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 - 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.

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