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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 - II

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

In Part 1, we set up the following:

WMD: Leviathan/Cena v. LWO: Chavo/Carlito
Undertaker v. Juggernaut
US Title:  Orton v. Noble

6 more.

Over on GDI, we start seeing taped pieces about Stevie Richards.  Like real world WWF, the backdrop will be that Stevie's been gone because of a series of painful throat surgeries.  Amplifying that, however, will be Stevie's role in this world - Stevie started the move from ECW to WWF (we're gonna jog ECW around the park one last time) with Stevie's Hardcore Family - first him, then the Dudleys, then Taz.  Stevie managed the Dudleys to the tag titles before losing control of the ECW invasion to Paul E.  Stevie then worked as a way underneath tag with Spike for a few years before emerging as RVD's manager after Van Dam split from Heyman.  Stevie was on the RVD/Sabu side in the last version of the hardcore war - managing them to a tag title - they lost the belts to Sandman/Dreamer (Tommy is now babyface color man for GDI, and after each of these vignettes, he puts over Stevie as a real embodiment of the spirit of ECW) who were backed by the GDI heel tag of Kendrick/Noble (they split in a feud over the Worldwide Title shot that Kendrick got, he lost to Orton - and then further split when Noble turned his back on the hanging of Paul London - that led to Noble's getting peddled for jobber Ulysses Morley (Val Venis).

Stevie disappeared then after Sabu's pre Mania turn, in the run up to the 3 way with RVD/Sabu/Punk for the ECW belt at XXIII - but now we learn why, it's the throat.

We learn two things from these pieces - Stevie's going to have to retire, he will leave wrestling, both managing and wrestling, after XXIV, his throat just is never going to recover, he can barely talk or swallow, and it's too dangerous.  And two - we learn that Stevie's never had a title of any type, either in ECW or WWF - and it's really his only regret.  He tries not to feel sorry for himself - but...but it's just been hard, harder than he wanted it to be.

The third vignette, just as Stevie starts to break down a little - is interrupted, the tape stopped - by Kendrick, who comes out to the ring with The Yakuza (Yang).  Yakuza, incidentally, is feuding with Little Warrior (Shannon Moore) and at this same time wins the right to have the next title shot - of any type - at any time - on GDI Wrestling. 

Kendrick says enough of this walk down memory lane - no one cares about some manager - no one cares about ECW. 

He's not the only person who has expressed this.  Bradshaw, the color man for the NWA, takes the opportunities the Friday after the first two Richards vignettes runs to rip ECW - saying he can't believe it's 2007 and he still has to listen to propaganda about a bingo hall.  They died, their style of wrestling died, most of their fans are dead - give it up.  And even Ricky Steamboat, as part of a bigger angle involving Punk we'll get to later, winds up denigrating ECW. 

Dreamer is the ECW defender - and he defends it now against Kendrick and Yakuza - the full on "the movement will never die" speech - Kendrick and Yakuza tear up an ECW flag - Dreamer gets full hot, is ready to go after them - but Josh Matthews, the play by play guy, makes clear the dictate that if any announcer gets physically involved - he loses his job.

That's another thread.

The following week, Dreamer cuts an in ring promo that goes after Bradshaw and Steamboat and the McMahon family and GDI and everyone else he can think of.  And he says the next week - Stevie Richards is coming to GDI.  And, Dreamer promises some surprises.

Next week - Stevie.  Stevie thanks the fans for the outpouring - Stevie should seem a little weak, a little tired - as if at the end of his road.  Dreamer says some friends wanted to say goodbye - Guido and Crazy come to the ring.  Dreamer says there's more special guests - and WWF announcers Styles and Taz make their first appearances at GDI.  Given Steamboat now digging in against ECW, and the longstanding enmity between GDI and WWF, this is a surprise.  Stevie is touched.  It's a moment.  Dreamer says he has one more surprise.

Bang, bang.

Cactus Jack.

Now, this is less of a surprise than might you think - as Foley needs to have appeared on RAW the night before, maybe the week before, but at least once.  We'll talk about that later - but the payoff from that angle as it impacts this is that Foley left RAW with Steamboat owing him a favor. 

And as the ECW crew stands together - Foley tells Stevie and the GDI fans what that favor is.

Next week - on GDI - there's gonna be a title match - MVP will put up the TV title...against Stevie Richards.

(Another ripple from Survivor Series - with the US Title being severed from the Worldwide belts, and Steamboat then taking some shots at ECW - Foley is positioned, when Steamboat needs a favor, to extract from him this title shot.  MVP is displeased).

The ECW guys are once again in attendance the following week (except for Joey and Taz, who are in the doghouse on RAW - Bradshaw has taken shots at all of this on Fight Night - and Steamboat upbraids them the next week, saying they have been WWF announcers for years - years - and they need to remember in this economy who signs their paychecks).

Stevie fights from underneath - but doesn't have enough - until Porter is attacked by Elijah Burke.

(Burke and Porter were Heat, protegee tag team of Booker, and there's more backstory than that if you are unaware - Porter wound up turning on them both at Summer Slam, punking them out, driving Booker from the company - Burke hasn't made an appearance since then either, gone 6 months - out of nowhere he emerges to take out MVP - allowing Stevie to get the StevieKick and the pinfall.  Stevie Richards is you new TV Champion.  The first title change of any type not on PPV in a quarter century.)

Ideally, bedlam.  This should be in Philadelphia or another traditional ECW city.  I'd do it in the bingo hall.

Stevie wins!  Stevie wins!  It's a full on impossible dream coming true thing.  Stevie Richards has won the TV Title.  Crying and whatnot.

Then emerge Kendrick and Yakuza.

Kendrick says hold it - Yakuza beat Little Warrior - he had the right to the next title match on GDI television.  Any title he wants.  And what he wants is a shot at the TV title.  And when he wants it is now.

And just like that - Yang is in the ring - there's a referee - the bell rings - and before anyone can regroup - Yakuza has pinned Richards and taken the TV title.

Boom. 

That sets up two matches.  It's going to be Yakuza against Little Warrior (Yang v. Moore) in a continuation of their feud at Rumble (Stevie, mammothly depressed, gets the long, slow walk from the building into nothingness) for the TV Title - and Porter will take on Burke for the belt he still has - the IC belt. 

5 matches down.  4 left.  It continues.

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