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 2002

Monday, March 27, 2006

Survivor Series is here.

Royal Rumble 2002 Atlanta

(Dark: Charlie Haas d. Shelton Benjamin)

10 bell salute for Russ Haas.

We’re opening with a clip package of the history of the NWA, as tonight could be the end. End with clips of Flair winning each of his titles – then Flair come to the ring, gives a promo with the tag: “That was then – but tonight, the new day dawns for the FUTURE of the NWA when the Nature Boy wins the WWF title – and the National Wrestling Alliance styles and profiles all over WM 18.”

Ideally it's a clip package/promo that will make the Atlanta fans cry/scream really work them up.

JR/Paul E on the announce. Get used to it.

1. Hardys d. DMW: PAUL~/Kane
DMW throws Matt and Jeff around the building, but the Hardys do the high flying thing and are able to get the fall. Hardys!

2. HHH d. Undertaker
Hunter returns to PPV, hopefully people will cheer. He gets the babyface win, stands on the buckle making the Clique handsign, and then is taken out by E and C, who were hiding under the ring, they emerge for the Con-Chair-To, wipe HHH out. Trish comes down the aisle, cuts a promo on HHH, saying that once again, the real Clique, Edge and Christian, have embarrassed HHH. Just like the rest of his has been friends, like Michaels, and Diesel, and Razor, and Waltman, it’s time Hunter left the WWF.


Same drill, changes in the colors, announce, cues, everything you got.

3. Helms (w/Chavo) d. Morley (w/Al)
They sell the NWA aspect hard in – an NWA ref does a fast count to beat Morley. Chavo and Helms beat Morley and Al down after the match, drawing the face reaction from the home crowd. Morley and Al both need to juice heavily, they really have to sacrifice hard for the new guys. SpreeKillers! The crazy crank junkies, Chavo and Helms, sprint back to the locker room after the match.


4. Regal d. Rock
NWA goes 2-0, again, a conniving NWA referee aids Regal (how will Angle possibly keep his title tonight?) being slow on a couple of apparent Rock falls. Story here is that Regal couldn’t get Rock to submit to the Regal stretch, having to settle for the screwjob pinfall. Helms and Chavo run in postmatch to beat Rock down. Regal finds Chavo and Helms distasteful, they’re both shirtless – thin – no gas for either of the Spree Killers – and he makes ugly faces at them while they take over the beatdown of the Rock. Rock’s gotta bleed now too. Spree Killers! NWA!

5. Austin d. Page
But Steve Austin upholds the name of the WWF. This wraps up this feud, so Austin goes over big – he overcomes the attempting screwjob by the NWA ref, he stuns an entering Regal who tries to interfere. Page eats a couple of stunners then has to take the beer bath. Austin flips off the Atlanta crowd, eating up any welcome heel heat.

6. Unified Tags: Hart Foundation 2K (w/Stacy) d. Clique (w/Trish) d. Dudleys
Storm and Jericho take the tag straps, and they sell that hard – it’s the 4th version of the Foundation to win the tag titles (Bret/DBS, Bret/Anvil, DBS/Owen). They get simultaneous submissions from each Dudley, Lance with the half crab on Bubba, Jericho with the Liontamer on DVon. E and C were outside the ring – having been attacked on the outside by HHH (he grabbed Trish, they bailed out to save) they again got the advantage on HHH, and left him laying – but couldn’t get in the ring to save either Dudley. DVon is injured from the Liontamer and has to be helped from the ring by and entering Spike and Stevie. Lance and Jericho will be going to Wrestlemania (which, oh, by the way, is in Toronto) as the defending champs. If the NWA crowd is down, we’ll have a loud Hart Foundation, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap chant – but we might need to get back to a real WWF city before they go nuts for the new Hart Foundation. Hopefully, even with the NWA-ness of the night, there's been enough pump priming given the absence of the Harts from the WWF, and the degree to which they've been established as the first family of the company. Much celebrating with the boys and Stacy, who looks, oddly enough, great in pink and black.  And everything else. 

