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 Summer Slam 2016 - Part 2

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Part 1 is here.

6 matches left to announce, they get rolled out over multiple weeks and in the matter of the tag title match, we don’t find out entirely who is wrestling until we’re a couple of weeks out.  Here’s the order in which the matches are announced:

Women’s Title: Falls Count Anywhere: Sasha v. Charlotte
Nick Nemeth v. Dean Ambrose
Tyler Black v. Kingston
Chris Jericho v. Apollo Crews
American Alpha (w/Swagger) v. Fandango Curtis/Zach Ryder
Tag Titles: Usos (Jimmy and Jey w/Reigns) v. Trash (Claudio/Neville)

-Sasha took the Women’s belt from her former stablemate Charlotte at WM32, Danielson puts over that match as the best women’s match in the history of the promotion and says he wants to see a better one at Summer Slam with a Falls Count Anywhere stip.  Sasha’s the champ, completely confident in her role as the Boss - we see her a lot with Becky as the last two survivors of 4-Ground, Becky clearly slid into the role of sidekick.  Charlotte’s heated, frenzied, angry each time we see her about the need to get her belt back.

-Nemeth and Ambrose feuded both in singles and in tags for several years – but they momentarily teamed up to get the pinfall on Lesnar in the Elimination Chamber until Nemeth superkicked him and got the fall.  They’re sort of in very similar spots right now – they’ve got to do some jobs over the summer as the Bullet Club needs fed, they’re good opponents for AJ and Devitt – and so they face off at Summer Slam.

-It comes as a surprise to Ambrose, but his partner’s coming back.  Ambrose and Nemeth are in the ring with Danielson, he’s just announced that match at Summer Slam, then Danielson, sort of excitedly, tells Ambrose that he’s about to announce another match, and it’s one Ambrose has a keen interest in.  We then see the first of the Black is Back vignettes, there will be several, it’s the full “he got hurt, he had surgery, watch him train from his first steps until today” series.  Danielson assumed Ambrose knew about Black’s impending return – but it is evident he did not.

-Ambrose will do a couple of backstage interviews with Renee Young, from them we’ll find out that he and Black haven’t spoken in more than six months.  Look, Ambrose’s career didn’t stop because his partner got hurt.  He was IC Champ, on the road every night trying to keep that belt.  Black’s a big boy, he can take care of himself.

-We learn from the Black vignettes that Danielson originally offered him the IC shot against Generico, but he turned it down.  There’s time for titles – Black lost more than a year of his life, Black wants vengeance.  Black wants Langston (Langston got hurt, not really seriously, but enough to knock him out of Summer Slam, that’s why he’s wrestling Kingston.  If he can’t get Langston he’s going to get one of Langston’s partners).  If you have to choose between the IC Title and justice – you choose justice, Black says.

-And that should give us the storyline; at WM 31 the longest title run in Wrestlemania history ends when The Shield lost their titles.  Langston turned on his partners, injured Black, taking him out of action for over a year.  Ambrose chose not to pursue revenge – instead moving on to challenge for the IC title (which he had previously held) and won it (then lost it and here we are).  Ambrose moved on, he and Black are estranged, Black’s returning for the first time in over a year at Summer Slam. You can, ideally, see it from both perspectives - Ambrose had a chance to go for the IC title and decided not to fight all 3 guys in New Day. Black has lost over a year of his career and his willing to fight all 3 guys in New Day in order to get revenge and the hell with the IC title.

-Danielson calls Jericho to the ring, says the previous administration thought he was done, put him in a retirement match. Danielson says he doesn’t agree with that decision.  He thinks Jericho’s got one more ride – one more run.  It starts at Summer Slam, Apollo Crews is coming up from Developmental – he’s Underground’s new hot shot, and he’s going to give Jericho all he’s worth.

