Triple H, October 2011:

“When I grew up, I hated Hogan. I thought he was terrible and didn’t like to watch him. I was like Punk in a way. I liked the Steamboats and Flairs and the ones that could go. Would I be right in saying that Hogan was the wrong guy to go with, and they should’ve changed directions and gone with Steamboat because he was the better wrestler? Ludicrous.” - Triple H. October, 2011.

Road to Summer Slam 2010-Part 1

Friday, May 20, 2011

Wrestlemania 26 is here.

The Road to Summer Slam starts at Wrestlemania 26; Johnny Nitro, groomed since the top of the year as "the next Shawn Michaels" and The Miz, whose crawl from comedy wrestler to respectability took over a year as Hunter's tag partner, became the newest members of the Clique (Nitro was actually tabbed on the way to 26, but the four men stood together at Mania).

Clique scholars knew what was coming next - when Shawn lost his retirement match at 26, and had his farewell the next night, it wasn't a surprise that he and Hunter were mercilessly beaten by their protegees, as that's how the Clique gets down.  When a star leaves the territory, he's eaten by his stablemates. 

The first few weeks after Mania belong to the Clique, Nitro and Miz getting to establish themselves as cool heels.  Not all heels can be cool; not everyone cool is a heel - but cool heel is the brand driver for the Clique; the Harts are steadfast, brave, and true - the Clique is cool heel.  And always will be thus. 

They're joined by Natty Neidhart, in a silent, muscular, Chyna type of role - hitting people with forearms while her boys clown some straight laced, white meat babyface.  Miz does the bulk of the talking for the group, for obvious reasons - he'll even cut a promo on Linda McMahon, running for US Senate under the platform Tax Millionaires: "if one man has 100 million, and another cannot afford to feed his family, then the first man has something that belongs to the second." 

God bless the McMahon family.  Heroes to the working class. 

But Miz says she's a joke, and wrestling fans are a joke if they think they have any power; what's going to happen in November is a bunch of wrestling fans will forget to go vote or they'll vote for the wrong guy and Linda will go back to watching Days of our Lives with Triple H.  Both of them sitting at home where they belong. 

They set their focus on Matt Sydal, he took the IC from Shawn at the Rumble and kept over Tatsu at Mania; JR, voice of Fight Night (joined after Mania by Jerry Lawler, most recently seen as one of the hosts of WWF Superstars, which has now been replaced by GDI Wrestling; Lawler calls the matches straight, there's not a lot of gaga on Friday nights) calls Sydal "the greatest natural athlete in the WWF" - which used to get under Shawn's skin and now is used by The Clique as an in for this program.  The Clique says the IC Title is their birthright - Shawn, Razor, Waltman, Hunter, Edge - all IC Champs.  It's time to come home - and Nitro challenges Sydal for the belt at Summer Slam.

That's the only match made in April - the reason for that is there's no commissioner.

At 26, Arn resigned and announced that a new WWF commissioner would be named after Mania - they build to it on TV for a few weeks, and announce that not only will the new WWF commissioner be revealed on a particular RAW - but that same night, he will announce the main event for Summer Slam, the WWF Championship defense by Chris Jericho.  There is much speculation about all of these matters.

Speculation that ends, let's say at the May 17 2010 RAW ('cause that was in Toronto, which is sort of a clue.)

All the boys surround the ring in the main event segment, save for the handful of guys who can't be in a position like that - when Howard introduces the next commissioner of the WWF...

Bret Hit Man Hart.

Bret's in his #2 Hart Foundation hockey jersey as he hits the ring - its his first appearance since his Mania win.

Bret acknowledges what would be a pretty significant crowd response - says he didn't ever intend to come back after winning at 26, he never wanted to be one of those old wrestlers who couldn't stay away - but Vince McMahon, CEO of the World Wildlife Fund, called me personally and offered a short term contract, and he couldn't say no.

Bret says he agreed to run the WWF until Wrestlemania 27, which will be in Atlanta.  Bret promises that night - the main event will be a singles match, one on one, for the biggest prize in all of sports - the WWF Championship.

But that's not until next April.  Right now - we have the main event for Summer Slam this August.

Bret brings out Jericho, he's wearing his #7 Hart Foundation jersey.

They shake hands, Bret puts him over.  Jericho is nearing two full years as WWF Champion, he is closing in on true immortal status.

