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 Royal Rumble 2007 - 3

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Part 2 is here.

Road to Royal Rumble 2007 – 3

We’re two legs down in our build for Rumble ’07. Let’s finish it up here.

Smackdown is now NWA Friday Night Fight Night – which can be called just Friday Night or just Fight Night in shorthand (or FN Squared, for that matter) with JR and Bradshaw on the announce and Dusty as the commissioner. It’s stiff, stiff, stiff all Friday long – if RAW looks like NOAH and GDI looks like ROH, I think Fight Night looks like UFC, as I think about it. I see the phrase “blood feud” being used a lot, this is where people turn to for the violence.

Violence~ Motherfuckers. Violence~

So – their tournament is as follows:

Fit d. Haas
-Both came over with Dusty, along with Benjamin they form the core of what the new NWA is. Stiff and relentless.

Insert your own joke.

Fit goes over clean. Like Regal, Charlie’s gonna wind up as enhancement, since I’ll never get to use him.

Orton d. Nitro
-No, Orton doesn’t really fit in the brand, but his cockiness is a good counterpoint, with all the “tradition” talk that we’ll be drenched in on Friday – Orton, who just beat Fit clean at Survivor Series is overt that he doesn’t care at all about tradition, about yesterday – that he is the face of the NWA in the 21st century.

Nitro, who is keeping his name, is also cocky heel, he needs to feed Orton here, but I like him and he’s gonna be important in 2007.

Give Orton another RKO on Fit during this cycle – and let him RKO Dean too - and you’ve got that semi-final match set up for the Rumble.

Benjamin d. Regal
-A call back to Team Angle – recall, that Team Angle blew up when Kurt ordered the Code Red on Haas and then benched Benjamin, forcing him into the valet role – Regal took a stand against Kurt, said he couldn’t be part of what he was doing to Team Angle, and walked away.

Now, Benjamin’s a babyface, part of Strong Style, and he goes over Regal.

Flair d. Leviathan
-Flair’s gotta earn his face turn. He’s been a heel during his whole WWF career, except for what really turned out to be a swerve when he joined Steamboat as co-commissioners. So, as was set up in a previous post – he asks Dusty to come to NWA and be in the tournament, but Dusty is disinclined, given how Flair abused his power with the 51% Solution.

But Flair’s Flair – and he is made an active full time wrestler again when he beats Leviathan in the tournament. Flair’s gotta take a good beating, Leviathan’s his former protégée who he screwed – it’s a good enough beating, Flair fighting from underneath and then getting the fall – that it goes a long way toward winning the fans trust. People want to cheer Flair anyway, he’s Ric Flair.

Flair offers Leviathan a postmatch handshake, but he refuses, which is effectively a heel turn for Batista.

Which sets up the Arn/Flair thing, since AA is Benjamin’s manager. So, we add that.

Getting us to the tags.

RVD and Sabu, taking advantage of the ability of the tag champs to work all 3 shows become the first RAW wrestlers to work GDI. Be good if it were Philly or at least some other Northeastern city. RVD/Sabu coming back to the bingo hall would be kinda perfect.

Anyway, they go over Kendrick/Noble, who are my GDI tag team during this stretch (eventually, we’re gonna put the Jung Dragons back together, with Yang and Noble – Colt Cabana and Matt Sydal, for those of you paying attention, will also be working on Tuesdays.

They go over – and are then attacked by Sandman/Dreamer, recall, who attacked them after their title win at Survivor Series.

That’s gonna allow us to tether the tags to the big angle – Sandman and Dreamer go GDI – they say they know they aren’t young and hungry, like the rest of the guys on Tuesday nights – but they’re old and hungry. When Punk spat on the WWF and NWA belts – when he said the ECW belt was the only one who represented the ECW spirit – Sandman and Dreamer applauded.

They never gave a crap about the WWF – and the WWF never gave a crap about them.

They are from the tribe of extreme – misfits and freaks, the unloved and the unwashed.

And since ECW died – since it was swallowed up by the monster corporation from New York – they’ve been wandering in the wilderness.

