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.

Royal Rumble 2016

Sunday, January 01, 2017

The build is here.

Royal Rumble 2016 comes to you from Orlando.  It is the 27th annual Rumble.

(Dark: Joe d. Devitt, Am Alpha d. Revival)

Your announce is Mauro Ranallo and Steve Regal.  It’s Ranallo’s 2nd PPV and Regal’s 12th.  For reference, Jesse did 13.

The show starts with a clip package from the weekend in Orlando with Ranallo/Regal doing a VO – it’s been 8 years since WWF has run an Orlando PPV and in that time Regal has built Underground into a name brand with Orlando as its base city.  Regal has attempted to make Underground the “home team” in Orlando, with years of community outreach on the ground.  Ideally, that pays off here and it’s a hot Underground partisan crowd, not unlike a wrestler’s hometown.  The complaints about Regal doing so much cheerleading and injecting himself in programs, blurring the lines between his role as WWF’s only commentator and the head of Underground should grow louder after this show.

The package ends with a shot of Regal’s office from earlier in the day, Nemeth and Steen both enter.

 The shot seems to surprise Regal and when Ranallo questions why Nemeth, from Underground, and the WWF Champion Steen went to his office at the arena this morning, Regall sidesteps – and then asks Ranallo the question that animates much of the discussion of WWF fans over the weekend – what’s going on with Shinsuke Nakamura.

Nakamura arrived on the go home Fight Night, unannounced, teasing something – and if you care about that sort of thing, that’s dominating the buzz in the building.  Ranallo, of course, had been the US voice of NJPW, something WWF fans would be aware of as, you may recall, in the months building to Liger’s appearance in what is now called Dark Ride Wrestling, NJPW got a ton of seemingly free promotion, including clips from the AXS show.  That served to introduce Ranallo to whatever portion of the WWF audience was unfamiliar with him (before we knew that he’d be taking Joey’s chair) there were also lots of clips of NJPW workers, for example, Nakamura in ways that were designed (before we knew we’d ever see them…er…him…in the WWF) to get those workers over; and there was some intellectual property considerations paid to WWF for all of the promotion for NJPW PPVs – and maybe we’ll find out at some point what those were.

So Regal questions Ranallo – with the idea that given his NJPW connection, he would know why Nakamura showed up on Fight Night.  Ranallo disavows any knowledge.

How about matches.  It’s a good night.

1. Number One Contender Tables Match:  Usos d. Dudleys/Rhodes’
-Considering NJPW, TNA, ECW and WWF, The Dudleys are 10 time tag champs; they returned at the Rumble, interrupting the Usos/Rhodes match to set up this showdown.  The Dudleys first won the WWF tag titles at the Rumble 17 years ago – three years before that, Dustin won the tag titles with Steve Austin at the Rumble.  You have to assume there aren’t too many more chances for all of those men.  However, for the Usos, they’ve come up short in every opportunity to win the tag titles, so this moment might be even more imperative.  They don’t waste it here, the Dudleys are the first to be eliminated when the Rhodes Brothers put D-Von through a table – they then retaliate with a 3D on Cody that makes for an easy elimination then by the Usos.  Everyone in the promotion jockeying for a slot at the biggest WM of all time with 100,000+ expected in attendance in Dallas – it is the Usos who will wrestle for the tag titles.

2. Loser Loses Identity Parking Lot Brawl: Luke Harper d. Harper
-In the beginning, there was Bray and Harper (Luke was not allowed the identity of a first name), Bray turned/brainwashed/recruited Dustin and then Cena, they gave up their identities to form the Wyatt Family.  They all eventually left Bray, Harper added the first name, won the IC title, lost it to Bray, and became embroiled in this feud with Bray’s most recent convert, Damian Sandow.  Sandow came from Underground; he once led a stable, Douchebags, but had seen himself lose ground recently, the profile of someone who becomes easy prey for Wyatt.  Sandow became Bray’s new Harper, adopting the persona of Luke. Their pre-show parking lot brawl at Survivor Series gets us this match – loser can no longer maintain the Harper identity.

Luke goes over, Harper, who now again becomes Sandow, will be enhancement until he leaves the promotion, so Luke can really break him here – some windshields get smashed in this one.  Bray was supposed to second Harper tonight, he isn’t on the card otherwise – but does not appear until after the fall – Bray’s in the driver’s seat of one of the cars in the lot.  He guns the engine.  Is he going to run Luke over?  Is that the next step in this feud?  He does not – he speeds off, driving right past Luke with Harper not flinching as he goes by.

They’ll meet in the opener tomorrow on RAW.

