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 5

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Road to Wrestlemania XXIV concludes here.  8 matches have been set up in parts 1-4:

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

The main event is the TLC match to unify all 3 big straps, Punk v. Benjamin v. Nitro.

But we don't know that yet, as we return to that opening segment on RAW the day after the Rumble.

Recall, the ring is full of dudes, as we left off in Part 3, Steamboat has brought out all 4 opponents in the tag match, along with AA - and 2 of the 3 opponents in the Worldwide Match (Kendrick isn't in the match yet, he beats Yakuza the following night on GDI to take the TV title).  Steamboat then proudly says that finally, finally the World heavyweight title will be again unified at 24 when the WWF Champ Benjamin takes on the NWA Champ Nitro.

They enter like they do.

Shelton Benjamin should have an emotional connection to the fans in Counterfactual WWF that he lacks in the real world as we've watched him grow up.  He was on Camp Angle (our version of Tough Enough) he won the tag titles as an underdog babyface with Haas - then turned heel immediately as he and Charlie joined Brock in battling their mentor Angle.  After Angle turned Machiavellian heel, Shelton again became his protegee, they were the tag champs (Shelton's 3rd run) and half of Team Angle, Kurt's heel stable.  After a year battling the Clique, a frustrated Angle felt that Benjamin needed more seasoning, taking him off PPV for a year, subjecting him to increasingly humiliating lessons.  Benjamin eventually snapped, turning face - and beating Kurt at WM21, Angle's last WWF match.  Benjamin and a returning Haas then joined Arn, becoming Strong Style, and although they mowed through the tag opposition (including busting up MNM - a TV only feud where Johnny Nitro first gained notice as more than just a guy with a tan, his willingness to take repeated beatings from Strong Style got him Arn's respect) they never got the tag straps.  Arn took Strong Style with him upon the relaunch of the NWA - but they seemed to stall, and Benjamin was traded in a 1 for 3 back to WWF for Noble/Cena/Kennedy, the only trade between the two companies. 

Benjamin immediately provided dividends, he was a replacement for the injured Mysterio in the WAR Games match before the Rumble that unified the 2 companies under the WWF umbrella, recording the submission on Finlay, earning the number one contender spot - and then beating Mysterio for the strap at the Rumble.  He has been talked about by the announce for a couple of years as the future of the company - and now the future arrives as he is WWF Champ.  He is all white meat babyface. 

Johnny Nitro is all cocky heel.  His performance on the losing side in the MNM v. Strong Style feud convinced Arn that he would be a good addition to the NWA roster, and he then spent most of the year in an epic 3 PPV title match feud with Fit - which ended at the Rumble when Nitro kept the NWA strap, going over the former champ cleanly.  Nitro lost Melina, however - attacked by Malenko in an angle to take her away from Nitro permanently. 

Nitro and Benjamin go nose to nose in the ring - over the next month it's the TLC element of the program that carries it, the idea that these are two hyperathletic guys and at Mania, some level of dangerous bumping will take place beyond one's normal viewing.  There's never been a TLC match for the WWF Title, never been a ladder match at all to headline Mania, and there hasn't been a TLC match of any type in the WWF for a few years - the notorious bodybag match that ended the Hardys/Duds/E and C feud, where 5 of the 6 wrestlers were stretchered from the ring really marked the end of the gimmick.  Like the Cell main event from XXIII, TLC has been promoted for a full year - it's a protected gimmick, seen as special, seen as extreme, seen as dangerous - and that will help sell the show.

At least for the first month - because for the month after the Rumble, Punk's not in the match.

CM Punk's gimmick is a master manipulative heel, he's held the company hostage really ever since arriving - first as the guy who refused to wrestle on corporately controlled TV - and convincing others to follow suit - then, infamously winning the Undisputed Title from Flair at Survivor Series '06 and throwing down the WWF and NWA Title belts.  This created GDI Wrestling (Sci Fi, Tuesday nights) and led to the rebirth of the NWA (Friday Night Fight Night, moving to My Network in September).  Steamboat was brought back by the McMahon Family Trust (Titan Trust) with one marching order - put the company back together.

Steamboat has been chasing Punk ever since, constantly frustrated as Punk, with the ECW Title, has called all the shots from Tuesday night.  But now, as we move to Mania, we've seen Punk finally outmaneuvered.