But now – they’re home.

Because no one is more God Damn Independent than Sandman and Dreamer.

And just like Punk reclaimed our property – reclaimed our Holy Grail – reclaimed the ECW World Heavyweight Championship from the Evil Empire – the WWF – at the Royal Rumble – they’re gonna show those turncoats – those sellouts – those corporatized bitches, RVD and Sabu – what GDI is all about.

They’ll do a huge garbage match – a Double Hell Death Match – with glass tables on the two sides of the ring that have no ropes. It’s probably gonna be the high point in the amount of blood we’re going to spill in this stretch.

Lots of good things about doing it like this, one of the chief ones is Noble and Kendrick are going to be in the angle, adding some work where the guys who are actually in the match can’t in 2007 – they’ll take lots of bumps.

Dreamer and Sandman are just gonna be babyfaces on Tuesdays – I’m cool with that – it’s a revolution – CM Punk is ECW Champion, representing the ROH faction of 21st century indie guys – Sandman/Dreamer are selling the continuity of ECW with GDI, embracing Punk completely, giving GDI the full stamp of approval with whatever vestige of ECW goodwill remains.

Stevie, as mouthpiece for the champs, has a difficult job – but he’s not going to cede the babyface ground. RVD and Sabu are the Unified Tag Team Champions of the World – Stevie isn’t going to let Sandman/Dreamer say they’re somehow more extreme, more real, more down than his guys – I’m not gonna heel up RVD and Sabu on Tuesdays – I want the fans to do whatever they’re gonna do.

On top, as mentioned, is Punk/Matt.

Punk aggressively challenges Matt’s outsider status – Matt’s been Pillman, or maybe Pillman turned Austin, in this stretch – never having a WWF contract, fighting the system when the system was the Solution, attacking a babyface legend like Michaels.

But now – Matt’s got a contract, he’s the babyface in the main event at XXIII, he has his own segment on all the shows – Steamboat has given him a full contract – and at some point at the end of December – Steamboat finally reveals to Punk, after lots of back and forth, that Matt’s gonna face Punk for the strap at the Rumble main.

Punk works that – how is it that Matt hasn’t sold out to the man – what is it about him that’s not corporate – he’s facing a real outsider – a real revolutionary, CM Punk – Matt’s no different than a guy like Hunter or Flair or Edge.

That promo will lead to Paul London’s coming to RAW to wrestle Matt.

Recall, the deal with London is this – he’s not a true believer like Noble and Kendrick, who now are totally in Punk’s pocket – he just wants to wrestle – and when Punk promised him that he’d get the title shot at XXIII – he stayed GDI.

So, London goes to RAW, say for the go home match before the Rumble – he puts Matt over – Punk, with Maria in tow, attacks Matt postmatch – Punk, heeling it up, does the “shove Maria at Matt” spot – maybe he does it twice – the first time he does it, it works, Punk takes advantage as they do an extended brawling spot – and the second time – Matt lays Maria out with a Twist of Fate

The idea being that Matt’s still an outsider – because he’d lay Maria out.

Insert own joke here. Maria. Mmmmmm. The things I'd....I'm losing my place.

If that’s not hard enough – he can stick a fork between her eyes.

I’m looking for something just strong enough to keep Matt from being white meat, and not so strong that he’s a heel. ‘Cause, you know, Wrestlemania’s comin’.

Okay – we’re goin’ to San Antonio for Royal Rumble 2007.

ECW Title: CM Punk (w/Maria) v. Matt Hardy
WWF Semifinal: Edge v. Booker T
NWA Semifinal: Ric Flair v. Shelton Benjamin (w/AA)
NWA Semifinal: Fit Finlay (w/Dean) v. Randy Orton
WWF Semifinal: Executioner Lashley v. Undertaker (w/HBK)
Worldwide Titles: Sugar Shane Helms v. Chavo Guerrero (w/LWO)
Unified Tag Titles: Double Hell Glass Tables Death Match: RVD/Sabu (w/Stevie) v. Sandman/Dreamer (w/Noble/Kendrick)
Shawn Michaels v. Jeff Hardy
LWO: Carlito/Super Crazy v. Ken Kennedy/John Cena

Yeah, I’m down. Buy that show.

