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 1998

Friday, February 24, 2006

Montreal Survivor Series was here.

Royal Rumble 1998 San Jose

JR and Cornette on the announce.

It's Royal Rumble (which really oughta be called Justice Sunday, I should have made that switch and y'all just would have had to deal with it) Number 10 - which means it opens with the clip package:

Hogan bodyslamming Andre...Martel debuting his Male Model gimmick...Savage dropping the big elbow on Martel...Michaels superkicking Marty...Bret getting in between Tito and Martel, getting the two to shake hands and end their feud...Razor tossing a toothpick atop the fallen Savage...Hennig getting the fall on Flair in the Loser Leaves Town...a bloody Owen going toe to toe with an even bloodier Savage...Waltman doing the crotch chop in Martel's face...Hakushi hitting the flying space tiger drop on Waltman...Goldust hitting the Curtain Call on HHH...2 Cold's 450 splash on Garza...Al backing away from the Mexicans and the Nation...and a Stone Cold Stunner to Vader...

(Dark – Taka Michinoku d. 2 Cold Scorpio)

1. New Age Outlaws (w/HHH) d. Road Warriors
-This is gonna be the wrap up for the Warriors. Hawk gets taken out with the Pedigree and the Outlaws get the fall. The Clique’s got two words for you…crotch chopping everywhere – it’s a complete beating. The boys pose over Hawk and Animal following the match.

2. Max Mini no contest Tarantula
-Midgets! Fun! It’s an unannounced midget match – broken up by Don Callis. Callis makes derogatory remarks about them - and when they turn to attack him....Kane.

Kane, with fire and smoke and the whole deal, chokeslams the midgets, throws each midget like a souvenir into the crowd. He’s big and red and his name is Kane.

3. Southern Man Jeff Jarrett d. Savio Vega
The midcard matches begin. We’ve got Jarrett and Dustin on the heel side, Savio, Mero on the face side – with Bob and Bart also on the face side, although not working tonight. It’s a solid bottom of the card, guys who can work solid matches. Jarrett goes over clean in his return, figure four submission – Jarrett doesn’t break the hold (recall, it was Bret putting him in the sharpshooter, breaking his ankle, in the title match on RAW, that was Jarrett’s exit from his first run) – Jarrett stretching Savio with the figure four – wrenching the knee – until Jarrett is pulled away. Savio has to be helped from the ring – and that will be it for Savio. Jarrett waves his Confederate Battle Flag after the match, “Don’t forget what the good book said – I am the Southern Man – and y’all better watch your head!”

4. Marc Mero d. Goldust
Mero evens up the program, getting revenge for Survivor Series. Jarrett enters postmatch– berating Dustin, “This is a bunch of B.S., Dustin. You are not from Hollyweird, you are Dustin Rhodes, by God. You are a tag team champion – you are the son of the American Dream – you are…a Southern Man! You grab this flag right now Dustin Rhodes – you grab this Rebel Flag right now and you wave it in front of these California fruitcakes – grab your heritage Dustin Rhodes! Grab that flag!

And he does. Goldust turns Southern – the two men do a rebel yell and wave the Condfederate flag. That's the last time you'll see Goldust in the Counterfactual.

5. Number One Contender’s Casket Match: Shawn Michaels d. Undertaker
Now that Bret’s gone – these are the two longest tenured WWF wrestlers – and they’ve never met before. This match is necessary ‘cause we have another physical condition to deal with – they did this actual match at the Rumble, and when Shawn took a casket bump, he injured his back – or, rather, it was the last straw for his back injury, and that injury would be kinda significant.

So, we get the same spot – Shawn gets hurt during the match – Hunter hits the Pedigree on the Undertaker – he’s then attacked by the Rock – Rock and HHH on the outside – the Outlaws battling DLo and Mark Henry. Nation v. Clique, Clique v. Nation – Michaels gets the Taker in the casket – but can’t close the lid….

