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.

Royal Rumble 2018

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

The build is here.

Royal Rumble 2018 comes to you from Philadelphia.  It is the 29th Royal Rumble and the 124th WWF PPV.

(Dark – Strong d. Gargano, Dunne d. Bate)

It is Mauro Ranallo’s 10th PPV as lead announcer. 

Steve Regal (20th PPV) and Nigel McGuinness (7) are your color announcers.  They are replaced for the women’s title match by Corey Graves (2).

There’s a pre-show tape, voiced over by Heyman, to put over Philadelphia as a city of tremendous heart and resilience – there are clips of wrestling matches that took place in Philadelphia, clips from Rocky and Creed, clips of the Philadelphia Eagles, who are about to win their first Super Bowl.  The tie in to this event is that it will take great resilience to overcome 19 other men in Royal Rumble Warfare to win the WWF Championship. 

-there’s the clip of Randy Savage plunging the WWF Fork into Mr. Perfect
-there’s the Sandman, hitting Terry Funk with the unprotected chair shot at November to Remember ‘93
-there’s Cactus Jack, hitting an elbow on Sting from the apron to the floor at Slamboree ‘94
-there’s Dean Malenko, submitting Brian Pillman with the clover leaf at November to Remember ‘94
-there’s Sabu, hitting a triple jump moonsault on Steve Austin at November to Remember ‘95
-there’s Raven, hitting Tommy Dreamer with a Singapore cane at November to Remember ‘96
-there’s Taz, t-bone suplexing Sabu on the top of his head at Barely Legal ‘97
-there’s Al Snow, in a sea of Heads after taking the IC from Austin at WM15.
-there’s Kurt Angle, stopping Jeff Jarrett from burning an American flag at WM 15
-there’s Brock Lesnar, slicing up Mick Foley with barbed wire at Rumble ‘04
-there’s RVD and Sabu, putting Cena and Batista through tables covered with glass tubes at Survivor Series ’20.
-There’s Bubba Ray Dudley and DDP each being sent into steel steps by The Shield at Rumble ’15.
-there’s Terry Funk, standing in the crowd holding a world title belt, both at Slamboree ’94 and then Barely Legal ‘97

-Full Circle used veteran heel tactics to go over Sheamus/Miz at Survivor Series; they added the New Day for this match – it doesn’t matter if it’s an elimination match or if it’s one fall – there’s no finish to this match, after about 8 minutes we hear an unfamiliar theme, we see an unfamiliar name on the video wall:


..and then who emerges are Rusev and Strowman, with Lana – Rusev and Strowman are in matching gear, they’ve got facepaint, they come to the ring and kill everybody.  The match gets thrown out.  A new team has been created. 


Here are 18 of the 20 lumberjacks (2 were unannounced and they remain unannounced even as the match starts; the lumberjacks are not in the match)

-Hero (babyfaces aligned with Sombra)
-Fish (GDI members w/Cole)
-Tozawa (Blood Warriors International)
-Seven (the lead members of the British contingent which primarily has been fighting each other)
-Strong (Dark Ride Champion, member of the Horsemen)
-Gargano (feuding with Strong, member of Trash)
-Aleister Black
-Velveteen Dream
-Buddy Murphy
-Lio Rush
 -Mustafa Ali
-Authors of Pain

There’s some jawing among the lumberjacks, but no real physicality until the finish – the 19th and 20th lumberjacks enter, it’s the debut of War Machine – and when they get to mid aisle Authors of Pain sprint up to brawl with them – in the commotion, Fish and O’Reilly hit the ring, attempting to interfere, but both are cut off by Kenta/Hero, driven from the ring, and Sombra gets the fall very soon thereafter. 

The postmatch is an extended brawl, as many minutes as needed for guys to get their stuff over – it’s designed to pay off the hardcore expectations of a segment of the Philadelphia crowd, there’s going to be a ladder bump, there’s going to be a table bump, War Machine’s got thumbtacks – Dark Ride Wrestling is putting a stamp on the Royal Rumble in Philadelphia.


-I bet this is a helluva match; Alpha and Revival came all the way up together through Underground, competed at every level of their development – and this is culmination of all of that; a best of 3 series that winds up in a best of 3 falls match.  Doesn’t matter which one wins which of the first 2 falls, it’s the Revival who goes over.  It’s clean and definitive and the feeling should be that this is the end.  Postmatch, all four men, plus Arn, stay in the ring, presumably there is applause – Alpha extends their hands to the Revival – they accept them , Alpha tells them to go win the belts. 

This will be repeated in the Mania build – but tomorrow Alpha is going to lose to their longtime rivals, Anderson/Gallows – the end result of which is that Jordan winds up buried under the Bullet Club flag, and its fair to speculate how long he might be out of action.  If this looks like a face turn for the Revival – it’s supposed to. 

