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 - 5

Friday, December 26, 2008

Part 4 is here.

8 matches down, main event left.

Tags: Michaels/HHH-M v. Edge/Jericho
ECW: Punk v. Jeff
NWA: Nitro v. Fit
IC: Porter v. Burke
US: Orton b. Noble
TV: Yakuza v. Little Warrior
Undertaker v. Juggernaut

Throughout the road to the Rumble, it's appeared as if Steamboat was completely without control of the company.  He was brought back to run the WWF after Survivor Series '06 when Punk threw down two of the title belts and the company split into thirds.  His own goal - unite the WWF.

But now it's over a year later and things, if anything, seem further apart than when he took over.  The Survivor Series main event was for the NWA Title - the WWF title match was third from the top.  Michaels and Hunter completely defied a quarter century of tradition and, on their own, they flipped their match to run after the Worldwide Title match.  And the worldwide titles have joined the world heavyweight titles, also splitting into thirds.  There are 6 singles titles on the line at the Rumble - it's exactly what Steamboat least wanted to ever happen.  6 singles champions, tag champs who think they're bigger than the company, and then there's the Juggernaut, totally out of control.  The WWF champ, Mysterio, who Steamboat has always pinned the company's fortunes on, sort of looks to be breaking down.  He stood against the 51% Solution in 2006, until finally Executioner Lashley took him out of the sport for a year.  He seemed to be as good as ever at Summer Slam '07 when he beat Booker to regain the title - but it could be his slight stature, or having the weight of the company on his shoulders - it just clearly seems as if Rey is not who he used to be - whether it was Montel Porter or the Juggernaut, Mysterio has just been a walking target since returning.  And while he successfully defended against the Undertaker at Survivor Series, it was by the skin of his teeth - and the tremendous size disparity seems to have taken more of a toll that first expected. 

Amidst that backdrop - Steamboat starts to rage a little bit - against ECW...against his announce team.  With the questions mounting, Steamboat takes a trip to Fight Night.

Steamboat gets a mixed reaction in a surprise walk on.  He cuts conciliatory promo.  Says sometimes Fight Night is the best show of the week.  Says they've done the NWA proud.  Says as a former NWA Champ himself - he understands how important what they've done for the past year is.

And he says it's time it came to an end.

Steamboat plays a clip from the RAW after Survivor Series '06 when he returned to WWF and Dusty was hired to run the new NWA - it's a clip of Dusty explaining that the NWA Board had utilized the revocatory clause in the contract where NWA was bought by the McMahon Family which said that the NWA title had to be treated with esteem otherwise the sale would be revoked.  At such time when the Board felt the glory and pride of the NWA had been returned, then once again, NWA would be reincorporated into the WWF Universe.

Steamboat says that with the success of the NWA, most notably headlining a WWF PPV and having its own highly rated television show, it is clear that the NWA had returned to its former level of esteem.

And so - once again - it's time to come home to the WWF.

Dusty then comes to the ring.  Says he doesn't like the sound of what Steamboat is saying.  He says we'll fight you in the courts - we can tie this up for years and all go down - Steamboat needs to get up on out of the ring and back to Monday nights where its safe.

Steamboat says maybe you're right.  But then no one has a job.  None of the boys have work.  None of the fans get matches.  No Wrestlemania.  Nothing.  You can burn this company to the ground, Dusty - or we can do it a different way.

Steamboat says let's have another interpromotional match. 

A match you know something about.  A War Games match.

(there have been two war games matches in WWF history - one that ran the Alliance out of the WWF and one that gave the 51% Solution control)

You get 5 guys.  I'll get five guys. 

We'll get into a cage.  A new kind of cage.  A War Games Chamber.

One man will submit.  That side will lose.

The winning side takes total control.  I'm pushing our chips to the center, Dusty.   You're a gambling man - you want to do this in the courts - or do you want to do this in the ring?

One match.  Winner takes all. 

Dusty will shake his hand.

And Dusty will then come to RAW the following Monday to further amplify the repercussions of this.

A War Games match.  One what show?  Steamboat says they're willing to do it on the NWA home turf, on Fight Night. 

But in return - he wants unification matches guaranteed for Wrestlemania. 

That WM XXIV banner that was first unveiled at XXIII - promising a TLC Main Event is now in view again.

The main event of Wrestlemania XXIV will unify the WWF and NWA Titles.  In a TLC Match.

And the US and IC belts will also be reunified. 

And there you go.

All of the talk will then be about Wrestlemania - who will meet for the undisputed championship?  Steamboat is crowing about getting the titles reunited at XXIV. 

That will cause CM Punk to go nuts.  This was teased earlier in this Road to Royal Rumble.  Steamboat begins to put down the value of the ECW Title, calling it not really needed to reunite the belts.  Saying that he didn't need Punk.  Didn't need him for Wrestlemania.  Didn't need his belt.  Thanks for playing.

Punk is out of his mind now.  There are backstage vignettes with he and Colt and Maria - Punk is raging violent - he's the champ, after all - everyone's talking about Wrestlemania - everyone's talking about reunifying the belts - unifying the WWF - and no one is talking about the ECW Champion. 

Punk is uncertain what to do.  Distracted - angry. 

He'll take part in that big War Games Fight Night.  There will be 3 matches that night.  The War Games match and a singles match - both which we'll set up in part 6.  And a GDI Match - Punk/Yakuza/Kendrick/Morley (I'll set up Morley in the next post) v. Jeff/Little Warrior/Super Crazy/Guido.

5 parts down - we continue traveling down the Road to Royal Rumble 2008.

Road to Royal Rumble 2008 - 4

In Parts 1-3, we've got 7 matches set up.  Two to go.

