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 2006

Monday, January 01, 2007

The build is here.

Royal Rumble 2006 – Miami
(Dark – Sandman d. Dreamer)
(Dark- Regal d. Morley)

Joey and Taz on the announce – but not yet, as the show starts with the tape of the lights out match.

1. Empty Arena Match: Matt d. Edge
-No music, no fans, no announce – the building shouldn’t even be ready for the show yet – just a stripped down production crew and a referee.

This still doesn’t really look like a worked match, although much closer to it than the out and out fight at Summer Slam – so, while there really aren’t holds, other than when they get blown up, but they do some spots which require more obvious cooperation.

It’s still more fight than not, double color, finish comes when Matt drives the WWF fork in Edge’s eye and gets the fall. Edge screams – blood everywhere, Matt covered in it – everyone swearing, we can hear the cameraman talk, incredulously, at what Matt Hardy has done to Edge – Matt forces the camera to focus on Edge – Matt, for the first time in a year and a half, talking to the camera – for the first time since he quit at Summer Slam 2004 talking to the fans, “I’m Matt Motherfucking Hardy. And I’ll never stop. I will hurt anyone who gets in my way.” And then the tape goes dead.

The announce, as the show proper begins, expresses shock at Matt – says that he is totally out of control – that they don’t ever want to say that Ric Flair, who has refused to offer Matt a contract and has been responsible for keeping him out of returning to the WWF, is right – but maybe he is.

2. MNM d. DMW (w/’Taker)
-You know, it’s the opening tag program – 50/50 booking – Kane and PAUL went over at SSeries, MNM got some heat back postmatch – Undertaker completed his joining of DMW with the face save – and here he’s on the floor.

MNM gets the win here, enabling the program to roll to a Wrestlemania conclusion.

The 51% Solution enters for an in-ring promo. Hunter, cool as ever, begins by saying that they don’t care about Matt Hardy – and have bigger things to discuss.

Flair, in full maniac Ric mode – then starts yelling about Matt Hardy. Matt will never be on WWF TV again – he’ll never get a contract – he’s a menace – he’s dangerous – if it’s the last thing Ric Flair does in this sport – it’s going to be to make sure no one ever remembers Matt Hardy’s name. Matt Hardy. Matt Hardy. Matt Hardy.

Flair takes off his jacket, does some elbowdrops to the canvas. You know, Ric Flair.

Hunter resumes, “as I was saying, we’re not here to talk about Matt Hardy…”

Hunter’s got three talking points (1) he’s about to get his guaranteed win over S Money. (2) like he promised at Summer Slam and reiterated at Survivor Series – he is walking out of Wrestlemania XXII with gold and (3) the 4th member of the 51% Solution will be revealed…


3. HHH-M (w/51% Solution) d. S Money (w/Angle)
Story is that Benjamin’s better than Hunter – Hunter escapes due to Flair and Arn’s interference, Angle maintains the pretense of being Benjamin’s trainer – not overtly telling Benjamin to take a dive – but looking increasingly nervous. Finally, Benjamin has leveled both Flair and AA – getting the big “dude’s turning face so we can cheer for him finally” reaction and has the fall on Hunter.

But Angle breaks it up. Leading to the pedigree.

Angle and Benjamin go nose to nose postmatch – Benjamin getting angrier and angrier – Angle slapping Benjamin – but, despite the fans, S Money doesn’t react.

4. RVD (w/Foley) d. Kid Kash (w/ECW)
Once again, here’s how we got here.

RVD came into WWF as a heel, a member of the ECW contingent, managed by Heyman. When that contingent dissolved, effectively joining WWF – RVD beat Taz in a retirement match/winner carries the ECW banner.

Van Dam won the IC title, beating Michaels in a ladder match – and got locked into a year long feud with Matt Hardy, which included 2 Wrestlemanias. Matt was managed by Bischoff, and they double turned during the feud.

That turn included a separation from Heyman, who has always been a WWF heel, and RVD even joined up with a formal rival, Mysterio, to win the tag belts.

Heyman paid off Team Angle (Regal, specifically) to take Van Dam out – RVD was gone over a year. In the past few months, Stevie Richards, who actually started the ECW migration as manager of Stevie’s Hardcore Family (Dudleys and Taz) before being taken out by Raven and Taz at Heyman’s instruction, appeared to taunt Heyman with the knowledge that Van Dam was coming back.

Heyman left his post as color commentator, marshaled the old troops – and met RVD in his return in that big tag gauntlet match that hopefully aired on NBC.

Stevie was knocked out in that match – but saving RVD was a WWF legend, Cactus Jack, and Foley is in Van Dam’s corner here and RVD meets Kid Kash.