-Becky’s a member of the Bullet Club, women’s champion since last year’s Mania; Asuka is undefeated and doing the full IRL Goldberg gimmick – the chanting, the Some Number-0 signs, her catchphrase is “Who’s Next?” – she gets the full walk from backstage through the curtain, she gets the fireworks.  Corey Graves is the heel color commentator from Dark Ride, but he plays the IRL Bobby Heenan role of the heel who still loves this undefeated babyface – he’s been clamoring for this match, for this moment, for over a year, so he’s who joins Ranallo for this match. 

-They have the best match they can, the story being that Becky just isn’t quite good enough here, and eventually, she quits – takes the title belt and exits.  Asuka keeps her streak, Becky keeps her belt.  It is designed to feel unsatisfying. 

We then get a message on the video wall – from the WWF Commissioner Bryan Danielson. 

It’s the first time we’ve seen him since getting knocked silly by an errant AJ Styles forearm at Survivor Series.  Danielson says he will be returning tomorrow on RAW – and he’ll be making a major announcement. 

That’s going to lead to much speculation, speculation that will heat up the next day on social media, as it is leaked that Danielson is going to resign immediately from his position as commissioner.

-At Summer Slam, a very personal feud between the two former halves of GDI ended with Neville emotionally losing a Loser Leaves Town match to Steen.  Coming out of that year long program, some lighter fare was needed – Steen adopted the persona of Kid Canada, an aging French-Canadian luchador, and put together the Tres Bon Mask Challenge.  That resulted in Generico winning a mini masked wrestler tournament – and here is the one night only return to the WWF of a triple crown winner, the Legendary Rey Mysterio – and Generico beats him in the best match they can possibly have.  They embrace after the match, the feeling should be a passing of the torch, that Generico is now the best masked wrestler in the world. 

Kid Canada then appears on the video wall – live, from Quebec – he congratulates Generico, said he has not only overcome all other masked wrestlers from WWF, but also defeated the Legendary Mysterio. And now – he has only one more hill to climb.

Which is a surprise.  How could there be more hills to climb once you beat Rey Mysterio?

Kid Canada says – at Wrestlemania – you will face one last masked wrestler – at Wrestlemania, it will be El Generico….vs….Kid Canada….Mask vs. Mask.
Generico’s mouth drops open – he shakes his head – what…what is Kevin Steen doing now?

6. WWF Tag Titles: Usos d. Bullet Club (Anderson/Gallows)

-The Usos are in their second title run; they took from the Hardys at Summer Slam – they’re cocky heels; Anderson and Gallows have largely filled the bodyguard role for the Bullet Club; it’s their first shot at the belts, they’re also cocky heels.  In a way, they are sort of a Young Bucks proxy – there’s a bit of cross-promotional superkick rivalry between the Usos and the Bucks, it’s not explicit here, it’s a wink and a nod – it’s not “come to New York and fight us, cowards” for obvious reasons – but if the Usos were to have a Superkick Party and a Young Bucks chant to start, that wouldn’t shock. 
They’re the better squad and they go over here – Usos win this match and keep their belts. Postmatch, Arn leads the Revival to the ring – they won the number one contenders match earlier in the evening – and the will face the Usos for the tag titles at Wrestlemania 34.  The men all go noses to noses at mid ring. 

-Brock’s had the IC since last year’s Rumble and Heyman’s constant referencing of him as the “Real World’s Champion” seems to have manifested into reality – because now, of course, there is no WWF Champion, there’s just Brock – and the combination of Brock being Brock and the WWF Title being vacant really gives the “Lesnar is the Real World Champion” thing a ton of credibility.  He beat Angle at Survivor Series and completed the sweep of his past by taking out Benjamin.

This is No DQ – we had Lesnar/Angle stay in the ring despite their limitations really in honor of what that matchup meant – but this one we make a garbage match, Benajmin can use some foreign objects found under the ring in order to give him the appearance of possibly taking this title and winning the Triple Crown.  He doesn’t, of course, Lesnar’s gonna hit him with an F5 and then just tack on a second one because he can.  When we next see Benjamin his arm will be in a sling.  Lesnar will head to Wrestlemania as the longest reigning IC Champion in a decade. 

