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.


Friday, April 01, 2011

You can get to the build by going here.

Wrestlemania 26 - Phoenix

Joey and Striker on the announce until the double main event, when they are replaced by JR, which will make 14 Wrestlemanias for JR, a record for WWF announcers.  

(Dark: Shelton Benjamin no contest Santino Marella
          Bryan Danielson d. Low Ki)

There's an angle before the show.

Benjamin, a former WWF Champion, and comedy wrestler Santino who does the Andy Kaufman foreign man gimmick, enter the ring - and they are immediately set upon by GDI, who come from the crowd.  Danielson and Low Ki quickly dispatch them, and Steamboat takes the mic.

Steamboat apologizes to Benjamin and Santino, asks Arn, who is calling security to the ring, for one second to explain. He says a quarter century ago, he wrestled in the main event of the first Wrestlemania, but the best match that might might have been before the show even started - a match just for the people in the building.

Steamboat says you fans who have paid this ticket price deserve something special, something that won't be on PPV - you deserve to see the best wrestlers in the world - Bryan Danielson and Low Ki.

And you're about to see it.

Steamboat says he wants to invite someone else to watch - one of the men in that match before Wrestlemania started - Bret Hit Man Hart.

Without music (so as not to give away that pop later) and not wearing the gear he'll be in later on - Bret makes his way to the ring.  Bret shakes Steamboat's hand ( a good picture taking opportunity) and they leave the ring to watch the match.

Danielson wins by submission, Low Ki is injured, it will not turn out to be serious, but its enough that Steamboat aids him from the ring immediately postmatch - and Wrestlemania opens cold (for the first time, I think) on Bret shaking Danielson's hand in midring (a Wrestlemania moment)- were the fans to be chanting "best in the world" - that wouldn't break my heart.

Joey quickly gets us up to speed on what's going on - as we see Danielson exit - but Bret decides to stay, grabbing a chair next to the timekeeper as the first match begins.

1. The Flock: Tyson Kidd/Harry Smith d. Hunter Hearst Helmsley-McMahon/Miz (special guest referee, Ted Sr.)

(Highlight packages going into the show spotlight the Mania history of the longtime wrestlers with clips of each of their matches.  Always important to position Mania as carrying the lineage of previous Manias, it's how you keep the brand special.  Here's Hunter's Mania history:)

WM 12 d. Diesel
WM 13 d. Goldust
WM 14 d. Rock
WM 15 w/Waltman d. New Age Outlaws
WM 16 w/Waltman d. Bob/Crash Holly
WM 17 d. Waltman
WM 18 Edge/Christian d. HHH/Razor Ramon
WM 19 Tag Titles w/HBK d. Charlie Haas/Shelton Benjamin
WM 20 HBK d. HHH
WM 22 PAUL/Kane d. HHH/Bobby Lashley d. Johnny Nitro/Joey Mercury d. Randy Orton/John Cena
            Worldwide Titles (IC+US+TV) d. Fit Finlay
WM 24 Tag Titles John Cena/Leviathan d. HHH/HBK
Silver: Tag Titles: Kane/PAUL d. HHH/Miz d. Carlito/Primo Colon 

This is Hunter's 14th Wrestlemania match.

-We see a face turn for the Hart kids.

They've been under Shawn's thumb for over a year - they joined Michaels in the build to his main event match with Jericho at Silver.  In recent months, Nitro's had an added level of cruelty, humiliating the Flock, taking Natty for his own valet.  Throughout all of it - the dominant characteristic of the Flock being the Flock has been their inability to use any trademark Hart Foundation spots in their matches.  This again happens here, Harry has a chance to press slam Miz, but hesitates and loses him - Tyson has the chance to put Hunter in a boston crab, but lets it go and quickly faces a nearfall.

That nearfall's broken up by Bret, who yanks Tyson clean out of the ring - Kidd is shocked - why is Bret helping him - Hunter scowls at Bret from the ring - Bret yells at Tyson "Be a man!  It's Wrestlemania!   Be a man!"  Kidd is too startled to respond - Bret then yells at Harry - "Be men!  You're Harts - it's Wrestlemania - Be men!"