3. Roman Reigns Uso d. HHH-M
The starcrossed Usos lost to Direct to Video at WM31 leading Roman to pledge to destroy each of the 3 D2V members this year.  That’s what happened – Orton at Summer Slam, Miz at Survivor Series and now Hunter.  The announce notes that Hunter has not been a full time wrestler for a few years now, as everyone knows he is part of the WWF front office – and it’s fair to question how many more matches he has in him after a showing like this.  Shots of the McMahon family box allow for some discussion about the state of the campaign – US Senator Linda McMahon is, of course, running for President in the Democratic Primary.

4. Women’s Title: Charlotte Flair d. Becky Lynch
Charlotte/Becky/Sasha/Paige were 4-Ground, a stable managed by Ric, he and Charlote doublecrossed the group to take the title from Paige; Charlotte then dumped Ric and is now on her own, she pulls a foreign object from her trunks to knock out Becky and get the fall.  Sasha comes down the ramp postmatch, helps Becky to her feet – and then goes nose to nose with Charlotte.

5. Tag Titles: New Day (Langston/Kingston w/Woods) d. Rusev/Dos Caras (w/GHB and Lana)
-Langston was part of The Shield, the longest reigning champions in modern WWF history, albeit largely in a bodyguard/enforcer role; he turned on the group at WM31, joining Kingston and Woods in what was then a heel black militant act.  After this program, however, the babyface turn is complete.  The catchphrase “First of all….check your privilege”…is now a singalong with the New Day opportunity.  Theyre like 30% less comedic than real world New Day.  GHB brought Rusev and Lana into the promotion demonstrating the newly found love between the US right wing and Russian strongmen.  Dos Caras was added to the act, GHB arguing that the wall we need to build around the US should also be aggressively used to boot people out.  Beginning at Survivor Series and then during this build, we’ve seen Lana spend as much time managing Dos Caras as she has Rusev – there was one shot of Dos Caras maybe lingering a little too much in watching Lana walk away – and in this match it breaks down in the way you’d expect, Lana’s on the apron, doing her distraction shtick – she’s inadvertently knocked to the floor – Dos Caras leaves his position at the tag rope to tend to her, meaning he isn’t there for Rusev’s tag – meaning he’s distracting Rusev as he scoops Lana up to carry her to the back – meaning Rusev takes the New Day’s finisher and the champs keep their belts.  Rusev’s fuming at GHB postmatch, where’s Lana – why did Dos Caras take Lana – and he sprints to the back.

6. Mask vs. Mask: Kalisto d. Pac
-The blow off match to their long feud, Pac has turned heel in the program, clearly internalizing the browbeating from Steen that he and Cesaro were trash for being insufficiently aggressive in their losing matches.  Kalisto represents Underground, giving the partisan crowd their first chance to really get behind one of their own – Kalisto has to fight from underneath here, does so successfully, gets the fall and then, with the aid of Regal who, unable to contain his enthusiasm hits the ring postmatch, unmasks Pac.

Pac is clearly crushed, with the Generico and Steen matches still to come and Claudio having vanished, he’s left to make the lonely trek back to the ring.  Ranallo, and then Regal when he returns to the announce, talk about how it’s a real stripping of Pac’s identity – that they don’t recall every seeing a wrestler so thoroughly defeated.

7. El Generico d. Chris Jericho
-It’s Generico’s WWF PPV debut, he’s been out of action for about six months from injuries suffered in the War Games match between GDI and Paul Heyman Guys over the summer.  Jericho is now pure veteran babyface – he’s embraced the Bret Hart role as Canadian patriarch; making occasional drop ins in WWF to put over a younger guy.  That happens again here, this is designed to be the best match they can have with Generico getting the fall.  Jericho extends a hand postmatch and the two babyfaces shake.

8. IC: AJ Styles d. Dean Ambrose
-Mystery opponent AJ Styles debuts in the WWF and becomes the 66th IC Champion.

Ambrose was on his second run; the Langston turn on the Shield cost that group their tag titles and put Black on the shelf.  Ambrose pivoted to an IC chase, took that belt from Bray and then challenged the world to try to take it.  That led to the debuts of Cedric Alexander and Rich Swann in this program – and a Mystery Opponent was named for this match.

AJ adds a couple of elements – all the years in TNA have given him an Orlando fanbase, and that adds to the heat for him here.  Two – his IWGP title runs make NJPW the promotion with which he’s most closely associated as of this moment, Regal doesn’t say Nakamura’s name, but there should be allusions/accusations made at Mauro that he knows something he is not saying.

Man, this is a good workrate show.  AJ takes the belt.  He doesn’t go to the back – he goes into the stands to celebrate with the fans and winds up taking a seat in the front row to watch the title match.