Prior to the battle royal – clips from the other notable battle royals in WWF History:
1991…Davey Boy Smith press slams Sid over the top rope to become #1 contender…
1993…Razor dumps Shawn over the top rope to become #1 contender…
1995…Hakushi dropkicks Razor over the top to become #1 contender…
1996…Owen dropkicks Austin over the top to become #1 contender…
1998…Cactus cactus clotheslines both himself and Austin over….but Cactus holds on to become #1 contender…
2000…The Rock throws Jericho over the top to become #1 contender….
2002…Rey Mysterio debuts in the WWF, springboard dropkicking Michaels over the top to become #1 contender…
2004…Eddy throws Christian over the top to become #1 contender…
2006…Punk throws Jeff Hardy over the top to become #1 contender…
2008…Jericho throws Edge over the top to become #1 contender…
2010…Swagger throws Nemeth over the top to become #1 contender…
2012….Punk throws Sheamus over to become #1 contender…
2014…Bray throws Harper over the top to become #1 contender…
2016…Joe eliminates Cedric Alexander to become the inaugural Dark Ride Champion
2017…Kenta eliminates Hero to win the Dark Ride Championship

20 men, 2 minute intervals, eliminations are pinfall, submission, over the top rope.  Winner becomes the 57th World Wrestling Federation Champion.  Place your bets.

1.       Apollo Crews
2.       Kalisto (sometimes, you play the hits, it’s a babyface tag team squaring off)
3.       Prince Devitt (tough draw for the leader of the Bullet Club – Kalisto/Crews instantly team up and begin working him over)
4.       Nick Nemeth (that puts all 3 members of Underground in the match very early and puts Devitt in extreme jeopardy)
5.       Kevin Steen (this is Steen’s first match as Kevin Steen since Summer Slam, he races to the ring like someone returning from a long layoff, he once feuded with Nemeth – but everyone hates the Bullet Club, and he joins the parade in bouncing Devitt around  the ring, just before the announcement of the next guy however, Devitt is able to hurl Kalisto from the ring (20)
6.       Mascara Dorada (Dorada hits his stuff on everyone in the ring before settling in on a 1:1 matchup against Crews; Nemeth/Devitt/Steen are now all battling each other)
7.       Bray Wyatt (he comes in hot after Devitt, and now Devitt is near elimination, as Nemeth and Steen both aid in trying to toss him over the top)
8.       Dustin Rhodes (Dustin grabs Bray and the two one time stablemates go nose to nose as Devitt is able to escape from the ropes and stumble right into Dustin/Bray – who then start clubbing away at him, at the close of the time expiration, Crews eliminates Dorada with a pinfall (19)
9.       Rusev (he never makes it to the ring, he’s attacked on the ramp by half of each of the tag teams that Gods of Carnage laid out earlier in the night – their 3 on 1 assault is ended by Strowman – he joins his new partner and they get the advantage despite being outnumbered – leading to the other 3 men from the aforementioned tag teams hitting the ramp, and 6 on 2, all 8 men fight their way back up the ramp until they disappear from view.  We are told that Rusev is counted out and therefore eliminated (18). Bray and Dustin are fighting Devitt while Crews and Nemeth are fighting Steen.
10.   Claudio Castagnoli (Steen breaks away from Nemeth and Crews to meet him in the middle of the ring and the two rivals start trading blows; Nemeth and Crews join Dustin and Bray in all getting nearfalls on Devitt)
11.   Bobby Roode (he enters more tactically, surveying the scene, looking for an area of opportunity, which turns out to be laying out Bray and eliminating Dustin (17). Devitt is almost over the top rope now as Nemeth and Crews push and push
12.   AJ Styles (saves his Bullet Club stablemate, the announce notes that Devitt was certainly about to be eliminated but not for AJ, he levels both Nemeth and Crews, the Steen/Claudio/Roode thing continues, Bray stays out of the fray, crouching in a corner.
13.   TJ Perkins (he gets spots in on everyone (except Claudio) the other 7 in the ring take some type of TJP spot, and that allows Claudio to get a pinfall on Steen (16)
14.   Jack Gallagher (Gallagher is all prancing comedy, Nemeth and Crews are taking on Styles and Devitt, Claudio battles Roode while Bray takes on Perkins)
15.   Roman Reigns Uso (he comes in hot – superman punch and a throw of Perkins over (15) superman punch and a spear pinfall for Bray (14) everything else remains the same
16.   Drew Gulak (Gulak is eliminated by a Reigns superman punch as soon as he steps into the ring (13) Claudio then gets a pinfall on Roode (12) and out of nowhere, Gallagher schoolboys Devitt (11) which draws a shocked response from the announcers and Devitt
17.   Kid Canada (Steen’s pulled a fast one, and now here he is in his gimmick, Claudio shakes his head in exasperation and once again he and Steen meet at mid ring and start throwing blows in the same spot they did earlier in the match, Devitt is enraged – he and AJ hurl Gallagher over the top (10) before Devitt is made to exit the ring, Nemeth and Crews now fight Reigns as a drone buzzes their heads)
18.   Langston (Kid Canada gets the pinfall on Claudio (9) and is then immediately pinned by Langston (8) Reigns gets in another superman punch/spear to eliminate Crews (7) the drone keeps buzzing by Nemeth, who swats and swats – and that distraction doesn’t allow him to notice that, from the crowd, emerges Broken Matt Hardy, who throws him over the top rope (6) and then exits back into the Delete chanting crowd.
19.   Tyler Black (there’s a reset now as four men remain in the ring – Black and AJ, from the Bullet Club – and Langston and Reigns.  Langston and Reigns are career long rivals, from Langston’s time with the Shield to the New Day, he’s always been on squads which opposed the Usos – those two teams just finished another feud – but here, facing Black and AJ, its clear to both men  that they need to work together.  Reigns has also feuded with Black, both historically, in Usos/Shield battles, and recently, in the build for the tag title match that happened earlier in the evening.  And Black/Langston have the biggest history of all – Langston turned on Black, cost him a year of his career, and ended the Shield. 

