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.

Royal Rumble 2010

Saturday, January 01, 2011

The second part of the build, which you should read if you've yet to do so, is here.

Bret Hart Appreciation Night - Royal Rumble – 2010 (Atlanta)

(Dark – Regal d. Fit – remember, they will meet on the First Friday in February in a loser retires from the ring match on Fight Night – that will get plugged at some point tonight)

Joey/Striker on the announce.

It’s Bret Hart Appreciation Night – the building is loaded with pictures of the big moments in Bret’s career; it’s drenched in pink and black – a Hart Foundation celebration; a ring around the upper deck of the Hart Foundation hockey jerseys, awarded to each man after he won a championship; it’s an elite designation and each man has worn the jersey throughout his appearances in the Counterfactual.  

OO – Stu Hart
1 – The Dynamite Kid
2 – Bret Hit Man Hart
3 – The British Bulldog
4 – Jim The Anvil Neidhart
5. – Owen Hart
6. Flyin’ Brian Pillman
7. Chris Jericho
8. Lance Storm
9. Chris Benoit
10. Edge

(Sometimes, I think I juxtapose Owen and Neidhart.  I apologize.  I didn’t think of this gimmick as early as I now say the gimmick has existed, I think I first used it with Benoit. Throughout the Counterfactual, what I talked about was some type of Hart Foundation uniform, that somehow there should be Hart/Clique colors that could thread through the entire history of the WWF – eventually, the hockey jersey idea was conceived, and I backdated it to have begun with Dynamite after WM 2.  There are lots of reasons why real world WWE bled away all of its over 30 audience it worked so hard to cultivate, one of the primary ones is a disconnection with the past – it isn’t just that every now and again Sgt. Slaughter should pop up – they spend years developing characters, forging relationships with them – and more often than not, they have pretended their past didn’t exist.  It’s goofy.  The idea that the money they won’t make calling Joe Hennig anything but Joe Hennig is outweighed by the intellectual property rights in the name Michael McGillicuty seems clear error.)

In the front row, Arn Anderson, GM of the WWF; Vince McMahon, CEO of the World Wildlife Fund; and for the first time – Linda McMahon, running for the US Senate from Connecticut as a self styled “Bernie Sanders-esque independent” whose platform focuses on economic justice, restoring the American Dream by reversing the degree to which rapacious corporate power has gone unchecked.  McMahon passionately argues that the America that most of us know and love was built by the greatest generation after WWII – and built primarily with 91% tax rates on the very wealthiest among us; the uber-wealthy, McMahon notes – have had a 30 year free reign to accumulate wealth and power at the expense of the vast, vast, vast majority of Americans – and the cumulative result is a nation in obvious decay, disrepair, and decline.  We need a reinvestment in the American Dream – an immediate end to our two Middle Eastern Wars, far too expensive and destructive to continue, and a commitment from Wall St. to give back to Main St – a commitment from corporate America and multi-millionaires to put their shoulders to the wheel of change.

There is a space open next to Linda. 

Howard Finkel, ring announcer for every single PPV in WWF history, is in the ring – “Ladies and Gentlemen – Bret “Hit Man” Hart!”

Bret’s music hits – and here he comes down the ramp.

Bret’s in a suit – it’s Bret looking like real world Hall of Fame Bret – with one addition, he has a walking stick to help him navigate his way down the aisle.  The announcer talk has been clear, the stroke which Bret suffered was life threatening, he is not the man you last saw in a WWF ring in 1997.  Bret stands in the ring not as a present threat, but as a retired athlete. 

There are two beats he needs to hit – one, I really liked the moment in his real world Hall of Fame speech where he said the fans didn’t need to worry about him anymore; that really struck me as insightful in understanding the Hit Man character, that he would take what he believed to be his last moment of public life to say that to the fans.  So he does that here – and two, we want to re-establish one of the talking points in the build – that this should be a night of clean finishes, no run ins, no interference – wrestling the Hart way.

And once we get those two points in – here comes Shawn.

The Messiah, Johnny Nitro, and the Flock hit the ring.  Shawn and Bret go nose to nose – I like the visual, ‘cause Shawn’s got short hair, he wears flowing white, and Bret’s in his suit – the nose to nose unlike any in their long rivalry.  They haven’t been in the same place at the same time since 1997 – and we take a moment to let it build.

