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.
Thursday, April 01, 2010
Part 3 of the Road to Wrestlemania Silver (which will connect you to part 2, which gets you to part 1, which also includes links to WM 1-24) is here.
From Houston. Joey/JR/Striker. Josh does backstage interviews.
This is JR's record breaking 13th Wrestlemania; there will be a ceremony on Fight Night in the week subsequent at which he will announce his retirement and Josh will move from GDI to take his spot.
(Dark - Tatsu d. Yakuza
Chavo d. Noble)
In the go home week, "surprises" were promised - and it's been part of the hard final sell. In that spirit, the show opens with the glass breaking - and Steve Austin comes to the ring.
Austin cuts "it's Wrestlemania Silver (and the whole damn building is covered in silver) and it's in Houston - and there's no way Stone Cold Steve Austin wasn't gonna be a part of it." promo. Austin puts over that later on the new general manager is gonna come out here, but it's not going to be him because he'd have to buy a suit and cut back on his beer drinking and that's not gonna happen. Austin says he's gonna sit in the crowd and watch the show - and he's gonna sit with a friend of his - a friend who made a movie that was respectful of the sport of professional wrestling, and the fans of professional wrestling - Mickey Rourke.
And now Mickey Rourke enters - he quickly says - Welcome to Wrestlemania Silver - and the opening video package rolls. Rourke and Austin sit in the front row.
Following the video package that focuses on the four biggest matches tonight:
Jericho v. Michaels
Edge v. Matt v. Jeff v. Christian
Porter v. Rey
Steamboat v. Punk
..the announce finally takes over to run down the rest of the card...
Benjamin v. Nitro
Fit v. Orton
Cena v. Kingston
Undertaker v. Bradshaw
...and then back to the ring for the opening match - the tag title match - and once the 3 teams enter the ring (none of whom have belts, recall, the belts are held up - and the announce explains that not only will there be brand new tag title belts made for tonight - but all of the championship belts will be brand new and brought to the ring by surprise guests) down the ramp come, as the clip reminds us, the team that entered Wrestlemania I as tag champions - Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik!
Nikolai and the Sheik, with the new belts - hit the ring - a boom mic picking up the Sheik uttering some type of anti-Semitic slur about B. Brian Blair - and the opener is finally underway.
1. Tag Titles: DMW d. LWO/HHH-M&Miz
The tag titles were vacated after Christian revealed at the Rumble that he (while not under contract) and not Jeff Hardy was under the Blood Dragon costume. Dead Men Walking (PAUL~ and Kane) win their second tag titles (they took at WM22) with simultaneous chokeslam/pinfalls on Miz and Primo. The Colon Brothers are the current version of the LWO, Primo replacing Chavo - and they turned heel at the Rumble in this new configuration by attacking Young Money (Killings and Kingston). Hunter and the Miz are a brand new heel team; Miz had the title shot here and Hunter wanted in, so he pushed Miz's partner Santino out and took the spot. Their dynamic will be further fleshed out over the summer (like the relationship between Shawn and the Hart kids).
DMW is the de facto babyface team here - although they did attack the Rhodes Brothers at the Rumble, which put them on the wrong side of the Undertaker - and that tension is referenced by the announce postmatch given the Legends Match is next. The Sheik and Nikolai hand the new tag title belts to DMW - the four men raise their arms in center ring.
2. Legends Death Match: Undertaker d. Bradshaw (special guest referee - Jimmy Snuka)
This is a full on bloodbath garbage match - fluorescent light tubes are the weapon of choice in Counterfactual WWF - Sabu brought them to us in his run, they became part of the ECW matches then - and when the ECW group feuded with Bradshaw, they passed to him - and the limited use of them (which I think is important to further sell the gravity of Wrestlemania) has been part of the storyline with this program all year - each flourescent tube shot sold as a big deal.
And now it just explodes in an orgy of violence - there is a casket filled with fluorescent tubes - one side of the ropes is intertwined with fluorescent tubes. Everyone who has been part of the angle gets in here as it finishes up - Cody and Yakuza enter for some righteous bumping - Mark Henry and Dustin enter to blast each other with light tubes. Khali enters - and when he and Bradshaw doubleteam the Dead Man the announce notes that DMW is not making their way to the ring for the save - who does make the save are Austin and Mickey Rourke (sure, why the hell not) - they blast Khali into oblivion with light tubes - which quickly gets us to the Last Ride and then a Tombstone on the glass.