..without the help of Kane. Kane enters. led by Callis, – Kane slams the lid on the Taker – then carries the casket away. Shawn Michaels will go to Wrestlemania XIV to face the WWF Champion. If one pays attention, you'll note that he can barely make the walk up the aisle.

The clip package is Foley and Funk, sitting in the empty arena, talking about the tag matches, just being Funk and Foley. Funk puts over Arn and Tully, as the clip of the Busters and Rockers plays...we see Shawn walk away from Marty, allowing Jake and Piper to feed on him...Foley and Funk joke about how wrong that was, about how Marty's bleeding doesn't compare to the blood that will flow from the Rock at the Rumble...they show the Road Warriors hitting the Device on Nobbs and Saggs...then losing to Money Inc...the Steiner Brothers suplex the Beverly Brothers...and Foley talks about how he's looking forward to finally giving some prestige to the WWF tag belts...Scott Levy and DiBiase dance around after Scott turns on Rick...Backlund puts the cross-face chicken wing on the Anvil as the British Empire takes the straps...Austin and Dustin with stereo stunners on Hall and Nash, shocking the Fresno crowd and leading toward the nose to nose between Hunter and Nash...and Owen winning the triple crown last year, the fireworks going off and the streamers coming down, the chants of Ow-en, Ow-en, filling the screen.

6. Tags: No DQ: Cactus Jack/Terry Funk d. Nation (w/Markie)
Lots of good matches. Good garbage match – canes, tables, barbed wire – Foley gives the Rock credibility, which is why they put them together – so when the hip hop Nation can take the hardcore bumps and keep going – that helps get them over. Everyone bleeds – finish comes when the Clique runs in – the Outlaws attacks Henry and DLo – allowing Hunter to get the Pedigree (which, one notes they're trying to get over tonight, Pedigrees on The Undertaker, the Rock, and Hawk) Funk, wrapped in barbed wire, gets the moonsault fall on the Rock. Jack and Funk are your WWF tag team champions. Bang, Bang! It has to be violent enough that Rock still gets over – that he earns some respect from fans who think he’s just a pretty boy.

Foley and Funk, bloody, again stand over the bodies of the Nation – I want them both full of blood – both holding a weapon of some type – Foley again saying to the fans, who are popping pretty good just for the violence...“I forgive you…I forgive you…I forgive you…I forgive you…”

There’s a stir in the arena as coming down the aisle to watch the IC Title – is former Heavyweight Boxing Champion Iron Mike Tyson.

Tyson gets on the announce, says he’s the greatest boxer alive, he’s here to watch Ken Shamrock, the greatest mixed martial arts fighter alive. Tyson’s a pretty astute judge of fighting, his thoughts about Shamrock – both good and bad – whatever he wants to say – are useful. Don’t care if Tyson’s a face or a heel – don’t care if people cheer or boo. He’s Mike Tyson, and it's 1998, he put people in the seats – which, in fact, he did – they're gonna use him to give more rub to Shamrock. Give him even more credibility, get some mainstream coverage.

If Tyson would somehow throw to the clip package on the TitanTron, somehow saying the "greatest fights in WWF history have been in Intercontinental Matches, right here at the Royal Rumble" that would be great.

PerfectPlex on Bret...Bret regaining from DiBiase the following year with the sharpshooter...Martel then submitting to the same sharpshooter...Savage dropping the elbow on Piper...Michaels surviving Owen's sharpshooter to win the Iron Man...Michaels superkicking Razor...and then Owen hitting the enziguiri on Razor...VaderBomb on Michaels...and Jack and Funk, who moments ago won the tag titles, crashing through a barbed wire table...

7. IC: Octagon: Ken Shamrock d. Vader
This is probably even a better matchup than Shamrock/Foley, ‘cause Vader’s mean and would have no problem striking Shamrock full on to see if he could take it. He could – and Shamrock would strike back and you’d have a match that at spots, not only looked real, but might have been real. Vader, god love him, wouldn't have wanted any part of a shoot with Ken Shamrock. Shamrock gets Vader to tap to the cross arm breaker. And he’s gotten submissions from Foley and Vader in back to back PPVs.

