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Thread: WWE: Where It All Begins... Again

  1. #401
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    Re: WWE: Where It All Begins... Again

    So, as ever, excellent effort with the opening video. Heymans narration tied together everything that’s been building to this match, leading nicely to the No Way Out bit at the end, and it didn’t feel forced or tacked on.

    Credit where it’s due. I didn’t (and still don’t) like the ladder stipulation that was thrown onto this match, but you knocked this potential mess of a match out of the park. Actually putting some thought in between the spots, and weaving together a fun story with Matt actually having a good plan for once (making up for the climbing on the shoulders spot at the start!) by trying to take out everyone by the knees. That was something I don’t recall seeing in a tag team ladder match before, and I always appreciate seeing something different – especially in these kinds of matches that tend to just be spot fests.

    Plenty of stuff to like and love in this match beyond the knee work. Love London taking that bump off the apron, and you also making sure that you can’t powerbomb Billy Kidman. The entire segment of the match with O’Haire was great, I thought, and he looked like a real difference maker as the muscle for Hardy in taking out London and Kendrick, while the diva’s portion was a fun moment too, wrapping up that sort-of mini angle that’s been going on for a while now.

    I’m still going to be a jerk and complain about a few things though; the tables being introduced into a ladder match irks me a lot of the time – especially these multi man ladder matches. There’s enough bells and whistles with eight guys, a muscle and two run ins from divas, without pulling out tables too imo. Just call it a TLC match instead? Kidman getting up far too quickly from the Doomsday Device seemed weird, and I didn’t think the Bashams or Rey had been sufficiently worn down enough to not only stay down for the entirety of the Hooliganz/Mattitude portion of the match, but to still be out by the time O’Haire hit his Swanton and forcing Shaniqua to run out. Felt like there should’ve been something in between all that to explain why the three of them were all down for so long.

    However, you done a much better job explaining how everyone fell by the wayside toward the end, with Danny and Kidman taken out, Matt taking a sick sounding bump to the outside, Rey eating the spinebuster onto the ladder and Shannon getting a hero spot by taking out Doug too (which will no doubt piss off Matt), and I thought Kidman and Danny being the last two – having been the first two taken out in the finishing stretch – was sensible (for a number of reasons in Kidmans case) allowing Kidman to finally get the monkey off his back and do something good.

    The addition of Cole’s commentary had shades of J.R’s call in the Jeff/Taker ladder match – and that’s a good thing. Right team won, glad there wasn’t a swerve for swerves sake, and now you can tie up the WGTT/Rey&Kidman angle at WrestleMania. Great moment to kick off the show, and with the reaction of Matt here too, it clearly sets up him chewing out Shannon moving forward from here too.

    Enough of that technical shit” lol. Might’ve been my favourite line throughout the night. A Cruiserweight match with minimal story was always going to struggle to follow a ladder match opener, but the action you wrote here was perfectly fine, and lived up to the standards you’d expect from high calibre cruiserweight wrestlers like Chavo and Noble. Chavo cheating right from the beginning was a nice way to cut to the chase, but I especially enjoyed – as mentioned – the point where Chavo poked the eye after some nice wrestling exchanges. That was great.

    Finish was spectacular though – you don’t see too many top rope powerbombs, and the way you got to that was excellent too. Glad that didn’t result in a kick out either – not a typical finish, but it absolutely SHOULD be the end when it happens. Top work. Not the finish I expected or predicted, and not even the post match I was anticipated, as I was sure Tajiri and Juvi would’ve played some kind of part in the match or directly after it to set up an expected multi man match for WrestleMania. The tense handshake after was good though.

    The brief Regal/Show dialogue was perfectly fine and a nice segueway into the video package – which, again – was top notch. Great choice in the music (wherever you pulled that classical tune from, lol) to compliment the pompous attitude of Regal, and I remember d12 being a thing in the early to mid 2000’s too, so that’s timely. Something I don’t think I mentioned in feedback recent either, but running Cena/Show at this point, prior to WrestleMania, is a good move. Seems a logical match for Regal to put Cena in, and gets Cena/Show out of the way, rather than running it at WrestleMania.

    Some of the match felt similar to the real life meetings these two have had, but what else are you going to do; you can’t exactly reinvent the wheel with Big Show matches against plucky underdogs. Cena learning from his mistake of locking up by stamping the feet was a smart little move, and the addition of Regal at ringside on commentary added a different dimension to the match too. Big Show attempting to climb up top came across as forced though, if I’m honest, and just there as a reason for Regal to tell him what to do. Just doesn’t seem like a Big Show thing to do at this stage of his career, and at this point in a match.

    Show focusing on the back made plenty of sense, and him dipping into Regals playbook with submissions, rather than some boring rest holds made the match a little different, though the highlight throughout was definitely Regal’s commentary. A bit like my nit picking in the opener, it felt as if Cena’s recovery after the Power of the Punch was too quick. Super Cena levels of recovery to kick out, and then have the wherewithal to beat Show to the knucks and the energy to kick him away. Aside from that, this was a solid finish; Cena getting his shot in on Regal, and finally answering the question of whether he could FU the Big Show.

    Nice non-interview with Lesnar. Heyman rules.

    Lol at Holly wearing a WrestleMania shirt because he isn’t important enough to have his own. This was definitely something different. Unique approach to have the entire thing happen outside of the ring. Fuck me, a powerslam on concrete – ouch. A lot of this felt like two blokes having a dig at each other after a night out with the eye gouging etc, with the odd wrestling move thrown in for good measure. That trademark Holly kick to the gut/groin with Benoit on the railings was a lovely bit of creativity on your part too.

    Where this match really excelled was in the way you continued to write it as if it was a legit fight. No setting up tables or ladders. Holly gets his hand on an announcers chair?? Chuck it at Benoit. Rips his t-shirt off – choke Benoit with it. The imagery of Holly’s eye swelling and Benoit’s being bloodshot was awesome. Probably could’ve done without the headbutt trading, but at the same time, I can get why you’d go there, given how nasty the two have gotten toward one another, and I really dug the finish. Benoit releasing the Sharpshooter to dive right into the Crossface, and Holly passing out rather than submit was pretty much perfect. Holly loses nothing in defeat, but Benoit gets a hard fought win.

    While I’m a big proponent of not overdoing the pin attempts in matches like this, I’d just be careful you don’t go to the well with that idea once too often. There was the wild ECW style brawl on Raw last month that had one or two pin attempts, and I want to say there was another one the month prior. It absolutely gets the point across that the guys hate each other and have no interest in ending the match early, but if you do it for every grudge match, it loses some of it’s impact in my eyes.

    So, this was certainly more about the story than the match, with the shortened write up. No complaints for me, and a smart move on your end, I think, so as not to get burned out. Just your run of the mill tag match for the most part, but pretty telling where the frustration came from with Bradshaw when Simmons got a break and still couldn’t make a tag, forcing Bradshaw to do it all himself, then Simmons tagging himself back in later. I loved that you didn’t go overboard with the betrayal, and avoided a prolonged attack after the match. Him costing Simmons, then the reaction after the match was far more impactful than a long beatdown and say, Simmons getting busted open, or leaving on a stretcher. Tremendous.

    You were in a bit of a tough spot with this Taker/Angle match, I thought. Big call as to how much you would have Taker on the receiving end, three weeks back into being the Zombie, or whether you’d sacrifice Angle to keep Taker looking invincible. I’d personally say that I think Taker was selling a little too much here – though I’ll concede this was an impossible predicament for you – if Taker squashes Angle, then what becomes of Angle?

    There was probably a better middle ground you could’ve found, maybe with Taker dominating a lot more in the early going, or having a sustained early comeback before succumbing to the ankle work again, rather than a prolonged period on his back with Angle picking him apart and working over his ankle. As it was, the action was pretty good, and Angle looked great with his systematic attack on the ankle, briskly moving from one spot to another to weaken the body part.

    Again, in terms of finding the balance between not squashing Angle and not having Taker have to sell too much, him being out on the floor after the Angle Slam wasn’t a good look for The Deadman imo. Considering the Angle Slam is hardly the most protected finishing move – it took a super Angle Slam to beat Brian Kendrick (or London) iirc a while back – having Taker struggling to beat the count, and Angle forcing the referee to stop the count makes Taker look far more vulnerable than he should be as a recently returned Deadman.

    I fucking loved the counter from the big boot into the ankle lock though. That was superb – yet simple, so simple, actually. Yet it was brilliant too. Finish seemed a little rushed, and after everything he took, it might’ve been nice to see Taker draw out the finish a little longer by punishing Angle, but I wont complain about Taker getting the clean, decisive victory here in the end. Angle remaining steadfast in his convictions after the match and refusing the show of respect from Taker was all kinds of awesome. I’m loving this version of Kurt Angle, and this surely cements him as a heel – if he wasn’t already cemented in that regard.

    Wait – a man in a balaclava coming after Taker??

    I kid.

    Well strike me down. I floated it as a possibility that this would happen, but err’d on the side of caution and didn’t predict the Jericho surprise appearance. I don’t quite know what I was expecting, so I might’ve had TOO BIG of an expectation for the reveal of who it was that took out Taker, but this lacked just a little bit of a punch for some reason. I think part of the issue, is that this felt like a moment that should’ve closed a show, given how long this angle has been running. Instead, you’re forced to move past it and refocus on the main event. Yet, there’s no reasonable way you could’ve had this match main event the show over Eddie/Brock.

    Still, now that we know the culprit, and your excitement for this upcoming Raw, I’m expecting the mother of all follow ups from Jericho.

    Man, I gotta say, the Cole/Tazz interplay is so good in this. It always has been, but on this show in particular, it’s standing out. Their back and forth during the entrances for the main event was just fantastic. Felt so authentic, it was as if you could’ve taken this word for word from conversations they could’ve had in real life. Great stuff, as was the image of the blood still being on the title belt from Smackdown.

    Start of the match was perfect too. Followed on perfectly from the build to the match, with Heyman in the head of Eddie, and played off spots from the first match between the two nicely, I thought, as well. Lesnar going for the Fallaway Slam multiple times was a good call back, and you did a good job of explaining how big a turning point it was in their first match. The utter dominance from Lesnar could’ve got boring, but I didn’t find myself drifting or losing interest at all. Obviously, part of that is down to the great little additions from Heyman, and Eddie’s brief flurries, but a bigger part was the way you wrote this. Kudos.

    Heyman continually poking the bear by winding up his own client, firing him up to destroy Eddie was great, as was the response from Lesnar, leading to him busting Eddie open once again. Smart on your part that it didn’t take anything major to do it, and it was merely a result of the wound not recovering from Thursday. The fact it took about half the match for Eddie to finally get some offence in – and last ditch, save-the-match offence to boot – tells the story of Lesnar’s dominance. Clearly, the action picked up from that stage though, with Eddie making much more of a fight of it.

    Again, the match married up to the story coming in beautifully, with Heyman snatching the belt from Eddie to stop him from using it, and Lesnar then using it for a hell of a near fall spot. I still worry about how you’ll pull off the Trips/Lesnar match with them being two of the biggest heels in the company, but this little tease was still terrific. After the earlier Jericho appearance, we didn’t need another Raw invasion, so the music distraction works for me, and also plays up Triple H being the Cerebral Assassin and finding a way around his ban from Smackdown events.

    Finish was a truly chaotic, high octane scene. The two near falls for Eddie and Brock, with Heyman getting punched for his troubles inbetween, was all fantastic in whipping your audience into a frenzy, and I LOVED the way Eddie countered out of the Rear Naked Choke. We’re so used to seeing the Bret Hart run up the ropes spot to break out of sleeper type holds, so this was a welcome change, and it brought back around to the earlier exposed turnbuckle!! Fucking awesome. Awesome finish. It’s not quite on par with the January First match, but it’s damn close. Tremendous main event, and a huge, HUGE moment for Eddie to knock off Lesnar for a second time.

    You always deliver with these events. This was no different. Could've easily been a throwaway event, but it was anything but.

    Do you want that monthly banner yet, or…?

  2. #402
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    Re: WWE: Where It All Begins... Again

    - The Filthy Animals (Rey Mysterio & Billy Kidman) win the Fatal 4 Way Ladder Match beating Mattitude, The Bashams and London & Kendrick to become the #1 Contenders for the WWE Tag Team Championships...well it looks like they are going to WrestleMania but who will they face at Mania? Either the APA or the WGTT...but either match would be a great match up

    - Jamie Noble retaining the WWE Cruiserweight Championship against Chavo Guerrero to me I was almost expecting Chavo to win the title especially considering his uncle is the WWE Champion but Chavo like his uncle kept in the Guerrero family tradition and tried to cheat but all in all it was a great back and forth high flying counter after counter match. I mean it definitely kept me entertained but that being said it begs the question of what happens to the WWE Cruiserweight Championship at WrestleMania 20? Will Noble even defend the title at WrestleMania 20 and if he does then who will he defend it against?

    - John Cena retains the WWE United States Championship beating Big Show...well case in point because of brass knuckles but then again Regal was the one who brought in the brass knuckles to try to use it on Cena but Cena caught it and used it on Show but then got a piece of Regal too for Regal's trouble and Cena manages to stay on top to retain...but since Cena now has retained the title by basically going over Show and then ultimately Regal in the process it makes me wonder who Cena faces for that title at WrestleMania 20?

    - Probably one of the most bloody and gruesome Street Fights that I have seen in recent definitely did not dim down on the brutality and I loved every minute of it...damn awesome but in the end Benoit going over Hardcore Holly was the right move but then again I wonder if this feud continues going into WrestleMania 20? I mean I think it is safe to say after this win from Benoit it more or less should put him back into the WWE Championship picture considering he just beat Holly but I wonder where Hardcore Holly goes from here?

    - World's Greatest Tag Team (Haas & Benjamin) the WWE Tag Team Champions successfully retain their WWE Tag Team Championships but that is not even the real story in this match...the story being that Bradshaw turned heel turned on his own partner and Clotheslined the hell out of Faarooq and more or less allowed Haas and Benjamin to get the pinfall...I just knew Bradshaw was gonna turn heel and cost Faarooq and himself the titles because Bradshaw honestly deserves to go single I can definitely see Bradshaw becoming JBL especially now

    - The Undertaker (2004 Royal Rumble Match winner) in his first PPV match since winning the 2004 Royal Rumble Match as a surprise entrant beats Kurt Angle in possibly Match of the technical and so back and forth but also Angle had Taker beat hell there were points in the match where Angle was dominating but then Taker being Taker mounts that comeback and beats Angle...but then out of nowhere the attacker reveals himself post-match wearing a mask and attacks The Undertaker leaving him laying and takes the mask off revealing is Chris Jericho the World Heavyweight Champion from RAW...Jericho in a Jericho was the one who attacked Taker at Survivor Series 2003 especially after Jericho was in the Team Bischoff vs Team Austin he went over Michaels that night and has gone over Michaels, Goldberg but now wants the Ultimate Challenge and no greater Challenge than Taker and The Streak!!! Jericho wants to go up against Taker's 11-0 WrestleMania undefeated all makes sense now

    - Looks like we are gonna get Taker/Jericho for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 20...Undertaker is officially going to RAW and he becomes a RAW superstar now in 2004 which is great...that leaves the WWE Championship wide open at WrestleMania 20

    - In the main event...Eddie retaining the WWE Championship going over Brock again for the 2nd time just legitimizes Eddie not only as WWE Champion but it legitimizes his title reign as well by having him go over Brock even though Eddie has to give an assist to RAW's Triple H...Triple H's music hit and it was enough for Brock to be distracted but even then Brock somehow managed to overcome that and finish the match but then again Eddie still went over Brock now that he has it is safe to say we get HHH/Brock at WrestleMania 20 and as for who Eddie faces at WrestleMania 20 for the WWE Championship...I think we get a Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship with Eddie defending his title against both Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit

  3. #403
    Deco90's Avatar

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    Re: WWE: Where It All Begins... Again

    It's about time I checked out another one of your shows dude and firstly I want to shout out the time you took to preview the upcoming PPv and get everyone who doesn't follow show by show up to speed with what's going on. I read it and I appreciated it and it's made me excited to check out the show man! So yeah, kudos to you! :D Here we go!

    No Way Out Review:

    - Great narrative opening with Heyman, really good.

    - Really good opening match and great choice with Billy Kidman & Rey winning. I really enjoyed how Matt Hardy and Moore was showcased in this match.

    - Jamie Noble Boyyyyyyy! Another good match this one. Back and forth. Wasn't sure which way it was going to go and that made it enjoyable.

    - Good little segment with Regal & Big Show building towards the Show vs Cena match.

    I loved the vignette before the match with the two clashes of music playing each other as clips of the Regal/Cena rivalry was shown. After reading the preview I know Cena has been attempted to lift the Giant up for the FU and has been unsuccessful with some good build around that and the injuries to Cena's back and I'm excited to see how that develops and culmination of the match.

    Have to say, all these matches have been a hit for me and this was another good one! It was always going to end with Cena finally lifting Show up and delivering the FU and it was perfectly played out and teased through the match! Regal was brilliant throughout this match as well. Good job!

    - Another good segment backstage with Heyman and Josh this time. Got Heyman down to a tee dude.

    - Maaaaan, it's been a loonnnggg time since I've read anything that involved Benoit. This is the match I'm least excited about to be completely honest. Though the match stipulation helped me enjoy this match a little more then I would have under normal rules it was still my least favourite thing so far on what has been a really good show until now. No real issues or faults with it though so it's just preference and maybe the Benoit thing bothers me more then I thought.

    - Awesome promo for WrestleMania!

    - Loved the APA promo! Could feel the emotion and it came across so well mate. I really, really hope they get the win- carry the titles into Mania and then I think it would be fitting for them to lose their and pass the torch so to speak before Bradshaw likely goes solo from there! I do wonder if we will get a double cross though from Bradshaw and then have his first major feud with Ron. I guess we will see!

    WELL... I CALLED IT =( Made me kind of sad to be correct on this occasion. I guess this sets up a personal feud for Mania and a potential BIG moment for Bradshaw but I personally feel like having this happen at Mania would have been an even bigger impact and would have been a fresh start for this new Bradshaw for the Raw/Smackdown after Mania. I guess had they been the Tag Team Champions though it would have been maybe more tricky to have Bradshaw turn at that point but for sure the impact would have been even more devastating!

    - I do adore a "Who done it?!" story line In wrestling and so I'm instantly invested in this with The Undertaker & Angle and so I can't wait to see the conclusion. I'm assuming it wasn't Kurt Angle and we will likely get Taker vs whoever the masked man was at Mania.

    Good match and I enjoyed the ending with Taker trying to help up Angle. However this was all about the reveal and it turns out to be.. CHRIS JERICHO?! Interesting! Jericho is going to be in big trouble when the Deadman comes calling for his soul at Mania!

    - Main Event was AWESOME and it's a HUGE win for Eddie Guerrero!

    Overall - I think this show proves why I certainly consider you amongst the elite man! I loved all the small details that make a massive difference like just something minor like having Holly wearing a Mania shirt to a commercial announcing that Cena's DVD is coming out.. Having stuff like a Matt Hardy "Fun Fact" in his entrance and so much more. All the matches were pretty much spot on and while nothing was like breath taking or completely unexpected to me.. Everything outside of a personal choice or taste was faultless! Nothing felt out of place or weird to me. The promo's were all spot on too! Good job Keef, very good job!

    'Portuguese Magnífico'

  4. #404
    Zoom E | Szumi | Old Man
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    Re: WWE: Where It All Begins... Again

    I'm going to totally preface this with saying that I have struggled with this a lot lately. I'm sure a lot of it has just been me and my overall dip in interest in BTB related stuff, but I haven't been into this near as much as I used to be, sadly. I just think this has hit a wall for me. I thought Goldberg losing to Jericho clean, only for Kane to do the attack the next night, was a burial of him, and Undertaker's return and overall silence since coming back has been ice cold. There's definitely still been some great stuff going on, but even some of that has troubled me, like the referee stuff in the HBK/Y2J match completely sucking up a lot of my interest because it made no sense at all that Jericho either never picked up a DQ from it, or it didn't play a role in HBK's fall. I'm probably going to skim No Way Out and comment than go full tilt, as a lot of the show feels thrown together, in truth. The World Title should be fun, you've had some great promo work in that build. Angle's great promo work aside, Taker is ice cold like a dead man (), and the Hardcore Holly stuff has sadly been more of a hindrance to storylines than the first benefit I was hoping for. The stipulation for Holly/Benoit just feels so forced.

    You clearly wanted to write this match, given the huge force that was this match set up, but you definitely delivered on it! It totally kept my interest pretty much throughout, and I love a lot of the spots you did, from London doing a ridiculous SSP sell for no fucking reason at all, to the big O'Haire bump, and Moore's wonderful moment at the end. Also love the valet work there like we've seen in past TLC matches; I thought it was a perfect use of Shaniqua and for Torrie to get a nice moment. Kidman had to be the winner of this match if they were going to win, and I'm all for them getting this victory. This was definitely one of those "I want to write this match" moment, no matter what the reason was, so you did, and it worked out.

    The CW Title match was always nothing more than a cool down after that. I honestly pretty much just skipped it because it just wasn't a big one for me. I do love me a match though where it's a non-finisher move ending it, so support.

    I definitely have no issues whatsoever with the US Title match, you told the story exactly how it should go. You did everything perfect with Regal and his increasingly biased bullshit the longer it went on, and it coming back to bite him is perfect. I think this also spells the end of the Big Show as a credible foe though at the same time. He's been putting everyone over nonstop, which I definitely have no issues with. I just hope it means we continue to see him in the more mid card stuff now, similar to this.

    It's nothing really new, the promo or take by Heyman, but it doesn't make it any less brilliant. You slay it with him.

    This is another match where the build has been soft, but you clearly wanted to write it haha. It was definitely a whole hell of a lot of fun, you really captured the stiffness of it so well. The only thing I have to comment on: pretty sure all Street Fights still are pins in the ring. Maybe I'm wrong? I always thought they were no DQs, but the fall still happens in the ring. Doesn't really affect my satisfaction with the match though.

    I'm not really huge on seeing the JBL character show up, so my only real hooy for this is at the you do something different.

    One nitpick moment for this match before I forget: you have Angle prone on the apron at one point, but Taker grinding his elbow into his throat, which doesn't go with prone; that would be the back of the neck. I think that in the terms of the match, you wrote it well, and did your best to really keep Angle competitive in a match we all knew he wasn't actually winning. I thought the F word came off hokey and not good for the booking in truth, just over the top really. And sadly while Angle was competitive throughout the match, once that sit up happened, it might have been the Hulk Finger, because it was Squash City. In hindsight now I can forgive it more because you want to protect Taker more than Angle here, so it makes sense.

    I definitely was not expecting Jericho to be the culprit! Honestly, I wouldn't have been surprised with it being Benoit. Jericho makes total sense though, wanting to eradicate the virus that is Taker. That should make for some great fun, and makes so much sense for your World Title feuds going into Mania now. Well done here.

    I think reading more of this full tilt affected me with the main event, as I was burnt out reading through it. You again delivered on the quality of the match though, and again captured the underdog spirit of Guerrero, getting a HHH moment in there without him showing up (that would've really had a negative impact on it for me with Jericho having just shown up, so smart booking here), and finding what I thought was a really innovative way to both protect Brock and put Eddie over big.

    There was definitely a lot more fun in here than I was expecting. I read a lot more than I thought I would. You tend to hit on PPVs big time. My only problem right now is that I'm just not digging Taker at all. Having Jericho be the attacker is good in that you have a great foe for him to carry the promos, but even Jericho I've really soured on since the Rumble. I think that's much better than Taker/Eddie, and hopefully sets Benoit up for a title rematch now at Mania. This is seemingly ending at WrestleMania, so I'm looking forward to seeing you go all out from here on out, especially as I know you're excited about a lot from here on out.

  5. #405
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    Re: WWE: Where It All Begins... Again

    Thank you to everyone who left feedback from No Way Out. In truth, it was a bitch to pull together just three weeks after the Rumble, and with four weeks until ‘Mania, so I’m glad it landed well. So, yeah, massive, massive thank you to everyone who has read, and to everyone who has fed back. You’re all awesome.

    In terms of predictions, yeah, it wasn’t the most unpredictable of cards, but there wasn’t really a way around it given so many of the pieces are already coming together for ‘Mania. Hope that didn’t ruin anyone’s enjoyment! I’ve tallied up all the scores below, and, sorry to say it, but y’all are getting deducted a point for predicting Triple H would be there. Just because his music played doesn’t count…

    1. Terry Gyimah – 26
    2. TWG – 24
    3. BattleTank – 22
    = Chaddes – 22
    5. Rasky – 21
    6. Wolf Beast – 20 (even though you didn’t say Jericho in these particular predictions, I’ve given you the point anyway for PMing me before ‘Taker had even returned to tell you thought Jericho was the culprit!)
    7. OMB – 20
    8. GJCLS – 19 (although kudos for predicting Jericho’s attack!)

    So congratulations to Terry! You win… nothing!

    Anyway, moving on. No Way Out is in the books, so let’s try and truly kick off the Road to Wrestlemania with the type of show you normally see the night after the Grandaddy of ‘em all... (and don't forget that, in this timeline, the "Rumble winner picks which champion to face" rule isn't a thing yet!)

    February 16 2004
    Bakersfield, California

    We open the show not to the opening video, but to footage from last night’s No Way Out. We see THE UNDERTAKER, having beaten KURT ANGLE, posing in the ring… when his mystery attacker from Survivor Series nails him with a chair again. After another chairshot to the face, the attacker gradually pulls back the balaclava covering his face to reveal…


    We get the usual pyro and crowd shots, and settle on our announce team for the night.

    ”Welcome ev’ryone, to WWE Raw!” JR exclaims. ”And we are well and truly on th’ road… to Wrestle… mania! I’m Good Ol’ JR Jim Ross, alongside Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler as always, and we’ve got a huge night in store for ya, lemme tell ya that. Triple H is in action in a rematch with Rob Conway, we’ll find out who will face th’ World Tag Team Titles next week when RVD and Booker T fin’lly come together with Mark Henry and Maven, plus th’ Women’s Title Tournament continues in t’ th’ Semi Finals.”

    “But that’s not all!”
    King excitedly exclaims. ”What about Shawn Michaels?!”

    “I’m glad you can be so happy about it, King. Folks, we understand that Shawn Michaels, fresh off-a comin’ so close in his World Title Match last week, will be makin’ an appearance tonight with an announcement. And, well… I just hope it isn’t what I think I think it is.”

    “Who cares?! Shawn Michaels is yesterday’s news, and last week proved it! All that matters now is the man who is the World Heavyweight Champion, Chris Jericho! Not only did he beat Shawn Michaels last week… last night at No Way Out… he revealed himself to be The Undertaker’s attacker! Is there anything he can’t do?!”

    * LIGHTS OUT *

    The crowd of course pop as they always do for the darkness, and writing appears on the Titantron.

    ”September 22nd, 2003”

    We then cut to footage from the night after Unforgiven, where we first saw CHRIS JERICHO’s change in attitude. We see him, after busting open Rob Van Dam, cutting his first promo.

    ”Maybe they’ll see how much potential I have, and they’ll give me the ball. Maybe they’d give me the chance to be the World Heavyweight Champion at Wrestlemania again, and this time wouldn’t put all the attention on a washed-up has-been like Hulk Hogan. But that’s all a dream. That’ll never happen. This company… they don’t care about me. They don’t care about any of us. They never have. And if you’re not Triple H, or Shawn Michaels, or-” he shudders, ”or The Undertaker, then you’re a nobody (…) But know this – I’m putting the entire company on notice. Some people here are good people. But many, many, of you are not. Shawn Michaels. Vince McMahon. The Undertaker. You will all get what is coming to you. I will be a star, but I will be a star on my own terms, not yours. And if you don’t like that… you can go to hell!”

    The footage then changes to the following week, when he holds a funeral for his “Y2J” persona.

    ”All of these things are getting buried. All of them. Just like everything else that is wrong in this business. It will be destroyed, and so will all of you. All that will be left is me. And at that point, you will finally recognise me for the all-time great that I am… and I will not care.”

    The footage then changes to Survivor Series, where we see the lights go out, and when they come back, THE UNDERTAKER has been completely taken out; bloodied, bruised, and broken.

    The footage then changes to the night after Survivor Series, where Jericho seemingly talked about retiring Stone Cold Steve Austin, although in hindsight was likely referencing The Deadman...

    ”I told you. I told you what would happen last night. Unlike everyone else in this company, I was transparent. I said I would change the business for good… and that’s exactly what I did.”

    The footage then cuts out, and the house lights come back up.

    ”I warned you,” we hear…

    … and CHRIS JERICHO walks out to an almighty chorus of boos. As is now customary, he continues to promo his way in to the ring.

    ”You can’t say I didn’t warn you all. I’ve said all along that the WWE is an infected, pulsating wound that needs to be cleansed. I have said all along that I will be the one to cleanse it. And I even said exactly who I held responsible… for the infection.”

    He climbs in to the ring, and continues. ”It was all there in front of your eyes, but you didn’t want to see it. You thought I was focused on cleansing Raw?” He shakes his head. ”This… is bigger… than Raw. This… is bigger… than the WWE. This… is about the entire… industry. I will not be beholden to whichever brand is lucky enough to have me at that time. If I see a problem which needs to be solved… I will be there… and I will solve it. And The Undertaker? He… is… a problem. The likes of Shawn Michaels… of Goldberg… Stone Cold Steve Austin… they are parasites. They are sucking the blood of the entire industry, using everything they have at their disposal to make up for their lack of talent or meaning. Everything I have done to them I’m proud of. I have shown them up to be everything I said they were. Those three men will never be the same because of me. But the three of them? They have nothing… on The Undertaker.”

    The crowd boo, but Jericho continues anyway. ”Those three came in to an industry that was broken. But it’s not their fault the WWE is like it is. But The Undertaker? He’s been here… for over thirteen… years. This company is what it is because of him. He is the problem. He is not the infection… he… is the disease. For thirteen years he has done whatever it takes to keep himself at the top of the WWE at the expense of everyone else in the company. Look at the Survivor Series. That title match I screwed him out of… he shouldn’t have been in it in the first place. He lost at No Mercy the month before… and still got the title match. And then, after I took him out… after he was put on the shelf… he could have stayed away. I gave him the perfect out. I… killed… The Undertaker. He could have gone away and never came back. But he couldn’t do that, could he? He couldn’t stay out of the limelight, He had to come back… in the Royal Rumble no less… and take the title shot at Wrestlemania. Does it matter if he’d been gone for months on end? Not to him. As long as everyone’s taking about The Undertaker, he’s happy.”

    “But after last night, guess what, Deadman? People are talking about you… but they’re only talking about you… because… of me. They’re talking about how you’re finished. You wanna know who took you out, ‘Taker? It was me. I was the one who took you out… and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Originally, I didn’t even want the credit for it. I was happy to let you disappear in to the background, and no-one ever speak of you again. But seeing as how you insisted on coming back… it only seems right that I show my face as well. And now you know. Your search… is over. It was me who took you out. And let me tell you this, Deadman… it’s just a matter of time… before I do it again. And next time… it’ll be… for-”

    *** NO CHANCE ***

    Chris Jericho’s cut off… and there’s a HUGE pop for the arrival of VINCE MCMAHON! Sure he may have be hated more than pretty much anyone to ever set foot in the industry, but after over four months off (proper) WWE television, the crowd come alive for the man who made all of this possible!

    Vince power walks down to the ring, arms flailing by his side, as JR explains that Vince had been demoted from “Chairman” to “Advisory Board Member” after his application to manage Brock Lesnar full-time, and that new, advisory-only role must be why he is here tonight. Vince steps in to the ring in his ridiculously expensive suit and grabs a microphone.

    ”And I thought I liked the sound of my own voice,” he growls, to a small pop from the crowd. ”But you see, as a matter of fact I am here-”

    “I don’t need you to tell me why you’re here, Vince,
    Jericho interrupts, to bug eyes from Vince.

    ”Did you just interrupt me? Do you know who I am? I’m Vincent Kennedy Mc-”

    “Yes, I did just interrupt you,”
    Jericho interjects again. ”And I know damn well who you are, Vince. ‘Cos that’s what you go by as now, isn’t it? Not Mr. McMahon anymore. Mr McMahon died thanks to an ego so big it stood out even in this company. Now all that’s left is this shell of a man. A man who used to run this entire business, but is now left advising the board on how to run the company he built. That’s who you are, isn’t?”

    “Quite frankly, it’s none-”

    “I know why you’re here as well,”
    Jericho interrupts for a third time. ”You’re here because you hate not being the centre of attention. Thanks to your own ego you were removed from your own stupid company… and now… four months on… everyone forgot you existed. And that eats you up inside, doesn’t it? You’re gone, and no-one cares. Just like no-one cared when The Undertaker was gone as well. So you come out here now to waste precious airtime that should be going to someone more deserving. But removing you from day-to-day operations won’t get that done, will it? You’ll have to be buried six feet deep before you allow anyone who isn’t one of your chosen ones to get any kind of attention, won’t you? But here’s the problem there, Vince. Your chosen ones? They’re getting wiped out. Goldberg. Shawn Michaels. The Undertaker. One-by-one I’m wiping out anyone who-”

    Vince grows, to a big pop from the crowd. ”I’m sick and tired of hearing the World Champion of the brand I built from scratch whine like a little bitch,” he says to another big pop, the last word said with Vince’s trademark guttural bark.

    ”So let me tell you why I’m here, you sonuvabitch,” he continues, growling so harshly he’s going to end up needing a lozenge after the promo. ”I’m here as a representative of the board of directors. You see, the board of directors have a problem at the moment. For two years Raw and Smackdown have lived side-by-side without issue. But recently… it’s become clear that things between the two brands are starting to boil over. And I was asked for my opinion on how to solve these problems. Problem number one… Brock Lesnar… and Triple H.”

    Heat from the crowd for both names, and Jericho rolls his eyes as he’s forced to listen to hear about two men he no doubt has no time for.

    ”You see, this issue with Mr. Lesnar and Mr. Helmsley has been bubbling under for some time, and it’s apparent we are now at boiling point. While Triple H may not have violated our ruling of ‘appearing’ at Smackdown-branded events, he clearly influenced the main event of No Way Out to his own benefit. These two can clearly no longer live side-by-side even on different brands, and therefore it was my recommended, and accepted by the board of directors… that in the interest of fairness… at Wrestlemania XX… we will have our first ever interpromotional match between Raw and Smackdown… when Brock Lesnar faces… Triple… H!”

    There’s a bit of a pop from the crowd, although it’s not like the announcement comes as much of a surprise.

    ”Of course,” Vince continues, ”that’s only part of the problem. A match in four-weeks at Madison Square Garden will not solve the short-term problem of them coexisting, as it were. Every edition of Raw and Smackdown between now and March 14th is at risk of disruption from either party, and the board of directors can not allow that. That is why, tonight, Brock Lesnar is being held by security in his house, and Triple H is guarded in his locker room until it is time for his match. After all, they will try to invade each others shows if we don’t prevent it, of that much I am sure. That is why my second suggestion to the board of directors… is that we allow a little leeway… on our terms. That’s why… on the March 4th edition of Smackdown, Triple H will be on Smackdown!”

    JR exclaims on commentary. ”Triple H has been given a date he’s allowed on Smackdown to face Brock Lesnar!”

    “And Brock Lesnar...”
    Vince continues, pausing for effect ”will be here on Raw next week!”

    Big pop for Brock Lesnar being allowed to show his face on Raw.

    ”I don’t bah Gawd believe it!” JR exclaims. ”Next week, Brock Lesnar’s comin’ t’ Raw for th’ first tahm in nearly two years!”

    “So with those two deci-
    Vince begins, but is cut off…

    ”Okay, okay, okay, we get it,” Jericho drawls. ”Whatever it takes to keep poor Hunter and poor Brock happy, huh? You’ll break the whole notion of the brand split just to ensure they get what they want. Well, guess what, Vince? I don’t need to listen to this. You may bend over backwards to keep them happy… but I’ll do whatever I want… whenever I want. I don’t need you like they do. I’ve gotten everything I’ve achieved in my life without you helping me. In fact, I’ve done it despite you going out of your way to stop me from-”

    “I’ll have to stop you there, Mr. Jericho,”
    Vince interrupts. ”You see… you very much do have to listen to what I have to say… because the third suggestion I provided… it involves… you.”

    That gets Jericho’s attention.

    ”Mr. Jericho, after what you did at Survivor Series, after what we found out was you last night… the question has been how we deal with you. After all, this isn’t like Brock and Hunter. They can be put in a match with one another. But you’re a champion on Raw, so you have to defend your title at Wrestlemania. And The Undertaker already has a match, having won the Royal Rumble, and earned a shot at the World Title.”

    Jericho smugly nods along.

    ”But you see...” Vince continues, ”for the winner of the Royal Rumble… it says they face the World Champion at Wrestlemania… but what it doesn’t say… is… which… World… Champion...”

    Now it’s Jericho’s turn to go bug-eyed, as the crowd buzz for this in no way predictable story twist…

    ”And so, Mr. Jericho… they have decided… that at Wrestlemania… The Undertaker… will face… you.”

    Pop from the crowd, as much for Vince’s delivery as the actual announcement.

    Jericho, meanwhile, tries to process what he’s hearing… when a puzzled look suddenly falls across his face. ”Wait a minute,” he says. They have decided?”

    Vince nods. ”Yes… they.”

    * LIGHTS OUT *

    The crowd obviously pop for the lights going out, but there’s no gong. Instead, there’s a few moments of silence, until…


    The crowd pop for the unmistakable squeal…

    … and PAUL BEARER appears on the Titantron! Looking perhaps more rotund than ever, still ghostly white with black hair and his mortician’s suit, he stands alone in a graveyard, with the feint sound of metal on granite clinking behind him. The Undertaker’s long-time advisor nods creepily as he cradles an urn, and looks down his nose in to the lens of the camera.

    ”Oooohhh… Chrrrisss Jerichoooo!” he squeals. ”Yooou… have awoken… something… you do not… understaaaand! Chris Jerichoooo… yooou… have awoken… the deadddd! Ooooohhhhh, yeeees!”

    The crowd pop.

    ”And Chhhriiissss Jericcchoooo! Yooou… you are one verrrry… fooolish soul! You think you can hide… here on Rawwww? You thought my Undertaker woouldn’t come to Rawww? My Undertaker… at the Royallll Rumblllle… he left twenty-nine bodies in his wake… and it means he can go to Wrestlemania… and face yooouuu! At Wrestlemania… it won’t just be your title that belongs to The Undertakerrrr… it’s also be… your soul! And Chris Jericho… let me promise you… that at Wrestlemaniaaa… yoouuuu… willll… rest… in… peace!”

    The crowd pop, and the camera draws closer to Bearer. He nods again, then steps away to reveal behind him a figure in the shadows, carving something in to a gravestone that he blocks with his body. The figure then slowly gets to his feet and walks away, allowing us to see exactly what the gravestone says:

    Here lies…


    11/9/1970 – 3/14/2004

    The video then fades out, and the lights come back on in the arena. Jericho looks stunned at the video wall at what he’s just seen, whereas Vince looks smug.

    ”You see, Mr. Jericho,” Vince growls. ”As I found out for myself… we all get what’s coming to us… eventually.”

    Vince climbs back out of the ring and marches up the ramp, leaving Jericho on his own, stunned at these developments.

    ”What a bombshell t’ kick off WWE Raw!” JR exclaims. ”At Wrestlemania it’s gonna be Triple H at Brock Lesnar… and it’s gonna be Chris Jericho defendin’ his World Heavyweight Title… again… Th’ Undertaker!”

    Number One Contender’s Match
    Thuggin’ & Buggin’ Enterprises (Mark Henry & Maven) w/ Theodore Long vs. Booker T & Rob Van Dam

    After that lengthy, jam-packed opening segment, we return from commercial just in time to see the end of Thuggin’ & Buggin’ Enterprises’ entrance, followed by RVD and Booker T making their way to the ring. Despite the heels having slightly more experience in working together, RVD and Booker T show a natural chemistry that allows them to dominate the early goings, right up until RVD looks for a Spinning Heel Kick… which Mark Henry catches… and slams him right back down!

    From there, it’s all Thuggin’ & Buggin’. Mark Henry hits hard, but on Maven’s insistence the big man tags out, allowing Maven to run his mouth towards old rival Booker T on the apron. As JR puts over what a big match it’ll be next week when Christian and Batista defend their belts against the winner of this contest, Maven looks to finish it off with a Tornado DDT to RVD… but Van Dam moves… and Maven crashes to the ground! He’s back on his feet… and stumbles in to a Modified Leg Feed Enziguri! Van Dam scurries to his corner… and tags in Booker T!

    Booker T rushes in just in time for Mark Henry to be tagged in as well, but Booker’s all fired up and manages to get the better of him. Maven then looks to cut him off with his infamous Dropkick… but Booker moves… and Maven accidentally nails Mark Henry! Booker launches Maven over the top and bounces off the ropes… SCISSORS KICK TO MARK HENRY! He makes the cover…

    … but Theodore Long is distracting the referee!

    Booker tries to get the referee’s attention… but hasn’t seen Maven sneak in to the ring behind him with a steel chair! CHAIR SHOT TO THE BACK!

    SO HERE COMES THE LEAGUE OF JUSTICE! Rosey pulls Long off the apron and intimidates him away… while Hurricane slides in to the ring and snatches the steel chair away… AND SUPERNOVA SUPERKICKS IT IN TO MAVEN’S FACE! After everything they’ve been through with Thuggin’ & Buggin’, they’re not about to let them cheat their way to a Tag Title shot!

    With Maven and Long taken care of, the referee returns to the ring, where Booker struggles up after the chairshot… Mark Henry’s up as well… and looks for the World’s Strongest Slam!

    No! Booker elbows out… BOOK END! He tags in RVD, who has returned to the apron… Van Dam scurries up the ropes… FIVE STAR FROG SPLASH! He makes the cover…




    Winners: Booker T & Rob Van Dam in 5:33

    There’s a big pop for the crowd-pleasing win, as RVD and the Booker man hug in the centre of the ring and have their arms raised. As Teddy Long continues to back away from Rosey, Mark Henry is forced to roll out of the ring on his own, having seen his hopes of a Tag Title shot evaporate with the presence of the League of Justice, who firmly prevented a sham win for Long’s boys.

    That leaves Van Dam and Book to celebrate their win, with JR going in to hyperdrive over what a strong team they seem to be going in to next week. They make title belt gestures around their waist as they finally, with so much history with Evolution over these last few weeks (or months in RVD’s case), get a chance at unseating them of the Tag Titles on next week’s Raw.

    We then head backstage to the parking lot, and see a CAMERA CREW are standing by. JR explains that, after Vince’s surprise arrival earlier tonight, they’ve positioned a camera crew in the parking lot to see if there are any more surprise guests arriving...

    … and then transition to just outside the Gorilla Position, where TRISH STRATUS is stretching out ahead of her imminent Women’s Title Tournament Semi Final…

    … when APRIL walks over.

    ”You ready?” April asks.

    ”Uh-huh,” Trish grunts, not giving her ‘friend’ anything to work with.

    ”Good, I’m glad. Just two wins from ‘Mania, huh?”

    Trish says, still stretching, refusing to engage with whatever ploy April has going on now.

    ”Jazz is a tough opponent though. Not that you need me to tell you that. You’ve faced her enough times in the past.”

    “Yeah, and I’ve beaten her in the past too,”
    Trish dismissively says, bouncing on the spot, not making eye contact with the champion.

    ”Okay, well you certainly seem ready. Good luck out there, okay? Make sure you give it your all and make it count. Go show the world that you’re not a third wheel in this whole business with me and Lita.”


    ”Enough, April. I don’t wanna hear another word out of you. I’m sick of your games. I’ve gone to bat for you hundreds of times these last few months, and every time I do you just let me down. So how about you stay the hell out of my way, leave whatever games you’re playing at home, and after Wrestlemania… after I’ve won the Women’s Title… then we can talk about who is the third wheel.”

    She shoves April to the side and storms off, ready for her match.

    The camera, though, stays on April. She watches Trish go, looking shocked at the aggression coming from her friend…

    … when a smirk grows across her face! She’s just fired Trish up exactly as she wanted to!

    From there, we head to outside a locker room that is guarded by security, with “TRIPLE H” on the door. Rue DeBona knocks and, with the security guard’s approval, is allowed to enter…

    … where we see TRIPLE H, half dressed for tonight’s main event against Rob Conway, and surrounded by more security. Rue nervously looks around at the tall, burly men surrounding The Game, but finally speaks up to Triple H.

    ”Hunter, I’ve been asked to carry this interview out here due to the security presence around you and Brock Lesnar at the moment. I would like to speak to you about Rob Conway in a moment, but before I do, let’s touch on Vince McMahon’s earlier announcement about your match with Brock at Wrestlemania.”

    “Brock Lesnar...”
    he growls, ”messed… with the wrong… man. I warned him. When he attacked Stephanie, I kicked his ass, and told him what to expect if he tried anything again. But then after I eliminated him from the Rumble, he comes back for me… and costs me my place at Wrestlemania? I don’t think so. No-one… gets one over… on Triple… H.”

    “Is that why you had your music played last night at No Way Out during the WWE Title match?”

    “If Brock Lesnar thought me being barred from Smackdown was gonna stop me… he’s got another thing comin’. I wanted to send a message. I… am the Cerebral… Assassin. And Brock Lesnar needs to learn… that I don’t need to kick his ass… to ruin his world. Brock Lesnar is a glorified ape… but I… I… have the brains. I can outsmart him at every turn. So Vince McMahon wants Brock to come here next week on Raw? Bring it on. If he dares show his face in the ring… I guaran-damn-tee I’m going to kick his ass worse than ever. But if he hides away like he’s done every other time I’ve challenged him… I’ll find another way to get him. And if Paul Heyman’s thinking about running his mouth this week on Smackdown… he better watch tonight’s match with Rob Conway… and he can see… what I do… to people who don’t know when to shut their damn mouths. Now get the hell out of my locker room.”

