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.

Royal Rumble 2007

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The build is here.

Royal Rumble 2007 – San Antonio
(Dark – London d. Kendrick
Regal d. Haas)

Joey and Taz on the announce, except for the 2 NWA matches, which are done by JR and Bradshaw. I’m not sure yet, when we get purely a GDI match, who does it, my working thought remains Josh Matthews, who is the voice on Tuesday.

1. LWO: Carlito/Crazy d. Cena/Kennedy
-There’s Mexican flag waving; we’re in San Antonio, which should mean some face reaction for the LWO, given they’re booked really strong over the white boys. That’s fine with me. LWO rolls ‘em. More flag waving. It’s an LWO party.

2. HBK draw Jeff (time limit draw)
-Yeah, I know, it’s a less than satisfying finish, but the booking requires it, whatever the time limit is, probably ten minutes given the place on the card. Michaels is pissed at the stoppage, barking at no one in particular “Shawn Michaels comes home and only get ten minutes – that’s great – that’s why this place is falling apart.”

3. NWA World Title Semifinal: Fit (w/Dean) d. Orton
-The rematch from Survivor Series – Fit’s been getting taken out repeatedly by Orton’s RKO, for months, really – but this time he takes the kid out, the announce sells the stiff, strong style of the New NWA – Fit goes over clean with the emerald froisien.

The New NWA: Where We Fight.

4. WWF World Title Semifinal: Booker T (w/Heat) d. Edge (w/Hart/Smith)
-A shocking result; Edge is a top guy, the main event at XXIII – and we’ve spent the last few weeks really devoted to how much he burns to be WWF Champion, which would give him the Triple Crown. Edge is supremely confident here, as Book has never been a top singles guy, even in his younger days in the NWA.

And Edge is shown as better, just a little – younger, faster, more athletic – but Book pulls a small package pinfall out of nowhere and stuns the crowd.

Book, seconded by his protégées, Burke and Porter, celebrates wildly – we’ve seen them bond over the months, grow as Book passes on his wisdom, his colors, even a variant of the Harlem Heat name, to Porter and Burke – and they, as the announce points out, have reignited his competitive fires.

Edge is inconsolable, his seconds, his half of the Ring Boys, Teddy Hart and Harry Smith, attempt to tell him it’s okay – but Edge is uncomprehending – he’s completely stunned, did this just happen? Did he just lose his chance to wrestle for the WWF Title…to win the Triple Crown…at WM XXIII?

5. WWF World Title Semifinal: Executioner Lashley d. Undertaker (w/HBK)
-After over a year, finally, Lashley and the Dead Man go at it on PPV – and it’s Lashley who keeps his unbeaten streak and will go on to XXIII to meet Booker T for the WWF Championship.

Michaels, recall, has been training the Dead Man for this one – between the two of them, between the two locker room leaders of the WWF – they’ll find the solution to stop the Executioner.

The finish comes after an outside spot – Lashley and the ‘Taker both outside near Michaels – Lashley takes a swipe at Shawn, but he slips it and throws a superkick –

Which Lashley ducks, and it catches the Dead Man flush.

The Taker is laid out, Michaels puts his head in his hands, Lashley drags the Dead Man back into the ring – hits the Dominator – and wins the match.

Lashley makes the sign for the belt – staring hard at Booker T, who remained at ringside on the announce. Lashley remains undefeated and will go to WM XXIII to wrestle Booker T – two black men, as we’ll note, wrestling for the World Wrestling Federation Championship.

Michaels and the Taker remain in the ring – Michaels reviving the Taker – I like a shot of the two men watching the Lashley/Booker moment – clearly on the outside looking in. Michaels attempts to apologize to the Dead Man – you know, for superkicking his head off. But the Undertaker won’t hear it – and he walks away from Shawn.

Michaels is left alone in the ring – and hopefully, hears some boos. Michaels shows the dejection…the rejection…he’s turned his life around, he’s no longer the selfish Shawn Michaels of a decade previous – he just wanted to show people the way – show them the truth – be a leader of men.

And this is the thanks he gets.

Shawn Michaels puts on a mask of defiance and makes the lonely walk up the ramp.

6. NWA Semifinal: Flair d. Benjamin (w/AA)
-There are undertones, as the announce points out, there are rumors spreading throughout the building, that if Flair loses tonight, loses in his quest to regain the NWA Title, he might retire – with AA on the opposite side, that becomes the match psychology – Benjamin is clearly the superior wrestler, outflanking Flair on every turn – and with AA in his corner, he’s prepared for the Flair dirty tricks – but Flair, desperate, crawling – is able to get a flash pinfall, holds the tights, feet on the ropes, the whole thing.

Flair and AA hug postmatch, Flair and Benjamin shake hands. Ric Flair is going to Wrestlemania to face Fit Finlay, who came back out to the announce for the match – it will be Flair and Finlay, Booker and Lashley, for the vacant NWA and WWF World Title belts at WM XXIII!

Is Flair retiring will become the backdrop for that match – as it takes on a “NWA Title or bust” feel – Flair doesn’t come right out and announce it’s his final match, but there sure will be a lot of classic Flair clips over the next 2 months.

