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Thread: The 2018 King of Be The Booker Tournament Final

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    The 2018 King of Be The Booker Tournament Final



    King of BTB FINAL - ROAD TO WRESTLEMANIA

    The Road to WrestleMania. the most exciting time for any fans of the WWE and the biggest show in all of wrestling. Who remembers how exciting the Daniel Bryan build (albeit forcing WWE's hand) was? We want that kind of excitement this time around. Your challenge is to build to the Grandest Show of Them All. Any era, just ensure this is a WrestleMania build up.

    The Rules to Follow



    • Backstory. (Any length you wish)
    • One Match. (A buildup or trigger to the story)
    • Maximum of Three Promos.
    • The WrestleMania Match
    • You CANNOT use ANYONE you have used in your previous entries. You must use stars you haven't used before.



    Example of entry structure



    • Backstory (Detailing the story going into what you are trying to build for us)
    • A match that Triggers the Road to WrestleMania (Could be a Royal Rumble, Could be a match at Fastlane that sets up a match, could be anything, this doesn't need to be for the WWE Championship after all) If the Superstars you are using have been in a lengthy feud, explain that in the backstory and then write the match that is on the journey. This match doesn't need to contain every superstar you decide to use.
    • A maximum of three promos (Promos, for this, do not include video packages nor does your backstory count as a promo. Three promos to further build to the match.
    • The WrestleMania Match - This is simply writing out the WrestleMania match to conclude the story. For this round, if the writer feels they want to, you can add a wrap up at the end as to what happened next however this isn't essential and no further grading will be given for it.



    Make sense? We hope so but if it doesn't, let us know and we will try and explain in greater detail

    The Brackets

    Keefmoon vs. Wolf Beast

    Deadline

    We're making this a long one since it requires a lot of work. Deadline is the
    3rd November at midnight AEST.

    All work submitted to both Stojy and Ed via PM please








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    Re: The 2018 King of Be The Booker Tournamnt Final

    Keefmoon

    THE LAST COWBOY




    “Who ran down Stone Cold?”



    The Road to...





    INTRODUCTORY NOTES

    So this is my attempt at re-booking arguably the biggest missed opportunity of all time in the running down of Stone Cold Steve Austin. It’ll also give me the opportunity to play homage to one of my favourite genres of fiction; hardboiled, noir-ish detective novels like The Big Sleep, L.A. Confidential and The Maltese Falcon.

    It’s worth saying everything up to and including the very end of Unforgiven 2000 is cannon, but everything after is not.

    Any of the clues established around who ran down Stone Cold – that the rental car belonged to The Rock, that the driver was blonde, that The Rock’s DNA was the only one found in the vehicle – are not part of this story.

    Despite having featured in previous projects, The Rock and Triple H will be mentioned briefly in passing, but solely as background characters that will not be featured or appear in any promos or matches.

    I’ve hyperlinked everyone’s entrance with their theme in case you want to have a listen (I find it helpful for getting a vibe of the time – something about Austin’s Disturbed theme really helps me picture 2001 WWF.)

    I’ve also ‘booked’ each card between the start of the story to the end. While it is unlikely to have any bearing on the story we’re telling here, you can follow along with, say, Eddie Guerrero’s Intercontinental Title reign, by following each of the posted cards, should you wish.

    Finally, I’ve ‘spoilered’ each of the chapters to help negotiating it and to avoid finding out anything too soon. To read each step of the background, promos and matches you’ll need to un-hide them.

    But overall, the most important thing to have seen going in to this is:





    CHAPTER I
    PROMO #1: THE RETURN




    Spoiler:






    The crowd EXPLODE for the first appearance of STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN in ten months! Austin bursts out from the back and storms to down the aisle as the roof is blown off the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, PA, with every single fan on their feet cheering for the return of the Texas Rattlesnake. He climbs in to the ring and climbs each turnbuckle, saluting the fans in each corner of the ring who have given him this hero’s welcome.


    JIM ROSS
    Welcome back, ev’ryone, t’ WWF Raw Is War! And here he is! Stone Cold Steve Austin is back on WWF television!

    JERRY LAWLER
    I know he’s back, JR, we’ve seen him making himself welcome backstage!

    JIM ROSS
    Indeed we have, King. Crash Holly, Bull Buchanan, The Goodfather, X-Pac and even Chyna have already found out first-hand how th’ Rattlesnake carries out an investigation… and I get th’ sense we might just be gettin’ started!



    Austin finishes posing for the fans and takes his place in the centre of the ring.


    STEVE AUSTIN
    I ain’t out here t’ waste ev’ryone’s tahm. I made it clear last night at Unforgiven that I’m openin’ the investigation in to which sorry sonofabitch ran me down at Survivah Series 1999, and I still ain’t had the answah I’m lookin’ for. One of you mealy-mouthed sonsabitches knows somethin’, and one of ya committed the crime, and I’ll open a can of whoop ass on the entire comp’ny if that’s what it’ll take t’ find out who it was.



    The crowd cheer.


    STEVE AUSTIN
    Now, ovah th’ last ten months, I’ve been thinkin’ it ovah. Ev’ry night in my bed, thinkin’ ‘what kind of a coward would run me down behind mah back? Why would someone do it? How could they?’ I thought it ovah, night aftah night, and eventually, I came up with two answers, two prime suspects. Suspect numbah one… Triple H.


    Mixed reaction for The Game.


    STEVE AUSTIN
    He was the stupid sonofabitch who attacked me that night and led me to th’ parking lot. Me and him were doin’ some crazy stuff to each otha at th’ tahm, so he seems a prime candidate.

    JIM ROSS
    I hate t’ admit it, but th’ logic stands up.

    STEVE AUSTIN
    But if we look at motive, one guy jumps to th’ top of th’ pile, and that is… The Rock.



    The crowd erupt in to cheers for The Great One, even if it’s in reference to a heinous act committed to someone as popular as Stone Cold.


    STEVE AUSTIN
    Aftah all… who gained more in mah absence? Aftah I beat his ass at Wrestlemania that year, he only got hottah. But I was always that bit above him. With me outta th’ way, he became th’ man here in th’ WWF. The TV roles, the film roles… all went t’ him. He took mah place on top, not just as the big star… but more importantly… the WWF… Champion.

    JERRY LAWLER
    Admit it, JR, that makes sense too!

    JIM ROSS
    I can’t lie, King, that one makes a lotta sense, too.

    STEVE AUSTIN
    But I ain’t out here t’ talk about theories. I’m out here t’ find out what happened and whoop som’bodies ass! So one-a Triple H or Th’ Rock bettah get out here and take their ass-whoopin’ like a man!



    The crowd cheer the thought of a confrontation between Austin and one of his two biggest enemies… but no-one comes. Austin paces anxiously as he waits.


    STEVE AUSTIN
    Hell, son, I ain’t got all day. Get ya ass down here or I’ll-”




    There’s an initial huge pop, followed quickly by a distinctly mixed reaction as VINCE MCMAHON bounds out from the back, arms flailing wildly at his sides, one hand gripping tightly on to a binder, making his first appearance since June this year. It’s a night of returns!

    Vince climbs in to the ring and heads straight for the corner to collect a microphone, trying to do as little as possible to rile up this long-time enemy.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    Now before you do what we both know you’re thinking of doing...


    Austin can’t help but grin ever so slightly. No-one knows you better than your biggest enemy.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    I’m supposed to be on sabbatical. We both know that. But, after seeing you come back last night at Unforgiven, I had to come back too.

    STEVE AUSTIN
    And ya bettah explain why real quick, Vince.

    VINCE MCMAHON
    I’m here because… I want to help you find out who ran you down.


    The crowd boo. They clearly don’t buy it.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    I know, I know. You’re doubting me, Steve. Truth be told, I would too. It’s no secret that I don’t like you. I hate you. I hate you more than I’ve ever hated anyone in my life, and that covers a lot of people. Just looking at you right now makes my blood boil. I enjoy seeing you in pain.

    STEVE AUSTIN
    Right back at ya.

    VINCE MCMAHON
    I know. We have done immeasurably evil things to each other over the years, all in the name of that hatred we both feel to one another. But none of that changes the fact that… what happened to you last year… wasn’t… right.


    Austin takes a step back as he tries to process everything.


    STEVE AUSTIN
    Ya wanna know what I think, Vince? I think you even comin’ out here, sayin’ this, makes you my third suspect.

    VINCE MCMAHON
    That doesn’t surprise me at all. You’re right to have me as a suspect. It wasn’t me, I guarantee to you that. But you’re right to question everyone. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last year. I don’t like you, Steve, but I will find out who did that to you last year. Not because we’re friends, because we never will be. But because you’re an employee of mine. And what happened last year was over the line. So, believe me or not, suspect me of the crime or not, quite frankly, Mr. Austin, it doesn’t bother me one way or another. But know this; I swear on the lives of my children that I will find out who was responsible for that attack.



    Austin again tries to take in what he’s hearing, so Vince, still gripping on to the binder, goes in for the kill.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    Oh, and Steve? As much as I can guarantee I wasn’t responsible for the hit and run? I make the same guarantee for Triple H… and for The Rock.

    STEVE AUSTIN
    And what makes ya say that?

    VINCE MCMAHON
    For Triple H… well… take a look at this. It’s CCTV footage from the Joe Lewis Arena, where you were attacked last year.


    Austin turns to the Titantron, where we cut...


    Quote Originally Posted by CCTV from the Joe Lewis Arena, Detroit Michigan, night of the WWF Survivor Series 1999
    The camera records in black-and-white, pointed at an empty corridor, but picks up sound. We hear footsteps, and TRIPLE H rushes in to shot, looking nervously behind him. He turns left, and hides behind a crate. Shortly afterwards, TRIPLE H follows him… but doesn’t know where Hunter has gone. Rather than take the left turn to where Triple H is in waiting... Austin opens the door to the right, and enters the parking garage.

    After a few moments, Triple H walks out, where he’s confronted by ROAD DOGG and X-PAC.


    TRIPLE H
    Where’d the hell did he go? He was supposed to come right in to our trap.

    ROAD DOGG
    I don’t know, he didn’t come past us.


    Suddenly, there’s a screeching of tyres, and the sound of a thud off camera.


    TRIPLE H
    What the hell was that?


    Realising the sound came from behind the door Austin had gone in to, the trio rush through it, and stand just in earshot, surveying what had happened.


    TRIPLE H
    Good God...


    The three of them head further in to the parking lot, and out of sight.

    The video cuts out, and we come back to the ring, where Austin paces from side to side, and Vince holds the binder up.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    And as for The Rock? This binder here contains testimonies taken the night of the incident. They’re from the EMTs who were treating him, after DX pulled the exact trick they tried on you on him. And also in this binder, testimonies from the security personnel I positioned in the medical room to ensure The Rock was safe from any further attacks. Each testimony gives the exact times The Rock was with them. It couldn’t have been him, and it couldn’t have been Triple H. Their alibis are airtight. They’re out of this investigation. I’m sorry, Steve, but-

    STEVE AUSTIN
    Ya listen here, ya mealy-mouthed sonofabitch. I don’t want ya damn help, and I don’t need it. So ya come out here and tell me that mah two main suspects ain’t suspects no more. So eitha ya give me anothah suspect, or I stomp a mudhole in ya ass an’ walk it dry.


    Vince holds the binder aloft one final time.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    I can’t tell you who did it, Steve. But I do have another suspect for you. Inside this binder is the paperwork on the rental car that ran you down. It includes every detail you might need… including the name of the man who rented the car out.


    The crowd murmurs. Even Austin’s interest has been piqued, but he tries to hide it from his nemesis.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    The name of the man who rented the car that ran you down… is…


    The crowd falls silent, awaiting the answer.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    Chris Jericho.



    A collective gasp rushes out of the audience as Austin turns his back to Vince and rests his head against the turnbuckle. He turns back, rubbing his hand over his bald head, and cocks a brow.


    STEVE AUSTIN
    Ya sure?

    VINCE MCMAHON
    I have no reason to lie about this, Steve. It’s all right here in this binder. You’re welcome to take a look-





    There’s a huge initial reaction to the appearance of CHRIS JERICHO, although it quickly becomes more mixed as he walks out to the ramp. Usually the ultimate showman, this time Jericho offers none of his usual poses or taunts, instead walking straight down to the ring, and grabbing a microphone. He looks from Austin, to Vince, and back to Austin again.


    STEVE AUSTIN
    I swear t’ God, son, ya bettah say somethin’ soon or I’ll beat a confession outta ya.


    Jericho sighs.


    CHRIS JERICHO
    Okay…



    He pauses and takes another deep breath.


    CHRIS JERICHO
    I admit it. It was my rental car that ran you down.


    The crowd gasp again, unable to comprehend how a man they had invested so much support in over the year could have done it.

    Austin, similarly, isn’t interested in excuses. He heads intimidatingly towards Y2J, forcing Jericho to rush outside the ring to get space.


    CHRIS JERICHO
    Steve, Steve! Relax, okay?! It was my car… but I wasn’t driving it.

    STEVE AUSTIN
    Don’t gimme that crap, son, I-

    CHRIS JERICHO
    It’s true, Steve. You’ve gotta believe me. I’d already parked up and I was inside the arena. It was only when I saw the footage that I realised what happened.

    VINCE MCMAHON
    Why the hell didn’t you say anything? Why did you wait for me to get the information from the rental car place?

    CHRIS JERICHO
    And then what? Who would believe me that I had nothing to do with it? I admit it’s my car and the next thing I know I’m arrested for attempted murder. Or worse… Steve Austin starts coming for me. No way. I just wanted it to blow over.



    Austin climbs out of the ring, forcing Jericho to rush to the other side to get away from him.


    STEVE AUSTIN
    Ya can run all ya want, Chris, but I guaran-damn-tee I will get mah hands on ya at some point! If it’s your car that hits me and you don’t tell anyone, then ya sure as hell look guilty t’ me! Take ya ass whoopin’ like a man and-

    CHRIS JERICHO
    Okay… okay… okay. Let’s talk this over like men. Let me help you find out who did it.



    Jericho gingerly climbs in to the ring and awaits Austin to do the same. Stone Cold does so, but before he can make it to Jericho, Vince cuts him off and tries to help him see reason.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    You want revenge, Steve. I know that. I would too. But just because it was Chris’ car doesn’t mean he was the one behind it. It makes him a suspect, but not guilty. We shouldn’t stop our search there-

    STEVE AUSTIN
    T’ hell with that!



    AUSTIN KICKS JERICHO IN THE GUT… STUNNER! AUSTIN HIT JERICHO WITH THE STUNNER!


    The crowd come alive for seeing Austin back in ass-kicking mode, although he doesn’t look any happier about it. He paces around the ring like a caged tiger as Vince offers words of advice…

    STUNNER ON VINCE! DOWN GOES VINCE!

    Austin's music hits as Jericho tentatively rolls out of the ring and stumbles to the back, holding his neck as still Austin paces, unable to control ten months of pent up frustration inside him.


    JIM ROSS
    I don’t believe what I bah Gawd heard! It was Chris Jericho’s car that hit Austin! Is Chris Jericho the guilty party?

    JERRY LAWLER
    You don’t know that, JR! Just because it was his vehicle doesn’t mean it was him driving!

    JIM ROSS
    Stone Cold certainly thinks it does…

    JERRY LAWLER
    And Stone Cold Steve Austin clearly never heard of ‘innocent until proven guilty’.

    JIM ROSS
    In Stone Cold law you’ll find it’s ‘guilty ‘til proven innocent’! Stone Cold is back, and there will be all hell t’ pay for Chris Jericho!




    CHAPTER II
    BACKGROUND #1: THE ROAD TO NO MERCY




    Spoiler:

    That Stunner on Jericho at Raw was far from the end of the story, though.
    Spoiler:

    CHRIS JERICHO came out to the ring on Smackdown, this time to a far more negative reaction than before, for an interview with JIM ROSS. He apologised for not coming forward with the information sooner, but re-iterated that he was in no way involved with what happened to Steve.

    It was when JR asked Jericho who did commit the crime, that things got interesting.


    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Jericho, WWF Smackdown, September 2000
    Y’know, JR, I can’t give you an answer for that. Not for sure, at least. But there are at least a dozen guys here who have more reason to take out Steve Austin than I did. Let’s face it, he made a lot of enemies. Kane, Foley, ‘Taker, Vince, Hunter… they all hated his guts. And that’s just the people who hated him. How about the guys who benefited from him being away. Take the Big Show. He was the one who replaced Austin in the title match at Survivor Series. He was the one who won his first World Title because Austin was on the shelf. Why’s no-one looking at him?

    Jericho’s apology and accusation of Big Show wasn’t enough to reassure Austin, though. As STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN came out to attack Jericho again, this time Y2J was prepared and met him more than halfway. Unwilling to be seen as the ineffectual, guilty punching bag he was made out to be on Raw Is War, Jericho returned Austin’s attack with a viciousness we’ve rarely seen from him before, using the opportunity to prove that he’s, in his own words, “no-one’s bitch”.

    Austin gave it his all in the brawl, but seemed unprepared for Y2J to fight back quite as hard, and was only spared by referees separating the two men before it could go any further. That’s when Jericho made his point-of-view clear:


    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Jericho, WWF Smackdown, September 2000
    I gave you an apology, you son of a bitch! But if you wanna come out here and attack me from behind every week then you’ve got another thing coming!



    A match was made for No Mercy, but that did little to calm either man. The next few weeks saw a series of backstage attacks from each man; Austin thinking Jericho was responsible for running him over, Jericho refusing to roll over and be cast in a roll he had no intention of playing.


    While Jericho’s accusation of the Big Show may have stunned many, he wasn’t the only one pointing fingers in a story that threatened to overwhelm the company.

    X-PAC, one of the men exonerated of the crime in the CCTV footage also featuring Triple H and the Road Dogg, questioned where the recently returned BILLY GUNN was at the time. Gunn, X-Pac said, was part of DX at the time of their attempted attack of Austin, and yet was nowhere to be seen in the footage. Where was he? Gunn claims that he was sent to another location by the rest of the group, but with no alibi, found himself both a suspect in the crime and with a match against X-Pac at No Mercy.

    KANE, meanwhile, heading in to a match against his brother THE UNDERTAKER at No Mercy, claims to have seen his brother backstage at Survivor Series 1999, even though he was out with an injury and not booked on the show. He said that his brother is a true monster, one who has committed evil crimes against Austin in the past, and that he embraced his inner-demons and tried to destroy a man he hates. The Undertaker, rather than deny the claims, responded by beating the hell out of his brother, showing a fire we haven’t seen from him since his Ministry of Darkness days, and re-revealing a darker side of his personality.

    Not all the claims seemed credible, however. The Number One Contender to the WWF Title KURT ANGLE refused to believe that the champion THE ROCK was innocent, and that the testimonies from the EMTs and security teams can’t be seen as real evidence. Most could see this as the desperate actions of a man wanting to throw the champion off his game going in to a title defence, but when RIKISHI, The Rock’s own cousin, admitted that The Rock could still be guilty, The Great One was left scrambling. Few believed he was guilty, but the accusations came at a time when he could least afford it, with just days until he would defend the WWF Title against the simple-yet-dangerous Kurt Angle. And unfortunately for everyone else, the one piece of CCTV footage the WWF was unable to obtain was the one showing the parking lot at the time of the incident, meaning little could be cleared up.

    But as we approached No Mercy, most eyes were on the in-ring return of the Texas Rattlesnake, and the hope that he would gain a measure of revenge over Chris Jericho…

    Quote Originally Posted by wwf.com


    CARD

    WWF Championship
    Kurt Angle versus The Rock (c)

    Chris Jericho versus Stone Cold Steve Austin

    Number One Contenders Match
    Chris Benoit versus Triple H

    No Disqualification Match
    Kane versus The Undertaker

    WWF Intercontinental Title Match
    Eddie Guerrero (c) versus Chyna

    X-Pac versus “The One” Billy Gunn

    Six-Person Tag Match
    Test, Albert & Trish Stratus versus WWF Tag Team Champions The Hardy Boyz & WWF Women’s Champion Lita

    Fatal Fourway Match
    Edge & Christian versus Perry Saturn & Dean Malenko versus Too Cool versus The Dudley Boyz

    Tazz versus Jerry “The King” Lawler




    CHAPTER III
    MATCH #1: SHOWING NO MERCY



    Spoiler:




    A huge explosion re-alights the arena from darkness, and stood, posed, arms outstretched, is CHRIS JERICHO. The reaction is loud, but definitely mixed for Y2J, who spins around at the top of the ramp and can’t help but sneer a little at the audience. Whereas he’d meekly and uncomfortably left all his posing aside when first confronted by Austin, the subsequent weeks have left him unwilling to change his approach for someone else.


    JIM ROSS
    Well, here he is. The man who, at the moment, looks most likely to have been behind that heinous attack on Stone Cold Steve Austin last year.

    JERRY LAWLER
    You don’t know that, JR. There’s no CCTV of the parking lot and Jericho insists he wasn’t in the car when it hit Austin. I’m no fan of Jericho’s, but I’m sick of everyone blaming him when there’s no evidence he did anything.

    JIM ROSS
    Like hell he did nothin’ wrong, he hid that it was his car for nearly a year!

    JERRY LAWLER
    That doesn’t make him guilty, though!



    Y2J makes his way down the ramp and poses on the apron, pumping his fists for those in the crowd that are cheering him, yet still looking down on those who aren’t.

    He climbs in to the ring as removes his T-Shirt as his music dies down…





    The crowd come unglued for the first in-ring appearance for STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN, who struts down the ring, with his black leather vest atop his black trunks, pads and boots, and muttering profanities under his breath. He hits the ringsteps with some speed and climbs in to the ring…

    WHERE HE MEETS JERICHO WITH A SERIES OF RIGHT HANDS! Austin’s not waiting to get this one underway!

    Jericho tries to throw some big rights of his own, but Austin’s punches land far harder and Jericho struggles to keep up. The Canadian falls back in to the ropes as Austin slows the punches down, hitting harder, over and over, as Jericho can do little to defend himself. One big punch nearly sends Jericho out of the ring, so Austin pauses… and flips him off! Clothesline over the top rope, and Jericho slumps in to the protective mats!

    Austin pulls his leather jacket from off his back and wraps hit around Jericho’s throat, trying to strangle the life from his opponent before the match has really had a chance to begin. Jericho’s face turns bright red as Austin uses the makeshift noose to drag Jericho around the ringside and to the announcers… where he smacks Jericho’s face off their table!

    Jericho holds at his face as Austin pulls him up, not letting up, and whips him across the ringside area… shoulder first in to the steel steps! The steps come apart as Jericho slumps down to the protective mats, so Austin takes after him, only for referee Tim White to stand between him and his opponent.


    TIM WHITE
    C’mon, Steve, that’s enough! Take it to the ring!

    STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
    Kiss my ass, ya son of a bitch.



    White can merely sigh and step to the side, knowing there’s no talking to the Texas Rattlesnake when he’s in this kind of mood. He picks the ringstep off the floor as Jericho gets up… and Austin crushes it in to his face! It’s like he was never away!

    Austin pulls him off the floor again and this time rolls him in to the ring. Jericho staggers up as Austin climbs to the apron… but Jericho cuts him off with a Springboard Dropkick!

    And Austin crashes in to the barricade neck-first!


    JIM ROSS
    Big collision there for th’ Rattlesnake on that surgically-repaired neck.

    JERRY LAWLER
    Oh, let me guess, you think Jericho did that on purpose, too?



    Austin clutches at his neck as Jericho rolls back to the side. Sensing an opportunity back in to the match he picks Austin off the floor and lifts him up… and drops him neck-first on the barricade!


    JIM ROSS
    What about that, King? He’s gone straight for th’ neck there! Jericho’s targetin’ that injured neck!

    JERRY LAWLER
    Of course he is, Austin’s holding it in pain. What’s he supposed to do?



    With Austin still cradling his neck, Jericho rolls him back in the ring. Austin crawls across to the ropes to try and help himself up, so Jericho cuts him off and presses his knee in to the injured neck, choking Austin out in the ropes in the process. Tim White starts the count, and Jericho breaks right before he hits five, and Austin slumps down… so Jericho makes an early cover!


    ONE…

    TWO…


    KICK OUT!



    JERRY LAWLER
    See, Jericho tried to give him the easy way out there, and Austin didn’t take it.

    JIM ROSS
    Of course he din’t, King, when have ya evah known Stone Cold t’ take th’ easy way out?

    JERRY LAWLER
    Then it’s not Jericho’s fault if he carries on!


    Perhaps hearing the King’s feedback, Jericho drops to his knees and locks in a neck vice on Austin, wrenching the neck at an awkward angle with a cold viciousness we don’t often see from him. Tim White asks if Austin wants to give up, but it’s a stupid question. Stone Cold has never given up before, and isn’t about to in his comeback match.

    He starts to elbow at the ribcage of Jericho, forcing Y2J to loosen up and allow them both up to their feet, Austin pushes him in to the ropes and away across the ring… Jericho rebounds off the ropes…

    IN TO A LOU THESZ PRESS! Austin’s raining the punches down on Jericho!

    Austin lets go and bounces off the ropes… FU Elbow!

    Austin’s up and heads to Jericho’s feet… he lifts his legs up… stomp to the… midsection?


    JERRY LAWLER
    That… that was a low blow!

    JIM ROSS
    Referee has called it midsection, but it looked a little low t’ me…

    JERRY LAWLER
    First the steel steps and now a low blow, and you have the guts to call Jericho out on his behaviour!


    Jericho tries to get some space by crawling in to the corner, but that’s a bad idea when Austin’s around… Austin follows him… and stomps a mudhole in him! Over and over Stone Cold drives his foot in to the midsection of Jericho… until he finally stops and gets right up close to Jericho… just so he can flip him off!

    But Jericho rakes his eye! Austin took his eye of the ball!

    Austin staggers back, so Jericho rushes after him and lifts him up… and drops him neck first on the top rope!


    JIM ROSS
    And Jericho goes to th’ bah God neck again!

    JERRY LAWLER
    Of course he did, JR, it’s the obvious strategy! Stop making Jericho out as the villain here, he’s done nothing wrong!


    With Austin down, Jericho drops behind him and puts in a Chin Lock, although sure to drive his knee in to the back of Austin’s neck as he does so. He pulls at the neck as again White asks Austin if he wants to quit, but the answer is as obvious as it was before.

    Jericho, knowing he won’t get a submission out of the Rattlesnake, releases the hold and climbs to the top rope, awaiting Austin to get back to his feet. Stone Cold uses the ropes to pull himself up as he turns around, so Jericho leaps off… Missile Dropkick… right to the neck!

    Austin goes down, so Jericho dives in to the cover hooking both legs…


    ONE…

    TWO…


    KICK OUT!



    Jericho wastes no time, rolling back to Austin’s neck and grabbing the Neck Vice again. Austin, fearing the match may be getting away from him, pushes through the pain and starts to elbow his way out. He’s back to his feet, so he whips Jericho across the ring… Big Back Body Drop!

    Jericho back to his feet… Stun Gun! Austin snaps Jericho’s neck off the ropes as well! Y2J flops down to the ropes, his throat resting against the middle one, so Austin buries his knee in to Jericho’s neck, choking him out on the ropes… Tim White reaches a count of four, so Austin rushes off the ropes… Leapfrog Guillotine on the ropes! Jericho stumbles back… but flops back down in the middle of the ring! Austin’s getting back in to this one!

    With his opponent down, Austin tries to shake his neck loose and backs in to the corner. He lifts himself up on to the second rope… he dives off…

    POINTED ELBOW DROP!

    Austin leans down for the cover… but changes his mind. If Jericho’s the one responsible for Austin losing nearly a whole year of his career, he’s not letting him off this easily. He crouches down and waves for Jericho to get his feet…

    AND FLIPS HIM OFF!

    He’s going for the Stunner!

    Kick to the gut…

    CAUGHT!

    Jericho sweeps the leg…

    AND TURNS IT IN TO THE WALLS OF JERICHO!


    JIM ROSS
    WALLS OF JERICHO! JERICHO’S GOT IT LOCKED IN!

    JERRY LAWLER
    Austin’s gonna tap!

    JIM ROSS
    He’s nevah tapped before, King…

    JERRY LAWLER
    Which’ll make it all the more impressive when Jericho makes him tap! Austin wants to quit!


    Jericho leans back as Austin yells out in pain, trapped in the centre of the ring in the excruciating hold. His hand hovers above the mat as the thought of quitting crosses his mind… but he fights through it!

    Austin starts to drag his body across the mat… slowly but surely getting edging towards the ropes. Jericho tries to hold still but Austin’s pulling him closer to the ropes… he’s within touching distance if he can just… reach… out…

    HE MAKES IT! AUSTIN MAKES THE ROPES!

    Jericho releases the hold, but the damage is done. Austin looks in a bad way, pain coursing through his neck and back, sweat flowing off his body and on to the canvas, starting to look like a beaten man.

    Jericho knows this is his opportunity. He eases himself on to the second rope and waits for Austin to get back to his feet. Austin’s up, with his back to the Canadian… so Jericho dives off… Double Axe Handle! Right to the back of Austin’s neck!


    JIM ROSS
    Jericho’s goin’ for the bah god neck again! Has he got no conscience? Think what this could be doin’ to Austin’s career!

    JERRY LAWLER
    If Austin can’t cope he should give up, JR!


    Jericho rushes in to the cover and hooks both legs again…


    ONE…

    TWO…


    KICK OUT!
    Still Austin fights to stay in the match!


    With the high-risk moves having paid dividends so far, Jericho returns to the top rope, and perches himself there. He waits for Austin to turn around as he stands up…

    BUT AUSTIN SHOVES TIM WHITE IN TO THE ROPE! JERICHO FALLS CROTCH-FIRST IN TO THE TOP ROPE!


    JERRY LAWLER
    Blatant cheating from Stone Cold! He just used the referee as a weapon!

    JIM ROSS
    Desp’rate times call for desp’rate measures, King.


    Jericho’s stuck on the top rope, holding at his suffering groin as Austin climbs up there with him…


    JIM ROSS
    What’re ya doin’, Steve? Think of ya neck! Think of ya career!



    Austin stands on the second rope and hooks Jericho’s arm over his neck…

    SUPERPLEX!

    JERICHO LANDS WITH A THUD… BUT AUSTIN’S INJURED HIS OWN NECK IN THE PROCESS!

    Both men are down, Jericho holding his back, Austin his neck, as Tim White makes the count…


    ONE…

    TWO…

    THREE…

    FOUR…


    Jericho pulls himself to the ropes…

    FIVE…

    Austin’s showing signs of life too…

    SIX…

    SEVEN…


    Jericho’s gradually getting to his feet…

    EIGHT…

    Austin’s nearly up to…

    NINE…

    THEY BOTH GET TO THEIR FEET!


    They stumble to the centre of the ring… where Austin meets Jericho with a big right hand!

    So Jericho throws one back!

    Austin throws a punch!

    Jericho throws a punch!

    Over and over, the two men exchanging big right hands… but again Austin gets the better of it! He pounds his fist in to fist in to Jericho’s jaw as Y2J his up against the ropes… Austin sends him off… Clothesline… ducked… they both come off the ropes…

    SPINNING WHEEL KICK FROM JERICHO!

    And Austin’s neck whiplashed back on impact!

    Austin staggers up, more out of instinct than choice, so Jericho rushes off behind him… looking for the One-Handed Bulldog…

    BUT HE’S CUT OFF WITH A KICK TO THE GUT! STUNNER! AUSTIN HIT THE STUNNER OUT OF NOWHERE!

    BUT THE IMPACT SENT JERICHO TUMBLING OUT OF THE RING!


    Jericho slumps to the mats on the outside, out cold, but Austin can do nothing about it. He too tumbles down, holding the back of his head as he grimaces, knowing he’s done a remarkable amount of damage to his recently repaired neck.


    JIM ROSS
    Austin gets the Stunner! Austin gets the Stunner… but there’s nothin’ he can do about it! Jericho’s out on the outside, but Stone Cold can’t capitalise!

    JERRY LAWLER
    Look at the pain Austin’s in! This match is over, JR, he should quit before it gets any worse!

    JIM ROSS
    That ain’t gonna happen, King, and you know it.


    Austin gradually rolls to the outside, but his movements are tense and slow. He pulls Jericho off the floor and rolls his dead weight in to the ring. Austin gingerly rolls in after him, but Jericho’s already recovering. Austin hit the Stunner and he’s not even going to be able to get a cover out of it!

    He waits for Jericho to get back to his feet…

    KICK TO THE GUT…

    STUNNER

    NO! JERICHO SHOVES HIM AWAY!

    Austin rebounds off the ropes and throws a Clothesline, but Jericho ducks under it… bounces off the ropes… ONE-HANDED BULLDOG!

    Austin’s down, so Jericho hits the ropes…

    LIONSAULT!

    BUT AUSTIN GOT THE KNEES UP!

    Jericho staggers back as Austin gets back to his feet…

    KICK TO THE GUT…

    CAUGHT! JERICHO’S CAUGHT AUSTIN’S LEG!


    He spins him around…

    Kick to the gut by Jericho! He pulls Austin’s neck between his legs…

    POWERBOMB! JERICHO JUST DESTROYED AUSTIN WITH A POWERBOMB!

    But he’s holding on. Jericho adjusts his feet… and lifts him straight up off the mat…

    ANOTHER POWERBOMB! RIGHT ON TO HIS INJURED NECK!

    He leans in to the cover…


    ONE…

    TWO…

    THRE…


    KICK OUT!



    JIM ROSS
    AUSTIN GOT THE SHOULDER UP! AUSTIN GOT HIS BAH GOD SHOULDER UP! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT! CAN YOU BELIEVE THE FIGHT!



    One man who can’t believe it is Jericho. He looks around, open-mouthed, trying to work out what his next steps are. Austin may have kicked out, but he’s sure not moving, so Jericho runs to the ropes again…

    LIONSAULT!

    BUT AUSTIN SAW IT COMING AGAIN! HE LIFTS THE KNEES!

    BUT JERICHO FAKED HIM OUT! JERICHO LANDED ON HIS FEET!


    Austin’s got his legs in to the air from trying to block the Lionsault, so Jericho grabs them and pulls them in…

    AND TURNS AUSTIN OVER IN TO THE WALLS OF JERICHO!

    Austin screams in anguish as Jericho leans right back, curling Austin’s body at a completely unnatural angle, as Tim White gets in his face asking if he wants to give up…


    JIM ROSS
    He’s got it locked in! Walls of Jericho! Jericho’s got ‘im in th’ Walls of Jericho!

    JERRY LAWLER
    He’s gonna tap!

    JIM ROSS
    Austin’s nevah tapped in ‘is life, but he may have no choice here if he can’t get out of this…


    Still Jericho pulls back, and Austin cries out in pain. He tries to pull himself to the ropes, just as he did before, but it’s harder this time. The fight is draining rapidly from his body… as he claws closer… inch by inch… he reaches out, fingertips away…

    BUT JERICHO PULLS HIM BACK IN TO THE MIDDLE OF THE RING!

    But Jericho’s not done… he adjusts his feet and repositions his body…

    TURNING IT IN TO A LIONTAMER!


    JIM ROSS
    WHAT TH’ HELL IS THIS! WHAT IN TH’ HELL IS JERICHO DOIN’! HE’LL BREAK HIS DAMN NECK!


    Jericho drives his knee in to Austin’s back and places his foot right by Austin’s head, twisting Austin’s neck at a brutal angle! Austin’s screams become more intense as the focus of the attack moves from the back to the neck… Jericho tightens his grip and leans further back…


    JIM ROSS
    LOOK AT TH’ ANGLE! JERICHO’S GOT ‘IM FOLDED UP LIKE AN ACCORDIAN! IMAGINE THE PRESSURE! IMAGINE THE PAIN!

    JERRY LAWLER
    I told you, JR, he’s gonna tap!


    Still Jericho leans back, leaving Austin nowhere to go. He can’t move to the ropes, he can’t loosen the pain from his neck… he tries to do something, anything, but he’s trapped…

    He roars again and tries to push himself up, one last push of energy to free himself…

    … but it doesn’t work! He’s trapped!


    JIM ROSS
    GIVE IT UP, STEVE! IT AIN’T WORTH RUININ’ YOUR CAREER OVAH!



    Jericho pulls back one final time as Austin raises his hand…





    AND TAPS OUT!



    A collective gasp emits from the audience as Jericho releases the hold and falls down on to the mat. Tim White calls for the bell, but no victory music plays. The announcers are silent, as stunned as the crowd as they look at Austin curled up on the mat, cradling his neck.


    HOWARD FINKEL
    Here is your winner… by SUBMISSION… CHRIS… JERICHO!


    Jericho’s music now plays, and is accompanied by a vicious howl of boos. Some fans propel their beer cups in to the ring, sending a message that this isn’t what they want. They bought tickets to Stone Cold’s return match… his first since he was run down by a car and had his neck broken… he tapped out?


    JIM ROSS
    I… I don’t know what t’ say. I… ladies an’ gennermen… Stone Cold Steve Austin… just quit. For th’ first tahm in his career, Stone Cold Steve Austin has given up. I… I don’t know what t’ say, King.

    JERRY LAWLER
    You can start by congratulating Chris Jericho! Chris Jericho is the first man to make Steve Austin quit… ever!

    JIM ROSS
    I know he is, damn it! But a lot of fans came here today t’ see Steve Austin back in a WWF ring and… well… this weren’t what they were expectin’.

    JERRY LAWLER
    Be honest, neither were you! No-one gave Jericho a chance and he just beat Austin, and made him submit at that! We should be giving credit to him here.

    JIM ROSS
    Jericho targeted an injured body part and it paid off for him, I’m not disputin’ that. But it’s uncomfortable t’ see Steve like this. Maybe he came back too soon.

    JERRY LAWLER
    Or maybe he’s just past it, JR!