    He storms away from Rue, snarling, and takes a drink from a bottle of water and returns to taping his his fist.

    WWE Women’s Title Tournament Semi Final
    Jazz vs. Trish Stratus

    With so much history between these two women dating back to Jazz’s debut over two years ago, you might expect this one to be a respectful encounter between two people who know each other well. Not the case. After April’s ‘motivational’ words earlier, Trish comes in to this one all kinds of fired up, and immediately wails on the unsuspecting Jazz, beating her in to the corner and taking out all her frustration on her.

    That, unfortunately, proves to be Trish’s downfall. She’s so fired up that she goes a little too hard, and Jazz is able to cut her off and take over. Trish quickly finds herself on the defensive, with Jazz’s power advantage allowing her to toss the Canadian around the ring at will. In truth, Trish gets very little going through much of the match, but she refuses to be beaten and manages to battle back, and eventually looks for the Stratusfaction…

    … but Jazz pushes out and Trish crashes in to the turnbuckle! Jazz grabs her arms… and lifts her in to her Double Elevated Chickenwing!

    But Trish rolls through… in to a Victory Roll!




    Winner and progressing to the final: Trish Stratus in 5:02

    Trish has done it! Jazz got by far the majority of the offence in the match, but perhaps motivated by April’s earlier words, Trish refused to be beaten… and she caught Jazz out! Trish is heading to next week’s final!

    Jazz bounces on to her feet after the three and cocks back a fist ready to boil over… but catches herself before she does… and offers handshake! Even with the frustration of having been lost her opportunity of going to Wrestlemania, she’s still got the decency to show respect to her opponent!

    And Trish accepts! Despite it being such a hard-hitting encounter, now it’s over both women are willing to show each other respect for their performance...

    … but Jazz pulls her in! She holds on to the handshake, but she’s making her point clear; Trish won this one, but it won’t be the same next time...

    Jazz then leaves the ring, allowing Trish the opportunity to stride around the ring, pumping her fists, knowing that despite whatever April says, she’s within one win of heading to Wrestlemania and getting a shot at the Women’s Title.

    We then head backstage, where Rue DeBona is now standing by with RIC FLAIR, who is flanked over each shoulder by BATISTA and CHRISTIAN, the World Tag Team Champions.

    ”Batista, Christian, we saw earlier in the night that it’ll be Booker T and Rob Van Dam who you will be defending your World Tag Team Titles against next week. Given how much animosity there is between you and them, do you think that personal aspect makes it more or less likely that you will retain the titles?”

    ”Ya know somethin’, Rue?!”
    Flair half yells, eyes bugging and face already turning red. ”Bookah T… and Rob… Van… Dam? They… are great! Bookah T… he might not be a 16 tahm World Champ’n like me… but ya don’t become a five tahm champ’n… if you aren’t great. Only… tha great… become… World… Champ’ns. And Van Dam… he’s… a pain… in my ass! He’s been takin’ beatin’s from Hunter! From Randy! From Dave! All-a us! And he still… comes… back! That… is tha fight… of a champ’n! But it takes more than bein’ great… ta be a part… of Evolution!” Christian nods in the background. ”It… takes… bein’… tha best! It’s a way-a life! It ain’t no sittin’ in your mama’s basement… it ain’t no hangin’ an’ bangin’ with ya brother! It’s… greatness… in ev’rythin’… that ya do. So as good as Van Dam is… as good as Bookah is… they… are not… Evolution! I’ve got a sayin’, Rue… to be tha man… you’ve gotta beat tha man… and when it comes to tag team wrestling in tha WWE…” he slaps Batista on the chest, who doesn’t move, ”this man Batista...” he slaps Christian on the chest, who winces, ”and this man Christian… they… are… tha men! So come ‘n’ try us! Next week on Raw… bring… ev’rythin’… that you’ve got! ‘Cos no mattah how good you two are… you… are not… tha men… and once we’re done with ya next week… ya won’t… be… tha champ’ns… either! WOOOOOOO!”

    Flair takes Rue’s hand and kisses it, and she can’t help but smile a little at his odd charm as he walks away. Batista follows closely behind, not taking a second look at the interviewer, leaving Christian to take her hand and look to kiss it as well… only for Rue to snap her hand away. Christian shrugs.

    ”Your loss, sweetcheeks,” he sleazily grins, and follows Flair and Batista.

    We then return to ringside, where we see JR and King facing the camera. They put over last week’s epic title match, and mention how Shawn Michaels is still expected to give an announcement tonight. They don’t know what that announcement will be, but of course there are rumours, and in case it is what many are expecting, they’re going to share the video that played in September, celebrating the career of one of the greatest ever to do it...

    We then transition in to the video from last year, highlighting the career of SHAWN MICHAELS, set to ”So Far Away” by Staind…

    We see footage of Shawn's incredible career, from his days as part of the Rockers with Marty Jannetty, to his time with Diesel as his bodyguard, and him achieving his childhood dream and winning the WWE Title in the main event of Wrestlemania XII.

    But we see the dark side, too. The denegerate side, with Triple H and Mike Tyson. The political side, with the Curtain Call. And, of course, the Montreal Screwjob.

    But despite that, we see him still at his best. Whether he was diving off a ladder at Wrestlemania X, getting knocked out by Mike Tyson at Wrestlemania XIV, or winning the title at Survivor Series 2002, he's always entertained. We see him leap off of things, dancing to the ring, and nailing Sweet Chin Music, there is only one Heartbreak Kid.

    As the song says...

    "All in the mistakes,
    One life contained,
    They all finally start to go away,
    Now that we're here,
    It's so far away,
    And I feel like I can face the day,
    And I can forgive,
    And I'm not ashamed,
    To be the person that I am today"

    And as the song starts to die down, we see footage of Shawn amongst his adoring fans, and we hear from the man himself.

    "Ev'rythin' I've done in my career, I did it try'na be the best version of Shawn Michaels I can be. I've not always got it right, but I wouldn't change thing, 'cos it got me to where I am today. And if I brought a smile to even one person's face... it was worth it, man. It was worth it."

    Mark Jindrak & Garrison Cade vs. Dudley Boyz

    As JR reminds us, we heard last week how the Dudleyz are looking for a rematch at the World tag Team Titles, and with Evolution without a Wrestlemania dance partner, this is a fine chance to prove they’re the worthy team. Perhaps with that driving them, the Dudz make light work of the youngsters, and finish them off with a quick 3D.

    Winners: Dudley Boyz in 2:23

    The match is over, and the brothers get their arms raised in victory. They high ten each other and bump fists, knowing that their victory over La Res two weeks ago, and the victory here, could work wonders for propelling them towards another World Tag Team Title match…

    * LIGHTS OUT *


    The now-familiar sight of the old-timely countdown to the start of a video runs down to zero, and the Titantron fades in to a black-and-white visual of a rainy street, in a Film Noir aesthetic. Rain pours on to the pavement as there’s a gradual transition to a 1930s title that appears across the screen…

    ”Brotherly Love”

    With that, the film cuts out and the lights come back up…

    … but there’s no-one there. The Dudleyz are left looking around, visibly annoyed at what is clearly a message being sent to them, and by a pretty obvious candidate too...

    We then head backstage to the parking lot, where the camera crew await to see anything of note taking place after we started the show on such a bombshell. We cut just in time to see a car swing in to a parking space, and the door swings open…

    … and out steps Collette FOLEY?! What the hell is she doing here?!

    She walks through the parking lot until she finds a SECURITY GUARD with a clipboard.

    ”Can I help you, ma’am?”

    “Do you know where I can find Randy Orton?”

    The security guard shrugs, and holds up his clipboard to indicate he’s got a list of who is allowed in…

    … when a SUPERVISOR walks over.

    ”It’s okay, Hank, this is Mick Foley’s wife. I’ll take you inside, ma’am.”

    She smiles and follows the Supervisor inside, and the cameraman who was filming the parking lot follows behind, apparently being satisfied that there won’t be any more surprising arrivals tonight than her.

    ”What th’ hell is Collette Foley doin’ here?” JR asks on commentary.

    We then transition to a graphic that says we are just twenty-seven days away from Wrestlemania XX, Where It All Begins again…

    That leads us in to the latest of our series of Wrestlemania flashbacks, and this time we’re at Wrestlemania XIII. Given much of the show was pretty forgettable, it should come as no surprise that the focus of this flashback is almost entirely on the main event of THE UNDERTAKER winning the WWE Title from SID, and of course, the epic Submission Match between BRET HART and STEVE AUSTIN. Unfortunately, with ‘Taker not the type to do these kind of talking heads, Bret not speaking to the company, and Austin barred from WWE television, it is left to a series of guests to talk about what the event meant to them, including CHRISTIAN, JOHN CENA and BRADSHAW.

    Oddly, the only other match to get any kind of focus was TRIPLE H beating GOLDUST, which we hear an awful lot about.

    We return to ringside…

    *** LINE IN THE SAND ***

    And there’s a tonne of heat for the arrival of RANDY ORTON, the man who made an unsolicited visit to the Foley household last week. Dressed in a designer suit and with three buttons undone on his shirt underneath, Orton confidently swaggers his way down to the ring with a smirk, and grabs a microphone.

    ”So I understand there’s a certain little lady looking for me backstage?” he says with a shit-eating grin. ”I knew one glance at what a real man looks like would be too much to resist for dear old Collette. Well, sweetie, I’m not hard to find. If you want to tell me what a life-altering experience it was seeing a man that looks like me in the flesh, I’m right here.”

    The crowd boo the sheer sleaze of Randy Orton’s apparent attempt at flirting, and we wait a few moments…

    … when eventually COLLETTE FOLEY, followed by the SECURITY SUPERVISOR from earlier, heads down the ramp. She climbs the steps on the outside of the room, so Orton holds the ropes open for her to climb in.

    ”Here you go, baby,” he says, offering her his microphone and taking another for himself. ”You wanted to see me?”

    Collette nods, looking like she’s feeling the effects of stage fright even with her background in modelling. ”I… I do.”

    “It’s okay, baby, don’t be nervous. Whatever you have to say, I’m all ears.”

    Collette nervously nods again. ”Okay… I… I wanted to talk to you about last week. About coming to our house unannounced like that. About riling Mick up, and upsetting our children.”

    Orton places an inauthentic hand over his chest, pretending to be shocked. ”I certainly never meant to cause any harm. I was just trying to speak to an old friend. I thought Mick would like-”

    “Please, Mr. Orton, don’t insult my intelligence. I know the nature of your relationship with Mick. I know what you’ve been trying to do. You’ve been trying to bait him in to returning for a match, and you thought appearing at our house last week would do it. I hate to have to be stern like this, but I didn’t appreciate it at all. Please, stay away from my family”

    Orton tries to maintain his look of feigned surprise. ”But Collette, baby, I don’t-”

    “Please stop calling me that. I’m not your baby. I already didn’t think much of you from the way you’ve been treating Mick these last few months. He’s retired, and has been for four years. He’s happy now. He gave his heart and soul to this business, but it’s over now. But for you then to turn up at our house? Our youngest was scared to go asleep for days. You’re not just ruining Mick’s life, you’re ruining his entire family’s life. Surely you can’t think that’s okay? Surely you’re not a total monster?”

    The feigned look of surprise drops from Orton’s face… and is replaced by a real look of contemplation. He turns away and closes his eyes, rubs his hands over his face, and then turns back to Collette.

    ”You’re right,” he sighs. ”I overstepped the mark last week. I got caught up in my need to have Mick come back and fight me that I lost sight of the impact it might have on you and your children. Please, accept my apologies. I didn’t realise the harm I would do.”

    Collette nods, perhaps a little surprised in his reaction. ”Just don’t do it again, okay? Let it be.”

    Orton nods. ”Okay, I’ll leave you out of it, and I’ll leave Mick alone. I’m sorry.”

    She too nods, and looks to exit the ring.

    ”Oh, but Collette?” Orton calls out to her, making her turn back before she leaves the ring. ”What I just did, apologising and all? It was the right thing to do, right?”

    Again she nods.

    ”And I handled it as you would have wanted, showing genuine remorse for my actions?”

    Again, a nod.

    ”Okay, good. Glad I could help, and sorry again. But you see… I’ve acted like a gentleman here. I’ve done the right thing, and I’ve held my hands up to my actions. So, with that in mind… can you do me a favour?”

    Collette frowns, but allows him to continue.

    ”Foley… he won’t listen to me. That much is clear. I can’t bait him back. He’s a stubborn son of a bitch, I’ll give him that. No offence to your mother in law, of course. If last week didn’t tempt him in to kicking my ass… nothing will. And I accept that. Which is why I want you to ask him to do it.”

    Collette sighs, ”Randy, I’m not-”

    “Wait, hear me out, okay? I know he says that he doesn’t want the match. I know he says he doesn’t miss that way of life. But you know him better than anyone, right? You know what he’s like, deep down. And this pathetic little teddy bear – again, no offence – it’s not who he is. I’ve gotten a taste for that way of life he used to live… and it’s exhilarating. That buzz you get from hurting people real bad… that buzz you get from getting hurt real bad… it’s something else. And it doesn’t go away. That way of life that he lived… the hardcore brawls, the weapons, the blood, the sacrifice… it’s like a drug. Once you’ve tasted it, there’s no going back. And sure, he can pretend to be a domesticated house cat… but you and I know both know that, deep down… he’s an animal. So help him realise he needs to be let loose. Let him out of that cage he chooses to exile himself in and let him know that it’s his duty to defend his name... and defend his honour. And tell him… that it’s the right thing to do… to face me… at Wrestle… Mania.”

    Collette appears unmoved for a few moments, but turns away as she thinks it over, and turns back. ”I’m sorry, Randy. I can’t do it. Mick is a big boy, and he makes his own choices. If he wants to come back, I support that. If he doesn’t, I support that too. But I really, truly believe that he is happy now. I’m sorry… but it’s a ‘no’.”

    Orton nods. ”Okay,” he says, offering his hand to her, ”you can’t blame a guy for trying. I respect your stance.”

    She shakes his hand, and walks away…

    … but Orton hangs on to her hand.

    ”Also, I wanna thank you,” he continues, still holding her hand so she can’t get away. ”I want to thank you for your help tonight. Not for what you have done… as much as… what you’re about… to do.”



    There’s an immediate cackle over the audio, and we see that JERRY LAWLER has thrown down his headset and run in to the ring. He briefly checks on Collette, but sees she obviously unconscious, so gets to his feet and shoves Orton in to the corner.

    ”What’s your problem?!” Lawler yells, picked up without a microphone. ”You think you’re a big man? That make you feel good about yourself?

    Lawler shoves him again, and we hear another cackle of audio as JIM ROSS carefully gets in the ring to check on Collette, leaving us without commentary, as the Security Supervisor joins him in checking on her.

    Orton throws his hands up in surrender, seemingly knowing himself that he’s stepped over the line, but seems to accept that he did what he had to. Lawler again shoves Orton in to the corner and raises his fist for a fight…

    … so Orton shoves Lawler to the mat!

    But TOMMY DREAMER, THE DUDLEY BOYZ, LANCE STORM and VAL VENIS sprint out from the back! Orton sees them coming and rolls out of the ring and hops the barricade, with the Dudleyz and Rising Storm giving chase as he flees the scene. Dreamer stays with the security guard and JR to check on Collette, and within moments we also have ERIC BISCHOFF (looking uncharacteristically concerned) coming out to see the damage, and a team of road agents and medical personnel come out as well. Still we’re left without commentary…

    … and we abruptly cut to commercial.

    We we return from commercial, we head backstage to see COLLETTE FOLEY being led away on a stretcher to where an ambulance awaits in the parking lot. JIM ROSS has abandoned his announcing duties to hold her hand as they look to load her in to the ambulance, and the likes of ERIC BISCHOFF, BOOKER T, ROB VAN DAM, HURRICANE, ROSEY, SUPERNOVA and SUPER STACY all sombrely look on…

    … when Booker T suddenly gets heated…

    … the camera pans around…

    … and RANDY ORTON is watching on! He’s managed to lose the Dudleyz and Rising Storm!

    ”Get yo’ punk ass over here,” Booker yells and charges across the parking lot, with the rest of the group following closely behind. Orton looks to escape…

    … but MARK HENRY, MAVEN, RENE DUPREE, SYLVAN GRENIER and CHRIS KANYON burst through the doors to the parking lot…

    ”There he is!” Maven exclaims…

    AND THEY ALL CHASE RANDY ORTON AS WELL! Even the other heels want a piece of him for what he did!

    Within seconds, security has flooded the area and everyone is held apart! This is carnage!

    We abruptly return to ringside, where Jerry Lawler is returning to his seat, alone.

    ”Okay,” he says, noticeably downbeat. ”I’m guessing that with JR stepping away from the desk it’s up to me to carry things from here, and… I don’t even know what to say. I just… I… look, I’ve been one of Randy’s biggest fans. Possibly his biggest fan. But that? That’s way over the line. What a son...” he takes a deep breath, and trails off. ”Let’s just get on with the rest of the show, please.”

    There’s a few moments of silence...


    *** SLOW CHEMICAL ***

    And we’re ready to continue with our show.

    Non-Title Match
    Kane vs. Rico

    Okay, let’s face it. The fans aren’t hugely invested in this one after everything they’ve just seen. And who can blame them?

    Anyway, Kane mauls Rico from the off, beating him around the ring, splatting him with a Chokeslam and pinning him in less than a minute. If anyone’s minds were on this match, it’d be quite the statement.

    Winner: Kane in 0:56

    We then head backstage, to where Rue DeBona is standing by with MOLLY HOLLY.

    ”Molly, we are just moments away from your Semi Final match, but it goes without saying that our minds are still on what we saw earlier with Randy Orton and Collette Foley.”

    Molly looks personally affronted. ”Does it? I’ve got a Semi Final match with an opportunity of a Women’s Title Match at Wrestlemania – a title shot I shouldn’t even have to earn – and my mind’s supposed to be on some gold digger who put her nose where it doesn’t belong?”

    Rue’s visibly taken aback by the callousness. ”I don’t think Collette could ever be called a gold-”

    “Oh, save it, Barbie. You would side with her, I hate to think of who you slept with to get to where you are. But I really don’t see why I should give a darn about what happened with whatever her name is. If you're not a wrestler, don’t get involved. You should know that, when you step between those ropes, you are accepting that anything goes. Take Lita for instance. She’s probably still hurt from the Rumble. What am I supposed to do, go lightly on her because she’s not at 100%? Please. If Lita has no problem stealing my title at Armageddon, then I have no problem putting her back on the shelf. I’m taking back what is rightfully mine at Wrestlemania. I’m getting the rematch I’m owed, and yet was never given because this company is corrupt from top to bottom. And once I’m done, and once Lita joins whatever her name is in the hospital, the only thing people will talk about from tonight’s show is how dominant I’m looking going in to next week’s tournament final. Thank you.”

    Molly storms off, leaving Rue dumbfounded at how someone can be so self-involved.

    We then return to ringside, and see JIM ROSS re-emerge from the back and take a seat alongside The King.

    ”What’s the news?” King asks.

    ”She’s not in a good shape, I’ll say that.” JR replies. ”Looked like a concussion or somethin’, but I ain’t a doctor. But she’s with th’ medical personnel now, so she’s in good hands.”

    “Did you hear what Molly just said?”

    JR shakes his head. ”I was on th’ way back out here.”

    “That it’s her own fault for having gotten in the ring.”

    JR’s head drops, and he shakes it in disbelief. ”Well, I’d expect nothin’ less from a vile vixen like her… but that Randy Orton...” JR says, and trails off.

    ”I know.”

    “Ya like t’ make excuses for him, King, ya gonna do that now?”

    “I can’t excuse that. I said it earlier, but I liked Randy. Got a lot of time for him. But that was over the line, and from the look in his eyes in the ring he knew it.”

    “Then he damn well shouldn’t-a done it! An’ lemme tell ya this, Collette Foley… that is one-a th’ sweetest, loveliest women on th’ planet, I’ll tell ya that right now. She came out here wantin’ t’ make life better for her husband and her children, and for that sick sonuvabitch t’ do what he jus’ did… he can burn in hell for all I care!”

    “JR! You can’t go around saying things like that!”

    “You bet your ass I can! He’s been pushin’ his luck for too damn long now if ya ask me, but tonight he went way ovah th’ line and… god damn it, I don’t know it this will have done th’ job for Randy and gotten Mick Foley t’ wanna kick his ass, but if he doesn’t then ya can bet ya bottom dollar that plenty of other people’ll be linin’ up t’ do it aftah that. God damn it.”

    *** RHESUS PIECES ***

    The highly-charged announcers are interrupted by the arrival of MOLLY HOLLY, who marches down to the ring looking completely unphased by what happened with Collette, and focused entirely focused on what she has to do tonight. JR starts to go off on a rant about Molly and what he heard she said about Collette and Orton in her interview, but he’s cut off…


    … and there’s a strong pop for the arrival of LITA! There’s no posing for the crowd in this one, she’s equally focused on what she has to get done as she strides to the ring with a purpose… rolls in the ring… and she and Molly start exchanging right hands! This one has turned in to a hockey brawl from the start!

    WWE Women’s Title Tournament Semi Final
    Molly Holly vs. Lita

    Lita gets the better of the early brawl, and manages to beat Molly in to the corner. Molly tries to battle back, but Lita has an answer for everything, showing more fire than we’ve perhaps ever seen from her before. Such is the intense start from Lita that JR is forced to move on from his anger towards Randy Orton and start focusing on this match, and we finally begin to resemble an element of order to what has been a fraught few segments.

    Lita’s early aggression seems to take Molly aback, but if Lita has been driven to this behaviour as of late, then Molly is an all together different animal. Her loss of the title, followed by inability to get another title shot, seems to have sent her over the edge, and no matter how aggressive Lita is, she just can’t compete the insanity of Molly, who fish-hooks Lita in the mouth to gain an element of control, and takes over from there.

    Molly, so desperate to get her belt back, manages to not give Lita sniff for much of the match and is ready to finish her off with the Fujiwara Armbar… but Lita Hiptosses out… and follows up with a Hurricanrana! Molly staggers to her feet… kick to the gut from Lita… and signals for the Twist of Fate!

    No! Molly powers out with a Northern Nights Suplex… with a bridge!




    Lita kicks out! Lita keeps her Wrestlemania dreams alive! Molly pulls her up and looks for a Suplex… but Lita drops behind… runs her in to the ropes… O’Connor Roll… but Molly rolls through thatAND LEAPS IN TO A FUJIWARA ARMBAR! This time she has it locked in!

    Lita grits her teeth in pain, desperate not to show Molly what she’s putting her through… but it’s no good! She roars in pain as Molly yanks it back and looks to slam her hand on the mat in submission… but stops herself before she hits the mat! She’s refusing to give up! She tries to drag them to the rope… she’s fingertips away…

    … so Molly pulls her away… and locks in an STF! She’s wrenching the neck back! She’s targeting the injured neck! Lita looks ready to tap as Molly pulls further back…

    … but Lita makes the ropes! Lita outright refuses to give up on her dream of facing April at Wrestlemania!

    Molly, though, is firmly in the ascendency now. Lita’s in a bad way, so Molly climbs to the top and lines her up… MOLLY GO ROUND!

    ! Lita just destroyed Molly! Lita slowly pulls herself up to the top rope, back to the ring…

    MOONSAULT! She hooks both legs…




    Winner and progressing to the final: Lita in 6:49

    Big pop from the crowd! Lita rises to her knees and clutches her neck in agony, as referee Jack Doan raises her other arm in victory. She slowly returns to her feet… but unlike Trish earlier tonight, there’s no relief or excitement at making it through to the final. Instead she climbs to the outside, still clearly in some pain, but marches to the back, knowing she is now just one win against her friend at getting the rematch she needs against April in Madison Square Garden.

    With that, Lita has left the arena, but Molly very much has not. She rolls on to her knees as she holds her ribs… and sneers with fury! She can’t believe she’s let herself down and lost the shot like that! She had the match in order, but that one missed move has cost her dearly…

    SO SHE STARTS RIPPING AT HER HAIR! Molly is well and truly losing it in the ring!

    We then head backstage, to where Rue is standing by with the stars-and-stripes-clad ROB CONWAY.

    ”Rob, tonight you have a rematch against Triple H, the man with so much anger towards Brock Lesnar he got disqualified when you last faced off on-”

    Conway interjects. ”He is the man who was so ashamed of the beating he was taking at my hands he took the coward’s way out. With the full support of the fifty-something US States of America behind me, he knew he didn’t stand a chance, and he lost on purpose. But he won’t get the chance to do that tonight. Tonight… Triple H finds out what it means… to feel a little vengeance… American style. And then, when I’m finished with him…” he turns to the camera, and points down the lens. ”I’m coming for you… John... Cena. I heard what Vinny Mac had to say earlier. If they’re finding ways to get Raw guys on Smackdown, then I know it’s only a matter of time… before the Real American Patriot… gets his hands… on the undeserving… United… States… Champion.”

    We then head elsewhere backstage, where TRIPLE H is in his locker room, surrounded by SECURITY GUARDS.

    ”Okay, Hunter, it’s time.” one says, and opens the door for him to head to his match. The Game snarls and walks through the corridor, flanked by the security, face like thunder.

    ”And there he is,” JR says. ”With ev’rythin’ goin’ on with Brock, ya have t’ think that level of security is exactly what’s needed for th’ sake of ev’ryone on Raw… but given Th’ Game’s role in Randy Orton’s change in attitude this year, part-a me is fine leavin’ him without security and watchin’ he and Brock tear each other apart.”

    “You can’t honestly blame Triple H for what Randy did earlier?”

    “Randy Orton’s a sick sonuvabitch and he’s gotta be accountable for his own actions, but damn it if Triple H didn’t have a role t’ play in this. He took a young kid and brought this side-a him out. Ya can’t try and turn a young rookie in t’ a damn snake in th’ grass then be surprised when he starts bitin’ people, if ya ask me.”

    “I dunno, JR. When you think that this whole thing with Brock started over what Lesnar did to Stephanie, I find it hard to believe he’d condone what Randy did.”

    “Triple H will condone whatevah it takes for Triple H t’ get ahead, and always has.”

    *** REAL AMERICAN ***

    Again there’s an instinctive pop for the familiar music… but it quickly turns to boos as fans remember this indicates the arrival of ROB CONWAY. Wearing his Bald Eagle-emblazoned zip up jacket over stars-and-stripe-themed tight trunks, Conway marches to the ring waving Old Glory above his head to an entirely negative reaction. He takes off the jacket and hands the flag over as “his” music dies down…

    *** THE GAME ***

    Now that’s a big reaction to entrance music! He may not be popular with a big portion of the audience, but as always TRIPLE H gets a “star” reaction from the crowd. He does his full entrance to the ring, standing on the apron…

    WHEN ROB CONWAY HITS HIM FROM BEHIND DURING THE WATER SPIT! Triple H crashes in to the barricade!

    Conway dives to the outside and, sensing an opportunity, pulls Triple H up off the floor… and throws him in to the barricade again! And again! And now Triple H is in a bad way… he rolls him back in… and we’re ready to get his one underway!

    Rob Conway vs. Triple H

    The bell rings, and Conway tries to get a ”USA!” chant going, although very few actually take him up on it. He turns around, trying to get the crowd on board… where Triple H nails him with a Running Clothesline! Conway took too long!

    Triple H, still frustrated over everything that’s happened with Brock, is even more aggressive than usual in his offence, and slams Conway’s face off the turnbuckle three times in a row, unintentionally mirroring Brock’s offence against Eddie last night with the steel steps. This allows the announcers to compare the last few years of Triple H and Lesnar, and how both men have dominated their respective brands since the split, but without ever being on the same brand at the same time.

    As the announcers talk about that, Trips resorts to unleashing his frustration with punches to the face, which earns him a telling off from Earl Hebner. Still he doesn’t stop, so Hebner pulls him away… and Triple H shoves the referee down! He turns back to Conway… who kicks him between the legs… and Hebner didn’t see it! Triple H’s anger cost him! Conway uses that opening to hit a pair of Atomic Drops, followed by a couple of slams, perhaps wisely keeping his offence basic given the high-profile nature of the match in his fledgling career. Triple H is able to battle back, though, and hits his Facecrusher, followed by big right hands. He then backs up and charges… but Conway moves… and Triple H crashes in to the turnbuckle! Uncharacteristic mistake from The Game! Perhaps Brock Lesnar is more in his head than he’s letting on!

    That provides another opening for Rob Conway, and it’s one he tries to capitalise on. He drives his foot in to the back of Triple H’s neck and chokes him against the bottom rope, and when Earl Henber tries to get him to release the hold he tries to argue that he should get more than a five count given his obvious patriotism (all while still choking The Game, of course). Conway gets so much offence, in fact, that the announcers can’t help but comment on how impressed they’ve been with his ability to hang with someone like Triple H, even if the majority of his actions have been illegal.

    Conway by now is very much looking good, so he lines Triple H up and charges… but runs straight in to a High Knee from The Game! Trips signals for the Pedigree and pulls him in… but Conway fights it… and grabs Earl Hebner by the shirt! Hebner struggles to free himself up… and finally breaks free! BUT THAT ALLOWS CONWAY TO HIT ANOTHER LOW BLOW ON TRIPLE H! Trips goes down holding his crotch, causing Hebner to get in Conway’s face to ask if he cheated while he ever so briefly had his back turned, but Conway ignores him. He pulls HHH up and punches him against the ropes… one… two… three… he whips him off the ropes… BIG BOOT TO TRIPLE H! Is… is he copying Hulk Hogan’s moveset as well as his music?! Conway bounces off the ropes for the Leg Drop…


    But he’s not going for the cover or the Pedigree! Conway has low blowed him twice now, and The Game wants vengeance! He mounts Conway and starts teeing off on him, punching him over and over… so Earl Hebner is forced to get involved again to pull him away… SO TRIPLE H CLOCKS EARL HEBNER RIGHT IN THE FACE! He’s not in the mood to be told what to do! Both Conway and Hebner are out, so Triple H rolls to the outside and lifts up the ring apron… AND PULLS OUT HIS TRUSTY SLEDGEHAMMER!

    He rolls back in to the ring as Conway slowly pulls himself up… SLEDGEHAMMER TO THE FACE! Conway’s OUT!

    Triple H isn’t done there, though. He tosses the sledgehammer out of the ring and pulls up the limp body of the Real American Patriot… PEDIGREE! He hooks the leg… and Earl Hebner is groggily coming around!




    Winner: Triple H in 6:19

    The bell rings, and Triple H triumphantly returns to his feet. There’s no sign of a celebration here, though. Conway’s not moving, and even Hebner can’t get up from the big right hand. All that’s left is The Game, prowling the ring like a caged animal. He walks over to the corner of the ring where a cameraman films the devastation, and stares straight down the lens.

    ”You see that, Lesnar? This is your future, right here. At Wrestlemania… you’re ass is mine.”

    We fade in to footage of a cheering crowd, as the WWE production song Goliath plays...

    ”Our days are finite...”

    We see TRIPLE H standing in the spotlight during his entrance, spraying water in to the air.

    ”We have to make the most of the little time we have...”

    We see KURT ANGLE standing on the ramp, arms raised to the sky, pyro exploding behind him.

    ”To create a future we can be proud of, and a past we will never forget.”

    We see CYNDI LAUPER and WENDI RICHTER jogging through the backstage area at the first Wrestlemania.

    ”Our bodies can not live forever...”

    We then see SHAWN MICHAELS screaming in agony as CHRIS JERICHO pulls back on the Walls of Jericho at Survivor Series.

    ”But the memories we leave may never die.”

    We see HULK HOGAN slamming ANDRE THE GIANT at Wrestlemania III.

    ”For we are not who we say are...”

    We see JOHN CENA, mid-freestyle.

    ”We are... what we do...”

    And then see ROB VAN DAM soaring through the air in slow motion, about to hit a Five Star Frog Splash.

    ”And what we do... can define... a lifetime.”

    We see EDDIE GUERRERO shimmying his shoulders, channelling his Latino Heat, with the crowd roaring behind him.

    ”Did we achieve all we wanted to achieve?”

    We see SHAWN MICHAELS on his knees at Wrestlemania XII, cradling the WWE Championship as the boyhood dream came true.

    ”Did we make the difference the world needed us to make?”

    We see JEFF HARDY hanging from the title belts during the TLC match at Wrestlemania X7, and EDGE diving off a ladder to hit a Spear in mid-air.

    ”Boys may become men...”

    We see RANDY ORTON standing on the stage, arms apart, posing as a curtain of pyro falls behind him.

    ”Girls may become women...”

    We see LITA standing on the top rope, signalling the fans.

    ”But only the great... can become legends...”

    We see SHAWN MICHAELS once more, this time splashing RAZOR RAMON off the ladder at Wrestlemania X.

    ”And only legends... can become... immortal.”

    We see HULK HOGAN and THE ROCK staring down at Wrestlemania X8.

    ”So did you give it everything you have?”

    We see KANE bring his arms down, igniting fire from the four turnbuckle posts.

    ”Did you refuse to quit when all hope was lost?”

    We see the iconic image of STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN locked in the Sharpshooter, bleeding profusely, but refusing to submit.

    ”Did you aspire to dream... when all others said it could not be done?”

    We see CHRIS BENOIT looking out at the crowd with a tear in his eye, having been given a standing ovation for his efforts against BROCK LESNAR on Smackdown.

    ”And when the time comes...”

    We see BOOKER T on one knee, staring at his hand before he rolls in to a Spinaroonie.

    ”Will you make it count?”

    We see RANDY SAVAGE and ELIZABETH’S tearful reunion at Wrestlemania VII.

    ”Will you make a difference?”

    We see CHRIS JERICHO hitting a picture-perfect Lionsault in slow-motion.

    ”And will you find the path...”

    We see THE UNDERTAKER’S entrance at Wrestlemania IV as he rides a cart to the ring to face Giant Gonzales, with an ominous-looking vulture perched next to him.

    ”To immortality?”

    We see STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN celebrating winning his first WWE Title at Wrestlemania XIV.

    ”Wrestlemania XX...”

    We see BROCK LESNAR holding the title aloft after winning the belt in last year’s main event.

    ”Where it all begins...”

    We see HULK HOGAN and MR T celebrating together at the first Wrestlemania.


    We return to the ringside area where the announcers face the camera.

    ”Well,” JR begins, ”for better or worse, I don’t think this is an episode of Raw we’re ever gonna forget, and King, it could be about t’ get even more memorable. Up next... it’s Shawn Michaels’ announcement.”

    “I don’t know what the announcement is, but I’ve heard the rumours like everyone else and, well... I guess we’re gonna have to see what he says.”

    ”OH... OH... SHAWN!”

    *** SEXY BOY ***

    The crowd rise to their feet to welcome SHAWN MICHAELS, who came so close to winning the World Heavyweight Title last week in the 48-minute classic, only to narrowly fall short at the final hurdle. He comes out from the back, dressed uncharacteristically in a suit and tie, and salutes the fans on the way to the ring. He doesn’t drop to his knees to set off the pyro, instead staying on his feet, and slaps hands rather solemnly as he gets in the ring. Once there, he calls for a mic, amid a huge ”H-B-K!” chant.

    ”Y’know,” he says, ”I’d been lookin’ forward t’ last week for some time. For months, I’ve said to myself... ‘Shawn, if ya get that punk Chris Jericho one-on-one, ya can beat ‘im’. And I’d been waitin’ so... long... to get my hands on ‘im. It ain’t no secret that I spent four years-a my life thinkin’ I was retired. I broke my back, and I was done. Finished. I din’t evah think... that ol’ HBK... would step foot in th’ ring again. But somethin’ happened. Somethin’ changed. Triple H brought me back in to th’ ring against my will. I came back for a fight... but I realised, right there, Summerslam 2002... that maybe I could do it again. It might hurt like hell... but I could come back. And that’s what I did. I came back... and I took ev’rythin’ that was thrown my way. It weren’t jus’ my back that hurt, either. Ya do this as long as me, and it’s your knees... your neck... hell, I got pains in muscles I din’t even know existed. And I think I proved, once and for all, that back injury or no back injury... retirement or no retirement... I could still compete with th’ best of ‘em.”

    The crowd applauds in agreement.

    ”But, y’see, that’s jus’ th’ thing. I ain’t ever been one-a them whose happy t’ be one-a th’ guys. Nah. That’s th’ thing with bein’ Shawn Michaels... it ain’t about bein’ good... it ain’t even about bein’ great... it’s about bein’... the best. And that’s what facin’ Chris last week was about. It’s why I’d wanted it for so long. ‘Cos one-on-one, against th’ World Heavyweight Champ’n... two outta three falls... no excuses... could I prove... that I’m not jus’ one-a th’ pack? Could I prove... that I’m the best… of that pack? And th’ answer... was no.”

    “You’re bein’ too hard on yaself, Shawn,”
    JR adds from commentary.

    ”And when I look back on my career,” Shawn continues, ”I see a man who weren’t ever okay... with bein’ numbah two. I did whatevah it took... no questions asked... t’ be th’ best. And, hell, it may-a led me t’ actions I regret now... but I weren’t in the business-a makin’ friends. I was in th’ business-a bein’ the best. And I hope that somewhere... someone looks at me... and sees me as the best.”

    More applause.

    ”So what did last week tell me? Did it tell me that I just can’t be th’ best any more?” He looks in to the hard camera. ”Hell... no. I... can… be... the best. I’ve got it in me... it’s there, waitin’ t’ come outta me. I know it.” His head drops, and he looks away from the camera. ”Th’ problem is... it ain’t gonna be easy. No... it’s gonna be hard. Th’ sacrifices I’ll have t’ make to get there are huge. I’ve already made ‘em once in my life... and I din’t like th’ person I became. I’ve got it in me t’ be th’ best again... but I can’t put my family though that. I can’t... put myself… through that. Th’ sacrifices... are just... too... big.”

    He stops for a moment to compose himself, and wipes his face with the palm of his hand.

    ”So that’s why I’m out here right now. I’m out here, firstly... t’ say thank ya... t’ each... and ev’ry... one-a ya. I was jus’ a kid with a dream... and it’s thanks t’ all-a you sat here in the crowd, ev’ryone watching at home... ev’ryone who evah bought a PPV or a Shawn Michaels t-shirt... your support... made me who I am. So, thank ya.”


    ”And the second thing I need t’ say...” he stops, and takes a deep breath, blowing the air out of his cheeks and looking up to the lights for composure. ”And th’ second thing... is that I can be proud-a my career. If anyone’s evah been there and done it... it’s ol’ Aitch Bee Kay. There’s not a person worth beatin’ that I haven’t beat. There’s not a thing to do in this business that I ain’t already achieved. Whatever it is... I’ve done it all. Intercontinental Champion. Tag Champion. European Champion. World Heavyweight Champion. Won th’ Royal Rumble. Main evented Wrestlemania. Defended th’ World Title at Mania... and won th’ title... at Wrestlemania. I’ve done it all... but it doesn’t make this bit any easier t’ say. Y’see, as hard as it’s gonna be for me t’ say it... as hard as it’s gonna be for me to do it... I’ve gotta be honest with myself. And that’s... the time has come... for me... to say...”


    “Wait a minute!”
    JR exclaims...

    ”… WHAT THE ROCK...”

    “It can’t be!”

    ”… IS COOKIN’!”

    *** KNOW YOUR ROLE ***

    ”It is!” JR exclaims...

    … as THE ROCK bursts out from behind the curtain to a HUMONGOUS pop! We haven’t seen him since June!

    The Rock strides across the stage, looking out to each side of the ring, rubbing his forearms to indicate the goosebumps he’s getting from the reaction, before finally heading down to the ring. He poses on the second rope with his arm aloft, and with that, 15,000 cameras flash at the same time, alighting the arena. Finally he gets in the ring, salutes the other side of the ring, and takes a microphone, circling Shawn Michaels.

    ”Shawn Michaels...” The Rock begins, before a ”ROCKY! ROCKY!” chant causes him to stop and play up the fans a little more. Eventually the chant begins to die down, and he continues. ”Shawn Michaels... The Rock just got to the arena. The Rock came to WWE Raw to see some friends backstage, and...” He trails off for a second, seemingly having remembered something. ”Excuse The Rock for one second,” he says, before lifting the mic above his head... ”FINALLY... THE ROCK... HAS COME BACK... TO CALI... FORNIA!”

    Big pop.

    ”No, no, no, let The Rock try that again... FINALLY... THE ROCK... HAS COME BACK...” he pauses, but with the microphone still held above his head... ”to the W... W... E.”

    Another big pop, followed by another ”ROCKY!” chant.

    ”Shawn Michaels...” he starts again, catchphrase out of the way, ”The Rock was backstage, visiting friends. Just for the last few minutes... before we hit the town. The Rock was seein’ all the old faces. Faces... like Booker... T.” Decent pop for Booker. ”Faces... like Ric... Flair.” The crowd ‘wooos’. ”Faces... like the Hamburglar himself... The Hurricane.” Decent pop for Raw’s resident superhero, and his history with The Rock. ”And faces...” he turns to the timekeeper’s table, ”like Lillian Garcia. How ya doin’, mama?” Lillian laughs, and gives him a wave. ”Shawn Michaels... The Rock was in the back... talkin’ trash and hangin’ out… and somethin’ on the big screen in the back caught The Rock’s eye. Now, correct The Rock if he’s wrong... but what The Rock thought he saw... was Shawn Michaels... was about to retire.”

    Michaels shrugs, having had his moment ruined by The Great One, and the crowd boo the prospect of HBK calling it quits.

    ”That’s what The Rock thought he saw. But you know what The Rock thought he heard? He thought he heard you say... that there’s no-one... you haven’t... beaten.”

    The crowd start to buzz, knowing where we’re going.

    ”The Rock thought he heard you say... that there was nothing... that you hadn’t done. Well, Shawn Michaels... let The Rock be the first to tell ya... that there is...” he holds one finger aloft, one thing... that you have never done... and that... is go ONE... ON ONE... WITH THE GREAT ONE!”

    The crowd pops.

    ”So, Shawn Michaels... The Rock says you wanna stand there and talk about everything you’ve achieved. You wanna talk about everyone you’ve beaten. You wanna talk about everything you’ve done at Wrestlemania. Well, Shawn Michaels... how about you try and add another Wrestlemania moment to your career… against... The Rock?”

    HUGE pop!

    These two absolute goliaths of the business stare each other down, both refusing to budge. After a few moments, with plenty of cameras having caught the moment of the stare down many thought they’d never see, Michaels backs away, and turns his back to The Rock. He lowers his head and strokes his chin. He’d not come out here to agree to a match. In fact, quite the opposite. But here he is, in the ring with one of the few men with at least the same aura as him, being challenged to a match.

    Michaels turns around and faces The Rock. The camera shoots it from over Michaels shoulder, showing Michaels looking at The Rock, with the “Wrestlemania XX” logo up in the rafters behind Rocky. Eventually, Michaels lifts his mic to his mouth.

    ”So ya wanna face ol’ Aitch Bee Kay, huh?” he asks. ”You want me t’ put those plans-a callin’ it quits t’ one side so I can go t’ Wrestlemania against th’ one man I’ve never faced? You want The Great One... versus Th’ Icon. Th’ Most Electrifyin’ Man In Sports Entertainment... versus Th’ Showstoppah.” He pauses and looks at the mat, before looking up again. ”You want The Rock... versus Shawn Michaels.”

    The crowd pop for the idea of the match, willing Michaels to accept.

    ”The answer...” Shawn begins, ”is...


    INSANE pop!

    ”But let me warn ya, Rocky... this ain’t no movie set. Ya wanna stop me from callin’ it quits so we fin’lly get th’ one match they thought’d never happen? Lemme tell ya, Rocky… when ya step in th’ ring with me... you’re not goin’ one-on-one... with th’ ‘Great One’… you’re goin’ one-on-one… with th’ Greatest… One. And Rocky, I hate t’ be th’ one t’ have t’ tell ya… at Wrestlemania… I’m gonna kick your ass so bad you’ll wish you’d stayed on that movie set you love so much.”

    The Rock is unmoved, staring a hole through HBK. ”Shawn Michaels…” he eventually says, now calmer and less coked-up than earlier. ”Do you really think… that it’s going to be that easy? Do you really think… that you’re gonna whoop The Rock’s ass at Wrestlemania?”

    The sneer grows on Michaels face. ”You’re damn right I-”


    Big pop!

    ”Shawn Michaels, all that matters is The Rock hears what you have to say. The Rock hears all your accomplishments. The Rock hears all your threats. But Shawn Michaels… in four weeks… March 14th… Madison Square Garden… Wrestlemania XX, Where It All Begins Again… everything you say… it’ll mean... nothing. At Wrestlemania… it’ll be The Showstopper… versus The Great One. Never seen before, never seen again. All that’ll matter is that when your music hits and you walk DOWN the People’s Aisle… IN… to the People’s Ring… surrounded, by the millions...”


    “... of The Rock’s fans, all as one, chanting The Rock’s name...”


    “It is then... and only then... that you’ll realise... that all your accomplishments... all your threats… all your Wrestlemania moments… they don’t mean a damn thing. Because, Shawn Michaels… you have never… AND THE ROCK MEANS… NEVER… faced anyone… like the jabroni-beatin'... pie-eatin'... trailblazin', eyebrow-raisin', elbow droppin’, never stoppin’, People's Champ THE ROCK!”

    Another pop.

