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 2000

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The 90s ended here.

Royal Rumble 2000 MSG
(Dark – Taka d. Aguila)

JR/Lawler are joined at the top of the show – by the Rock. Rock’s not getting the same type of in-ring push in the Counterfactual – but he’s gonna get stick time. He's our guest commentator for the first third of the broadcast.

1. Winners go to Mania: Hardys (w/Lita) d. Outlaws
Hardys show some edge, the hair growing out, the clothes a little more ragged, their personality coming through a little more, Lita, as Matt's crazy girlfriend, drawing the edge out of the Hardys, moving toward their daredevil personality (and, really, Jeff’s drug use would make it hard for him to play clean cut anymore, he’s not that good an actor) – they both bump like freaks – after the match, they get a ladder, do a big ladder lay out spot. Hardys go over big – and they will get the title shot at Mania. Rock, as a 2 time tag champ, puts the Hardys over.

2. Kurt Angle d. British Bulldog
Quick match, they play it up as important, Rock has to put Angle over – there's a Davey Boy clip package before the match – as this will be in for the Bulldog, his goodbye to the company – Angle wins cleanly and decisively with the ankle lock. Davey Boy taps – they shake hands after the match. Jericho comes out to ringside to help DBS to the back, the two men take a moment to stand on the ramp, Jericho leading the ovation for the Bulldog. Announce talks about how Angle will be taking the rare, rare step to wrestle twice tonight. Kurt Angle!

3. No DQ: Edge (w/Christian and Trish) d. Morley
Everyone bleeds here; Morley's gotta shake off any thought that he's too nice given his pure babyface gimmick, so he's the first one to swing a chair - say, taking it from Trish, teasing hitting her, then planting Christian. But he's only one guy, and falls victim to the numbers. Edge, Christian, and Trish do what is now their signature postmatch beating, the Triple Con-Chair-To spot. The beating is interrupted by the Hardys. Matt and Jeff bring the ladders back down to the ring– wipe out both E and C with swinging ladder spots – then bump atop E and C to get the crowd chanting for them. The Hardys get some revenge!! Lita and Trish brawl – and the people enjoy that kinda thing.

Rock leaves the announce - and is replaced by former WWF Champion Bob Backlund. Backlund enjoys the antics of Crazy Al - and wants to make sure the Snowman gets his sandwich from DLo.

4. Al (w/Head) d. Rock d. DLo
Al wins on the double countout (Boo) when Rock and DLo finally totally break down and they brawl on the outside. Al sort of shrugs his shoulders, does his moonsault. Does it again. Does it a third time – just ‘cause he’s a goofy motherfucker. We see Rock and DLo continuing to fight in the back, the full back thing, with the toppled vending machines and into the men's room and the whole nine – the Nation has Exploded!

5. Angle d. Waltman
Angle’s unbeaten streak continues – he gets the clean submission win over Waltman. Angle taps out Davey and Waltman in the same night – the MSG fans should recognize they are seeing something special – the An-gle chants ring out as Angle stands on the mid buckle after the match. Backlund's gotta put Angle over.

6. Tags: Dudleys (w/Stevie) d. Hollys
Dudleys are gonna get the face pop in their MSG debuts, there's no way to avoid it, so they don't tone down the garbage stuff - and after destroying the Hollys - Stevie takes the mic and says there's a former champion in the house - a World Champ, a 2 time tag Champ - Mr. Bob Backlund - and he's always been admired in Dudleyville - and they'd like him to come into the ring and join Stevie's Hardcore Family.

JR and Jerry try to disuade him - but to no avail.

Backlund goes to the ring - and eats the 3D.

The Duds then stack up double tables putting Alabama Bob underneath, Backlund on the first table - and Crash on the top ....

and then they set the tables on fire.

Big fire pop. E-C-W. E-C-W. E-C-W.

Stevie's gotten ladders, and the Dudleys climb, getting ready to crazily splash through the fire tables – when the Hardys sprint in – the Hardys knock the ladders over, pulling Backlund/Hollys from the tables, – this draws Edge and Christian, bringing in their chairs, looking for revenge from earlier in the night – and all six men brawl around the flaming table, Trish, Lita, and Stevie (poor Stevie, still fighting the girls) brawl on the outside.

Someone has to take the fire bump before they have to put it out – someone has to take a ladder bump into the fire, probably two guys, say, Christian and Jeff take a ladder bump through the flaming tables. Something to draw the holy shit chant from the people.