-This will start a new show on the Network, Jericho 25 to celebrate a quarter century of Chris Jericho’s career (it’s longer than that, but 25 is a good number).  It’s a look through Jericho’s entire career, clips, interviews, Jericho discussing his memorable matches – important is that Jericho will be seen here as a veteran, this is a “Terry Funk goes to ECW” vibe we’re looking for.  Looking at young Jericho will remind us that he ain’t the Lionheart anymore.  Candid video of what it takes to get him ready to wrestle now is part of the show, he should seem creaky. Current Jericho is a middle aged man with a ton of wrestling miles on him and that's the story being told.  This isn’t just for this build, this is going to last all the way through Wrestlemania.

Episodes: The Dungeon (Jericho and Storm are trained in the Hart Dungeon, they’re connected to the broader lineage of the Hart Foundation, they reunite somewhere in Canada to talk old times)
                  Mexico (Jericho’s run in CMLL is discussed, it’s presented that Jericho learned the lucha style, mixing it with that Hart style and a discussion of modern wrestling being a hybrid interplay of cultures and styles is had, Jericho goes to some type of lucha show, maybe he goes to Lucha Underground, that’s a deal that could be struck – but they’ll be some lucha promotion that we can do some business with)
                  Japan ( Jericho in WAR, Jericho in the J-Cup, wrestling against Benoit – Jericho in a stable with Gedo and Jado, who ideally give interviews as part of the relationship established with New Japan, we meet wild, cocky young Jericho and hear about his attitude causing him to get slapped around in Japan)
                  ECW (We own the footage going forward, so now there isn’t a limit to the clips, interviews here from Heyman, Foley, and ideally Taz and Shane Douglas discussing how Jericho learns to work in front of tough Northeastern crowds)
                 NWA 1 (clips and anecdotes from all the big matches and programs – challenging Benoit for the NWA Title and losing at both Fall Brawl ’96 and Superbrawl ’97, feeling like Benoit was a mentor, one step ahead of him in the Hart lineage – like Dynamite was ahead of Bret and then Bret was ahead of Owen – and then finally beating him for the NWA title at Slamboree ’98, when he knew he was a full member of the Hart Foundation and an elite wrestler on his own.  Be a good chance to use Bret here for some interviews, here's where we get the hockey jersey discussion and Jericho being given the #7, which would remain his nickname among other wrestlers regardless of his incarnation)
                 NWA 2 (the greatest feud of his career, against Eddy Guerrero, we see Superbrawl ’98, Starrcade ’98, a lot of talk about their chemistry, that they talked about being Flair and Steamboat, always looking to have the greatest match anyone ever saw, ideally Chavo does some interviews here, this isn’t just an NWA only episode – it also covers the 2 IC matches Jericho had against Eddy in 2000, at Mania 16 and Summer Slam and then the match at WM 1, this episode really focuses on workrate, Jericho discusses this point as the best he ever was in the ring, that he'd win the WWF Title years later, but when he was really at his peak was right here with Guerrero.)
                 WWF1 (Y2J – Jericho debuts at Survivor Series ’99 and wins the IC Title, Jericho keeping the belt over HHH at Rumble ’00, Jericho losing the IC to Regal at Survivor Series ’00. Hunter and Waltman can both appear, a lot of talk about Jericho switching promotions, the locker room acceptance of Jericho or lack thereof)
                WWF2 (JerichoDark – it’s the end of cocky, young Jericho – we see Jericho dating Stacy Keibler, Lance Storm and Justin Credible coming to the WWF (can we get all of them?) Storm choosing to partner with Jericho and the two of them winning the tag titles over the Dudleys and Edge and Christian at Rumble ’02, then keep those belts in a TLC match at Mania 18 in Toronto over Hardys and Bubba and Spike.  But things grow tense with Storm over Stacy – Jericho loses a shot at the WWF Title to Angle, then, seeming to have a death wish when Lance and Stacy are seemingly together, he is brutally beaten by Brock at Rumble ’02, leading to Jericho’s beating Lance at Mania 19 in a Loser Leaves Town.  Jericho is now JerichoDark, all angst and anguish, all pain and misery – we see beating Flair at Summer Slam ’03. It's a big turning point in Jericho's career)

We’ll stop there for now, that’s 8, that gets us past Summer Slam and all the way to the end of 2016, there are 3-4 more, run one a month all the way until Wrestlemania.

