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 Summer Slam 2007, Part 3

Monday, June 30, 2008

Part 2 is here.

We’re a month away from Summer Slam 2007 from East Rutherford; three matches already set up – the main event:


The Worldwide Titles:


And the Summer Slam tradition, perejas increibles PUNK/LONDON V. ORTON/KENDRICK.

5 more to go.

The tag title program most of the summer is the new tag champs coming out of XXIII, the now babyfaced LWO (Carlito, Chavo, w/ Crazy as the 3rd man) against Heat (Montel Porter, Elijah Burke). It begins when Steamboat announces that the legendary Rey Mysterio, a Triple Crown Champion, will be returning after a year on the shelf (he was taken out by Lashley with the Dominator through the table at Summer Slam 06, that was the match where Flair won the Unified Title, which he then dropped to Punk at Survivor Series 06, Punk threw down the WWF and NWA belts, which is what ended the 51% Solution and broke up the company into three pieces) to challenge Booker T for the WWF Championship.

There will be subtle (by the announce and Steamboat) and then not subtle suggestions that Rey is coming to reclaim his belt, that while it was an incredible story that Booker, a career midcarder really, was able to beat Edge at the Rumble and then the previously unbeaten Lashley at XXIII top become the first ever African-American World Heavyweight Champion – that he just isn’t in the class of Rey Mysterio, an all time elite wrestler, a WWF legend.

This will be prodded then by the LWO – who will do some promos cheerleading for Rey – saying that after Summer Slam, the Lation Nation will have totally taken control of the WWF, they will still be tag champs – and obviously Mysterio will be WWF champ.

That draws the ire of Heat as Booker’s protégées – add in some partisan minority fanbases and you get your summer. Tag matches and singles matches among all 5 guys.

Two matters of note in that program: Heat begins to act heelish, taking shortcuts – both because the feud presents them as not as seasoned as the LWO, still young, still a little green – and because they think they’re taking Book’s advice. Recall, Porter loved him some Harlem Heat, and Book would take some shortcuts. And part of this year that we’ve watched Book give advice to Porter and Burke (and, in the storyline, the years that Book’s been training them in Houston, not to mention the years in prison where Book sent tapes and wrote letters to Porter) has involved Book telling them that you gotta press the advantage, take the openings, feel weakness – even when (you may recall) it was time for Book to leave his own brother behind to come to New York to wrestle for the WWF Title against Kurt Angle, he had to do what was best for him.

So – Book, now the veteran babyface symbol of his people WWF Champ takes umbrage at the heel tactics used by Porter and Burke – they’re a little surprised – and Porter eventually responds with video proof that Book’s occasionally gone heel himself. Book is clear, clear that he learned from his mistakes – that he wouldn’t be where he is today wrestling like that – but maybe there’s a little pride as his guys begin to grow up – maybe.

All of that builds the program – getting us to the climax – whenever it is that Lashley walks, his goodbye job has to be to Rey. Lashley disappears after Mania – then returns unannounced, say to bury Crazy when he’s separate from the LWO (maybe they’re already gone, say they were in a parking lot brawl with Heat) Lashley’s as furious as he can be, cutting his own promo – saying that if Mysterio is healthy enough to come back at Summer Slam – he’s healthy enough to come back next week on RAW. He’s still the Executioner, he’s ended careers – and he will end Mysterio’s if he has the guts to face him one on one.

So – Rey comes back early – beats Lashley on RAW – Lashley attacks postmatch – cheapshotting Rey – the LWO comes out for the face save – but they never make it to the ring, attacked by…

Well, we haven’t met that team yet – that’s next –

Lashley’s all over Rey – setting up the table for the Dominator – the announce losing their minds – when Book does the run in.

Book with the face save – he battles Lashley back – Rey recovers for the doubleteam, doing all the finishing moves they can do to definitively bury Lashley – the two opponents for the WWF Title working together to end the Executioner. They do a long Hogan like postmatch thing for the fans, in my head, there’s a good, hot battle between the Hispanic and African-American WWF fans that builds over the summer of ’07, the LWO obviously is doing an explicitly Latino pride gimmick, and with Book’s title push from Rumble on being about the quest to be the first Black champion, there is race consciousness abounding. A summer of LWO and Heat – building to the return of an icon like Mysterio – could get hot, and that would be excellent.

