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 2008

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The build is here.

2008 Royal Rumble - from Madison Square Garden

(Dark - Kendrick/Sydal d. Guido/Crazy
             Regal d. Colt)

Three 2 man announce tables: Joey/Taz for the WWF, JR/Bradshaw for the NWA, Matthews/Dreamer for GDI. The bickering among the announce teams, which began in the run up to Survivor Series, got heated at Survivor Series, has escalated to the point of anger among all of the men. JR and Bradshaw are not alone at the NWA table, standing behind them is Mark Henry, who longtime readers may recall has been the most recognizable Counterfactual bodyguard, working with Rock/DLo when they were the Nation of Domination.

Bradshaw explains, in his way, that he hired Henry for the night because he is concerned for his physical well being from those ECW guys (he's referring to Taz and Dreamer).

JR reminds him that any broadcaster engaged in physicality will lose his announcing contract, as has been discussed during this ongoing feud.

That allows Joey to take a dig at Bradshaw (and possibly JR) putting over the dominant storyline of the WWF defeating the NWA in the War Games match (Benjamin submitted Fit when Fit's longtime manager, Malenko, threw in the towel) and now that WWF has total control over all programming, rumors are rampant as to what that will mean for the future of the NWA.

Those two points of contention - the ECW issue and what appears to be the end of the NWA, are continually brought up by the announce teams in the crevices of the broadcast.

Tense would be a good way to describe it.

Once that back and forth ends, Jericho's music hits and he and Edge, who are challenging the Clique for the tag titles tonight, come to the ring. Jericho wears his #7 Hart Foundation hockey jersey, Edge is shirtless. Edge's potentially receiving a jersey is one of the points of interest for tonight, he'd be #10.

They do some babyface MSG banter.  "This is the heartbeat of the World Wrestling Federation - the world's most famous arena - Madison Square Garden in New York City."  "And the heart and soul of the WWF has always been the Hart Foundation."  "It was right here, in Madison Square Garden, that #1 the Dynamite Kid kept his WWF Title at the first ever Summer Slam by beating Randy Savage."  "3 years later, it was right here that #3, the British Bulldog, Davey Boy Smith, took that WWF Title away from Curt Hennig."  "3 years after that - in 1994 - at Wrestlemania X - #5 Owen Hart won that same WWF Championship from #2 Bret the Hit Man Hart in this very building  "In 1996 - at Survivor Series, here in Madison Square Garden, Bret regained the WWF Title for a record 3rd time, defeating the man we are going to defeat tonight - Shawn Michaels."

"And this had also been an important place for the two of us."  "Your father played hockey right here for the New York Rangers."  "And you won your first ever Pay Per View  right here at Summer Slam '98 when you beat Vader."  "In the year 2000 - you kept the Intercontinental Title by beating Hunter Hearst Helmsley - and we're going to beat him again tonight."   "And then in 2004, at Wrestlemania XX, I threw your brother off the top of the Hell in the Cell right through a table right over there."




"Maybe your family should stay out of that Cell.  Seriously."

"But now - but now we have joined forces - Edge and Chris Jericho - and tonight, we will become World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Champions!"

"And we'll be doing it as family."

Someone at ringside runs in to bring Jericho a small bag - from which he pulls out the #10 Hart Foundation hockey jersey, it has Edge's name on the back.

Edge is noticeably moved.  Jericho says Edge has been a jackass more than not over the past ten years, but so has he.  Edge has made mistakes, made enemies - turned everyone in the locker room against him - everyone in the world against him. 

But no matter what - after tonight - he'll be #10.  And Canadian blood, Hart Foundation blood, is thicker than water. 

Edge and Jericho embrace - Edge shows the fans his jersey - Edge puts it on and the Harts hit the buckles.

And now to the matches.

1. Number One Contender's Match: WMD (w/Arn) d. LWO
-Both WWF and NWA announce teams here, they use a good portion of this match to sell the "what's going to happen to the NWA" angle - with Taz needling Bradshaw and Bradshaw getting increasingly hot.  This match is also about furthering the WMD gimmick.  Cena and Leviathan (Batista) do a green screen backstage promo prior to the match (shown in an insert during the LWO entrance, I'm thinking...remember how during the opening to SNME they'd do the quick cutting backstage promos with the music underneath - WMD does a lot of those) they're an 80s muscle tag act - a lot of no selling and catchphrases and flexing.  It's not parody...but it might be seen as a little campy.  Ideally, I'd like the fans who would be disposed to liking a monster Road Warriors like tag act to enjoy WMD and those who might find them silly to appreciate the camp or to boo them out of the building.  Either way. 

