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 2

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Part I is here.  

Quick note, links now exist throughout the Counterfactual at the bottom of each post to take you to the next part of the story.  So, were you to start with the first Mania you could get all the way here without leaving the narrative.  

Summer Slam 2014 is headed at you from LA.

WWF Title: Claudio Castagnoli v. Bray Wyatt (w/Harper)

Quite different trajectories for the two factions in question as we hit Claudio’s first title defense.  The Wyatts are ascendant, the broke up Defiance, Bray retired Rey and took his mask, and then Bray/Harper finished 1-2 at the battle royal. 

On the other hand, consider the losses GDI has taken over the last year; Steamboat’s now a very rare part timer, Hero’s gone, then Punk, now Sydal and Tatsu and maybe Danielson.  GDI is Claudio, Pac, and Generico.

This doesn’t go overlooked by Bray – it’s the guts of a fruitless attempt to get under Claudio’s skin.  Can’t blame him – Bray’s chief weapon is psychological, probing the weakness of opposition, preying upon the doubts that are pre-existing.

Claudio – however, is uncomplicated, he’s not just a happy warrior, he's the Happiest Warrior – so when Bray voices that Claudio’s captaining a sinking GDI ship and the weight of that as his wrestling epitaph is too great for him, he responds that if GDI ends at Summer Slam they’ve had a great time and will all go onto have interesting, productive lives, “but all I can do is say (shrugs) hey” – and that starts the “hey” chants. Those goddamn hey chants.

What isn’t deniable are raw numbers – and the Wyatts take advantage in the go home RAW, beating GDI in a handicap 4 on 3 match, Bray pinning Claudio, and pummeling Generico and Pac to the extent that we’re told on the go home Fight Night that they will be unavailable at Summer Slam.

That means Claudio stands alone against a 4 man Wyatt Family at Summer Slam. Will the numbers be too much and propel Bray Wyatt to the WWF Title? 

Extreme Rules Match: Brock Lesnar v. Rob Van Dam

A few weeks after he and Kenta killed GDI at the battle royal, we’re told that Lesnar will be wrestling a returning Van Dam at Summer Slam. RVD no longer has long hair, Swagger and Heyman cut it off last year.  Van Dam appears on The Heyman Hustle, it’s his only appearance in the build – Lesnar makes no appearance after the battle royal. But hold off on that for a moment.

Heyman does a couple of Heyman Hustles, the first is the RAW after the battle royal with just he and Kenta where he explains his actions, propels everything forward – says he has not spoken to Brock except for in this ring since before Mania – he has been with Brock every single step of his career for the last ten years and has no idea where his head is right now but if we never saw him again we shouldn't be surprised (the RVD match hasn't been announced yet)

Brock came back to WWF because Paul asked him to – and because Brock decided he wanted to prove he was a better man than Danielson.

So – now that’s over, he has no idea what comes next.  He just hopes that Brock took the small gesture of Kenta’s aid as partial payment for past mistakes.

Heyman then turns to Kenta – he says Kenta also came to WWF to prove he’s a better man than Danielson – he talks some Japan, discusses Kenta as protege of the immortal Kobashi, as the true heir to the throne of greatest professional wrestling in the world, the All Japan Pro Wrestling company started by Giant Baba.     

Heyman says now – Kenta goes back to Japan; in fact, Heyman says, they’re both going back.

When Heyman leaves – there’s no indication at that point that he’ll ever return.  Bye to all of this!

Then we find out about the RVD/Lesnar match.

And a couple of weeks later, the Heyman Hustle with RVD.

Heyman is very serious – brings Van Dam out, Van Dam’s in street clothes.  Heyman says he wants to talk to Rob as someone who has known him for twenty years.  He tells Rob he needs to pull out of the match – he knows its embarrassing, but it’s better than the hospital bed he’s about to spend the rest of the year in.  Heyman says whatever back and forth they’ve had needs to stop now – it’s not 1997, it’s 2014, and he’s about to get badly hurt.

Van Dam says the one thing in his life he took the most pride in was being the last ever ECW Champ – that he believed all the stuff Heyman sold about rebellion and individuality.  Van Dam says he’s a square peg in a round hole, except for those years in the Bingo Hall. 

And Paul sold that title to WWF, sold the company, gave up that legacy and Van Dam spent his best years in some large corporation. Van Dam says he doesn’t care if this is his last match, he wants to end his career and end the legacy of ECW where it belongs – not with Heyman, but with the wrestlers who build ECW.

Heyman says says he has the ECW title belt, and he’ll just give it to Van Dam if that's what it takes for this to not happen– Paul says Van Dam’s talking about wrestling, but he’s not hearing what Paul’s saying – Paul’s talking about Van Dam’s life.  This isn’t Shawn Michaels or Kurt Angle or Taz or Cactus Jack or Sabu – Brock’s not a pro wrestler, he’s not looking to pin you. He’s looking to hurt you.  You’re going to get badly, hurt, Rob.  Badly hurt.

Van Dam tells Heyman to tell his man to bring all he has – and tells Heyman to bring him his title belt once he wins. Brock Lesnar returns to a WWF ring for the first time since the battle royal - at Summer Slam.

IC Title: Ladder Match: Nick Nemeth v. JerichoDeath

Harper was the runner-up in the battle royal, exiting at the order of Bray – but that earned him the IC shot, right?

Bray makes him give it up.