And that's the turnaround.  The Harts use the Hart spots - a stiff legged missile dropkick, a diving headbutt, and they finish off Hunter with a Hart Attack.

Bret's gone - he left right after the first Hart maneuver - leaving the Harts to celebrate alone by ripping off their  flowing white gear and enthusiastically welcoming the cheers of the fans. Tyson and Harry stand victorious!

2. Loser Leaves Town: Light Tubes on a Pole Match: John Cena d. Leviathan

John Cena's WM history
WM 21 Tag Titles: w/Orton d. Shane Helms/Rhyno d. Charlie Haas/Shelton Benjamin
WM 22 PAUL/Kane d. HHH/Bobby Lashley d. Johnny Nitro/Joey Mercury d. Randy Orton/John Cena
WM23 Montel Porter/Elijah Burke d. John Cena/Ken Kennedy
Silver: d. Ka$h Kingston

This is Cena's 5th WM match.

-The WM opening highlight package runs before the second match, allowing for the plunder to be set up, fluorescent tubes placed on poles above each corner of the ring.

It's the end of WMD - former tag champs broken up by Leviathan's desire to go to LA for pilot season; his putting Cena through a glass table built to this light tube match (light tubes have been a Mania element for the past couple of years).

Both guys get to swing the glass tubes, both guys get color - the announce puts over how much Cena seems to be taking to the glass light tubes - and at the finish he's able to batter Leviathan down and get the fall.

There's no happy postmatch ending - Leviathan leaves the company without fanfare - he and Arn exchange a look as he exits.  Cena thrusts a light tube high into the air, the announce speculating if maybe we're seeing a new John Cena - a hardcore John Cena. 

3. Legends Light Tube Match: Undertaker/Cody Rhodes d. Dustin Rhodes/Yakuza (w/Dusty)

The Undertaker's WM history.

WM7 Legends Match: d. Jake Roberts
WM8 d. Sid
WM9 d. Yokozuna
WM11 Legends Match: d. Lawrence Taylor
WM 12 IC Title: Vader d. Undertaker
WM 13 Legends Match: d. Ahmed Johnson d. Ron Simmons
WM 14 Legends: d. Kane
WM 15 Legends: draw Ken Shamrock
WM 17 Legends: Rock d. Undertaker
WM 18 Legends: Ric Flair d. Undertaker d. Hulk Hogan
WM 19 Legends: w/PAUL and Kane d. Hulk Hogan
WM 21 Legends: Rey Mysterio d. Undertaker d. PAUL
WM 23 Legends:  d. HBK
WM 24 Legends: d. Ulysses Morley
Silver: Legends: d. Bradshaw

This is Undertaker's 16th WM match.

The Dead Man wins his 9th legends match, 4 more than the next closest in Mania history.  It's his 11th win overall.

They all enter carrying bundles of light tubes, as the previous match serves as the appetizer for the orgy of bloodletting that is the Legends Match.  Young Cody is Mikey Whipwreck/Colin Delaney, who began as extra green protegee of the veteran 'Taker.  But now it's two years later - and this is designed to push Rhodes, he gets to put away his biggest rival (Yakuza, and that's the fall that ends the match) and also gets to stand up to his father and brother.  The Taker gets to do his stuff - Big Dust gets chokeslammed, Dustin tombstoned, it's a definitive end to the program.  The Undertaker, who had gotten almost emotional in the build as he expressed that, for the first time in his career, he had someone to stand with him, raises Cody's arm in victory at match's end.  Cody Rhodes has come into his own at Wrestlemania 26.

Arn comes to the ring for the first time, allowing for the cleanup - Arn thanks everyone for coming, says a year ago, he stood at Silver and promised that 26 was going to be a tag team Mania - and here we are, the first tag main event in WWF PPV history.  Well, one year from tonight, at Wrestlemania 27 - in a place I know real well - Atlanta, Georgia - the main event will be a one on one match for the World Wrestling Federation Championship.

But, Arn says, - he won't be there.

Arn says running the WWF isn't a lifetime appointment, and after tonight he'll be stepping down.

Arn says whomever they bring in will certainly do a terrific job - and he knows people will enjoy the rest of the show.  Arn waves and exits.