The little storyline here is Chavo and Leviathan were Horsemen, Chavo first stayed with the Horsemen when Eddy turned face and feuded with them - eventually Chavo joined his Uncle, and that bought him some Leviathan asskickings.  With Arn and Leviathan reunited on one side and Chavo on the other, that element to the match exists.  Mainly, it's WMD - no selling, hitting power moves - flexing and Doomsday Devicing Carlito to get the fall on the former tag champs.   Leviathan and Cena will go to Wrestlemania XXIV to challenge for the tag titles. 

2. Juggernaut d. Undertaker
-The Juggernaut Eddie Little (Umaga) has smashed his way through the WWF for a year causing general manager Ricky Steamboat to rip the remaining hair out of his head.  Undertaker, as locker room leader, has clashed with Little for several months - Little attacked him at Survivor Series, they brawled before Little was sent home in the run up to the Rumble - and here we are. 

I like this added bit to the Juggernaut - he gets to the arena just as they're doing the ring introductions.

So, it's "the Juggernaut is not here - we don't know"  and then a limo pulls up outside - and Little stumbles out, puffing on an enormous cigar.  That's how little he respects his opponents, how little he respects the veteran Dead Man - he comes right from limo into the building, into the arena - throwing the cigar at Steamboat on his way.  And the brawl begins.

This is all brawl, all streetfight in Juggernaut style, they sprint full out until they blow up and that's when the Juggernaut gets the fall.  Little can bleed here; it gives the Taker a little bit, and I want to give the Taker a little bit before Mania - but the monster Juggernaut goes over.  "I'm the Juggernaut....BITCH..." yells out Little as he stumbles up the ramp in victory, we see him in the back - piefacing a kid looking for an autograph - then, a step ahead of the law, into the limo and gone.  The Juggernaut. 

3. TV Title:  Yakuza (w/Kendrick) d. Little Warrior
-This match is about furthering the ECW angle.  Kendrick cuts brief anti-ECW promo before the match - and works whatever ECW chant he can manage from the MSG crowd in 2008. Whenever possible, Dreamer, as the color announce, puts over the belt as the ECW TV Title belt, taks about its lineage and the lineage of ECW.  Bradshaw, not working this match, will interrupt eventually to tell Tommy to shut up - that he's disrespecting the Chinaman in the ring - that will allow Dreamer to dig at the impending death of the NWA - and there will be some shouting between the two before the match concludes.

Yakuza (Jimmy Yang) gets the fall on Little Warrior (Shannon Moore), then he and Kendrick start stomping Little Warrior out.  Kendrick motions to the back and Sydal, Cabana, and Morley all enter.  Sydal and Cabana join in on the stomping - Morley, who has  been undergoing GDI re-education, stays on the outside, unwilling to join in on the heel activity - but also not stopping it. 

That leads to the ECW troops arriving - Guido and Super Crazy come to the ring - but they're obviously still outnumbered - Dreamer throws down his headset and stands up - as we know - if he gets involved physically it will mean his job - but he reaches under the table and tosses Singapore canes to Guido and Crazy.  Dreamer shouts out "ECW" and the caning begins.

That pushes Bradshaw's buttons - he rips off his headset and as happened at Survivor Series - Dreamer and Bradshaw are nose to nose - Mark Henry coming in between them -

Meanshile, Morley grabs a cane - gets in the ring - and now joins GDI - caning Guido and Crazy to temporarily gain the advantage for GDI - which quickly ends with the entrance of Stevie Richards.

This storyline really started with Stevie, the announcement of his retirement after Mania - Mick Foley getting him the shot at the TV Title held by MVP - Stevie took that strap when Elijah Burke ran in to take out his former tag partner and lifelong friend Porter - Stevie then lost to Yakuza and has not appeared since.

He's here now - StevieKicks for everyone.  Richards cleans house and the ECW group stands tall.

4. US Title: Jamie Noble d. Randy Orton
-Orton held the Worldwide Titles going into Survivor Series, lost the match - but held the US Title back in a contractual technicality.  That furthered the storyline of his discontent with the NWA leadership of Dusty Rhodes - which has gotten magnitude with NWA losing the War Games match - and losing it when Shelton Benjamin, who Dusty traded to WWF, got the submission win.  So, the level of anger with Dusty can come out by the announce now - Bradshaw leading that charge hard and JR not doing anything to blunt it. 

Noble was in a feud for the US Title with Lance Storm (#8) when NWA died in 2001 - in this run with WWF, he's largely been a GDI heel, tagging with Kendrick.  Noble got dealt in a fuck you move by Punk from GDI to WWF for Morley, and then packaged by WWF with Cena and Kennedy to NWA for Benjamin.  The story told here is a desperate Noble, who knows when this chance might come again - in a constant scramble to take every possible advantage - getting the fall and winning the strap from Orton.  He does as much celebration as the fans will let him have. 

