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 2018

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

The build is here.

Royal Rumble 2018 comes to you from Philadelphia.  It is the 29th Royal Rumble and the 124th WWF PPV.

(Dark – Strong d. Gargano, Dunne d. Bate)

It is Mauro Ranallo’s 10th PPV as lead announcer. 

Steve Regal (20th PPV) and Nigel McGuinness (7) are your color announcers.  They are replaced for the women’s title match by Corey Graves (2).

There’s a pre-show tape, voiced over by Heyman, to put over Philadelphia as a city of tremendous heart and resilience – there are clips of wrestling matches that took place in Philadelphia, clips from Rocky and Creed, clips of the Philadelphia Eagles, who are about to win their first Super Bowl.  The tie in to this event is that it will take great resilience to overcome 19 other men in Royal Rumble Warfare to win the WWF Championship. 

-there’s the clip of Randy Savage plunging the WWF Fork into Mr. Perfect
-there’s the Sandman, hitting Terry Funk with the unprotected chair shot at November to Remember ‘93
-there’s Cactus Jack, hitting an elbow on Sting from the apron to the floor at Slamboree ‘94
-there’s Dean Malenko, submitting Brian Pillman with the clover leaf at November to Remember ‘94
-there’s Sabu, hitting a triple jump moonsault on Steve Austin at November to Remember ‘95
-there’s Raven, hitting Tommy Dreamer with a Singapore cane at November to Remember ‘96
-there’s Taz, t-bone suplexing Sabu on the top of his head at Barely Legal ‘97
-there’s Al Snow, in a sea of Heads after taking the IC from Austin at WM15.
-there’s Kurt Angle, stopping Jeff Jarrett from burning an American flag at WM 15
-there’s Brock Lesnar, slicing up Mick Foley with barbed wire at Rumble ‘04
-there’s RVD and Sabu, putting Cena and Batista through tables covered with glass tubes at Survivor Series ’20.
-There’s Bubba Ray Dudley and DDP each being sent into steel steps by The Shield at Rumble ’15.
-there’s Terry Funk, standing in the crowd holding a world title belt, both at Slamboree ’94 and then Barely Legal ‘97

-Full Circle used veteran heel tactics to go over Sheamus/Miz at Survivor Series; they added the New Day for this match – it doesn’t matter if it’s an elimination match or if it’s one fall – there’s no finish to this match, after about 8 minutes we hear an unfamiliar theme, we see an unfamiliar name on the video wall:


..and then who emerges are Rusev and Strowman, with Lana – Rusev and Strowman are in matching gear, they’ve got facepaint, they come to the ring and kill everybody.  The match gets thrown out.  A new team has been created. 


Here are 18 of the 20 lumberjacks (2 were unannounced and they remain unannounced even as the match starts; the lumberjacks are not in the match)

-Hero (babyfaces aligned with Sombra)
-Fish (GDI members w/Cole)
-Tozawa (Blood Warriors International)
-Seven (the lead members of the British contingent which primarily has been fighting each other)
-Strong (Dark Ride Champion, member of the Horsemen)
-Gargano (feuding with Strong, member of Trash)
-Aleister Black
-Velveteen Dream
-Buddy Murphy
-Lio Rush
 -Mustafa Ali
-Authors of Pain

There’s some jawing among the lumberjacks, but no real physicality until the finish – the 19th and 20th lumberjacks enter, it’s the debut of War Machine – and when they get to mid aisle Authors of Pain sprint up to brawl with them – in the commotion, Fish and O’Reilly hit the ring, attempting to interfere, but both are cut off by Kenta/Hero, driven from the ring, and Sombra gets the fall very soon thereafter. 

The postmatch is an extended brawl, as many minutes as needed for guys to get their stuff over – it’s designed to pay off the hardcore expectations of a segment of the Philadelphia crowd, there’s going to be a ladder bump, there’s going to be a table bump, War Machine’s got thumbtacks – Dark Ride Wrestling is putting a stamp on the Royal Rumble in Philadelphia.