    Austin finally drags himself to the corner of the ring, still holding his neck and looks up at Jericho. Jericho, realising he’s not going to get the ovation he probably hoped for after such a high-profile win, just looks down at Austin and says nothing, instead leaving him in the ring, alone, left to process how he didn’t just lose his comeback match, he submitted




    CHAPTER IV
    BACKGROUND #2: THE ROAD TO SURVIVOR SERIES




    Spoiler:

    It wasn’t just Jericho’s win over Austin that shocked the wrestling world at No Mercy.
    Spoiler:

    KURT ANGLE, so long seen as possibly well-intentioned doofus, was able to get the better of a possibly distracted THE ROCK, and incredibly won the WWF Title just eleven months after debuting.

    With The Rock’s attention on the lies of
    RIKISHI, who it turns out was likely helping Angle out of jealousy of his cousin, at Survivor Series Angle would find himself defending the WWF Title against TRIPLE H, the man who had defeated him the previous month at Unforgiven after Angle had unwisely made a move on The Game’s wife.

    But if the picture was becoming clearer around the WWF Title, the same cannot be said for the mystery that still surrounds the entire organisation.

    Where
    STEVE AUSTIN went in to No Mercy wanting to find out who ran him over, he came out of it also questioning whether he still had “it”. When he left the WWF in November 1999, he was the top dog, the guy everyone feared and yet wanted to overcome. But if his first match back told us anything, it was that this was a different WWF, and this is a different Steve Austin.

    Despite the knock to his confidence, Austin continued unperturbed on his hunt for justice. Only now, the list of possible suspects had grown.

    VINCE MCMAHON, who was still carrying out his own investigation, became interested in the movements of TEST, who was aligned with the McMahon family through Stephanie at the time, and as such would have a reason to target the McMahon’s biggest enemy. The same could be said for Vince’s own son, SHANE MCMAHON, who appeared at the scene of the crime a little later, and seemingly has no alibi for where he was at the time of the incident.

    Meanwhile,
    KANE continued to lay blame at the door of THE UNDERTAKER, while a tainted win at No Mercy did little to convince X-PAC that BILLY GUNN wasn’t worth investigating.

    But the prime suspect remained
    CHRIS JERICHO, who had seen a vicious backlash aimed at him over his treatment of Austin at No Mercy. Y2J claimed his behaviour was simply what any other person would do in the circumstances, and no-one thought twice when X-Pac targeted Gunn’s injured elbow in their match.

    Unfortunately for Jericho, he was about to have bigger problems. Literally.


    THE BIG SHOW, who hadn’t been seen in the WWF since early August, made his return during a Jericho promo, and beat the now hugely-unpopular Canadian around the ring and finished him with a Chokeslam, making it clear he didn’t appreciate Jericho fingering him for the vehicular attack on Austin a year earlier. Austin celebrated Big Show’s return by hitting him with a Stunner, telling him that, while he clearly doesn’t care for Jericho, his accusation of the giant had certainly registered.

    With eight suspects but little to tell between them, Vince McMahon came up with a ploy to give Austin a chance at retribution, and to try and draw the real culprit out. At the Survivor Series, there would be a ten-man tag match, pitting all eight in a match with Steve Austin in a classic Survivor Series match, but with a twist. To understand each man’s true motivations, Vince added a stipulation – the winner of the match would be given a shot at the WWF Title at Armageddon. And to show an ever-untrusting Rattlesnake that he could be relied upon, Vince added himself in to the match and on to Austin’s team.

    Quote Originally Posted by wwf.com

    CARD

    5-on-5 Survivor Series Match
    Chris Jericho, Kane, Shane McMahon, Test & X-Pac versus Big Show, Billy Gunn, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker & Vince McMahon

    WWF Championship Match
    Kurt Angle (c) versus Triple H

    Rikishi versus The Rock

    4-on-4 Survivor Series Match
    The Radicalz versus The Dudley Boyz & WWF Tag Team Champions The Hardy Boyz

    4-on-4 Survivor Series Match
    Right To Censor versus The APA & Too Cool

    WWF Women’s Championship Match
    Trish Stratus versus Lita (c)

    WWF European Title Match
    William Regal (c) versus Road Dogg

    With Kurt Angle retaining the title against Triple H thanks to miscommunication between The Game and Stephanie McMahon, much of the focus was on the main event, with fans hoping for a sign of who may have been responsible for the crime the previous year, and hoping in the process Austin might be able to re-establish himself among the elite.

    They would get only one of their hopes met.


    The main event started as controversially as it would end, with Steve Austin giving Vince a Stunner on the opening bell despite them being on the same team, telling Vince that he categorically did not want his help with the investigation, even if it left his team at an immediate disadvantage.

    As the match progressed, we gradually lost members of each team. X-Pac, Shane McMahon and Test from one side, Billy Gunn and Vince from the other. Austin, throughout the match showing no signs of wanting to work with teammates he still suspected as being the guilty party, went on a one-man wrecking spree on his remaining opponents, Chris Jericho and Kane. But when Jericho again looked for the Liontamer finisher that had forced Austin to tap at No Mercy, Stone Cold snapped, beating the hell out of Jericho and Kane with a steel chair and getting himself disqualified and escorted away from the ring, and in the process failing to truly get revenge on his potential attacker.

    Left in a 2-on-2 scenario, The Undertaker finally overcame his brother, bringing their rivalry to an end with a Last Ride, and leaving Chris Jericho alone and injured against the Big Show and The Undertaker.

    With the match seemingly there for the taking, the Big Show shockingly planted his teammate The Undertaker with a Chokeslam, and pulled Jericho on top for the cover. As he signalled that he did it for the title, Chris Jericho was able to hit a One-Handed Bulldog on to the steel chair left in the ring from Austin’s assault, nailed the Lionsault, and picked up the shocking victory.

    If Vince McMahon had wanted to bring out the suspects true intentions, it could certainly be considered as mission accomplished, with a lot of eyes now on the Big Show.

    But those eyes were about to be looking elsewhere.




    CHAPTER V
    BACKGROUND #3: THE ROAD TO THE ROYAL RUMBLE




    Spoiler:

    BIG SHOW’S decision to screw The Undertaker was an unpopular one, with both the fans and ‘Taker himself. He tried to claim that he was merely doing what anyone would do to get a one-on-one title shot, but the American Bad Ass didn’t see it that way. When THE UNDERTAKER came out to confront the giant, an enormous brawl erupted between them that spilled all the way backstage.

    In a moment of overwhelming fury, The Big Show managed to get The Undertaker down and noticed his motorbike nearby. Big Show approached the bike and looked to destroy it, only for ‘Taker to recover and fight him off. Himself now overwhelmed with anger, ‘Taker got on his bike and drove straight at the giant, forcing him to dive to the side and out of the way…

    But the seeds were now planted. The Undertaker tried to run someone down

    The decision was made that both ‘Taker and Show would be added to the Armageddon title match, now meaning they would both face the champion
    KURT ANGLE and CHRIS JERICHO in a Fatal Fourway mach.

    Needless to say, that didn’t sit too well with the champion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurt Angle, Smackdown, November 2000
    What kind of a company am I champion of? An Olympian such as myself shouldn’t have to deal with this. At Armageddon I’m defending my title against three other men, and not a single one of them has the level of integrity needed to face me.

    One of them, Chris Jericho, is the man whose car ran down Steve Austin, and who, when made to face Austin, targeted his neck like some kind of savage.

    Another, The Big Show, was the one to win the title when Austin was injured, and showed at this year’s event that he’ll even turn on his own teammate if it means getting a shot at the gold. If you want to see a man’s true colours, there they are.

    And then you have The Undertaker, a man who once tried to embalm Steve Austin alive, and just tried to run someone over with his motorbike in a fit of rage.

    Any one of them could be guilty of attacking Stone Cold, and yet, instead of giving Austin the chance at justice, they’re given a WWF Title shot. Where’s the justice in that? Why do I have to be punished for their unacceptable behaviour?

    Angle’s cries for justice did not fall on deaf ears. Despite STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN so far having failed to return to the form of last year, VINCE MCMAHON knew he deserved a chance at revenge against the three men in the title match, and at getting a shot at the belt he was so cruelly robbed of when he was run over.

    With KANE also making a case for how he should be included in the Armageddon match, Vince gave them both an opportunity… Steve Austin… versus Kane… Raw Is War. And the winner is added to the title match at Armageddon.


    Come Raw Is War, Austin looked a different man. Something had changed. There was a cold, laser focus in his eyes. He didn’t attack before the bell, as he had grown accustomed to doing since his return. Instead he waited for the start of the match, and took the fight to the Big Red Machine. And, for the first time since his return, it looked to be working. He overcame an onslaught from the monster, ducked a Big Boot attempt, and one Stone Cold Stunner later, he picked up the three-count and the biggest victory of his return.

    Stone Cold was back.

    Quote Originally Posted by wwf.com


    CARD

    No Disqualification Five-Way Match for the WWF Championship
    Kurt Angle (c) versus The Big Show versus Chris Jericho versus Stone Cold Steve Austin versus The Undertaker

    Triple H versus The Rock

    Fatal Fourway Match for the WWF Intercontinental Title
    Eddie Guerrero (c) versus Chris Benoit versus Raven versus Tazz

    WWF Tag Team Titles Match
    Perry Saturn & Dean Malenko versus The Hardy Boyz (c)

    WWF Women’s Title Match
    Ivory versus Lita (c)

    Edge & Christian versus The Dudley Boyz

    WWF European Championship Match
    William Regal (c) versus Billy Gunn

    Handicap Match
    Rikishi versus Too Cool
    Unfortunately for Austin, his return to form wasn’t quite enough to win back the WWF Title. In a brutal, chaotic match, a heavily bleeding Austin managed to hit an almighty Stunner on the Big Show, only to be forced to watch as Angle draped an arm over the giant before Austin could get there, allowing Angle to retain the title as he continued to cling on to his title while looking way out his depth.

    The fans were of course delighted to see the old Stone Cold back, and he raised plenty of hell against three of the men he most suspected as being guilty of running him over. But that didn’t change the fact that he still fell short in the big match, and still didn’t know who attacked him.

    But, he hoped, that couldn’t last much longer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stone Cold Steve Austin, Raw Is War, January 2001
    Allow me t’ make mahself clear… the Ol’ Stone Cold is back! And jus’ ‘cos I din’t win tha title off that sumbitch Kurt Angle at Armageddon, it don’t mean I’m stoppin’. That’s why I’m puttin’ mah name in the hat for tha Royal Rumble, and one by one, I’m gonna stomp a mudhole in 29 sons-a-bitches and walk ‘em dry, tossing each and ev’ry one-a them ovah the top rope, and take mah place in tha main event of Wrestlemania. And as I look in t’ each and ev’ry one-a their beady li’l eyes right before I throw ‘em, I’ll be able t’ tell which one of ‘em ran me down, and for them… I will unleash more hell… than you have evah seen in your life!

    With the Royal Rumble rapidly approaching, one by one, each of Austin’s suspects were added alongside him, giving him a chance at revenge against whoever it was who took him out, and a chance at truly proving he could still belong in the WWF even after such a serious injury.

    What’s more, Vince McMahon announced that, on the first Raw Is War after the Royal Rumble, he would wrap up his investigation and give his opinion on who the guilty party was, perhaps finally wrapping up the mystery once and for all.

    All Austin needed to focus on was winning his first pay-per-view match since his return, and by overcoming twenty-nine other men, potentially booking his place in the main event of Wrestlemania.


    Quote Originally Posted by wwf.com


    CARD

    30-Man Royal Rumble Match
    Albert versus Al Snow versus The Big Show versus Billy Gunn versus Bradshaw versus Bubba-Ray Dudley versus Bull Buchanan versus Chris Benoit versus Chris Jericho versus Crash Holly versus Dean Malenko versus Drew Carey versus D-Von Dudley versus Faarooq versus The Goodfather versus Haku versus Hardcore Holly versus The Honky Tonk Man versus Kane versus K-Kwik versus Perry Saturn versus Raven versus Rikishi versus Steve Blackman versus Stone Cold Steve Austin versus Test versus The Undertaker versus Val Venis versus William Regal versus X-Pac

    Triple Threat Match for the WWF Championship
    Kurt Angle (c) versus Triple H versus The Rock

    WWF Intercontinental Title Match
    Eddie Guerrero (c) versus Tazz

    WWF Tag Team Title Match
    Edge & Christian versus Hardy Boyz

    WWF Women’s Title Match
    Ivory (c) versus Molly Holly
    Kurt Angle, having accidentally riled both Triple H and The Rock up with his unintentionally obnoxious behaviour coming in to the Rumble, somehow clung on to his title when The Game and The People’s Champion’s rage got the better of them. But the real story came out of the main event, and the 30-man Royal Rumble.

    With the now almost-universally detested Chris Jericho opening the match up from the number one slot, Y2J battled through every adversity to keep himself in the match, right up until Stone Cold Steve Austin arrived, himself unfortunately early in proceedings at number ten. The two of them re-engaged their several months warfare, brawling throughout the match as more and more men joined the fray.


    As fellow suspects Test, Billy Gunn, X-Pac and Kane all fell by the wayside, we eventually found ourselves with the big hitters in the final four, and the four men most intrinsically linked to the story. Chris Jericho (number one) was exhausted, as was Steve Austin (number ten), and at the mercy of Big Show (number twenty-five) and The Undertaker (twenty-eight). Big Show was able to use his incredible size advantage to finally eliminate Jericho after an almighty effort from the Canadian, and even The Undertaker was unable to stop the giant, leaving us just down to Steve Austin and The Big Show.

    Austin, having been in the match since the early-goings and having so far come up short in each of his big pay-per-views contests, was little more than an irritant in the way of Big Show’s return to the main event of Wrestlemania, himself looking for redemption having been eliminated first in the main event of the previous year’s event.

    But just as Big Show looked to have the contest won, Stone Cold dug down to a level of reserves few even knew he had, battling back with a series of big right hands, a Stunner, and a Clothesline over the top rope to finally, finally allow him to win his first big match since his return, and truly announce that Stone Cold Steve Austin was back.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Ross, WWF Royal Rumble, January 2001
    HE’S DONE IT! STONE COLD! STONE COLD! STONE COLD IS GOIN’… TO WRESTLEMANIA!

    And just in time for Vince’s announcement…




    CHAPTER VI
    PROMO #2: THE REVEAL




    Spoiler:


    Monday, January 22 2001
    Cajundome, Lafayette, Louisiana

    We come back from commercial to catch the end of CHRIS JERICHO’S entrance. We see no signs of his usual theatrics, as he sombrely walks to the ring in his wrestling tights and “Jericholics” T-Shirt.

    As he makes the bottom of the ramp, he takes his place between TEST and X-PAC, who are already surrounding the ring. Further on from them are KANE, SHANE MCMAHON, BILLY GUNN and THE BIG SHOW. Inside the ring is VINCE MCMAHON, ready to give his final answer on who his investigation has led him to believe is guilty of the crime of running down Stone Cold Steve Austin.

    Jericho’s music fades out…





    The crowd pop as THE UNDERTAKER is the last of the suspects to come down to the ring. As with the others he dispenses of his usual entrance, instead walking down the ramp to ringside, refusing to acknowledge the fans, his fellow wrestlers, or Vince, as his music dies down.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    Now, seeing as we’re all here, it’s time for me to give my answer on who I believe is the guilty party in the crime of running down… Stone… Cold… Steve… Austin.



    Vince scans the wrestlers surrounding him.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    Now, from day one it has been clear to me that-






    The crowd erupt as Disturbed blares out of the sound system, as STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN, winner of last night’s Royal Rumble, storms down to the ring. He’s wearing black denim shorts above his two heavily-braced knees, his latest “Austin 3:16” T-Shirt, and a scowl permanently etched across his face. He climbs in to the ring.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    Steve, I’m not sure if it’s appropriate for you to be out here-

    STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
    Appropriate, my ass! If we’re findin’ out which one of theme sumbitches ran me down, then I’m sure as hell gonna be out here, and I’m gonna whoop som’bodies ass!



    The crowd cheer as McMahon tries to remain composed.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    Okay, Steve. Be that as it may, we still have the duty of uncovering who it was who was responsible, and I believe we will find that out… tonight… in this very ring.


    The wrestlers around the ring exchange looks, themselves trying to work out which of them it may have been.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    So, I’ll be looking at each and every one of you… beginning with… my own son… Shane.



    Vince and Austin both turn to Shane on the outside, as Kane and The Big Show either side tower over him, backing the Boy Wonder in to a particularly uncomfortable position.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    Now, I of course don’t want it to be my own son who is guilty of this crime, but I have to be thorough. I have to look at the context… and the context says that Shane is a McMahon, and McMahon’s are hardwired to hate Stone Cold Steve Austin.



    The crowd boo as Shane shrugs, almost in agreement.


    STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
    Sounds like that makes you a suspect too, Vince.

    VINCE MCMAHON
    That’s fair. But although I know that it wasn’t me, I still did the right thing and found CCTV of me at the time of the incident, exonerating me from guilt. I couldn’t find footage of Shane, though. Shane was one of the first on the scene after it happened, but without us knowing where he was beforehand. He likely would have been able to access Chris Jericho’s car without anyone questioning it, given he’s the son of the owner of the company and all. And, let us not forget, when Steve Austin finally returned at Unforgiven last year, Shane was the first to try and blame someone, in his pathetic attempt to finger Steve Blackman for it. Not exactly the actions of an innocent man.



    Austin stares a hole through Shane, who fidgets on the spot. ”This is BS, Dad, and you know it,” he yells off mic.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    The problem I have with Shane being the suspect, though… is motive. Shane may dislike Austin as much as any McMahon, but there doesn’t seem to be a reason to do something this extreme. It is for this reason, I find you, Shane… not guilty. You may go.


    Shane breathes a sigh of relief and struggles around The Big Show to return backstage, safe in the knowledge that he’s made it out of there without being incorrectly accused. Vince turns to Test.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    You, Test, are suspicious to me for the same reason as Shane. At the time you were aligned with the McMahons through your relationship with my daughter. Knowing my feelings towards Austin, it makes sense that you may have wanted to do something misguided to endear yourself to me and my family. And after all, we know you were nearby from how quickly you got the scene.



    Austin strokes his goatee, ready to pounce at a sign that Test may have been the perpetrator.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    But my daughter swears she was with you and, frankly… she has no reason to lie on your behalf… given she has so clearly traded up from you to Triple H. So I find you… not guilty.



    Test’s head drops as he walks to the back, having somehow been insulted despite having done nothing wrong.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    Up next… The Big Show.



    The crowd boo as the giant puffs his chest, refusing to back down in light of the oncoming trial.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    You, Big Show? You’re a suspect because you have more motive than anyone. When Austin had to be removed from the title match at Survivor Series 1999, you took his place. You won your one and only title that night… and it wouldn’t have been possible if Austin was still in the picture. You showed at last year’s Survivor Series what you’d do to make sure you get a shot at the title, so it’s not like you have a clean record either. It’s for that reason… you remain a suspect. Stay right there.

    BIG SHOW
    This is bull, Vince-

    STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
    Shut your giant ass up, ‘fore I shut it for ya, ya big nasty bastard.



    Big Show folds his arms, unimpressed at Austin’s attitude but knowing better than to do anything to rile him up right now. Vince, meanwhile, turns to look at the other side of the ring, where former DX members Billy Gunn and X-Pac are stood.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    Billy Gunn. You I don’t fully understand. At the time of the attack, you were a member of DX, along with Triple H, Road Dogg, and X-Pac. The three of them were involved with a plan to attack Steve Austin that led him in to the garage. The three of them were seen in the footage during the event, and again on CCTV, meaning they have an alibi. But you? You weren’t there, and no-one can say why. You might claim to have been sent somewhere else, but you have no-one backing you up on that. I’m not entirely sure what your motive may have been… but the lack of an alibi is too troubling. You may still be guilty. Stay there.



    Gunn huffs, so Vince turns to X-Pac next to him.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    Now, X-Pac. You have an alibi, so you shouldn’t be a suspect. But something about you is wrong. If Gunn wasn’t responsible, why frame him like you did? Is it just to cause harm to someone you once called a friend? There’s something I don’t get about you… but the evidence is overwhelmingly in your favour for not being the culprit. I find you not guilty.



    X-Pac laughs and crotch chops Gunn, before bounding back down the ramp.


    STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
    That’s a damn shame. I was lookin’ for a reason to whoop his annoyin’ ass.



    Vince looks to the other side of the ring, where The Undertaker is stood. The other suspects have all reacted in some way, either projecting confidence, or anxiety about what’s to come. But ‘Taker is unmoved, just as he has been all the way through this whole situation.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    Undertaker… you shouldn’t be a suspect. You weren’t supposed to be at the Survivor Series that night. You were injured. And yet, you were there. Why? You won’t say. You won’t even say you weren’t responsible for the act when asked. Why not? Why is everyone else bending over backwards to say they’re not guilty, and you’re saying nothing? I don’t like it, ‘Taker. I don’t like it one bit. And after all, we know you have previous for doing some pretty heinous things to Mr. Austin. Hanging him off a Ministry Symbol? Trying to embalm him alive? Hell, we even saw you try to run The Big Show down with your bike a few months back. Of everyone here, you’re the one with the biggest previous of despicable behaviour… you have no alibi… and you won’t even say you’re innocent. You leave me no choice but to say you are still a suspect, and you need to wait right there.



    Still ‘Taker is unmoved, so Vince turns to his brother, Kane.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    Ah, Kane. You have no alibi, there is no evidence to say you’re innocent… and yet… you have no motive. That should clear you… but if anyone doesn’t need an alibi to do something truly evil to another human being, it’s you. You’re damn right you’re still a suspect.



    With everyone else having been grilled, just one man is left. Vince turns… to Chris Jericho, and he gets a mostly-negative reaction. Clearly some of the Jericoholics believe he’s innocent, but this saga has done nothing to help his reputation.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    Chris Jericho. Your car was the one used to run down Austin. You then hid that fact for nearly a year. When put in a match with Austin, you viciously targeted his neck, knowing it was likely not fully recovered from surgery. Then, when everyone began looking at you, you threw out blame to the likes of The Big Show despite having zero evidence they had anything to do with it. You came in to the WWF promising to make a change to the status quo, and within months the biggest star was put on the shelf, and in his absence, you became a star yourself. Motive? Check. Lack of an alibi? Check. Suspicious behaviour? Check. Evidence? Check. You are going absolutely nowhere.



    Vince then looks around the ring and takes in what he sees. The Big Show. The Undertaker. Billy Gunn. Kane. Chris Jericho. One of these men is about to be found guilty at the hands of Judge Vince McMahon.

    And yet, Vince struggles for words. He keeps looking back to Jericho, knowing full well that most of the facts work against him, but something feels off. Why would he use his own vehicle?

    Still McMahon scans the remaining suspects, looking for any sign of guilt…

    Until he turns to The Undertaker.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    DAMN IT, ‘TAKER! I want an answer… was it you?


    Still Undertaker is unmoved, so a member of the crew passes him a microphone. The Deadman sneers as he looks up at Vince in the ring, clearly not wanting to say anything. A silence falls over the crowd as ‘Taker raises the microphone to his mouth.


    THE UNDERTAKER
    No… it wasn’t me.



    Austin, visibly frustrated, walks to the corner of the ring and mutters under his breath, while Vince’s shoulders slump.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST SAY SO, DAMN IT?

    THE UNDERTAKER
    Would it have made a dif’rence? If you think it might’a been me, me sayin’ it wasn’t weren’t gonna change your mind. You’re gonna decide whatever it is you wanna decide, McMahon, but I don’t owe you an explanation for nothin’. And Austin? You will know deep down that, if I wanted to attack you… I wouldn’t need a damn car to do it. I’d do it to your face.

    STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
    All I know is that, if it was you behind it, you’ve got tha biggest ass whoopin’ of your life ahead of ya.



    Vince leans in to the ropes and takes a deep breath. The Undertaker was probably right. Him claiming innocence doesn’t really change anything. He still has previous. He still has no alibi.

    Vince looks back at the five suspects, still struggling to find an answer…

    … when
    GERALD BRSICO rushes out from behind the curtain. He scampers down the rap and on to the apron, beckoning McMahon over, and whispers something in to his ear that we can’t pick up. Vince frowns.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    I didn’t get that, say it again.



    Brisco again leans in to whisper something to the boss, then leans back. The frown on Vince’s face changes, but a sudden burst of energy rushes through his body.


    STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
    What th’ hell’s goin’ on, Vince? Ya gonna make a decision, or have I gotta do it for ya?



    Vince yells something to a crew member outside the ring as he paces frantically around the ring.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    There’s… there’s something going on. There’s a video. The footage from the parking lot that night… we have it.



    A buzz grows through the audience.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    We have the footage from the parking lot… apparently it shows a different angle! Apparently it shows who did it!



    The five suspects exchange looks, wondering which of them is about to be revealed, as Austin stares at each of them one by one.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    Well? What are you waiting for? Get the video on the Titantron. QUICKLY, DAMN IT!



    Austin begins pacing around the ring, just as Vince does, as they wait for the footage to begin.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    I SAID I WANT IT-



    Quote Originally Posted by CCTV from the Joe Lewis Arena Parking Lot, November 1999
    Vince is interrupted as the black-and-white CCTV footage from the parking lot at the arena begins to play. It’s facing a few empty spaces dotted either side of parked cars, but not much of anything else…

    … until suddenly Stone Cold Steve Austin jogs in to shot in the far left hand corner of the screen. He’s frantically looking around, as we know looking for where Triple H had gone having taken a wrong turn.

    He looks around until we hear the screech of tyres, as a black Lincoln speeds in to vision and brutally runs Austin down. Stone Cold falls to the concrete, unconscious, as the car speeds around the corner away from the scene.

    The car rounds the corner and then swings in to a space at the bottom right of the screen, far enough away from the place of the attack to give the perpetrator the opportunity to escape. The camera zooms in on the car in the bottom corner as the driver’s door swings open…

    But the footage cuts out!

    Boos ring around the crowd at the lack of a definitive answer, as Vince looks to ringside for answers, faced only with a black screen on the Titantron.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    WHAT THE HELL IS THIS? SOMEONE FIX THAT DAMN TAPE!



    Austin, stood just a few paces to the side, slumps his shoulders and drops his head.


    STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
    There ain’t a damn thing wrong with the tape…



    Austin looks up, his blue eyes now burning with a furious rage.


    STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
    … someone stopped it before we saw who was in th’ car. The sumbitch who ran me down is back there right now, tryin-a hide their identity… and I’m gonna go back and find them!



    Austin drops his microphone and climbs out of the ring, the audience buzzing at the prospect of Austin finally meeting his attacker face-to-face. Austin bounds down the ramp as Vince anxiously looks to the five suspects left on the side, all of them seemingly having been cleared by the actions of whoever it is who is backstage. With Austin marching out of sight, Vince climbs out of the ring and looks to follow him, himself needing to know who is the real guilty party.

    We cut backstage to see Austin striding through the Gorilla position and to the backstage area. Workers and wrestlers alike stick to the walls so to not get in his way, allowing Austin to march through the corridors, looking for the parking lot. Once he gets there he sees a backstage worker with a notepad and headset.


    STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
    Production truck. Where is it?



    The worker nervously points to the right, so Austin heads off in that direction. We see the huge vehicle looming in the distance as Austin gets closer and closer, the swagger in his shoulders indicating an ass-whooping his imminent, ready to find out who attacked him…

    WHEN A STEEL CHAIR CRASHES IN TO HIS BACK!

    Austin slumps to the concrete floor, having been attacked from behind. Austin clutches at his back as he tries to roll over, fighting unconsciousness long enough to fall on to his back and look up at his assailant. Austin looks up… and his eyes bug.


    STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
    YOU?



    The camera pans back…




    … to reveal
    KURT ANGLE!


    The crowd explode, partially in to cheers for finally getting a reveal, partially in to boos for the man who was behind it all.

    Angle, still holding the chair in his hands, stares down at Austin with cold, unemotional eyes.


    KURT ANGLE
    You’re God damn right it was me.



    ANGLE BURIES ANOTHER CHAIR SHOT IN TO AUSTIN! AND ANOTHER! AND ANOTHER!

    Austin’s unable to fight back, so he tries to roll over on to his stomach to protect himself as much as possible. But Angle doesn’t care. He rains down chairshots over and over again, on Austin’s neck, legs, back.

    Five chairshots. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. Eleven. Twelve. Thirteen. Fourteen. Fifteen. Sixteen. And finally… he stops.

    Still Angle grips at the chair, almost dented out of all recognition, and looks down at his work. Austin is out cold. Totally lifeless. And still we see no form of reaction in Angle’s eyes.

    The WWF Champion crouches down beside Austin’s unconscious body.


    KURT ANGLE
    I don’t know if you can hear me, Steve, but in case you can, I’m gonna say this anyway. It was me, Steve. At Survivor Series, I was the one who ran you down. But I didn’t do it right. I wanted to end your career that night, and I failed. I won’t fail again.


    Angle, still crouching, takes the chair and lifts Austin’s head… and places it in the gap of the chair. ANGLE’S GOING TO PILLMANISE AUSTIN’S NECK!


    VINCE MCMAHON
    HEY!



    With Austin still out cold, chair wrapped around his neck, Vince rushes over to Angle’s and places his hands on his chest.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    What’re you doing, Kurt? This wasn’t you. Tell me it wasn’t you.

    KURT ANGLE
    Of course it was me, Vince. You wanted this. Everyone wanted this. You wanted Stone Cold Steve Austin gone. You said it for years. But it was only me who could have done it.

    VINCE MCMAHON
    But not like this, Kurt! I don’t like him, but this?

    KURT ANGLE
    You’re weak, Vince. It’s why he always got the better of you. I… am not weak.



    Angle, still emotionless returns to Austin’s side and looks down on him, chair still wrapped around his neck. He looks at the car parked just above Austin… so Angle climbs on to the bonnet of the car…


    VINCE MCMAHON
    NO! GET DOWN, DAMN IT!



    Angle ignores the bosses calls and prepares himself to leap off…


    SO VINCE GRABS HIS LEG AND DRAGS HIM OFF THE CAR!


    VINCE MCMAHON
    I SAID NO, DAMN IT! I may not like Austin, but this is too much. Who the hell are you, Kurt? This isn’t you! Don’t do this!



    Angle remains perfectly stoic as he stares in to Vince’s eyes.


    KURT ANGLE
    No, Vince… this is me.



    ANGLE PUNCHES VINCE IN THE FACE!

    Vince staggers back, so Angle grabs him by the back of the head… AND LAUNCHES VINCE IN TO A CONCRETE WALL!

    Vince slumps down to the floor, unable to do anymore to help Austin, who remain unconscious on the floor.

    Angle returns to the parked car near Austin’s head and climbs on to the bonnet and looks down…

    … and smiles. Finally we see an emotional reaction in Angle’s face… and it’s a smile?

    Angle prepares himself…





    AND LEAPS OFF THE BONNET ON TO THE STEEL CHAIR, TRAPPING AUSTIN’S NECK!


    The pain jumps Austin out of his unconsciousness as he roars in pain. A group of backstage workers finally catch up to see what’s happening as Angle stands over Austin’s body as he writhes in pain, before erupting in to vicious, hacking cough…

    and coughs up blood.

    The backstage workers rush to Austin’s side as Angle remains stood where he is, looming over…

    … as we fade out.




    CHAPTER VII
    BACKGROUND #4: THE ROAD TO WRESTLEMANIA




    Spoiler:

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurt Angle, WWF Smackdown, February 2001
    “You wanna know why I did what I did? Isn’t it obvious? You don’t get an Olympic gold medal without being willing to do whatever it takes to be the best. So that’s what I did. I debuted at the Survivor Series in 1999, and after my match, I saw my chance at opening a way to the top, and took it. And, with Austin out of the way, I climbed the mountain quicker than anyone in WWF history. That’s why I’m stood in front of you now as your WWF Champion, and there’s not a damn thing you, or Steve Austin, can do to stop me. It’s true… it’s damn true.”

    KURT ANGLE’s explanation for his actions were as brutal as his attack on Austin. While explaining having Austin out of the way was his route to the top, it became apparent that the Kurt Angle we’d grown accustomed to in the previous 15 months was a mask. By portraying a simple-minded doofus, he’d been allowed to sneak under the radar and ruthlessly run over the entire company, both metaphorically and literally in the case of Austin.

    With Stone Cold now out of action for an indefinite period due to the injuries suffered at the hands of Angle, it was CHRIS JERICHO who stood up to the WWF Champion. Not through any loyalty to the absent Rattlesnake, as there was clearly none of that from Y2J. Instead, Jericho came out looking for revenge on Angle, who had hidden in the background while Jericho’s reputation became tarnished, perhaps beyond repair.

    Ad yet, Jericho could see the positive.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Jericho, WWF Smackdown, February 2001
    ”So you hid in the background, letting everyone blame me. The name ‘Chris Jericho’ will never be the same after what you did. And yet… I should thank you. Everything I’ve been through in the last six months have changed me. I’m different now. I’m done being a clown. You unleashed something in me, and it’s that side that helped me beat Stone Cold Steve Austin at No Mercy, to be the sole survivor at the Survivor Series, to break the longevity record at the Royal Rumble. I have a focus now I didn’t have before… and now that focus is on making you pay for destroying my reputation! And, Kurt, once I’ve taken your title away from you… you will never… EEVVVVVERRRRR… forget what you’ve done… AGAIN-UH!”

    With the match made for No Way Out, we saw the new sides of both men in the build-up. Neither was the same than they’d been in the build-up. Both were more vicious, more dangerous, more willing to do whatever it took to get an advantage over the other. And they would come together for the WWF Title at No Way Out…

    Quote Originally Posted by wwf.com


    CARD

    WWF Championship Match
    Kurt Angle (c) versus Chris Jericho

    Cage Match
    Triple H versus The Rock

    Big Show versus The Undertaker

    Fatal Fourway Match for the WWF Intercontinental Title
    Eddie Guerrero versus Chris Benoit versus Dean Malenko versus Perry Saturn

    WWF Tag Team Titles Match
    Edge & Christian (c) versus Dudley Boyz

    WWF Hardcore Title match
    Raven versus Kane

    6-Person Tag Match
    The Goodfather, Ivory, Val Venis versus The Hardy Boyz & Lita

    Jericho may have felt that the recent developments had lit a fire within him, but he was in for a surprise. That newly-found inner-drive may have taken him to new heights over the last few months, but it couldn’t prepare him for Kurt Angle.

    Not this Kurt Angle, at least.

    Jericho looked as good as he’s done since joining the WWF, but he was competing against a different beast in this one. With the truth of Angle’s real personality out there, the WWF Champion was every bit as cold, calculating and vicious as he seemed he could be. It was clear for all to see that Angle had been protecting his image until this point, but with that truly out of the window, his only goal was to win at any cost.

    For twenty minutes Jericho gave it his all, but he was quite simply outmatched. With the match slipping away from him, Jericho tried valiantly to battle back, only to find Angle still there, still in control. It was at that point Angle unleashed the newest weapon in his ever-expanding arsenal… a Dragon Clutch.

    The fans weren’t happy to see Angle target someone else’s neck, but of course, the Olympian didn’t care. He wrenched at Jericho’s neck, pulling it at a truly unhealthy angle, leaving Jericho with nowhere to go. He could sense his title dreams slipping away from him, but Angle wouldn’t let go. He’d already tried to break Austin’s neck on two separate occasions. He wouldn’t think twice about breaking Jericho’s to retain the title.

    So Jericho tapped.


    After the match, the fans gave Jericho a standing ovation, both for the effort he had put forth, but for having made it through a tumultuous period of his life and nearly coming out as the WWF Champion.

    That wasn’t enough for Jericho, though. His reputation was tarnished, and he’d changed as a person through this whole ordeal. And now he was left as a loser, having come this close to winning the title, only to quit at the end.

    It all became too much to bear. He finally snapped during a tag match on Raw Is War, taking out his partner The Rock after a losing effort against Triple H and Kurt Angle, and setting up a Wrestlemania match between them.

    But with Jericho’s frustrations focused elsewhere, Angle was left on top of the world. In each of his subsequent matches he used his now-feared Dragon Clutch submission, forcing everyone who stood in his way to tap out, just as Jericho had at No Way Out. K-Kwik. Test. Scotty Too Hotty. Even Chris Benoit. One by one, they submitted to the deadly Dragon Clutch.

    Now four months in to his reign as champion and having overcome Triple H, The Rock and Chris Jericho in the ring, and Steve Austin outside of it, he truly stood alone at the summit of the company, untouched by anyone else.

    And then Stone Cold Steve Austin came back.



    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Austin, WWF Smackdown, March 2001
    Ya think I’m jus’ gonna sit at home and wait t’ recovah aftah what you did? Ah-ah, son, that ain’t how it’s gonna work! Am I at 100%? Hell no. But am I healthy enough to open a can of whoop ass and take ya title at Wrestlemania? OH, HELL YEAH!

    If Angle thought he’d done enough to finish of the Texas Rattlesnake, he clearly didn’t know who he was dealing with. Austin came back to raise hell, and that’s exactly what he did, leading to a series of brutal brawls between the WWF Champion and the winner of the Royal Rumble.

    Each brawl was more intense than the one that came before it, though. While at first it was an in-ring scrap, they started to take place backstage, in the parking lot, on the streets. Security personnel tasked with keeping them apart were taken out with such regularity that the company the WWF hires refused to stand between them any longer. When referees, backstage workers and even wrestlers were unable to stop them from fighting, Angle tried once again to run Austin down, only to narrowly miss.