I’ll be back sooner rather than later. Royal Rumble

Road to Royal Rumble '07 - II

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Part 1 is here.

Road to Royal Rumble 07 - 2

I’ve gone back through the first several years of shows and added comments, effectively providing a Counterfactual to the Counterfactual, reconsidering some of the past decisions. The one that strikes me here is I should have gone ahead and made this change, replacing the name Royal Rumble (which I’d use on the battle royal that I do in even years) with Justice Sunday.

Perhaps there will be some angle where Rumble 20, in ’08, will be the last one and then I’ll switch the name.


In Part I of the build – we split WWF, NWA, and GDI – and now WWF and NWA have 8 man tournaments to fill their vacant World title belts. The 4 semis for those tournaments will be at the Rumble. 9 matches to set up – we’ve already given away the main, Punk v. Matt for the ECW belt – we’ll talk about that later.

Here’s the WWF tournament:

Edge d. HBK
-Edge isn’t put in the first bracket by Steamboat – Burke is.

Edge flips out in the back, challenging Steamboat – who explains that neither he or Matt (we don’t know Matt’s in the main yet) in the tournament because the finals are at XXIII – and Matt and Edge are already booked for the main event.

Here’s where we get to see that Edge burns for the WWF title.

Edge says everyone knows he has no respect for anyone. But he does respect that belt – he’s been tag champ and IC champ – but he’s never even had a shot at the WWF title. He is thisclose to the title, to the Triple Crown, to immortality – he reminds Steamboat that’s something he doesn’t even have.

Edge says he’ll wrestle twice – Steamboat himself put Mysterio on a WM in two matches, and it shot Rey up the card. Edge wants it – wants those two matches, needs to be WWF champ.

Steamboat said Rey did wrestle twice, but they weren’t title matches. He appreciates Edge’s passion – but it wouldn’t be fair to the guys in the tournament, and Steamboat doesn’t want to compromise the huge main event for XXIII.

So, during the introductions to Michaels/Burke – Edge attacks Burke on the ramp, Porter and Book come to Burke’s defense, Edge is out of control – Burke takes a good bump off the ramp.

Michaels calls Edge out from the ring post-brawl – tells Steamboat that he’s got to know where he is – that Edge beat him at XXII – and Michaels beat him at Summer Slam – and Michaels wants to give the fans what they want – he’s gotta know who’s the better man.

Steamboat makes the match, it’s the main event the next week.

Edge goes over clean.

Edge advances. Michaels is going to work the Rumble too, we’ll see where in a minute.

Edge will meet the winner of the next match

Booker d. Jeff
-See how it could go either way. Edge just beat Jeff at Survivor Series, and with the Edge/Matt thing, Edge/Jeff is an obvious match. But Book and Edge just brawled over Burke.

Book goes over – he’ll meet Edge at the Rumble.

Jeff will meet Michaels.

Michaels, who will also be involved in another match, will approach Matt close to the Rumble to give him advice. Matt blows him off – says Michaels has nothing left to teach him. Tells him to worry about himself. Shawn says that’s why Matt’s never going to be a legend, never going to be an icon – he thinks he can do it all himself.

Matt tells Shawn the only reason he doesn’t drop him right now is because he’s got a match to get ready for.

Which, as this digression continues, is a reference to something from 24/7, the Matt/Edge segment that runs on each show.

Steamboat goes to both camps, to talk to Edge and to Matt – now that Edge no longer holds Matt’s contract, there’s no rule prohibiting the two of them from physical contact before Mania.

Steamboat says both of them understand the importance of their Rumble matches – goes to Matt to say he needs to focus on Punk – Punk defiled the WWF Championship belt, he’s broken up the whole company – Steamboat personally chose Matt from everyone else in the company to take Punk down, take his belt, so we can start to reunite the company.

In return, Steamboat just asks that he focuses on the match, ignore Edge, ignore everyone else – just focus on beating Punk at the Rumble and getting his belt.

