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 Royal Rumble 2014

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

(9 year anniversary of this blog; for those who have been here awhile, thanks for putting up with me; I'll keep going if you will.  Hell, even if you won't.)

Survivor Series 2013 was here.

Royal Rumble 2014 is headed to you from Pittsburgh.

The main event segment the night after Survivor Series is the announcement of Danielson’s opponent at the Rumble in the aftermath of the draw from the night before.  Throughout the night, without comment from the announce, we see clips from the two previous Montreal matches (Survivor Series ’97, Wrestlemania Silver) when we head to commercial breaks. 

At the end of the night, all 3 members of the championship committee (the three losers, not coincidentally, from the first Montreal match 16 years previous) pop up on the video wall as four men come to the ring and the main event gets announced.

WWF Title: Montreal Match: Bryan Danielson v. Brock Lesnar v. Jack Swagger v. CM Punk
A reminder of the rules, it’s a one fall tornado submission match – winner gets the belt, loser leaves town.

The heaviness of the stakes is illustrated by Bret on the video wall – this isn’t some bullshit stip – when Bret lost, he left and it was effectively the end of his WWF career.  5 years ago Jeff Hardy lost – and he’s not here anymore.  One of the four men in the ring will not be here after the Rumble. (Incidentally, Owen and Matt were the winners, so that's not a great deal either.  Montreal Curse.)

The build looks to tell the story of each guy – Danielson’s at the height of his career, two time WWF champ, and at the most jeopardy here, he’s in a rivalry with both Lesnar and Punk, and you have to believe he’s an enormous scalp for any of the opponents – “the one who cost Danielson his WWF career” is an appellation that is in the first line of a Hall of Fame intro.  For his part, Danielson’s focused on Punk – it’s time to rid GDI of Punk the same way he did Low Ki.  He keeps his belt, he eliminates Punk, and he goes to WM 30 as the best wrestler in the world.

Lesnar and Swagger both have Heyman, and he sets up their strategy, let Danielson and Punk beat the hell out of each other, then beat whichever submits first.  Doesn’t matter which of them wins the belt – as long as they work together, a Paul Heyman Guy is champ and one of our biggest rivals leaves.  

It’s a huge opportunity, a gift.  When talking just to Lesnar, Heyman says of course he’s going to win, he gets his belt back, Swagger’s young, his time will come, he’ll be great to watch Lesnar’s back at WM 30.  When talking to Swagger, Heyman says his time has now, he was the star of Underground, and when he wins the title, Lesnar can watch his back at WM 30. 

Punk says it’s the biggest night of his life, he hates Danielson and feels he has something to prove against Lesnar (note, real world Punk in his recent Cabana podcast talked about concussions, and that’s an element of Punk coming out of that Lesnar match, please recall) he gets one to submit, wins his 4th WWF Title, then beats the other one at WM 30. 

Each man gets a tuneup match on a Fight Night.  A pick your own opponent match.  Danielson beats Sydal.  Swagger beats McIntyre.  Lesnar doesn’t know anyone, so Heyman picks Harper in a No DQ match that’s more competitive than Brock expects, Harper just goes right after him, his brawling style clearly rattling Brock, and the other Wyatts swarm on Lesnar, giving it a 3 on 1 feel (Bray watches) for a few minutes.  Swagger is needed to aid Brock in dispatching Cena and Virgil and Brock eventually regroups and goes over strong.  Heyman says Brock needed this kind of tuneup and needed to learn to trust Swagger when he was under assault.  Heyman is euphoric about this match.  

Brock less so. 

Punk loses to Claudio. 

Claudio goes over everyone he faces as The Hey Movement builds (the giant swing is now called Hey Fever), none as important as this clean win over Punk – Punk is shocked postmatch, having to hear the “Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey” chants directed at him as the show ends.

Montreal Match – probably enough to carry the Rumble.  But there’s more.

