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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 2008 - I

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Survivor Series is here.

The Rumble is comin' at you from MSG in January.

9 matches to set up.  Let's start at the bottom with the opening tag.

On Fight Night, sometime around the holidays, Arn cuts an in ring promo with Charlie at his side (Haas and Shelton were Strong Style, a tag team managed by Arn, since Charlie's return at..what XXII, I think) Arn explains that since Shelton was traded to the WWF (before Survivor Series there were trades, GDI sent Noble to WWF for Morley, then WWF sent Morley, Cena, Kennedy to NWA for Shelton, I mentioned it previously, but its import starts playing a role now).

Arn says since Dusty shipped Benjamin out (we learned that Arn didn't oppose the deal) he's wanted to get back into the tag team picture.  And while he doesn't have anything good to say about what happens on Monday, he kinda liked seeing the tag team title match a little higher on the card at Survivor Series (Michaels and Hunter bigtimed the traditional placement of the tag title match in their successful challenge for the straps, which created a series of butterfly effect consequences we'll see more of here) and he finally has found the right team to bring those belts back to Friday night. 

Arn says he's got two guys who have never teamed together before, two former tag champs - the first - making his Fight Night debut --- John Cena.

(Cena and Orton were underdog, almost comedy babyface champs, then turned almost comedy heel during the run).

Cena does his hyperintense thing and comes to the ring. 

Arn says his partner is not only a former world champion - but someone Arn's managed before - someone who won gold on his own, but never quite made it with Arn - and he wants to change that here.

(You're supposed to assume it's Charlie, as that fits his description - Charlie acts as if it's going to be he who Arn names).

But he doesn't - he names Leviathan.

(Leviathan is Batista, he and Flair were tag champs, then Arn began managing him when Flair seemingly retired to the front office - Flair and Arn swerved Batista and they've been on opposite sides since.  Leviathan beat Miz/Holly at Survivor Series and part of the run up was that he was searching for a tag partner.  And there you go.)

Charlie looks befuddled - Arn says that just like Benjamin, the truth was, he just couldn't cut it. 

Leviathan/Cena wipe him out - their finisher will be the Doomsday Device.  And that's how they'll be booked, no selling bad ass heels.  Gotta use what you have.  They're gonna be called Weapons of Mass Destruction.  They're gonna cut backstage blue screen promos.  They'll shoot bicep poses.  They'll backstroke all the way to MSG.

WMD will meet the LWO at the Rumble in the opening tag, winners get a title shot at XXIV.  That will be part of a larger deal Steamboat/Dusty put together that will be discussed later. 

WMD v. LWO in the opening tag at Rumble '08.

We've also got a match many months in the making - The Juggernaut Eddie Little (Umaga) meets the Undertaker. 

The Juggernaut debuted on the road to XXIII, he's a streetfighter, a combination Kimbo Slice/Necro Butcher, and Steamboat can't keep him in line at all - The Juggernaut has squashed multiple guys on the last two PPVs, really toying with them - he positioned himself against the Rey/Undertaker title match, believing he was the best fighter in the WWF - he ran in to take Rey out during the WWF v. NWA match at Saturday Nights Main Event to give the NWA the win and make its title match the main event at Survivor Series - and then he choked Undertaker out after his loss to Rey.   There's gonna be another big WWF/NWA match on the road to the Rumble that the Juggernaut will play a role in, but we'll get to that later.  Before that match happens, however - Steamboat will send the sneering, no respect Juggernaut home - this is a common role for the Undertaker historically, as clips will show - monsters have come into the company - beaten up lots of guys - and the Dead Man has been dispatched to take them out.  It's essentially his spot - he's the enforcer - he's the legend - he's the cleaner - he takes care of problems.

So - while there's one more piece of business Little has to do before we get there - it's Undertaker v. Juggernaut at Rumble '08.

7 matches left.  All title matches.

Okay - how'd that happen?

At Survivor Series, when Michaels/Hunter pulled their stunt moving themselves up the card, it was the Worldwide Title match that got bumped down.  Orton then didn't bring the US Title to the ring, we find out later that he refused to put it up as the match placement switch was a material distinction from his contract.  An odd catch for him to make.

Orton's called to the ring by Dusty - Dusty rips him, says he's bush league, says the US belt isn't really his.

Orton and Dusty have had problems before - Dusty didn't put him on the big interpromotional team before Survivor Series (he also turned down Leviathan) Orton said Dusty would regret it.

Orton says Dusty should be thanking him.  He still has a belt - his quick thinking - and the thinking of someone in this company who he actually trusts (just throwing down that thread now) got him to maneuver his way out of putting up the US Title - Orton saved the US Title for the NWA. 

Orton says the real problem is Dusty - Dusty's an accomodationist - Dusty's an appeaser - Dusty has taken a subordinate role to Steamboat - we oughta be making strikes against the WWF - not trades with them.

(this theme isn't going away).

Orton says Dusty Rhodes has let down the NWA.  Dusty isn't fit to be commissioner. 

Dusty chews him out, full on "you've got no respect for anything or anyone."

They're gonna do a couple of those dueling promos to establish this theme.  Orton defies Dusty's authority.  Dusty says Orton has no respect. 

Finally, Dusty says he can't just strip Orton - 'cause he hasn't done anything wrong technically - but he can make him put up the US Title at the Rumble.

Orton says there's no one worth defending it against.  That Dusty has ruined the prestige of the NWA, stripped the company of its honor - and now there's no one worthy of holding the US belt but Orton.

To challenge that assertion - Jamie Noble.

Orton dismisses him.  "What have you ever done in your whole career that makes you worthy of a US Title shot?"

Then we roll the clips from 2001 - Noble, in the old NWA (WCW) in a yearlong feud with Lance Storm (who everyone now calls 8, his Hart Foundation hockey jersey number) over the US Title - Noble never won, there's a clip of Dusty Rhodes, as storyline commissioner of the NWA in 2001, telling Noble that he put up a helluva fight at Superbrawl 2001 and deserved a rematch.  He never got one.  The NWA died, Lance took the US Title to WWF, and the US Title was unified with the ECW TV Title and the IC Title at Summerslam (won by Tajiri) to become the Worldwide Titles.

Almost 8 years later - Noble's still waiting for that rematch. 

And look what's happened here - he gets traded to the NWA and Orton's got the belt. 

We've got one more Noble/Orton thing to do before the Rumble - but that's the match, Orton v. Noble for the US Title.

Bringing us to the TV Title.  But we'll do that in part II.

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