If you think this is taking more than 2 minutes, you’re right – at some point Mauro says the clock is broken – we get a good 5 minutes here with these two “teams” squaring off – but the Bullet Club picks up pinfalls – Black gets Langston (5) and then AJ gets Reigns (4) and then Black immediately throws AJ over the top rope (3).

AJ is heated – the deal was they’d wait until everyone else was eliminated and then they’d battle it out – but Black has clearly lost track of how many entrants there had been given the length of time since he came to the ring – Black drops to his knees in celebration of winning the WWF Title.

But he hasn’t of course.

The lights go out – then there’s a spotlight on a violinist on the ramp. 

And he begins to play IRL Nakamura’s original theme – and we get IRL Nakamura’s first ever NXT entrance.  Sure, it’s going to take 2 minutes all by itself, but we’ve already abandoned that pretense with the broken clock.

20.   Shinsuke Nakamura (Nakamura hasn’t been seen since being buried under the Bullet Club flag after Survivor Series – but he is risen, new music, new gear – the full elaborate entrance – Black stands in the ring stupefied, how is Nakamura here – what is happening with this entrance – how did I forget there was one man left to enter the ring?

They do a good 10 minute match – Nakamura pins Black (2) after the bomaye to become the World Wrestling Federation Champion.

40 years before Antonio Inoki was WWF Champion – but tonight, in Philadelphia, Shinsuke Nakamura has defeated Tyler Black to become the 57th World Wrestling Federation Champion.  His new music plays, he hits the turnbuckles with his belt – the people cheer – and that’s your show.

We’re back in a month with Part 1 of the build to Wrestlemania 34.  It’s a helluva card with a double main event.  See you then.

Road to Royal Rumble 2018 (The Counterfactual Turns 13)

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Hey, first of all, it's December, that means it's anniversary time.  This is the 13th anniversary of the creation of the Counterfactual - that's a long time; if a wrestling promotion lasts 13 years you say "pretty successful, congrats."  It's entirely possible that someone reading these words had never even seen a wrestling match back when I started this in December, 2005. For those of you who enjoy the stuff, I'm glad - labor of love is an apt description. When we hit this point in the year, I do always consider if there's an end point.  I know it's not 2019, because I've got the main event program booked through WM35, which I'd be publishing in April, 2020.  I still enjoy it as much as ever, it still occupies more of my thoughts than it should - I still process all of the IRL big 4 PPVs through a "what guys do I get to use" prism - so I'm not planning on stopping in 2020.  However - 2 years from right now the blog will turn 15 and I'll have turned 50.  There's enough symmetry there that it could be I might shut the lights two years from now after Survivor Series 2019. I'm not planning to do it - but it is something I'll consider. If a month passes prior to that and you don't hear from me...well, that ain't good and you can start fighting over my stuff.  Thanks for reading.  Left to right.  Line after line.  It's fantastic.  

Survivor Series was here.

Royal Rumble 29, the 124th PPV in WWF history, is in January from Philadelphia.

It’s the 5th WWF PPV from Philadelphia:

{Summer Slam ’90 (Hennig kept the WWF Title over Savage in a cage)
WM 15 (Cactus took the WWF Title from Owen in a Pure Wrestling match)
Rumble ’04 (Angle took Eddy’s WWF Title)
Survivor Series ’06 (The pivotal moment of the first decade of the century, Punk took the WWF Title from Flair and then threw the belt down)
Rumble ’15 (Brock took Claudio’s WWF Title)

8 matches on the card.  Let’s start with the IC:


The night after Survivor Series, RAW begins with the announce quickly filling us in, the WWF Title has been held up, an announcement will be made about how it will be filled later tonight; Bryan Danielson suffered a concussion last night and there is no timetable for his return. 