7. Unified Tags: Double Hell Glass Tables Match: Sandman/Dreamer (w/Noble/Kendrick) d. RVD/Sabu (w/Stevie)

-Sheets of glass covering tables surround two sides the ring – Sandman and Dreamer went GDI, connecting themselves to the big angle and allowing Noble and Kendrick, as Punk’s minions, his true believers, carrying the GDI revolutionary flag, to be part of the program and work a lot of this match.

Dreamer gets the fall on Van Dam – for those who care, it’s Tommy’s first belt of any type in the Counterfactual – and he and Sandman have an emotional moment with just themselves, brief, but real – it’s 2007, and they are the Unified Tag Team Champions of the World. Presumably, there will be some GDI support – they’re designed to be heels, but heels with a cause – and when the four wrestlers hit the buckles – all raising tag title belts (‘cause Noble and Kendrick – really, really are part of the match) maybe there’s some GDI chants amidst whatever booing occurs.

8. Worldwide Titles: Helms d. Chavo (w/LWO)
-Sugar Shane keeps the strap, going over his old tag partner and warding off interference from the LWO – like the HHH match from Survivor Series, Helms looks like a massive underdog – he has to overcome not just 2 time IC Champ Chavo but the entire LWO, constantly interfering here – and he does – Helms keeping the belt and coming out strong.

9. ECW Title: Punk (w/Maria) d. Matt
-Maria comes out either with a neckbrace or with her forehead bandaged, depending on how much pain Matt got to inflict on her at the go home RAW.

Matt, of course, is the top face in the company – he beat Michaels clean at Survivor Series, beat Flair clean at XXII, beat Edge clean at Rumble 06, he’s headed for the Hell in a Cell main event at XXIII.

Punk is leading the GDI Tuesday revolution, effectively a “why don’t you push the ROH guys” angle without using that terminology. He was the first man ever to win the Number One Contender Battle Royal from the number 1 position, he went to Survivor Series and took the Undisputed Title from Flair – and then shockingly threw down both the WWF and NWA belts, spitting upon them – which led to the company splitting into thirds.

Steamboat, coming back to be WWF commissioner, has control of this rematch, given Flair’s championship rematch clause – Flair gave it up to the WWF when he dissolved the 51% Solution and moved to the NWA. Steamboat gave the shot to Matt Hardy.

Impossible that Matt doesn’t win – with XXIII looming – but he doesn’t.

And the reason he doesn’t is Edge.

Edge promised, in that way that he always does, to leave Matt alone – he understood how Punk had to be stopped, understood that Punk had degraded the WWF Title – understood that Matt would leave Edge alone in Edge’s quest to be WWF Champ (Matt did) and that Edge would, in turn, leave Matt alone as Matt tried to save the company from GDI.

But – there’s a spot – say a facewash spot where Matt does the Otani facewash on Punk, who is on the outside, Matt propping Punk up on a chair and delivering the running kick to the head.

Fans chant “one more time” As they like to do.

Matt props Punk up again – runs up the ramp to get the full running start – and startlingly, Edge leaps from the back and spears Matt dead into the ramp.

The announce tells the story – this is who Edge is – this is how low this man is – he lost his match with Booker T – and he can’t stand – he can’t stand the idea that Matt Hardy might get the ECW belt – that Matt Hardy might be a hero – after Edge has failed.

They’ve gone months and months and months and months with no physical contact – and now Edge spears Matt into the ramp and stands over him, the very picture of the evil heel.

Quickly – Matt’s ring boys, Cody Rhodes and Kenny Doane, are out from the back and all over Edge – and just as quickly, Teddy Hart and Harry Smith fight them away from Edge.

On 24/7, over the past year they’ve largely stayed in the background, but we’ve seen the friendship among the four young men grow – much as the Hardys friendship with Edge and Christian grew when they served as the Ring Boys for the Clique and Harts respectively so many years ago.

And now they brawl to the back – leaving Edge to slowly back away from Matt – Edge running his hands through his hair – scowling – taking the boos – Punk now recovering – Punk recovering to drag Matt back to the ring.

Matt’s gonna kick out – but Punk quickly hits the Go To Sleep and the Pepsi Plunge – and gets the pinfall.

Noble/Kendrick and Sandman/Dreamer, with title belts, hit the ring to celebrate with Punk and Maria.

Paul London, who detests CM Punk, but doesn’t necessarily disbelieve the essence of the GDI movement – now comes to the ring – he’s been promised the title shot at XXIII by Punk – and he comes to the ring – and shakes CM Punk’s hand.

The full GDI squad streams down the ring – celebrating CM Punk – Edge remains on the ramp – his hands on his head, equal parts disbelieving what he has just done, that he has kept GDI in power – taken away the WWF control over the ECW Title belt – and disbelieving that he has lost to Booker T – that he will not be wrestling for the WWF Title at XXIII – and equal parts satisfied – satisfied that he could screw Matt Hardy.

And the show fades.

It might not start until February, but soon we’ll be on the Road to Wrestlemania XXIII from Detroit. 9 big matches to set up – you already know the main event – you’ve known if for a year – Matt v. Edge: Hell In a Cell.

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