Hardy agrees. Give a man responsibility; he’s likely to step up.

He goes to Edge – he put Edge in the tournament against his better judgment – if Edge means what he said, if all we wants is the WWF title belt – then he needs to focus on the tournament and let Matt prepare for Punk. He knows Edge and Matt is a blood feud – he knows at XXIII they’ll kill each other – but right now, Steamboat needs Edge to let Matt live.

Edge has to understand that what Punk did was wrong.

And that’s the overhanging theme – “What Punk did was wrong” except on Tuesday, where the theme is exactly the opposite.

What Punk did, spitting on the WWF title belt – needs to be such an offense that Edge, who has professed his desire for that belt – that Edge doesn’t want to hurt Matt – such that Matt can beat Punk.

We’ve put up obstacle after obstacle between Edge and Matt to allow them to make it to XXIII – this is the latest. Edge wants the WWF belt and the Triple Crown – he abandons his normal cockiness on 24/7 to allow us to see his raw, naked need for the belt.

And Matt, who once walked out, quit the WWF for exactly the same reason that Punk threw the belt down – a sense that what he did was not sufficiently appreciated – that after years of giving his body to the company he was still at the bottom of the card – now, Ricky Steamboat himself has put the future of the company in his hands.

The stakes are high for both men – and they put their hatred of each other aside for Rumble ’07.

So, backing up a step – when Matt rebuffs Michaels, Michaels cuts promo on him – Michaels says it was a dark day when Punk threw down the belt – but rooting for Matt is like rooting for the devil himself. Shawn can’t believe, at his hometown of San Antonio (that’s where Survivor Series will be held) that two such repulsive…unworthy wrestlers will be at the top – and he won’t be wrestling at all.

Jeff comes out – says if Shawn wants a match – Jeff’s available.

Jeff says he’s waited a long time to face Shawn Michaels, one on one, at a PPV – and Jeff thinks it would be a blast to kick his ass in front of his fans.

Shawn says he hopes Jeff’s serious about putting his demons behind him – his drug use really took a toll on his career and is the number one reason why a guy like Shawn Michaels is going to the Hall of Fame and a guy like Jeff Hardy never got out of the tag ranks.

So – it’s Shawn v. Jeff at the Rumble.

Back to the tournament.

Lashley d. Porter
-Executioner Lashley is a man without a country since the bustup of the Solution – a bustup that he played a role in when he turned on HHHM after his IC loss to Helms at Survivor Series. Now, HHH is on the shelf and Flair has jumped to NWA.

Here’s Lashley, alone – still unbeaten – he rolled over Book at Survivor Series – and he rolls over Porter here.

Burke and Porter aren’t working the Rumble, they’ll sell their injuries, Burke to Edge and Porter to Lashley.

Undertaker d. Crazy
-And finally, Lashley will take on the Dead Man.

Long time coming here – since Lashley’s debut, back in Survivor Series 05, the one man who has never feared him was the Undertaker. Lashley has dominated the WWF, maybe more than any newcomer since the Undertaker, which the announce will point out. The Dead Man was once the unbeatable machine, mowing his way through the opposition. Lashley has ended the careers of Benoit and Hogan and PAUL and maybe even Mysterio, using his customary Dominator through the table to finish them off, he helped the Solution take all the singles belts and control the WWF, control that only ended when Lashley turned his back on his stable.

But the Taker has never stepped back, the two have brawled repeatedly, and with Michaels at his side, the Dead Man finally laid Lashley out at Survivor Series, keeping him from aiding Flair, which led to the Punk win.

Michaels will be part of this match too – the budding relationship between he and the Undertaker was one of the pre S Series stories, the two acting as locker room leaders, going to GDI to talk to Punk, to sell the tradition of the company – the time Michaels and the Taker have spent in WWF giving them tenure, giving them a status that bonds them.

