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 1999

Friday, March 03, 2006

Survivor Series '98 is here.

Royal Rumble 1999 Anaheim
(Dark – Taka/Togo d. Del Santo/Aguila)

It's the new announce team! Michael Cole! Jerry Lawler! Michael Hayes!

Yeah, I know.

1. Edge/Christian (w/Hardys) d. New Age Outlaws
A page is turning here – E and C beat the former tag champs clean – they try to stay cool after the win – posing in the ring – but the Hardys are extra excited for them “You guys beat the Billy and the Dogg! Woo-hoo!” and that breaks the E and C façade. Hardys lead the Let Them Play chant. E and C didn’t wear their Ring Boys gear during this match, busting out some crazy coats and sunglasses. Hardys legitimately excited for their boys.

2. Kane d. Lawler/Taylor
Unannounced piece of destruction. He’s big and red and his name is Kane, it's his first appearance since XIV. Lawler and Taylor may never win a match. Kane's fireworks go off - and then the lights go out.

When they go back on - Kane is lying amidst the shards of a table at ringside.

Who could have done that? Who could have put Kane through a table?

The Undertaker comes down the aisle, is he coming to finish his brother off? Did he put his brother through a table? What the hell's going on around here, Jerry Lawler?

'Taker looks concerned, aiding Kane, who has been completely knocked out, back up the aisle.


3. Flag Match: The Abolitionist Ulysess Morley d. Southern Man Dustin Rhodes (w/Jarrett)
Morley grabs the Confederate flag and batters Dustin and Jarrett with it – Morley gets the Liberation Falls and the win. Jarrett steals the American flag in the post match, taking it to the back. Jeff Jarrett – the Southern Man – he’s got the American flag – what sort of dastardly thing does he have in mind? What, Jerry Lawler? What?

-In the back, we see Edge and Christian, say, with some girls, leaving the building – whomever our backstage guy is (Kevin Kelley, gotsta be some Kevin Kelley) asks aren’t they going to stay for Jeff’s big match against Scorpio – they say nah, Jeff’s got it covered – besides, E and C are gonna get they freak on.

4. Jeff Hardy (w/Matt) d. Scorpio (w/Markie)
Terrific flying match, my apologies to 2 Cold for jobbing him out, I really do like the guy a lot. In the Death Valley Driver polls, I picked him over AJ, but not over Otani, for example. Anyway, Jeff gets the Hardys biggest ever win – it’s Scorpio’s last PPV shot, so he can put Jeff over squeaky clean here. Matt and Jeff celebrate wildly after the match – the fans just love those boys. Trish comes down to the ring – mmmm, Trish, she hugs Matt – gives Jeff a big kiss. It’s just a sweet story is all. She's not a beard. Cut that out.

5. Octagon: Ken Shamrock d. Dan Severn
Obviously, Shamrock gets some heat back after losing to Austin and Foley by tapping Severn out. It's not a shoot, 'cause this is a wrestling show, so it's all worked, but it should feel like a shoot.

6. Tags: Maivia/DLo (w/Markie) d. HHH/Waltman
The second tag run for the Rock and DLo continues. Outlaws interfere to cost HHH a fall on the Rock – although the fall, Rock pinning Waltman, winds up being clean. I want to see an extended spot where Waltman is out after taking a bump to the outside and HHH has to hold off a double teaming Nation.

In the end, though, it’s the Rock and Dlo – hip hopping their way to another win – and the former Clique is headed for a big showdown.

7. IC: Steve Austin d. Al Snow (w/Head)
Al’s all heart. He takes a tremendous beating from Austin – like he did from the Undertaker – and saves numbers of nearfalls – but, finally it’s Stunner, pinfall. Austin is impressed – tossing Snow a beer after the match – Al takes it – chugs it down, pours the rest over Head in a celebratory fashion – then does his trademark moonsault to the canvas. Al has to be helped from the ring.

8. WWF Title: Barbed Wire Match: Owen Hart d. Cactus Jack
Owen wins his 3 rd WWF Title, he and Bret being the only men in history to do that. We need to do three things here – one, sell that Owen could keep up with the hardcore Cactus, it concludes the Owen storyline – we’ve seen him overcome all the obstacles, Savage, Shawn, Bret – and now they throw a new kind of wrestler, Cactus Jack, at him and give him a hardcore title win. So, it’s extra violent, as violent as they could do. People should wince. I’d like the PPV rated TV-MA. Has the WWF finally gone too far? That’s what I’d like. I’d like a spot where Cactus, on top of Owen, headbutts him repeatedly until both bleed. I’d like a spot where each man throws chairs at the other until fans begin to throw objects and a riot threatens to break out.

