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 2013

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Wrestlemania 29 is here.

Summer Slam is in August from Los Angeles

Let’s reset the board as we begin the new wrestling year. 

RAW is the flagship show; it’s bigger than the real world RAW – more video walls, less of a feeling like it is a contained television show and more like an event being covered.  The announcers at a big sporting event aren’t on the same team as the performers, they’re covering the performers, that’s the feel of RAW.

Pre-tapes and backstage stuff look more like TNA than WWE.  Few in ring promos, Renee Young debuts in the old Mean Gene role.  Heyman Hustle serves as the in ring talk show to drive big angles. 

Joey Styles is the voice of the WWF, he does RAW.  Paul Heyman is the analyst, he doesn’t work every week, if Lesnar is on the show, we don’t see Paul except with Lesnar. 

Smackdown is Fight Night; it’s a small show, designed to feel intimate, feel immediate.  It’s almost entirely matches, no in ring promos, no vignettes.  There can be pretape and some clip packages, but it’s a wrestling show.  There’s a greater level of violence on Fight Night (and a greater level of violence in this product overall – it’s not designed for children; hopefully  children watch it – but in the way while 8 year olds watch professional sports and adults also watch professional sports)  

Joey also does Fight Night now that JR is gone.  Steve Regal is the analyst; he remains in charge of developmental, and now that the new facility has been built he’s in Orlando every night except for Fight Night.  His managerial duties for Underground end after an angle the night after 29 that we’ll get to momentarily. 

Main Event is a one match, two at the most card, featuring matchups that aren’t in any of the main storylines.  Zach Ryder can have a year long feud with Yoshi Tatsu that never  gets on PPV, but they can have 15 minute matches on Fight Night and build to them with angles on the website (the Network once it starts) 

NXT is Underground, it’s the same idea, largely the developmental guys and guys on the main roster who came through developmental.  Periodically there’s a GDI takeover, so the guys in GDI who don’t get to work PPV can mix in. Scott Stanford is the voice for both shows. 

The back catalog on the Network, once it starts, can be used to give context to current stories.   If I’m watching online, a click during a Lesnar angle will get me to Lesnar matches from 10 years ago; if I’m watching on TV, you show a clip and voiceover that the rest of the match can be seen on the WWF Network (I don’t know why this isn’t how WWE is using their catalog).

Here’s the Summer Slam card.

WWF Championship (Steel Cage) Brock Lesnar (w/Heyman) v. Bryan Danielson

Lots of space to cover between Mania and Summer Slam, it allows for multiple chapters in the build.

There’s not gonna be a Summer Slam is my favorite Summer Slam beat to hit, it’s a perennial. 

 Here, although Lesnar (who doesn’t work for WWF in storyline, he’s match by match) had a return match clause, he’d holding up the promotion.  Or rather, Paul’s holding up the promotion on Brock’s behalf – Lesnar won’t speak to anyone in the company, whenever someone tries to talk to him (like Foley, still WWF Commissioner, but not for long) Heyman intervenes, dripping with contempt:

The Champ…will not be speaking….with you.

Lesnar smirks throughout all of those interactions; he’s having a good time being champ, as evidenced by his being accompanied all summer by the Bellas.  Also in the entourage is, of course, Swagger, who is starting to loosen up – his hair growing – we see some vignettes (not unlike the Paul/Lesnar take on New York segment to build to 29) where the Paul Heyman Guys destroy clubs – Swagger drinks, the Bellas grind on the Champ – Heyman gets a little loose himself.  They’re riding high. 

Not riding high is Steamboat – within a week after Mania, his run as the face of GDI ends.  GDI meets as they have always done, in an empty arena, every man in the ring – Steamboat apologizes to Punk and says he’s stepping away.  He’s going to go on the road and scout new talent for GDI, but not appear at ringside any longer as he clearly can’t rely on his judgment.  There are protests – but Punk takes control, thanking Steamboat for all he’s done, wishing him well, says he doesn’t hold any grudges, and he gives Steamboat a hug.