Van Dam goes over, Foley is able to help keep the ECW group from interfering, RVD gets the frog splash and the pinfall.

Foley comes into the ring to celebrate with Van Dam – and then turns heel.

He double arm DDTs Van Dam – the rest of the ECW crew swarms – RVD is stomped out. Heyman and Foley hug.

Cactus Jack has turned heel at Rumble ’06.

5. Kendrick d. Noble d. London
Okay, quickly – London and Kendrick were an underneath tag team – Kendrick got hurt, London got a singles push. Kendrick came back at Survivor Series, blaming London for badmouthing him over the previous year.

Noble then came back on TV, blaming Kendrick for not taking him back to WWF when he had the chance.

Those views are apparently misconceptions, as we get the point that some mysterious unnamed wrestler has been manipulating the situation.

And then, right after these 3 are introduced, but before the match starts, we meet, who will turn out to be, said wrestler.

CM Punk, with Maria…hot, hot, Maria…come down the steps through the crowd, and sit in the front row – they have tickets, they’re in civilian clothes – Maria…hot, hot Maria…wears very little.

Joey and Taz tell those uninformed who this is – that CM Punk is an accomplished independent wrestler, and that, in fact, earlier today – he signed a contract with the WWF.

This match is for the workrate. Sweet, sweet workrate.

It’s one fall to a finish – unlike the main where 2 eliminations are required – the announce explains that at every turn.

Punk makes his presence known – leaping over the barrier to Pepsi plunge London on the floor, a move unseen by Noble or Kendrick.

It’s Kendrick who gets the fall, pinning Noble after Sliced Bread number two.

The announce speculates that things are about to get a lot more interesting with Mr. Straight Edge, CM Punk, in the World Wrestling Federation.

6. Michaels d. Angle (w/Benjamin)
This is the blowoff to a long program – a couple of years, really, and even longer than that when you consider the Lesnar portion of it. Team Angle v. the Clique was a long running program – the Clique is now dead and Team Angle has been busted up – Kurt’s beaten Michaels in their previous 2 singles encounters.

Here, Shawn gets over – pivotal moment comes when Angle reaches to Benjamin for leverage on a fall – and Benjamin slugs him.

Michaels escapes, superkick, pinfall.

Angle goes after Benjamin on the outside – another nose to nose – and Benjamin leaves him laying with an Angle Slam – and that’s a face turn.

Immediately thereafter, Edge, with bandage over his eye, runs in and spears Michaels, as did he at Survivor Series, allowing Hunter to beat him and end the Clique.

Announce puts Edge over as crazy and tough – he had a spike driven into his eye this afternoon, he lost to Matt Hardy – but here he is, stitched up, bandaged – and he hates his former Clique-mate Shawn Michaels enough to come here and spear him.

Like that.

7. Unified Tags: Booker/Bradshaw (w/Conway) d. Helms/Chavo
Book and Bradshaw are doing a face/heel thing – Bradshaw in his persona as George Herbert Bradshaw (GHB) waving his Sean Hannity, Dick Cheney, and Karl Rove flags, chased the tag titles for months, running through partner after partner (including his lackey Conway, who he nicknamed Anal Cysts after the medical condition that got Rush Limbaugh a deferment from Vietnam).

Eventually, he settled on Booker T, a bottom card vet doing a “I Got to get paid” gimmick of only wrestling when he needs a payday. Neither man had ever held a WWF belt – Bradshaw convinced Book to put their differences aside “GHB doesn’t care about black people” to join up – they did, taking the straps from Orton/Cena at Survivor Series.

It was a shortlived peace – Bradshaw went full on NeoCon again, and now it’s a full oil and water tag team, largely a comedy act.

Helms and Chavo were the SpreeKillers when they arrived from WCW, crazy hyped up meth addicts, words scrawled over their torsos – Chavo grew up and became a Horseman – Helms went through multiple partners – eventually turning face, finding Rhyno and winning the belts.

Chavo turned face at a similar time, helping Eddy in his feud with Horseman Leviathan. Both Helms and Chavo were, coincidentally, knocked out of action by Leviathan (Batista) but returned at the big tag gauntlet battle royal, reuniting and earning this shot.

Which they lose.

It’s a Bradshaw lariat and a Book Harlem Hangover on Chavo that keep the belts for the champs.

Bradshaw then does what he does, hitting Book with a lariat so he can take all 6 tag straps for himself as he exits.