    ”So Shawn Michaels… what The Rock is gonna need for you to do… is bring your double-sided candy ass to New York City on March 14th, because at Wrestlemania… The Rock guaran-damn-tees...” The Rock gets in Michaels’ face, ”that The Rock’s gonna whip your candy ass alllllll over Madison Square Garden! IF YA SMEELLLLLLL-”


    The crowd ”OOOOH!” the disrespect, and Rocky gradually lowers his microphone, giving us a few moments of seeing them just a few inches apart…

    Eventually, Michaels raises his microphone. ”Save it, Rocky,” he says with a sneer. ”All your little singalongs… they don’t have a place here. Ya step in t’ th’ ring with me? You’re playin’ with th’ big boys now. So run your mouth all ya want… but know this; no-one… no-one… outperforms Shawn Michaels… at Wrestlemania. And Rocky? In four weeks… Madison Square Garden… it’s gonna be my pleasure…” a sneer grows across his face, ”… to kick your ass all the way back to Hollywood.”


    The two absolute giants of the industry remain just a few inches apart, cameras flashing, as Rock slowly raises his microphone one final time, and almost-whispers with a hushed, intense voice. ”Just… bring it.”

    He lowers the microphone, and we’re again left with the image of The Rock and Shawn Michaels standing a few inches apart, staring intensely at each other, ready to boil over at any point, as eventually the copyright logo appears in the bottom of the screen to signal the show is over...

    ”I don’t believe it!” JR screams, ”I thought I’d never see the day! It’s gonna be a match for th’ ages! It’s the Showstopper and The Great One! The Heartbreak Kid and the Peoples’ Champ! It’s Shawn Michaels... it’s The Rock... it's Wrestle...mania!”

    * END OF SHOW *

    Confirmed for next week

    World Tag Team Titles Match

    Batista & Christian (c) vs. Booker T & Rob Van Dam

    WWE Women’s Title Number One Contender Tournament Final
    Lita vs. Trish Stratus

    Six-Woman Tag Match
    Gail Kim, Ivory & Molly Holly vs. Jacqueline, Jazz & Victoria

    Non-Title Match
    Kane vs. Chris Kanyon

    Tag Match
    Mark Jindrak & Garrison Cade vs. League of Justice

    Brock Lesnar makes his first Raw appearance in two years!

    World Heavyweight Title Match
    Chris Jericho (c) vs. The Undertaker

    WWE Tag Team Title Match
    The World’s Greatest Tag Team (c) vs. Filthy Animals

    WWE Women’s Title Match
    April (c) vs. Lita or Trish Stratus

    Great One versus The Showstopper
    The Rock vs. Shawn Michaels

    Battle of the Brands
    Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H

  6. #406
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    Re: WWE: Where It All Begins... Again

    I sort of said it tongue in cheek after No Way Out … but seriously, do you just want the September BTBOTM banner now and save me the time?

    If things were a little on the slow side for the last few weeks, you chucked a case of dynamite on Raw here for this show, and I can see now why you were looking forward to posting this.

    Where better to start than with the follow up to the reveal by Jericho at No Way Out. And, even though I had Jericho pegged from the off, I definitely overlooked a couple of those breadcrumbs you’d left. Especially the promo the night after Survivor Series. Having this all come together now, and getting to pay it off is the most rewarding part of sticking to these projects and seeing your vision through. The Jericho promo, before the surprise appearance of Vince, was up there with your best work with this character. I’ve always loved Jericho referring to the WWE as a ‘pulsating wound’ in this thread, and his verbal assault on Taker was perfect.

    Wasn’t so enamoured with the Vince sighting, but it was a means to an end. I’d have rathered seen someone else in this position though, maybe introducing a new Commissioner or President, and this being their first act. Just feels like such a fall from grace for McMahon, and the given the long exposition from Jericho as to what McMahons role is now, along with the back and forth, the whole thing went a little longer than it needed to too. Lesnar being held by security and Trips being confined to his locker room all feels a bit much too, especially if they’re now going to get their match, and at least two potential face to face’s in the run up to Mania.

    You got back on track though for the wrap up of this segment. I love me some Paul Bearer, and he’s not someone we get to see a lot of in the BTB world. And I imagine while still a challenge to write for, he must be a darn sight more FUN to write than Deadman Taker. It’s a smart move too, because I’m guessing you’re either not going to have Taker talk anymore, OR, you’re saving that moment for later down the line. Either way; good call. Having Bearer to play off potentially, could make this run in to Mania a lot more interesting. But, overall, hell of an opening segment, confirming two huge Mania matches. And I’ll give you this – while I didn’t love Vince being part of this segment, I sure did LOVE his closing line to Jericho.

    This show wasn’t really about the matches, so I’ll not spend too much time talking about them. RVD and Booker got the win I expected them to, and I expect the match next week to set up something for WrestleMania.

    Camera crew are wasting their time. No way there’s going to be any more surprise appearances.

    It does feel like the tournament has kinda slowed the momentum of the April/Trish/Lita saga. Nice show of fire though from Trish to April, but April being happy about it has my curiosity.

    I’m still struggling to get a read on what the situation is with Triple H. Pseudo face? Tweener? As big a marquee match between Lesnar and Trips is, there is the glaring issue in that neither of these guys have come across as even remotely likeable. I’m interested to see just how you treat this angle in the next four weeks, and if you manage to position one of them as someone the fans can get behind. Trips seems the most likely to get that face role, but him talking as a bad ass and (for the time being at least) distancing himself from his buddies isn’t going to be enough imo.

    No prizes for guessing Trish was winning this match, but I really liked the post match stuff. Lays the foundations to revisit Jazz/Trish if you so wish coming out of WrestleMania, which is always a good thing.

    Perfectly decent Flair promo for Batista and Christian. Never a bad idea to hype up a main event for future weeks shows. Couple of fun bits revolving around Christian here too with him wincing at the chest slap, and getting turned down by Rue.

    Interesting that you made a point of the Dudleys still wanting another crack at the titles while they made quick work of Jindrak and Cade. Given that it seems like you’ll have them soon dealing with Goldust and his crew, I don’t know if you’re going to throw all the tag teams into some big multi man match, or whether there’s going to be a multi team contenders match in the future for Mania. Right now, I’d much prefer a straight up Evolution vs RVD/Booker feud than throwing the ice cold Dudleys back in the mix just to get them on the card.

    Hank the security guard is going straight onto my awards log for best individual fyi.

    Poor WrestleMania 13. It definitely needed Hulk Hogan powerbombing the 975 pound Andre The Giant.

    I had reservations about the home visit angle last week. But man, Orton was an incredible dick in this segment. Him calling Collette “baby” over and over at the beginning was exquisite, as was him being overly sweet and nice to Collette too. The “no offence” after every time he said something offensive was brilliant too. You’ve nailed most, if not, all of Ortons promos in this thread, but this was by far the peak of the lot.

    I don’t know how to feel about complete rookie performer Collette Foley holding her own in a long talking segment on live TV, but if I spend too much time thinking about that, I’ll be the ultimate pedant. I think for some extra authenticity, I’d have loved her to have tripped over a few words, get a few sentences mixed up etc, as the segment came off as too perfect almost. God, I really am being pedantic.

    Putting that aside, and assuming that Collette Foley is a natural, then this was a home run and a half (if such a thing exists?) and will absolutely be the catalyst now in bringing back Foley for the big WrestleMania showdown with Orton. That final line before the RKO was great too. And even though we all probably saw the end game of this segment, that doesn’t make the lead up to it any less brilliant. And you followed it up magnificently too, I must say. Lawler and J.R leaving commentary, and the ENTIRE locker room coming after Orton? As a certain someone sometimes says; ~chefs kiss~

    Kane killing Rico is something I feel like has happened in this thread before, no? Poor Rico. But the absolute RIGHT match to follow that previous segment. You throw out any other match on this show, and it’s dead on arrival. King calling the action on his own for a bit too was a nice touch to add to the confusion and the carnage in the aftermath of the Collette segment.

    Molly = Gold. That curt “Thank You” at the end got me for some reason. After this long rant, to just end it like that gave me a great chuckle. Nice bit of levity to follow some super serious stuff on this show. No need for a surprise in the match either. We expected Lita and Trish to be the final, and anything other than that would’ve been classed as a disappointment. Post match was interesting with Molly tearing at her hair. A sign of her future?

    Brilliant little promo from Conway. He’s a low key highlight on this show these past few months. I have to say though, I think you’ve overdone it with the interviews on this show, and there’s a few that probably could’ve been cut for time, given how heavy it’s been on the promo side of things. I can get that there’s good reason for each of the promos to happen, and they aren’t necessarily superfluous, but they weren’t essential either, imo.

    Lovely start to the match. I don’t even recall that EVER happening either – which seems weird, as when you see it here, it seems like an obvious thing to do to get heat on a heel. Either way, great idea. Might steal it some time, lol. Nice to see Conway isn’t being treated as a complete joke either, and getting some sustained offence against The Game, while it can still be explained away as Triple H having his focus on Lesnar, and not the task at hand, giving Conway an upper hand.

    What I don’t get is Hebner making the count after getting punched by Triple H. Why not just call for the bell and DQ the guy??? As I mentioned earlier, Trips is still coming across as completely unlikeable in this current moody ass kicker role. Though, on one hand, it’s accurate to how he DID act as a face in real life, so … maybe it’s fine? I just don’t like it, personally.

    And then the Shawn Michaels retirement segment happened to close the show. It was okay. Pretty uneventful really.


    I had a sneaking suspicion over the last few weeks that this could happen. From this, and your WCW thread last year, you’ve always been strict in setting yourself certain “rules” I guess, and not bringing in everyone you possibly can, but instead working with what you’ve got. Knowing The Rock WAS on the WrestleMania 20 card irl, he was always in the back of my mind as a potential player on the show, and I don’t blame you AT ALL for doing this. While I don’t think it plays into the long arc of Shawn Michaels being “over the hill” these past few months, that doesn’t really matter. Because this isn’t a long running saga. It doesn’t need to be. It isn’t a heated feud. And it doesn’t need to be. It’s The Rock. It’s Shawn Michaels. That’s all you need. Much like Rock/Hogan, all it needs is one promo. One face to face. And boom. If Rock/Michaels isn’t a mega, blockbuster WrestleMania match, then nothing is.

    So I’m glad – not that I thought you would – that you didn’t have a stupid beatdown or heel turn (or run a truck into the side of an ambulance) to cap off this segment. Really, the only thing I didn’t love about the segment was just the Shawn Michaels putting his hand up in Rocks face. Just because it had been done previously by Jericho a few years prior – but I’ll not deny that it wouldn’t be something that got a huge reaction still. You nailed Rock and got in just about all his big lines, but Michaels big serious bit to end the promo was AWESOME – and I’ve no doubt that’ll be the big go-home part of the video package when the show drops. Closing on the face to face was perfect. Just perfect.

    This WrestleMania card. It’s not looking too shabby, y’know. Still have reservations on how Trips and Brock will look, but everything else that’s coming together has me thinking that I’m about to witness the best WrestleMania I’ve ever read in BTB. No pressure.

  7. #407
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    Re: WWE: Where It All Begins... Again

    - Starting off RAW with footage from what happened at No Way Out 2004 last night makes sense given that you had RAW basically invade Smackdown in the sense of the World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho not only attacking the 2004 Royal Rumble Match winner The Undertaker but also him being revealed as the one who took out The Undertaker all those months ago at Survivor Series 2003...I mean you almost had to start off with that. Also the fact that Evolution's Triple H he too was featured at No Way Out 2004 too even though Triple H wasn't physically at the PPV his music was more than enough to distract Brock and cost him the WWE Championship against Smackdown's WWE Champion Eddie Guerrero.

    - Jericho starting off the show with his explanations as for why he went after Taker and honestly it makes sense why he would considering he thinks The Undertaker is just like Michaels, just like Goldberg, just like HHH, just like all the top guys and Jericho considers himself not only The Guy in WWE but he considers himself deserving of being in the same breath as those guys so what better way for him to make that statement than by going after Taker. However, seeing Vince all of a sudden show up on RAW and then seeing Jericho basically tell the boss that he is a success mainly due to the fact that it is in spite of Vince because all Vince has ever tried to do is hold Jericho back but it doesn't matter because he is the World Heavyweight Champion. However, Jericho needs to be careful. I mean Vince could still fire him or better yet Vince still has that power to strip Jericho of the title because even though Vince is not on TV anymore he still has power within the company.

    - Love Paul Bearer....OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS...just gotta love Bearer and the fact that he's back now in WWE for the first time since 2000...Paul hasn't been seen literally in almost 4 years and he is back with The Undertaker too. This just adds another layer to the Jericho/Taker feud especially for the World Heavyweight Championship because essentially Taker made his WrestleMania decision because the rules of the Royal Rumble Match state that the winner goes on to Mania but it doesn't specify which champion that winner faces at WrestleMania and Undertaker has made his decision quite clear. Jericho/Taker is gonna happen at WM 20 for the World Heavyweight Championship so essentially Taker is now a RAW superstar now well both he and Paul Bearer are now on the RAW roster which leaves the WWE Championship wide open. Taker basically screwed Regal and the Smackdown brand by jumping ship over to it makes me wonder what Regal plans on doing when it comes to the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 20? Who will Eddie defend his title against at Mania?

    - Plus Taker is 11-0 at WrestleMania...he's never lost at WrestleMania so it is basically The Streak vs The Title- HHH and Lesnar basically are being contained by security on their respective shows...I wonder how long that lasts before those 2 just completely rip each other apart? Brock he doesn't even need to go after Triple H because Brock Lesnar could easily go after Evolution members as a way to send a message to Triple H...Brock could easily attack Ric Flair or the World Tag Team Champions Batista & Christian or Brock Lesnar could easily attack Randy Orton as a way to send a message...Evolution is basically fair game for Brock

    - With Booker T & RVD beating Thuggin & Buggin to become #1 Contenders for the World Tag Team Championships...I think it is safe to say that next week's title match for the World Tag Team Championships will somehow end in a DQ win for Booker T & RVD because I can instantly see Batista & Christian getting themselves DQed to save their titles but either way I can see this program continuing into WrestleMania 20 and Batista & Christian defending their titles at WrestleMania 20 against Booker T & RVD

    - Seeing Trish come face to face with her former best friend now bitter enemy the WWE Women's Champion April and then seeing Trish actually grab April and shove her up against the this...I love this aggressive mean streak in Trish because she needs to bring it out more especially if it means winning matches but it is obvious that after this confrontation Trish will somehow end up in the Finals of this #1 Contender's tournament for the WWE Women's Championship with the winner getting a title shot at WrestleMania 20 against the WWE Women's Champion April

    - Brock Lesnar on RAW next is almost a guarantee that he and Triple H will be face to face next week that is almost a guarantee but even if Brock doesn't get to HHH he can easily send a message by attacking Evolution like does Triple H not realize that?

    - Trish making it to the Finals of the #1 Contender's tournament by beating is almost a foregone conclusion well pretty much a guarantee that Trish was always gonna go over in this match but now that she is in the Final it makes me wonder just who she'll face? Will she face her best friend Lita or will she face Molly Holly in the Final?

    - Randy Orton RKOing Mick Foley's wife like that...I mean could there be anything more despicable? Anything more God damn disgusting than attacking another man's wife like that and she is completely innocent in all of this. Orton obviously wanted to send a message to Foley and I would say message received. Hell, by doing this Orton has just made himself the most hated man not only on RAW but the most hated man in the entire WWE after what he just did. I mean hell you had Foley's old ECW buddies run out after Orton hell even babyfaces and heels even God damn heels after Randy by running after him. Orton if he knew what was good for him he would definitely stay home because if he even thinks about showing his face on RAW next week people are gonna want to beat the holy hell out of him for even showing his face on RAW at all. However, this is enough for Foley to actually want to come to RAW next week to beat the holy hell out of Orton himself.

    - Kane the WWE Intercontinental Champion dominating and destroying Rico in less than a minute...was a clear message to Bill Goldberg and honestly I think we end up getting Goldberg vs Kane at WrestleMania 20

    - Lita beating Molly Holly to advance to the Finals of the tournament...I basically knew Lita would win this match...I mean you had to have Lita go over especially if it means meeting Trish in the Finals given the fact that Lita and Trish have had their confrontations as of late but also because of the fact that the WWE Women's Champion April has had her run ins with both of them lately so this Final of Trish/Lita was almost destined to happen. However, with Molly Holly I wonder where she goes from here now?

    - Triple H obviously sending a message to Brock Lesnar by not only beating Rob Conway but completely destroying Conway with his trusty sledgehammer...well if that is not a great way to send a message then I don't know what is honestly. However, I can see Heyman and Lesnar both responding to this message on Smackdown by having Brock beat the hell out of or completely destroy someone too as a way to respond to what HHH did. Or Brock responds on RAW next week by destroying Evolution members one by one.

    - Shawn Michaels vs The Rock of all people...The Great One vs The Showstopper...this is a Dream Match in of that of itself honestly. I mean who wouldn't give to see this match happen? I know I would and you basically can set it up as a babyface vs babyface match for WrestleMania 20 and it more or less is because you have probably the 2 biggest names in WWE history going at it for the first time ever and on such a grand stage like WrestleMania...this match definitely will end up being the one that steals the show at WrestleMania 20 as being Match of the Night.
    Last edited by Terry Gyimah; 09-30-2019 at 11:18 AM.

  8. #408
    Zoom E | Szumi | Old Man
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    Re: WWE: Where It All Begins... Again

    I thought you absolutely killed it with Jericho here, fantastic characterization. The reasoning behind Jericho's attack, all of that incredible, subtle, background reasons, the way you use Jericho to make it bigger than just RAW for his vendetta, perfection. McMahon coming back was totally a great call, and I loved the disrespect shown to him. The only problem for me with this was I didn't like killing two birds with one stone. McMahon announcing all the Brock/HHH stuff here just felt like it took away from the real meat of the issue, which for this opener is Jericho. Wish you would've saved that for later in the show. Otherwise, perfect. I of course adored the Bearer stuff, and the auditory descriptions of the tombstone inscription happening was exquisite. Love that you didn't show Taker in this, just merely alluding to his presence.

    I would hate to see RVD be shoehorned into a four team tag team title match at Mania like I'm expecting, but I can understand it, with limited time and slots available. I thought he's been a great upper card guy for you in this.

    Great little segment here. April finally getting that explosive reaction from Trish was a long time coming, but doing it in a still reserved way, especially considering how stacked you've made this show, was a very underrated and great booking decision on your part.

    Simple and effective from HHH, with the ending really capturing the intensity for me. I still don't think the crowd would be as face leaning as they've been. If anything, I could see Brock getting the more face response because of his more exciting style. But that's small potatoes.

    Small nitpick, but that pin ball would better be described as a Wheelbarrow Roll Up or Victory Roll, as that's the position she's pinning from. Just friendly wrestling move help. I think otherwise you did very well to protect Jazz in defeat, which I appreciate, as I think she's such an underrated hand who didn't get enough chances by WWE. I love the aftermath for that reason.

    The Flair promo was fine and dandy, although I definitely think you over did the accents/twangs, but again, small. I love the little ending difference between Christian and Flair. It's such a small touch, but I think captures the difference so well. I'm actually disappointed and surprised that you have just let Christian essentially be an Evolution member at this point, and any and all tension has gone to the way side.

    I'm sure you are going to have some really awesome vignettes prepared for the Dudleys, which is needed, as both teams have lost any and all steam for me.

    Everything about this Orton/Collette angle was predictable, but that's exactly what makes it so great. Sometimes the best angles are exactly that: the ones you know how they'll go because of the prior storytelling. Perfect. Orton's sleaze towards her was excellent, and the build up and tease to the RKO was perfectly well done. The only thing that didn't work too great was, while you expect her to have no charisma as a non wrestler, you definitely portrayed her as a little too wooden and proper. You would expect a little more emotion, all things considering. Even such a small detail as saying her son's name who couldn't sleep I think drives much more emotion as this tormented mother and wife at what has happened to her family. But it was otherwise excellent, with again, your added touches - faces and heels wanting a piece of him, JR and King leaving the booth, King turning on him - really making the moment that much better.

    Still can't be arsed with Kane.

    Having Molly's interview be just after the Collette stuff was amazing to get over just how much of a heartless bitch she is. Excellent again.

    Lita was of course always winning this match to set up her v Trish, with April presumably ruining the finals to give us the obvious triple threat match at Mania. I'm curious where Molly goes from here; such a great character throughout so much of this thread, but now without much of a purpose.

    Rob Conway's promo and character is just wonderful. 50 something states, brilliant. HHH was always winning this, and I appreciate that you still made sure to get a clear heel moment in by punching Hebner so he could use the sledgehammer. Job done. I'm also looking forward to Conway showing up to SD to get his ass kicked, as there's no way you don't do Cena v Regal at Mania.

    I saw this coming from a mile away, especially with the retirement tease, but again, that doesn't take away from the enjoyment of the segment. Rock v HBK is the perfect Mania match, considering the time you're in and that it never happened. They would certainly deliver, and you got this all done well. HBK countering with The Greatest One was excellent, and you did the absolute right thing by having no real physicality here. HBK definitely went from I'm going to retire to I'm thing to kick ass pretty quick, but that's too be expected in a segment like this.

    Pretty close to a perfect show in terms of story telling and setting up Mania. A lot of fun reading this Keef. Really, really excellent job.

  9. #409
    Jam Up Guy
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    Re: WWE: Where It All Begins... Again

    February 19 2004
    Fresno, California

    We open with stills from the main event of Sunday’s No Way Out, of course focused around EDDIE GUERRERO somehow managing to overcome BROCK LESNAR to retain his WWE Title, albeit with a slight assist from TRIPLE H’s music.

    When we return to ringside, we open not to pyro and crowd shots, but to WILLIAM REGAL standing in the middle of the ring, with one arm politely behind his back and the other holding a microphone.

    ”Welcome everyone, to WWE Smackdown! he says, to a pop from the crowd. ”And I’m sure you will all agree, what a fantastic pay-per-view we here on Smackdown put together last Sunday at No Way Out!”

    “Damn right!”
    Cole says on commentary, as the crowd pop for No Way Out.

    ”And,” Regal continues, ”thanks to No Way Out, we know Smackdown’s first match at Wrestlemania! After retaining their WWE Tag Team Titles, the team I consider the World’s Greatest Tag Team will defend their belts against… Rey Mysterio and Billy Kidman!”

    Pop for title match.

    ”Master Haas and Master Benjamin, being the elite wrestlers they are, have insisted on being here tonight, and have asked for something of a warm up. So they will be in action shortly. But, of course, Master Mysterio and Master Kidman won that opportunity in quite the brutal Ladder Match on Sunday, and therefore I have given them the evening off to recover from their injuries.”

    Boo from the crowd for the Animals not being there, but Tazz bigs up the thoughtfulness of our GM.

    ”Now, normally I would have had the other six participants in the Ladder Match have the night off as well, such were the injuries they sustained. But, you see, while No Way Out answered some questions about the Tag Titles… it left a few more open… for the WWE Title.”

    “We lost our Number One Contender!”
    Cole helpfully adds.

    ”For the last month, I have been operating on the assumption that, as a Smackdown wrestler, The Undertaker would be competing for our world title. But as we saw on Raw this past week… The Undertaker… will be competing… for their World Title at Wrestlemania.”

    Boos from the crowd for ‘Taker choosing Raw.

    ”So that leaves us in something of a conundrum, albeit one that I have quite the answer for.” He nods to himself, satisfied with his decision making. ”It is for that reason that I have recalled the Basham Brothers, the Hooliganz, and Matt Hardy’s little clan. In fact, I have recalled everyone eligible for a WWE Title Match at Wrestlemania. And tonight, in this very ring… we will have an entire brand Battle Royal… with the winner going to Wrestlemania to face Eddie Guerrero for the WWE Title!”

    Tazz exclaims as the crowd pop. ”Big time main event from our General Manager!”

    ”Now this is no ordinary event,” Regal continues. ”This… this is Wrestlemania. The Grandfather of them all. So this is no time for politics or favouritism, although I’m of course already above both of those. This is such a big opportunity… that I am opening it to everyone. I don’t care who they are or what they have achieved in the past. If they are on Smackdown… they… are… entered!”

    “Do you think that includes John Cena?!”
    Cole asks on commentary.

    ”Of course it does, Cole! He said ev’ryone, and Mr. Regal ain’t tha type ta play favourites.”

    “Gimme a break.”

    Regal nods along with what he is saying. ”That includes everyone able to compete… including… making his grand return to Smackdown… Billy… Gunn!

    Mixed reaction to Mr Ass.

    ”The only people not entering are those already in matches at Wrestlemania. So that excludes Charlie Haas, Shelton Benjamin, Rey Mysterio and Billy Kidman… and as we found our thanks to our esteemed former Chairman on Raw… that also excludes… Brock… Lesnar”

    “We heard it on Raw, folks,”
    Cole pipes in, ”Brock Lesnar and Triple H, first time ever, battle of the brands at Wrestlemania!”

    ”But I had the pleasure of speaking to Mr. Heyman earlier tonight, and it is my understanding that, despite his inability to compete for the WWE Title at Wrestlemania… Master Lesnar still insists on competing here tonight. Apparently he has quite the pent up frustration still lingering from Sunday and the WWE Title Match. So that is why that, for the benefit of of Master Lesnar… and for you wonderful fans who want to see Smackdown’s biggest stars in action… I have decided that tonight… Brock Lesnar will be in action.”

    Mixed reaction from the crowd; some happy that they’ll see a star in action, otherwise showing their displeasure towards the former WWE Champion.

    ”Against...” Regal continues… ”John… Cena. Thank you!”

    Regal waves to the crowd and leaves without saying anything more, leaving that final statement to hang over the show.

    ”Oh, for the love of God!” Cole exclaims. ”I knew there’d be a caveat when it came to John Cena! So he’s allowed to enter the Battle Royal… but he’s gotta face a furious Brock Lesnar first! And thanks to Regal’s unfair ruling… given it’s a one-on-one match… Cena’s US Title will be on the line as well!”

    “I don’t get what tha big deal is?”
    Tazz asks. ”Brock Lesnar gets ta work out his frustration, and tha fans get a US Title Match! Ev’ryone wins!”

    “Yeah, apart from John Cena! He’s gotta face perhaps the most dominant man in the history of Smackdown… with his title on the line no less… and four days after Brock Lesnar lost a WWE Title Match in controversial circumstances… and only then will he get an opportunity to fulfil his dream of headlining Wrestlemania! Once again William Regal does everything in his power to undermine John Cena’s opportunities!”

    “You’re a real conspiracy nutjob sometimes, ya know that?”

    With Regal gone, a still image from the Ladder Match at No Way Out appears on the screen, and Cole and Tazz transition seamlessly in to talking about what a crazy match it was, and we see still images of some of the crazier spots of the night. It gives Cole the opportunity to big up BILLY KIDMAN’s performance, having been the one to win the match after everything he had been through to this point, with even Tazz admitting that he was wrong and it was a mightily impressive performance.

    We then head back to the ring…



    HUGE pop for the WWE Champion EDDIE GUERRERO! There’s a few moments of his music playing…

    WHEN HE DRIVES OUT IN A LOWRIDER! Now he’s overcome Brock Lesnar and proven everything Paul Heyman said to be untrue… the lowrider is back!

    Eddie drives out on to the ramp, parks up on the ramp (sporting a plaster/band aid on his forehead from the ghastly gash at the hands of Brock Lesnar), and hand stands on the seat… and starts shimmying his shoulders! The Latino Heat is back! The real Eddie Guerrero is back!

    Dressed in his wrestling gear and with the WWE Title over his waist, he admires his car as he heads in to the ring, and calls for a microphone.

    ”Orale!” he yells, to a big pop from the crowd. ”Man, is still feels good to be the WWE Champion, ese!” He gets another pop. ”Y’know, people say I’m somethin’ of a liar, but I won’t lie to you all now… the last few weeks haven’t been easy, man. Paul Heyman, man… he got in my head. He kept pressin’ my buttons, over and over. I knew what he was doin’. He was tryin’ to distract me. He knew that Brock Lesnar couldn’t beat me… so he tried to mess with my head, ese. And it worked. Heyman’s a smart guy, man… and Brock Lesnar… he’s dangerous. Real dangerous. Paul Heyman, he tried to ruin my name. Dragged my name through the dirt. And Brock Lesnar… he busted me up real good. They threw everythin’ they had at me, man… but you know what?” Eddie lowers head solemnly, before raising it back up and looking straight down the lens of the hard camera. ”It weren’t enough, ese!”

    Big pop for Eddie coming out on top against Lesnar.

    ”’Cos that’s the thing, vato. Ya think ya can get in my head… ya think ya can bust me open and I’ll just quit? Nah, man, that’s the thing about us Guerreros… we may lie… we may cheat… we may steal… but we never… quit.”


    ”But that’s not all! Last Sunday, it was one helluva night, ese! My boys, Rey Rey and Billy, they won the Ladder Match… and lemme tell ya, man… I couldn’t be prouder of ‘em. And Chris finally gave Hardcore what he had comin’ to him too. Helluva night. And Chavito, okay he just came up short… but it’s all good, ese. He’ll be back, man, I promise ya that. He’s my blood, man, and he’s same as me. We don’t quit, man, no matter what. Chavito will be back.”

    Light applause for Chavo.

    ”So now Brock Lesnar is done. That pendejo, man… he’s history. He said I couldn’t hang? He thought I wouldn’t make it through another match with him? Well, I’m still here as WWE Champion, man… and he’s runnin’ away like a scared little baby, runnin’ off to face someone from Raw who thinks he can actually beat. So that leaves me waitin’ for an opponent at Wrestlemania. Y’see, I’ve been waitin’ my whole life for this. I’m going… to Wrestlemania… as W… W… E… Champion! And I’ll take on anyone, man. I don’t care who I get. I’ve still got unfinished business with Big Show… I still owe John Cena one too. Me and Kurt, we’d tear the place down, man, ya know it. But me… I’m pullin’ for two guys. For Chavito, la familia...Guerrero versus Guerrero at Wrestlemania, man… that’d be somethin’ else. But if not him… then I’m pullin’ for Chris Benoit. It’s time we set the record straight, man. But know this… even if ya don’t win tonight… I’ll face ya non-title anyway. ‘Cos I need ya to know that I will play it straight. But whoever it is, I don’t care… ‘cos at Wrestlemania, Madison Square Garden… ya all know that Eddie Guerrero’s gonna stay the WWE Champion! Orale!”

    The crowd pop for the champ, and he tosses the microphone out of the ring and hands over his WWE Title, and stretches out for his upcoming match…

    Non-Title Match
    Chuck Palumbo w/Nunzio & Johnny Stamboli vs. Eddie Guerrero

    … and Chuck Palumbo wins clean!

    Nah, just kidding. Eddie dominates the opening part of the match and uses Chuck’s exuberance against him like the vet he is. Chuck manages to use his strength to get a little offence in, but Eddie fires back, hits the Three Amigos, uses Stamboli’s attempt at an interference to incapacitate Nunzio, and finishes Chuck off with a Frog Splash for the three.

    Winner: Eddie Guerrero in 3:04

    With the F.B.I. handily taken care of, Eddie shimmies his shoulder in celebration, and referee Charles Robinson hands over the WWE Title for him to hold up for the fans. Cole and Tazz comment on how it looks like Eddie’s back to channelling his Latino Heat, and with just four weeks until Wrestlemania is looking better than ever… but who will he face at Wrestlemania?!

    We then head backstage to the parking lot as a limousine pulls in… THE DRIVER leaps out and opens the rear door…

    … and out steps MATT HARDY (VERSION 1.0)! Following behind him is SEAN O’HAIRE, who grimaces as he climbs out of the limo after the Sean-ton Bomb through the announce table just four days ago, and after him, a terrible looking SHANNON MOORE. He looks like he hasn’t slept in days, his whole body is hunched, and there’s a glassy, vacant look in his eyes.

    The limo driver rushes to the boot/trunk of the car and opens it to get out their bags…

    ”No!” Matt exclaim. ”Not you!” He points to Shannon. Him.”

    Shannon slumps his shoulders and starts taking out the bags from the back, but Sean leans over and takes one.

    ”Don’t worry, I’ll take my own.”

    Matt says, snatching the bag off Sean and dumping it in Shannon’s already overloaded arms. He takes all of the bags.”

    “Really, Matt, it’s okay.”

    “No, it’s not. Firstly, you call me ‘Sensei’, remember? And secondly, Shannon lost us a shot at the Tag Titles. All of us. He was selfish, he went in to business for himself, and it cost us.”
    Matt turns to Shannon. ”Here, you forgot a bag.”

    Matt reaches in to the back seat and struggles to pull out another bag, which he dumps on the pile Shannon is already carrying, causing Shannon to nearly topple over.

    ”Man, what’s in this?” Shannon asks, grimacing. ”It’s like a bag-a cinder blocks!”

    “First thing you’ve got right in a long time, Shannon. It is a bag of cinder blocks. And you’ll be carrying it ‘til you learn from your mistake.”

    “C’mon, Matt,”
    Sean sighs, ”give the guy a break, huh? He looks like he should be in hospital.”


    ”Have you forgotten who I am or something?” Matt asks. ”I am your leader. And let’s not forget, it was your whole idea to let Shannon in to the match in the first place. So you’re as much to blame for us losing as he is.”

    “I know exactly who you are, Matt. And I’ll tell you who I am, too. I’m the guy who sacrificed his body for this team! I wasn’t even in the match I damn near broke my ribs takin’ out London and Kendrick for you, so back the hell off!”

    Matt’s eyes bug. ”I’ll tell you who you are, Sean. You… are pathetic. D’ya remember how I found you? You were at rock bottom. A laughing stock. Weren’t a person in this business who didn’t think ya were a joke. Ya were prob’ly ‘bout to be let go. No-one had any time for ya… except… me. I took ya in when no-one else would. I gave ya a chance. Believed in you when ev’ryone else just wanted ya gone. And this is how ya gonna repay me? Takin’ the side of Shannon of all people?”

    “None taken,”
    Shannon sadly sighs in the background.

    Matt gets even closer to O’Haire, now just millimetres from his face. ”Lemme put it to ya this way, Sean. You best think about what the next words outta ya mouth are gonna be… ‘cos if I don’t like ‘em… ya can go back to how I found ya before I gave ya a sense-a purpose again. How does that sound?”

    Sean sneers, ready to go off on one against Matt… but slowly it fades away. ”I’m sorry, Matt,” he eventually mumbles.

    ”I’m sorry… who?” Matt asks.

    ”I’m sorry… Sensei.”

    Matt offers an artificial smile, and slaps him far too hard on the arm. ”See? Wasn’t so hard, was it? Now come along, we’ve got things to be doin’.”

    Matt storms off, leaving Sean to watch him going with a frustrated look on his face. He then looks over to Shannon, who can barely stand with the weight of the bags, and snatches the bricks off the top.

    ”Give that one here,” he says, and storms on ahead, leaving Shannon to carry a slightly lighter load.

    From the parking lot we cut backstage, to where Josh Matthews is standing by… with KURT ANGLE!

    ”Kurt, last Sunday at No Way Out you came closer than most expected against The Undertaker, but ultimately fell short. Tonight, you-”

    “Um, I’m sorry? You think I fell short at No Way Out? How well would you do with The Undertaker, Josh?”

    “Uh… probab-”

    “Not very well I imagine. I went seventeen minutes with him. Do you think you could do that?”


    “Think you could dominate him like I could?”


    “You couldn’t, Josh. Nobody could. So you’re going to judge me for how I did? I tell you what, Josh… watch Wrestlemania in four weeks’ time. See how Chris Jericho, the supposed World Champion over on Raw, gets on against him. ‘Cos I guaranteed you he won’t last as long as I did. And you know what? I resent you bringing it up. ‘Taker doesn’t even work here anymore. You know why? ‘Cos I was right. I told the truth. It wasn’t me who took out The Undertaker. Are you going to apologise to me now?”

    “I… don’t think I ever accused you of-”

    “No, of course you’re not. Pretend you never accused me, Josh, be my guest. But everyone knows the truth. Time and again I was left here, having you point fingers without any basis for what you were saying, despite you having achieved nothing in this business, and me being Kurt freakin’ Angle… and yet I had to take it. Take it from all of you. And here I am, now having been proven to be innocent after all. Proven to have been honest, just like I said I was… and yet I get no apologies. People should be lining the corridors to apologise what I was put through… for nothing… but no, they move on. Act like nothing happened. So what if you ruined a man’s reputation-”

    “Yo, yo, yo!”
    we hear, as JOHN CENA strolls in to shot.

    ”What the heck do you want, Cena? Can’t you see I’m in the middle of something?”

    “Cool ya jets, Kojak, I ain’t tryin’ ta start nothin’.”

    “Then get outta here. I’m being interviewed here.”

    “Din’t sound like an interview ta me, homie. Sounded like ya were whinin’ like a li’l bitch again.”

    Angle squares up to Cena. ”You best watch your mouth, John, I-”

    “Back yourself up, dawg, I don’t swing that way, homie.”

    Angle sighs, and backs off. ”Do you have to be so repulsive at-”

    “Whatever, man, I ain’t here ‘cos-a you. I’m here ‘cos tha boss man din’t give me interview time, but I gots somethin’ ta say.”
    He turns to the camera. ”Brock Lesnar… so I gots ta go through you before I enter tha Battle Royal, huh? A’ight, homie, I’m down with that. ‘Cos I hear them sayin’ that you’re pretty pissed about last Sunday and ya wantin’ ta take it out on someone. But if ya think that’s gonna be me… ya got another thing comin’ man. So pay real good attention, ‘cos after I beat ya ugly ass tonight… I’m goin’ ta Wrestlemania ta do what you couldn’t… and that’s beat Eddie Guerrero… for tha WWE Title. Word.”

    Cena looks to walk away… but Angle grabs his arm before he can leave!

    ”You think you’re winning tonight?” he asks the US Champion.

    ”Hell yeah I do,” Cena says with a nod.

    ”Then you better know this, kid. You want to go to ‘Mania to face Eddie for the belt? You’ll be doing it… over my… dead… body.”

    Cena nods. ”That’s tha plan, homie.”

    Cena snatches his arm away from Angle, and walks away. That leaves Angle to watch him, furious, with Josh Matthews still standing by.

    ”So, uh...” Matthews stammers, ”do you think that-”

    “Get the hell out of my face,”
    Angle grunts, barging past the interviewer and storming off.

    We return to ringside…

    *** HEROES ***

    And it’s time to see our WWE tag Team Champions, CHARLIE HAAS and SHELTON BENJAMIN, ready for action!

    As they make their way to the ring, Cole reminds us that the champs specifically requested this warm up match here tonight, and inside the ring we see their opponents, brothers JOEY and JASON MERCURY (Joey Matthews/Mercury and Christian York) – known collectively as MERCURY RISING have been given the jobber entrance...

    Non-Title Match
    World’s Greatest Tag Team (Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin) (c) vs. Mercury Rising (Jason & Joey Mercury)

    The bell has hardly rung and the champs look cocky as hell, and when Haas absolutely schools Joey he just offers his partner a knowing smirk. Shelton decides he wants a piece of the fun and tags in as well, and the story is repeated. Joey’s given nothing to work with as Shelton completely out-wrestles him, then as Joey returns to his feet… Shelton slaps him across the head! Their opponents may be beneath them, but they don’t need to act like it!

    Joey, though, isn’t bothered, and refuses the tag from his brother. He calls for another lock up, causing Shelton to laugh, and Joey immediately transitions out… and in to a Hip Toss! And another! Shelton’s furious and charges… Joey pulls the ropes down… and Shelton tumbles to the outside! Maybe these two aren’t the easy target they seemed!

    Haas insists on coming in, and now he’s proven himself to be competent, Joey’s happy to tag in his brother Jason. Jason comes together with Charlie… and Jason gets the better of that! Maybe the champs underestimated their “rookie” opponents! Now Shelton insists on returning, so Haas reluctantly tags out… Jason and Shelton comes together… cheap-shot from Shelton! That’s what he thinks of them embarrassing him! He lifts Jason up… but he leaps out… and tags in Joey! Joey leaps to the top rope… Missile Dropkick! He makes the cover… for two! But who thought these guys would even get a two count?!

    That initial flurry, though, is quickly cut off by a knee to the gut from Shelton, and he tosses Joey to the outside and distracts the ref, allowing Haas to drop him neck first on the barricade and slam his face off the apron. That means that, when Joey is rolled back in the ring, Shelton can easily start to pick the bones, and he and Charlie are able to break in to their trademark groove of quick tags to wear the isolated man down. They hit everything in their playbook to keep Joey away from his brother, showing exactly why they’ve been the champions for nine months now. The fight of the “unknown” team seems to be gone, so Charlie tags in, goes behind for German Suplex as Shelton lines up a Superkick, looking to put the jobber debutants away with a double team, Shelton with the Superkick… but Joey ducks… and Shelton nails Haas! Shelton’s stunned at hitting his own partner… he turns around… in to an Enziguri! Joey scurries across the ring… and tags in Jason!

    Jason rushes to the top rope… and dives off with a Crossbody to Shelton! Haas groggily gets to his feet… and is met with a Dropkick! Shelton’s up… Dropkick to him as well! Haas swings wildly, but York ducks and pulls him in… Exploder Suplex! He turns around… in to a Superkick from Shelton! Shelton drags Haas on top and tackles Joey by the feet to stop him breaking up the pin…




    No! Jason kicked out! What the hell is going on here?!

    Shelton is stunned at the kick out, so ignores Joey to look at Jason, wondering how they ended up facing the gutsiest jobbers to ever job… when Joey comes up behind him… and lifts Shelton on to his shoulders! Jason climbs to the top… he leaps off… Crossbody-assisted Electric Chair!

    But Shelton isn’t the legal man! Haas is up… and he clatters both of Mercury Rising with a Clothesline to the back of the head! Both flop to the mat, so Haas tosses Joey to the outside, leaving him with just the legal man… he leans over Jason… but Jason grabs him by the singlet and pulls him face-first in to the second turnbuckle! They just won’t stay down! Shelton’s back up, though, and charges at Jason… but runs straight in to a Drop Toe Hold! Jason stands on the back of Shelton’s legs and hits his sides, forcing his arms back… he pulls back…

    … and Jason Mercury grabs a Surfboard! He’s got it locked in!

    But Shelton isn’t the legal man! He’s screaming in pain, but it doesn’t matter if he submits or not…

    … when Charlie Haas dives between Shelton and Jason… and pins Jason’s shoulders to the mat! Jason’s stuck in his own surfboard… and the referee starts the count…




    Winners: World’s Greatest Tag Team in 6:44

    The bell rings and Charlie rolls straight to the outside, and Jason releases his hold to let Shelton loose. Haas grabs both tag titles as quickly as he can, shoves one in to Benjamin’s chest, and practically drags him back up the aisle, getting away from what was a far, far sterner test than they could have anticipated.

    Joey eventually rolls back in to the ring to check on his brother, and together they shrug at how they somehow managed to take the champions to the limit, and yet still fell short. They get a respectful round of applause from the fans who had expected a standard squash match, and Cole puts over the effort of the youngsters, only for Tazz to take over with the “rookie” mistake Jason made in having his own shoulders pinned to the mat while holding a submission on the non-legal man, and the incredible ring presence of Haas to use that to their advantage.

    After a commercial break we return to ringside...

    *** LONGHORN ***

    There’s a lack of reaction to the unfamiliar music… but that turns to boos when BRADSHAW steps out from the back! He’s wearing a suit and tie with a cowboy hat, a big grin on his face, and waving to unsupportive crowd with one hand, clutching a book in the other.

    ”Ladies and gentlemen,” Tony Chimel says, ”please welcome to the ring… Brad… shaw!”

    Boos. Bradshaw walks down the ramp and joins Chimel in the ring, and whispers in his ear as the music dies down.

    ”Ladies and gentlemen, I have a correction,” Chimel says, ”please welcome to the ring… John… Bradshaw… Layfield!”

    Tazz exclaims. ”New look, new music… and a new name for Bradshaw! He’s like a new man!”

    “He’s a treacherous man, is what he is!”
    Cole wittily retorts.

    The newly Christened JBL slides a dollar in to Chimel’s jacket pocket and shoos him out of the ring, leaving him with the lingering boos of the crowd.

    ”I know, I know,” JBL drawls. ”Y’all aren’t best pleased about what I did t’ Ron last Sunday.”


    ”Can’t say I disagree with y’all, neither. Can’t say it’s somethin’ I’m mighty proud of myself. Y’see, all-a y’all can look at me like I’m some kinda bad guy, but it ain’t like that. Ron’s mah best friend. Has been for a long time, longer than most-a y’all prob’ly realise. Layin’ mah hands on ‘im, hurtin’ ‘im like that… it ain’t somethin’ I’m proud of. I wish it din’t have t’ come to that, truth be told.”

    “Then why the hell’d you do it?”
    Cole shrieks.

    JBL shakes his head. ”Y’see, this past Sunday… I had what ya might call an epiphany. I was there watchin’ th’ commercial for Wrestlemania, and it hit me. None-a y’all in th’ crowd’ll understand this, and I won’t expect ya to, but this is a short career we have. We put our bodies on th’ line ev’ry single time we step through them ropes. Ev’ry time we do it might be our last. And if ya lucky enough t’ stay healthy, maybe ya can call it quits on ya own time. But it ain’t a never ending story. There’s always th’ next group-a guys waitin’ t’ kick ya t’ th’ curb an’ take over. Hell, me an’ Ron saw it on Sunday against th’ Tag Champs. Ya have ya time on top, and then it goes, and there ain’t a lot ya can do about it. And what I realised on Sunday… my time… it was passin’ me by.”

    “And what the hell does this have to do with what you did to your so called best friend?”
    Cole yells again, at his insufferable worst.

    JBL, meanwhile, nods solemnly. ”Y’see, I made th’ mistake that a lotta people make. I took th’ easy road. I was happy playin’ cards and hittin’ th’ beers with my best friend, and it was easy. Hell… it was comfortable. But that’s th’ thing, y’see. For a lotta people, comfortable is good. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with comfortable for a lotta folk, lemme tell ya that. If mah daddy had been able t’ live a comfortable life he’d-a died a happy man. But me? I ain’t like that. I ain’t like normal people.”

