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 2003

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Survivor Series is here

Royal Rumble 2003 (Boston)
(Dark – Noble d. Spanky)
-Spanky hasn’t worked TV yet, he and Paul London are going to come in as Michaels’s protégées. They’ll debut after Mania. We’ll talk about them then.

Paul’s busy tonight – so it’s just JR and Taz.

1. TLC 4: Hardys (w/Bischoff) d. Dudleys (w/Paul E) d. E and C (w/Trish)
Our best ever opening tag match. This is a big stretcher-fest, the ambulances are in the back, paramedics everywhere – stretchers at ringside – as the clear promise was that everyone was going on on their backs. I want the ring surrounded by stretchers.

Jeff is the most badly hurt, this is gonna wrap him up in the Counterfactual, so they sell the severity of his injury. This is Edge’s last show before his neck surgery, he’s gonna be out over a year, so he gets carted away. The Counterfactual takes the Dudleys off the canvas, just because they don’t fit right now, they can go work Smackdown, but they’re off PPV. I’m gonna use the opportunity to bench Christian, he doesn’t work PPV until Survivor Series, so they’re taking him off the canvas too, he’s gonna sell injuries from this match. So everyone can get brutally hurt, lots of blood and broken things. 5 stretcher jobs. Everyone but Matt Hardy.

Bischoff gets involved, tipping over a ladder as a Dudley was about to win, Heyman and Bischoff then throw punches on the outside.

Matt’s the only survivor of the feud and we sell that as he’s going to get a high profile singles feud coming out of this (before he goes down with injury.) So, we clap for Matt and for the totality of the violent feud. Matt stands alone in the ring as the other five guys do a stretcher job, we put over that it is really over now – the greatest tag team feud ever, years of 2 and 3 way battles – comes to an end with only one survivor – Matt Hardy.

Matt and Bischoff wind up as the last two in the ring – Bischoff excited – Matt holding whatever thing he had to grab to win – hopefully, the dynamic of Matt’s unease with Bischoff is clear.

2. Leviathan (w/Flair) d. Stevie/Spike
Just an insight into the thought process, I don’t know if I’m ever gonna really push Batista, it’ll be a matter of numbers, but the guy can work a little bit (although not in 2003) and since he’s getting the real world push, he’s gonna be around awhile. So, he’s been protected in the counterfactual. Contrast that with Orton and Cena, for example, who haven’t been used yet. They will be, but as of right now they won’t get pushed. Stevie’s a better worker, and probably always will be – but Stevie doesn’t get used, whereas, I know I have Leviathan, who is really just a generic monster, like Sid, but a better wrestler. Contrast that with Brock, who was a really good wrestler – hence his big push.

So, Flair steps off the apron before the match starts – which surprises Leviathan and everyone else. Flair waves the big man on – for a second, we wonder if Flair is turning on him, but no – this is Flair playing trainer. Angle got to play trainer. Michaels is about to play trainer. Just is Flair’s turn. All about passing the torch to a new generation. He smiles broadly, cheering for the big man as Leviathan makes quick work in the handicap match. Demon Bombs all around. The announce is impressed by the big man. He’s a freaky monster!

3. Chavo (w/Leviathan and Flair) d. Tajiri
And now Chavo. Chavo comes to the ring where Leviathan and Flair remain after their match – he tells them to watch, watch, watch – he’ll prove himself again. It’s a terrific match, Chavo goes over, the three men stomp Tajiri out. Chavo holds up the four fingers – but Flair and Leviathan shake their heads no – Flair says not yet – almost, almost Horseman material – but not yet Chavo. More to do. More to prove yourself. Chavo, hotheaded, young, classic little brother syndrome behind Eddy think real world Owen’s character in relation to Bret, the brattiness, the jealousy. Except Chavo isn’t a brat, he doesn’t pout, he proves himself by being extra dangerous, taking more bump than he needs to take, dishing out more dirty punishment, he’s a SpreeKiller at heart, he just wants to take a lot of speed and beat on someone. But now he uses that same underlying dissatisfaction to try to prove to Eddy…to prove to Flair, who is everyone’s daddy after all, that he belongs with them – I’m an elite wrestler too his actions are crying out. Love me. Love me! That’s who Chavo is.

