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 Survivor Series 2015

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Summer Slam was here.

Survivor Series is coming next month from Atlanta.  Let’s put the following card together.

WWF Title: Kevin Steen (w/Claudio) v. Nick Nemeth
IC Title: Bray Wyatt v. Dean Ambrose
Tags: Sheamus/Barrett v. New Day (Langston/Kingston w/Woods)
Pac v. Kalisto
Women’s Title: Paige v. Charlotte Flair
Luke Harper v. Dos Caras, Jr. (w/GHB)
Roman Reigns Uso v. Miz
Usos v. Rhodes Brothers

The night after Summer Slam begins with Edge, representing the Championship Committee, suspending Brock for attacking Joey Styles at the conclusion of the PPV.  Brock doesn’t appear – it’s a vignette in an office (Lucha Underground style) with Edge and Heyman.  Here’s what gets established:

-Brock’s gone until the Rumble, at which time he’ll be able to exercise his rematch clause
-Brock’s also got a clause in his contract (thanks to Heyman) promising him a main event slot at WM 32, which is anticipated to be the biggest crowd in WWF history.
-Beyond those matches, Brock will never again get a WWF Title shot, so he’d better win.

Heyman looks at that as excessive, he’s heated about it – but Edge is heated about not being able to fire Brock, he couldn’t get agreement to do that from Shaun and Austin (the other two members of the committee).  Edge also tells Heyman that he doesn’t need to see him around until 2016.
Both men leave heated.

Also heated is Christian, who we learn is not showing up to work in Joey’s absence – Joey, we learn is hospitalized for a couple weeks, then we learn he’s resting comfortably at home – but he does not have a return date. 

He’s replaced by Mauro Ranallo, who some WWF fans will know from New Japan – which, you may recall, got a lot of promotional consideration from WWF in the build for Liger’s working dark at Summer Slam, clips of Renallo from NJPW have already appeared on WWF platforms. 

Ranallo will do Fight Night with Regal, but do RAW alone, as Christian refuses to come back out of anger that Brock was not fired for his actions; speculation builds about his future.

Heyman uses the time away to build his relationship with Devitt and La Sombra (primarily Devitt); every couple of weeks an IPhone video makes its way to the WWF Network showing them hitting random indie promotions – causing a stir, building excitement – we see some moments with Heyman giving advice to Devitt, telling stories about ECW, Devitt eagerly absorbs all he can about what wrestling means in the United States.

The last video is seen live during Dark Ride Wrestling (formerly called GVU) in the go home show, Heyman enters unannounced holding the phone – Devitt and La Sombra follow – Heyman says they aren’t here to watch – they’re here to fight – and they go over Nicholls and Haste, the former NOAH champs, making their debut.

More fallout includes what may be the last appearance of Ricky Steamboat.
Steamboat has an announced in ring promo on RAW a couple of weeks after Summer Slam.
He says he didn’t screw Brock.  He counted a fair 3 count as anyone could see.
But if he did screw Brock, he deserved it. 

Steamboat says he’s always been thought of by the fans as a good guy – something he’s learned over the years is maybe the good guy doesn’t always have to follow the rules, maybe the good guy just has to do what’s right.  And what was right was Brock Lesnar losing the WWF Title – even if it was to Kevin Steen.

Steamboat thanks the fans – and like Bret did at Mania, says he’s going home.  Flair happens to be at RAW that night and there’s a shot of them embracing in the back. 

Let’s talk some matches.

 WWF Title: Kevin Steen (w/Claudio) v. Nick Nemeth
 Pac v. Kalisto

Two GDI v. Underground matches.  Steen’s feeling himself, he’s the only man currently drawing breath in the WWF who has ever pinned Brock Lesnar and he’s happy to tell you about it.  His levels of browbeating Pac and Claudio reach their apex, he starts calling them trash, repeatedly, for their failure to use the cheating tactics he’s been advocating for months.  Pac has a rematch with Kalisto, Steen says he’s got to rough him up, put him in his place – Pac, even under the mask, evidences anger at Steen’s demeaning him.  Steen wants him to take that anger out on Kalisto.