Two matches left, the tag matches.

American Alpha, with their manager Swagger, makes their PPV debut here; they’re coming up from developmental and are positioned as the heir to the amateur wrestling workrate spot in WWF – lot of talk about the lineage of Steiners-Haas/Benjamin-Division 1 and Alpha being the continuation of that.  They get a couple-three squash matches as tune up during the build, just to show some of their moveset.  They’ll go up against a more seasoned Underground team, Curtis/Ryder at Summer Slam.

The last match – the Usos finally, finally won the WWF Tag Titles at Mania, they are the 98th tag champions in WWF history, and that number starts to get dropped in the programming so we can begin to think about 100.  They do a 3 month long victory lap – have a couple of fairly low impact programs so they can feel themselves; their opponents are unclear for almost the entire build – there are two vignettes, one that opens with an empty arena and a graphic that says “Atlanta, November, 2015” and the other that begins with “Orlando, January 2016” – then each vignette speeds up, we see the ring being put up, the crowd starting to enter, faster and faster until they are moving too quickly to be perceived, the images whirring by until they thud to an abrupt close and the screen goes black and we hear a primal scream.  The end graphic is of another empty arena “Brooklyn, August, 2016”

Then there’s a third vignette that combines the two, just a couple of weeks before Summer Slam, it’s a split screen, and here when the images start whirring they stop sooner, becoming visible, on the left, we see Claudio Castagnoli after attacking Nick Nemeth, staring at his hands, walking up the ramp – while on the right we see Pac having just lost his mask to Kalisto, holding his face in his hands – the whirring images begin again, again thudding to black – but this time there’s another image – it’s Pac, or rather, who used to be Pac – his name is now Neville as we will learn, he is scowling, and there’s Claudio, wearing a scarf and sunglasses with a sneer on his face – it goes to black again, there’s the primal scream, and then the graphic giving the name of the team – Trash (which, of course, is what Steen used to call them.

It’s a new tag act, Neville, playing his real world heel Neville character, and Claudio, as multilingual smarter than you Claudio.  They don’t appear before Summer Slam.

That’s the show.  A couple of additional things.

You may have noticed The Cuck is not on the Summer Slam card.  The Cuck hasn’t appeared once on any WWF platform since Mania – Maryse takes to the ring to complain, cutting a promo on Danielson, saying he’s always had something against her husband and now it’s even more clear – The Cuck is undefeated, there are 10 matches at Summer Slam, and the Cuck is getting blackballed.
Danielson enters and agrees.

He says he’s never liked the Miz, that soft chicken shit style.  But that was okay – but the Cuck, a wrestler who doesn’t actually wrestle – it’s offensive and there’s no place for it in any company that Danielson is going to be in charge of.  Danielson says there’s no spot open for the Cuck.
Sheamus enters.

Now, also not on the Summer Slam card is Sheamus – he’s had a tough go since Mania, the crowds have been chanting “You got cucked” – enough that Sheamus has already cut a couple of promos saying he wants to fight the Cuck to redeem himself for Wrestlemania.  Sheamus has gotten worked up pretty good – he hits the ring, shakes his finger at Danielson, demands a match.  Danielson says what he did at Wrestlemania is disgraceful and he doesn’t care if he ever gets a rematch.  Regal then enters, hey, Regal’s at RAW, it’s a surprise.  Regal asks Danielson for a favor – says he did Heyman a favor, despite their history, and he’d like the same courtesy extended.

Danielson agrees.  One condition – he tells Maryse she’s barred from ringside.  We are not going to see anyone get Cucked on Monday Night RAW.

The next week on RAW, we get the match.  Sheamus vs. The Cuck.

Cuck is in a full body suit, his face is totally obscured – but he enters alone without Maryse, there’s no note, the Cuck doesn’t read anything – it looks as if, for the first time, the Cuck is actually going to have to wrestle. Sheamus is frothing at the mouth, he has been trying to get redemption since Mania, and now, in what is maybe the go home RAW, he gets his shot.

