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, Part 2 2005

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Part I is here.

Okay, a reminder of where we are. Half of the card for Summer Slam 05 is set up. Eddy defends the Undisputed titles against Rey, in a 2 of 3 falls lucha match, Rey looking not only for his first WWF Title (he was the last NWA Champ before it folded) but is also going for the Triple Crown.

The tag title is Orton and Cena, now starting to get booed, defending against the NeoCons, Bradshaw and Dinsmore.

The two undercard singles – Leviathan, now managed by Arn – against SpreeKiller Shane Helms, looking to avenge Rhyno.

And finally, the Undertaker meets up with Hulk Hogan, in his last ever match.

Here’s the other half.

You know what happened in the summer of 05. Edge did Lita, Matt got fired, the chants in the arenas led to Matt getting rehired. Matt got buried.

Okay, I can’t change things like Edge doing Lita, but in the Counterfactual, Matt doesn’t get fired (‘cause Counterfactual Vince doesn’t roll that way) he quit, you’ll recall, in “shoot like” way a year before, after losing to Booker at Summer Slam 04.

And Lita hasn’t been in the Counterfactual in years, we’ll assume she’s on a secondary show someplace in the ether with the other women who aren’t Trish.

And really, are there any other women besides Trish?

So, Edge, total babyface, the IC Champ (Unified Titles) coming off his defense at XXI against Regal, Edge - a member of the babyface Clique, which is nearing the end of its long feud with the heels Team Angle – Edge, starts to get booed.

And the “You screwed Matt” chants start.

They ignore it for awhile. Edge is still pure babyface. But it starts to fray the Clique. They have less teamwork in the tags, less camaraderie, the fans, as they did, get louder and louder, thinking they’re taking over the show.

Finally, Edge and Michaels, say, lose a tag title match against Orton and Cena, as Edge is yelling at a heckling fan and isn’t there for a tag and Michaels, shockingly, takes the diamond cutter.

Michaels storms off.

Edge has to cut a promo. Edge says he’s heard the chants, he’s heard the rumors, but he wants everyone to know…it’s not true.

Edge has to come off as sincere and heartfelt as he can, he says that he and Christian and Matt and Jeff all came up together, and in a business where sometimes there’s no one to watch your back, they all looked out for each other. And when he was out a year and a half with the neck surgery after their last TLC match (clip would be good) it was Matt who came to see him, pumped him up, told him he’d be back.

And now, when he’s finally got what all 4 of them always talked about – singles gold in the WWF – finally when he has his dream, the undisputed titles – suddenly his friends aren’t there. Jeff’s gone, Christian won’t talk to him, and Matt thinks he slept with his girl.

Edge looks dead in the camera.

“Matt – I swear to god – I didn’t do it.”

Edge has to address the Clique in a second promo the following week. Now the reaction to him should be hot, those who know that they’re turning this into a work (with Matt still nowhere to be seen, posting on his website, working indies, but not on the TV) will be louder, ideally, some people would believe Edge – but it’s hot.

Edge has to promo for the Clique. What does he have to do to prove to them he didn’t do it?

He shows a clip of Shawn talking about the Clique as family. He says that families stick together, and he wants to know what he has to do to convince his family that this is a misunderstanding.

He says he’ll do anything, anything at all.

Christian enters. They go nose to nose. We see London and Michaels watching from the back. It’s tense.

Christian calls Edge Adam. Says he can’t look at him right now. Says he’s known him all his life, and even if they don’t have the same last name, they really are brothers.

‘Cause, we’re working this shoot, see.

Says you have to trust someone in this life. Even if the facts don’t look good – sometimes, sometimes you just have to believe in someone.

“And I believe my brother.”

Christian and Edge shake hands. That brings out London. The three shake hands. Michaels stays in the back.

The locker room still doesn’t trust Edge – and there’s an 8 man, with obvious heels the NeoCons (Bradshaw, Dinsmore, Morley (before the injury angle), Conway) against the Clique. Michaels won’t interact with Edge. Morley (Edge’s former brother in law) starts striking Edge hard – they clearly aren’t “co-operating” and the match totally breaks down – no one in the ring knows what to do – Christian and London are stopped by Michaels from interfering – Michaels yells “let them go” and the other 6 men just watch. It’s as much of a shoot brawl as they can do, scratching and kicking and rolling. Potato shots, hardway color, Michaels, as veteran, keeps everyone back and Edge gets the advantage, mounts Morley and takes it to him – and then Michaels allows everyone else to break it up.