Second, we need an Austin spot. Say, Foley suplexes Owen off the ramp – gives an evil bang, bang – and then Austin Stunners him and tosses him off the ramp. We always do Foley/Austin stuff whenever we have a chance. When you think of one - you think of both.

Maybe Foley sets fire to Owen again, but Owen doesn’t submit – and while Owen is burning he wraps the wire around Cactus's neck in an STF for the finish.

Owen and Cactus lie on top of each other, the back enters to extinguish them, as the show ends. At the end of the Death Matches in Japan, the opponents sometimes tend to each other’s wounds – give each other water – that’s what I’d like here. It’s a recognition that they’ve half killed each other for entertainment. And, the finish here brings about mutual respect between Owen and Cactus – when you add that to the respect they can create by clip packaging Foley’s Hell in the Cell bump – they're moving Cactus back the other way. It’s a pendulum, he went as far as he could go in setting Owen on fire – and now he’s headed back.

In the NWA…Hogan teams with Piper for a tag win. Flair wins a singles over Scott Hall. Chavo beats Kidman. Booker beats Steiner. Dean beats Hennig. Your new tag champs…Perry and Page, who beat Goldberg and Nash. Rey keeps the US, beating Jericho. And Benoit wins his 3rd NWA Title, going over Eddy in the best match of 1999.

Superbrawl – 1999 Oakland
NWA Title: Chris Benoit d. Eddy Guerrero
US: Rey Mysterio d. Chris Jericho
Tags: Perry Saturn/DDP d. Goldberg/Nash
Dean Malenko d. Curt Hennig

Booker T d. Scott Steiner
Chavo Guerrero d. Billy Kidman
Ric Flair d. Scott Hall
Hogan/Piper d. Disco/Konnan

We’re headed to Wrestlemania XV from Philadelphia. It’s gonna be a Hardcore Mania.

RAW opens the next night with some type of bullshit match, say the Boss Man and Bull Buchanan against Test and Albert.

It doesn’t last long before it’s stopped by an entering Shane McMahon. He hands the timekeeper a couple of bucks, hands the referee a couple of bucks, hands the wrestlers some money, asks them to stick around. People oblige.

We’re gonna call him Skip.

Shane’s doing a variant of the orginal Shane character – he plays the spoiled, trust fund kid. Think any James Spader role in the 80’s. Skip introduces himself, says since daddy is gone, perhaps never to return, he wants him to become more involved in…ugh, the family business before he turns it all over to him one day. Not to run, no, no, Skip likes to spend his days attending the ballet or vacationing on his private island; no, one day, one day soon, daddy will sell the business to me, and I will turn the WWF into a…who knows, perhaps a private club where my chums and I can make these monkeys dance for us.

However, daddy’s in one of his moods and says that I have to “earn my stripes” whatever that means, so I went into petty cash and I bought one of these large men. Those of you who purchased the Royal Rondelet, or whatever it is called, saw his handiwork when he decimated your so-called "Big Red Machine"

(Michael Cole is sufficiently incredulous - Skip McMahon has found some monster who put Kane through a table! What kind of man could toss Kane around like that?)

But at Wrestlemania - he'll be back and all of you will be able to see my toy in action. Until then, I'd like these four sweaty behemoths to...I don't know, sing me a song.

The wrestlers look at Skip quizzically.

Oh, perhaps you didn't understand. I am Skip McMahon, this is my playground, and unless you'd like to be on the breadline, you'll sing me a song. If you please!

(and then, on the Titan Tron, come the lyrics, say to something from Aida. I'd like to hear the Boss Man do a little opera. And, although hesitantly, they sing and then leave the ring in a fury)

Skip hits his catchprhase: "Ciao for now."

He'll repeat this type of thing as they drive to Mania, looking for ways to humiliate wrestlers, fans, staff, whatever he can do. They do a spot where he has our sweet Trish, say, have to wear something low cut and bend over for him. He humiliates her to the point of tears, which he gets a big kick out of. He's confronted by Jeff - Jeff's gonna pop him - Jeff's gonna pop Skip McMahon - but he says he'll fire Trish, Matt, and Edge and Christian - what the hell. He's Skip McMahon. Matt, Edge, Christian enter - they surround Skip - Edge takes the stick, says maybe it would be worth it. Skip no-sells them completely, says they can go ahead with their fisticuffs, but they'll be fired, and they'll be sued into oblivion.

They're stopped by Owen. The Champ hits the ring, tells the kids to all go to the back, calls Edge Adam one more time - Edge pouts - Owen says he's kidding, calls him Edge for the first time, and he and Christian are jacked up about that, dancing from the ring. Announce notes that this is how you're supposed to stick up for your ring boys - and offers that Hunter and Waltman aren't here for the Hardys.