IC Title: Triple Threat Match: Dean Ambrose v. Nick Nemeth v. Sheamus
Tags: The Shield (Black/Langston) v. The Wyatt Family (Cena/Virgil)
The Usos v. Fandango Curtis/Ryback/Rowan
Bray Wyatt v. Damien Sandow

The night after Survivor Series, The Shield cuts a “we’re going to the Rumble to be the first tag team in twenty years to hold the title for a year” promo – Young Money just fell short, Division One just fell short – but once The Shield wins at the Rumble, they’ll go to 30 champions for a year.

We cut to the back to see the Usos – Jimmy and Jey ask Reigns if it’s time – he says hell yeah it’s time – and they walk to the ring. 

But they don’t make it – the Wyatts “we’re here” hits and they appear in the aisle to cut the Usos off.  

That’s a full brawl in the aisle, leaving the Shield to momentarily relax – until they’re attacked from behind by three returning men – Nemeth, Sheamus, and Kidd.

That allows a mix and match of four groups in this build, largely to have the kind of workrate matches real world WWE got out of their tag mix at the time. The only matchup to avoid is Usos v. Shield.

We wind up with the Wyatts getting the tag title shot – Cena and Virgil the opponents.  Harper wanted the shot but Bray says he is too valuable in Bray’s corner against Sandow.  At this point, the announce isn’t saying who Virgil is, but he stopped hiding the offense in the match against Defiance, and now it’s more of a “we know who this man is, but we don’t know for sure, so we don’t want to speculate”. 

There’s no rift with the Shield, even though it’s a big match, Ambrose has the IC to defend and just can’t be in the tag title defense – but by now Langston has proven himself as the power man in the trio (Black’s the cross fit monkey with the most seasoning of the group as an ROH Champ, he views himself as the best wrestler in the world, Ambrose is half psychotic with a twinkle in his eye, in the Piper/Pillman line of heels).  Keep in mind WWF tag matches are relaxed rules, so there has to be concern that the rest of the Wyatts will make an impact.

The Usos take the secondary role at the Rumble, but if they beat the Underground group of Curtis/Ryback/Rowan then they get the Shield at 30, whether they are holding the titles or not. 
Speaking of Underground, both Nemeth and (way back at the beginning of 2013) Kidd were taken out by The Shield, they come back with Sheamus who was swerved by Langston back at 29.  So it’s a revenge oriented group – Sheamus and Nemeth both have yet to get rematches after losing their IC belts, so they both get the shot at the Rumble (one fall to that finish, just like the main event). 

It seems like the deck is stacked against Ambrose, but the Sheamus/Nemeth dynamic has changed a little bit.

Nemeth, as you know, is now a babyface – and as 2013 has unfolded, the rest of Underground as essentially gone with him.  But Sheamus has been gone for most of that, and when he left, he was a heel and remains a heel.  Nemeth and Sheamus (and Barrett) was the cornerstone of the Underground alliance, Nemeth was the clear top guy flanked by the other two.  Nemeth won the WWF Title and the Triple Crown, and already prone to cockiness – now he’s a cocky babyface, which adds to the degree his sort of “look at me” pretty boy demeanor might grate on a no nonsense brawler like Sheamus. 

Their competing philosophies are seen in the rest of Underground (so, guys like Curtis/Ryback/Rowan start wrestling like heels, while Sandow, who effectively replaced Sheamus as Nemeth’s guy this year, remains a face).  It isn’t full on warfare or anything, but it clear there’s a difference of opinion that, we wonder, might play out at the Rumble.

The Wyatt/Sandow match is the run off from the mixing and matching among all four of these groups, Sandow is getting moved back to the pack with the return of Sheamus, and Bray notices and makes it a feature of what is a very limited program. 

Fight For Your Right Matches:
Rey Mysterio v. Dos Caras, Jr.
Claudio Castagnoli v. Leviathan Dave Batista
Ka$h Kingston v. Truth Killings

Winners go to 30, losers do not. 

