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 - Final: History of Counterfactual MSG on PPV

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Royal Rumble 2008 is the tenth PPV at the home base of the WWF, the world's most famous arena, Madison Square Garden. Each time they go to MSG - it's important something noteworthy happens.

1. Wrestlemania. 1985
-You know this, obviously.

Ricky Steamboat won the WWF Title over Hogan a month before at War to Settle the Score in his WWF debut; also at that show, Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo dropped the tag belts to the Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff - and at night's end, Windham turned heel, leveling the Dragon to kickstart that program. Steamboat kept the WWF Title at the main event of Mania, Muhammad Ali, the GOAT, putting the belt around Steamboat's waist after the defeat of Windham Nearly a quarter century later, Steamboat is the WWF general manager who has finally brokered a deal to regain control of the company. Roddy Piper had a big night - taking the IC in a dog collar match from Greg Valentine and aiding Paul Orndorff in his screwjob win over Hulk Hogan. And the young babyface tag team of Brutus Beefcake and Tito Santana took the straps over the evil foreigners. Add in an Andre the Giant squash of David Sammartino and that was Wrestlemania at MSG.

2. Summerslam '88
-The first ever Summerslam was also held at Madison Square Garden. This time it was a heel, the Dynamite Kid (#1) on his second WWF title run who kept the belt in the main event - barely - over the red hot Randy Savage. MSG saw its first ever shock heel turns here; the Hart Foundation busted up - Bret Hart (#2) came in and left as the IC Champ, beating his brother in law and longtime partner, Davey Boy Smith (#3). Postmatch, the Bulldog turned heel at press slammed the Hit Man to the floor. Heel tag champs, the Rougeau Brothers, with the Anvil (#4) as their manager surprisingly kept the straps over the monster heel Demolition. Rick Rude beat Jake Roberts, again, with Jake's wife Cheryl turning heel, making out with Rude in front of a handcuffed Roberts. Andre and Hogan tagged together to open the show. A quarter century later the Hart lineage continues with Chris Jericho (#7) and Edge (hoping to become #10) taking on Shawn Michaels and Hunter Hearst Helmsley-McMahon for the tag straps.

3. Summerslam '91
-Every three years we go to MSG - so it's 1991 and we're back with Summerslam. The feud started here 3 years before ended here at Summerslam - Davey Boy Smith won the WWF Title, defeating Curt Hennig, and Bret finally forgave his past indescretions postmatch - the Harts, with their title belts raised aloft, finally made up at event's close. Bret's title was still the IC, this his second run with the belt, and he defeated a returning Ricky Steamboat in the Dragon's last ever WWF match. The Road Warriors were the monster babyface tag champs - they kept here over Power and Glory. There was a Piper's Pit; where Roddy got former tag champs Michaels and Jannetty to go face to face in a set up for their blow off match at Survivor Series. 17 years later - Shawn Michaels is on his 4th run with the tag belts. The Undertaker bodybagged Kerry Von Erich after squashing him in the undercard - leading to a nose to nose with Hogan. 17 years ago, it was the Dead Man who was the monster heel - but at Rumble '08 it's the Juggernaut who oozes defiance and the veteran Undertaker tasked with stopping him.

4. Wrestlemania X. 1994
3 years later - Mania returns home. The main event was another Hart winning the WWF Title - Owen Hart (#6) defeating the now longtime champion Bret, who turned heel during his title run. Owen was held in the air postmatch by the babyface locker room - including a makeup handshake between two longtime antagonists, Curt Hennig and Randy Savage - while Bret seethed in the aisle. Shawn Michaels lost his IC Title 14 years ago at X, in a laddermatch to fellow Cliquester Razor Ramon. Ramon had turned babyface to protect young Sean Waltman, who responded by turning heel and joining Shawn and Diesel. All 4 men are here at X, Waltman taking a couple of crazy ladder bumps. The Rougeaus, with Scott Levy as their manager, lost their tag belts at X to Lex Luger and Bam Bam Bigelow. This was the last WWF PPV for Randy Savage - crazy, hardcore Randy Savage beat Demolition Crush, stabbing him multiple times with a fork - and then left the WWF for good the next night, losing a final blowoff match to Owen, culminating their long relationship.

