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 Wrestlemania XXIV - Part 3

Saturday, February 28, 2009

In Parts 1 and 2, 6 of the 9 matches were set up.

Worldwide Titles Unification Match: Porter v. Noble v. Kendrick
Tag Titles: Guest Referee: Ric Flair: Clique: HHH/HBK v. WMD: Cena/Leviathan (w/AA)
Weapons Match: Dreamer (w/ Taz) v. Bradshaw (w/Henry)
Stevie v. Yakuza
Legends Match: Undertaker v. Morley
Opening Tag: LWO: Chavo/Carlito v. S&S: Cade/Murdoch

3 matches left, the two big singles matches on the card and the TLC match to unify the World Heavyweight Championship.

Jericho v. Edge
Fit v. Juggernaut

If you read the run up to the Rumble and then the match itself, you know the Jericho/Edge story, both men returning from layoffs (Edge out since Mania, Jericho gone a couple of years) in the run up to the Rumble.

What you need to know is that, like all the long run soap operas, Counterfactual WWF has warring families that span the generations; the same family that was the focus of Guiding Light when it was a radio play is still on the show in the 21st century, and that's the device that keeps old fans invested in the program.  For Counterfactual WWF, it's the Harts and the Clique. 

Edge was a ring boy for Owen Hart; he joined the Clique in a heel turn that swerved best friends the Hardys when they were all young men; after that longstanding feud broke the bodies of all who were in it, Edge missed a year and a half with the broken neck - returning as a babyface at XX to reunite the Clique with Michaels/Christian/London.  In that run, Edge took the IC from Jericho, ending Jericho's run with the company. The "you screwed Matt" summer of '06 ended all of that; Edge vacated the IC, beat Christian in a "loser leaves town" that was given away on free TV, Edge feuded with Matt for a year and half, culminating in the main event Hell in a Cell match at XXIII in which he may have turned face postmatch.  Edge returned to stop the Clique, now Michaels/HHH-M from attacking the Anvil's girl Natty (after they had wiped out Teddy Hart, Harry Smith, and TJ Wilson) and joined with the then returning Jericho to challenge the Clique for the tag straps at the Rumble, as they had become friends while both away.  At the top of the card, Jericho welcomed Edge into the Hart Foundation after his long WWF odyssey by presenting him the famed Hart Foundation hockey jersey, which had only been given to ten previous men (Stu who was number zero, Dynamite, Bret, Davey, Owen, Anvil, Pillman, Jericho, Lance, Benoit) Edge was given jersey #10 at the top of the Rumble - and then swerved Jericho in the match, allowing the Clique to punk him out.

On that first RAW after the Rumble, the hype for next week is that Edge will appear and explain his actions.

Jericho was an NWA World Champion, he arrived in the WWF as a cocky babyface, promising to go right after the Clique - and he did, taking the IC from Waltman at Survivor Series '99, then keeping it over HHH at Rumble '00.  As a babyface, Jericho feuded over the IC with Eddy, then over the WWF Title with Benoit, who refused to listen to Jericho's entreaties to come home to the Hart Foundation.  At Rumble '02, Jericho and his Hart Dungeon training partner, Lance Storm, became tag champs, beating Edge/Christian and the Dudleys in a 3 way.  It was an ill-fated pairing; Lance and Jericho's valet/girlfriend Stacey Keibler (so hot, so painfully hot) eventually hooked up - Jericho's finding out led him into the JerichoDark period, in which he became a Raven-like figure and over the course of a 9 month long feud with Christian.  At the pivotal WM XX, Jericho joined Christian's longtime valet Trish (Trish had been with E and C as part of their Clique turn) in throwing Christian off the top of the Hell in a Cell (only 3 Cell matches ever, Jericho was in one, Edge was in one).  That began Jericho's intense downward spiral into drunken depravity as he became The Lizard King Chris Jericho, he came to the ring with a bottle of whiskey and he and a clearly strung out Stratus developed a Sid and Nancy relationship - the now babyface Benoit, who took his rightful place as Hart patriarch, clearly grew more and more frustrated with his inability to pull Jericho from his spriral.

