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.

The Road to Wrestlemania XXVI Part I

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Royal Rumble 2010 is here.

We’ll do this in 3 parts.  Part one – the double main event and the opening tag.  Part two will come at the end of February, and will have the 3 title matches.  Part 3 will be mid-March and have the four remaining matches, including the legends match, and you’ll also learn about the dark match.  Wrestlemania XXVI will be posted the same day as real world Wrestlemania 27. That’s a ten match card, the biggest card in Counterfactual history, and 7 of those matches are tags – as befits the Tag Team Mania plugged throughout the course of the year. 

There’s never been a tag team main event in WWF PPV history – and WM 26 gives us two.  The first is revealed at the top of RAW, the night after the Rumble.  Joey tells us that it’s a match that would have been unthinkable just 24 hours ago.

CM Punk/Christian v. Edge/Matt Hardy

And then Edge and Matt come to the ring.  Edge is wearing his #10 Hart Foundation jersey, which will be the case for most of the build. Life, Striker reminds us, is long.

Edge: A normal man, on the shelf for almost a year, with his ankle ripped clean in two, would become harmless, toothless, a shell of who he used to be.  In case you are not a regular watcher of the program, I am not a normal man.  I am Edge, a future Triple Crown winner – and last night, I showed the world that I am still the most dangerous man in the WWF. 

For 10 months, I watched – I watched every show – obsessively, calculatingly – and I recognized that I needed to reassess my position in this company.  I needed to find a way back to the main event of Wrestlemania, and to get to the main event, of Wrestlemania 26, in my adopted home state of Florida, I needed a tag team partner.  And in 2009, it was obvious that the most amoral, most ruthless, most twisted man who I could find to be my partner – was Matt Hardy.

Matt:  My whole career, my whole life really, everything I’ve accomplished, I’ve done all by myself.  And finally, in 2010, I finally have a brother.  A true brother.  A brother who I can trust.  A brother who I can count on.  A brother who I love.  Edge and I are going to Wrestlemania!

(Matt hugs Edge again.  And Christian enters, walking right to Edge.  Joey reminds us quickly that we learned last night it was Edge who sent the texts to both Punk and Christian in the build to Survivor Series.  I want a phone tie in.  Christian’s steaming hot.)

Christian: Look me in the eye.  Look me in the eye and tell me you did it.  Look me in the eye, you son of a bitch and tell me you tried to make me believe my wife was in an accident.  I want to hear it from your mouth.

Edge:  Christian, it was me.  I did it.  And I enjoyed doing it. 

Christian:  I understand you’re pissed than I tore your Achilles tendon at Wrestleman –

Edge: No, no, no.  You think….little brother, I didn’t send you that text message because of what you did at Wrestlemania Silver – I sent you that text because of what you didn’t do.  When you heard me scream in pain – what you did was let go of the hold – what you did was give up your shot at being the number one contender to the WWF Championship – a title shot you’ve never had, even one time in your whole career.  

What you didn’t do was cinch down on my ankle – lock down on my ankle until I gave up.  You didn’t want me to quit – you had a chance to be number one contender – and you gave it up so I wouldn’t be forced out of the WWF.

That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen.

Because that man (pointing to Matt) had the same choice to make – and he sent his brother Jeff out of this place without blinking an eye.  And 5 years ago – I had the same choice to make – and I sent you out of the WWF without blinking an eye.  That’s what you need to be WWF Champion.  Gold is thicker than blood, little brother – when you got that text – you ran out of the building – you thought your wife was hurt and you didn’t care if you had a match, you ran out of here as fast as you could. 

You aren’t willing to pay the price to be the best.  I saw that.  After all these years – I saw who you really were.  Too soft to be champion.  And at Wrestlemania 26, I can’t have a partner who will quit, I need a partner who will do anything to win.  And that’s not you. 

Matt:  That’s me.

(Christian pauses, shakes his head.)

Christian:  You two deserve each other.  Who didn’t deserve it is Maria.  Why the hell did you spear Maria?

Matt: Wrestlemania 23.