The match is 30 seconds long – Sheamus charges, eats a Cuck superkick – Cuck climbs up the buckles and hits Sliced Bread #2 for the pinfall victory.  The crowd is shocked- shocked – The Cuck removes his mask, to reveal the return of Brian Kendrick to the WWF.  Kendrick makes the sign of the clique and exits.

Well revisit that after Summer Slam.

Last thing is Dark Ride Wrestling.  Scott Stanford has been the play by play announcer, but now it’s Ranallo, doing triple duty on all 3 shows, and Corey Graves has been the analyst – but at the end of the Dark Ride after Mania it will be Austin Aries.

On Dark Ride after Mania Aries announces his retirement – in his first ever WWF match right after the Rumble he and Joe were attacked by the Bullet Club, his eye was injured – he has not returned since and, much like Danielson did the year before, he says he has not been able to get clearance.  He stays his heart is broken – he is a 2 time ROH Champion, a 2 time TNA Champion – his whole life has been pointed to this moment, and AJ Styles takes away his vision like the cowardly bitch that he is.

Aries says he’s moving to the broadcast booth and he’ll be here every Wednesday sitting next to Mauro Ranallo.  The idea behind Ranallo joining Dark Ride is to have their top guy working with Aries given how new he is to the broadcast booth.  They’ll grow closer over the course of the year, Aries is a regular on Ranallo’s shoot podcast.

Coming to Dark Ride are Bobby Roode (in the Glorious gimmick) and Roderick Strong.  They’re programmed against each other.  Revival feuds with Gargano/Ciampa.  Swann feuds with Alexander. Bayley feuds with Asuka. Joe feuds with Sombra, but will occasionally just decide to beat up some other dude for fun. Although Roode and Joe were partners in TNA, as the cornerstone of a revitalized Four Horsemen with Flair (and Doug Williams, or Sting, or James Storm, who already showed up in WWF for a reunion with Joe only to get his ass kicked) Roode and Joe never interact.

The big development is about halfway between Mania and Summer Slam, Danielson makes his first appearance on Dark Ride, he is supposed to have a big announcement.

Danielson says its amazing what's happened here on Dark Ride, this show used to be just he and Low Ki riding around in a bus.  Danielson said smart wrestling fans always knew that sometimes the best wrestling they'd see that week was on Wednesday nights, with the guys who weren't on the PPVs, and that's still the case today.

And those fans deserve a champion.

A couple of guys come to the ring carrying a box (what's in the box! what's in the box!) and they open it to unveil a title belt.  Danielson says we are going to crown the first ever Dark Ride World Champion.  And then he calls Joe to the ring.

Joe stalks Danielson, says if he's going to come to his ring with a title belt, he better be ready to put up his hands.  Joe and Danielson do a nose to nose - it's finally happened - Samoa Joe and Bryan Danielson, as prophecy foretold --

Danielson says thats not why he's here - he's here to congratulate Joe, he created Dark Ride Wrestling a year ago, it's a phenomenon, and now it's time that he be named its first ever Champion.

Danielson hands Joe the belt.  Joe hands it back.

Joe says no one had to hand him the ROH title.  He won it on his own and held it longer than anyone. "Longer than Nigel, in his broadcast booth.  Longer than Aries, right there, in his broadcast booth.  Longer than you, Dragon, with your flannel shirt and your sneakers.  Standing in my ring thinking you can hand me a title belt.  I earn title belts. 10 years ago I snatched the TNA belt right off AJ Styles waist and held that belt longer than any man ever has.  2 and a half years.  And then I won it twice more. I didn't need your help then.  I didn't need your help when I came here and created Dark Ride Wrestling.  I don't need your help now."

Danielson shakes his head, "Jesus you're such an asshole.  Fine.  Do it your way."

Danielson announces that next week there will be a 20 man battle royal called Dark Ride Warfare, every 90 seconds a new entrant - eliminations are via pinfall or thrown over the top rope.  Winner is the Dark Ride Champion.