It's the Undertaker's 8th career Legends Match win - double that of the next closest challengers - he, Cody, Dustin, Austin, and Mickey Rourke raise their arms together in victory postmatch. That wraps Bradshaw. Yakuza (Yang) will continue to be a heel, generally used as enhancement next year - Henry and Khali will tag up as enhancement guys.
It'll take some time to clean the ring - time we'll take with the introduction of the new WWF general manager (replacing Ricky Steamboat who is leaving the position in order to return to the ring later tonight).
Your new General Manager...
Arn's been in a front office position before - for a couple of years, the Titan Trust Trio (w/ Dean and Fit) were in the authority position in the company, they were replaced by Steamboat (who was joined - and then moved out, by Flair, and then Steamboat returned when Punk threw down the WWF Title belt and all hell broke loose).
But for most of Arn's WWF tenure - he's been a tag team manager - and that's part of his promo as the ring crew feverishly cleans up all the glass.
Arn thanks Steamboat for his time as GM - and says there's something Steamboat does each year that he likes - each year Steamboat comes out at Mania and tells everyone what the main event will be the following year. 3 years ago - Steamboat made the Hell in the Cell match between Matt and Edge - 2 years ago, Steamboat announced a TLC main event - which turned out to be the Unification match with Punk/Nitro/Benjamin. And last year Steamboat promised the two best wrestlers in the WWF would meet head up to decide who is the man - and tonight, it's Jericho and Michaels for the strap.
Arn says he likes that - and so tonight - he's going to reveal the main event for Wrestlemania 26 - which will be in Phoenix.
But before revealing that - Arn says there are some things about Steamboat he wasn't crazy about.
Arn reminds us that he loves tag team wrestling. He's a 2 time holder of the WWF tag title belts - he's managed 2 teams - the Horsemen and WMD to WWF tag titles - and also managed Strong Style, one of the great recent WWF tag teams.
Hard not to notice that tonight there's only one tag team match - and it's the opening match.
Next year - at Wrestlemania 26 - things are going to be different.
Next year will be a Tag Team Mania - not only will there be more than one tag match - there will be more tag matches than there will be singles matches. And not only that - but for the first time in Wrestlemania history - for the first time in Pay Per View history - the main event will be a tag team match.
So this, Arn says, is a message for every wrestler in the WWF - if you don't have a tag partner - you'd better get one.
But that starts tomorrow - Arn says - he takes over as general manager tomorrow. That means he has one more night be a manager - and he's going to manage his man, John Cena - right now.
3. John Cena (w/AA) d. Ka$h Kingston
Both Cena's and Kingston's tag partners got injured (as mentioned, Killings was taken out by LWO - and previously Leviathan took a HHH-M sledgehammer) so, naturally, that sparked this hotshot program. Kingston gets his stuff in - Cena wears jhorts - finish comes when Arn, with the official momentarily distracted - slips into the ring and hits the spinebuster on Kingston.
Cena gets the STF submission.
Announce puts over that Arn wanted one last act as a manager before taking over the company tomorrow night - but it also shows that he's a different kind of general manager - JR says he's known Arn a long time, and there's no question that he's still the guy in the black hat.
4. Randy Orton (w/Dean and DiBiase) d. Fit Finlay (w/Nemeth)
Orton cuts a pre-match promo - says all he's seen tonight are old men - Austin, Nikolai Volkoff, Arn Anderson - even Steamboat's wrestling tonight. Men "our grandfathers" used to beat up. Orton says he wonders which old man they'll bring out for his match tonight - but then he remembers - he's wrestling Fit Finlay, a man who should have retired when "I kicked his skull in last year."