4. Contract Match: Hooligans: Sheamus/McIntrye (w/Fit Finlay) d. Defiance: Randy Orton/Ted DiBiase (w/Dean Malenko)

Randy Orton's WM history

WM 21 Tag Titles: w/Cena d. Shane Helms/Rhyno d. Charlie Haas/Shelton Benjamin
WM 22 PAUL/Kane d. HHH/Bobby Lashley d. Johnny Nitro/Joey Mercury d. Randy Orton/John Cena
WM23 Worldwide Titles d. Jeff Hardy d. Shane Helms
Silver d. Fit Finlay
This is Orton's 5th WM match

The Hooligans win a contract, Sheamus pinning Ted after the Razors Edge.

So, this is a long running program, Dean and Fit were together for years (they and Arn were once the Titan Trust, running the company for awhile) it was Malenko who convinced Fit to come out of retirement to try to win the IC Title.  Their relationship would eventually become the face of the new stiff, no nonsense, NWA "where we fight" - but the rising athletic star Johnny Nitro eventually caused their friendship to crack, as Dean tried to keep Fit away from the younger man - and that crack would result in Malenko turning on Fit to join Orton and the Juggernaut in creating Defiance.

Regal took up Fit's cause - DiBiase replaced the Juggernaut - the developmental Hooligans joined their heroes Fit and Regal, and months later, here we are.

Fit gets his final revenge over Malenko - knocking him out on the outside, the fun loving, big brawling Hooligans go over and get WWF contracts, moving up from the Underground to the main roster.  Sheamus has gone over strong, and he, Fit and McIntyre celebrate as they head out of the ring.

Orton promised changes if they lost.

Postmatch, Orton smolders as Defiance is all now in the ring - Orton stares down Ted, who dropped the fall, staring down the still groggy Malenko - and then he lays Malenko out with the RKO. 

Orton tells DiBiase to scoop Dean up - he does - and then Orton punts his skull with the Golden Goal.  Dean is booted, literally, from Defiance.  Orton and DiBiase leave together.

5. Winner Is the LWO: Rey Mysterio/Chavo Guerrero d. LWO: Carlito Colon/Primo Colon

Rey Mysterio's WM history/Chavo Guerrero's WM history
WM 19 Worldwide Titles Rey Mysterio d. Chavo Guerrero
WM 20 Rey Mysterio d. Ultimo Dragon d. Tajiri
             Worldwide Titles Eddy Guerrero d. Chavo Guerrero
WM 21 Legends Match: Rey d. Undertaker d. PAUL
            Rey d. Paul London
WM 22 Undisputed Title (WWF+NWA+ECW) Rey Mysterio d. Chris Benoit
WM 23 Tag Titles: Chavo Guerrero/Carlito Colon d. Sandman/Tommy Dreamer
Silver: IC Title: Rey Mysterio d. Montel Porter

This is Rey's 7th WM match; it is Chavo's 4th. 

The most important result here, and the main element of the build - is that Mysterio is now 7-0 at Wrestlemania, the only man in history with at least 5 appearances to go undefeated, Rey hits the 619 on both Colons and gets the fall on Carlito.

The LWO was, of course, Eddys NWA stable in the late 90s, orginally conceived as an alliance among he, Chavo, and Rey - but various issues kept that from ever happening, the 3 men spent most of their careers on opposite sides.  Carlito took control of the LWO in the WWF from Juventud, who feuded with both Eddy and Rey - and eventually Chavo (against his will initially) joined.  Primo's arrival started Chavo's move away from the team - and eventually we wind up in the past year, with Carlito attempting to get Rey to join as Chavo officially left. 

This is the end of the program - the babyfaces (a strong night for the babyfaces thusfar) with a strong, definitive win - Chavo (it's just Chavo who is gaining control of the name LWO, not Rey) now has possession of the LWO name.

Time for the title matches.

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

The highlight clip here is the finish of every tag title match in WM history, as this is the tag team Mania, it's a long package, putting over the importance of the tag titles, and allowing us to reset before the 3 title matches.