Claudio, however, seems broken.  He was the happy warrior, bad thoughts seemingly didn’t penetrate him.  But after two pounding losses to Lesnar and now losing to Nemeth, he’s a shell – the “hey movement” a vestige.  Steen’s relentless in calling him trash, Claudio looks so sad.  So sad. 

Sad enough that, at one point in the build, Nemeth interrupts Steen yelling at Claudio.  Nemeth takes offense, says Claudio is his boy – and maybe he’d be happier with Underground.

We haven’t really had any jumps from stable to stable, other than Black being essentially forced to go to Underground – so this is really unusual and it becomes the main talking point of the build.  In the go home Fight Night Nemeth/Sheamus/Barrett beat Steen/Claudio/Pac, with Nemeth pinning Claudio.  Steen really goes after Claudio “trash, trash, trash, trash” – and Regal leaves the announce to hit the ring.

Regal has an Underground shirt which he hands to Claudio – he says they’d love to have him, and maybe after Sunday (Claudio is not wrestling, he’ll be in Steen’s corner in the title match) they will.
So – will Claudio turn on Steen becomes a story point as we head to Survivor Series. 

This also adds to Regal’s level of “cheerleading” on behalf of Underground, which he’s always done, even as an announcer – but now without Christian on the other show to needle him when he does it, Regal’s unchecked and taking a lot of liberties throughout all the builds.

Three more title matches

IC Title: Bray Wyatt v. Dean Ambrose
Tags: Sheamus/Barrett v. New Day (Langston/Kingston w/Woods)
Women’s Title: Paige v. Charlotte Flair

After a 2 ¼ year run, the longest title run for any belt in modern WWF history, The Shield lost the tag titles at Summer Slam when Langston turned on them, severely injuring Black in the process. 
Ambrose, the next time we see him, has a repackage – near music, new gear, he enters from the back – he says maybe people expect him to dedicate his life to avenging those who did him wrong. 


Ambrose says “who should I jump – Langston and his 2 new friends, Sheamus and Barrett and all of Underground? – I’m crazy but I ain’t crazy.”

Ambrose says instead, he’s going after another belt he wants back – the IC belt.

And that starts Bray/Ambrose.  The Wyatt Family is now just Harper (Sandow) but he remains in a war with Luke Harper – Luke attacks Harper at one point in the build, they have a couple of wild brawls – both men generally looking over their shoulders. 

Meaning, Bray is sometimes alone, a rarity in his career – and Ambrose is now totally alone, having lost both of his partners in one night – so that becomes the storyline, two men used to having a family, two men who previously met in 6 man matches, now both seem a little vulnerable (Ambrose losing the Shield body armor reflects that).  Bray makes Ambrose nakedness explicit, his “mind games” with Dean center on Ambrose about to get exposed, about to show that he was the weak link, that the Shield was really about Black.  Ambrose is more action than talk, he shows that Bray isn’t as protected as he used to be by attacking him in various locations – say during a typical Wyatt vignette, Ambrose shows up in the barn to attack Bray.  That’s pretty cool, I think – picture one of those Wyatt family taped pieces, but it’s just Bray, he’s doing a spooky monologue and out of nowhere he’s jumped by Ambrose. 

The Shield, as mentioned, lost their tag straps when Langston turned – he immediately then turned on Sheamus and Barrett to join Woods and Kingston to form the New Day.  They’ve been a serious act, and Langston’s been a serious wrestler – but that starts to change now, he’s better at being a lighter character and New Day starts to lighten up.  One way to do that is with a catchphrase – and it’s going to be “Check your privilege” (privilege check also becomes the name of a maneuver)

So, for example, Woods might say that there’s never been black tag team champs in the modern WWF era.

Maybe that’s during an interview with Renee Young – who brings up Benjamin and Booker and, by the way, Langston.
Woods says they had white tag partners.
Renee beings up Young Money and Rock and DLo.
Woods says Rock’s Samoan
Renee says his dad is Rocky Johnson, Soul Brother Number 1.
Woods says “first of all….check your privilege”.