Steamboat's acquiring of Benjamin was facilitated by his acquisition of Noble from GDI (for longtime enhancement guy Morley, Punk made the deal to humiliate Noble) and it's Benjamin who then defeated the NWA, which is what allows for the WWF and NWA belts to come together under the WWF umbrella at 24.  That confidence has allowed Steamboat a rhetorical pivot - he's just going to pretend CM Punk doesn't exist.

That initial RAW segment ends when, while Steamboat keeps using the words "unified" and "undisputed" to talk about Mania - an uninvited Punk attempts to come down the aisle - and he's stopped by security without any reference by the announce or Steamboat.

For a month - Punk acts out, frustration growing (this was started in the run up to the Rumble, Punk beginning to question if he made a mistake by throwing down the title belts - Punk realizing what he gave up - Punk angered at not being in main events - not being credited as the real world champion - for a year, "who is the real world champion" has been debated on almost every WWF broadcast - and Punk treated the question as silly - but not it's overwhelmed him and now, to find himself not even in the match to determine the real champion - he's going mad) he tries to show up on Mondays and Fridays - either stopped by security in the arena - or outside the arena - and once he finally sneaks into the ring - his mic doesn't work.

After a month of increasingly breaking down, even yelling at Maria (mmm, Maria) Punk gets a lifeline - Steamboat will have a message for him on RAW.

Now we need to talk about Steamboat for a moment.  Steamboat has been constantly beleaguered in his tenure running the WWF, but in this road to Mania, he grows in strength.  Recall how that RAW after the Rumble ended - the 8 man tag is broken up by the Juggernaut, who then smashed the WWF title belt - Steamboat then goes to Fight Night to ask Fit to take on Little at Mania (it's in part 3).

That serves two purposes.

It moves the Juggernaut over to Fridays as he gets in that program with Finlay - and that takes away that foil from Steamboat.  And it gives an excuse for a new WWF Championship belt - which will be presented to the TLC Winner.

(it'll be presented by Floyd Mayweather, and I have to talk about that in a second)

And that allows Steamboat to say that it's the NWA title belt then which will be placed above the ring at 24 ('cause it's a ladder match).

Anyway, Steamboat addresses Punk - says Punk is invited for a one time only meeting with him, at RAW - and he needs to bring his belt.

Punk takes it.  Steamboat and Punk, who have battled for a year and a half, in the ring on RAW.

They go back and forth.  But the result is Steamboat makes an offer.

CM Punk can be in the title match.  The main event at WM.  He can compete for the title.  He has a chance to be recognized as the top wrestler in the world.

Punk can't contain his desire for it.  Can't keep the poker face.

But to get it - he has to give up control of GDI.

And he has to hand over the ECW belt.

And he has to tell the fans he's sorry.

Steamboat says the ECW belt will be tied to the NWA belt, and they'll be placed above the ring in Orlando.

Punk says sure, sure, sure - he'll give up the belt - but later, when Nitro gives up his, before the match.

Steamboat says no.  As a sign of good faith, Steamboat wants it now.

There's hemming and hawing.

But Punk agrees.  He hands Ricky Steamboat the ECW belt.  He tells the fans he's sorry.  He fumes, but he does it.  And then he bows up a bit - getting chesty in his promo - saying he has Steamboat right where he wants him - he's in the main event at the biggest show of all time - he's going to win that main event - Punk gets more and more pumped up - the segment ends with Punk taking a swing at Steamboat - Ricky slips it - chops Punk down, armdrags Punk - you know, gets in the spots.  Punk bails out, the Steamboat music plays.

It's the effective end of that program.

GDI won't really change - it'll still look like an indie show, small and intimate and raw.  Just like Fight Night won't really change, it's still gonna look like UFC - like a sport, real and passionate.  But after Mania, it's clear they're all a part of the WWF.  The split is over after Mania, the WWF is once again whole. 

And we have a main event.  TLC - the three world heavyweight champions.  The winner will be handed the WWF Heavyweight Championship belt.

('cause that's the other thing that's happening, once the belts, both these and the Worldwide, are all unified, it's going back to the WWF and IC titles, all the other belts are going to be decommissioned).

The guy who will be handing that new title belt to the winner is Floyd Mayweather.

Whenever it makes sense, Steamboat will cut another promo - he'll say the greatest moment in his career was being handed the WWF Title after Mania by Muhammad Ali.  The greatest of all time acknowledging that he was the best wrestler in the world is an irreplaceable memory.

The best boxer in the world, Steamboat says, is Floyd Money Mayweather.


And here he is.

