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 3

Friday, March 11, 2011

Part 2 is here.

6 matches down.  4 to go.

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

WWF Title: Chris Jericho v. Steve Regal

IC Title: Matt Sydal v. Yoshi Tatsu (w/Michael Cole)

Tag Titles: D1 (Jack Swagger/Nick Nemeth w/Kelly) v. Young Money (Ka$h Kingston/ Truth Killings)

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

And now - the balance of the card for WM 26.

Loser Leaves Town Light Tube on a Pole Match: Leviathan v. John Cena
Light Tubes Legends Match: Undertaker/Cody Rhodes v. Yakuza/Dustin Rhodes (w/Dusty Rhodes)
Winner is LWO: Rey Mysterio/Chavo Guerrero v. LWO (Carlito/Primo Colon)
Contract Match: Defiance (Randy Orton/Ted DiBiase) v. Hooligans (Sheamus/Drew McIntrye w/Fit Finlay)

Only one more singles match left on the card - and its between two tag wrestlers.  

WMD explodes at WM 26.  Cena and Leviathan are multiple time tag champs; in this most recent incarnation they were a Road Warriors style no selling powerhouse tag team put together by Arn Anderson.  But Arn took the WWF GM job, Leviathan missed months with injury - and upon his return seemed more interested in pursuing an acting career than regaining the tag straps.  His disinclination to take the tag team seriously resulted in WMD being on the losing end of a long program against Hunter and the Miz (hopefully serving to establish some credibility for Miz) culminating in Leviathan largely ignoring Cena during their Rumble tag match. 

Leviathan attempts to apologize to Cena, says he got carried away, says after Mania, things will get back to normal - says, hey, Cena's awfully talented too - maybe he might like to go on some auditions.  Leviathan asks that Cena just read one scene with him for a big audition - no, not for Burn Notice - for Royal Pains, it's real good stuff.  

Cena's the forgiving sort, so he agrees.  Setting up an in ring vignette centered around a large table (w/ tablecloth covering all of it) in which Cena and Leviathan, with scripts in hand, do a scene ostensibly from Royal Pains.  It involves Leviathan's character, in as heart felt a way as he can, apologizing to Cena's character - then hugging him.  And then Leviathan demon bombs Cena through the table - which turns out to be a glass table, and it shatters into a trillion pieces.

X weeks later, Arn calls both men to the ring.  Arn put WMD together, and says now it's time to tear them apart.

Arn pulls a fluorescent tube from a case.  'Cause it's Mania, and if you're just hopping on board now, over the past couple of years, Mania has been where we've done some fluorescent light tube matches.  Arn says there needs to be no question after this match who is going forward - and who is going away.  They're going to put 4 light tubes on poles above each of the turnbuckles - if you can get to the glass - you can use the glass.

And the loser of the match - leaves the World Wrestling Federation.  

We have a second light tube match at Mania, which hopefully gets set up at enough of a distance from the previous match to make them distinct.  It's the Legends match, a staple since the very first Mania.  The Undertaker has won 8 of them, it is now seen as his match, his moment in the year - and his attempt to win number 9, as he marches toward double digits, is one of the elements of this build.

But the build starts with, of all people, Dusty Rhodes, he and Dustin hit the ring on a RAW sometime in this stretch and call young Cody to join them.  Dusty, one should note, is wearing a trenchcoat.

Cody has been the Undertaker's little buddy for two years now, Dustin joined them as a third wheel, but that's now fallen apart - and Dusty's here to make a request to Cody.

Dusty says he doesn't have too many dreams left unfulfilled, he's been NWA Champion, he's dined with kings and queens, he's put 20,000 in the Omni in Atlanta, Georgia - but there is one thing that remains - to stand with his two boys at Wrestlemania.  

So, he asks, as his son, if Cody will join Dustin, and take on the Undertaker at the Legends Match at WM26.

Dusty says he knows Cody and the Undertaker have a bond, but it's not a blood bond, "not a blood bond, Cody Rhodes, not a blood bond."  At Wrestlemania, Cody should stand, shoulder to shoulder and side by side, with his legendary family, and give an old, fat man his last wish in the great sport of professional wrestling.

Cody says no - he does it in a babyface way, but says that he can't turn his back on his partner - that the Undertaker chose him, even over his own brother Kane, to ride with, and that's just not something he can walk away from.  Cody says he hates having to refuse his family - but at WM 26, he'll be teaming with the Undertaker at the Legends Match - against his brother Dustin and his partner.

Cody extends a hand to Dustin, and Dustin shakes it, but then goes behind into a chicken wing - and Dusty gets in his face.  Dusty says he was afraid Cody might say that - the truth is, Cody's never really been a Rhodes, he was more of a momma's boy.  And maybe it's time that he learns a lesson about being a man.

Dusty takes out a fluorescent tube from underneath the trench coat - and with Cody unable to get away from Dustin - Dusty plants it squarely over Cody's head.