Shawn cuts promo – in your mind’s eye, see that Shawn Michaels sneer, and that Bret half-smile:

This tribute, or whatever we're calling it, is a joke, if there’s one man the 2010 Royal Rumble and every single WWF show afterward, should be a tribute to – it’s Shawn Michaels.  Back in the day, you could have a debate about who was better – you or me.  Back in the day, half of the building would be chanting “let’s go Bret – let’s go Bret” – and half of the building would be chanting “let’s go Shawn – let’s go Shawn”.  Because we were the two greatest wrestlers in the world.  You beat me.  I beat you.  I beat you.  You beat me.  The Hart Foundation and the Clique – we tore down buildings from New York to Tokyo – we owned this sport – we were this sport.  I woke up every morning driven by one thing - to be better than Bret Hart - every extra hour I spent at the gym was because I knew, I knew Bret Hart was still at the gym.  And you can deny it all you want, you can minimize me, and tear me down in the press all you want - but I know, I know, I know you felt exactly the same way.  We were the standard.  You and me, Hit Man.  We breathed air that few men will ever taste.  

And then you left.  You left the WWF.  You left these people.  You left me.  You left me, Bret - you...And you never came back.  And 13 years later, I’m still here.  Winning championships.  (Shawn holds the IC belt in the air.)

There’s no debate.  Not anymore.  There's no Hart Foundation.  No Clique.  There’s just Shawn Michaels.  There's only me.  I am the standard.  I live alone on the mountaintop.  I breathe the air.  I create the air, Bret Hart.  I am wrestling.  I am the World Wrestling Federation.  

You became an old man sitting on your couch – and I became a god. 

The reason you’re here tonight – Hit Man – is to do what I’ve told the world you would do for the last two months – you will bow down and beg forgiveness for yourself –for that sad excuse of a family – you will bow down and confess your sins to your Lord, your Messiah, Shawn Michaels.

Bret no sells the promo entirely; looking Shawn dead in the eye for a moment, then brushing his way past him and Nitro to address the Flock.  He tells them he’s not the head of this family anymore – that job belongs to someone else, it isn’t his place to straighten them out.  But he just wants to say this – he looks at Natty – “call your dad.  He’s worried about you.”  He looks at Harry “if your dad were still here, he’d be ashamed of you.”  He looks at Tyson, “and if my dad were still here, he’d kick your ass all over Atlanta.”

The Hart kids all look down, none of them combative toward Bret. 

Bret tells the crowd – “enjoy the show, thanks for coming” – and turns to exit the ring – when Johnny Nitro grabs him by the arm. 

And it’s like someone grabbing the Fonz.  Bret stares at the hand on his arm, ideally the crowd would go “oooh” – Bret slowly looks up at Nitro who says “you don’t leave this ring until the Messiah tells you to leave this ring.”

Bret looks at Shawn “have a good match tonight; I’m looking forward to watching you wrestle.”

Bret pulls his arm away from Nitro and exits to end the segment.
1.Winners Go to Mania: Young Money d. Undertaker/Cody Rhodes
-All four men shake Bret’s hand, Bret sitting in the front row next to Linda.  Killings and Kingston get their biggest ever win, a double team maneuver to pin Cody ends the match, making Young Money the challengers for the WWF tag titles at WM 26.  They hit the autotune and dance around the ring.  A tough beat for The Taker and Cody, note that Dustin wasn’t in their corner here, after the Survivor Series mishap.  In the build to 26 – Dustin’s going to make his little brother choose “him or me” – but that’s later on.

2. HHH-M/Miz d. WMD
-Hunter tells Miz to shake Bret’s hand, the veteran telling the youngster what level of respect is required – Hunter doesn’t shake Bret’s hand, but acknowledges him with a nod of the head.  Cena shakes Bret’s hand as he enters – but not Leviathan, who is on his phone, apparently talking to his agent.  Leviathan doesn’t appear aware of Bret – or of the match, as he is unable to tag in given the distraction of the phone call – Cena tries to tag – Leviathan holds up one finger “one second – just give me one second” – and at the crucial moment when Cena, desperately trying to battle 1 on 2, needs a hot tag to survive, Leviathan is off the apron and on the floor, the phone call just too much to break away from (I’m telling you, I want a phone tie-in deal; I’m product placement friendly here in the Counterfactual – if RIM would like to make me an offer, all of these phone references could be Blackberry, for example.  I can be bought.  Absolutely.)  Miz gets the fall on Cena; he and Hunter on a good roll now. 