Later, we'll learn the parameters of the title - it's just for guys who haven't wrestled on PPV in at least a year, so, you can lose it in the ring or if you wrestle on a PPV, then you forfeit the belt and there's a new Dark Ride Warfare.

Here were the entrants in the match (not in the order they entered or were eliminated).

Curt Hawkins, making his return
Joe Hennig
Eric Young

Joe and Alexander were the final two entrants - Joe won, the other wrestlers returned to the ramp to applaud as he raised the belt over his head - and then the Bullet Club music hit - the seas parted as Shinsuke Nakamura emerged from the back - walked to the ring - and went nose to nose with Joe.

That builds to a match for the go home Dark Ride - Joe vs. Nakamura for the Dark Ride Championship.  Nakamura goes over and takes the title.

That's it.  Here's your show:

WWF Title: AJ Styles (w/Bullet Club) vs. Kevin Steen
Brock Lesnar vs. Prince Devitt (w/Bullet Club)
IC Title: El Generico vs. Rusev (w/GHB and Lana)
Tag Titles: Usos (Jimmy and Jey w/Reigns) v. Trash (Claudio/Neville)
Tyler Black v. Kingston
Nick Nemeth v. Dean Ambrose
Chris Jericho v. Apollo Crews
Weapons Match: Dudley Boys v. Anderson/Gallows
Women’s Title: Falls Count Anywhere: Sasha v. Charlotte
American Alpha (w/Swagger) v. Fandango Curtis/Zach Ryder

It's a good show, right?  Call your cable company.  See you in August.

Road to Summer Slam 2016 - Part 1

Saturday, July 01, 2017

RAW after Wrestlemania begins with Howard Finkel, in the ring, introducing what had been promised the night before – a new WWF Commissioner – “The American Dragon, Bryan Danielson”
The Final Countdown plays – and for the first time since his retirement ceremony one year prior, Bryan Danielson returns to a WWF ring.

Danielson says he hates to begin his new job with a correction, but he’s not the American Dragon - the American Dragon was the best wrestler in the world and he left his boots in this ring a year ago.  

He’s just Bryan Danielson, a guy in a flannel shirt who now puts matches together.  And while he’s making first day on the job mistakes, he also has a confession – for most of the past year, he didn’t watch a single wrestling match.  Danielson says wrestling was the most important part of his life since he was 17, and when he was told he couldn’t wrestle anymore it was just too hard to watch.  

But the night of the Royal Rumble he got a text from a friend that said – guess who just won the IC – AJ Styles. 

And that got me, last time I heard he was the champion in New Japan, how did he get here, did he come alone – and then I saw the Bullet Club was here and they brought Nakamura with them and I’ve been hooked. 

Danielson says about 3 weeks ago he saw a name on his phone he didn’t expect – it was from Senator McMahon.  And when the next President of the United States calls you out of the blue, you take the call.

Danielson explains that she offered him the job, offered him a 2 year deal, and here we are.

Danielson says he has a few announcements.

-He loved the main event of Wrestlemania, when Lesnar and Steen went through that glass, no one marked out bigger than he did.  But what he wants to see at Mania is a one on one match for the title in the main event – and next year, at Wrestlemania 33 – that’s what you’ll get.

-He says he and Steve Regal have had their differences, but Danielson is the first to recognize that what Regal has done in developing Underground is remarkable – and Danielson also thinks he’s a terrific broadcaster, but it’s obvious that some type of balance is needed in the broadcast booth.  

That’s why, right now, I’d like you to welcome the new analyst for RAW, he’s a former ROH champion, he’s a former TNA champion, he’s about to step into a WWF for the very first time – he is Nigel McGuinness. (Low, Ki, Daniels, Joe, Nigel, Aries - only men to hold both ROH and TNA World Titles, none of those men obviously have been WWF Champ)

(Nigel enters, hugs Danielson, the two have am unspoken "we finally made it here together" moment that a section of fans will appreciate and then he goes to the announce desk and shakes Ranallo’s hand and puts on the headset)

-Danielson says Summer Slam will have 10 matches, he’s already been out here long enough though, so he’s just going to announce 4 of them.

