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 SummerSlam 2008 - 2

Friday, May 29, 2009

In Part 1 (click the label at the bottom) we set up the two singles title matches at the top of the card (the advertising push twins them – it’s Hardys Go For Titles at SummerSlam ’08) and the opening tag.

The other tag match – the tag title match – is also pretty high profile.

Shawn and Hunter – heels – largely doing the same act that makes them babyfaces in real world WWF (like they’ve lived on scholarship their whole lives, Shawn’s “jesus loves me and so it’s okay that I was a dick” act is the same, Hunter’s “I’m married to the Princess so I own this whole place” act is the same) but in Counterfactual WWF, they’re booed.

I mean, you don’t have to boo. I’m booing.

Anyway – they took the straps at Survivor Series (their second time as a team) from Cade/Murdoch (the Superstar and the Sidekick, such a good gimmick “That_Just Happened” was the name for the flip piledriver – TNA can have that one if they like) kept that the Rumble but lost at XXIV to WMD: John Cena and Leviathan (Batista).

Each of them have had a previous run (Cena with Orton, Leviathan with Flair) WMD is doing an 80s musclehead thing – all oil and steroids (allegedly) and no selling. They’re managed by Arn, Flair was the guest referee at Mania and wound up turning on the Clique to aid WMD in taking the straps.

Hunter gets the rematch at Summer Slam, but he’ll be doing it with Edge.

Edge got maybe his biggest ever (maybe second biggest) singles win at 24, beating Jericho.

Edge is essentially real world Edge at this point. He’s amoral. He and Christian joined the Clique back at WM15, turning on their friends, the Hardys, now almost 10 years ago. Following that long collision feud, Edge went down for a year and a half with the neck surgery, returning as a babyface at XX in the big Clique babyface reformation (Michaels, Christian, London) that came on the heels of Michaels beating Hunter and Christian losing to heel Jericho in the second ever Cell match.

That version of the Clique had a long feud with Team Angle; Edge took the IC from Jericho – Edge then turned heel, lying to everyone, including his brother, in the Lita program – beating Christian in a Loser Leaves Town, Edge beat Michaels at XXII – then built for a year to the Cell Main Event at XXIII – he lost to Matt, then appeared to turn face in the postmatch beatdown from GDI.

Edge returned to save the Anvil’s daughter Natty at Survivor Series, he and a returning Jericho aligned to face the Clique at the Rumble – in a touching, historically important scene Jericho presented Edge with his own pink and black Hart Foundation hockey jersey (#10).

Edge then turned on Jericho in the match, having set him (and the fans) up all along. Edge then beat Jericho clean and in the middle at Mania.

So – here Hunter and Edge are.

This storyline isn’t much about WMD, largely they just do their act. The summer here is about the Clique.
Hunter and Edge continue to establish they don’t like each other. That’s always been clear, clear for years. Edge thinks Hunter’s bloated and self important and only has his spot because he bangs the Princess. Hell, maybe one day, when Hunter’s out of town, Edge might pay the Princess a visit.

Hunter thinks Edge is a bitch who only got out of the midcard by doing Matt Hardys tranny girlfriend.
They don’t like each other.

But the Clique is bigger than that. You think anyone likes Scott Hall? Hell no. But they’d lay down their life for him, ‘cause 4-Life isn’t just a catchphrase (buy the shirt) it is a blood oath.

And of course the fans don’t understand. And Joey Styles doesn’t understand. They’re losers. Like Chris Jericho.

They do lots of Jericho talk over the summer – ‘cause Jericho is gone without a trace. And there’s lots of talk about how wrecked he must be (Jericho has a fragile psychological history) that he’s crawled into a bottle someplace, that he’s been found in a back alley with a needle in his arm. They’ll talk about people spotting Jericho in the Arizona desert weighing 400 pounds and covered in melted cheese, or say that he and Perry Saturn have moved to Vermont to make it official.

So, Hunter’s HHH-M. And Edge has just ended Chris Jericho.

What about Shawn?

Shawn appears once on TV, soon after Mania, to cut a new variation on his “Don’t you people know who I am” promo.