3. Once and For All: Johnny Nitro (w/Flock) d. Shelton Benjamin
-Benjamin shakes Bret’s hand – but Nitro tells the Flock to remain behind him as he points to his crotch “I got something to shake Bret – use both hands.”  Bret no sells that too.

Nitro very demonstrably doesn’t cheat in the match – he breaks clean and then sneers at Bret, for example – whenever given the opportunity he very clearly shows that he’s wrestling a clean match.  No Flock interference, Nitro has them stand outside of arms reach of the ropes. 

Nitro beats Benjamin clean with a superkick – it ends their long feud and wraps up Benjamin’s run.  It is a strong, strong, definitive victory for Nitro – and postmatch, he and the Flock stomp Benjamin out – Nitro staring Bret down the entire time.  Nitro and the Flock hit a pose over the fallen Benjamin; Striker noting that it did not impact the match – it may not be sportsmanlike – it may be vicious – but Johnny Nitro beat Shelton Benjamin entirely by himself and within the rules.

4.Rey Mysterio (w/Chavo Guerrero) d. Carlito Colon (w/Primo)
          All four men acknowledge Bret, the LWO using some type of hand gesture to do so – the stip, recall, here, is that the LWO will stop their beatings of Chavo if Rey wins – but Rey, finally, has to join the LWO if Carlito wins (which was how Chavo had to join years previously).

Primo hops to the apron at one point, teasing (horrors!) a possible interference, which hopefully we’ve sold as against the spirit of the evening, but Chavo yanks him down and beats him down on the outside, gaining some revenge as Rey solidly goes over Carlito.  Bret leads the crowd in a standing ovation for Rey post-match, reflecting Rey’s status as an all time legend.  Chavo, without comment by the announce, grabs one of the LWO t-shirts left by the Colons at ringside when they exit.

5.Yoshi Tatsu (w/Michael Cole) d. MVP
-Your big upset of the night; Tatsu’s biggest ever win – a win aided by Johnny Nitro.

MVP, recall, feuded with Nitro in the build, sort of as proxy for Porter’s going after Michaels – but when Michaels gave the IC shot to Sydal and Nitro was set to take on Benjamin, MVP wound up in what seemed to be an unrelated match with young Tatsu (he and Cole have a heel comedy thing going, it’s one joke but it’s kinda funny). 

MVP is a fairly big star, having just turned babyface following a year and a half long heel IC run, he main evented Summer Slam, beat Nitro at Survivor Series, and here we are. 

But he loses here – when Nitro interferes. 

This is full on interference – blatant heel shenanigans.  Nitro comes to ringside, and, looking at Bret the entire time, engages in typical heel behavior – he slowly walks around the ring – grabbing Porter’s feet to immobilize him, grabbing Tatsu’s foot to put it on a rope to break up a pinfall, that kind of thing.  Nitro yelling at Bret “what are you gonna do about it old man?  What are you gonna do?”

And the match ends with a ref bump – and Nitro hopping in the ring – hitting a superkick on MVP– Tatsu hits a highspot, the ref is revived – and there’s the fall.

A surprise result – Tatsu celebrates – Bret continues with that bemused smile, the crowd boos – Nitro smirks his way back up the aisle.   
  1. WWF Tag Team Titles: D1 (w/Kelly) d. Defiance (w/Malenko)
-Pre match, there’s a moment where one wonders what Defiance will do with Bret, Orton standing in front of Malenko and DiBiase, Orton sizing Bret up, looking Bret up and down – but then slowly extending his hand.  Malenko and DiBiase then follow suit.  The babyface champs all shake hands obviously – but, when Nemeth turns to walk away, Bret motions him back and briefly whispers something in his ear.  Nemeth’s eyes grow wide and he shakes his head and thanks Bret before getting in the ring.  What we won’t know for awhile is that Bret said Nemeth, who thusfar has been positioned as the back half of this young tag team, reminded him of Curt Hennig. 