Owen goes nose to nose with Skip - says his father is an honorable and decent man, and he'd be ashamed of how he had been treating people in the WWF. Owen says he's been here a long time, he's watched Skip grow up - and he's disappointed that he turned out to be such a prick.

Skip says at Wrestlemania, not only will Owen Hart lose his title - but maybe a certain large friend of his will pay Owen a visit.

The structure of RAW on the way to Mania is an 8 team tag tournament – new matches each week - winners get to go to Wrestlemania and meet the Nation.

Edge/Christian d. New Age Outlaws
Rematch from the Rumble – this is a screwjob – HHH/Waltman enter to wipe the Outlaws out (revenge for the Rumble, clearly this is building to a head) allowing for the fall. E and C celebrate with the Hardys – and they move to the semi-finals.

Mark Henry/2 Cold Scorpio d. Brian Lawler/Scott Taylor
‘Cause Lawler and Taylor always lose. The back half of the Nation moves on. Will they go to Mania to meet Rock and DLo? Unfortunately, Skip appears at the top of the aisle - says he never had much use for the coloreds, beyond their ability to dance. So, unless you two want to dance, I think you're out of this little competition.

Mark and Scorp are hot - they start yelling at Skip to come down the aisle like a man - come down like a man and say that.

Skip begins to walk down the aisle - Skip McMahon coming to the ring.

Lights off.

And when they come back on - there's that monster, Big Markie, lying amidst the table remnants.

Lights on - Skip laughs and laughs. Announce expresses the appropriate amount of awe. First Kane and now Mark Henry? What type of beast is Skip McMahon unleashing at Wrestlemania XV???

Southern Men d. Morley/Bob
-Jarrett doesn’t enter with Dustin, so Dustin’s doing a handicap and getting whipped – where’s Jarrett – where’s Jarrett?

Jarrett appears at the top of the ramp – with the American flag stolen at the Rumble – and a lighter.

Jarrett says it’s time that the Southern Men became tag team champs – the Nation has had the tag belts for too long and the Southern Men are fixin’ to take them straps away – Jarrett yells to Morley – Hey Abolitionist – Hey Ulysess – you want to save your precious flag – you want to save it – then get in there and lie down for the Southern Man.

Morley hesitates – should he throw the match? Or will he let Jeff Jarrett burn an American flag on RAW??

He throws the match. He lets Dustin pin him. The Southern Men advance. Jarrett laughs and laughs, says The Southern Man is a man of his word – and he won’t burn the American flag here on RAW…but he will burn the American flag…at Wrestlemania!

This will set up two singles matches. Dustin/Bob, which will be a strap match. And Jarrett/Morley. Which will be a Flag v. Hair Match. If Morley wins, he cuts Jarrett’s hair (we’ll get some hair spot to set it up) and if Jarrett wins – he will stand in the middle of the ring in Philadelphia, in the birthplace of America., and burn the American flag at Wrestlemania XV!

Yeah, daddy. Heat. Heat. Heat.

Hardys (w/Trish) d. HHH/Waltman
-Same finish as the E/C match – the Outlaws attack and the Hardys get the win. That’s gonna set up that Mania match as those two teams brawl – we’ll get Clique on Clique to open up XV.

And that’s not a bad opening tag. HHH/Waltman v. Dogg/Gunn. It's Hardcore Mania, so they do a garbage match thing for the good people of Philly - they're gonna put this one in a cage.

Semis: Hardys (w/Trish) d. Southern Men
-This is clean, a big win for the Hardys as Matt pins Dustin. And we can watch Jeff paw sweet, sweet Trish some more. Mmmmmm. Morley and Bart attack the Southern Men after. Say with Morley taking a hunk of Jarrett’s hair.

The Hardys go to the finals.

Semis: 2 Cold/Taka d. E and C
-So, you’d assume that we’re building to the Hardys v. Edge and Christian – but nah, we have Taka step in to replace the injured Markie – and, with the Hardys on the announce – the better workers go over. E and C whine full on after the match, upset that they lost, upset that the Hardys are going to the finals, upset that they lost their shot at Mania – E and C get booed for the first time yet – the Hardys enter to console them – but E and C take a while to calm down – we tease for a moment that it’s gonna go down – as anyone has to recognize that at some point, it’s gonna go down, but it doesn’t – and E and C congratulate the Hardys. Trish enters – she and Jeff make out – E and C check her out a little bit, unnoticed by the Hardys.

