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 Wrestlemania 32 Part 1

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

The Rumble is Here.

Wrestlemania 32, in front of the projected largest WWF crowd of all time, will come to you from Dallas.

Here’s the card.

WWF Championship: Elimination Chamber: Kevin Steen v. Brock Lesnar v. Nick Nemeth v. Dean Ambrose v. Kalisto v. Mystery Entrant

IC Title: AJ Styles v. El Generico

Tag Titles: Relaxed Rules: The New Day v. The Usos

Legend’s Match: Career v. Career:  Chris Jericho v. HHH-M (special guest referee – Edge)

Women’s Title: Charlotte Flair v. Sasha Banks

Rusev (w/Lana) v. Dos Caras, Jr.

Sheamus v. The Cuck (w/Maryse)

Loser Breaks Up: Dudley Boys v. Rhodes Brothers

(Dark Matches: Samoa Joe v. Shinsuke Nakamura, Prince Devitt v. Austin Aries, American Alpha v. Revival v. Ciampa/Gargano)

Let’s talk about the top of the card.

WWF Championship: Elimination Chamber: Kevin Steen v. Brock Lesnar v. Nick Nemeth v. Dean Ambrose v. Kalisto v. Mystery Entrant

IC Title: AJ Styles v. El Generico

RAW the night after the Rumble starts with a video package of the building of the Elimination Chamber, which is making its WWF debut here at WM32.  Recall, we closed WM31 by showing the initial steps of what turned out to be its creation, those are the first shots of the video, which is a time lapsed creation of the most demonic structure in the history of the sport. 

It’s not actually the first Elimination Chamber match, that was at TNA Lockdown in 2014, Austin Aries was the winner.  But it’s the first WWF version and it’s the first one with six entrants. 

The opening match on RAW is Bray v. Luke Harper in a Falls Count Anywhere match; at the Rumble Luke finally ended his doppelganger, taking out Harper/Sandow in the Parking Lot Brawl – Bray seemingly passed up a chance to run his former bodyguard over with a car postmatch, and this has the feel of a blow off, it should be a long intense match that goes all over the arena and winds up back in the ring where Harper gets the fall. 

And right after he does – both men are attacked by the Bullet Club, killed to death, buried under the Bullet Club flag right in the middle of the ring.

The Bullet Club: Devitt, Styles, Nakamura, Anderson & Gallows debuted in WWF at the Rumble – they buried Brock in a way similar to this flag burial of Bray and Harper here.  When they do that – it’s not a one or two week disappearance.  We won’t see Brock for a month and we won’t see Bray/Harper for months.

Two nights later on Dark Ride Wrestling – they’re going to do the same thing at the end of Joe/Aries, Joe beats Aries in his debut match and then the two are wiped out by the full Bullet Club.  Styles v. Joe is probably the signature rivalry in TNA history, and AJ gets particular satisfaction in burying Joe under the Bullet Club colors.  We won't see Aries for the rest of the build; we won't see Joe until the go home Dark Ride; his appearance is unannounced, he comes to the ring, grabs a camera, holds his face up it and just seethes "AJ....AJ....AJ...."

But back to RAW – Bray and Harper are taken away during a break and when we come back the Bullet Club is still in the ring and we get their first WWF promo; Nakamura says “we are ta-king o-ver” – AJ, the IC Champ, holds up his belt, says it is now the most important title in the world because he’s the man holding it – and Devitt gives us the story.  He created the Bullet Club in Japan, brought in Anderson and Gallows – he signed with Heyman to infiltrate the WWF and turned over Club leadership to AJ.  The Bullet Club has already taken over the rest of the world – and now, finally, they’ve taken over WWF.

Gallows waves the Bullet Club flag, everyone touches each others’  fingers in the finger gun hand gesture (as opposed to the Clique gesture, which is still taken). 

They’ll make a match either for either later that night or Fight Night where the Bullet Club will take on many of the guys they wiped out at the Rumble: Steen/Generico/Nemeth/Sheamus/Barrett.  AJ will get the fall on Generico when an argument breaks out on the apron between Nemeth and Steen, leading to punches being thrown and the Underground guys walking out.  Steen winds up on the floor when Generico gets pinned – at physical cost to himself he gets back in the ring to pull Generico to safety before he can fully get beaten down.

If it sounds like Steen’s turning face, he is, his level of protectiveness over Generico is part of the build to Mania.  

In the ring – we’ll get combinations of Steen/Generico; Sheamus/Barrett; Nemeth/Kalisto and AJ/Devitt to build to Mania, Nakamura isn’t around much, he appears judiciously like Lesnar does; out of the ring, the 6 men in the Elimination Chamber title match will do pre-taped black background pieces; an off camera Renee asks “why do you need to win the WWF Title at Wrestlemania 32” and, sitting on a stool in blackness, each man answers.  One runs each week.