And now – as the Taker will approach this match with Lashley, he accepts Shawn’s help – Shawn trains with the Dead Man – the same ‘I’m Shawn Michaels and I’m important” attitude which turns Matt Hardy off is accepted by the Dead Man, the veteran camaraderie evident – it’s their way of life, the WWF way of life that is being threatened by the GDI insurgency – and now there are 3 companies – and there’s a fracturing of the locker room that they’ve created – you could see how, in a time of such tumult, they’d more deeply cling together.

So, not only will Michaels work against Jeff – but he’ll be in the Dead Man’s corner when he takes on Lashley.

Crazy’s gonna work the Rumble too, as will the other two members of the LWO.

After Crazy loses to the Taker, in a match booked to show his resilience – he’s given an IC shot on RAW against Helms.

The story there is Chavo/Helms.

Recall, please, that Chavo and Helms arrived together in ’01 when NWA was dissolved as the heel tag team SpreeKillers. Chavo turned on Helms, joining the Horsemen, and when Chavo had singles success, with two IC runs, Helms went through multiple permutations of the SpreeKillers, finally settling on Rhyno, with whom he won the straps. With both men as faces, they reunited briefly to get a title shot of their own – and now Chavo is once again a heel, a member of his new family the LWO – while Helms, as underdog white meat babyface, is the Worldwide champ.

In the back, for the first time in their new personas, the two men meet.

Chavo drops the act for a moment, extends his hand.

Says tonight, he’s gotta support his boy Crazy in their title match – but he won’t interfere. Chavo won’t do Helms like that. He’s proud of him.
It’s a nod to their past that the fans appreciate, we’ve built the Chavo/Helms relationship for years, their meeting this way has resonance.

But it’s a swerve, ‘cause Chavo’s a heel now.

So, in the Helms/Crazy match, Chavo does interfere, looking to get Crazy the win – it isn’t enough as Helms overcomes the LWO – but postmatch, they beat Helms down – save by….

…Kennedy and Cena.

Kennedy and Cena, recall, are the talent enhancement putting the LWO over – and why not give them a bit of a rub from Helms here.

So, we spent the rest of the run to the Rumble doing 6 man and singles stuff among the 2 groups, LWO as full heel, Helms/Kennedy/Cena full on babyface – allowing us to set up two matches at the Rumble:

The opening tag – LWO: Carlito/Crazy taking on Kennedy/Cena – and the Worldwide – Helms v. Chavo, partners turned rivals turned friends – once again, rivals – the old SpreeKillers going head up for the Worldwide belts.

So – what do we have so far:

ECW Title: Punk v. Matt
WWF Title Semi – Edge v. Book
WWF Title Semi – Taker v. Lashley
Worldwide Title: Helms v. Chavo
HBK v. Jeff
LWO: Carlito/Crazy v. Kennedy/Cena

3 more matches to set up – the 2 NWA semifinals and the Tag titles.

One more piece to go on the Road to the Rumble.

Road to Royal Rumble '07 - I

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Survivor Series is here.

The RAW following CM Punk’s winning the Undisputed World Title and then throwing the WWF and NWA belts down and spitting on them opens with virtually all of the wrestlers in the company surrounding the ring.

Joey and Taz tell us the building is filled with rumors tonight, this could be a night that defines the future of the sport of professional wrestling.

Here we go.

Ricky Steamboat’s music hits, and the announce sells it hard – Steamboat, in a suit, walks to the ring carrying both the WWF and NWA World Title belts.

Steamboat says that what he saw last night turned his stomach.

He sat at home and watched a man, he can barely stand saying his name, CM Punk, desecrate the two world title belts that he holds most dear, the NWA and the WWF World Championship belts. Steamboat says he’s worn both of these belts, carried them with pride and honor, that when he thinks about all that he, the men who have gone before, and the men who surround this ring right now have sacrificed just to get near these belts…that these belts aren’t just props to him – they’re holy objects, they’re sacred – and as a man, as a man, he’s never been more disgusted by the actions of another man than he was last night at CM Punk.

Steamboat tries to regain his composure.

Steamboat said he was pacing around his house still, hours later, getting text message after text message from retired wrestlers outraged over what they saw.