    At that point, Vince was left no choice but to intervene.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vince McMahon, WWF Raw Is War, March 2001
    This has gone too far! You’re not just endangering your own lives, you’re endangering those around you! That’s why I’m left with no choice but to enforce a “No Contact” rule between now and Wrestlemania. You two are banned from so much as laying a hand on each other until ‘Mania. Austin, should you violate this rule, then you will be stripped of your title match and your opportunity at getting revenge over Kurt. And Angle, if you violate the rule, you will be stripped of the one thing that drove you to all of this in the first place, the WWF Title.

    But, given how personal this rivalry is, I know by forcing you to stay apart until Wrestlemania may cause things to boil over when we get there. And, believe me, after all of this, there is no way this match is going to end without a definitive winner. That’s why… in that… very… ring… at Wrestlemania X-Seven… Kurt Angle… versus Steve Austin… will be a No Disqualification Match!

    With neither man wanting to lose what they held most precious, the fighting came to an impasse until Wrestlemania arrived. Of course, Kurt Angle would attack Jim Ross and Debra, trying to get Austin to act out, but Stone Cold stayed firm. Everything that Kurt did was simply something he’d have to pay for once they got to Wrestlemania.

    Vince McMahon, disgusted by Angle’s actions, placed a ban on either of them touching anyone until Wrestlemania. But as Vince explained this in the ring on the final Raw Is War before Wrestlemania, Austin had a question for the owner.

    Why, after everything that had gone between them, was Vince helping him? Why help him find the attacker? Why ban Angle from laying a hand on his family? Why make it a No Disqualification Match?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vince McMahon, WWF Raw is War, March 2001
    You’re absolutely right, Steve. We do have our history. But that’s exactly what it is. History. I still don’t like you, but I can accept when times change. And Steve… you have changed.

    For years you were, quite frankly, a pain in my posterior. You were a rebel. You put all your energy in to making my life a living hell, and I wanted to punish you for that.

    But now? You’re different, Steve. You’re like an old cowboy, hanging on to the ways of the Wild West as civilisation rolls in. You were gone for a year, and things changed in that time. But you still have your honour, and your dignity, even in this changing world.

    Before you went, there weren’t people like Kurt Angle. He is sociopathically… no… psychopathically… obsessed with being the best. He will do whatever it takes, at whatever cost, to keep himself on top. Any advantage he can get, he’ll take it. And he matches that with an Olympic-level of in-ring ability.

    The game has changed, Steve. In the face of an opponent like Kurt… you’re just trying to survive. You came back after a year and you lost in three successive pay-per-views. But you’re still fighting. You can still be great, and you can swipe out at that young lion trying to take your place as good as anyone. It’s sink or swim for you, Steve. Kill, or be killed. And you’re trying to kill. I, of all people, can respect that. Steve… after all this time… I respect you.

    Steve Austin, of course, returned the monologue with a double flip of the bird.

    But despite Vince’s good intentions, that his arch-nemesis almost seemed to take pity on him had to sting. But did Vince say anything that wasn’t correct? Was Stone Cold merely a cowboy in the wild west watching civilisation roll in?

    With just three days to go until Wrestlemania, there was just one more confrontation to come. At WWF Smackdown, Steve Austin and Kurt Angle would come together one final time… as Vince McMahon would host an in-ring Wrestlemania X-Seven press conference.




    CHAPTER VIII
    PROMO #3: THE FACE OFF




    Spoiler:


    Thursday, Match 29 2001
    Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Michigan


    When we return from commercial, VINCE MCMAHON is stood in the middle of the ring behind a podium, with another podium either side of him. Both are sitting atop a red carpet.

    Vince is dressed in his best suit, and that says something. An elegantly-tailored navy suit, done up of course, with a crisp white shirt and almost-maroon tie. He’s looking at his best as the outside of the ring becomes filled with reporters and photographers, and given its Wrestlemania season, it’s not just the usual wrestling press. The big guns are represented here too, trying to get the best possible shot ahead of the big event in Houston on Sunday.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    LADIES… AND… GENTLEMEN… welcome… to the final stop before… WRESTLE… MANIA!



    There’s a big cheer from the fans, and flashbulbs alight from the assorted press.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    I would like to welcome our guests from the media around the world, and welcome you all to the press conference… for the WWF Title Match… this Sunday… and Wrestlemania! I would firstly like to introduce the defending champion…



    DEAFENING boos from the pro-Austin crowd.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    He was the 1996 Olympic gold medallist in the men’s 100kg Freestyle… he is a former WWF Intercontinental and WWF European Champion… he was the 2000 King of the Ring… and the REIGNING World Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Champion… KURT… ANGLE!





    Again the crowd erupt in to boos as the WWF Champion KURT ANGLE appears on to the stage. Wearing tracksuit trousers, a WWF Wrestlemania X-Seven promotional T-Shirt, and the WWF Title around his waist, Angle walks to the ring with a purpose. He doesn’t pose for the fans, and instead heads straight for the ring, ignoring the reporters and photographers.

    There he is greeted by Vince McMahon who, despite being sickened by Angle’s actions over the last sixteen months, knows the importance of image, and offers to shake the champion’s hand. Angle, however, walks past him as though he isn’t there, and stands behind the podium marked with his name.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    Okay… given Mr. Angle doesn’t seem to be in the mood for pleasantries, please allow me to introduce the challenger…



    The Detroit crowd come alive merely for the mention of the Rattlesnake…


    VINCE MCMAHON
    He was… the 1996 King of the Ring… the winner of the 1997, 1998 and 2001 Royal Rumbles… a former Intercontinental, Tag Team, and a former FOUR-TIME WWF Champion… he is the Texas Rattlesnake… the Bionic Redneck… ladies and gentlemen… please give it up… for STONE… COLD… STEVE… AUSTIN!





    The roof blows off the arena as STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN marches down to the ring, wearing his usual Austin 3:16 T-Shirt and denim shorts, with his wrestling boots and double knee braces lower on his legs. Austin climbs in to the ring and stares a hole through Angle, the man who has done so much to ruin his life, but continues on to each turnbuckle, which he climbs and poses for the fans in attendance. Flashbulbs alight from press and fans alike as Austin takes in the adulation of the crowd, and returns back to the ring.

    As with Angle, Vince makes an attempt to shake Austin’s hand, but is once again brushed off. Austin makes his way behind his podium, and can’t help but sneer. Here he is, doing the media-rounds for the company, with the man who tried to murder him just a few feet away… and there’s nothing he can do.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    Thank you both for joining. Ladies and gentlemen, here are your two competitors for the WWF Title at Wrestlemania X-Seven, this Sunday, April 1st 2001, at the Reliant Astrodome in Houston, Texas. Who here would like to kick off the questions?



    A reporter raises his arm, and is pointed at by Vince, giving him the go-ahead to speak.


    REPORTER #1
    Mr. Angle, Mr. Austin, Mr. McMahon, thank you for your time. Mr. Austin, if I may, how much would it mean to you to win the WWF Title, and take it from the man who tried to end your career at the back-end of 1999?



    Austin can barely contain is frustration at being stuck answering questions like a corporate lapdog.


    STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
    I dunno what ya want me t’ say, son. Do I wanna whoop Kurt Angle’s ass? Do I wanna take th’ WWF Title back and prove that I belong at th’ top of this bus’ness again? Hell yeah I do. But at the-

    KURT ANGLE
    You’re not going to, though, are you, Steve?



    Austin tries to maintain his patience as he’s cut off by his enemy, forcing McMahon to step in.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    Now, Mr. Angle, please, Steve was talking-

    KURT ANGLE
    Do you think I care? Do you think I care about any of this? This little show you wanna put on for the press, McMahon? It’s pathetic. All of this is. Austin’s gonna stand there and talk about how he wants to beat me, but he knows he can’t-

    STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
    Like hell I can’t.

    KURT ANGLE
    You can’t, Steve, and you know it. Deep down you know you haven’t got it in you. Think about your big comeback match at No Mercy. Everyone was excited to see you back in the ring… and you lost. No, you didn’t lose. You quit. First time in your career you tapped out to someone. Your time’s done, Steve. This isn’t a redemption story. It’s not even a revenge one. This Sunday at Wrestlemania is my coronation. We’ve had the Bruno era, the Hogan era, the Bret era, the Austin era… and now it’s the Angle era. And you know that more than me.



    A silence falls between champion and challenger, so Vince points awkwardly points to another reporter to keep things moving.


    REPORTER #2
    Uh, Mr. Austin. Given everything Mr. Angle has done to you over the last sixteen months – running you over, trying to break your neck with a steel chair, attacking your best friend, attacking your wife – how hard will it be to remain focused on the task at hand at Wrestlemania?

    STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
    It ain’t no thing. My task at Wrestlemania is kickin’ his scrawny li’l ass, and if he wants t’ piss me off goin’ in to it, it’s his damn funeral. But lemme tell ya-

    KURT ANGLE
    It’s not going to be my funeral, Steve, is it? It’s going to be yours. You’re going to have to go out there in front of your home-state fans and let everyone down because you can’t keep up anymore, aren’t you?

    STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
    I swear t’ God, son, ya interrupt me one more time-

    KURT ANGLE
    You’ll what? You going to attack me? You can’t, or the title match will be stripped from you, and you can wave your righteous revenge for sixteen lost moths goodbye. I’ll interrupt you as much as I want. This isn’t your company anymore. It’s mine. And I’ll do whatever I want.



    Vince quickly points to another reporter, not wanting to let things get too heated.


    REPORTER #3
    Mr. Angle, if I may say… I was there in the 1996 Olympics. You were a national hero. To see you act and behave this way is, frankly, it’s kind of shocking for me. What’s changed to make you this way?

    KURT ANGLE
    What’s changed? Nothing’s changed. I’m not any different. I’ve always been about doing whatever it takes. I won an Olympic gold medal with a broken neck. You think just anyone can do that? I did it because I’ll do whatever it takes. After the Olympics, I needed to play the big American patriot card, so I did it. You think I care about this country? Of course I don’t. I care about me. And being the big national hero was what I needed to get myself to the top. Same as when I came here. I saw all these alpha males, and I realised I had to do two things. I had to go under the radar, to not threaten anyone, so I could sneak up the ladder without anyone trying to stop me. So maybe I pretended to be a little naïve. You think I didn’t know that kissing Steph would get under Hunter’s skin? That blaming Jericho for running down Austin wouldn’t get under his? Everything I have done since I got here was intentional. And it got me to here… winning the WWF Title after a year… holding that belt for five months… and successfully defending it in the main event of Wrestlemania. Oh, and part two of that plan? It was taking out the biggest alpha male in the company. Steve, would you say I did that successfully?



    Austin says nothing, instead shaking his head and trying to retain his composure.

    Vince looks for another reporter, but Angle, sensing Austin is on the edge and about to snap, pushes McMahon’s hand back down.


    KURT ANGLE
    Wait up a minute, Vince, I’m not done. That reporter, whoever he was, you think this behaviour is shocking? It’s not to me. It’s the basic level of doing what is necessary. But, hell, even I have to admit, I did kind of enjoy running Austin down.



    Austin mutters “son of a bitch” under his breath, but still doesn’t take the bait.


    KURT ANGLE
    Honestly, I’ve enjoyed all of it. I’ve beaten The Undertaker. Chris Jericho. The Rock. Triple H. Won the IC title, the Euro title, the King of the Ring. Oh, and of course… I took you out for a YEAR… didn’t I, Austin? I broke you’re damn neck. Nearly did it twice. And you want to know what? I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I thought I regretted not finishing the job that night at Survivor Series, but I’ve come to realise I don’t. This way I get to experience it all over again, and this time I’ll do it properly… and in the main event of Wrestlemania at that-

    STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
    Ya wanna know what I don’t get?



    Angle smirks at having gotten a reaction out of Austin after long last.


    KURT ANGLE
    Go ahead.

    STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
    What I don’t get is why ya had to run me down. It’s why’d ya have to jump me from behind. If ya wanted t’ prove you were th’ bigger man, then challenge me. Hell, I did th’ same damn thing when I saw Bret Hart. I saw a cat at th’ top that I thought I was better than, and I challenged his ass to a match over and over ‘til he gave me it. If ya had just offered t’ fight me… hell, we could-a done it in th’ ring, in th’ parking lot, I don’t really give a damn. But ya know that, if there’s one thing about Stone Cold Steve Austin, it’s that he don’t back down from a fight. So why din’t ya fight me, face t’ face, man t’ man? Why didn’t ya just admit what ya did instead of hidin’ behind Jericho, and ‘Taker, and Show?

    KURT ANGLE
    Didn’t you hear me before? I was going under the radar. If I come out-

    STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
    Yeah, I heard what ya said, ya dumb bastard. But I don’t buy it for a second. I don’t think ya hit under th’ radar ‘cos ya thought it was a plan. It was ‘cos you’re a coward. Ya know that if ya just straight up challenged me t’ a match I’d have whooped ya ass, jus’ like I’m gonna do at ‘Mania. But ya know that if I whooped ya ass real bad ya ain’t makin’ it to th’ top, so ya sneak attack me. You’re a damn coward, Angle, and ya know it.



    Angle laughs.


    KURT ANGLE
    You think I’m a coward? Fine, think that. Think whatever you want. I don’t care one way or another. But I’ll promise you this, Steve. At Wrestlemania, right before I break your neck for the second time – and this time for good – I’ll look you right in the eyes as I’m doing it. How does that sound? Good thing old Vinny Mac here made it a No Disqualification match huh? I can snap your neck with a steel chair and it’s all legal. Hell, I could run you down again and pin you after that. Doesn’t seem like Vince did you much of a favour there, did he?

    STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
    Ya think ya have th’ advantage now it’s No DQ?

    KURT ANGLE
    I do.

    STONE COLD STEVE AUSTON
    Then you’re even dumber than ya look, son. Have ya forgotten who ya are dealin’ with? MAH NAME IS STONE COLE STEVE AUSTIN! That trick ya did with mah neck? I invented that when I did it t’ Brian Pillman’s leg. I’ve buried th’ Undertaker alive. I’ve made Vince here piss his damn pants ‘cos he thought I was gonna murder his snivellin’ ass. Ya think No DQ suits you? Then ya clearly don’t know what I’m capable of, son. And if ya wanna take things to th’ extreme this Sunday, ya steppin’ the ring with the wrong son of a bitch. Because I swear up and down that Wrestlemania X-Seven will be the single worst night of your life… and I will UNLEASH HELL!



    The crowd erupt for some of that old Stone Cold fire, but Kurt remain unmoved.


    KURT ANGLE
    I know what you’ve done, Steve. I know all about Pillman, about ‘Taker, about Vince. But you see a pattern there? It’s all in the past. All your accomplishments are old now, Steve. Or did you forget what Vince said to you on Monday?



    McMahon looks a little sheepish stood between them.


    KURT ANGLE
    He called you a cowboy, Steve. An old cowboy, at that. An old cowboy looking for the wild west while civilisation sweeps in. Vince pities you. How does that make you feel? That your biggest enemy now can’t hate you any longer because you’re too damn pathetic?

    VINCE MCMAHON
    That’s not what I meant, Kurt-

    KURT ANGLE
    It’s what you said, though, isn’t it? And you were right, too. Austin is an old cowboy, hanging on to the past as time passes him by. Steve, you’re riding a horse while I’m inventing the car. You are history. You can cling on as much as you want, but the evidence says you can’t survive. Vince was right, people like me didn’t use to exist. But now I do, and you can’t keep up. You never saw what I did coming, and it changed you. It was here in this very arena that you were run down, and that was the end of the Stone Cold Steve Austin story right there. Since then? You lost to Chris Jericho at No Mercy. Submitted, no less, for the first time in your career. Then you got disqualified at Survivor Series. Lost in a multi-man match at Armageddon – that I won, don’t forget. In that time, I beat The Rock for the title, beat Triple H to keep it, won in the five-man match, beat both The Rock and Triple H in a Triple Threat match, and beat Chris Jericho, the man who you couldn’t. And I made him tap out, just as you did to him. And you know the saddest thing in all this? It’s all so obvious, Steve, and I don’t know if you can even see it. Either you can’t, and that’s pretty pathetic, or you can, and are walking straight in to it anyway. But either way, the Wild West died out, Steve… and all that was left was legends and myths of men who used to tame the frontier. And that’s what you’ll become. A legend. A myth. A thing of the past. And you know I’m right.


    Vince, aware that this could boil over at any moment in front of the world’s press, looks to move things along by pointing to another report.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    I think we better move on. You, there, you have a question-

    STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
    Wait jus’ a damn minnit, Vince, I ain’t done.



    Austin steps out from behind his podium and approaches Angle, so Vince waves security to come in just in case. Austin positions himself at the other side of Angle's podium and points straight at him.


    STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
    You sure like runnin’ your damn mouth for someone who ain’t properly been to th’ rodeo yet. You’ve been t’ Wrestlemania once, and ya lost both ya titles that night. Me? I’ve faced Bret, Shawn and Rocky at ‘Mania. Won the World Title in two outta three of them matches. You can run your damn mouth much as ya like about me bein’ past it, but ya don’t know what ‘it’ is yet, son. Ya call yourself the best, but, frankly, I find that disrespectful as all hell. Ya can’t claim t’ be the best ‘til ya stepped in th’ ring with me, and ya ain’t done that ‘cos ya took th’ cowards’ way out instead.

    KURT ANGLE
    You’re gonna need to stop calling me a coward, Steve.

    STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
    Why th’ hell not? It’s damn true. And ya know all about the truth, don’t ya. Ya wanna come out here and spit the truth ‘bout how I’m not the same no more thanks to you? You’re damn right I ain’t the same no more. I’m more dangerous. ‘Cos, thank to you, I don’t know when mah last match is gonna be. It could be mah next one for all I know. I ain’t coastin’ on jack no more. I go out there thinkin’ ev’ry match is gonna be mah last, and it means that I make sure I raise as much hell as I poss’bly can, each and ev’ry tahm I step in this ring. So you talk your truths, ya try all your mind games, but know that I see right through them, Kurt. Ya can say whatever ya want, but ya beady li’l eyes tell me that you’re a scared son of a bitch who knows that, when he’s stuck in th’ ring with me, he ain’t got a chance of winnin’.

    KURT ANGLE
    That’s not true-

    STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
    Damn right, it’s true! It’s why ya took me out in th’ first place! Why ya attacked me with that steel chair! Ya keep takin’ these shortcuts ‘cos you know that your ass belongs t’ Stone Cold Steve Austin-



    ANGLE FLIPS THE PODIUM OUT OF HIS WAY AND SQUARES UP TO AUSTIN!

    Vince waves the security in to the ring, and within seconds there’s a flood of people pulling them apart.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    ENOUGH, DAMN IT! I WON’T HAVE THE TWO OF YOU VIOLATE THE NO CONTACT RULE AND RUIN MY MAIN EVENT THIS CLOSE TO WRESTLEMANIA!



    Still the security guards pull them apart, until Angle finally shrugs himself free, grabs a microphone, and peers over the cluster of security to get a good look at Austin as he talks.


    KURT ANGLE
    You’re wrong, Steve! You’re damn wrong! I’m not afraid of you! The reason I took you out was because I didn’t need to prove to anyone I’m better than you! But if that’s what you want me to do then I’ll do it! This Sunday at Wrestlemania, I’m breaking your damn neck all over again, and I’m keeping my title. And trust me, when I’m done, your boy JR will be screaming “THE ANGLE ERA HAS JUST BEGUN!”, because you’ll be FINISHED!



    Austin, having been restrained by half a dozen security guards, is bundled out of the ring and restrained on the ramp. Security finally let him go, and Vince catches up to him, passing over a microphone as the clicks of the photographers around the ring continue on.


    VINCE MCMAHON
    Any last words for Kurt, Steve?

    STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
    Yeah, I got some damn words for him! Make th’ most of your last three days with the belt, ya son of a bitch, ‘cos aftah ‘Mania, it’s comin’ t’ me! I’ve waited sixteen damn months t’ get mah hands on you and get mah title back, and that’s what I’m gonna do. And I swear t’ God, Angle, I will do whatever it takes to beat your ass at Wrestlemania. Ya wanna say this cowboy is done or whatever… well this cowboy is gonna stomp a mudhole in ya yellow ass and walk it dry… AND THAT’S TH’ BOTTOM LI-INE, ‘COS STONE… COLD… SAID SO!



    Angle again blows up, and takes after Austin, forcing security to hold him back again. Seeing that he’s gotten under the champion’s skin, Austin turns back down the aisle and walks away, knowing he has just three more days to wait until he finally gets to face Kurt Angle… and gets the shot at the WWF Title he so badly wants…

    Quote Originally Posted by wwf.com


    CARD

    No Disqualification Match for the WWF Heavyweight Championship
    Kurt Angle (c) versus Stone Cold Steve Austin

    Chris Jericho versus The Rock

    Triple H versus The Undertaker

    Tables, Ladders & Chairs match for the WWF Tag Team Titles
    Edge & Christian (c) versus The Dudley Boyz versus The Hardy Boyz

    WWF Intercontinental Title Match
    Eddie Guerrero (c) versus Chris Benoit

    WWF Women’s Title Match
    Ivory (c) versus Lita

    Triple Threat Match for the WWF Hardcore Title
    Kane (c) versus Big Show versus Raven

    WWF European Title Match
    William Regal (c) versus Rikishi

    Six-Man Tag match
    Bull Buchanan, The Goodfather & Val Venis versus The APA & Tazz

    Gimmick Battle Royal
    Brother Love versus Butch Miller versus Doink The Clown versus Duke Droese versus Earthquake versus The Gobbledy Gooker versus The Goon versus The Iron Sheik versus Jim Cornette versus Kamala versus Kim Chee versus Luke Williams versus Michael Hayes versus Nikolai Volkoff versus One Man Gang versus Repo Man versus Sgt. Slaughter versus Tugboat





    CHAPTER IX
    MATCH #2: THE SHOWCASE OF THE IMMORTALS




    Spoiler:


    We cut back from the My Way Limp Bizkit hype package to see PAUL HEYMAN and JIM ROSS sat at the commentary table.


    PAUL HEYMAN
    This… is the main event.

    JIM ROSS
    Let’s take it up to th’ Fink.



    We see Howard Finkel in his best tuxedo stood in the middle of the ring.


    HOWARD FINKEL
    The following… is the NO… DISQUALIFICATION… MATCH… for the WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION… HEAVYWEIGHT… CHAMPIONSHIP!





    The crowd pop.




    There’s an UNGODLY amount of heat as from the backstage area KURT ANGLE appears on the stage. He stands at the top of the ramp and looks out at the 70,000+ fans all baying for blood, booing ferociously at the man who tried to end Steve Austin’s career not once, but twice.

    Angle, wearing a brand new white singlet and the WWF Title wrapped around his waist, looks up the heavens and points to the sky, triggering a huge explosion of red, white and blue pyrotechnics, the likes of which have never accompanied the champ before.

    With smoke starting to fill the stadium, Angle walks down the extra-long aisle, staring at the ring ahead, his eyes a picture of perfect focus.


    JIM ROSS
    And here he is, th’ WWF Champ’n. Th’ man responsible for runnin’ Steve Austin down sixteen months ago. For so long he had us all fooled, had us believin’ that he wasn’t responsible as somethin’ as sickenin’ as he did, but Paul, here and now, he’s in Stone Cold country, and he’s in enemy territory.

    PAUL HEYMAN
    Kurt Angle will not care about any of that. Kurt Angle hasn’t tried to please a single person since he got here. Let me tell you this, JR, Kurt Angle is focused on one thing and one thing alone; and that is being the best of the best.

    JIM ROSS
    Well, it takes some guts in mah book to come out here and wear white aftah ev’rythin’ he’s done.

    PAUL HEYMAN
    That’s because he’s the hero of this story, not your pal Steve Austin. Kurt Angle is the first of a new generation of wrestlers who will do whatever it takes to get ahead, and I have to say, if this is a glimpse in to the future of the WWF, I for one am very excited about what’s to come.



    Angle reaches the ring and climbs between the ropes, and pirouettes on the spot in the centre of the ring, perfectly content in his skin, unconcerned with the negativity of the crowd.


    PAUL HEYMAN
    Would’ya look at him, JR? New ring gear, new pyro… here is a man who knows the world is watching, and is putting on a show for us. He knows tonight is his coronation. I hope you’re excited, JR, because the Angle Era is about to begin!



    The music dies down as camera turns to the audience to gauge their reaction…





    AN ALMIGHTY POP FOR THE RATTLESNAKE! The Reliant Astrodome SHAKES with support for the arrival of the home-state boy as STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN bounds out on to the stage and down the ramp. There is no posing, no pyro for him. Instead he walks along the long aisle, in the middle of his passionately adoring fans. It looks as though all of Angle’s talk of him being “The Last Cowboy” has only further endeared him to the Texas audience…


    JIM ROSS
    Would ya listen to th’ reaction for th’ Texas Rattlesnake?! Stone Cold is here, and damn it, he’s comin’ for Kurt Angle, and he’s comin’ for th’ WWF Title! A broken neck in 1997. Spinal surgery after Angle ran him down in ’99. Another attempt at puttin’ him on the shelf just two months ago. Stone Cold has had so many surgeries ya might as well call ‘im the Bionic Redneck, but sixteen months aftah bein’ put on the shelf by Kurt Angle… Steve Austin is here to be th’ top man in the bus’ness again.

    PAUL HEYMAN
    I’ve got nothing but respect for Steve Austin. I worked with him in WCW, and I worked with him in ECW. Steve Austin is one of the all-time greats in wrestling history. But there comes a time when every great has to stand aside and let the next generation through, just as Bret and Shawn had to do for Steve, and I think we’re about to see that night tonight, here in the Reliant Astrodome in Houston, Texas.


    Austin reaches the bottom of the ramp and climbs in to the ring. Ignoring the champion, he bounds across the canvas and to the corner, climbing on the turnbuckle and posing for the fans. The flashbulbs alight the entire arena as he poses for his adoring fans, before backing down and heading to another. Corner by corner he salutes the people who have stood by him for so long, each of them desperate to see him climb to the back of the mountain one final time.

    Having finished saluting the fans, Austin drops down and heads to the centre of the ring where Angle awaits him. With the bell not yet having rung, neither man is allowed to come in to contact with the other, so they stand less than a foot away, just staring at one another. Angle gradually loosens the strap of the championship belt around his waist and lifts it up above his head to a chorus of boos. Austin, to his credit, keeps his eyes trained on Angle, refusing to be distracted by the belt.


    PAUL HEYMAN
    Not an inkling of fear in the eyes of Kurt Angle! He knows this is his night for the taking. He’s the lion cub grown old, challenging the alpha, ready to take his place at the head of the pride, and he will... not… back… down.

    JIM ROSS
    Ya can call it what ya want, Paul. Ya can say it’s the young lion takin’ out th’ older lion. Ya can call it a cowboy in th’ old west tryin’-a stand up in th’ face of oncomin’ civilisation. Ya can call it a dozen diff’rent metaphors, but what it comes down to… is one man tried t’ end another’s career, an’ th’ other wants revenge. One man has th’ WWF Title… and th’ other man wants it. Either we’re about t’ see that Austin still belongs at th’ top of this sport… or we’re goin’ to crown a new top dog. But one way or another… things will nevah be the same aftah tonight!



    Referee EARL HEBNER takes the belt away from Angle and holds it up so each side of the ring can see it. He hands it to the timekeeper, does a final check with each competitor that they’re ready to go… and calls for the bell!


    * DING DING DING *


    AUSTIN STARTS BEATING THE SHIT OUT OF ANGLE!

    No sooner has the bell rung that Austin unleashes an ALMIGHTY flurry of right hands to the champion, sending Angle back in to the ropes and in to the turnbuckle. Normally the referee would call for a ropebreak but, even if he does, Austin’s under no requirement to break it up. Instead he continues to punch at Angle, over and over again!

    Angle gradually slips down to the corner of the ring, slumped against the turnbuckle, so Austin starts stomping him in the corner!


    JIM ROSS
    STONE COLD! STONE COLD! Stone Cold’s come out a house afire, and he’s stompin’ a mudhole in Angle’s ass an’ walkin’ it dry! He’s waited SIXTEEN MONTHS for this moment… and he’s beatin’ him like a government mule!



    Austin only stops when he has to pause for a break, allowing Angle back to his feet. Austin looks to throw punches again, but Angle knows there’s no way he can win the contest if it turns in to a slugfest. He dashes behind Austin…

    AND LOOKS FOR THE DEADLY DRAGON CLUTCH ALREADY!

    But Austin slips out… and starts clubbing at the back of Angle’s neck! Austin will NOT be stopped!

    Angle tries to scurry back to his feet, but again he’s cut off by big right hands from Austin. He pounds at the champion until he’s again up against the ropes, so Austin whips him across the ring… LOU THESZ PRESS! He gets it early… and pounds away while Angle’s on the mat!

    The champion is already knocked loopy, so Austin gets to his feet and bounces off the ropes… FU ELBOW! He gets up again… ANOTHER! AND A THIRD! Austin’s beating the hell out of him!

    Angle, realising this, rolls to the outside of the ring to try and get some space. Austin follows after him, wasting little time, and looks to attack… but Angle cuts him off with a knee to the gut! He looks to whip Austin in to the steel steps… but Austin reverses… and ANGLE CRASHES IN TO THE METAL!

    Angle yelps in pain as he struggles to his feet and falls in to the barricade… so Austin Clotheslines him over it! He’s not giving the champion a second to recover!

    Angle staggers up in the crowd, so Austin climbs over the barricade and follows him in there. Austin continues the flurry of punches, forcing Angle up the stairs and deeper in among the partisan-Stone Cold crowd. Angle pulls a security guard in to Austin’s path to try and get a break, realising that the match has so far fallen perfectly in to Austin’s strategy and not his, and when Austin returns to him he rakes his eyes!

    Austin paws at his face, so Angle sneaks behind… he wants an Angle Slam on the concrete! He lifts him up… but Austin leaps out… big right hand! And Angle goes toppling down the stairs!

    Austin follows him down as Angle again leans against the barricade, trying to gather a little breath after the beating he’s already taken… Austin charges towards him… so Angle Back Body Drops him over the barricade, on to the protective mats on the outside! Finally Angle’s had something resembling offence!

    Austin tries to hide his pain and pulls himself up using the ringpost, so Angle climbs on to the barricade, ready to leap off… he composes himself as Austin turns around, so Angle dives at him…

    RIGHT IN TO A LOW BLOW!


    JIM ROSS
    Right to th’ Olympic crotch! That right there is as legal as a wristlock in a No DQ match.

    PAUL HEYMAN
    And there you see how desperate Stone Cold Steve Austin is to win this contest.


    As Angle writhes in pain on the mats, Austin returns to the barricade, stretching out his neck… and pulls the protective layer off the barricade! He’s exposed the steel inside!

    But Angle’s back up… he jumps Austin from behind! Austin falls in to the barricade, so Angle follows up with a series of right hands, trying desperately to find a way back in to the contest. He notices the barricade is exposed, so he lifts Austin up… but Austin slips out… ANOTHER LOW BLOW!

    Angle grabs at his crotch, so Austin lifts him up… and drops him face first on the steel! Angle staggers back…

    SO AUSTIN LAUNCHES HIM FACE FIRST IN TO THE RINGPOST!

    AND ANGLE’S BUSTED OPEN ALREADY!



    JIM ROSS
    Would’ya look at the face of th’ champ’n! Blood’s streamin’ down his face, and he’s barely got in an offensive manoeuvre! They’ve barely been th’ ring! Maybe now Kurt Angle is regrettin’ ev’rythin’ he’s done to Stone Cold Steve Austin?!



    Blood running down from the gash on Angle’s forehead, he crawls away from Austin and pulls himself in to the ring, taking himself back to the area he feels more comfortable. If he had a gameplan coming in it hasn’t worked, as Austin’s battered him very much in the confines of where he’s most comfortable.

    Austin follows Angle in to the ring and stands, poised, waiting for Angle to get to his feet…


    JIM ROSS
    He’s lookin’ for it! Is this it? Is Stone Cold ready t’ finish this match already?


    Angle turns around, blood running on to his white singlet… WHERE AUSTIN FLIPS HIM OFF!

    Kick to the gut…

    STUNNER!

    NO! ANGLE REVERSES… GERMAN SUPLEX!

    RIGHT ON TO THE NECK!



    JIM ROSS
    Did y’see that? The impact on that surgically repaired neck! Angle brought him down with VICIOUS velocity!

    PAUL HEYMAN
    What ring presence from Kurt Angle. He’s been suckered in to Austin’s type of match, he’s barely gotten a move in, he’s already busted open, and he still found a way to reverse that Stunner attempt in to a German Suplex. And that’s why he’s the WWF Champion. I applaud him!

    JIM ROSS
    Stone Cold may have made a big mistake there. He din’t do enough to put Angle away before he tried that Stunner, and he’s been made to pay for it.



    The pain on Austin’s face is clear for all to see as he holds his injured neck. After what happened with Owen in ’97, the car in ’99, and Angle’s attack around 6 weeks ago, there was no secret that Austin probably wasn’t 100% coming in to this contest. But after just one German Suplex, the toll on his body is only now truly apparent.

    Like a shark to blood, Angle sees the opportunity and dives in to a Front Face Lock on the mat and wrenches at the neck, not allowing Austin a moment to recover. With Austin’s head trapped under his right arm, Angle uses the left to club at the back of Austin’s neck and head. Austin tries to push the arm away, so Angle adjusts his body weight…

    … and grabs a Legscissors around Austin’s neck!


    PAUL HEYMAN
    If you didn’t know what Angle’s strategy was going to be coming in, now you do. He’s slowing this contest down to his speed and he’s focusing on that injured neck.

    JIM ROSS
    Don’t forget, that was exactly th’ strategy of Chris Jericho at No Mercy, and it worked for him. I may not like it, but if ya wanna find a way t’ beat Stone Cold Steve Austin, I have to admit that’s th’ way that’s been proven t’ get to him.



    With his neck trapped between the enormous thighs of the champion, Austin tries to wriggle free. Sensing he may be getting close, Angle quickly adjusts his body again and leaps back in to the Front Face Lock.

    But he doesn’t leave it there. With Austin’s head trapped again, Angle pulls him to his feet and throws his arm over his neck… Suplex!

    And in one fluid motion, he rolls in to the first cover of the match…


    ONE…

    T…


    QUICK KICK OUT FROM AUSTIN!



    But Angle dives straight back in to the Front Face Lock again!


    JIM ROSS
    I gotta say, I wasn’t expectin’ t’ see Angle go for th’ cover so early. After ev’rythin’ he said ‘bout wantin’ t’ end Austin’s career and prove he’s the better man, he’s tried to get the easy pinfall there.

    PAUL HEYMAN
    There’s nothing easy about what’s going on in the ring right now, JR. Angle likely knew that wasn’t enough to get a three-count, but he’s making Austin kick out anyway. Austin’s expending energy he can’t afford to lose.

    JIM ROSS
    Or maybe he’s jus’ worried he can’t beat him?


    Angle, still holding the Front Face Lock, again pulls Austin up… and again transition in to a Suplex! He goes for the cover again…


    ONE…

    TW…


    KICK OUT!



    Again Angle goes to the Face Lock! He looks for the transition to the Suplex again… but Austin blocks it! Angle tries again… but again Austin puts the breaks on… and looks for a Suplex of his own!

    Austin tries to lift the champion… but Kurt re-adjusts his body weight…

    AND REVERSES IN TO A SWINGING NECKBREAKER!

    Austin yelps in pain as he holds at the neck, so Angle makes the cover and hooks the leg…


    ONE…

    TWO…

    T…


    KICK OUT!



    With each cover Angle gets a little closer to the three, so he jumps in to the Front Face Lock again to keep Austin under his control.

    But Austin starts to fire back! He punches away at Angle’s midsection, then drives his elbow in, trying to force Angle back… and it works! Austin slugs away as Angle falls in to the ropes… Austin whips him across the ring, trying to speed the match up… Angle bounces back…

    ANOTHER LOU THESZ PRESS!

    NO!
    Angle catches up! He carries Austin across the ring…

    AND SNAPS HIS NECK OFF THE TOP ROPE!

    Austin falls to the mat, clutching at his neck… so Angle dives in to the Front Face Lock again! He’s not giving Austin even a moment to breathe!

    Again Angle focuses on the neck, driving his elbow in it as he holds the lock in… Austin tries to move to free himself up, so Angle releases and slips behind…

    IN TO A CROSSFACE CHICKEN WING!


    Angle wraps his legs around Austin’s midsection, preventing him from fighting him off, and twists his neck at an unholy angle.


    JIM ROSS
    Cross Face Chickenwing! He’s got it locked in, bang in th’ middle of th’ ring!

    PAUL HEYMAN
    It’s about time we got to our feet and applauded Kurt Angle for this absolute clinic he is putting on-

    JIM ROSS
    Would you sit down?

    PAUL HEYMAN
    No I will not, JR, and I’ll tell you why. This may be the best performance I’ve ever seen in a Wrestlemania main event. Stone Cold Steve Austin tried turn it in to a bar fight, he busted Angle open, and since that point Angle has dominated him on the mat. He’s not just winning, he’s winning the way he wants to win. The strategy is perfect, the execution is even better. We are watching the coronation of Kurt Angle right before our very eyes.

    JIM ROSS
    I wouldn’t write Stone Cold off yet.

    PAUL HEYMAN
    But I will! In 1997 Stone Cold wanted the top spot and tried to go through Bret Hart to get there. And you know what happened there? He failed. Kurt Angle will not fail tonight.


    Angle squeezes for all his worth, trying to drain the energy out of his opponent. Austin waves his free arm around, but there’s nowhere for him to go. Still Angle holds on, like a boa constrictor tightening his grip every time Austin tries to fight him off.

    And finally, Austin begins to fade…

    Or does he?!

    The Rattlesnake gets a second wind and tries again to loosen Angle’s grip. He waves his free arm in the air, trying to battle out… and starts elbowing Angle in the midsection! Still Angle holds on, so Austin tries to fight it, drive the point of his elbow in to Angle’s ribs… but STILL Angle holds on…

    … so Austin reaches behind him and starts clawing at Angle’s eyes!