Edge: There are 6 men on the planet who know what it means to be in that Cell.  Half of them are in this ring.  You risk your life in that thing, it is demonic.  You fell 15 feet.  Matt and I fell together, 15 feet.  There are mornings when I still feel the cage on me…inside me.  But when you risk your life in that Cell, the trade is you get that moment – I lost that match, but that moment belonged to both of us – where the whole world of wrestling watched, and knew what we had done, knew that we were Wrestlemania main eventers, on the very top of the sport.

And CM Punk took that away from us.  Took advantage of our exhaustion and beat us like dogs.

I swore I’d make him pay. 

Matt: Last night – we made him pay.

Christian:  You guys are nuts.  Both of you – do you – look, I’ve spent the last 6 months getting punched in the face by CM Punk – that guy…you know what?  The hell with you – Edge, you don’t have any idea what you’ve done – that guy is going to hurt you in a bad, bad way at Wrestlemania – and you know what – the only reason that bothers me is as your next of kin – I’m gonna have to identify your body.

That’s the exit line. 

We don’t see Punk at all in the build, the speculation is he might not come back for Mania; Christian cuts a fiery promo at one point about taking them on in a handicap match if he has to.  There’s one shaky cam vignette, in the style of all of those Punk 2009 vignettes, that shows Edge away from the arena – Edge in street clothes, Edge getting into his car; Edge through a window of his house.  Punk doesn’t appear, all we can do is speculate, but it’s designed to be a little creepy. 

Something I really like to do is have wrestlers unrelated to programs discuss their predictions about big match outcomes – like, you know, it were a sport.  So, the nooks of shows between here and there and filled with those kinds of things, in a real world TNA Reaction style. 

One group talking about this, and all the big matches, is GDI – I’ll talk in a later post about GDI, but here, Josh, who spends elements of the show hanging out with Danielson and Ki, and sometimes joined by Steamboat, asks Danielson if he thinks Punk’s going to show up for Mania – Danielson’s normally affable demeanor changes when Punk’s name is brought up – he says he doesn’t ever want to talk about that guy.  Josh pushes a little, Danielson’s known him ten years, there’s maybe no one with the insight into Punk that Danielson has.  Danielson shakes his head, flashes irritation – and then is joined by Steamboat, who stares Josh down – “ask anything you want about anyone you want – but that’s a name I don’t want to hear on this show again.” 

I got 1 more segment for this program, an Edge solo promo several weeks later that serves to deepen his character.  It’s a little creepy, but that’s the direction I want the Edge character to now take. 

Edge: Like a lot of the guys, when I have some time off, I like to go hunting.

It’s not for the meat.  Not for the sport. 

I go hunting because I love the moment just after I shoot a deer – when the light goes out of its eyes.
It’s a rush.  To be that powerful.  To end a life.  I try to get as close to the deer as I can, closer than I’m supposed to, because I want it to know – in that last moment of its existence, I want it to look me in the eye and know I am its master.  That I held its life in my hands and then extinguished it. 

There was a second…right after I speared the life out of Maria at the Royal Rumble – when I watched the light go out of her eyes.  We locked eyes – we locked eyes, and she knew…she knew that it was me.  And I have to tell you, I think she liked it almost as much as I did.

When I speared Maria, it almost felt like I entered her.  And let me tell you, and if you’re out there with your video camera, Punk – let me tell you, that little girl took every last inch.  And it broke her.  But she was broken by a real man, and I think…no, I no, I know she loved it.  When the light went out of her eyes, she knew she had finally been entered by a real man.  I could feel her body shudder underneath mine.  Just thinking about it right now…

Sometimes…sometimes at night, when I’m alone, in bed, I’ll think about it.  Sometimes, when I’m with another girl, really laying it into her, I’ll think about it. 

I’ve been with a lot of girls, Punk.  The best orgasm I ever had, was spearing your girl. 

And I know – I know it was hers too. 

That’s one half of the double main event. 

Punk/Christian v. Edge/Matt

Here’s the other half, although it unfolds a little bit. 