WWF Title: AJ Styles (w/Bullet Club) vs. Kevin Steen
IC Title: El Generico vs. Rusev (w/GHB and Lana)
Brock Lesnar vs. Prince Devitt (w/Bullet Club)
Weapons Match: Dudley Boys v. Anderson/Gallows

-Danielson says he talked to Kevin Steen today, he and Generico are resting comfortably, they will return at Summer Slam, Steen for a rematch against the WWF Champion AJ Styles, and El Generico will be defending his Intercontinental Title against Rusev.

-Danielson says the other two matches he’s announcing tonight involve the Bullet Club. Due to their actions at Mania, Anderson and Gallows will be wrestling the 10 time tag team champion Dudley Boys.  And they’ll be doing it in a Weapons Match.

-And Prince Devitt has completed all of his contractual obligations and will be making his WWF PPV debut at Summer Slam – and the man he’ll face…well, it’s funny, when he and Senator McMahon finalized the deal that he became WWF Commissioner, it was done in secret, virtually nobody knew – but the first person to call to congratulate him was Paul Heyman.  Danielson reminds us that Heyman is the man most responsible for ending his career, so this is sort of weird – but Heyman’s a pretty persuasive guy, and after some negotiation he was able to make his case that the man to oppose Prince Devitt should be…Brock Lesnar. (Danielson as flexible, not an ideologue, is the story we're looking to tell as his tenure starts)

-That’s the cue for the Bullet Club to enter, Devitt first, then AJ with the belt, the Anderson and Gallows, and a beat behind is Nakamura.  Devitt and AJ always share the bulk of the mic time, sort of co-lead singers in this band – Anderson and Gallows crack the occasional joke – Nakamura doesn’t speak, he always stands a little off the side, and rarely appears at all in the promotion. You see Nakamura as often as you see Lesnar.  

Devitt welcomes Danielson to the Bullet Club’s ring, says he should have asked permission before coming out, but he’ll let it slide.  Devitt says if the fans or Danielson think he’s shook by facing Brock Lesnar they don’t understand who he is or what the Bullet Club is. If Devitt didn’t want to fight Brock Lesnar he wouldn’t have kicked Paul Heyman in the head.  The fact is the last time Prince Devitt was in a ring with Brock Lesnar he stood right on his chest and he’s going to do it again at Summer Slam.

-AJ takes the mic, shakes Danielson’s hand, says he’s glad to see him – AJ says it’s the cherry on the sundae, for most of the last 15 years he and Danielson have been part of a very small tier of wrestlers who fans around the world thought were the very best – but AJ always knew and if he forgot Danielson was always sure to remind everyone that Danielson was always a little bit ahead in that tier.  Danielson was always just a notch above AJ.  But how do you like me now, Dragon?  IWGP Champion.  WWF Champion – I’m holding your belt and you’re here to watch me do it.  I didn’t think life could get any better than winning the WWF Title last night at Wrestlemania.  And tonight.  It just got better. 

-Devitt says something threatening, the entire Bullet Club surrounds Danielson in a menacing fashion and makes the finger guns hand motion.  

-Steen and Generico do stay away all summer, at least until the go home show.  They do babyface vignettes, designed to get across their long friendship and success as a tag act.  Steen is humanized, his being Canadian is emphasized, his protectiveness over Generico as the animating force of their relationship is centered and it aids in viewing all the general dickishness Steen’s displayed prior in a more positive light.  Steen and Generico have been together for years, it helps us like Steen and re-positions our thinking about them as a duo as opposed to part of a broader stable.    

-It’s going to be the summer of the Bullet Club, Anderson/Gallows/AJ/Devitt work a lot, they do a lot of beatings, they cut snarky promos, they bury guys in the flag (a good candidate is Kalisto, he's a workrate guy who doesn't have a Summer Slam slot, he can work good matches against both Devitt and Styles, he can also tag with fellow Underground member Sheamus who also does not have a Summer Slam slot) they take over the announce desk, they sell a ton, just a ton of merchandise.   Nakamura isn’t seen any more than Lesnar is, when he’s on TV it’s an event.  Bullet Club runs wild in the WWF in the summer of 2016.  Buy the shirt! 