Not riding high is Foley – he’s unable even to talk to Lesnar and his frustration increases – he interrupts a special Paul Heyman Guy Celebration; say a Heyman Hustle promoted for a couple of weeks that is designed to be a real excessive segment, maybe it’s a Bellas strip show where they each give Lesnar a lapdance (note, not Swagger). 

It’s interrupted by Foley – Foley says this is a wrestling show, not the Gold Club (or equivalent in whatever city we’re in). Foley demands that Lesnar stop screwing around and agree to the rematch at Summer Slam.  Lesnar whispers something to Heyman – Heyman shakes his head no, they do that a couple of times, and then finally, regretfully, Paul says that the price has just gone up – and now, what Brock wants is a night with Foley’s (unsettlingly hot) daughter Noelle.

Foley lets that soak in – and then he attacks Heyman, getting in as many shots as he can until Swagger peels him off and then hits him with as much of a move as Foley is able to take. 

That’s it for Foley, you can’t attack talent and he is removed from the position.  We’re told that he’s been replaced by a three man committee of WWF legends, they won’t be part of weekly television; they’ll be revealed at Summer Slam, two via satellite and one live in attendance.   

Not riding high is Danielson, he lost the title and now the rematch seems uncertain.  Danielson isn’t broken from the match in the way Punk clearly was from his loss to Lesnar – he’s not getting in the ring, but he seems excited, it’s all just part of what it means to be a wrestler, to live the art – now he gets to experience losing the title and trying to win it back.

There’s another Heyman Hustle, Paul says its to make up for Foley interrupting the strip show – who knows what the Bellas will do? 

This time Danielson shows up – it’s his first confrontation with Lesnar since 29, Heyman attempts to intervene and hit the new catchphrase but Lesnar stops him – Lesnar wanting to have the face to face with Danielson. 

Danielson says Brock can keep screwing around with contracts and with (nodding at Brie) the girls– but when he’s ready to face a real man, there’s one waiting for him at Summer Slam. 
Lesnar laughs, says he tapped him out once, he’ll do it again.

And then Danielson says he didn’t tap out.  Far as Danielson’s concerned, if that towel wasn’t thrown, Danielson would still be wearing the title belt right now.  And who knows (nodding at Brie again) “maybe she’d be with me.”

Lesnar freaks out.  Comes close to taking the fight – Paul has to shove his hand over Brock’s face to keep it from happening.  Heyman tells Danielson he’s pathetic – that if he wants a match – he’s got one, in two weeks, against Swagger.   

So, this opens the floodgates – except for JR immediately after it happened, no one has questioned that Punk throwing in the towel was an issue.  But that’s what Danielson is doing, and now we have tons of speculation – the wrestlers work it on twitter, the announcers all discuss it (Joey steadfastly holds that Lesnar won).  It’s a topic the rest of that RAW, then all week – then into the following RAW.

On that show – another GDI meeting – this one led by Punk, in the ring, without Steamboat (cause he’s gone) and without (noticeably) Danielson. 

Punk is heated – he says he is drawing the line right here – he points to two sides of the ring and wants every member of GDI to declare if they think he screwed Danielson out of the WWF Title or not by walking to one of the two sides.

Everyone, some with hesitation, but everyone, walks over to the side that Punk did the right thing.

Except for Chris Hero. 

Hero is second to last, and Punk gets right in his face after he makes the choice.  Punk says “do you know who I am – I am a 3 time WWF Champion, I started GDI, I would never take the WWF Title away from a GDI brother.” – Hero says “nobody knows you better than I do, that’s why I’m standing right here.”

Claudio’s last, he pauses, but Hero then nods that he should stand with everyone else. 

Hero, note, is a heel  - this has been referenced before, since he returned from his broken arm, he’s been the bad cop in the Kings of Wrestling, while Claudio has been the good cop. 

Punk counts everyone (Sydal is even there, he’s been gone forever, he’s still out, but this shows how important this meeting was, at least to everyone but Danielson) says it’s clear who GDI is standing behind.   Danielson then walks to the ring, gives it a once over, and stands next to Hero.  Punk is angered beyond words, he exits.   