8. Worldwide Titles: Fit (w/Dean and Regal) d. Benoit
-The Sunshine Boys quest to win gold is fulfilled.

Fit was a member of the Titan Trust (along with Arn and Dean) who ran creative prior to Steamboat and Flair; whereas Arn turned heel to join the 51% Solution – Dean convinced Fit that he was the man to train him to come out of retirement.

With the help of Fit’s longtime friend/rival and now training partner Regal – the old veterans fulfill that quest here at the Rumble – Finlay pinning Benoit after the emerald froisen.

An emotional moment.

We heated up the Dean/Benoit stuff before the PPV- as they are also longtime friends/rivals, and arrived together (w/ Eddy and Saturn) in the WWF as the Alliance. Whereas Benoit has become a WWF legend and current holder of the Triple Crown; Dean’s WWF career didn’t match his NWA heights (where he was world champion) and so we had some Dean/Benoit tension that upped the ante here.

But now – it’s postmatch handshakes – the veterans, Fit, Dean, Regal, Benoit, respecting each other at the close of the matchup.

9. Undisputed Title: Rey d. Crazy d. Psychosys (w/Carlito)
It’s a Triple Threat match, Rey pins both Crazy and Psychosys to keep his belt.

Crazy and Psychosys, along with Carlito Colon, are the LWO – the group that was fronted by Juventud – they arrived to go after Eddy, challenging his Hispanic bonafides and goading him into putting up the belt at Summer Slam against Rey.

This was supported by Steamboat, who was Rey’s biggest supporter in believing he deserved more of an opportunity – this was the biggest point of contention between he and Flair even prior to Flair’s turn. Now that Flair, with Hunter as the 51% Solution, has creative control – he stacked the deck against Rey, effectively putting him in a handicap match for the belt.

But Rey hangs on to win.

And then the postmatch shenanigans.

The LWO attacks Rey postmatch – Carlito refusing the accept the loss – the 3 men putting the boots to Mysterio.

In runs Benoit.

Benoit and Rey had begun to tag together just before the Rumble – we’ll mention this prior to Mania, but we’re just now establishing, by a transitive property through Eddy, a Benoit/Rey relationship. Eddy/Rey has a big brother/little brother relationship – and with Eddy gone, Benoit assumes a more protective posture.

The psychology of this largely goes unstated – but Benoit is driven, partially, by a simultaneous desire to be the Hart patriarch, to step into Bret’s shoes, and to avoid it – a drama that played out for years in his relationship with Jericho.

It will completely go unstated to whatever degree Benoit feels responsible for Eddy’s death, but, one could consider it if one were so inclined. Again, that's not part of the show at all, we played out the "Benoit feels he let his brother down" stuff overtly with Jericho - if people wanted to do the psychoanalysis of the Benoit/Eddy relationship, they can do that on their own dime. Just pointing out the subtext. No need to thank me.

So, as Rey, champion of the world, but oh-so-tiny – needs help – here comes the Crippler.

Benoit and Rey easily fight off the LWO – but to the ring comes the 51% Solution – Flair, Hunter, and Arn…

And now it’s 6 on 2 – and the heels get the advantage.

When to the ring comes…

….Ricky Steamboat…

Steamboat was prevented from getting physically involved during Flair’s turn at the Rumble – and then was laid out in the back by Flair and Arn, taking him off TV since then.

But now Steamboat – a WWF legend, a 2 time WWF Champ – the winner of the very first WM main event – the man for whom this Counterfactual is named – Ricky Steamboat comes to the ring and does some housecleaning.

Chops, armdrags – Ricky Steamboat, for the first time in a generation, really, is in a WWF ring and taking care of business.

And then, down the aisle, comes Bobby Lashley.

Lashley is Executioner Lashley – he debuted at Survivor Series and is doing a Black Goldberg gimmick – except with an Executioner’s hood that he throws off as he hits the ring. He’s brutalized both faces and heels, no one knows where he stands…

…Until now.

Because now, Lashley is revealed, as Joey Styles screams, to be the promised 4th member of the 51% Solution.

Spears to the 3 faces – a dominator, if he can take it, to Ricky Steamboat, and with the LWO applauding – Lashley takes his snarling, frothing, brutal place in a pose with Hunter, Flair and Arn – the 51% Solution has cleared house and stands alone as the Royal Rumble ends.

It’ll probably be a few weeks until we get going – but the build for Wrestlemania XXII is next.

Until then, come to - and check back here for updates. Hell, go back and read some old shows if you are coming new to the party – we’ve got over two decades of WWF Counterfactual, a consistent narrative throughline taking us from the War to Settle the Score all the way until Wrestlemania XXII.

Thanks for reading – so you on the Road the Wrestlemania

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