    SO ANGLE HAS TO LET GO!

    Both men get back to their feet, so Angle tries to cut off with another Front Face Lock… but Austin ducks! Angle spins around… big right hand from Austin! And another! And another! Angle bounces in to the ropes, so Austin whips him across the ring… Angle rebounds towards him…

    … Austin with the Clothesline…

    … but Angle ducks under it! He hits the other side of the ring and bounces back…

    IN TO A SPINEBUSTER!

    But Austin doesn’t go for the cover!


    PAUL HEYMAN
    What a strategic error from Stone Cold Steve Austin. He could have won the match right there, he could be our new champion, and he’s turned the opportunity down… and that will come back to bite you against Kurt Angle.

    JIM ROSS
    I don’t think he wants to win that easily, Paul.


    Austin, instead of looking for the pin, heads to the corner… and undoes the top turnbuckle pad! He’s wanting to turn this back in to a fight again!

    With the metal exposed, Austin picks Angle off the mat and drags him to the corner. He grabs the back of his head and looks to slam it in to the steel… but Angle gets a foot on the second rope to block!

    Austin tries to force it… but Angle slips behind…

    GERMAN SUPLEX! RIGHT ON THE NECK AGAIN!

    Angle isn’t done there! He keeps hold of Austin’s waist and pulls him up, not having released from the previous Suplex…

    ANOTHER GERMAN SUPLEX!

    AND STILL ANGLE HOLDS ON!


    He lifts Austin up again looking for a third in a row…

    … but Austin elbows his way out of it!

    He slips behind Angle… but Angle in turn slips behind him…

    AND NAILS A DRAGON SUPLEX… WITH A BRIDGE! HE’S MAKING THE COVER!


    ONE…

    TWO…

    THR…


    KICK OUT!



    JIM ROSS
    Kick out from Austin! Austin’s still alive!

    PAUL HEYMAN
    Who cares, JR? Did you see the form on that bridge? What an athlete Kurt Angle is!

    JIM ROSS
    Oh, he’s a fine athlete alright, no doubt about that, but if he ain’t careful Stone Cold’s gonna turn this back in to a fight again, and that’s a contest he can’t win.

    PAUL HEYMAN
    Kurt Angle can do everything! That’s why we’re entering the Angle Era! I’m a believer!


    As the announcers bicker, Angle looks at the referee, frustrated, and holds up three fingers. Hebner waves it off, though, adamant the call was good, leaving Angle to plan for his next manoeuvre.

    He looks down to Austin, who is back to holding his injured neck again… AND ANGLE LEAVES THE RING! HE’S GRABBING THE TITLE BELT!


    JIM ROSS
    Angle’s gettin’ frustrated! His strategy’s slippin’! He doesn’t wanna take this to a fight, he wants Austin on th’ mat!

    PAUL HEYMAN
    I think Kurt Angle knows what he’s doing, JR. He’s just finishing Austin off once and for all, and he’s using the very belt Austin craves to do it. It’s poetry, JR.

    JIM ROSS
    Poetry, my ass!



    Still Austin clutches at his neck as Angle rolls in to the ring and lines up his shot. Austin pulls himself up on the ropes and staggers around, forcing Angle to line up the shot from different angles. Still Austin doesn’t face him… until he rests against the ropes, giving Angle the opening he needs!

    He charges…

    BUT AUSTIN BACK BODY DROPS HIM OVER THE TOP ROPE!

    Angle hits the mats with a thud, and Austin wastes little time in following up. He rolls on to the apron and stands there as Angle gets up… Double Axe Handle off the ring apron! Angle tumbles in to the announce table!

    Austin follows him over and smashes his face against the table, not once, not twice, but three times, then grabs Angle by the neck… and tosses him in to the timekeeper’s table!

    Hebner tries to get Austin to take it to the ring…


    JIM ROSS
    Earl Hebner wantin’ to get th’ match back in t’ th’ ring.

    PAUL HEYMAN
    Why does he care? It’s No DQ?

    JIM ROSS
    No DQ, but not Falls Count Anywhere! If Austin’s gonna win th’ match he needs t’ do it in the ring!


    Still Hebner tells Austin to get back in the ring… SO AUSTIN FLIPS HIM OFF!

    AND STARTS STRIPPING THE ANNOUNCE TABLE!


    Heyman and JR flee the scene, allowing Austin to tear out the monitors and leave just the bare wood of the surface. He heads back to Angle, ready to put him through it…

    BUT ANGLE NAILS HIM IN THE FACE WITH THE RINGBELL!

    AND AUSTIN’S BUSTED WIDE OPEN!



    JIM ROSS
    Would’ya look at th’ size of the gash on Austin’s head?! His face is a crimson mask!

    PAUL HEYMAN
    Austin should have listened to Earl Hebner! He can’t win the match out there, but his need for revenge cost him one of the few openings he’s had… and now Angle’s caused an opening on his head!



    Austin flops back on to the announce table, blood dripping off his head and on to the wood. Angle follows him there, his own gash having started to dry up, and slams Austin’s bloody head against the table, sending droplets spraying across the announce area.

    Angle then looks at the table, seeing that Austin had already prepped it… and decides to use it for himself!

    Angle climbs on the table and pulls Austin up… and places his head between his thighs!


    JIM ROSS
    GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY! GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY! TELL ME ANGLE ISN’T PLANNIN’ ON A PILEDRIVER THROUGH TH’ TABLE! IT’LL BREAK HIS DAMN NECK! IT’LL END HIS DAMN CAREER!

    PAUL HEYMAN
    That’s the point, JR! He promised he would break Austin’s neck again, and that’s exactly what he’s planning on doing!

    JIM ROSS
    DON’T YOU DARE DO THIS, YA SON OF A BITCH! WHAT KIND OF CHAMP’N?... WHAT KIND OF A MAN WOULD DO THIS TO ANOTHER HUMAN BEIN’?


    Angle wraps him arms around Austin’s waist and tries to lift him up…

    … but Austin fights it!

    Angle tries again…

    … but Austin fights it again! Austin repositions his feet as Angle tries to get a better grip…


    BUT BACK BODY DROPS ANGLE OVER HIS SHOULDERS…


    … THROUGH THE SPANISH ANNOUNCE TABLE!


    ANGLE CRASHES AND BURNS, AND PIECES OF THE TABLE ERUPT IN TO THE AIR!



    JIM ROSS
    BAH GOD, WHAT IMPACT! WHAT A COLLISION! SKIN ON WOOD! THE CHAMP’N HAS JUST GONE BACK-FIRST THROUGH THE BAH GOD SPANISH ANNOUNCE TABLE!



    Austin takes the opportunity to regather his breath once he slips off the announce desk, now almost covered in the blood pouring out of the challenger’s head.

    Angle is unmoved, buried in the debris, so finally Austin pulls himself back to his feet, blood covering his bald head and shoulders, and pulls Angle out of the wreckage and back in to the ring.

    But Austin doesn’t follow him… instead, he reaches under the ring… and pulls out a steel chair to a HUGE POP!



    PAUL HEYMAN
    What the hell is this? Do something, JR! You’re his friend, calm him down!

    JIM ROSS
    You didn’t seem t’ care when it was Kurt Angle doin’ it!

    PAUL HEYMAN
    Because Angle has a plan! This is just a desperate act from a desperate man!

    JIM ROSS
    It’s a violent act from a dangerous Rattlesnake, is what it is!



    Austin rolls in the ring with his chair and waits for Angle to get to his feet… the champion struggles back up and turns around…

    IN TO A HUGE CHAIR SHOT FROM AUSTIN!

    Hebner drops to the mat, ready to make the cover…


    STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
    I ain’t done with this sumbitch yet!



    Hebner can only climb back to his feet and shrug, left with little choice as Austin throws the chair to the side, ready to put a final exclamation on the match… he waits for Angle to get back up…


    … kick to the gut…

    STUNNER!

    NO!


    Angle held on… GERMAN SUPLEX! ANOTHER GERMAN SUPLEX REVERSAL…

    … AND AGAIN ANGLE HOLDS ON…

    … ANOTHER…

    … THEN ANOTHER…

    … THEN ANOTHER!




    JIM ROSS
    FOUR German Suplexes in a row! That’s SEVEN Austin’s taken to his injured neck already, damn it! This is too damn much!


    BUT STILL ANGLE HOLDS ON!

    ANOTHER GERMAN SUPLEX! FIVE IN A ROW!


    And FINALLY Angle let’s go!

    But it’s too late for Austin! He can merely lie on the mat, holding at his neck and unable to move after the VICIOUS onslaught from the champion.

    Angle gets back to his feet and approaches Hebner…


    KURT ANGLE
    I’m gonna make this son of a bitch tap out!



    Angle pauses as he waits for Austin to somehow, someway get back to his feet. Austin staggers around the ring, so Angle crouches behind him, poised, arms outstretched… ready for the Dragon Clutch!

    He stalks Austin from behind, waiting for his chance…

    … when he goes for it…

    and he has it locked in!

    NO!

    Austin slips out and behind… MILLION DOLLAR DREAM!

    We haven’t seen Austin use this move in years!

    But Angle adjusts himself... he slides around Austin’s back…

    ANGLE SLAM!

    NO!

    But Austin leaps out of it…

    … kick to the gut…

    STUNNER!

    AUSTIN NAILS ANGLE WITH THE STUNNER!

    THE CHAMPION IS DOWN!


    Austin makes the cover…


    ONE…

    TWO…

    THRE…

    KICK OUT!



    ANGLE KICKED OUT OF THE STONE COLD STUNNER!


    JIM ROSS
    WHAT TH’ HELL AM I SEEIN’?! KURT ANGLE JUST KICKED OUT OF THE BAH GOD STONE COLD STUNNER!

    PAUL HEYMAN
    What fighting spirit from our champion! He’s taken everything Austin’s thrown at him and he’s still fighting back! Austin’s hit his big move and it wasn’t enough!



    Austin, blood still trickling down his face, looks on stunned. He turns to Hebner and asks if it wasn’t a three, but the ref confirms it wasn’t. Austin went for it, and it didn’t pay off.

    With Angle stirring, Austin has to act quickly. He returns to the steel chair that worked so well for him earlier as Angle gets to his feet…

    Austin swings…

    … but Angle ducks!

    ANGLE SLAM!

    KURT ANGLE NAILED HIS ANGLE SLAM OUT OF NOWHERE!


    He makes the cover…


    ONE…

    TWO…

    THRE…


    KICK OUT!



    AND NOW IT’S ANGLE’S TURN TO BE PISSED!

    He barks at Hebner that his count was slow, but again Earl protests his innocence. With neither participant’s finishing move being enough, Angle takes Austin’s chair… but he won’t make the same mistake the Rattlesnake did! He isn’t waiting for Austin to get back up…

    … HE SENDS THE CHAIR CRASHING DOWN ON AUSTIN’S PRONE BODY!

    Over and over Angle drives the chair in to Austin’s body, just as he did when he was revealed to be Austin’s attacker. Over and over and over again he crashes the steel in to Austin’s neck, back and legs, until both Angle and the chair are spent, leaving Austin as little more than a lifeless body in the ring.

    Puffing his chest out as he draws in air, and wiping the last of the drying blood from his head, Angle looks down at Austin. He has him where he wants him, beaten, broken, tired. There’s no fight left in the Rattlesnake. The end is near…

    … so Angle feeds Austin’s head through the fold in the chair…


    JIM ROSS
    Good lord…


    … positions him towards the turnbuckle…


    JIM ROSS
    Tell me we’re not going t’ see this…



    … and climbs to the second rope.


    PAUL HEYMAN
    Here it is, JR! The end has arrived for Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Kurt Angle’s coronation as the guy in the business is upon us…

    JIM ROSS
    How can ya talk like this?! This is a man’s life we’re talkin’ ‘bout! His career! And Angle’s tryin’-a bah god finish it here tonight! This is pure evil, no other word for it!



    Angle composes himself on the rope, ready to leap off and finish the match, and Austin’s career, with one final assault…

    BUT AUSTIN’S UP!

    Angle took too long setting up and Austin gets to his feet! He pulls the chair off his head with Angle still trapped on the second rope…

    CHAIR SHOT STRAIGHT TO THE FACE OF ANGLE!

    Angle’s knocked loopy! He teeters on the second rope… but he’s in another universe! Austin tosses the chair to the side and joins him on the second rope…

    SUPERPLEX!

    Angle absolutely SPLATS on the mat!

    But Austin doesn’t look too happy either, as he drags himself across the mat, again holding his neck…


    JIM ROSS
    Big high impact move from Austin, but he may have done more damage t’ himself than his opponent…


    Austin staggers around the ring, trying to get some feeling back in his neck as Angle lays prone in the ring. Austin seems to be on another planet as well… when he trips on the steel chair!

    Austin looks down at the chair… then to Angle… back to the chair… and back to Angle…


    PAUL HEYMAN
    No way! He better not be thinking what I think he’s thinking…


    Austin takes the chair off the mat… opens it a little…

    AND PLACES ANGLE’S HEAD IN THE FOLD!


    PAUL HEYMAN
    Somebody stop this! This is our WWF Champion, and he’s about to be decimated by a violent thug-

    JIM ROSS
    Turnabout’s fair play, Paul-

    PAUL HEYMAN
    Keep your JR-isms at home, this is a man’s life we’re talking about!


    Austin climbs to the second rope and pauses, ready to leap off…but he’s not high enough! Austin wants to go to the top rope!


    PAUL HEYMAN
    How can you condone this, JR?!

    JIM ROSS
    I ain’t condoin’ nothin’, but if Angle hadn’t tried to do this exact thing to Austin, maybe it wouldn’t be happenin’ to him right now either!


    Austin prepares himself to jump…

    WHEN ANGLE SPRINGS TO HIS FEET! HE WAS PLAYING POSSUM!

    Angle sprints across the ring and bounds up the ropes in a fluid motion…

    BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX OFF THE TOP ROPE!

    Both men hit the canvas as one, and Angle immediately drapes an arm over Austin…


    ONE…

    TWO…

    THR…


    KICK OUT!



    JIM ROSS
    Kick out from Austin! Kick out from Austin! Can you believe th’ fight in th’ challenger?!

    PAUL HEYMAN
    To hell with the challenger, JR, did you see the athleticism of the champion?!


    Angle, meanwhile, can’t believe that wasn’t enough to put Austin away. He gets to his feet, spit hanging off his bottom lip, and looks down at the Rattlesnake with a crazed look in his eyes…

    … ANGLE PULLS DOWN THE STRAPS!


    KURT ANGLE
    GET UP! C’MON, AUSTIN, GET YOUR ASS UP! YOU’RE DONE! GET UP, YOU SON OF A BITCH!



    Austin slowly struggles back up to his feet, little fight left in him… so Angle slips behind…

    ANGLE SLAM!

    NO!
    Austin elbows out of it!

    Kick to the gut…

    … but Angle catches the foot! He pulls him in…

    … IN TO AN OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX!

    Austin instinctively gets back to his feet, but he’s clearly dazed…

    … so Angle rams his face in to the exposed turnbuckle…

    AND SLIDES IN TO AN ANGLE SLAM!

    HE NAILS IT! KURT CONNECTS WITH THE ANGLE SLAM!


    He makes the cover…


    ONE...

    TWO…

    THRE…


    KICK OUT! AT THE VERY LAST SECOND!



    JIM ROSS
    I DON’T BELIEVE IT! I DON’T BAH GOD BELIEVE MAH EYES! STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN KICKED UT OF THE ANGLE SLAM!

    PAUL HEYMAN
    It’s over, Steve, stop fighting it!



    Angle sits in the corner of the ring, staring at the downed but still fighting challenger. After everything he’s thrown at Austin he’s managed to stay in it, and he knows it’s going to take something special…

    Angle looks from Austin to the top rope above him… and starts to climb…


    JIM ROSS
    High-risk from the champ’n here…

    PAUL HEYMAN
    This isn’t high-risk, it’s a statement! He’s finishing with a flourish!



    Angle stands up right on the top rope and takes a deep breath…

    MOONSAULT!

    MISSES!


    Austin moved at the last second, and Angle crashed and burned!

    Austin gets to his feet… AND HE’S HOLDING THE TITLE BELT ANGLE BROUGHT IN TO THE RING EARLIER!

    Angle gets up… SO AUSTIN BLASTS HIM IN THE FACE WITH THE TITLE BELT!

    Austin makes the cover… his first of the match…


    ONE…

    TWO…

    THR…


    KICK OUT!



    JIM ROSS
    Angle just… got… th’ shoulder… up!

    PAUL HEYMAN
    What determination from the champion!

    JIM ROSS
    And Stone Cold finally made a pinfall attempt too…

    PAUL HEYMAN
    This isn’t about making a statement anymore. He’s in a fight for survival and he knows it! He just wants to get out of there with the win…


    Now both men are struggling badly. Together they gradually ease themselves back to their feet, bloodied, exhausted, and yet still fighting. They slowly stand up and come together in the middle of the ring…

    Big right hand from Austin!

    Big right hand from Angle!

    Right from Austin!

    Right from Angle!

    Austin!

    Angle!

    Austin!

    Angle!


    PAUL HEYMAN
    It’s a hockey fight in the middle of the ring!

    JIM ROSS
    This ain’t a fight… it’s a slobberknocker!



    Austin gets the better of the exchange and fires off a series of right hands… he looks for a Clothesline…

    … but Angle ducks…

    AND LOCKS IN THE DRAGON CLUTCH!

    But Austin Jawbreakers out of it!

    He kicks Angle in the gut…

    STUNNER!

    NO!
    Angle readjusts…

    IN TO ANOTHER GERMAN SUPLEX…

    WITH A BRIDGE!



    ONE…

    TWO…

    THR…


    KICK OUT AGAIN!



    Austin kicked out! But that doesn’t mean there’s anything left in the tank…

    … Angle looks down on Austin’s almost-defeated body and approaches his feet… he lifts them up and pulls him in…

    IN TO A LIONTAMER!


    JIM ROSS
    What th’ hell is this?!

    PAUL HEYMAN
    ‘This’ is brilliant, JR! It’s the Liontamer! It’s the only move Stone Cold Steve Austin has ever tapped out to! Angle’s gonna make Austin tap out in the main event of Wrestlemania… in front of his home-state fans!



    Angle leans way, WAY back in to the hold, distorting Austin’s neck and back at a brutal angle. Austin cries out in pain, just as he did at No Mercy, and aimlessly reaches out ahead of him, hoping to find a rope or something to break up the hold…


    JIM ROSS
    Angle’s got it locked in… and Austin’s a long way from the ropes! And don’t forget, folks, this is No DQ, but this isn’t Falls Count Anywhere… if Austin can reach th’ ropes, th’ hold no longer counts…

    PAUL HEYMAN
    Doesn’t mean Angle has to let it go, though!

    JIM ROSS
    No it does not, Paul, but at least he can’t lose there…



    Austin tries to drag himself towards the ropes in the corner of the ring, desperately shuffling forward bit by bit…

    … but Angle only reaches back further!

    Angle cranks it back, so Austin roars in agony… he reaches out for the ropes but they’re that little bit too far away… Angle reaches back even more, his own back now distorted at an unhealthy angle, all in the hopes of getting that final tap and bringing this match to an end…

    Austin reaches out… but he’s too far! He isn’t going to make it!

    He lifts his hand to tap…

    … and it grazes the back of Angle’s singlet! Angle’s leaning so far back Austin can reach his ring gear!

    Austin reaches back further and grabs a handful of Angle’s singlet… and pulls it back…

    SENDING ANGLE BACK-FIRST IN TO THE EXPOSED TURNBUCKLE!


    Angle cries in pain and releases the hold as he stumbles in to the centre of the ring, so Austin, in a final burst of energy, gets to his feet too…

    … kick to the gut…

    STUNNER!

    AUSTIN NAILS THE STUNNER!


    But he’s too exhausted to do anything with it!

    Both men are out in the centre of the ring, trying their best to recover from the brutal match so far, both physically and emotionally.

    Austin starts to stir and pulls himself towards Angle… but Angle’s moving as well! The Stunner was for nothing! Angle tries to get back up, so Austin joins him… he waits for Angle to turn around… he’s ready to bring it to an end…

    … he kicks Angle in the gut…

    STUNNER…

    REVERSED IN TO THE DRAGON CLUTCH!

    AND IT’S LOCKED IN… BANG IN THE CENTRE OF THE RING!



    JIM ROSS
    HE’S GOT IT LOCKED IN! DRAGON CLUTCH! DRAGON CLUTCH!

    PAUL HEYMAN
    Scotty Too Hotty… K-Kwik… Jeff Hardy… Test… Chris Benoit… Chris Jericho… you’re about to be able to add Stone Cold Steve Austin to the list of men who have tapped out to Angle’s Dragon Clutch!



    Angle furiously pulls on Austin’s neck, distorting it to an unreal angle! He wrenches at it, pulling at the tendons, trying to snap the spinal cord and finally prove he’s the better man. Austin tries to fight it but there’s nowhere to go! He reaches for the ropes but they’re too far away! Austin has nowhere to go…

    … so he pushes on to his feet… and rolls backwards…

    IN TO A PINNING POSITION! ANGLE’S SHOULDERS ARE DOWN!


    ONE…

    TWO…

    TH…


    KICK OUT!



    Angle just rolls the shoulder in time… but he had to release the hold!

    Both men are up… Austin wildly swings at the champion…

    … but Angle ducks…

    AND CATCHES HIM IN THE DRAGON CLUTCH AGAIN!


    Angle forces Austin down to his knees, preventing him from rolling back in to another pin, and holds it in tight. Austin again tries to fight it, but there’s nothing left! Angle has him exactly where he wants him!

    Austin starts to fall limp… he’s fading under the pressure on his surgically repaired neck… there’s nothing left to give…

    … his hand falls to his side…

    … and brushes the steel chair! The chair is still in the ring from earlier!

    Austin gives a final push of energy and reaches out for the chair, using his fingertips to pull it in closer as Angle tightens his grip, bending Austin’s neck fully backwards. Finger by finger, Austin eases the chair closer and closer…

    … until he finally has hold of it! He takes it in his hands…

    AND SWINGS THE CHAIR BACKWARDS… RIGHT IN TO ANGLE’S HEAD!

    ANGLE RELEASES THE HOLD!


    Angle’s eyes are gone! He stands up, but he doesn’t know where he is… so Austin joins him on his feet…

    … kick to the gut…

    STUNNER!

    NO!


    Angle adjusts…

    ANGLE SLAM!

    NO!

    Austin jumps out of it, Angle turns around…

    Kick to the gut…

    CAUGHT!

    Angle spins Austin around…

    DRAGON CLUTCH!

    But Austin runs backwards… DRIVING ANGLE IN TO THE EXPOSED TURNBUCKLE!

    They both stumble out…

    … kick to the gut…

    STONE COLD STUNNER!

    AND THIS TIME HE GETS IT!


    Austin crawls over to Angle and looks to dangle an arm…

    … but he stops.


    JIM ROSS
    What’re ya doin’, Steve! Finish this match! Make the cover and win th’ title!



    Austin shakes his head and gingerly gets to his feet…


    STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
    GET UP! GET UP YA SONOVABITCH! DO IT!



    Austin waits as patiently as he can as Angle very slowly stirs and climbs back to his feet. Austin remains poised, coiled and ready to bring as Angle stumbles towards him…

    IN TO ANOTHER STONE COLD STUNNER!

    Two in a row! Angle’s out on the mat…

    BUT STILL AUSTIN DOESN’T MAKE THE COVER!


    PAUL HEYMAN
    What is Austin doing?! He’s got the man beat, pin him before he gets back in to the match!

    JIM ROSS
    Angle ain’t gettin’ back in to this one, Paul! Austin’s got ‘im beat, and he’s makin’ ‘im pay for ev’rythin’ he’s done! Austin’s makin’ a statement!



    Austin doesn’t wait for Angle to get up this time. He grabs him by the neck and pulls him up, forcing the spaghetti-legged Angle to stagger in to the ropes and barely stay on his feet.

    Austin pulls him off from in the ropes and waits until Angle, glassy-eyed, finally becomes lucid enough to make eye contact…

    SO AUSTIN FLIPS HIM OFF!

    STONE COLD STUNNER!

    AUSTIN NAILS HIS THIRD STUNNER IN A ROW!


    Angle flops down to the mat… AND THIS TIME AUSTIN MAKES THE COVER!


    ONE…

    TWO…

    THREE!



    The Reliant Astrodome EXPLODES in to voracious cheers as Hebner’s hand slaps the mat for the third time, and finally… finally… Stone Cold Steve Austin is back on top again.


    JIM ROSS
    STONE COLD! STONE COLD! STONE COLD!

    PAUL HEYMAN
    No… no… no… no…

    JIM ROSS
    Austin has done it! Austin is the champ’n! He took ev’rythin’ Angle threw at ‘im and he’s made it t’ the top of th’ mountain again! Ya can take ya Angle Era and shove it, Paul, ‘cos the AUSTIN ERA… CONTINUES!



    Austin stays on the mat and holds his neck as the Fink finally speaks up…


    HOWARD FINKEL
    Here is your winner…



    He pauses for effect over the roar of the crowd.


    HOWARD FINKEL
    … and NEWWWW… WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION CHAMPION… STONE… COLD… STEVE… AUSTIN!



    Austin is handed the belt by Earl Hebner, but he doesn’t take it right away. Instead he stares at it for a few moments and contemplates everything he’s been through since he last held it. The running down. The surgery. The rehab. The return. Losing his first match back. The mystery. The reveal. The second attack on his neck. And then, possibly hardest of all… this match. He’s had his body pushed way beyond the limit, he’s had his emotions and abilities called in to question. He’s had his own mortal enemy take pity on him and bury a three-year grudge. All for this moment.

    Austin finally takes the title in his hands and gets back to his feet. He winces through the pain in his neck but fights through it one last time so he can climb to the second rope to salute the fans. He climbs back down and calls for some Steveweisers to celebrate…

    … when he notices that
    VINCE MCMAHON is walking down the aisle!

    Austin remains still, waiting to see what’s coming as Vince climbs in to the ring… AND OFFERS A ROUND OF APPLAUSE!


    JIM ROSS
    I don’t believe mah eyes! After three years of hatred between these two men… Vince McMahon is ready to put their issues t’ one side! Vince promised t’ help Austin find out who was responsible, and he stood by his word, damn it! He promised he wasn’t tryin’-a screw ‘im, he promised he had th’ right intentions… and here he is… showin’ that at last he’s a man of his word!



    Vince walks over to Austin… takes his arm… and raises it for the cheering Texas crowd! McMahon makes sure to show every side of the ring that he’s here, grudges in the past, celebrating Austin’s success at having overcome everything, a changed man, and still made it to the top once again.

    Austin releases his hand and turns to the timekeepers table… and calls for a beer!

    The timekeeper tosses a couple of cans in, which Austin opens… looks at Vince…

    AND OFFERS HIM ONE! AUSTIN IS OFFERING VINCE MCMAHON A BEER!

    Vince smiles warmly and takes the drink, and together they toast Austin’s recovery and redemption.

    Vince was right, Austin is a changed man after everything that had happened, but he’s proven that, changed or not, he can still compete with the best of them.

    Austin raises his beer to Vince, who does the same…

    SO AUSTIN HITS HIM WITH A STONE COLD STUNNER!

    MAYBE HE HASN’T CHANGED THAT MUCH AFTER ALL!


    The crowd erupt at the sight of Austin once more standing over McMahon. Whether he didn’t appreciate Vince taking pity on him, or whether old habits simply die hard, Austin poses above the owner of the company, beer in one hand, title belt in the other, as the flashbulbs again illuminate the stadium.

    But underneath him, something happens. Vince smiles.

    Maybe Vince is just knocked loopy, or maybe, just maybe, he’s happy. Austin was never going to change, and he probably knew it.

    But he’s not the same either. This isn’t the Old Stone Cold. This is the new Stone Cold. Older, more pained. He has to fight just to survive these days. He’s been through a level of hell even Vince McMahon himself wouldn’t have wished on him – being run down, the rehab, trying to find out who was responsible, the loss of form – and he’s come out of it having beaten the man who attacked him, and become the WWF Champion in the process.

    He truly does belong back in the WWF… and back on top of the mountain, too.


    The End…








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    Re: The 2018 King of Be The Booker Tournamnt Final

    Wolf Beast

    KING OF BE THE BOOKER – FINAL ENTRY



    ~ THE ROAD TO WRESTLEMANIA ~



    WRESTLEMANIA XXIX





    UNDISPUTED WWE CHAMPION CM PUNK DEFENDS AGAINST

    2013 ROYAL RUMBLE WINNER DANIEL BRYAN



    REDEMPTION – VERSUS – IMMORTALITY







    PROLOGUE; WRESTLEMANIA XXVIII




    World Heavyweight Championship Match

    Daniel Bryan w/AJ Lee defends against Sheamus

    A harrowing loss for Daniel Bryan. After taking a kiss from his girlfriend, Bryan gets nailed with a BROGUE KICK from Sheamus, and the challenger pins the champion, scoring the unfathomable 1...2...3 at only EIGHTEEN SECONDS.

    Winner: And NEW World Heavyweight Champion – Sheamus @ 00:18



    ----------



    WWE Championship Match

    CM Punk defends against Chris Jericho

    It isn’t eighteen seconds. Punk has to restrain himself, knowing that a DQ means he’ll lose the title. The champion keeps his composure though, and rises to submit Jericho with the Anaconda Vice to retain his title.

    Winner: And STILL WWE Champion – CM Punk @ 22:21



    CM Punk and Daniel Bryan are literally poles apart coming out of WrestleMania 28. Whilst CM Punk scores a career defining win at the Grandest Stage Of ‘Em All that firmly establishes him as the champion … Daniel Bryan is left humiliated and embarrassed. How could history shape a journey that would see these two collide one year later at MetLife Stadium??







    CHAPTER I; DEALING WITH THE AFTERMATH



    In the immediate aftermath of WrestleMania, very little changes deviates from the path created in real life. Brock Lesnar debuts the night after WrestleMania, coming after John Cena. Daniel Bryan reacts to his WrestleMania loss by blaming and dumping AJ Lee. AJ doesn’t take it well, as you’d expect. Both World Title feuds continue as they did, leading to WrestleMania Rematches at the Extreme Rules PPV.



    And, just as it happened in real life, Sheamus defeats Daniel Bryan 2-1 in a Two Out Of Three Falls Match, whilst CM Punk returns home to Chicago to defeat Chris Jericho in a Streetfight. It’s the end of both feuds.



    Following Extreme Rules, everyone moves on to pastures new. Alberto Del Rio steps up as the next challenger for Sheamus, whilst Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes has his eye on double gold, striking up a feud with CM Punk heading into Over The Limit.



    After being missing from television since the post-WrestleMania Smackdown when she was dumped, AJ Lee returns on Raw when Daniel Bryan takes on Kane. Looking for revenge on Bryan, AJ Lee helps Kane pick up the victory over Bryan.



    Over the coming weeks, AJ Lee starts to show affection toward Kane, as the commentary teams question her motives. Is she trying to get back at Daniel Bryan and make him jealous? Or is she hitching herself to the monster to try and punish Bryan for finishing with her? Kane asks the question himself, as it leads toward another bout between Daniel Bryan and Kane at Over The Limit … with AJ acting as the referee.



    Neither man is sure what to make of the unpredictable AJ during the match. At first, it looks like she’ll favour Kane … then later, she assists Daniel Bryan when Kane is standing over him with a steel chair. AJ low blows Kane, and hands the chair to Bryan … but Bryan’s response is an emphatic “NO”.



    Kane sits up as this goes on, and in a panic, AJ Lee runs off to the back. With the match having no conclusion, Bryan and Kane stand together in the ring, before Kane chokeslams Bryan; just because, getting the final word of the night before leaving the ring.



    Also at Over The Limit; Sheamus sees off the threat of Alberto Del Rio, CM Punk defeats Cody Rhodes and {sigh} The Big Show helps John Laurinaitis defeat John Cena.



    In the aftermath of Over The Limit, The Big Show is rewarded with a WWE Title shot against CM Punkat No Way Out by Big Johnny, but Mr. McMahon takes control of the situation after that, booking another {yep} match between Cena and Johnny Ace at No Way Out inside a steel cage – a match that if Johnny lost, would bring an end to ‘People Power.’ Meanwhile, Sheamus next challenge comes in the form of Dolph Ziggler.



    As for Daniel Bryan, he and Kane are forced into a tag team over the coming weeks despite not getting along. Remarkably, they win a #1 Contenders Fatal Four Way match, earning them a title shot at No Way Out against R-Truth and Kofi Kingston. As a result of this paring, we get a glimpse of Daniel Bryans wider personality through these skits with Kane.



    At No Way Out, Kane and Daniel Bryan – despite their differences – wind up beating Kofi Kingston and R-Truth to win the Tag Team Titles. CM Punk gets a timely assist when he is challenged by The Big Show – from Paul Heyman. Heyman, who had recently appeared on Raw representing Brock Lesnar, shows up at ringside just as it looks like Punk is on the verge of losing his title. Heymans presence distracts Show, allowing Punk to eventually apply the Anaconda Vice and choke the Giant out to retain his title.



    Elsewhere, Sheamus defeats Dolph Ziggler to retain the World Heavyweight Championship. Finally, in the {eye roll} main event, John Cena ends John Lauranaitis reign as General Manager of Raw and Smackdown, defeating him inside the Steel Cage.








    CHAPTER II; HISTORY REPEATING



    Next up, Money in the Bank. Off the heels of No Way Out, Mr. McMahon seizes control of Raw and Smackdown, electing not to replace Johnny Ace, saying he’s unable to put his faith in anyone to run the shows, and he’ll be keeping a close eye on everyone and everything over the coming weeks.



    Despite being Tag Team Champions, Daniel Bryan and Kane – being referred to as Team Hell No on commentary – still are unable to get along. These issues aren’t helped by the fact that both men will be part of the ONE Money in the Bank ladder match at the upcoming PPV, with Bryan seeing it as his opportunity to gain redemption for his embarrassing loss at WrestleMania.



    McMahon arranges for the pair to attend anger management counselling to iron out their issues, claiming that he needed his tag champions to be on the same page. As a result, we get the infamous Dr. Shelby skits that played a slight role in Bryans later popularity.



    Meanwhile, one year on from the classic in Chicago, CM Punk would be scheduled to defend the WWE Title against John Cena at Money in the Bank. Much of the build would be focused on the previous years match, but CM Punk would also be questioned numerous times about his relationship with Paul Heyman. Punk would play it off, saying he and Heyman are merely friends, and that Heyman was simply looking out for Punk at No Way Out; “but it had nothing to do with me.”



    At Money in the Bank, Sheamus defeats Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio to continue his rather bland title run, very much in the shadow of the WWE Title, and even other angles at the time.



    Elsewhere – in the only Money in the Bank ladder match on the show – Daniel Bryan, just as he did one year earlier, is triumphant. He overcomes Christian, Cody Rhodes, The Miz, The Big Show, Chris Jericho, Kofi Kingston and his tag team partner Kane to capture the briefcase for the second successive year. And as it happened, it came down to Bryan and Kane in the end before Bryan won the match.



    Then, in the main event, CM Punk was challenged by John Cena. As you’d expect, it was an instant classic – but obviously not to the extent of the prior years match. An unfortunate ref bump sees the match descend into chaos, as Paul Heyman again showed up. But he wasn’t coming alone. Brock Lesnar was back, and he ripped John Cena apart – still angry over his loss to Cena at Extreme Rules – handing CM Punk the easy victory once the referee recovered.



    As a result, this sets up Lesnar vs Cena II at Summer Slam. But that wouldn’t be all.








    CHAPTER III; THE BOUNTY



    Opening up Raw the night after Money in the Bank July 16 in Vegas, Mr. McMahon explained why there was only ONE Money in the Bank briefcase this year –because after SummerSlam there will only be ONE Undisputed WWE Champion. McMahon would talk about the brand split being effectively dead, with everyone showing up wherever they wanted; and if that was going to be the case, then there should only be ONE champion. As a result, it would be CM Punk vs Sheamus at SummerSlam; Champion vs Champion, Title vs Title.



    Later that same night;


    Daniel Bryan enters the arena with his newly won briefcase, cutting a promo on his victory for the second straight year at Money in the Bank. Bryan says that this is the start of his journey back to WrestleMania, announcing that he WILL cash it in at WrestleMania this time. Bryan goes into detail on how there hasn’t been a day since WrestleMania 28 that has passed without him reliving ‘those’ eighteen seconds, and now, he HAS to get back to the main event in order to redeem himself.



    Enter CM Punk. And Paul Heyman. Together. That alone raises eyebrows on commentary. Straight away, Punk tells Bryan he doesn’t believe him, going back to Bryan making the same promise when he won the Money in the Bank a year ago – and he went back on his word. The WWE Champion goes on to say that he’s heard what Bryan said tonight – and doesn’t believe him now either. Punk believes that Daniel Bryan just wants to lull the champion into a false sense of security; “but you wont pull the wool over my eyes, Daniel.”



    Punk goes on, reminding Bryan he too was a two time Money in the Bank winner, and he never once considered cashing in face to face, stating that anyone who does that has to be out of their mind. Punk questions if Daniel is out of his mind … and asks if it’s a “Yes? Or No?” mocking Bryans catchphrase. All pretty heelish. Bryan responds by telling Punk that after Summer Slam, CM Punk may not even have to worry about him cashing in; “because I don't see you leaving Summer Slam as WWE Champion.” Punk laughs it off, making a dig that he’ll do a hell of a lot better than Bryan did against Sheamus.