4. Lance (w/Stacy) d. Regal
Yeah, I screwed Regal, had to use him as enhancement after they gave him the IC early on, but I just never got to use him consistently enough. In 2005, I’ll get him a little bit. Regal leaves PPV for awhile after here. Lance with the half crab tap out, we get all the Lance/Stacy stuff – they’re very excited – we follow them to the back where, caught up in the moment and thinking they’re alone, they have their first kiss.

They just couldn’t hold back the passion anymore. It just spills out. Soapy.

The kiss, of course, is seen by Jericho, who is up next, and went to congratulate Lance and see if Stacy would go to the ring with him.

Instead, he sees the kiss, and his heart breaks.

Jericho’s too stunned to speak – Lance and Stacy see him and feel terribly and try to apologize, but there’s no time, Jericho’s music hits – and he has to go. He’s open mouthed, shocked, and just backs away.

5. Jericho d. Brock (w/Angle) (DQ)
Bad guy for Jericho to meet now. He enters in a daze, he doesn’t do his Jericho “break the walls down” pose, no emotion, no fire, and he’s going to meet Brock Lesnar.

And Brock takes him apart. Eventually, we get the angry babyface comeback where Jericho takes it out on Brock, you know, Jericho snaps into place, his wrestling instinct takes over, he’s a motherfucking Hart, for Chrissakes – and for the first time in Brock’s career, he’s bloodied up.

But that just sets Brock off – Brock gets frustrated and goes chairshot crazy on Jericho – blasting him into tomorrow and then F5ing him on the chair. Then doing it again. Then doing it again. That’s your DQ. Jericho’s busted wide open, lying motionless on the chair as Brock draws the DQ.

Brock laughs, grabs some of Jericho’s blood and smears the letters Y2J on his chest. Brock paints himself with Jericho’s own blood.

That’s enough for Angle. He’s largely been watching passively, seeing more of what Brock does, really taking in the crowd reaction, but he hasn’t interfered at all in any direction – he’s just watched. But as Brock paints himself with Jericho’s blood to the shocked boos of the crowd, Angle gets in the ring and finally pulls Brock away – Angle yells at Brock, telling him this just isn’t right and Brock shoves him away.

You don’t just shove Kurt Angle – he pauses for a second – and then he shoves right back at Brock. Brock fires back, takes shots at Angle. Angle moves Brock into a hammerlock, yelling that he won’t hit Brock. Brock escapes the hold, takes more shots, Angle again moves Brock into a hold, telling him to stop it, telling him they’ll work it out, telling him it’s not too late, it’s not too late – Brock escapes the hold, clotheslines Angle, then F5s him.

Brock spits on Angle, tells him that it is too late. And leaves.

Lance and Stacy come to the ring. Both trying to see how Jericho is – Jericho is a bloody mess, and as Lance and Stacy revive him, he remembers what has happened and lunges at Lance, but the blood loss causes him to slip and fall. Jericho continues to try to stand, to get at Lance, who has the guiltiest look he can muster, but each time he rises he falls again in his own blood. Lance and Stacy are both clearly upset, there’s no heel turn, the heart wants what it wants (although they get booed, obviously) and Jericho is left in the ring, bloody, broken, battered. Jericho and Angle in the ring together, both bloodied, betrayed, broken hearted. Storytelling~

6. Unified Tags: Haas/Benjamin d. Benoit/Guerrero (w/Horsemen)
Angle doesn’t come with them, obviously, breaking his promise. ‘Member, the promise to come to the ring no matter what? They are more pissed than disappointed. Haas and Benjamin not helping as Angle is being helped to the back while they wait to be introduced – they watch him go by, and they shake their heads as come out alone.

The other team…Eddy and Chris ask Flair/Leviathan/Chavo to leave before the match starts, ‘cause they want the wrestling challenge clean. As part of the buildup, they show how Benoit and Eddy are impressed with the amateur credentials of the kids, and so they can’t wait for chance to face them straight up.

Shockingly, Team Angle goes over clean, in the big upset, Benjamin pins Benoit with the exploder suplex. It’s a shocker, as the two world champions lose to the two rookies. Great match, crowd goes bananas. There’s a four man nose to nose after the match – and Benoit and Eddy extend their hands to the kids…

…the Horsemen, and Chavo, run in – they beat Haas and Benjamin down. Beat, beat, beat, beat --- Eddy and Chris try to pull them off – nope, beat, beat, beat beat….Eddy is torn…but joins in…beat, beat, beat, beat…..