And that’s when he got a phone call from Vince McMahon.

And now it’s time to fill in the fans…and the wrestlers…about what happened next.

Vince McMahon, who is currently doing missionary work in Indonesia, said he had heard from two important people in the hours since Survivor Series.

One was Ric Flair.

(Flair’s one of the wrestlers surrounding the ring)

Ric Flair, after Survivor Series, sent a fax to Vince McMahon, completely relinquishing all managerial control held by the 51% Solution.

Which is why, Steamboat says, he’s here tonight – as of this morning, he is once again Commissioner of the World Wrestling Federation, and he will be the final authority on all decisions on Monday Night RAW.

(People cheer. He’s Ricky Steamboat after all.)

Steamboat addresses Flair, tells him he’s been disappointed in his longtime friend and rival for awhile now – but he went a long way in earning back his respect and the respect of these fans, by giving up that power.

(Flair’s turning face.)

Steamboat says the second person Vince heard from was a representative of the old National Wrestling Alliance.

When the WWF purchased the NWA in 2001, part of the purchase agreement said that the NWA World Championship belt could not be “degraded or devalued by a WWF employee.”

When CM Punk spat on the NWA Title belt last night – it triggered a series of penalties.

The NWA… officially splitting from the WWF.

Effective immediately, Steamboat says, Smackdown will be renamed NWA Friday Night Fight Night. He says that any of the wrestlers around this ring who want to leave and go join the NWA will be free to do so.

Steamboat says he hopes it’s not forever. He hopes that soon the NWA and WWF titles will be unified again, and that we will once again be one company. But he doesn’t know when that will be.

To hear more about this – it’s time to meet the man in charge -- the NWA will be run by a commissioner appointed this morning – himself a former NWA Champion – The American Dream, Dusty Rhodes.

(here comes Dusty)

Dusty cuts Dusty promo.

He uses “darkest before the dawn” “closes a door, cracks a window” types of metaphors. Says the National Wrestling Alliance is tradition that dates back over a hundred years. And now it’s reborn.

He says the new NWA will be hard hitting, stiff action, taking the old style of the NWA and moving it into the 21st century.

He says they will have an 8 man tournament to crown a new NWA Champion. The preliminary matches will be on Fight Night – the semi-final matches, due to the ongoing contractual relationship with WWF – will be at the Royal Rumble – and the finals will be at WM 23 in De-troit.

Steamboat says WWF will be doing the same thing. An 8 man tournament – and going forward, WWF and NWA will share PPV space – not only that – but the NWA tag belts and the US title will remain joined with the WWF and ECW titles.

Dusty continues.

To represent that hard hitting style – he has already signed 3 men – and he’s signed those 3 men both because they are exactly what the new NWA is all about – but also because they have managers who are NWA to the core – former NWA Champion Dean Malenko – and US Champion Arn Anderson.

Dean and Arn come to the ring. Handshakes.

Dusty introduces those wrestlers now represented by these two managers. And they come to the ring. Former Worldwide Champion Fit Finlay – and former WWF Tag Champions Strong Style – Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas.

Dusty says these men represent exactly what the fans will expect to see on NWA Fight Night. Hard hitting. Stiff. Violent action. As we restore the glory that is the NWA.

Dusty takes the NWA Title belt and everyone but Steamboat exits the ring.

Over the next two weeks, Fight Night will play classic matches and have promos from wrestlers as they start to trickle over. Those shows will be hosted by the two men who will be the voices of the NWA.

Jim Ross and Bradshaw (dropping the GHB name).

Over the next few weeks, as it evolves (the key being distinction, having the show look and feel very different than either RAW or GDI) the 8 men who will be in the NWA Title Tournament will be named and all appear to cut promos. Below are the match pairings.