Cody falls, blood everywhere - and Dustin takes the mic - saying no hard feelings - he already has a partner - the Yakuza.

The Yakuza, longtime nemesis of Rhodes, sprints to the ring, hits whatever we're calling Yang Time on Cody - and the three men pose over his body.

One Undertaker promo I want to do in this build - it's the most emotional promo he's ever cut, he's walked the roads alone in the WWF (a good opportunity for a highlight package of his legends match wins) but to have, in what is probably the twilight of his career, this kind of true friendship with this young man -- well, it just means a lot to him.  They shake hands.  It's a nice moment if you like that sort of thing.

The build for Rey's match has been uncustomary, which is what I'm calling it instead of bassackwards.

Rey went over Carlito strong at the Rumble, so instead of needing revenge at Mania, as, for example, had been the case the year before when Rey was finally able to go over MVP to win the IC, Rey is fighting from a dominant position.

That's intentional, it sacrifices heat for this match, but Rey has to be used a lot to get other guys over, and in order to keep him strong, at a level where he needs to be - that at any time, he can credibly main event a show for the WWF Title - that requires that he doesn't lose when he doesn't need to.  

So - instead of the babyfaces fighting from underneath - they look to stamp out the Colons here.

Chavo comes out to the ring after an LWO squash match on RAW - gets up right into both of them; he's holding the LWO t-shirt he took from ringside at the Rumble.  Chavo says a dozen years ago it was his uncle, his best friend, Eddy Guerrero, who created the LWO - and he originally wanted the LWO to be three elite men, the Guerreros and Rey Mysterio - three elite wrestlers taking on the world.

Carlito cuts him off - tells him that was a long time ago - the LWO has belonged to him for years, the LWO is Carlito Colon.

Chavo says not after Wrestlemania.

Chavo says at WM 26, he's doing what he should have done years ago, he's taking back his legacy.  At Wrestlemania 26, he will fight Carlito and Primo for the LWO name - and he'll do it with the legendary Rey Mysterio.

Mysterio comes to the ring - and that's the build.

Another undercurrent to this program is that Rey is the only man in history with at least 5 WM appearances never to have lost - he's 6-0, which was first mentioned after his win last year - and now, it's officially part of this build - that the legendary triple crown winning Mysterio seems to "step up his game" at this time of year - and is unbeaten on the biggest stage the sport has.   

One more match - the Hooligans have taken some pleasure in jumping Defiance over the course of the past year, and after early retaliation, they were told by Arn that since the Hooligans weren't on the roster (they're in developmental) there needed to be a hands off policy toward them.

Sort of a strip club "they can touch you, you can't touch them" ruling.

Which seems unfair a little bit - and that's okay, Orton always needs some type of authority to chafe against, and if he might have the right side of the argument, that adds to his exasperation - he can't remain under the thumb for too long, because, as Defiance, he can't seem too subservient.

So - for this build, Defiance shows up in the middle of a training session in the Underground - they call out the Hooligans - head trainer Mike Rotunda gets in between them - tells Malenko that his men need to leave, Arn Anderson has been very clear, that Defiance cannot touch men who aren't on the active roster.

Malenko pulls out a contract.

Orton says at 26 - if the Hooligans can beat Defiance - they earn a full time WWF contract.

And if they lose - they are stuck in the Underground for another year - and cannot appear at any WWF events.

Sheamus gets in DiBiase's face - says he'll enjoy beating the hell out of his least favorite Underground alumnus  - that draws some snickers from some of the boys, a handful of them being sufficiently obnoxious that (spoiler alert) they'll be referred to collectively after Mania as douchebags - and that name will turn into the name of their stable. But that hasn't happened yet.

What has happened is that when Heath Slater starts cackling - Orton drops him with a RKO - and then Defiance is set upon by a half dozen trainees - they dispatch all of them - and when Rotunda himself tries to maintain order - DiBiase lays him out with a Million Dollar Slam - and Orton punts him with the Golden Goal.  

That takes Rotunda out of developmental, and a new head trainer will be named after Mania.

One more occurrence in this program - no, two more occurrences.

The first - Orton, staring both DiBiase and Malenko down in a promo - says that if Defiance loses at Mania "changes will be made".

And the second - Fit Finlay becomes the Hooligans manager.  Recall, Finlay and Regal are the idols of Sheamus and McIntyre, and their brawl one second, hug the next relationship is modeled after the story we've told about Regal and Fit - so now, the next step in the evolution of their relationship - Fit becomes the Hooligans manager - and that of course continues the long story between Dean and Fit, as Malenko was Fit's manager before turning on him to form Defiance with Orton and the Juggernaut (RIP).  

So, here's WM 26.

CM Punk/Christian v. Edge/Matt Hardy
-The hot angle; Edge and Matt, once blood enemies, teaming up; Edge opposite his brother Christian; Edge having apparently killed Maria, for all intents and purposes, in his dramatic return at the Rumble.  Will Punk even appear?  In what condition will he be?  Will Punk and Christian be able to team together after nearly a year long feud?  Can you believe Matt and Edge?  Matt and Edge?  It's a match that can't be missed.