And Benoit turns face. German to Leviathan. German to Flair. German to Chavo. Pause….Pause….German to Eddy. Big pop!

The Horsemen exit up the aisle, jawing at Benoit, as they disappear – Benoit and Eddy have a lingering stare, what’s in Eddy’s mind, doubt? Betrayal? Does he wish he had the ability to stand up to his heelish nature – or does he think Benoit sold out? He and Benoit have a lingering stare (note, Lance/Jericho, Angle/Brock, Benoit/Eddy, three different types of betrayal. I enjoy the levels) and Benoit remains in the ring, helping up Haas and Benjamin and getting the face pop.

7. Worldwide Titles: Mysterio d. RVD (w/Paul E)
 Little Rey wins his first ever WWF belt, grabbing the IC from Van Dam. It’s a lights out high flying match. Rey slips the Van Daminator, Paul E and RVD collide with the chair – Rey with the hurricanarana roll up for the fall. Little Rey! We pop for the diminutive Mexican after the terrific workrate match.

8. Undisputed World Championship: Angle d. HBK
He’s Kurt Angle after all.

It’s all drama, the Triple Crown winner, Shawn Michaels trying one more time – maybe one last time – to win the WWF Title – Kurt Angle, besieged on all sides, still unbeaten, WWF Champion nearly two years. Angle is still injured from the Lesnar attack, he moves slowly, uncertainly, his back seems to be a problem, perhaps his neck, he’s clearly not right. Michaels, of course, wrestles with his own bad back, but his confidence grows as he sees that Angle is not 100%, and Michaels, the veteran, the champion, begins to take advantage, he seizes opportunities, he takes advantage – who knows if Shawn Michaels will ever – ever have this spot again – and he wrestles like it’s his last ever show.

Every second is dramatic, Angle kicks out of the top rope elbow, Michaels kicks out of the Angle Slam. Angle kicks out after a superkick. Michales gets to the ropes when placed in the ankle lock.

Angle eventually gets the submission win, Michaels hangs in the ankle lock as long as he could but then taps. Incidentally, I wrote that before their Mania match. Just saying.

No boos for Angle as he tries to make his way to the buckle with his belts, both because he finally did something to stop Brock and because of the quality of the match – but Angle can’t accept the cheers or boos anyway, he’s too tired to make his way up the buckles in his traditional postmatch celebration, he can’t even lift the belts over his head in triumph. An exhausted Angle slumps over.

…and he’s attacked by Brock. Brock pounds away, Angle totally defenseless. Angle exhausted, and still won’t throw a punch at his protégée. Michaels now has recovered, and yanks Brock off Angle and sets up for a superkick.

But Brock slips it – and Michaels catches Angle flush as he was just getting to his feet.

Brock then gets the advantage on Michaels, Brock pounding away at Michaels.

Save by a returning HHH.

Hunter returns, good pop. Hunter and Michaels battle Brock, getting the advantage. Hunter and Michaels doubleteaming Lesnar down.

Angle awakes. Angle, perhaps drawn by instinct, or perhaps realizing only that it was Michaels who superkicked him – comes in on Brock’s side.

Angle goes in on his protégées side, he and Brock fight Michaels and HHH – run in by Haas and Benjamin – the new tag champs – they go in with the full Team Angle and it’s a four on two that drives Hunter and HBK from the ring. Team Angle reunites!

Angle takes the mic….Angle exhausted, bloody, but trying to be the trainer, trying to fix it, trying to be the wrestling coach until the end. Angle talking to his boys…he says they’ve been through a lot together…the TV show, the training, ups and downs – and tonight, he and Brock even fought each other, which he can’t believe ever happened. He’s sorry. He takes full responsibility. He’s been hung up on his own stuff, on his belts, on his unbeaten streak, and wasn’t taking care of his students. He’s very sorry. A little tear would be good.

“But look where we are at the end of the night – Charlie and Shelton – you beat two of the greatest wrestlers who ever lived. I couldn’t be more proud. And Brock – you might be the most dominant athlete in all the WWF. And when we needed to – when we had to come together – we did. And why? Because we’re Team Angle. We are Team Angle.”

