The closing segment of last night’s Raw saw Triple H and Shawn Michaels launch the craftiest of attacks on the Brothers of Destruction. In a flagrant attempt to grab the mental advantage ahead of their showdown in Saudi Arabia, Triple H distracted Kane from the stage, while Shawn Michaels made a sneaky entrance via ringside and nailed ‘Taker with a Sweet Chin Music.
I think it’s fair to say that this ambush wasn’t a total success. Michaels escaped without any retaliation from the Big Red Machine, but Undertaker was back to his feet pretty damn quickly. The lasting image of the final Raw before Crown Jewel saw DX looking a little bit concerned on the ramp, which says something on multiple levels, really.
Before we get into why this ambush didn’t work, and how it could have been improved, I’m going to briefly justify DX’s sneaky antics. This feud hasn’t been waged under the most respectful of circumstances so far, with Triple H bending the rules to win in Australia, both teams refusing to take their opponents seriously, and Undertaker repeatedly promising to murder his foes and bury them in the ground.
Alright, alright, in all fairness, ‘Taker is speaking in metaphorical fashion. At least we think so, but it’s hard to tell because he and Kane are really pushing the imagery far. They keep standing in graveyards and talk about this being “the end” a lot. (The end of DX’s careers, they sometimes specify. Sometimes.)
For the sake of brevity, let’s not debate who the good guys are in this feud; let’s instead throw our support behind D-Generation X. In this think-piece, we’ll hopefully find a clear answer as to how the ambush could have been better. In true DX fashion, let’s break it down.
First we need to identify the key problem with their attempt, which is clearly that HBK did not inflict enough damage on the Undertaker. The Deadman easily shook off a finishing manoeuvre, humiliating the DX boys and making them look not very tough. Not looking very tough is historically a bad thing in pro wrestling.
That leads us to the first amendment of DX’s plan:
- Plan B – Shawn should have hit Undertaker with more moves
Honestly, he should have known this ahead of time. Some of HBK’s most famous matches have come against the Deadman, and a lot of them have seen ‘Taker withstand a staggering amount of punishment. That WrestleMania XXV epic wasn’t won with a single Sweet Chin Music now, was it?
(No. It was actually won by The Undertaker.)
The problem here, though, is that hitting ‘Taker with more offence would have given Kane a chance to retaliate, and that wouldn’t have been ideal for DX – because despite being an actual mayor these days, Kane’s still a strong and gigantic man. Therefore:
- Plan C – Shawn should have used a weapon
Yeah, leave your ego at the door Shawn, sheesh. Was this really the time to be busting out a simple finisher? Your own finisher? Absolutely not; you should have brought the hardware.
But which weapon?
I’m immediately going to rule out tables and ladders, for obvious logistical reasons. The kendo stick and the humble steel chair are out too, because we’ve grown up watching Kane and ‘Taker shrug off that sort of thing. Nope, there’s a clear answer here:
- Plan D – Shawn should have attacked Undertaker with a sledgehammer
Now. We. Are. Talking.
It all makes sense. Unless Sting’s waving his baseball bat around in the general vicinity, Triple H’s sledgehammer is often seen as the strongest weapon in WWE. For obvious reasons, really. It’s a bloody sledgehammer.
Again, though, there’s a problem. While I have full faith in Triple H’s ability to stash the sledgehammer somewhere at ringside for Shawn to find, I’m not so confident in HBK’s expertise with the weapon. There’s the obvious question of ring rust, but even discounting that, Shawn’s never been a sledgehammer guy. He’s a workhorse – maybe the greatest of all time – but he can only be described as a low-level sledgehammer user. He’d have needed to level up significantly prior to Raw, and I’m assuming this ambush was only planned a week or two in advance. That’s just not enough time.
- Plan E – Triple H and Shawn should have both attacked from behind
Now we’re getting somewhere. Keep the DX music as a distraction, I love that aspect of the plan – but don’t waste time with Triple H making his entrance. Even if he was clearly having the best time.
I’ll admit, though, this is a risky variation. There’s a big margin for error here; one of the brothers could have gotten suspicious and checked their six before DX had even made it to the ring. The more I think about it, the more Triple H’s distraction was a crucial part of the plan. It worked to an amazing degree; it didn’t just freeze the Brothers of Destruction – it actually drew Kane out of the ring and away from the ambush zone. As unconvincing a result as this was for DX, you have to admit that Kane had a little bit of a nightmare too.
So the distraction has to stay, but the ambush needs more firepower to keep ‘Taker down. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? I think we’ve found our solution.
- Plan F – Triple H and Shawn Michaels should have switched places
Yep, there it is. So simple but so effective. It was staring us all in the face this whole time.
Plan F solves every problem we’ve encountered. Had Triple H charged the ring from behind (sledgehammer in hand, naturally), there’s no way Undertaker would have done his cocky little sit-up to close the show. He might not even have been healthy in time for Friday.
Equally, it’s quite obvious that Shawn Michaels is a more distracting presence than Triple H. Hunter tried his best – spitting water, throwing glowsticks into the crowd, doing the Kliq/nWo double-handed point thing – but you know for sure that HBK would have been twice as irritating. There’s something so fidgety and constant about Shawn, I have no doubt that Kane and ‘Taker would have been utterly transfixed.
So there we have it. In order to gain a mental edge, all DX had to do was switch places (and bring a sledgehammer). Now the momentum is fully with Kane and ‘Taker, which surely makes them firm favourites for Friday’s clash in Saudi Arabia.
As a childhood DX fan, this is very worrying, but at least if my heroes do go down to the Brothers of Destruction, I’ll know the reason why.