Fit's just returned in the past few weeks, gone almost a year after taking the Golden Goal from Orton; Orton fronts Defiance - a heel stable which is now Orton/Ted Jr./ and Malenko - in the go home angle here, Fit finally got revenge on his longtime friend and manager Malenko, who turned on him at 24, bloodying him up - and Malenko is still bandaged and frothing. Nick Nemeth (Dolph Ziggler) was Jack Swagger's training partner in developmental (there's an online reality show from developmental, WWFU - or The Underground) and when DiBiase lost the Contract Match at the Rumble to Swagger - and then joined Orton later in the evening - helping Orton punt Taz, RVD, and Swagger - it's Nemeth who has carried the babyface ball.
Fit and Orton have a good history - rivals on Fight Night, both before and then during the incarnation of the NWA that existed on Friday nights. They should put up a good one here - but it's Orton who catches Fit out of nowhere with the RKO to get the fall.
With Fit out - Dean leaps into the ring to set him up for the Golden Goal - Nemeth tries to interfere - but Dibiase is able to control him. Malenko Clover Leafs Finlay - just as he did the year before at 24 - Orton does the long build for the punt - and Kelly Hager runs to the ring.
Kelly (Kelly Kelly) is Swagger's sister and former love interest of DiBiase - DiBiase releases the Million Dollar Dream from Nemeth to go to Kelly - there's a moment of "what is that man going to do - going to do to sweet, young, firm Kelly Hager - when down the aisle begins to run Steve Regal.
Regal feuded with Defiance during the summer and fall - was put out with a Golden Goal after losing a parking garage brawl - and when he starts running to the ring, DiBiase pushes Kelly away - she's caught by Nemeth - Malenko releases the Clover Leaf on Finlay - Dean, Orton, Ted start to yell "come on - come on" to the babyfaces --
When from behind they are attacked by Jack Swagger.
Swagger is a house afire - he suplexes DiBiase - suplexes Malenko - suplexes Orton - lets out a scream and now the babyfaces clean house - everyone getting in shots - Regal - Finlay - Nemeth - Swagger - Kelly Hager gets a hard slap in to DiBiase's face - the heels slink away - and the babyfaces stand tall at Wrestlemania 26.
Prior to the next match - another surprise - the Nature Boy Ric Flair.
Flair has been gone since serving as a guest referee at 24 (he went low on Michaels allowing WMD to win the tag straps) and has been retired since losing to Finlay at 23. So this is his first appearance in a year and second since his retirement ceremony after 23.
Flair says the match he wants to see at WM Silver is Shelton Benjamin and Johnny Nitro. Flair says he loves wrestling - it's his life - and he has watched on TV all year long these two young guys tear it up - have the best match on the show every single night. So when his buddy Double A, the new general manager of the WWF, called him up to come to Wrestlemania Silver - Flair said only if he could be at ringside for the final match of the Series - There Must Be a Winner - Shelton Benjamin and Johnny Nitro, Woooooo!
Flair tells the fans to get on their feet - says Ric Flair is going to be on his feet - and they are gonna be on there's - Flair says get on your feet for two great - young - wrestlers - Benjamin and Nitro. Let's go. Woooo!
5. There Must Be a Winner: Johnny Nitro d. Shelton Benjamin
After over a year of feuding - a feud that began in the build to the main event of 24 - Johnny Nitro gets the clean fall. Benjamin is devastated - this feud has been positioned as a battle for the future of the WWF - young, athletic guys - Benjamin was trained by Angle - became a protegee of Regal and then Arn - Benjamin sent Angle out of the company - he's been WWF Champion, albeit when the belt was split in thirds - he's been positioned to take the ball -- but Nitro has been creeping up, MNM was just behind Strong Style in the tag ranks - Nitro's NWA title run was just behind Benjamin's WWF title run - and they've been running this year long race - a race that ends with Nitro crossing the tape.
Benjamin exits - Flair comes to the ring - Flair's excited - he's on fire for this match - he's still applauding for Nitro - he takes the mic - he puts Nitro over - he says if he were twenty years younger, by God - he'd love to get in the ring with Johnny Nitro.
Nitro takes the mic - says and if that happened - Ric Flair would have had to retire 20 years sooner.
Ric Flair represents everything that's old - and useless - and dead - about professional wrestling - and at Wrestlemania Silver - it's time to bury the dead - and then Nitro stomps Flair out - laying him flat - hitting Starship Pain on Ric Flair - Flair gets color - Arn and the medical crew run to ringside - Nitro exits - posing in the aisle before a broken and battered Nature Boy is helped from the ring.