The people boo. Kurt says don’t listen. Don’t listen.

Brock takes the mic. “Kurt, thanks for all the training, thanks for helping us get into the WWF, it’s meant a lot to all of us. And I’m sorry for how I acted. Really, really I am. And I could change. Really, really, I could, Kurt.

But I ain’t gonna. And the thing of it is, Kurt. The only thing I’m sorry for, is not kicking you to the curb six months earlier. And when you say don’t listen to these fans….I never have. And I stopped listening to you a long time ago, Kurt.

Make that…we stopped listening to you a long time ago, Kurt.

Because we aren’t Team Angle anymore.

We’re Team Lesnar.”

Brock, Haas, and Benjamin all turn on Angle – totally taking him apart. Triple teams, F5s – they leave him completely battered in the middle of the ring. Haas and Benjamin are less evil than very disappointed – they clearly needed Kurt, he let them down, so they took the next best offer. They are hurt as they attack Angle – whereas, Lesnar’s just enjoying the hell out of himself. Lesnar almost giggling as he busts Angle open. Lesnar starts waving up the aisle, as if waving for someone to come save Kurt.

But who would do that?

Nobody comes, which is Lesnar’s point, he’s mocking Kurt, mocking the fans, mocking the Undisputed Champion as he takes the WWF title and drops it atop Angle’s body as the show ends.

Wrestlemania XIX is coming from Seattle.

We’re gonna have a legend’s match. Hogan returns, calls out the Dead Man and says they’re gonna have the tiebreaking match. It’s 4-4 – and one of them is about to be called the All Time Wrestlemania Legend.

Undertaker enters.

Undertaker and Hogan go nose to nose – fans pop for the old men. Kane and PAUL~ come to the ring. Undertaker says – or, maybe we don’t have to wait for XIX – maybe we kick your ass right now.

So they do.

At some later point, Hogan comes back and calls DMW out. They say didn’t he get enough the last time? Hogan says he wanted to do a singles Legend’s Match at XIX – but there’s nothing that says it can’t be a tag. So if the Dead Man and his Dead Friends want some at XIX – he can do that, brother.

Undertaker says it looks like you’ve lost it in your old age, Hogan. There’s three of us, but only one of you.

Hogan says at Mania, brother, at Mania, whatchu gonna do when Hulk Hogan and his partner…..

….Rowdy Roddy Piper….

Run wild on you.

Piper didn’t do any TV here, so we’re stuck with clips – ideally, he’d do a promo, but we don’t have that.

And that’s how you use these guys. Bottom of the card, bring in that segment of the buying public.

Also doing the high profile return at XIX – the Rock.

We’re gonna get “I’m From Hollywood” with the Rock. They turn him during ordinary puff pieces showing him on Conan or at an awards show or a premiere – and he big times some wrestling fans. “I loved the Nation of Domination, Rock!” – Rock says, “Wrestling – aw, that was a hundred years ago – now, what you should love is the Scorpion King – go to Blockbuster, it’s 22.95.” He charges for autographs, says he’s too busy for wrestling questions, ‘cause he wants to talk about his acting “process.” He’s pretentious, forgot his roots, acting guy.

That kinda thing.

So, finally the Rock returns – and he does his Andy Kauffman schtick he did for awhile. Sunglasses, expensive suits, Rock’s got no time for the little people, Rock says this – if you want to see the Rock – you got to pay the Rock. “Rock – please come to Wrestlemania. Rock – we want to see you in a Legend’s Match again.”

“The Rock says this, the Rock says there isn’t anyone in the locker room worth bruising the Rock’s knuckles on. The Rock’s fought Brendan Fraser – you think now the Rock should go one…on one…with Tommy Dreamer?”

“The Rock says this, In Hollywood, the way you get parts is to audition – so over the next 6 weeks, the Rock will go one on one with whatever jabroni comes through that curtain – if any of them can last ten minutes with the Rock – then he will have the privilege of losing to me in the Legends Match at Wrestlemania.”

Yeah, we’re doing two Legends Matches. Wanna make something of it?

So, 6 weeks….week one….Spanky.