New Day in a subsequent promo reveals a Samoan heritage chart, with all the Samoans (including Joe) purporting to show how they’re all related. 

And – Kingston, say, loses a singles to Sheamus.  Renee asks him what happened – “first of all, check your privilege”

Eventually, that can be a babyface catchphrase with which the crowd chants.  That doesn’t happen yet, but down the road.

Sheamus and Barrett largely talk about beating The Shield, Langston turning on them is an irritant, they talk about the 2 ½ year title run they’re about to go on.  Sheamus and Barrett – tag team champions until 2018!  What could go wrong?

Despite what might be perceived as shenanigans at Summer Slam, Flair is able to keep 4-Ground together as two of its members meet for the Women’s Title.  He stresses that they are a family – and that’s the most important thing, more important that money or fame or even titles is that they stay a family and after Survivor Series, no matter who wins, that has to stay true. 

Flair says he won’t come to ringside for the title match, even though Survivor Series is going to be in Atlanta, and the people in Atlanta obviously have a special relationship with Ric Flair – he wants Paige and Charlotte to wrestle and however it goes, everyone should feel good about the outcome.  What could go wrong?

Here’s the rest of the card.

Luke Harper v. Dos Caras, Jr. (w/GHB)
Roman Reigns Uso v. Miz
Usos v. Rhodes Brothers

Dos Caras made his return at Summer Slam as part of GHBs stable; he cost Luke his match against Rusev and now the two of them square off.  GHB talks about building a wall between the US and Mexico with a door that goes both ways; great men like Dos Caras, Jr. come in – and losers like all you fans head out.  As mentioned earlier, there are a couple of brawls during the build between Luke Harper and Harper – just the idea of Sandow now living as if he were Luke Harper drives Luke to distraction. 

Reigns promised after Mania to destroy Direct to Video, he took Orton apart at Summer Slam and now the Miz is next.  Miz taunts and runs, ducks and hides during the build – Reigns, largely silently, just keeps moving forward.

Usos and the Rhodes are both making babyface returns at Survivor Series – we get highlight packages for both (Usos are exciting and young, still trying to become champs; Rhodes are finally back together, their father has passed away, and this is one last chance for the family name to earn some gold).  Pure babyfaces both – both teams stay away from TV except for the taped pieces until the end when they appear to shake hands in mid ring. 

That’s the show.

Over on Dark Ride, there’s a Samoa Joe/James Storm program that we talked about at Summer Slam that ends with Joe destroying him.  The Jack Swagger led American Alpha feuds with Jamie Noble’s duo Gargano/Ciampa.  There’s Crews, the Revival, there’s Asuka and Bayley, all on Dark Ride Wrestling, Wednesday’s nights on the WWF Network. Flair makes an appearance on Dark Ride with Arn, he calls out Joe - Flair's deferential, he knows Joe isn't ready to hear him right now - but Flair knows that he once looked Joe and his friend in the eye, shook their hands, and passed down the leadership of the greatest name in the history of wrestling - the Four Horsemen.

(if you followed TNA, you know this, there was a robust Horsemen group led by Bobby Roode and Joe, that's the friend that Flair refers to)

Flair says he saw what happened to Storm, but Storm isn't the same as this other guy - and all Flair wants to say to Joe is he knows that one day he'll be at home on his couch and the group running WWF won't be GDI or Underground or Paul Heyman Guys - it'll be the Four Horsemen.

Joe tells the old men to get out of his ring before he leaves them laying.

That’s your show.  Steen defending against Nemeth, the Pac/Kalisto rematch, Charlotte Flair challenging for the Women’s Title in Atlanta.  Call your cable company! 

WWF Title: Kevin Steen (w/Claudio) v. Nick Nemeth
IC Title: Bray Wyatt v. Dean Ambrose
Tags: Sheamus/Barrett v. New Day (Langston/Kingston w/Woods)
Pac v. Kalisto
Women’s Title: Paige v. Charlotte Flair
Luke Harper v. Dos Caras, Jr. (w/GHB)
Roman Reigns Uso v. Miz
Usos v. Rhodes Brothers

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