All the background stuff changes now, into as close a replica to the ECW style, including the production values, as is possible. WWF even ran a contest to fly out X number of the "most hardcore" ECW fans to see the company's last match. Paul E leaves the announce position to Dreamer and goes to the ring. Doing this in Atlanta, as I'll mention again postmatch, is error - I'm hamstrung by the format, putting these matches on the big quarterly PPVs - there's no way we'd do this now, as it's overshadowed by the main event - but, be that as it may:

7. Worldwide Titles: RVD (w/ Paul E) d. Taz
This is the best match of the night. The full ECW roster out for this one, all surrounding the ring, leading the crowd in the ECW chant (sure, it’s Atlanta, but the ECW chants were everywhere) pounding on the apron, rooting for whichever of these two guys they hate the least. Van Dam goes over with the five star frog splash – Taz, after much consternation, claps for him after the match – the ring fills with ECW guys, including the Dudleys, Spike and Stevie (DVon on crutches) they all hug – they lift Van Dam in the air in the last act of ECW. Van Dam will go forth as the living embodiment of ECW now, he’ll come out to the ECW music, he’ll always wrestle in No DQ matches, Paul E is going to remain his manager, he’ll now be ECW, but as a company, we recognize now that ECW is gone.

Atlanta is a bad place to kill off ECW, and killing off ECW when doing the NWA angle is error. But I don’t get to use ECW guys forever, and I have other things I need to do.

8. WWF/ECW Titles: Angle d. Flair (w/Arn & Leviathan)
Lovin’ this, the Atlanta crowd just goes Flair crazy. They do all the Flair stuff, the flop, the flying apron bump, Angle reverses the figure four, they have Angle fight off the freaky monster Leviathan. The NWA guys come out, presumably to interfere – and are fought off by WWF guys. So, like last month, the ring winds up surrounded by guys from both sides fighting….until the finish.

Finish is the submission on the ankle lock, Flair taps out and the NWA ends. It’s surprising to the crowd, to the wrestlers, everyone stops around the ring as it becomes real that the NWA is finally gone. Angle grabs both WWF and ECW title belts, goes to a top buckle and thrusts them in the air.

Angle takes whatever heel heat is coming, ‘cause he won’t get cheered celebrating over the dead body of the NWA in Atlanta. But Angle isn’t reverent about those things, and Angle kind of enjoys the heel heat, we don’t get an NWA ring goodbye like we did with ECW that'll come on RAW tomorrow. Angle holds the belts aloft as the show ends.

Wrestlemania is coming from Toronto. And the theme this year is “Legends Come Home.”

Man, where to start.

Okay, well, we have the culmination to a couple of programs. We’re gonna get Helms/Al, which is the blowoff to the tag program. Chavo and Morley in their corners. It’s the crazy young irreverent heel Spree Killers against the veterans Morley and Al – they have to turn Al sane now, he and Morley are upholding the tradition of Wrestlemania – the glory of Wrestlemania – against crazy ass Helms and Chavo.

We’re gonna get Regal/Rock – this one’s a submission match – which obviously favors Regal. They'll have Regal and Rock beat opponents on the road to Mania, Regal with the Regal stretch, Rock, though, can’t seem to perfect a submission maneuver. Rock does his Rock schtick, Regal does his Regal schtick. As Rock looks for a submission move, Regal mocks him – Rock’s not a real wrestler, he’s showfolk, he’s a painted woman, with his cosmetic boob surgery and his acting lessons – Rock’s better suited to doing a one man show in Branson than going to Wrestlemania and trying to get a former Intercontinental Champion to submit.