Because Heat’s gonna enter the ring now – Book introduces them to Rey – it’s a thing, Rey’s a legend after all, he’s won the Triple Crown – Burke will shake Rey’s hand as the segment is clearly over and it’s just time for a commercial- until Porter gonna takes out Mysterio’s knee.

Porter stomps Rey out – Book and Burke are shocked – they pull Porter away – Porter is excited – Porter’s all amped up – eventually, we’ll hear from Porter the explanation that he was seizing the advantage – now, Book will be going up against an injured, weakened Mysterio at Summer Slam, giving him a better chance to keep his strap – but Book isn’t hearing it at all – and right now, in the ring – with Porter not stopping his attack on Rey – with the LWO gone, attacked by –

Well, we haven’t met them yet –

Book has to get physical to stop Porter – Book takes one shot at Porter – a slap to draw him back – and that’s the second shock in the ring – the slap stops Porter cold – Porter and Burke staring wide eyed at Book – Book really verbally ripping into Porter right in the middle of the ring. Book yells at Burke to get Porter out of there – he does, ending the segment.

That gets to the blowoff to Heat/LWO, a No DQ tag title match on RAW – with Crazy still out, it will be Book and Mysterio in the corners of the other teams. Burke and Porter are all tension – Burke’s caught in the middle between Book and Porter, Book obviously objects to Porter’s heelishness, particularly the unprovoked attack on the legendary Mysterio – Porter is clearly seething, he was slapped by Book in the ring – and really, all he was trying to do was help.

Carlito and Chavo of course are looking for some payback for Porter’s attack on Rey.

So, it’s full on out of control, with the LWO, who had always been heels, always been aggressive, on the wrong side of too many asskickings recently – and they spill Heat’s blood all over the ring, at one point, they’ve got Porter isolated and are full on assaulting with some sharp, awful object – barbed wire or glass or something bad – when Book saves – Book’s save of Porter leads to Rey’s save of LWO – and that means Book and Rey are full on brawling in the middle of the ring.

Chavo gets the fall on Burke, ending the match – LWO will then be attacked by…

Well, we haven’t gotten to them yet.

But – that will set up the WWF Title match – Booker T v. Rey Mysterio – giving us 4 matches.

And it sets up the tag title, LWO defending against…well, not Heat – that feud’s blown off and they have injuries to sell – but LWO defending against the team that’s attacked them twice – a team from the NWA – we’ll get to that team along with the NWA Title match and the two other singles matches on the card (spoiler alert – one man’s wrestling in each of those two matches) in the next installment on the Road to Summer Slam 2007.

Road to Summer Slam 2007, Part 2

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Part 1 is here.

SummerSlam’s coming in August from East Rutherford.

Long view as we march to XXIV from Orlando next March:

Now that there are 3 separate champions, three separate companies with three distinct identities, as often as possible, each looks to proclaim its superiority, specifically the superiority of its champion. Booker (WWF) Fit (NWA) Punk (ECW/GDI) are all put over hard as the real worlds champion – and there is much speculation about if/when the belts will ever be unified again. The push for that unification comes from the WWF side; the motivating element of Steamboat’s character is that his job is to bring the company back together, to bring everyone back under the WWF umbrella and to reassert the WWF Championship as the dominant title belt in the world. It’s the driving force behind all of his decisions. GDI is the rebellious upstart; the NWA sells its UFC-like stiffness – but the WWF doesn’t need to establish brand identity – its struggle is to regain unquestioned control of the wrestling universe.
At XXIII, Steamboat announced that the main event for XXIV would be a TLC match, the first TLC match in the WWF since the bodybag match that ended the E/C v. Hardys v. Dudleys tag feud and saw 5 of the 6 competitors get stretchered from ringside. Unlike the build for the Edge/Matt Cell main event at XXIII, we don’t know the participants yet – but at every arena all year long we see the posters for XXIV, the outline of the tables and chairs – a ladder reaching to the sky – the tag:

Tables. Ladders. Chairs. Titles. Wrestlemania XXIV. March, 2008. Orlando.

Oh, My.

8 matches to set up.

