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 2014 - Part I (Battle Royal 13)

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Wrestlemania 30 is here.

Every other year WWF does a number one contender’s battle royal.

Here's the history.

Battle Royal 1
1991 – Following WM VII (why not earlier?  I didn't think of it earlier.)
First two entrants:  Hawk and Animal.
First elimination: The Barbarian, by the Road Warriors.
Most eliminations:  Undertaker – 10
Longest Performance- Shawn, 1 hour.
Final 4 Eliminated: Shawn, Bret, Taker, Sid
Winner: Davey Boy

Battle Royal 2
1993 – Following WM IX
First two entrants: Owen and Shawn
First elimination: Doink, by Owen and Shawn
Most eliminations: Luger – 7
Longest Performance: Shawn, 1 hour 10 minutes
Final 4 Eliminated: Owen, Perfect, Savage, Shawn
Winner: Razor

Battle Royal 3
1995 – Following WM XI
First two entrants: Waltman and Bob Holly
First elimination: Holly, by Hunter
Most eliminations: Davey Boy – 6
Longest Performance: Waltman – 35 minutes
Final 4 eliminated: Davey Boy, Candido, Shawn, Razor
Winner: Hakushi

Battle Royal 4
1996 – Following WM XII
First two entrants: Billy and Bart
First elimination: Marty, by Al Snow
Most eliminations: Austin – 7
Longest Performance: Owen, 45 min
Final Four eliminated: Cactus, Taker, Davey Boy, Austin
Winner: Owen

Battle Royal 5
1998 – Following WM XIV
First two entrants: Rock and HHH
First elimination: Mr Aguila, by HHH
Most eliminations: Austin – 9
Longest Performance: Rock, 52 min.
Final four eliminated: Taker, Regal, Shamrock, Austin
Winner: Cactus 

Battle Royal 6
2000 – Following WM XVI
First two entrants: Angle and Bob Holly
First elimination: Crash, by Angle
Most eliminations: Angle – 8
Longest Performance – Angle, 1 hr, 6 min.
Final Four eliminated: Snow, Eddy, Angle, Jericho
Winner: Rock

Battle Royal 7
2002 – Following WM XVIII
First two entrants: Jericho and Edge
First elimination: Regal, by Jericho and Booker
Most eliminations: Diesel, 8 (many in coordination with the rest of the Clique)
Longest Performance: Shawn, 46 min
Final Four eliminated: Taker, RVD, Flair, Shawn
Winner: Rey

Battle Royal 8
2004 – Following Summer Slam 2004
First two entrants: Tajiri and Yang
First elimination: Yang, by Benjamin
Most eliminations: Leviathan, 12 (many in coordination with the rest of the Horsemen)
Longest performance: Chavo, 35 min
Final four eliminated: Leviathan, Jericho, Chavo, Christian
Winner: Eddy

Battle Royal 9
2006 – Following Summer Slam 2006
First two entrants: Punk and 2 Cold
First elimination: Kennedy, by Carlito
Most eliminations: Lashley, 5
Longest performance: Punk, 1 hr 20 min. 
Final four eliminated: Fit, Orton, Edge, Jeff
Winner: Punk

Battle Royal 10
2008: Following Summer Slam 2008
First two entrants: Nitro and Santino
First elimination: Santino, by Nitro
Most eliminations: Edge, MVP 4
Longest Performance: MVP, 42 min.
Final Four eliminated: Matt, Leviathan, Jeff, Edge
Winner: Jericho

Battle Royal 11
2010: Following Summer Slam 2010
First two entrants: Ryder and Chavo
First elimination: Slater, by Danielson
Most eliminations: Danielson, 11
Longest Performance: Danielson, 42 min.
Final Four eliminated: Nemeth, Caras, Rey, Low Ki
Winner: Swagger

Battle Royal 12
2012: Following Wrestlemania XXX
First two entrants: Kidd and Pac
First elimination: Kingston, by Kane
Most eliminations: Punk, 5
Longest Performance: Black, 40 min.
Final Four eliminated: Sheamus, Nemeth, Claudio, Hero

In my head, it’s the Royal Rumble, and what I call the Royal Rumble I think of as Justice Sunday.

