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 2010 - Part 2
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Part One is here.
Johnny Nitro took a big step at Survivor Series 2009, joining Shawn Michaels – and that pairing, along with the Flock (Tyson Kidd, Harry Smith, Natty Neidhart) takes up a lot of space in the Road to Royal Rumble 2010. Michaels, as mentioned in Part I, appears every time there is a Bret Hart video to cut a promo on the Hit Man, promising to make Bret “bow down” at the Rumble. Nitro asserts himself as the leader of the Flock (he doesn’t shave his head, doesn’t wear all white – unlike Shawn and the Hart kids). The bit the Flock did previously, going to Mexico to get lucha fans to admit that Michaels was better than Mysterio and therefore, the greatest luchadore of all time, going to Japanese and Indian restaurants after Michaels wins over Funaki and Khali to get similar proclamations from fans – builds to this point – Nitro and the Flock going to Canada to goof on the Harts, particularly Bret. Harry gets fans to tear up Bulldog posters, Tyson gets fans to make fun of Stu, Natty gets fans who don’t remember the Anvil’s name – all under the direction of Nitro – there’s a lot of juvenile cackling – all building to the group going to the old Hart house – and urinating on the front lawn (presumably, there’s snow, it’s December.)
It’s childish DX type stuff, they can shoot it all at one time and roll it out in highlight packages, gives them opportunity to do multiple takes to make sure Nitro doesn’t flub the lines – the idea being to demonstrate Nitro as not one of the Flock, but in charge – to connect this group to the juvenile aspect of the old Clique group (giving a Michaels rub while not actually using Michaels in those segments) and to ratchet up the Bret discussion as we get closer to the Rumble.
When we hit January, it’s time to build 3 matches out of this.
Michaels, recall, has been cutting promos based on the Bret video packages – well, as that occurs, MVP has been sending tweets about those promos “Is the Messiah ducking the greatest IC Champ of all time” “How about challenging someone in this century, Messiah?” Leading to Porter actually interrupting a Michaels counter-package, coming down the ramp to stop the package right in the middle.
With Michaels in the ring – MVP on the ramp – Porter tells Shawn that for a guy who can’t keep MVP’s name out of his mouth, he sure has a way to avoid stepping into the same ring with him.
Michaels looks offended, but doesn’t respond.
Porter says the Oldest Intercontinental Champion of All Time might be in the ring – but the Greatest Intercontinental Champion of All time is standing right in front of him. And MVP is about to walk down to that ring and prove it by whipping some Messiah ass.
Michaels points dead at Porter – says the only way MVP is getting in Shawn Michaels’s ring is if he’s coming to bow down and confess that the Messiah is his wrestling Lord and Savior.
MVP double takes – drops his mic – and starts to walk to the ring – when he is jumped from behind by Nitro and the Flock. They beat him down – toss him in the ring – and force him to his knees in front of Michaels. Nitro yells at him - “Beg for forgiveness! Confess your sin – you dare take the name of Shawn Michaels in vain – beg for forgiveness from your Messiah!”
Save by Shelton Benjamin. Benjamin – who lost to Michaels at Survivor Series in what led to Nitro joining the Flock – hits the ring hard and suplexes Nitro, Harry, and Tyson as Natty quickly hustles Shawn outside.
That gets us a couple of weeks of MVP and Benjamin teaming together, they can go over Harry and Tyson in singles – but lose a handicap when Nitro is added to the mix – Nitro pinning Benjamin again (after a superkick, we work hard to get the superkick over as a finishing move for Nitro) And that leads us to one more Nitro v. Benjamin, a Once and For All match, the suggestion being that this is the very end of their long, long feud.
As those couple of weeks are playing out – Michaels isn’t involved – instead, he unexpectedly appears on Fight Night to beat the hell out of Matt Sydal.
Sydal lost to Rey at Survivor Series, but both in the build to that match and then the follow up from it – was being put over by the announce as a young high flyer – death defyingly athletic. Since JR took over Fight Night, he had been referring to Sydal as “A blue chipper – the finest natural athlete in the WWF today.”