And then Bret buries him a little bit.  What surprises me, Bret says, in fact, what astonishes me, is that in these 2 years, you've never found time to take on the one obvious number one contender for this title.  Sitting at home, I've probably said it a thousand times watching the shows - why the hell isn't Jericho wrestling.....Edge.

Hit Edges music.

Edge was the big winner at 26; Jericho won, what was presumably a terrific match against Regal (who is now the head trainer in the Underground, that's developmental, and you can watch them at; but it was Edge, taking out his brother, Punk, and Matt in the main event who ended the night on top of the world. 

And now, in his #10 Hart Foundation hockey jersey - he comes to the ring.  Smirking.

Bret tells him to wipe the smirk off his face.  Bret calls Edge a scumbag.  Bret says for the past quarter century, he's been wearing this Hart Foundation hockey jersey; it's his family legacy on his back - and to see a degenerate like Edge with it on sickens him.

Bret then turns to Jericho - he says its his fault. 

Bret says out of respect to Jericho he stayed out of WWF business - he watched when Jericho handed Edge, who is from the Clique - the enemy - a Hart Foundation hockey jersey and then - predictably - got screwed.  He watched when Jericho let Tyson and Harry become Clique lackeys - he watched when Johnny Nitro pissed all over his family home.

Bret's getting hot now at Jericho.  Canadian on Canadian crime, right here in Toronto.

Bret says you were leader of this family.  All of this.  Bret points at Natty at ringside with Nitro and Miz - "all of that" - it's your fault.  Jericho is clearly stung. Note, I wanted to save all the Bret/Jericho stuff for this build instead of using it before Mania.  Were I watching the programming going to Mania - I'd wonder why we had just a bare minimum of interaction (we teased this a little, recall, Jericho saying that Bret shouldn't be wrestling at all - in Jericho's mind, he's the champ, looking out for the good of the company - but you can understand how Bret would have taken that).  Here is where we get that - between now and Mania, any resentments come out - particularly is Bret's blaming Jericho for not taking care of the kids - and Jericho's resolute argument that he is the WWF Champion, and his responsibility is bigger than just the family.

Jericho goes nose to nose with Bret.  Jericho says he has more respect for Bret Hart than any man in the world - but he is WWF Champion, and clearly it's been so long that Bret has forgotten, but the job of the WWF Champion is not to take care of your nephews, not to take the shirt from Edge's back - his job is to keep that belt.  And that's what he's done.  Jericho says he's intentionally stayed out of personal conflicts - the kinds of personal conflicts that cost people titles.  Jericho reminds Bret that he was WWF Champion 3 times - and lost the WWF Championship 3 times. 

Jericho says he's never lost the WWF Championship.

That's important too - because while you need to establish Bret as strong, and you want to show the cracks in  Jericho's facade, that's different than making Jericho weak.  'Cause there's a match to build after all.

And then he walks over to Edge - Jericho and Edge, nose to nose for the first time in two years -

..."and I won't lose at Summer Slam.  I'll never lose to you again.  I'm the World Wrestling Federation Champion."

This entire segment is designed to establish that Bret Hart is still Bret Hart; in the build for 26 it was important that he appear weak, both because we didn't want to oversell his in ring ability and because part of the build for the match was he might legitimately get hurt.  So here - Bret has to be the most dominant figure in a ring full of stars.  And its designed as a real smack to Jericho's face - Jericho is a complex character, central to his current worldview is a belief that he is "the champ" - and to have Bret, of all people, question him in this way, and in front of Edge, of all people - to have Bret essentially insinuate that Jericho's ducking Edge is a blow to his deepest part.  The rest of this segment is his attempt to no sell that, to still be the champ.

The stip they will make for the match, eventually, is that Edge is putting up the jersey.  If he loses - he will hand the jersey to Bret - and never wear it again.  All traces of Edge being a member of the Hart Foundation will vanish from history.

But if he wins - he gets all of it.  The WWF Championship.  The Triple Crown.  And forever - he will be #10.  Edge, the only man to be both a Clique member and a Hart.