A slot at XXX was so prized wrestlers had to “fight for their right” just to be on the card, Claudio, now the WWF Champ, had to beat Batista at the Rumble to get a slot.  Harper could have had a shot, but Bray said he was needed to be the powerhouse enforcer on the outside and so couldn't be in a match – and it worked, he played a pivotal role in both Wyatt wins at Mania.

Now that Bray is wrestling for the title – why wouldn’t you think he’d still want Harper at ringside?

Like the scene in the ring at the battle royal – Harper doesn’t want to go along, he shakes his head, he looks like he might refuse – but eventually he gives in.

So – Nemeth needs a new opponent.  Since Mysterio left after XXX, Nemeth has been the only Triple Crown winner on the roster – that’s been referenced a few times by the announce.  Nemeth cuts a promo from on top of a ladder in the ring – he’s full on cocky babyface, really putting himself over, and when he makes a reference to the Triple Crown the lights go out.

And when they come back on – Jericho’s on top of the ladder, and he knocks Nemeth off.
Subsequently, Nemeth will cut cocky promo – telling Jericho that the 7th grade version of Nick Nemeth would be super stoked about wrestling Jericho for the IC Title – but the Triple Crown version of Nemeth thinks Jericho should join the other Triple Crown winners on the Championship Committee and leave wrestling to wrestlers.

And then the lights go out – and when they come back on there’s a ladder in the ring.

They go out again – and when they come back on Jericho’s on that ladder, with Nemeth’s IC belt.

The announce raises the possibility that in a ladder match maybe Jericho’s – whatever Jericho is now – will be too much even for Nemeth to overcome.  Jericho returns at Summer Slam.

Tag Titles: The Shield (Ambrose/Black w/Langston) vs. Direct to Video (Orton/Miz w/HHH-M)

The story with the tag titles is now The Shield’s march to history; a win here and they go by the Road Warriors and the Steiners and would trail only the Hart Foundation for longest WWF tag title reign.  Orton and Miz are a mismatched act put together based on their eliminations at the battle royal – Ambrose snidely says they only thing they have in common is failed movies, and Direct to Video becomes a joke name that then becomes their actual name.

D2V (cause, shorthand) recognizes that they’re outmanned with Langston able to serve as the power man on the outside (tag matches are, a reminder, “relaxed rules”). Miz says he’ll take care of it – there’s some singles match, let’s say Orton vs. Ambrose, Langston appears on the ramp – but he’s taken out by Hunter, and then Miz interference allows for an Orton win.

Orton’s spent his career fighting against all authority figures, so he isn’t jazzed about Hunter, but gives in begrudgingly as this mismatched team, maybe, starts to gel a little bit.  The Shield continues their claim as the greatest tag team of all time at Summer Slam. 

Jack Swagger v. John Cena (w/Harper)

Swagger hopped into the Wyatts business at the battle royal - and they continue to feud following, as what we’re trying to do is turn Jack again, and the Wyatts are clearly heels.  

Bray really isn’t involved here, he’s got bigger fish, so this is driven by Cena – the Cena character now starts to head toward a parody of his real world character; he’s been convinced by Bray that he should have been one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, and now he starts calling himself a 15 Time World Champion.  Not all the time – but occasionally he just slips it in.  He’ll reference Make A Wish.  The announce attributes this to Bray’s mind control.  Cena’s just losing any tether to reality. 

Swagger is completely silent – he says he’ll let his wrestling speak for itself.  Speculation about his save of Nemeth in the battle royal begins, Nemeth doesn’t address it at all.  

Swagger’s fighting uphill in this feud as Harper and Dustin get involved – Cody gets in on Swagger’s side, as his feud with Dustin continues in this stretch.  They'll wrestle in a dark match.  

Roman Reigns Uso v. Rusev (w/GHB and Lana)

Reigns and Rusev’s battle from the battle royal continues here.  Reigns is frustrated, the Usos chased the Shield for a year but failed to beat them at Mania.  He gets some squash wins in the build – Rusev has nothing but squash matches himself; the two men are kept totally apart. 

GHB voices the Fox News talking points "Obama’s a socialist, America’s become weak, there’s a War on Christmas" in a way designed to demonstrate their lack of intellectual content, Rusev and Lana are as owned at right wing politicians are by the Koch Brothers.  Rusev is GHBs fantasy a real man, a Cold War Russian, where the normals still know their place. Two powerhouses, Reigns and Rusev, square off at Summer Slam.

AJ Lee v. Paige  

AJ beat Natty in the first women’s match in WWE PPV history and then was attacked by Paige, from Underground – they’ll wrestle at Summer Slam.  AJ has a couple of “they should burn this whole place down” promos in the style of real world Punk pipe bombs – Paige says Underground has taken over the WWF and that continues on the women’s side in the first ever women’s match at Summer Slam.

Perejas Increibles: Claudio/Nemeth v. Bray/Swagger

A Summer Slam tradition, Claudio and Bray each got to pick someone else from the card as a tag partner.  As champion, Claudio was given first pick and took the IC Champ Nemeth – Underground and GDI together for the first time.  Bray then, surprisingly given that Cena is on the card, chose Cena’s opponent and Nemeth’s former partner, Swagger.  This raises all sorts of speculation – is Bray recruiting Swagger, was Nemeth right to be suspect of Swagger at the battle royal – what’s going to happen here in the opener?

And then late in the build we hear that Kenta will be returning for a dark match (he can't contractually wrestle on the PPV, that's the idea).  

That’s the show.  

See you in August for Summer Slam 2014

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