6. CM Punk (w/Maria) d. Ricky Steamboat
-Steamboat has been babyface legend figurehead general manager for years - really with one goal - to fix what CM Punk broke when the threw down and spat upon the WWF Title belt. Steamboat has feuded with Punk since - and feuded with Punk for years before, in both ROH and TNA. But the war has always been a proxy fight - Steamboat fires Cabana - Punk breaks Low Ki's ankle - that kind of thing - as how could they ever actually come to a resolution?
But here it is - for the first time in over two decades - Ricky Steamboat wrestles at Wrestlemania.
In this world - it's like Hogan coming back to wrestle the Rock - this is that match - Steamboat was in the main event for WM 1-4, he is an icon - and he has been pushed as far as a man can be pushed by CM Punk.
For Punk - whose gimmick is he is a master manipulator - this is his crowning achievement - he has goaded Steamboat into giving up his job and getting into the ring. I like JR, particularly after the Flair angle, saying he does not want to see this match - that Steamboat could get hurt - that he has never before been as uncomfortable calling a match as he is right now - he thinks it should be called off - Steamboat had to have seen what Nitro just did to Flair - and now he's stepping into the ring with CM Punk, a man half his age - JR thinks its a mistake.
They go nose to nose at the bell - Punk smirking - Steamboat building into a rage.
Punk's gotta go over here. Sorry. Steamboat gets in his stuff early to establish his credibility and let the fans pop - but Punk establishes his dominance - and really begins to work Steamboat over, even refusing a pin at one point, pulling him up for more punishment.
Steamboat's got to take the punishment and continue to keep going - then getting a flash nearfall - then battling back with his offense to take control and put Punk on his heels - but Punk hits the Pepsi Plunge - but Steamboat kicks out - and then Punk hits the Go To Sleep to get the fall.
Ideally, the match would show Steamboat's heart and resolve and all of those things - Punk shakes his head, maybe despite himself breaking into a smile postmatch - it's one of those "I hope the fans give the loser a standing ovation postmatch" sort of a thing. Steamboat extends his hand to Punk - Steamboat extends a hand - Punk looks incredulously - looks to the crowd - for a moment we wonder if he'll accept it - or if he'll sucker Steamboat - maybe he's wondering too, Punk runs his hand through his hair - looks at Maria (how could you not, seriously?) his hand starts to go out...but he pauses, he shakes his head - and he exits the ring.
Steamboat's left alone to accept the ovation.
Before the IC match - we get a clip of the very first IC Title match at WM1 - the Dog Collar Match between Piper and Valentine -- and here come Piper and Valentine down the ring bringing with them the new IC belt.
7. IC Title: Title v. Mask: Rey Mysterio d. Montel Porter
After a year and a half, arguably the greatest IC run ever comes to an end - MVP, wearing Dos Caras, Jr's mask around his neck, pushed his luck one match too far - and loses his battle to take Rey's mask (which hopefully is appreciated after the build with Rey going back to Mexico, and hopefully appreciated by the Houston crowd - which is one reason why I did it for this Mania).
MVP has really dominated this feud - beating Rey at Survivor Series and the Rumble - he looked to take Rey's heart here, to take his identity - Porter is at his fullest, cockiest, most arrogant here - but the greatness of Mysterio shines through - I'm going to steal the real world spot - Porter grabs at Rey's mask and yanks it off, but Rey's got one underneath - and that's a tideturning spot that will get us to the 619 and the West Coast Pop for the fall.
Rey gets the big reaction, one assumes, cause he's Rey - in finally going over here - the announce notes that he is now 6-0 at Wrestlemania - he's been a Legends Winner, he's a Triple Crown winner - and now he's a 2 time IC Champ.
Before the next match, a clip of WM 2 plays - with the graphic - Brother v. Brother - it's Terry Funk and Dory Funk - and they come to the ring. Terry cuts promo that it was one of the hardest things he ever had to do to fight his own flesh and blood - and next there will be two sets of brothers who will be fighting - and the loser of that fight has to leave the WWF - here comes the Montreal Match!
