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.


Saturday, April 04, 2009

The build is here.

Wrestlemania XXIV (Orlando)
(Dark: Colt/Sydal d. Crazy/Guido
Regal d. Haas
-Regal and Haas have a heartfelt handshake after the match, which furthers a bottom card storyline in recent weeks, the growing closeness of the former Team Angle stablemates, with Regal taking on a mentor role.
Winner Gets a Contract: Young Money d. Future Endeavors
-YM is Killings/Kingston, they’re Floyd Mayweather posse guys. Future Endeavors (a joke I’m likely to re-use) is Chris Harris and Colin Delaney. Young Money goes over, Steamboat comes to the ring to sign the contract. That allows the show to open on him (after the clip package) still in the ring – Young Money at the top of the ramp, celebrating, the announce explains what’s happened, showing the clip of the finish.)

Announce: Joey/JR/Foley

While we’re here:

Wrestlemania Announcer History:
I Gorilla/Jesse
II Gorilla/Jesse
III Gorilla/Jesse
IV Gorilla/Jesse
V Gorilla/Jesse
VI Gorilla/Jesse
VII Gorilla/Piper
VIII Gorilla/Bobby
IX JR/Gorilla
X Gorilla/Cornette
XI JR/Cornette/Gorilla
XII Gorilla/Cornette/Vince (Gorilla’s last Mania)
XIII JR/Cornette
XIV JR/Cornette
XV Cole/Lawler/Hayes (yikes)
XVI JR/Lawler
XVII JR/Cornette/Heenan (Cornette catches Jesse at 6 WM)
XXI JR/Taz/Heyman
XXII Joey/Taz
XXIII Joey/Taz, JR/Bradshaw, Josh/Snow

So, Taz falls short of the Jesse/Cornette record, but JR is calling his 12th Mania, which ties him with Gorilla as the all time “voices of WM.”

Steamboat welcomes the people to WM24.

People enjoy that sort of thing.

He says it is a night of triumph for the World Wrestling Federation. Tonight, one man will walk out of the
TLC main event as the unquestioned World Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Champion! He’ll be presented with a brand new championship belt by the greatest boxer in the world – Floyd Money Mayweather!

Steamboat says the WWF has a great year planned – and it will kick off tomorrow night when the Number One Contender for Summer Slam will be named.

And it will continue in September – when the brand new WWF Fight Night moves to My Network TV and debuts with the return of the Number One Contender Battle Royal!

And one year from tonight it will all culminate at Wrestlemania 25 – Wrestlemania Silver!
(as happens every year, the banner for the next year’s Mania is revealed now; we’re gonna brand Silver as referring to WM 25; I’d like the word Silver to = WM25 by the time Counterfactual April 2009 rolls around in a year)

Steamboat then makes a promise – he doesn’t have a Cell match, and he doesn’t have a TLC match – all he can promise is that one year from now – the two best wrestlers in the WWF will fight in this very ring in the main event of WM Silver, with the greatest prize in this sport on the line – the WWF Championship!
With that, Steamboat departs and the matches begin.

1. LWO d. S&S
-I enjoy a good fast paced opening tag. Chavo/Carlito go over Cade/Murdoch; it neither matters who gets the fall or who takes it. For the first half of the summer, LWO is going to feud with Santino and Miz, hopefully helping to get them over as largely comedy heels. Cade/Murdoch (until they leave, Murdoch obviously leaves first) feuds with Young Money, getting them over as hip hop, ‘Lil Wayneish babyfaces. Eventually, those two new tag acts move toward each other, which will be discussed in the road to Summer Slam ’08.

2. Legend’s Match: Undertaker d. Morley
-This is the Taker’s 7th Legends Win. It’s designed to get him over strong, as he has a year long program coming. Each of the enchancement guys who worked RAW in the run up, getting squashed by the Dead Man, but then all joining together to punk Undertaker out in the go home show, wind up running in and eating tombstones. Taker lays everyone out. Gets his beatin’ on.

3. Stevie d. Yakuza
4. Weapons Match: Bradshaw (w/Henry) d. Dreamer (w/Taz)
-Here come the ECW matches. Joey gets in all the ECW-revolution talk he can fit in. It’s Stevie’s last match; he’s put over as the kind of guy too often overlooked in wrestling, but he is ending his career with a flourish, he took the TV belt – and here he is at Mania. The ring stays clean, but everyone else in the angle heads down to fight around it during the match. Sydal/Cabana come first to interfere, but they’re blocked by Guido/Crazy. At some point, either during this match or, more likely, the next one, Sydal takes some crowd popping bumps. Bradshaw/Henry, Dreamer/Taz all eventually get around the ring for a giant brawl – just as they start throwing hands – we get to the StevieKick and the pinfall.
(Taz gets in as much as he can, he’s already started as the head trainer down in Florida, as shown on the internet reality series WWFU, and the kids are in attendance; recall the Hagers (Jake and Kelly, brother and sister) are the top babyfaces; Ted DiBiase Jr the top heel, Knox the top crazy guy)