Jericho left the company - returning with the Countdown clock in '07 - he and Edge meet at XXIV in what is promoted in this stretch as the co-main event.

Edge cuts promo on the 2nd RAW in the main event slot - he's full on cocky Edge, the guy you know from real world WWF.  He laughs at the fans, says they're suckers - says the most fun thing he's done in years, besides having all that sex with Lita while she was living with Matt Hardy, was getting the fans to cheer him.

I mean, how dumb are you people?


Edge says but as much fun as that was, making fools out of you people, that was just an unintended consequence.  The reason he did it is because when he was a young wrestler, he made a choice.  He can have followed his Canadian roots, could have gone down the road he was expected to go down and one day earned this beloved pink and black hockey jersey.

But he didn't.  He and his brother joined Triple H.  They joined a brotherhood of men.  They joined the Clique.

And the Clique is for life.

Edge says he doesn't like Shawn Michaels.  Shawn Michaels wanted nothing to do with him 2 years ago, he and Shawn Michaels will never be friends.  And he doesn't like Hunter.  Because nobody likes Hunter.  Hunter, to put it bluntly, is an asshole (he gets bleeped, even in the Counterfactual world I'm stuck with our puritanical censorship of language.)

Edge says when he stood on those turnbuckles making the sign of the Clique - he wasn't saying, I love Shawn Michaels and Triple H.  He was saying - once you are Clique, you can never....never go back. 

Ask Trish Stratus, Edge says, what happens if you try to leave the Clique.  Ask Tammy Sytch.  If you can find them.

Jericho runs to the ring - they brawl - the Clique punks Jericho out.  There's a lot of that during this stretch, Jericho by himself against Edge, Shawn, and Hunter - a lot of fighting from underneath.  Jericho's man fighting machine, you know the babyface drill. 

The Juggernaut Eddie Little is Umaga, but in a different package - he is the WWF Kimbo Slice, but a completely defiant (and undefeated) heel.  He was an internet sensation for streetfighting, signed by Steamboat to face Monte Brown in a Winner Gets a Contract match at XXIII - but he's been throughly incapable of being controlled.  With his catchprhase "I'm the Juggernaut...Bitch!" Little has been a thorn in Steamboat's side all year - he's beaten everyone in his path, including the Undertaker at the Rumble, and multiple times wiped out the then WWF Champ Mysterio, including during a critical WWF v. NWA tag match.  He doesn't attend meetings, doesn't show up for events, doesn't arrive at the arena on time - at the Rumble, the Juggernaut arrived in the loading dock outside the arena in a limo as his match was to be underway - he swaggered out, puffing on a cigar - piefacing Steamboat and walked right to the ring to beat the Dead Man.  He is a force of nature - but his defiance has made him more trouble than he's worth - the last straw being the RAW after the Rumble.

The Main Event is a tag match featuring the guys who were in the ring to open the show (see parts one and two)  Benjamin/Porter/HBK/HHH-M v. Nitro/Noble/Cena/Leviathan.  This was Steamboat's big night, the culmination really of his year and a half long quest to reunite the company torn apart when Punk threw down the WWF belt at Survivor Series '06.  He finally had control over the company, as he was tasked to gain, and celebrated it with the main event featuring most of the competitors for the title matches at XXIV - but that main event was marred when the Juggernaut crashed the party - his attack of Jamie Noble led to a screwjob pinfall by MVP, and the Juggernaut then took the WWF Title belt (he feels he should have gotten a shot, given his undefeated status) and destroying it.

I'm not sure how.  He shatters the belt somehow.  Something that makes it irreparable.

So, after a year and a half trying to make the WWF Title pre-eminant -Steamboat watches one of his wrestlers, a constantly defiant Juggernaut, destroy the WWF Title (this will turn into an excuse for a big new belt.  Fun!)

And that's a bridge too far.

Steamboat will appear on Fight Night, say a couple of weeks later, to do two things - to establish what's going to happen to the NWA (it's gone, the last night for the NWA will be Mania - Fight Night will continue, however - and in fact, will get a face lift when it moves to become the flagship of My Network TV in the fall - Steamboat says Dusty can stay on as long as he likes).