    He holds up the book so the camera can see it, and shows each side of the ring. ”Ya see this?” he asks. ”This is my book. It’s by me, John Bradshaw Layfield… and it’s called ‘Have More Money Now’. Y’see, that’s who I am. I’m a published author of a financial advice book. I’m writin’ another book now ‘bout the problems with th’ US economy. Me… I’m a regular on Fox News. I’m a respected financial analyst. Hell… I’m a one-man conglomerate! And yet when it came t’ this place… I was takin’ th’ cowards way out. I was happy sinkin’ th’ beers with my buddy… but I wasn’t thinkin’ about what I needed t’ do for my career. And when I was there at No Way Out… lit’rally draggin’ Ron t’ th’ corner so I could tag in, only for him to tag himself back in when I had it all comin’ together… it got too much. For normal people, that might be okay. But for me… I was doin’ myself a disservice. People like me shouldn’t be okay with comfortable. Anythin’ short-a greatness is a failure for people like me. And while I regret th’ way it came about… I had t’ do what was best for me. I had t’ kick Ron t’ th’ curb… for th’ sake-a my career. And when I stand in-front-a all-a y’all in th’ not too distant future, holdin’ th’ WWE Title high above my head… maybe then you’ll understand why I made th’ decision that I made. ‘Cos then it’ll-”

    *** PROTECTION ***

    Big pop for the A.P.A. theme… as RON SIMMONS storms down to the ring! He gets in the ring and snatches the microphone out of JBL’s hands, and shakes his head.

    ”Damn, John, what’s the matter with you, son? If ya really did wanna call it quits, then ya could-a jus’ said. Hell, we could-a won th’ titles and then you could-a gone you’re own way. But t’ take me out? Damn, son.”

    “I did what I had to!”
    JBL yells without a mic. ”I’m sure you can understand that!”

    “And ya din’t think t’ call in th’ week to explain?”

    JBL has a guilty look. ”I’m a busy man, Ron, ya know that! I jus’ din’t have th’ time!”

    Simmons shakes his head in disappointment at what he’s hearing. ”Hell, I can’t look at ya like this, boy. Ya always had a bit of an ego on ya, but I thought ya were better than all this. But t’ end it all like ya did on Sunday… and t’ lay ya hands on me like that? Ya know what that means, don’t ya? Ya know that if ya lay a hand on me… ya best be ready for me t’ do th’ same back to you… with int’rest.”

    JBL’s shoulders slump. ”C’mon, Ron, don’t be that way! We’re still friends, that ain’t changed!”

    Simmons stalks JBL, ready to attack in revenge for what the Clothesline From Hell from No Way Out…

    ”C’mon, Ron! This is stupid! You’re better than-”

    JBL CHEAPSHOTS SIMMONS! He punches him over and over in to the corner, then stomps him down to the mat.

    ”I din’t want this, Ron!” JBL yells, taking off his jacket to help him beat up his ‘friend’. ”You came for me first, I wanted t’ stay friends!”

    Despite what he says, JBL goes back to more stomps.

    ”We don’t have t’ be enemies, Ron!”

    He pulls him off the floor… AND RON STARTS FIRING BACK! Ron Simmons is taking the fight to JBL!

    JBL staggers back in to the corner as Simmons tees off on him, before whipping him in to the other corner… Simmons charges… but JBL moves… and Simmons crashes off the corner! JBL runs off the ropes… CLOTHESLINE FROM HELL! Simmons is OUT!

    ”I din’t want this!” JBL yells at his unconscious friend. ”You’re burnin’ bridges here, Ron! I din’t want it to come t’ this!”

    Despite what he says, JBL then pulls Simmons off the mat… and shoves him between his legs! He pulls Simmons up… POWERBOMB! What the hell was that for?! He already had him down!

    JBL shakes his head in disappointment that it came to this, and picks the mic off the mat. ”Ya only have yaself t’ blame for that, Ron. That’s on you. We couldn’t still been friends. But, listen, I don’t hold a grudge.” He grabs his jacket and pulls out his wallet, and takes a wad of notes. ”Here, this is for you,” he says, shoving them in to Simmon’s jeans pocket. ”Jus’ a li’l somethin’ t’ say than you for all-a ya help these last few years. Really, I did enjoy it. Have a beer on me.”

    He pats Simmons’ unconscious shoulder, picks up his book off the mat (checking that it’s undamaged), and rolls to the outside in front of the announce desk.

    ”Hear ya go, gentlemen,” he says, placing his book on the desk in front of Tazz and Cole. ”It’s a damn good read, I think ya will enjoy it.”

    “Thanks, John!”
    Tazz says, ”I’ve already got a copy but I’ll read this one as well!”

    JBL offers a toothy smile and shakes Tazz’s hand, then marches back down the ramp, waving at the fans and showing absolutely no regard for his downed former partner in the ring.

    From there we transition to a graphic of Wrestlemania XX: Where It All Begins Again, and see that we are now just twenty-four days from the biggest Grandaddy of ‘em All.

    From there we move in to a recap of the latest flashback in the series, Wrestlemania XIV, and as we hear from JIM ROSS’s commentary of the night, ”the Stone Cold Era… has begun!” With STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN barred from WWE television, he’s unable to provide a talking head for his crowning moment, with JR doing much of the talking for him, but we also hear from the man he beat that night, SHAWN MICHAELS, and hit a brief discussion on MIKE TYSON.

    We also see clips of THE ROCK’s disqualification win over KEN SHAMROCK, and CACTUS JACK and TERRY FUNK beating THE NEW AGE OUTLAWS in a Dumpster Match. As we hear from talking heads such as CHRISTIAN, MARK HENRY and MICHAEL COLE, this was in many ways the start of the Attitude Era.

    There was also plenty of time to congratulate TRIPLE H on retaining the European Title in the “co-main event”.

    WWE United States Title Match
    Brock Lesnar w/Paul Heyman vs. John Cena

    Given he seems to be at his obnoxious best tonight, all it takes is Brock’s entrance to launch Michael Cole in to a rant against William Regal, and how unfair it is that Cena is forced to defend his US Title in every match he has, as how he’s having to face someone like Brock with the opportunity at gaining a shot at the WWE Title set up in the main event. Cena, though, doesn’t seem all that bothered, instead charging straight in to a series of big rights to Lesnar, which stuns the former WWE Champion before he can fight back…

    … only for Lesnar to cut Cena off with a huge Lariat!

    And with that, Lesnar’s in the ascendancy. He snarls and stomps around the ring as Heyman immediately starts barking orders of “working out your anger”, and Lesnar’s approach is somehow even more devastating than usual. He pulls Cena up and delivers a German Suplex with ease, and slaps and knees and gut punches his way to working out of that residual anger lingering from No Way Out. Cena’s given little opportunity to fight back as Lesnar disrespectfully tosses him out of the ring… AND SMASHES CENA’S FACE IN TO THE STEEL STEPS! It’s a repeat of Sunday!

    Cena slumps to the floor, but Brock picks him up again… AND SLAMS HIS FACE OFF THE STEPS AGAIN!

    It really is a repeat of No Way Out!

    But this time it isn’t the main event of a pay-per-view, and Charles Robinson won’t be so easy-going with the rules! He counts them both out, which forces Brock back in to the ring to march at the referee, intimidating him in to stopping his count, and returns to the outside…

    … where Cena meets Brock with a flurry of right hands! Cena may be busted open, but he’s fighting back! Brock’s stunned from the punches, so Cena grabs the back of his head… and slams his face off the steel steps! A taste of his own medicine! Cena stands over Brock… and tells him he can’t see him! Bloodied or not, Cena’s not going to stop! He pulls Brock up… AND LIFTS HIM ON TO HIS SHOULDERS! He’s going to FU him on to the floor!

    No! Brock slides out the back… AND DRIVES CENA FACE-FIRST IN TO THE RINGPOST! Cena rebounds out, barely conscious, so Brock LAUNCHES him in to the barricade! Cena can barely pull himself up as Charles Robinson restarts his count… Cena rests against the barricade… so Brock Clotheslines him over it! This is a mauling! Brock climbs over as Robinson’s count reaches five… AND BROCK LIFTS CENA OVER HIS HEAD! GORILLA PRESS SLAM BACK TO RINGSIDE! Incredible strength from this absolute monster!

    Robinson, though is at eight… but Lesnar isn’t paying any attention! He’s completely focused on destroying Cena! Heyman tries to get his attention… BUT LESNAR SHOVES HEYMAN AWAY! Brock’s completely lost it! He pulls the top of the steel steps up… AND SMASHES THEM IN TO CENA’S FACE!


    Winner by disqualification (and still WWE US Champion): John Cena in 5:02

    But Lesnar hasn’t even noticed! His eyes are trained completely on Cena, who is out cold in a pool of his own blood on the floor. Lesnar drags him up and throws him in the ring, so Charles Robinson gets the hell out of there before he realises the official decision. Cena can’t get up under his own steam, so Brock pulls him up…


    But he’s not done there! He pulls him up again…


    And still he looks to go again…

    … only for HARDCORE HOLLY to sprint down from the back… AND HE’S CARRYING A STEEL CHAIR! He’s got a yellow-y brown bruise around his eye from the brutal match with Chris Benoit at No Way Out… but he’s here for a piece of the man who put him on the shelf!

    With Cena on Brock’s back for an F5, Lesnar turns around… IN TO A CHAIRSHOT TO THE FACE FROM HARDCORE HOLLY! Brock goes down!

    Cena’s barely conscious, but he still manages to roll to the outside of the ring to safety, where he slumps on the mat, covered in blood. Brock, though, even having taken a chairshot to the face, still manages to get himself up… SO HARDCORE HITS HIM WITH THE CHAIR AGAIN!


    Road agents and referees flood the ring to drag Hardcore away (with Cole yelling how Regal got security involved only after the beatdown on Cena had ended), and Heyman checks on Lesnar, whose on another planet after those chairshots. Gradually Hardcore is pulled to the back, but not without a fight. And even as he’s dragged away, he still manages to point straight at the recovering Lesnar in the ring…

    ”I ain’t done with you! I’m gonna keep on comin’, boy! I’m your worst damn nightmare!”

    From there we get this week’s Raw Rebound, but unlike previous editions, we don’t focus on just one segment, but a whole host of them. We see VINCE MCMAHON returning to tell CHRIS JERICHO that THE UNDERTAKER will be moving to Raw to challenge for the World Heavyweight Title; we see PAUL BEARER making his first appearance in four years to send a message to Jericho; we see RANDY ORTON disgustingly hit COLLETTE FOLEY with an RKO; and of course, we see SHAWN MICHAELS try to retire, only to be interrupted by THE ROCK, and a match is made between them at Wrestlemania.

    When we return from the Raw Rebound, we see HARDCORE HOLLY being forcibly removed from the arena, shoved by security, referees and road agents towards the exit, when WILLIAM REGAL marches over.

    ”What the bloody hell was that?!” Regal barks.

    ”I’ve told ya how it is, Regal. ‘Til I get my match with Lesnar, I ain’t stoppin’ comin’ for him. Anyone gets in my way, they’re just collateral.”

    “And you think helping out John Cena is the way to get me to give you what you want?”

    “Pull ya damn head outta ya ass, Regal. I don’t give a damn about John Cena. I don’t give a damn about you, neither. When ya gonna get it in t’ ya thick skull… I’m gonna do whatever it takes t’ get a piece-a Lesnar. And you signing off on Brock facin’ Triple H at ‘Mania is only gonna make things worse, lemme tell ya that.”

    “I didn’t have anything to do with that decision! That was above my head! It was bigger than Raw and Smackdown! I’d have given you the match with Master Lesnar if it’d been my decision-”


    ”Enough of ya damn lies, Regal! Ya can’t play me like ya do ev’ryone else, ya hear me? We’re playin’ by my rules now. And my rules are... either I get Lesnar in a match… or I destroy this whole damn brand.”

    Regal holds his hands out, trying to defuse the situation. ”Listen, young man. You have a place in the Battle Royal later tonight. Focus on that for now, and after that, we’ll talk.”

    “We’ll talk now! I don’t wanna piece-a th’ Battle Royal! Ev’ryone else might wanna shot at th’ title, but there’s only one thing I want… and that’s… Brock… Lesnar. Or do I have t’ ruin your whole damn Battle Royal to make ya understand?”

    Regal sighs. ”I don’t get you, Master Holly. A shot at headlining Wrestlemania should be the pinnacle of any man’s career. Lord knows if I’ll ever wrestle again, and I still dream of going to-”

    “I don’t need ya damn words, Regal. Brock Lesnar. Do I have my match… or not?”

    Regal shakes his head, disappointed. ”Well, you’re not in the ruddy Battle Royal, let me tell you that right now. It should be an honour to get the chance to face the WWE Champ-”

    “Yes… or no?”

    Regal sneers as only he can, and gets in Hardcore’s face (with security between them for safety, of course). ”Fine. Have your stupid bloody match. Next week… here on Smackdown… you… and Brock Lesnar. But let me make this abundantly clear to you, young man...” Regal gets even closer. ”This is your one match. I’ve tolerated your behaviour as clearly you’re an angry, bitter man… but make next week count… because if I see anything like this kind of behaviour from you again… you’re out.”

    “Don’t worry,”
    Holly growls. ”After I’m done with Lesnar next week… I won’t need to come back for more. He’ll be done.”

    Holly wriggles free from security, and storms to the parking lot to leave, having gotten what he came for...

    We then return to ringside, where Cole and Tazz recap what we just saw, and explain how Holly has waited four weeks since he returned to get this shot at Brock, but how it’s been building for eighteen months. Cole then tries to claim that Holly versus Lesnar is a match that could have headlined Wrestlemania (he’s on fine form tonight), but we’ll be getting it for free next week here on Smackdown.

    He then seamlessly transitions to talking about another grudge that has been bubbling for some time, and that is the rivalry between the team of TAJIRI and JUVENTUD, and the mentor/protege partnership of ULTIMO DRAGON and AKIO. We see clips of how this started all the way back in the build to Survivor Series, and how over the subsequent four months both sides have been at war. When Tajiri retained the Cruiserweight Title against Ultimo, he and Juvi continued to put a beating on the challenger, causing Ultimo’s protege to leap the barrier to his defence.

    Kyo-estro, though, put Akio on the shelf with a Juvi Driver on the concrete, so Ultimo responded by assisting Jamie Noble in his title win at the Royal Rumble. Things have only got more intense since then, to the extent that the scheduled match for No Way Out was delayed to cost Tajiri and Juvi their PPV bonus, but as Cole says, just as how we’ve gotten a Wretlemania quality match between Brock and Hardcore next week (there he goes again), we’ve got another coming up… next.

    Kyo-estro (Juventud & Tajiri) w/Dawn Marie vs. D.N.G. (Akio & Ultimo Dragon)

    Given the intense rivalry between these two sides, it should come as no surprise that this one starts off as total chaos, with the referee unable to get any semblance of control going. He just lets both sides batter one another as they see fit, with strikes stiff and kicks hard, and eventually Akio and Dragon get things in hand. They take over on Juvi, with Akio wanting a piece of him after the Juvi Driver over a month ago, so Ultimo heads to the apron to leave him to it, with Tajiri forced to stay out there too, and we finally settle in to the standard tag match it’s supposed to be.

    Despite Akio’s eagerness, it’s a matter of time before Kyo-estro’s underhanded ways come in to play, and they manage to get Akio away from his mentor and cut the ring in half. Dawn Marie makes sure to rile Ultimo up good and proper on the outside, making it easy for Juvi to bait him in to the ring for an illegal double team on the young Japanese superstar. Akio gives it his all, refusing to stay down, but there’s only so much one young kid can do against such a vicious pairing. Juvi seems to have things in order and lifts Akio up for the Juvi Driver…

    … but Akio leaps out… leaps on to his shoulders… Hurricanrana! He crawls to the corner… Juvi tags in Tajiri who rushes to cut him off…

    … but Akio makes it to his mentor! Ultimo Dragon is the legal man!

    Ultimo rushes in and fires off chops to the chest of Tajiri, each one more vicious than the one that came before it, making him pay for the Brainbuster from last week. Juvi tries to cut him off… but is cut off by a Sidekick to the midsection! Dragon hits the ropes… Shining Wizard to Juvi! Juvi rolls out of the ring, leaving Ultimo to lift Tajiri up… he’s looking for a Brainbuster of his own!

    But Tajiri leaps out of it… Snap Kick right to the face! He makes the cover…




    Akio breaks it up! He pulls Tajiri up, the match clearly having broken down by now, and chops Tajiri in the corner. He whips him, but it’s reversed… Tajiri rushes after… but Akio leapfrogs… and Tajiri crashes in to the corner! He stumbles backwards…

    RIGHT IN TO A DRAGON SLEEPER FROM ULTIMO! One of the most feared moves in the WWE!

    Tajiri tries to fight it, but Ultimo’s got it locked in tightly… Tajiri’s ready to tap…

    SO JUVENTUD DIVES IN WITH A MISSILE DROPKICK TO THE FACE! Juventud saves the match for Tajiri!

    Dragon falls back in to his corner, allowing Akio to make the tag and climb to the top… he lines Tajiri up… and dives off the top with the Crossbody!

    No! Tajiri cut him off with a Dropkick in mid-air! Akio’s got the wind driven out of him, so Tajiri backs up and lines up the Buzzsaw Kick…

    … but Juventud blind tags his way in! Tajiri can only watch on stunned as Juvi pulls Akio up… JUVI DRIVER! He hooks both legs…




    Winners: Juventud & Tajiri in 7:02

    The bell rings, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from Tajiri’s face that he won. As Ultimo Dragon presses his head against the mat in disappointment at falling short after four months of trying to get one over on Kyo-estro, Tajiri spins Juventud around as he celebrates the victory and gets in his face, presumably pissed that Juvi blind tagged his way in and stole the victory. Just with last week when Juventud inserted himself in to Tajiri’s match, Tajiri squares up to his partner, wanting answers for why Juvi’s putting himself front and centre…

    … and as with last week, Dawn Marie steps between them! She eases Tajiri away and in to the ropes, and tries to get his attention.

    ”You should be angry!” she shouts, picked up without a microphone. ”But you need to channel it. You’re getting sloppy!” Tajiri’s eyes drift back to the smug looking Juventud. ”Hey!” Dawn snaps. ”Look at me when I’m talking to you! That anger you feel right now? You need to use it in effective ways. We have bigger enemies than each other! Use that anger to make things right!”

    Eventually Tajiri nods, and Dawn strokes his chest. She takes his arm and drags him in to the centre of the ring, where she takes Juvi with her other hand and raises both their arms in victory.

    ”God damn it!” Cole exclaims. ”After everything that Akio and Dragon were put through by these two, still Kyo-estro come out on top!”

    “I keep tellin’ ya, Cole, ya gotta stop watchin’ those fairytales-a yours! Here in tha real world it ain’t tha good guys who win, it’s tha most dangerous! And lemme tell ya, they don’t come much more dangerous than Juventud and Tajiri.”

    “Well, I can’t help but feel bad for Akio and Ultimo. They’ve been out through hell these last few months and kept on fighting, but ultimately it’s Dawn’s boys who come out on top. But I have to say it… if the look on Tajiri’s face is anything to go by, I don’t know how long he’ll put up with being one of Dawn’s boys.”

    We then head backstage, to where JOSH MATTHEWS is standing outside a door labelled “Medical Room”. He explains that JOHN CENA is in there being treated as we speak, but the news he’s hearing is that Cena has lost a lot of blood and is in a particularly bad way, so it is unfortunately unlikely he’ll be able to make it to the Battle Royal that begins in just a few moments time.

    We fade in to footage of a cheering crowd, as the WWE production song Goliath plays...

    ”Our days are finite...”

    We see TRIPLE H standing in the spotlight during his entrance, spraying water in to the air.

    ”We have to make the most of the little time we have...”

    We see KURT ANGLE standing on the ramp, arms raised to the sky, pyro exploding behind him.

    ”To create a future we can be proud of, and a past we will never forget.”

    We see CYNDI LAUPER and WENDI RICHTER jogging through the backstage area at the first Wrestlemania.

    ”Our bodies can not live forever...”

    We then see SHAWN MICHAELS screaming in agony as CHRIS JERICHO pulls back on the Walls of Jericho at Survivor Series.

    ”But the memories we leave may never die.”

    We see HULK HOGAN slamming ANDRE THE GIANT at Wrestlemania III.

    ”For we are not who we say are...”

    We see JOHN CENA, mid-freestyle.

    ”We are... what we do...”

    And then see ROB VAN DAM soaring through the air in slow motion, about to hit a Five Star Frog Splash.

    ”And what we do... can define... a lifetime.”

    We see EDDIE GUERRERO shimmying his shoulders, channelling his Latino Heat, with the crowd roaring behind him.

    ”Did we achieve all we wanted to achieve?”

    We see SHAWN MICHAELS on his knees at Wrestlemania XII, cradling the WWE Championship as the boyhood dream came true.

    ”Did we make the difference the world needed us to make?”

    We see JEFF HARDY hanging from the title belts during the TLC match at Wrestlemania X7, and EDGE diving off a ladder to hit a Spear in mid-air.

    ”Boys may become men...”

    We see RANDY ORTON standing on the stage, arms apart, posing as a curtain of pyro falls behind him.

    ”Girls may become women...”

    We see LITA standing on the top rope, signalling the fans.

    ”But only the great... can become legends...”

    We see SHAWN MICHAELS once more, this time splashing RAZOR RAMON off the ladder at Wrestlemania X.

    ”And only legends... can become... immortal.”

    We see HULK HOGAN and THE ROCK staring down at Wrestlemania X8.

    ”So did you give it everything you have?”

    We see KANE bring his arms down, igniting fire from the four turnbuckle posts.

    ”Did you refuse to quit when all hope was lost?”

    We see the iconic image of STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN locked in the Sharpshooter, bleeding profusely, but refusing to submit.

    ”Did you aspire to dream... when all others said it could not be done?”

    We see CHRIS BENOIT looking out at the crowd with a tear in his eye, having been given a standing ovation for his efforts against BROCK LESNAR on Smackdown.

    ”And when the time comes...”

    We see BOOKER T on one knee, staring at his hand before he rolls in to a Spinaroonie.

    ”Will you make it count?”

    We see RANDY SAVAGE and ELIZABETH’S tearful reunion at Wrestlemania VII.

    ”Will you make a difference?”

    We see CHRIS JERICHO hitting a picture-perfect Lionsault in slow-motion.

    ”And will you find the path...”

    We see THE UNDERTAKER’S entrance at Wrestlemania IV as he rides a cart to the ring to face Giant Gonzales, with an ominous-looking vulture perched next to him.

    ”To immortality?”

    We see STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN celebrating winning his first WWE Title at Wrestlemania XIV.

    ”Wrestlemania XX...”

    We see BROCK LESNAR holding the title aloft after winning the belt in last year’s main event.

    ”Where it all begins...”

    We see HULK HOGAN and MR T celebrating together at the first Wrestlemania.


    We we return to ringside, we see JOHN BRADSHAW LAYFIELD is nearing the end of his entrance, with the ring already including the likes of the worse for wear THE BASHAM BROTHERS, with Danny’s ribs taped up from Sunday’s Ladder match, AKIO, ULTIMO DRAGON, BRIAN KENDRICK, PAUL LONDON (with those two looking possibly looking worse for wear than the Bashams), FUNAKI, RIKISHI, JOEY MERCURY, JASON MERCURY and ORLANDO JORDAN already in the ring, as Cole and Tazz tell us we are just moments away from our 30 Man (dependent on John Cena’s injuries) Battle Royal main event… right after the commercial break…

    When we return from commercial, we see the end of THE BIG SHOW’s entrance, as he climbs over the top rope and the rest of the participants scarper to give him space. We see we have also added TAJIRI, JUVENTUD, NUNZIO, JOHNNY STAMBOLI, CHUCK PALUMBO, JAMIE NOBLE, CHAVO GUERRERO, MATT HARDY (VERSION 1.0) (favouring his neck), SEAN O’HAIRE (clutching at his taped up ribs), SHANNON MOORE (looking so thoroughly broken he shouldn’t be out there), RON SIMMONS and RHYNO to those in the hugely crowded ring, and Show’s music dies down…

    ”I’M AN ASS MAN!”

    *** ASS MAN ***

    And there’s a mixed reaction for BILLY GUNN making his “triumphant” return! No doubt his return vignettes have turned a lot of people against him, with many just apathetic to the 1999 King of the Ring, but he doesn’t seem to notice, flexing and posing for the crowd as he makes his way down to the ring like it’s a hero’s return (it isn’t). As he flaunts his way down the ramp, suddenly a figure emerges from behind the curtain…

    … it’s A-TRAIN! It’s the man Regal kicked to the curb two weeks ago! Cole says he isn’t listed on the list of participants, but as he’s technically a member of the Smackdown roster still, he must be entering himself in to the Battle Royal against Regal’s wishes! It’s now a 31 Man Battle Royal!

    Billy Gunn looks frustrated to have had his moment stolen by the arrival (sans music) of a man who isn’t supposed to be here, but eventually Gunn’s music dies down anyway...

    *** MEDAL ***

    And there’s a BIG mixed reaction for KURT ANGLE. Although almost entirely a heel now, there’s still a portion of the crowd who pop for his arrival, and he sets off his pyro with an intense look in his eyes, and gets on to the apron of the ring, hopping in place, ready to get involved when the match starts…

    *** WHATEVER ***

    But there’s nothing mixed about the reaction for CHRIS BENOIT! He storms out from the back, thumps his chest in acknowledgement of the crowd, and heads down to the ring, ready to go.

    ”Well, folks,” Cole says, ”Chris Benoit is the last remaining entrant in to the match, so the fact that we haven’t seen John Cena makes it appear he isn’t going to make it out here tonight, and what a damn shame that is”.

    “He was given plenty-a time ta recover, Cole, ya can’t blame Regal for this one!”

    “How can I not?! He’s gotten exactly what he wanted out here!”

    Benoit gets in to the hugely packed ring and squares up to anyone he can as the referees take their place on the outside, ready to call for the bell to get this one underway…


    And an enormous pop for JOHN CENA! He limps out from the back, his head bandaged from the earlier assault… but he’s here! He’s refusing to be kept out of it!

    The crowd go wild for Cena, none of the usual arrogance radiating off of him, as he hobbles to the ring, Michael Cole going apoplectic at the courage Cena is showing… Cena rolls in… makes the “You Can’t See Me” taunt at Big Show… and punches him right in the face!


    31 Man Over-The-Top-Rope Battle Royal To Determine The Number One Contender To The WWE Title At Wrestlemania
    Akio, A-Train, Big Show, Billy Gunn, Brian Kendrick, Chavo Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Chuck Palumbo, Danny Basham, Doug Basham, Funaki, Jamie Noble, Jason Mercury, Joey Mercury, John Bradshaw Layfield, John Cena, Johnny Stamboli, Juventud, Kurt Angle, Matt Hardy (Version 1.0), Nunzio, Orlando Jordan, Paul London, Rhyno, Rikishi, Ron Simmons, Scotty Too Hotty, Sean O’Haire, Shannon Moore, Tajiri, Ultimo Dragon

    Yeah, this is a clusterfuck, huh?

    The visual of 31 men all fighting at once is cool, and it pops the crowd huge, but there’s not much in the way of action to watch or recap. It’s a matter of seconds before FUNAKI, ORLANDO JORDAN, JOHNNY STAMBOLI and SCOTTY TOO HOTTY are dumped out, and not long after that that JOEY and JASON MERCURY follow, as does NUNZIO. We then see SHANNON MOORE being bundled over the top, too injured to put any kind of a fight. When he hits the floor he’s barely able to pull himself up, but that doesn’t stop Matt Hardy leaning out of the ring to yell ”you were supposed to help me win!” at his barely conscious follower.

    We then see The Hooliganz target Matt, who is saved by Sean… but we head to our final commercial of the evening...

    … when we return from commercial, the field has (thankfully) been significantly thinned out, and we’ve been spared the process of watching a whole chunk of people get thrown. DANNY BASHAM, DOUG BASHAM, ULTIMO DRAGON, AKIO and CHUCK PALUMBO, but perhaps most notably, we catch a replay of ten of the remaining wrestlers having teamed up to bundle RIKISHI over the top during the break. As we come back we almost immediately see Ron Simmons beating on JBL in the corner, only for Matt Hardy to jump him from behind! But Ron no sells! Matt begs off in the corner… but JBL rushes over… AND DUMPS RON SIMMONS OVER THE TOP ROPE! JBL just eliminated his former partner!

    Elimination #15: Ron Simmons by John Bradshaw Layfield

    Matt, relieved at JBL’s help, offers him a handshake to thank him. JBL smiles and accepts… then kicks Matt in the gut! He looks to toss him… but Sean O’Haire cuts him off! Think of the history between O’Haire and Bradshaw! They go at it in the corner… but it leaves Matt Hardy unprotected! He looks up… and sees he is surrounded by Brian Kendrick and Paul London! These two were cost a shot at the Tag Titles by Sean O’Haire’s interference in the Ladder Match on Sunday… and they’re going to make Matt pay for it! The Hooliganz stomp on Matt in the corner, knowing full well Shannon isn’t there to help, pull Matt off the mat… and toss him over the top rope!

    But Matt hangs on! He clamps on to the top rope, but his feet are dangling dangerously close to the floor!

    O’Haire, beating on Bradshaw in the corner, sees the Hooliganz trying to break Matt’s grasp of the top rope and rushes over… AND BUNDLES BOTH HOOLIGANZ OVER THE TOP! For the second event in a row, O’Haire is the difference when it comes to London and Kendrick!

    Eliminations #16 & #17: Brian Kendrick and Paul London by Sean O’Haire

    That leaves Matt hanging on desperately on the top rope with O’Haire standing over him. Matt starts to lose his grip and holds his hand out for O’Haire to pull him back in…

    BUT O’HAIRE DOESN’T GRAB IT! O’Haire is just watching as Matt’s losing grip! Matt screams at Sean to help…



    Elimination #18: Matt Hardy (Version 1.0) by Brian Kendrick and Paul London (delayed)

    Matt hits the floor and looks up in absolute shock! He can’t believe his follower left him out there to die like that! The shock turns to anger as he scowls and points straight at O’Haire, swearing punishment… but O’Haire doesn’t realise as Bradshaw jumps him again… but O’Haire fights back straight away! O’Haire is unstoppable out there!

    But we cut away from that fight to see that Juventud and Tajiri are double teaming Jamie Noble, making their intentions after disposing with Akio and Ultimo Dragon clear, and also see that A-Train has John Cena down in the corner, stomping away at him and reigniting their (one-sided) feud. He finishes kicking him down to the mat, and turns around to see Big Show distracted by Chris Benoit. With Show having been the one to take him out on Regal’s orders, he crouches down, poised, ready to attack… he charges… Bicycle Kick!

    No! Show intercepts with a hand to the throat! He squeezes as tightly as he can, choking the life out of Train, and forces back in to the ropes… still he squeezes and pushes… Train slowly begins to fall backwards… further… further… and topples over the top rope! Total strength from Big Show!

    Elimination #19: A-Train by Big Show

    Show turns around… in to a big right hand from John Cena! Even after the injuries he picked up earlier, he refuses to be kept down!

    But we cut away from that to see Jamie Noble fighting back against Tajiri and Juvi! He punches them both away with everything he’s got, and lines up a big right hand to Tajiri… GREEN MIST! Tajiri just blinded Jamie Noble!

    But Chavo Guerrero Dropkicks Tajiri… and sends him toppling over the top!

    Elimination #20: Tajiri by Chavo Guerrero

    Juventud charges… but Chavo ducks… and Back Body Drops him over the top! Chavo just saved Jamie Noble… and eliminated both of Kyo-estro!

    Elimination #21: Juventud by Chavo Guerrero

    Chavo then checks on Jamie Noble, who tries to wipe the mist from his eyes so he can continue. Chavo reassures the blinded Cruiserweight Champion that he’s taken care of Kyo-estro and starts helping Noble clear his eyes, helping him to his feet…

    AND THROWS HIM OVER THE TOP ROPE! Chavo pretended to help Jamie and used that to eliminate him! It’s the Family Tradition!

    Elimination #22: Jamie Noble by Chavo Guerrero

    And Nidia can’t believe it on the outside! She tends to Jamie, helping clear the mist from his eyes and telling him exactly what Chavo did. Although he still can’t properly see, Noble flips out at the news, but there’s little he can do as the referees usher them both to the back.

    And then there were nine. We’re left with Big Show, Billy Gunn, Chavo Guerrero, Chris Benoit, John Bradshaw Layfield, John Cena, Kurt Angle, Rhyno and Sean O’Haire, and one of those nine are going to Wrestlemania.

    Things calm down a little now the ring is less crowded (although still pretty full), allowing us to get in to more of a rhythm. Kurt Angle heads straight for John Cena and takes him down to the mat, pounding on his bandaged head to try and reopen the wound. The announcers talk about what a vicious assault it is, and question the morality of targeting the most injured person in the match, but Tazz writes it off as above the line when it comes to a title shot at Wrestlemania.

    Meanwhile, Rhyno and Sean O’Haire have paired off against the ropes, Chris Benoit and Billy Gunn are fighting in one corner, Big Show has targeted the smallest man left in the match in Chavo Guerrero, in the other, and JBL is sat in his own in another, hoping no-one will see him and he can hide it out. We focus on O’Haire and Rhyno, with O’Haire lasting surprisingly long given what he put his body through on Sunday and his taped up ribs, but he still manages to get the better of the Man Beast. He clubs his back, lifts him up… and tries to Suplex him over the top rope!

    No! Rhyno powers through… lifts Sean up in a Suplex position… and drops him ribs-first on the top rope! O’Haire lands feet first on the apron, but he’s clearly struggling after the Sean-ton Bomb off the Ladder at No Way Out… so Rhyno runs off the ropes…

    AND HITS O’HAIRE WITH A GORE! (Well, more of a Shoulder Block, but the thought was there…) O’HAIRE FALLS TO THE OUTSIDE!

    Elimination #23: Sean O’Haire by Rhyno

    Still, hell of an effort from O’Haire, and he vastly outperformed his leader.

    Not that Rhyno cares, of course. He surveys the ring… sees JBL hiding in the corner… and rushes over to stomp at him! JBL’s left unable to defend himself, so Rhyno thrusts his foot in to JBL’s throat… choking him the hell out!

    But wait a minute! At the other side of the ring Big Show has Chavo by the throat…


    Elimination #24: Chavo Guerrero by Big Show

    But Rhyno has seen Show has his back turned and is poised… ready for the Gore… he charges out of the corner…

    … no! JBL grabbed his foot! Rhyno stumbles forward… IN TO A FAMEASSER FROM BILLY GUNN! Rhyno staggers up… Angle slides behind him… ANGLE SLAM OVER THE TOP ROPE!

    Elimination #25: Rhyno by Kurt Angle

    And then there were six! Big Show, Billy Gunn, Chris Benoit, John Bradshaw Layfield, Kurt Angle and, remarkably, John Cena! All six are in touching distance of Madison Square Garden, and as they all peel away in to different sides of the ring, they stare at one another, knowing that the other five are all that stands between them and a shot at the WWE Title. They glance from one to the other…

    … until everyone’s eyes fall on John Cena! He can barely stand… and they all see an easy target! Show, Benoit, Angle, JBL and Gunn all start to surround him…



    Boos ring out as Cena is victim to a 5-on-1 attack, with his attackers each knowing that this is one elimination they should be able to manage pretty easily. They all beat him down…

    BUT CENA STARTS FIGHTING BACK! He’s bloodied, broken, bruised, but he’s swinging for anything that moves! Cena is fighting them all off single handedly!

    One by one they all stumble away… but Cena hasn’t seen JBL get back to his feet and charge…


    Misses! Cena ducks and JBL crashes in to the turnbuckle! He stumbles across the side of the ring, winded and clinging to the top rope… SO CENA CLOTHESLINES HIM OVER!

    Elimination #26: John Bradshaw Layfield by John Cena

    And JBL can NOT believe it! He’s absolutely FURIOUS! On the day that he made his first step towards a singles career, having changed the look, the music, even his name… he’s fallen short thanks to John Cena! He tries to climb in to the ring to get at him… but the referees hold him back! It takes all four of them to drag him away!

    Meanwhile, in the ring, Angle has jumped John Cena from behind and slips behind for an Angle Slam…

    … but Cena leaps out… and lifts Angle on to his shoulders!


    Elimination #27: Kurt Angle by John Cena

    And the crowd go WILD! Kurt Angle’s out of here… and John Cena claims another victim!

    But Billy Gunn jumps him from behind! We briefly cut to the ramp to see all the ringside the referees still struggling to restrain JBL, and then back to see Gunn stomp Cena in the corner. Gunn backs off and salutes the crowd to a chorus of boos… then lines Cena up! He charges… FAMEASSER!

    No! Cena catches him on his shoulders… carries him across the ring… and dumps him over the top!

    But Billy Gunn hangs on! Cena desperately tries to push Gunn away from the ropes and apron, blood turning his white bandage pink, shoving with everything he’s got…

    … when Kurt Angle runs back in the ring… AND DUMPS CENA OVER THE TOP!

    Referee Charles Robinson looks over… and sees Cena has been eliminated! He tells him to get out of there…

    BUT SAYS NOTHING TO KURT ANGLE! THEY DIDN’T SEE HIM GET ELIMINATED! The referees were distracted by JBL and didn’t see Cena eliminate Kurt Angle!

    Correction: Elimination #27: John Cena by Kurt Angle

    Boos echo throughout the arena as fans hurtle abuse at Kurt Angle for the blatant cheating, and leaves Kurt to look to the outside, where Cena lays out on the floor, exhausted. The camera pans up to Kurt’s face as he looks down, and we can see from his face even he knows that wasn’t the right thing to do…

    … but little by little, the guilty stare disappears… and turns in to a sneer!

    ”What happened to doing the right thing?!” Cole yells.

    ”He’s doin’ tha right thing, Cole! He’s makin’ sure he goes ta Wrestlemania whatevah it takes!”

    “For months he’s insisted over and over that he’s a good person… and he just got eliminated and has sneaked back in!”

    “What’s he meant ta do, tell tha referees what happened?!”

    “If he’s going to insist that he’s a good person who does the right thing… yes!”

    Still the boos and abuse echo out, but Angle wipes his hands over his face and turns back to the ring to continue on. Billy Gunn has managed to roll back in to the ring, while Big Show dominates Chris Benoit in the opposite corner. It’s now one of these four that’ll be going to Wrestlemania, and they may never get a better chance. Billy Gunn pulls himself up in the corner, so Angle looks over to him… Gunn grimaces and backs away, not wanting to get attacked…

    … but Angle doesn’t! Instead he stares at Gunn… and points over to the other corner! He’s suggesting they work together to take out Big Show! Gunn nods and then both creep up on Big Show… DOUBLE CHOP BLOCK! Angle and Gunn target the back of the leg, and Show drops to the mat! Benoit pulls himself up and is ready to fight, but Angle holds his hands out to calm him, and points at Show, indicating they have a mutual obstacle to overcome. Benoit nods, and together all three pull Big Show up and drag him best they can on to the top rope. They try to bundle him over… but Show’s too big! They can’t get him over… so Show hits Benoit with a headbutt! Then one to Angle! Then one to Gunn! All three stagger away, so Show grabs Gunn by the back of the head… AND LAUNCHES HIM OVER THE TOP ROPE!

    Elimination #28: Billy Gunn by Big Show

    Yes, staggeringly, it won’t be Billy Gunn getting a WWE Title match at Wrestlemania.

    With Show now looking dominant, Angle and Benoit stumble around the ring, knocked loopy from the headbutts, so Show grabs Benoit by the back of the head… AND LAUNCHES HIM OVER THE TOP ROPE TOO!

    But Benoit hangs on to the top rope! Show returns to Angle, but Benoit desperately clings to the ropes… and pulls himself on to the apron! Benoit’s still in it!

    Show, though looks to throw Angle over the top… but Angle kicks at the knee! And again! He’s got a game-plan when it comes to Show… but Show doesn’t go down! Over and over Angle stomps on the knee, but Show just hobbles around the ring… Benoit climbs to the top rope…

    DIVING HEADBUTT TO A STANDING BIG SHOW! And now Big Show goes down!

    Angle slaps Benoit on the chest and points at Show, indicating they have to worth together if they’re to stand any chance. They grab a foot each and drag Show to the corner, then together heave him up bit by bit to throw him over the top…

    BUT SHOW POWERS OUT! Benoit and Angle are LAUNCHED across the ring! Show limps at Benoit…


    But Show doesn’t go down! Show fights through it, refusing to be taken down! Benoit hooks the arm as much as he can, desperately trying to force Show down, but he fights it…

    … so Angle grabs his legs… and tackles him to the mat in time with Benoit hooking the arm… AND SHOW GOES DOWN!



    Needless to say, even a giant like Big Show can’t fight through that kind of pain, and eventually slams his hand to the mat to submit… but it means nothing! They have to get him over the top rope!

    Both men release at the same time and turn to each other, trying to work out what it’ll take… Big Show gingerly pulls himself to his feet… Benoit goes behind… GERMAN SUPLEX! What strength!

    But Show gets up on instinct! Angle rushes over…


    But again Show rebounds to his feet on instinct, but he’s on another dimension… Benoit and Angle rush over at the same time… bundle Show in to the ropes and grab a leg each…


    Elimination #29: Big Show by Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle

    And there’s two! The crowd pop big for Show being thrown out, and Benoit and Angle both tumble in to opposite corners to regain their breath. Of course, Angle shouldn’t even be there in the first place, but right now that’s far from anyone’s minds. Angle and Benoit breathe deeply, trying to get themselves back to fighting condition… when their eyes meet across the ring! These two have SO much history with one another… and they’re going to go at it one last time… and one of them will be going to Wrestlemania!

    They come together in the centre of the ring and both fire off chops on the other, which naturally Benoit gets the better of. Angle, realising that strategy will never work, ducks under one and grabs a waistlock from behind… but hooks his leg around Benoit’s to trip him forward… AND GRABS AN ANKLE LOCK!

    No! Benoit kicks him away and in to the corner! He gets to his feet and rushes over… but Angle catches him coming… Overhead Belly to Belly Suplex! He pulls Benoit up… and pulls him in for an Angle Slam!

    But Benoit leaps out of it… and grabs the waist! GERMAN SUPLEX! He hangs on for another… Angle blocks… spins… AND GETS A GERMAN SUPLEX OF HIS OWN! He hangs on… but Benoit dives behind… AND GETS HIS SECOND GERMAN! Still he hangs on and looks for a third… but Angle blocks and spins behind… but Benoit spins behind thatTHIRD GERMAN SUPLEX…


    Benoit takes a deep breath, that big move having taken a lot out of him as well, and shuffles over to Angle. He tries to pull Angle up to throw him over the top… but Angle’s a dead weight! Angle’s out cold! Benoit tries to pull him up best he can…

    … but Angle suddenly springs to life! ANKLE LOCK! Angle was playing possum!

    Benoit roars in pain as Angle rips and tears at the ankle, jumping on the spot to try and inflict as much pain as possible… Benoit’s in absolute AGONY… but he knows there’s no point in quitting! Submitting won’t change anything! He slowly crawls to the ropes… and gets his hand on the bottom rope! But there’s no ropebreak! One-by-one, Benoit uses the ropes to pull him to a standing position on one leg, Angle still holding the other ankle… Benoit hops on the spot…

    ENZIGURI! Angle’s knocked loopy! He staggers around the ring as Benoit pulls himself up, limping badly…

    … but rushes over to Angle… takes him down by the arm…

    CROSSFACE! Benoit’s got it locked in! Angle flails impotently, trying to find a way out… Benoit leans back, so Angle rolls with it… he rolls Benoit over… and as they topple… GRABS THE ANKLE LOCK AGAIN!

    But Benoit shuffles forward… Drop Toe Hold! He scurries across the mat… ANOTHER CROSSFACE! These two have an answer for everything the other throws at them! Benoit leans right back…


    But it counts for nothing! Angle tries to submit, but it won’t mean a thing… and he knows it! Benoit keeps the hold locked in… but eventually has to release! Benoit slumps on to the mat, exhausted from the effort it’s taken to outlast 29 other men, and pulls Angle up by the singlet. He drags him to the ropes and tries to bundle him over…

    … but again Angle suddenly bursts in to life… ANGLE SLAM OUT OF NOWHERE! Again Angle has pretended to be more hurt than he is! Are those the actions of a “good person”?!

    Angle seems unconcerned by that moral conundrum, though. As he said earlier, he is here to win. With Benoit out on the mat, this is Angle’s chance. After everything he’s been thrown, with the constant near misses, this is the chance at redemption. He was here in the final two of the Rumble, and fell short. He can’t allow that to happen again. He drags Benoit off the mat and, grabbing him by the back of the head, throws him towards the top rope…

    … but Benoit spins…


    But Angle hangs on! He’s on the apron, but both hangs are gripping the top rope! Benoit rushes over and starts clubbing at Angle’s arms, trying to break his grip! Angle tries to fight it, so Benoit swings a couple of wild punches to Angle’s face…. Angle pulls himself in to try and save himself, but Benoit’s straight on him… headbutt! Another! Another! Angle’s getting knocked loopy as again Benoit clubs at Angle’s arms… Angle desperately tries to hang on… he’s leaning back, dangling precariously over the floor but with his feet planted to the apron and arms clutching to the top rope for all he’s got… Benoit tries to kick at his feet and again swipes at his arms…

    … and Angle loses grip with his left arm! All that’s holding him up is his right hand! Benoit clubs at it over and over… Angle refuses to let go… this is his redemption on the line… Benoit bats at the arm as Angle’s grip loosens… Benoit leans over the top rope…



    Winner and Number One Contender to the WWE Title: Chris Benoit in 18:48

    The crowd cheer as the bell rings, with Our Lady Peace booming out throughout the arena. Benoit drops to his knees and buries his head in his arms, before returning to his feet and pumping his fists, knowing that it was all worth it… and in just over three weeks at Wrestlemania… he gets the rematch he so desperately wanted against Eddie Guerrero!