    Heyman speaks up now, firstly congratulating Bryan on his win, but makes it clear to Bryan that he has “a duty to protect MY client” which confirms the relationship between Punk and Heyman. Going on, Heyman informs Bryan that he has to protect the WWE Champion as best as he can, and he can’t control things when the Money in the Bank briefcase is in play. Heyman matter of factly tells Daniel that he cant afford to have Bryan walk around with a title shot he could cash in at any given moment.



    Heyman then makes an announcement that will play havoc with Daniel Bryans life over the coming months, as he declares he’s placing a BOUNTY on the head of Daniel Bryan, offering any WWE superstar a $100,000 reward if they can incapacitate Daniel Bryan badly enough to see to it he is NEVER able to cash the title shot in. Punk and Heyman then leave Bryan to stew over the “bounty”, well aware now that he has a target on his back for everyone. Punk makes a witty jab at Bryan as they leave, telling Mr. Money in the Bank; “You thought lasting eighteen seconds at WrestleMania was bad? You wont even make it there next year!!”



    As soon as Smackdown arrived, ‘The Bounty’ on Daniel Bryans head would begin to unearth bounty hunters in search of the money prize on offer to take out Mr. Money in the Bank. A group of lower card heels; Jinder Mahal, Drew McIntyre, Tyler Reks and Curt Hawkins tried to assault Bryan, outnumbering him 4 to 1, but an assist from Kane saved Bryan.



    On Raw 1000, Daniel Bryan and Kane would defend the Tag Team Titles against The Prime Time Players. Before the match, The Miz would try and ambush Bryan, attempting to throw him off the stage during his entrance, but Bryan fought him off. After successfully defending the titles, Kane and Bryan would be attacked by the mid carders again, along with Hunico and Camacho this time – leading to a surprise appearance from The Undertaker to make the save on the milestone show.



    In the main event of that show, John Cena would have his rematch with CM Punk after the controversial finish to the Money in the Bank match. Again though, Brock Lesnar would make his presence felt, ending the match in a DQ victory for Cena – meaning the title stayed with Punk. The Rock – who earlier in the night had announced he’d challenge the WWE Champion at the Royal Rumble – ran out to make the save … only to get dropped with a GTS from Punk. If there was any doubt before; CM Punk confirmed his heel turn with this act.



    As the weeks neared toward SummerSlam, AJ Lee would return, seeking vengeance against Daniel Bryan and Kane, bringing with her NXT Stand out BIG E LANGSTON, looking to take both the tag titles from Team Hell No, as well as collect the bounty on Bryans head. Dolph Ziggler would also align with AJ, becoming her new boyfriend, as Ziggler also eyed the bounty to take out Bryan.



    At SummerSlam, Brock Lesnar rips John Cena apart to gain revenge for the loss at Extreme Rules, whilst in the main event, CM Punk unified the WWE and World Titles, defeating Sheamus with the GTS. A rare clean win for Punk over the last few months.



    Langston and Ziggler quickly became #1 Contenders for the tag titles, and they’d challenge – albeit unsuccessfully – for the titles at Summer Slam. Bryan and Kane would successfully retain their titles when Ziggler tapped out to the Yes Lock, despite interference from AJ Lee.



    After the match, Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow attack Daniel Bryan and Kane as they too looked to take out Bryan and collect the Bounty – but Team Hell No would survive the attack. Rhodes and Sandow would reveal their alliance was formed as a mutually beneficial partnership, believing that together they would be able to successfully take out Bryan.



    But they wouldn’t be the only ones, as each week on Raw and Smackdown, someone – sometimes even multiple people – would try and ambush Daniel Bryan. Backstage, in the locker room, in the parking lot, on his way to the ring, and after his matches. Bryan wasn’t safe, and whilst he was able to fight off most of the assailants attacks, Kane was on hand to bail him out too when required, looking out for his tag team partner.



    Rhodes and Sandow would win a tag team turmoil match on Smackdown to earn a shot at the tag team titles, but the biggest threat to Daniel Bryans health would come in the form of a 500 pound giant. The Big Show – seemingly at first coming to aid Bryan by taking out a number of the lower card heels that were targeting Mr. Money in the Bank – would show his true colours, taking out everyone in his path in order to get Daniel Bryan to himself.



    The Big Show chokeslams Bryan through a table to end an episode of Smackdown on August 31 in Green Bay, putting Bryans participation at Night of Champions in doubt. With Bryan off TV the following week selling his injuries, we’re treated to the five star classic retelling of Big Show vs Kane on Raw, and Kane takes a chokeslam through a table too.



    On Smackdown, Show, after scaring off the likes of Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow – telling them and anyone else that wants it isn’t getting the bounty; HE is – issues a warning to Bryan not to come back … but obviously, Daniel Bryan isn’t taking that. Bryan is back the following Monday in Canada, facing Big Show in the main event.



    Show gets himself disqualified, with little interest in winning. His focus is on putting Daniel Bryan out, and leads him toward the top of the ramp, looking to Chokeslam him off the stage – but Bryan fights him off with the Money in the Bank briefcase, with Show in the end taking the tumble off the stage through all sorts of equipment down below after taking half a dozen briefcase shots.



    But, just as Daniel Bryan has dealt with one threat, Rhodes and Sandow are both back in the hunt now that Big Show has been moved aside, and they attack Bryan and Kane on Smackdown, leaving the tag champions laying as they head into Night of Champions looking to finish the job.



    Meanwhile, CM Punk’s next challenger would emerge as the returning Randy Orton, who hadn’t been on TV over the summer. John Cena was still off television, selling his injuries from SummerSlam at the hands of Brock Lesnar.



    At the Night of Champions Pay Per View, the two long months of fending off just about every heel on the roster takes its toll on Daniel Bryan as he and Kane succumb to Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow, losing the Tag Titles. Bryan wrestles the match heavily taped up, selling the accumulation of injuries over the past month especially, and despite a brave effort, the champions lose their gold.



    In the main event, CM Punk scores another clean win after Orton took out Paul Heyman with an RKO in the opening moments of the match, leaving Punk to do it all alone. It’s brings Punks reign as champion nearer to ten months, with seemingly no end in sight.








    CHAPTER IV; HELL NO!

    {PROMO #1}



    MONDAY NIGHT RAW – SEPTEMBER 17 – BRIDGEPORT CT

    {THE NIGHT AFTER NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS}



    Into the final segment of the night…



    **FLIGHT OF THE VALKYRIES**



    The Webster Bank arena rises for the music of Mister Money in the Bank DANIEL BRYAN, with the former tag team champion (as of last night) entering alone, carrying his damaged briefcase. Tonight, there isn’t any “Yes” or even “No” chants from Bryan, and instead, he walks down the ramp with a noticeable limp; a sign of the constant waves of attacks he’s had to suffer in recent months.



    Michael Cole: Here he is!! We’ve been expecting to hear from Daniel Bryan all night!! What does he have to say!?


    Jim Ross: I just hope it aint bad news. This kid is carrying a hell of a lot of injuries right now. The kid looks like he’s been through hell and back!!


    Michael Cole: Last night at Night of Champions, the months of attacks, appeared to finally take its toll on Daniel Bryan. The injuries have mounted, and frankly, it was a miracle he survived as long as he did with the tag team titles in tact with Kane.



    JBL: It was a matter of time, Michael. Daniel Bryan has been assaulted in the ring, ambushed backstage, put through tables, attacked with chairs. The fact he’s still standing right now is a testament to the kids will.



    Jim Ross: But it aint over yet, gentlemen. CM Punk and Paul Heymans bounty continues until Daniel Bryan is outta commission. He’s down right now, but he aint out, and there’s a hundred thousand reasons that he oughta still be lookin over his shoulder!!



    Michael Cole: His persistence and his desire over these last few months have completely changed my opinion on the guy. There’s no secret that Daniel Bryan and I have never seen eye to eye. I’ll admit, I abused my own position to run this kid down – but never again. I never thought he’d show this kind of resilience. To stand in the face of these attacks, to show up, week after week, knowing that anyone at any moment could be coming to try and take you out? Daniel Bryan has earned my respect.



    Jim Ross: I never doubted this young man at all. But what worries me is the accumulation of injuries. It damn sure looked like he had broken ribs with all that heavy tape last night. His legs are taped, I saw the kid walkin around in a sling when he arrived here earlier. How much more can he take??



    JBL: I don't think he can take much more, J.R. He looked despondent last night after he and Kane lost the tag titles. And full credit to Paul Heyman. He has completely nullified the threat of the Money in the Bank briefcase against CM Punk.



    Bryan enters the ring, taking a mic, and standing in the middle of the ring, waiting for the music to draw to a close. Once it does, there’s noticeable “YES” chants circulating around the arena, and Bryan nods, acknowledging the chants. He waits for them to die down, before speaking; and he’s getting straight to business.



    Daniel Bryan: When I won this Money in the Bank briefcase two months ago, I thought I’d accomplished the hard part. I put my body on the line in that ladder match, and put myself through hell to come out on top. With this briefcase, I had my route back to WrestleMania … and my shot at righting the wrongs of what happened this past year.



    Bryan pauses, and shakes his head, showing a wry smile.


    Daniel Bryan: That’s what I thought. Boy, was I wrong. When I made my intentions clear to CM Punk and Paul Heyman, I didn’t expect what was coming next. Even when Paul Heyman issued this … “bounty” on me, I gotta be honest … I … kinda found it funny. I mean … a bounty?? On me??



    He scoffs at the thought, and shrugs.


    Daniel Bryan: I didn’t really take it all that seriously.


    Again, he pauses, and looks down at himself, then back up, looking to the camera – no more smiles.



    Daniel Bryan: But look at me now.


    The camera pans, showing the tape on his leg. Bryan now holds up the briefcase, showing it for all to see.


    Daniel Bryan: Two months ago, this briefcase was brand new. Polished, clean, in pristine condition. Now??


    The briefcase looks old, and worn. Dented in a number of positions, even the paint is scratched off in places with the ‘Money in the Bank’ logo being somewhat faded.



    Daniel Bryan: I’ve had to use it more times than I care to remember just to fend off superstars left and right. That’s NOT what this is for.


    Some light, scattered “NO” chants are heard in the arena. Bryan gestures to his waist.



    Daniel Bryan: Two months ago, I had a tag team title around my waist. But as of now – last night to be exact – that’s gone too. And not to take anything away from Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow … but as good as they are … if it wasn’t for the injuries I’ve suffered and the attacks I’ve had to endure, Kane and I would STILL be tag team champions right now.



    Bryan shakes his head.


    Daniel Bryan: So I don't find this bounty all that funny anymore.



    Cole; “And I don't blame him!”



    Daniel Bryan: Credit to Paul Heyman. Thanks to your plan, I have been through hell these last two months. I’ve had everyone chasing me down; old friends, enemies, old guys, new guys, giants, a bitter ex … you name it, I am a wanted man. A hundred thousand dollars is a hell of an incentive, I guess.



    J.R; “Greed is a hell of a motivator.”


    Daniel Bryan: Last night, I didn’t sleep a wink. Last night, I laid down on my hotel bed and I thought long and hard. It’s been two months since I won the Money in the Bank briefcase. It’s about another six months until WrestleMania. At this rate, looking like I do right now … I don't have a hope of making it to WrestleMania period. But especially, not in any condition to cash in this title shot while this Bounty is hanging over my head.



    There’s a sense of anger now in the voice of Bryan, almost speaking through gritted teeth as he continues on.


    Daniel Bryan: And honestly?? I’m sick and tired of having to look over my shoulder … every SINGLE NIGHT!!! EVERY CORNER I TURN!!! I don't know what to expect!!



    He tries to calm himself down, looking down, shaking his head … before looking back up.


    Daniel Bryan: It kills me to have to do this … because I really did intend on cashing in my title shot at WrestleMania … but the ONLY way I can guarantee I’ll even get a shot at becoming WWE Champion is to cash this in way earlier than I intended.



    There’s a scattering of boos, with Bryan conceding he wont be able to follow through his initial plan.



    Daniel Bryan: And the only way I can be sure of getting a one on one shot at CM Punk is to challenge him for the WWE Championship in the only match that ENSURES I get my shot, without any fear of looking over my shoulder … the only match that I know I don't have to worry about anyone coming to collect this bounty…



    Bryan looks straight into the camera – fired up.



    Daniel Bryan: CM Punk?? I’m cashing in my Money in the Bank title shot … AT HELL IN A CELL!!!!



    Pop from the fans. Bryan nods, looking around, getting himself more fired up.


    Daniel Bryan: And at Hell in a Cell, I PROMISE YOU, CM Punk … you’re gonna be on the receiving end of six months of pain I’ve had to deal with since WrestleMania. You’re gonna be on the receiving end of two months of attacks I’ve had to deal with since winning this!! And last but not least, you’re-



    **CULT OF PERSONALITY**


    And right in the middle of his sentence, Daniel Bryan is cut off as PAUL HEYMAN and the WWE Champion CM PUNK enter the arena, stepping onto the stage, much to the displeasure of the fans; and Daniel Bryan, who has just been cut off by the man he’ll now face at Hell in a Cell.



    Michael Cole: Now what do these two want??



    JBL: They’ve every right to be out here, Michael!! That’s the WWE Champion. The UNDISPUTED WWE Champion right there. And this announcement concerns him.



    And over the mic, Paul Heyman TUTS. He shakes his head, whilst Punk smirks, and in the ring, Daniel Bryan looks unimpressed.


    Paul Heyman: I’ll admit … I expected more from you, Daniel. I truly believed you of all people would be a man of your word. I thought you were a man of honour.



    Punk is overheard off the mic; “I thought he was too!!” perhaps making a veiled reference to ROH.



    Paul Heyman: You stood in that ring not two months ago, and gave an impassioned speech to all these people, telling them about your plight. How you didn’t go a single day in your life without reliving those brutal eighteen seconds at WrestleMania. And now that you had your ticket back to the top, you’d hold off your title shot until next years WrestleMania as you searched out for redemption.



    Heyman tries to manipulate the fans now, pointing out at all of them from the stage.



    Paul Heyman: They all believed you. They all believed IN you. Hell … I believed you, Daniel. And while I didn’t believe IN you, I admired your courage. I admired your convictions. I admired your principles. But I do NOT admire this.



    Heat from the fans. Punk nods along with Heyman, agreeing with him, before taking over.


    CM Punk: And neither do I. But unlike Paul, I’m not surprised. I called you a liar two months ago when you revealed your big plan for WrestleMania … and tonight, I was proven right. Just like I always am. I said you’d have to be an idiot to call your shot so far ahead of time. And while you didn’t wait to WrestleMania, you’ve confirmed to me tonight Daniel that you are indeed … an idiot.



    Heat again. Bryan shakes his head; he clearly disagrees.


    CM Punk: Because only an idiot would tell me six weeks in advance that they’re cashing in their title shot. Only an idiot would willingly lock themselves inside a Cell with ME!!



    Punk gets more boos from the fans, and after pausing for a moment, the WWE Champion shakes his head at the reactions, chuckling at the fans, before speaking again.



    CM Punk: And make no mistake about it, Daniel. You ARE an idiot for taking your shot at me at Hell in a Cell.



    J.R; “Well, we’ll find out on October 28!!”



    CM Punk: Because while I’ve had to wade through the deep waters over the last THREE HUNDRED AND THREE DAYS as YOUR Undisputed W-W-E Champion, fighting my way past every challenger that’s been thrown my way, big and small, cruiserweight to heavyweight, hungry to battle tested, I haven’t complained ONCE. I haven’t bitched … and I haven’t moaned. And trust me, I’ve had plenty reason to.



    Daniel Bryan: You not moaning and complaining?? That doesn’t sound like the CM Punk I know.



    The fans react for the retort from Bryan. Punk doesn’t appear to appreciate it. He thinks about addressing it, but conferences with Heyman off mic for a second, before just brushing the comment aside.



    CM Punk: Ten months, I’ve been champion and had everybody in that locker room target ME. Ten months, I’ve survived every attempt to take what I got. I’ve dodged every single bullet that’s been shot in my direction and got on with the job. I’m still standing. You?? You’ve been carrying around a briefcase and you cant even survive for three months before you’ve had enough.



    Cole; “If he didn’t have a bounty over his head, he wouldn’t have to!!”


    CM Punk: That, Daniel, is why you LOST at WrestleMania inside eighteen seconds. That, Daniel, is why you LOST last night at Night of Champions. That’s why I’m a diamond, and you’re just a piece of coal. Because diamonds don't crack under pressure. And if you really intend on cashing in that Money in the Bank contract at Hell in a Cell?? You WILL crack again.



    Bryan shakes his head in the ring, and the fans drum up another light, but noticeable “NO” chant. Heyman again takes over from the champion.



    Paul Heyman: And let me make myself clear. It’s my belief that CM Punk will rip you apart inside Hell in a Cell. It is my belief that CM Punk will add you to the growing list of pretenders to his throne as Undisputed WWE Champion. And it is my belief that you are unworthy of challenging this man for that undisputed WWE Championship. So my next announcement doesn’t come from a place of fear. My next announcement … is simply good business.



    A sinister grin emerges on the face of Heyman briefly.



    Paul Heyman: You see, you’ve proven yourself to be a liar once already, Mister Bryan. And it’s MY belief that once you realize just how deep you’re in with my client at Hell in the Cell … you’ll change your mind again. And I’m not taking the chance that you could catch my client cold and ruin the history making work we are doing here by cashing in that contract on a moments notice.



    Bryan looks curious as to what Heyman is getting in … and maybe even a little bit concerned.


    Paul Heyman: And it is for that sole reason, that I am hereby upping the ante. That bounty on your head, Mister Bryan?? It just doubled.



    J.R; “WHAT!?”


    Cole; “You have GOT to be kidding me.”


    Paul Heyman: And for the man – or woman – that eliminates the threat of Daniel Bryan, you have my word. You have my GUARANTEE that not only will you be TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS RICHER … but also … my client, CM Punk has agreed he will see to it you also get a shot at the WWE Championship.



    JBL; “That is GENIUS!!”



    Paul Heyman: Because anyone who isn’t motivated by money, sure as hell will be motivated by glory!!!



    Heyman laughs, as he finishes up, and Punk has a few final words – all whilst smiling.



    CM Punk: I don't know about any Cells … but Daniel … my gut tells me you are absolutely about to go through hell.



    Punk and Heyman get set to leave … but Daniel Bryan has something left to say in response to the gauntlet that’s just been thrown down.


    Daniel Bryan: Punk- you don’t seem to realize … I’m already in hell. I’ve been in hell ever since WrestleMania. The Cell?? That’s nothing. And believe me, you two can offer a hundred thousand, two hundred thousand, or a million dollars. There’s NO ONE that’ll stop me from getting inside Hell in a Cell and TAKING that W-W-E Title!!!



    Bryan tosses the microphone down, and starts working up the fans in “YES” chants, as Punk and Heyman both shake their heads. Punk has a slight look of concern, but Heyman still appears confident, believing the ante being raised will be enough to eliminate the threat of Daniel Bryan.



    Michael Cole: And we are set!! October Twenty Eighth, the Hell in the Cell Pay Per View!! CM Punk will defend his WWE Championship inside Hell in a Cell against Mister Money in the Bank, Daniel Bryan!!



    JBL: But y’better place an asterisk against it, Michael!! There aint a chance Daniel Bryan is makin it to Hell in a Cell!! Look at what the kid has been through already. And that was when it was a hundred thousand. The prize just doubled. And there’s a title shot in it too!!!



    Jim Ross: And that might just be the clincher, gentlemen. There’s a host of guys back there right now that may never get a shot at the WWE Title under normal circumstances. If they can take out Daniel Bryan, they’ll get the shot of a lifetime!!


    Michael Cole: There’s questions that need answered here though; how can Paul Heyman guarantee a title shot?? How can CM Punk?? They don't make the matches around here!!


    JBL: It’s called a voluntary title defence, Michael. Do your research!! In between mandatory title defences, CM Punk can put that title on the line any time he feels like it.



    Michael Cole: Well … will Daniel Bryan make it to Hell in the Cell?? It’ll be six weeks of hell – there’s no doubt about that. It’ll be six weeks full of obstacles. Can Daniel Bryan survive until October Twenty Eighth?? Or will Mister Money in the Bank be taken out of commission!? Will the bounty be claimed!?



    -



    -



    Now, it’s not just greedy heels Daniel Bryan has to worry about. With a title shot being offered, EVERYONE on the roster is on his tail; heel and face alike. He survives Raw the following week as the superstars end up fighting amongst each other to be the one to take him out, but on Smackdown, The Big Show is back on the warpath. Thanks to Kane, Daniel Bryan is saved from another Chokeslam through the announce table, and it’s Big Show put through the table by the Big Red Machine.



    The trend continues with Daniel Bryan facing a raft of bounty hunters, with the faces justifying their own actions by wanting a shot at the WWE Title; many of whom would never get an opportunity under normal circumstances. On Raw on October 1 in Oklahoma, Team Hell No get their rematch for the tag titles from Night of Champions, but the challengers lose again, as a group of heels, headed by the still sore AJ Lee with her team of Big E and Dolph Ziggler amongst others come after Bryan, leaving Kane unable to overcome Rhodes and Sandow, losing the match – with Bryan too busy fighting people off with his briefcase.



    After this loss, the locker room incur the wrath of Kane. The Big Red Machine goes on the warpath over the next two weeks, as the ‘hunters’ become the ‘hunted’ with Kane furious about being cost the tag titles. Over this time – with some breathing space – Daniel Bryan is able to engage with Punk and Heyman, telling them that they can offer anything they want to the rest of the roster, there will be no stopping him from getting to Hell in a Cell and winning the title, and once the door is shut, the only bounty will be the one Bryan has on Punks head.



    With Kanes path of destruction taking out superstar after superstar, the locker room bands together eventually, coming together to turn the tables on him. They have the ring surrounded on the October 19 Smackdown, which leads to Daniel Bryan making the save for Kane; repaying his tag team partner for the times he had saved Bryan over the last number of months.



    There’s a lopsided handicap match on Raw with the majority of the roster taking on Team Hell No in a 20 on 2 tag match. Punk and Heyman sit on commentary, with Heyman cutting a promo before the match, giving out a rallying cry to the roster to take out Daniel Bryan tonight.


    The match eventually breaks down, and it looks as if Bryan and Kane will not be able to survive, but a run in from a returning John Cena and the undefeated Ryback {who had not involved himself in the Bounty Hunt} saves the day; Daniel Bryan WOULD make it to Hell in a Cell on Sunday – and both Punk and Heyman looked petrified.


    -



    -

    {CHAPTER IV.5; THE MATCH THAT TRIGGERS THE RTWM}




    WWE HELL IN A CELL


    OCTOBER 28 2012 – ATLANTA GA



    **FLIGHT OF THE VALKYRIES**


    The challenger, carrying his Money in the Bank briefcase, makes his way to the ring – surrounded by the Hell in a Cell structure – as he prepares to cash in his shot tonight, with the insurance that no one can get in the Cell. DANIEL BRYAN, after months of watching his back, can now focus solely on CM Punk and the WWE Title.



    **CULT OF PERSONALITY**



    Out next, CM PUNK, the Undisputed WWE Champion, makes his way to the ring with Paul Heyman, knowing he’s 0-2 in Hell in a Cell matches. There’s a look of trepidation on the face of the champion, nearing one year with the title, as Heyman looks to give his client some final confidence, hyping him up. But Heyman can’t get in there with Punk, and once he’s inside the Cell … the door is LOCKED.



    MAIN EVENT

    HELL IN A CELL MATCH
    WWE Champion CM Punk defends againstMister Money in the Bank Daniel Bryan

    *MONEY IN THE BANK CASH IN*

    It’s not your average Hell in a Cell match, with the Cell in place mainly for the benefit of the challenger, so that no one can interfere; not because we’re at the height of a long running blood feud. As such, the match begins with the two men circling before locking up; as they would in any regular match. Punk backs Bryan up into the corner, but the challenger pushes back, showing some added aggression. They lock up again, and Punk scores with a headlock take down, straight into a side head lock.



    Naturally, Bryan pushes back up, getting to his feet still trapped in the headlock, then pushes off, shoving Punk into the ropes, with Punk rebounding with a shoulder block that knocks the challenger down. There’s a momentary stand off between the pair, with Punk growing in confidence, telling Bryan to bring it on, wanting to lock up with him again. Bryan lunges in, and this time, goes straight into an arm wringer on Punk. Bryan wrenches the arm, forcing Punk to elbow free after a few moments of suffering.



    Punk and Bryan then engage in some criss-crossing, both running off the ropes, with Bryan leaping over Punk, then ducking down on the next return, before laying out on the mat for the next return, and finally nips up, catching the champion with a deep arm drag. Punk retreats to the corner, but Bryan follows in, laying into Punk with his vast array of stiff kicks … but when he steps back, Punk grabs Bryan by the front of his trunks and YANKS him into the corner, colliding face first with the top turnbuckle. Punk looks to take control from here, sending Bryan off the ropes, but the challenger ducks a shot, only to come back off the ropes again – right into a deep knee from the champion.



    Bryan is thrown out of the ring by Punk, and Punk makes use of the Cell for the first time, sending Bryan into the steel, then lawn darts him into the Cell too. Punk rams Bryan into the Cell a couple of times, and then sends him into the steps, punishing the challenger on the outside. Punk brings him back into the ring, and sets himself up for his springboard clothesline … BUT BRYAN CATCHES HIM IN MID AIR – AND APPLIES THE YES LOCK!!! An incredible counter to the springboard clothesline!!!! Punk is caught, and he does struggle, but the champion is still fresh, and is able to make it to the ropes quickly, saving the match.



    And despite not having to relinquish the hold inside Hell in a Cell, sportingly – or perhaps out of habit – Daniel Bryan does release the submission when Punk grabs the ropes. Punk then rolls out of the ring – again – out of instinct, looking to take a walk, but realizes he has nowhere to go, surrounded by the Hell in a Cell structure. He turns around … and BRYAN LAUNCHES OFF THE APRON WITH A RUNNING KNEE … BUT PUNK CATCHES BRYAN AND TOSSES HIM AT THE CELL!!!!!



    From there, Punk opens up on Bryan, rocking him with Muay Thai knees up against the Cell, trapping Bryan, giving the challenger nowhere to go. Punk delivers a suplex on the floor, then CATAPULTS Bryan into the Cell!!! In control, Punk rolls Bryan back in, and this time, there’s no counter; the springboard clothesline DOES connect!! Punk with the first cover of the match; 1...2...NO!!! Bryan kicks out, and Punk stays on top with a low dropkick, stopping Bryan from getting up, following that with another cover;




    ……1……

    …………………2…………………

    …………NO…………
    !!!!!




    Punk brings Bryan back to his feet, and drives his elbow into the back of the neck of the challenger as he does. Punk slows the pace down, applying a rudimentary chin lock, wearing Bryan down. Soon, Bryan stirs, but before he can fight out of the hold, Punk releases it and instead batters the challenger with a series of stiff downward (12-6) elbows to the side of Bryans head and down to the shoulder, wearing Bryan out. The champion drags Bryan up, with the challenger suitably beaten down, sending Bryan across the ring with a hard Irish whip into the corner. The impact of the collision with the corner sees Bryan drop to the mat as a result.



    Punk puts the boots to Bryan whilst the challenger is down, and takes his time, bringing Bryan back to his feet, sending him off to the corner again for another HARD Irish whip … but this time, instead of hitting the corner, Bryan instead runs up the turnbuckles and BACKFLIPS off the top – Vintage Bryan – landing behind Punk, and as is typical, he ducks a clothesline attempt. Bryan runs off the ropes, but is caught by Punk, who scores with a jumping calf kick to meet Bryan on the return, instantly wiping out his momentum!!!!! Punk covers again;




    …1…

    …………2…………

    …BRYAN KICKS OUT…
    !!!!!!




    Bryan survives, but it’s Punk that’s in charge, and the champion sends Bryan into the corner – not as hard this time – steaming in behind with a running high knee to the face … and follows that with a running bulldog out of the corner!!! Punk hooks the leg once more, 1...2...KICK OUT!!!! Despite amping up the pressure, Punk is still unable to put the challenger away it seems, and as a result, Punk goes back to the well, sending Bryan into the corner. Again, he looks for a running knee in the corner … but this time, Bryan has it scouted, and as Punk rushes in, Bryan ducks down!!!



    PUNK RAMS HIS KNEE INTO THE TURNBUCKLE!!! AND BRYAN DUMPS PUNK OUT TO THE FLOOR AFTER!!!!!



    Bryan sets himself, watching as Punk gets to his feet on the floor … before LAUNCHING HIMSELF THROUGH THE ROPES WITH A SUICIDE DIVE TO PUNK!!!!!!! Bryan sends Punk crashing against the steel!!!



    As ever, the Suicide dive gets the fans on their feet, and the challenger looks to turn the heat up in Atlanta. Bryan sends Punk into the Cell structure numerous times on the floor, before tossing him back into the ring. Bryan climbs to the top rope, leaping off with a front missile dropkick to Punk, putting the champion back down again!!! And Bryan KIPS UP afterwards, getting another rowdy reaction from the fans. With the challenger in the ascendancy, he kicks the shit out of the champion with the popular YES KICKS … then steps back … and SCORES with the Roundhouse kick!!! Big chance for Bryan;



    ……1……

    …………………2…………………

    …………SHOULDER UP…………
    !!!!!!



    Punk rolls out of the ring again after the kick out, but he’s got nowhere to hide, surrounded by the Hell in a Cell structure, with Bryan going for a BASEBALL SLIDE – but it’s CAUGHT by Punk, and the champion grabs the legs, PULLING Bryan out of the ring, and TOSSES him at the steel Cell walls!!! Punk repeats the trick twice more, tossing Bryan at the Cell, and takes up a position on the apron, leaping off with an axe handle onto Bryan on the floor. Punk introduces a Singapore Cane, and wears it out on Bryan, both outside and inside the ring, finishing up with a final shot to the face of Bryan. He covers …



    …1…
    ……………
    ………………………2………………………
    ……………
    …NO…
    !!!



    Bryan kicks out of the Cane shots, but he’s worse for wear, and struggling to get to his feet … with Punk merely waiting for him, sizing Bryan up for the GO TO SLEEP … but when Punk gets Bryan up, the challenger pushes himself off, landing behind the champion and runs Punk into the ropes, rolling him up from that position … 1...2...KICK OUT!!!!! Punk just survives the scare, but when he gets up … he eats a ROUNDHOUSE KICK from Bryan!!!! The challenger hooks the leg;



    …1…

    …………2…………

    …………KICK OUT…………
    !!!!!



    Punk digs down to survive, with the commentary putting the champion over, whilst Heyman breathes a sigh of relief on the outside. But the challenger has the upper hand, and Bryan gets to work on the hamstrings and the body of Punk with a litany of stiff kicks, punishing the champion, beating him down. Bryan then rushes off the ropes to come back with an attack … but Punk ducks down, and scoops Bryan up onto his shoulders … GO TO SLEEP- NO!!! Bryan blocks it, and catches the leg, countering with a DRAGON WHIP!!!! AND BRYAN GOES STRAIGHT FOR THE YES LOCK AGAIN!!!!!


    Bryan applies his submission, but Punk quickly rolls through, with Bryan pinned to the mat; 1...2...BRYAN JUST GETS A SHOULDER UP!!! The challenger releases the hold just in time to escape the pin, and as they get up, Punk ducks a shot from Bryan, then slows the challenger with a back kick to the gut, dropping Bryan to a knee, as Punk scores with a SHINING WIZARD!!!! Punk busts out a move rarely seen in his repertoire, hooking the leg…



    ……1……

    …………………2…………………

    …………NO…………
    !!!!!



    Shaking his head, Punk elects to roll out of the ring, bringing out TWO steel chairs from under the ring, tossing them inside, and also – to a big pop – a table. Punk wears out Bryan with chair shots to the back, then sets up the table. The champion wants a SUPERPLEX through the table … but Bryan fights it, and then looks for a SUNSET POWERBOMB THROUGH THE TABLE … but Punk, like Bryan before him, resists it, and punches Bryan with the challenger underneath him. Bryan staggers from the corner, but comes back, and climbs up alongside Punk … LOOKING FOR A SIDE SUPLEX OFF THE TOP THROUGH THE TABLE-


    COUNTERED IN MID AIR BY PUNK INTO A CROSS BODY…


    THROUGH THE TABLE!!!!!!!!!!


    Both men are down after crashing through the table, but Bryan clearly took the brunt of the impact … and fortunately for the challenger, Punk didn’t land directly on top of him. After a few moments of selling the impact, and listening to the “HOLY SHIT” chants in the arena, Punk manages to drape an arm over Daniel Bryan amongst the wreckage of the broken table …



    ……1……

    …………2…………

    …BRYAN JUST GETS A SHOULDER UP AT THE LAST SECOND…
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



    Naturally, Punk is shocked. He’s spent after the table spot himself, but Punk is clearly upset that Bryan kicked out. Punk struggles back to his feet, and picks up the first chair again, wearing it over over the back of Daniel Bryan again, whilst he thinks of what to do next. With the chair bent out of shape, Punk tosses it away, then picks up the second chair … with bad intentions. He drops Bryan onto the chair with a neckbreaker … but that’s merely the set up for something much worse. The champion brings the chair with him to the top rope, setting himself for the FLYING ELBOW … WITH THE CHAIR…


    BUT BRYAN MOVES AT THE LAST SECOND!!!!!!!!!!


    PUNK CRASHES AND BURNS!!!!!!!!!!!


    Both men are down; Bryan still suffering from the table spot and Punk selling the missed elbow with the chair. But when they get to their feet, Bryan now has the chair, and it’s his turn to punish Punk!!! Bryan waffles Punk across the back, with Punk trying to crawl away – eventually crawling out of the ring and onto the floor. He tries to crawl to the door, and as he climbs up on the Cell, Bryan smashes the chair against the HANDS of Punk!!! Heyman catches Bryans attention now too from the outside, and Bryan scares the life out of Heyman, smashing the chair off the Cell, right in front of Heyman, with the cage the only thing saving him.


    Bryan continues to punish Punk, and puts him down in the ring with a German suplex, providing the set up for his patented Diving Headbutt … but as Bryan launches off the top … Punk moves, putting the chair where he was, and Bryans body collides with the chair as he misses the headbutt!!!!! It’s another opening for Punk, and the champion uses the Singapore Cane again, tying Bryan up in the ropes (the old Andre spot) and proceeds to beat the shit out of Bryans body with it … with Bryan unable to do anything to prevent it!!! With Bryan all tied up, Punk starts talking trash, telling the challenger; “I’ll just collect that bounty myself!!”



    After the pummelling with the Cane, Punk looks to finish Daniel Bryan off, hoping it’s third time lucky with the GTS attempts. He gets the challenger up … but on the way down, Bryan finds ANOTHER counter … WITH A SMALL PACKAGE; 1...2...PUNK JUST KICKS OUT!!!! And the champion bounces up, coming at Bryan for a clothesline – but Bryan ducks (and picks up the Cane when he does) … and as Punk comes back after hitting the ropes … BRYAN NAILS HIM WITH THE CANE, RIGHT TO THE MID SECTION!!!!!!



    It’s Bryans turn to light up Punk with the Cane now, wearing it out over the body of the WWE Champion, and after a series of shots, Bryan drops down … AND APPLIES THE YES LOCK … USING THE CANE TO CROSSFACE PUNK!!!!!!!!!!! The fans rise, thinking this could be the finish, with Punk caught in the middle of the ring … and he tries to hang on … as Heyman SLUGS Scott Armstrong on the outside of the Cell!!! In desperation mode, Heyman takes the key from the official on the outside, and starts to try and unlock the door to enter the Cell!!!!!



    Mike Chioda leaves the ring, and confronts Heyman, looking to stop him from unlocking the door … as Bryan spots what’s happening, and has to release the hold when he see’s Heyman trying to enter the Cell!!! The challenger lets go of the Yes Lock and rolls out of the ring, gripping Heyman, threatening the manager … as Punk tries to recover in the ring, grabbing the Cane. The champion leaves the ring, and smashes the Singapore Cane off the back of Bryan, saving Heyman. Chioda looks to usher Heyman out of the Cell to restore some kind of order-



    **BURNED**



    IT’S KANE!!!!!!!!



    Daniel Bryans tag team partner makes his way down the aisle, which sees Heyman scurry out of the Cell quickly, wanting the door locked … which isn’t exactly going to stop Kane. Heyman flees for his life from the masked monster, almost comically trying to scale the Cell … whilst in the ring, Punk is distracted by Kanes presence, as Kane RIPS THE DOOR OFF IT’S HINGES!!!! Punk is in shock, watching as Kane enters the Cell … and Bryan manages to take the Singapore Cane, nailing Punk with it as the match turns back in his favour …



    THEN KANE GRABS BRYAN … AND CHOKESLAMS HIM!!!!!


    AND THEN FOLLOWS THAT WITH A TOMBSTONE!!!!!!


    Punk watches on; stunned. Heyman watches from the outside (having climbed down from the Cell) also shocked. Kane just laid out Daniel Bryan!!! Punk, despite having Bryan beat … wants to make sure of it … and he picks Bryan back up, whilst looking anxiously at Kane … then drills the lifeless challenger with the GO TO SLEEP!!!!! There’s a lot of anger inside the arena as Punk makes the cover … always looking up at Kane, worried the monster could do anything …



    ……1……

    …………………2…………………

    …………3…………
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    WINNER: AND STILL UNDISPUTED WWE CHAMPION – CM PUNK @ 20:37



    And as a result, Daniel Bryan becomes the first man to ever FAIL in his attempt at cashing in the Money in the Bank briefcase – and it’s all down to the betrayal by Kane!!! On commentary, Cole is apoplectic, calling this a travesty, and saying Heyman and Punk got their way in the end, believing that Kane betrayed his partner to cash in the “Bounty”.