That announcement doesn't go well with Randy Orton, but more on that in Part 4.

The second thing Steamboat does is ask to see Fit Finlay.

After arriving from the NWA (after years as Europe's Toughest Man) Fit moved into a front office position, running the company along with Dean and Arn.  That group was moved out in favor of Steamboat (Steamboat's first run at the top of the office) and Fit decided to go back to active wrestling, calling on Malenko to be his manager.  Dean and Fit became joined at the hip - as the Sunshine Boys - they set out for one more run - taking the IC from Benoit.  When the company blew up and the NWA reformed, it was Fit and Dean who became the poster boys for the slogan: Where We Fight (which will now be the slogan for the entire WWF) Fit won the tournament to crown a NWA Champ at XXIII, beating Flair in the finale that was Flair's retirement match.  Fit's spent the year feuding with Nitro, making a real man out of the pretty boy heel.  Nitro took at Survivor Series and kept at the Rumble in the blow off - months of tension between Fit and Dean escalated at the Rumble when Malenko attacked Nitro's valet Melina (which ends her run) as Fit and Dean come out here, warily, to see the leader of the WWF, a company they have just lost their feud with - they are clearly frosty toward each other.

Steamboat asks Fit to help him.  Says the WWF/NWA feud is over.  Says Fit's the toughest man he ever met.  Says Fit is needed now.  He needs Fit - he needs Fit to teach another man a lesson - needs Fit to teach the Juggernaut a lesson.

Dean is completely opposed, 'cause, you know, they're doing a thing. 

It takes about a month to set it up.  The more Dean says no, the more Fit needs to do it.  The Juggernaut starts appearing on Friday to slap taunt Fit.  There's a Rocky III quality to this - if you think of Dean and Fit originally, back when they were prepping for Benoit, as Apollo and Balboa running on the beach - now, you can think of Dean as Burgess Meredith saying that Fit can't handle the Juggernaut - that he's too young, too strong - too much for an older Finlay - that Dean's tried to protect him - how could Fit not see it - that by the end of the Nitro feud, Nitro won and deserved to win because he's better - young and athletic and better.  And the Juggernaut's a monster - a wrecking machine - Fit can't stop him.

Fit says he has to, of course - and the Juggernaut will do something personal to him, if Fit has a wife, maybe Little will ask her to come to his apartment to be with a real man.  I mean, while we're doing Rocky III.

It's gonna be Falls Count Anywhere.  So, the ECW garbage match will be full of plunder - but this will be a full on brawl that goes all over the building and every damn place.  Know who won't be there?  Malenko - who says he's been with Fit through every step - but he won't go to his execution. 

So, that's 8 matches set up.  Title match (and a dark match will be set up too.  More value for your Counterfactual Dollar!) to come in Part 4.  Also - I've got an idea for an internet show that's going to start at this time to involve developmental - that's gonna happen - plus, what about Randy Orton? 

All of that coming in Part 4, which may well be the conclusion of our Road to WM 24.

Here's the current card:

Worldwide Three Way Dance:  Porter v. Noble v. Kendrick
Unified Tags:  Clique: HBK/HHHM v. WMD: Cena/Leviathan: Very Special Guest Referee, Ric Flair
Jericho v. Edge
Falls Count Anywhere: Fit v. Juggernaut
Stevie v. Yakuza
Weapons Match: Dreamer v. Bradshaw
Legends Match: Undertaker v. Morley
Opening Tag: LWO: Chavo/Carlito v. S&S: Cade/Murdoch

Title match, a booked dark match, the new internet show, and Randy Orton all to come as the road continues.

Road to Wrestlemania XXIV - 2

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Wrestlemania XXIV is coming soon from Orlando.

In Part 1, the tag team matchup:  The Clique: Shawn Michaels/Hunter Hearst Helmsley-McMahon v. WMD: Leviathan/John Cena was set up, Ric Flair is the Very Special Guest Referee.

We return to the night after the Rumble; Steamboat's in the ring with the four aforementioned tag wrestlers and Arn as he prepares to announce the Worldwide Match.