It transitions immediately into the garbage match, where everyone starts hitting each other with stuff. It’s less trash cans, note, and more glass light tubes. Everyone bleeds, stuff gets broken. Bradshaw goes over with the clothesline, which, over the summer, he will begin to call the Golden Parachute.
The financial crisis of ’08-? will be Bradshaw’s gimmick, just as the last time he worked he was the NeoCon, a heel selling the wars and giant tax cuts to the wealthy – now he’s the Robber Baron, he and his stable (Yakuza, Henry – and coming over the summer, the Great Khali) cutting promos on the need for the fans, those lazy, subprime mortgage having fans, to tighten their belts. (YangTime will now be called The Bailout) Bradshaw will cut “Just a few short months ago, a CEO like myself made 370x what an average workaday slob like you people made – the greatest degree of economic disparity in the history of western civilization. It was a beautiful thing. Today, many CEOs are cutting back. I had to sell one of my Gulfstreams.”

That kinda thing. They’ll get bailout money. You know how DiBiase would give fans money if they performed humiliating acts – Bradshaw’s gonna bring in fans to the ring and demand they give him money.
Anyway, that doesn’t happen ‘til summer.

What happens now is the Golden Parachute to beat Dreamer. There should be dejection from Joey and Foley, who were wrapped up in cheering for the home team. The heels will beat the babyfaces down – until a save by Foley, who goes all Cactus Jack on everyone. Joey and JR yell at him to stop – as we all know by now from the lead up to the Rumble and then the announcers brawl at that event – Steamboat has set a strict “no physical contact” policy for announcers.

So, Foley is triumphant here – the ECW guys leave the heels laying – they stand victorious on the ramp, taking whatever chants there are.

The first half of the summer will be the ECW guys putting Bradshaw and his guys over (Colt/Sydal leave the angle and go back to GDI) which culminates in Foley getting stretchered out one night by the debuting Khali, who chokeslams him in as much bump as Foley’s willing to take. That will be Mick’s last appearance. Tommy also gets ended by the Bradshaw Group (Bradshaw Multinational Group – BMG? Maybe that’s it.

Bradshaw’s whatever then transitions to a program with the Undertaker, but we’ll get there over the summer.

5. Falls Count Anywhere: Juggernaut d. Fit
-Little arrives the way he’s been doing since the Rumble, pulling up the building in the limo just as his match begins, puffing on his cigar. But he’s met this time by Finlay and the brawl is on. They fight all over the building, starting in the loading zone, moving to the back, through the concourse, into the stands, finally winding up at least near the ring so the fans can see the thrilling conclusion –

-Which is Randy Orton taking Finlay out with an RKO.

It’s been set up if you’re paying attention, as has been the next step – Juggernaut holds Finlay in place for a kick (the debut of Orton’s running kick) – when Orton is stopped by an entering Malenko. Recall, Dean didn’t accompany Fit in this match, telling him it was too dangerous. But Dean’s turning heel, he stops Orton so he can put Fit in the Clover Leaf – setting up Orton for the kick that kills Finlay dead.

-They leave Fit, celebrating as a new unit (called Defiance, the word separately used for both Orton and Juggernaut for months) Regal comes to the ring to frantically tend to his longtime rival, the fire evident in his eyes.

-Over the first half of the summer, Defiance is set up as a dominant group, squashing suckers and whatnot. Malenko (now the devious Professor Malenko) serves separate functions, he’s Little’s mouthpiece, and he’s intended to give Orton some workrate gravity, with the idea that he’s there to be the final piece of the puzzle needed to make Orton a World Champion.

The summer pivots when Defiance takes out Charlie, who does a serious stretcher job, propelling their antagonist Regal into taking extra-legal methods to injure the Juggernaut. Regal’s beyond reason; I’m unsure what the specific method of execution would be that pushes the limit without being silly (I once had Foley set Owen Hart on fire; I once had Goldberg and Lesnar urinate on Foley) Regal needs to kill Little; I’m for Regal getting arrested as part of the angle (approaching silly) there needs to be some degree of violence beyond the normal.

6. Edge d. Jericho
This is the highest profile singles match on the card and is sold as a co-main event along with the unification of the World Title. Edge returned to the company at Survivor Series, he had been gone since losing the Cell main event at XXIII – he came back apparently as a face, having seen the error of his ways and whatnot. And he came back aligned with Jericho, making his return to the company.

They were programmed against the tag champs, HHH-M/HBK leading to Jericho’s giving Edge the #10 Hart Foundation hockey jersey at the top of the Rumble.