No DQ: The Messiah Shawn Michaels/Johnny Nitro (w/Natty Neidhart) v. Bret Hit Man Hart/Montel Porter
-The Hit Man returns to the ring, a return that prompts many to fear for his safety.  Even Chris Jericho has explicitly said that this match should not happen, that it is unsafe, and he wants to see the WWF not allow Bret to get into the ring.  If Michaels loses the fall - he retires from wrestling.  Johnny Nitro has officially joined the Clique, Michaels cementing their mentor/protegee relationship.  It's Bret vs. Shawn one last time.  A match that can't be missed.

WWF Title: Chris Jericho v. Steve Regal
-The longest tenured WWF Champ in a half dozen years, Jericho defends against the greatest wrestler never to win a world title.  Should be the best match of the night.  

IC Title: Matt Sydal v. Yoshi Tatsu (w/Michael Cole)
-Rivals from the old version of GDI - a guaranteed spotfest.  

Tag Titles: D1 (Jack Swagger/Nick Nemeth w/Kelly) v. Young Money (Ka$h Kingston/ Truth Killings)
-DI has only had the straps since Summer Slam, but that's the longest tag title run in 7 years, Swagger and Nemeth from the Underground have placed a hard working, stiff styled, amateur stamp on the tag division.  Can they keep over the Floyd Mayweather created Young Money?

Loser Leaves Town Light Tube on a Pole Match: Leviathan v. John Cena
-Former tag champs explode!

Light Tubes Legends Match: Undertaker/Cody Rhodes v. Yakuza/Dustin Rhodes (w/Dusty Rhodes)
-Brother against brother, plus the Undertaker's attempt to win his 9th Legends Match.

Winner is LWO: Rey Mysterio/Chavo Guerrero v. LWO (Carlito/Primo Colon)
-Chavo tries to win back the LWO name, Rey looks to continue his WM unbeaten streak.

Contract Match: Defiance (Randy Orton/Ted DiBiase) v. Hooligans (Sheamus/Drew McIntrye w/Fit Finlay)
-The brawlers from the Underground, now trained by Finlay, fight for a WWF contract - if Defiance loses, Orton promises changes.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley-McMahon/The Miz v. The Flock: Tyson Kidd/Harry Smith
-The Hart kids, part of the Michaels stable, will open up Mania against Michaels longtime friend and his protegee, the Miz.

And then there's GDI...

Since the formation of the new GDI at Survivor Series - GDI has gone international; each episode built around Danielson and Low Ki taking on the world.  In the build of each episode, we see the characters of the two men (which come to us in their documentary style interactions with Josh and Steamboat) Ki, serious, reserved, intense - Danielson, not - Danielson more left of center, with an artist's mentality, like a Bill Walton, a Ricky Williams, a Bode Miller - he's not maniacal like a Benoit or an Angle, his drive isn't to destroy the man in front of him, it's to elevate the art of wrestling.  You know who he is?  Pat Tillman.  Watch the documentary about Pat Tillman.  Inquisitive, counter-culture without being soft.  Willing to speak his mind - not a typically packaged product.  That's who he is, he's wrestling Pat Tillman. Not quite, but that's the direction I'd drive toward.

From Survivor Series to the end of this build - they're traveling the world together - we see the genuine affection that develops among all 4 men, specifically between Steamboat and Danielson, Steamboat incredibly proud, and a little bit astonished at the ease with which Danielson switches from style to style - and occasionally a little concerned at the lack of...pain...he is in, Steamboat wondering if Danielson will ever get his full acclaim without being driven by anger.  

In the last GDI before Mania, they leave the road for good - all four men are in the airport - and we see them boarding a plane destined for Phoenix.  

Wrestlemania 26.  The first weekend of April.  


Booyaka said...

See, I expected you to go with Kane as Dustin's parnter. Since Kane is at other PPVs, and Yakuza's...not. It also fits with the brother vs brother theme, and writes off Undertaker till Mania, Cody till SurSer, and Dustin forever. Kane just goes apeshit after he and Dustin win and kicks Dustin's ass.

On another note, I don't know if you could be more biased towards the Hart family if you tried. Shawn is right. Absolutely right. Owen's probably the only good person from that family, and one of a handful of good people even associated with the Hart family. But, because they were all great workers, apparently they're untouchable. :-/

Jim said...

1. Yang's better than Kane. I tried to drop Yang in throughout the year to attack Cody to help get to this match, but you're right, I did consider Kane for the brother/brother angle. In the end, I went with the better worker.

2. I'm okay with a fan leaving this program cheering for Shawn. That's cool. I do prefer the Harts, yes. But I wanted to frame that last debate in a way that both arguments could be believable. You can't have a 20 year feud without people on both sides of the aisle.

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