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 '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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