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 Royal Rumble 2017 - Part 1

Friday, December 01, 2017

Survivor Series was here.

It’s the 12 year anniversary of the Counterfactual; whether you’ve been with me for years or this is your first post, thanks for reading.  I’ve got hoped for Mania main events lined up through 2021, so if you feel like popping in during President Kirsten Gillibrand’s first term, feel free.
Rumble 2017 is next month from San Antonio.  

It’s a 9 match card. We'll cover 4 of them today. 

WWF Title: Cage: AJ Styles v. Luke Harper
Bullet Club (Anderson/Gallows) v. Bray Wyatt/John Cena 

The RAW after Survivor Series begins with WWF Commissioner Bryan Danielson headed to the ring with a giant trophy – to be presented to the winner of the Survivor Series AJ Styles.
Styles comes next – and he comes alone, a rarity that he’s seen without his Bullet Club stablemates, which Danielson notes.

AJ says he’s alone because he won the Survivor Series alone, he outlasted the entire roster, won a 64 man tournament.  He beat Kota Freaking Ibushi.  He didn’t need any help.  He’s the WWF Champion and won the Survivor Series and he wants his trophy. That trophy becomes part of the act, Anderson and Gallows already carry the Bullet Club flag wherever they go - and now they also tote around the Survivor Series trophy.  

Danielson said he’s right.  Well, almost.  Luke Harper had to wrestle one more match than AJ did, so that was some help.  And the Bullet Club attacked Luke Harper before the match, so that was a lot of help. If AJ didn’t have that help – maybe Luke Harper would be standing here with the trophy.
AJ says he’s the best wrestler in the world and he can beat Luke Harper by himself any day of the week.

Danielson makes the Rumble match – this time for the WWF Title, this time in a steel cage.

He also makes a main event for that night – Anderson/Gallows taking on Harper/Cena.  Cena and Harper were once both members of the Wyatt Family, they both turned face and went their separate ways – Cena attempted to aid Harper last night in that pre-match beatdown.

Harper/Cena go over, Harper gets the fall – AJ hits the ring immediately postmatch for the beatdown (Nakamura is not there and won’t be there during this program, we’ll talk about him later). 

It’s 3 on 2 and the Bullet Club has the advantage – when to the ring comes Bray Wyatt – who cleans house and he and his former mentees, Harper and Cena, stand together in the middle of the ring. 
It’s not an unmotivated turn, Bray and Harper blew of their feud almost a year ago, the RAW after the Rumble, and then were both killed dead by the Bullet Club who had invaded the night before.  That old hard feelings might have been put aside when given mutual hatred of common enemies is not unprecedented.  But to see the reconstituted Wyatt Family, now back together as babyfaces, should be a reasonably noteworthy moment. 

That moment continues throughout the build – as these 6 guys wrestle in multiple combinations.  Since Harper and AJ have already met, there’s nothing gained by keeping them from being physical, so they can take part in 6 man tags. 

The other element of this Bullet Club build is the Rumble is the one year anniversary of their taking over the WWF and they promise something special to commemorate it. 

Harper pins AJ in a 6 man in the go home Fight Night to get some momentum headed to the Rumble – it’s your main event, AJ Styles against Luke Harper in a Steel Cage for the World Wrestling Championship. 

IC: Rusev (w/GHB and Lana) vs. Brock Lesnar (w/Heyman)
IC Number One Contender: Nick Nemeth v. Chris Jericho v. Roman Reigns-Uso

The main story, not just in the WWF but in the entire country, is the election of Linda McMahon to be the 45th President of the United States.  The inauguration is a few days before the Rumble – and both the President and Vice President, who asks that you just call him Vince, will be making their triumphant return to their company that night.