The following week is Danielson’s first match since 29, against Swagger – it’s a non finish, it looks like maybe Swagger’s going to win, as he has an advantage – but Brock, out of nowhere, enters, Heyman seems surprised – Brock pushes Swagger out of the way and hits an F5 on Danielson – then drops a contract on his body and grabs a mic – “I didn’t beat you?  I crushed you.  And at Summer Slam I’m going to do it again – in a steel cage!”

Heyman puts his head in his hands – Swagger looks hard at Lesnar – all three men walk up the aisle and as Danielson comes to he’s laughing, he’s in pain, but he’s laughing.  Joey explains – “it’s a set up, it’s a set up – The American Dragon gets his rematch!”

And as we come to understand over that next week – Danielson goaded Lesnar into taking the deal, appealing to his pride; there’s a pre-tape with just Punk and Danielson, Punk saying “you had me going there, that was pretty good” and Danielson responding “sometimes you don’t have a choice, if there was another way, I would have taken it.”

Later comes another pre-tape; with Punk, now confident that everyone is on the same page, apparently looking to let bygones be bygones with Hero – but Hero instead says “you can fool the fools – but I know who you are ”

It’s Lesnar v. Danielson again, this time in a steel cage.  Lesnar wrestles, of all things, in a pre-match tune up, squashing Kofi.  It’s designed to help Kofi – he shows heart, doesn’t go down easy – it’s like a 5 minute match where he gets in one ridiculously crazy spot, he kicks out of some nearfalls.  It’s supposed to help, even as he’s getting squashed.

The other thing is Heyman, after the attack by Foley he starts wearing a neckbrace and Swagger starts standing behind him at the announce table as his bodyguard. 

IC Championship: Nick Nemeth v. Christian

The big angle the night after 29 is the Triple Crown ceremony; that’s when the previous winner of the Hart-Guerrero Memorial Triple Crown hands the trophy over to the new winner, who will keep it until the time that another wrestler accomplishes the feat. 

And that means the return to the WWF of Edge.

Gone two years – just disappeared cold after the RAW following 27 – and now his music hits.  Edge was a heel forever, it’s been a long time since WWF fans got to cheer him – and I’d suggest there will be a sustained ovation. 

He cuts babyface promo – glad to be home, puts over Nemeth, Edge says he had to break his neck, literally, to win the Triple Crown – and the guy he’s about to introduce makes it look easy.  Edge introduces Nemeth, who enters in streetclothes with Regal and Sheamus, whose shoulder is heavily bandaged.

Nemeth cuts less cocky than normal babyface promo – the Triple Crown’s a big deal, nothing can ever take it away – Nemeth puts over Underground, says they’re his blood. 

And now Edge pivots. 

Blood is an interesting word, he says, he knows all about having a wrestling family – because Edge, even today, is in the Clique. 

The reason, Edge says, he hasn’t been around in two years is because Nemeth’s blood, Underground, ended his career.  Edge then points to Sheamus – “and that guy, your blood, walked around here for a year calling himself the Clique Killer.  My blood got spilled all over this ring, Nick.  My blood. “

Sheamus waves him off, “this isn’t the time.”

Edge doesn’t relent.  “The thing is if you’re going to call yourself the Clique Killer – you better make sure you finished the job. “

And that’s when Miz and HHH come down the aisle and into the ring.  “I’m not dead.  And these guys aren’t dead.”  Edge then gets into Nemeth’s face “And worst of all for you – he’s not dead”

Edge points up the ramp – Christian’s music hits – he runs down the ramp – Miz and HHH grab Sheamus and hurl him, shoulder first, into the turnbuckle mimicking the way Underground took out both Edge and Christian two years ago.  Ideally Edge would spear Regal – but if he can’t he can just punch him to the ropes and clothesline him out of the ring – and Christian cleans house on Nemeth, getting in multiple shots and then knocking him to the outside.  Nemeth and Regal don’t have time to regroup – they need to gather Sheamus, who was already injured – and get him to safety – Christian grabs the IC belt (not the Triple Crown trophy – that’s a prop bigger than this angle) and holds if high in the air.