As mentioned, Spanky’s one of the Michaels trainees (Angle has trainees, Flair, etc..) this is his TV debut. He’s a pretty boy junior, a high flyer, really good – babyface type. He’s wearing a Texas Wrestling Academy t-shirt. We learn he’s a Shawn Michaels trainee. He’s Spanky. Rock makes fun of him. Rock wins in 8 minutes. Spanky will work dark again at Mania.

Week two…DLo Brown. Hi, DLo! DLo, gone for a couple of years, returns for the chance to kick the Rock’s ass. We do the back and forth with the old Nation members, some good nostalgia – and then the Rock wins in 8:30.

Week three…Dreamer. Tommy’s got a cane, says can Brendan Fraser do this – and he levels the Rock with the cane – the Rock recovers though and gets the fall in 7 minutes.

Week four…Morley. Morley says he’s never liked bullies and the Rock comes here with his two thousand dollar suits thinking he can order everyone around, well Ulysses S. Morley says that he’s gonna kick the Rock’s candy ass.

Rock in nine minutes.

Week five – Helms. Helms attacks the Rock as he goes out to the ring – Helms works the Rock over – but is pinned in 9:30. Helms is attacked after the match by Rhyno and Shannon Moore, his old NWA partner, debuting in the WWF. Rhyno and Moore are shirtless, with the grafitti scrawled over their bodies, in classic SpreeKiller fashion. The idea would be that they’re taking the gimmick away from Helms. It’s a fight over the SpreeKiller name. Moore says the SpreeKillers were his idea, they’re his life – and Helms got hired by the WWF and ripped him off. Well, now he and Rhyno are the real SpreeKillers.

Week six. Booker. Booker says he only wrestles when he gots to get paid – and there ain’t no payday like beating the Rock at Wrestlemania payday – if you smell what the Book is bakin’. Whenever Book’s on TV, he gives a fan money to do a chore, carry something, shine something, take Book to the club after the match. Book pays fans money! See, ‘cause normally, a fan would pay to carry a wrestler’s robe, Book says, nah, Brothers gots to Gets Paid! So he’ll peel off a 20, and the fan brings him a soda.

Rock pins him in 9:59. So, so, so close.

Rock says no one could cut it – no one passed the audition – there’s no one in this company who can hang with the Scorpion King.

So, ciao, baby dolls.

Glass breaks. Austin.

Austin to the ring. Doesn’t speak, doesn’t break stride. Stunner. Pinfall. Referee counts. 1-2-3. Austin says “See you in Seattle, Scorpion King.” Then throws the mic down and leaves. Just that simple.

So, we’re gonna get Rock/Austin – two legends matches at Mania!

How about 3 hot workrate based matches?

Matt won the right to go to Mania when the Hardys won the last TLC – but Jeff is in no condition to wrestle (carny for, he’s really high all of the time) but that doesn’t mean Matt Hardy isn’t going to Wrestlemania! Bischoff gets him a singles match. Bischoff explains that Matt’s been here nearly a decade, since he was a kid carrying Shawn Michaels’s bags, and somehow, in all that time, he’s never had a singles match on PPV. But there’s a guy who walked in off the street – out of a bingo hall, and got a shot at the WWF Title. Somehow, he’s already had 2 singles belts. 2? Matt Hardy has been here nearly a decade, he’s never gotten one.

How long is the WWF gonna screw Matt Hardy, Bischoff says.

Edge. Gone. Christian. Gone. Those crappy Dudley Boys. Gone.

Matt Hardy’s going to Wrestlemania – and he’s calling out Rob…Van….Dam…

RVD and Paul E enter. Paul says that’s sweet – and he’s never wanted to discourage a young man from pursuing his dreams, but Matt’s always been, you know, the other guy in the Hardy Boys. It would be like Marty Jannetty challenging RVD and that’s not a very appealing matchup – so, thanks for the offer, but, we’ll pass.

This riles Matt up, and eventually they make their way to the match.

What we have here is babyface with heel manager. But Bischoff’s wearing Matt down.

And Paul E’s still a heel, although he hates Bischoff, so there is certainly a babyface pop for him on occasion.

One RAW, as Paul continues to denigrate Matt’s ability, Bischoff’s worked him to a point that Matt attacks Van Dam. Can Matt prove himself as a single? Big stage, big opponent. Can Matt step up, handle the pressure – or should he go find himself another tag partner. Like that.