And Edge, of course, swerving Jericho, and the Clique punking Jericho out.

Edge says he really doesn’t like Shawn and Hunter, but he took an oath. For Life.

And so we do Clique/Harts, the feud which serves as the backbone of Counterfactual WWF.

History of Clique v. Harts at Mania:
VI: IC Title: Bret d. Shawn
VIII: Owen d. Shawn
IX. Bret d. Razor
XI. IC Title: Razor d. Owen
WWF Title: Bret d. Shawn
XII. WWF Title: Iron Man: Shawn d. Bret
XIV. WWF Title: Owen d. Shawn
XX: Hell in a Cell: Jericho d. Christian
XXI. Michaels d. Jericho

During that long stretch without a Clique/Harts match, there were multiple matches with the factions fighting among themselves. Regardless, it’s been 3 years since we did Clique/Harts, this is the 10th Mania Clique/Harts matchup, and Edge goes over clean.

Jericho’s bitterly dejected, slumping away from the ring as Edge gloats.

7. WWF Tag Team Championship: WMD (w/Arn) d. Clique: Special Guest referee, Ric Flair.
-All 6 belts come out with Michaels and Helmsley, but the match is just called the WWF tag championship – and when WMD wins it’s the WWF straps they hold up. Going forward, it’s the WWF Titles that are defended, as the extra tag belts, like all of the non WWF belts, will be locked up and decommissioned on TV sometime over the summer.

Program was about Flair and what will he do, who will he side with, how will he call the match.

Finish is Michaels hitting the kick on Cena, Flair counting to 2 but then stopping. Flair smirks at Michaels as they stand – Michaels swings and Flair ducks, going low on Shawn – Cena then kips up and flexes at Shawn. That’s as far as we can go, I think, in furthering the WMD no-sell gimmick – straddling the line between “Cena’s no selling the superkick” which breaks kayfabe more than I want to do at Mania, and just “Cena has remarkable recuperative powers, it must be all the HGH he doesn’t take or else he should go to jail! Jail!” It’s Hawk no selling the piledriver, that’s the idea – but not as far here. Far enough that it pisses some people off (which WMD will do, I’d be pissed off, for example) and far enough that it puts them over as supermen with some people (‘cause that would happen too, and you work with what you have) but not so far that Counterfactual Jim Jividen feels the need to start a “What if Paul London beat John Cena” blog.
Regardless, Cena kips up and hits that awful death valley driver on Michaels to pick up the fall.
Cena and Leviathan win the straps, the second run for each of them (Leviathan and Flair were champs, Cena and Orton were champs) they stand with Arn and Flair in the ring triumphantly.

8. Worldwide Title Unification: Three Way Dance: Porter d. Kendrick/Noble
MVP took the IC and TV titles from Orton and Survivor Series, the US was not contested in that match due to contractual loophole, Orton then lost the US to Noble at the Rumble. Porter lost the TV to Stevie on a GDI episode, Stevie lost to Yakuza that same night, Yakuza lost to Kendrick right after the Rumble, also on GDI. Kendrick and Noble were tag partners on GDI. Kendrick gets the first fall, on his former partner – but it’s Porter who consolidates the belts, getting the fall on Kendrick. Like the tags, it’s only the IC that goes forward.

Going forward, Kendrick and Noble continue their program on TV, Porter spends the summer establishing the “prima donna athlete” gimmick. He complains he doesn’t get enough promo time. He has a rider in his contract about the food he needs in dressing rooms “Who in charge of sorting my motherfucking Skittles?” he goes on Twitter during a match “MVP has just hit a drive by” he no shows a RAW because he’s holding out for more money.

All summer, Porter goes full on board modern athlete.

9. Undisputed Heavyweight Championship: TLC Match: Punk (w/Maria) d. Benjamin/Nitro

Your main event of the evening.

Mayweather, with Young Money, comes to the ring before the match to unveil the brand new WWF Championship belt, which the announce (Joey and JR, as Foley is gone) put over as extra double fancy

Your brief backstory:

Punk was the last Undisputed Champion, taking from Flair at Survivor Series ’06, then throwing down the NWA and WWF belts, leading to the brand split.

Steamboat returned to the company, and he and Punk have been in the authority/rebel program for the past year and a half. Punk’s kept the ECW belt since then, but with Steamboat finally able to set up a match to unify the WWF/NWA belts, Punk gave up all of his power in order to compete in this match.

At XXIII, tournament finals to fill the vacant championships were held, Booker beat Lashley to win the WWF Title, and Fit beat Flair in his retirement match to win the NWA Title. Book lost the WWF strap to the returning Mysterio at Summer Slam, who then lost to Benjamin at the Rumble. Fit lost the NWA to Nitro at Survivor Series.