Wrestlemania ended, recall, with the gigantic Cell match between Edge and Matt – Hardy gaining revenge, getting the victory in the main event of XXIII. It was clean and brutal and bloody and definitive and marked the end of the feud.

And, of course, the show didn’t end then. GDI – Punk and his crew – entered to make their mark on the big show, splattering Matt and Edge all over the cage they locked behind them.

The three moments of note – Edge crawling, for some much speculated reason – to protect Matt, shielding him from the blows, taking the chairshots himself to spare Matt. Two, Jeff, after losing the 3 way for the Worldwide Titles earlier in the evening (Randy Orton taking the straps, getting the fall on the champ, Shane Helms) hobbling to ringside, seeing there was no way to get into the cage – except for the hole in the top, made earlier when Edge and Matt crashed through together, falling together through the cage as neither was willing to stop punching in order to save himself. Jeff climbing to the top and diving through, wiping out GDI momentarily in the spot that defined WM XXIII.
And 3 was Paul London. London has never turned heel, never bought fully into Punk’s GDI rap – only joining GDI and leaving the WWF when Punk promised him that he would be the one contesting for the ECW title at XXIII – a spot that Punk cavalierly then gave to RVD and Sabu. London made the big face save at the close of XXIII – cleaning house and putting the spotlight of the wrestling world on himself as Wrestlemania closed.

And that’s where we begin immediately following XXIII as the Road to Summer Slam begins.

Punk is celebratory on GDI Wrestling – he is put over as having kept the ECW belt against both Van Dam and Sabu – in Detroit no less. Punk effectively says that in one night he has established himself as the dominant World Champion in ECW history – that his feat is unmatched in wrestling – RVD and Sabu are gone – gone from the company, gone from wrestling – gone from the world, for all anyone knows. And it is all because of CM Punk and GDI.

Note the changes to the crew over the summer – Colt Cabana is on the roster now, playing his comedy role; he and Punk have a good two man bit, Colt always wanting to inject some levity – Punk always plotting, always serious – Punk carries himself like the top guy, he’s the king – but Colt wants to tell jokes, wants to hang out – wants to have fun. Over the summer, we can see that Punk is loyal to Cabana, that he, Maria, and Colt are a crew within the GDI structure. Joining the roster soon – Matt Sydal, who will be keeping that name. Already on the roster but soon to be able to appear on PPV – Jimmy Yang. When last we saw Yang a few years ago – he had a surfer gimmick, San Diego Jimmy Yang – and feuded with Ultimo and Tajiri. Now, he is just Yang, dropping the Jimmy and going all Yakuza – spiky hair, mirrored sunglasses, black suit. Yang.

Also changing is the announce – Josh Matthews remains the principal voice of GDI, but Al Snow is now gone as the color man – coming out of losing the tag titles at XXIII – Tommy Dreamer takes over as the analyst. Dreamer’s gonna turn face here, moving to his real world Dreamer character, the regular guy, true blue ECW character – he can occasionally serve as counterpoint to Punk, as there is no commissioner figure on Tuesday.

Punk’s defending the ECW belt is the main event of Summer Slam – the dominant GDI storyline is that Punk won’t let Paul London in the building. Punk’s on top – he sells GDI as tight knit, as a family, as unbreakable – if they stand together they wind up on top of the wrestling world – where’s Edge – gone – where’s Matt – gone, where’s Jeff – gone – where’s RVD and Sabu – gone – when you cross GDI – you get gone.

London’s not a team player, he’s only in it for himself.

So, London starts running on Punk the same program that Punk ran on the whole WWF when he debuted – London goes to indie shows that aren’t GDI – and somehow (Punk blames Dreamer) his matches wind up getting shown on the grainy videotape on Tuesdays. Punk says London has no job anymore – he’s not GDI – but London matches wind up on the air – and now London, playing even smaller venues then GDI, out-indying the indie alternative – keeps crashing GDI with his tapes.

London, with his crowds behind him – starts cutting promos on Punk – Punk’s the one just in it for himself – he talks about all of GDI becoming stars, champions – the best wrestlers alive – but he’s the only one who seems to be booked on the big shows – where’s the title shots for everyone else - what about the rest of the guys – Noble and Kendrick and Yang and even Colt Cabana.