5. IC Title: MVP v. Elijah Burke
-A one match blowoff, so it's gotta be a definitive finish.  Porter and Burke were lifelong friends, Porter went to jail and started writing Booker T, then a member of Harlem Heat, in the mid 90s.  When Porter was released, at Book's invitation, he and Burke moved to Houston to train.  Book brought them into WWF after several years, gave them his colors and called them Heat - and eventually Porter turned on both of them. 

Porter took the IC and TV belts from Orton at Survivor Series, he's down now to the IC after losing to Stevie on GDI - they've got one shot at this match - Porter goes over hard and mercilessly.  No need to protect Burke, a dominant MVP goes over. 

And that brings out Yakuza and Noble.  As we know, these belts will be unified once again at XXIV in a 3 way dance - the 3 champions - Porter, Noble, and Yakuza going nose to nose to nose as all the announcers hype up Wrestlemania XXIV.

6. NWA Title: Nitro (w/Melina) d. Fit (w/Dean)
-It's the placement of this match on the card that reignites the fire of the announce teams.  There are 9 matches tonight, so this is more of a mid card match than a main event.  Bradshaw just loses his mind over this - blaming Steamboat, the WWF, blaming Fit for losing the War Games Match - but really focusing on the incompetence of Dusty Rhodes for putting them in this spot.  JR's hot but a little more tempered, and he focuses on Michaels and Hunter.  Recall, the Clique's gimmick is they smugly are above any rules that might apply to anyone else.  They easily got their tag title shot at Survivor Series, and they defied years of tradition by having the tag match moved after the IC match on the card.  So, here we are again - and now one of the big singles belts is the 6th match of the card.  And this just fuels all of the concern the NWA guys reasonably have about the state of their company. 

-As for the actual match - there's a stip - slightly tweaked since the run to the Rumble.  This is the blowoff match to the program, Fit kept at Summer Slam when Nitro quit; Nitro took at Survivor Series when Melina interfered.  Dean interference during the run to Rumble gets us to the stip - Dean and Melina are each handcuffed to the ropes. 

-Ideally, Nitro's gotten stronger in the feud; prior to this, his career highlight was a non PPV feud between MNM and Strong Style.  This was designed to get him credibility in the roughneck NWA.  By this match, he should be seen as the superior wrestler based on youth and athleticism.  Other note is that Bradshaw doesn't like Nitro - when Nitro quit at Summer Slam he lost everyone, Bradshaw never came back around, he's just the kid who quit. 

-Melina, even handcuffed, is able to interfere - say she trips Fit on the outside - and then gets the official to stare at her cleavage allowing Nitro to use a foreign object and not get seen.  That's enough that Bradshaw grabs the handcuff key from the timekeeper and unlocks Malenko's cuffs.  That's a heel announcer and a babyface manager (there's been increasing tension for several months between Dean and Fit).  Dean sprints around the ring, to the still handcuffed Melina - and he drops her with a running elbow.

Dean stomps on Melina,  security comes down in a swarm - Dean's dragged away, Melina's unhooked - the net result is to draw all the fire Nitro has - and he gains an advantage and eventually wins clean. 

7. ECW Title:  Punk (w/Maria) d. Jeff
-And the ECW title being placed here, before the tag title match, draws the ire of the GDI announce.

Dreamer puts Punk over - he hates Punk, yadda, yadda - but the truth is Punk's right - Punk was the undisputed champ - he beat Flair in the middle at SSeries '06 - and he threw down the WWF and NWA belts - but not in one single PPV has the ECW belt been the main event.

This allows to remind everyone of the other big piece of fallout from the War Games match - the WWF and NWA belts are going to be reunited at Mania - but Punk's been cut out.  Marginalized.  Excluded.  Sure, Punk's an ass - but he is the champ, no matter what Steamboat says.

Hard to keep the faces and heels straight sometimes.

By mid match, there will be lots of Dreamer, Taz, and Bradshaw all yelling.

This is a rematch.  Backing up, Punk beat Matt at Rumble '07 when Edge interfered, Punk attacked Edge and Matt postmatch in the Cell at the XXIII main event - Jeff saved - but then he got stomped out too.  Jeff returned as the Blood Dragon to get the shot at Survivor Series '07, they went to a 30 minute draw.  Punk, as master of mind games, has been working on Jeff - talking about how he's not ever going to be his brother - how his brother became a main eventer and he got forgotten.  Jeff's just stuck, Punk says - he's historically, epically stuck as the baby brother.  That's why he's wearing the Blood Dragon costume - to hide his Hardy-ness.  But Punk's also starting to show the wear - Steamboat x'ing him out of the big Mania match is under his skin - it was Punk's choice, of course - he threw the belts down in the first place to start GDI - but now, with WWF taking NWA and that unification looming - Punk feel unimportant.