    On the outside, it’s a different story. Angle just sits on the ramp looking up, his eyes glassy. The referees try to tell him to leave, but he blanks them out. For the third time in a month, Angle was right there with victory in the palm of his hands… and it slipped away again. No-one has gotten this close to achieving as much as he nearly has this last month… and yet has ultimately achieved nothing.

    But for now, that’s not the focus. In the ring Chris Benoit climbs to the second ropes and pounds his chest in celebration, before raising his arms to the crowd, garnering a big pop as he clenches his fists, knowing what a huge step this is in his own person redemption story.

    ”Chris Benoit has done it!” Cole exclaims on commentary. ”He overcame the entire Smackdown roster… and Chris Benoit… is going… to Wrestle… Mania!”

    * END OF SHOW *

    Confirmed for next week

    Eighteen Months In The Making!

    Brock Lesnar vs. Hardcore Holly

    The A.P.A. Collide!
    John Bradshaw Layfield vs. Ron Simmons

    Non-Title Rematch
    World’s Greatest Tag Team vs. Mercury Rising

    Tag Match
    Juventud & Tajiri vs. Chavo Guerrero & Jamie Noble

    Singles Match
    Sean O’Haire vs. Paul London

    Billy Gunn returns to singles action!

    William Regal hosts a press conference between Number One Contender Chris Benoit and WWE Champion Eddie Guerrero!

    World Heavyweight Title Match
    Chris Jericho (c) vs. The Undertaker

    WWE Title Match
    Eddie Guerrero (c) vs. Chris Benoit

    WWE Tag Team Title Match
    World’s Greatest Tag Team (c) vs. Filthy Animals

    WWE Women’s Title
    April (c) vs. either Lita or Trish Stratus

    The Great One vs. The Showstopper
    The Rock vs. Shawn Michaels

    Battle of the Brands
    Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H

  10. #410
    Mid-Card Champion

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    Re: September BTBOTM - WWE: Where It All Begins... Again

    - Chris Benoit winning the 31 Man Battle Royal to become #1 Contender for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 20 by last eliminating Kurt Angle to win the Battle means we get a Royal Rumble 2004 Rematch at WrestleMania 20 on the Grandest Stage of them all WrestleMania...but I have to wonder if Kurt Angle won't somehow interject himself into this match to make it a Triple Threat Match?

    - The way Kurt Angle illegally came back into the match while we all saw him get eliminated...but the referees didn't see it...I mean classic heel move and Angle by doing that he eliminates the WWE United States Champion John Cena...and their earlier confrontation backstage earlier on tonight makes me wonder if instead of Angle being in the main event, he ends up facing John Cena at WrestleMania 20 for the WWE United States Championship? If that is what you are going for, then I guess that makes sense

    - Angle is more or less turning back into a heel day by day...hell Angle may as well go full blown heel already

    - I am surprised JBL...he made it that long in the Battle Royal and he lasted until like Final 5...but then again with this new change and Bradshaw becoming makes me wonder if JBL is in league for a main event push?

    - Juventud and Tajiri manage to beat DNG in Tag Team action...but I mean they still are out of the WWE Cruiserweight Championship picture because Tajiri is no longer the champion and well Juventud he really hasn't set his sights on the title now has he? However, it makes me wonder if these 2 end up in the WWE Tag Team division and they end up going for the Tag Titles soon?

    - John Cena retaining his WWE United States Championship by DQ because of Hardcore Holly getting involved and nailing Brock with a chair over and over is like Hardcore Holly is borderline obsessed with Brock but Brock is not even thinking about Holly at all because he is more or less distracted because of RAW's Triple H and Brock already has a match at Mania against HHH so Hardcore Holly if he really wants a match with Brock, then I can definitely see the match happening next week on Smackdown and hell it works too if you think about it. Hardcore can soften Brock up for Triple H so really Hardcore is doing Triple H a favor if you think about it...because you can bet Triple H will be watching this match very closely.

    - Love that JBL is JBL...I just love the JBL character so much and the fact that he more or less beat the holy hell out of his former partner now Ron Simmons it makes me wonder where JBL goes from here as far as WrestleMania goes?

  11. #411
    Respected bookerman

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    Re: September BTBOTM - WWE: Where It All Begins... Again

    Back to back promos to start the show? Who the hell do you think you are, me a few weeks ago?? The liberty!! The title situation was one that interested me, in that, I wanted to see how you’d go about crowning a #1 Contender. There’s simply not enough time to run a tournament, and as you done the 6 man match last month, I think the Battle Royal was probably the best option remaining to you. I will say that I liked the addendum that everyone is eligible (bar people already set for Mania), and the additional Cena/Lesnar match for tonight is another clever way for Regal to stick it to Cena without outright screwing him over.

    Even though it was really simplistic, I loved that Eddie promo. He really does feel like THE champion and THE guy here with this presentation. I’ll be recycling my Rumble prediction for WrestleMania btw. Still convinced that’s the end game, but I just got my shows mixed up!! Standard win for Eddie too, but while 3 minutes is about as long as you’d expect Chuck Palumbo to hang in there with the WWE Champion, you could’ve bought a little extra time in the match by having Eddie still suffering the effects of the beating he took from Lesnar for 20 minutes at the PPV.

    I know this was a pretty serious side of Matt Hardy for the most part, but … LMAO @ the bag of cinder blocks. The delivery of those lines were great. O’Haire standing up to Matt is an interesting dynamic too, and seems to be setting up for both guys to eventually break apart from Matt. Think there might’ve been a line missing here, as Moore said “None taken”, but I didn’t see where Matt said (I assume he was supposed to say) “No offence”. Aside from that, excellent scene.

    No surprises to see Cena/Angle picking up here after their collisions at the Rumble. I think that might’ve been the only thing missing here; some kind of call back to what happened at the Rumble – especially when the conversation switched to the main event tonight. Angle acting high and mighty, taking a victory lap because it’s been proven he wasn’t guilty is terrific btw, and the way you’ve fashioned a heel turn out of him being completely innocent of wrongdoing is brilliant. He’s completely justified in seeking out some apologies, but is going about it the wrong way entirely.

    You could do worse than to keep Mercury Rising around. I always loved Stojys Matthews/York combination in ECW, so don’t go getting my hopes up here!! The fact they didn’t just get steamrollered is potentially a good sign. Either that, or you’re setting up WGTT as getting complacent. Certainly an eyebrow raising situation here, and I’ll be interested to see what comes of it.

    The most enjoyable stuff in the JBL promo was the subtle details for me; slipping money into Chimmels jacket, stuffing cash into Rons pocket, checking to make sure his book wasn’t damaged, and Tazz’s line at the end about reading that copy of the book too!! The promo itself was decent too, and the explanation makes sense, though I feel like this development is one where the four weeks between No Way Out and WrestleMania is probably not the ideal amount of time.

    It felt to me like this could’ve been spaced out a week, and maybe even keep both guys off the show, just to have that separation between APA Bradshaw and JBL. Though the WWE didn’t wait around irl, I guess. I’d probably wager that ideally, you might’ve even held off on this until after WrestleMania, as it’s not the perfect time of year to be introducing a new character, four weeks before the biggest event of the year.

    Surprised that none of your talking heads brought up the Taker/Kane match from WrestleMania 14. Obviously, neither of those guys would sit down for this, but Christian, Henry and Cole could’ve talked about it.

    You’re going to town on poor Michael Cole on this show, lol. But I can just picture that whiny voice right now, that insincere fury at the heels. Given the paucity of matches on this show, I feel like Cena/Lesnar was somewhat of a make good, without having to go all out with a proper match, and it served to move the Cena/Regal story along too. Despite being short, it was an action packed write up, and an enjoyable read, with Lesnar going back to the No Way Out play book, and even busting Cena open before the DQ to put Cena at a huge disadvantage for the main event.

    And fuck yeah HARDCORE HOLLY!! Love that Holly made the save for Cena without actually doing it to save Cena, and instead to get a piece of Lesnar. Nice note there too about the FUN POLICE (lol) only being sent out once Holly got out there, and not while Lesnar was killing Cena. The match being set up for next week is good too, as it clearly had to happen before WrestleMania, so I’ll be interested to see how it ends up going down, as you obviously want some proper closure before Mania.

    Lay off Michael Cole, will ya!! He’s right on the money; Kyo-estro vs. DNG absolutely screams WrestleMania (pre-show). Kidding aside, this is a good show to wrap this thing up. With everyone pretty much tied up with the main event, at least this feels like a match that means something and has a long backstory, and you know the quality of the contest wouldn’t be in doubt. Plus, you can afford to give them a decent amount of time too. The problems between Juvi and Tajiri won’t be for no reason either. My bet is a four way with Chavo and Noble at WrestleMania at this point.

    Oh man, planting the seeds for that epic Billy Gunn vs. A-Train WrestleMania feud!? You tease. The pedant in me hates the 31 man match. You couldn’t have scraped a thirty second name to toss in there?? Urgh!! I’ll not comment on everything here, but the early highlight had to be Matt complaining that Shannon had the temerity to get eliminated. Would’ve also liked you to note who tossed out those jobbers early on too, just for the match to feel more complete and for me to know who (probably Big Show) was the dominant force in the match etc.

    JBL dumping out Simmons was a no-brainer, Lol at the “think of the history” line between O’Haire and JBL. Some nice stuff there too with O’Haire getting a big ‘ol push in the middle of the match, and the callbacks to No Way Out with London and Kendrick. Looking forward already to seeing the fallout of O’Haire betraying Matt like he did and refusing to help his SENSEI back into the ring, letting him fall to the floor instead. Chavo tossing out Juvi, Tajiri and Noble should confirm my suspicions over the direction of the CW title match at WrestleMania too. Christ, Billy Gunn is still in this thing~!?

    I think the Cena stuff has been verging on being a little too ‘on the nose’ on this show. I wouldn’t have hated Regal withdrawing him from the match and spinning it that he was looking out for Cena’s own interests, or for Cena to be tossed out a little earlier than he was. I think, because of how he ended up being received 18 months on from this point, it stands out more when he’s being pushed as the ‘never give up’ guy, and knowing how badly he ends up rejected (admittedly, a lot of that is down to his change from edgy face to white meat babyface in 2005) but there’s been times – this show especially – where it veers a little too close to “Super Cena” territory.

    The 5 on 1 spot especially could’ve been cut out, as it really isn’t a good look for Benoit especially, joining in with these guys to beat up a pretty defenceless Cena, and then not even succeeding in finishing Cena off. Cena being the one to dump out JBL could set something up – down the line – as we can see where his immediate future lies; and it’s Kurt Angle. Though I didn’t like everything about the way he was booked on this show, you nailed Cena’s elimination from the match by Angle. Cheated by him, just like he was cheated by Angle at the Rumble too. You wrote F5 instead of FU by the way when Cena initially dumped out Kurt.

    Christ, Billy Gunn is still in this thing~!? Didn’t see him making it to the final four at all. Benoit and Angle doubling up on Show was a nice passage though, and thought the elimination of the Giant was very well done, giving us the final two we probably would’ve predicted. It’s ANOTHER ‘close, but no cigar’ moment for Kurt too!! Runner up at the Rumble, runner up in the 6 way, runner up again!! Great stuff that can serve as a reason for Kurt to continue to lose his mind. Great write up for the final two too – as you’d expect when it’s Benoit and Angle together, and the finish was pretty agonizing for Kurt; even if he’s lost all sympathy at this point. Still a great way for him to come so close, but fall short yet again.

    Benoit vs Eddie was the match to go to, and the match we probably all expected – there was no need to pull a swerve here at all. Only surprise was that there wasn’t a moment with Eddie walking onto the stage or something to close the show with the pair facing off from afar, but this way, Benoit gets HIS moment in the spotlight, heading to the biggest WrestleMania match of his life.

  12. #412
    Zoom E | Szumi | Old Man
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    Re: September BTBOTM - WWE: Where It All Begins... Again

    I definitely applaud the concept of giving everyone a chance to represent SD at Mania, but a one show battle royal definitely feels a bit flat to determine a contender, especially thinking back to all the stuff Regal has previously done on SD. However, I respect the fact that you don't get much in the way of options considering the time constraints and the very sensible idea of waiting until after NWO to reveal Taker is going to RAW. Beautiful heel chicanery though with the Brock/Cena booking.

    Simple and solid for Eddie here. Celebrate the win, rejuvenate the feel good factor, hype Mania, and tease some more Benoit. Absolutely how this should've went.

    Matt Hardy making Shannon carry a bag of cinder blocks is just amazing. I fucking love it so much. Very excellent turn tease, and waiting to pull the trigger was the right move. Highly enjoyed the segment, and I think everyone will look forward to the pop Shannon gets when he finally turns on Hardy.

    This interview needed Cena coming in a lot earlier. Angle acting like he achieved something by lasting 17 minutes against Taker just makes Olympic Gold Medalist and Wrestling Machine Kurt Angle look really second rate. None of that hit for me. Cena coming in was really needed to stop that. Them having a little tease is all well and good, but I can't see it going anywhere really.

    Well, Wolfy really loved this match I bet. I loved how you kept teasing the jobber stuff with them, only for continued success by them. It was a great way to introduce the new tag team, but the innovative pin fall was even better. That was excellent as all hell.

    I wish you would've tried a different take on JBL, but I can't blame you for going the rational route. The way you tried to even spin the two faces of Bradshaw to put it into something organic was well done, I just wasn't that into it, especially as I felt the segment just started to really drag with how extended everything went during and after the physical parts of things.

    What did Michael Cole do to piss you off? : P

    Cena/Brock went exactly how I expected it to go, and how it should've went. Cena still looks pretty okay in the bloodbath for the licks he gave Brock, and Holly being the unintended savior was the logical call for his arc. That should be a good SD main event here soon.

    Thought you captured Holly's blunt brashness well in the follow up. I really wish you put those two inside a steel cage. Is next week the show HHH can be at?? If so, all the more need for a cage!

    I'm definitely surprised that you fed Akio and Ultimo to them while using it to increase the tension between Juvi and Tajiri instead of letting them finally get their win and be able to serve a similar purpose. That's any of poor Ultimo's credibility deserved. Also, way to completely overhype the hell out of the Dragon Sleeper as such a feared move haha. Poor dude can't ever win with you!

    I think Benoit was the only clear winner for the Battle Royal, besides Mr Ass of course. It's a shame he's not on RAW so you could have JR call him pound for pound the best athlete in WWE like he always loved to do (I.e because Vince said so). Angle coming back in after eliminated and his other antics was a good way to pretty much solidify his heel status, but I struggled with Cena, despite everything that happened to him, pretty much taking that laying down. All signs are pointing to those two facing off at Mania now instead of Regal, which makes sense with the US Title being a great prop to use with Angle for obvious reasons. I just was really hoping to see Cena v Regal. The main event was made as exciting as it could be given you really had only one logical outcome... AND YOU DIDN'T GO WITH IT! BILLY GUNN IS A GOD DAMNED WORLD CHAMPION KEEF!


    ...I mean...


    Obviously this wasn't topping RAW, which was probably the best show you've done for TV. But it served the purpose very well to crash course build to Mania.

  13. #413
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    Re: WWE: Where It All Begins... Again

    February 23 2004
    Omaha, Nebraska

    We get the usual pyro and crowd shots, and settle on the announce team for the evening.

    ”Welcome, ev’ryone, to WWE Raw! I’m Good Ol’ JR Jim Ross, alongside Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler as always, and King, if last week was anythin’ t’ go by, it promises to be a hellacious night!”

    “I still haven’t got over last week, JR! And based on what we already know to expect, this week could be even worse!”

    “I don’t think it can get any worse than those sickenin’ scenes with Randy Orton and Mick Foley’s wife from last week, but you’re damn right that tonight promises t’ be somethin’ else. We’ve got th’ World Tag Titles on th’ line, we’ll find which of Lita and Trish is headin’ t’ Wrestlemania t’ face April, both you and I carried out interviews with Shawn Michaels and The Rock about their huge upcomin’ Wrestlemania match...”

    The footage cuts to backstage, where we see a camera crew waiting in the parking lot.

    ”And as ya can see, we’ve got camera crews in th’ back waitin’ for th’ arrival of Smackdown’s Brock Lesnar-”

    *** LINE IN THE SAND ***

    ”- but it looks like we’re gonna kick things off with a much needed apology.”

    Indeed, the crowd erupts in to vicious boos as RANDY ORTON saunters out from the back. He drinks in the reaction of the crowd, but there’s no sign of the usual self-satisfied smirk that usually resides across his smug face. Instead he makes his way down the ramp, not reacting one way or another, gets in to the ring and grabs a microphone.

    ”Last week...” he begins, but is cut off by boos and a hearty ”RANDY SUCKS!” chant from the crowd, which he has to let die down.

    ”Last week...” he eventually restarts, ”I upset a few people with my actions.”

    “You’re God damn right he did!”
    JR exclaims. ”He’s a sick sonuvabitch!”

    “Now, I know what people have been saying,”
    Orton continues. ”I’ve heard people say I’m heartless. I’ve heard some people say I’m a sociopath for not caring about what I did last week… when I gave Mick Foley’s wife an RKO.”

    More boos.

    ”But if that’s what you think about me… you’ve got it all wrong. You think I enjoyed what I did last week? I didn’t enjoy a thing about that. I can hold my hands up and say that last week was easily the most shameful thing I’ve ever done, and I’ve done a lot of crappy things. The entire roster turned on me. Hell, even Ric and Hunter are barely speaking to me. Last week I crossed the line… and I know it. I’m ashamed of what I did last week… and so I’m out here not because Eric Bischoff ordered me to apologise. I’m out here… because I want to apologise. Ladies and gentlemen… Collette… I’m sorry.”

    A smattering of boos, although mostly fans who don’t know how to react.

    ”I’m sorry...” he continues, ”that Mick Foley… forced me… to do what I did.”

    And there it is. Needless to say, the crowd boo again.

    ”Last week I went over the line, and I know it. But I was forced to do it. I was forced to overstep that line, and I’m ashamed of myself. It makes me sick to my stomach of what I did to poor Collette last week… but it’s on you, Mick. Your wife spent the night in the hospital with a concussion because you weren’t man enough to accept my challenge. If you'd have just said ‘yes’ all those months ago this would never have happened. You had a match with me in November, and you didn’t fight back. I hospitalised your best friend… and you didn’t fight back. I turned up at your house unannounced, flirted with your wife and scared your children… and you didn’t… fight… back. This… Mick Foley… is all… on… you.”


    ”But you know the saddest thing about all of this? For all the pain that I’ve been put through for my actions. The sleepless nights thinking about how I had to hurt a poor defenceless woman just to get what I want. It was for nothing. I spent every night waiting… knowing… that any moment… in would walk Mick Foley. It was a matter of time before Mick Foley would find me, wherever I was, and make me pay for what I did. It’s what I would have done. Hell, I hazard a guess that any one of you here in attendance would have done it as well. Someone hurts your wife like that, you stand up for her, right? You make that son of a bitch pay? Nah. Not Mick Foley. Even after last week… still… nothing. What do I have to do to get your attention, Mick? What are you willing to overlook to keep your pride? How about if I RKO Dewey? Or little baby Mickey? Then will you react? Or will you still refuse to come out of retirement because you ‘don’t wanna’?”

    Orton shakes his head in disappointment, and again the crowd boo.

    ”What th’ hell is wrong with this kid?” JR exclaims on commentary. ”What sort of a human bein’ threatens t’ hurt children like that?! He ain’t right in th’ head, God dammit!”

    “But that’s the thing,”
    Orton continues. ”I’ve learned a lot from Mick Foley’s cowardice. For months I’ve been calling him out, pleading with him to properly come out of retirement. I… am the Legend… Killer. And all I wanted… was to kill… the Hardcore… Legend. But I can’t do that. I realise that now. After everything I did, for Mick Foley to still hide away, refusing through sheer stubbornness and selfishness to stand up for his friends, his family, his wife? I can’t kill the Hardcore Legend… because the Hardcore Legend… is already… dead. If this won’t get him back, nothing will. So I hope you’re happy, Mick. You made me do all of these things. You made me hurt everyone you care about. And it was all… for… nothing. Mick Foley… you make me sick.”

    Orton tosses the microphone out of the ring and walks to the back, disappointed that even now Foley refuses to stand up for himself and fight back.

    Non-Title Match
    Kane vs. Chris Kanyon

    Now, this is going to shock you, but this one is pretty one-sided. Kane somewhat takes his time, but still squashes Kanyon rather easily and gets the win with a Chokeslam.

    Winner: Kane in 1:28

    The referee doesn’t bother raising his arm in victory, instead getting the hell out of there and leaving Kane to “celebrate” on his own. He lifts his arms above his head to set off his corner pyro…

    … but the footage on the Titantron suddenly changes to the parking lot we saw earlier… and for the eagle-eyed viewers at home we can see ROB CONWAY in the background, adjusting a sheet over something…

    … but that’s not why we’re there, as at the main entrance a car pulls in!

    ”Well, looks like we’re not gonna wait long for Brock Lesnar to join us,” JR says.

    The car pulls in to a space and the door swings open… and out steps…

    … not Brock Lesnar…

    … but GOLDBERG! And the crowd erupt!

    Kane looks like he’s seen a ghost as Goldberg marches out of the parking lot and through the backstage area towards the ring…

    … but before he can, a dozen SECURITY GUARDS rush in to the aisle and block any route he might have to meet Kane…

    *** WHO’S NEXT ***

    But the music is starting up anyway! The smoke and pyro starts… and Goldberg walks through it! Goldberg is here!

    The security guards stand tall, no doubt here on the orders of Eric Bischoff to prevent another chaotic brawl between these two absolute monsters…

    SO GOLDBERG FIGHTS THEM OFF ONE BY ONE! Each security guard tries to get in the way, but Goldberg kicks, punches and elbows his way through them, tossing some in to the barricade, some in to the crowd, some in to the steel steps and some in to the ringpost…

    … leaving just Kane and Goldberg remaining!

    Goldberg rolls in to the ring and gets to his feet… where Kane cuts him off with a right hand… but Goldberg fires back with one of his own! KANE AND GOLDBERG ARE GOING AT IT IN THE CENTRE OF THE RING!

    Goldberg, all fired up from being put on the shelf by the Intercontinental Champion, gets the better of the fistfight, and whips Kane across the ring… Kane reverses… Goldberg bounces off the ropes…



    Goldberg pulls Kane up off the mat and shoves him under his arm…

    … but Kane shoves him away… AND ROLLS OUT OF THE RING! Kane is actually FLEEING from Goldberg! He’s backing up the ramp!

    Goldberg doesn’t follow him, instead climbing on to the second rope and pointing out to him.

    YOU!” he roars. ”KANE… YOU’RE NEXT!”

    Kane backs away, still looking like he’s seen a ghost, unable to comprehend how Goldberg is not only back, and not only made his way through security, but actually got the better of him in their fight!

    ”I… I don’t believe mah eyes!” JR exclaims, as we’re about to head in to commercial. ”Th’ monstah Kane is actually backing away from Goldberg! Kane is scared-a Goldberg! And bah gawd… Goldberg… is… back!”

    After a commercial, we head back to the parking lot… where ROB CONWAY is standing by! He’s got a cheesy grin on his face, looking straight down the lens of the camera, dressed in tight blue jeans and a zip-up red, white and blue jacket covered in bald eagles, and is in front of something covered up behind him, although we can’t see what exactly it is.

    ”Hi,” he says with a big smile, ”I’m the Real American Patriot Rob Conway, and as a proud American, my life is driven by the duties I carry around with me. The first is my duty as a wrestler. After beating Triple H in our first match three weeks ago, last week I was screwed in our rematch, when he hit me in the face with a sledgehammer. Now, as an American, it is my God-given right to bitch and moan about it until I get what I want, which is to have the decision overturned, and me to be officially announced as 2-0 against Triple H, which would surely propel me to a World Title shot. Or, at least, the shot that I have rightfully been campaigning for for some time… a United States Title match… against John… Cena.”

    He nods, pleased with himself, but suddenly stops, and pretends he’s remembered something. ”But that is not my only duty, oh no. My other duty… is as an American. To tell everyone I come in to contact with how I think America is the best country in the world. That… is what makes you a real American. You see, a couple of months ago, I travelled this great, great country of ours to understand what it really meant to be an American. And now I know… I need to give something back. I need to let the rest of the country to know what I now know. To know the true wonders of this country. That’s right… I, The Real American Patriot… will be hitting the road again. I will be travelling from sea to...” He pauses and thinks. ”Sparkling sea? Shimmering sea? Whatever. I’m getting back on the road… and I’m doing it… in this.”

    He turns behind him and pulls at the sheet covering the great thing behind him… but it won’t come loose. He signals for other people to come over and help, and after a few moments, they finally pull the covers back to reveal…


    Well, kind of. I mean, it’s clearly the bus that looked pretty old in 1993, but there’s hastily-applied paint sloshed over the “Lex” part, and in it’s place ”Conway” has been scrawled on, complete with lines of paint running down from each letter. In essence, it’s a total bodge job on a vehicle which wasn’t cool over a decade ago, but by the look on his face Rob Conway doesn’t realise.

    ”Here it is. The vehicle which will take me across the country… culminating… in New York City… for Wrestlemania. This is my-”

    we hear yelled off-camera, so we spin around to see… RENE DUPREE and SYLVAIN GRENIER! It’s the guys Conway abandoned and have been on a downward spiral ever since!

    ”We ‘ave been looking for you!” Rene says, and they storm towards their former partner.

    ”Listen, guys, let’s not make any short-sighted decision here, huh?” Conway says, back pressed against the Conway Express. ”Let’s talk this out, I didn’t mean to-”

    “Do you know what you ‘ave done?! We ‘ave been roo-ined by you! You cost us everything!”

    “It was an honest mistake, guys I-”

    Conway is cut off by La Resistance surrounding him. ”Enough of your talking, okay? You… need to listen… to us.”

    Conway grimaces and closes his eyes, ready to take a beating…

    … but when he opens his eyes, La Res have stepped back, their faces now kind and needy.

    ”We ‘ave made a miztake,” Rene says, head dropped. ”We ‘ave inzulted zis country too much… and we ‘ave lost everything. Zis is clearly not a country that takes too well to hearing the truth.”

    Conway nods knowingly. ”Nope, and we’re proud of it. Why face up to honest truths when you can bury it underneath insecure bluster and prescription pills?”

    “Zen what do we do? We are ‘ated ‘ere now. We are sliding, and no-one cares! Us! We’re the French, and no-one cares about us! It is a travesty!”

    Conway nods again, and pats them both on the shoulder. ”I know… I know. But this isn’t the place to poke at uncomfortable truths. I came to realise that. It’s far easier to just accept this truly broken country for what it is, and keep saying what a great country it is until even I half-believe it. It’s the American way.”

    “So… what do we do?”

    Conway mulls it over. ”Your problem… my problem, before I realised the error in our ways… was insulting this country is a mistake. You can never win. If you want to succeed in this country… you have to pretend to love it. It’s the only option.”

    “But I don’t love it ‘ere. I can barely stand it!”

    “I know, I know! But the key is to fake it. Walk around saying how great it is until everyone believe you.”

    Sylvain and Rene exchange a look. ”I guess… I don’t want to, but… if it’ll help...” They shrug at each other. ”Fine. I don’t want to, but if I have to, we can pretend to like it here.”

    Conway shakes his head. ”You two are so inauthentic… you’ll fit right in. Come, climb aboard the Conway Express. I promise you… I will make Americans out of you yet. Come, I have so much to teach you.”

    Conway marches on to the bus, beaming with happiness, as La Resistance reluctantly follow behind.

    We return to ringside for out next match, but before we can we have JR and King sitting in front of the camera. As we see footage of THE DUDLEY BOYZ being sent a creepy message last week on Raw, they say it’s no secret that it was exactly the kind of work of GOLDUST and SHATTERED DREAMS PRODUCTIONS. What they have found out since last week is that Goldust has proudly admitted that “Brotherly Love” is his latest release, and he needs the final footage tonight. That is why he has laid out a challenge for tonight, which has been accepted by the Dudleyz.

    The challenge is for the Dudleyz to select which member of Shattered Dream Productions they would want to face one-on-one, and Goldust will choose which Dudley Boy they want to face. They have a one-on-one match, but the other Dudley Boy and rest of Shattered Dreams will be barred from ringside, and should they interfere, they will be barred from a World Tag Team Title shot for twelve months. The match has been agreed to and will take place tonight, and we have already heard that, unsurprisingly, the member of Shattered Dreams Productions the Dudley Boyz have picked is Goldust!

    Six-Woman Tag Match
    Gail Kim, Ivory & Molly Holly vs. Jacqueline, Jazz & Victoria

    On the night of the finals of the Women’s Tournament, we also get an opportunity for the six women who were unable to make it through to the final to show what they can offer. All six get an opportunity to demonstrate what they’re made of, although Ivory and Gail try to keep Molly’s in-ring time as limited as possible, knowing only too well how far over the edge she has gone. That allows Jazz and Victoria (the latter still in a forearm cast) to dominate an unusually babyface-offensive-heavy match, but eventually Molly does find her way in to the match while Jacqueline is the legal woman, and manages to drag her to the mat with an Armbar Takedown, and locks in the Fujiwara Armbar for the submission victory.

    Winners: Gail Kim, Ivory & Molly Holly in 4:12

    The bell rings… but Molly doesn’t release! Still she pulls on the arm of Jackie, trying to break it like she did with Victoria…

    … so Victoria stop her! Victoria drags her by the hair and lines up a shot with the cast…

    … but Molly catches it… and turns it in to a Fujiwara Armbar!

    But then Jazz breaks that up! Jazz pulls Molly off the mat… but Molly drives her fingers in to Jazz’s eyes! She’s completely unhinged! Molly gauges ferociously at Jazz’s eyes, knocking her out of the ring, and turns around to see Ivory and Gail just staring at her, stunned. Molly starts to pace towards them, so Ivory tries to back away in surrender…

    BUT MOLLY TACKLES HER TO THE MAT… AND UNLEASHES A SERIES OF RIGHT HANDS TO HER FACE! Somebody has to stop her! She’s attacking her own partner!

    Over and over the punches rain down on Ivory…

    … so Gail pulls Molly away! Gail can’t watch as Molly mauls everyone in the match!

    She tries to plead with Molly that this is going too far and she needs to calm down… Molly drops her head… and nods! Even she knows this is going too far! She mouths ”I’m sorry” and, on the verge of tears, asks for a hug to console her. Gail wearily leans over…


    Molly yanks back further and further, Gail absolutely shrieking in pain… Molly pulls even tighter…

    … when a gaggle of REFEREES rush to the ring and pull her away! They pull her out of the ring against her will as she flails wildly to release herself, clawing at Jack Doan’s face, but they manage to subdue her and drag her to the back, leaving Gail to roll around on the mat in absolute agony.

    We then head backstage, where we see TRISH STRATUS watching Molly’s descent in to madness on a television.

    ”Molly’s really gone over the edge, huh?” we hear…

    … and see that APRIL is standing behind Trish, title belt proudly around her waist even as she walks around backstage.

    ”She’s dangerous,” Trish says, somewhat disinterested and not turning around. ”She always has been.”

    “I mean, yeah, she’s a crazy chick… but this… she’s straight up lost it if you ask me.”

    Trish finally turns around to face her ‘”friend”. ”I didn’t ask you.”

    April’s eyes widen. ”Whoa, what’s that all about? Talk about rude-”

    “Save it, April, I don’t wanna hear it. I don’t know why you’re here, but you have an agenda. You always do. I’m not an idiot, so please don’t treat me like one.”

    “I’m really not trying to treat you like an idiot, Trish. You’re my best friend, I wouldn-”

    “Am I, though? Because you don’t treat me like it.”

    April looks genuinely offended. ”Trishy, baby, don’t be like that. What exactly have I done to you that’s so bad?”

    “How about hurting Lita? Eliminating me from the Women’s Rumble? Trying to get in my head? Messing with-”

    “You really think I’m trying to get in your head?”

    “I already told you, April. Don’t… treat me… like an idiot.”

    “I… I don’t mean to be. I’m sorry if you think I am, or if I’m coming across like I’m trying to mess with your head. It’s really not like that, though. I just… I worry about you, that’s al-”

    “Well, don’t. I don’t need you to worry about me, I’m fine.”

    “But are you, though? Because you’ve changed. You might not think you have, but it’s true. The Trish I knew was way more assertive. She’d have taken whatever she wanted at whatever the cost, and would have been proud to have been called the best.”

    “Yeah, I was also a kid, April. You say I changed? I grew up. Maybe you should too.”

    Trish tries to storm off…

    … but April grabs her arm! ”Look, you’re annoyed. I get that. Really, I do, and I’m sorry if it’s upsetting you, or if you feel I overstepped the line. That was never my intention. But tonight… you have an incredible opportunity. Beat Lita tonight… and you go to Wrestlemania. Just think about it. Me versus you… for the Women’s Title… at the biggest Wrestlemania of all time. Can you even imagine? It’d be the biggest women’s match in WWE history… and it’s between me and you. Back in the day, did you ever think we could be this?”

    Trish solemnly shakes her head. ”No.”

    “Neither did I! But we made it! Look at us, look at where we are. And we’re one match away from what will be the biggest night in either of our lives. That’s what I’m trying to get across to you, Trish. It’s not mind games. I’m not trying to upset you. But it’s eat or be eaten out there. If you pass up this opportunity, Lita will sure as hell take it. She’s ruthless, deep down. In a good way. I know she hates me for what I did to her, but I respect her guts. She’s a hell of a fighter, and she knows that you have to do whatever it takes to win. And you knew that once upon a time too, Trish. I might not like it, but it’s the way of the world. Only the most ruthless, the most focused, make it all the way to the top. And on their death bed no-one looks back and wishes they’d played by the rules a little more. I don’t wanna look back at the short time I have in this company and regret not doing everything I could to make it count. And I don’t want you to do that either, okay? Go out there and show the world what you’re made of… and come back here as the Number One Contender. Because it’d be an honour to face my best friend at Wrestlemania.”

    Trish stares at April a few moments… then snatches her arm away! She stares at April, arm now freed… then walks away without saying a word.

    We return to ringside…

    * LIGHTS OUT *

    Pop from the crowd! We sit in darkness for a moment…

    * GONG *

    Almighty pop!

    ”It...” JR stammers, ”it can’t be?! Is he here?!”

    * GONG *

    Another pop as the crowd await his appearance...

    * LIGHTS UP *

    … but no sign of The Undertaker! There’s a murmur of boos that he’s not there…

    … and that only grows as CHRIS JERICHO walks out! And the heat is off the charts! He takes his place at the top of the stage in his jeans, white t-shirt and brown leather jacket, and drinks in the boos of the crowd with a sneer.

    ”You are all… so… predictable,” he purrs, voice calm but patronising. ”All it takes is a sound effect and you all bleat like sheep. All it takes is someone turning off the lights and you lose your stupid little minds. It’s embarrassing, really. Surely all of you can see that by now?”

    The crowd erupt in to a spontaneous ”ASSHOLE!” chant, which he allows to die down.

    ”Sure, sure… blame me. Make me the bad guy in all this. But you know what you’re doing, right? You’re shooting the messenger. I’m not the one at fault here. I’m merely pointing out to each and every one of you how pathetic this behaviour is. But here’s the thing, and I need you all to hear it. I don’t blame you. I did, once upon a time. I thought you were all as bad as Vince McMahon, as Stone Cold Steve Austin, as Shawn Michaels, as Goldberg. But you’re not. You’re victims in this, just like me. Because you don’t know you’re doing it. You… have been lied to. You’ve been made to think that this is the way things need to be. All it takes is someone to turn off the damn lights, and it makes you jump up and down on your little feet like it’s the best thing to have ever happened in your worthless lives. Because that’s what you’ve been fed. If all you’re fed is gruel, it’s all you’ll want to eat. Because you aren’t reacting to something interesting when the lights go out, you know? It’s just darkness. It happens somewhere in the world in every moment of every day. It’s not me speaking the truth, or me winning the World Heavyweight Title. It’s not me beating Shawn Michaels and Goldberg in the same match, or becoming the first person to beat Goldberg in a singles match in the WWE, or me retiring Stone Cold Steve Austin, beating Shawn Michaels and taking out The Undertaker in one night. Those are all things worth standing up and applauding. But no… you cheer… for darkness. And I feel bad for you.”

    The crowd start up a ”BORING!” chant, which makes Jericho smirk for once.

    ”Oh, I’m sorry, am I boring you? That’s quite the disrespectful thing to say, coming from people who think darkness is interesting.”

    The chant intensifies.

    ”Do you want me to stop?” he asks the crowd, and gets a cheer from the crowd. ”Okay, I’ll stop.”

    He starts to walk away and the crowd cheer him leaving…

    ”But before I go,” he says, turning around to a chorus of boos at the indication that he really won’t leave, ”there’s one thing… I need to get off my chest.”

    “Hasn’t he got enough off his chest already these last five months?!”
    JR chimes in.

    ”You see, there’s one more person I need to talk about. It’s my opponent at Wrestlemania… The Undertaker.”

    The crowd pop at his name.

    ”You see,” Jericho says, looking down the lens of the camera, ”I’ve been thinking a lot about The Undertaker this week. That’s normally something I’d want to do, given how little I think of him as a person. But nevertheless, that I’ve done. And you know what I’ve realised? I was wrong about you, Deadman.”

    JR exclaims sarcastically. ”That has t’ be th’ first tahm in his life he’s admitted he’s wrong!”

    “It’s true, I was. You see, I bucketed you in with the rest of the parasites, like Shawn, and Hunter and Goldberg. I thought you were one of them, taking what you want with no thought for what it means to anyone else in this business. I thought you were a virus like them, ripping apart the WWE from within. But I was wrong. You aren’t like them. You… ‘Taker… are a tragic character..”

    “What th’ hell is he talkin’ about? Th’ Undertaker’s one-a th’ biggest names in WWE his’try!”

    “You hide it well, though, ‘Taker. Really, you do. But I see through you. All the showmanship, the mind games, the stupid entrance. It’s all you’ve got. Me, I don’t need it. I am who I say I am. I don’t even need entrance music. But you… you have to lean on all that pandering garbage because you know it’s all you’ve got left. So you let these people bleat for you turning off the lights, and it has to make you die inside knowing that’s all you have to offer anymore. That’s what I realised. I thought that I took you out at the Survivor Series because I hate you, but I don’t hate you. I pity you. Survivor Series wasn’t done through hatred… it was mercy. It’s shameful that a man like you can lower yourself to this. But it’s all you have. You hold people like me down, because when you look at me you see everything you don’t have. It’s why you took the coward’s way to get a title shot at Wrestlemania, turning up at the very last moment to steal someone else’s place rather than earn it over and over again like I have to do. It’s why you hide away in the shadows, refusing to face me like a man. You do it because you know that the second you start turning up for every show like I do that you’ll be exposed for the fraud that you are. So I’m laying down a challenge for you, Deadman. Quit... hiding. Come to Raw next week and look me in the eyes. Come face-to-face with the man who took you out at the Survivor Series, the man who’ll take you out again at Wrestlemania, and prove that you’re not a coward. Come to Raw next week and accept that you are everything I say you are. Because here’s the thing. You used to like walking around talking about how you’re the ‘big dog in the yard’? Well, I see the truth, ‘Taker. That dog? It’s suffering. And at Wrestlemania… I’m going to put that dog down.”

    He slams his microphone on the floor and storms off, his point having been made, and the challenge having been well-and-truly laid down for next week...

    Mark Jindrak & Garrison Cade vs. League of Justice w/Rosey & Super Stacy

    With the League of Justice deep in a rivalry with Thuggin’ and Buggin’ Enterprises, it should come as no surprise that Hurricane and Supernova are fired up coming in to this one, and despite a good effort from the youngsters, they manage to power through, with Hurricane putting away Jindrak with a heroic amount of strength, nailing him with a Chokeslam.

    Winner: League of Justice in 4:12

    The heroic quartet celebrate in the ring…

    *** MACMILLITANT ***

    But that doesn’t last long before THEODORE LONG bounces on to the stage, flanked as always by MAVEN and MARK HENRY.

    Long tells them that he blames them for their loss to RVD and Booker T last week, that until their interference they had it in hand, and that they want to make them pay for it. But not Mark Henry. Not even Maven… Teddy Long wants to be the one to show them how little he thinks of them… and so he challenges Hurricane to a match next week! Hurricane mulls it over… and accepts! The leader of the League of Justice and the leader of Thuggin’ & Buggin’ Enterprises… next week!

    After the match we return to the camera crew in the parking lot… just in time for a limousine to pull in! The chauffeur pulls up right by the entrance to the arena, gets out and opens the rear door…

    … and out steps BROCK LESNAR! Big reaction for him arriving! After a few moments he’s joined… by PAUL HEYMAN! They stand side-by-side, Brock rolling his shoulders, Heyman looking up at his client with a smug grin, and eventually nods to Brock that it’s time to go, and they head towards the arena…

    … where they’re greeted by a SECURITY ESCORT!

    ”Mr. Lesnar, Mr. Heyman, if you’ll follow us,” one of them says, and the security detail quickly surrounds the Smackdown duo and lead them in to the arena.

    As soon as they walk in, they immediately come across TOMMY DREAMER, VAL VENIS and LANCE STORM, who are conversing in the corridor. Seeing Brock arriving, they step in the way of the security team, blocking Brock’s route in to the arena… but eventually step to one side, and let them through with a sneer. The message, though, is clear… Brock Lesnar is an unwelcome guest here on Raw.

    When we return from commercial, we see JR and King facing the camera. A match graphic appears on the screen to hype a match for next week, with JR excitedly telling us that next week will be the in-ring return of The Rock, who will be teaming with Rob Van Dam, Booker T and his Wrestlemania opponent Shawn Michaels, as they face the Evolution team of Triple H, Randy Orton, Batista and Christian.

    JR then says that he and King went to meet with Shawn Michaels and The Rock respectively about their upcoming Wrestlemania match, and both interviews will be aired here tonight… starting right now… with The King’s interview with The Rock.

    We then see some stock footage of Los Angeles and Hollywood, interspersed with some clips of THE ROCK in The Scorpion King and The Rundown, and also some clips of him in action, particularly against Stone Cold Steve Austin at Wrestlemania XIX.

    We then settle down to a stock movie interview set, with The Rock sitting in front of a “Walking Tall” background as part of the press tour for his latest upcoming film. Sitting opposite him is JERRY “THE KING” LAWLER.

    ”Rock, thanks for joining us,” King says.

    ”Pleasure’s all mine, King,” Rock says, flashing his million dollar smile and instantly showing us that this is going to be more “Dwayne Johnson the movie star” and less “The Rock” that we’re going to be getting in this interview.

    ”So here we are on the press tour for your latest film, “Walking Tall”, which comes out on April 2nd. Can you tell us a little about it?”

    “Of course. It’s a remake of the 1973 film, based on the old stories of Sheriff Buford Pusser. I play a guy called Chris Vaughn, who returns from military service to the town he grew up in to see it’s now run by a bunch of crooks and decides to take things in to his own hands. Needless to say, it’s got a lot of badass fight scenes, but it’s also got a lot of heart.”

    “I see. This is your third film as a lead, so how are you finding it? How does it compare to being in the ring?”

    “I love it. Making a film is a really collaborative effort, which is different from wrestling. I’ve worked with some great directors in Peter Berg and Chuck Russell, and Kevin Bray in this latest one. I’ve also worked with some great actors. Johnny Knoxville’s in Walking Tall with me, and he’s just a hell of a guy, but I’ve also been lucky to work with Christopher Walken, Rosario Dawson, Michael Clarke Duncan, Sean William Scott… it’s been wild, really.”

    “So you prefer it to wrestling?”

    Rock laughs. ”Nah, King… it’s just different. Here, you take a long ass time putting a movie together, working as a team. But wrestling,” he sighs, and takes a satisfied breath. ”Man, when you step through that curtain, performing in front of your fans… hell, you know it better than anyone, King. If you could bottle that feeling you’d be a billionaire.”

    King nods in agreement. ”We haven’t seen you in the ring since Backlash in April last year. What drew you back in?”

    Rock laughs. ”I’ll always be drawn back in, King, it’s in my blood. I couldn’t quit coming back if I wanted to. But the thought of being at Wrestlemania, the 20th edition no less, in Madison Square Garden, where I made my WWE debut… man, I’m getting goosebumps thinking about it.”

    “You didn’t mention Shawn Michaels in there. Are you not a fan of him?”

    Again The Rock laughs. ”Whoa, Jerry, I thought we were friends! You trying to stir the pot over there? Nah, man I kid, it’s all good. Look, facing Shawn is something they never thought would happen. It’s not something I thought would happen. I was just making my way up when he was on top, then by the time I got on top too he’d gone. He then came back a few years later, but I was making movies. We never really overlapped.”

    “So that means you don’t have any strong feeling about him?”

    Rock leans back in to his chair to mull it over. ”Listen… I got a lot of respect for what Shawn can do in the ring. When it comes to in-ring… I don’t know if there’s ever been anyone better. If there is, then Shawn’s at least in the question. He’s one hell of a talent, and he’s one of the few who can electrify the fans in the way I like to think I can.”

    King prods, causing Rocky to laugh at King’s insistence at drawing something out.