I’ll use this opportunity to give a little background about each guy, largely for the benefit of newer readers.  This is part one of the build to Summer Slam 2014; I’ll be back in July with the card.

This match takes place about a month after WM 30, it’s on Fight Night, which is our Smackdown.  

Joey Styles is the voice of the WWF, he’ll be broadcasting with Steve Regal, his Fight Night partner, and they’ll be joined by the new RAW analyst, Christian. 

The winner, as always, gets the title shot.  Two additional stips this year – the last man eliminated will get the IC shot, and two eliminated wrestlers, chosen at random, will be paired together to wrestle for the tag title shot. 

Claudio Castagnoli is WWF Champion, he beat Bryan Danielson at XXX – Claudio, along with GDI (God Damn Independent, a stable started years ago by Punk, now “owned” by Steamboat, who is no longer a regular character) stablemates Generico and Pac, are wrestling overseas tonight.  Generico and Pac are both masked. 

That’s really all that you need to know as we head to this match, taking place sometime in May of 2014. 
1.       Tyson Kidd
-Kidd, wearing headphones, a skullcap, and a novelty t-shirt (some sitcom, say Parker Lewis Can’t Lose) enters.  Kidd’s a heel, he’s in the Underground stable.  WWFUniversity or WWFU is developmental (how long has it been around? Taz was head trainer) which is largely known as Underground.  A couple of years ago, all of the Underground graduates and trainees banded together under Regal’s leadership to form a giant stable.  Kidd’s an anomaly, he was sent back to developmental despite having main roster success by Bret, back when  Bret was the WWF Commissioner (currently, Bret, Shawn, and Austin form a rarely seen Championship Committee that serve as the figurehead authority).  So, Kidd became part of the Underground group and remains aligned as such. 

2.       Ka$h Kingston
-Kingston’s a babyface; he and Killings debuted as part of Floyd Mayweather’s posse back in that WM program; they’d go onto win the tag belts as Young Money.  Kingston now is a daredevil who is willing to face large odds, including on the short side of handicap matches, largely just out of fearlessness.  Kingston beat Kidd and two others in a tables match at XXX – but as the announce will mention tonight, maybe this feud continues. 

3.       Fandango Curtis (w/best dancing Diva)
-Curtis is also part of Underground, he’s using essentially the same gimmick as his real world counterpart. I don’t know which diva can dance, but it would be the only factor in who is paired with Curtis. 

4. Roman Reigns Uso
-Business picks up.  Reigns is his real world gimmick, save that he is a brother of Jimmy and Jey, the three of them a tag unit that spent a year stalking the Shield, only to lose their title match at XXX.  Jimmy and Jey were matching outfits, Reigns does not, some version of the same color scheme, but he’s clearly positioned differently as the unquestioned leader of the unit.  He’s pissed here, the XXX loss still on his mind, and he takes it out on the ring – he hits power stuff on all three guys.

5.Justin Gabriel
-Gabriel is a member of Underground, he and Kidd most recently tagged under the Empire umbrella (Wade Barrett is the founder of that faction, but he’s injured). Gabriel’s time is growing short – he takes the Superman punch right upon entry into the ring.  All four other men still laid out by Reigns when #6 enters.

6. Rusev (w/Lana and GHB)
-Okay, this is a debut.  GHB is Bradshaw, a former tag champ (he and Booker held the belts; he’s obscenely wealthy and promotes right wing causes) who has been away for years.  GHB comes out in the limo the night after Mania.  He says life is not fun anymore with the Kenyan socialist in the White House – sure, the stock market is up to 18,000 so he’s made a ton of money, and sure the auto industry was saved and Bin Laden was killed – but there’s just something about the current occupant of the White (he slightly emphasizes that word) House that just doesn’t feel right to real Americans like himself.  GHB says the realest Americans now are in Russia, with a real man like Vladimir Putin and a good Christian government.  No one says “I now pronounce you Yuri and Steve  in Red Square.”