    In the ring, Kane stands over the beaten body of Daniel Bryan, with Cole and JBL arguing over what just transpired. Punk doesn’t hang around either, and takes his title, getting out of dodge, leaving the Cell with Heyman helping the champion up the ramp, grateful to still have the gold.



    In the ring, Kane has one more Chokeslam for Bryan, ending the night on a sour note, with the commentary team pressing the fact that Bryan came here tonight to redeem himself for his humiliation at WrestleMania … but instead, despite the screw job, he’ll leave Hell in a Cell with the unwelcome record of being the first man to ever LOSE when cashing in the Money in the Bank briefcase. More misery. More humiliation for Daniel Bryan.



    -





    -



    After the betrayal the night before, Kane opens up Raw to explain his actions, telling the fans that Daniel Bryans selfishness cost them the WWE Tag Team Titles, and his focus was always on the WWE Title, claiming that Bryan used him to keep himself safe. He then talks about his own goals and aspirations, saying HE should be WWE Champion – and claims he will be as of tonight.



    Heyman tries to talk Kane out of it and renege on the deal, saying the Bounty was specifically to stop Bryan from cashing in his briefcase – but Bryan did cash it in and was just unsuccessful in successfully winning the match. Naturally, Kane reacts by choking the life out of Heyman, but it’s stopped by Mr. McMahon who while not agreeing with Kane’s actions, states that a deal’s a deal, and he’s making the title match TONIGHT.



    Punk – twenty four hours removed from Hell in a Cell – is forced to defend his title against Kane, and Punk looks set to lose the title, until DANIEL BRYAN appears, interfering in the match, attacking BOTH Kane and Punk, gaining a measure of revenge for what transpired at Hell in a Cell.










    CHAPTER V; WELCOME TO THE SHIELD OF JUSTICE



    In the following weeks, Bryan aligns with John Cena and the still undefeated Ryback- who had helped Bryan prior to Hell in a Cell, but who are both eyeing Punk’s title also – whilst Kane remains in the title picture, unhappy with how his title shot ended, as the walls appear to close in on Punk. Sheamus – who had been campaigning for a rematch since SummerSlam, - also states his case, having been undefeated since losing his World title to Punk.



    Heyman makes a suggestion to Mr. McMahon for a match at the Survivor Series; a Fatal Four Way Elimination match between those potential contenders for a future title shot. Instead, Vince has an idea of his own; a classic 5 on 5 elimination match; Team Punk versus the contenders. If those contenders win, they’d all each get a future shot at Punk.



    It forced Heyman to scramble for partners, but on the other side of the coin, there’d be tension and infighting on the contenders side of the match, especially between Kane and Bryan for obvious reasons. Heyman would bring The Big Show on board, and also got AJ to agree to make her men available, playing off her forever unresolved issues with Daniel Bryan. The final spot on Team Punk would be filled by none other than BROCK LESNAR, with Lesnar’s participation only announced on the go-home edition of Raw heading into the Survivor Series.



    At the Survivor Series, it would be Team Punk {Punk, Big Show, Big E Langston, Dolph Ziggler & Brock Lesnar} versus The Challengers {Daniel Bryan, John Cena, Ryback, Kane & Sheamus} in the main event of the evening. Big Show would be the first man eliminated after taking a Brogue Kick from Sheamus … followed by an FU from Cena … and a Diving Headbutt from Daniel Bryan allowing Sheamus to get the cover. Dolph Ziggler went next courtesy of Daniel Bryans YES Lock and Big E followed soon after when he was on the receiving end of Shell Shock by Ryback.



    Just over fifteen minutes into the match, Team Punk were staring down the barrel already; 5 on 2. Brock Lesnar – who hadn’t gotten in the ring until that point – made an impact, eliminating Sheamus with an F5. But that wasn’t enough. Just as Team Punk were making a mark, Brock Lesnar would be taken out of the match via count out, as he and John Cena brawled at ringside, as they continued where they’d left off at Summer Slam … but both Lesnar and Cena were eliminated by each other.



    It left CM Punk in a 3 on 1 situation. Heyman looked to work his magic by trying to talk Kane around and get him to turn on his team, promising him another title shot if he switched sides. Kane turned the offer down, but would later regret that decision perhaps, as CM Punk caught the monster with a roll up – and a handful of tights – to eliminate him, and decrease the deficit he faced to two by seeing off Kane.



    Kane then made a beeline for Punk afterwards for the cheating to eliminate him … but as Punk got away, Kane would instead turn on Daniel Bryan again, delivering an almighty chokeslam to his {former} partner. Ryback would eat a big boot for his troubles as he looked to confront Kane for his actions, and the Big Red Monster left the ring, telling Heyman in no uncertain terms he owed him for that.



    Punk slithered back into the ring, looking to steal the win from the brink of defeat, covering Bryan … but Bryan would KICK OUT!! Stunned, Punk quickly tossed Ryback out of the ring, before looking to finish Bryan off, but accidentally took out the REFEREE instead. Bryan then caught Punk in the Yes Lock … getting the submission, but there was no referee to call it. He kept the hold locked on, with Ryback holding Heyman back from interfering-



    Then THREE men in tactical vests hit the ring. Acknowledged as Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns by Michael Cole on commentary, the trio from NXT debut just as they did in real life, putting Ryback through the announce table, and take down Daniel Bryan as he tries to stop them. Having taken Ryback and Bryan out, the trio leave … and the referee comes around, counting out Ryback, before Punk delivers the GTS to Bryan to get the 1,2,3 and win the match.



    CM Punk somehow, someway survived. And now, he had NO challengers on the horizon.


    Coming out of the Survivor Series, CM Punk was able to take time off for minor knee surgery, with all his potential challengers beaten at the Survivor Series, he wouldn’t be scheduled for another title match until the Royal Rumble where The Rock would be waiting. While gone, Punk would make occasional appearances via satellite, and cut a promo at the TLC pay per view, keeping his profile up whilst out of action.



    Meanwhile, with Punk out of the picture for a period, all eyes were on the newcomers from NXT. Introducing themselves as The Shield, Reigns, Rollins and Ambrose had already made enemies for themselves in the shape of Daniel Bryan and Ryback. John Cena would help the pair and make it a fair fight, setting up a 3 on 3 TLC match at the upcoming Pay Per View.



    Just as they did in real life, The Shield’s debut match was a show stealer. And just as they did in real life, The Shield won at TLC. However, not without some controversy. During the match, Kane would appear, taking out Daniel Bryan with a chokeslam off a ladder through a table. Down a man, Ryback and Cena were unable to overcome the odds, falling to the Shield.



    In the aftermath, Ryback and Cena continued their issue with The Shield, but Daniel Bryan would spend his time battling his former tag team partner, looking to put that issue to bed.








    CHAPTER VI; THE ROAD TO WRESTLEMANIA - BEGINS...



    Turning over into the new year, and all eyes turned to the Royal Rumble. Already, The Rock was announced as the challenger for the WWE Championship. And that build up remains the same in this altered time line, with The Shield making their presence felt, and question marks surrounding the relationship between them, Punk and Heyman.



    Meanwhile, Daniel Bryan would announce his own intentions; he’d be entering the jam-packed field for the Royal Rumble match. Making his case, Bryan once again reminded everyone of his initial goal; wanting to right the wrongs of WrestleMania 28. Now that he had lost the Money in the Bank briefcase, winning the Rumble was his last remaining hope. And, in his promo, Daniel Bryan would also sound out a warning to the other twenty nine men; for three months he had to watch his back when he had the bounty on his head … but at the Royal Rumble, he’s going bounty hunting himself, and there’s a price on the head of the twenty nine guys standing in his way – and that’s the main event of WrestleMania.



    But Bryan wasn’t the only man on a mission. John Cena would interrupt Bryans promo, stating his own reasons for needing to win the Rumble. He’d had a pretty awful 2012 by his standards, and 2013 would be his own year for redemption … starting with the Royal Rumble. But they weren’t the only two contenders. Ryback, still undefeated in singles action, wanted his shot at the title, Sheamus was still hungry to be champion again and wanted to become the fourth back to back winner of the Rumble, whilst other contenders like Randy Orton, Kane, The Big Show, a freshly face turned Alberto Del Rio and Rey Mysterio all announced their own intent to win the match.



    However, on the go-home edition of Raw (the 20th Anniversary Special of Raw) BROCK LESNAR would be announced as a participant in the Rumble, and instantly was positioned at the favourite to go on and win it. Despite that, many online reports indicated that Cena would win the Rumble and Rock would win the WWE Title to set up a rematch of their ‘Once In A Lifetime’ showdown a year prior.



    So, there would be a seismic shock when CM Punk defeated The Rock at the Royal Rumble to retain the WWE Championship, continuing his 434 day reign as champion. The match goes down as it did in real life, with The Shield costing Rock the title … but here, there is no restart, and the match is not the main event of the show.


    Heading into the Rumble match, all bets were off now Rock had not won the title. Of course, with Rock appearing at the Elimination Chamber next month, perhaps the title switch could occur there?? The Rumble match kicked off with U.S Champion Cesaro at #1 and Kofi Kingston #2. They’d get the ball rolling with a few near elimination spots before the arrival of Sin Cara as the #3 entrant. Damien Sandow, Zack Ryder and Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett would be the next three, before the arrival of The Big Show at #7 started to see the ring get cleared. Ryder, Cara, Kofi and Sandow were all dispatched in short order, ALL by Big Show.



    #8 was Sheamus, with the former World Champion coming right at Big Show, taking the fight to the giant, and tossing out the next entrant, Darren Young in short order. #10 would be all three members of the Three Man Band, who argued over who would take the spot in the match. In the end, it didn’t matter, as all three would be eliminated at the same time by Sheamus, Cesaro and Barrett. Alberto Del Rio entered at #11, Cody Rhodes #12, David Otunga #13 and at #14 would be a surprise entry in the form of former WWF Champion Psycho Sid, who had most recently appeared at the Raw 1000 show back in July. Sid tossed out Otunga for a pop, but succumbed to The Big Show, generating more heat for the giant.



    But, as Big Show was proving his dominance, it forced those around him to band together, using their strength in numbers to try and eliminate him. But Show would fight on, fighting off the group attempt to get him out of the ring, and dumped Barrett out in the process. However, with Ryback entering at #15, the BIG GUY made an instant impression, eliminating The Big Show all by himself. Tensai was out next, followed by Bo Dallas from NXT, with DANIEL BRYAN the #18 entrant. Bryan hit the ring, taking the fight to everyone – just as he said he would – but then had to hang on as Sheamus threw him over, but Bryan hung on and managed to survive that early scare. And whilst Bryan was targeting the field, those still to come had their own issues with Bryan.



    Dolph Ziggler, entering at #19 came right after Bryan, but was overzealous, and cost himself, being eliminated in under thirty seconds by Bryan. Randy Orton hit the ring #20, doing his usual schtick of delivering half a dozen RKO’s upon arrival. Tensai was eliminated by Orton, and Bo Dallas was eliminated by Cody Rhodes soon after. Big E Langston arrived next, instantly targeting Daniel Bryan, with Rey Mysterio out next at #22, whilst Del Rio ended Cesaro’s night, after an impressive showing by the U.S Champion. Things began to look bleak for Daniel Bryan too, as Kane was out next, coming right after his former tag team partner.



    Ryback scored his second elimination of the match, tossing out Cody Rhodes, and he then avoided a Brogue Kick from Sheamus, which enabled him to make Sheamus his third victim, ending the Irishmans hopes of a return to the main event of WrestleMania. Sheamus didn’t take it well, and kicked off a potential heel turn by returning to the ring and Brogue Kicking Ryback, leading to Rybacks elimination by an opportunistic Miz, who entered at #24, with Titus O’Neill next out and Great Khali following. During this period, Rey scored the elimination of Big E. John Cena was next out as entrant #27, making an immediate impact by eliminating Del Rio, O’Neil AND Khali in short order. Chris Jericho made a shock entry at #28 and during this period, Daniel Bryan scored the elimination of Kane. But Kane – much like Sheamus earlier with Ryback – didn’t take his elimination all that well, and brought Bryan out of the ring (under the bottom rope) and chokeslammed him on the floor.



    Santino Marella entered at #29. It left one more entrant, as BROCK LESNAR – who everyone was waiting on – got the plum draw … and left a trail of destruction in his wake. Rey Mysterio, Miz and Santino Marella were dispatched in seconds (including Santino comedically squaring up to Lesnar) before Chris Jericho was the victim of an F5 to the floor. Suddenly, the match was down to four, but with Daniel Bryan still suffering the effects of the chokeslam on the floor, it was Cena and Orton up against Lesnar. Despite their past issues, Cena and Orton combine to try and take down Lesnar, but the Beast Incarnate mows both down with a double clothesline … before the returning Bryan launches off the top with a dropkick to Lesnar!!!



    Bryan brought the fight to Lesnar, nearly toppling him, but Brock fought back, and nailed Bryan with an F5. Before he could follow up, Lesnar had to deal with Orton again, and after avoiding an RKO attempt, Lesnar dumped Orton from the ring!! As Bryan sold the F5, Lesnar and Cena were left to duke it out, renewing their own long standing rivalry. Cena gave it his all, and even put Brock down with an FU … but couldn’t eliminate Lesnar, and eventually it was Lesnar throwing out Cena!!! It was down to Lesnar and Bryan, and Bryan was still suffering the effects of the earlier chokeslam AND the F5.



    Lesnar showed little respect for the much smaller man initially, but Bryan gave Lesnar reason to take him seriously with his vast array of kicks. Despite that though, Daniel Bryan could barely shift Lesnar when trying to get him up and over, leading to Brock gaining the upper hand again. Bryan low bridged the ropes for an incoming Lesnar, sending him tumbling over the top – but not to the floor – for a near elimination, before Lesnar tried the F5 on Bryan, but Bryan landed on the mat and tried to get Brock out in similar fashion to Benoit eliminating Big Show in 2004 … but Lesnar survived the scare!! Finally, Bryan – after a plethora of kicks – backed Brock up against the ropes, and three consecutive running dropkicks would eventually see Lesnar tumble over … and OUT to the floor!!!!!



    Daniel Bryan won the Royal Rumble, booking his title shot at WrestleMania!!! Twelve months on from his humiliation at the hands of Sheamus, Daniel Bryan now had a shot at redemption!!





    But whilst Daniel Bryan was on his way to WrestleMania, the identity of his opponent at the grand stage was still up in the air, as the WWE Championship would be decided at the Elimination Chamber inside the demonic structure. CM Punk would be forced to defend his gold against The Rock, and four qualifiers who would wind up being John Cena, Big Show, Alberto Del Rio and Cesaro. As he waited for the title picture to clear up, Daniel Bryan would spend the next few weeks finally ending his long running saga with Kane, culminating in a No Holds Barred match at the Elimination Chamber PPV.



    Naturally, as the Rumble winner on his way to WrestleMania, Daniel Bryan saw off Kane, making Kane tap to the Yes Lock, bringing an end to their issues, and allowed both men to move on.



    Then, in the main event, CM Punk would underline his credentials as WWE Champion as for the second year in a row, he went wire to wire in the Chamber. Punk and Rock would be the two first entrants, and in those first five minutes, The Shield would interfere, entering through the floor {ala Shawn Michaels in 2010} to assault The Rock again. CM Punk would eliminate The Rock, scoring the quick elimination. {with Rock most likely needing eliminated early in the match for insurance reasons}



    Del Rio was in next, followed by Cesaro, then Cena. Big Show would be the final entrant, and despite him eliminating Cesaro and Del Rio, Show would be given the AA by Cena, bringing the match down to the final two; Cena and Punk. The two would engage in a back and forth battle, with Punk struggling due to being in from the very beginning, but scores with the GTS, thinking he had it won … only for Cena to kick out. He tries it again, but Cena counters into the STF … and despite suffering, Punk makes the ropes. Finally, a second GTS gets the job done for Punk – as it always seems to do.



    He too was headed to WrestleMania. It would be CM Punk defending against Daniel Bryan in the main event of WrestleMania 29 for the WWE Championship.







    CHAPTER VII; THE BEST IN THE WORLD – V – THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME

    {PROMO #2}



    MONDAY NIGHT RAW – FEBRUARY 18LAFAYETTE LA

    {THE NIGHT AFTER ELIMINATION CHAMBER}



    After the signature, instead of the Raw opening video, the show opens cold inside the Cajundome, pitch black.


    Then, the lights come up.



    And the WWE Champion CM PUNK is standing in the ring, along with PAUL HEYMAN, with Heyman holding the WWE Title. Boos emanate around the arena, but not for long, as a smiling CM Punk exclaims;



    CM Punk: Surprise!!


    Heat.


    CM Punk: Just when you thought change was coming…



    Punk snatches the air.



    CM Punk: I take that hope you all hold and crush it.



    The champion shakes his head, smirking all the while, before wagging his finger.



    CM Punk: Which is funny. Because just under two years ago, I was the agent of change. The change you people wanted to see. The change you people craved … or so you thought. Turns out, you people don’t know what you want. Sure as hell don't want me. But too bad … because I’m all you got, and I don't care what you people want.



    More boos.


    CM Punk: And it’s not just all of you either. No. You people aren’t the only ones who want this picture to change.



    Punk points to the back.



    CM Punk: So do ALL of them. All the suits. All the people in charge. They don't want me to be champion. But they cant find a guy good enough to beat me!! Sure, they were happy enough to let me have my moment in the sun when I won this … but that was four hundred and fifty six days ago. I’ve been champion about four hundred days too long as far as THEY are concerned.



    He takes the title from Heyman, hoisting it in the air.



    CM Punk: And they have thrown absolutely everything at me to get this title off my hands. They have thrown absolutely everyone at me. And I’ve sent each and every single one of ‘em marching right back up that aisle with their tail between their legs. Not even good old faithful John Cena could knock me off.



    Punk hands the title belt back to Heyman, smirking as he speaks again.


    CM Punk: So they called in the big guns. They called Hollywood. And Dwayne couldn't beat me either!! And when John Cena couldn't beat me … and when The Rock couldn't beat me … somebody thought it would be a good idea to throw ‘em BOTH at me at the same time in the Elimination Chamber … Yet here I am … STILL the WWE Champion!!!



    CM Punk: Over the last four hundred and fifty six days – unprecedented in this day and age – I have beaten every single man that has been placed in front of me. That’s not a coincidence. It’d bec-



    Trailing off, Punk acknowledges a heckler from the crowd, and shakes his head, half chuckling as he responds.


    CM Punk: No, no. It’s certainly not luck. That’s for losers.



    Punk shakes his head again, looking back at an unimpressed Heyman, who shoots a glare at the fan outside.


    CM Punk: There’s a reason I’ve been champion for nearly a year and a half. And it’s real simple. It’s because … I’m better.


    Boos.



    CM Punk: I’m better than The Rock. I’m better than John Cena. I’m better than Sheamus, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton and everyone else that’s stood between me and this title. There’s that many, I cant name ‘em all the list is that long. But I’m better than everyone … and that’s a fact.



    Heyman nods in the background.



    CM Punk: When I beat John Cena, I became the Franchise of this company. When I beat Chris Jericho, I proved beyond a doubt that I’m the ‘Best in the World’. And when I beat “The Great One” … I became Greater. As a matter of fact, I’ve now gone from being the “Best in the World-” I’ve moved beyond that, and in fact-



    **FLIGHT OF THE VALKYRIES**



    And Punk is cut off by the 2013 Royal Rumble winner; DANIEL BRYAN!!! The man who faces Punk in 48 days at WrestleMania is met with great cheers from the fans, with everyone glad that someone is here to shut Punk up. On commentary, Cole, JBL and Lawler hype that match at WrestleMania, with the match graphic confirming the match up whilst Bryan walks to the ring.



    In the ring, Punk – and Heyman – are less than impressed that Daniel Bryan is interrupting them. Punk scowls in the ring, and Heyman slowly shakes his head, whilst Bryan steps into the ring … but before the #1 Contender can even speak, Punk talks first.



    CM Punk: I wasn’t finished…


    Heat. Punk steps to face Bryan.


    CM Punk: And the last I checked, this wasn’t a public forum. So if you want to run along, when The Champ is ready, he’ll call YOU out.



    Punk prods the chest of Bryan … which draws a chuckle from the Royal Rumble winner. Bryan looks to his right, at the fans, and shrugs, before replying to the champion.



    Daniel Bryan: Well … I know I’ve heard enough. {Bryan turns to the audience} What do you think??



    Easy pop for Bryan. He nods in agreement, but Punk shows his disdain. Before the champion can say anything though, Bryan gets in first.



    Daniel Bryan: Oh, I forgot. You … don't care what they think, right??


    Punk mouths; “That’s right.”



    Daniel Bryan: And you probably don’t care what I think either.


    Punk nods.



    CM Punk: You’re a quick learner.


    Punk then offers Bryan a faux applause. Bryan keeps smiling.



    CM Punk: And you look real happy. Doesn’t he Paul??



    Heyman nods.


    CM Punk: You look like you hit the jackpot, Daniel. And I suppose you did, huh?? Because YOU are going to the main event of WrestleMania.



    Slight pop from the fans.


    CM Punk: Who’d of thunk it, right?? You and I?? The two big “indy darlings” succeeding in the big bad world of the WWE. I know nobody back there ever thought they’d see it. Hell, I’m sure there’s people throwing a fit that THIS-



    Motioning between himself and Bryan, Punk continues.



    CM Punk: Has been allowed to happen.


    There’s a mix of applause and cheers from the fans.



    CM Punk: You and I?? We weren’t supposed to make it. We weren’t supposed to be here. Yet here we are, not just part of WrestleMania … the MAIN EVENT of WrestleMania.



    Another respectful cheer and some applause for both guys on getting where they are.


    CM Punk: But I’m not surprised. I know how good you are. And even Ray Charles can see how good I am.



    A smattering of boos for that last line.


    CM Punk: But there’s a difference between you and I. And despite the similar paths we took to get here, despite the fact that people put us both on the same pedestal, there’s ONE major difference between us, Daniel. And it’s not a miniscule difference either. It’s a huge CHASM.


    Bryan raises his eyebrows, looking interested to hear it.



    CM Punk: See, you got that big cheesy grin on your face, and I’m dead serious. That’s the difference. You?? You’re content to be here. You’re just happy to have this job. Being in the main event of WrestleMania to you?? Just a perk, right??



    Bryan rolls his eyes.



    CM Punk: And that’s what separates you and I, Daniel. I’m not here to take part. I never have been. This-


    Punk takes the title from Heyman again, holding it up between himself and his WrestleMania opponent.


    CM Punk: This is why I’m here. To be the BEST. Recognized as the best. And I’ve been the best ever since I’ve stepped foot in this company, but it’s been indisputable for the last four hundred and fifty six days. I AM the best. I’m The Best In The World.



    Mixed reaction. Bryan smirks at the comment, and Punk picks up on it.



    CM Punk: And I can see that sticks in your throat a little, doesn’t it??


    Punk turns to address the audience.



    CM Punk: For those of you who didn’t follow Daniels career before he arrived here, he USED to call himself “The Best In The World.” Isn’t that right??



    Daniel Bryan: Just because I don't say it anymore, doesn’t mean it’s not true.



    Pop from the fans. Punk and Heyman laugh though, but that doesn’t phase Bryan.


    Daniel Bryan: But I’m not gonna just come out here and say it. Because anyone can SAY they’re the best in the world. But the only person that can really call themselves the Best … is the man that holds that title.



    Punk nods in agreement, pointing to himself with the title.



    Daniel Bryan: And yeah, maybe you have a point, Punk. In the past, winning and losing wasn’t a big deal. And yeah, maybe just taking part was enough. Getting to travel around Japan, all over Europe, that was enough for me. But not any more. Not now.



    Bryan points down at the mat, getting more serious as he stares at Punk.


    Daniel Bryan: Ever since I got here, I’ve been written off. They called me a “rookie” and paired me up with The Miz as my “pro”. This company tried to make me look like a fool from day one. And I didn’t have anyone-



    Momentarily, Bryan looks past Punk, and at Heyman.


    Daniel Bryan: To watch my back.


    Ohhh” from the fans that get the reference. Punk doesn’t appear to take too kindly to the jab either, and nor does Heyman.



    Daniel Bryan: Every opportunity I’ve gotten here, I have earned. Every chance I’ve been given, I’ve grabbed with both hands. The challenges I faced here are what have made me want to succeed even more. So no … just “being” at WrestleMania isn’t enough. Being in the main event of WrestleMania isn’t a “perk”. I’ve bust my ASS to get there!!



    Pop from the fans.



    Daniel Bryan: Two years ago, I didn’t even get to compete at WrestleMania. My match wasn’t deemed important enough to be on the show. And last year … last year was the lowest point of my career. This year, I wont be pulled from the show. And I wont make a rookie mistake. This year, I’m in the main event. Because I EARNED it. Just as I EARNED the right to call myself the best in the world once upon a time.



    A smattering of “Daniel Bryan” chants can be heard.


    Daniel Bryan: And at WrestleMania, I intend to be able to once again call myself … the best … in the world.


    Bryan points at the title. Punk thinks it over, and scratches his stubble, smirking.


    CM Punk: Interesting. As a matter of fact, before you so rudely interrupted me, I was about to say that I’m no longer … the best in the world.



    Punk acknowledges the reaction of surprise from the fans.



    CM Punk: That’s right, you people heard me. I’m not the Best in the World any more. So Daniel, you can have that back. It’s yours. You be the “Best in the World” … because you are looking … at the Greatest of all time.


    Heat. Bryan shows a smirk at the announcement, but Punk is deadly serious.



    CM Punk: Because there’s never been a champion like me!! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; my four hundred and fifty six days are the equivalent of thirty years if you measure what I’ve done compared to what Bruno Sammartino did in eight years. Do you think Hulk Hogan could’ve survived TWO Elimination Chambers?? Going wire to wire!?



    Punk laughs, and shakes his head.


    CM Punk: Of course not. Do you think Bruno Sammartino or Bob Backlund could’ve kept up the kind of schedule I have??Has any other champion in history faced the kind of challenges that I have!? Did Triple H ever hold this title for as long as I have?? Did Stone Cold Steve Austin?? Or The Undertaker??



    Heyman shakes his head in the background fervently. Punk meanwhile steps closer to Bryan, looking to try and intimidate the Rumble winner.


    CM Punk: How about The Rock, John Cena, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart?? Anyone?? No. NO ONE. And certainly not you, Daniel.



    Some boos. Bryan doesn’t react to Punk.


    CM Punk: I’ve beat Chris Jericho. I’ve beaten John Cena. I’ve beaten The Rock. That makes me the best in the world. That makes me the franchise. That makes me better than the Great One. Which by my math makes me “The Greatest.” And there’s NO disputing that.



    More heat for Punk and his ego.


    CM Punk: And Daniel, when you come for me at WrestleMania … when you come for THIS-?


    Punk holds up the title once again, with Bryan looking up at it.


    CM Punk: You’re gonna find out why being “the best” just aint good enough. You’re gonna find out why a little man cant compete with a GOD!!! You will find out exactly why I AM the GREATEST … OF ALLLLL TIME!!!



    Heat. Punk stands over Bryan, with the #1 Contender not backing up an inch. Punk then sneers at his challenger, and motions to Heyman that they’re leaving, and brushes past Bryan.



    However, when Punk steps out onto the apron, Bryan has something to say…



    Daniel Bryan: Whoa. Wait up.



    Punk and Heyman stop on the apron. Bryan scratches at the side of his head, acting a little confused.


    Daniel Bryan: Just … maybe you can clear something up for me. Maybe I’m a little confused. If you’re so great … how come I had you beat back at Hell in the Cell??



    Ohhhh” ~ The fans.



    Daniel Bryan: And … that was when I had just went through three months of getting my ass kicked by the entire roster.



    Punk doesn’t look impressed, and neither does Heyman. Bryan takes a step forward.


    Daniel Bryan: You know as well as I do … that if it wasn’t for outside interference that night, you wouldn’t be celebrating five hundred days – or however many days it is – as WWE Champion.



    Punk chuckles, and gets set to respond … but instead, Heyman puts his hand over the mic. Heyman motions for Punk to let him have this, and the WWE Champion shrugs, letting Heyman have the mic.



    Heyman now steps back into the ring, with Bryan being polite enough to take a step back and give Heyman space. Heyman takes a moment, gathering his thoughts, then takes his hand out of his pocket as he starts.



    Paul Heyman: Let me make something perfectly clear to you, Daniel. Like my client said … you hit the powerball. You’re in this position because you survived a battle royal. CM Punk?? He’s in this position because he’s had to face challenge after challenge, mountain after mountain, storm after storm … and he’s came through it all. He has truly EARNED his position. You, on the other hand?? You only got your shot back last year because you won a briefcase. And you’re here again because you got lucky at the Royal Rumble.



    Boos for Heyman denigrating Bryans accomplishments.


    Paul Heyman: The two of you may have travelled the same path to get to this position, but don’t even DARE think for a SECOND … that you measure up to this man. This man paved the way for the WWE to even LOOK at a guy like you. This man broke down barriers to allow YOU to get an opportunity in this company. You should be on your knees in front of this man … THANKING him for all he has done for YOU. Instead?? You’re- you’re insinuating that he, of all people, got a foot up when he got here??



    Heyman laughs.


    Paul Heyman: That’s pathetic. But then again, so are you. To even compare yourself to him makes me sick to my stomach. You, Daniel, are a PEON in comparison to CM Punk. This man right here has been champion for EIGHT-TEEN MONTHS. YOU … LOST at last years WrestleMania in EIGHT-TEEN SECONDS. And THAT is the gap between you and him. There’s the difference. He’s a fighter. He’s a winner. You … as good as you are … compared to CM Punk … you … are nothing.



    Heyman gets right in Bryans face with the last line, delivering it with complete and utter disdain. He turns to leave, then smirks … turning back around with a shit eating grin on his face.


    Paul Heyman: And just for your information, sir … it’s four hundred and fixty six days. Just as he said to you TWICE. Come WrestleMania, it’ll be five hundred and four days. And more importantly … the night AFTER WrestleMania, it’ll be day five hundred and five of CM Punks reign as W-W-E Champion.



    Boos. Heyman, thinking he’s had the last word, once again turns to leave … but Bryan isn’t finished, and grabs Heyman by the arm. Heyman turns back around.



    Daniel Bryan: Let me make something clear to you, Paul. Everything I’ve accomplished, I’ve done the hard way. I didn’t win a raffle to get here. That briefcase?? It didn’t just fall into my lap. I didn’t find it under the ring. I bust my ASS to win that briefcase.


    Bryan – whilst looking at Heyman – points at Punk on the apron.



    Daniel Bryan: And you can ask HIM what it takes to win that Money in the Bank briefcase TWICE!!


    A pretty hearty pop for that, as Bryan reminds Heyman that Punk had to go through the same route to the Money in the Bank.



    Daniel Bryan: And as for earning my shot at WrestleMania??



    Bryan steps into Heymans personal space.



    Daniel Bryan: Maybe you should ask your other client just how lucky I got at the Royal Rumble.


    Once more, it’s an “ohhh” from the fans, as Daniel Bryan gets a dig in on Lesnar. Bryan turns, leaving the ring, but stops as he faces Punk on the apron.



    Daniel Bryan: Five hundred and four days as WWE Champion is impressive. I wont deny that.



    Bryan steps forward, into Punks face – there’s no smiles this time.


    Daniel Bryan: … But there WONT be a day five hundred and five.



    And with that, the Rumble winner jumps off the apron, walking up the ramp, leaving Punk and Heyman to stew on those final words; the first shots fired on the road to the main event of WrestleMania.



    In the ring, Heyman looks furious, and Punk doesn’t look happy either … whilst Bryan, with an air of confidence and intensity, walks up the ramp, disappearing out of view, not even looking back at the WWE Champion.








    CHAPTER VIII; FACING UP TO THE PAST & BUMPS IN THE ROAD



    The following week on Raw (February 25th in Dallas), Punk and Bryan would be scheduled for their contract signing for their WrestleMania showdown. However, Punk and Heyman had some mind games to play with Bryan. Heyman looked to delay the contract signing, stating that he believed the scheduled WrestleMania main event wouldn’t in fact happen. Bryan – relaxed about it all – questioned why that was, asking if Punk was perhaps injured. Of course, that’s not what Heyman and Punk were getting at, and Bryan knew that, but was wanting to rile the pair.



    It was a move he almost lived to regret. In fact, Heyman told the Rumble winner that it was Daniel Bryan that he didn’t envisage making it to WrestleMania … which lead to the introduction of the Royal Rumble runner up; Brock Lesnar. It looked like a set up, and Punk blindsided Bryan with the WWE title, with Lesnar entering the ring, looking for some revenge after the Royal Rumble outcome … only for TRIPLE H to make his own return (Triple H hadn’t been on television since the arm breaking incident back in May) helping Bryan to run off Punk and Lesnar.



    On Smackdown, we get a sit-down interview with CM Punk on Daniel Bryan. The WWE Champion brings up the same points previously mentioned; Bryans perceived lack of desire (in Punks eyes at least) and merely being happy to be part of the show, whereas he (Punk) would never just accept anything less than being recognized as the best, “and the only true way to be recognized as the best, is to be the best”. He drives the point home that his determination and drive is what got him where he is, not JUST his wrestling ability, while Bryan has all the technical skill, but lacks the winning mentality to strive to reach the very top.



    Punk talks about Bryan being more concerned with showing fans how many holds and counters he knows, putting that ahead of championships and glory, and would rather have 100 fans in an armoury in awe at his technical skills and keep a low profile than have 80,000 people see him win the WWE Title and earn him worldwide recognition, comparing Bryan to those actors that turn down the blockbusters for an ‘artsy’ movie that no-one will ever see. Punk though, despite their similar roots, is the opposite. He wants to be the best of all time, and he wants everyone to know it and recognise it.



    The March 4 2013 edition of Raw came from Buffalo, and was an “Old School” edition of the flagship show. During the show, BRUNO SAMMARTINO made a brief appearance, talking about finally taking his place in the illustrious Hall of Fame next month … when he’d be interrupted by CM PUNK and Paul Heyman. The WWE Champion would confront Sammartino, talking about his reign being bigger and better than Bruno’s ever was, highlighting the schedule he’s had dwarfed Sammartinos during his eight years as champion.



    In response, Bruno kept his response short and sweet, not comparing his reign to Punks, but giving the current champion respect for his own achievements. Giving Punk some words of advice and more praise, Bruno wraps up his speech by telling him; “All good things come to an end … and I believe your reign as WWE Champion is ending at WrestleMania.” Naturally, Punk is furious, and begins to threaten Sammartino with violence … until Daniel Bryan hits the ring, making the save for the legend, running off CM Punk and allows Bruno to get a shot in on Heyman. Bryan and Sammartino stand tall, once again infuriating Punk.



    After Punk had his sit down interview the week prior, it was Daniel Bryans turn on Smackdown. Bryan acknowledged all of Punks comments the week before, and laughed off the suggestions that he’d ‘rather’ be wrestling in an armoury than a stadium. Bryan honestly tells Renee Young that he loves wrestling – and he doesn’t care where he wrestles as it never affects him and his mindset. He gets into details, talking about when he first got to the WWE and admits he didn’t expect to get a chance, crediting Punks success for him even getting a shot in the first place.



    However, while he admits he was just happy to wrestle initially, he now wants more. He DOES want the success, and he DOES want the glory and DOES want to call himself WWE Champion, using his Money in the Bank victory and Rumble win as examples of how much he wants it. Going back to his WrestleMania experience last year, Bryan brings up how that has re-shaped his goals, talking about the humiliation and embarrassment he felt when he lost so quickly – blaming himself entirely. Bryan passionately talks about how his goal was to return to WrestleMania in a world title match to redeem himself … and he has the opportunity to do just that on April 6.



    Briefly Bryan talks about how he thought he’d done that by winning the Money in the Bank for the second year in a row, but Punk and Heyman forced him to change his plans. Talking about Punk, Bryan admits he has plenty of respect for everything Punk has done, giving the champion credit for his reign, but brings up the lengths Punk (with Heyman) has gone to keep the title. Bryan reminds Renee that there’s no bounty on his head now. And Brock Lesnar will have his hands full at WrestleMania. Punk has to go one on one with him at WrestleMania … “and if you ask me, all of Punks actions these last six months tell me he’s worried about me. He’s worried that I’ve got his number. And he’s right. Because I do.”



    In Indianapolis the following Monday, it’s ‘Pick Your Poison’ for Punk and Bryan. The WWE Champion is up first, and his opponent, as selected by Daniel Bryan, is Chris Jericho. Punk renews hostilities with his WrestleMania 28 opponent, but just as he did a year ago, Punk bests Jericho, seeing him off with a GTS. Later in the night, it’s another WrestleMania 28 rematch, as Punk chooses the recently turned heel Sheamus – the man that defeated Bryan in eighteen seconds a year ago – to face Daniel Bryan.



    Bryan and Sheamus go at it in a match that lasts much longer than eighteen seconds. Bryan has the Celtic Warrior trapped in the YES LOCK deep in the match, when Punk hits the ring, taking his moment to attack Bryan after weeks of being upstaged by his WrestleMania challenger. Sheamus would join in, but Ryback – Sheamus WrestleMania opponent – would even the sides. Sheamus and Ryback fought through the crowd, leaving it to Punk and Bryan, with Bryan unable to recover from the initial attack. Punk punishes Bryan with a heinous assault, attacking Bryan with a Singapore Cane, nailing him with the title belt, dropping him twice with the GTS, then chokes him out in the Anaconda Vice. As a result of the beating, Daniel Bryan would be off TV, selling the injuries.



    Following the heinous assault on Raw, CM Punk would be in action again on Smackdown, defeating Brodus Clay in a showcase match for the champion. After the match, he’d take the mic, and explain why he assaulted Daniel Bryan on Monday. Offering up a number of reasons, Punk says; after the last number of weeks, he felt it was important to remind Daniel Bryan just who the top dog was, and also, he felt Daniel Bryan needed to be humbled. But most importantly, he wanted to show Daniel Bryan he didn’t – and never has – needed anyone to fight his battles for him, taking exception to Bryan’s comments from his sit down interview on Smackdown the week prior.