That’s obviously a babyface spot for the Clique – it continues through Fight Night when Christian returns to the ring in a six man with HHH/Miz against 3 guys in Underground, none of whom are Nemeth.  Edge sticks around to manage that one so they can end with all four guys standing tall in that show too.  But as the months go on, the reason to stick Christian with clear heels Miz and HHH is that’s what it’s going to take to turn him.

What gets established is Christian’s incredibly bitter – he got thrown off of a Cell at Wrestlemania 20, and now we’re approaching Wrestlemania 30.  9 years, 9 lost years – Christian’s never won  a singles title in WWF – while a guy like Nemeth can just waltz in and in a couple of years become an immortal. 

Christian loses two more years on his career with Nemeth and Underground take him out – he comes back and its Nemeth who is getting cheered.  He’s done with the fans – he’s done playing this game. 

A bitter veteran Christian vs. the cocky hotshot babyface riding high is the storyline – they can mix together multiple times, there are lots of Underground vs. Clique matchups to do all summer long (Edge is gone after that first week, he doesn’t work here).  This serves to turn all of Underground babyface, albeit not at a high level – but they all essentially flip by virtue of being with Nemeth.  Sandow benefits the most from the absences of Sheamus and Barrett (also injured) and he demonstrates value. 

One more event for Nemeth, unrelated to this program, we’ll see that next. 

Tags:  (No DQ) Shield (Ambrose/Langston) v. Defiance

The Shield’s been a babyface act, not in its origin, Black got brainwashed, or re-educated, while forced to compete on the Tough Enough reboot to save his job, and abandoning GDI isn’t a babyface move.  But attacking Underground, particularly in the way they’ve done over the past several months is – and the triple powerbomb of the Rock doesn’t really hurt that status. 

Defiance is generally a heel act, really moving up and down the continuum depending upon the opponent; there’s no chance to get them cheered and the Shield booed in this program – but the booking will shade that way, the Shield will be scornful of the crowd adoration and Defiance will play it pretty straight. 

There are 6 guys involved here so that’s plenty of matchups all summer – including some 6 mans that will really be what this match is designed to look like, even though Black and Bernard aren’t officially in the match, but the No DQ stip sort of promises that it’s a 6 man.

Two more items – The Usos look for revenge for the attack on the Rock, Jimmy and Jey want to go get the Shield now, but Reigns says wait, wait for the right moment.  And they don’t question Reigns.  Usos feud with Team KTFO, coming off its win at Mania. 

The Shield debuted a new catchphrase at Mania “We take all the turns” – we see that play here twice, the Shield surrounds Nemeth at one point when he’s isolated, Ambrose taking the lead – why is it that Christian gets this IC shot – how about a shot for a member of the Shield. 

Nemeth says he’ll take any one of them on at any time.  Ambrose makes clear that’s a promise – Nemeth says there isn’t a man in the WWF he won’t face one on one.  Ambrose extends his hand – Nemeth shakes – the Shield triple powerbombs him and hits the catchphrase.  We take all the turns. 

Late in the build it happens to Swagger –they say they want to send a message to Lesnar, that his title isn’t safe either – they triple powebomb Swagger, which knocks him out of what was a planned Summer Slam match, say against Kofi (which, when its called off is what gets Kofi, at his own volunteering, the match with Brock) and hit the catchphrase.  We take all the turns. 

CM Punk v. Dos Caras (w/Vicki&Ricardo)
This comes fairly late in the summer, I see Renee Young backstage asking Punk, who obviously has been part of the main event storyline, who he will be facing at Summer Slam at the same time Dos Caras (who, recall, beat Punk at the Rumble and then was part of the 29 build for Punk/Jericho) is walking in the background – Punk grabs Dos Caras and throws him into a vending machine then comes back to the interview “Him, I guess.”

Straight babyface revenge match build. 

Bray Wyatt (w/Family) v. John Cena
The Wyatt vignettes, recall, began after the Cena match at 29, that wasn’t an accident.  They continue and start to go after Cena – Bray says Cena is too blind to see it, the years of Wrestlemania bloodbaths covering his eyes, but he lives in his worst possible timeline.  Bray says there’s a world where John Cena isn’t a scarred up freak, but instead a movie star, a hero to children, on the cover of cereal boxes, living in a mansion and having sex with a Bella.  Cena doesn’t see it, the people don’t see it – but Bray sees it, and he can take Cena to that place.