Benjamin vs. Nitro is positioned as a budding feud, perhaps over who is the greatest athlete in the WWF – they use the ladder to up each other with highspots. Punk is the outsider in that mix, always looking to take any advantage he can find.

Melina’s not really coming back, she’s been with Nitro his whole run, but got taken out by Dean at the Rumble – but it’s an obvious spot to do a catfight at some point with Maria (mmmm, Maria) say when all three guys have crashed through tables and we need a moment.

Finish comes when Nitro and Benjamin kill each other in as much a spot as human people can possibly do and Punk climbs to the top and grabs the belts (the ECW/NWA belts are tied together).

It’s Punk’s glorious win – he’s a 2 time WWF Champion, he’s managed to overcome Steamboat – he did it entirely his way, tore the company apart, ripped the sport apart – but now stands high above the ring on top of a ladder – title belts in his hand – once again unquestionably the champion of the world – and for a fleeing moment, something approximating complete joy takes over Punk’s face – Punk high above the ring – the champion of the –

And then in a flash, Punk is hit with a Twist of Fate from a running in and climbing up Matt Hardy.

Matt, gone for a full year since winning the main event at XXIII, and then getting stomped out by Punk and the GDI crew, hits a Twist of Fate on Punk from the top of the ladder.

Fans presumably pop – Mayweather comes to the ring – and since Punk is laid out dead – he hands the WWF Championship belt to Matt Hardy.

Matt takes it up the ladder – and stands atop, with the brand new WWF Championship belt in the iconic image from WM XXIV.

The next night on RAW, Punk (with the belt) cuts a “I told you so” promo on everyone – and, from the back via video wall – Steamboat, as promised, names the number one contender for Summer Slam – which is, of course, Matt Hardy.

That’s Wrestlemania XXIV.

I’ll be back in just a couple of weeks with TNA. Then in May, the build to Summer Slam ’08 begins.


G said...

Wow, this really is an amazing project you've got going on here! I spent pretty much my entire weekend getting caught up to date, and needless to say: I want more!

I do have one question for you though. Why Benjamin and Nitro? I understand you wanting to get the young guys in the mix, but this is Wrestlemania after all, and a title Unification match no less.

Did you ever consider putting Jericho and Edge in those spots? It could have been cool to have the Harts/Clique dimension to the huge match.

I do understand you wanting to make their pursuit of the Triple Crown to be a bigger deal, but to Fantasy Book your Fantasy Book: we could have had Nitro win the NWA Title from Finlay earlier, and then go on about how much he hates having a dead title and wants the real one, only for Jericho to show up, set up a match and beat him to honour the title that he used to hold. Then have Rey defend the title up the Rumble but then get taken out with an injury (maybe by Punk and GDI, or maybe by someone else). The WWF decides to vacate the title but is able to get someone to represent them in the big match, through someway or another that ends up being Edge.

Then you can do Nitro/Benjamin in the undercard, or have Nitro take on the returning Ric Flair to avenge the name of the NWA.

Jim said...

Glad you're enjoying it.

1. I like Nitro and Benjamin, and in that type of match, at that point in everyone's careers, I think they put on a better match than Edge/Jericho in that spot.

2. I was okay with putting them both under, deciding I'd still be elevating them coming out of Mania - and one of my broad goals was looking for the next wave of main event stars. The guys I had relied on all left, in one way or another, in really rapid succession, and I wanted to put Nitro/Benjamin in top spots. I think, finally, once we get to the road to Summer Slam 2010, Nitro will be exactly who I want him to be.

3. I wanted that Edge/Jericho dynamic; Edge's swerving Jericho played off both of their long standing characters, and I wanted that personal element to their program. I didn't really want to put them under Punk at Mania, as I wanted to save those matchups for later (having decided that it would be Jericho who'd take Punk's belt). And I wanted to get both Edge and Jericho near Michaels quickly.

4. I also didn't want to further degrade the WWF belt - I didn't love the brand split, I had multiple reasons for it, and think it was a net positive, but a downside was subordinating the WWF title, which I never wanted to do. The timing with Jericho and Edge returning would have required, as you suggested, another belt holdup, which i had just done, and then another belt switch, and I had moved it around a lot.

G said...

I knew that you would have some sort of reason for it, thanks for clarifying! I guess it's easy to look back now and see that Shelton is no longer with the company, so it makes it hard to justify pushing him so hard. Making it in hindsight seem like you had a lack of foresight, which I know is not actually the case.

On a slightly unrelated note. It's also funny that at first glance, Shelton seems like he may not deserve that push, yet I didn't blink twice when you gave those huge pushes to Henning and Owen. Really all three were at about the same level (several secondary reigns, a few programs/wins over established guys). Maybe absence makes the heart grow fonder.

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