-I bet this is a helluva match; Alpha and Revival came all the way up together through Underground, competed at every level of their development – and this is culmination of all of that; a best of 3 series that winds up in a best of 3 falls match.  Doesn’t matter which one wins which of the first 2 falls, it’s the Revival who goes over.  It’s clean and definitive and the feeling should be that this is the end.  Postmatch, all four men, plus Arn, stay in the ring, presumably there is applause – Alpha extends their hands to the Revival – they accept them , Alpha tells them to go win the belts. 

This will be repeated in the Mania build – but tomorrow Alpha is going to lose to their longtime rivals, Anderson/Gallows – the end result of which is that Jordan winds up buried under the Bullet Club flag, and its fair to speculate how long he might be out of action.  If this looks like a face turn for the Revival – it’s supposed to. 

-Becky’s a member of the Bullet Club, women’s champion since last year’s Mania; Asuka is undefeated and doing the full IRL Goldberg gimmick – the chanting, the Some Number-0 signs, her catchphrase is “Who’s Next?” – she gets the full walk from backstage through the curtain, she gets the fireworks.  Corey Graves is the heel color commentator from Dark Ride, but he plays the IRL Bobby Heenan role of the heel who still loves this undefeated babyface – he’s been clamoring for this match, for this moment, for over a year, so he’s who joins Ranallo for this match. 

-They have the best match they can, the story being that Becky just isn’t quite good enough here, and eventually, she quits – takes the title belt and exits.  Asuka keeps her streak, Becky keeps her belt.  It is designed to feel unsatisfying. 

We then get a message on the video wall – from the WWF Commissioner Bryan Danielson. 

It’s the first time we’ve seen him since getting knocked silly by an errant AJ Styles forearm at Survivor Series.  Danielson says he will be returning tomorrow on RAW – and he’ll be making a major announcement. 

That’s going to lead to much speculation, speculation that will heat up the next day on social media, as it is leaked that Danielson is going to resign immediately from his position as commissioner.

-At Summer Slam, a very personal feud between the two former halves of GDI ended with Neville emotionally losing a Loser Leaves Town match to Steen.  Coming out of that year long program, some lighter fare was needed – Steen adopted the persona of Kid Canada, an aging French-Canadian luchador, and put together the Tres Bon Mask Challenge.  That resulted in Generico winning a mini masked wrestler tournament – and here is the one night only return to the WWF of a triple crown winner, the Legendary Rey Mysterio – and Generico beats him in the best match they can possibly have.  They embrace after the match, the feeling should be a passing of the torch, that Generico is now the best masked wrestler in the world. 

Kid Canada then appears on the video wall – live, from Quebec – he congratulates Generico, said he has not only overcome all other masked wrestlers from WWF, but also defeated the Legendary Mysterio. And now – he has only one more hill to climb.

Which is a surprise.  How could there be more hills to climb once you beat Rey Mysterio?

Kid Canada says – at Wrestlemania – you will face one last masked wrestler – at Wrestlemania, it will be El Generico….vs….Kid Canada….Mask vs. Mask.
Generico’s mouth drops open – he shakes his head – what…what is Kevin Steen doing now?

6. WWF Tag Titles: Usos d. Bullet Club (Anderson/Gallows)

-The Usos are in their second title run; they took from the Hardys at Summer Slam – they’re cocky heels; Anderson and Gallows have largely filled the bodyguard role for the Bullet Club; it’s their first shot at the belts, they’re also cocky heels.  In a way, they are sort of a Young Bucks proxy – there’s a bit of cross-promotional superkick rivalry between the Usos and the Bucks, it’s not explicit here, it’s a wink and a nod – it’s not “come to New York and fight us, cowards” for obvious reasons – but if the Usos were to have a Superkick Party and a Young Bucks chant to start, that wouldn’t shock. 
They’re the better squad and they go over here – Usos win this match and keep their belts. Postmatch, Arn leads the Revival to the ring – they won the number one contenders match earlier in the evening – and the will face the Usos for the tag titles at Wrestlemania 34.  The men all go noses to noses at mid ring. 

-Brock’s had the IC since last year’s Rumble and Heyman’s constant referencing of him as the “Real World’s Champion” seems to have manifested into reality – because now, of course, there is no WWF Champion, there’s just Brock – and the combination of Brock being Brock and the WWF Title being vacant really gives the “Lesnar is the Real World Champion” thing a ton of credibility.  He beat Angle at Survivor Series and completed the sweep of his past by taking out Benjamin.