5. Survivor Series 1996
-They couldn't stay away! Only 2+ years later and we're back at MSG for Survivor Series (I was at real world SSeries '96, incidentally). Shawn came in as the WWF Champ - but lost to Bret, the Hitman gaining the strap for the third and final time. A wild Hart/Clique brawl postmatch - the heel Harts: Pillman, Bret, Anvil attacked Michaels - he was saved by the heel Clique: Hunter/Road Dogg/Billy Gunn - Owen and Davey Boy, babyfaces, ran in on the Harts side - and that led to the Harts and Clique all fighting among themselves - and that led to Steve Austin, who was positoned against all sides - running in to fight everyone in the ring. The IC saw Cactus Jack (there's a Jack promo to open the show) win a bloody, violent, brutal cage match over the champion Vader. Marc Mero and Bart Gunn kept their tag straps, beating Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon. Earlier in the evening, Austin beat Owen in a match that ripped the building down - 2 Cold Scorpio beat Al Snow by somersault legdropping him through a table as the ECW chants rained down. Hunter, 11 1/2 years later not only wearing a tag belt, but also wearing the McMahon name, beat Goldust. And the Rock debuted - as a heel member of the Nation of Domination with DLo, Mark Henry, Ahmed Johnson and Ron Simmons - and with their help he beat the Undertaker, who was saved by a man we'd eventually come to know as Kane, his brother - and that brother got frogsplashed through a table by Brown. 'Cause it's 1996 and it was New York.

6. Summerslam 1998
-Less than two years go by and we're back. Owen walked into Summerslam the WWF Champ - but walked out having been set on fire by the now heel Triple Crown winning Cactus Jack. Foley's constant rival since entering the WWF was Austin - and he also won the Triple Crown at Summerslam '98, beating Ken Shamrock for the IC. Another feud that was heating up was Rock and Hunter -- the Nation, Rock and DLo, now babyfaces, beat Hunter/Waltman and Road Dogg/Billy in a 3 way dance to regain the straps. Taka Michinoku went over Dick Togo; Jeff Jarrett ended Mero's WWF run; Ulysses Morley, now with GDI a decade later, beat Dustin Rhodes. More importantly - Adam Copeland made his PPV debut, actually made the PPV debut for any of the Ring Boys, defeating Vader. A decade later Edge joins Chris Jericho in challenging for the tag straps.

7. Royal Rumble 2000
-Less than 2 years later, back at MSG. Babyface Cactus Jack is WWF Champion - he keeps over a local favorite, working as a heel - Taz. 8 years later, Taz and Joey Styles are the longtime voices of the WWF and Foley has just returned; he was on Team WWF in the War Games match and he's part of the ECW angle with Stevie Richards on GDI. Will he make an appearance at Rumble '08? 8 years ago the IC Champion was Chris Jericho and he kept over Hunter - they meet again in the tag title match in 2008 in a cage match. The Dudleys, with Stevie Richards, were heel tag champs - they went over the Hollys 8 years ago and then put them through flaming tables - postmatch, the Hardys and E&C all came to the ring for a wild brawl. 8 years later - Stevie just lost the TV title to the Yakuza and Jeff is once again challenging CM Punk for the ECW Title. Kurt Angle made his MSG debut 8 years ago - he beat both Davey Boy and Sean Waltman in separate matches. Al Snow won a 3 way dance when the Nation: Rock and DLo - his opponents, saw their budding rivalry explode. Edge beat Ulysses Morley, his futureformer brother in law, in a No DQ match.