Linda’s chief protagonist on WWF TV has been GHB, right wing mouthpiece of longstanding; he ratchets up the vitriol following Trump’s general election defeat (which led to a lawsuit, and now rumors of a Justice Department investigation given his campaign’s numerous, pervasive, and deep connections with agents of the Russian government.  There’s even online speculation that at least one of the Trump sons may move to Russia permanently in an effort to escape prosecution).  GHB says the US had a chance to elect a true authoritarian and move further toward the plutocracy that men who pull the levers of power have long cultivated.  But failing that – it can happen in other ways.  GHB discusses the inroads Putin made in the American electoral system in this past election won’t be easily undone, that it’s just a matter of time before that work put in by Putin and the patriots connected with the Trump campaign bears fruit.  We will have our dream –a nation of millionaires, the billionaires who own those millionaires, and then there are all of you people, who will work for minimum wage and no benefits at Dollar General and be glad for every crumb that falls off the moustache of your master. 

“True freedom” Lana replies.

GHB then steps over the line. The President-elect has been limiting public appearances as she’s been under the weather, GHB says he hopes she doesn’t have the “Russian flu” a reference to Putin opponents who mysteriously turn up dead.  Rusev adds the kicker “if she dies, she dies”

That leads to the return of Skip McMahon – we’ve seen him in the background during Linda’s campaign, but he hasn’t been featured on the programming in years – he cuts a fiery promo and challenges Rusev to a fight.  We see a backstage meeting with Danielson and HHH-M (the two men appear not to know they are on camera, given the angle of the shot) Danielson says absolutely not – he will not sanction this, Skip McMahon is a middle aged man, putting him in the ring with anyone on his roster, much less a fighter like Rusev, is not sports – it’s a slaughter, it’s cockfighting, and he’d rather quit than see it.  HHH-M says that since Linda and Vince both divested themselves of their stock during the campaign, the majority shareholders are Stephanie and Skip – and if the owner of the company wants to get in the ring, there’s just nothing Danielson can do about it.  Danielson says the blood is on Hunter’s hands.

Rusev, of course, kills Skip, just brutalizes him, Skip is stretchered from the ring and, while he makes a full recovery, is unlikely to ever again step in a WWF ring. 
The next week Danielson calls Rusev and crew to the ring.  Danielson says there won’t be any recriminations for what happened the week before, Skip stepped into a ring with a real professional fighter and got what he got.  GHB says any McMahon they see – any McMahon – might meet the same fate. 

Danielson takes a deep breath.  Says that Rusev should probably focus on his challenger for the IC Title at the Rumble.

GHB says no one here has the guts to step into the ring with a real Russian man like Rusev.
Danielson says, “well, I found someone.  I called in a favor.”

Lesnar’s music hits – Heyman and Lesnar come to the ring – Lesnar and Rusev go nose to nose. Danielson, recall, gave Lesnar his match against Devitt at Summer Slam, and Heyman told Danielson he owed him one.  This is that one.  Heyman, ever the opportunist, will tell Danielson in an aside that now he owes him one (Heyman math).

We don’t see either primary for the remainder of the build, although GHB and Heyman have a couple of promo battles where they take shots at each other’s backgrounds and futures. 

The winner of that match goes to Mania as IC Champ where he will take on the winner of the number one contender’s match.

It starts with 6 men and they’re competing for 3 spots.

Jericho faces Kalisto

Nemeth faces Sheamus

Reigns faces Mike Mizanin

Mizanin’s spot was initially offered to Ambrose, he turned it down, we’ll cover that later.

Old Man Jericho’s been doing a last ride gimmick since just after Mania, he lost to Harper in the semis of the Survivor Series; once we get to January the documentary series that has been walking through Jericho’s entire career (there’s the Lizard King, there’s Jericho Dark, there’s the Champ…) gets to modern day, the last week shows how much preparation Jericho has to go through just to get out of bed.

But he survives against the quicker Kalisto to earn a spot at the Rumble.

Nemeth and Sheamus are longtime stablemates, making up the backbone of Underground since it moved from just being a developmental training ground to an alliance on the main roster.  Nemeth gets him to get a spot at the Rumble.

Reigns-Uso meets the Miz, who now is a pure white meat underdog babyface and uses his full name, he fights gamely but goes under.

It’s a three way dance – that means two falls, the last man standing will go to Wrestlemania 33. 

That’s a good stopping point.

Five matches to go, I’ll get them at mid month

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