And then Brock Lesnar’s music hits.

With this successful defense last night over Kurt Angle, Brock will go into the Rumble as IC Champ for a full year. 

(Each IC Reign of 1+ years:
Pedro Morales (1 year, 2 mos)
Don Muraco (1 year, 1 mo)
Roddy Piper (1 year)
Randy Savage (2 years)
Bret Hart (1 year, 10 mos)
Shawn Michaels (1 year, 2 mos)
Cactus Jack (1 year)
MVP (1 year, 5 mos)
Sheamus (1 year)
The Rock (1 year)}

Since the moment Lesnar won the IC at Rumble ’17, Heyman has been proclaiming him to be the “real world’s champion” and you can understand, after nearly a year, that when he comes to the ring to begin RAW after a PPV, in what has traditionally been the spot reserved for the WWF Title – that when he and Brock come to the ring knowing the WWF Title is now vacant – you can understand that Paul is going to cut a “I told you so” promo.

It’s full triumphalism for Heyman and Lesnar – even a suspension that has kept Brock from challenging for the WWF Title couldn’t keep Lesnar down – he has overcome everything in his path – CM Punk, gone, Bryan Danielson, gone – heck, GDI got blown to bits.  And now, Brock Lesnar has defeated Kurt Angle and stands alone as the Reigning, Defending, Undisputed, Real World’s Champion. Brock comes to the ring with two belts, the IC - and a belt that Heyman had made "The Real World's Championship Belt"  It's enormous.  

(Brock’s been a babyface for awhile, which means the fans cheer him as opposed to Brock really doing anything differently.  But that extra F5 at the end of the Angle match last night, was a sign that maybe we should shift our Lesnar thoughts – and now Paul reminding us that Brock’s main feuds were against babyface heroes Punk and Danielson – that’s signaling that heel Brock is back in the building)

Paul says Brock’s not going to sit around and wait for another challenge – who Brock wants is Shelton Benjamin. 

Paul does whatever level of “here’s the history of Brock and Benjamin” needed to sell that fight and we move forward.

Beats to hit during the program:

-Benjamin accepts the following week, obviously – the IC is the only belt he’s never won, so, like Angle, he is wrestling for the Triple Crown – that’s the highest honor in the sport, so we just roll the discussion prior to Survivor Series over.

-In the way that Brock, despite all of his accomplishments, still felt a need to vanquish Kurt – Benjamin feels the need to vanquish Brock.  Whether as an amateur wrestler in Minnesota; or from their mutual days on the MTV show Camp Angle, or when Brock overshadowed Benjamin as Kurt’s chosen pupil, or when Benjamin then went to work for Brock as a member of Team Lesnar – it was always (1) Brock and (2) Benjamin.  Obviously, the intervening years have shown much, much more success for Brock – and at this point in their careers, with more fights behind them than ahead of them – this is clearly Benjamin’s last, best chance to rewrite his history.

-Benjamin starts working with American Alpha; we’ll talk about that when we get to the Alpha match, but he serves a mentor role in a couple of vignettes.

-Brock only appears a couple of more times in the build just so Paul can keep beating the appropriate drum.  In the final appearance, a couple of weeks out of the Rumble, Brock is attacked from behind by Benjamin – he hits Paydirt on Brock and then really goes to work on that injured Brock elbow (Brock’s had an elbow thing all year, Angle almost was able to use it to steal a win) stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp. 

-The announce sells this as less a heel move and more a “this shows you how important this is to Benjamin, he will do whatever it takes at the Rumble to beat Brock Lesnar!”


-Virtually every man in the promotion is around the ring or on the ramp for the main event segment of RAW the night following Survivor Series.  The WWF Title is on a stand in mid-ring.  On the video wall, direct from his office in the White House, is HHH-M.  Hunter jokes that given President McMahon signing a bill to dramatically increase the inheritance tax for estates of over a million dollars, both he and Stephanie are hard at work.  Hunter says the Commissioner, Bryan Danielson, is resting comfortably, but there is no timetable for his return.  However, he has put together the following plan regarding the WWF Title:

-Given the controversial double pin finish last night (both Devitt and AJ pinned Joe simultaneously after AJ drilled Danielson with a flying forearm smash resulting in a second referee needing to enter) the WWF Title is held up.

-20 men will compete at the Royal Rumble in a Royal Rumble Warfare Match (modeled after Dark Ride Warfare, a rumble style battle royal in which pinfalls and submissions are also eliminations in addition to being thrown over the top rope).

-12 (it'll wind up being 14) of those men will be announced prior to the event.  No faction will have more than 3 entrants.