    Punk explains that the “Bounty” was simply a measure to allow himself to focus on the “top” contenders in the WWE, and not have to look over his shoulder for a pest coming after him. He’d also touch on the attempted ambush with Brock Lesnar on Bryan a few weeks ago, stating that Brock wanted a piece of Bryan himself in revenge for the Rumble. Making himself perfectly clear, CM Punk sends a message to Bryan that he doesn’t need anyone to help him kick Daniel Bryans ass … “I just didn’t want to get my own hands dirty. And after the beating I put on you on Monday?? I’m guessing you’d rather I hadn’t either.”



    Raw on March 18 would emanate from Pittsburgh, and would see none other than WILLIAM REGAL confront CM Punk and Paul Heyman. Regal, a long time friend and mentor of Daniel Bryan would rip into Punk for his actions the week prior. Giving Punk his due credit, Regal put over Punks ability and his lengthy reign as WWE Champion, but had no respect for what he did to Daniel Bryan. Regal said this main event at WrestleMania should be a celebration for what Punk and Bryan have achieved completely against the odds … but Punks actions have soured that sentiment, and instead of a celebration of where both men have come from, CM Punk made it personal.



    Rightfully, Heyman and Punk point out Regals own transgressions in the past, saying he would’ve done the same as Punk did. Regal concedes that point, agreeing … but adds the caveat, that he pulled stunts like that, and created short cuts for himself … only when he knew he was over matched and needed to level the playing field.The Brit suggests that’s why Heyman and Punk have been putting obstacles in Bryans way … but Punk laughs that suggestion off. Regal probes further, saying Punk – and Heyman – have been worried about Daniel Bryan all along, ever since he won the Money in the Bank in July. That’s why Paul Heyman issued the ‘Bounty’ and if it wasn’t for Kane at Hell in the Cell, Punk wouldn’t be champion now.



    Regal tells Punk he’s always admired Punk and his ability. But the only world where Punk could call himself ‘the best’ is one where Daniel Bryan doesn’t exist.That point clearly stings for Punk, but Heyman laughs it off. He tells Regal he needs to get with the programme, because Punk isn’t the “Best in the World” … but he’s the “Greatest of all time.” But in response, Regal shakes his head. The Englishman tells Heyman that the greatest of all time would stand face to face with any challenger that stood before him. Not weaken him, not attack him, not set the hounds on him. As a matter of fact … the kind of things you two have done to keep Daniel Bryan away from that championship are the kind of things people would do TO the greatest of all time.



    Regal tells Punk that only the weak, only a scoundrel; like himself … would need a plot or a plan to conquer a foe. Regal puts Bryan over, saying he knows Daniel Bryan will be ready to compete in time for WrestleMania, and Regal predicts that the Rumble winner will overcome any obstacle put in his way to take the WWE Championship … “and it’s my belief that you know that too, Mister Punk.” And that final comment sets Punk off, attacking Regal. In a similar attack to what he put on Daniel Bryan the week before, Punk destroys Regal, ripping the veterans shirt off him, blasting him with the WWE Title, and even applies Bryans own Yes Lock on Regal at the end.



    The following Monday in Philadelphia, Daniel Bryan is back, opening the show. Immediately, the Rumble winner calls out CM Punk … but the WWE Champion isn’t there. Instead, Punk shows up on the titan tron, along with Paul Heyman … and they are in a familiar location for both himself Bryan; the Murphy Rec Centre in Philadelphia.Punk cuts a promo on the building, and how far he’s come to move from buildings like this to the main event of WrestleMania. “But while I’m moving away from places like this dump … after I’m done with you at WrestleMania, this is the kind of building you’ll be frequenting again.”



    Heyman even claims that deep down inside, Daniel Bryan would probably prefer to be wrestling in places like this still. Going back to their assessment that Bryan has a small time mentality, just happy to be part of the show without the desire to be the best, Heyman insinuates that coming back to places like the Murphy Rec Centre would suit Bryan; where he can impress a few dozen dorks with his hundreds of holds and doesn’t need to feel the pressure of needing to win every week like he does in the WWE. Punk then challenges Bryan to take the trip – about a thirty minute walk – to the Murphy Rec Centre so that they can “reminisce” about simpler times.



    Of course Bryan accepts the invitation. At the top of the hour, he arrives at the building, looking for Punk, and as he looks for him, is met with some old ROH posters with his face on them … then spots one which has clearly been put together by Heyman and Punk. Without the ROH logo it’s a poster of Daniel Bryan in his current guise, and the words; “THE RETURN TO OBSCURITY TOUR; COMING 2013.” And as he rips up the poster, Bryan is attacked by Punk again. They fight through the building, back and forth, but a timely assist from Paul Heyman allows Punk to finish the fight on top, dropping Bryan with the GTS on the floor of the building.



    Arriving back on Raw later in the night (it’s the three hour era), Punk and Heyman come to the ring, talking about leaving Bryan back where he belongs. Punk cuts an impassioned promo, talking about the life he left behind, saying he never wants to go back to that life … but not everyone is cut out for the big leagues. Punk name drops Colt Cabana and Low Ki as two that could never make the transition, failing in the WWE, and says Daniel Bryan is just like them – he just doesn’t know it yet. As Punk continues, DANIEL BRYAN returns to the arena, and eventually hits ringside, continuing his fight the WWE Champion. Eventually, the two men are pulled apart and kept away from each other.



    On Smackdown, a big final showdown is hyped for Raw the coming Monday – CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, face to face, six days out from WrestleMania.








    CHAPTER IX; THE FINAL COUNTDOWN

    {PROMO #3}



    MONDAY NIGHT RAW – APRIL 1 2013 – WASHINGTON DC

    {FINAL RAW BEFORE WRESTLEMANIA 29}



    {Earlier in the night, Paul Heyman was written out of the final segment, after taking a punch from Triple H in a melee between The Game and Brock Lesnar.}



    The ring is vacant, as we head into the final segment of the night…


    **FLIGHT OF THE VALKYRIES**


    DANIEL BRYAN enters to a big pop from the fans, six nights out from his moment of truth at WrestleMania. But he looks relaxed and happy tonight – at least for now – with his unassuming demeanour, leading the fans in “YES” chants all the way down the ramp.



    Michael Cole: What a climb it has been for Daniel Bryan. This very day, April First, one year ago, he was beaten by Sheamus in eighteen seconds at WrestleMania. Now, he is six days away from returning to the Showcase of the Immortals, with a shot at immortality. A chance to rectify last years humiliation. A shot at redemption!!



    JBL: But to do it, he’s got to dethrone the greatest WWE Champion of all time, Michael. For almost 500 days, CM Punk has held off the challenge of every single man to walk through the curtain. More accomplished men than Daniel Bryan too.


    Jerry Lawler: But none of them had the motivation Daniel Bryan has right now. This is a man on a mission.



    JBL: And he’s gonna fail.


    Michael Cole: We find out Sunday at WrestleMania … but tonight, Daniel Bryan has a chance to have the last word, and plant a seed of doubt into the head of CM Punk.



    JBL: You don't hold the WWE Title for 500 days by getting psyched out, Michael. If anything, it’s a chance for Punk to mentality defeat this little man tonight and finish the job on Sunday.


    **CULT OF PERSONALITY**



    But the man with the gold, and the familiar sight – CM PUNK with the WWE Championship – may have something else to say on the matter. Minus Paul Heyman, Punk makes his way to the ring on day 498 of his unprecedented modern day title reign.



    Michael Cole: When CM Punk defeated Alberto Del Rio at the Survivor Series eighteen months ago, no one could’ve ever envisioned he would STILL be the champion all this time later. Unprecedented in this day and age.



    JBL: And that’s why it’s not hyperbole to call this man the greatest ever t’do it!! All the greats; Steve Austin, The Rock, John Cena, Bret Hart … not one of ‘em ever held that title for as long as CM Punk. And none of ‘em ever faced the kinds of challenges CM Punk has.



    Jerry Lawler: But JBL, has CM Punk ran out of time?? Is his time up?? Ever since Daniel Bryan won that Money in the Bank last summer, it’s been like Punk has done everything he could to prevent Daniel Bryan getting at him. Is there part of CM Punk that feels Daniel Bryan is his kryptonite??



    JBL: Another challenger, another night. Another win. Simple as that.


    Punk takes his time, finally getting into the ring, as Daniel Bryan restrains himself, keeping cool, despite the brawl last week on Raw. Punk has that common smug look on his face, as he stands in the middle of the ring, but his demeanour doesn’t rile Bryan – at least not yet.



    Michael Cole: These next few minutes could be vital though for both men. Whoever leaves here tonight heading into WrestleMania with the psychological advantage will be firmly in the drivers seat on Sunday if you ask me.


    JBL: And there aint a person in the world that can drop a pipebomb like Punk can!! We’re in his world here. He’s gonna leave Daniel Bryan a quivering mess!! Daniel Bryan will leave here questioning everything about himself after Punk gets in his head. And trust me, CM Punk knows everything about Bryan. He knows what buttons to press. He’s about to take Daniel Bryan to school here!!



    In the ring, the fans are chanting “YES”, as Punk and Bryan are standing across the ring from one another, six nights out from WrestleMania. Punk waits out the reaction, whilst Bryan has a slight smirk on his face the longer the chants go on. Finally, as the chants die down, Punk speaks up, getting the ball rolling.


    CM Punk: You’re six days out from the biggest match of your life, Daniel. All eyes are gonna be on you. In the main event of the biggest event of all time. Nervous yet??



    Bryan smirks, answering the question with a question.



    Daniel Bryan: Are you??


    Punk smirks back.



    CM Punk: Not a bit.


    Punk looks smug, standing over Bryan.



    CM Punk: Because I’ve been here before, Daniel. I’ve been here before, and I’ve won. I’ve been in this spot, time after time, over these last eighteen months, and I haven’t cracked … not once. But … every time you get in this position?? You do crack, don't ya??



    Punk – smirking – tries to goad the Rumble winner.



    CM Punk: The only reason you were ever World Champion in the first place is because the Big Show was knocked OUT. You literally couldn’t fail. But once you WERE champion, you FLUKED your way all the way to WrestleMania a year ago. I mean … you nearly lost … to Santino Marella.



    Bryan listens, staying composed, despite Punk sticking it to him.


    CM Punk: And when it came to the big dance?? Your first true taste of WrestleMania?? You took your eyes off the ball … and you were outta there-



    Punk snaps his fingers.



    CM Punk: Like that.


    Again, Punk has that smug look on his face.


    CM Punk: And something … something tells me that’ll happen again on Sunday.


    Bryan shakes his head in disagreement.



    CM Punk: Oh, wait, wait- you don’t agree?? Let me guess, you’re about to get these people to start chanting; “NO – NO – NO!!” … right?? That’s your thing, right?? YES!!! NO!!!



    Punk mocks the arm motions of Bryan.



    CM Punk: And aint that funny? But like when Steve Austin had a whole arena of people chanting “What”-



    And a small portion of fans react with a “WHAT?” right back at Punk. He rolls his eyes.



    CM Punk: Right on cue. Congratulations.



    Punk offers the fans a sarcastic applause, before getting back on point.



    CM Punk: Or like the countless array of asinine catchphrases The Rock would spew, week after week. Or Chris Jericho. Or Mick Foley … Or Hulk Hogan … it’s a cheap ploy to sell some shirts, and to feed off these mindless fools-



    Cheap heat.



    CM Punk: So how pathetic can it be, that a guy like you … a guy who prided himself on his technical ability … a guy who was always known for his wrestling skills … will wind up being nothing more than a one note catchphrase…



    Punk chuckles for a moment, whilst Bryan shakes his head, but keeps his cool.


    CM Punk: Because there’s no doubt, Daniel. That is what you’ve become. These fans?? They don't like you because of what you can do between these ropes. They only care about you, because you say “Yes … Yes … Yes”. Well congratulations … you’re officially part of the machine. The big corporate WWE empire has broken you down, Daniel. And you’ve sold out. You sold your soul to make a mark in the WWE. You turned your back on the traditions of this business that you followed for so long. The traditions of a guy like William Regal who you’ve idolised for years.



    That comment almost breaks Bryan, and the Rumble winner has to stop himself from going on the attack. Punk takes a few steps back to keep his distance.


    CM Punk: And for what?? To sell a few t-shirts?? Wow … you’ve changed. That’s not the Daniel Bryan I knew. I respected.



    Bryan mouths; “You’ve never respected me.”


    CM Punk: You think those fans that followed you back when you were working in those armouries and high school gyms are proud of what you’ve become??



    Punk shakes his head.


    CM Punk: You think … you think Regal is proud of what you’ve turned yourself into?? He’s not. He may have been out here, fighting your corner a few weeks ago … but deep down?? He’s sickened by what you’ve become. He just hasn’t admitted it to himself yet.



    Heat from the fans.


    CM Punk: You sold your soul … to chase a dream you’ll never catch. So I hope you enjoy the moment of being in the spotlight at WrestleMania. I hope you have eighty thousand people chant “YES” as you go to the ring. That’s about as good as it’ll get. Because I am everything you’re not. I didn’t become a corporate shill. I never pandered to these people with a catchphrase … and I never will.



    The fans boo Punk.



    CM Punk: I wouldn’t be able to look myself in the mirror if I ever let myself become that guy. I’ve got too much self respect. I’ve too much pride. And because I stayed true to myself, stayed true to who I am … I stand before you today, for four hundred and ninety eight days the WWE Champion!!



    He holds up the title, getting right into Bryans face.


    CM Punk: The Greatest … of ALLLLL time!!!



    Heat from the fans. Punk smirks, and Bryan finally speaks up.


    Daniel Bryan: Anything else you want to add??


    Punk shakes his head and motions for Bryan to take the centre stage.



    Daniel Bryan: That’s a relief. Because I’m not sure I could’ve listened to that garbage for much longer.


    Pop. Bryan nods at the reaction from the fans.


    Daniel Bryan: And I can’t stand to hear you call yourself the ‘Greatest of all Time’ any more either.


    Another pop.



    Daniel Bryan: But most of all, I’m sick – just like everyone else is – of seeing you walk around with that WWE Championship!!



    Bigger pop. Bryan steps forward coming toward Punk.



    Daniel Bryan: Sunday at WrestleMania, I have the chance to change ALL of that!!!


    Another pop; the fans are ready for change. Punk though, shakes his head.



    Daniel Bryan: Sunday at WrestleMania, it’s NOT about you. It’s not about your five hundred days as WWE Champion. It’s about ME!!! It’s about the three hundred and seventy two days I’ve had to go through to the end of MY road BACK to WrestleMania. My road to redemption.



    Getting fired up, Bryan prods his own chest with his finger, getting right up at Punk, looking the champion directly in the eye. He takes a step back.


    Daniel Bryan: Yeah, maybe I did push my luck last year. I probably didn’t deserve to be World Champion. And maybe … maybe I deserved to get my head kicked off at WrestleMania. But that woke me up. That lit a fire inside of me to prove everyone wrong. Prove to everyone that I CAN be a headliner at WrestleMania and prove that I CAN be a champion. And while you can run me down for everything I did up until last years WrestleMania … you CANT deny what I’ve done ever since.



    Punk nods; he thinks he can.


    Daniel Bryan: I have spent the last YEAR with ONE goal on my mind. And this Sunday, I-


    CM Punk: Fail miserably.



    Heat. Bryan rolls his eyes and shakes his head. Punk smiles at him.


    CM Punk: Just like you failed a year ago … you will fail at WrestleMania again. Daniel, you’re not a pressure player. You don’t come through in the clutch. That’s why you got blown out last year. That’s why you choked at Hell in the Cell. That’s why you became the FIRST person EVER to FAIL when you cashed in that Money in the Bank briefcase.



    Bryan shakes his head again, and clenches his jaw in frustration.



    CM Punk: And that journey you’ve been on?? It’s going to end with a whimper. And while I can’t guarantee it’ll be eighteen seconds … it WILL be swift. And it will be humiliating.


    Heat from the fans. Punk and Bryan don't take their eyes off each other now.



    CM Punk: And just like I said, all you’ll be remembered for?? It wont be all those submission holds. It wont be your technical brilliance. And it sure as hell wont be as WWE Champion. All you’ll be remembered for is a catchph-


    Daniel Bryan: NO!!!


    Big pop from the fans, followed by a brief; “NO!” chant.



    Daniel Bryan: You’re wrong. That’s NOT all I’ll be remembered for. I wont allow it.



    There’s still some “NO!” chants in the arena.


    Daniel Bryan: I’m not in this for fame. I’m not in this for the money. I don't care if I never sold a t-shirt. I’m not just a catchphrase either; and you know it!! I’m no sell out – and you know that too!!I’m here because I love doing THIS for a living. I live and breathe wrestling. And it WILL be what I achieve in this ring that I’ll be remembered for.



    Bryan points down at the mat.


    Daniel Bryan: I achieved everything I set out to do in the Indies. I achieved every goal I set myself. And me coming here to the WWE wasn’t selling out. It was the biggest challenge of my career – of my LIFE. For me to succeed here. And as far as I’m concerned, I haven’t done that yet. But everything I set out to do – I DO!! And that ought to scare you to death!!!



    Another cheer from the fans. Bryan glares at Punk, full of passion, and points out at the audience.


    Daniel Bryan: I don't need to tell these people a thousand times that I’m the best in the world. I don't need to demand they recognize me as the greatest of all time either. That’s out of my control. And it’s out of yours too. No matter how many times you say it, or how many t-shirts you sell that say you’re the best or that you’re the greatest … it doesn’t make it true.



    Punks permanent smirk is wiped off his face with that comment.


    Daniel Bryan: I don't make that decision, and neither do you. THEY DO!!


    Bryan points at the fans again, with the audience cheering once more.



    Daniel Bryan: And I’ll leave it in their hands to decide who they think the best is, or who they think the greatest is. The only thing that’s in my control is what happens between these ropes. And when that bell rings at WrestleMania; it’s just you … and me.



    Excitedly, the fans pop, anticipating the match on Sunday.



    Daniel Bryan: And what happens at WrestleMania?? That IS in my control. I CAN dictate what happens at WrestleMania. And all I care about doing is making you TAP at WrestleMania!!!



    And that elicits another pop from the fans.



    Daniel Bryan: You’ve made the last nine months of my life HELL. You set the roster on me. You left me laying and put me on the shelf for weeks. You put a man I admire more than anyone in this business on the shelf for no reason. On Sunday, I make YOUR life hell. For however long it lasts; whether it’s eighteen seconds, thirty minutes, or five hundred days … I will put you through HELL!!!



    Bryan passionately makes his point, and stares at Punk, whilst the champion takes his time to respond. He fixes the title on his shoulder, and finally speaks up, almost blowing off Bryan.



    CM Punk: Been there. Survived it. I’ve been through everything as WWE Champion. I’ve survived everything. I’ve THRIVED against it all. I’ve heard them all say they’d be the one to bring my reign to an end. Chris Jericho said he’d do it. Randy Orton said he’d do it. John Cena said he’d do it. The Rock said he’d do it.



    Punk shrugs.


    CM Punk: They were all wrong.


    The WWE Champion points his finger at Bryan.


    CM Punk: And they were ALL better men than you.



    And he turns his finger back at himself.



    CM Punk: And I am better … than you.



    Boos from the fans. Bryan shakes his head in disagreement at Punk.



    CM Punk: Sunday at WrestleMania, I’ll show you, and I’ll show the world just why I am exactly what I say I am … and that is … The Greatest … of all time.



    Punk looks to have the final word, dropping his microphone … but when he attempts to step past Daniel Bryan, the 2013 Rumble winner steps across, STOPPING Punk from leaving!!


    The fans pop for the actions of Bryan, and Punk looks agitated by it. It’ll be Bryan that gets the lost word here…



    Daniel Bryan: Mark my words … I WILL walk out of WrestleMania as the WWE Champion. And unlike everything you’ve said?? That’s not up for debate. It wont be determined by a vote. It’s not an opinion … that’s a FACT.


    Punk shakes his head, mouthing “No it’s not.”



    Daniel Bryan: Strip away all the hype. Strip away the stadium environment, the glitz, the glamour, the lights, fireworks – ALL OF IT!!! Sunday at WrestleMania, none of that matters. It could be MetLife Stadium or it could be the Murphy Rec. Eighty thousand or eighty. In the end … it’s down to you … and me … in THIS ring. And in this ring, NO ONE is better … THAN ME!!!



    Bryan drops his mic, not taking his eyes off Punk for a moment. The fans cheer in the background, and with champion and challenger face to face, CM Punk raises the title belt in the air, between himself and Daniel Bryan, mouthing; “this says I’m better. THIS says I’m better!!!”



    Still, neither man takes their eyes off the other … both trading words off the microphone, and the fans begin a “YES” chant in the background, as the road to WrestleMania reaches a fever pitch … which will culminate on Sunday.







    CHAPTER X; WRESTLEMANIA XXIX

    {THE MATCH}





    Following the video package, we’re back live at MetLife Stadium. Despite everything these fans have already seen tonight; The Shield defeating John Cena & The Rock, Triple H defeating Brock Lesnar (don't judge me for this(!!), I’m looking for realism here) and The Undertaker extending his streak at the expense of Chris Jericho there’s … still anticipation in the air as we await this main event…



    The fans fall somewhat silent for a moment…



    **FLIGHT OF THE VALKYRIES**


    MetLife Stadium rises for the arrival of the Royal Rumble winner, DANIEL BRYAN as he emerges onto the massive stage for his opportunity at redemption, one year on from his miserable failure in Miami. Carrying a hand towel and wearing his ‘YES – YES – YES’ shirt, Bryan puffs his cheeks, looking around the impressive stadium.



    Michael Cole: This is the moment of truth for Daniel Bryan. A match that for him, is a year in the making.


    JBL: But how much is last year at WrestleMania playing on his mind, Michael??



    Michael Cole: It has to be. But I believe he can use it as positive motivation.


    Bryan surveys the impressive stadium from the top of the ramp, as a smile emerges on the #1 Contenders face, and he slowly nods, drinking in the moment … before making his way down the extremely long ramp, with his signature shouts of “YES!” … which the fans join in with in unison.



    Michael Cole: Ever since he was embarrassed and humiliated a year ago, Daniel Bryan has used that experience to drive himself forward to this spot tonight. Don’t forget; when he won the Money in the Bank briefcase for the second time, his intention was to hold it until tonight and cash it in, but when CM Punk and Paul Heyman put the bounty on his head, his plan changed. And when he was screwed out of the title, he used that to spur him on and get through the Royal Rumble to be here.



    Jerry Lawler: It’s been a long road back to WrestleMania for Daniel Bryan – but all credit to him – he’s proved a lot of people wrong just by being here tonight.


    Michael Cole: But you know as well as we do, King, being here isn’t enough.



    JBL: I’d disagree. CM Punk said it best himself a few weeks ago; Daniel Bryan is happy just taking part. Winning is a added bonus. For CM Punk the only thing that matters IS winning. That’s why CM Punk has been champion for eighteen months and Daniel Bryan lost at WrestleMania in eighteen seconds.



    Eventually, he reaches the ring, stepping up onto the turnbuckles from the apron, motioning to the fans again. Daniel Bryan jumps into the ring, bobbing his head – then leads the fans in another round of “YES!” chants. But once that ends, the smile and jovial attitude shifts, as the seriousness of what’s on the line sinks in.



    Jerry Lawler: Well JBL, he doesn’t look like he’s happy just to be here if you ask me. That’s the look of a man on a mission.



    Michael Cole: He is absolutely here to win, King.


    JBL: Yeah, and so is CM Punk. Except CM Punk knows how to win on the big stage.





    **CULT OF PERSONALITY**



    It’s a special moment indeed, as LIVING COLOUR play out the iconic tune live and in living colour – no pun intended – as the reigning UNDISPUTED WWE Champion is led out to the ring by PAUL HEYMAN. Marking day FIVE HUNDRED AND FOUR with the gold, CM PUNK casts a glance at the band, acknowledging them for playing him out.



    Due to the live performance, the commentary team sit out, letting the performance be heard. Relaxed and confident, CM Punk has been here and done it before, and the confidence oozes out of Punk as he kneels down … with Heyman pointing at his own watch before the champion calls out; “IT’S CLOBBERIN TIIIIIIME!!!”



    And from there, Punk saunters down the ramp and onto the aisle, flanked by Heyman, whilst Bryan waits patiently in the ring. The champion finally arrives at ringside, taking looks to his left then right, and makes his way up the steps and onto the apron, turning his back to the ring and extending his arms wide at the fans.



    Finally, Punk scales to the top turnbuckle, goading the fans some more by parading the WWE Championship belt, before removing his hoodie. The performance by Living Colour draws to a close, with Punk now standing in the centre of the ring, mouthing at Daniel Bryan – who is patiently waiting in the corner … waiting for the circus to end.



    Michael Cole: He has been WWE Champion for nearly eighteen months. Five hundred and four days to be exact. A reign the likes of which we haven’t seen in twenty five years.



    JBL: And it’s just gettin started, Michael!! CM Punk has his sights set on Pedro Morales next!! That’s the sign of the champion!!


    Michael Cole: Over the last eighteen months, CM Punk has defeated every single challenger. He’s been through TWO Elimination Chamber matches, he’s beat John Cena, Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, he’s won triple threat matches, he’s won TLC matches, he beat The Rock at the Royal Rumble.



    JBL: He has done it all!!



    DING

    DING
    DING


    Justin Roberts: The following contest is scheduled for one fall … and it is for … the W-W-EEEE … CHAMP-IONSHIIIIP!!!!!


    Naturally, the fans pop.



    Justin Roberts: Introducing first, the challenger!! From Aberdeen Washington, weighing two hundred, ten pounds, he is the 2013 winner of the Royal Rumble … DANIEL BRRRRYANNN!!!!



    The Royal Rumble winner steps out of the corner, saluting the fans, getting a brief “YES” chant stirring inside the stadium. Roberts pauses for a moment to let the fans settle back down, before he moves on…


    Justin Roberts: And his opponent … from Chicago Illinois, weighing two hundred twenty four pounds … he is the W-W-E Champion … C … M … PUNK!!!!!!



    Punk steps forward, holding up the WWE Championship. There’s a mix of boos and cheers, as despite his heel alignment, there’s ALWAYS fans of CM Punk wherever he goes. The champion steps back, and hands the title over to Mike Chioda, with the official holding the title up … then calls for the bell!!!



    WWE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH:

    WWE Champion CM Punk with Paul Heyman defends against

    2013 Royal Rumble Winner Daniel Bryan

    The bell rings; and we are underway, but Paul Heyman is already climbing up onto the apron – it’s a momentary distraction for Bryan, and enough for the five hundred day WWE Champion to get the jump on the challenger!! Punk hammers Bryan into the corner – as the smirking Heyman climbs back down onto the floor – with the champion wasting little time … and he GOING FOR THE GTS RIGHT FROM THE GET GO – HE WANTS TO BEAT BRYAN INSIDE EIGHTEEN SECONDS -



    Cole; “ARE YOU KIDDING ME- NOT AGAIN- NOT AGAIN!!!”



    BUT BRYAN ELBOWS FREE!!!!



    The challenger avoids suffering the same fate two years straight, and he PUNISHES the champion for his audacious attempt, hammering Punk with big forearm shots, then a pair of European uppercuts, backing Punk into the ropes. Bryan looks for a whip off the opposite ropes, but Punk reverses the momentum, pulling Bryan in instead, driving a knee to the gut. The knee slows Bryan down, and allows Punk to drive an elbow into the back of the neck, before pushing Bryan back into the corner, laying into him, stomping the Rumble winner down.



    Suitably softened up – or so Punk thinks at least – the champion looks to shoot Bryan across the ring to the opposite corner, but when he approaches, Bryan runs up the ropes instead and BACKFLIPS off the top, landing behind the incoming CM Punk, and takes off, hitting the ropes, ducking a wild clothesline attempt from the champion, then Bryan comes back again the second time, FLYING with a clothesline of his own to Punk!!! And down goes the champion!!!



    Punk is rocked from the running clothesline, and as he tries to get up, reaching his knees, Punk is peppered with YES kicks from Daniel Bryan to the body!!! The fans chant to each kick, with the challenger kicking the shit out of Punk, as the champion eventually crawls away, looking for sanctuary at the ropes. But there’s no respite for CM Punk, as Daniel Bryan meets him at the ropes, throwing some more European Uppercuts – and this time, Bryan IS able to send Punk across the ring with an Irish whip, catching him on the return with a BIG knee to the gut!!!



    Bryan lands the knee and Punk takes a tumble, clutching at his mid section, sitting up – which serves as an invite for Bryan to land a STIFF kick to the back!!! Punk winces, as we catch a glimpse of a concerned looking Paul Heyman on the floor, seeing his client suffer. Bryan flattens Punk out on the canvas, and sets up, standing on the hamstrings of the champion, grabbing the arms … leaving the champion in a perilous position … AS BRYAN APPLIES A MEXICAN SURFBOARD!!!!!



    The fans inside MedLife Stadium make themselves heard, appreciating the impressive sight of the submission hold, with Daniel Bryan cranking back on the champion, eventually pulling back enough to HOIST Punk up in the air, but is wise enough to keep his own shoulders off the mat – with Mike Chioda keeping a close eye on them – as he cranks on the arms, with Punk shaking his head, refusing to give in. Bryan then pulls Punk back FURTHER – contorting the champions body, which draws a bigger reaction from the fans!!!



    Bryan continues to crank back, and even goes as far as to FISH HOOK the mouth of Punk – a little bit of payback for what happened on Raw a few weeks ago – with Punk clawing at his own mouth, trying to break the grip … but Bryan simply moves on, and hooks his fingers into the NOSE of Punk!!! The champion is heard groaning in pain, again, clawing at Bryan to get him to release the hold. Bryan eventually releases the hold, but Punk writhes in pain on the mat, and ends up rolling out of the ring to get himself a breather.



    Shaking his head, Punk takes a walk, with Heyman there to meet him, giving the champion some words of encouragement and advice. Unfortunately for Punk though, Daniel Bryan doesn’t fancy waiting for him to get back in the ring in his own time, and climbs out onto the apron … with Punk turning back around … RIGHT INTO A RUNNING FLYING KNEE OFF THE APRON FROM BRYAN!!!!



    Bryan wastes little time, and drags Punk up, tossing him into the ring. Daniel Bryan follows inside, and drags Punk back to his feet again … but the champion explodes, and rams Bryan into the corner!!! Punk drives his shoulder into the gut of the challenger repeatedly, taking the wind out of Bryans sails. Thinking he’s slowed the challenger down, Punk takes a second to catch his breath, then comes back to take care of Bryan … ONLY FOR BRYAN TO FIRE OFF ON HIM AGAIN!!!!



    Daniel Bryan rattles Punk with forearm shots out of the corner, and follows those with trademark stiff kicks to the legs which soften Punk up to allow Bryan to swiftly hook him up. Bryan goes for a suplex, but it’s BLOCKED by Punk … and the champion stuns Daniel Bryan with his OWN snap suplex; WITH BRYAN GETTING SUPLEXED AGAINST THE TURNBUCKLES!!!!! A HORRIBLE landing for the challenger!!!



    Cole; “OH MY!!! CM Punk just folded Daniel Bryan up like an accordion!!!”



    JBL; “Game changer, Michael!!”



    King; “That could be it right there!!”



    Cole; “And the cover;”


    .........1.........
    ...


    ...2...
    ...


    ............SHOULDER UP...........
    !!!




    Bryan gets the shoulder up, surviving the first cover of the match, but as JBL stated on commentary, the impact of the suplex into the turnbuckles has changed the complexion of the match. Punk is able to establish control now, and the champion runs his mouth whilst dragging Bryan to his feet, telling the challenger “dont forget you’re in here with the greatest of all time!!” and stomps Bryan down in the corner, punishing the challenger, softening him up, before taking him out of the corner with a snapmare.



    From there, Punk applies a rudimentary chin lock, completely slowing the pace down after a fairly frantic, high paced start from Daniel Bryan. Punk wrenches back, but soon breaks his own hold, but only to club the back and then thump the chest of Bryan with forearms, and elbows, before re-applying the chin lock again. Bryan suffers in the hold, but struggles to his feet, and drives his elbow into the gut of Punk to break himself free!!



    Bryan runs off the ropes, ducking under a shot from Punk, continuing on, running off the opposite side, leaping over as Punk ducks down, before coming back a third time … with Punk dropping down, catching Bryan with a DROP TOE HOLD!!! Bryans face smacks off the mat, and Punk keeps the foot trapped off the trip, reaching back … showing off his own range of holds; APPLYING A MUTA LOCK!!!!!



    Punk wrenches back in the hold, with Bryan having to suffer, his body being contorted by the champion. Heyman is smiling on the floor, impressed by his client, with Bryan looking to be in pain … but thankfully, he’s close to the ropes, and after inching his way closer whilst stuck in the Muta Lock, he’s able to reach out, and force the hold to be broken by Punk. And to his credit, the champion releases the hold surprisingly early.



    But whilst Punk shows sportsmanship in releasing the hold, it’s only for a brief, fleeting moment, with the champion then launching an assault on Bryan at the ropes before the challenger can even get back up!! Punk stomps Bryan, much to the chagrin of the official, who issues Punk with a warning for his conduct. Punk takes little heed of the warning, and meets Daniel as he gets up, nailing the challenger with short – but firm – forearm shots up against the ropes!!! Punk sends Bryan off, and quickly knocks him down with a clothesline, into a lateral press;





    ………1………
    ………

    ………………KICK OUT………………

    !!!!!





    Cole; “Only a one on that occasion.”



    JBL; “Punk knows what he’s doing Michael. Every kick out saps more energy outta the challenger!”



    There’s a wry smirk on the face of Punk, as he pulls Bryan up into a seated position, delivering blows to the back and the kidneys with his forearm. The champion gets up, rushing off the ropes, coming back with a low clothesline to knock Bryan back down again, and another cover;





    ………1………
    ………

    ………………NO………………

    !!!!!


    Again, Punk knows he’s not winning with these covers, but is doing whatever he can to force Bryan to waste energy … and the tactics being employed by the champion are applauded by Paul Heyman on the outside. Punk has a smirk on his face, as he brings Bryan to his feet, and looks to send him off the ropes … but Bryan doesn’t come back. Instead, the challenger hangs onto the ropes, which forces Punk to come FOR Bryan, charging at him – but Bryan ducks down and ELEVATES Punk up and over!!!



    Punk hangs on to the ropes, pulling himself up onto the apron, avoiding crashing onto the floor … BUT Bryan turns around and CRACKS Punk with a forearm shot sending the champion slumping to the floor!! Punk is down on the floor, with Bryan picking up steam, looking around MetLife, then out at Punk before firing himself up … charging off the ropes, running back …



    SUICIDE DIVE-



    NO!!!!!!!


    PUNK CATCHES HIM WITH A FOREARM THROUGH THE ROPES!!!!!!



    Cole; “Punk stops Bryan dead before he could launch through the ropes!!”



    Lawler; “Big mistake from Daniel Bryan!! That could cost him!!”



    And the shot sends Bryan stumbling backward, landing on the mat, looking worse for wear after the forearm to the face, whilst the champion shakes the cobwebs loose – getting encouragement from Heyman – as he climbs back up onto the apron, positioning himself … waiting for Bryan to get up … AND PUNK SPRINGBOARDS BACK IN WITH A CLOTHESLINE TO THE CHALLENGER!!!!!



    There’s no cover, as Daniel Bryan immediately rolls to the corner off the clothesline, but he’s only inviting Punk on, with the WWE Champion laying in wait for Bryan to get up … and rushes into the corner when he’s up … RUNNING HIGH KNEE to Bryan in the corner – NO!!!! PUNK MISSES!!! Punks knee collides with the top turnbuckle, with Bryan ducking out … and catching Punk out of the corner with a SMALL PACKAGE;





    …………1…………

    ………

    …………………2…………………


    KICK OUT…

    !!!



    Punk JUST escapes the predicament, and it’s a race to get up for both men. Bryan manages to strike first with a European Uppercut that slows Punk down, and he runs off the ropes … BUT RIGHT BEHIND HIM IS PUNK!!! Bryan hits the ropes – AND EATS A RUNNING HIGH KNEE FROM PUNK AGAINST THE ROPES!!!!! Bryan takes the knee to the face, and staggers out from the ropes … allowing Punk to score with a SWINGING NECKBREAKER!!! Hook of the leg;





    …………1…………

    …………………2…………………


    …………………SHOULDER UP…………………

    !!!!!


    There’s a shake of the head from Punk off the kick out, and the champion brings the challenger back to his feet, beating him back into the corner with a pair of Mongolian chops. There, Punk puts the boots to Bryan again with a basic offence to wear him down, then pulls him out of the corner, putting Daniel Bryan down with a short clothesline. Bryan crawls to the ropes off that clothesline, but Punk stalks him down, and starts to choke the challenger on the ropes, pressing his knee into the back of Bryan. Mike Chioda tries to tell Punk to get off. The reaction from Punk?;



    I’VE GOT TILL FIVE!!!”



    A nod toward anyone familiar with Daniel Bryan before he came to the WWE, with Punk using a trademark line from Bryans days on the Independents. Punk eventually relents, holding up his arms, pleading innocence … and as Punk backs away from the ropes and talks with the referee about his conduct … Heyman uses the opportunity to SLUG Bryan at the ropes!!!!