7. IC: Cage: Y2J d. HHH
Jericho gets the pinfall in the cage, everyone bleeds, there’s no one to help Hunter given what’s happened to the Clique thusfar. HHH brings the sledgehammer for a couple of spots, Jericho has to take a good beating, but Jericho continues to get way over, one show after getting Waltman to tap – HHH submits to the Lion Tamer – a bloody Jericho has come to MSG, where his dad played for the Rangers, and kept his IC title.

8. WWF Title: Cactus Jack d. Taz
I love the atmosphere for this, the two New Yorkers, a title v. title feel, Taz having beaten Foley in ’94, Foley superfamous now with the book, getting close to winding up his career – Taz just getting started in the WWF – Madison Freaking Square Garden.

Foley goes over – they give Taz as much rub as they can, portray him not only as good as Foley, but it’s kinda like Taz said, he just seems younger, hungrier, he suplexes Foley all over the ring. How can Cactus Jack hold on to his title??

But he does, he gets an exhausted pinfall – Taz locks on the Tazmission, but Foley pushes off against the buckles, and, with the hold still locked on, Taz’s shoulders wind up on the mat.

Taz is furious after the match – postmatch beatdown of Cactus Jack throws a couple of nasty suplexes--- by Angle.

‘Cause it’s his night, Chico. Angle comes in and suplexes Taz all over the building, then gets the Angle Slam on Taz – the fans once again chant his name as the show ends.

We’ve got an NWA show..Hall gets a win, Bigelow beats Sid, we meet Sugar Shane Helms, who goes over his boy Shannon Moore. Your new tag team champions…the extraordinarily unlikely combo of Terry Funk and Hulk Hogan.

Seriously. In 2000. Who booked that crap? Oh.

Billy Kidman is your new US champ – and Jarrett drops the NWA Title to…Woooo….Ric Flair.

Superbrawl – 2000 San Francisco
NWA Title: Ric Flair d. Jeff Jarrett
US Title: Billy Kidman d. Vampyro
Tags: Funk/Hogan d. Luger/Smiley
Shane Helms d. Shannon Moore

Bam Bam Bigelow d. Sid
Scott Hall d. The Wall
Devon Storm d. Lash LeRoux
Big Vito/Johnny the Bull d. Tank Abbott/Brian Knobbs

Wrestlemania XVI is coming from Anaheim.

Rock's SNL is also coming - so anytime he's not in the ring - he's on the announce - he gets the Up Close and Personal Treatment - he gets as much nonring push as possible.

Oh - there’s a big twist a comin’.

First…the tags. With Waltman and HHH coming off multiple losses (Hunter lost to Foley, then to Jericho – Waltman to Jericho, then to Angle) they’ve got to work the opening tag against the Hollys. This irritates the boys, as the other half of the Clique is wrestling for the straps. We get one tension promo – with all five Clique in the ring – HHH and Waltman saying they should be in the main – E and C saying hell, no – Trish smoothing things over, telling Waltman and Hunter that they will crush the Hollys and E and C will win the tag straps – and then the Cique will own the tag ranks. And who knows – maybe down the road, it will be Clique v. Clique for the tag titles. We do what’s best for the team, Trish says.

Everyone agrees. Handsigns.

The tag title is a tables, ladders, and chairs match. TLC, daddy. Only difference is this expands the act. Dudleys come in strapped up, Stevie in their corner – saying they will take Wrestlemania XVI to the Extreme. E and C have Trish in their corner – they still haven’t won the tag titles, which everyone will remind them, and they say a ladder match at Wrestlemania belongs to the Clique, that no one can out-extreme E and C on the big stage – and they are dripping with awesomeness – the Hardys now have Lita in their corner, they got some revenge at the Rumble – they say the Dudleys say they’re hardcore because they hurt people – and E and C says they’re hardcore because they…well, because they’ve been in gay porn, maybe – but the Hardy Boys are the ultimate daredevils – the kings of hardcore – no one has ever taken the kind of risks or endured the sort of punishment that the Hardys have – and at Wrestlemania XVI, with the chance to get their tag titles back, they are ready to go where no man has ever gone before.

Those are your tags.

Two obvious singles matches coming off the Rumble. Rock v. DLo. Angle v. Taz.

Rock and DLo, together now 3 1/2 years, the last surviving members of the Nation of Domination, the two time tag champs – they’re done. They've turned DLo full on cocky heel – the Rock is your full on cocky face – and they cut full on cocky promos on each other as the Nation Explodes. This was the stretch when Rock hosted SNL just before Mania - I don't know if, absent the world titles, Rock has been pushed enough to get that kind of mainstream exposure, that's why I've tried to minimize that with the announce work (maybe he'd just do Mad TV?) regardless - if he got the gig, DLo would be involved somehow, further selling that match.