That’s why, GHB says, I’m returning to the WWF – as a manager – of the only real man left in this sport.  A Russian. 

He then introduces Rusev, who, along with Lana, exits the limo.

And that’s the act – going forward, Lana does her shtick, GHB hits the Fox News talking points, and Rusev stands there.  They make a couple of appearances to cut promos prior to the battle royal, but this is advertised as Rusev’s debut. 

His first act is to step right on Gabriel as he hits the ring – everyone else staggers up, Kidd and Kingston resume their fight – Curtis sees his stablemate being disrespected and goes after Rusev – he takes a jumping side kick and is then tossed over the top rope (30.Curtis, by Rusev)  Reigns watches warily as Rusev then scoops up Gabriel and hurls him over the top (29. Gabriel, which ends this run for him, by Rusev).

Rusev and Reigns go nose to nose.  Kidd and Kingston continue their fight.

7. The Miz
-The Miz is a chickenshit heel; if anyone, real world or otherwise, tries to say he’s not, that person is wrong.  He’s the last surviving full time member of The Clique (he was Hunter’s protégé).  He got the fall for the Clique in an 8 man at XXX.  He doesn’t get in the ring.  Rusev and Reigns now start banging into each other – they alternate hitting the ropes and then forearming the other.  It’s a big man power off in the middle of the ring.  Kidd and Kingston continue. 

PAUL is the Show, currently a babyface, he’s tended to turn back and forth as needed, maybe you’re familiar with the concept.  He’s been feuding with Miz and was on the side of that losing team at XXX; he starts chasing Miz around the ring.  Reigns and Rusev are now hitting each other with boots when they come off the ropes.  Kidd and Kingston trade off nearly eliminating the other.

9. Rowan
-Rowan’s from Underground, he’s having a short life – he enters the ring and Reigns, who had hit the ropes, veers away from Rusev, spears Rowan, and tosses him out (28. Rowan, by Reigns).  PAUL has gotten Miz into the ring, but the chase leaves him winded, and he runs Miz all the way to the ropes, but Miz slips him, and Paul’s unable to control his momentum, and tumbles all the way to the outside (27. PAUL, by Miz).  The video wall flashes TAG TEAM TITLE SHOT signifying that the next man eliminated will get the tag title shot at Summer Slam – that man is the Miz, as Rusev clotheslines him over the top (26. Miz, by Rusev)

10. Primo
-Primo is half of the Colons, they do a hardcore tag act befitting their name.  As he gets to the ring, Reigns eliminates (25. Kingston, by Reigns) and then (24. Kidd, by Reigns) while Rusev kills Primo dead (23. Primo, by Rusev).

Rusev and Reigns have thrown out the ring – they meet again in the middle.

11. Kenta
-If this seems like an action spot, you’ve watched battle royals before.

This is Kenta’s debut – he appeared with much pageantry at XXX, there have been video packages giving his career highlights, and as he walks slowly to the ring after his fireworks package GHB is clearly trying to get Rusev and Reigns to work together – recognizing that one of the greatest wrestlers who has ever lived is about to step into a WWF ring. 

Kenta kicks both their asses – two minutes of Kenta putting both men to the canvas – if he can get either up for the Go To Sleep, he does.  Kenta gets fed. 

12. Bryan Danielson
-Danielson lost the WWF Title at XXX to his GDI stablemate Claudio (leader of the “Hey Movement”) and hasn’t been seen since; he clearly hasn’t shaved since Mania as his hair and beard (for the first time in his WWF career) have grown.  The build for Kenta’s debut has been centered around his claim as “the best wrestler in the world” – and when Danielson stops dead as he reaches the ring – he and Kenta stare hard at each other, Kenta unaware that Reigns and Rusev have recovered and both grab him.  Danielson and Kenta then work with precision as a unit to eliminate both (22. Rusev, by Danielson and Kenta) (21. Reigns, by Danielson and Kenta).

