empire d. Douchebags
25. Mark Henry/Santino d. Hunico/Mason Ryan
27. Wyatt Family d. Defiance
28. Fandango Curtis/Heath Slater d. Damian Sandow/Justin Gabriel

And this year…

1. Usos No Contest Rhodes
-All babyface matchup; both teams doing long journey storylines, for the Usos it’s injury and “inability to win the big one” – and for the Rhodes, it’s Dustin’s age and having lost his identity as a member of the Wyatts.  This spirited match ends with the return of another team – the Dudley Boys.

D-Von, a 10 time tag champion, including 2 WWF runs, has been gone over a decade – Bubba was just here in January, teaming with DDP for a one shot at the Rumble, Bubba’s got a dozen tag titles to his name, the most major tag titles of anyone in history.  They hit 3D on a member of both teams and it ends the match.  The Dudley Boys, with a truckload of titles, return to the WWF for one last ride.

Prior to the next match is a taped piece from earlier in the evening, it’s the two Harpers, the real one, Luke and his doppleganger (Sandow) brawling in the parking lot.

2. Dos Caras, Jr. (w/GHB and Lana) d. Luke Harper
-GHB cuts pre-match promo; telling the fans that taxes are too high – when they cheer he says not for you people, you barely pay taxes at all, but for me, and for giant corporations – GHB then sends out a squadron of uniformed personnel with collection plates asking the fans to pay their share.  The ones who make the least money should pay the most.  GHB announces literacy tests to remain in the country, and a couple of questions pop up on the video wall.  GHB says that it’s not enough to keep bad foreigners out – it’s time to send bad Americans out the door too.

Dos Caras returned to the promotion at Summer Slam, joining GHBs stable of men who are more American than actual Americans – he beats a clearly injured Luke Harper here, who is selling the pre-show parking lot brawl with the other Harper.  Lana’s appearance was unannounced, she’s Rusev’s wife, after all, but even though he doesn’t appear at all here, she plays the same ringside role she would play during a Rusev match, and she joins the postmatch pose with the other two men.

3. Roman Reigns Uso d. The Miz
After the Usos lost to Direct to Video at Mania, Reigns pledged to wipe them out; at Summer Slam, he punished Orton and here, he does the same to the Miz – Miz does his chickshit heel routine but he’s quickly caught and smashed by Reigns.  Roman’s full intensity, it’s a real world Goldberg act.

Postmatch, HHH-M appears at the top of the ramp – Reigns motions for him to come to the ring, but he retreats to the back.

4. Women’s Title: Charlotte Flair d. Paige
It’s a nice moment, Charlotte winning the Women’s Title in Atlanta.

Along with Becky/Sasha, this is half of 4-Ground, the stable advised by Ric; he’s done a good job at positioning himself as not favoring Charlotte, even when playing a role in the finish of her number one contender match at Summer Slam.

Here, Ric, as promised, doesn’t come to the ring at the beginning of the match, but makes his way down mid-way, he cheers for both women until he doesn’t, slipping a foreign object into Charlotte’s hand that she’ll use to deck Paige and get the fall and take the belt.  The Flairs celebrate in the ring – Becky and Sasha come to the ramp to shake their heads in incredulity – people said they should not trust the Flairs and they were right.

The next night ends Ric’s run when Charlotte dumps him.

Ric cuts promo – his rap in the build was family was more important than gold, that 4-Ground needed to stay together.  Here, he says he told the truth, it is about family, it’s about his family.  Ric says he is an 8 time World Champion, and none of them means as much as the 9th – the one he shares with his daughter.  Ric says he is the greatest of all time and the next stage of his career will be protecting Charlotte’s championship as long as he can.

Charlotte says the reason she knows the rest of 4-Ground is too stupid to stay with is they actually believe what Ric is saying.  They’re great wrestlers, but they didn’t grow up around the sport – they didn’t grow up knowing that family always comes second to gold.

