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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 Summer Slam 2007 I

Thursday, May 15, 2008




WM 23 is here.


Road to Summer Slam 2007 – 1

Summer Slam 2007 will be coming from East Rutherford in August – all 3 World singles titles on the line, with the story throughout the summer – in fact, the dominant story throughout all of 2007 as we drive to WM 24 being - who is the real World Champion.

In every crevice and corner, the announcers from the 3 shows, the wrestlers, and particularly the champions themselves, look to infuse evidence as to their claims as the real world champion. Ricky Steamboat, virtually every time he appears on television, says he has one goal in life – that being to reunite the 3 belts, to reunite the WWF – to reassert the primacy, the unquestioned superiority, of the World Wrestling Federation.

There will be 8 matches at Summer Slam ’07 – CM Punk, Booker T, Fit Finlay all defending their World Titles. Punk was our last Undisputed Champion, holding all 3 World Title belts (which had been united by Kurt Angle, who defeated the last ever ECW Champion, Rob Van Dam, and then the last ever NWA Champion, Rey Mysterio, when they each brought their title belts to the WWF) when he defeated Ric Flair at Survivor Series ’06.
Punk then threw down both the WWF and NWA belts, he and his valet Maria spitting on them, creating GDI and calling the ECW World Championship the only true title belt in wrestling. Punk kept over Matt Hardy at Royal Rumble ’07 and has just defeated both RVD and Sabu in a Three Way Dance at Wrestlemania XXIII. Joey Mathews and Al Snow, the voices of GDI (until Snow gets released) will put Punk over throughout the summer as having run the two ultimate ECW legends clean out of wrestling after pinning them both cleanly in their hometown at Wrestlemania.

The vacant WWF and NWA belts were filled with new champions at XXIII in the culmination of tournaments that began prior to Rumble ’07. The veteran Booker T, clearly spurred on with his mentorship of the young lions, Montel Porter and Elijah Burke (Heat) caught a fire he had not shown since his NWA days, upsetting Edge at the Rumble and then handing the Executioner Bobby Lashley his first ever defeat to win the WWF World Heavyweight Championship at XXIII. Book becomes the first African American Heavyweight Champion in wrestling history, a fact noted multiple times by all involved.

The NWA relaunched upon Punk’s throwing down their title belt – Friday Night Fight Night was created, with Dusty Rhodes serving as that company’s GM, and the returning Jim Ross and Bradshaw becoming the voices of the promotion. Whereas the feel of RAW is puroresu, and GDI is designed to ape ROH – NWA Fight Night is supposed to feel like MMA, as shootlike as can be worked.

Fit Finlay became the new NWA Champ – Fit emerged from retirement a couple of years previous with Dean Malenko as his manager, this no-nonsense pair teamed together to take the IC strap (the Worldwide Titles) which he dropped to HHH-M at XXII. Fit rebounded in ’07, going over Randy Orton at Rumble ’07, then retiring Ric Flair to win the NWA World Title at XXIII.

And Ric Flair appears to be retired.

On the Fight Night the week following XXIV, the last half hour of the program is for Flair appreciation. Outside of neither Hunter or Michaels appearing, the in-ring portion is basically the same as the one on real world RAW after XXIV. The boys, the veterans making an appearance – it’s a Flair thing. We add some clips – I like clips – a sort of this is your life montage of Flair’s career.

RIC FLAIR’S CAREER:

Becomes 1st ever US Champion – 4/80 (d Jimmy Snuka)
Wins 1st NWA Title – 9/81 (d. Dusty Rhodes)
Wins 2nd NWA Title – Starrcade ’83 (d. Harley Race, starts the Counterfactual)

Flair holds the title for 4 years, defending against Superstar Graham and Rick Rude. Obviously, Rude can’t attend the ceremony, but as the clips play, everyone else can then come to the ring. Snuka – Dusty – Race – Billy Graham get introduced, one at a time. Clip. Intro. To the ring for the pop.


The 4 Horsemen were created in this stretch – and along with JJ Dillon come Arn, Tully, and ideally, Ole Anderson. To the ring.