-Understandably, that’s perceived as a shot to the Bullet Club. 

-Who also views this entire idea as a shot is Joe, RAW ends with much hubbub around the ring, each man believing, even if for a moment, that he is about to become WWF Champion.  Joe was WWF Champion just 24 hours before, and hearing that he won’t get a rematch, despite fighting a 1 on 2 match a good portion of the night before, causes him to take the tape off his hands and walk up the ramp and disappear as the show ends. 

-The next week on RAW is a taped vignette in which the Bullet Club considers what to do.  They have 4 guys (well, six, but Anderson and Gallows are otherwise occupied, as we’ll find out later) and only 3 spots.  The decision is a tag match, whomever drops the fall drops out of the battle royal. 

-How do they decide who the tag partners will be?  They put a gun on a table (it’s the goddamn Bullet Club after all; I’m deciding that in a taped piece, we can use a gun) Becky spins it, and whomever it points to gets to pick his partner.  It points to Black.  You’d expect him to pick Devitt – but Black says at Survivor Series, Shinsuke stepped up when he needed someone; and now they are brothers. 

-It’s AJ/Devitt against Nakamura/Black the following week.  They have a long competitive match – Nakamura needs a tag, but Black suddenly has a cramp in his leg, hops off the apron – and Nakamura eats a Prince Devitt pinfall.

-The full Bullet Club then gets in the ring, Devitt says that he knows Shinsuke must be disappointed, but he’ll get his chance someday; and since the other 6 members of the Bullet Club all have title matches at the Rumble, Shinsuke will be invaluable as a bodyguard.

-If that feels disrespectful, it’s supposed to.  Nakamura pauses – looks at each member of the Bullet Club, stares hard at Black, who is doing an overly exaggerated rubbing of his quad, and Nakamura quits.

-He drops the mic down and attempts to exit the ring – he’s blocked by Anderson and Gallows; Devitt says wait a second – this isn’t something you quit – this is the Bullet Club, when you’re in the Bullet Club that’s for life. 

-The Club starts to surround Nakamura now; he stares at each of them – tells them they will regret this

-Black takes the microphone; tells Nakamura it’s time someone told him the truth, the reason Black was brought into the Club in the first place is Nakamura was a whiny little bitch who spent month after month in Dark Ride when his squad needed him.  Devitt had a broken skull, AJ was trying to hold onto the WWF Title – and Nakamura was nowhere to be found.  Black gets in his face “the reason you didn’t know I was joining the Bullet Club is I was here to replace you.  You don’t quit this.  This quits you.”

-And then they stomp him out.  AJ is last man in, he and Nakamura grew closer this year, and he hesitates for a moment  - just long enough that you might think what he’s going to do is aid Nakamura in fighting off the rest of the Bullet Club. 

-But he doesn’t – he joins in (Black kicks feverishly, his leg mysteriously healed) and eventually Nakamura has no fight left, goes down – and gets buried under the Bullet Club flag. 2 years after he began the Bullet Club invasion - Nakamura lies in ruins under his stable's flag.

-This brings AJ/Devitt/Black closer together; we see them go over the New Day in a 6 man; we see them cut promos together – their strategy is clear, they will work together, eliminate everyone else, and then let the chips fall.  The WWF Title is coming to the Bullet Club. 

-AJ also cuts a promo on Danielson.  He says, of course his forearm smash to Danielson’s temple was inadvertent.  If it were intentional, he’d clearly be suspended; in fact, he would almost certainly be kept from ever fighting for the WWF Title again.  So, that means it wasn’t intentional.  But it was a helluva good shot, right?  Caught him flush.  You know what you call a forearm that finally – finally drives Bryan Danielson out of the WWF entirely?  The Best Forearm In the World.  

-Each of the dozen men who are named for the Rumble will do promos in the build; the go home Fight Night will be a 4 corners 12 man match. 

Bullet Club: AJ, Devitt, Black (AJ is a former WWF Champ, Devitt has never held a belt in the WWF, Black was part of the longest reigning holders of any WWF belt in the modern era)
Underground: Nemeth, Kalisto, Crews (Kalisto and Crews are an exciting babyface tag team; Nemeth is a heel, but always stands with his Underground comrades regardless of their persuasion.  We see Nemeth in an angle during the build ---- with Broken Matt Hardy.

-The Hardys came back at Mania, won the tag titles, then lost them at Summer Slam and vanished.  But Matt returns in vignettes from the Hardy Compound in North Carolina.  He laments his lack of gold, what will become of his Broken Brilliance?  We see Matt visited by the Ghosts of Hardy Past (anyone from OMEGA, we can get some use from Shane Helms, as he worked IRL Rumble) Ghosts of Hardy Present (ideally the Young Bucks, even if they have to wear masks) and Ghosts of Hardy Future (King Maxel, and ideally someone similar in age) and they all work to convince Matt that all isn’t lost despite the loss of all of his gold. 