Taz doesn’t fuck around – which is his gimmick, actually. He storms to the ring, demands Angle’s ass. Says that Angle stuck his nose where it didn’t belong, disprespected him in MSG, disrespected him in his house – that Taz doesn’t care about your amateur background, about your broken neck, about your gold medals – your neck’s weak Kurt? Wait until I slap on my Tazmission. Wait until you beg me, you beg me to let go – I’m gonna break your neck, gold medal boy – I’m gonna snap your neck in two.

Angle comes right out, gets right in Taz’s face (Taz is there with the entire Stevie Family) Angle says he was impressed with Taz at the Rumble – and when Taz says he should have beat Cactus (they play up how Taz was very close to winning the title multiple times, selling him as being as good as he says) but he won’t beat Angle. At Wrestlemania XVI, Kurt Angle will do something that no other man has ever been able to do…

...get Taz to tap out.

Taz says you’d need a shotgun to get me to submit. I don’t submit. I’d rather die, rather my family died, my wife, my kids, I’d rather see all of them die before tapping out to any man – who the hell do you think you are to tell me you’re gonna tap me out? Who? Who? Who?

"I’m Kurt Angle." See how that works?

4 more matches – here’s where the big angle comes in.

For the first month after the Rumble (and, really, as long as they can hold off given the needs to sell the show) the singles title matches for XVI are pushed thusly:

WWF Title: Cactus Jack v. Undertaker
IC Title: Y2J v. Al Snow v. Taka Michinoku

Both make sense, the Taker’s the Legend – Wrestlemania belongs to him, he's unbeaten and with 4 Legend's Wins, he's tied with Andre and Hogan – what’s left is to main event Mania and win his first ever WWF Title. He's been gone since, what Summer Slam, after losing to PAUL~ so he comes back the night after the Rumble and beats PAUL~ in the rematch.

Al never got a rematch after losing his belt – he beat Rock/DLo at the Rumble – and Taka is one of the best wokers in the company, the core base would be dying to see him finally get a title shot.

Both make sense. Neither is going to happen.

They're doing a tag one night in a main event. Say, Foley and Al (‘cause, again, they’re friends, and the book, and the whole thing) against Taka and Jericho.

It’s a good match, it’s a fun match We’re having a good time. Everything’s fun. Happy - we're headed to Wrestlemania, everyone!

Lights go out.

Huh. Wonder what...

Lights come on – and in the ring is Perry Saturn. GOOD GOD, LOOK WHO THAT IS, IT’S PERRY SATURN.

Saturn was a 2 time US Champ in the NWA – a tag champ in both NWA and ECW. So, Perry Saturn matters in this world. And Saturn attacks Al. Saturn’s all over Al Snow, suplexing him across the ring.

The other guys are stunned, it takes them a moment to figure out what’s going on – and when they finally make a move to help Al – the lights go out again.

Lights on.

In the ring – Dean Malenko. GOOD GOD, LOOK WHO THAT IS, IT’S DEAN MALENKO!!

Which, in this world, is an even bigger deal. Malenko was the NWA Champ, and a 2 time US Champ. And he’s Dean Malenko, which means the Counterfactual WWF fanbase recognizes he’s one of the greatest wrestlers in the world. He goes right after Taka – Malenko with leg lariats that bring Taka down – Malenko then putting Taka in the Texas cloverleaf. Taka taps and taps. Saturn has Al in the rings of Saturn – Al now taps and Taps….Foley and Jericho are totally flummoxed – and the crowd is now really, superhot when the lights go out again.

Lights on.


That kinda thing.

Okay, Eddy's arm's still in the sling - if you recall, he dislocated his elbow his second night in the WWF - but in the Counterfactual universe, they're entering later - so the arm's alreadyhurt coming in. Eddy does as much of this as he can, given how close to Mania it's feasible to run this angle

Eddy’s a former NWA Champion – a former US Champion – he won the NWA Title from Jericho – and he’s Eddy Freaking Guerrero – and he goes right after Jericho, a leg lariat, a swinging DDT – and a frog splash to lay the IC Champ out. Al’s in the Rings – Taka’s in the cloverleaf – Eddy’s atop Jericho ---- Foley’s in the middle of the ring --- crowd's going bonkers --

Lights off.

An extra beat. Maybe two. You know, for the buildup.

Lights on.

Chris Benoit.

As maybe you can guess, I'm kinda a Benoit fan. I'm a grown man, with a home and a job, and I just bought a Benoit t-shirt over the holidays.