-What’s happening in the real world in the summer of 2016?  The US presidential election, Trump gets the Republican nomination, Linda McMahon gets the Democratic nomination, and that plays out in the IC program.  GHB cuts regular pro-Trump promos in the context of Rusev’s IC shot, soon we can finally take your health insurance away, soon we can finally stop worrying about the planet being on fire, soon we can finally embrace Vladimir Putin…I mean, Donald Trump…as the leader we all need.  Rusev’s going to beat Generico and become IC Champ – Putin…I mean, Trump….will beat Linda McMahon and become President…2016 shapes up as the greatest year ever for great Americans like GHB and even greater Americans like Rusev.  Rusev being identified as Russian and the representative of the American right wing, GHB, embracing that Russian-ness has been the defining aspect of their relationship since its formation and (as it turns out) that really helps give us a way in to the campaign. 

-At the Democratic Convention, Linda names her running mate.  It was a closely guarded secret and a pretty good political surprise when she named....her husband.  Linda/Vince 2016.  2 McMahons for the price of 1.  

-So, those are the two top matches.  Steen and Generico are gone, we get babyface vignettes designed to have us think of them as a longstanding team based on a deep friendship.  The Bullet Club runs roughshod over the entire promotion.  Rusev serves as the vehicle for Trump v. McMahon talk as the election heats up.  Steen and Generico, as teased above, do return prior to Summer Slam, in the go home, which gets a few weeks of build, they’re going to wrestle AJ/Devitt in a tag match.  We’ve tried to protect Steen/Generico as a team; as singles obviously they’ve had to get bruised up and they’ve worked as part of multi-man matches, but for the years they’ve been in the promotion the Steen/Generico tag act has really been protected, and given they’ve been gone all summer and it’s been their tag act that’s gotten most of their end of the build for Summer Slam this TV match has a lot of juice.  Steen/Generico go over – and again, as was the case at the Rumble, Generico gets the fall on AJ. It's the first loss for the Bullet Club all summer - AJ goes into Summer Slam suffering a pinfall loss, and again, as he did at Mania, AJ has been pinned by Generico.  

-We know what Devitt’s doing all summer, from Brock’s end we get two Heyman Hustles.  The first Heyman Hustle comes not long after this introductory RAW, his guest is Danielson, the two longtime rivals one on one.  They establish the reason they don’t like each other (Heyman spent years cultivating Lesnar as a Danielson killing asset that eventually resulted in injuries leading to the end of his career) they establish how they came to this agreement that Lesnar will fight Devitt at Summer Slam, that Lesnar won’t attack anyone from the Bullet Club in the interim, and that Heyman (Heyman looks Danielson in the eye) owes Bryan a favor.  Heyman says someone else wants to thank Danielson – and unexpectedly, Brock appears.  He rarely is on TV, even more rarely is on TV without a build, and since right after Mania it was announced that he was returning to the UFC for a July fight, no one expected to see him at all until Summer Slam.  Lesnar enters, goes nose to nose with Danielson – what’s going to happen – Lesnar takes the mic – tells Danielson he’s a true champion, that he’s never fought anyone anywhere on the planet with as much heart as he has – that it was an honor to fight him, and that if he ever wants to go one more round,  he’s got an opponent anytime he wants.  The two men shake hands to fully complete Lesnar’s face turn. 