And that’s what we want – stiffness, the appearance of reality – make it seem like a sport, we’re catching the cultural wave here with Shamrock – he’s as big a star as they have in the company right now.

Hence the Tyson stuff – right now, I want a Tyson/Shamrock nose to nose in the ring (boxing, MMA in a wrestling ring..smell the buyrate!!) after the match – Tyson and Shamrock pointing fingers, nose to nose – Tyson’s people and Shamrock’s people – and that’s lots of people – hit the ring – there’s a lot of jawing, some pushing, some shoving – people dig it – and we go to the clip package...

Savage with a double sledge off the apron, taking out Ted...PerfectPlex on Rude...Bobby refusing to turn on Hennig, a shocked DiBiase getting pummeled by the champion...Davey Boy submitting to Flair's figure four...the streamers filling the ring prior to Bret/Tenryu...the Undertaker shocking the crowd by feverishly tapping out to Bret...Diesel chokeslamming Michaels through the Spanish announce...Bret and Owen exhanging nearfalls, the final one going to Bret as he holds the tights for the cradle cover...Bret smirking over the fallen Michaels...

It’s time for the Title match – Austin enters first, takes the mic – says that he just saw the “Baddest Man on the Planet” and the “World’s Most Dangerous Man” – and they’re both a couple of yellow bastards as far as he’s concerned – ‘cause he’s Stone Cold Steve Austin, son, and if either one of them wants to come out here right now – Stone Cold Steve Austin will snap their lights right out and that’s the bottom line….

Tyson enters – Tyson walking quickly up the aisle – Mike Tyson’s going to the ring – Mike Tyson’s going after Steve Austin --- Tyson’s people quickly run in – hold Tyson back in mid aisle – Tyson and Austin jawing – then Shamrock hits the top of the aisle. Shamrock being held back by his people – It’s Austin – It’s Tyson – It’s Shamrock!!!

While Austin’s distracted – from behind – Owen Hart. And we’re underway.

8. WWF Title Owen Hart d. Steve Austin (referee stoppage)
Here’s where we get the Austin bleeds but won't submit to the sharpshooter spot.

No turn for anyone – Owen gives up the hold after Austin passes out and the referee stops it – but Austin does get super over with the spot. First – he wiped out Razor and Diesel – then, he wiped out Dustin – then, he and Pillman masterminded a sabatoge of the Clique and the Harts – then he won the WWF Title at WM, beating Bret Hart clean. Then – he turned on Pillman, and took him out – Then, he walked out of a wheelchair and into the biggest match of all time at Survivor Series – and now we get the spot with the blood and the sharpshooter and passing out but not quitting. Right after Bret himself tapped from Owen’s sharpshooter – Austin doesn’t.

I still don’t want him to be a face – but he should be crazy, crazy Steve Austin like over. I’ll settle for very, very popular heel right now. If we were to call him a tweener, that wouldn’t bother me. Yeah, he’s a face. I've held off as long as possible.

And Owen beats him – Owen beat Bret, Owen beat Austin – and since Michaels won tonight – it’ll be Owen and Shawn – the only one left to beat – for the WWF Title at WM XIV.

Owen leaves the ring with the belt high – allowing the fans to applaud for both he and Austin, who remains in the ring, covered in his own blood. Austin gets to his feet, realizes what has happened – gives the official the stunner – and gives Owen the middle fingers from the ring.

In the NWA…we open with an interesting tag match, Davey Boy and Rick Martel lose to Savage and Hogan. Goldberg goes over again, beating Page. Booker starts his singles career with a win. We have a hot 3 way with Juventud Guerrera going over Ultimo Dragon and Kaz Hayashi. Jericho beats Eddy. Hall and Nash regain the tag belts over the Steiners. Dean takes the US, beating Saturn. And Benoit keeps – beating Sting.