The Mysterio match is about Vickie Guerrero – Rey says he’s watched Dos Caras treat her terribly for a year, and Eddy Guerrero’s widow deserves better.

Vickie gets to be the star of the build – she does her shrill character to mock Rey, and we need to see her as a Miss Elizabeth like woman bullied by a wrestler.  Dos Caras is, as you’d expect, put off by Mysterio trying to get between him and Vickie, he’s edgy, angry in this build, some of that is taken out on Vickie whenever it appears she’s entertaining Mysterio’s claims that she needs to get away from him. 

Claudio’s already been discussed.  “Hey….Hey….Hey….Hey, Hey, Hey, HeyHeyHey”  Batista’s back from Hollywood, he’s got the pink shirt and the sunglasses, he says he doesn’t really know who Claudio is, but he’ll beat him at the Rumble, then go to Mania, maybe win the legends match, hell, maybe win the IC like his good friend Dwayne and take it back to LA for 9 months. 

The other match is part of a build for a specific Mania 4 way; and the other 3 matches take place in the build.

Yoshi Tatsu d. Matt Sydal
Primo Colon d. Epico Colon
Tyson Kidd d. Justin Gabriel

Note the cutthroat nature of these matchups – it’s brother vs. brother (not unlike the top two matches on the Rumble card; it’s Royal Rumble Fratricide) that demonstrates the importance of WM 30 – and these should all be “they’ll do anything to get on the card” matches.

One left, it’s old tag partners from Young Money, Kingston and Killings for a spot in the Mania 4 way. 

Last match:

No DQ: PAUL v. Miz

We find out that there isn’t going to be a spot for the Clique at 30, the first time since Shawn’s first Mania (5) that there won’t be a Clique match – a quarter century of Clique, ended.

In the build are taped pieces from Billy Gunn, Road Dogg, Kevin Nash discussing their favorite Clique memories at Mania.  Miz is pissed at HHH-M, what good is having friends in high places if they can’t even get on the card.  And Hunter’s trying to negotiate with Shawn – as it’s the decision of the championship committee that gets us here.  We get one video wall appearance from Shawn in the build where he has to actually appear for cross talk with Hunter – Hunter has already tried threatening, but we find out that the championship committee has the final say (we understand that it’s what keeps them with WWF as opposed to heading somewhere else) and contractually can’t be overruled by the McMahons. 

Hunter’s able to negotiate a match at the Rumble, if Miz can beat PAUL in a No DQ match, then the Clique gets a spot. 

Here’s the card.

WWF Title: Montreal Match: Bryan Danielson v. Brock Lesnar (w/Heyman) v. Jack Swagger (w/Heyman and Bellas) v. CM Punk
IC Title: Triple Threat Match: Dean Ambrose v. Nick Nemeth v. Sheamus
Tags: The Shield (Black/Langston) v. The Wyatt Family (Cena/Virgil w/Harper)

Fight For Your Right Matches:
Rey Mysterio v. Dos Caras, Jr. (w/Vickie and Ricardo)
Claudio Castagnoli v. Leviathan Dave Batista
Ka$h Kingston v. Truth Killings

Bray Wyatt (w/Harper) v. Damien Sandow
No DQ: PAUL v. Miz
The Usos v. Fandango Curtis/Ryback/Rowan

Not a bad deal.

I’m back in January with the show, then February and March with the build to 30.  


Booyaka said...

So what, if any, are your thoughts on Punk's MMA debut next year?

Jim said...

I don't pay much attention to MMA (not opposed to it, it just doesn't make my cut) but from Punk's perspective, it makes a ton of sense. A win only helps his profile and I assume he gets a friendly booking to minimize the chances of embarrassment. He can lose and I don't know how much that hurts him really. It increases, to my way of thinking, the chance that he returns, as it says "I want to be an athlete" and there aren't many venues outside of wrestling he can do that.

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