13. Brock Lesnar
-Brock returned to WWF largely to kill Danielson; he’s really the only wrestler who has ever gotten under his skin and Paul Heyman, during the past decade, would pass along Danielson’s high critical appraisal to Lesnar. Brock beat him at WM 29 for the title, Danielson retook in a cage at Summer Slam last year.  Brock and Heyman then had a fracture in their relationship when Heyman decided to align with Swagger instead of Lesnar – Brock beat Swagger at XXX, but didn’t hit Heyman when he had the chance postmatch. 

Brock hasn’t appeared since XXX but Heyman has; he hosts The Heyman Hustle, a Piper’s Pit like interview segment and has done one as part of the build without a guest.  Heyman resets where he and Brock are – he says he has apologized every day, every day he has sent Brock a text, an email, a registered mail, a package – and not a single response.  Heyman says he’s the only guy who has ever been able to talk to Brock, to tame that beast – you fans cheered when Brock and Heyman weren’t on the same side – that should have scared you to death, because the only thing more dangerous than Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman at his side – is a totally unpredictable, totally wild Brock Lesnar all by himself. 

With that as the backdrop – Lesnar appears.  As he comes down the aisle, Kenta communicates to Danielson that the two of them should team up – they both get into fighting stances – and then Kenta kicks Danielson in the back of the head.

Kenta frantically waves for Brock to join him as he stomps Danielson into the canvas. 

Brock clearly doesn’t understand what’s going on.

Then Heyman’s music hits.  And from his boot Kenta pulls out a t-shirt that he then puts on.

Paul Heyman Guy.

Heyman says “for you – it’s for you” – to Brock – Kenta backs away, and Brock begins to suplex Danielson all over the ring.

14. Yoshi Tatsu
-Tatsu is GDI, he’s never going to make it to the ring or to any WWF ring ever again.  As he’s running to the ring, in a full sprint, to help Danielson, Kenta dives over the top rope, intentionally eliminating himself (20. Kenta, self)    

Kenta, ideally, collides heavily with Tatsu, just wiping him out on the ramp – he then hits a Go To Sleep on Tatsu from the ramp to the floor that is sold as the end of Tatsu’s life.  There’s no way he’s getting in the ring (19. Tatsu).

Danielson might be unconscious – he’s hit with an F5 and isn’t moving at all, but Brock shows no inclination to throw him over the top and continues to suplex him.  Heyman starts yelling at Brock to just throw him over the top – Lesnar ignores completely.  WWF personnel is starting to come down the ramp – some are checking on Tatsu, some are getting closer to the ring to yell at Lesnar. 

15. Matt Sydal
-Kenta remains on the ramp, he and Sydal meet in the middle and have a brief fight until personnel distract Kenta (probably Noble and Mercury).   Sydal (he’s also in GDI) hits the ring hard – runs right into a Lesnar right hand, then gets F5’d and dumped over the top rope.  (18. Sydal, by Brock). Danielson staggers to his feet and is thrown over the top by Lesnar (17. Danielson, by Brock). Lesnar stands alone in the ring – Heyman makes the sign for the belt – but Lesnar doesn’t pay any attention, he steps over the top rope and out of the ring (16. Lesnar, self)

Kenta’s now returned to ringside – Lesnar throws Sydal on top of the Spanish announce table, then powerbombs Danielson atop Sydal.  The table doesn’t break – but does after Kenta leaps from the top rope with a double stomp that smashes all three men to the ground.  Sydal and Danielson are going to get stretchered out, both covered in blood – Kenta and Heyman walk off triumphantly, Lesnar ignores everyone – still angry, muttering about Danielson, “he’s dead-  he’s fucking dead” –

16. SG Ryback
-Ryback and Lesnar pass each other on the ramp, Ryback sort of flexes as he goes by, which Lesnar doesn’t appear to notice, but after a few paces Lesnar stops, as if he just realized what happened, and he launches himself at Ryback – knocking him to the ground, he slams Ryback’s head off the steel steps (Ryback is from Underground, by the way) shoves him onto the apron, kicks him underneath the ropes, gets back in the ring himself, then F5s Ryback and throws him over the top rope. The announce explains that the officials are waving him out of the match given his condition (15. Ryback).