Finals: Hardys d. Taka/2 Cold
-Matt and Jeff, the Ring Boys, with the company for years and years, are going to Wrestlemania to meet Rock and DLo – the fans love the finish – Jeff climbs a ladder and hits the swanton on Taka to get the fall. Big "we've seen these guys grow up" pop from the fans - and a "let them play" chant rises up.

Rock and DLo enter after the match for a nose to nose. Rock grabbing hold of the ladder, cuts a rock promo - says that 5 years ago - 5 years ago at Wrestlemania X, Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon changed wrestling when they brought a ladder into the ring for the IC title match.

At Hardcore Wrestlemania in Philly - the only thing better than 2 guys climbing a ladder... 4.

So, Rock and DLo defend the tag titles against the Hardys at Mania in a ladder match.

Three more matches.

We’ve got a Legends Match – the ‘Taker is going for number 5, which would break the Andre/Hogan record. And he’ll be going against…Ken Shamrock.

Shamrock says he’s the real legend. UFC Champion, IC Champion, he tapped out Vader, Jack, and Dan Severn. If anyone’s gonna be called the WWF legend – it’s gonna be he.

Just like they used LT and Harley and Bruno – they use the Legends spot to good effect, can the Undertaker beat a UFC legend to break Andre’s record? People love that stuff. And they'll put that in the Octagon, which will be the last time we see that.

For the IC…Al comes out the night after the Rumble, walking slowly, bandaged up, the announce putting over his courage saying he was in over his head with Austin but gave it all he could – Al gets on the announce, slowly, accepts the applause…says he's been talking it over with Head...Al nearing tears, is Al Snow retiring? He's taken tremendous beatings and he's not well, clearly...Al says he's been talking to Head - after what happened at the Royal Rumble - he has only one thing to say...

“I’m ready for my rematch.”

Al slams down the mic – gingerly walks to the top rope and does his moonsault.

Splat. Crazy ass Al.

We’re gonna get a rematch. The angle being that we’re going to Barbed Wire City for Wrestlemania, that Al was exiled there, that Al’s dream is to be the Intercontinental Champion – that Al knows he has sometimes said some crazy things – but the sanest thing in his life is that he will go to Philadelphia and beat Stone Cold Steve Austin for the IC Title.

Then Al does his moonsault. Al does promos like this, mixing in being an actual guy with an actual dream, and being a lunatic who talks to his mannequin head.

Every Austin/Al encounter during the Mania buildup consists largely of Al talking, Austin entering, hitting the Stunner and leaving. Austin's patience with Al is over now, it was cute for awhile, but now he's gonna whip the Snowman's ass.

They're gonna do a falls count anywhere.

And we’ll get Foley/Owen one last time.

Foley will tell Owen that he’s earned his respect. Owen will tell Foley he doesn’t need it.

Foley will tell Owen they are 1-1 and with Wrestlemania in his adopted hometown on Philadelphia – Owen’s never faced greater odds than he will at their last match.

Owen says he’s faced nothing but odds his whole life – but thinks that Jack should face some odds too – he heard a lot from Cactus Jack about what he had to prove to him - well after beating Jack for the WWF title, his 3rd WWF title, in the barbed wire at the Rumble, he doesn't have anything left to prove....but now, Cactus Jack has something to prove to Owen Hart.

Owen says Cactus has already proved he was tough - he proved he was tough in Germany and Japan and NWA and ECW - he proved he was tough when he took the IC from Vader and when he flew 20 feet from the top of a cell through a table.

But, at the Hardcore Wrestlemania, in Philadelphia. Cactus Jack has to prove to Owen Hart...that he can wrestle.

Since every other title match at Mania will be Hardcore Rules – the WWF Title match should be different – the WWF Title match will be a pure wrestling match. If Cactus Jack is going to regain the WWF Title – he’s gonna have to do it on the mat.

Foley agrees. He says that in Cactus Jack's adopted hometown, he'll prove that he is deserving of holding the Triple Crown - just like Pedro, and Bret, and Shawn, and Owen.

It’s that mutual respect thing.

Of course, since Jack neglected to mention Austin, that brings Steve out - he attacks Foley, save by Owen - the two of the doubleteam Austin - save by Al (at some point, Foley yells at Al, "why are you helping him?" Al's response, "I don't have any idea" and then he and Austin begin to brawl, and so do Owen and Foley)

Folks, It’s Wrestlemania XV. From Philly. Owen/Jack in the pure wrestling match for the strap, Austin/Al for the IC in the falls count anywhere, the Nation against the Hardys, in the first tag team ladder match in WWF history, The Flag v. Hair match, the Legends in the Octagon, Dustin and Bob with the straps, and the Clique Explodes in a steel cage. It’s XV! It's in Philly! Call! Call! Call!

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