The Strategy of replacing the beams with rotten timbers means, basically, that you change the rules. In order to neutralize or defeat an enemy, know exactly what the rules are, use them to your advantage, manipulate circumstances to accommodate your use of the rules, and outright change the rules when different rules would suit your purposes more favorably. This strategy is commonly executed in the WWE storylines, and Alberto Del Rio is the most recent wrestler to use this strategy to try to finally achieve victory over Sheamus.
Alberto Del Rio Gets the Brogue Kick Banned
In the summer of 2012, Alberto Del Rio had many opportunities to challenge Sheamus for the World Heavyweight Championship. At the Money in the Bank pay-per-view in July, Sheamus pinned Del Rio cleanly after delivering a Brogue Kick. The following month at SummerSlam, Del Rio managed to avoid the Brogue Kick during the match. Sheamus still won the match, but his pinfall victory over Del Rio was not clean, as Del Rio’s foot was under the ropes. That pinfall should not have counted. From all of this Del Rio concluded that, without the Brogue Kick, Sheamus could not defeat him cleanly. By extension, if Del Rio could get the Brogue Kick banned, then he would have a clear advantage in their following title match.
In the build-up to their third battle for the World Heavyweight Championship at Night of Champions on September 16, 2012, Alberto Del Rio succeeded in manipulating the rules of the match and, by doing so, he succeeded in limiting what Sheamus would be allowed to do in the match. Del Rio accomplished all this by convincing Smackdown General Manager Booker T to ban the Brogue Kick from being used by Sheamus either before, during, or after matches. This is what’s called “Replacing the Beams with Rotten Timbers.”
Here’s how the situation played itself out. On the September 3, 2012 episode of RAW, Alberto Del Rio sneak-attacked Sheamus and was greeted with the White Noise. When Sheamus attempted the Brogue Kick, Ricardo Rodriguez pushed Del Rio out of the way and ate the kick. Sheamus connected really well with the Brogue Kick on Rodriguez’ head, and Rodriguez was knocked unconscious and left in the center of the ring.
On the September 7, 2012 episode of Smackdown, Alberto Del Rio, his attorney David Otunga, and Ricardo Rodriguez came out to address the fans. Rodriguez came out in a neck brace and was crying from the pain in his neck as a result of the kick. Then, Del Rio and Otunga confronted Smackdown General Manager Booker T, as they demanded that the Brogue Kick be banned. Booker T at first allowed the fans to decide, and they decided that the Brogue Kick stays. Later on backstage, Otunga showed Booker T x-rays that compared Ricardo Rodriguez’ post-Brogue Kick spine to a normal, healthy spine. Booker T said he’d think about the Brogue Kick some more. At this point, Otunga threatened a lawsuit against the WWE if the move was not banned. Booker T responded by putting Otunga into a match with Sheamus. At the start of their match, however, Booker T came out and advised Sheamus that the Brogue Kick was banned and that Booker T had no choice. Sheamus would now need to come up with another finishing maneuver…which he did in the Texas Cloverleaf submission.
On the September 10, 2012 episode of RAW, Sheamus submitted Attorney David Otunga but then delivered the Brogue Kick after the match was completed. At this point, Booker T came out and warned Sheamus that if he used the Brogue Kick at any point, then he’d be stripped of the World Heavyweight Championship.
On the September 14, 2012 episode of Smackdown, Del Rio, Ricardo Rodriguez, and a visibly injured David Otunga came to the ring to discuss the Brogue Kick. Otunga, in a neck brace, claimed that he may have a rupture between his C4 and C5 vertebrae. Alberto Del Rio and David Otunga then took a video affidavit from Christian, who was currently nursing an injury. Christian wasn’t happy about having to throw Sheamus under the bus, but Christian testified that his health has not been the same since being Brogue Kicked unexpectedly by Sheamus in the summer of 2011. Christian acknowledged that being Brogue-kicked by Sheamus has caused him to lose about fourteen months of his career.
Daniel Bryan also came out and thanked Del Rio for bringing up the issue of the Brogue Kick and its admissibility. He testified to Otunga that Sheamus unfairly used the Brogue Kick when he wasn’t ready, and this resulted in Daniel Bryan losing the World Championship and the most embarrassing loss of his career. Also, Daniel Bryan claimed that he does not have a goat face, but if he did, it was because of the Brogue Kick.
All of the men applauded Booker T for making the right decision in banning the Brogue Kick. Later on in the episode, Booker T’s assistant Eve reassured him that he made the right call. Former General Manager Teddy Long also tried to reassure Booker T that he had made the right call on the issue. Booker T, though, didn’t seem convinced of his own decision.
On September 16, 2012, on the evening of their third battle for the World Heavyweight Championship at Night of Champions, Booker T affirmed that the Brogue Kick was still banned. At this point, Del Rio was feeling that everything was going according to plan, and that it was just a matter of hours before he defeated Sheamus and became the new World Heavyweight Champion. Del Rio had all of his weapons at his disposal, but Sheamus’ most effective and most quickly-applied move was still banned.
After the ring introductions were made, however, Del Rio’s plan unraveled. Booker T came out and said that he finally completed viewing all of the research about the Brogue Kick issue. Booker T’s final determination was that the Brogue Kick was reinstated and allowable during this match. The end result was that Del Rio was taken off his game ever so slightly, Sheamus delivered the Brogue Kick at the end of the match, and Sheamus retained his World Heavyweight Championship by pinning the unconscious Alberto Del Rio.
Del Rio’s plan might have worked if it had not unraveled at the end. Despite Del Rio’s impure motives in getting the Brogue Kick banned, Sheamus’ sudden kick to the head is quite dangerous, and even wrestlers who did not like Del Rio personally still supported Del Rio’s movement to ban the Brogue Kick. Del Rio’s preparations for his match with Sheamus did not include any defense against the Brogue Kick, since he thought that the kick would remain banned. This allowed Sheamus to soundly defeat Alberto Del Rio using the Brogue Kick.
Previous uses of “Replacing the Beams with Rotten Timbers” include William Regal’s use of Duchess of Queensbury rules in his match against Chris Jericho at Backlash in April 2001, and prematch antics of The Undertaker and Stone Cold Steve Austin immediately prior to their WWE Heavyweight Championship match under First Blood Rules at Fully Loaded in July 1999 (see the archives for more details).
In conclusion, replacing beams with rotten timbers is a commonly-used strategy by WWE superstars. Any time superstars choose match stipulations that they think will favor their victory, choose a guest-referee that they think will help them during the match, or soften up an opponent prior to a contest, they are replacing beams with rotten timbers. More often than not, they are successful. Del Rio did not succeed on this occasion because Booker T reinstated the Brogue Kick, and this totally undermined Del Rio’s strategy and led to Del Rio’s defeat.
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