But we have time before establishing those stips - that we'll use in the last month to heat things up.  And where Jericho's title reign has been bloodless, not about personal conflicts but about wrestling competition - this is all personal.  Jericho doesn't think Edge is deserving to wear the same belt that Bret and Owen and Davey Boy and Dynamite and Benoit all wore.  Edge wonders why that would be an issue if Jericho were confident he'd beat Edge.  But the last time Edge and Jericho were in a ring, one on one - at Wrestlemania - Edge won.  And the last time they met for a title - Edge took Jericho's IC.  Edge says its Jericho's old insecurities - the ones that turned him into the Lizard King - the ones that made him a drunken, broken mess who had to leave the WWF for years - that's what he sees when he looks at Edge.  Edge knows Jericho isn't really this guy - the guy in the suit with the belt over his shoulder -

Edge knows who Jericho really is - who he is on the inside.  And Edge isn't just going to be him - he's going to strip him bear - going to expose him.

And that leads Jericho to attack - he has to be pulled off Edge - Edge sickly smiling at the screaming Jericho - Jericho losing what has been his unflappable, total professional demeanor in the face of Edge.

But none of that's happened yet.  It's still May 17. 

And right now, the segment turns - as GDI - Steamboat/Danielson/Low Ki come out of the crowd to the ring.

It's the first time they've been on WWF TV since they stole the dark match at Mania - GDI since Steamboat took over after Survivor Series was GDInternational, taking the boys (and Josh) around the globe to take on international competitors.  That allowed us to get to know them, and, more importantly, to watch them work, and, more relevantly for what's about to happen, to see the growing father/son dynamic between Steamboat and Danielson. 

Since Mania however - they've been in one location. 

You know how Kesuke Sasaki has Kensuke Office?  They do spot shows and then they also work NOAH shows?

That's sort of this.  GDI now runs out of one arena (as opposed to following WWF around and working small venues, which was the original model).  Like the Manhattan Center.  GDI Arena.  Enter the Dragon.  That's where they've been since Mania, Danielson and Low Ki taking on whatever indie guy we can use, while largely not talking at all about WWF. 

Until they show up right now on RAW.

The boys outside the ring are hostile - they've attacked WWF guys, invaded WWF shows, and hit their "best wrestlers in the world" catchphrase to a point that draws anger from heels and faces alike. 

Bret tells them to stand down - he says he invited them here.

Steamboat and Bret shake hands - Steamboat thanks Bret for the invitation, says he has to say he sort of expected that when Bret told him he had a big opportunity for GDI, that Bret was going to say one of his men was getting the title shot.

Bret takes a step backward - looking at Danielson and Low Ki.

Bret says he invited them for two reasons.  One - because he keeps hearing about how they are the best wrestlers in the world - that Steamboat had the...the bring me out to watch them wrestle before Wrestlemania.  And Bret just wants to see if they will stand in the middle of the WWF ring and look the WWF Champion and the number one contender square in the eye and say that they are the best wrestlers in the world.

Low Ki walks up to Edge - and makes the throatslash gesture.  Edge no sells. 

Jericho walks up to Danielson, the WWF Title belt over his shoulder.  Jericho says, "tell me, you say it, Bryan - you look me in the eye and tell me that you're better than me."

Danielson pauses.  "Chris.  I respect you.  I respect your belt.  But I'm better than you are."

Jericho drops the belt and slaps Danielson hard.  It's intended to be loud and fast and startling - why does Jericho do it, partially he's hitting the person he's allowed to hit, he can't hit Bret - and it's Bret he's mad at.  Partially it reflects the feeling of the locker room about GDI.  They haven't had to pay any toll for their actions so far.  And that its a slap is patronizing, as if he's saying "boy, don't step to a grown man like that."

 Danielson's about to retaliate when Steamboat gets in between and shoves Jericho, "Jericho - the kid isn't just better than you are now.  He's better than you ever were."

For Ricky Steamboat, of all people, to say that to the WWF Champion - not a transition champion or a heel champion - a year and 3/4 long babyface Triple Crown winning WWF Champion - that's a thing.

It looks like the ring is going to explode.

Bret takes command.

"Here's the second reason I asked you to come.  I do want to give GDI an opportunity - this Friday Night - Fight Night - tag team match.  Danielson and Low Ki...against Jericho and Edge."

The building, presumably, freaks out - Jericho looks incredulously at Bret - Edge smirks - Low Ki and Danielson nod their heads vigorously - Steamboat yells out - "We accept" - and we've got a match.