Wrestlemania Street Fight: Shawn Michaels/Johnny Nitro v. Bret Hart/MVP

That first RAW after the Rumble they promo that the following week – the Messiah, Johnny Nitro, and the Flock would make their first appearance on RAW since the disgusting attack on Bret Hart.

The optics – a full riot squad, cops in the helmets and shields with the clubs surround the group all the way in their walk down the aisle to the ring.  Recall, Joey and Striker both left ringside at the Rumble to go with the stretchered Bret – so this is their first real full on reaction to Michaels and Nitro – and they condemn Nitro’s actions in the strongest possible terms – both saying he should have already been fired.  The crowd can be as hot as we can get it.

Michaels is serious, Nitro is clowning, the Flock stands behind them.  Michaels says he wanted to take a week away from the WWF to contemplate the drastic actions taken by Johnny Nitro at the Royal Rumble, wanted to consider the fate of a longtime rival, Bret Hart, still hospitalized in guarded condition.  Michaels says he’s prayed about what happened – and so he now knows the truth.

Bret got what he deserved.

Michaels says the evil carried in that bloodline needs to be snuffed out of the WWF – he has dedicated his career, his life, to seeing that the Hart Foundation never infects this ring again, that their poison is never fed to the poor, naïve, unsuspecting fans.  It is a burden that the Messiah carries, but he realizes after the Rumble that he does not carry it alone.  He carries it with a man who he is proud to call his protégée, his successor, a man who one day, one day will replace him as the greatest professional wrestler alive – Johnny Nitro.
Nitro makes a Rocky IV reference, cause that’s timely.  “If he dies, he dies.”  And laughs and laughs and laughs.

Michaels says however, he isn’t sure he can count on the Flock.

And then he turns his attention to the Hart kids.  He says he looked into their eyes at the Rumble – and despite a full year of training, it was obvious to him that they looked at Bret Hart with…respect…with admiration.  They can try to deny it – but there was still some last, small vestige inside them of that Hart Foundation blood.

And it has to be snuffed out.

So – what they set up is the main event of Fight Night – Michaels and Nitro teaming up , for the very first time, to face the Flock – Harry Smith and Tyson Kidd.

And on Fight Night – they meet – and, of course, the Flock can’t use any trademark Hart Foundation stuff – and eventually, there’s a point in the match where Michaels tells the Flock they have to stop fighting back.  

They do.  They take a couple of shots and then Harry has to eat a Nitro superkick.

Michaels and Nitro pose over the kids – Nitro having Natty join them in the pose. 

The following Monday, they’re all there – all 5 again, with the riot squad to prevent fans from throwing debris at them or leaping into the ring.  Michaels humiliates the Hart kids, they have to say they renounce their names, renounce their former families, that Bret Hart deserves to die alone in his hospital bed. 

And Tyson has to do something else – Nitro asks how long he and Natty have been together, he says since they were teenagers – Nitro says from now on – she’s with him.  Nitro yanks Natty to his side – gets in Tyson’s face, asks if he has anything to say about that.  Tyson looks angry – during this entire segment, and in the Fight Night match, the Hart kids have to display some combination of facial defiance and fear and eventually resignation – and Tyson backs down, and Nitro puts his hand on Natty’s ass and makes out with her in front of him.

(it’s a play on the real world Batista/Melina/Nitro dynamic, if you’re unaware).

RAW ends that night with a startling announcement from Joey Styles – next week on RAW – in this very ring – Bret the Hit Man Hart will appear.

The rest of the week can be discussion about that – on the Underground, on GDI, on Fight Night – it’s Bret’s first appearance on RAW since 1997 (so a big deal, particularly for those who didn’t see the Rumble) and no one knows what Bret’s physical condition is, and what happens if he’s attacked again?

The main event angle is Bret – Joey promos it all show long, the countdown to Bret’s return to RAW.

And then we get there – Bret’s return.   He walks even more slowly than did he at the Rumble – he walks gingerly with his cane.  Bret’s in a sportscoat and jeans. 