    ”Like I say, I don’t know him all that well. We didn’t overlap, and even when we did, we hang in different circles. If I’m honest, what I know of him I don’t love. That’s me just being honest but my opinion, though. I’ve found him difficult at times, always thought he had an attitude on him. As good as he is in the ring, I’ve always thought he knew that, but you could say the same thing about me. So this isn’t like Brock and Hunter wanting to tear each other’s heads off, or Jericho wanting to make a statement against ‘Taker, and ‘Taker wanting revenge for the attack at Survivor Series. What this is, is two of the absolutely best in the history of this business going one-on-one. The match they never thought would happen. Icon versus Icon, Legend versus Legend, Showstopper versus The Most Electrifying Man In Sports Entertainment. First time ever, last time ever. Only one can be the best. Man, there’s those goosebumps again.”

    King nods. ”Sure, I get that. I’d like to show you a video from 2000 though if that’s okay?”

    Rock nods, and footage starts up from Smackdown in 2000, where special referee Shawn Michaels cost The Rock the WWE Title by hitting him with Sweet Chin Music, allowing Triple H to get the pin. We also see Michaels spit on The Rock after he did it, and counting the three.

    (Start at 12:58 for the key point)

    We return to the interview room, and The Rock sighs and leans back in his chair. A lot of the happy-go-lucky playfulness has gone.

    ”The last time you were in the ring with Shawn Michaels, he cost you the WWE Title, then spat on you. Did that have anything to do with you coming back.”

    The Rock mulls it over in silence for a few moments, then speaks up, his voice soft and words measured. ”What you just saw there was a little of what I was talking about to do with his attitude. Like I say, our paths didn’t cross all that much, and when they did, I didn’t like what I saw. You’ve seen that there in that video. But does that mean that I’ve been holding a grudge for four years, waiting for my chance to make him pay for it?” His eyes tighten and grow intense as he pauses. No,” he eventually says. ”But does it mean that I’ve been looking forward to laying the Smackdown on his candy ass ever since? You’re damn right I have. But this isn’t a personal vendetta. I don’t love Shawn Michaels as a person, and frankly, I’ll probably enjoy whooping his candy ass at Wrestlemania. But this is about being the best. Full stop. Shawn thinks he’s the best. He thinks he’s done everything there is to do in this business. But he’s wrong. He’s never stepped in the ring with The Rock. He’s never stepped in the ring… with me. And for all those years coming up in the business where I saw him and heard him talking about how good he is and why he’s the best and all that crap… in three weeks at Wrestlemania, I get to prove that it’s wrong. Shawn Michaels is good. No… he’s great. But there’s one thing he is not… and that… is The Great One.”

    King smiles and nods, having managed to bait a bit more of a reaction out of The Rock than The Great One perhaps had intended to give. ”And next week, you have your first in-ring match in nearly eleven months live on WWE Raw. You must be excited?”

    The intensity drips away, and Rock can return to who he was before. ”Man, I can’t wait. I’ve got some great memories on Raw, and I’m hoping next week against Evolution is just gonna be another in the series.”

    “Anything you’re particularly looking forward to about the match?”

    “Take your pick,”
    Rock laughs. ”Laying the Smackdown on Randy Orton for everything he’s pulled? Facing off against Triple H one more time? It’s gonna be something else.”

    “And it’ll be quite a month for you. Return to Raw next week, two weeks later your ‘Mania match, and then Walking Tall comes out on April 2nd. Any final words for the fans going in to it?”

    “Just to check out the film, April 2nd, Walking Tall, you’re guaranteed to love it, it’s the most fun I’ve had on a film set so far and I’m real proud of it, so make sure you check that out. And then March 14th, Madison Square Garden, Wrestlemania XX… The Rock… Shawn Michaels… Showstopper versus The Great One… never seen before, never seen again. It’s gonna be a battle for the ages and you’re not gonna wanna miss it.”

    “Well, I’m certainly looking for to it. Thanks for your time, Rock.”

    “And yours, King.”

    Rock throws up the People’s Eyebrow to the camera, and we fade out.

    From there, we return to ringside, where Jim Ross and The King say up next… it’s Lita… it’s Trish Stratus… and one of these women are going to Wrestlemania.

    They introduce a recap of the history between the two, starting with Lita returning at Unforgiven to help out the outnumbered Trish Stratus. We see their friendship blossom and all seems good… until April arrives. As an old friend of Trish’s, she has a different attitude to the other two women, and tries to encourage them to do whatever it takes to succeed. Both Lita and Trish turn down the advice, but when Lita wins the Women’s Title at Armageddon and subsequently beats an injured Trish the next night on Raw, April steps up her accusations that Lita already is doing whatever it takes.

    That takes us to the Royal Rumble, where April faced Lita for the belt. The contest was surprisingly one-sided, with April ruthlessly targeting the injured neck of Lita. Lita could do little to fight back, and April stunned the world with a definitive title win.

    From there, both Trish and Lita made it their goal to face April at Wrestlemania. A tournament was set up, and Trish overcame Ivory and Jazz to make it to the final, with Lita beating Gail and Molly. So now we’re here, two women who once called each other best friends, forced to fight one another for a place at Wrestlemania...

    WWE Women’s Championship Number One Contender Final
    Lita vs. Trish Stratus

    Given both women have indicated they’re willing to push the boundaries to get through the tournament, you might have expected them to come in to this one all guns blazing. But as the bell rings, both women are reluctant to make the first move, knowing that it’s one thing to overstep the line against your enemies, and another your friend. They look for the other to make the first move, trying to gauge what approach they will take, but when neither shows willing, they tie up and wrestle and counter-wrestle. Both women go through the motions a little, waiting to see if either will snap first and show their true colours… but it doesn’t happen. Both play it safe, so Lita nods, understanding… and charges right at Trish!

    But Trish sidesteps… and Lita crashes in to the turnbuckle! Lita was the first to take it to Trish, but Trish was ready for it! Maybe all of April’s “pep talks” have paid off! Trish follows up with a series of Forearms right to the face, holding absolutely nothing back against her friend… and looks for a Stratusfaction! She wants to catch her off guard early!

    But Lita sees it coming… AND PUSHES TRISH OVER THE TOP ROPE! Trish crashes and burns on the outside!

    But allows Lita to take over, throwing Trish back in the ring and slowly wearing her down. Trish seems to be favouring her knee from the impact on the outside, so Lita shows no qualms in targeting it (just as she targeted Trish’s previously injured arm after Armageddon), kicking at it any time Trish tries to mount a comeback and nearly making her submit to a Leglock. Trish though, powers through to the ropes, forcing Lita to break the hold (a split second before Jack Doan counts to 5, of course). Trish is in a bad way, though, so Lita kicks again at the knee as Trish stands, causing her to drop down… and pulls her in for a Twist of Fate!

    But Trish powers out… AND SNAPS LITA’S NECK OFF THE TOP ROPE! Trish just went for Lita’s injured neck the same as Lita went for her knee! Maybe she has learned a lesson from the Raw after Armageddon! Lita’s seriously pained from the impact, but Trish tries to black it out, pulling Lita up again… AND SNAPS HER NECK OFF THE TOP ROPE AGAIN! And Lita screams in pain!

    Trish grimaces at the sight of her friend in agony, and stalls for a moment, not sure whether to carry on targeting an area she knows will cause damage to her friend…

    SO LITA HITS HER WITH A CHOP BLOCK! Both women are full-on aiming for each other’s weak points! With three weeks until Wrestlemania, April must be loving this! Lita grabs the leg… spins... FIGURE FOUR LEG LOCK! Lita’s going to try and force her friend to quit on her dream of going to ‘Mania! Trish struggles, wanting to quit with the pain… no! She fights through… and turns Lita over! Now the pain’s transferred to Lita!

    But Trish releases the hold… AND DIVES IN TO A FULL NELSON! Trish gave up on the leglock, and went straight to a neck lock! Lita tries to fight it… SO TRISH WRAPS HER LEGS AROUND LITA’S WAIST! Lita’s surgically repaired neck is being pushed at an unholy angle!

    Lita shrieks again in pain, looking on the verge of tears as she tries to power out… but Trish has got it locked in! Trish thrusts her hips forward to drive Lita’s back forward, pushing the angle of Lita’s neck even more twisted… Jack Doan is right up in Lita’s face, asking if she wants to quit… there’s no way of getting to the ropes… no way of fighting out… so she’s going to quit!

    Wait a minute! Before she does, she pushes back… and holds Trish’s shoulders to the mat… WHILE STILL HELD IN THE FULL NELSON!





    But which came first?! Was it the tap out or the three count?! Jack Doan calls for the bell, but as he goes to tell Lillian Garcia the result… he freezes! He isn’t sure which way to call it!

    We get a slow motion replay, which JR and King see at their announce table… and it looks to have been at the exact same time! Lawler beckons for Jack Doan to come and look at the footage, so he watches on their monitor… and sees that Lita tapped the exact second Doan’s hand hit the mat a third time!

    Doan walks over to Lillian Garcia and whispers in her ear.

    ”Ladies and gentlemen… the referee’s decision...” Lillian pauses… ”is this match was a draw!

    Result: Draw in 7:49

    Boos echo throughout the Quest Center, and rightfully so. Trish is back on her feet in the ring, and she leans over the top rope, telling Doan that she made Lita tap, she felt it, and that should be that.

    Lita, however, hasn’t yet returned to her feet, cradling her injured neck. Trish points to Lita to make her point to the ref… but only then realises the damage she may have caused. She limps over and tries to console Lita and check she’s okay, now thoughts of going to Wrestlemania or not becoming secondary. She tries to check on her…

    BUT LITA SHOVES HER AWAY! She gets to her feet using the ropes as Trish again tries to talk to her… BUT LITA SHOVES HER DOWN! Trish sits on the mat, trying to plead innocence…


    Jack Doan pulls Lita away and forces her in the corner, blocking off the route back to Trish, as Lita struggles to get by. Trish gets back to her feet and signals around her waist, then points to her knee.

    ”It’s about about the belt, right? You were fine going after my knee!”

    “It’s different and you know it!”
    Lita yells back… AND SHOVES JACK DOAN TO THE SIDE! SPEAR TO TRISH! Lita’s overcome with rage that her own friend would target a broken neck like that! She again tries to beat on her…

    WHEN APRIL RUNS OUT FROM THE BACK! She slides in the ring and drags Lita off of Trish by the hair…

    AND HITS HER WITH A SWINGING NECKBREAKER! April goes right for the injured neck of Lita again!

    Lita writhes around the mat in pain, so April drops to her knees to check on Trish. Trish, though, having seen what April just did, shoves April to the side and gets back to her feet.

    ”What?!” April asks, arms outstretched. ”She was kicking your ass!”

    Trish barges past April and crouches down to check on Lita again, willing to overlook the fact that Lita was only too happy to unleash a flurry of right hands to her, but is quickly pushed to one side by the group of MEDICAL PERSONNEL who have come to check on Lita’s neck.

    April grabs Trish by the arm and tries to lead her away, but Trish snaps her arm back and points to the back, telling April to get the hell out of there. April holds her arms up in surrender and backs away down the ramp, mouthing ”I just wanted to help,” but when Trish turns back to Lita she’s too busy being checked over. Lita refuses their help to go to the back, but as she struggles herself up the ramp, Trish is left watching on…

    … and we still don’t know who is going to Wrestlemania!

    A graphic then appears on the screen, indicating that we are just twenty days from Wrestlemania XX: Where It All Begins Again… and we then transition to the latest of our recaps of ‘Manias gone by… Wrestlemania XV!

    Set deep in the Attitude Era, we briefly see clips of HARDCORE HOLLY winning the Hardcore Title, BIG SHOW punching out VINCE MCMAHON, and BART GUNN getting knocked the fuck out by BUTTERBEAN.

    Half of the focus, though, is TRIPLE H beating KANE thanks to CHYNA rejoining DX but swerve it was actually Triple H joining the Corporation by turning on X-PAC and now he’s a heel and Kane is a babyface and holy shit Vince Russo. This is laughably presented as something of a co-main event, which Triple H is only too happy to talk about ad nauseam.

    There’s also a reference to another match on the card between STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN and THE ROCK. And, for the first time in one of these flashbacks, we actually hear from The Rock himself, putting over what a privilege it was to go in to Wrestlemania as champion, and what a great match he had with Austin. You know, all the stuff Triple H would never say. Maybe the ‘great match’ bit.

    We return to ringside…


    *** THE GAME ***

    Big mixed reaction for the Cerebral Assassin! TRIPLE H storms down to the ring, wearing suit trousers and a shirt with the sleeves rolled up, gets in the ring with a microphone and starts pacing.

    ”Alright, you son of a bitch,” he growls. ”You’ve been here long enough now. Brock Lesnar… get… your ass… in to my ring… now..”

    Pop for the challenge.

    ”C’mon, Brock, I’m not waiting any longer. I saw you arrive… quit stalling in the back… and face me like a man.”

    Still The Game paces, but still there’s no appearance from Lesnar.

    ”Damn it, if you don’t get your sorry ass in to this ring in the next-”

    Triple H is cut off by a live feed backstage…

    WHERE ALL OF BROCK’S SECURITY GUARDS HAVE BEEN TAKEN OUT! The security detail accompanying Brock to the ring have been laid to waste!

    The camera pans over them and along the corridor, to where we hear grunts and thuds…

    WHEN SUDDENLY RIC FLAIR bursts through the door…

    COVERED IN BLOOD! He slumps to the floor, his suit torn up and his face battered. After a few moments of Flair trying to crawl away…

    … out steps BROCK LESNAR!

    Flair tries to get away, so Brock dives on top of him…


    We cut to the ring, where The Game is watching on the Titantron, frozen, so we return backstage to see Brock squeezing the life from the Nature Boy, with PAUL HEYMAN standing over them both.

    ”Oh, Ric… you really better keep better company.” Heyman says with a smug grin, then looks down the lens of the camera. ”You seeing this, Game? You see what’s happened to your mentor? But I thought you were the Cerebral Assassin? I thought you were the one who was going to outsmart Brock Lesnar?” Heyman laughs to himself. ”It looks to me, Trips… that we… just outsmarted… you. So the message getting through to you, yet? It’s pretty obvious, but I get the sense you’re not as smart as you like to say you are, so let me spell it out for you. Anything you can do… BRRRRROCCCCKKKK… LESSSNARRRRR… can do… better. See you on Smackdown next week, champ.”

    Heyman pats Brock on the shoulder to release the hold, and Brock gets back to his feet… but not before pulling Flair up… and lifting him on to his shoulders!

    ”YOU PUT HIM DOWN YOU SON OF A BITCH!” Triple H yells down the mic…

    … but Brock Lesnar can’t hear him… and even if he wouldn’t it’s not going to stop him from what he’s about to do…


    Triple H, having seen enough, leaps out of the ring and sprints down the ramp to the back… and we fade out.

    We fade in to footage of a cheering crowd, as the WWE production song Goliath plays...

    ”Our days are finite...”

    We see TRIPLE H standing in the spotlight during his entrance, spraying water in to the air.

    ”We have to make the most of the little time we have...”

    We see KURT ANGLE standing on the ramp, arms raised to the sky, pyro exploding behind him.

    ”To create a future we can be proud of, and a past we will never forget.”

    We see CYNDI LAUPER and WENDI RICHTER jogging through the backstage area at the first Wrestlemania.

    ”Our bodies can not live forever...”

    We then see SHAWN MICHAELS screaming in agony as CHRIS JERICHO pulls back on the Walls of Jericho at Survivor Series.

    ”But the memories we leave may never die.”

    We see HULK HOGAN slamming ANDRE THE GIANT at Wrestlemania III.

    ”For we are not who we say are...”

    We see JOHN CENA, mid-freestyle.

    ”We are... what we do...”

    And then see ROB VAN DAM soaring through the air in slow motion, about to hit a Five Star Frog Splash.

    ”And what we do... can define... a lifetime.”

    We see EDDIE GUERRERO shimmying his shoulders, channelling his Latino Heat, with the crowd roaring behind him.

    ”Did we achieve all we wanted to achieve?”

    We see SHAWN MICHAELS on his knees at Wrestlemania XII, cradling the WWE Championship as the boyhood dream came true.

    ”Did we make the difference the world needed us to make?”

    We see JEFF HARDY hanging from the title belts during the TLC match at Wrestlemania X7, and EDGE diving off a ladder to hit a Spear in mid-air.

    ”Boys may become men...”

    We see RANDY ORTON standing on the stage, arms apart, posing as a curtain of pyro falls behind him.

    ”Girls may become women...”

    We see LITA standing on the top rope, signalling the fans.

    ”But only the great... can become legends...”

    We see SHAWN MICHAELS once more, this time splashing RAZOR RAMON off the ladder at Wrestlemania X.

    ”And only legends... can become... immortal.”

    We see HULK HOGAN and THE ROCK staring down at Wrestlemania X8.

    ”So did you give it everything you have?”

    We see KANE bring his arms down, igniting fire from the four turnbuckle posts.

    ”Did you refuse to quit when all hope was lost?”

    We see the iconic image of STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN locked in the Sharpshooter, bleeding profusely, but refusing to submit.

    ”Did you aspire to dream... when all others said it could not be done?”

    We see CHRIS BENOIT looking out at the crowd with a tear in his eye, having been given a standing ovation for his efforts against BROCK LESNAR on Smackdown.

    ”And when the time comes...”

    We see BOOKER T on one knee, staring at his hand before he rolls in to a Spinaroonie.

    ”Will you make it count?”

    We see RANDY SAVAGE and ELIZABETH’S tearful reunion at Wrestlemania VII.

    ”Will you make a difference?”

    We see CHRIS JERICHO hitting a picture-perfect Lionsault in slow-motion.

    ”And will you find the path...”

    We see THE UNDERTAKER’S entrance at Wrestlemania IV as he rides a cart to the ring to face Giant Gonzales, with an ominous-looking vulture perched next to him.

    ”To immortality?”

    We see STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN celebrating winning his first WWE Title at Wrestlemania XIV.

    ”Wrestlemania XX...”

    We see BROCK LESNAR holding the title aloft after winning the belt in last year’s main event.

    ”Where it all begins...”

    We see HULK HOGAN and MR T celebrating together at the first Wrestlemania.


    We return backstage, where we see TRIPLE H sprinting through the corridors to find RIC FLAIR, already surrounded by road agents and medical personnel. After a few moments, BATISTA and CHRISTIAN jog over…

    … so Triple H grabs Batista by the shirt and shoves him in to the wall! ”Where the hell were you, Dave?”

    Batista shoves him away! ”Getting ready for my match! Where the hell were you, Hunter?”

    “You wanna talk to me like that, I’ll kick-”

    “Guys, guys, guys!”
    Christian interjects, holding them apart. ”Maybe now isn’t the time?”

    Triple H pulls himself together, no doubt embarrassed that Christian of all people had to be the voice of reason, and grabs DAVE FINLAY, who was standing by as a road agent, by the collar.

    ”Lesnar… where?” Trips growls.

    ”That way,” Finlay says. ”He must be gone by now, though.”

    Trips looks to head down the corridor, with Batista and Christian following.

    ”No,” Triple H says, shoving them back down the ramp, ”you make sure you keep those Tag Titles later. I’m dealing with Lesnar.”

    Triple H jogs down the corridor and bursts out in to the parking lot… but the limo is nowhere to be seen.

    ”You!” he barks at a nearby PARKING ATTENDANT. ”Brock Lesnar. Where did he go?”

    The attendant points down the exit. ”They’re long gone, Mr. Helmsley, they didn’t-”

    Triple H roars in anger… AND LAUNCHES THE PARKING ATTENDANT IN THE THE WALL! He then turns back to the exit and sneers, breathing heavily, looking ready to burst at any moment…

    On that note, we return to ringside…

    *** GOLD-LUST ***

    There are big boos for the arrival of GOLDUST, who as per the match stipulations comes out without Test and Stevie Richards for once. He slivers to the ring, removes the wig and gown, and crouches in the corner, awaiting whichever Dudley he has chosen…

    *** BOMBSHELL ***

    And as the single firework hits the stage, igniting the arena in pyro, the crowd cheer for the arrival of BUBBA RAY and D-VON DUDLEY! They march to the top of the ramp, side-by-side, and await to hear who it will be as their music dies down.

    ”Well?!” Bubba yells. ”Who’s it gonna be, huh? Me or D-Von?”

    Goldust however, doesn’t move, as the Dudleyz are left confused as to what to expect…


    But soon find out the Dudley Boy Goldust has chosen… is SPIKE DUDLEY! Spike marches on to the ramp to shocked looks from his brothers, but his slaps them on the chest to let them know it’s all good, and heads down to the ring. Bubba and D-Von are left no choice but to reluctantly return backstage, having promised they wouldn’t get involved, although without expecting it would be Little Spike who would be chosen for the match...

    Opponent’s Choice Match
    Goldust vs. Spike Dudley

    The bell rings, and Spike’s ready for a scrap… but Goldust doesn’t respond! He leaves Spike to get frustrated, so the littlest Dudley marches over… and Goldust suddenly unleashes on him! Spike didn’t see that coming! Goldust psychopathically unloads on Spike, punching him over and over again until he’s curled up in a ball in the corner.

    ”How does it feel?!” Goldust yells, ”your brothers have forsaken you! You… Spike… are the sibling no-one loves!”

    Spike gets to his feet… and Spears Goldust to the mat! No-one talks to Spike that way! He unleashes on Goldust… but Goldust shoves him away… they’re both back to their feet… AND GOLDUST KICKS HIM RIGHT BETWEEN THE LEGS! That’s the bell!

    Winner: Spike Dudley by disqualification in 1:15

    The crowd rightly boo the totally bullshit finish, but Goldust and Shattered Dreams Production have never been about wins and losses. Spike slumps to the mat, so Goldust tees off on him, punching him over and over. He then heads to the turnbuckle… rips off the padding… AND SLAMS SPIKE’S FACE OFF OF IT! Brutal impact! Spike’s out cold, but Goldust still pulls him up… AND DOES IT AGAIN! Spike’s face just crashed off the exposed turnbuckle a second time!

    SO HERE COME THE DUDLEY BOYZ! They march towards the ring to defend their little brother…

    ”Wait a minute!” Goldust purrs in to a microphone. ”Don’t forget the rulessss… you come in this ring… and you are barred from any future title shotsssss.”

    “That’s our damn brother!”
    D-Von yells, loud enough to be heard without a microphone, but they still freeze, not wanting to lose their title shot.

    ”That’s what I thougghhhht….” Goldust whispers. ”Your greed… comes before your love of family. In this world… it alwayssss… does.”

    The Dudleyz twitch, wanting to get in there… but still they hold back, not wanting to write off their chance at a title shot. Goldust grins manically... picks Spike up…



    The Bizarre One manages to wriggle free eventually and roll to the outside of the ring, leaving Bubba and D-Von to stand in the ring, swiping at him from the outside.

    ”Goooood...” Goldust purrs in to the mic. ”Gooooood… give up everything for your family. Your future as a team is dead for a year… because of your family. That’s... how it should be. You made the sacrifice to save your family… a sacrifice people all over the world refuse to make every day… but you made the right choice. Nowwww… you pay… the cons… equences.”

    Again Goldust grins maniacally and backs up the ramp, leaving D-Von to check on his little brother while Bubba furiously palms his head in frustration, having had to choose to save Spike and give up any dreams of getting their Tag Titles back for the foreseeable future, while JR asks what the hell Goldust is getting out of messing with the brothers like this...

    We then head backstage to where Rue is standing by with BOOKER T and ROB VAN DAM, both dressed for their upcoming match, both moving around a lot to keep warm.

    ”Booker, Rob, we are just moments away from your World Tag Team Title Match against Christian and Batista, and after what we saw earlier with Ric Flair and Brock Lesnar, do you think your opponents may be a little distracted?”

    “Lemme tell ya this, honey,”
    Booker says. ”Ric Flair… I don’t like that cat. There ain’t no-one… no-one… on Raw that ain’t been through somethin’ like that at tha hands-a Evolution, ya feel me? For too damn long they’ve been actin’ like they run this damn place, it was a mattah of time before someone gave ‘em a taste-a their own medicine, ya dig? But Ric Flair… Evolution… they… are Raw’s problem… and no-one takes care-a that problem… but us. So Brock Lesnar… I hate Evolution more than I hate anyone right now… but next time ya come on ta our show… ya best know that you’re gon’ get got.”

    Van Dam nods in agreement. ”You said it, Book. Comin’ on to our show, takin’ out our colleagues… even if we hate ‘em more than anyone? That ain’t cool, bro. But that ain’t distractin’ us. So Brock got there before we could. But guess what… that’s just the start. I’ve been dealin’ with these Evolution clowns for four damn months now… and I don’t plan on lettin’ up now. Maybe their mentor got taken out. But ya know who else got taken out? Me. Book. Shawn. Bubba. D-Von. Terry. Tommy. Al. Mick. Hell… Collette. All at the hands of Evolution. They’ve been pushin’ it too damn far for too damn long for a while now… and tonight they pay the price.”

    Booker and Van Dam bump fists and walk off. No catchphrases, no games. This is serious business now...

    We then head back to ringside, where JR and King again hype next week’s HUGE eight-man tag match, where Triple H, Randy Orton, Batista and Christian go up against the team of Rob Van Dam, Booker T, Shawn Michaels, and in his first match in nearly a year… The Rock!

    JR then reminds us of the interview we heard with The Rock and Jerry Lawler earlier tonight, and how we got a sense that while The Rock sees this as a battle of two of the biggest names in history, it appears as though there may be some resentment bubbling under. JR says that if you thought that was the case with The Rock, then you’re absolutely going to want to see what Shawn had to say about The Rock, when JR himself went to Shawn’s ranch in Texas to talk about their Wrestlemania match.

    From there we transition to footage of SHAWN MICHAELS’s career to date, with some of his finest moments, like the Wrestlemania Ladder match against Razor Ramon and winning the belt from Bret. We also see some of his biggest moments since his return, such as the Street Fight against Triple H, winning the World Heavyweight Title at Survivor Series 2002, and his epic back-and-forth with Jericho a couple of weeks ago.

    The footage then changes to a quiet, peaceful ranch in Texas, and we see Michaels sitting opposite Jim Ross at a kitchen table.

    ”Shawn, thank you for invitin’ me in t’ ya home.”

    “No problem, JR.”

    “I wanna start by talkin’ about last week, before The Rock arrived. It certainly sounded t’ me like you were considerin’ retirin’. Is that so?”

    Shawn lowers his head, and nods. ”That was th’ plan, yeah.”

    “And yet you agreed t’ th’ match with Rocky at Wrestlemania. What made ya stick around?”

    “Honestly, JR, last week felt like time. I thought I’d proven ev’rythin’ I need t’ prove… to my fam’ly… th’ fans… hell, even t’ myself. It was th’ right decision t’ come back, and ev’rythin’ I did for th’ last two years was a testament t’ that, I hope. So I felt it was a good time to reflect on what I’d achieved, rest th’ body up, and spend a little time with th’ ol’ family. But then th’ thought-a headlinin’ another Wrestlemania… I dunno. Suddenly callin’ it quits din’t seem so appealin’.”

    “So is that it for your retirement? Or is this a one match thing?”

    Michaels flaps his hands to his side and sighs. ”I dunno, JR. I was sure on retirin’ last week… but standin’ there, talkin’ ‘bout headlinin’ Wrestlemania… it’s makin’ me question whether I was makin’ a mistake before.”

    “The prospect of performin’ at Wrestlemania certainly seems important to you?”

    Michaels nods. ”Nothin’ beats it. Me an’ Wrestlemania… it’s just a thing, ya know. Ya look at th’ Ladder Match with Razor at 10, or winnin’ th’ belt at 12… hell, I even thought I had my last match at ‘Mania. Facin’ Steve at 14 was my last match in 4 and a half years. There’s somethin’ about it’s that’s just too darn special, y’know? And I know, deep in my gut… that ‘Mania loves me too. It brings somethin’ outta me. I truly believe that there ain’t a person on this planet who can outperform me at Wrestlemania. It may sound arrogant, but that’s how I see it.”

    “I think there’s a lot of people who would agree with you on that. I notice that ya haven’t said a great deal about The Rock yet?”

    Shawn nods, mulls it over, and half-shrugs. ”What d’ya want me t’ say?”

    “Well… I dunno. Was the prospect of facin’ him part of th’ draw-a comin’ back?”

    Shawn remains stoic. ”I guess. It’s a big time match, I know that. It’s not a match I ever thought’d happen, and he’s not someone I’ve ever beat before, so I guess ya can say it’s a bit of a draw for me.”

    “But there isn’t any personal animosity between you and The Rock?”

    “Don’t really know th’ guy, t’ be honest with ya. We din’t overlap all that much. I know he’s got a big ego, likes t’ run his mouth, thinks he’s a big shot. But I guess he kinda is, so I get it. I dunno.”

    “You don’t sound like you’re his biggest fan?”

    Shawn shrugs, but doesn’t say anything, keeping his cards close to his chest, so JR carries on.

    ”Last time you and Rocky were in a ring together, you cost him th’ WWE Title, on an episode-a Smackdown in 2000. You can’t have liked ‘im at th’ time you did that, so is there any bubblin’ resentment there from that?”

    “I din’t say there was any resentment.”

    “But ya cost him th’ WWE Title and spat at him while he was on the floor. Ya tellin’ me that’s not a big deal t’ y-”

    “It was a long time ago. I’ve changed since then. He’s prob’ly changed since then too. Least I hope he has.”

    “So ya don’t see that as a sign that you and The Rock have had a bit-a resentment lingerin’ between ya for a few years?”

    Michaels shrugs again. ”I dunno what ya want me t’ say, JR.”

    JR nods, sensing that this line of questioning isn’t going to get anything out of him, even if there does seem to be something he’s not saying.

    ”Okay, let’s move on. I have some footage from 1999 that I’d like t’ show ya, that okay?”

    Michaels shrugs dismissively, almost pouting.

    When we return from the footage, Shawn, just as Rock did earlier, leans back in to his chair to process what he just saw.

    ”Seein’ that footage, what do you think of it?”

    Shawn strokes his chin as he thinks it over. ”I gotta be honest with ya, JR… I don’t get it.”

    “What don’t ya get?”

    “I dunno,”
    Michaels says, half-scowling. ”Why you’re showin’ me it, I guess. What he was really talkin’ about, even. I dunno, I don’t get it. None-a it. Was it a joke, or somethin’? He tryin t’ be funny?”

    “I think some people would see that as funny, yes.”

    Michaels raises his eyebrows in surprise and nods. ”No caterin’ for taste, I guess.”

    “So you don’t find it funny?”

    “I don’t see what could be funny about it, t’ be honest. But, hey, good for him, y’know? He has all his little catchphrases and nursery rhymes and all, and it helped him get famous in a way that he might not-a done without it, so good for him.”

    “Are you implyin’ that The Rock has the name value he does because of his catchphrases and ability to make people laugh more than his in ring ability?”

    “I ain’t implyin’ nothin’, JR, I’m straight up sayin’ it. It ain’t a criticism, it’s an observation. Look, I’ve been in th’ ring wi’ some greats. Whole bunch-a guys I don’t even like, like Bret, or Hunter. Can’t stand ‘em, but they had real talent, y’know? But Rocky… he’s not on their level. I know he thinks he is, but it ain’t true. He’s someone who took a good amount-a talent and made a great career out-a himself, and I can respect that. But to suggest he’s on my level? It’s just not true.”

    “With all due respect, Shawn, I think you’re bein’ a little disrespectful t’ ev’rythin’ Rocky achieved in his career.”

    “Hey, look, people’ll disagree wi’ me, and that’s fine. It’s just my opinion that he ain’t all that. But it ain’t opinion that he ain’t as good as me. That… that’s fact, JR. And at Wrestlemania… I’m gonna prove it.”

    JR nods, wondering how far to push it. ”Tell me if I’m outta line here, Shawn, but I wanna return to what I was talkin’ about earlier. I get th’ sense there’s a bit-a resentment between you and Rocky? I’m gonna come outright and say it… do you not like The Rock?”

    Michaels sighs impatiently. “I’ve already said it once. I don’t know th’ guy, Jim. What I know of ‘im I don’t particularly like. It ain’t like I hate him or nothin’… but I don’t really like what I know. But there ain’t bad blood or resentment or whatever. I just think that’s he’s a smart guy. He’s not on th’ level-a people like me or Hunter, but he made a good career outta himself, then got goin’ before he got found out.”

    “So you think he went to Hollywood to hide, is that what you’re sayin’?”

    Shawn shrugs. ”You tell me. Maybe it’s a coincidence he left just as I came back, I dunno. Maybe it’s a coincidence he left as guys like Brock and Kurt and Jericho were comin’ through. Or maybe he realised he’d overperformed, and used that t’ get a career in Hollywood, and leave all-a us t’ carry th’ weight while he was gone. ‘Cos, personally… I had a broken damn back, thought my career was over… and I came back. That’s how much I love this business. I’m givin’ up my health ev’ry single time I step in th’ ring, ‘cos I love it. But can ya say th’ same about him?”

    “Personally, I don’t think anyone can question The Rock’s love for this business, and the sacrifices he made and the talent he had to get to where he did.”

    “And you’re welcome t’ that opinion, JR. I just don’t share it, is all. Ya wanna talk about sacrifices? 6’5 former football player with two generations-a wrestlers above him t’ get him in an in to this business? If ya think that’s a sacrifice I’d love t’ hear what ya think bein’ the’ smallest guy in th...”
    Shawn drifts off, catching himself getting frustrated, and takes a deep breath to calm down. ”Look, I ain’t meanin’ t’ be rude about th’ guy. He’s got a tonne-a talent, ain’t doubtin’ that. Wrestlemania XX, Madison Square Garden, March 14th… it’s gonna be a real challenge. Beatin’ him on th’ Grandest Stage Of ‘Em All is gonna be a real, real proud moment in my career. But if ya think it’s goin’ anyway other than me gettin’ my hand raised at th’ end… you’ve got another thing comin’, that’s all I’ll say. There any more questions?”

    “Think that covers it.”

    Shawn smiles, stands up, and offers a handshake, trying to turn on the charm after what had become a heated discussion. ”Thanks, JR, good to catch up as always. Glad you’ll be callin’ our match at ‘Mania.”

    “Me too, Shawn”.

    We return to ringside…

    *** LINE IN THE SAND ***

    Big heat for the arrival of BATISTA and CHRISTIAN! Of course, for the first time ever as a team, they’re coming out alone. Batista, obviously closer with Flair than Christian was, storms straight to the ring without any kind of posing or playing up, just wanting to get his hands on someone. Christian, though, looks as cocky as ever as he points to all his non-existent fans in the audience, mugging to the camera with his belt…

    *** RAP SHEET ***

    Big pop for the arrival of BOOKER T! He sets off the pyro on the stage and marches down the ramp, but waits before he gets in to the ring for his partner…

    *** ONE OF A KIND ***

    And another big pop for ROB VAN DAM! He takes his place alongside Booker at the bottom of the ramp, points to himself in time with Lillian Garcia, nods to Booker… and they slide in to the ring… and the brawl is underway!

    World Tag Team Titles
    Batista & Christian (c) vs. Booker T & Rob Van Dam

    Both teams swing wildly for the other, with little resemblance to your standard wrestling match here. These are four men who hate each other, with three (Batista because of Flair and Booker and RVD because of how Evolution have treated them) ready to explode with frustration from the off. Booker and RVD get the better of it and clear the ring to a big pop, and challenge Batista and Christian to return… Christian climbs the apron… but Batista pulls him off… and goes in on his own! After what happened with Flair, he wants to take his frustration out on someone!

    He does okay, but he’s outnumbered, and that allows the babyfaces to take over. Christian tries to get in the ring, but Earl Hebner forces him to the corner to wait for a tag, then does the same with RVD. The announcers talk about Batista rushing in to two-on-one odds would have been exactly the kind of thing Flair would never had allowed if he was advising on the outside, but Batista knows no better without him, and that’s playing in to Book and Van Dam’s hands.

    Booker and RVD make use of quick tags to ensure they’re both fresh against The Animal, and Batista is left taking a more one-sided beating than he’s probably experienced before. Eventually RVD and Booker whip him across the ring… Christian makes the blind tag… Batista ducks under a Clothesline… and Christian takes out both RVD and Book with a Diving Crossbody off the top! Once again his tag team expertise pays off for Evolution…

    … but Batista is furious that Christian tagged himself in! He grabs Christian by the throat and shoves him in to their corner… and forces Christian to tag him back in! Batista returns in to the ring… but Booker T fires off on him! Batista took too long, and Book was able to recover! Without Flair to tame the beast, Batista's inexperience and uncontrolled rage is making him an easy target for the heroes to overcome! Booker gets the better of Batista and bounces off the ropes… but Christian knees him in the kidneys as he bounces… and Batista hits him with a Clothesline! Batista may not be allowing Christian in to the ring, but he’s still making a difference!

    That allows Batista to violently isolate Booker from RVD, and he shows no signs of wanting to bring Christian in. He’s only too happy to take his frustration out on the Five Time WCW Champion on his own, but that doesn’t stop Christian from being the difference-maker. As he senses Batista's about to choke Booker on the ropes, he dives in to the ring, distracting the referee and allowing Batista to get an extended choke on Book. When Booker looks like he’s going to be able to fight back, Christian runs in to cheap shot RVD and bring him in, again distracting the ref and allowing him to get in a few shots on Booker as well to slow him down. Eventually, Booker manages to duck a Clothesline and hit a Crescent Kick on Batista and crawls to the corner…

    … but Christian pulls RVD off the ring apron! He might not be allowed in to the ring, but he’s still doing all he can to keep the titles!

    With RVD unable to make the tag, Christian starts trying to take Flair’s role and provide some strategic guidance to Batista… but Batista flips him off! He’s so overcome with rage at Brock Lesnar he won’t be told what to do! Christian yells at him that he’s making a mistake… so Batista squares up to him! He really is an animal unleashed without Flair!

    But Batista’s wasting time again! Booker’s up… Dropkick to Batista's back… knocking The Animal in to Christian! Christian tumbles off the apron to the floor! Booker scurries across the mat… and tags in RVD!

    Van Dam leaps to the top rope… Diving Superkick to Batista! Christian groggily pulls himself on to the apron… Springboard Dropkick knocking him back down! RVD bounces off the ropes… Rolling Thunder to Batista! RVD leaps to the top rope… ready for the Five Star Frog Splash!

    But Christian pushes him off the top… and RVD lands throat-first in the ringrope! He staggers around the ring, so Christian tags himself in off an unsuspecting Batista, and goes behind Van Dam for the Unprettier… but RVD wriggles free and drops… and Booker hits a Missile Dropkick out of nowhere! RVD grabs the legs… Jacknife Pin!



    Batista breaks it up! This one is rapidly tumbling out of Earl Hebner’s control! Batista tries to attack RVD, but RVD fires back on him… kicks in the corner… Booker charges… RVD drops… Poetry in Motion! It’s like they’ve been teaming for years! Batista falls out of the ring, allowing Booker to line Christian up…

    BOOK END! RVD goes to the top…

    SPLIT-LEGGED MOONSAULT! He makes the cover…





    ! Hebner asks him what the hell he’s doing… SO ORTON CLOCKS HEBNER IN THE FACE!

    ! Booker dives to the outside to get a piece of Randy Orton… and Orton runs away! Booker gives chase…

    AND RUNS IN TO A SPINEBUSTER ON THE FLOOR BY BATISTA! Even without Flair or Triple H, still the numbers’ game is with Evolution! Batista returns to his feet…


    Randy Orton sidesteps… so RVD only takes out Batista! RVD gets back to his feet, clutching his back at the impact…


    Orton pulls him off the floor by the singlet and rolls him in to the ring. He shoves the timekeeper to the floor and grabs the steel chair he’d been sitting on, and heads in to the ring with it… RVD tries to pull himself up, but that RKO completely totalled him… Orton holds the chair up, knowing Hebner won’t be with it enough to see this… RVD slowly pulls himself on to his feet…

    CHAIR SHOT TO THE HEAD BY RANDY ORTON! Booker T is slowly recovering from the Spinebuster on the outside and pulls himself on to the apron…


    ”For th’ love-a God!” JR exclaims on commentary. ”This ain’t right! God dammit, this wrong! How many times is Randy Orton gonna screw these two? How many times are Evolution gonna get away with this? RVD and Booker T had the titles won, damn it, and Randy Orton has straight up screwed them!”

    Orton isn’t finished there, though. He opens up the steel chair, just as he did against Terry Funk and Tommy Dreamer… and lines up an RKO on the open chair! This is too far! He’s not just screwing Booker T and RVD out of the titles, he’s sending them to the hospital! He lines RVD up, slowly waiting to attack… RVD’s up, hovering over the chair... Orton’s about to pounce…

    … when he’s suddenly pulled by the ankle out of the ring…

    BY MICK FOLEY! He must have hopped the barrier… AND NOW HE’S BEATING THE SHIT OUT OF RANDY ORTON! The crowd EXPLODES! Mick Foley is finally making Randy Orton pay for everything he’s done!

    Over and over Foley pounds on Orton, until the so called New Hardcore Legend is slumped against the steel steps… AND FOLEY STARTS BITING HIS FOREHEAD! This is sick! Foley backs off… charges… and drives his knee in to Orton’s face… squashed against the steel steps!

    But Christian grabs Foley by the hair! He’s inside the ring, reaching over to grab Foley, and pulls him on to the apron…

    MANDIBLE CLAW! Foley just shoved his fingers right in Christian’s mouth! There’s no Socko here, just like there was no elaborate entrance! This is a straight up fight!

    Foley climbs in to the ring, holding on to the Mandible Claw as Christian fades…

    … when Batista grabs him from behind! Batista has recovered! He pulls Foley up…

    SO FOLEY GIVES HIM THE MANDIBLE CLAW AS WELL! Foley’s taking out all the remaining members of Evolution!

    Foley forces Batista back in to the corner, cutting off the oxygen as he keeps the claw locked in… Batista is fading…

    CHAIRSHOT TO THE BACK OF FOLEY! Orton just NAILED Foley in the back with the chair from earlier…

    BUT FOLEY NO SELLS! Orton looks like he’s seen a ghost! Foley stalks the Legend Killer… Orton lifts the chair above his head…

    MANDIBLE CLAW! Foley grabs it before Orton could swing! Orton drops the chair as Foley holds it in… but he releases before Orton passes out! He tosses Orton to the side… and picks up the steel chair!

    Orton tries to get back to his feet, but the Claw has drained much of the life out of him. Foley stands over him, staring at the chair. He hadn’t wanted to come back to this life. He had refused no matter what Orton did. The name-calling. The calling out. The hospitalisations of Terry Funk and Tommy Dreamer. The home invasion. But last week he overstepped the mark. Last week he attacked Foley’s wife. And now Foley can get revenge.

    Foley, though, pauses. He desperately doesn’t want to come back. To fight back now is to give Orton what he wants. He holds the chair, eyes still transfixed on it, knowing that one swing with that will unleash the monster inside, and there might not be any putting it back. Orton staggers around the ring, barely able to stay on his feet…

    … Foley sighs…

    … and lowers the chair! He’s not going to do it! He’s refusing to give Orton what he wants!


    Orton tumbles to the outside, so Foley follows after him and stalks after him. Orton, barely conscious after the chair shot, feebly tries to pull himself up the ramp to safety… but Foley’s following! He’s toying with Orton! This is what you get for messing with his wife!

    Meanwhile, in the ring, Booker T rolls back in as Batista gets to his feet… and Clotheslines him over the top rope! Christian is getting to his knees after the Mandible Claw, so Booker rushes over…

    SCISSORS KICK! And Rob Van Dam is climbing to the top rope!


    Booker leaps to the outside and pulls Earl Hebner up, and rolls him in the ring… Hebner crawls over to where Van Dam is covering Christian…




    Winners and NEW World Tag Team Champions: Booker T & Rob Van Dam in 11:40

    And the crowd absolutely EXPLODES!

    ”Mick Foley is back!” JR exclaims on commentary. ”Mick Foley couldn’t take it anymore… Mick Foley is kickin’ Randy Orton’s no good ass… and Rob Van Dam and Booker T are our new Tag Team Champions!”

    Book and Van Dam, both exhausted from the match and the beatings Orton gave them, slump in to a hug with one another as Earl Hebner groggily takes the belts and hands them over. They snatch the belts away and hold them high above their heads, and come back together for another hug, both perhaps having found the partner they need in what is turning in to the Wild West of professional wrestling.

    ”And would ya look at that!” JR exclaims, ”fin’lly RVD got one over on Evolution! Fin’lly he’s been able t’ show them what he’s made of! And fin’lly th’ Tag Team Titles have been taken away from Evolution!”

    Meanwhile, Foley is still stalking Orton on the ramp, stopping from toying with him every now and again to stomp him in the face. Orton eventually manages to kick him in the gut to break it up for a moment… and scurries away! He doesn’t want any piece of Mick Foley, he’s getting as far away as he can… but Foley gives chase! He’s not done with Randy Orton yet!

    Back in the ring, Christian is still out in the middle of the ring, but Batista on the outside looks up to see RVD and Booker celebrating. He leans against the apron and shakes his head at what has surely been the world day of his WWE career to date. He looks at Christian, out cold in the centre of the ring…

    … and walks away! Since they formed their team he’s always made sure to stand up for Christian and help him to the back after matches… but now he’s leaving him behind! It looks like Batista wants nothing to do with Christian!

    But that feels almost tertiary at this point. As Foley and Orton disappear out of sight, we’re left with just Van Dam and Booker T standing tall, titles held aloft, finally having overcome Evolution, as we fade to black...

    * END OF SHOW *

    Confirmed for next week

    The Return Of The Great One!

    Batista, Christian, Randy Orton & Triple H vs. Booker T, Rob Van Dam, Shawn Michaels... and The Rock!