Shawn says although you wouldn’t know it by watching WWF television, when he and Hunter won the tag titles last year – he became the first 10 time champion in WWF history.

2 time Heavyweight Champ.

A record 4 time Intercontinental Champ

4 time tag champ.

10 times.

Not Sammartino. Not Hogan. Not Steamboat or Savage or Hennig or Flair or Austin or Cactus or Mysterio or any one of the Harts – any damn one of them.

Me. Shawn Michaels. And none of you are smart enough to appreciate that what you are seeing in front of you is the greatest professional wrestler who ever lived.

A 10 time champion. Shawn Michaels.

So it’s time to educate you people on just who it is I am.

Shawn says one day Jesus will return to earth. But not everyone will be saved. Only the people who recognize him as their lord will be saved. That’s why they need to educate themselves.

You have to know Jesus when you see him.

Shawn says “I am not Jesus, that would be blasphemy – but I am as close as most of you are ever going to get – and you will recognize that in this ring – I am your Lord!”

So, what we get, not just over the summer, but all the way until 2009 – are clip packages of Shawn’s ten title wins. They are positioned in a way to put Shawn over as hard as possible – slow motion, music – narration, it is designed to in a full on way portray Shawn as more than a man.

The Clique’s in charge, after all. Hunter’s a McMahon. Shawn Michaels is Shawn Michaels. Edge is Edge.

They are entitled.

The ten Michaels title wins are shown in clip vignettes, interspersed with biblical verses all summer long, hell, make it all year long, all the way to 2009. They end with flashes of white light and the phrase.

He Will Rise Again.

That’s the tag title match. WMD defending against Edge and Hunter.

4 down. 4 to go. Plus all of the other stuff that while not being part of Summer Slam is nonetheless going on in the summer of ’08. We continue.

Road to SummerSlam 2008 - Part 1

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

WM 24 is here.

SummerSlam 2008 will be coming in August from Indianapolis. As SummersSlam can occasionally be, it’s a top heavy card, but gives you some sense about the storylines which will unfold over the course of the new season.

We’ve got 8 matches to set up – I’m going to break with what has been my recent habit and give you the lineup right now – RIGHTNOW! ON THIS VERY SCREEN! – and then fill in how we get there, probably taking a total of three posts.

WWF Title: CM Punk (w/Maria) v. Matt Hardy
IC Title: MVP v. Jeff Hardy
Tag Titles: WMD (w/Arn) v. Clique: Edge/HHH-M
Kash Kingston v. Santino
Undertaker (w/Cody Rhodes) v. Bradshaw (w/Yakuza Yang)
PAUL v. Khali
Mark Henry v. Frank Neely
Parejas Increibles: CM Punk/Matt Hardy v. MVP/Jeff Hardy

I know, you’re wondering what you did to deserve that undercard. I feel your righteous fury.

Let’s talk about the top. Punk, as you hopefully know, kept at XXIV in the 3 way TLC over Nitro and Benjamin (more on them when I get there) and then was hit with a top of the ladder twist of fate by Matt, gone since his XXIII main event win over Edge and subsequent postmatch beatdown at the hands of the GDI crew led by Punk.

Matt actually already had a shot at Punk, Rumble 07, but largely that will be glossed over in the program (it was just for the ECW belt and it ended after Edge interference). The program really contains the following components:

A. Punk’s in celebratory mode.
-After being a step ahead of everyone in the company, really, since his arrival, but certainly since winning the Unified Titles (and then throwing down 2 of the belts) at SSeries ’06, Punk found himself playing intellectual catchup to Steamboat, outmaneuvered by the WWF GM into giving up control of GDI and reunifying the title belts. So now, that he has once again won, is once again WWF Champion, and has won the main event at Wrestlemania, he gloats. “I threw the WWF title belt on the ground, I started my own show, I broke the greatest wrestling company in the world into little pieces – and did I get my comeuppance? Did the great Ricky Steamboat take me to school to teach me a lesson about respect? Did I have to get back in line and “learn my place”? Or did I stand in front of 70,000 people at Wrestlemania and become a 2 time WWF World Heavyweight Champion?”