I Tito Santana/Brutus Beefcake d. Iron Sheik/Nikolai Volkoff
II Bret Hart/Davey Boy Smith d. Tito Santana/Brutus Beefcake
III Bret Hart/Davey Boy Smith d. Rougeau Brothers
IV Rougeau Brothers d/ Rick Martel/Tito Santana
V Arn Anderson/Tully Blanchard d. Shawn Michaels/Marty Jannetty
VI Rick Rude/Marty Jannetty d. Jake Roberts/Roddy Piper
VII Road Warriors d. Demolition
VIII Ted DiBiase/Mike Rotunda d. Rick Martel/Tito Santana
IX Steiner Brothers d. DiBiase/Rontunda
X Lex Luger/Bam Bam Bigelow d. Jacques Rougeau/Pierre Oulette
XI Smoking Gunns d. Davey Boy Smith/Bob Backlund
XII Steve Austin/Dustin Rhodes d. Chris Candido/Savio Vega
XIII Owen Hart/Davey Boy Smith d. Doug Furnas/Phil LaFon
XIV New Age Outlaws d. Cactus Jack/Terry Funk
XV Hardys d. Rock/D Lo Brown
XVI Hardys d. Edge/Christian d. Dudleys
XVII Dudleys d. Hardys d. Edge/Christian d. Raven/Taz
XVIII Chris Jericho/Lance Storm d. Hardys d. Dudleys
XIX Shawn Michaels/Hunter Hearst Helmsley d. Charlie Haas/Shelton Benjamin
XX Ric Flair/Leviathan d. Charlie Haas/Shelton Benjamin
XXI Randy Orton/John Cena d. Shane Helms/Rhyno d. Charlie Haas/Shelton Benjamin
XXII PAUL/Kane d. Booker T/Bradshaw d. Psychosis/Super Crazy
XXIII Chavo Guerrero/Carlito Colon d. Sandman/Tommy Dreamer
XXIV John Cena/Leviathan d. HBK/HHH-M
Silver PAUL/Kane d. HHH-M/Miz d. Carlito/Primo Colon

Division One, the longest running tag champs in the better part of a decade, lose the belts at Mania - Kingston getting the fall on Swagger.  There's a babyface handshake postmatch among all four men - D1 leaves the ring in defeat - Kingston and Killings do the big title winning celebration.  Autotune!

7. IC Title: Matt Sydal d. Yoshi Tatsu (w/Michael Cole)
The package shows great Mania spots - as this has been sold as the death defying spot match between two men making their Mania debuts.

So, we get a diving headbutt from the Dynamite Kid onto Steamboat at II,
Steamboat with a top rope crossbody to the floor on DYK in III
Michaels and Jannetty diving through the ropes atop the Brainbusters in V
Owen splashing on Michaels from the top rope to the outside at VIII
Ladder Match clips from X
2 Cold Scorpio missing his 450 splash against the Rock at 13
Taka Michinoku and Mr. Aguila stealing the show at 14
The Hardys winning the titles in a ladder match at 15
TLC at 16
TLC at 18
Matt and RVD crashing into each other at 19
Eddy v. Chavo in the Ladder Match at 20.
Christian taking the big bump off the Cell at 20.
Paul London missing an enormoug ladder spot at 21.
Matt and Edge taking the big Cell bump together at 23.

So, there's some ladder bump here (but not with a table, all the tables are still intact at this point in the evening) Cole brings the ladder out, say Sydal hits that real world Jeff Hardy legdrop from the top of the ladder spot to end the match.  It's really the first time Cole's not just been the translator, but actively aids Tatsu, marking his tranformation into weasely heel manager.   

8. WWF Title: Chris Jericho d. Steve Regal

Steve Regal and Chris Jericho's WM histories.
WM 16 - IC Title: Eddy Guerrero d. Chris Jericho
WM 17 - IC Title: Steve Austin d. Steve Regal
                             Chris Jericho d. Eddy Guerrero
WM 18: Tag Titles: Chris Jericho/Lance Storm d. Hardys d. Dudleys
                             Rock d. Steve Regal
WM 19: Chris Jericho d. Lance Storm
WM 20: Chris Jericho d. Christian
WM 21: Worldwide Titles: Edge d. Steve Regal
             HBK d. Chris Jericho
WM 22: Worldwide Titles Fit Finlay d. Steve Regal
WM 24: Edge d. Chris Jericho
Silver: WWF Title Chris Jericho d. HBK

This is Jericho's 9th WM; it is Regal's 5th.  He has never won.