Steamboat says the Worldwide Title will be reunified at Mania in a Three Way Dance.  He introduces the IC Champ, who defended his title the night before against Elijah Burke - Montel Vontavious Porter, M-V-P!

Porter, full on modern young black athlete swagger, in a ridiculously expensive suit, looking like he's in an NBA locker room, comes to the ring.  Porter won the IC from Orton at Survivor Series, kept in the blow off against his childhood friend Burke at the Rumble - and now goes to Wrestlemania XXIV.  The Clique clowns him a little, he ignores them completely.  WMD continues to flex.  Lot of heels in the ring.

Steamboat says he will be facing, from Fight Night, the US Champion - The Redneck Messiah, Jamie Noble!

Noble is now pure scrappy babyface.  His GDI heel tag with Kendrick busted up; Punk ran him out of GDI in what was designed to be a humiliating trade for Sean Morley - Steamboat then turned around and shipped him in the big trade to NWA.  Noble, who back in the old NWA was the number one contender for the US Title before the company was bought by WWF, convinced Dusty to give him the shot - and now he's US Champ.  Noble shakes Steamboat's hand - he and Porter go nose to nose.

Steamboat says that Porter and Noble will be meeting the third man in the Three Way Dance - the TV Champion -

-And that's where he's cut off from the video wall.  Live, via satellite, is the GDI locker room, from whatever arena they'll be in the following night.  One may note that all the GDI faces are there, except for the Champ, Punk.  The announce doesn't mention it.  Kendrick, who began to emerge as the GDI spokesman on the road to the Rumble, cuts the promo. 

He says unlike everyone else in the ring - at GDI Wrestling - on Tuesday Nights - you compete for your spot.  So tomorrow night - in this ring - the TV Champ, the Yakuza (Jimmy Yang) will be putting up his title and his slot at Wrestlemania XXIV against...

Brian Kendrick.

Yakuza fixes Kendrick with a hard stare.  Kendrick smirks and the feed cuts out.

That next night, at GDI, Kendrick takes the TV title from Yakuza.  Kendrick becomes TV Champ and he will go to Wrestlemania.

Porter was TV Champ, having won it with the IC at SSeries over Orton.  Foley cashed in a favor to get Steamboat to order Porter to put up the TV on GDI against Stevie Richards, who had never won a title belt of any type and after multiple throat surgeries announced he would be retiring after Mania.  He was supported by Dreamer - kicking off an ECW revival - Stevie took from Porter on Burke's run in - but his celebration was immediately ended when Yakuza took the title from him.  Yakuza defended at Rumble against Little Warrior (Shannon Moore, in his last match) and now has just lost the strap to Kendrick.

Kendrick is essentially his real world heel character, but his absolute craven, scavenger-like amorality is part of his character more played up here.  His willingness to tow the GDI line even when his former tag partners had to be sacrificed, first London and then Noble, is his enduring essence.  In '07, Kendrick won a Worldwide shot against Orton - begged London not to attack him - and when London showed him mercy, Kendrick turned on him.  London was driven completely out of WWF; Noble refused finally to participate in a GDI hanging of London, London strung up from a wire upside down, blood pouring from his head - Noble walked out - but Kendrick stayed to taunt his long time partner. 

Now, Kendrick is TV Champ - and Noble is US Champ.  Former partners in ROH - former partners in GDI - they are 2/3 of the Three Way Dance (elimination match) against the IC Champ Porter - who is full on swagger, hitting his catchphrase "I Run This" as often as needed to get it over.

That's your IC match.

The 2 undercard ECW matches come out of that angle as well.

ECW became the flashpoint in the war of words between Dreamer, GDI analyst, and Bradshaw, NWA analyst - that boiled over at the Rumble when, after a full on ECW/GDI brawl - Bradshaw and Dreamer finally had full on blows, joined by Taz and Bradshaw's bodyguard, Mark Henry.  That cost the three announcers their broadcast contracts.  That brawl from earlier in the evening was ended when Stevie returned for the first time since winning/losing the TV belt - he superkicked the ring clear. 