B. Punk’s really doing promos on Steamboat
-There’s a lot of space between Mania and Summer Slam, really a program, to run that long, has to have stages. In the initial stage Punk largely ignores Matt and instead cuts promos on Steamboat (who only appears once, on the RAW after Mania to make Matt the number once contender – he then says he’s going on the road to scout new talent – and poof – he’s gone) Punk sets up the feud as not just starting when he arrived at WWF refusing to appear on “corporate TV” – but educates fans who are unaware of their ROH history (ROH Counterhistory is the same as actual ROH history – given events of 2009, that’s probably a policy that could use modification) so the Punk/Steamboat feud from real world ROH – all of that happened in Counterfactual ROH – it’s been referenced during the course of the long power struggle between the two men – but now, with a whole summer to talk – Punk talks. Additionally, in Counterfactual TNA Punk was X Division Champ at the end of ’03 (he took from Daniels, dropped to Killings) I don’t talk storyline in the TNA recaps, just run through the shows, but we’re going to say, just for the hell of it – that their feud began then, in 2003.

So, 5 years and multiple promotions later – Punk does a lot of preening – he won the X Title in TNA (and he says the letters, says them on RAW – Punk’s a renegade, see) despite Steamboat trying to keep him down – and he won the ROH World Title (Punk took from Aries and lost to Noble, all in mid ’05) despite Steamboat trying to keep him down – and now, with Steamboat putting up roadblock after roadblock – he has cemented his legacy as WWF royalty, by winning his 2nd WWF Title. And Steamboat can’t do a damn thing about it.

Punk tries to coax any type of response, even from video, by Steamboat, but the Dragon stays gone. Punk likes this for awhile “I drove Ricky Steamboat out of the WWF – not the Dynamite Kid – Me!” but eventually he feels disrespected “Every week I call you out – and every week you ignore me! I’m WWF Champion, Has Been! Who the hell are you?”

C. The Matt stuff.
-Matt doesn’t vanish, he’s been totally gone a year and will need to get some momentum back from the year and a half build to WM23 when he was the hottest act in the company. Matt doesn’t talk much, he’s got a CrowSting thing going with some Pillman-insanity tossed in. A reminder of how we got here – the long collision match feud with Edge/Christian and the Dudleys (the Hardys and E/C started together as ring boys, the Hardys working for the Clique, E and C for Owen Hart – E/C turned heel with Trish, joining the Clique) ended with everyone but Matt stretchered from the building – the Hardys had just started working with Eric Bischoff – and over the course of a year + (and two WM matches) Matt and RVD doubleturned in a death defying program. The bodybreaking nature of that, coming on the heels of the years of collision matches, apparently broke something inside of Matt – who actually quit the company in the middle of Summer Slam a few years ago.

Then came Edge and Lita, and Matt’s return as a crazed Pillman type babyface – he inflicted permanent damage on Edge’s eye, he put Lita out of the business – he beat Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair at PPVs to begin a one year build to the Cell main event at 23 (even getting his own show, a 24/7 look at how he and Edge trained for Mania).
He won that main – got taken out by GDI – returned at XXIV and here we are.

Matt’s part in the program consists of getting revenge on the full GDI crew – Sydal, Kendrick, even Yang who is now in the Bradshaw stable (more on that later) and Noble (who has turned face – but Matt doesn’t care!). Finally he hits Colt, Punk’s best friend/bodyguard. Matt breaks Colt’s arm (Colt’s gonna wear a cast until he gets fired at the top of ’09).

That’s enough to swing Punk’s attention from Steamboat to focus directly on Matt.

D. The Punk/Matt/Jeff stuff.

-Down the stretch to Summer Slam – Matt’s storyline is simple – he needs to win the title. He lost a year of his life listening to Eric Bischoff. He lost a year of his life chasing after Edge. He lost a year of his life recuperating after WM23. The losing has ended. At SummerSlam, he wins. He wins the WWF Championship.