Fit Finlay v. Charlie Haas
Shelton Benjamin v. Steve Regal
Johnny Nitro v. Randy Orton
Ric Flair v. Leviathan

Regal obviously fits in the brand; Arn personally convinces Dusty to hire Nitro, based on his feud with Strong Style in the summer of ’06. Orton, who just beat Fit at Survivor Series, appears during a Finlay promo to lay him out_again_with an RKO and to say that Finlay can’t get away from him that easily.
The last match goes unfilled – Flair comes to Fight Night to cut a promo putting over the NWA, putting over how he wants to finish his career right here – how it’s right to redeem himself for the Solution – he asks…he begs Dusty Rhodes for a job.

Dusty says okay.

But only on the condition that in the NWA Tournament, he wrestles and defeats his protégée – the man he screwed over – Leviathan.

Batista hits the ring – he and Flair do a nose to nose.

And that’s the NWA.

But we’re not there yet.

We’re still in the ring with Steamboat, watching the NWA guys exit.

Ricky calls the newest champions – the Worldwide Champ Shane Helms and the Unified Tag Champs RVD and Sabu.

All the babyfaces climb in the ring.

Steamboat says these men, these belts, are about to become even more valuable.

Because these belts, by agreement among all the parties, will still remain unified, the only unified belts left in North America.

And because of that – the holders of the Worldwide and Tag Titles will be the only men eligible to wrestle on all 3 shows – they will defend their titles on RAW…they will defend their titles on Fight Night – and they will even defend their titles on GDI.

(We’re trying to cut against devaluing the belts – ‘cause with 3 World Champions, it would be easy to view the IC, for example, as a worthless belt – I’m looking for you not to see it that way – the idea is to create more value than we destroy.)

Steamboat says the WWF will be leaning hard on Helms, Van Dam, and Sabu to carry the flag for the company – that whomever it is they wind up wrestling at the Rumble, from whatever company they come – will be looking to strike at the WWF – and he and all the fans of the World Wrestling Federation will be counting on them to uphold the name of the WWF.

Handshakes. Helms, RVD, Sabu exit with all of their belts intact.

Steamboat puts over the vacant WWF Title and the title tournament to whatever extent is necessary here. Obviously, it’s gonna be the focus of RAW going forward.

Over the next few weeks, the 8 men title tournament for the WWF belt will become clear:

HBK v. Edge
Jeff v. Book
Lashley v. Montel Porter
Undertaker v. Super Crazy

But we don’t know that yet.

Steamboat says – and that just leaves one thing.

Hit CM Punk’s music.

Punk and Maria are surrounded by the other GDI wrestlers and the group makes its way to the ring. The workers surrounding the ring look at them with hatred, boiling hatred.

Steamboat says he made a personal promise to Punk that none of the wrestlers would touch him or any GDI member in any way tonight – so they all clear a path – allowing Punk to get in the ring.

Punk, cockily stands and holds the ECW Title in the air – fans react with whatever mixture they will react.

They had a pretty excellent chemistry in their ROH program, for those of you who missed it. I’m looking to replicate that dynamic here.

Steamboat expresses his disgust.

Punk says Steamboat’s just a hater – he’s another old guy who can’t get it done trying to keep hungry young athletes down. Punk says the WWF used to be different, there didn’t used to be a glass ceiling – Punk says what if in 1985 when you came here from the NWA Vince McMahon wouldn’t give you a title shot against Hulk Hogan?

What if you were told you weren’t big enough, didn’t cut a good enough promo, weren’t marketable enough to carry Wrestlemania?

What if you were kept down, pushed to the bottom of the card – what if the WWF 20 years ago told all its best wrestlers that they didn’t know how to work? What if it was a company of restholds and posedowns and muscleheads who couldn’t work? What if all your WWF did was teach a generation of American wrestling fans that wrestling wasn’t a sport – that it was a show – worse – that it was a second rate comedy show?

Could you imagine, Rick? Could you imagine if, in 2007, American wrestling fans were conditioned not to take our sport seriously – to laugh at it – to view us as circus freaks on the margins of society – our craftsmanship and athleticism ignored, our very lives devalued because of the propaganda of our own industry?

Could you imagine, Ricky Steamboat, a world where you didn’t pin Hulk Hogan?

Well I don’t want to think about it, Rick.

