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 Survivor Series 2008 - I

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Summer Slam is here.

We are headed for Survivor Series 2008 in Boston.

And it’s time for the 10th Number One Contender’s Battle Royal, the history of which is here:

The inaugural Number One Contender’s Battle Royal was right after VII in ’91 on the last SNME in 15 years.

-Hawk and Animal were the first two entrants.
-Barbarian was the first elimination (by the Road Warriors)
-The Undertaker has 10 eliminations. Still a record. 10 is a lot.
-Michaels lasted almost an hour, eliminated by Bret and Davey Boy
-Davey won the battle royal, Sid was the last elimination.
-Davey went on to win the WWF Title at Summer Slam, defeating Mr. Perfect.
Two years later, after IX, the battle royal returned.

-Owen and Shawn were the first two entrants.
-The first elimination was Doink (by Owen and HBK)
-Luger eliminated 6 guys
-Owen lasted a little over an hour, breaking the record.
-And Michaels then broke that record, lasting 75 minutes, being the last elimination – by Razor.
-Razor went on to lose to WWF Champion Bret at Summer Slam, a rematch from the main at IX.

Two years later, after XI, the battle royal returned.
-Waltman and Bob Holly were one and two.
-Holly was the first elimination – by Hunter
-Undertaker eliminated 5 guys.
-Hakushi was your winner, eliminating Razor last.
-Hakushi went to Summer Slam and lost to WWF Champ Bret

We moved the Battle Royal to run in the even numbered years next, as it returned after XII.
-Billy and Bart were one and two.
-Jannetty was the first out, eliminated by Snow
-Austin eliminated 7.
-Owen won the battle royal, eliminating Austin last
-Pillman’s surprise debut was in this match.
-Owen went to Summer Slam and lost to WWF Champ HBK

Two years later, the 5th battle royal, after XIV
-Rock and HHH were 1-2.
-Mero was first eliminated, by Rock.
-Dr. Death was a mystery entrant
-Austin had 9 eliminations.
-He was last eliminated, by Cactus. Cactus went on to win the WWF Title, and the Triple Crown, at Summer Slam, beating Owen.

Two years later, after XVI, in 2000, it returned.
-Angle and Alabama Bob were the first two entrants
-Crash was the first eliminated, by Angle.
-Angle eliminated 8 and also lasted an hour.
-Rock won the battle royal, Jericho was the last out.
-Rock went to Summer Slam and lost to WWF Champ Benoit

Two years later, after XVIII – battle royal 7.
-This was the battle royal put together by the Titan Trust, Fit/Arn/Dean
-26 of the 30 entrants had held gold somewhere and 9 were former Heavyweight Champions in the most star studded battle royal ever.
-Jericho and Edge were 1 and 2.
-Regal was the first out, eliminated by Jericho and Book.
-The Clique, Michaels, Razor, Diesel, Hunter and even a running in Waltman eliminated 11.
-They were all (save HBK) eliminated by Brock
-Rey was a surprise entrant, the first ever winner from the 30 position (no one has ever won from #1) He eliminated former world champs Hennig, Flair, and Michaels to win.
-He went to Summer Slam and lost to WWF Champ Angle

Two years later – but now after Summer Slam as opposed to after Mania – was battle royal 8 in 2004.

-Tajiri and Yang were 1 and 2.
-Yang was first out, by Benjamin
-Angle had multiple eliminations from the announce position
-Leviathan had 9 eliminations
-Eddy won, eliminating Christian. Eddy went to Survivor Series and fought WWF Champ Benoit to a time limit draw.

Our most recent battle royal was in 2006 – and it was the beginning of a long and winding road.

-Punk and 2 Cold Scorpio were 1 and 2.
-Ken Kennedy was the first elimination, by Carlito Colon.
-Fewer than half of the entrants from only 2 years ago are entered in this year’s event.
- London and Kendrick, in a feud they’d never resolve – briefly teamed up in a spot against RVD and Sabu.
-The unraveling of the 51% Solution, which would be complete at Survivor Series, began here when Lashley eliminated Hunter.
-Edge, Punk, and Jeff were the final 3, in an extended sequence. Jeff got Edge, but then Punk got Jeff to be the first man ever to go from number one to win the battle royal.
-He won the title and then vacated it, at Survivor Series.

Yes, it’s not a good name for this event. As mentioned, I would call this the Royal Rumble and call the Rumble Justice Sunday if this weren’t a literary exercise, that struck me as too confusing, for whatever reason.

The big Battle Royal will be on Fight Night’s move from CW to MyNetwork, in an attempt to juice those numbers.

A little reset on how I see the 4 shows (there is no Superstars yet, and when there is, it will just be clip packages).