Bret:  So, I’m not dead.  Let’s clear that up right now.  It’s gonna take a harder shot than that to kill me.

I’ve been gone 13 years; sometimes, it’s funny, sometimes I’ll dream about being here, I’ll dream about being in this ring – sometimes I’m wrestling, sometimes I’m wrestling Curt Hennig or my brother Owen or my dad – sometimes I’m not wrestling at all, I’ll be eating breakfast or reading a book, taking a shower – but I’ll be in a wrestling ring.

I mean, I grew up in a ring, we all did, all the Harts – it’s all I ever knew.  Wrestling wasn’t just my job – the WWF wasn’t just a company I worked for – this was who I was.   From the time I could crawl until I was in my 40s, all I was happened in this ring.  Sometimes the dreams…I don’t know if they’re dreams or nightmares sometimes.

Here’s the thing – when I had my stroke, I had to retire, and people would come up to me and ask “don’t you miss it – don’t you miss it Bret – don’t you miss being the Hit Man?”

And the truth is…I don’t.

I gave all I had for this sport.  We all did.  All of the Harts.  We gave until there was nothing left to give.  I gave every drop of sweat, of blood – the truth is the stroke was the best thing that ever happened to me, and I know how that sounds, but it forced me to have a life that wasn’t in this ring, made me, made me a better man.


I have tried to stay out of the kids lives.  I am not the leader of the Hart Family anymore.  But Harry’s dad and Nattys dad were my partners.  And Tyson grew up in my dad’s house.  And I have watched Shawn Michaels hurt my family for the very last time. 

(Bret takes off his sportcoat, he’s wearing his #2 Hart Foundation hockey jersey.)

Sometimes, when I dream about this ring – I’m not reading a book, and I’m not taking a shower – sometimes, when I dream about this ring – I’m punching Shawn Michaels in the face.

I have not been the Hit Man for ten years.

But for one more night.  For one last night.  I can be the Hit Man again.

(out of his front pants pocket, he pulls out his sunglasses and puts them on)

Shawn Michaels!  Shawn Michaels!  I got one more fight in me!  Shawn Michaels!  Get down here and face me like a man!

(the place is gonna come unglued – Joey and Striker are standing up, yelling for this not to happen – Michaels and Nitro, surrounded by the riot squad, come to the ring – Michaels has an enormous smile on his face – Michaels and Bret go nose to nose – Nitro’s yelling at Bret, “I own you old man – you won’t get up the next time.)

I have dreams too, Bret.  And in my dreams – I’m the one who retires you.  I’m the one who ends your career.  Once and for all, I stand over your broken body with my hand in the air, and no one ever sees you, or your family, ever again.

But that dream isn’t on RAW.

That dream is in the main event of Wrestlemania.

Make it come true.  You and me.  Wrestlemania 26. 

(Joey and Striker throw down their headsets – they are both yelling that this cannot happen– the crowd is crazy – Nitro whispers in Shawn’s ear.)


You know what, Bret.  I’m not being fair.  And I am nothing if not fair.  This is a Tag Team Wrestlemania – and I have found in Johnny Nitro, the future of professional wrestling, my tag team partner for Wrestlemania.
So Bret – you get yourself a partner.   Get yourself a partner.  Someone who doesn’t walk with a cane.  Someone who isn’t a threat to die if he takes a shot to the head.  Get yourself a partner and make my dreams come true at Wrestlemania.

You want me at Wrestlemania, Shawn? 

I need it, Bret. 

You want to take me on in a tag match at Wrestlemania?  You want me in a fight?  How ‘bout we make it No DQ?  Would you like that, Shawn?  A No DQ tag team fight at Wrestlemania 26?  You want that?

I need it, Bret.  For 13 years I have waited for you to come back – for 13 years I had to live without knowing, for sure, that I was the better man – because someone else got to be the one who ended your career.  I have to be the one to end you; I have to be the one to end your career, to put you out of this sport – to put you in the ground, Bret.  At Wrestlemania 26, the Messiah Shawn Michaels fulfills his destiny by finally – after 20 years – ending the Hart Foundation.  I deserve it, Bret.  It is the only thing left for me to accomplish.  I deserve this.  I deserve to take your heart.