-The second Heyman Hustle comes later, the guest is Prince Devitt.  Heyman expresses admiration – he got played, he took Devitt in, showed him the intricacies of every angle of the wrestling business, and created a path for Devitt to bring in the Bullet Club under everybody’s nose.  He doesn’t hate Devitt, doesn’t take it personally.  Devitt says he should take it personally because it was personal – Heyman was always on the cutting edge, the smartest guy in the room, the Dangerous Alliance, ECW, when you brought Brock Lesnar back to the WWF there was nothing like it.  But those days are over, Paul, you aren’t the sharpest kid in class anymore – that’s me, and that’s my Bullet Club.  Heyman becomes the first person to ask how AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura feel whenever Devitt says the Bullet Club is his (that's a thread that both Nigel and Regal will periodically pull at, but Ranallo will dismiss those thoughts as conspiratorial) Heyman says, that’s not really any of my business – my business is Summer Slam, my business is Brock Lesnar, and you know how I said I didn’t take it personally – Brock Lesnar takes it personally, you didn’t just turn on me, you didn’t just leave me laying at the Royal Rumble – you turned on Brock Lesnar, you attacked Brock Lesnar, stood on his prone body – humiliated Brock Lesnar.  Brock Lesnar just destroyed Mark Hunt (this is after the UFC fight, probably right after, like mid July) and he likes Mark Hunt, I mean, as much as Brock Lesnar can like anyone – you’re stepping in a ring with a man like Brock Lesnar, who you humiliated – who has the taste of blood still in his mouth.  You’re about to get hurt, Devitt.  You’re about to get badly, badly hurt.  Anderson and Gallows then enter – the three men surround Heyman, Devitt says Heyman still doesn’t get it – but he will, everyone will, after Summer Slam, they point the finger guns at Heyman as the segment ends. 

-Last match from this first group of 4, we know what Anderson and Gallows are doing, the Dudleys build is historical, they’re 10 time tag champs (Bubba’s got two more than that) and they go to a handful of the venues (or the spots where the venues used to be) where they won those titles for a series of vignettes all summer.  There they are at the ECW Arena, at the first ECW PPV, Barely Legal ’97, they won their first tag belts over the Eliminators.  Clips are shown, they reminisce.  There they are at the Mid Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, two years later, in spring of ’99, they took the titles from Lance Storm and Justin Credible, clips are shown, they discuss that.  There they are in Detroit at Joe Louis Arena, where later that same year they won the WWF tag titles in a tables match against the Hardys, clips are shown, there’s reminiscing.  Here they are at the Astrodome - Two years later, Wrestlemania 17 in 2001, where they won an elimination match against the Hardys/ Edge and Christian/ and Raven and Taz – clips/reminiscing.  Now, Orlando – outside of the Impact Zone – there’s a lot of TNA talk peppered throughout this year and it includes plugs for whatever is going on in TNA at that time (similar to the way there were plugs for NJPW prior to the arrival of the Bullet Club, which turned out to be in exchange for intellectual property considerations)  one vignette covers all 4 TNA wins, Final Resolution in 2007 when they beat Austin Aries/Alex Shelley and Petey Wiliams/Chris Sabin – Lockdown 5 years later in 2012 when they beat RVD and Jeff Hardy – Final Resolution at the end of 2012 when they beat James Storm and Hernandez – and then finally Bound for Glory in 2014 when they beat Sanada and Muta.  They don’t have clips, obviously, but tell stories about those matches.  Finally, a vignette from inside the Tokyo Dome – and this is the first one that addresses Anderson and Gallows, saying they come in talking about being IWGP tag champs- guess what, the Dudleys did that too, they beat Makabe and Yano in Wrestle Kingdom in 2009 and then Magnus and Doug Williams later that year.  20 years, they say, covering both hemispheres and 4 different promotions – the 10 time world tag team champions the Dudley Boys.  And at Summer Slam, they’re bringing all of it – two decades of titles, all the blood, sweat, tears will be in every single glass light tube and Singapore cane they swing against the heads of Anderson and Gallows. 

WWF Title: AJ Styles (w/Bullet Club) vs. Kevin Steen
IC Title: El Generico vs. Rusev (w/GHB and Lana)
Brock Lesnar vs. Prince Devitt (w/Bullet Club)
Weapons Match: Dudley Boys v. Anderson/Gallows

4 matches down.  6 to go.  See you in a couple weeks for Part 2

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