Mayweather, with entourage, comes to the ring.  Included therein are two wrestlers, Kofi Kingston (who we'll just call Kingston) and Ron Killings (we'll acknolwedge who Killings is, 'cause he's existed in Counterfactual TNA).   Mayweather, over the course of his appearances on RAW (most of them taped - I like Mayweather in that Mayweather/De La hoya 24/7 environment, that's the best packaging of him by a million miles) will get Steamboat to agree that Kingston and Killings (the tag team called Young Money, 'cause Floyd is Money and they're Young Money) will wrestle at the dark match at Mania for a contract.

Contract Match!

It's a spot we did at 23, when the Juggernaut beat Monte Brown.

Here, it has to be dark - but there will be a contract match between Young Money and a team comprised of Chris Harris and Colin Delaney, positioned as tag champs from small independent companies. 

Young Money's gonna have a Lil Wayne thing going.  Their theme song will rip off Got Money, they'll do lots of taped stuff from strip clubs - get as much legit fame, legit money rub from Mayweather they can get.  Gonna use this time from Floyd to launch Young Money.  I want them in tattoos, if I could hire Julius Smokes and put him in a T-Pain hat, I'd do that too.  It's like Cryme Time, but better workers and hopefully less cartoon like and more authentic.  They don't steal stuff - they make it rain.  Young Money in the dark match against Harris and Delaney.  Floyd Mayweather to present the brand new WWF Title belt to the winner of the TLC match.

The only other matter then is Randy Orton, who is not wrestling at Wrestlemania.  Not dark, not anywhere.

He's being benched by Dusty.  Orton's been Dusty's chief antagonist for months, every decision, ridiculed by Orton.  This stems from, well, from Orton's being a dick, but from Orton getting overlooked a little by Dusty.  In the first War Games match, the one NWA won before SSeries, Dusty picked Nitro to be on the team instead of Orton (or Leviathan, both of whom complained) Orton lost the IC at SSeries to MVP, but, on his own found a contractual loophole that allowed him to keep the TV belt, which embarassed Dusty a little.  Dusty then didn't put Orton on the second war games team (Fit and Nitro also had chances to put him on and passed) insteady going with his green son Cody - and stuck Orton in a match defending the US Title against Noble at the Rumble (Orton thought it was beneath him).

That's all in a backdrop of Orton never getting a shot at the NWA Title, despite having once beaten Fit on PPV and inherently always thinking he was superior (Fit beat Orton in the NWA title tournament) and thinking that Fit's big timing the younger wrestlers, the "I'll teach you all how to fight" was condescending and allowed by a permissive Rhodes.

So, months and months and months and months of Orton feeling slighted - of Orton feeling Dusty's blowing the company (he does have an argument - the decision to put Cody in the War Games match was a bad one, even though Cody was fine) comes to a head.  Orton loses the US - doesn't get a rematch (as he never got a rematch when he lost the IC) he sees the RAW after the Rumble when the Worldwide Title match with Noble (and not Orton) in it is announced - sees Ricky Steamboat, who has been the enemy - of all people - come out on Fight Night and try to make a deal with Finlay - and that night, he tries to get into Dusty's office - only to hear that Rhodes is too busy to see him.

A couple of weeks later, Orton throws a tantrum, trashes the locker room.  He's controlled by Fit, who tries to calm him down - Orton yells at Finlay - tells him he's a has been sell out.  Finlay slaps him.  Orton stares hard at Malenko - in a way that Orton stared hard at Malenko during the War Games selection. 

A couple of weeks later, still not having been able to meet with Dusty - and with the Mania card clearly filled - there's a report that Orton trashed his hotel room and got sent home.  A couple of weeks later - it's now March - Orton cuts a promo and demands to know who he is wrestling at 24.

Dusty dresses him down - says he's spoiled, says his defiance (a word often associated with Orton, just as it's been associated with the Juggernaut in his relationship with Steamboat) had just gone too far, says the truth is there's nothing for him at Mania, maybe next year. 

Orton is too stunned to speak.  Dusty asks if he has anything to say - Orton doesn't move, standing in the ring completely quietly.  Orton hasn't been seen since. 

The very last thing - the very last thing -


There's gonna be a reality show on the website about developmental.

World Wrestling Federation University.  WWFU.

