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 Royal Rumble 2009 - Part One

Thursday, December 17, 2009

When last we left off, the traditional Triple Crown ceremony the night after Survivor Series (Jericho won the strap, making him a Triple Crown Winner, he was presented the trophy by Rey) ended in chaos when Punk/Colt/Kendrick attacked Steamboat on the floor as the boys surrounded the ring.  I like it when shows end in chaos.  Gotta keep tuning in to see how it all resolves itself. 

It doesn't resolve itself for the rest of December; Steamboat takes two weeks off to sell the injuries - over that time the Punk/Colt/Kendrick/Maria quartet appears on every show in some capacity - Kendrick's celebrating his win over Matt Hardy (although constantly looking over his shoulder for Matt to appear) and the group, assuming that Punk will be getting his rematch against Jericho shows clips of the match, alleging numerous rules violations that an unbiased referee would have caught (bullshit stuff: closed fists, slow counts, intentional clotheslines) but Punk sells how it's a series of smoking guns, he really should demand that the decision be reversed and he be awarded his title back - but he's magnanimous, he'll beat Jericho at the Rumble fair and square.

So, over these two weeks, we assume (wrongly) that we'll be getting all 3 title matches replayed from SSeries.  Not just Punk/Jericho (not going to happen) but a tag rematch.  Edge and the Blood Dragon took the straps from WMD - and we assume we'll see it again (we won't, Batista's gonna get hurt, but not yet).  Edge cuts his super smarmy top of the world promos - he and Jeff Hardy are tag champs - it's the very best thing that could ever happen.  An interviewer will say he's taking Jericho's winning the WWF title well - and that will set Edge off in that way he has - the interviewer's a hater, that's how people are always trying to tear him down.  But, the smarminess returns, Edge says he doesn't mind...Jericho...with the WWF title, because Jericho can't beat him, as he proved at WM 24.  For right now - he and Jeff are tag champs, and all is right with the world.

Jeff doesn't appear outside of the mask, as he hasn't appeared without the mask now since the end of the number one contender's battle royal in August (no one mentions this).  The Blood Dragon appears a couple of times in these two weeks with Edge - Edge trying to get the Blood Dragon to hug him - but the Blood Dragon is standoffish - the announce speculates that Jeff has to be conflicted - it's almost too baffling to comprehend - you wouldn't believe it if it wasn't right in front of your face - Edge and Jeff Hardy, tag team champions.  Matt does not appear. 

Neither of those matches is going to happen.  What will happen is the IC rematch.

MVP's run, now over a year - now the longest IC title reign since Michaels 15 years previous, continued at SSeries.  Porter beat Mysterio clean - but it's Porter who calls Rey out, Porter who wants the rematch.

MVP is pissed about the Triple Crown ceremony - the night after Rey loses clean as a sheet there he is on RAW called a legend by Joey Styles, there he is with the Triple Crown trophy - there he is with a full clip package and a standing ovation.  Porter says it doesn't work like that - it ain't Rey who is the greatest IC Champion of all time - not Rey who had his hand raised - not Rey who runs this piece - it's MVP.

Porter says it wasn't enough just to beat the man - he wants to beat him in his own match - 2 of 3 falls.  They're gonna do it lucha style - 2 of 3 falls for the IC strap at the Rumble.

They do a tag just before Steamboat returns, Punk/MVP against Jericho/Rey - Porter gets a screwjob fall when Colt hits Rey with the cast.  The babyface announce begins to build the story that maybe we all overestimated how much of the old Rey was left - that maybe against someone as young and talented as Porter, arguably the greatest IC champ of all time - Rey's overmatched.  We'll find out in the 2 of 3 falls match at Royal Rumble 2009.

We'll also get Benjamin and Nitro again - Match 7 in the Best of 7.

Nitro beat Benjamin at Survivor Series - going up 3-1 in the series - but over December Benjamin guts out 2 wins to even the series.  So by year's end the match is set - Shelton Benjamin and Johnny Nitro, 3-3.

We'll also get a Contract Match.

2 years ago, at WM 23, the Juggernaut (RIP) won a contract.  A year ago, in a dark match at 24, Young Money got a contract.  This year, since the Wrestlemania Silver card spots will be highly coveted - the contract match will be at the Rumble - and it will be a battle from the Underground.

We started developmental in Tampa at the top of the year - its WWFUniversity (or WWFU, or WWF Underground, it's all online, so we call it the Underground).  Taz joined as head trainer after 24.  So, after a year watching these crazy kids online - Taz says one of them is getting called up to the show. 