Lesnar stands alone in the ring – fans will react as they do – it is, obviously, a moment of singular destruction in WWF history – Sydal, Tatsu, and the great Danielson appear to be dead and someone still has to win this battle royal.

Lesnar exits. 14 still to come.

17. Jimmy Uso
18. Jey Uso

-The other two Usos are next, they slap hands and start to go at it – the announce varies the rest of the night in discussing the importance of the match, someone will go to Summer Slam to face Claudio, someone will face Nemeth, The Miz and a partner are facing the Shield – and talking about what seems like a crippling blow to GDI and the end of the career, perhaps, of the American Dragon. 

19. Dean Ambrose
-Ambrose/Tyler Black/and Langston make up The Shield; the longest running tag team champions in 20 years.  The two dominant factions of recent WWF vintage are GDI and Underground and the Shiels mixes them; Ambrose and Langston are products of the developmental system, Black was forced into developmental to keep his job, and together they turned their backs on everyone, forming the Shield, an island onto themselves, and are running down all historical comparisons.  If they keep their belts at Summer Slam, all that stands between them and being the longest reign ever is the Hart Foundation (the original version, Bret and Davey Boy).  Ambrose takes on both Usos.

20. Cody Rhodes
-Cody's a former tag champ as half of Defiance with Orton; they've largely been heels although did some tweener work when needed, including at the end when they finished up with loss to the Wyatt Family (Rhodes/Cena) at XXX meant that they had to break up.  Cody's going to be babyface going forward and starts to establish that here by joining in the attack on Ambrose.

21. Nick Nemeth
-Nemeth's the IC champ, its his second run, he's also had both the other belts, making him the only Triple Crown winner working full time on the roster; Nemeth's a babyface but also Underground - he was a babyface tag champ with Division One (with Swagger) was the leader of the big Underground creation and became the heel WWF Champ, it's really crowd popularity with his cocky antics and wild bumptaking that turned him face as much as anything else, the rest of Underground eventually planted firmly as heels, and that set Nemeth alone - he took the IC in a ladder match from Sheamus at XXX.  He goes right after Ambrose and the four men have him nearly eliminated.

22. Virgil
-Virgil is Dustin Rhodes, he's a member of the Wyatt Family, all the Wyatt's will continue to demonstrate individual personalities as did they in the build to XXX - Virgil is all grievance, his father was never there, his tag team partner (Austin) turned on him, he was left on the side of the road by every major and minor wrestling company in North America - and then his tag team champion brother had no place for him.  He's given up his name and has found his true family - he goes right after Cody and quickly eliminates him in a way that indicates their feud may continue (14, Cody, by Virgil). This pisses off the babyfaces who had Ambrose eliminated - and they attack Virgil.

23. Harper
-The Wyatt enforcer, he was the only member who did not get a match at XXX, Bray told him he was too valuable as a bodyguard - we're supposed to see that as a huge missed opportunity and a sign of the amount of control Bray has over his crew.  Harper has been protected as a real powerhouse; he was instrumental in all the Wyatt's wins, including Bray ripping off Mysterio's mask at XXX.  He cleans house to get the bodies off of Virgil.

24. Tyler Black
-Black comes to the aid of his partner Ambrose as the ring now splits in half, Shield v. Usos, Wyatts v. Nemeth

25. Damien Sandow
-Sandow's Underground.  Sandow's a curious case; a year ago injuries elevated him to #2 in Underground and he and Nemeth formed a bond, but he's really slipped into the background in 2014, no one discusses this, but he really hasn't been the same since his program against the Wyatts.  He wanders around the ring, seemingly aimlessly.  