In this world, Benoit is a 3 time NWA Champ, and acknowledged as maybe the greatest wrestler in the world.

In point of comparison, in this universe Harley’s got 7 NWA titles (all before the Counterfactual, but still, they exist) Flair’s got 5 now since beating Jarrett like a week before this angle that we’re doing right now. Then – Benoit with 3. No one else has more than 2. And in the WWF, Bret and Owen have 3, but no one else has more than 2.

So, when 3 time NWA Champ Chris Benoit is in the ring – it’s like Bret or Owen showing up one night in the NWA. Which, of course, Bret did.

Fans scream – Benoit attacks Foley – Benoit and Foley brawl, brawl, brawl, brawl, Benoit gets Foley in the Crossface – Foley taps as RAW ends.

The next week they shut RAW down, we meet the four guys, all four are intense – Perry’s intense and half crazy, Dean’s intense and calm, Eddy’s intense and devious, Benoit’s intense and vicious.

It’s an invasion.

We run highlight packages to introduce the guys to any WWF fans who don’t know who they are. They cut promos. They each get singles wins.

Say, Perry beats Kane and Dean beats Aguila and Eddie beats Morley and Benoit then beats the Undertaker to take away his title shot.

Undertaker is pissed at having to wrestle, pissed at losing his shot, generally pissed – and we see him pack his bags and leave the locker room postmatch.

They let the guys who they punked out on the first night (all faces, note) get enough heat back before Mania to make it work – and they make those four matches for Mania: Cactus/Benoit, Jericho/Eddy, Dean/Taka, Perry/Al.

They'll call them the Alliance, not the most exciting name, and brings back unpleasant real world memories of the brutally booked invasion angle, but it’s a play off of National Wrestling Alliance, of course – as what we're selling is the invasion.

We’ve now got Team Stevie, which is basically ECW.

And we’ve got the Alliance, which is the NWA.

The last TV segment before the PPV is the Alliance in the ring, Benoit cutting a promo. Benoit, seething his way through a promo, which is the best type of Benoit promo. This is not a cocky group – this is an intense group.

Benoit is always seething, never happy - there is never a Benoit jokey moment, no hearty Benoit laugh, he is always spitting everything out. He’s ferocious 24/7.

One notes that there is no pink and black, not even a shoelace, anywhere on his body. Every Hart since Dynamite: Bret, DBS, Owen, Anvil, Jericho, has, at least a little bit of pink and black (like a uniform, or gang colors if you will, sometimes it's hard to see - but it's for continuity)

“Take a look…I SAID TAKE A LOOK….Remember this, remember this moment right now, remember the moment when the WWF died.

In this ring are the four greatest wrestlers in the world today…Saturn…Malenko…Guerrero…Benoit…. And whatever we want…whatever we want….We Take.

(I know, Perry isn't really one of the greatest wrestlers in the world today - it's hyperbole)

We did not come here asking for contracts….we took contracts.

We did not come here asking for title shots….we took title shots.

We did not come here asking for belts….we will take belts.

Saturn. Malenko. Guerrero. Benoit. Saturn. Malenko. Guerrero. Benoit. Saturn. Malenko. Gurerrero. Benoit.

Four World Champions. The greatest four wrestlers in the world today. We have won world championships in Mexico…in Canada,,,in ECW…in the NWA…

Everywhere we go – we take everything we want.

TAKE A LOOK. Sunday Night – at Wrestlemania XVI – The WWF that you know, the WWF that you love, that WWF will be dead forever.


Top to bottom – XVI is one of the great shows in wrestling history:

WWF Title: Cactus Jack v. Chris Benoit
-The triple crown winner Cactus vs. the 3 time NWA Champ Benoit

IC title: Chris Jericho v. Eddy Guerrero
-two former NWA rivals, former NWA champs who feuded over that belt battle it out

Tags: Dudleys v. E and C v. Hardys
-A sure thing – a TLC crazy collision match - blood and broken things.

Dean (a former NWA World Champ) v. Taka (an international superstar),
Taz (a former ECW world champ) v. Angle (still undefeated and getting the monster push),
Rock v. DLo (the two time former tag champs explode)
and Perry (former US Champ) v. Al (fomer IC Champ) –
throw in HHH/Waltman v. the Hollys as the opener – and top to bottom, bottom to top – Wrestlemania XVI might be the greatest professional wrestling show of all time.

I’d pay a hundred bucks to watch it on TV. It's Wrestlemania XVI. Call your cable company. Do it right now.

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