Christian and London yell at Michaels – Christian gets into Shawn’s face – and he and London walk out with Edge while Shawn stands alone, gritting his teeth.

Recall, the Jericho/Michaels program was about the new no fun puritanical, judgmental Shawn, so all of that is still in the air. The announce makes clear that Christian and London swallowed their pride, deferring to Michaels as the veteran leader, but you have to wonder how long that’s gonna last.

We do Flair and Steamboat, the co-directors of the WWF, in their offices, talking about the problem. The Clique is coming apart, Summer Slam’s coming up, what are we gonna do?

Steamboat says he put a call out to Matt Hardy. Which should draw a big pop.

Flair’s hostile to this, Matt quit this company, he swore on the PPV, he cursed everyone out and left, he doesn’t belong here. He’s a baby and, I think he’s the one who’s lying. I think, says Flair, that he saw his career dying while Edge is taking off, and decided to conjure up this whole thing. I think Edge is getting a bad rap with the fans, and the locker room, and Michaels, and you, Rick.

Which will lead, later on that night, to another Edge promo, this time he brings out Flair and Steamboat.

He asks Steamboat if it’s true he called Matt. Yup.

He asks Steamboat if he thinks that Matt Hardy would be willing to come to Summer Slam, for a one on one, face to face discussion.

Steamboat says if Matt Hardy is coming to Summer Slam, it won’t be to talk.

Edge says look – I’m getting busted open out here, Shawn clearly doesn’t support me, the fans don’t support me – I’ve been here for years – I carried guys bags (actually, Owen’s bags, but that makes me squeamish, so I’d rather not drop that name) and if I have to fight Matt Hardy at Summer Slam – if that’s the only way to get him to see me, to talk to me, tell me what the hell is going on – then let’s do it.

Flair takes the lead now. Hell, no. He says. You’re the Unified Champion – we’ve had 21 years of PPV in the WWF – and at every single one of those shows – the IC belt has been defended.

You can’t defend that belt against Matt Hardy – he doesn’t work here anymore – he quit – and I tell you both right now, there is NO WAY I will ever support bringing that guy back. No Way.

There’s silence…Edge says he’ll give up the belts.

That brings out Michaels.

Michaels tells Edge to be quiet for a second. Don’t say another word. Just leave the ring.

Edge says no – Edge says he can’t go another day without Shawn’s trust. Edge says he is willing, right here and now in this ring, to surrender his 3 belts, if that means he can fight Matt Hardy at Summer Slam.

They look at each other dead in the eye, Shawn tells Edge that Matt carried his bags – that even before Edge and Christian joined the ring boys, Matt and Jeff were with the Clique. He’s known Matt since he was 19. And I know you’re disappointed – and I know Christian and Paul are disappointed – but Adam – I just can’t believe you.

Edge says I will give up those belts Shawn. You know how hard I worked, I was gone a year and a half, I rehabbed every day – all I wanted was some recognition as a singles wrestler – you know what that’s like Shawn – you threw your best friend Marty through a plate glass window – and you didn’t do it because you hated him – you did it because you had a chance to make a name for yourself as a singles wrestler. It’s damn hard, Shawn – have you looked around this place, the same guys, Benoit, Eddy, Angle, have had all the belts here for five years – and before that it was you, and Bret and Owen. This is not a place where it’s easy to climb the ladder – I had to literally break my neck in those TLC matches to make my name – Christian had to fall off a 20 foot cell to make his name – we’ve broken our bodies to hold these belts – and I am about to give them up right now, hand them to Ric Flair, and that’s gotta mean something to you Shawn – it just does.

Michaels swallows hard and nods.

Edge hands over the belts. They shake hands.

So, the match they make is an unsanctioned match. No WWF official, they’ll have to provide their own. No WWF announcers. WWF won’t insure it, as far as we’re concerned, it isn’t really happening.

But it will happen, at Summer Slam. And until then – Matt Hardy doesn’t appear on WWF TV. Not one time.

And after this angle, Edge doesn’t wrestle. He talks. He’s in non-wrestler mode, the mode of a guy prepping for a fight.

There’s some angle where the Clique is getting attacked by Team Angle (more on them next week) and Edge comes out for a save – and the Clique stands together, all four men on the same side, as Christian and London chose to believe Edge (and we’ll establish that London doesn’t really care who Edge slept with, he thinks Lita’s kinda hot) and Michaels was won over by the sacrifice Edge made. Like that, see?