London trying to ferment some distrust, dissatisfaction – Punk trying to keep them together, saying protecting him, protecting the ECW belt is what GDI is all about.

Eventually it looks like the rubber’s about to meet the road for Punk – the crew seems ready to mutiny – Punk’s kept a psychological hold on this group of wrestlers since his debut – he’s the puppetmaster, the manipulator – he has been constantly positioned as a master of psychological warfare – but now, with London going all guerilla with videotapes, Punk’s promises look hollow – there’s a moment where it looks like there’s gonna be a revolt – “Where are our title shots – what about what Paul says – when are we gonna get our shots – what about us – any of us – any of us, Punk…
When Punk says “you want title shots – you want a title shot at Summer Slam – what about an Intercontinental Title Shot – what about a shot at the Worldwide Titles – what about – a shot against Randy Orton”

And Orton’s music hits – and Randy Orton appears on GDI.

Recall, the way the tag belts and the IC maintain significance in a universe with 3 World Champions is that they’re the wrestlers who defend on all 3 shows – the World Champs and the rest of the rosters are married to their individual shows – but the Worldwide (Orton) and the tags (LWO) work all week, can wrestle against anyone.

Orton’s gimmick is now the same as his real world gimmick – the idea that he would stand at the Hammerstein or some equivalent is clearly beneath him, but Orton says he’s beaten the top contender at WWF (let’s say Helms) and NWA (lets say Haas) and he got a call from Punk saying that there were some boys on Tuesday night who might like a shot at the Champ.

Orton gets into all of their faces – saying that he’ll put up his Worldwide belts against someone from GDI at Summer Slam – and they can work that out among themselves – he’ll be there in East Rutherford in August to get his pinfall and get his check.

That’s enough to win the GDI wrestlers to Punk’s side – fuck that London, he doesn’t know anything – and we get some type of round robin points based tournament on the road to Summer Slam – one of the results of that being that the tag team of Noble and Kendrick gets busted up when the competition between them gets too heated.

It winds up that its Kendrick who comes out on top in the GDI Challenge – Brian Kendrick is going to Summer Slam to challenge Randy Orton for the Worldwide belts.

As that challenge is going on – London steps it up – making forays into the Hammerstein or equivalent to attack individual GDI wrestlers – calling Punk out each time – demanding that Punk faces him man to man. London gets all of them – taking them all out one at a time all summer – there’s a spot, after Kendrick has earned his title shot – where London has a chance to wipe Kendrick out.

There should be drama – London is about to hurt Kendrick – taking away his chance to be Worldwide Champ – taking away the biggest match of his life.

But we all know that London really still loves his former tag partner – they’re brothers, they came up together in San Antonio – they were junior Cliquesters under Michaels – they wanted to be tag champs, to rise together – and it’s all gone wrong – but London still has that glimmer of affection for Kendrick down deep like babyfaces do – and despite everything – he can’t pull the trigger on wiping his old partner out – he spares Kendrick, allowing him to keep his shot –

And that’s when Punk finally pounces – Punk and after a little hesitation, Kendrick, take London apart – they stand over him and Punk yells out to London that he’s got himself his world title shot at Summer Slam.

So – we’ve set up 2 matches and actually 3.

ECW Title: CM Punk v. Paul London
Worldwide Titles: Randy Orton v. Brian Kendrick

Also, recall the Summer Slam opening tag tradition is parejas increibles – the mixed partners tag match. This year – the opening tag for Summer Slam will be Paul London and CM Punk against Brian Kendrick and Randy Orton.

3 matches down. 5 to go on the Road to Summer Slam 2007.

TNA Lockdown 2008

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bound for Glory is here.

TNA Lockdown - 2008 (Lowell, MA)

Real world Slammiversary means Counterfactual Lockdown. I think it's not until Bound For Glory that I'll do Slammiversary.

TNA Title: Kurt Angle d. Samoa Joe
X Title: Homicide d. Bobby Roode
Tags: Christian/Rhyno d. Motor City Machine Guns
AJ Styles d. Chris Daniels
Booker T. d. Sting
Petey Williams d. Sanjay Dutt
Frankie Kazarian d. Jay Lethal
Dudleys d. Jimmy Rave/James Storm

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