And he doesn't win here.  This is almost entirely just because I am a full on Regal mark and view this as a helluva good match, and 2010 might be the closing of Regal's ability to have a match of the quality I want in this spot.  Regal can give all he has, he and Jericho can work as stiff as they can, and Jericho furthers his standing as the Champ; just taking on all comers, giving all he has, and getting his hand raised at the end of the night.

And that's what happens here, it's the best match they can have, and Jericho pins him.  It's the last match of the night for Joey and Striker (they're opposed to Bret's wrestling - there is a legitimate air of concern for Bret that permeates the build) so they can go full on to praise this match, not needing to save superlatives for the final two matches of the night.  Jericho has staked his claim as one of the all time great WWF Champions.

And now the double main event.  JR will call both matches by himself. 

9. No DQ: Bret Hart/Montel Porter d. Shawn Michaels/Johnny Nitro
The Wrestlemania history of Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels
WM 2 Tag Titles: Bret Hart/Davey Boy Smith d. Tito Santana/Brutus Beefcake
WM3 Tag Titles: Bret Hart/Davey Boy Smith d. Rougeau Brothers
WM4 IC: Bret Hart d. Randy Savage
WM5 WWF Title: Randy Savage d. Bret Hart
         Tag Titles: Brainbusters d. Shawn Michaels/Marty Jannetty
WM 6 IC Title: Bret Hart d. Shawn Michaels
WM 7: IC Title: Bret Hart d. Tenryu
                         Marty Jannetty d. Shawn Michaels
WM 8: WWF Title Bret Hart d. Ric Flair
                              Owen Hart d. Shawn Michaels
WM 9: WWF Title: Bret Hart d. Razor Ramon
            IC Title: Shawn Michaels d. Curt Hennig
WM X: WWF Title: Owen Hart d. Bret Hart
            IC: Razor Ramon d. Shawn Michaels
WM XI: WWF Title: Bret Hart d. Shawn Michaels
WM 12: WWF Title: Shawn Michaels d. Bret Hart
WM 13: WWF Title: Steve Austin d. Bret Hart                                       

This is Bret Hart's 13th WM.  The previous 12 were title matches.  Bret has 8 WM wins.  Bret has a WM Triple Crown, winning or successfully defending all 3 belts at WM.

WM 14 WWF Title Owen Hart d. Shawn Michaels
WM 20 HBK d. HHH
WM 21 HBK d. Chris Jericho
WM 22 Edge d. Shawn Michaels
WM 23 Legends: Undertaker d. Shawn Michaels
WM 24: John Cena/Leviathan d. HBK/HHH-M
Silver: WWF Title Chris Jericho d. Shawn Michaels

This is Shawn Michaels's 16th WM.  His record is 4-11, and he's lost 4 straight matches.  He's sometimes derisively called Mr. Wrestlemania behind his back given his really poor Mania record.

So, here we are.

Bret's arguably the greatest wrestler in WWF history; no other man has equaled the run suggested by the highlight package - to have appeared in 12 Wrestlemanias and all 12 were title matches, Bret had a dominant run.  And that dominant run was as the head of the Hart Foundation - who for literally 2 decades has been in a Hatfield/McCoy feud with the Clique, led by Shawn Michaels.

Bret's been gone for 13 years, long retired, suffering a serious stroke. 

Shawn's no longer the Heartbreak Kid.  He cut his hair, changed his song, burned his gear. He's the Messiah, on a mission to spread his message of righteousness across the world.  Along the way, he scooped up the Hart kids, shaved their heads, had them burn their Hart memorabilia and renounce their family.  And then developed a mentor/protegee relationship with Johnny Nitro (coincidentally, far away, HHH had a not dissimilar relationship with the Miz) Nitro took up the superkick, and was knighted as the newest member of the Clique - the first such member since Paul London several years prior. 

Bret returned at the Rumble in a tribute capacity, with no suggestion he'd ever get physically involved again - but ran into a Johnny Nitro superkick.  