-At some point, a couple of segments following a vignette airing on RAW is a Renee interview with Nemeth, unrelated to Hardy.  Nemeth starts talking about whatever he is supposed to talk about and then stops to cut a promo on Hardy “what the hell are we watching here; if Matt Hardy wants to wrestle for this promotion, he should get his ass to this ring.  I am a Triple Crown holder; I am a legend; and I’m here busting my ass week after week while we put some old crazy man’s home movies out on the air? It’s insulting.  I don’t want to see that crap again.”

Random Babyfaces: Kevin Steen, Langston, Bray Wyatt (Steen, in his Kid Canada persona, will appear via video wall as part of a later match; during an interview with Renee, he completely denies being Kid Canada, says he’d never want to cover up such a pretty face). Langston being in this match indicates which two members of the New Day will be in a match discussed later, Bray is really now a bottom card act, he and Harper remain aligned, but Luke can’t stay healthy. 

Random Heels: Claudio Castagnoli, Roman Reigns-Uso, Jack Gallagher (Claudio doesn’t speak a word of English, he and Renee have an act; she’ll ask questions in English, Claudio will answer in any other language, Gargano, standing next to Claudio, yells at the fans who don’t appreciate Claudio, and acts as if he understands what Claudio is saying; Reigns is in this match, telling us who the two Usos are who will defend the tag titles, Gallagher is part of a Dark Ride British Invasion that’s going to get some discussion during the Dark Ride segment later)

In the match, we get the rivalry spots (Claudio/Steen; Langston/Reigns but not Black/Langston, although they jaw at each other; Steen against the Bullet Club, Bray against the Bullet Club).
Devitt eliminates the heel team by pinning Gallagher; Gallagher had a flash nearfall on Devitt, a 2 ¾ situation, that Devitt sold as shocking and angering, and then Devitt pinned him.  Bray eats a pinfall; Crews survives multiple nearfall attempts; enough that the announce plays up his resilience, before he’s finally pinned.

The Bullet Club wins; all 3 men stand alone in the ring – the clear implication that if the Bullet Club can remain together, they’ll be able to overcome the rest of the field. But then the other 9 men all storm the ring and throw the Bullet Club over the top – the implication being that if everyone else were to band together, they’d be able to defeat the Club.  And the show concludes with Claudio attacking Steen, starting a full brawl among those 9 men, because how could they ever possibly all work together?


-We got a taste of this in the big 7x7 go home before Survivor Series; these two cocky heel tag teams going at each other.  That’s the tenor of this build – the Usos say they are the best tag team in the world, they prove it day after day, year after year – and it’s time for Anderson and Gallows to shut up about their IWGP Titles.  Anderson and Gallows say the Usos aren’t even one of the two best teams in the world (they say that wearing Young Bucks shirts).  Usos make a superkick party reference. 

-My rule of thumb – if they haven’t touched, you keep them from touching until the match.  If they have touched, then get them in the ring to build the match.  We’re going to do some 6 man matches; Reigns obviously joining the Usos and it’s going to be Black joining Anderson/Gallows (we continue to see that, post Nakamura, the Bullet Club becomes closer – it’s the two year anniversary of their invasion of the WWF, the Royal Rumble is their event – they say that Philly is a Bullet Club town).  They trade falls; Reigns gets a fall on Black, and in the rematch Black gets the fall on Reigns (Reigns just turned heel, so you want him to get a big pinfall, and since both men are in the battle royal, this helps build some animosity).

-They also do a mixed 6 person tag, Becky and Naomi added to the match, Becky getting the fall.


-American Alpha and Revival came up through developmental together; for watchers of the WWFU livestream, they’ve been able to watch all four men from the moment they signed their contracts to the development of their characters to their rivalry in Underground, to their rivalry on the shows that were the precursors to Dark Ride Wrestling.  And on the main roster, they were positioned against each other when each was added to the Bullet Club/Horsemen program.

They don’t hate each other, it’s not a blood feud – but it is highly, highly competitive as these two are career long rivals.  And one of them will finally get a title shot at Wrestlemania.

This is a series – best two of 3.  Obviously, they split the two matches.  They add a third, a 6 man, with Benjamin joining Alpha and Arn going out to find a third man to join the Revival – winner of the match gets to pick the stip for the deciding third match.  Arn finds Drew Gulak, and while he’s going to eat the fall from Benjamin, the announcers discuss how impressive he was in this spot, and he’ll later be announced as the 13th entrant into Royal Rumble Warfare. 