8. Montreal Match: Matt Hardy d. Jeff Hardy/Edge/Christian
-They came up together as Young Boys, and on the day the Hardys won the WWF Titles, their friends, Edge and Christian - turned on them to join the Clique. They feuded for years in epic collision matches that wound up breaking their bodies. Jeff's demons drove him from the company for years - and in his return, he became a split personality - sometimes Jeff, sometimes The Blood Dragon - but in this match he goes uncostumed. Christian has just returned to the company, after losing a Loser Leaves Town to Edge a few years ago. Matt and Edge moved to the top of the card in their brothers' absence; main eventing at WM 23 - this is their first physical contact since. And Edge is the only man of the 4 to have a singles title, he had an IC run as a babyface a couple of years ago.
The twisty nature of this program is hard to untangle - it's years of backstory but presently there's a desparate quality to the match of every man for himself.
The hatred between Matt and Edge has hung over the WWF for 3 years - its why Christian left the company, it's why Jeff returned. Both men also driven by a rage at never having won the WWF Title (that none of them has won the title is why the stip - winner gets shot any time in a calendar year - is worth the risk - loser leaves town. Submission only. So, someone will tap out and quit the company. It's called a montreal match because we did this once before - a four way at Survivor Series '97 - Shawn/Austin/Owen/Bret - and Owen won the vacant strap by getting Bret to submit in the sharpshooter - Bret has never returned since, and one assumes, as we sit at WMSilver - that he never will).
For months and months and months (perhaps driven to madness by Punk's mindgames - Punk driving a wedge between the Hardy Brothers) Jeff had become more and more erratic - so when, at Survivor Series, The masked Blood Dragon and Edge won the tag straps - while Matt did not want to believe that it was his brother - he fell to the chicanery. And at the Rumble - he cut a blistering, "you're a loser, you're a sellout, you're not my brother anymore" promo on Jeff - except it wasn't Jeff - it was Christian.
Jeff doesn't forgive - and neither does Matt, blaming Jeff's refusal to just tell him it wasn't him under the costume - instead, letting him twist in the wind (much like fate - see how fate twists).
Christian, in turn, needed Edge to agree to let him come back to the WWF (because that's how it works when you lose a loser leaves town, the person you beat can let you come back) - but immediately after he did - Christian attacked him (a multiple cross) saying that Edge's selfishness cost him years of his life down in Orlando.
So - it is a decade of backstory that drives us to tonight.
Stuff to do.
-It starts with Matt and Edge. Their Cell main event was their last ever match - so they have not had any contact at all, not a punch thrown in 2 years - so they start the match and the rage once again comes through.
-We get to do Edge/Jeff stuff. Edge has been pretending for months that he and Jeff were tag partners - this is Jeff's chance for revenge.
-We get to do Jeff/Christian and then Matt/Christian - lots of Christian here as this is his real return to the big WWF stage - no mask, no costume, no hidden identity.
-And finally the brother against brother stuff. Edge v. Christian, they've met before, so it's a big deal but not singular - and then Matt v. Jeff - they haven't wrestled since they were teenagers, and this is full on anger, boiling jealous rage.
-Remember, winner gets a shot anytime in the next year. Loser, who must submit, leaves town.
1. Edge blows out his achilles tendon in the match - say somewhere 2/3 of the way in. Its clear when it happens and he goes into full on survival mode. Edge can earn some "look how badly he wants it" credibility - as his need for the WWF Title (which would give him the triple crown) is the driving force of his character (that and amorality).
2. Jeff gets a submission hold on Edge - say one that involves the leg - its brief, cause Edge has ruptured the achilles - and it looks like Jeff will get the shot and Edge will leave town - and the hold is broken by Matt. So, Matt chose to let his mortal enemy stay in the company and screw his brother out of a title shot. That's how badly Matt wants the win. And the kind of guy he is.
3. Here's your finish. Simultaneous submission holds. (recall, Owen got Bret in '97)...Christian gets some type of leg hold on Edge - like an ankle lock on the bad leg. And Matt has a boston crab on Jeff - everyone's screaming (let's say Matt had his on Jeff first) Jeff's stuck in the crab - Edge has blown out his ankle - Christian's yelling at his brother to give up - Matt's yelling at Edge to keep going.