Steen cuts a babyface promo, he’s worked his whole life to be WWF Champion, he beat Lesnar, he beat Nemeth, and now he has to withstand both the Bullet Club and 5 other men in an Elimination Chamber in front of 100,000 people.  When he comes out of there with the WWF Title, he will silence all those who have doubted him his whole career.  Steen's had to run uphill in his career given his look, and even as WWF Champion there are ways to cast aspersions about his run - that would end forever with a win here.  

You can feel the anger in Nemeth’s promo – he’s the most recent Triple Crown winner in WWF history, a very short and distinguished list of immortals – after years, he finally gets another shot at the WWF Title and he gets screwed, first by Claudio at Survivor Series, then by the Bullet Club at Mania.  But if he has to step into some type of demonic cage in front of the biggest crowd in WWF history and beat five other guys, that’s what he’ll do.  The wrestling world needs to remember who 
Nick Nemeth is – and they will at 32.  The chip on Nemeth shoulder only grows larger with each addition to the roster who might stake a claim as being better than he is.  

Kalisto (in Spanish) is excited, he wants to put on a show, he’s going to be in the biggest match in the biggest WM of all time; he is going to fly all over that cage, he’s going to do things never before seen in a wrestling ring, and he will be the one emerging as WWF Champion.  Kalisto as spot machine is his place in the program; he's the "hand over some money for Mania, he'll do something special" promise  

Ambrose smells the Triple Crown and the opportunity to ruin everyone’s day – he’s got 2 IC titles, he’s part of the greatest tag team in the history of the sport; he isn’t dreading the Chamber – he loves it, he might bring in some toys and stay all night.  He hopes he’s the first chamber to open, he wants to bleed, he wants to spill blood, he wants to ruin everyone’s night.  He keeps hearing the Elimination Chamber is the most devious, most demonic, most destructive apparatus ever created in professional wrestling – but that’s not true – Dean Ambrose is those things.  At some point in the build, Ambrose is bringing a trash can to the ring filled with plunder.  Ambrose doesn't have the "everyone overlooks me" chip that Nemeth and Steen have, but he's nearly at their level of accomplishment.

Then, Lesnar.  He and Heyman have been entirely absent since Devitt turned on Heyman at the Rumble and Lesnar wound up buried in the middle of the ring.  Heyman’s the one sitting on the stool, Lesnar isn’t in the shot.  Heyman talks about this being Lesnar’s last ever WWF Title shot as a result of executive overreach by the WWF Championship Committee, and there is no man on the planet who wants to be locked in a steel cage with a desperate Brock Lesnar.

Then Lesnar enters the frame, he tells Paul to get off the stool – he starts talking to Devitt “come fight me, bitch – you come into my house and piss on the floor – come fight me bitch – come fight me”
Heyman, clearly in a discussion they’ve been having over and over since the Rumble, quietly says “What Brock Lesnar means is that after he wins the title at Wrestlemania, he’ll be glad to face that cowardly, ungrateful Prince Devitt – but more important..

Lesnar cuts him off “I’m gonna hurt you, Devitt.  You’re gonna get hurt.”

Heyman shakes his head.

It's another version of the "what's Brock Lesnar's mental state" game that we've been playing since his feud with one time stablemate Swagger.  That betrayal by Heyman was never really gotten over, even ending the career of his biggest rival Danielson hasn't helped - it maybe even created a void in Lesnar's life that he hasn't replaced, and maybe that big bad that drives Lesnar has now become the WWF.  Lesnar feels screwed out of the title with the fast count in the Steen match, screwed out of future title shots by the discipline taken after he ended Joey Styles WWF tenure, now screwed by another stablemate, Prince Devitt.  It's Lesnar's last ever title shot - but is his mind in the cage or on the Bullet Club?

The Mystery Entrant is the last person to cut a promo – it’s entirely blacked out, his voice is modulated, all he does is laugh when answering Renee’s question. 

The go home RAW includes another multi-man match: Steen/Nemeth/Kalisto/Ambrose against the Bullet Club without Nakamura. 

The first time we did this broke down when Nemeth and Steen argued and Underground walked out; here it happens again, but this time that side breaks out into a full brawl at ringside, Devitt gets control of his side, telling them to not get involved and take the countout win – the crowd counts with the official, 6-7-8…and then Lesnar’s music hits. 