The Rumble match will be between the two top prospects - Swagger and DiBiase.  Swagger is overachieving babyface, hardworking, the epitome of the diligent amateur wrestler.  Up early to do his running, stays late to work on drills.  Kelly is his sister.  He's not well liked among the rest of the boys in the Underground, they snickered behind his back when he was given the pejorative nickname of Jack Swagger by DiBiase (a nickname liked by the company, so it became his ring name) there's no reason for it really beyond jealousy, but he's a square peg in a round hole world.  He has one friend, Nick Nemeth, a fellow amateur wrestler - they train together - and after Taz announces the matchup for the Rumble, Swagger and Nemeth will spend most of the run up alone training.  Nemeth looks up to Swagger.

DiBiase's a rogue, drinks too much, stays out late - quick with a comeback - he challenges Taz's authority sometimes - but he's very popular with the boys in Tampa and is more of a natural than Swagger - he'll come in late, leave early - but get everything right.  He and Kelly have had a flirtmance thing during the year.  As we get closer to the Rumble, DiBiase and Kelly get closer - they evade the cameras, Kelly's in DiBiase's room late at night, that sort of thing. 

DiBiase/Swagger meet at the Rumble - Winner Gets a Contract.

The other thing that happens in the Underground as part of this angle is Taz cuts a promo on Randy Orton.

At Survivor Series, Orton beat Regal in a Parking Lot Brawl, giving him the Golden Goal as did he with Finlay back at 24 (Fit's been gone since).  Orton had aid from a mystery driver - one of the cars encircled in the parking lot was not empty, as it was supposed to be - but had a masked driver who popped up to clip Regal, allowing for Dean and Orton to gain advantage.  On TV post Survivor Series - Orton cuts his gloating promos - but also, TV shows that the driver of the car can be identified by distinctive leather gloves (there's zooming on the tape - look at the gloves!).  Find the gloves, find the driver.

Anyway - Taz as part of the "this is the biggest thing that could ever happen, one of us, someone from the Underground, is going to the show" rap - says "when you get there, don't be Randy Orton" - and cuts promos about what a crappy guy Orton is for cheating at Survivor Series, for kicking Regal in the head - you know the drill.

This is how what has only been online will get on TV.  Because Orton, on TV, will play the internet clip of Taz and then respond.  So, for the fans who aren't online, who don't know about the Underground - Orton is bringing it to them - and that will allow for the announce to also get over the Swagger/DiBiase match.  Orton's hot at Taz - calling Taz out - saying he and his trainees don't belong in the ring with a real man.

We need to fast forward here in time to the end of December - there's a big Jericho promo that will get us our main event - I don't want to talk about that yet, I'll wait until part two of the build (next week I think, it'll just be a two part build).

But as part of that - Orton and Taz do a back and forth - Orton on the ramp - Taz via satellite.  They jaw - Orton winds up issuing a challenge as he puts down the entire Underground - Orton says he'll beat anyone Taz can throw at him.

Taz agrees - says he'll have an opponent for Orton at the Rumble.

Orton shows up a couple of weeks later in Tampa, on the Underground - he slaps a couple of the trainees around - he acts like Randy Orton - he draws a united front from the boys - DiBiase and Swagger standing together to defend the honor of the Underground - they back Orton down.

Those clips are shown on TV - Orton cuts promo - demanding to know who it is that Taz has for him - who it is that he'll be kicking in the skull at the Rumble -

We're now like two weeks out from the Rumble, in mid-Jan.

 -- Taz appears, Taz and Orton go face to face - Orton demands to know who it is he'll be wrestling in Detroit at the Royal Rumble - which one of Taz's children gets his skull caved in -

Taz says Randy misunderstood.  It won't be a trainee.  It won't be a future champion.  It will be a past champion.  A WWF tag team champion.  A IC Champion.  An ECW Champion.

The video plays - Rob Van Dam.

RVD will be returning to the WWF at the Royal Rumble - in his hometown of Detroit - to take on Randy Orton.

That's half the card.

IC: 2 of 3 Falls: MVP v. Mysterio
Best of 7: Match 7: Nitro v. Benjamin
Orton v. RVD
Winner Gets a Contract: Swagger v. DiBiase

Still half the card left.  We'll find out the title match, the tag title match, the opening tag, and the remaining singles match.  All of those matches hinge upon what happens when Ricky Steamboat returns --- in the middle of a Punk Quartet promo --- and announces that CM Punk will not be wrestling Chris Jericho at the Rumble.

That's where we'll pick up in Part 2

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