9. WWF Title: Brock Lesnar (w/ Devitt/Sombra/Heyman) d. Kevin Steen (w/Generico) /Nick Nemeth (w/Sheamus/Barrett) (Countout)
-No title switch here.  Steen and Nemeth are both counted out in the big angle.

Steen is WWF Champion, he took from Brock at Summer Slam and then kept over Nemeth at Survivor Series. This is a lumberjack match, sort of, and Pac and Generico are supposed to be in Steen’s corner – but there’s no Pac.  The announce says that’s a tough blow to GDI and Steen, but the sight of Pac’s face (and they note his name may not even be Pac anymore) no one can be shocked that he didn’t make it out here.  Generico’s toughness is pointed out, he just won a tough match and now has to go it alone in Steen’s corner.  The Steen/Generico closeness is then noted.

Nemeth is the most recent Triple Crown winner, he’s the leader of Underground so hopefully gets that hometown reaction.  He’s seconded by Sheamus and Barrett, former tag champs who were kept off this show for this purpose.

And then there’s Brock – two time WWF Champ, he lost the title in a controversial fashion at Summer Slam and responded by killing Joey Styles, ending his WWF run and earning a suspension that ends right now.  He’s managed by Paul, obviously, and the other two Paul Heyman Guys, Sombra and Devitt, who we saw Heyman grow close to in Brock’s absence, second him.

The product of that Steen/Nemeth meeting with Regal becomes obvious, they gang up on Lesnar, it’s a 2 on 1 match until they can get Brock forced from the ring, at which point there’s a brawl among the five lumberjacks when they try to get him back inside.  Steen then turns on Nemeth, and they brawl until Brock returns to the ring to get revenge on both men.

And then it happens.

From the crowd come two men who we aren’t supposed to see until they are on top of Sheamus and Barrett.  It’s former IWGP tag champs Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows, and very quickly they destroy the two men.  Nemeth, seeing his stablemates in trouble, leaps from the ring, but gets caught and destroyed quickly.

Simultaneous to Nemeth getting destroyed – Shinsuke Nakamura, who teased on Fight Night the following…

“You know who I am…but you don’t…know why…I’m here…”

…appears from the crowd to attack Generico.  Regal is now shouting at Ranallo “these are your men– these are your men”.  Steen is in a submission hold from Lesnar and can’t immediately get away even though he recognizes what is happening to Generico, as Anderson/Gallows are able to leave the incapacitated Underground members to join in the beating of Generico.

Steen is able to muster up the crazy strength to break Brock’s hold in a desperate attempt to save his friend, but before he can exit the ring he is hit from behind by AJ Styles, who had been on the opposite side of the crowd, he hits Steen with his springboard flying forearm, then dumps him outside and joins in the beatdown of Steen/Generico, with the occasional shot at the dead Underground members.

The referee, with nothing else to be done, counts both men out leading to Brock’s win but no title change.

It’s chaos, all happening at the same time, all happening quickly – no one entirely sure how to get a handle on it.  Devitt though raises his right hand in the “wait, wait, wait – I know what’s up” gesture.

And then that hand becomes the shape of a gun.  He points it at a confused Heyman and shoots, then quickly whirls and throws Sombra into the steps, incapacitating him – he then leaps to the apron and then off – kicking Heyman in the head, knocking him cold – Lesnar starts screaming but never makes it out of the ring, he’s attacked from behind by Anderson/Gallows/Styles/Nakamura who are all in the ring now with everyone on the outside totally immobile.

Devitt climbs in and all 5 men beat the hell out of Brock, laying him out entirely, Anderson pulls out a Bullet Club t-shirt, hands it to Devitt, Devitt places it over Lesnar’s face and then stands atop Lesnar as the five men pose. The Bullet Club - Prince Devitt, AJ Styles, Anderson and Gallows...and Shinsuke Nakamura...the Bullet Club has come to the WWF.

The announce lays out as the camera focuses on the t-shirt as the show ends.

Back in February with the Road to Wrestlemania 32.  The main event – the debut of the Elimination Chamber.  See you then.


Mike H said...

This could be one of the four biggest angles in the counterfactual- up there with the Clique forming, the Alliance invading, and CM Punk throwing down the WWF and NWA titles. Great stuff. Who knows what will happen next! (Well, you probably)

Jim said...

Hey, thanks.

Butch Rosser said...

Long time (and multiple time) reader, first time commenter: have you considered replacing the image for this post so that the surprise in the main event pops even bigger for the reader?

Jim said...

You know, I do consider it. Where I've come down is sacrificing the surprise in order to give the reader impetus to read to the end to see how we get to that picture+give the document a sense of being a complete piece.

But I do think about it every time and it's a close call in my mind.

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