And out of nowhere, Michaels attacks Sydal postmatch during a Friday in early January. Michaels, furious – without an ounce of Messiah placidity, but with all of that aggrieved Shawn Michaels fervor, points at JR – tells him this is his fault – as long as Shawn Michaels is still getting a paycheck, that means he is the greatest athlete in the WWF. Everyone here keeps trying to shove me out the door, “greatest intercontinental champion this, greatest natural athlete that. It’s BS, it’s BS and I’m not having it anymore.”
That’s your IC match. Michaels v. Sydal.
MVP cuts a Raw promo about that, says he doesn’t have anything against Sydal, but Michaels is ducking him – and with Nitro fighting Benjamin at the Rumble, the guy who winds up out in the cold is MVP – and right then comes the following response – in loud, bombastic voice:
“At the Royal Rumble, I will beat the black right off your ass!”
Porter does the full on double take and looks up the ramp at the voice.
No, Cole’s not challenging MVP – Cole, you may recall, has been the voiceover guy for WWF for years, has no character whatsoever, he just talks in that overly exaggerated announcer voice – but he also speaks Japanese, so he has been the translator for Yoshi Tatsu, and Tatsu is extra cocky heel, meaning that Cole, still in that voiceover style, translates what Tatsu says.
“You Americans smell like hamburger.”
“You have had very few sexual partners.”
“I will take your ladies to my hotel for oral pleasure.”
Cole isn’t a heel, he’s uncomfortable saying all of these things, but he still says all of them in full announcer voice.
So when MVP threatens him, Cole winces, flinches, ducks – but his voice doesn't demonstrate any of that when he translates Tatsu's promos.
It’s MVP v. Tatsu at the Rumble.
That’s 5 matches down, let’s knock out the last singles match while we’re here – in my Survivor Series post, I suggested that early in this build, the LWO would attack Rey.
They won’t – instead, who they attack is Chavo.
The Colons jump Chavo, their former stablemate, a couple of times early in the build – Carlito then cutting a promo on Rey, saying Rey can stop it – if he joins the LWO.
That’s been in the works for awhile, LWO trying to get Rey to join, for years, really – and now it is placed before him – we will keep attacking Chavo unless you join.
Rey appears, in the ring, to be about to accept an LWO shirt – but Chavo, all bandaged up, makes his way – saying not to do it. Not to give in – Chavo says he made the same mistake once, and he wound up doing some terrible things – some unforgiveable things, when aligned with Carlito Colon.
Carlito offers Rey a proposal – just like he did with Chavo years before – they can wrestle for it.
If Rey beats Carlito at the Rumble – the LWO will back off Chavo. If Carlito beats Rey – then Rey joins the LWO.
6 matches down. The 3 tag matches to go.
The title match has been the one we’ve wanted to see for a year. Defiance, who won the shot at Survivor Series, vs. the champs, Division One.
To recap – Swagger, DiBiase, Nemeth, and Kelly were all at WWFU (The Underground) together (developmental, which has a reality show online. Swagger was the top babyface, although his ‘by the book” attitude didn’t endear him to any of the other trainees (except for Nemeth, who admired Swagger’s work ethic and looked to him for guidance) particularly DiBiase, who treated developmental clearly as a stepping stone. DiBiase, although the top heel, was more popular with the boys (like the Hooligans and the Harts, for example) than was Swagger, and popular with a girl, Swagger’s sister Kelly, who kept her budding romance with DiBiase on the down low as long as possible.
At Rumble 2009, Swagger beat DiBiase in a contract match – later that evening, DiBiase locked his just gone public girlfriend Kelly in a dressing room – and DiBiase joined Randy Orton in a reconfigured Defiance to take out Taz (then head trainer) Van Dam (making a one night only appearance against Orton) and Swagger. Nemeth spent a couple of months fighting an uphill battle against Defiance, drawing him closer to Kelly – and when Swagger returned for a WM Silver housecleaning, it was the beginning of Division One (D1). They won the tag straps at Summer Slam, beating Defiance earlier that night in the finals of a tag team tournament to name a number one contender to DMW’s tag titles – D1 kept at Survivor Series and Defiance won a 4 way to get this shot.