We’re gonna get Booker/Page. The night after the Rumble they do a ceremony where the NWA turns in its colors, one by one, each man turns in his NWA t-shirt and signs a WWF contract. But Page refused. He said he didn’t want to work for the piece of shit WWF, he’d be NWA until the day he died and he thought everyone who wouldn’t be was selling out. He was a guy who couldn't get a job in the WWF, the only place that took him in was the NWA, and he worked a thousand hours a day until he became the 2 time, 2 time, 2 time NWA Tag Team Champion. He's NWA until he dies, any man who doesn't like that can feel the bang.

Booker doesn't like that. Booker says he’s joining the WWF and he ain’t no sell out, he had to rise up from the gangs of Houston, did it on his own, and he’s got a family to feed – and if the WWF wants to feed his family – then he’s WWF. Page diamond cuts him. So, they turn Booker face, a practical face, a face that wants to get paid – and we do Booker/Page at Mania. From now on, Booker wrestles only when he needs the cash. He's a practical man. A mercenary, really. And there’s plenty of cash in beating DDP at WM 18, Sucka!

The Worldwide is RVD defending against Austin. RVD and Paul E do their “We’re taking the Revolution to Wrestlemania” rap – and Austin takes offense – you want a Revolution – Stone Cold Steve Austin is a one man revolution. He never needed a company behind him, or a manager (Paul E was Austin’s manager briefly in the real WCW, so, you know, a little joke). Just some black tights and black boots and beer – he’s Stone Cold, he’s a Triple Crown winner – he’s a two time IC Champ and only one guy in history ever won 3, so that seems like the kind ot thing Steve Austin wants to do. Austin says if you want to see Stone Cold stomp a mudhole in RVD and walk it dry, give him a hell yeah… Paul E will cut Wrestlemania promos. He’s been in the business his whole life, selling programs, selling concessions, working his way up the NWA, creating the Revolution of ECW – and now, now, he reaches the pinnacle, he is going to Wrestlemania XVIII with RVD for the IC Championship – and don’t get misled by how laid back RVD can be – Paul Heyman is intense enough for both of them. Van Dam and Paul E taking their show to XVIII against a Triple Crown winner for the Worldwide Belts. Good times.

The tag title – well, I have Canadians and we're going to Canada. So, you know, kinda makes sense to use them. Lance and Jericho are your tag champs, carrying the legendary Hart name. So, there's all sorts of nostalgia, ‘cause that’s what I like, they show lots of the old Hart Foundation tag clips. Hart Foundation WM matches, Harts in Canada. All that stuff. We’re gonna get TLC 3, ‘cause it’s bumptastic (I think we're gonna do 4 and then quit) so, the Hardys and Dudleys are your other two teams. We shake the Duds up, the DVon injury angle is so they can sub in Spike, who is a better worker and bump taker. HF2K and the Duds have heat with DVon being hurt at the hands of the Canadians. The Duds and the Hardys, of course, even though both are faces, have been feuding forever, so they have that heat, and they'll find some heat between the Hardys and the Canadians.

That leaves 3 matches, the title, the legend’s match, and the opening tag.

Somewhere after the night following the Rumble – Flair returns. The night after the Rumble, when everyone was turning in their shirts – Angle came to the ring to personally collect Flair’s. Flair returns later (w/Leviathan) promos that at a Wrestlemania about Legends Coming Home – who better to be declared the Legend of the WWF, than the Nature Boy.

Sounds like some Rick Derringer.

Hogan returns to the WWF, wearing the red and yellow, the whole thing. Hogan climbing into the ring to stand off with Flair is a big deal, albeit, not as big as in the real world, since this Hogan isn’t Hogan.

Hogan gets the good pop, gone for nearly a decade, he was WWF Champ and he won the Legends match 4 times, tied with the Undertaker and Andre - he says, well, you know something Ric Flair, you might be the greatest wrestler who ever lived…but a WWF legend, no way, brother, I’ve got 4 Legends wins, what will that Dead Man do when Hulk Hogan, at Wrestlemania XVIII, runs wild for his fifth Legends Win over Ric Flair?