So - Kendrick wins the TV belt and leaves in triumph - Yakuza's alone in the ring and he is attacked by cane swinging Dreamer and Richards - both in ECW t shirts. 

They leave him laying and bloody.

The following Tuesday, after a full on "we're ECW and we're still fighting the revolution" promo from Dreamer and Stevie, Bradshaw and Henry enter with Yakuza. 

Bradshaw notes that they attacked Yakuza 2 on 1, with canes, after a hard fought title match.  And that really symbolizes what ECW was all about.  At WM - he's going to remove the stain of ECW from professional wrestling forever.  Bradshaw does the full on "bingo hall...not real athletes...300 retarded fans" rap - they brawl - the heels go over when Colt and Sydal enter with glass light tubes to lay them out.

Bradshaw gets a couple of Tuesdays to crow while Dreamer and Stevie sell the injuries, Bradshaw does some back and forth with Foley, who is now the analyst for all 3 shows.  They set up an 8 man tag for GDI, Bradshaw/Yakuza/Colt/Sydal, along with the bodyguard Henry in the corner - against Dreamer/Richards/Crazy/Guido. 

They do a full garbage match, as much as they can get away with on Sci Fi, finish comes when Henry gets in the ring, does the very simple power stuff to go 5 on 4 for the heels - Foley has spent the build up to the match teasing that if Henry got in the ring - he would to have to ensure the sides were even. 

Josh Matthews begs him not to, says Foley will get fired, and they are out of analysts - Foley throws down the headset to tease it - the heels motion for him to come - when Taz's music hits.

Taz does his very best impression of ECW era Taz - he suplexes whomever he can - it looks like ECW has the victory, but Bradshaw unleashes the clothesline that turns Dreamer inside out to get the fall.

That sets up two matches. 

Weapons Match: Bradshaw (w/Henry) v. Dreamer (w/Taz)
Yakuza v. Stevie

Bradshaw will have Henry in his corner, Dreamer will have Taz in his.  The ECW guys, along with Foley and Joey and anyone else we can get for this run, will talk as much ECW lore as they can.  Plenty of clips and whatnot.  Ideally, along with Guido/Crazy - there would be as many ECW alums as possible to come in a pack for this section of 24.  On the other side, Bradshaw does all the derogatory, run ECW down, condescending stuff he can do.  With Henry and Yakuza, Bradshaw says he's like the Secretary General of the UN, only with more power.  Colt and Sydal are there to take bumps for the heels and tag up against Crazy and Guido for this run.

While we're talking undercard:

There's another GDI match - Ulysses Morley will be taking on the Undertaker in the Legends Match.

For those of you who are new, the Legends Match is an annual Mania tradition, the Undertaker has won 6 Legends Matches and it's considered his spot on the Mania card.  He'll be attacked one RAW by Morley.

A recap of the Morley storyline.  Morley has been enhancement talent for years, just plodding away putting guys over.  It was pushed as humiliating that Noble was traded for him.  Upon coming to GDI, he entered a re-education program, where Colt was tasked with trying to convert him to hate the WWF corporate machine.

That was largely an excuse for Cabana comedy - but eventually evolved so that Morley starts to believe, we saw the largest step in that direction at the Rumble when he fought on the side on GDI in the ECW brawl.

Morley shows up on RAW during a Legends Match video retrospective (lots of Mania clips, love me some Mania clips) and cuts loose.  The real legends aren't the big names like the Undertaker, the real legends are the guys like Ulysses Morley who toil in anonymity.  But there's no room at Wrestlemania for Ulysses Morley - they'll bring in Ric Flair, they'll bring in Floyd Mayweather (which we haven't set up yet, but will in Part 3) and Ulysses Morley, who has worked here for a decade, will sit in the back.

Undertaker comes out, says no one handed him anything - says he has to fight every day to barely keep his spot - he's earned his job and the truth is Morley's not good enough.

And that's the set up.  Morley says he's fighting for the little guy - he wants to win the Legends Match for all the guys who have been forgotten.  The Bob Hollys.  The Brooklyn Brawlers.  The Iron Mike Sharpes.  They are the Legends.  They will be avenged!