Shawn – if I do this, if this happens – it’s my last ever fight.  Win, lose, or draw – I never fight in a wrestling ring again.  If I do this – you will end my career.   I will be giving that to you at Wrestlemania.

But Shawn – if we do this – you’re gonna put up your career too.

(Joey and Striker put their headsets back on, Joey drops an “oh my god” – Striker says “what are we watching”)

Shawn Michaels, I’m going to give you my career.  But if I beat you, if I beat you at Wrestlemania – you’re going to give me yours. 

(Michaels, who had been caught up in the heat of the moment, now takes a backstep, but Nitro is completely pumped up “that old cripple cannot beat us – you are the Messiah, you take the deal – we will not lose – we will not lose and you will wipe him from the face of the earth.  You are the Messiah!  The Messiah!”)

Hit Man.  I’ll see you at Wrestlemania.

(they go nose to nose, it builds as much as it can, it’s Bret Hart, coming out of retirement, to face Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania; with Michaels’ career on the line)

Nitro: Good luck finding someone willing to partner with an old cripple in a No DQ match.

Somehow, I don’t think that’s gonna be a problem.

(one of the riot squad cops throws off his helmet – it’s MVP – quickly he clears the ring of the others, Bret jabs the cane into Nitro’s stomach – Shawn quickly leaves the ring – MVP hits the Playmaker on Nitro – and the Hit Man, perhaps not quite as enfeebled as he had appeared to be, locks a sharpshooter on Nitro.  Nitro taps the mat, taps the mat, taps the mat as Bret locks the sharpshooter on and the segment ends.)

So, what else is left to do with that program.

-Just as the boys discuss the other half of the main event, they talk about this match too – and its with real concern for Bret’s health.  Joey and Striker announce they will not be calling this match at Wrestlemania – which leads to JR, on Fight Night announcing that he will be calling both main events at Mania.  JR says he has more faith in Bret Hart than do most, that he knows Bret’s health is a concern, but for one night, he thinks he can recapture some of that old magic.

-That’s a minority opinion.  One not held by Chris Jericho.

We’ll talk about Jericho in Part 2, but one of the in ring interviews with Joey, of which he has several, is about Bret – he says he really hasn’t gotten to talk to Bret much, their schedules are crazy, and he doesn’t want to be disrespectful for all Bret once meant to the WWF – but Jericho has wrestled, and beaten, both Porter and Michaels over the past year in title defenses, Jericho doesn’t know if Bret has paid a lot of attention in recent years to see just what kind of athlete Johnny Nitro is – but he is really worried about Bret – and if he had his way, Bret would still reconsider and not wrestle at Wrestlemania.

-We set up the opening tag with a Hunter/Shawn promo.  Hunter interrupts a Shawn/Nitro/Natty promo, with the Flock cowed in the background, entering with Miz, big timing Nitro a little bit in that way that Hunter would.  Hunter says it’s been a long time, they’ve both got their own things going – but as Shawn’s oldest friend, he wanted to make sure he talked to him before Shawn put up his career at Wrestlemania 26.
Hunter says he gets why Shawn’s doing it – but putting up his career is such an enormous risk; it’s a wrestling match, things go wrong, one little mistake and suddenly you lose your career.  It’s just seems foolish.  But if Shawn’s married to it – then he can’t go into the ring with Nitro.

He turns to Nitro – no offense, kid, he says, you’re a talent – but, he says, turning back to Shawn – when it gets hot, when the moment comes in the match where you’ve got to be willing to give up your body – that kid is not going to put your career ahead of his.  If you put your life on the line – you can’t go in with him. 
You need to go in with blood.  You need to go in with Clique.

(Hunter makes the handsign).

Shawn says that both Edge and Christian are a little busy these days.  Nash, Hall, and Waltman  are in Orlando. 

Hunter gets an edge in his voice – what’s Shawn’s point.