Charlotte says she could share the championship with her dad, spend months, maybe years getting to spend the time with her dad she didn’t get to spend growing up, when Ric was winning those 8 world titles.

Or – she could choose gold.  And keep it all to herself.

Charlotte opens up the ropes – tells Flair his services, as manager and father, are no longer required.  She’s world champ now – the gold is all the family she needs.

Ric cries, like he would – Charlotte threatens to slap him around.  Flair exits and leaves the promotion.

But that’s tomorrow night.

5. Pac d. Kalisto
Kalisto upset Pac at Summer Slam; Steen really pretty cruelly began to refer to he and Cesaro as trash, and he responds by going full heel in this one against Kalisto – early in the match he goes for the mask; a real surprise to the young luchador, they’ve had a respectful feud, and that a fellow masked wrestler would try to unmask him is a surprise and he never really recovers.  Pac stays aggressive the entire match and wins decisively.

Every Tag Title match in Survivor Series history
1. (1987) Rougeaus taking from the Hart Foundation
2. Brainbusters taking from the Rougeaus
3. Rockers keeping over Rougeaus
4. Road Warriors taking from Orient Express
5. Road Warriors keeping over Boss Man/Slaughter
6. Steiners taking from Money Inc.
7. Steiners keeping from Rock & Roll Express
8. Bret/Anvil taking from Lex Luger/Bam Bam Bigelow
9. Razor Ramon/Diesel taking from Smoking Gunns
10. Marc Mero/Bart Gunn keeping over Doug Furnas/Phil LaFon
11. Rock/DLo Brown taking from the Road Warriors in a 3 way with New Age Outlaws
12. Rock/DLo keeping over the New Age Outlaws
13. Dudleys taking from the Hardys
14. Edge/Christian keeping over Hunter/Waltman
15. Dudleys keeping over Raven/Tommy Dreamer
16. Chris Benoit/Eddy Guerrero keeping over Jamie Noble/Billy Kidman
17. Shawn Michaels/Hunter keeping over Dudleys
18. Kurt Angle/Shelton Benjamin taking from Rob Van Dam/Rey Mysterio
19. Booker T/GHB taking from Randy Orton/John Cena
20. Sabu/Rob Van Dam taking from Dead Men Walking
21. Shawn Michaels/Hunter taking from The Superstar & The Sidekick
22. Edge/Blood Dragon taking from Weapons of Mass Destruction
23. Division One keeping over Steve Regal/Fit Finlay
24. Young Money keeping over Hooligans
25. Empire keeping over Mark Henry/Santino
26. Defiance keeping over Young Money
27. The Shield keeping over Mark Henry/PAUL
28. The Shield keeping over The Usos

So, there hasn’t been a tag title switch at Survivor Series in 7 years – now here’s the match.

6. Tag Titles: The New Day (Kingston/Langston w/Woods) d. Sheamus/Barrett
-Renee (backstage) Langston, The last two years you’ve come to Survivor Series as part of the tag champs, tonight you challenge for those belts – what’s the difference in mindset?
       -Langston: First of all…check your privilege….

New Day works like babyfaces, Langston debuts the hip swivel, they go over clean and take the belts to become the 97th tag team champs in WWF history.  For Langston, it’s his second run, for Kingston, his third.