Christian lets go of the hold, the panic in his eyes evident as he heard his brother scream but refuse to submit - and right as Christian frees Edge - Jeff taps out.
Everything stops for a moment with the realization that Jeff Hardy is leaving the WWF - and Matt Hardy is the one who has sent him out.
In Montreal, Bret and Owen made up postmatch - Bret fastening the belt around his little brother's waist and raising his arm.
Here - Matt leaps to the turnbuckle to angrily celebrate - pounding his chest, yelling "me, me, me, me". Jeff makes his way to his feet as the officials tend to Edge. All four men in the ring as the moment freezes in time.
Matt tells Jeff, "go to Hell" and exits. Christian extends a hand to Jeff - who accepts it. Christian then aids the officials in helping Edge from the ring.
Jeff stands alone in the ring - a highlight video of his career plays - just as 21 years before, when Ricky Steamboat lost a Loser Leaves Town at WM4 - a video played of his career.
The fans applaud or cry or whatever it is that they will do.
Prior to the main event - a clip of the very first WM Main Event - Ricky Steamboat and Barry Windham for the strap.
Windham, carrying the new WWF Title belt - comes to the ring - and then, showered, dressed, bandaged, moving a little slowly - Ricky the Dragon Steamboat.
The people get to pop one more time as Steamboat and Windham shake hands at midring - and it's time for the main event.
9. WWF Title: Chris Jericho d. The Messiah Shawn Michaels (w/the Harts)
-In the go home week, the 3 Hart kids in developmental inexplicably (because we haven't explained it yet) joined Michaels (no longer the Heartbreak Kid - his hair cut, his gear gone, his music changed) - they wear white and second Michaels to the ring.
Jericho's in his #7 Hart Foundation hockey jersey - the Harts/Clique is a throughline story for the last 20 years nearly of the WWF - Owen and Shawn being the initial rivals; then Shawn and Bret - then Owen and Shawn again with Bret and Razor - add Davey and Waltman and Diesel and Hunter - then Jericho and Storm and Benoit and Edge and Christian and London and Kendrick and now Shawn again with Jericho - at the main event of Silver.
Jericho is, now, all white meat babyface - he is no longer the "cocky Hart" who debuted in the WWF a decade ago to take the IC from Waltman - he shows some age, some wear - he has earned the gravity with which he is treated - he has stepped into the Dynamite/Bret/Benoit role as the Hart elder - or at least is clearly trying to do so.
Michaels has also changed - he shed his cocky image in an attempt to be an elder statesman - but his past transgressions meant no one took him seriously in that role - actually, it was heel Jericho who called him on it prior to their previous Mania meeting a few years back. When the younger wrestlers rejected Michaels - Michaels went heel, re-teaming with Hunter for a Clique party - but after 9 months away with only highlight packages to prime the pump - this new Michaels returned at the Rumble to take out Jericho to close the show. Michaels is now the Messiah - he is looking to change the course of America's destiny - to right the ship that has gone so far off track - and he starts with the WWF - one fan at a time, one wrestler at a time, one viewer at a time -first, by dethroning the sick, sick, cancerous Hart Family from the top of the WWF.
But he doesn't. Jericho wins - pinfall. The Hart kids are ejected from ringside at one point so it can just be one on one - they have the best match they can have - and the babyface champion goes over.
The graffiti falls - it's Chris Jericho - the Lionheart - #7 - the winner and still the Heavyweight Champion of the World as Wrestlemania Silver ends.
The next time I'll be back will be the TNA show, as their next real world PPV means my Counterfactual look at their last show. I do 4 shows a year, no story, just the card (like I did with WCW and ECW, for those of you who are new). And then the long, long summer ahead before our August Summer Slam - I don't plan on doing anything to fill the space beyond the normal build - maybe part one in june, part 2 in July. I have, as I always do - each of the cards laid out all the way to WM 26, we'll see how real world events change that. My original book for this past year had Punk losing when he did - but not to Jericho, to someone else - then after I moved to Jericho I was building originally to a different Jericho title defense - but then the real world changed that - getting me here. I thought this was a good show - worthy of the year long talk about Silver - good work, good drama, good moments. I'm pleased.
Thanks for reading. See you top of May with TNA. The road begins