So, when I see a 55 year old man who used to be Ric Flair and an overrated musclehead who’d never have gotten past the middle of the card if he hadn’t been screwing Stephanie McMahon carrying WWF gold – that’s not something I wanted to be a part of.

I didn’t desecrate the WWF Title.

Putting it on my shoulder would desecrate me.

(Like that – Punk keeps this line that he’s the real babyface, that GDI is the future of wrestling – that he is leading a revolution. Steamboat’s response, and the WWF response will be that Punk had every chance to work within the system, he’s the one who refused to be on RAW – he’s the one who threw the belts down – he could have been Undisputed Heavyweight Champion but didn’t have it in him.)

Anyway – Steamboat says Punk can go back to Tuesday, he can take the ECW belt with him – and if his GDI pals want to go with him – that’s fine.

But the ECW tags and the TV belt still belong to WWF wrestlers, so Helms, RVD, and Sabu will be showing up on Tuesdays.

And more than that – and Punk knows what’s in the contract –

Ric Flair’s got a rematch clause. And he’s transferred that rematch clause back to the WWF.

“Which means I’m gonna pick your opponent for the Royal Rumble, Punk. I’m gonna pick the man who is gonna beat you for that belt. If I ever do anything the rest of my career, the rest of my life, I am going to reunite the ECW, NWA, and WWF belts – we are going to unify professional wrestling once again – I swear to god we will.”

Punk demands to know right now – who is it – who are you gonna feed me at the Royal Rumble?

(that’s why we don’t know who is in the WWF or NWA tournaments yet, so we don’t know right now who Punk will face.)

Steamboat won’t tell Punk then – he says he’ll know soon enough – that will allow for more Punk/Steamboat face to face interactions, on RAW and on GDI – I like the idea of sending Steamboat to a GDI show in a 1000 seat arena.

But if you’ve read this far, you deserve to be ahead of the game.

The main event at the Rumble, the ECW World Title, will be between CM Punk and…

Matt F’n Hardy.

Two matters left in this segment.

Steamboat addresses the other GDI wrestlers – says he understands why they moved to Tuesdays – but now the battle lines have been drawn – Punk’s taken a step from which there’s no return.

Right now, there is a narrow window where you can come back here or go to the NWA.

You might even find yourself in the title tournament.

Steamboat addresses Paul London directly. Says he watched from the back when Paul London beat Rey Mysterio at the Royal Rumble. Says he doesn’t know what’s happened to his career. Says if he thinks he’s been underappreciated…Steamboat agrees with him.

Steamboat says he wants him to think about it – go home, talk to his family – those other GDI guys – the Nobles and the Kendricks – they’ve clearly been snowed by Punk – but Steamboat knows that all Paul London has ever wanted is to be WWF Champion.

If he decides to stay GDI – he will never get that chance.

But if he comes back – Steamboat promises he will put him in the Tournament.

London’s clearly conflicted.

Steamboat says he can think about it – they can all go home and think about it.

(So, Tuesday, they’ll all be thinking about it – everyone’s gonna stay with GDI, they’ll adopt Punk’s line “I’m CM Punk, and I’m a professional wrestler.” Using their own names obviously – Punk will line them up and ask, and they’ll all fall in line.

London will stay too – after Punk promises him the shot at XXIII.

Punk says that he’ll keep the belt at the Rumble – then they’ll steal the show at XXIII – the biggest match in history, Matt/Edge/Cell will draw a huge audience – the Detroit crowd will be almost 80,000 – they’ll all be there for Matt/Edge, and we’ll show them what wrestling really is – Punk/London for the ECW Title.

London can’t turn it down. He shakes Punk’s hand and stays “I’m Paul London and I’m a professional wrestler.”

But that hasn’t happened yet.

What’s happened now is the last thing for the segment.

Steamboat, as Punk’s about to leave says, “one more thing – I promised you that none of the boys would lay a hand on you – I never said anything about me.”

Steamboat lays in some chops before the GDI guys pull Punk out of the ring.

Punk’s left fuming, pointing at Steamboat – Steamboat’s music plays – and we’re set up for the Road to Royal Rumble 07.

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