ECW Title: Punk v. Jeff
NWA Title: Nitro v. Fit
IC: Porter v. Burke
US: Orton v. Noble
TV: Yakuza v. Little Warrior
Undertaker v. Juggernaut

RAW, the night after Survivor Series, ends with an Edge promo.  Edge unexpectedly returned at Survivor Series for the first time since getting stomped out in the Cell after losing the main at XXIII; as GDI took out he, Matt, and then Jeff - Edge threw his body over Matt's the keep him from the onslaught. 

Shawn and Hunter, heels, spent the walkup to Survivor Series punking out the young members of the extended Hart family, finishing up, as planned - winning the tag straps from S&S, then going after young Natty Neidhart. 

The Jericho clock had been ticking for weeks, throughout this entire process - and it hit zero just as Natty was about to get pedigreed.  But it wasn't Jericho who emerged, wearing the number 7 Hart Foundation hockey jersey (that's Jericho's number) it was Edge.  Edge cleaned house, saved the girl, and now cuts promo.

Edge apologizes.  Says it's good to hear the cheers.  He wondered sometimes if he would ever hear them again after all the things he's done.  Says he knows some of things he's done are unforgiveable.  He knows that.  He says somewhere along the line he just got off track.  He's not the person he wanted to be.  And the reason for that is that years ago, he joined the Clique. 

He says it was his decision.  He doesn't blame Trish.  He doesn't blame his brother.  It was his choice to join Hunter, to join Waltman - to a join the legacy of Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash and Scott Hall.  He joined the Clique and it warped him.  There's a selfishness - a smugness - a sense of entitlement that just smothers you when you are in that group - and even when you leave - even when you escape - that disease just stays in your body - pulsating - becoming a member of the Clique was the first worst thing I ever did.

And when I lost the main event at Wrestlemania, I went home to recover, to recuperate - I figured it out - how I could have gone so far off track. But I didn't figure it out alone.  I made a friend over the summer.  Which, considering I lost all of my friends in the WWF, was a good deal.  I made a friend over the summer - someone who you maybe remember - Number 7, Chris Jericho.

(Jericho, of course, has been gone a couple of years - his last incarnation was as The Lizard King Chris Jericho, bearded, fat, booze guzzling heel Jericho).

That's when Shawn and Hunter enter.  Hunter says there will be plenty of time to talk  later - all the time they want - they're the Clique after all - they are the show - he's just got to correct one small mistake that Edge made - he just said he "escaped" the Clique.  You don't escape the Clique.  You're Clique 4 life.

He throws down the mic and they make their way to attack Edge - they get the two on 1 advantage - and then the clock starts again - counting down (oh, not for nothing, the Titan Tron is like five times its real world size) from 7...6...5...4...3...2..1....

And here's Jericho.  No beard, no booze.  It's Chris Jericho.  He and Edge clean house.  And there you go.

They're gonna meet for the tag straps at the Rumble - Shawn/Hunter v. Jericho/Edge.

There's lots of history here.  As mentioned, Edge was in the Clique with Hunter - they split in half - actually, Shawn's return from the back injury after 4 years gone was at the Toronto Mania when he ran in on the side of Hunter/Hall when they faced Edge/Christian.  Edge went away with his back surgery; Christian feuded with Jericho for nearly a year - they double turned, Jericho becoming a heel, Christian a face - the turn ending in the Cell when Jericho threw Christian off (only 3 Cell matches in WWF history, Jericho won the second - Edge lost the third) and later that same night, after the Michaels/Hunter match (Hunter had turned heel on Shawn) Edge returned to save Michaels and the most recent version of the Clique was formed (w/Christian and London).  Edge then swept into that Christian/Jericho feud and did what his brother couldn't - took Jericho's IC.  Heel Jericho started the very, very beginning of this Michaels turn, by calling Shawn out - saying he wasn't the Heartbreak Kid anymore - he wasn't the showstopper - wasn't the main event - and everyone knew but Shawn.  That thread was then picked up by Edge - he and Michaels feuded after Edge turned heel and the Clique disintegrated, Edge beat Shawn at XXII, Shawn beat Edge in a ladder match at Summer Slam '06.  Edge constantly ripped  Michaels as irrelevant.  Shawn was beginning to feel irrelevant, as if the company had passed him by - the younger workers were less interested in his wisdom - he positioned himself as the moral conscience of the WWF - but his Boy Toy past wouldn't allow him to be taken seriously. 

Edge lost at XXIII in the blow off to an epic feud with Matt; Shawn lost the legends match to the Undertaker, apparently turning in the process.  They both then vanished - Michaels came back before Survivor Series as a heel, he and Hunter too big for the WWF - too big for wrestling - treating everyone as beneath their station.  Edge came back, as you know, at Survivor Series.

There's some comedy in this program - not between the two teams - but inside them - Hunter and Shawn are smugly self satisfied - Edge and Jericho do some "and here's the terrible thing you used to do" stuff.  Between the two teams, nothing but years of dislike - with these guys specifically and with reference to the Hart/Clique legacy.

That gets to the one additional plot point here - the hockey jerseys. 

As mentioned - each member of the Hart Foundation has gotten a hockey jersey -

0 - Stu
1- Dynamite
2. Bret
3. Davey Boy
4. Anvil
5. Owen
(that might be backward)
6. Pillman
7. Jericho
8. Storm
9. Benoit

And now Edge wants one.

There's a little dance, Edge doesn't actually ask - but it's clear that he wants to be part of the family.  As we go to the Rumble, what we understand is that if they can win the tag titles at the Rumble - then Edge is going to get his pink and black jersey. 

One match to go. It continues

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