Superbrawl – 1998 San Francisco
NWA Title: Chris Benoit d. Sting
US Title: Dean Malenko d. Perry Saturn
Tags: Hall/Nash d. Steiners
Chris Jericho d. Eddy Guerrero

Juventud Guerrera d. Kaz d. Ultimo
Booker T d. La Parka
Goldberg d. DDP
Savage/Hogan d. Davey Boy/Martel

On the road to WM….

The Hardys now have signs.

And they’ve added more Ring Boys - these go to the Harts (well, to Owen, he's the only one left) Adam and Christian. Adam will change his name sooner than later. Again, the Hardys for a few years now have been Ring Boys for the Clique, both the face and the heel side. Occasionally they work dark or squash matches. We see them sometimes in training sessions. Same deal with Adam and Christian - short hair for both, emphasizing their youth, t-shirts with their names on the back. JR puts the four young men over for their willingness to learn. Even though they're with the opposite squads (and as we're building to Michaels/Owen, Clique/Harts at Mania, there's a lot of historical heat) the four guys have a very friendly rivalry, and clearly, as we see them in the crevices of shows - have a lot of comraderie with each other, in arenas, they'll fool around in the ring to entertain the fans, do some highspots - in the taped training sessions, they'll meet in the locker room, exhausted. The air time for the Ring Boys increases after Mania.

And yeah, they're selling Adam and Christian as brothers too. Young Canadian kids, working as Owen Hart's ringboys.

Also, we meet a guy whose vignettes start – “The Abolitionist” Ulysses S. Morley. We see him, say, at a protest march where the protesters are being abused – we’ll have the leader of the march say, “Don’t fight back – turn the other cheek – let your body go limp…” Morley looks at him like he’s crazy – attacks the entire mob himself.

That kinda thing. He’s the opposite of the pacifist – this is a world of corporate greed, of discrimination – of racism – and some people say you should work within the system to change that…

…he says that’s fine for some people – but he likes to kick some ass.

We’re gonna abolish corporate greed in the WWF, abolish gang beatings, abolish crotch chops – abolish the confederate flag – Freedom! Freedom! Say it loud and Say it proud!! If Not Me – Then Who? And if Not Now – Then When???

He’s not working WM. We’re building.

Callis leads Kane to torment the Undertaker whenever possible, causing the Taker to call him out.

“I’ve been working my whole life to be in the main event at Wrestlemania – and when you helped Shawn Michaels stuff me in a casket at the Royal Rumble, you took that away from me Kane. I’m going to tell you once and for all – we ain’t partners, we ain’t brothers, and we ain’t friends – and so, at WM XIV, in Boston – I won’t be in the Main Event – but I will be in the Legend’s Match – and I will win my 4 th Legend’s Match to tie Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan – and when they raise my hand – I want to be standing over your corpse – Kane – I want to be standing over your corpse!”

So, we’ll do that.

Taka Michinoku has been with the company, winning on RAW, working dark – and now gets a PPV match against Mr. Aguila from Mexico. It’s a workrate match really, as opposed to a program. We’ll call it a Mexico v. Japan program – but really it’s just a double good match

At WM – we bring the workrate.

We’ve got the Nation…we’ve got the Clique…we’ve got the Southern Men…we’ve got the Undercard Faces…we’ve got the new tag team champions….

All feuding with each other.

We get a 9 man match on RAW – winners get the tag title shot against Funk and Foley.

HHH/Dogg/Gunn v. Bart/Bob/Mero v. Rock/DLo/Mark Henry…

…but the Southern Men, Jarrett and Dustin, take Henry out in the back…they drape his body in a Confederate flag….”Just like the good book says..”

So, Henry is 2 Cold Scorpio. Funky, Funky! 2 Cold joins the Nation!