Bret gave Shawn want he wanted, a match - as Shawn's need to be the man to rid the world of Bret Hart caused him to give Bret what he wanted - a stip that if Bret beats Shawn - Shawn retires. 

MVP was a long running cocky heel IC Champ, gaining a following through his twitter gimmick, he turned face in a program with Nitro, Porter stalking Michaels, who was then the IC Champ, over Michaels taking offense at Porter's nickname "the greatest intercontinental champion of all time."  Michaels refused to address Porter, refused to stand in the same ring with him, treating MVP as beneath his station. 

Here's how this goes.  It's overly booked to compensate for Bret's condition.  Absent that - if 2011 Bret were even as good as 2011 Sting, I just would have done Bret/Shawn as a singles with a clean finish.

That's not what happens here, however. 

We get a Bret/Shawn square off to start the match.  I don't want to tease a hot tag with Bret as he can't deliver - but if the match starts with Bret and Shawn jawing at each other to build to their throwing punches, then that's a good moment. 

The body of the match is MVP working against both guys, sometimes simultaneously, until he can get a tag and then Bret coming in for, probably just a 45 second segment, as he's only in the ring when he can be physically passable and then he tags back out. 

They do that a couple, maybe three times but probably just the two, until an attempt at a tag to Bret is cut off by an entering Hunter and Miz.

They're hot, after all, at Bret for interfering earlier - and even though Michaels buried Hunter in the build - come on, it's Michaels and Bret with a retirement stip, there's got to be some Clique involvement.  They beat Bret down on the outside - and then (as its no DQ) they climb in the ring for a 4 on 1 that beats MVP down and he never recovers.  They each hit big moves - and with MVP laid out dead in midring and Bret laid out on the outset - each of the four men climb to a buckle and hit the Clique sign - even Miz, who waits until the other three have gone, and then waits until he gets the nod to do it from Hunter.  The Miz has joined the Clique.

Shawn moves for the cover of Porter - but Nitro stops the count at 2 - Nitro physically stops the official from counting to 3 - asking Shawn if he can get the pinfall instead. 

Hunter looks at Nitro incredulously - why in the world would Nitro be so selfish - and then (as Nitro drops for the pinfall attempt) he's attacked by a sprinting in Tyson and Harry.  The Hart kids clean house - breaking up the pinfall, getting revenge on Nitro - hitting Hart Foundation trademark spots, this part is happening quickly, Michaels has an opening to superkick Harry - a clean shot to take his head off - but, because he's the Messiah and doesn't use the superkick, he doesn't take it - and that quickly leads to his getting missle dropkicked - presslammed - then downed with a Hart Attack - Bret is back up from the floor - Bret -gets to Michaels, Bret gets to Shawn - and puts him in the sharpshooter - MVP has come to, so he and the Hart kids can hold off the other three, as Shawn is locked in the middle of the ring in the Sharpshooter - the faces hold off the heels and eventually Shawn taps out.

The enormity of the moment sinks in, Harry and Tyson help MVP from the ring - Miz helps Hunter - Shawn sits alone in the ring with his head in his hands, he pounds his fists against his temples,  Shawn despondent in the middle of the ring - his career is over.  He stands and accepts whatever level of emotional reaction there is likely to be from the fans- Shawn encased in his own misery.

And then Bret offers a handshake.  In a bracket to the prematch where the two men stared at each other before throwing blows - and in a bracket to the pre-show when Bret shook Danielson's hand - Bret offers Shawn a handshake - and Shawn accepts.  It's a long handshake - the two men talking - Bret raising Shawn's hand and moving to the side to begin to applaud for Shawn Michaels.  Bret applauds for Shawn and Shawn acknowledges the crowd...

Neither man seemingly noticing that Johnny Nitro is readying...readying to superkick Bret Hart, Johnny Nitro tunes up the band to superkick Bret Hart - and as he starts his move he's dropped like he's shot by a Michaels superkick.  Michaels superkicks Nitro before Nitro can kick Bret - Shawn's old music hits- and that's how the segment ends.

The next night on RAW is the tribute to Shawn Michaels.  We've done that throughout WWF history whenever someone has left in circumstances like this - in fact, we did it once before with Shawn after WM14.

Do you recall how that turned out?  That's a clue. 