    The shot from Heyman wakes the Rumble winner up, and Bryan glares at the portly advocate, getting up to his feet … but he’s blindsided by Punk before he can take any action against Heyman!!! Punk nails him with a shot from behind, and drags Bryan out from the ropes, executing a RUSSIAN LEG SWEEP!!!!! Punk doesn’t bother with the cover this time, and instead gets back up – and eyes the corner. The champion climbs out onto the apron, making his way to the top rope, as the fans rise in expectation for the trademark FLYING ELBOW-



    BUT DANIEL BRYAN IS UP!!!!!


    Punk reaches the top rope and his eyes bug out, as he sees Bryan on his feet, with the challenger catching Punk with a shot to the gut!! Punk is trapped in no mans land up at the top turnbuckle, and Bryan nails him again, softening the champion up to allow himself to CLIMB TO THE TOP ROPE TOO!!!!! It’s a battle of wills right now, as champion and challenger perilously trade shots at the top rope … but it’s Daniel Bryans shots that have the most impact, weakening Punk…



    ALLOWING DANIEL BRYAN TO EXECUTE A HURRICANRANA OFF THE TOP TO PUNK!!!!!!!!!!!!


    Cole; “DANIEL BRYAN IS THROWING CAUTION TO THE WIND!!! WHAT A MOVE!!!”


    JBL; “High risk, high reward, Michael!! And I gotta be honest, THIS is what Daniel Bryan needs t’do to knock off CM Punk!!!”



    The BIG high risk move generates all kinds of buzz in the stadium, with Daniel Bryan bringing them to their feet. Still suffering from the offence he’s had to take, Bryan is slow to get up, but he’s on his feet, whilst Punk is merely on his knees … which is an open invite for Daniel Bryan to tee off with his famed YES KICKS to Punk!!! Kick after kick, Bryan has the 80,000 strong chanting “YES” in unison with each kick … before he steps back, winding up … GOING FOR THE BIG ROUNDHOUSE KICK TO THE FACE-



    BUT PUNK DUCKS IT-



    AND ROLLS BRYAN UP WITH A SCHOOL BOY-





    …………1…………

    …………………2…………………



    ………………………KICK OUT………………………
    !!!!!


    BRYAN ESCAPES … AND MANOEUVRES OUT OF THE KICK OUT-



    INTO THE YES LOCK!!!!!!


    BUT PUNK QUICKLY SCRAMBLES-



    AND THE CHAMPION AVOIDS THE HOLD BEING APPLIED!!!!!



    CM Punk grabs the ropes with BOTH hands, looking relieved to have gotten there, having been just a moment away from being trapped in the challengers signature submission hold. Despite being in the ropes though, Punk doesn’t get any respite from the challenger; just as Bryan got none from Punk earlier!! Daniel Bryan repays the favour, and opens up with more kicks to Punk at the ropes, being eventually forced back by Mike Chioda.



    And enraged by what he’s seeing, Paul Heyman climbs up onto the apron, gesticulating to the referee that Bryan was attacking Punk for much longer than a standard five count. Heyman holds up his hand with the fingers all extended, saying “IT’S FIVE – IT’S FIVE!! NOT SIX, NOT SEVEN – FIVE!!!” … but Heyman gets GRIPPED by Bryan!!!!! The fans pop, with Bryan looking around, getting the fans approval before attacking Heyman … with Heyman pleading as if his life was on the line …



    BUT PUNK ROLLS UP BRYAN FROM BEHIND BEFORE HE CAN STRIKE HEYMAN-


    AND HE’S GOT A HANDFUL OF TIGHTS!!!!!!!!




    ……1……


    ………………2………………


    …………………KICK OUT…………………
    !!!



    Bryan escapes the pin, with Punk ALMOST colliding with Heyman after being pushed off from the pin, but he manages to stop short at the ropes. Heyman quickly drops off the apron, and Punk turns back around … RIGHT INTO A RUNNING CLOTHESLINE FROM BRYAN DUMPING PUNK OUT OF THE RING TO THE FLOOR!!!!! The champion is sent to the floor, with Heyman quickly getting to him, telling Punk to get up … whilst Bryan waits for his chance… and when Punk struggles to his feet-



    BRYAN SPRINTS ACROSS THE RING;


    SUICIDE DIVE TO PUNK ON THE FLOOR!!!!!!!!!


    MetLife Stadium explodes in approval for the signature Daniel Bryan risk taking move, with the challenger cleaning CM Punk out on the floor!!! And Bryan – feeding off the adrenaline inside the stadium - is quickly back on his feet, and tosses Punk back inside, taking a brief look at the horrified Paul Heyman. Bryan follows in, but as he stands over Punk, Bryan then takes off, hitting the ropes … sprinting across the ring …



    SUICIDE DIVE TO THE OUTSIDE …



    TAKING OUT PAUL HEYMAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



    It’s an even BIGGER reaction for Bryan taking out Paul Heyman!!!! After meddling on a number of occasions in the early going, Heyman is taken care of – and now, it’s just champion versus challenger. No more outside influences!!! Bryan puffs his cheeks, over and over, nodding his head as the fans inside the stadium chant “YES” for the suicide dive. He nods along, before rolling back into the ring, coming for Punk-



    WHEN PUNK STUNS BRYAN … POPPING UP-



    GTS TO BRYAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!



    GO TO SLEEP CONNECTS – FLUSH!!!!!! PUNK SMIRKS, DROPPING INTO THE COVER …




    1…

    …………2…………



    …………………BRYAN GETS A SHOULDER UP…………………
    !!!!!!!!!!


    Cole; “KICK OUT!!! KICK OUT!!! BRYAN KICKED OUT OF THE GTS!!!”



    JBL; “You’ve gotta be kiddin me!!”



    King; “This is a different Daniel Bryan this year!!!”


    Punk cant believe the kick out, and assumes the referee got his count wrong, arguing with Chioda, holding up three fingers, and slapping his hands three times with an air of desperation. Punk manages to keep a lid on his frustrations, despite being clearly rattled by the kick out, and gets back to work on Bryan, stomping the challenger down by the ropes, with Daniel Bryan eventually being stomped right out of the ring. Punk follows out onto the apron, staying there … waiting for Bryan to get up … then Punk launches himself off the apron with an axe handle to the floor.



    With Bryan down, we catch a glimpse of Heyman now being tended to and led away from ringside by medical personnel after taking that suicide dive. Meanwhile, Punk drags Bryan up on the floor, and almost immediately sends the challenger – shoulder first – into the ring post at ringside!!! Bryan staggers away, but Punk is right on him, gripping Bryan by the trunks and TOSSES the challenger at the steps!!!! Punk, having roughed Daniel Bryan up sufficiently on the floor, tosses the challenger back in.



    And once back inside, Punk stays on him, sending Bryan – HARD – into the corner, following in with his RUNNING HIGH KNEE!!!!! And when the knee is delivered … the running BULLDOG out of the corner usually follows. Punk looks to hit it … but as he takes Bryan out of the corner … BRYAN COUNTERS!!!! AND SHOCKS PUNK BY SHIFTING HIS WEIGHT – WAISTLOCK;



    GERMAN SUPLEX!!!!!!!!!



    AND BRYAN BRIDGES FOR A PIN;





    …………1…………
    ………

    …………………2…………………
    ………
    …………………KICK OUT…………………

    !!!!!


    Pun JUST got a shoulder up in time from the pinning predicament!! But for Daniel Bryan, despite the kick out, it’s given him an opening now. He summons the strength to get back to his feet, as Punk retreats to the corner. Bryan follows in, opening up with a pair of kicks to the gut of Punk, then a straight right hand to the skull; kick to the chest, punch to the face, kick to the chest, punch to the face, and again, and again, and AGAIN!!!



    Bryan tees off on Punk, battering the long reigning WWE Champion in the corner, then gets Punk up, placing him up on the top rope!! The fans raise their voices as Bryan climbs up with Punk, delivering a series of shots to stop the champion from mounting a comeback … and hooks Punk into position up top;



    SUPERPLEX TO CM PUNK!!!!!!!!!!


    AND BRYAN HOOKED HIS OWN LEGS TO STOP HIMSELF FROM GOING DOWN!!!



    BRYAN SITS UP – BACK ONTO THE TOP ROPE!!!



    Bryan nods his head as the cheers echo around MetLife stadium, before turning around up top, standing up … with Punk primed in a perfect position … FOR DANIEL BRYAN TO DELIVER THE DIVING HEADBUTT!!!!!!!!!!!!



    JBL; “FLYIN GOAT!!!”



    Cole; “THE HEADBUTT CONNECTS!!! NEW CHAMPION!!!”


    King; “A headbutt right after the superplex!! That’s gotta be it!!!”





    ………1………

    ……
    …………………2…………………

    ………
    ………………PUNK KICKS OUT………………

    !!!!!!!!!!


    BUT BRYAN TRANSITIONS STRAIGHT INTO THE YES LOCK!!!!!!



    Cole; “YES!! YES LOCK!!! YES LOCK!!! CM PUNK IS GONNA TAP!!!”



    And this time, CM Punk CAN’T escape!!!! He CANT scramble for the ropes; THE YES LOCK IS APPLIED!!!!!! Punk is trapped in the middle of the ring, reaching out in desperation for the sanctuary of the ropes – but they’re a LONG way away!!! Punk tries to inch himself closer, but Bryan shuffles his feet, moving Punk around to get him FURTHER away from the ropes!!! But suddenly, the champion pushes up with his one free arm and rolls through … PINNING BRYAN;





    …………1…………


    …………………2…………………


    …………………KICK OUT…………………

    !!!!!


    But in the kick out, Bryan releases the hold, and Punk transitions … landing on TOP of the challenger;



    ANACONDA VICE!!!!!!!!!!!


    Punk clamps on his own trademark submission hold, with Bryan kicking his legs around, scurrying, trying to escape, but Punk has the hold locked in tight!!! Bryan cant wriggle free, he cant escape … and the challenger, in an attempt to counter BRIDGES up, and pushes off in a kip up type of fashion, TURNING Punk over, and landing on top … as Punk LOSES his grip … AND THE TWO MEN SCRAMBLE FOR SUPREMACY;



    WITH BRYAN APPLYING THE YES LOCK AGAIN!!!!!!!



    Once again, CM Punk is trapped in the middle of the ring, trying to escape the Lebell Lock of Daniel Bryan, with the challenger cranking back, looking for the tap!!! Punk scratches at the hands of Bryan, doing ANYTHING possible to escape the hold, and when that doesn’t work, Punk uses his free hand to instead push up, trying to roll out of trouble … but cant repeat the same trick again!!! The fans are getting anxious now … thinking we’re on the verge of a new champion …



    BUT PUNK COUNTERS THE HOLD – INTO A PINNING PREDICAMENT AGAIN;




    …………1…………



    ……2……

    ……………BRYAN SHIFTS HIS SHOULDER UP……………




    AND HE ROLLS RIGHT BACK INTO POSITION!!!!! HE’S STILL GOT THE YES LOCK ON PUNK!!!!!



    But this time, CM Punk is too close to the ropes, and very quickly, he gets a firm grip of the bottom rope, forcing the hold to be broken!!! Boos emanate inside the stadium, as the long reigning champion survives the scare, making the ropes to prevent the submission. Bryan releases the hold, but looks disappointed in having to do so, whilst Punk keeps his hand on the rope until he feels safe from the challenger, but he doesn’t get much of a reprieve, with the hungry Daniel Bryan coming after him.



    Bryan beats on Punk at the ropes, and hip tosses the champion onto the mat, with Punk rolling toward the corner to pick himself up – which plays right into what the challenger wants, as Daniel Bryan charges in from across the ring; RUNNING DROPKICK IN THE CORNER!!! The running dropkick pops the fans, but Bryan - as is his usual routine - isn’t stopping there. One running dropkick wont be enough for him.



    Picking himself back up immediately, the challenger goes back to the opposite corner, and rushes in again; with another VINTAGE RUNNING DROPKICK IN THE CORNER to the champion!!! Getting up, Daniel Bryan nods his head, feeding off the noise inside MetLife Stadium … and after hitting the corner, the challenger runs across the ring again and DELIVERS A THIRD RUNNING DROPKICK TO PUNK IN THE CORNER!!!!! Still nodding his head, Bryan continues to run on pure adrenaline … DELIVERING A FOURTH RUNNING DROPKICK!!!!!!!!!



    Cole; “Daniel Bryan is pouring it on right now!!! He’s leaving it all out on the line tonight!!!”


    King; “He’s a man on a mission, Michael!!!”



    JBL; “And to beat this champion; the greatest champion ever, this is what ya gotta do!!! Full throttle, Daniel Bryan HAS to go all out!!!”



    Punk looks to be on his last legs now after the barrage of dropkicks. The WWE Champion is on his knees, crawling out of the corner … with Bryan going back to the dance with the YES KICKS directly to the chest!!! In unison, the fans chant “YES” with each of the kicks, with Bryan teeing off … then stepping back … looking to succeed where he failed earlier … AND THIS TIME THE HEADKICK CONNECTS ON PUNK!!!!! Bryan goes for the cover;





    …………1…………


    …………………2…………………

    PUNK KICKS OUT…

    !!!!!


    JBL; “And THAT is WHY that man has been champion for five hundred and four days!!!”


    Cole; “Credit where it’s due, CM Punk has just withstood an absolute ONSLAUGHT of kicks from Daniel Bryan!! He’s STILL in this match!!”



    Lawler; “But how much more can he take!?”



    Bryan brings Punk back to his feet, landing with short right hands to the face, beating Punk into the ropes, and sends the champion off with an Irish whip, ducking down for the return, but Punk returns with a KNEE LIFT!!! Bryan takes the blow, and the impact forces him to turn away, with Punk hooking the arms, looking for a BACKSLIDE – BUT BRYAN BLOCKS!!!!! It’s a test of strength and a battle of wills for the backslide now between Bryan and Punk, and with Bryan being the aggressor the last few moments, HE is the fresher one-



    But just as he’s getting Punk over-


    PUNK IS ABLE TO FLIP OVER-


    LANDING IN A DOUBLE UNDERHOOK POSITION-


    AND PUNK EXECUTES THE DOUBLE UNDERHOOK BACKBREAKER ON BRYAN!!!!!!





    ………1………

    ………

    ………………2………………
    ………
    …………………KICK OUT…………………

    !!!!!!!



    You can sense the strain on the face of Punk. He looks up to the sky in anguish; it’s been too close a battle for his liking. The champion shakes his head, looking worse for wear, bringing Bryan with him, letting fly with a knife edge chop. But Bryan fires back with one of his own!!! Punk grimaces at the impact, but comes back with another chop for Bryan!!! Bryan lets rip in return, and Punk has had enough of this exchange, as he DRIVES a knee into the gut of the challenger!!!



    Bryan drops to a knee as a consequence of the shot, allowing Punk to take over again, rocking the challenger with short forearm shots, controlling Bryan to his feet, before Punk shows off his array of Muay Thai kicks, lighting up the body of the challenger, eventually letting go … and following up with a roundhouse kick to the head knocking Bryan down!!!!!!! Punk puffs his cheeks, dropping down into the cover again, hooking the leg this time;





    ……1……

    …………………2…………………



    …………BRYAN WONT STAY DOWN…………
    !!!!!



    King; “What is it gonna take here!?”


    JBL; “This in incredible, gentlemen!! This is what it’s all about!!”



    Cole; “This is what the WWE Championship means to both men. It’s why CM Punk has been on top of the mountain for nearly eighteen months. It’s why Daniel Bryan overcame all the obstacles to get BACK to this opportunity tonight!!!”



    There’s a cry of frustration out of Punk, and his fists pound the mat, before he brings Bryan back to his feet again, shoving the challenger into the corner. There, Punk drives his knee into the gut of Bryan, then cracks him with a forearm shot, followed by a knife edge chop, then a straight right hand, before sending Bryan across the ring, chasing in behind – RUNNING HIGH KNEE CONNECTS!!! AND THIS TIME … SO DOES THE BULLDOG OUT OF THE CORNER!!!!! Punk puts Bryan down, and makes the cover;





    …………1…………


    …………………2…………………


    …………………KICK OUT…………………
    !!!



    Punk picks Bryan up, hoisting the challenger up to the top rope, and he climbs up after, looking for his OWN superplex now after taking one from Bryan earlier … but unlike the earlier attempt, the man on the receiving end FIGHTS BACK!!!!! With headbutts and chops, Daniel Bryan nails CM Punk, preventing the champion from executing the superplex … and the barrage of blows takes it toll on Punk, allowing Daniel Bryan to SHOVE Punk off the top!!!!!! Punk struggles back up, with Bryan standing tall on the top rope;



    COMING OFF WITH HIS TRADEMARK FRONT DROPKICK!!!!!


    AND IT SCORES!!!!!!!!!



    DANIEL BRYAN CONNECTS WITH THE DROPKICK … AND KIPS UP!!!!!!


    It’s another thunderous response from the fans inside MetLife, as the challenger hits another gear, firing off shots on Punk, lighting the champion up, then sends him off the ropes, looking to connect by following … but Punk DUCKS under, with both men continuing on, hitting opposite ropes, with Bryan leaping and Punk ducking under again … then BOTH men have the same idea of a clothesline on the return … AND THEY WIPE EACH OTHER OUT WITH CLOTHESLINES!!!!!!!



    Both men are down!!! Mike Chioda is forced to administer his count, much to the chagrin of the fans in the stadium.


    Cole; “These next few seconds could be absolutely pivotal in this match!!”


    King; “Whoever gets to their feet first will be in the driving seat, that much is for sure, Michael!!”



    Chioda reaches two as Punk and Bryan both stir, and both men start to crawl onto their knees.



    JBL; “CM Punk has been here before, gentlemen. He’s battle hardened in these matches. Daniel Bryan is not!! Not at this level!!”


    Cole; “But Daniel Bryan is matching CM Punk at every stage of this match – he IS equal to the champion!!”


    Champion and challenger pull themselves up on the ropes, both looking worse for wear at this stage, deep into the match, with the count reaching FIVE!!



    King; “Both of these guys are exhausted!!”



    Cole; “They have laid it ALL on the line tonight. How much more do CM Punk and Daniel Bryan have left to offer!?”


    Mike Chioda reaches the count of SEVEN, but both men break the count, reaching their feet … and peel away from the ropes, with both champion and challenger having the same idea, going for the right hand – but Bryan BLOCKS the shot from Punk, and fires off one of his own. Despite eating the right hand, Punk is able to come back with a forearm to Bryan. Bryan responds in kind with a European Uppercut that sends Punk spiralling into the ropes – the only thing holding him up now!!!



    Cole; “CM PUNK IS ON THE ROPES HERE!!!”


    King; “The champion is bein dragged DEEP into the trenches!!!”



    JBL; “He’s been here a hundred times before!! It’s how he responds to these situations that matter!!”


    Bryan follows up with a second against the ropes, sending Punk staggering away, and into the ropes on another side of the ring; again, the ONLY thing holding him up now!!! Bryan follows, giving Punk NO time to recover, and begins to TEE OFF furiously on the champion, UNLEASHING HELL on CM Punk, BATTERING the faltering champion with a plethora of forearms to the face!!!!! Bryan leaves Punk at the ropes – the champion barely able to stand – as he takes off, hitting the ropes-



    BUT BRYAN RUNS RIGHT INTO A JUMPING CALF KICK FROM CM PUNK!!!!!!!!!


    Cole; “WHERE DID CM PUNK GET THAT FROM!?”



    JBL; “Just like I said, Michael, he’s been here a hundred times before!!”


    King; “He might just be the greatest of all time!!”





    ………1………


    …………………2…………………


    ……NO……
    !!!!!



    Cole; “But the champion is being pushed to his absolute LIMIT tonight!!! Daniel Bryan will NOT lie down!!!”


    JBL; “He’s about t’break, Michael. I can feel it!! Punk has taken it all. How far into the trenches can Daniel Bryan go??”



    King; “We’re finding out right now!!!”



    Shaking his head, Punk struggles to his feet, selling the effects of this back and forth battle with Bryan, with the kick sending the pendulum of momentum back in the champions favour. Both men push to their feet, but Punk ducks a shot from Bryan, catching him from behind – delivering the side suplex!!! And Punk DRIVES himself on to get straight back up!!! The champion stumbles as he gets to his feet, but makes his way onto the apron, climbing up top … and Bryan is staying down…



    ALLOWING PUNK TO TAKE FLIGHT FROM THE TOP ROPE-


    FLYING ELBOW CONNECTS!!!!!!!!!



    Punk signals it’s over!!! He hooks the leg;




    ……………1……………
    ………

    ………2………
    ………
    …………………KICK OUT…………………

    !!!!!!!!


    Punk shakes his head at the kick out, getting back to his feet - but this time, he’s done waiting for Daniel Bryan to get up, and instead DRAGS the challengers exhausted body up, getting the lifeless Bryan up and onto his shoulders … preparing for the GTS - BUT DANIELSON COUNTERS ON THE WAY DOWN … HE CATCHES THE LEG, SPINS PUNK AROUND … AND TAKES HIM DOWN BY THE ARM … APPLYING THE YES LOCK!!!!!!



    King; “HE’S GOT IT!!! HE’S GOT IT!!! YES LOCK!!!!”



    Cole; “Can CM Punk survive the Yes Lock again!?”



    CM Punk is in a world of trouble, trapped in the submission hold, frantically trying to move his legs to feel for ropes as his arm is WAY too far from the ropes … but as he blindly shifts his legs, nothing appears to be in range for the WWE Champion … as it begins to look like there will NOT be a Day 505!!! Punk can sense the title is slipping away from his grasp!!!!



    Bryan wrenches back, praying for Punk to submit and to end his year of suffering - but it’s all on the line here for the champion, and Punk shows his own spirit – the spirit that has kept him champion for such a long time!!! Using only his legs to move in a desperate attempt to reach the ropes … he’s inches away … throwing his legs around … and Punk finally feels freedom … WRAPPING HIS FEET AROUND THE BOTTOM ROPE!!!!! Punk SURVIVES the Yes Lock!!!!!



    JBL; “That’s the heart of a champion!! Any lesser man woulda quit right there!!”


    Cole; “There’s no doubt about it!! CM Punk has had to dig deep and show his survival instincts tonight like never before!!”



    King; “That’s the power of WrestleMania!!”



    JBL; “That’s the power of CM Punk!! I don't think he’ll ever be beat!!”



    And Daniel Bryan is finding that out. The challenger looks forlorn as Mike Chioda calls for the break, whilst the fans even sound a little dejected, having felt that THAT was the moment for Bryan. After such an intense pace, Bryan looks spent, especially due to the emotional toll of NEARLY getting the tap from Punk. Sitting on his knees, Bryan looks out to the fans, trying to feed off them, as he pulls himself up to his feet, and comes after Punk again, grabbing the arm of the champion, trying to take him down for the YES LOCK AGAIN-



    BUT PUNK COUNTERS – AND RUNS BRYAN THROUGH THE CORNER – SHOULDER FIRST INTO THE RING POST!!!!!! AND A SCHOOL BOY FROM PUNK OUT OF THE CORNER;





    ……1……


    …………………2…………………
    ………

    …………………BRYAN KICKS OUT…………………
    !!!!!



    Cole; “Bryan JUST got out of it!!! Bryan JUST survived!!!”


    Both men are up, but Punk immediately seizes the moment, and kicks Bryan in the gut–



    DDT!!!!!!!!!!!



    King; “That’s it!! It’s over!!”



    Punk turns Bryan over, he hooks the leg…




    1…



    ………2………



    ……………STILL NO……………
    !!!!!



    Cole; “HE KICKED OUT AGAIN!!!”



    JBL; “But one more big move will do it!!! We’re in Punk’s world now, Maggle!!!”


    And Punk shows us what move to expect. The champion makes the ‘Nap Time’ motion with his hands resting against his head, and he isn’t hanging around for Daniel Bryan to get up either!!! CM Punk drags Bryan to his feet, hoists him up onto his shoulders … BUT BEFORE HE CAN ATTEMPT THE GTS … DANIEL BRYAN IS FIGHTING BACK!!!!!! Bryan throws elbows to the temple of Punk, fighting with all he has left to escape!!! The challenger gets down, and onto his feet, but Punk scores with a shot to the gut and sends Bryan toward the corner-



    Bryan pushes up as he reaches the corner, elevating – expecting Punk to arrive under and hit the corner …


    BUT PUNK STOPS SHORT … AND DIRECTLY UNDER BRYAN-



    BRYAN GETS CAUGHT ON THE SHOULDERS OF PUNK-



    AND PUNK CARRIES BRYAN OUT OF THE CORNER-



    GO TO SLEEP!!!!!!!!!!!!



    JBL; “BALL GAME!!!”




    1…


    …………………
    …………………2…………………

    …………………

    ...
    ……………SHOULDER JUST COMES UP……………

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



    Cole; “DANIEL BRYAN JUST KICKED OUT OF THE GTS – AGAIN!!!”



    King; “Unbelievable!!!”



    And Punk is STUNNED!!! Kick out of one GTS? Possible. Kick out of TWO?? Unheard of. The WWE Champion looks out of ideas now; the Go To Sleep has failed him TWICE. For the first time, CM Punk looks somewhat lost, frazzled that Daniel Bryan is STILL in this. Shaking his head, Punk mounts the challenger, and begins beating on Bryan with a barrage of rights and lefts on the mat – it’s pure frustration pouring out of the champion right now!!!



    He drags Bryan back up by the arm, and whilst still holding the arm, Punk lands with a hat trick of kicks to the head – keeping Bryan standing by holding his arm – and then fires off another flurry of forearms, throwing EVERYTHING at Bryan now after the GTS failed to put Bryan away twice … then FLOORS the challenger with a spinning back fist. There’s no cover though. Punk – again looking desperate – looks to the top rope, and climbs the turnbuckles … he sets himself, looking somewhat uncertain …



    AND GOES FOR A CROOKED MOONSAULT-


    AND MISSES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



    DANIEL BRYAN MOVED!!!!!!!!!


    CM PUNK CRASHES ON THE CANVAS-



    AND BRYAN ROLLS RIGHT BACK OVER-



    AND TRAPS THE ARM OF PUNK-



    Cole; “YES LOCK!!!!!!!!! YES LOCK!!!!!!”


    YES LOCK APPLIED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



    This time, Punk is completely trapped in the middle of the ring – DEAD CENTRE. His arms cant reach the ropes and neither can his feet!!! The 504 day reign of CM Punk is in bigger jeopardy now than it’s ever been before!!!!! MetLife Stadium is on it’s feet, brought to an absolute fever pitch … as Daniel Bryan cranks back, increasing the pressure on CM Punk … with the champion desperately clinging on … he pushes up again, pushing over – just as he did earlier – TRAPPING THE SHOULDERS;





    …………1…………


    …………………2…………………


    BRYAN ROLLS BACK OVER…







    WITH THE YES LOCK STILL APPLIED!!!!!!!



    JBL; “NO WAY!!!”


    Cole; “YES!!! YES WAY!! YES LOCK!!!”



    CM Punk tries to go back to the well again and roll over … but Bryan prevents it, flattening the champion out, increasing the pressure as he cranks the famous hold further!!!! Punk is fading, and out of options!!! He cant find the ropes, the roll back didn’t pay off this time … his incredible reign appears to be OVER. Punks hand hovers over the mat; he’s CONTEMPLATING submitting!!!! Bryan pulls back further, as he nears redemption and the end of this journey back to the top of the mountain…



    CM PUNK



    TAPS


    OUT

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Winner: And NEW WWE Champion – DANIEL BRYAN @ 25:07


    Michael Cole: DANIEL BRYAN HAS DONE IT!!! DANIEL BRYAN IS THE NEW WWE CHAMPION!!! There will NOT be a Five Hundred and Fifth day for CM Punk as WWE Champion!!!



    Jerry Lawler: HISTORY IS MADE!!!


    JBL: I take my hat off. That was incredible. I never thought I’d see the day.



    Bryan is sat on his knees, as Mike Chioda brings him the WWE Championship, which changes hands for the first time in almost EIGHTEEN months. And after a year of torment, trials and tribulations, at the end of the rainbow, Daniel Bryan clutches the gold for his moment of glory.



    Michael Cole: The journey for Daniel Bryan ENDS tonight!! And it has ended in ULTIMATE GLORY AT WRESTLEMANIA!!!!


    Jerry Lawler: Of all the people to have stepped up and challenge CM Punk, I don't think Daniel Bryan would’ve ever been expected to be the one to bring his historic reign to an end. But no one can doubt him again after this!!! He’s made a believer out of me.



    JBL: If you told me a year ago at WrestleMania after he was blown outta the water in eighteen seconds that Daniel Bryan would be headlining WrestleMania Twenty Nine – I’d have called you crazy. If you told me he’d be walkin outta here as the WWE Champion I’d have had you committed!!!



    Michael Cole: What a difference a YEAR makes!!!



    Jerry Lawler: And he didn’t just beat anyone, either. He beat the longest reigning WWE Champion of the modern era.



    Standing on the turnbuckles, Bryan leads the fans in a non-stop sequence of “YES” chants, with MetLife Stadium chanting in unison; all behind the NEW champion, with Bryan stopping the “Yes” motions, and taking a moment to look at his title. On the outside, CM Punk is sat at ringside (clutching at his shoulder), only able to look on with jealousy, suffering defeat for the first time in a year and a half in title matches.



    Michael Cole: For eighteen months, CM Punk sat atop the WWE mountain. For eighteen months we asked the question; who could possibly beat CM Punk for the WWE Title. Tonight at WrestleMania; we have our answer!!!


    JBL: I’m still in shock. I thought CM Punk would be champion forever.



    Michael Cole: To come back from what he went through twelve months ago; the low point of his career, Daniel Bryan has shown the most incredible resilience, determination and courage to fight his way BACK to WrestleMania. The main event. And to win in THAT fashion – THAT is a WrestleMania moment!!!



    JBL: And they don't come much bigger than that.



    Jerry Lawler: They really don't. After tonight, no one will think back to what happened last year. It’s tonight that people will remember Daniel Bryan for FOREVER!!!



    Fireworks go off all around MetLife Stadium, as Bryan again conducts the “YES” chants, with the eighty thousand strong still going. Bryan works his way to each corner, giving the fans on each side of the ring their chance to join in, as Michael Cole brings the show to an end...


    Michael Cole: All the doubters have been silenced tonight!! WrestleMania Twenty Nine BELONGS to Daniel Bryan!! He’s been through hell this past year … and he has come out on the other side as W-W-E CHAMPION!!!





    The one final lingering shot is of Daniel Bryan; the new WWE Champion, soaking in HIS WrestleMania moment, ending the epic title reign of CM Punk in an epic Wrestlemania main event…



    The End.








  4. #4
    Drink the Kool-Aid
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    Re: The 2018 King of Be The Booker Tournament Final

    Wolf Beast

    Stojy:

    Formatting/Presentation – 9
    Creativity -9
    Storytelling/Emotional Investment - 10
    Description/Detail - 9

    TOTAL: 37/40

    Comment: I said the same thing that I said to Keefmoon but I’ll say it to you as well, what a tournament you have had, sensational work. Starting off with dotting our I’s and crossing our t’s, formatting and presentation was on point but that’s to be expected from you here. From a creativity standpoint, putting Punk and Bryan together in itself probably doesn’t hit the mark, however the way you booked their feud definitely made up for it. Punk just being Punk at his arrogant best was a great foil to play off, but I LOVED this character journey for Bryan. Beginning with the bad loss at one Mania, and coming full circle. Really good stuff.

    The bounty part of this was an awesome twist as well, and I’m glad you actually let the bounty angle last a long time, made it feel a lot more important than angles like this I’ve seen previously. I thought the first promo between these two with Bryan almost being forced to cash in MITB due to the bounty was fine, however the second and third promo, with Bryan beginning to take control and turning the tables were brilliant. The comparison of Bryan to Punk and Heyman talking about the killer instinct that Punk has and Bryan seemingly doesn’t, good stuff.

    The first match was key to this story as well with Punk and Bryan both realising that Bryan is better than him. Bryan was going to win if only for Kane, which again, felt like it was built pretty well built to. I actually felt for Kane throughout this story, as Bryan’s ambitions for the WWE Title really did ruin their tag team. But the second match BLEW the first one out of the water. That Mania match, the emotion, the counters, the amount of false finishes, was a fantastic read. Putting two guys who are so technically sound in the ring together truly made this come across as a classic. Fantastic job.

    One thing I realised I haven’t touched on yet regarding the build up, was that EPIC night on Raw where Punk and Bryan went to their old ROH stomping grounds. That was a perfect part of this indy darlings Main Event story. I can’t compliment you enough here, terrific work.

    Ed:

    Formatting/Presentation 9/10
    Creativity – 9.5/10
    Storytelling/Emotional Investment 9/10
    Description/Detail 10/10


    TOTAL: 37.5/40

    Comment: This entry was so long I'm guessing this is one you really enjoyed sinking your teeth into, especially when it came to writing the match because only ever having 'Being the Booker', you haven't been able to write a CM Punk Vs Daniel Bryan match ever, let alone them two at their peak in WWE. I think most people were disappointed in the way that Punk's title reign ended to someone who didn't need the rub, and I think the way you wrote Punk as a heel came off much better than it did IRL with the Heyman partnership (I wasn't a huge fan). Also changing up WM29, one of the weakest mania's of the decade was a good event to tear down and start again. The bounty angle was a really good one to stretch out the storyline and to give Bryan a hurdle to the WWE title that was completely different to The Authority, but still evoking that desire from fans to see him overcome all these odds. I think Kane screwing over Bryan was predictable, I think that was my least favourite part of the entry and something that I think Keefmoon has the edge over you on because his twist was much more shocking. Don't think I didn't notice Bryan winning the Rumble from #18 - that was a nice touch. Mania match was really fantastic with big moments peppered in at just the right times, and I was glad to see Heyman taken backstage so at least half the match got to be quality one on one action. Result was a no brainer, you had no other way to go but to put Bryan over. I got Benoit WM20 flashbacks in the end with the crossface like submission locked in the centre, rolling through a rope break attempt and then keeping it locked in.

    FINAL TOTAL: 74.5/80

    Keefmoon

    Stojy:

    Formatting/Presentation - 9
    Creativity -10
    Storytelling/Emotional Investment - 9
    Description/Detail - 10

    TOTAL: 38/40

    Comment: Holy crap, I don’t even know what to say other than this was an amazing read. Let’s get the boring stuff and say right out of the way, formatting and presentation was on point as always. Creativity is where you start to get some big points, because I thought this whole arc was AMAZING. Playing off an angle which sucked so badly in real life was fantastic and you definitely turned it around. The whole “whodunit” made a bit more sense and I enjoyed that the whole way through, it felt like there could have been 3 or 4 culprits who were guilty. I say 3 or 4 because Billy Gunn? X Pac? Come on, let’s be serious. Still, the whole mystery type angle was done sensationally, and I thought the detail of putting together the cards and stuff for the era was a nice touch as well.

    The Austin return promo was pretty good, but the finale to the reveal and the press conference where my favourites. Austin is obviously pissed but Kurt Angle as this cold, calculating character was just a pleasure to read. I was a little unsure regarding Jericho beating Austin in his first match back though, and that’s probably the only criticism I have. Whilst it made sense for the direction of your story so I can look past it, after that long out, the returning guy just needs to look like a beast. Only booking thing I didn’t agree with throughout. With that being said, Jericho was savage throughout that match with the work on the neck, and the call back to Angle using the Liontamer at Mania was epic.

    A really well said story and the Mania match really suited a match of this time. The No DQ stipulation was a nice touch for extra drama and some blood, but the constant finisher counters and what not were done pretty well. Some really big false finishes as well that made this match a really good one to read. I’ve always loved the chemistry between JR and Heyman on commentary too.

    One final note – thought it was still a fantastic idea that you had Vince McMahon say Austin is the last cowboy, and how that played into the angle as well. Austin doubting himself added an extra something other than just “I want revenge”. Sensational entry here, Keef and seeming as how I’m marking this first, it’s going to be tough to beat. You definitely saved your best for last. No matter the result, congratulations on what has been an exceptional tournament from yourself.

    Ed:

    Formatting/Presentation 9/10
    Creativity – 9.5/10
    Storytelling/Emotional Investment 10/10
    Description/Detail 10/10


    TOTAL: 38.5/40

    Comment: I think this is a really ballsy entry because Rock/Austin is a pretty beloved Wrestlemania main event, really the only thing anyone would ever rebook about that feud is the heel turn with Austin siding with Vince to win the title, everything else is a knockout success. So to change that main event to Austin/Angle, a matchup that was always great but never met on the biggest stage, and tie it all in with maybe the biggest missed opportunity of the attitude era, the botched ending to who ran over stone cold, was a great idea. I love mysteries and who done its and 'who ran over Austin' should of been a bigger deal than it ended up being, really it's just a laughable memory of Rikishi doing it for the Rock that WWE never bring up. Excellent month to month story unfolding with all the different suspects to really keep people guessing and the clever idea to not once link Angle to any of it by keeping him busy with the WWE title picture and Triple H and not paying too much attention to Angle made his debut the night that happened so would have no existing beef with Austin. I thought the match with Jericho was very good and a shocking result, but that all made a load more sense at the end with Angle locking in the Liontamer in the mania match. My favourite thing about the mania match was Angle coming out in all white, I knew instantly he would be bleeding in this one lol. Really great main event brawl that would of suited the period. Literally my only complaint would of been an overkill of finisher attempts and reversals at the end, but I suppose it was mania and a huge feud. Austin stunnering Vince was a nice cherry on top to confirm hell no am I doing the Vince/Austin are buddies angle.

    FINAL TOTAL: 76.5/80

    GRAND FINAL RESULTS
    Keefmoon defeats Wolf Beast by 2 marks.

    Congratulations to both Keefmoon and Wolf Beast who had sensational tournaments. I’d argue that what was produced is arguably some of the best stuff this section has ever seen.

    With that being said, unfortunately there can only be one winner, so a mighty congratulations goes to our:

    2018 King of BTB – Keefmoon!!!

    Keefmoon - here is your well deserved banner:










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