So, it’s Matt/Edge in an unsanctioned match. The announce plays all of it up as if it’s a cataclysm. 1. It’s the first unsanctioned match in PPV history. 2. Edge is the first guy in PPV history to give up titles. 3. For the first time ever – the IC won’t be defended on PPV, there is no IC champion, there is no Unified Champion. 4. Matt Hardy, who is not employed by the WWF will return to a WWF ring for the first time in a year, since he quit at last year’s Summer Slam. 5. And Matt Hardy and Edge, in what might be the most personal fight, it’s not gonna be a match, it’s gonna be a fight, in WWF history, will hook it up in DC at Summer Slam.

You’re buyin’ this show, right? Right?

Okay, that leaves us with 3 matches left, two high profile, big ticket singles in the middle, and a big ticket opening tag.

And you’ll learn about them next week.

Hey, we’re not writing this thing until August, gotta make the buildup last.

So, one more week of hype – then we take all of July off to percolate – the first weekend in August, you’ll get Summer Slam.

The Road Continues

The Road to Summer Slam, Part 1 2005

Sunday, June 18, 2006

XXI is here.

Hey, we’re back. Aw, hells yeah!

This will set up half of Summer Slam ’04, which you’ll get at the top of August. In the meantime, you can check out my new site (which also includes a blog) You’ll get all the Jividen you can roll with.

Okay, Summer Slam’s coming from DC. It’s time to do dueling general managers.

Steamboat, obviously, continues his spot as the babyface figurehead. But he enters on a RAW over the summer and announces that he’s been doing some thinking since Mania – and as the creative head of the WWF, it’s his job to see that the very top people remain for with the Federation. Top people in the ring – top people in the office.

And at XXI, someone proved to him that he deserves a place in the WWF front office, side by side with Ricky Steamboat, as equal partners, setting the creative direction of the WWF.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, your newest Co-Director of the World Wrestling Federation, a former WWF and NWA Champion…the Nature Boy Ric Flair!”

So, it’s Flair and Steamboat, running the WWF. Each man, so the story goes, has 49% of the decision making ability, with the McMahon Family Trust maintaining the other 2%.

During this stretch, the Flair/Steamboat partnership will be harmonious. Flair’s just turned face and the fans will be eager to cheer him. They’ll split the duties, each supporting the other even when they disagree. The chief, low simmering, piece of contention is Little Rey, after Steamboat declares Rey the “Ace” of the WWF (see XXI for that discussion) on RAW – we see Flair and Steamboat in their offices arguing over Rey’s merits. Flair’s not anti-Rey, no one’s going to say Rey sucks – but Rey’s tiny, and Flair will give voice to the WWF fan percentage who doesn’t buy into Rey’s climbing the card.

‘Cause he is, daddy. He is.

Okay, 8 matches to make. Here we go.

2 underneath singles matches. With Flair moving upstairs, he has to sever his relationship with Leviathan. Leviathan’s gonna put one of the top guys over (say, Rey) which will lead to a visit from Arn.

Arn’s gonna convince Leviathan that he needs a trainer – and with the Titan Trust out of business, Arn’s looking for a protégée. If there’s anyone who can take the big man from Flair’s tutelage – it’s AA.

So, Leviathan picks up a spinebuster, works on breaking down body parts, generally does his best Anderson impersonation. He destroys SpreeKiller Rhyno, sending him out of the company – and making a match against Helms. So there’s that.

How about Hulk Hogan’s last ever match? Interested? Please?

So, Hogan turned on the ‘Taker at XXI, blowing off his judging duties in the main event – he enters in streetclothes during a RAW to let off some steam.

He’s been screwed for 22 years.

22 years ago, he was WWF Champion, a movie star, on Carson, Letterman, MTV, SNL, he was the biggest wrestling star in the world.

And then he lost to Ricky Steamboat.

Steamboat enters. Hogan and Steamboat, together again in the ring.

Hogan shoots – Steamboat took his life. It should have been Hulk Hogan main eventing Wrestlemania. Should have been Hulk Hogan the company and the wrestling revolution was built around. He was big, with the rap and the arms and the tan. And who was Ricky Steamboat? Just some foreigner with a couple of armdrags and it makes him sick.

So, whatcha gonna do, Mr. Director. Whatcha gonna do Ricky Steamboat, when Hulkamania runs wild on you at Summer Slam?

But that can’t happen, obviously.

So, here comes the ‘Taker.

‘Taker says if Hogan wants to see someone who took his spot, he doesn’t have to look at Steamboat – he can look at the Undertaker. 5 Legends Wins, one more than Hogan and Andre. And Hogan should know he’s never gonna catch him.