Hit the Undertaker's music. Here comes Dead Men Walking - PAUL and Kane staying outside, two monsters circling the ring. Undertaker says he drove Hogan out of this company ten years ago - that he saw he couldn't be the big man on campus anymore - and Flair doesn't belong, he's an outsider, an old man, Kurt Angle proved that - at Wrestlemania XVIII, in Toronto, one man is going to win his fifth legend's match - and that's the Undertaker.

Flair says it's true, he doesn't have any legend's wins, certainly not four, but he's got more world titles than the Undertaker's had pieces of ass. He tells Hogan he’s not in his class, not in his league, and that if he wants to talk about arm size, the big man Leviathan (now on the outside as well, along with Kane and PAUL)might take exception to that old Hogan rap. In fact, if Hogan wants to get his big ass kicked, he doesn’t need to wait until Wrestlemania, that can happen right now.

The three men do the nose to nose to nose thing. Flair/Hogan/Undertaker in the legend's match. On the road to Mania, PAUL, Kane, Leviathan all get involved in ways that put the legends over. Hogan could use a partner given all the seconds, but none springs to mind.

Two more. First match and the last.

HHH promos in the ring on E and C. Says E and C aren’t Clique, not the real Clique, says the real Clique wasn’t led around by some centerfold, the real Clique wasn’t more about catchphrases than wrestling, the real Clique would kick your ass, screw your girl, then talk shit to you until they felt like doing it again. The Clique ran this company – you two are just pale Canadian imitations.

‘Cause, you know, Wrestlemania’s in Toronto. Where Edge and Christian and Trish are all from. It's the biggest opening tag ever.

E and C enter, with chairs. Say that Hunter is a glutton for punishment. How many times does he have to get punked out by the Dukes of Awesomeness? How many times does he have to taste the metal chairs?

HHH says – how about one more time? Then he drops the mic – stands in between E and C to apparently just accept the Con-Chair-To. Hunter's asking for it! That guy is just standing there and asking for it!

E and C shrug their shoulders – they swing – lights out.

Lights on.

Razor. Diesel.

Razor and Diesel are now holding the chairs – E and C run from the ring, stand in the aisle totally freaked out. Diesel takes the mic – asks if anything’s new.

Diesel says, damn, you go out for a pack of smokes, come back, and it’s six years later. Everything’s changed. When we left, the Clique ran things, had all the belts, had all the women, had all the drugs…

Razor: Well, that hasn’t changed, Chico.

Diesel: Scotty, you’re gonna get us in trouble. Anywho, most of you know the story, a few years back, the Bad Guy and Big Daddy Cool got offered a whole assload of money to go down to the NWA, where, basically, we’ve just been cashing checks and getting free lapdances since.

Razor: No matter what a stripper says, there’s no sex in the champagne room.

Diesel: That true?

Razor: Maybe a little sex, Chico.

Diesel: Not too little though. We’ve got reputations.

Razor: But now__the NWA__is dead. And the Boys_Are Back_In town.

Diesel talks to HHH – says the last time they were in a ring together, that wasn’t a very happy time – Diesel gets in Hunter’s face – and says, maybe, instead of kicking those fruity Canadians asses – maybe, me and the Bad Guy oughta be taking you out.

We sell a second of tension – but it’s a joke, they all laugh.

Instead of that, Diesel says, at Wrestlemania XVIII – the Legends are coming home – and there are no Legends in the WWF bigger than the Clique – so my boys Hunter and Razor, with Big Daddy Cool in their corner – are gonna go to your hometown – and beat the hell out of both you two goofs.