I love you like a brother, Hunter.  So I’m gonna tell you the truth.  You’re a good hand, we’ve won some tag titles together, you married into the McMahon family and now you’ve got a job for life.  You’re the smartest one of all of us.  But come on.  This is the main event of Wrestlemania.  And you’re not that guy. 

(Hunter’s stung.)

You know, Messiah.  I love you too.  And I’m going to tell you the truth.  The truth is The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels goes into Wrestlemania and beats Bret Hart no matter who his tag team partner is.  But the guy in front of me now – The Messiah – the guy who lost his belt at the Rumble – if that’s the guy who shows up at Wrestlemania, I think he’s going to wind up with his shoulders on the mat.  I think Bret Hart’s about to send you home.  You want to put me down, that’s fine.  I’ll get over it.  But don’t screw yourself, Shawn.  Be who you are – not this guy you’ve become. 

(Nitro gets hot, steps in front of Michaels, threatens Hunter – Miz, feeling protective, steps in front of Hunter and says they don’t need to chat about it – they can go right now.  Nitro and Miz do a nose to nose and then Nitro waves to the Hart kids.  Tyson, Harry and Nitro then stomp Hunter and the Miz out while Michaels rolls to the outside.)

And that’s your opening tag.  HHH-M/Miz v. Tyson Kidd/Harry Smith

That allows for a follow up promo where Michaels says Hunter was right about something - that if he's going to put his career on the line, it needs to be with family.  So he brings Nitro into the Clique.  He says he's never had a protegee, someone to carry on his legacy -but now, with Johnny Nitro, he does.  He says the Clique's a brotherhood, spanning generations, it transcends alliances, stables, titles - that once you're in - you're in for life. 

He has Nitro make the handsign.  Johnny Nitro joins the Clique. 

There’s very little Bret beyond that in the actual ring in the program – obviously he has no physical involvement with anyone at all.  MVP got pushed superhard and I think we’ve earned this spot with him carrying the bulk of the time as we drive to Mania, recall that MVP has been calling Michaels out for months, and Nitro interfered at the Rumble to cost him a win. 

Bret and Shawn are never in the same place together again, except at the Mania press conference – Shawn says Bret’s the ultimate hypocrite, for years Bret judged his lifestyle, presented him and the Harts as the ultimate good guys, and the Clique as these renegade partiers.  But it turned out that it was Bret, it was Bret’s family who were immoral – and phony about it.  Everyone’s heroes in front of the camera – and drug users, criminals, and scumbags behind it.  Bret Hart, Shawn said, never respected me as a man – and after Wrestlemania, he will.

Bret says the truth is he never cared about who Shawn was as a person – he never really respected him as a wrestler.  Guys like Shawn or Flair just were never in the league, Bret says, with guys like Steamboat or Savage or me.  When everyone said there was a rivalry between Shawn and Owen – Bret said he just never saw it.  Shawn was a helluva athlete, but he wasn’t the worker that Owen was, wasn’t that kind of special, elite talent.  And at Wrestlemania, we’re gonna see that – when it was either Owen or Bret, back in 1997, Owen rose to the occasion and beat me.  But Shawn Michaels isn’t going to be able to do that.  Because he’s not good enough.

CM Punk/Christian v. Edge/Matt Hardy

No DQ: The Messiah Shawn Michaels/Johnny Nitro (w/Natty Neidhart) v. Bret Hit Man Hart/Montel Porter

Hunter Hearst Helmsley-McMahon/The Miz v. The Flock: Tyson Kidd/Harry Smith

3 matches down.  In part 2 the three title matches. 

WWF Title: Chris Jericho v ?
IC Title: Matt Sydal v. ?
WWF Tag Team Titles: D1: Jack Swagger/Nick Nemeth (w/Kelly) v. Young Money: Ka$h Kingston/Truth Killings

And that will come at the end of February.  See you then.

1 comment

Booyaka said...

1: How the hey will Harry Smith and TJ Wilson write Triple H out for a year?
2: *sigh* I can see the end of this Edge/Punk thing a mile away. Maria runs in and screws Punk.

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