That’s the build – it’s cult leader Wyatt offering a better life to Cena, who, obviously, rejects this notion.

Recall, there is no Rowan, it’s Harper and Virgil, both of whom are masked. 

RVD v. Kane
RVD v. Damien Sandow
Van Dam returns, after years away, on a Heyman Hustle.  Paul puts him over – ECW Champ, IC Champ, legendary ladder matches with Michaels and Mysterio, Paul references that they’ve had their ups and downs (Heyman left the company after losing a feud against Van Dam, see how the Network would be useful there? They’ve got all that old material, they want people to subscribe to the Network, but they don’t connect what they’re doing now with that back catalog – honestly, I don’t understand it) but that he isn’t one to hold a grudge and would like RVD to become the third Paul Heyman Guy.

RVD says no – no offense, but no, he’s not coming back to get involved in politics or wars or factions or any of that stuff – he just wants to hang out with his friends and put on the best show he can.  RVD says at Summer Slam, he’s asked to wrestle twice, because he’s been gone so long he wants to give the fans all he can give them (the two opponents then come up on the video wall). RVD refusing to be in a stable is a reference to his most recent TNA angle, and if you’re aware of that – that’s good product knowledge. 

Heyman says that’s cool – wishes Van Dam well, says to keep his head on a swivel at Summer Slam, Van Dam might not know about how Underground rolls, it’s harder to stand alone then it used to be

Parejas Increibles: Nick Nemeth/Damien Sandow v.CM Punk/Christian

This is a Summer Slam tradition, albeit one that comes and goes as the situation requires.  And the partners aren’t that increible – Nemeth and Punk are named captains, this is a decision explicitly made by the new Championship Committee, whose identities are still secret, but will be revealed at Summer Slam.  Nemeth, as current Triple Crown holder, gets to select as his partner anyone on the card. 

He picks Sandow – they’re Underground brothers, Sandow has stepped up in meaningful ways this summer, and Nemeth ‘s loyalty to the Underground cause is being established during this build.  He’s a prick, but he’s a prick who is loyal. 

Punk picks Christian – they tagged together in the main event of 26 and haven’t had much contact since, it’s a call back to their long program that resulted in Punk’s face turn; now, Christian is the one turning heel and their relationship, always interesting, gives some extra juice to the show.

Which – is now set.

WWF Championship (Steel Cage) Brock Lesnar (w/Heyman) v. Bryan Danielson
IC Championship: Nick Nemeth v. Christian
Tags:  (No DQ) Shield (Dean Ambrose/Langston w/Tyler Black) v. Defiance (Randy Orton/Cody Rhodes w/Giant Bernard)
CM Punk v. Dos Caras (w/Vicki&Ricardo)
Bray Wyatt (w/Family) v. John Cena
RVD v. Damien Sandow
RVD v. Kane
Parejas Increibles: Nick Nemeth/Damien Sandow v.CM Punk/Christian

I’ll be back in July with the next TNA show, then August with Summer Slam 2013


Anonymous said...

Some questions:
1)"but in the way professional sports isn’t specifically geared for an 8 year old and if you watch it as an adult you feel stupid – that’s this too. "
I assume you meant if you watch it as an adult you DON'T feel stupid, right?

2) So when Heyman's managing Lesnar, does someone sub for him on colour or does Joey just fly solo?

3) You had Bray Wyatt wrestle on PPv before under his real name: will counterfactual WWF acknowledge that?

Jim said...

1. I looked at that a couple of times, finally, I just changed the language.

2. Solo this year.

3. No, I think I referenced this at some point when I first mentioned I was going to use the Bray character, I may not have - but no.

Walker said...

I have seen the alternate universe that Bray Wyatt speaks of.

It is not a pretty sight. And I sure as hell don't want to live in it...

Booyaka said...

Ah, yes, that HORRIBLE universe with The Shield and Daniel Bryan and The Wyatt Family and NXT. That shitty, evil nightmare world. Please.

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