We’re gonna get Jericho/Lance, obviously.

Loser Leaves Town. Jericho doesn’t clown at all – he’s heartbroken and edgy. He doesn’t give them an inch – says Stacy’s just a slut, even if she does have 42 inch legs, but Lance, you and I were supposed to be brothers. We were carrying on the legacy of the Hart Foundation – and you gave all that up, Lance, you gave all that up for a piece of ass.

Lance only gets hot at Jericho when he insults Stacy – he says nothing happened – I fell in love with her, but we didn’t act on it – and now she’s gone – isn’t that enough for you, Chris?

Jericho says nope – I want you gone too. This is my house. I am the Hart Foundation now.

Lance says he can’t do that – this is the only place he ever wanted to be – he knows he screwed up and he’s sorry – but he’s not leaving.

Jericho says then he’s gonna make him.

So – they do the full on war up to Mania – and at Mania, it’s a Loser leaves town.

Neither man has turned – it’s not a Lance/Stacy turn – it was just a mistake – but Jericho won’t here it and cuts vicious, withering promos on both. Stacy’s a no talent piece of ass – Lance would still be pumping gas in Calgary if not for him. Jericho’s mean, angry, hurt. Betrayed.

And we also have…Benoit/Guerrero. Whew. Wrestlemania, daddy.

We now get the up close and personal face treatment for Benoit now. Calgary, Dynamite Kid, Stu, Japan, ECW, NWA, the Alliance, we reveal for the first time that he had spinal surgery when he was out a year, we show the footage, talk to doctors, we talk about the Horsemen – when Flair called him personally and said he had a way for him to get back in the WWF – he jumped. He respects Flair, he was a Horseman in NWA – and he would have done anything to get back in. But it wasn’t what he wanted – he had changed somewhere – he remembered something Chris Jericho said to him when they were feuding over the WWF Title – that he was a Hart – that by coming back to the WWF – he was coming home.

So, here comes the Benoit face run. He embraces the Hart legacy and takes his rightful spot as that guy.

They promo Eddy and Benoit. Eddy telling Benoit he betrayed him, he betrayed Ric, he betrayed my nephew Chavo. Benoit telling Eddy he didn’t come back after a year with a broken neck to walk behind Ric Flair. Chris Benoit wasn’t the WWF Champion because of the Alliance, Chris Benoit was WWF Champion because of Chris Benoit – and if Eddy had any cajones, he’d tell the Horsemen where they could go and fight him one on one like a man.

Eddy will have Flair and Leviathan and Chavo in his corner. Eddy has an ambivalence, but he doesn’t play it – instead they are full on heel, Benoit’s a traitor, that’s all Eddy sees, and in their first ever WWF match – Eddy’s gonna take Benoit out. We’ll do a spot where Eddy goes over someone and the Horsemen interfere to aid – Eddy cuts a promo saying all his career, he’s had to walk behind Chris Benoit – he’s had to hear that he was a great wrestler – but not as great as Benoit – at Wrestlemania – Eddy has to prove that he’s every bit the wrestler than Chris Benoit is – and he has to do it by himself.

So, Eddy is a Horseman – and if the Horsemen want to come to the ring, that’s fine, but Eddy has to beat Benoit by himself. After the match, we will cut him to pieces – but during the match, it’s just got to me. The rest agree, continually selling how Benoit sold them out, how Benoit always has to be the man, how Benoit couldn’t stand that Eddy was showing him up. And if we’re paying attention, we see that Chavo’s manipulation of his Uncle is canny, that when Chavo says, “you know, Uncle Eddy, what it’s like to be the better man, but always have to be seen as second best” that he’s not really talking about Chris and Eddy, he’s talking about Eddy and himself. Eddy doesn’t see that Chavo is playing jealous little brother, as he’s locked in on playing angry little brother to Benoit, while Benoit is really playing coming into his own little brother to Flair by leaving the Horsemen.

Levels. Many, many levels.

Seriously, wouldn’t that be enough? Eddy v Benoit, Y2J v Lance in the loser leaves town, RVD v. Matt with Heyman and Bischoff, Rock v. freaking Steve Austin and Hogan/Piper taking on DMW, the all time legend;s record on the line? You’d buy just that freaking card, wouldn’t you, Chico? I know you would. That’s your Wrestlemania money right there.