26. John Cena
-Bray preys on some type of insecurity, it's how he recruits his members; with Cena it's ego, Cena was a young heel tag champ with Orton, then thought of as a joke by the fanbase, then became a garbage wrestling, cane swinging babyface, his forehead looks like Abdullah the Butchers.  Bray convinced him that he was in his darkest timeline, that a world existed where he was 15 time world champion, making movies and banging Bellas.  Nemeth has a clean shot at superkicking Virgil but the aimless Sandow just sort of stumbles in between them - Nemeth doubletakes, yells at Sandow to move - then superkicks Sandow instead, eliminating him (13. Sandow, by Nemeth) - Virgil is startled by the near miss, and it's his stablemate Harper who takes advantage (12 Virgil, by Harper). Cena gets in Harper's face.

27. Bray Wyatt
-Bray's the leader of this cult, he ended Mysterio's WWF career at XXX and ripped half of his mask off.  He comes in to settle his troops and the 3 men quickly resume the assault on Nemeth.

28. Randy Orton
-Orton's been IC champ and tag champ. almost always as a heel, he shows his level of instant danger by hitting his RKO on Ambrose and tossing him over the top (11 Ambrose, by Orton). The Usos and Orton have Black ready to go.  

29. Langston
-Langston comes in to aid his stablemate and does, eliminating Jimmy (10 Jimmy by Shield) and Jey (9. Jey, by Shield).  The Wyatts have Nemeth ready to go.  One man left.

30. Jack Swagger
-Swagger's once again got his buzzcut; he's the first graduate of Underground and the predicted breakout star - in developmental he was the next Kurt Angle and Nemeth was the guy who carried his bags and banged his sister.  They won the tag titles as Division One - but Swagger didn't join the Underground heel turn and he couldn't fight off the whole group, going under in the Nemeth feud and his career looked star crossed.  Heyman picked him up a year ago, he grew out his hair, maybe smoked a little bit, started banging both Bellas, his robot like persona melted away - but by Mania he and Lesnar had fallen out, Brock went over, Heyman dumped him and here we are, his first appearance since XXX.

Nemeth's about to go over - Swagger suplexes all 3 Wyatts - Bray, Harper,and then Cena who he eliminates (8. Cena, by Swagger) while, a second later the screen flashes TAG TEAM TITLE SHOT and the Shield eliminates Orton (7. Orton, by Shield).  Orton and Miz will team up to take on The Shield at Summer Slam.

6 left - and there's a moment of regrouping.  Black and Langston.  Bray and Harper.  Nemeth and, several feet away, Swagger.

Bray yells for Black and then points at Swagger "Him."  Black quickly gets Langston on board, Harper will clearly follow Bray's lead - Bray then explains to Nemeth "You know who we are  (referring to everyone else in the ring) you don't know who he is anymore."

Nemeth looks like he's calculating - looking at Swagger, then back at the other two duos - the duos then pounce on Swagger, he tries to fight them off, but there are too many as Nemeth stands to the side - and they throw Jack over the top (6. Swagger, by Shield and Wyatts).

Bray then yells for Tyler again - and then points at Nemeth "Him."

Nemeth stays alive as long as he can, he gets pounced on and slips away, pounced on and slips away - catching Langston with a superkick and throwing him over the top (5. Langston, by Nemeth) but then goes over himself (4. Nemeth, by Black and Wyatts).

3 left.  Bray nods to Harper and points at Black "Him" - Black stays alive as long as he can, but eventually the numbers get him (3. Black, by Wyatts).

Bray then points at Harper.  "You."

Harper shakes his head no - the winner gets a title shot - Harper shakes his head no.

Bray grabs Harper's face "You."

Harper shakes his head no.

Bray then turns his back on Harper and outstretches his arms; if Harper wants it - he gets a free shot - he can just throw Bray over the top rope; Harper can just throw him over and get the shot at Claudio at Summer Slam.

But he can't do it - and the second Harper's shoulders slump, Bray whirls around, grabs him and throws Harper over the top.


Bray Wyatt's won Battle Royal 13, he goes to Summer Slam to take on Claudio Castagnoli for the WWF Title; it appears that Harper will take on Nick Nemeth for the IC - a big night for the Wyatt Family is coming at Summer Slam 2014.

Part II of the build comes in July.  Summer Slam in August.

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