The guys from developmental are gonna live in a house in Tampa.  We're gonna go full on Real World with developmental.  On the road to Mania it will start.  The focus will be on Jake Hager and his often visiting sister, Kelly.  Hager (derisively called Jack Swagger by jealous housemates) is the lead trainee - he was All American at Oklahoma and does everything right - he's always on time, follows every rule - does every drill right.  He's the teacher's pet, he's positioned to be a star.  He's a little shy, not that he's not confident, he's just a little shy - as he has the lisp and is uncomfortable talking.  He's just a solid, nice guy who does literally everything by the book.  Perfect diet, hands at 10 and 2, that kinda thing.  He colors inside the lines, every day of his life.  Kelly (that would be Kelly Kelly) is similarly perfect. 

And then there's the bad boy - Ted DiBiase, Jr.  The Million Dollar Man, of course, was the IC and tag champ - he also owned the tag division for awhile - he never, however, could realize his quest of being WWF Champ regardless of how much money he had.  His boy's a rogue, Ted's a natural, everyone says, born to wrestle - but he's a bit of a fuck up - late, drunk, practical joking - just never takes anything seriously fuck up.  He's well liked, he's a guy's guy - he doesn't throw his last name around, he doesn't big time anyone - he's a rogue, a scoundrel. 

Also in the house - Knox.  (Mike Knox).  Knox doesn't speak, he just lets his giant beard grow.  Rumors spawn about Knox - from his having 37 documented kills in the Gulf to his getting kicked off the Oakland Raiders for making Warren Sapp cry to his taking a dump in the Smithsonian and winding up in Guantanamo.  No one really knows, as he never says anything. 

The head trainer is Taz - his being in Tampa allows that to be a bridge between developmental and the big show, since he'll be headed to Orlando to be in Tommy's corner at 24. 

That's WWFU.  Your internet only reality show. 

And that's the build for 24.

Coming at the top of April.  Wrestlemania 24.  Here's your show:

Unification Match: TLC: Benjamin v. Nitro v. Punk (w/Maria)
-The winner will be given the brand new WWF Title belt by Floyd Mayweather and be named WWF Champion as the ECW/NWA belts go away.  The TLC gimmick is a thing. 

Worldwide Titles: Three Way Dance: Porter v. Noble v. Kendrick
-It's not talked about, but the same thing will happen to these belts, as the IC will be the only belt defended after this unification match.  This is an elimination match.  Noble and Kendrick, recall, were tag partners. 

Tag Titles: Clique: HBK/HHH-M v. WMD: Leviathan/Cena (w/AA)
-Flair is the guest referee, "what will he do" is the hook for this match. 

Chris Jericho v. Edge
-The Harts v. Clique match.  This is promoted as a co-main event as it's the top singles match on the card, Jericho has some small mainsteam name value, and Edge was in the main the year before. 

Falls Count Anywhere: Fit Finlay v. The Juggernaut
-Juggernaut's unbeaten and defiant, smoking his cigar - Fit is the no nonsense former NWA Champ.  No Malenko in this match, he refuses to stand with Fit, opposing this decision.  This is sold as going to be a wild brawl the ring cannot contain.

Weapons Match: Tommy Dreamer (w/Taz) v. Bradshaw (w/Henry)
-There are 2 ECW matches, this is between the two former announcers.  They're going to hit each other with plunder.  Plunder is expected.  Barbed wire.  Glass light tubes.  Fire.  If you watch Big Japan, this is the match for you.

Stevie Richards v. Yakuza
-The first of the 2 ECW matches, it's Stevie's last match, it's part of the same program as the Weapons match as now Yakuza has become Bradshaw's little Asian buddy. 

Legends Match: Undertaker v. Morley
-Longtime enhancement Morley went GDI and now leads the jobber revolution - jobbers are the real legends - they're casting off their oppressive overlords - the streets of Wrestlemania will run red with the blood of the bourgeoisie!  Taker goes for his 7th legends title.

Opening Tag: LWO: Chavo/Carlito v. S&S: Cade/Murdoch
-Former tag champs meet. 

Joey/JR and Mick Foley will be on the mic - it's Wrestlemania 24 - the biggest show of the year - call your local cable company!


Anonymous said...

And now Steamboat is wrestling in WM XXV- should we pencil in Steamboat-Punk in the counterfactual now, or is it locked in with ink?

Jim said...

I cannot comment on what may or may not be written in ink on a piece of paper literally a foot away from me right now.

But it could be that, as I try to do as soon as the real world card is announced, I have Counterfactual XXV written in ink. There are always a ton of changes after real world Summer Slam, but I like the card as it currently stands.

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