Every IC Title Match in Survivor Series history
1. (1987) Randy Savage keeping over Rick Rude
2. Bret Hart keeping over Davey Boy Smith
3. Ted DiBiase taking from Rick Rude
4. Bret Hart keeping from Shawn Michaels
5. Roddy Piper taking from Bret Hart
6. Shawn Michaels taking from Randy Savage
6.Owen Hart taking from Shawn Michaels
       7. Shawn Michaels keeping over Sean Waltman
       8. Razor Ramon keeping over Sean Waltman
       9. Shawn Michaels keeping over Shane Douglas
     10. Cactus Jack taking from Vader
     11. Ken Shamrock taking from Cactus Jack
     12. Steve Austin keeping over Steve Regal
     13. Chris Jericho taking from Sean Waltman
     14. Steve Regal taking from Chris Jericho
     15. Taz taking from Tajiri
     16. Rob Van Dam taking from Shawn Michaels
     17. Chavo Guerrero taking from Tajiri
     18. Chris Jericho keeping over Chavo Guerrero
     19. Chris Benoit winning vacant title over Kurt Angle
     20. Shane Helms takes from Hunter Hearst Helmsley McMahon
     21. MVP taking from Randy Orton
     22. MVP keeping over Rey Mysterio
     23. Shawn Michaels keeping over Shelton Benjamin
     24. Johnny Nitro keeping over MVP
     25. Sheamus keeps over Johnny Nitro
     26. Nick Nemeth keeping over The Miz
     27. Dean Ambrose keeping over Kingston
     28. Luke Harper taking from Nick Nemeth

And now this year…

7. No DQ: IC: Dean Ambrose d. Bray Wyatt
-Ambrose becomes the 65th IC Champion, his second run with the IC belt, beating Wyatt in a largely ringside based brawl.  Wyatt’s alone – the build involved both men largely being alone, a singular occurrence in both of their careers, and as Harper (Sandow) was taken out in that pre-show parking lot brawl no one ever comes to Bray’s aid here – even given the No DQ stip.

Every WWF Title match in Survivor Series history…

1. (1987) Ricky Steamboat kept over Dynamite Kid
2. Randy Savage taking from Dynamite
3. Curt Hennig taking from Savage
4. Curt Hennig keeping over Kerry Von Erich
5. Ric Flair taking from Davey Boy Smith
6. Bret Hart keeping over Ric Flair
7. Bret Hart keeping over Lex Luger
8. Shawn Michaels taking from Owen Hart
9. Bret Hart keeping over Davey Boy Smith
10. Bret Hart taking from Shawn Michaels
11. Owen Hart winning the vacant title over Bret Hart/Steve Austin/Shawn Michaels
12. Cactus Jack keeping over Ken Shamrock
13. Cactus Jack keeping over HHH and the Rock
14. Chris Benoit keeping over Steve Austin
15. Kurt Angle keeping over Booker T
16. Kurt Angle keeping over Chris Jericho
17. Eddy Guerrero keeping over Brock Lesnar/Chris Benoit/Kurt Angle
18. Chris Benoit drawing Eddy Guerrero
19. Rey Mysterio keeping over Juventud Guerrera
20. CM Punk taking from Ric Flair
21. Rey Mysterio keeping over The Undertaker
22. Chris Jericho taking from CM Punk
23. Chris Jericho keeping over Chavo Guerrero
23.Chris Jericho no contest with Matt Hardy
                             24. Edge keeping over Jack Swagger
                             25. Nick Nemeth keeping over Mistico
                             26.  Bryan Danielson keeping over Rey Mysterio
                             27. Bryan Danielson drawing CM Punk
                             28. Cluadio Castagnoli keeping over Bray Wyatt

And this year

8. WWF Title: Kevin Steen (w/Claudio) d. Nick Nemeth
-What will Claudio do has been the focus of much of the build – what he does is he attacks Nemeth on the outside with a barrage of uppercuts, leading to the finish.  Claudio looks at the crowd as he walks back up the aisle, sadly pointing at them and yelling “hey”, almost as if the berating from Steen has broken his spirit.

For Steen though – it’s another victory, he holds the belt aloft over the protestations of an angry Regal as the show fades out…

…but how we close the show is a return to the image that closed WM, the building of a large metal structure, we’re now further along – there are multiple men building what is clearly a giant steel cage – that appears, maybe, to have…are they chambers….

I’ll be back next month, the 11th anniversary of the Counterfactual, with the build for Royal Rumble 2016 – the main event for which is a lumberjack 3 way featuring Steen defending the title against Nemeth and a returning Brock Lesnar.  See you in a month.

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