Fast forward to Friday - the main event - Josh joins Lawler and JR to call the match - Bret and Steamboat are in their respective corners.  All 3 WWF guys are wearing the hockey jerseys - all 3 GDI guys are in GDI t-shirts.  Ideally it's the best match it can be without establishing any sort of relationship between Jericho and Edge - it's just a highly charged environment - all 4 guys trying to have the best match possible - Fight Night's in Ontario, so there's a hot Canadian crowd, and having a fully engaged Bret Hart backing Edge/Jericho in a big workrate match is exactly the atmosphere I want.  There can be a shoving match briefly with Steamboat and Bret on the outside, say over a disputed nearfall.  Just to build the heat.  Maybe Bret and Steamboat are gonna go!

Edge gets the fall on Low Ki.  Spear.  Pinfall. 

Immediately after he does, I mean, within a matter of seconds - he is mauled by CM Punk.

It's Punk's first apearance since Mania - his hair and beard have continued to grow.  He is in Bruiser Brody territory and that's where it's going to stay for awhile.

He is quickly on top of Edge, smashing his head into the canvas.  Except for Jericho, everyone leaps to pull Punk off.  Steamboat's there first.  Punk turns his fury on Steamboat (perhaps its on autopilot, as Punk looks absolutely gone, with that thousand yard stare he's had since Maria; but the Steamboat/Punk rivalry is a long one -- and maybe Steamboat was just trying to help Edge...but Steamboat's competitive juices are flowing given the atmosphere, and his side did just lose) and he starts cuffing him on the ground with forearm shots across the face, just popping Steamboat in the head with hard blows.  Punk's shoved away as medical leaps into the ring to tend to Steamboat - there's full chaos as Punk, half mad, backs his way up the aisle - the show ends with Danielson looking up from Steamboat's side - training his eyes on Punk.

A shaky Danielson cuts a promo on Punk the following Thursday on GDI.

He says there are a lot of fans in the building who love CM Punk - he came from where they came from, he fought the system and won, he threw down the WWF Title belt and a lot of people have always been on his side.

Danielson says that stops now.  Punks always been in it for himself - he'll step over each and every one of you to better himself.  Punk has never cared about collateral damage, never cared about the consequences of who he hurts. And we all know that - but last Friday, on Fight Night, he crossed the line.  Ricky Steamboat is in a hospital bed right now because of CM Punk.  Punk doesn't have a home in GDI anymore. 

Next step - there's a RAW where Benjamin goes over Santino - then cuts an angry promo on Danielson.  He says there have been 30 men in the history of earth who have worn the WWF Championship belt - he's one of them and Danielson isn't.  If Danielson can show up and wrestle Chris Jericho - then Danielson can show up and wrestle him.  On Fight Night.

Whatever is the distance between Steamboat getting stretchered out of Fight Night and the Fight Night where Danielson, of course, comes out to beat the hell out of Benjamin, there's lots of talk about Steamboat's injuries, about possible litigation between GDI and WWF.  Danielson doesn't appear on GDI TV again before Summer Slam (in a nod to whatever period of time he was legitimately not employed in the real world summer of 2010) leaving Low Ki to smack indie guys around as the focus of the show.  Danielson shows up for whatever Fight Night it is that makes sense, beats Benjamin mercilessly, in Shelton's last match in the territory.  Danielson refuses to go for a pinfall, yelling out to JR at the announce table, "tell him, JR - tell Punk I'm coming for him.  Tell him, JR.  Tell him."

The next step - a main event on Fight Night between Christian and Matt Hardy.  Christian's worked steadily since Mania, beating guys like he does.  Matt hasn't been seen.  The match itself should feel like a thing - Matt's leaving the territory, and its unlikely he returns; Hardys v E/C is a long, long, long storyline, and it ends in this match - there should be some intensity to it.

Christian, clean, definitive - with the Cruasder.  And as he starts to walk back up the ramp, with Matt still on his back - Punk heads to the ring.

Punk and wouldn't call them friends, Punk doesn't have any, but they developed respect as their program ended in the moments before Edge killed Maria and Punk flipped into a dark, dark place.  But when Punk passes by, it's as if Christian doesn't exist - Punk, crazy beard everywhere, brushes by him - goes to the ring - picks Matt up - and begins hitting him with the Go To Sleep. 