-Punk goes over clean, surviving the feud with Jeff - Dreamer, pushed a little further perhaps than he wants to go, applauds - "that's what the ECW Title is all about - you can enjoy watching it from home after you get fired, Bradshaw" - Bradshaw rips off the headset and heads over to the GDI announce - they go nose to nose - Mark Henry slides in between them - then Henry goes behind Dreamer - putting him in a bear hug when, in one motion, Bradshaw lunges with a clothesline to the WWF announce table to level Joey Styles.

Taz attacks Bradshaw - Dreamer and Henry start brawling - Josh Matthews gets trampled in the melee - security drags everyone from ringside - Punk, still in the ring, sees his triumph over Jeff completely obscured as 5 of the 6 announcers at ringside have just been involved in a brawl.

JR, still with his headset on, says "anything can happen in the World Wrestling Federation" - and then Mick Foley's music hits.

Foley, who just wrestled for Team WWF in the War Games match and got Stevie Richards his TV Title shot, comes down to ringside, puts on a headset - and sits with JR to call the remaining two matches.

8. Unified Tags:  Clique d. Jericho/Edge
-I assume you saw this coming.

Edge turns on Jericho.

Edge and Jericho come to the ring in their Hart Foundation hockey jerseys - Edge is forever #10 - it's the latest chapter in the legendary Hart/Clique saga - here we are at MSG - Jericho's in the ring first and forever, eventually he makes the hot tag - and Edge slaps him across the face.

Edge tears off his jersey, smirking at Jericho - smirking at the fans - Edge/Michaels/Hunter punk Jericho - Jericho bleeds - gives all he has in the 3 on 1 - but they bury him - everyone hits a finisher - Michaels gets the fall. 

Edge, Michaels, and Hunter make the Clique handsign, hitting 3 buckles.

9. WWF Title: Benjamin d. Mysterio
-Rey is not the same since his return to regain the title at Summer Slam '07, it's increasingly evident that he's lost a step - after a year on the shelf - he returned only to spend 6 months getting battered by the Juggernaut and now here he is against the young lion Shelton. 

-Shelton Benjamin has climbed the ranks - starting on Camp Angle, the reality show on MTV, he and Charlie Haas were two time tag champs, he became Angle's main protegee, referred to by the hip hop moniker S Money when Team Angle was the main heel faction in the WWF - he beat Kurt at Wrestlemania in Angle's last WWF match - he and Charlie became Strong Style, managed by Arn Anderson - then crucially was acquired by Steamboat in the middle of '07 - as a late replacement for the injured Mysterio, he got the submission win at the War Games match to give full control of all programming to the WWF and become number one contender -

And now he wins the World Wrestling Federation Championship.  Clean and definitive.  Strong Style Shelton Benjamin is the new WWF Heavyweight Champion of the World.

Benjamin takes the MSG applause - and then the NWA Champ, Johnny Nitro, enters -- just as we've seen after each of now 3 consecutive PPV's, the champs go nose to nose -- Benjamin and Nitro - Nitro and Benjamin - that's the main event, in the TLC Match - the main event to unify the two belts at Wrestlemania XXIV -

Punk begins to come down the ramp - Punk with his belt -- one last time, security enters - security screening Punk from the ring - Punk unable to get around security - Benjamin and Nitro nose to nose in the middle of the ring - the huge Wrestlemania XXIV: Tables, Ladders, Chairs banner in the background as the show ends.  The road begins.


Anonymous said...

Not sure if I'm going to like the answer to this one or not, but I'll ask anyway.

Over the past year, one of the most (if not the most) consistently entertaining act on Raw has been Santino Marella. Obviously, given his rather lacking in-ring skills, he'd barely be fit to order a PPV in the Counterfactual world, let alone perform on one, but still... do you have any plans for him? Can we assume he's just doing his comedy thing on TV? I do feel like he could draw some serious heat, both in the real and counterfactual worlds, as a manager.

Jim said...

Santino's going to work in 2008, but largely because of the numbers. He and the Miz are going to do a bottom card comedy tag act coming out of Mania. He's not my type of act; I generally want as much comedy in my wrestling as I want sex, which is very, very, very little. I think Santino's played the role they've given him well, it's just not for me.

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