On the road to Mania, as many of those types of guys who we can get will come on - they'll come on, Morley will cheer for them wildly - and they'll get squashed by the Taker.  Morley's original gimmick was he stood up for the little guy - so even though he's essentially on the heel side standing up against the WWF, against the idea of Wrestlemania, against the Undertaker - he still casts it (and maybe reasonably so) as he's fighting the machine.  Undertaker squashes guy after guy on RAW each week - but Morley never stops.  Finally, at the go home RAW - Morley finally snaps - goes full on heel after, say the Taker squashes Hacksaw, bashing the Dead Man with a chair.  Then a handful of enhancement type guys enter the ring to stomp the Taker out - Jobbers of the World Unite!  You Have Nothing to Lose But Your Chains!

Let's say in this angle they use: Alabama Bob, Snitsky, Hacksaw, Mabel, Chuck Palumbo, Jesse/Festus, Deuce/Domino.  They come out each week, get squashed - then all join Morley in the go home show to stomp out the Dead Guy.

The opening tag has no storyline.  It's classic Mania opening workrate tag - two former tag championship teams, the LWO: Chavo and Carlito meet S&S: Cade and Murdoch.  LWO is a babyface team from RAW, S&S is a heel team from NWA - it's just for match quality and nothing else.

So, where do we stand after 2 parts.

Worldwide Titles: Three Way Dance: MVP v. Noble v. Kendrick
Tag Titles: Cliq v. WMD

Yakuza v. Stevie
Weapons Match: Bradshaw v. Dreamer
Legends Match: Undertaker v. Morley
Opening Tag: LWO v. S&S

6 matches set up.  3 to go.

In Part 3 we'll set up the two big singles matches coming at XXIV, and the TLC match to unify the world heavyweight championship. The road continues

Road to Wrestlemania XXIV - Part One

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Wrestlemania XXIV from Orlando is coming.

The night after Rumble 2008, RAW opens with Joey Styles on the announce with Mick Foley.

Styles is selling the Bradshaw clothesline from the night before; he quickly explains that as a result of violating the edict that announcers cannot engage in physicality - Taz, Dreamer, and Bradshaw have all had their announcing contracts terminated.  Joey thanks Taz, who has been the primary analyst for almost 5 years, and wishes him well in his future endeavors.  Foley hopped into the analyst's chair during the Rumble - and Joey says Mick has some busy travel days ahead - as he'll be the analyst through Wrestlemania, not only on RAW, but also on GDI - and on Fight Night.  Foley makes triple crown pun - and we're off to the ring.

Steamboat enters.  He's going to announce the 3 (emphasis on 3) title matches to be wrestled at WM24.

First - the tag team titles.

Steamboat introduces the challengers, who won the number one contenders match last night at the Rumble, they are from Fight Night - with their manager Arn Anderson - Weapons of Mass Destruction: Leviathan and John Cena!

Leviathan (Batista) and Cena enter with Arn.  It's the first RAW appearance for all 3 since they moved to Fight Night.  Arn left with his then tag team Strong Style (Haas/Benjamin), Leviathan was essentially let go, his once promising career (he and Flair were tag champs) largely stalled, and Cena, who previously was half of the tag champs with Orton, was traded along with Kennedy and Noble, to Fight Night for Benjamin. 

They're all flexing and bouncing pecs, all swagger and confidence. 

Steamboat introduces their opponents, the tag team champions - The Cliq: Shawn Michaels and Hunter Hearst Helmsley McMahon!

Michaels, a 4 time tag champ, and HHH-M, a two time champ, enter wearing mock Hart Foundation hockey jerseys.  Last night, along with Edge, they swerved Jericho and are making sport of the jersey ceremony that Jericho and Edge had at the top of the Rumble. 

They hijack the proceedings, as everything's beneath them.  They call Howard Finkel into the ring to present him with a number one Hart Foundation jersey, they've scratched out Dynamite's name and scrawled in "The Ring Announce Dude."  They are juvenile, 40 year old smug heels.  They completely ignore the bouncing pecs of their challengers. 