    Wrestlemania Warm Up
    Molly Holly vs. Trish Stratus

    Wrestlemania Warm Up
    Jazz vs. Lita

    Non-Title Wrestlemania Warm Up
    April vs. Ivory

    Single Match
    Theodore Long vs. The Hurricane

    Goldberg returns to in-ring action!

    Mick Foley finally speaks out about Randy Orton!

    Will The Undertaker accept Chris Jericho’s challenge to appear on Raw?!

    World Heavyweight Title Match
    Chris Jericho (c) vs. The Undertaker

    WWE Championship Match
    Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero (c)

    WWE Tag Team Title Match
    The World’s Greatest Tag Team (c) vs. Filthy Animals

    Just Signed Off! Triangle Match for the WWE Women’s Title
    April (c) vs. Lita vs. Trish Stratus

    Great One versus The Showstopper
    The Rock vs. Shawn Michaels

    Battle of the Brands
    Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H

  14. #414
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    Re: September BTBOTM - WWE: Where It All Begins... Again

    Finally able to get a review in for you Keefmoon! I'll talk about the overall stories rather than just the last show.

    Jericho being Taker's attacker was a bit surprising but it works for Y2Js character and mixes the lines drawn between Smackdown/Raw stars. My only issue is I can't look past Taker winning, but that's just Taker at Mania for you.

    Shawn Michaels versus The Rock - far fetched for sure but definitely a dream match if ever there was one. The only downside to this is it does feel that its a little forced. Implosion is obvious next week as I expect them to come to physicality, probably a missed Sweet Chin Music. It's the flames we need to ignite the underlying issues between the pair.

    Foley coming back is awesome, and he's unhinged to boot. Kind of wish it was Cactus Jack in all honesty, with maybe Orton getting the better of him again, and gloating about it which is entirely in his character at the moment.

    I'm unsure where the Conway Express is going but its got my interest.

    As has The Dudleyz not being able to challenge for the titles for 12 months. I'm sure you stated that this was finito at Wrestlemania, which makes the stipulation weirdly fascinating as I'm unsure you have time to put them on a solo run and this Shattered Dreams feud needs a culmination.

    Lesnar and Triple H is going to be brutal. Flair always the fall guy when it comes to guys trying to get at Triple H, and I'm hoping for No Holds Barred rules. It just has to be.

    The Womens division took a massive turn this week. Really loving that Molly Holly snapped, still the most under utilised star of this generation in that division. I expect the Triple Threat Match is an aftershow signup - and it's the logical step in the direction of this story. I think Trish has to come out on top, it's whether she goes dark to achieve it is the real question. She's in for a tough ride next week against Molly, that should be interesting to say the least.

    Goldberg/Kane is what it is. Not really thinking that they can pull off a good match at Wrestlemania, but it's there. If Goldberg signs off I'm sure he does with a victory.

    And Evolution have lost the titles! I wonder what Triple H will say to Christian considering he's still kind of an outsider inside the group. Rematch for the titles at Wrestlemania I guess, as Booker and RVD surely won't be involved with anyone else this close to Mania.

    You are the top man of the section right now Keef, and deservedly so. Keep up the great work because Wrestlemania is looking to be an outstanding show. Looking forward to it!!!

  15. #415
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    Re: September BTBOTM - WWE: Where It All Begins... Again

    - Lesnar attacking Evolution but he attacks only one of their members...he attacks The Nature Boy Ric Flair as a way to send a message to Triple H...I definitely would have expected Lesnar to attack the World Tag Team Champions Batista & Christian as a way to send a message to Triple H or even Lesnar attacking Randy Orton as a way to send a message but by attacking Flair busting Flair wide open by planting him with an F5 on wooden pallets backstage...message received for sure!!!

    - Triple H wondering where Batista & Christian were while Flair was getting the hell beat out of him...that makes perfect sense because where were they while their mentor was basically being destroyed by Brock? Better yet where was Triple H? Either way Brock basically outsmarted Triple H here on RAW...and Triple H is supposed to be the Cerebral Assassin but look at how Brock played him like a fiddle

    - Yeah with the Trish/Lita match ending in a is most likely we end up with a Triple Threat Match at WrestleMania 20 for the WWE Women's Championship and that we end up getting April/Trish/Lita at Mania...I can definitely see it happening now.

    - With Molly Holly snapping like she did, it makes me wonder what happens next with her? I mean if you have her set her sights still on that Women's Championship, then if that is the case then you are gonna have to add her into the mix and make it a Fatal 4 Way

    - Yeah after what happened with Kane/Goldberg I think it is safe to say we get Kane/Goldberg at WrestleMania 20 but in what kind of match though that remains to be the question as well as if the IC Title will be on the line in that match?

    - If The Conway Express ends up becoming a stable with La Resistance joining Conway in this crusade of his, I mean it begs the question of where they go from here or where Conway goes from here?

    - Foley coming back I only knew it would be a matter of time before he did and he got his hands on not just Orton but on all of Evolution as well...Foley was like a man possessed and I can't blame him given everything Orton has put him and his family through his friends through it was only a matter of time before Foley came back and he more or less destroyed Orton to say we end up getting Foley/Orton at WrestleMania 20 but I can definitely see Stone Cold Steve Austin being the Special Guest Referee for Foley/Orton especially given the history Austin and Orton have

    - Shawn Michaels vs The Rock is definitely a Dream Match and seeing the back and forth promos/interviews between these 2 about not only each other but about their match at WrestleMania 20...this truly is a Once in a Lifetime type of match but then again next week on RAW in the 8 Man Tag I can definitely see Michaels and Rock imploding because I can't see the 2 of them co-existing long enough in the match next week

    - Jericho can't beat what he doesn't understand...Jericho has never ever been in the ring with The Undertaker and he has never been in the ring against The Undertaker especially at WrestleMania because there is The Streak and no man has been able to beat what makes Jericho think he is so confident that he can be the one to break The Streak?

    - Evolution now have no gold because they just lost the World Tag Team Championships to Booker T & RVD...but Batista post match just walking out on Christian means I can see Evolution turning on Christian
    Last edited by Terry Gyimah; 10-14-2019 at 11:30 AM.

  16. #416
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    Re: September BTBOTM - WWE: Where It All Begins... Again

    That was the absolute right way to open the show. Ortons actions had to be addressed quickly from last week, and his explanation was fantastic, pinning the blame at Mick Foleys feet for planting Collette with the RKO. Honestly, I can’t begin to tell you how much I loved this and how big of a scumbag Orton looked here. This is up there with your very best work.

    The year is 2049. I’m still patiently waiting on a Keefmoon Kanyon push. Thought that you used the camera in the parking lot bit really well here to pull off the surprise appearance from Goldberg, and him killing people is one of those things you expect to happen in this sort of situation. It’s pretty low on my list of matches I’m salivating for at WrestleMania, but it should be a fun sprint of a power move match, and something different from everything else going on at the show.

    Lol at the Lex Express making a comeback. While I’d question if this segment was really needed given just how dialogue heavy the show was, I’ll not deny it entertained the hell out of me and I’m keen to see how La Resistance get in on this gimmick.

    The only word I can use to describe the Dudleys/Goldust stuff throughout this show would be ... weird. Whole thing has come around very quickly and sort of out of nowhere (which, I guess is fine for a weirdo like Goldust) but I’ll probably wait to see where this all goes next week before deciding if I like it or not. I enjoyed seeing them in that predicament, caught between saving Spike and staying in the tag title hunt. Writing the Dudleys out of the title picture for a year sounds good to me though.

    This really was a night where the in ring wasn’t too important- nor should it be this close to WrestleMania- and matches like this women’s tag have to happen to pad the show out. At least you used it to continue Mollys descent into madness, and getting the armbar over as a deadly hold still. The added wrinkle of lulling Gail in before turning on her was a lovely surprise too.

    Pleased to see the women’s triangle ramping up again. It’s been one of the biggest success stories of this thread, and looks like it’ll be hearing back up in time for the WrestleMania blow off. One thing I didn’t like here was that Trish seemed to let April hold onto her arm for a long time. Just, in my head, I’d picture Trish pulling it away much sooner, but still staying to hear April out.

    Well, I loved this Jericho promo too. Even though it was a small part, that line about gruel was phenomenal imo. The talk about darkness maybe outstayed it’s welcome, but overall, this was a home run. You’re bound, slightly, by having no one for Jericho to play off, but you definitely used it to your advantage here. Got to believe there’s a big angle coming next week if Taker shows up.

    Jindrak & Cade Wrestling on Raw two weeks straight? Things are looking up!! Well, they’re making appearances. It’s something, lol. You’ve got me curious what these mini feuds in the tag ranks are leading toward. There’s no way these teams get matches at WrestleMania... surely? And surely Long has something up his sleeve for next week, lol. Should be fun to watch unfold at least, but there’s some weird goings on in the tag division on Raw right now!

    Nailed it with the reaction to Lesnars arrival on Raw. This is one of those rare eras where the split meant something, so I’m delighted there’s some tribalism here from the lower end guys, even if they’re rivals of Triple H.

    I’m in two minds about how I feel with Rock returning to the ring next week. Part of me feels like you should save it for Mania, yet part of me is reminded that he’s not been gone so long that it would be a novelty to have him wrestle, and it’s the same era where Rock and Hogan fought each other 6 days before their match and it didn’t hurt them at all. It’s a big time main event at least next week.

    I’ll talk about the two interviews together just here. They were wonderful. You didn’t lay on the dislike too thick, but lingered just long enough to get it out that they aren’t friends. Rock was much more diplomatic in his approach than Shawn was, and that’s exactly what you’d expect in this kind of environment from Rock.

    Kudos too for framing a lot of Kings questions around the upcoming movie. That was a really authentic touch, I felt, and probably a pain for you to do, as I’m sure you just wanted to get to the meat of the promo. One issue I had in both interviews was the factual error on that Smackdown match. It was 1999. Michaels reffed the Iron Man match in 2000 between them and (kinda, but not on purpose) screwed Rock with the late DQ.

    Given they’ve had such few interactions in the past, it was impressive you managed to bring up those prior incidents though. But again, I thought you balanced these interviews brilliantly. So impressed at how you established some needle between the pair without going full out and bashing us over the head with it. You can build off this with the go home promo, when I imagine the gloves will come off.

    I get why you’d have a recap segment ahead of the Trish/Lita match, but this has been such a promo heavy show, I think you’d have been better served cutting that bit out before the match.

    Probably the right kind of finish to go for, as it is slightly more easy to digest than April running in and ruining the match. This makes more sense than having April do that too, and both women here have a fair argument for a title shot as they both legit thought they’d won. Quite an inventive finish too, I might add, and the story of the match with Lita targeting the knee and Trish finally having the guts to target Litas bad neck was pretty fine too.

    I’m sorry man, but this Lesnar/Hunter feud still isn’t clicking with me. I can’t find any kind of sympathy for Evolution leader Trips in this role, though I get why you’d use a beloved (even when heel) Naitch to try and get there. I’m glad we didn’t get a long talking segment, but for whatever reason, this one is failing to capture my interest all that much.

    That entire main event segment. Wowweee. That’s a HOT way to close a show. Shocked at the title change for starters, and has me wondering what that means now for the tag titles at WrestleMania. Batista being off his game without Flairs guidance is a great pay off to that earlier angle, I must say, especially after you’ve done so much to establish the importance of Flair to this tag team. With Batista being so ragged, I thought this wound up being a great showcase for Christian in a leadership role - even if Batista wasn’t realising it - and keep them in the match.

    But man, what an ending. From Orton looking dangerous and deadly to the perfect timing of Foley returning to wreak havoc; this was sensational stuff. The no selling the chair shot was epic, and 100% badass Foley too. I even loved the hesitation before Foley swing the chair at Orton. If I could have one minor quibble, I’d have liked something or someone to separate Foley from Orton ever so slightly to allow Randy to get a head start on his escape. I’d also say that match was slightly longer than the 11 minutes you gave it here, but there’s neither here nor there.

    Batista walking away from Christian must surely be the end of that partnership, which makes me wonder just what you have pegged for these Raw tag titles now at WrestleMania. Overall though, that entire piece of business at the end was perfect. Loved every bit of it. That, coupled with the Michaels and Rock interviews and the Orton promo make this another home run of a show.

  17. #417
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    Re: September BTBOTM - WWE: Where It All Begins... Again

    Long time listener, first time caller

    Raw review

    Orton has to come out and defend himself here to open the show. However, given how 80% of the roster was doing everything to get their hands on him last week, I thought this promo would have to be from an undisclosed location, not in front of the crowd. Very surprised nobody interrupted on behalf of Mick. But I love how heelish Orton is here. Quickly becoming the most despised man in the company.

    Kane needs an opponent to squash, who bettah than kanyon?! It feels weird to me that Kane vs Goldberg was a really good feud for the world title, and is now for the Intercontinental Title but neither man has really suffered from the drop to "mid-card" belt. Goldberg's return was well done, setting up a big match for Mania

    Dupree and Grenier joining back up with Conway now that he's changed is an interesting development to say the least. Curious where this goes

    The Dudley's vs Shattered Dreams is fun, and different. I love what you've done with Goldust, and letting them go after a legitimate tag team should really build them up as a viable group. No surprises the Dudley's want a piece of Goldust

    You're phenomenal at showcasing the women on the roster, as it's always a highlight of the show no matter which divas are in the program.

    Molly to continue her destruction please

    And the showcasing continues here, as I loved this interaction with April and Trish. I really admire how you've built April from someone I had no clue who she was to my favorite wrestler on Raw.

    I was actually disappointed that you had Jericho walk out and then start talking. I really think the moment would have got more heat if the fans here the gong, arena goes dark, and then you hear "you are all so predictable"

    I'm just a huge fan of how you've built his character based on dropping his intro music and put him on the microphone immediately. Just fantastic. I like seeing the different ways he can get heat from it, and I thought Undertakers gong was the perfect opportunity. The promo was gold though, Undertaker face to face next week should be huge.

    Maven and Mark Henry are a fun tag team, but I just haven't cared about the superheroes. Never did really so it's just me lol

    I understand the sentiment of Raw superstars not wanting Brock Lesnar to be there, but it also seemed odd to me that Tommy Dreamer would be there. Brock is there for Triple H, and given that Dreamer just had a mini feud with Evolution and that big hardcore tag match I would have put a different lower mid-card wrestler there. But I'm just being picky. It could just show that Dreamer doesn't like Brock coming to his show more than he dislikes Evolution

    I really dig the one on one sit-down interview format especially for a match like this. Not necessarily a rivalry yet, just two of the god damn best to ever do it. I can't wait to see that match. An absolute fantastic way to get HBK back on the right track with a win over the Great One.

    This tournament was always going to come down to Trish vs Lita, and while I always assumed you'd go the triple threat route (it has to happen) I thought maybe you'd surprise everyone with the big one on one blowoff of Trish vs April, which would be a big WrestleMania moment for the friends. The match was great, and this match going down as a draw is a lot better than a no contest. The fighting after the match helps make this feel like a really big 3 way match. Friendships desolving all over the place

    I like how you've consistently had HHH talking in every video package for Mania. I assume it's just going to get worse since he's going to actually be in main events soon, not just these co-main events lol

    Speaking of Triple H, this feud with Brock has been boiling up, and now it hits the tipping point. Now things are definitely personal. Brock bloodying Flair, AND THEN locking in the rear naked choke, AND THEN F5 on the pallets to further destroy him is a big time heel move. While Flair isn't a face, you still feel for the old man. Hunter chasing Brock is the right call, I can't wait for him to get his hands on Brock now. I feel like this match at Mania has to be a street fight now.

    Goldust choosing Spike Dudley caught me by surprise, but it 100% is the move they'd make back then. Smart call bringing in the littlest Dudley. And the Dudley's coming out to defend Spike even though they'll be out of the title hunt for the year is a move they'd make for sure. Blood is thicker than wood.

    Serious interview from Booker and RVD. Big match tonight.

    I love how you used the videos for the Rock and Michaels promos. Doing a great job of building this match quickly

    Tag Team title match is fun, Orton coming out and taking out Hebner wasn't expected (he seems less interested in Evolution and more interested in Randy Orton lately) but now I get why you had him out there. Foley HAD to come back this episode. And kudos to you for having him not come out when called out earlier in the show. This match is obviously going the hardcore route, so maybe I was wrong about Brock/Hunter. I'm really interested to see these matches. And hell yeah RVD/Booker winning the titles. Poor Christian. I felt like he had done well for them, but no gold, no need.

    Fantastic show. The road to Mania has been a fun one

  18. #418
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    Re: September BTBOTM - WWE: Where It All Begins... Again

    Very good promo to start the show that went exactly as it should've. Orton does the heel thing and makes it all about how he's not as bad Foley. Perfection heel 101. However, you totally missed a great moment! RKO Dewey?? Cane Dewey was right there man!!! Foley also not being here was great to hype up his cowardice that little bit more before he finally does show up.

    Goldberg returning was exactly as it needed to be, but man I'm just not into this one. Goldberg either wins again, and Kane is right back to where he was as a flat track bully, but if Kane gets his win, it's not really special because Goldberg has already lost clean to Jericho.

    This was everything I ever wanted and more! All of the great digs at us Americans, the bitch and moan into we get what we want, the wonderful fake it stuff, and now the reunion. Take my nickels and dimes and buttons I'll pretend to be change!

    I like what you did here with Molly. Her completely going over the top is totally something I can get behind. I really just want to see Jazz squash her though too haha

    Very well executed continued mind games. I really enjoy how she always tries to compliment her adversaries and rivals, unlike so many other heels. It's great.

    The Jericho promo was an interesting enough take on Taker as a new way to twist the feud so Jericho doesn't keep sounding like a broken record. All the fan stuff in the beginning was good enough cheap heat. You definitely overused bleat though.. No one in America really says that :P

    I await all of the shenanigans that Teddy freaking Long in a match will bring :P

    I like that you went a completely different route with Rock here, doing Dwayne Johnson instead, but working it really, really well. I thought you did great selling how it's just about being the best, and using the Smackdown clip - from 1999, by the way, first SD after that April pilot - to even downplay the personal grudge was honestly sheer brilliance.

    I thought you booked the women's match here pretty perfect. It always had to lead to the triple threat, of course, but you did well to capture how both of them were willing to go full stop. Lita looks like a complete fucking hypocrite with the post match stuff because she's targeted Trish and get injuries time and time again, and your call backs was important in this, so very good job there. Gotta love April's save attempt being her dropping Lita on her neck, love it.

    I love how you have continually used these Mania montages to get over how much of a smug, egotistical twat HHH is, btw. It played even better with it leading right into HHH getting completely out done by Lesnar, with Heyman's smug, condescending antics as Flair gets absolutely clattered making it so much better. The little segment afterwards to cover up how Flair was left alone was well done.

    I get what you were going with here, Goldust playing mind games well to target Spike, but the consequences and aftermath make no sense at all since it is coming after the match. They ARE allowed in the ring at that point; the match was over.

    While The Rock stuff early on hit for me, I actually didn't dig the HBK stuff here. I'm sure in real life, that's an okay segment. But having to read it? It was just very long and became plodding as a result. Your history is also wrong. Last time I believe they were in a ring was Judgment Day 2000 when he refereed the Iron Man match between Rock and HHH when ABA Taker came out. I get that you're trying to get it to eventually explode that these two really actually do hate each other, but it's just taking too long to get there with these segments, unfortunately. First real miss for me.

    And there it is. I actually didn't expect Foley to show up tonight, and honestly wish he didn't show up. After everything Orton said in the opener, Foley coming out then made sense, as it's not like he knew Orton was getting involved. And in a show in Nebraska, it's not like Foley could see the beginning and decide, okay I'm going to RAW! He would've had to already be in the arena. This is an easy thing that you can find a way to twist and fix next week, but it is definitely a moment of, "... Wait a second." Just wish Foley had another week to stew before attacking, as that makes much more sense. But it does help equalize the threat of Orton so Booker and RVD at least finally get their win, which is obviously well deserved.

    While you weren't touching last week's show, this was still an incredible effort. The Foley and HBK parts missed, but so much did hit.

  19. #419
    Jam Up Guy
    Keefmoon's Avatar

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    Mar 2018
    United Kingdom
    Rep Power

    Re: September BTBOTM - WWE: Where It All Begins... Again

    February 26 2004
    Kansas City, Missouri

    We get pyro and crowd shots, and Cole and Tazz welcome us to the show. They talk about what a huge night we have in store, with Hardcore Holly finally going one-on-one with Brock Lesnar, A.P.A. fall apart when the newly-Christened John Bradshaw Layfield takes on his former partner Ron Simmons, plus we have the official Wrestlemania press conference for the WWE Title, putting Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit in the same ring for the first time since the controversy at the Royal Rumble


    … but they’re cut off by a huge pop for the arrival of JOHN CENA! He walks to the ring with something of a limp after last week’s vicious assault from Brock Lesnar, and as he walks the aisle we see footage from that savage beatdown last week, as well as Cena overcoming the odds just making it to the ring for the Battle Royal main event. We see that, somehow, Cena made it all the way to the final five, including hugely impressive eliminations of JBL and Kurt Angle, only for the referees to be too distracted to see Angle’s elimination, allowing Angle back in to illegally throw Cena over the top.

    When we return from that recap, we see Cena in the ring, wearing a Kansas City Chiefs jersey with his US Title wrapped around his waist on top of it, and he’s holding a microphone.

    ”Yo, yo, yo,” he drawls. ”Norm’ly ya might expect me ta come out here and lay some verses, but I ain’t about ta do that tonight.”

    The crowd boo.

    ”I know, I know, but it ain’t tha time for that, ya heard? I’ll get ta spittin’ some verses soon enough, but for now, it’s time for some real talk.”

    Cole says on commentary. ”When John Cena promises ‘real talk’, it’s probably best to put the kids to bed”

    Cena leans on the top rope, hunched over, looking out at the crowd. ”I gots three people that I gots somethin’ ta say about, so hear me out on this one, a’ight? Firstly… Brock Lesnar.”

    Boos for the name of the Next Big Thing.

    ”Yo, that homie’s buildin’ enemies quicker than Al-Qaeda, man. Firstly he pisses off Hardcore Holly, and they got their li’l thing later tonight. He also pisses off Triple H, and they’re gonna handle it at ‘Mania. But after last week, after Brock busted me open, tried ta make a statement at my expense. Ah-ah, homie, I don’t think so. No-one’s makin’ their name at my expense, ya heard? So, Brock… that list-a people comin’ for your ugly ass? Ya can add my name to it as well. We ain’t nowhere near done yet.”


    ”But me and Brock, that’ll wait. For now. ‘Cos tha second person I wanna talk about… is Kurt Angle.”

    Heat for the Olympian, with him seemingly growing less popular with the fans every week.

    ”Y’see, we got a name for people like Kurt Angle where I come from. We call ‘em… a whiny ass bitch.”

    “Oh my!”
    Cole exclaims over the pop of the crowd.

    ”Y’see, Kurt might-a had a little bad luck, maybe had people accuse him of things he din’t do. But guess what, homie? How ‘bout ya shut ya damn mouth, stop cryin’ like a li’l bitch, and start gettin’ over yaself?”

    Again the crowd pop.

    ”I’m-a gettin’ real sick-a listenin’ ta him cryin’ ‘bout how he was accused-a takin’ out tha Deadman, ‘bout how he keeps losin’ when he thinks he’s gonna win, about how he’s gonna make a world his daughter can be proud of. But I can look the other way on all-a that. I gots other people takin’ up my time. I can even overlook him stealin’ my number at tha Rumble; that was my bad for givin’ him tha chance, and I’d-a done tha same thing if I was him. But what I can’t look tha other way on… is that BS he pulled last week.”

    Heat for Angle illegally throwing Cena out of last week’s Battle Royal.

    ”You were outta that match, dawg. Ya know it as well as I do. I got busted up real bad before tha match even started, and I still threw your worthless ass over tha top rope. But for ya ta come back in and take me out? Nah, man, I ain’t lettin’ that one pass. You and me, homie? We got ourselves a big ass problem.”

    Another cheer for Cena refusing to be pushed around.

    ”But, yo, that’s gonna wait too. I’ll come back to Kojak later. ‘Cos there’s a third person I wanna speak on. And his name...” Cena looks out at the crowd with disdain, still leaning on the top rope. ”… is William… Regal.”

    Big heat for the General Manager.

    ”I dunno if ya notice, boss man, but we been hittin’ a bit of a pattern these last few months. Ya keep linin’ people up… but I keep knockin’ ‘em back down. You’ve thrown everything at tryin’ ta take away tha US Title from me. But guess what?” He pats the belt around his waist. ”Tha champ’s still here.”

    Pop from the crowd for what isn’t yet a catchphrase.

    ”So we keep goin’ on this story, over and over. Ya use A-Train, ya use Big Show, ya use Brock Lesnar… but nothin’ changed. I am tha US Champ’n… and there ain’t a damn thing ya can do ta stop me. So lemme put it on tha line for ya, homie.” Cena looks down the hard camera. You’ll be watchin’ this in tha back, so I’m gonna speak straight to ya. I got a suggestion for ya, and I think ya gonna like it. How ‘bout ya quit findin’ people to do ya dirty work for ya.” The camera zooms on Cena’s face, eyes still locked down the lens. ”And come fight me like a man.”

    Big pop for Cena challenging the General Manager!

    ”’Cos I ain’t doin’ this forever, dawg. If ya got that much of a problem with me… try dealin’ with-”

    *** MEDAL ***

    Boos ring out throughout the arena as Cena’s interrupted… by KURT ANGLE! Dressed in his usual training gear, he walks down to the ring without setting off pyro, storming in to the ring and grabbing a microphone.

    ”I’m a li’l busy, homie,” Cena says, before Angle can speak. ”So go find a box-a tissues and cry yaself ta sleep elsewhere, huh?”

    Angle shakes his head. ”You know what I don’t get, John?”


    Angle lowers his mic, disappointedly shakes his head, and brings it back to his lips again. ”Can I speak, please?”

    Cena shrugs. ”I’d rather ya din’t.”

    “Well, you know what? I don’t care what you want, John. You’ve had plenty of chance to say what you want to say. Now it’s my turn.”

    The crowd boo the thought of Angle going off on one again.

    ”As I was saying,” Angle restarts. ”There’s something I don’t get about you, John. Something that confuses the hell out of me. And you know what it is? You know what that niggling thought that comes in to my brain every single time I look at you? ‘Where did we go so wrong?’

    Cena falls quiet, with Angle having now gotten his attention.

    ”I remember a time not that long ago where I’d look at people like you with pity,” Angle continues. ”I’d pass someone like you on the street and I’d thank God that whatever led that person to be the way they are never came in to my life. People like you, John? The offensive, loud-mouthed, arrogant, all talk wannabes? You were outcasts. If anyone even noticed you, people would ignore you until you returned to whatever trailer park you came from until you disappeared for good. You’d have brought shame to this country if anyone cared you existed. That’s how it used to be. But now? The whole country is people like you. Brash, unapologetic, vile human beings. People who used to be laughing stocks are everywhere. We checked our dignity at the door and allowed a generation of idiots to step up and matter, when they should never have been given time of day. You lowered the tone, and the people lowered their expectations. People stopped respecting good, traditional values like hard-work, dignity, class, integrity. There was a time where people would see me doing everything I can to make this world a better place for my daughter to live in, and I’d be applauded. People would pat people like me on the back and thank me for doing things the right way, for not getting drawn in to the darker aspects of our world. People like me would be a shining light for the rest of the world to follow. But now? I get booed for it. I do things the right way… because I’m a good… person… and this is what I get for it. I get booed for trying my hardest, and have to stand back and watch while people cheer you for being crass, boorish and demeaning. People like you are poisoning this good country… and I’m the one who gets treated like the villain.”

    The crowd boo the monologue, but Angle shows no signs of slowing up.

    ”And then, after all of that, I have to sit in the back tonight, and I have to watch this wrestling show start not with wrestling, but with you. You swearing. You being offensive. And you threatening to fight someone in authority. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t like William Regal. He’s as much to blame for what has happened to me over these last few months as anyone. But to come out here, to open a show run by William Regal… and challenge him to a fight? And be cheered for it? Do you have no respect? No decency? And then, through all of that… you get to have this?” He pokes the US Title around Cena’s waist. ”I competed for this country in the Olympics. Won a gold medal… for this country… with a broken neck. Spent my entire life being the kind of representative this country can be proud of, that my daughter’s generation can look up to and believe in. Someone who lives by all the values we as Americans are supposed to hold dear.” He prods Cena in the chest. ”And you are the champion of that country? You represent all the worst parts of this country. You’re foul-mouthed. Disrespectful. Crass. Small-minded. Big-mouthed. Heck, you come across as pretty homophobic and racist as well. You, John Cena, are the version of this country we used to be ashamed of… and now we celebrate. Because that’s how far we fell. And every time I look at you in this ring… every time I see that title belt around your waist… it makes me sick. It reminds me of everything we did wrong as a country. We let people like you matter. And as the good lord as my witness, I wish we could go back to how it was. Back to when people would treat people like you like something stuck on the bottom of their shoe. Because this America? This WWE? You? It makes me embarrassed to be a wrestler… and embarrassed to be an American.”

    Boos ring out for the end of Angle’s big speech.

    Cena, though, doesn’t react straight away. He keeps his eyes locked on Angle…

    … and then slowly takes off his US Title… and lays it across the mat between he and Angle. He then slowly pulls off his Chiefs jersey (to excited shrieks from the women in attendance), and drops it behind him. Now, dressed for combat, he raises the microphone slowly and deliberately, and speaks with an eerie calmness.

    ”Where I’m from? That’s fightin’ talk. If ya want some… come… get some.”

    Cena drops the mic, causing a short burst of static to ring out, and stares Angle down, ready to fight. Angle stares at him for a few moments… and raises his microphone.

    ”What a shock,” Angle says, dryly. ”I shouldn’t be surprised. That’s the other side to people like you, isn’t it? Say whatever you want, insult anyone you can… and when you get called out on it resort to violence. People like you are glorified childr-”

    Cena snatches the microphone out of Angle’s hand! He slowly walks to the side of the ring… and drops the microphone to the outside!

    ”I don’t think ya heard me,” we hear Cena say, even though neither has a microphone anymore. ”If ya want some… come… get some.”

    Angle and Cena stare each other down for a few moments…

    … until Angle starts to back away! He’s backing away from the challenge. ”No,” we can just about hear him say. ”You’re not worth my time.”

    Cena’s shoulders slump at the apparent cowardice of Angle…

    SO ANGLE CHARGES AND TACKLES CENA TO THE MAT! He tricked him in to lowering guard! Angle takes him to the mat and starts firing off right right hands… but Cena fights through… and now Cena is on top! Big rights from Cena!

    So Angle shoves his finger in Cena’s eye! Cena’s forced to get off Angle and stumble to his feet…

    SO ANGLE KICKS HIM SQUARE BETWEEN THE LEGS! Cena drops to his knees in agony!

    Angle tries to shake the cobwebs from Cena’s attack loose, and looks over to where Cena’s on his knees, holding his crotch… so Angle charges over… and kicks him straight in the face! Cena slumps to the mat!

    Angle, eyes piercing and focused, just stares at Cena as he tries to recover from the onslaught. Angle slowly lowers himself down, again mounting Cena, and again starts throwing punches at him. This time, after the low blow, eye poke and kick to the face, Cena’s unable to fight through it, so Angle grits his teeth and punches at Cena’s face over and over… and over… and over… and over… and over again. Cena tries to cover up but Angle’s relentless, his eyes now bugging with rage as he pounds away at Cena’s eyes, busting his eyebrow open hardway.

    Finally exhausted himself, Angle falls off Cena and crawls over to the US Title still laying on the mat. He slowly picks it up and stares in to it, before diving to the mat and shoving it intensely in to Cena’s face, bending his nose back further than it should go as he forces it further in to Cena’s face.

    ”You think you deserve this? You think you’re a champion?”

    Angle releases and gets up, still clutching the US Title. He stares deeply in to it as Cena groggily tries to get back to his feet, a tiny trickle of blood running down from his busted eyebrow… Cena staggers around the ring…


    And now Angle is done. Cena’s out cold, so Angle again looks at the title a final time… then drops it next to Cena’s unconscious head… and walks away! He’s left Cena laying, and he’s walking away! Kurt Angle just destroyed our US Champion! Was that the actions of a good person?!

    Non-Title Match
    World’s Greatest Tag Team vs. Mercury Rising

    After being taken to the limit by their opponents last week, the World’s Greatest Tag Team certainly seem more focused coming in to this one. Unlike last week, where their cockiness led to Mercury Rising getting the better of the early battle, here there’s no sign of complacency, and they dominate the opening exchanges and cause Tazz to declare that normal service has resumed.

    But the rookie team of brothers don’t get put away that easily. Jason is isolated from his brother, but refuses to be kept down for long. Every time he looks to be finished he starts to battle back, but sees the long-reigning Tag Champions use their superior tagging nous to cut him off before he can make the tag. The champions take their time to make sure they leave no stone unturned, and eventually allows Shelton to feed his leg… and spin for the Dragon Whip!

    But Jason ducks… and Shelton misses! Both get to their feet… Snap Swinging Neckbreaker! Jason crawls to the corner… and tags in his brother!

    Joey rushes to the top rope… Missile Dropkick! Haas comes in to cut him off… but is met with a Dropkick of his own! He picks Shelton up and looks to whip him across the ring… Shelton reverses… but Joey rebounds with a Corkscrew Elbow! Shelton bounces back to his feet… so Joey pulls him in for a Double Arm DDT!

    No! Shelton takes down the legs… leaps over… and grabs a Jacknife Pin!



    Joey kicks out! They both get back to their feet… Shelton goes behind for a Back Suplex… but Joey flips out… and leaves Shelton open to take a Diving Crossbody from Jason! Haas rushes over, but Jason ducks… Charlie turns around…

    DOUBLE SUPERKICK! Haas tumbles out of the ring! Shelton’s up and charges… and is Back Body Dropped to the outside as well! The brothers slap hands, then sprint off the ropes…

    STEREO SUICIDE DIVES! Big pop from the crowd!

    Joey, sensing the opportunity at a huge upset win growing ever closer, rolls Shelton back in to the ring and climbs to the top rope… Shelton groggily gets to his feet… and shoves Nick Patrick in to the ropes! Joey loses his footing… and lands crotch-first on the top! Shelton ignores the complaints of the referee to climb up there with him… and looks for a Superplex!





    Shelton just kicked out! But the rookie brothers nearly snatched it there!

    Shelton falls in to the corner, the wind knocked out of him from the Crossbody, so Joey rushes over… and starts with the mounted punches! The crowd count along in time… meanwhile we see Charlie Haas throw Jason in to the ringsteps on the outside… still Joey punches at Shelton… until Shelton powers out, carrying Joey above his head… and drops him face-first on the top turnbuckle! Joey staggers out… Charlie Haas is back in in the ring… AND NAILS HIM WITH A GERMAN SUPLEX! Shelton has pulled himself to the top rope…

    DIVING LEG DROP! He hooks the leg…




    Winners: World’s Greatest Tag Team in 8:02

    The bell rings, and Charlie and Shelton hug in the centre of the ring. This isn’t like last week where they got the hell out of there are quickly as they could, stunned at the fight they were put through. This week they were ready for what was thrown at them, they adjusted, and they got the clean(ish), definitive win, even if the youngsters made them work for it. Tazz puts over the champions ability to learn from last week and get even better because of it, and how it demonstrates why they’ve been champions for nine months, but as Jason Mercury rolls back in to the ring to check on his brother, the music dies down.

    Jason and Joey have a quiet word on the mat, disappointed at falling short again, but surely pleased with how they’ve taken the best team in the world to the edge two weeks in a row. Benjamin and Haas, however, storm over to them and pull them off the mat, as the brothers cover up ready for an attack…

    … but one doesn’t come! The champions are offering a handshake! These kids earned the respect of the World’s Greatest Tag Team!

    Mercury Rising smile and accept the handshake…


    ”You think you earned our respect?!” Shelton yells. ”We’re the World’s… Greatest… Tag Team! And you two are nobodies!!”

    They loom over the kids, ready to attack…

    … when REY MYSTERIO and BILLY KIDMAN sprint down the aisle!

    The champions see them coming and immediately roll to the outside, not wanting any piece of their challengers for Wrestlemania, and leave the Filthy Animals impotently swiping for them from inside the ring. Haas and Benjamin merely back up the ramp to safety, so the Animals check on the kids in the ring, then Rey calls for a microphone.

    ”Hey!” he yells at the retreating champions. ”You can run now, but you can’t in Madison Square Garden! Me and Billy… we’re comin’ for ya! We’re better than ever, and there will be no runnin’ away… when we take your… WWE… Tag… Team… Titl-”


    By THE BASHAM BROTHERS!! They must have sneaked in to the ring through the crowd! The crowd boo as the Bashams lay the boots to the Animals in the ring, leaving the World’s Greatest Tag Team to watch on in the ramp with a smirk. Eventually they pull Rey up… and slide him under the bottom rope… and he lands face-first on the outside! They then pick up Kidman…

    LEGSWEEP LARIAT! Kidman’s out!

    With that, SHANIQUA climbs in to the ring, and with the champions grinning on the ramp, Shaniqua raises the arms of the Bashams over the fallen bodies of the Number One Contenders.

    We then head to an office backstage, to where WILLIAM REGAL is sipping on an antique cup of tea and watching the television, with JOHN BRADSHAW LAYFIELD standing nearby, drinking from a plastic coffee cup.

    ”You sure I can’t tempt you with a cup of fine English Breakfast tea?” Regal asks.

    ”Not enough caffeine for me. When ya burn th’ candle at both ends like I do, balancin’ wrestlin’ and financial expertise, ya only get three or four hours sleep a night.”

    Regal nods. ”Well, if you’re quite sure. It’s here if-”

    The conversation is interrupted by KURT ANGLE storming in. ”You wanted to see me?” the Olympian says.

    Regal gets to his feet. ”The man of the hour! Tea?”

    Angle shakes his head. ”What do you want, Regal?”

    “What do I want? I want to thank you, young man. That performance earlier with John Cena. That was really rather splendid, I must say. Mightily impressive. John Cena has been asking for something like that for some time, and… and… and the way you just gave it to him.”
    Regal starts beaming with delight. ”The way you called him out on everything he does, the way you just snapped and attacked him, and left him-”

    “What do you want, Regal?”
    Angle repeats.

    Regal composes himself, brushing his jacket down, and wiping the enormous grin off his face. ”Very well, Master Angle. I wanted to let you know that I’m proud of you. You’ve been through an enormous strain these last few months, and yet you’ve come back stronger than ever. And you did it showing that little toerag John Cena how little he really means. It really was tremendous. So… congratulations. For your ability to bounce back from a difficult period… for telling John Cena exactly how it is...” Regal turns to Big Show with a scowl. ”And for showing the kind of intensity I’ve been looking for against young Master Cena...” He turns back to Angle. ”I wanted you to know… that in just over weeks at Wrestlemania XX… it will be you… versus John Cena… for the WWE… United... States... Title. And let me be the first to say… when you win… I’ll be proud to have you as a representative of Smackdown-”

    “Save it, Regal,”
    Angle interjects. ”I don’t need you kissing up to me. I didn’t do what I did for you. I don’t give a darn about you, quite frankly. This is about John Cena. This is about America. And I’m not going to stand here and act like you aren’t as much to blame as everyone else for the problems I’ve had these last few months-”

    “Who, whoa, whoa!”
    JBL interjects. ”Now that’s no way t’ talk to our Gen’ral Manager, now is it?”

    “Regal screwed you too, John,”
    Angle says. ”And he screwed Show at No Way Out. And used A-Train, and discarded him when he was done. He does it to everyone. He manipulates everyone he can to get what he wants.”

    JBL holds his hands up. ”Alright, alright, I gotta admit I saw it like you not too far back. I thought Regal was jus’ screwin’ with me and Ron for th’ fun of it.”

    “It wasn’t like that,”
    Regal says.

    ”I know, I know. I see that now. It was tough love. If it weren’t for you gettin’ involved, I’d-a still been wastin’ my career with Ron. But thanks to Regal helpin’ me see how it really is, I’ve never felt better! And he did th’ same for you, too, Kurt.”

    “He’s right,”
    Regal says. ”I was never your enemy, John. It may have seemed like it at the time, but it wasn’t the case. I was willing to make myself the enemy for the good of your career. I was the biggest ally you had. And it’s the same with you, too, Master Angle. Who gave you the opportunity to gain double points in the Rumble Standings? Who added a Last Chance Battle Royal with the sole purpose to give you an opportunity to qualify? Who put you in the Six Man match, and gave you a match with The Undertaker, and put you in last week’s Battle Royal? Even through that poor form of yours, I still stood by you and gave you every opportunity I could to help you get out-”

    “Save it,”
    Angle interrupts. ”I’m not playing your games, Regal. You want a thank you? Tough. No-one thanked me for taking all the heat on The Undertaker thing, even though I was innocent. I’m not playing anyone else’s game’s anymore. This isn’t about games. This is about me doing… the right thing. I’m not going to stand by and watch the John Cenas of this world pollute a society that my daughter is going to have to grow up in. If that means we have a common enemy… so be it. But that doesn’t make us allies. It just means someone you don’t like is leaving Wrestlemania with a broken ankle.”

    Angle storms off. JBL looks to take after him, but Regal signals for him to stand down.

    ”I appreciate the thought, dear boy, but I think it best if we leave him to calm down. He’ll see it how it is eventually. He just needs time.”

    “Well, I do,”
    JBL says, and opens up his wallet. ”Listen, I jus’ wish I had someone like you in my ear a few years back. Wish I’d-a seen th’ right path sooner, y’know. But for gettin’ me back on track, and for signin’ off on th’ match with Ron tonight… just a li’l token-a my gratitude.”

    He shoves a wad of notes in to Regal’s suit pocket.

    Regal takes the notes out and inspects them. ”This… this has got to be $300! I can’t take this, I was merely doing my job.”

    “And a damn fine job of it you did, too! Ya earned those bad boys, go buy yaself another tea set or somethin’.”

    “Oh, dear boy, this cost quite a bit more than $300, let me assure you of that.”
    He tucks the money back in his pocket, and nods appreciatively.

    From there we return to ringside, where Michael Cole and Tazz put over our main event of the evening, BROCK LESNAR versus HARDCORE HOLLY. We see footage of the incident that started this all off, where back in September 2002 Brock broke Hardcore’s neck with a botched Powerbomb, and we see and hear how Holly’s been on the rampage ever since. Cole says that, although he can’t justify what he’s done to get here, one way or another, eighteen months of pain for Holly are coming to an end tonight.

    We then head elsewhere backstage, where we see a sign on a door marked “Mattitude, Inc. Worldwide Global Headquarters”. Inside, SEAN O’HAIRE and SHANNON MOORE are awaiting their leader’s arrival.

    ”He ain’t gonna be happy,” Shannon says, referring to last week’s Battle Royal, where Sean chose not to save Matt from elimination.

    ”I don’t care what he thinks,” Sean dismisses.

    Shannon gasps. ”How can ya say that? He’s our leader!”

    “Then he can act like it. Y’know, one of these days you need to take a look in the mirror, Shannon. He treats you like dirt.”

    “He’s been real good to us, Sean. And he’s gonna be real mad when he gets here.”

    As if by magic, on that cue the door swings open, smashing off the wall, and MATT HARDY (VERSION 1.0) strolls in, whistling.

    ”Evening,” he says, upbeat.

    Shannon and Sean exchange a look, confused as to why he’s so upbeat after what happened last week, as Matt investigates his empty drinks bottle.

    ”Hey, Shannon, pass me that drink, would ya?”

    Shannon grabs a cup of water off a table and tentatively hands it over. Matt takes it, inspects it…


    Sean cocks back his fist to punch his leader, but Shannon grabs his arm before he can and holds him back.

    ”Oh,” Matt says, matter-of-factly. ”So you can see me. After last week, I thought I was invisible or something.”

    Sean struggles to free himself, causing Shannon to hold him even tighter.

    ”Let him go, Shannon,” Matt says. ”Let him come at me, if that’s what we wants.”

    Shannon releases Sean, so he squares up to his leader.

    ”Do me a favour, though, Shannon,” Matt continues, staring straight at Sean. ”Never forget where you came from. That’s how we learn. How we stay humble. And Sean here seems to have forgotten where he came from.”

    “Yeah, and I remember last week when I outlasted you in the Battle Royal too!”
    Sean interjects.

    ”Congratulations. You burned your bridges with me to get slightly closer to getting a title shot. After how I found you… after where you were before my teachings… that’s quite the impression you left. Before you met me, you could barely even defend yourself in a match.”

    Sean says nothing.

    ”So you do remember?” Matt says. ”Because I do. I remember a man who was at rock bottom. I took you from nothing and helped build you up again. I believed in you. But, hey, if you want to throw all that away because you think you’re a big shot in one Battle Royal… be my guest. But when you hit rock bottom again… don’t come crying to me. Because I won’t help you again.”

    Still Sean stares down Matt… but eventually lowers his head. ”You’re right. I’m sorry.”

    “Are you, though? Because you said sorry last week, and it only got worse.”

    “I am. It’s just… you can be a bit of an assho-”

    “Sucking up to me isn’t gonna get you out of this,”
    Matt says, seemingly returning to his obnoxious best. ”You have a match tonight with Paul London. And lemme tell you… he’s angry. You took them out of the Ladder Match, eliminated them from the Battle Royal. They want revenge. But seeing as you’re such a big shot these days… how about you go out there… alone.”

    “Honestly, Matt, I-”

    Matt corrects.

    ”Sensei, right. Honestly, I’ve seen the error in my ways. I’m sorry.”

    “Well, it’s not enough. I hate people who are all talk. You want to prove you’re sorry… go out there and do this on your own. Then we’ll see how good you really are. And maybe then you’ll show me some gratitude for everything I’ve done.”