Lesnar sprints to the ring, Nemeth gets in his way in a “hey, what are you doing here” manner, and Lesnar hurls him into the retaning barrier (or over it, if Nemeth can clear it) and hits the ring, the Bullet Club (not Devitt, he slips out the back) goes at him one at a time – Anderson charges, suplex – Gallows charges, suplex – AJ charges, suplex – Anderson is back and takes an F5, Gallows is back and takes an F5, Steen is now in the ring exchanging punches with AJ, Lesnar grabs him, maybe inadvertently in trying to grab AJ, maybe not, and F5s the WWF Champ.  That’s the last shot of RAW before Mania, Lesnar standing above Steen in the middle of the ring.

Generico/AJ is carrying a lot of the workrate weight at Mania; it's pretty easily the best non gimmick match on the card, Steen can do the work of getting across how he Generico's gonna outwrestle AJ, that his only hope is to use the Bullet Club, because he can't beat AJ one on one.  That maybe gets under AJ's skin, as he says he doesn't need anyone's help to beat El Generico at Mania.  

Tag Titles: Relaxed Rules: The New Day v. The Usos
This is a 6 man match; “relaxed rules” became the norm for WWF Tag Matches when Foley was Commissioner, it allowed for the wild Shield/Wyatts/Usos brawls, both on TV and PPV.  More traditional tag matches have been the norm recently – this title match will be a 6 man, 

Kingston/Langston/Woods against Reigns/Jimmy/Jey.  It’s an all babyface match; the New Day fully turned face in the build to their successful Rumble defense over Rusev/Dos Caras; they’re not the full comedy act that real world New Day is, they are still largely a political act, but #blackwrestlersmatter is now a babyface t-shirt.  If wrestling has taught us anything, it’s that all ideas can be commodified. 

The Usos are also babyfaces, they won the three way over Rhodes/Dudleys at the Rumble to get this shot – but their history of blowing this exact moment informs this build and New Day needles them over their history of choking “If you need something to choke on”…Langston says.  They can do various singles matches among the 6 men to build some animosity.  All 6 men legal as they fight for the titles at the biggest WM of all time!

Legend’s Retirement Match: Chris Jericho v. HHH-M (special guest referee – Edge)
The only role for Edge, who has spent the year as the on camera presence for the Championship Committee, is in this program.  Both Jericho and Hunter lost at the Rumble; Edge does a rare in ring segment, the figurehead authority work has been almost entirely pre-taped – he calls out Jericho.
Jericho and Edge have an important history; Edge swerved Jericho, getting him to bring him into the Hart Foundation, but then turning on him immediately.  Their peace, to the extent that Edge’s retirement has brought one, is uneasy. 

Edge says that Jericho is an all time legend, both of them are Triple Crown Champions, no one will ever take any of that away.  But in recent years Jericho has largely been someone losing matches to younger wrestlers.  And it’s fair to wonder if there’s much more that Jericho has to give to the sport. 
Edge then calls out HHH-M

Edge and Hunter have an even longer history; Edge and Christian were rookies who, along with the Hardys, came up through the ring crew, and when they all hit – E and C turned on their friends to join the Clique.  Eventually, Edge and Christian would feud with Hunter as well – but as a member of both Clique and Harts, the feud that has spanned almost the entirety of the Wrestlemania era, Edge has a singular role in WWF history.

Edge tells Hunter he’s had a fine career.  IC Champ, tag champ.  But he’s now a guy who wears a suit and wrestles a couple times a year. 

Edge tells both men that there’s nothing in WWF history like Clique vs. Harts, and as a member of both sides, no one knows that better than he does.  And at the biggest WM in history, in front of 100k people, there should be a Clique vs. Harts match.  Hunter vs. Jericho.  Jericho vs. Hunter…
…for your careers.

Last year, Undertaker and Sting each wrestled their last ever match against each other – this isn’t that, this is Career vs. Career, with the loser retiring from the ring.

Neither HHH or Jericho object – they look the other man dead in the eye, they each say they accept the terms, Edge says this match will need a special guest referee and he’ll be the one to do it.  All three men go nose to nose to nose.

That's the upper half of the show; the rest of the card comes next month

Women’s Title: Charlotte Flair v. Sasha Banks

Rusev (w/Lana) v. Dos Caras, Jr.

Sheamus v. The Cuck (w/Maryse)

Loser Breaks Up: Dudley Boys v. Rhodes Brothers


Anonymous said...

Looking over the list of who's available for the card, no one's popping out for that mystery entrant spot. So either 1) someone's either working twice, or 2) someone's getting used as a sacrificial lamb.

Mike H said...

Wonder if the mystery entrant is a former Intercontinental Champion and tag team champ?

Unknown said...

You don't think... not SKIP MCMAHON?

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