8. Survivor Series 2002
-Almost 3 years later, back to NYC. Kurt was in the midst of his Bruno like title run, but was starting to hear some boos - he kept over Jericho as Angle's heel protegee Brock Lesnar interfered. Shawn superkicked Angle cold at show's end. Shawn came into the night the IC Champ, but lost a ladder match to RVD - and then was F5'd on the ladder by the aforementioned Lesnar. 5 1/2 years later, you know what Jericho and Shawn are doing. You probably know what those other guys are doing too. The tag champs were Eddy and Benoit, with the 4 Horsemen (Flair/Leviathan/Chavo) they kept the belts over Jamie Noble and Billy Kidman. 5 1/2 years later - Leviathan and Chavo - who feuded for awhile after the Horsemen breakup - are facing each other again, with the LWO meeting WMD. Noble is also working - he wrestles Randy Orton for the US Title at Rumble '08. Brock beat Hunter in MSG - F5'ing him on the ramp and busting his head wide open. Chavo beat Shane Helms in a battle of former (and future) tag partners. Rey Mysterio made his MSG debut, beating Steve Regal. 5 1/2 years later, Rey is WWF champ, defending his belt against Shelton Benjamin at Rumble '08 and Regal was just on Team NWA in the War Games match. Lance Storm (#8) beat Edge (#10?) with Stacy and Trish as the superhot, just loinachingly hot managers. And the Dudleys beat the Hardys by DQ - Jeff and Matt had been using increasingly heelish tactics - guided by a mysterious manager who made his shocking appearance here - Eric Bischoff.

9. Wrestlemania XX. 2004.
-And finally, XX.

The show ended the way the show ended. Babyface champions Benoit and Eddy in the ring. Benoit retook his title from Angle, and Eddy retook the IC in a ladder match from Chavo. The tag champs were Flair and Leviathan, taking from Haas and Benjamin. 3 1/2 years later, Leviathan and Cena are wrestling Chavo and Carlito at Rumble '08 - and Shelton is taking on Rey for the WWF Title. We've made reference to the big angle in this show multiple times during the run up to Rumble 2008 - it was here, at WM XX - where Jericho and Christian completed their long double turn, Trish joined Jericho and they threw Christian from the top of the Cell. Jericho got the win - and later in the evening, Michaels beat Hunter in a falls count anywhere - postmatch - Edge returned after an absence of over a year to save Michaels postmatch - Jericho ran in to attack Edge - and a bloody Christian made his way to the ring - the new, babyface Clique cleaned house. In 2008 - Jericho and Edge are together and facing Shawn and Hunter for the tag straps. Trish is still so hot. Mmmmmm. Rey beat Ultimo Dragon and Tajiri in a Three Way Dance where Jimmy Yang got involved - Yang is now Yakuza, the TV Champ - Rey is a Triple Crown winning 2 time WWF champ. RVD and Matt finished up their year+ long feud, RVD winning a tables match - Matt re-turning face by attacking Bischoff postmatch to wrap up Eric. And in a Legends Weapons Match Mick Foley and the Rock teamed up to beat Brock and Bill Goldberg with Steve Austin as the guest referee.

With a show like that - no wonder it's taken so long to come back.

But back they are coming. Rumble 2K8 is at MSG:

WWF Title: Rey Mysterio v. Strong Style Shelton Benjamin

NWA Title: Johnny Nitro (w/Melina) v. Fit Finlay (w/Malenko)

Unified Tag Titles: Shawn Michaels/Hunter Hearst Helmsley-McMahon v. Edge/Chris Jericho

ECW Title: CM Punk (w/Maria and Colt) v. The Blood Dragon Jeff Hardy

IC Title: Montel Vontavious Porter v. Elijah Burke

US Title: Randy Orton v. Jamie Noble

TV Title: The Yakuza v. Little Warrior

Undertaker v. The Juggernaut

LWO: Chavo Guerrero/Carlito Colon v. WMD: Leviathan/John Cena (w/Arn)

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