So, they make that. Hogan/Undertaker at Summer Slam.

The tag champs are, unfortunately, Orton and Cena. They keep winning matches by flukes, getting dominated until Orton hits the diamond cutter. The crowd’s gonna start to turn on them at some point – ‘cause they think they deserve it. Their babyface quality was premised on being laughable clueless losers – I’m guessing their act of thinking they’re great wrestlers will wear thin once they have belts. It’s not a quick turn, we’ll let the fans dictate the pace. But it’s a long summer, and they think they’re the young gods of the wrestling business, eventually, the fans are gonna get pissed.

The chief challengers remain the NeoCons: GHB, Morley, Anal Cysts continuing to make the case for the Iraq War, the unimportance of Bin Ladin, tax cuts for the wealthy, the slicing of social programs for the poor, the outing of Valerie Plame, rising gas prices (and eventually Hurricane Katrina, the raping of the 4th Amendment through the NSA wiretaps, etc….) they’ve got the big conservative hitters on the flags. Bradshaw has been trying to push his way past Orton and Cena for quite awhile now. Conway doesn’t wrestle anymore, avoiding the military because of his anal cysts. Morley gets hurt in this stretch and can’t serve as Bradshaw’s partner at Summer Slam (say, Bradshaw gets singles wins over both Orton and Cena to get the shot) and settles on Cranky Nick Dinsmore as his partner.

Dinsmore doesn’t care about the conservative cause, but he’ll wave a flag, what does he care, as long as he teaches these young punks a thing or two about a thing or two.

So, we’ve got that.

2 big midcard singles and the opening tag all come together. But the singles are going to be a mini-tournament to fill a very rare vacated WWF belt.

Whose belt?

Not yet.

Let’s talk World Title.

Sometime when they’re in the Southwest, Eddy gets an award from a Hispanic organization. It’s a Latino service award, or something like that. The announce puts Eddy over as upholding the tradition of lucha libre in North America – and to have a World Champion and Triple crown Winner who got his start as a luchador is a tremendous accomplishment for all of the Latin American people and who better to represent all Latinos than the great Eddy Guerrero.

And here comes Juvie, Crazy, and Psychosys, all still in the masks (which you may recall was set up years ago in the NWA and ECW portions of the Counterfactual) and wearing the LWO t-shirts.

I loved me some LWO. My favorite of the WO stables.

Juvie takes the stick. Hey, Eddy, remember us. Your friends. The LWO? While you’ve been getting famous with Benoit up here in gringo land – we’ve stayed down in Mexico, wrestling the real lucha style.

They show some Los Gringos Locos footage.

Eddy’s a sell out for the white man. He’s always been a sell out. Now he’s WWF Champ – now he’s Triple Crown Champ – and what’s he doing for the raza? Not a damn thing.

Eddy says he’ll take any of them on. They’re jealous. He’ll take them on one by one.

Here comes Steamboat.

No – that’s not gonna happen, Eddy. We’ll offer the LWO contracts – but they have to prove themselves before they earn a shot at the WWF Title.

Eddy says he can’t let this stand – they’ve said he’s not raza, they’ve said he’s a sell out – they’ve said because they wear the masks and he doesn’t – that they’re real luchadores and he’s not. He owes it to all the Latin American people to defend his WWF Title against a fellow Latino – he wants the main event at Summer Slam to be a real 2 out of 3 falls Lucha Libre Rules match – and he is telling Ricky Steamboat that he has to make that match.

Steamboat says he will. Against Rey Mysterio, Jr.

So, the summer is Eddy and Rey tagging together against the LWO – Crazy spins off to do singles against Tajiri before he goes away. The LWO also works against Guido and Nova in order to get some wins in.

But the cracks between Rey and Eddy develop. Maybe Eddy hasn’t given Rey his respect – maybe Rey is the Ace of the WWF. Who knows – maybe Eddy did turn his back on the Latino people?

Who’s to say. No turns, of course, but by August, we’re ready for it. Eddy and Rey, 2 of 3 falls for the strap. Plus – Rey’s a 2 time IC Champ and a tag champ – meaning he is going for the coveted Owen Hart Memorial Triple Crown.

Eddy/Rey for the World title. Orton/Cena against the NeoCons for the tag straps, Leviathan w/AA against Helms, Hogan meets the Undertaker.

That’s half the card. What about the other half? What about the vacant title belt? What’s the big match on the card for Summer Slam ’05?

3 words: “You Screwed Matt.”

See you next week  The Road Continues

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