1. RAW is big. It should feel extraordinary. I’d like the video wall to extend through the entire arena. A full backdrop, literally as big as it can be. There’s a long white ramp that goes to the ring – I’m now going to move Howard away from RAW – I’d like a female disembodied voice to be the ring announcer. If you ever thought “this is what an intergalactic battle for eternal supremacy should look like” that’s what I’m going for with RAW.

2. Tuesday is GDI. GDI is handheld independent wrestling matches. Folding chairs. Maybe a couple hundred fans. It should be packed, it should feel like a club where the best area band ever is playing and people should be packed into see it. Sort of like the idea behind Wrestle Society X (or Shotgun Saturday Night).

3. Friday is Fight Night. It should feel like UFC. It’s where it’s personal. You settle scores, you bleed. It’s for garbage matches and super stiff “shoot like” matches.

4. WWFU. This is the internet reality show for WWF University. WWFU has multiple meanings, my favorite is WWF Underground. And that’s how I’ll refer to it most of the time. Underground is a good word. That’s developmental. They all live in a condo complex (or one giant house, that’s a real estate issue). Either it’s the Real World or it’s Melrose Place. Either way, it’s online. Taz is the wacky head trainer down in Tampa. Crazy kids with their antics.

Eventually, Superstars starts and it’s clips – it’s hype clips for programs ongoing, its recap packages like they did for Mania on NBC that I watched and no one else did, it’s to introduce characters with longer video pieces, to get into their lives, see how they are. Longer versions of the new character vignettes we get occasionally. The other shows are wrestling shows, almost all matches, the occasional important promo – some taped pieces but no sketches. The vignettes are on Thursday.

Between Summer Slam and the Battle Royal we have a couple of weeks of promos, including some green screen backstage old school stuff – where everyone tells us why he’s going to win the battle royal and go onto Survivor Series to take the title from Punk. It’s a good way to get guys over as we march to 25 – to get 25 (Wrestlemania Silver) over, as guys bring up how they want to be in the main event – and to remind people why it is we hate Punk – because 2 years ago at Survivor Series 2006, Punk won the Undisputed Title from Flair, and then threw the WWF belt down, he and Maria (mmmm, Maria) spitting on it. It’s an unpardonable offense, and his holding the belt now as if it never happened is an affront to many.

Some things to set up before the big match:

1. Punk is in full on gloat. Not only did he beat Matt Hardy at Summer Slam, but Steamboat had to count the fall. Best day ever for CM Punk. He cuts more Steamboat promos – Steamboat once again has left for Asia, on his mysterious talent acquisition journey.

2. The legendary Rey Mysterio returns at the Battle Royal. Gone since losing the WWF title at the Rumble to Shelton Benjamin, Rey becomes an instant favorite. He’s been injury prone in recent years, his body showing the wear, the mileage, but remember, the last time he came back after an even longer layoff, he won the WWF Title from Booker T at Summer Slam ’07.

3. WWFU gets two entries into the battle royal. This is a big deal in the underground (there’s going to be a column, written say weekly online, called “Notes From the Underground”) and much jockeying for position occurs. When Taz picks the expected guys, Jake Hager and Ted DiBiase, Jr., it creates some issues. One, the Hart kids, Harry and Tyson, are pissed – they’ve worked hard since being squashed by the Clique the year before on TV, and they thought they should have gotten the call. Two, Hager and DiBiase don’t like each other. Hager’s an All-american from Oklahoma, and does everything full on, all out, he’s a model student. DiBiase’s a bit of an asshole, likeable and gifted but doesn’t take much too seriously. They’re oil and water. DiBiase may also have a thing for Hager’s sister Kelly. Or maybe Kelly for him. Hard to say. Taz stresses that they need to work together. That this is a chance to make a mark not just for each of them, but for the whole Underground. For the Harts. For Nick Nemeth, the winningest wrestler in Kent St. history. For Knox – the creepy bearded guy in the corner always reading books – lots of rumors about him, maybe he’s a cannibal, maybe he’s AWOL from Iraq, maybe he’s a Jonas Brother. He never talks to anyone and everyone is scared to talk to him. It’s the first shot for the Underground on a big stage, it’s Taz’s return to TV after being the lead analyst for nearly a decade. It’s a big spot. Third, Hager will be changing his name – using the nickname derisively hung on him by DiBiase that got traction with the other boys – Jack Swagger. It’s really the opposite of who he is, or thinks he is – he just works hard and follows the rules and they all resent him for it.

The other thoughts can be offered during the Battle Royal or after – when we set up the card for Survivor Series.

Here we go. Place your bets….

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