Over and over again.

I don't know how many times - not so many he blows up, enough that its clear he is not going to stop on his own.

Christian stops him.  Christian tries to talk some sense in him.  Punk levels him.  Punk puts Christian in the anaconda vise.

This last awhile, as its going to knock Christian out.  Christian has to yell in pain - but Punk only releases the hold when Edge appears at the top of the aisle.

Edge starts walking to the ring, yelling at Punk, "you're a goddamn pyscho - let go of my brother, goddamn psycho."

Punk stands, transfixed, Edge continuing to walk to the ring - when Bret jumps in front of him.

Bret sticks a finger in Edge's face - medical now coming to the ring to tend to Matt (who will appear six months later in TNA) and Christian (it will be longer before we see him).  Bret yelling at Edge "you have a title shot - a title shot - you are throwing it away - you get in that ring and it is gone - no title - no triple crown - nothing.  Not a thing."

Edge, frustrated - starts tearing at his hair - Punk growls, snarls - and with the two men staring hard at each other, with Bret in the middle - the show ends.

On RAW the following Monday, Bret cuts a promo - he says the WWF Title match at Summer Slam is one WWF fans have wanted to see for the last two years - it is an historic match; and as WWF commissioner he guarantees it will happen, and will happen without any outside interference.  And who needs to understand that is CM Punk.

Bret demands that Punk show up, on RAW, to have a face to face meeting with his boss, the Hit Man, in this ring. 

Whichever RAW that is - as it needs to be not the go home RAW - but close - Bret comes out to the ring in the main event spot - says he knows Punk's in the building, and he needs to get to the ring.

I don't think Punk's cut a promo in a WWF ring in about a year, so it's sort of a big deal. 

He's unchanged - thousand yard stare, crazy ass hair and beard, he gets in the ring and stands across from Bret.

Bret goes at him - says here's how things are - the main event at Summer Slam is a WWF Title match between Jericho and Edge; it's the kind of match that is everything he believes in as a wrestler - and if he can't deliver that match to the WWF fans, he will have failed as WWF commissioner.

He tells Punk he doesn't care what he wants or how he feels.  He leaves Edge alone until after that match.

Punk pauses.  Then clearly, says "no.  I'm going to hurt him, Bret.  I'm going to take everything he has."

Bret says that's the wrong answer.

At Summer Slam - Punk has a match.  And Bret doesn't believe that after that match Punk will be in any condition to interfere in the main event.  Or do anything else for awhile.

At Summer Slam - Punk will be facing...

And then from the crowd - comes Bryan Danielson.

There's fury in Danielson's face as he comes to the ring - Punk's dead eyes betray no emotion - until Edge starts walking down the ramp.  Danielson's coming to the ring.  Edge is coming to the ring.

Jericho tackles Edge from behind.  And as Punk forgets about Danielson entirely - transfixed with Edge - Danielson is all over him.  Jericho attacks Edge -- Danielson attacks Punk -- the heels each squirm out in a way that propels the two babyfaces toward each other as Danielson falls out of the ring - Danielson and Jericho then yelling at each other - Danielson and Jericho then coming to blows with Punk and Edge coming from behind as security swarms over everyone and a smiling Bret Hart stands alone in the ring.

So - where are we.

WWF Title: Jericho v. Edge
IC Title: Sydal v. Nitro
CM Punk v. Bryan Danielson

5 matches left, Part 2 will be shorter and come out in June; the next TNA show is July; and Summer Slam 2010 will be August, I am likely to wait until real world 2011, or at least until the full card is known.



Anonymous said...

I'm a little surprised you didn't go more in depth with the IC title match: Nitro saying he's going to prove he's better than Shawn by beating the man who beat him for the belt; or Nitro taking exception to Sydal being called the greatest natural athelete in the WWF when he beat Shelton in the best of 7 to settle that issue, for instance.

Jim said...

I did use the natural athlete stuff - and you may have a copy of my notes (where did I put them...) I did plan a reference to Nitro's being angered that Sydal got to take the IC from Shawn and not him; I'm not sure why it didn't make the final version. If I think of it, I'll do some of that in Part 2.

Booyaka said...

I am shocked that when a PPV has Chris Jericho and Bryan Danielson on the same card...Edge will become WWF champion.

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