This is a bigtime tag title matchup – fair to speculate that this had to be Defiance’s time – but Division One keeps the straps, Nemeth getting the fall on DiBiase.  Hopefully it’s a good workrate match, putting D1 over strong as they will now be defending their titles at WM 26.

Orton is furious postmatch – he yells at DiBiase – Dean tells him to calm down and he yells at Dean.  Orton cursing at both of them and walking several paces ahead as they exit. 

  1. IC Title: Matt Sydal d. The Messiah Shawn Michaels (w/Flock)
-Matt Sydal becomes the 55th WWF IC Champ by beating Shawn Michaels at Royal Rumble 2010.

Michaels, recall, doesn’t use any of his trademark spots – it’s one of the heat getting mechanisms; he’ll tease a skin the cat, for example, but then slide all the way to the floor.  He’s not the Heartbreak Kid. 

Matt Sydal is all highspots – he’s here to fly around the ring nearly killing himself.  The story of the match is Sydal’s youth and energy countered by Michaels, now the crafty, wily veteran.
The Flock, still respecting the “don’t interfere” dictate of the evening, stay out of the match – but, not far from the finish, Nitro (read MVP v. Tatsu if you’ve yet to do so)saunters down the ramp – but when he gets to ringside, he’s prevented from going further…

…by Bret Hart.

Bret stands in front of Nitro – Nitro steps around – but Bret blocks him again (Bret is holding his walking stick) – Nitro says “move aside before you get hurt old man” and attempts to get by again – and Bret takes a full swing at him with the cane, that Nitro slips by falling straight to the floor.  Nitro’s eyes get wide – Bret yells at him “get up, punk – get up and take what’s coming to you.”

And that’s when we get to the finish – Michaels has a superkick lined up, but, of course, passes it up because he doesn’t use the superkick anymore, and that allows Sydal to regroup, kick Michaels in the knee, Michaels falls and Sydal goes to the top, hits the shooting star press, and gets the fall.

Matt Sydal – Intercontinental Champion.

When Sydal gets to the top – everyone in the building – including Bret – is looking at him – so Bret joins the crowd in celebrating Sydal’s win – but when he turns back around toward Nitro – Bret’s met with a superkick that drops him cold to the ramp.

(that’s a good bump for Bret, if Nitro can do the kick well enough he’ll barely make contact, Bret totally controls the full force of the drop to the ramp – and if Nitro can’t, he can miss the kick by six inches and Bret can just drop).

Given the way we’ve portrayed Bret, I think that spot is a home run.

Everyone freezes, as shocked as they could be.  Then the following simultaneous reactions – Striker and Joey stand and scream at Nitro – Tyson and Harry and Natty put their heads in their hands – Michaels’s mouth is open – and Nitro starts waving for Michaels to come over – waving for Michaels to come to the prone body of the Hit Man – Michaels regains his composure – getting to Bret – Michaels stands over Bret’s body, his arms extended, Nitro yells at Bret – “this is how you bow down to your Messiah”

That’s the shot – Michaels standing over Bret, Bret laid out unconscious beneath Shawn Michaels.
And that’s when it all caves in – the boys stream out from the back – the medics get to Bret with a stretcher and an oxygen tank, security comes to gather Michaels, Nitro, and the Flock together – wrestlers try to get at Nitro – planted fans come over the retaining barrier to get at Nitro, security hustling them away – the medics strapping Bret to the stretcher, Joey and Striker both gone from the announce position, both around Bret, trying to make sure the “fans” in their attempt to get to Michaels and Nitro, don’t hurt Bret, one of the wrestlers at Bret’s side is the World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho – and he becomes more noticeable when he is suddenly thrown away from the stretcher, tossed away from the stretcher to the steel steps..

…by Matt Hardy.

Hardy throws Jericho in the ring – yells to a referee – yells to a timekeeper – yells to Arn Anderson.

He’s cashing in the shot right now.  The title match is happening right now.

  1. WWF Heavyweight Championship:  Chris Jericho d. Matt Hardy
-Joey and Striker don’t come back – but Jim Ross, from the back, hustles his way to the ring to call the rest of the show.  Bret is stretchered from the building – Michaels, Nitro, and the Flock are thrown in a car and disappear from the arena – and we transition completely into the title match here, out of the chaos – another successful title defense for Jericho.