    Sean nods. ”I will. But, you know… you could show me and Shannon some gratitude for everything we do, too.”

    Matt bursts out laughing. ”Now’s not the time for jokes, Sean. I’m serious. Go out there on your own and let’s see what you’re made of. Go.”

    Sean reluctantly nods and heads off alone, leaving Shannon to watch on, concerned.

    Billy Gunn vs. Rob Begley

    One man has recently returned from a lay off, the other is an unknown rookie jobber. You don’t need me to tell you how this match went.

    Winner: Billy Gunn in 1:47

    Billy’s epic theme song rings out throughout the arena after the victory, so as Brian Hebner raises his arm in victory, Billy pumps his other fist in celebration, then bounds up the turnbuckle to salute the fans. He may have only beaten a complete unknown, but you wouldn’t know it from his celebration. He pumps his arms in the air to try and raise the reaction of the crowd, but gets very little in return. After a few moments he stops… and seems to realise that he isn’t getting the reaction he wanted.

    ”C’mon!” he yells, and tries to get the fans going…

    … but gets nothing in return!

    He leaps down from the turnbuckle and calls for a microphone.

    ”I guess you guys must-a just missed it, but I just won my return one-on-one match! Yeah!”

    The tiniest of tiny pops.

    Gunn looks out to the crowd, confused.

    ”C’mon!” he yells again without the microphone, trying one more time to get the fans to cheer… but nothing.

    That leaves him with no choice but to accept his fate. He nods sadly, and climbs out of the ring and back up the ramp...

    From there we head backstage, to where JAMIE NOBLE and NIDIA are hanging out in a corridor, when CHAVO GUERRERO walks over.

    ”Hey, Jamie,” he says, offering a high five, ”what’s goin’ on, my man?”

    Noble leaves him hanging.

    ”C’mon, man!” Chavo says, ”no need to be that way, is there? You can’t be mad about last week-”

    “You’re damn right he’s angry about last week!”
    Nidia abruptly interjects. ”Jamie was blinded and ya took advantage of him! He couldn’t see a damn thing, and-”

    “Leave it, Nidia,”
    Noble interrupts. ”I ain’t got nothin’ t’ say t’ Chavo. He’s jus’ playin’ his games, and I don’t want no part of it. C’mon, let’s get outta here, I gots a match t’ get ready for.”

    “Yeah, teamin’ with me,”
    Chavo says. ”You can’t ignore me forever, we’ve got to work together later. And you can’t honestly tell me you wouldn’t have done the same thing if you were in my shoes? It was an easy elimination!”

    “I’d have done exactly what you did, boy.”

    “See? So what’s the problem, man?”

    “I ain’t got a problem with what ya did. I got a problem with why ya did it, though. I see through ya, Chavo, always have. And none-a ya games are gonna work on me. I told ya before, you’re at th’ back of th’ line for this belt, and no games are gonna change that.”

    Chavo flaps his arms at his side, frustrated. ”I dunno what you want from me, man. I told you I wasn’t playin’ games when it came to the belt, and did I lie? Sure, I may have bent the rules a little, but nothin’ you haven’t been guilty of in the past too. I’ve not laid my hands on Nidia, not done anythin’ to take you out or hurt you unnecessarily. I kept it all right there in the ring, like I said I would.”

    “Whatever, Chavo. Like I said, you’re back-a th’ line. After th’ tag match later, I don’t have t’ have no part-a ya games no more.”

    “What games?! Y’know, Jamie, I’m gettin’ kinda sick of bein’ talked to like this. I tried to win the belt at No Way Out, and you won. I accepted that and shook your hand afterwards. Last week I eliminated you, sure, but after I saved you from Tajiri and Juvi. But you wanna stand there and talk to me like this? You wanna say I’m back of the line when I was the Cruiserweight who lasted longest in the Battle Royal last week? Nah, man, I’m not havin’ it. It’s not me playin’ the games here… it’s you.”

    Noble sighs. ”Gimme a break, boy.”

    “Nah, I see it as it is. You know that you got lucky at No Way Out, and you know if you gave me another shot, it’d be different. You know that I was the Cruiserweight who made it that deep in to that match. But you’re pointin’ fingers to avoid facin’ me again. Yeah, man, I see you. I see right through you.”

    Chavo starts to walk away, but Noble grabs his arm. ”I’m warnin’ ya, Chavo… I ain’t playin’ ya games. Ya can twist what I’m sayin’ and make me out t’ be th’ bad guy, but it ain’t gonna work. Me and you? Tonight, we’re partners. But after tonight… I ain’t even lookin’ at ya ‘til you’ve earned another match at my belt. Now, c’mon Nidia, I’m gonna get ready for th’ match.”

    Noble storms off, hand-in-hand with Nidia, leaving Chavo to watch on, frustrated.

    From there, we head elsewhere backstage, to where Josh Matthews is standing by with PAUL HEYMAN.

    ”Mr. Heyman, tonight your client Brock Lesnar faces Hardcore Holly in a match that has been building for eighteen months. But before we discuss that, I want to speak to you about what we saw this past week on Raw, when Brock brutally attacked Ric Flair instead of meeting Triple H in the ring. Do you have any sympathy for The Nature Boy given the issue is quite specifically between your client and The Game?”

    “Firstly, Josh, allow me to commend you on finally addressing me correctly. Maybe there’s hope for you yet. But to answer your question… no, I don’t have any sympathy for Ric Flair. Ric Flair is merely reaping the consequences of choosing to keep bad company. Because this is what happens when you mess with Brock Lesnar. Triple H likes to act like he’s a big shot around here, and you know what? He is. He’s great. He can out-wrestle almost everyone in the company. He can out-think almost everyone in the company. But you know who he can’t out-wrestle? Brock… Lesnar. Triple H likes to walk around like he’s some kind of unstoppable bad ass, but he’s not. With the right opponent, he’s very much stoppable. And Brock Lesnar… is exactly that kind of opponent. And you know who he can’t out-think? Me. Triple H claims to be the Cerebral Assassin… but that’s only because he’s never come across me. For every so-called brilliant idea he can have, I have one better. He wants to tip-toe around the no-interference rule by playing his music? Then I get Brock Lesnar to take out the one person in this world Triple H actually cares about. So, Mr. H, I know you like to ‘play the game’. But this game?”
    He taps his forehead. ”You can’t win this game against me. Just like you can’t win in a one-on-one match with Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania. And, after what Brock did to your good friend Ric last week on Raw... if you still have any doubt of what Brock is capable of… keep watching tonight. Because Hardcore Holly has hated Brock Lesnar longer than you have. This is a man so consumed with furious anger that he’ll do whatever it takes to end Brock’s career. Hardcore Holly is one of the most vile, violent human beings to ever step foot in a WWE ring. And tonight, here on Smackdown… Brock Lesnar will squash Hardcore Holly like a bug. So think about that, Game. And realise that, maybe now you’re starting to see… that this is the one game… that you cannot… win.”

    Sean O’Haire vs. Paul London w/Brian Kendrick

    Coming out alone for the first time in a while, Sean is left to fend for himself against the sparky youngster, and perhaps it’s that absence of ringside support that leads to London using his speed to run rings around O’Haire, not giving the much bigger man much of an opportunity to get going at all.

    London, though, is in this one for revenge, having had Sean screw him out of a title shot at No Way Out, and eliminated him from last week’s Battle Royal, and perhaps it’s that need for vengeance that causes him to push a little too hard, and O’Haire takes over. He slows things down to his pace, leaving Kendrick to try and rally the crowd behind his partner (but without interfering, because he’s a good babyface). O’Haire is in control as he slams London down and climbs to the top… SEAN-TON BOMB!

    Misses! London moved, and O’Haire crashed in to the mat! He stumbles up… right in to a Dropsault to the mouth from London! O’Haire goes down but bounces right back up… so London knocks him bang out with an Enziguri! He climbs to the top rope, looking for his 450 Splash…

    … but SHANNON MOORE has run down to the ring and clattered Brian Kendrick from behind! London hasn’t noticed though…

    450 SPLASH!

    He makes the cover… but the referee is distracted by the brawl between Kendrick and Moore!


    He pulls Sean up, slapping him around the face to regain his attention after the kicks to the face and 450, and indicates that he needs to finish it off. Matt rolls to the outside to grab the referee’s attention away from Shannon and Kendrick, and points him in to the ring as Sean pulls London up… WIDOWMAKER! Sean makes the cover, and the ref slides in to the ring for the count...




    Winner: Sean O’Haire in 5:12

    The bell rings and Sean rolls out of the cover and out of the ring. Matt rushes straight over and slaps him on the chest to celebrate, and helps him back up the ramp. By now Kendrick has taken over the offence on Shannon, but Matt drags Sean up the ramp, leaving his other follower at Kendrick’s mercy. Kendrick, though, seeing his partner lost, leaves Moore alone and rolls in to the ring to check on him, and London, from the mat, explains what went down.

    But at the top of the ramp, Matt raises Sean’s arm in victory, pulls him in for a hug, then grabs his cheeks with his hands.

    ”Y’see?!” Matt yells in his face. ”I told ya! Just look at what we can do together! I’ve got your back, Sean, don’t ever forget that!”

    Sean nods in agreement, and together they head to the back, with Kendrick swearing vengeance (and Shannon laid out on the floor).

    From there, we transition to a graphic for Wrestlemania XX: Where It All Begins Again, and see that we are somehow just seventeen days from the biggest pay-per-view in history.

    That leads us in to the latest of our flashbacks to previous events, and we’re up to Wrestlemania XVI, or “Wrestlemania 2000” as everything that year was stylised. We see TRIPLE H retain the WWE Title against BIG SHOW, MICK FOLEY and THE ROCK and… not a lot else actually. By the time Trips is done talking about being the first man to retain his title at ‘Mania in five years, there’s no time to talk about anything else. Poor Dudleyz, Edge & Christian, and Hardyz.

    We then head backstage, to where DAWN MARIE is standing in an elevated position in a darkened room, with TAJIRI and JUVENTUD looking up to her.

    ”I’m going to make something perfectly clear, okay?” she says. ”I… will not… accept failure. Whatever is going on in your heads right now… whether that’s greed… desire… anger… it gets used… tonight. We have finally shown how far above Akio and Ultimo Dragon we are. Now… we right… the final… wrong. Chavo Guerrero eliminated you both last week. Are you going to accept that?”

    Tajiri and Juvi shake their heads.

    ”And Jamie Noble stole your Cruiserweight Title. Are you going to accept that?”

    Tajiri shakes his head.

    ”Good. Then tonight… how me what it looks like… when Kyo-estro rejects… what everyone else sees.”

    John Bradshaw Layfield vs. Ron Simmons

    And so it’s come to this. After six years of teaming, and even longer as friends, the man once known simply as Bradshaw has thrown away everything he had with Ron Simmons, and this is what we’re left with.

    When the bell rings, JBL pleads for rational thought, trying to assure Simmons that it doesn’t have to be this way…

    … and uses that to cheapshot his so call friend and gain an advantage in the match! From there, it’s all JBL, gradually working over his friend with a violent sneer on his face, yet one that turns in to a “Southern Gentleman” style smile when he looks at the fans or the camera. He works Simmons down and, with Ron having gained literally zero offence in the match, lines him up and charges for a Clothesline From Hell…

    … but Simmons moves… and JBL crashes in to the turnbuckle! He staggers out… Simmons takes him down… and rains down the mounted punches! Simmons is finally beating the hell out of his partner!

    Eventually the referee jumps in to stop the closed fists, but Simmons brushes him aside and pulls JBL up… and whips him with huge force in to the corner! He charges after him… Clothesline in the corner!

    JBL falls to the mat, but soon enough finds his way on to his knees… and begs off! He apologises for everything he’s done and admits he made a mistake, and asks Simmons to forgive him… Simmons thinks it over for a split second…

    SO JBL POKES HIM IN THE EYE! Simmons is blinded, so JBL rushes off the ropes… CLOTHESLINE FROM HELL! He makes the cover…




    Winner: John Bradshaw Layfield in 4:42

    The bell rings with Cole apoplectic at JBL’s tactics for beating his friend, but JBL seems unconcerned. He stays on his knees, arms raised to the sky in celebration… and a tear forms in his eye! He’s crying with happiness at having won!

    Referee Charles Robinson helps him to his feet and raises his arm in victory, but JBL slumps back to his knees and buries his hands in his head, overwhelmed with the win. He gets back to his feet and thanks each side of the ring for their support, then grabs his entrance jacket, reaches in to the pocket, and takes out a note which he shoves in to Robinson’s palm “for his time”. He then climbs to the ramp and, with a tear in his eye and a grin as wide as the Hudson River, waves to the fans as he returns to the back, with Ron Simmons left in the ring, trying to work out exactly where it went so wrong.

    From there, we return backstage, to where Josh Matthews is standing by with SHANIQUA, who has THE BASHAM BROTHERS standing behind each shoulder.

    ”Shaniqua, Doug, Danny, earlier tonight we saw you lay out the Filthy Animals, leading many to presume you have some kind of deal in place with the World’s Greatest Tag Team-”

    “You think I care about the World’s Greatest Tag Team?!”
    Shaniqua interjects. ”Hey, they’re as bad as Mysterio and Kidman as far as I’m concerned. They keep duckin’ our challenges, because they know that if they faced Doug and Danny for those titles, they’d lose ‘em in a heartbeat. So lemme tell ya this, sugar… what we did out there earlier tonight? It had nothin’ to do with Haas or Benjamin. What we did earlier… was about us.”

    “So why did you take out Kidman and Mysterio?”
    Matthews asks.

    ”What, you as stupid as you look?” Shaniqua says. ”Anyone with half a brain can work it out. Mysterio and Kidman are the Number One Contenders?! I don’t think so, honey. As far as we’re concerned, we’ve been goin’ against those two for months, and they still haven’t beat us. So what, just because one-a them can climb a ladder, that makes them more deserving of a Tag Title shot at Wrestlemania than us? I don’t think so. And luckily for us… William Regal... agrees with us.”

    Josh frowns. ”What’re you saying?”

    Shaniqua laughs, and shakes her head. ”Okay. You really are as stupid as you look. Lemme break it down for ya, Josh. Our General Manager, despite makin’ a big mistake in not givin’ Doug and Danny the title shot they so clearly deserve… he does have his moments of clarity. He sees what everyone knows, which is climbin’ a ladder ain’t no way of determinin’ the best team in the world. So he’s signed off on a match. Next week, here on Smackdown… one final time… it’s gonna be Rey Mysterio and Billy Kidman… against Doug… and Danny… Basham. And if we win… we’re gettin’ added to the title match at Wrestlemania. Now, if Mysterio and Kidman have any decency, when they lose next week, they’ll just step aside and leave the title match to us. But I’m guessin’ they don’t have the guts. But either way, whether they do the right thing or not… after next week… everyone will know that the Basham Brothers are the team to beat in the WWE.”

    We then transition to this week’s Raw Rebound, featuring the return of MICK FOLEY. In the main event, BATISTA and CHRISTIAN defended their World Tag Team Titles against ROB VAN DAM and BOOKER T, but during RANDY ORTON’S interference Mick Foley made his triumphant return, beating the hell out of Evolution and handing RVD and Booker T the belts, finally bringing Evolution’s reign to an end.

    Kyo-estro (Tajiri & Juventud) w/Dawn Marie vs. Chavo Guerrero & Jamie Noble w/Nidia

    Having made it clear they are using this match as a statement, Kyo-estro viciously attack on the bell, perhaps catching Chavo and Noble off guard. After their earlier argument they seem reluctant to work together, but in the face of such a barrage of violence from their opponents they’re forced to group together, and actually show potential as a tag team in the future, should they be able to stay on the same page.

    Kyo-estro, though, are a slick tagging unit, and with momentum behind them after last week’s win over Akio and Ultimo Dragon, they regain control and things very much go their way. Jamie is kept separated from Chavo, and Kyo-estro are only too happy to work over the Cruiserweight Champion, with Tajiri in particular desperate to stake a claim to a rematch he was never given.

    With the match very much going their way, Juvi suddenly becomes reluctant to tag Tajiri in, perhaps continuing on from stealing the spotlight in the previous two weeks, and looks to lift Noble up for a Juvi Driver…

    … but Tajiri pulls Noble down! He’s not going to let Juvi steal another victory! Dawn Marie screams for focus as they square up to one another… and allows Jamie Noble to Dropkick Tajiri in to Juvi! Nidia pounds on the apron to get the crowd behind her boyfriend as he crawls across the canvas… Chavo’s arm is outstretched, bouncing on the spot for the tag… Noble crawls closer… and swings for the tag!


    Noble looks up, and sees Chavo standing on the apron, stern-faced. Noble asks him why…

    SO CHAVO DROPS OFF THE APRON! He’s refusing to make the tag!

    Noble tries to ask what he’s doing, but Chavo stays at the bottom of the ramp, staring an angry hole right through the Cruiserweight Champion… Dawn signals for her team to pull it together given what’s going on, so they take their focus off one another and grab Noble from behind… they pull him in…


    Tajiri allows Juvi to make the cover as Chavo watches on, not getting involved…




    Winners: Tajiri & Juventud in 6:02

    The bell rings and Dawn heads in to the ring to raise her clients’ arms in victory. Neither Tajiri or Juvi look too happy, with tension clearly growing between them, but they kept it together long enough to be able to take the win here.

    Dawn, in her high heels, kicks Noble out of the ring until he slumps to the outside, where Nidia crouches down to check on him. Noble’s clearly hurting from the double team, but Nidia’s as focused on Chavo’s betrayal as she is her injured boyfriend. Chavo, though, doesn’t respond to her screams of “what the hell’s the matter with you?!”, instead just backing up the ramp, saying nothing...

    We then head backstage, where Josh Matthews is, rather reticently, standing by with HARDCORE HOLLY.

    ”Hardcore, we’re just moments away from the match you’ve been waiting for for over eighteen months. You and Brock Lesnar, one-on-one… No Disqualification. You must be excited?”

    Hardcore deadpans the question. ”Excited? Ya think I’m excited for this? Damn, son, ya really are a dumb sonuvabitch, ain’t ya? I ain’t excited. Since I broke my damn neck, I don’t get excited about jack no more. It ain’t about bein’ excited. It’s about what’s right. Brock Lesnar broke my neck? Tonight… I break his.”

    Hardcore shoves Matthews out of the way and storms off, keeping it short and sweet.

    We fade in to footage of a cheering crowd, as the WWE production song Goliath plays...

    ”Our days are finite...”

    We see TRIPLE H standing in the spotlight during his entrance, spraying water in to the air.

    ”We have to make the most of the little time we have...”

    We see KURT ANGLE standing on the ramp, arms raised to the sky, pyro exploding behind him.

    ”To create a future we can be proud of, and a past we will never forget.”

    We see CYNDI LAUPER and WENDI RICHTER jogging through the backstage area at the first Wrestlemania.

    ”Our bodies can not live forever...”

    We then see SHAWN MICHAELS screaming in agony as CHRIS JERICHO pulls back on the Walls of Jericho at Survivor Series.

    ”But the memories we leave may never die.”

    We see HULK HOGAN slamming ANDRE THE GIANT at Wrestlemania III.

    ”For we are not who we say are...”

    We see JOHN CENA, mid-freestyle.

    ”We are... what we do...”

    And then see ROB VAN DAM soaring through the air in slow motion, about to hit a Five Star Frog Splash.

    ”And what we do... can define... a lifetime.”

    We see EDDIE GUERRERO shimmying his shoulders, channelling his Latino Heat, with the crowd roaring behind him.

    ”Did we achieve all we wanted to achieve?”

    We see SHAWN MICHAELS on his knees at Wrestlemania XII, cradling the WWE Championship as the boyhood dream came true.

    ”Did we make the difference the world needed us to make?”

    We see JEFF HARDY hanging from the title belts during the TLC match at Wrestlemania X7, and EDGE diving off a ladder to hit a Spear in mid-air.

    ”Boys may become men...”

    We see RANDY ORTON standing on the stage, arms apart, posing as a curtain of pyro falls behind him.

    ”Girls may become women...”

    We see LITA standing on the top rope, signalling the fans.

    ”But only the great... can become legends...”

    We see SHAWN MICHAELS once more, this time splashing RAZOR RAMON off the ladder at Wrestlemania X.

    ”And only legends... can become... immortal.”

    We see HULK HOGAN and THE ROCK staring down at Wrestlemania X8.

    ”So did you give it everything you have?”

    We see KANE bring his arms down, igniting fire from the four turnbuckle posts.

    ”Did you refuse to quit when all hope was lost?”

    We see the iconic image of STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN locked in the Sharpshooter, bleeding profusely, but refusing to submit.

    ”Did you aspire to dream... when all others said it could not be done?”

    We see CHRIS BENOIT looking out at the crowd with a tear in his eye, having been given a standing ovation for his efforts against BROCK LESNAR on Smackdown.

    ”And when the time comes...”

    We see BOOKER T on one knee, staring at his hand before he rolls in to a Spinaroonie.

    ”Will you make it count?”

    We see RANDY SAVAGE and ELIZABETH’S tearful reunion at Wrestlemania VII.

    ”Will you make a difference?”

    We see CHRIS JERICHO hitting a picture-perfect Lionsault in slow-motion.

    ”And will you find the path...”

    We see THE UNDERTAKER’S entrance at Wrestlemania IV as he rides a cart to the ring to face Giant Gonzales, with an ominous-looking vulture perched next to him.

    ”To immortality?”

    We see STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN celebrating winning his first WWE Title at Wrestlemania XIV.

    ”Wrestlemania XX...”

    We see BROCK LESNAR holding the title aloft after winning the belt in last year’s main event.

    ”Where it all begins...”

    We see HULK HOGAN and MR T celebrating together at the first Wrestlemania.


    *** NEXT BIG THING ***

    There’s an initial pop for seeing a star, but it quickly descends in to boos for BROCK LESNAR. He comes out from the back with a smug-looking PAUL HEYMAN in tow, and looking particularly confident, he leaps on the ramp and awaits his opponent…

    *** HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW ***

    And to much less of a pop, but somewhat more sympathetic given everything he’s been through, HARDCORE HOLLY storms out from the back, still not wearing his gear and going with t-shirt and jeans, and marches in to the ring… and starts firing off on Brock! We’re underway already!

    No Disqualification Match
    Brock Lesnar w/Paul Heyman vs. Hardcore Holly

    With Brock taken aback by the sudden attack, Hardcore is able to tee off on Brock against the ropes, before charging and Clotheslining him over the top. He follows to the outside with a Double Axe Handle off the apron, then tosses Brock in to the steel steps and slams his face off the barricade. Brock clearly underestimated what his vengeance-filled opponent is capable of, and it allows Hardcore to absolutely beat the shit out of Lesnar on the outside, laying in stiff shots and leaving Brock with a slightly swollen eye socket after just a few moments.

    Being a No DQ match, referee Nick Patrick leaves them to it, and Hardcore continues to beat on Brock on the outside, snatching a steel chair from by the announce table… AND SLAMS IT OVER BROCK’S BACK! Holly’s out of control! Brock crawls to the ringpost and helps himself up, leaning against the post, so Holly swings for his head… but Brock ducks… and Holly hits the metal! He drops the chair in pain and turns around… in to a brutal Lariat! Lesnar, getting his first opportunity at offence, pulls Holly up… Fallaway Slam in to the barricade! He pulls him up and drives his shoulder in to Holly’s ribs, crushing him against the ring apron, and then lifting him in a Bearhug and slamming him against the ringpost.

    From there, Brock rolls Holly back in to the ring, and grabs a Bearhug. Holly’s eventually able to battle out with headbutts, but charges straight in to an Overhead Belly to Belly Suplex, leaving things very much in Lesnar’s favour. Brock gradually works him over, and eventually whips him off the ropes… Holly reverses… and Hardcore meets him with a beautiful Dropkick! Holly just won’t give up! Brock bounces back up, but stumbles on to the ropes, so Holly lifts him by the ankles… rope-assisted kick to the groin! It’s no DQ, so there’s nothing Charles Robinson can do about it! Brock rolls around the canvas in pain, but Holly wastes no time in going back to him. He pulls him off the mat… and shoves him between his legs! He’s looking for a Powerbomb! The very move Brock used to break his neck! He looks to lift him up…


    Brock countered out of nowhere! He hooks the leg…



    Brock lifts up Holly’s shoulder!

    ”What the hell is this?” Cole cries on commentary, as Brock smirks to the Cheshire cat-grinning Paul Heyman on the outside. He pulls Holly off the mat and lifts him on to his shoulders again…

    ANOTHER F5! He hooks the leg again, and again Robinson makes the count…



    Brock lifts his shoulder up again! And this time he’s laughing about it!

    ”What the hell is this guy’s problem?!” Cole yells. ”Just finish the match! What does this prove?!”

    “It proves that Brock Lesnar ain’t someone ta mess with,”
    Tazz adds.

    As Heyman screeches for Brock to DESTROY HIM!”, Brock pulls Holly up a third time… AND SHOVES HIM BETWEEN HIS LEGS!

    ”Oh, God, no...” Cole whispers.

    Brock lifts Holly up… POWERBOMB! Right on the injured neck! It’s eighteen months ago all over again!

    But he doesn’t release, he heaves Holly up off the mat without letting him off his shoulders… DOUBLE POWERBOMB!

    He throws Holly’s unconscious legs to the side and, with a smirk, places a condescending foot on Holly’s chest for Robinson to make the count…




    Winner: Brock Lesnar in 6:22

    There’s a muted reaction as the bell rings, but Brock isn’t bothered about that. He had no intentions of putting on a great performance tonight. This was about a statement… and he isn’t done giving one yet.

    That’s because Paul Heyman climbs in to the ring… and he’s got the steel chair Hardcore used earlier in the match.

    Charles Robinson tries to plead with them, but one stern look from Brock sends him scampering out of the ring. Heyman hands over the chair and Lesnar stares at it, then looks at Holly. ”Do it,” Heyman definitively states…


    Cole questions where the hell security are, but Tazz presumes Holly stopping Brock from doing exactly this against Cena last week as meant Regal’s going to let this one play out. And indeed, as Brock slams the chair off Holly’s back, no-one comes to save, allowing Brock to furiously work out all his anger. Only once the chair is bent out of all recognition does Brock throw the chair to the floor, content with the devastation he caused.

    Standing behind him, Paul Heyman holds a microphone. ”You watching this, Trips?” he says, staring down the lens of the hard camera. ”I told you earlier… you can call yourself the Game all you want… but this isn’t a game you can win. You’re entering Brock Lesnar’s world now… and in Brock Lesnar’s world… you play by his rules. So take a good look, Hunter… ‘cos what you’re seeing right now… is exactly what you can expect… in two weeks… at Wrestlemania. Isn’t that right, Brock?”

    On that note, Brock returns to Holly’s unconscious body and pulls his deadweight on to his shoulders…


    Brock bounces right back to his feet, rolling his shoulders, as Heyman raises his arm to the air in victory, a message to Raw well and truly having been sent.

    When we return from commercial, the ring is decked out with red carpet, with two podiums on either side, and behind them a banner for Wrestlemania hanging over the ropes. The camera pans to the front of the ring to show legions of JOURNALISTS on the outside, some with cameras, and we eventually pan up to see WILLIAM REGAL standing in the centre of the ring, one arm politely tucked behind his back, the other holding a microphone.

    ”Ladies and gentlemen here in the arena, to everyone watching at home, and to our esteemed guests from the worldwide wrestling, sports and entertainment press… welcome… to the official WWE Title Wrestlemania press conference!”

    Soft pop from the crowd, followed by the flicker of cameras from the press on the outside.

    ”Please welcome first, he is the Number One Contender to the WWE Title… Chris… Benoit!”

    *** WHATEVER ***

    There’s a good pop for the arrival of CHRIS BENOIT, who despite not wrestling tonight is still wearing his tights and boots, but with a “4 Real” Benoit t-shirt. He heads down the ramp, doing little to salute the fans, and climbs in to the ring. He looks ready to ignore absolutely everyone and everything, but when Regal offers a handshake he’s physically incapable of not accepting, such is his love of handshakes.

    ”And now,” Regal continues, subtly wiping his hand on his jacket, ”please welcome the WWE Champion… Eddie… Guerrero!”



    And there’s a BIG pop for the arrival of EDDIE GUERRERO! We wait a few moments for him to emerge… and when he eventually does… he’s in a gold low-rider! He’s made it through the challenges of the last few months, and he’s absolutely loving life again! Dressed in a colourful, silk shirt and slacks, he admires his car to the snapping of cameras from the press, gets in the ring and offers a handshake to Regal… then pulls his hand away before he can! He laughs to himself at having gotten one over on Regal, then leans in for a hug with Benoit…

    … but Benoit doesn’t reciprocate! Eddie asks off-mic if he’s okay, but Benoit doesn’t respond, instead choosing to stare straight ahead.

    ”Okay, gentlemen,” Regal says, ”thank you both for joining. I will pass it over to our guests from the press shortly, but before we do, we have a short video to share about how Master Guerrero and Master Benoit made it to this point.”

    - - -

    A video starts up to one of the two official Wrestlemania themes, ”Touché” by Godsmack...

    And the video is somewhat melancholy. It looks at footage of Eddie as a young child, playing his his family, and of Benoit in his earliest days of wrestling. We see the awful haircuts and terrible ring attire, with the WWE digging deep in to their video library to show as much as possible about the paths they took to this point.

    As we see footage from Mexico, Japan, ECW and WCW, we also hear from the likes of HECTOR GUERRERO and CHAVO GUERRERO SR about what Eddie was like growing up, and from CHAVO GUERRERO JR on what a role model he was. We even get a cameo from MAMA GUERRERO, talking about how proud she is of her son.

    We also hear from Hart Dungeon trainers MR HITO and KAZUO SAKURADA about how good Benoit was in his training, and we hear from the likes of RIC FLAIR and DEAN MALENKO about what he was like as a friend and opponent.

    The footage eventually moves more to the modern day, and we see them both at their WWE best. Benoit locking in a Crossface. Eddie messing around with Chavo. Benoit flying off the cage with a Diving Headbutt against Kurt Angle. Eddie winning the WWE Title against Brock Lesnar.

    And eventually, we see the Rumble. We see how much both men put in to that match, only for it to end in controversy when the referee missed Benoit’s foot on the ropes, and the question marks around whether it was intentional or not. And all while we hear the refrain from Godsmack lead vocalist Sully Erna…

    ”And I only do for you… what you do for me.”

    - - -

    We return to the ring to applause and cheers from the crowd for the video, and the camera looks at the faces of Eddie and Benoit. Eddie looks choked up at what he sees, and nods appreciatively, while Benoit… still doesn’t react.

    ”Okay, on that note,” Regal says, ”I would like to get the questions underway. You, there, with the colourful lanyard, would you like to kick us off?”

    We see JOURNALIST #1, who is in no way a paid actor, speak in to a microphone that is handed to him.

    ”Gentlemen, after just seeing how much history you have and how long it took you to get here, how excited are you about facing each other at Wrestlemania?”

    Eddie leans in to answer first. ”I’ll tell ya this, vato...” He shakes his head in disbelief. ”I’ve known Chris for a long time. We’ve been friends forever. Brothers. Any time I step in the ring with him, man… it’s an honour. Really, I mean that. But to do it at Wrestlemania, or the WWE Title? It’s a dream come true, ese. It is.”

    Regal turns to Benoit for an answer.

    ”I’m focused on winning the WWE Title,” Benoit says, matter-of-factly.

    ”Uh...” Regal stammers, ”okay. Thanks for that… uh… how about we move on. You, there, you have your hand raised.”

    JOURNALIST #2 (still definitely not an actor) takes the microphone.

    ”Yes, this is a question with two sides. Eddie, what does being the WWE Champion mean to you, and Chris, what would it mean if you were to win the title?”

    Again Eddie goes first. ”Look, man, I’ve not hidden how it makes me feel. I’ve made some mistakes in my life, I can admit that. Not been the best friend… family member… husband… father. I accept that’s who I am, and that’s what I’ve done, and I have to live with that. But bein’ the WWE Champion… it makes it all good, ese. All those sacrifices I took… all those mistakes I made… they’re worth it… ‘cos they got me to this place. Some people might see this a belt, a bit of gold.” He shakes his head. ”To me… it’s authenticity, man. It says I matter. It tells me you can make mistakes and still succeed, man. It’s everythin’. It’s everythin’.”

    Again Regal turns to Benoit for his answer.

    ”I’m not getting ahead of myself of what it’ll be like. I’m just focused on winning it in the first place.”

    He steps back, having said his piece.

    ”Uh, Master Benoit?” Regal interjects, ”would you care to elaborate on that answer at all?”



    ”Um… okay. Well, I have an announcement that may lead to some questions. I have decided that, with just over two weeks until Wrestlemania, both Master Benoit and Master Guerrero will need warm up matches. But rather than me be the one to decide what they’ll be… I’ve decided to let them choose each other’s partners. So next week, here on Smackdown… it’ll be Pick… Your… Poison. Eddie Guerrero will pick Chris Benoit’s opponent… and Chris Benoit… will pick Eddie Guerrero’s.”

    Eddie nervously looks over to Benoit, clearly fearing who he might pick while he’s in this headspace. Benoit, though, still chooses not to react. Regal sees a journalist’s hand go up, so points at him to speak.

    ”Gentlemen, any thoughts on this announcement? Any idea who you might pick for one another?”

    This time Eddie takes a step back, and signals for Benoit to go first. After a few moments, Benoit steps forward to answer.

    ”My focus is on winning the WWE Title at Wrestlema-”


    ”What the hell’s your problem, ese? You got a problem, come right out and say it, man.”

    Benoit, despite having Eddie inches away from him, ready to burst, remains stoically focused in the middle distance. He eventually leans down in the microphone on his podium.

    ”My focus is on winning the WWE Title at Wrestlemania.”

    With that, the third successive question with the same answer, Benoit brushes past Eddie, and looks to leave the ring.

    ”Now wait just a moment, young man!” Regal says. ”We aren’t done here!”

    Benoit stops, heads back to Regal’s microphone, and lifts it to his own mouth. I am.”

    He pushes past Regal and climbs back out of the ring, and heads back up the ramp.

    ”Wait a minute, ese,” Eddie says, snatching the microphone out of Regal’s hand. ”You wanna walk away from Regal, fine… but don’t walk away from me, man. We’ve been through too much. We used to dream of this, man. Me and you, Wrestlemania. It’s the dream, and it’s comin’ true. This is a culmination, ese. Everythin’ we’ve been through… it’s all worth it. In two weeks, me and you, Madison Square Garden, in front of the whole world, man! That’s gotta mean somethin’ to you?!”

    Benoit stops on the ramp, takes a deep breath, and walks back to the ring. Eddie has his arms out in confusion, so Benoit snatches the microphone out of Eddie’s hand.

    ”Alright, Eddie, you want me to talk, so be it. You say this is a dream for us at ‘Mania? No, it’s not. You’ve already achieved your dream. Our dream.”. He prods the title belt over Eddie’s shoulder. That right there is the dream, and you already realised it. You’ve already won the WWE Title. But me? I still haven’t. And the reason I didn’t win the title at the Royal Rumble was because I treated you like a friend, not an opponent. And you took advantage of that-”

    “It wasn’t like that, ese!”

    “Save it, Eddie. I don’t care any more. I made a mistake treating you like a friend, and not like a ruthless champion who will do whatever it takes to keep the belt. But I won’t make that mistake again.”

    Eddie snatches the mic out of the hand of Benoit!

    ”Y’know,” Eddie growls through gritted teeth, veins bulging in his reddened forehead, ”I’m gettin’ a little tired of this, ese. I did nothin’ wrong, but if ya think I did… do… somethin’. I’m right here, ese. If you really think I screwed you out of the WWE Title, then take it out on me! Make me pay for it! But all I see is someone who’s angry not ‘cos they think I cheated… but because they lost.”

    Benoit shakes his head, and looks to walk away.

    ”Nah, ese, you ain’t goin’ anywhere. You wanna get up there on your high horse, man, then let’s do this. You were angry, man, so I let it pass, but I ain’t gonna be talked to like this no more. You lost at the Rumble, Chris. It ain’t my fault that you put your foot on the ropes instead of kickin’ out, ese. You made a bad choice, and it caught you out. It was an accident knockin’ your foot off the rope after the match… but it doesn’t matter anyway. It was after the match. You’d already lost. And you treatin’ me, a friend, someone who has been there with you through EVERYTHING… like this? You’re missin’ the point, ese. You didn’t lose ‘cos I made a mistake. You lost… because you made a mistake, man. And you need to accept that, and get your damn head outta your ass.”

    With that, Benoit storms back over to Eddie and goes nose-to-nose with him, ready to boil over…

    … but Benoit gradually simmers down… and backs away… and takes the microphone as he does.

    ”You’re right, Eddie. I made a mistake at the Rumble. I made a mistake trusting you. Treating you like a friend. But I won’t make that mistake again. You’ll do whatever it takes to win… and at Wrestlemania… so… will I.”

    Benoit drops the mic and storms off down the ramp, with Eddie left in the ring, ready to burst, watching on…

    … as we fade out.

    * END OF SHOW *

    Confirmed for next week

    Pick Your Poison
    Eddie Guerrero vs. Chris Benoit’s chosen opponent

    Pick Your Poison
    Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero’s chosen opponent

    If The Bashams Win, They’re Added To WWE Tag Title Match
    Basham Brothers vs. Filthy Animals

    2-on-3 Handicap Match
    Matt Hardy (Version 1.0), Sean O’Haire & Shannon Moore vs. Paul London & Brian Kendrick

    Kurt Angle is in action!

    Triple H makes an appearance for a confrontation with Brock Lesnar!

    World Heavyweight Title Match
    Chris Jericho (c) vs. The Undertaker

    WWE Championship Match
    Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero (c)

    WWE United States Title Match
    Kurt Angle vs. John Cena (c)

    WWE Tag Team Title Match
    The World’s Greatest Tag Team (c) vs. Filthy Animals (vs. The Basham Brothers?)

    Triangle Match for the WWE Women’s Title
    April (c) vs. Lita vs. Trish Stratus

    Great One versus The Showstopper
    The Rock vs. Shawn Michaels

    Battle of the Brands
    Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H

  20. #420
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    Re: September BTBOTM - WWE: Where It All Begins... Again

    With the APA Exploding and the Holly/Lesnar match, this feels like (almost) a PPV level show, match wise. I mean, not a PPV I’d be rushing out to buy, but matches with PPV worthy history attached at least. Impressive you’re able to put matches like this together this close to WrestleMania now.

    Pleased that Cena isn’t just glossing over the beating he took from Lesnar last week. That’s an issue you could easily revisit now at any point in the future, and there’s instantly heat in the situation. I’m glad you addressed Angle taking Cena’s number at the Rumble too, and I appreciated that he was able to look past it, as it was something he’d do if given the opportunity himself. Some nice misdirection here too, but having Angle as the second guy he spoke about, and went on to call out Regal; that’s a call out that’s been a long time in the making, and for a long time, I thought it would be Cena’s WrestleMania direction.

    Naturally, given how recent situations have panned out, I think Angle being the one to interrupt was going to be the outcome here. I enjoyed the early back and forth between the pair, but while I loved the monologue from Angle after that, I’m not sure this was the situation to present that in. To me, it felt like something better suited to an Angle only in-ring promo, or a sit down interview segment. For Cena to stand back and stay quiet for so long didn’t feel right to me, just. But that aside, I thought it was an exceptional diatribe against Cena and ‘people like him’ in the U.S of A, to perfectly set up the battle for the U.S Title.

    Mercury Rising making another good stab at taking on the tag champions; yes please. Certainly feels like they should be getting kept around now, having had two good showings against the WGTT. Post match was classic heel tendency stuff, leading to the Rey and Kidman run in, but I especially loved the Bashams attack on Rey and Kidman here. There’s still unfinished business there, and I think it’s a great idea to wrap that side issue up and have the #1 Contenders going into WrestleMania with more momentum.

    It’s a minor nitpick, and there’s not much longer before it happens anyway, but when you have speech, like Regal here, saying “WrestleMania XX”, I’m reading it as him saying “Ex Ex”, rather than “twenty”. Even if you wrote the number 20, that’d be fine. Anyway, putting Angle at odds with Regal makes sense, considering the shit he’s been through kinda starting with Regals initial stipulation from the Survivor Series and ruling him out of the title picture for a long time. Thought having JBL around was random at first, but it worked out, with him being essentially the opposite of Angle, in coming around to Regals way of thinking. Not sure how this will shake out, as I’d have guessed Regal to be pivotal in Cena’s WrestleMania match, but this essentially removes him from the equation, with Angle not wanting his help.

    At this point, it feels like O’Haire could be the one to truly snap on Matt and ditch the group, with Moore still singing the guys praises. Hardy pouring the water over O’Haires head was hysterical, and him cutting O’Haire off from calling him an asshole and saying that “sucking up won’t get you out of this” was awesome too. “Now’s not the time for jokes” lmao. Feels as if this is leading to the big blow up at WrestleMania, whatever it is these guys are lined up for.

    There’s just not enough love and appreciation out there for Mr. Ass, is there??

    Liked this bust up between Noble and Chavo. It’s been bubbling for a while, and it’s still hard to tell if both guys are being genuine, as they each have good reason to be suspect about the others motives now. Feels realistic enough that Chavo could think Noble wants no part of a rematch because he’s worried, whilst Noble has plenty of reason to doubt Chavo given his sketchy past. Good stuff all round, I thought.

    Heyman’s interview was excellent too. I’m sounding like a broken record probably now, but I’m still not into the Lesnar/Hunter build, and I’m not sure there’s anything that’ll happen between now and then that’ll have me pumped for that showdown. That doesn’t stop this interview from being enjoyable though. Using the issues with Trips to transition to Holly tonight was really good too, and especially the way he built up Holly and his hatred of Brock to then say he’ll be squashed like a bug was something I thought was brilliant.

    Hardy just ditching Shannon like that is typical of the relationship between them, but I found it funny that he was crowing about what they can do together with Sean, whilst Shannon was getting his ass beat. Right winner with O’Haire being a potential singles star still and London a tag team guy.

    Wow. Is Trips producing these WrestleMania videos? Not even a mention for the Triangle ladder match!? My goodness. If you want to turn this man face for Mania, have him sit out a few of these, lol.

    I liked the different type of setting for the Kyo-Estro vignette with Dawn, and that last line from her was a killer. Loved that.

    Southern Gentleman Smile” is a phrase I’ve never heard when describing the JBL grin, and I fucking love it. Where was this when I needed it years ago!?? Happy enough for this to be under five minutes. Simmons wasn’t really capable of much by this point, so no need to drag it out too long. At least he gets to save some face by having JBL poke him in the eye toward the finish, and while some might say JBL should be going over super clean and dominant, I’d disagree. Despite being a big guy, he was always a weaselly heel, so if he has to cheat – even slightly – in every match, I’d be happy.

    Thought the crying after the match was a little much, if I’m honest, and gave me visions of 2000’s Kurt Angle. I still love him ‘tipping’ people here though, and stuffing money into the referees pocket should be a weekly tradition!

    Tremendous promo from Shaniqua for the Bashams. The explanation of the attack was perfect, and they’ve got all the reason in the world to have done it. It’s a hurdle Mysterio and Kidman should have to overcome before WrestleMania, and erase any doubts Kidman may (possibly) still have right now. The type of win Rey and Kidman need, imo, and I’m delighted you’ve gone this route for the WrestleMania build, paying off a fairly long arc. Excellent work.

    Bit of a dickish thing for Chavo to do, and feels like the first out and out heel action he’s pulled during this issue with Noble. Tajiri and Juvi winning is the right move though, as it continues to look increasingly likely we’re getting some form of multi man match at WrestleMania for the title. They hold the win over the champ, whilst Chavo went the deepest in the Battle Royal. Seems to be adding up nicely.

    Short, sweet and to the point from Hardcore. Exactly as it should be.

    Well, fuck. That was a statement in the end from Brock. That certainly feels like the end of any concerted push Holly could expect as he got flattened here with the F5’s and Powerbombs, but it got over the animalistic side of Brock by having him bust out the powerbomb, knowing the damage it caused the last time. Post match attack, I guess, was required to finish off any fight from Holly and punish him for his repeated attacks since Holly returned too.

    Highlight of the show though was this closing segment. Just from the press-conference set up, it had a different feel, would’ve looked unique, and by proxy, felt extra important. Benoit being cold to Eddie from the outset, being all business, whilst Eddie was being happy and cheeky with the handshake stuff to Regal etc, just painted both guys and their current moods perfectly.

    I fucking love that song too. Using it to highlight both guys and their journey is perfect imo, and fits nicely. Eddie being emotional, and Benoit not is another telling sign of where this segment is going too. Lol at the “not a paid actor” stuff. Where the hell is Dave Meltzer!? Wade Keller!? Lol. Benoit being so succinct in his answers, whilst Eddie was going into detail was something I thought was great too, and while making sense in a ‘one of these guys is a good talker, and the other isn’t’ kind of way, it also makes sense with the different headspace’s both guys are currently in.

    Pick Your Poison next week is a fine addition to the build up, and lets both guys do what they do best. The picks next week should be interesting too, and probably give an idea as to where both guys heads are at, with Benoit (I’m guessing) being spiteful, and Eddie, probably not so much. Excellent storytelling tool though, and Eddie blowing up at Benoit for his non-answers was done at just the right point, imo.

    And from there, this was all high, high quality stuff. I bought the passion from Benoit, and his resentment toward Eddie for the Rumble, which is perfect reasoning for his current mindset, and only focusing on winning the title. You had Eddie get riled up for the right reasons too, and not going overboard with it; mate, this was some perfect writing, really. And that parting shot from Benoit was the perfect closing line. Just gotta wonder what you may have in store for a go-home promo, because I can’t believe you’ve got anything that can top this. Brilliant closing angle.

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