And so that’s what we’ll get for the opening tag. Razor and Diesel aren’t the same guys as in the real world, they were midcarders in Counterfactual NWA (and Diesel obviously wasn’t WWF champ in this world) they had a couple of tag runs, and Diesel had another tag run with Goldberg – so they were around, they weren’t buried – but they weren’t singles champs, they weren’t perennial upper carders, so they’re a big deal as WWF legends, as point men in that Hart-Clique thing, but they haven't been huge stars - which, actually allows them to keep the old gimmicks, at least in name - I don't know if you can get away with dressing them like Razor/Diesel, they might have to wear streetclothes, but in terms of how they're referred - they were bigger WWF stars than NWA stars - so they're Razor and Diesel in the Counterfactual.

The title match….

Angle says he’s going to Wrestlemania – where one year before he won the WWF Title – he’s been champion for one year – and he knows that in the last 20 years of the WWF, the only guy who was ever champion two straight years is a Canadian, Bret Hart – so where better than Toronto to celebrate being halfway to 2 years – where better than Wrestlemania to, again, offer an open challenge to anyone in the world, to anyone who has the heart to stand in the middle of the ring across from Kurt Angle and his perfect record in the biggest Wrestlemania of all time…..

Familiar music. Huh, perfect record is an odd phrase to use…

It’s Curt Hennig.

Hennig draws a bigger pop than any of the other returning guys, and, in 2002, he’s a better wrestler than they are – so he’s the guy who gets this spot.

Hennig says in the history of the WWF, there’s only one man who has ever been perfect…and you’re looking at him. Intercontinental Champion. And WWF Champion for a year and a half. Not one year, Angle, not one year, a year and a half. And you’re unbeaten, I’ll give you that – and you’ve met all comers. You beat the Macho Man Randy Savage, and you beat Bret and Owen Hart, and you beat Shawn Michaels….

No…I’m sorry, I’m confused…I’m thinking about somebody else…

I’m thinking about Mr. Perfect. I’m the one who beat those guys – I’m the one who was WWF Champion for 18 glorious months, I’m the Legend who is coming home at Wrestlemania XVIII to take back what belongs to me – and who in the hell are you….

"I’m Kurt Angle."

So, there’s that. Hennig’s a real live WWF legend in this world, much bigger than Hogan, it's Curt Hennig who was the longtime WWF Champ (gotsta reorient your thinking, I recognize) he isn’t the worker he used to be – but he was still able to do a little bit at the end, comparable to Flair, I think, from the month before. I made this matchup as opposed to my initial choice, Angle/Austin, thinking of it as a more attractive matchup workwise. And again, in my world, Mr. Perfect is a huge return, bigger than Hogan or the Clique.

Last thing – Hennig makes an appearance in Camp Angle – the first time we’ve used the show to push an angle for PPV Hennig runs in out of nowhere – chairshots Angle – dares the shocked kids to come get a piece of Mr. Perfect, people hesitate – except for Lesnar (Brock and Hennig were both from Minnesota, and had an on again, off again thing during this brief Hennig run) Lesnar takes Hennig down quickly, which should startle us – Lesnar putting pressure on Hennig’s arm – Hennig gets a reversal – they break – are up and throwing hard shots at each other – the full camp gets between them – but they can’t control Hennig and Lesnar and they keep brawling until Angle is up, grabbing Lesnar and pulling him from the ring. Hennig taunts Lesnar, saying that he needs Kurt to protect him – Angle whispers in Brock’s ear, calms the big man down – Hennig bails out of the ring and smirks at the trainees as that show ends.

So, the Legends Return at Wrestlemania XVIII – we have Angle defending against Mr. By God Perfect, RVD in the ECW Rules match against Austin, the bumptastic TLC 3 with the Canadian heroes, Jericho and Storm as Hart Foundation 2K v. Dudleys v. Hardys, the Rock v. Regal submission match, Page v. Book, Helms against Al Snow, Hogan/Flair/Undertaker in the legends match – and Razor/HHH, with Big Daddy Cool in their corner v. E and C in the opening tag. It’s not a card you could ever see except for one place and one time – Wrestlemania 18 Call your cable company! It's gonna be a happening!

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