This is No DQ – we had Lesnar/Angle stay in the ring despite their limitations really in honor of what that matchup meant – but this one we make a garbage match, Benajmin can use some foreign objects found under the ring in order to give him the appearance of possibly taking this title and winning the Triple Crown.  He doesn’t, of course, Lesnar’s gonna hit him with an F5 and then just tack on a second one because he can.  When we next see Benjamin his arm will be in a sling.  Lesnar will head to Wrestlemania as the longest reigning IC Champion in a decade. 

Prior to the battle royal – clips from the other notable battle royals in WWF History:
1991…Davey Boy Smith press slams Sid over the top rope to become #1 contender…
1993…Razor dumps Shawn over the top rope to become #1 contender…
1995…Hakushi dropkicks Razor over the top to become #1 contender…
1996…Owen dropkicks Austin over the top to become #1 contender…
1998…Cactus cactus clotheslines both himself and Austin over….but Cactus holds on to become #1 contender…
2000…The Rock throws Jericho over the top to become #1 contender….
2002…Rey Mysterio debuts in the WWF, springboard dropkicking Michaels over the top to become #1 contender…
2004…Eddy throws Christian over the top to become #1 contender…
2006…Punk throws Jeff Hardy over the top to become #1 contender…
2008…Jericho throws Edge over the top to become #1 contender…
2010…Swagger throws Nemeth over the top to become #1 contender…
2012….Punk throws Sheamus over to become #1 contender…
2014…Bray throws Harper over the top to become #1 contender…
2016…Joe eliminates Cedric Alexander to become the inaugural Dark Ride Champion
2017…Kenta eliminates Hero to win the Dark Ride Championship

20 men, 2 minute intervals, eliminations are pinfall, submission, over the top rope.  Winner becomes the 57th World Wrestling Federation Champion.  Place your bets.