So, there are clips and old faces. The end of the show is Shawn coming out to the old music - he cuts the retirement promo, Hunter enters and they've all made up, Miz enters and Shawn says Hunter vouches for him so they can carry on the Clique name - and then Nitro enters.  Nitro apologizes, says he got all wrapped up in hatred of the Hart Foundation, says Shawn's still got a hell of a superkick.  Michaels accepts - says Nitro's a hothead like someone he used to know - that's one of the reasons why he picked him - because now, he's leaving - but with Hunter, Nitro and the Miz - the Clique has a hell of a future.  Michaels leads the four men in making the handsign, Shawn and Hunter are going to go to the buckles, one assumes that Nitro and Miz will also.

But instead - they attack Shawn and Hunter from behind.

And Nitro and the Miz leave the old men for dead.

Superkick from Nitro.  Pedigree from Miz.   Skull Crushing Finale from Miz.  Starship Pain from Nitro.  Nitro and the Miz bury Hunter and Shawn deep into the RAW mat - the show, and Shawn Michaels's career ends with he and Hunter bleeding and Nitro and the Miz standing over them making the sign of the Clique.

Sometimes, a story takes awhile to unfold.

The next week, maybe the week after, is a tag match with Nitro and the Miz beating the hell out of Harry and Tyson - and it's in that match that Natty Neidhart, who, one notices, no-showed Mania, re-emerges and chooses a side. 

She chooses Nitro and the Miz.

And that's gonna be the new heel act - Nitro/Miz and Natty - with her bulking up as much as she can, as she's going to be their Chyna.  She's not eye candy - she's there to hit people with forearms.

10. Edge/Matt Hardy d. CM Punk/Christian

The Wrestlemania history of Edge, Matt, Christian, and Punk.
WM 15 Tag Titles: Hardys d. Rock/DLo Brown
WM 16 Tag Titles: Hardys d. Edge/Christian d. Dudleys
WM 17 Tag Titles: Dudleys d. Hardys d. Edge/Christian d. Raven/Taz
WM 18 Tag Titles: Jericho/Storm d. Hardys d. Dudleys
                              Edge/Christian d. HHH/Razor
WM 19 Matt Hardy d. RVD
WM 20 RVD d. Matt Hardy
            Chris Jericho d. Christian
WM 21 Kurt Angle d. Christian
WM 22 Edge d. Shawn Michaels
WM 23 Matt Hardy d. Edge
            ECW Title: CM Punk d. RVD d. Sabu
WM 24 Edge d. Chris Jericho
            Undisputed Title: CM Punk d. Johnny Nitro d. Shelton Benjamin
Silver: Matt Hardy d. Edge d. Christian d. Jeff Hardy
           CM Punk d. Ricky Steamboat

This is Matt Hardy's 9th WM. This is Edge's 8th WM.  It is Christian's 7th.  It is Punk's 4th.               

Babyface wins in every single match the entire night.  Right up until the main event.

Edge and Matt come out together.  Then Christian.  There's a beat before Punk, as he hasn't been seen since the Rumble.

His hair and beard are long and unkempt.  He walks slowly to the ring, never taking his eyes from Edge - Punk is impassive, without any emotion - as he stares Edge down.  Punk stands completely still, his eyes dead, cold, in midring at prematch - he doesn't acknowledge Christian, doesn't look at Matt - just stares hard at Edge.

Christian attempts to talk to Punk - as they've had no contact at all since the Rumble - Matt and Edge have been constantly together and Punk and Christian barely know each other - but here they are at the main event of 26.

The stories are what you'd think they'd be.  Edge v. Christian against each other in the main event at Mania for the second year in a row.  Matt and Edge acting as a cohesive team, in a bizarre, hell froze over turn of events.  And Punk - once he's in the match, and we wait for it, he stands on the apron as Christian's in the first segment - and once he enters he tears through the rest of the match as viciously as he can until he's knocked out.