The Clique goes over – the things they want to do here are – set up a bottom card DLo/2Cold v. Bart/Bob match – they’re all faces – but this match ignites a little feud. Also, they're setting up Rock/HHH…which is a serious feud, and one that’s gone on a little bit, recall the Rumble stuff So, it’s the leader of the Nation (smart asses we like) against the leader of the Clique (smart asses we don’t).

Two more matches.

That leaves the Outlaws to wrestle in a heel/heel match against Funk and Foley. And we’ll do the young guys against grizzled vets angle – ‘cept the vets are bad, bad men. It’s a falls count anywhere – just like the one they did. Jack and Funk say they’re gonna take the Clique JV to school. And there’s your tag title match.

Also in that 9 man, Mero is taken out on the outside by the Southern Men “What are you, boy? You think you beat Dustin Rhodes at the Rumble? Hell, no, boy, you beat some New Yorker's idea of a rasslin’ gimmick. At Wrestlemania – you’re gonna be in a fight with a Southern Man!”

Dustin/Mero, again, at Mania. This time, in a cage.

Two matches left.

Shamrock puts the IC on the line against Austin. Your special Octagon referee – Mike Tyson. And – as an extra bonus – Austin’s been WWF Champ – he’s been tag champ – which means, this is his chance to win the Triple Crown.

It was Tyson who turned the wrestling wars around, he drew lots of outside viewers who then stayed to watch Austin. So, this is a combustible program. Shamrock’s extra intense, “CACTUS JACK THOUGHT HE WAS THE TOUGHEST MAN ALIVE – AND CACTUS JACK TAPPED OUT. BIG VAN VADER THOUGHT HE WAS THE TOUGHEST MAN ALIVE – AND BIG VAN VADER TAPPED OUT – STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN – YOU WILL TAP OUT AT WRESTLEMANIA!!”

And Austin is Austin. All the way Stone Cold. “Ken Shamrock, you treat me like a dog and you expect me to smile? Look at you, The World’s Most Dangerous Man. With your little red trunks and your gloves on your hands. Do you think you impress me? Do you think you impress Stone Cold Steve Austin? If you want to impress Stone Cold, when I kick your ass all over Boston, Massachusetts at Wrestlemania XIV, it would impress me if you got down on your knees and handed me my Intercontinental Belt – and said, ‘thank you Stone Cold, thank you for teaching me what it means to be a man.’”

And Tyson is Tyson. Doesn’t like either guy – we have three way action all the way to Mania. They get national exposure – not only is Tyson going to Mania, but he’s climbing into the Octagon – Shamrock is a sports figure as opposed to a wrestler, which means he can get sports coverage – and when the national public meets Austin, they’ll eat him up. It’s kinda perfect, really.

Oh yeah – your main event…

Owen. Michaels. Strap.

At this point, we don’t need to retell the story. Suffice it to say that the Clique/Hart feud started 10 years ago – when Owen and Shawn worked dark at Summer Slam 1988. They were called the future of the company.

And now, ten years later – everyone else is gone. Bret, Diesel, Razor, Davey Boy, Waltman – gone.

Two triple crown winners – it is the match ten years in the making.

For the very first time ever, the Owen/Shawn feud headlines Wrestlemania. It’s 2 months of highlight packages, we see ten years of Hart/Clique memories (buy the DVD!) and we should have the sense – watching the clips of men no longer here – seeing Shawn and Owen change over the years – and now recognizing that Shawn is not 100%, that he is starting to break down – that we may now be at the very end of the feud. That this might be the culimination.

WM XIV... It’s Shawn and Owen for the strap – Shamrock/Austin/Tyson with the Triple Crown at stake – Funk and Jack defend in the garbage match against the Clique JV – how 'bout Rock v. HHH – how 'bout electrifying junior action with Taka/Aguila – Undertaker looking for his record tying legends win against his brother Kane – Dustin Rhodes/Marc Mero in a steel cage; 2 Cold and DLo against Bob and Bart in the opening tag It’s Wrestlemania 14– Call your local cable company!!

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