But we got title matches too. 3 of them.

The tags….the kids, Team Lesnar: Haas and Benjamin defend against the two guys they attacked at the end of the Rumble, HBK and HHH. Michaels and Hunter do the veteran thing – Michaels won the tag title with Marty 14 years ago – and it all comes full circle here. Now he’s the veteran – and with his best friend HHH (who has never won a belt, so he plays that angle) they’re up against these hotshot kids – who won everyone over and then went heel. Haas and Benjamin now run with Brock – sure, they turned because Kurt liked Brock more than them – but who they turned to was Brock, which only makes sense if you squint.

The three of them attack the Clique during one RAW – and returning to make the face save….Nash. Nash? Fuck you, Big Daddy Cool is back.

Gone a year – Nash cleans house with the big boot – he’ll be in the Clique corner for the title match.

Rey’s got the IC…and he’s defending against the Evil Horseman Chavo. Chavo attacks Rey at every chance, as do Flair and Leviathan. It’s a high flying match, and the long Chavo push pays off as he’s in the secondary title match on the biggest show of the year. Chavo’s gonna prove himself at Wrestlemania by winning the Worldwide belts from Little Rey.

And there’s the big, big main event.

Angle disappears for a couple/three weeks after the Rumble – where is he – where’s the WWF Champion – Wrestlemania is coming, what will we do?

He comes back unannounced, wearing a suit.

Angle is subdued when he says he has some video to show us.

It’s Angle, hospital, doctor shows X-rays, says Angle’s rebroken his neck, says Angle must retire – if Angle steps foot in the ring again, he risks paralysis.

Which, of course, is all true. It’s a shoot, daddy. It’s a damn shoot.

Crowd is stunned. Announce is stunned. Angle, tear in his eye, says he’s looking around for another opinion, for some type of treatment, but right now, it sort of looks like he has to retire.

…but not before Wrestlemania.

Angle says Bret Hart was WWF Champion 2 straight years, no one’s ever done it more in the modern era – “when I was wrestling amateurs, there weren’t a lot of wrestlers who I watched – but the one guy I watched was Bret Hart. He went two years. So, I’m going two years and one day. I’m going two years and one day. I won a gold medal with a broken neck. I’m going two years and one day if it kills me.

I’m going to go to Wrestlemania – I met with the TitanTrust this morning, I signed away all claims against the WWF if I get hurt – I’m going to Wrestlemania – and I’m going to win – and then the next night, I will walk to this ring…

..Angle gets choked up…

…and I will give up my Undisputed Championship and retire undefeated.”

Hit Brock’s music.

Brock comes to the ring – smirking, shaking his head – Brock says, “no, no no – you think you’re gonna get out of here without standing across the ring from me? For years I’ve waited for this, Kurt. When I was a kid wrestling – I heard all about the great Kurt Angle, won gold medals with a broken neck, when you were training me at Camp Angle – I couldn’t wait for the day when I could snap you in half – to take all that crap – all that training – all that advice without just laying you out. It was all I could do not to laugh right in your face, little man.

And now you think you’re gonna quit without getting on the mat with me? Not gonna happen Kurt – no way I’m gonna let that happen.”

Angle says “you’re right, it’s not going to happen.

When I said I was going to Wrestlemania so I could hold the WWF title two straight years, I left something out.

I’m going to Wrestlemania to do something I should have done a long time ago, Brock.

I’m going to Wrestlemania to kick your ass.”

And we do the nose to nose.

So, that’s the show. Angle, with the broken neck, defending against Lesnar (I think the first Mania where we duplicated the main event) Rey v. Chavo for the Worldwide, Team Lesnar against the Clique for the tags, Eddy meets Benoit at Wrestlemania, Lance v. Y2J in the soapy loser leaves town , RVD v. Matt, Austin v. Rock, Hogan/Piper v. DMW.

You love me a little bit, don’t you? Just a little?

Yup. Buy it.

Hennig’s died in this stretch, so they devote a show to him in this stretch – clips, interviews, and they show his Survivor Series WWF Title win over Savage.

Wrestlemania 19!

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