Steamboat tries to take back the moment, but can't - Hunter says it might be tempting to overlook the tag title match, 'cause let's face it - it's gonna be a squash... the face of the other two title matches, there's the IC, with it's workrate and nearfalls - and then the tables and ladders and chairs main event -- so Hunter says he made a couple of phone calls and there's gonna be a very special guest referee for the tag title match.

Steamboat sighs, because he knows Hunter's gone over his head.

Hunter teases it for a moment - then he and Shawn let out a "Wooooooo" and a brief Flair clip package appears on the video wall.

Between now and Mania, we'll have 6 in ring promos by Flair.  He's gonna do the full Ric Flair thing, cutting promos (while the men are also each in the ring) on all 4 wrestlers, Arn, and Steamboat.

The narrative is "how will Flair call the match, is he on anyone's side" given that Flair has history with everyone in the ring, except for Cena.  And in those promos, besides being entertaining and giving Flair some run, he'll help develop the characters of everyone else. 

With Hunter, they establish that they've become closer in the year since Flair's retirement (Flair lost to Fit for the new NWA Title at XXIII) that they were never that close as partners in the 51% Solution, but have found common ground over the past year (that's why HHH feels so smug about getting Flair as very special guest referee).  They put over that Hunter's undefeated at Wrestlemania (as is Mysterio, I think) and he's become more than just the guy who carries around Shawn's bags.

And that's where it turns.

Flair says but with all his power and influence and money, with his marrying into the family that controls wrestling - the best Hunter can do for himself is to be the lesser half of a tag team with Michaels.  40 years old - still carrying Shawn Michaels's bags.  Embarrassing.  Pathetic.

When it's the Michaels promo he says Shawn's a triple crown winner, arguably the greatest wrestler who ever lived.  He's done it all and done most of it twice.

And then...

He hasn't been WWF Champ in a decade.  A decade.  Know who has been WWF Champ since Michaels?

"Me.  And I'm washed up.  Wooooooo."

With Cena he says he likes his fire, likes his aggressiveness, and admires his courage when the fans still laugh at him sometimes.

With Leviathan, he apologizes.  Leviathan was his protegee, his tag partner, Leviathan counted on him and Flair swerved him - left him for dead, left him to be savaged by Helmsley and Arn - left him behind when they formed the 51% Solution.  Flair's sorry.

But did you ever ask yourself, Flair says, did you ever ask yourself why we didn't want you in the first place?  We needed a big man, we got Lashley.  You we left to die.  Why do you think we did that - what do you think is missing in you that we wouldn't bring you in for the win?

With Steamboat, they roll over their life together.  Mid-Atlantic.  NWA.  1989.  Running the WWF together. Flair swerving Steamboat when he formed the Solution.  At every stop, Flair says, Flair was just a little bit better.  What's that like, Flair says, to be Ricky Steamboat, to be a two time WWF Champ, to have won the main event at the first ever Mania, to be the man in charge - the man who has unified the title belts after a year and a half, and be standing in the ring with a man better at every single element of his life.  Woooo.

Steamboat gets to comeback, unlike the wrestlers who have to take it.

Steamboat's response is that after Mania, Flair goes back home, no tv, no cameras, no ring -- and Steamboat will stay doing the work, stay in the business, stay in the sport.  So maybe there's one step that Steamboat took that Flair didn't.

And finally, with Arn there's discomfort.  They reminisce.  They do the old days.  And then Flair shows Arn's surprised reaction from  the RAW after the Rumble when HHH-M revealed Flair would be the guest ref.  Why wouldn't Arn know - Arn wouldn't know because he and Flair don't talk.  Flair's been gone a year, and they haven't spoken in a year.  Flair says he leaves messages - but Arn's too busy, too busy with his young wrestlers, too busy trying to win tag titles, too busy trying to hang on for another bit of reflected glory. 

So, that's the set up.  What will Ric Flair, as guest referee, do in the tag title matchup between the Cliq and WMD at WM XXIV?  The road continues.

Blogger Template created by Just Blog It