-Punk gets a little more psychological, the seeds for which have already been planted.

Punk, recall, feuded with Jeff at the end of ’07, going to a time limit draw at Survivor Series and beating him at Rumble ’08. Jeff isn’t Jeff anymore, he’s now the Blood Dragon Jeff Hardy – as sometimes he wears a Jushin Liger like full body suit and mask. Blood Dragon was a play on Ricky Steamboat (nickname+real last name) in an attempt to get Punk to believe he would get Steamboat in the ring. That program evolved into Punk’s cutting promos on Jeff that the reason he was subsuming his identity was he couldn’t handle being Matt Hardys less successful brother.

Punk returns to that theme as we drive to the finish line, Matt’s destroyed the fragile psyche of his brother – Matt’s just been worried about himself – about his own pain, about Lita, about Edge, about me – and his brother has spiraled away from him. Matt’s enormous ego has killed his own brother – Jeff might seem alive – but now he’s this costumed freak – maybe if Matt would stop talking about what he wants, what he needs – he’d notice that the Hardys Boys are dead – killed dead by Matt’s ego.

They’ve avoided physical confrontation since Mania – but Matt will have beaten, let’s say MVP, in a long non-title main event on RAW – and then Punk will come to the ring and he and Porter will stomp Matt out – with the babyface save by a returning Blood Dragon, gone since the Rumble.

That then will set up 2 additional matches – as the sell for Summer Slam now isn’t just Matt’s attempt to be WWF Champion – but the Hardys attempts to win their first singles belts ever – Matt v. Punk, Jeff v. Porter. And it sets up what has become our Summer Slam tradition, that the opening tag match is parejas increibles – this time it will be Punk/Matt v. MVP/Jeff.

A word about MVP – since he goes most of the summer without a program, the summer for him is about establishing the modern day athlete, the TO gimmick.

Porter appeared with Elijah Burke, his hometown friend, as protégées of Booker T two years ago – Porter’s backstory was his real life backstory, he spent the 90s in jail for piracy.

Not the kind of piracy that lets you watch PPVs for free, but actual piracy. Look it up.

Now, in the Counterfactual, his lifeline was Booker T, then with the NWA, who he wrote a letter to, as he loved him some Harlem Heat. Book sent wrestling tapes and told Porter to look him up when he got out. He did, and Porter and Burke (his not convict pal) moved to Houston and trained with Book – eventually they came to WWF, became Heat – Booker won the vacant WWF Title at WM 23 – then lost to Mysterio at last year’s Summer Slam. Porter, upset with Book’s babyface temperament, turned on both he and Burke. MVP then took the IC and TV Titles from Orton at Survivor Series ’07, lost the TV to Stevie Richards on GDI TV, beat Burke at the Rumble to end their feud – and reunited the belts (which like the World belts are once again all WWF based) at XXIV in the three way over Noble and Kendrick.

Over the summer – the TO element of his persona is played up. A spot I like is Porter going on Twitter during a match:

MVP Has Just Hit the Drive-By

You could see that getting over, right? We encourage WWF fans to sign up for Twitter, and during a match he hits them with a Tweet.

I’m just giving these ideas away, people. Someone call creative!

Porter does the things that made TO a heel – he holds out for more money the night of a RAW – doing push ups in his drive way as the camera cuts away during the show. He has walkaround guys, he holds press conferences, he demands his own recliner in the locker room. He spends the summer doing all the big, brash, modern day athlete stuff that fans call talk radio to scream about.

Jeff wears the Blood Dragon costume almost all the time – taking off the giant mask only occasionally.

Matt cuts promos that he doesn’t care about parejas increibles – he will not fight his brother in the opening match at Summer Slam – he will never fight his brother – Summer Slam is a Hardy coronation.

Jeff is silent about the tag match.

That’s 3 matches down.

Punk v. Matt for the strap.
Porter v. Jeff for the IC
And the opening tag match – Punk/Matt v. Porter and Jeff.

5 matches to go, plus all the other stuff that we have to talk about, as we travel together down the road to Summer Slam 2008!

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