We're saving the table bump for here, after as many false finishes as we can throw into the match, Punk's going through the Spanish announce - I'd like Edge to throw him off the top of a ladder.  The ladder from the IC match could still be up on the outside, Edge could have run up the ladder to escape from Punk - they could be on opposite sides on the top of the ladder fighting - and Edge knocks Punk off and he crashes through the table. It's got to be enough bump that he's out.  The match ends with him trying to crawl his way from the wreckage to save Christian - Christian fights one on two and gets miracle nearfalls but eventually drops the fall to Edge.  Christian has to be pretty well laid out, unmoving after the fall. Punk's left to sink into unconsciousness on the floor - Matt and Edge celebrate - they've won the main event of Mania - they hug and hug - and when Matt walks away - Edge spears him out of his boots.

Punk's out.  Christian's out.  Edge has just speared Matt Hardy - and now from his tights, Edge pulls out a fork.

And if you recall their feud (as Edge clearly does) you aren't surprised when he plunges it into Matt Hardy's eye. 

Edge taunts the fallen Matt - Edge giving him the bad mouth, Edge points at Matt, points at Christian, spits over the side of the ring at Punk laid out on the floor - it is Edge standing triumphant as Wrestlemania 26 comes to a close.

I'll be back with the next TNA chapter at the top of May.  I'd anticipate part one of the build to Summer Slam in June.  As I sit here today, March 21 2011, I've got full cards set all the way through WM 27, my current Mania card will require a multi-man real world dark match - and obviously whatever injuries/releases occur between now and Summer Slam 2011 will ripple all the way to my build for Summer Slam 2010.  Over at my regular blog, to which you can get via the links on the right side of the page, I'll do a preview post for real world WM 27 (I'll have already done it by the time you read this) and you could, were you inclined, find my ongoing list of the best wrestling matches of 2011.

Thanks for reading.  Here's next.



Booyaka said...

Not surprising that the show turned out great. I WAS surprised that Nemeth didn't turn heel on Swagger after the match, though.

Anonymous said...

Wow, poor Shelton. I know he's not got much time left, but working dark with Santino? That's burial.
I also can't believe Matt didn't have to job his way out of the company.

Jim said...

1. I like D1; I'm not saying they're together forever, but I like them.

2. Both Matt and Shelton have another match to do in the build for Summer Slam.

Booyaka said...

And Matt did kinda job out. He got stabbed in the eye with a fork.

Anonymous said...

Was the original plan to have MVP as IC and Division 1 as tag champs leaving this show?

Jim said...

1. I didn't pick a winner, but Sydal/Porter was the program until Benjamin got released. Benjamin was originally going to be Bret's partner (actually, Tyson would have been my first choice, but I did not expect he'd get pushed after Mania) and that was the plan as I built to last year's Benjamin/Nitro, I wanted to give Benjamin the same rub from Bret that Michaels gave Nitro. When he got released, I considered Sydal - but went with Porter given how much I pushed his IC run. Then, we he got released, I backed away from working on the Bret/MVP relationship. Even late, I considered an injury angle that would require Tyson to step in and be Bret's partner - and if I had any faith that they were ever going to use him that's what I would have done.

2. I don't pick a tag champs a year out, since the belts require two available guys. It really requires waiting until the previous year's Summer Slam to put those pieces together. Right now, I have a card for my WM27, and I've got a tag title match with no finish. That card is wishcasting, because I'm banking on a multi-man dark match. If I don't get one, it's going to ripple maybe all the way back to Survivor Series 2010.

Booyaka said...

Just noticed you got the result of the Kingston/Cena match from Silver wrong. Cena won that.

Anonymous said...

1) Really liked the way this card came out- Nitro and Miz have stepped up as the new Clique, Edge is a monster heel (having gotten over Punk, Christian, and Matt Hardy in the main event).

2) Unlike Booyaka, I'm wondering if you're planning on keeping Nemeth and Swagger as faces. Given who's staying and leaving the WWE over the past year, I think you might need solo faces.

3) Shaemus-Bryan was moved from the Wrestlemania card to the Pre-Show. Does that mean that neither is eligible for being on the card next year? (Hoping not, because I have to imagine that hurts your booking)

Booyaka said...

Jim lives and dies by the dark match, man.

Jim said...

Yeah, I'll fix that Cena thing.

Dark match, thank god. I don't have the battle royal lineup yet, but I'll get it.

Jim said...

And now I have it.

Booyaka said...

So Edge just retired. How does that fuck up your plans?

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