Wins 3rd NWA Title – Starrcade ’88 over Dr. Death Steve Williams. Flair defends over Ricky Steamboat, Great Muta, Lex Luger -- all of them, ideally, to the ring, one at a time, each getting the separate pop.

Flair’s initial WWF run is shown – Flair with Heenan, Flair/Michaels/Piper battling the Harts – Flair defeating Davey Boy Smith to win the WWF Championship at Survivor Series ’91. Heenan comes to the ring – Piper comes to the ring – Harry Smith comes to the ring.

Wins 4th NWA Title – Fall Brawl ’93 over Vader. And in the postmatch – the reformation of the Horsemen – with Arn and the Hollywood Blonds. Vader comes to the ring. And the glass breaks – and here comes Steve Austin.

1995 – Ric Flair and Randy Savage team up to win the NWA tag championship over Harlem Heat --- Booker T, WWF Champion, comes to the ring along with Stevie Ray.

And then comes Randy Savage.

I mean, he didn’t fuck my underage daughter (allegedly) so I’m cool with bringing him back. Randy Motherfucking Savage.

Savage and Flair keep over Kensuki Sasaki and Masahiro Chono – and now they come to the ring. Muta/Chono/Sasaki – all in the ring.

At Slamboree ’96 Flair took the US title over Diamond Dallas Page – and at Superbrawl 2000, his final NWA Title over Jeff Jarrett. DDP comes to the ring – and I’m betting Jarrett would come too.

A clip is shown of Flair’s last two titles – he and Leviathan winning the tag belts over Haas and Benjamin at XX – and then he defeating Rey Mysterio for the WWF Title at Summer Slam 06. Leviathan, now a heel and enemy of Flair, comes to the ring, they break kayfabe for the hugging.

The rest of the roster, as many guys who can come (no Punk/HHH/Michaels – but everyone else, I think) can surround the ring to applaud Flair

A final clip – of the last run of the 4 Horsemen, is shown – Flair/Leviathan/Eddy/Chavo/Benoit.

Chavo comes to the ring with Vicki and as many of the brothers who can come.

And then Chris Benoit comes to the ring.
Benoit’s been gone since XXII, when Lashley sent him through a table following Benoit’s loss to Rey. The working assumption is that Benoit has retired.

Benoit comes to the ring on Fight Night the week after Wrestlemania XXIII. He carries with him the Hart-Guerrero Memorial Triple Crown, which he is in possession of as the most recent man to earn the distinction of winning all WWF belts. Benoit accepts the applause – the chants – waving to the fans as he hugs the wrestlers in the ring, hugs Flair – and hands the Triple Crown to Steamboat.

The announce lays out as the crowd reacts the way that it will – the arena full of wrestlers – the applause for all of them – the wrestlers waving to the fans – the shot momentarily lingering on the smiling faces of Flair, Chavo, and the greatest wrestler who ever lived – Chris Benoit – as the show ends.

I’ll be back to continue the road to Summer Slam ’07.

THE CHAMPIONSHIP CAREER OF CHRIS BENOIT

1996 – NWA Championship (Slamboree, d. Sting)
Defenses: Chris Jericho (Fall Brawl 96) Jushin Thunder Liger (Starrcade 96) Jericho (Superbrawl 97)

1997 – NWA Championship (Starrcade, d. Dean Malenko)
Defenses: Sting (Superbrawl 98)

1999 – NWA Championship (Superbrawl, d. Eddy Guerrero)
Defenses: Malenko (Slamboree 99)

2000 – WWF Championship (WM XVI, d. Cactus Jack)
Defenses – The Rock (Summer Slam 00) Steve Austin (Survivor Series 00) Jericho (Royal Rumble 01)

2002 – WWF Tag Championship (w/Eddy Guerrero) (Summer Slam, d. Jericho/Lance Storm)
Defenses – Jamie Noble/Billy Kidman (Survivor Series 02)

2004 – Undisputed Championship (WM XX, d. Kurt Angle)
Defenses – Angle (Summer Slam 04) Eddy Guerrero (Survivor Series 04) Shawn Michaels (Royal Rumble 05)

2005 – Worldwide Title (Triple Crown) (Survivor Series 05, d. Angle)

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