Alpha says they want a 2 of 3 falls stip at the Rumble – one of these teams is moving to the biggest match of their lives – they want to make sure there’s no doubt at the end of the night which team is best. 

-Becky has held the title since WM33, a win and she’ll be the first woman in the modern WWF to hold the title for a full year.  She rolls through some small feuds with Naomi and Nia Jax; Becky’s doing this by herself, and that’s the story of this build – every other member of the Bullet Club is occupied with title matches at the Rumble, so no one will be in Becky’s corner when she defends the title.

-It’s about ¾ through the build before the challenger is named – it’s not supposed to be surprise, Becky’s baiting the fans “I’ve beaten everyone here – there’s nobody left – who could possibly be worthy of a title shot”?

-The fans wave their “Whatever-0” signs, “Who’s Next” signs – they chant Asuka – Becky no sells every week.  Until finally Becky says “well, I guess I’ll get the night off at the Rumble, no one here can lace my boots.” – the camera cuts the back and we get the Asuka walk, see Asuka come through the curtain, see the Asuka pyro – Asuka, unbeaten Asuka who has captured the imagination of the WWF fans like no woman in history – she makes her way to the ring.  Asuka and Becky go nose to nose – Asuka says “You’re Next” and the people react as they will.

-After nearly 4 years, Rey Mysterio returns to the WWF to face El Generico as part of the Tres Bon Mask Challenge.  Mysterio is a Triple Crown winner; Mysterio was the last NWA Champion before they were taken over by WWF.  Lot of taped packages in the build as he’s not going to appear in person; the thrust is he’s the greatest masked wrestler of all time; there’s a nod to the more culturally significant wrestlers, but in terms of pure work, it’s Mysterio and then there’s everyone else.  So – that he’s returning for one night only to wrestle Generico is  seen as a great honor. 

-Generico gets some workrate wins against Alexander and Tozawa; there’s one taped message on the video wall from Kid Canada – he says if Generico can defeat the greatest masked wrestler of all time he will have reached the pinnacle of his career. 

-The backbone of Dark Ride Wrestling has been the feud between a collection of veteran babyfaces (Somba/Kenta/Hero) and the newest incarnation of GDI (Cole/O’Reilly/Fish) multiple additional members of the roster get worked into that program during the cycle, leading to a couple of large full scale brawls with multiple stables such that a lumberjack match…well, it doesn’t make sense as much as it promises the possibility of altercation.  There are 20 lumberjacks, 18 are announced, 2 are a surprise.  There’s a definite tradeoff to being in this match – if you wrestle on PPV you’re ineligible to compete for the Dark Ride Title for a year, so that’s a chance given up by both Cole and Sombra in order to work the Rumble.  Lumberjacks are not wrestling and therefore remain eligible.

  1. Kenta (He’s mainly programmed with O’Reilly, but there are lots of tag combinations with the two main stables)
  2. Hero  (He’s mainly programmed with Fish)
  3. Fish (see above)
  4. O’Reilly (see above)
  5. Tozawa (Tozawa and Alexander begin tagging, their team is called Blood Warriors International, and its made clear their relationship is due to Dragon Gate)
  6. Alexander (see above)
  7. Dunne (Nigel and Regal are relatively friendly antagonists as color analysts for RAW and Fight Night, but where they overlap is in the influx of British talent which has come to Dark Ride Wrestling.  They can sometimes be seen together just sitting in the crowd during a Dark Ride broadcast.  The Brits have largely been segregated to working each other; those matches increase in intensity during the build to the Rumble; Gallagher, as previously noted, got a spot on the PPV)
  8. Bate (see above)
  9. Seven (see above)
  10. Strong (The Dark Ride Wrestling Champion, also a member of the Four Horsemen, he and Roode work a program with Trash)
  11. Gargano (Gargano is a member of Trash, which currently consists of he and Claudio, he wants to be known as Johnny Trash.  He and Claudio tag against Roode and Strong, that adds to the Strong/Gargano program and gives Claudio and Roode some juice headed to the Rumble, Roode is named as the 14th participant.
  12. Aleister Black (in a program with Velveteen Dream)
  13. Dream (see above)
  14. Ali (in a program with Buddy Murphy and Lio Rush, Rush is the babyface, Murphy is a heel, Ali is in between - Murphy occasionally works in 6 mans with AoP)
  15. Murphy (see above)
  16. Rush (see above)
17-18. AOP (they’ve been working Nicholls and Haste)

-Orton and Cena got a heel tactics win over Sheamus and Mizanin at Survivor Series; we’re going to run that back with the addition of the New Day. 

And that’s your show.  Back in January for Royal Rumble 2018

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