Kurt Angle held the WWF Title for 2 years, from WM 17 to WM 19, before vacating the next night due to injury.  Jericho’s had the belt now since Survivor Series ’08, and he’ll defend it at WM 26, champion for a year and a half. 

It is a clean, definitive win – Jericho pinning Hardy right in the middle – leaving Matt flat on his back in the middle of the ring, completely and thoroughly vanquished.  Matt Hardy is over.  He is all over.

  1. Cage Match: Christian d. CM Punk
-Now is not the time to turn the channel.  Just sayin'.

So, very briefly – Punk’s been the dominant heel in the WWF, really the dominant figure in the WWF, for a couple of years – after beating Steamboat at WM Silver he went after Christian, largely because he had nothing else to do.  At Summer Slam, Christian inadvertently punched Maria when Punk pulled her in front of him in the Savage/Liz spot.  Maria left Punk, she’s been gone since – Punk went into a homicidal rage toward Christian, fully blaming him for everything – there was a TV spot where both men received texts, theoretically from the other, that set them in a fury – it looked to be Matt who sent those texts when he laid them both out with chairshots to end the Punk/Christian match at Survivor Series – but it appears not to be so, this match, for which the advertised stip is there must be a winner, is in a cage to prevent interference, and serve as the blow off for the feud – in the go home show, Punk, who has rarely appeared on TV since the punch, apologized to Maria.
Punk’s got to bleed a bucketful here – ‘cause, in case you haven’t noticed, he’s turning face – and he has a helluva lot to atone for.

He bleeds.  Christian bleeds.  They bleed enough so they don’t feel like hurting each other anymore.  

And Christian pins him with the Crusader.

At the end of 25, Steamboat offered Punk a handshake, he appeared to consider it – but declined. 

Here, Christian offers Punk a handshake postmatch – and he accepts. 

Christian leaves the cage so Punk can stand in alone, perhaps to accept applause for the fight – but definitely so Maria (hi, Maria!) can run down the ramp and into the cage – and into the arms of Punk.
Blood and tears and hugging and whatnot.  It’s a full on babyface turn for Punk – Maria forgives him and they hug and hug and hug and all is well.

And then the lights go out.

When they come back on, Punk is handcuffed to the ringropes. 

And Matt Hardy is inside the cage, standing guard by the door. 

Maria stands in the ring confused – what – what –what’s going on..

And the lights go out again.

And when they come back on, standing in the ring….

Is Edge.

And Edge spears Maria out of her stilettos.

Punk screams – but he’s handcuffed to the bottom rope.  There is no security or normal ringside personnel, cause of the Bret angle – there is only Edge, licking Maria’s face while grinning at Punk.

Edge humps Maria’s body – then stands to taunt Punk – Punk is frantic, like a trapped animal,
Punk starts trying, 127 Hours style, to rip his arm off, just clawing at himself as Edge takes a phone from his front pocket – says “it was me, asshole – we’re even.”

(Edge is referring to WM 23, he met Matt in the main event, Hell in a Cell, and upon its conclusion, Punk and GDI beat them both half to death – if you don’t know the Matt/Edge story, then what happens next, to end the show, won’t have the impact on you that is ideal.)

Matt Hardy climbs in the ring. 

Matt and Edge walk to each other, Matt and Edge, Edge and Matt.

Edge extends a hand.

Matt knocks it away.

And Matt Hardy hugs Edge. 

Matt Hardy hugs Edge.

Matt and Edge stand together in triumph as the show ends. 

I’ll be back in February to build WM 26.  


Booyaka said...

Helluva damn show. I was 8-1 on my predictions.

bmack said...


lambor said...

Staggeringly well done, as these tend to be. Can't wait to see Counterfactual 26, should be an all time epic with what the real world gave you to work with.

I assume we'll be able to see what GDI's doing now that Bryan Danielson's available pretty much full time to you?

Jim said...

Thanks, folks. Rumble turned out good, I thought. Little bit of Danielson before 26. More after that.

Booyaka said...

I've already got most of my predictions for 26.

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