The story doesn’t need propelled as much as re-established here – it’s Swagger and Nemeth (Nemeth and Kelly now officially a couple) against Orton and DiBiase (with their manager, Professor Malenko) D1 v. Defiance for the tag team titles at the Rumble. A much anticipated showdown.
Two undercard tags. The Miz pinned Leviathan at Survivor Series with Cena and Hunter knocked out by Danielson and Low Ki. Cena attempts to tell Leviathan that it’s okay – Leviathan, in his pink polo shirt with upturned collar and sunglasses, says its not okay, if Cena hadn’t gotten choked out with Josh Matthews’ tie, it never would have happened. But Leviathan forgives Cena, because he’s too busy reading scripts to worry too much about it (I’m thinking Burn Notice). Cena tries to motivate Leviathan, giving a rabble rousing “we are Weapons of Mass Destruction! Let’s not go out like this!” speech – but Leviathan can’t be bothered, he wants Cena to run lines with him – leading to a big comedy spot where Leviathan brings in “fans” to the ring, gives them Burn Notice scripts (Leviathan talks about his big audition, he makes sure the fans understand that what they have are “sides”, he says that’s big time Hollywood speak and they don’t need to know what it means, just read the words) – and in the scene in the ring, the fans (plants, obviously) blow their lines and Leviathan Demon Bombs them.
It’s an exasperated Cena and a distracted Leviathan, the former tag champs WMD – in a rematch with Hunter and the Miz, working like a well oiled machine, the announce constantly talking about how the Miz, who previously was a comedy act, is really coming into his own under the tutelage of Hunter.
And finally, the opening tag is for the number one contender spot at WM 26. Young Money v. Undertaker/Cody Rhodes.
Young Money’s act (autotune, big T-Pain like hats, giant chains around their necks that read “Big Ass Chain”) is probably going stale in 2010, but hopefully they start to build some momentum when they win enough matches on the road to the Rumble. The relationship between Dustin and the Undertaker over who is the real mentor for young Cody has always been uneasy, and it cracked noticeably during the Yakuza run in attack at Survivor Series – enough that when Dustin calls Cody out to the ring to demand that he chooses, chooses who his partner is – him or the Dead Man – Cody chooses the Undertaker.
Dustin is hurt, leaves the ring – and we don’t see him the remainder of the build.
Also important in this stretch, but not part of the Rumble – the full on bloody war between Regal and Finlay, with the Hooligans (Sheamus and McIntyre) taking the side you’d expect each to take. They won’t meet at the Rumble (dark, actually) but instead the build is for a First Friday in February Fight Night after the Rumble in a Winner Goes to Mania, Loser Retires match – it’s constantly pushed by JR as the Rumble gets closer.
First Friday in February. First Friday in February. Regal v. Fit for free on Fight Night.
And of course, the new GDI – Thursdays on WGN, Danielson and Low Ki traveling the world and beating guys with Steamboat as their face and Josh on the announce.
Coming in January – Royal Rumble 2010. Let me suggest, this is not the show to skip.
Bret Hart Appreciation Night (Bret returns to the WWF for the first time since 1997)
WWF Title: Chris Jericho v. Matt Hardy
IC Title: Shawn Michaels v. Matt Sydal
Tag Titles: D1 v. Defiance
Cage Match: There Will be a Winner: CM Punk v. Christian
Once and For All: Johnny Nitro v. Shelton Benjamin
MVP v. Yoshi Tatsu
Rey Mysterio v. Carlito Colon (if Rey loses, he joins the LWO)
WMD v. HHH-M/Miz
Number One Contender Match: Young Money v. Undertaker/Cody