1.       Apollo Crews
2.       Kalisto (sometimes, you play the hits, it’s a babyface tag team squaring off)
3.       Prince Devitt (tough draw for the leader of the Bullet Club – Kalisto/Crews instantly team up and begin working him over)
4.       Nick Nemeth (that puts all 3 members of Underground in the match very early and puts Devitt in extreme jeopardy)
5.       Kevin Steen (this is Steen’s first match as Kevin Steen since Summer Slam, he races to the ring like someone returning from a long layoff, he once feuded with Nemeth – but everyone hates the Bullet Club, and he joins the parade in bouncing Devitt around  the ring, just before the announcement of the next guy however, Devitt is able to hurl Kalisto from the ring (20)
6.       Mascara Dorada (Dorada hits his stuff on everyone in the ring before settling in on a 1:1 matchup against Crews; Nemeth/Devitt/Steen are now all battling each other)
7.       Bray Wyatt (he comes in hot after Devitt, and now Devitt is near elimination, as Nemeth and Steen both aid in trying to toss him over the top)
8.       Dustin Rhodes (Dustin grabs Bray and the two one time stablemates go nose to nose as Devitt is able to escape from the ropes and stumble right into Dustin/Bray – who then start clubbing away at him, at the close of the time expiration, Crews eliminates Dorada with a pinfall (19)
9.       Rusev (he never makes it to the ring, he’s attacked on the ramp by half of each of the tag teams that Gods of Carnage laid out earlier in the night – their 3 on 1 assault is ended by Strowman – he joins his new partner and they get the advantage despite being outnumbered – leading to the other 3 men from the aforementioned tag teams hitting the ramp, and 6 on 2, all 8 men fight their way back up the ramp until they disappear from view.  We are told that Rusev is counted out and therefore eliminated (18). Bray and Dustin are fighting Devitt while Crews and Nemeth are fighting Steen.
10.   Claudio Castagnoli (Steen breaks away from Nemeth and Crews to meet him in the middle of the ring and the two rivals start trading blows; Nemeth and Crews join Dustin and Bray in all getting nearfalls on Devitt)
11.   Bobby Roode (he enters more tactically, surveying the scene, looking for an area of opportunity, which turns out to be laying out Bray and eliminating Dustin (17). Devitt is almost over the top rope now as Nemeth and Crews push and push
12.   AJ Styles (saves his Bullet Club stablemate, the announce notes that Devitt was certainly about to be eliminated but not for AJ, he levels both Nemeth and Crews, the Steen/Claudio/Roode thing continues, Bray stays out of the fray, crouching in a corner.
13.   TJ Perkins (he gets spots in on everyone (except Claudio) the other 7 in the ring take some type of TJP spot, and that allows Claudio to get a pinfall on Steen (16)
14.   Jack Gallagher (Gallagher is all prancing comedy, Nemeth and Crews are taking on Styles and Devitt, Claudio battles Roode while Bray takes on Perkins)
15.   Roman Reigns Uso (he comes in hot – superman punch and a throw of Perkins over (15) superman punch and a spear pinfall for Bray (14) everything else remains the same
16.   Drew Gulak (Gulak is eliminated by a Reigns superman punch as soon as he steps into the ring (13) Claudio then gets a pinfall on Roode (12) and out of nowhere, Gallagher schoolboys Devitt (11) which draws a shocked response from the announcers and Devitt
17.   Kid Canada (Steen’s pulled a fast one, and now here he is in his gimmick, Claudio shakes his head in exasperation and once again he and Steen meet at mid ring and start throwing blows in the same spot they did earlier in the match, Devitt is enraged – he and AJ hurl Gallagher over the top (10) before Devitt is made to exit the ring, Nemeth and Crews now fight Reigns as a drone buzzes their heads)
18.   Langston (Kid Canada gets the pinfall on Claudio (9) and is then immediately pinned by Langston (8) Reigns gets in another superman punch/spear to eliminate Crews (7) the drone keeps buzzing by Nemeth, who swats and swats – and that distraction doesn’t allow him to notice that, from the crowd, emerges Broken Matt Hardy, who throws him over the top rope (6) and then exits back into the Delete chanting crowd.
19.   Tyler Black (there’s a reset now as four men remain in the ring – Black and AJ, from the Bullet Club – and Langston and Reigns.  Langston and Reigns are career long rivals, from Langston’s time with the Shield to the New Day, he’s always been on squads which opposed the Usos – those two teams just finished another feud – but here, facing Black and AJ, its clear to both men  that they need to work together.  Reigns has also feuded with Black, both historically, in Usos/Shield battles, and recently, in the build for the tag title match that happened earlier in the evening.  And Black/Langston have the biggest history of all – Langston turned on Black, cost him a year of his career, and ended the Shield. 

If you think this is taking more than 2 minutes, you’re right – at some point Mauro says the clock is broken – we get a good 5 minutes here with these two “teams” squaring off – but the Bullet Club picks up pinfalls – Black gets Langston (5) and then AJ gets Reigns (4) and then Black immediately throws AJ over the top rope (3).

AJ is heated – the deal was they’d wait until everyone else was eliminated and then they’d battle it out – but Black has clearly lost track of how many entrants there had been given the length of time since he came to the ring – Black drops to his knees in celebration of winning the WWF Title.

But he hasn’t of course.

The lights go out – then there’s a spotlight on a violinist on the ramp. 

And he begins to play IRL Nakamura’s original theme – and we get IRL Nakamura’s first ever NXT entrance.  Sure, it’s going to take 2 minutes all by itself, but we’ve already abandoned that pretense with the broken clock.

20.   Shinsuke Nakamura (Nakamura hasn’t been seen since being buried under the Bullet Club flag after Survivor Series – but he is risen, new music, new gear – the full elaborate entrance – Black stands in the ring stupefied, how is Nakamura here – what is happening with this entrance – how did I forget there was one man left to enter the ring?

They do a good 10 minute match – Nakamura pins Black (2) after the bomaye to become the World Wrestling Federation Champion.

40 years before Antonio Inoki was WWF Champion – but tonight, in Philadelphia, Shinsuke Nakamura has defeated Tyler Black to become the 57th World Wrestling Federation Champion.  His new music plays, he hits the turnbuckles with his belt – the people cheer – and that’s your show.

We’re back in a month with Part 1 of the build to Wrestlemania 34.  It’s a helluva card with a double main event.  See you then.

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