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For all of the planning that goes into the match, sometimes the wrestlers take it upon themselves to prove a point. Such was the case in 2005 when Tough Enough season 4 winner and MMA prospect Daniel Puder had one of his first matches in that year's Royal Rumble. Unfortunately for Puder, he entered number 3, behind a couple of wily veterans that included Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit.
Bob "Hardcore" Holly would immediately follow, and an ass-kicking ensued. Stiff chops brutalized Puder. Holly and Benoit had reputations for being stiff in the ring and were clearly sending a message, one that is still remembered to this day.
"It was a different time in WWE and their locker room culture was so different than it is today versus even on the indies," former writer Court Bauer remembered. "That was a different time and how they treated young talent that they felt maybe shouldn’t be getting a certain push and shouldn’t be paid a certain price and the whole Kurt Angle thing. So, there was a real old school undercurrent to the Smackdown locker room. You had the whole kangaroo court deal. You had just a lot of etiquette and challenging issues that would come up with the younger guys. It was baptism by fire. These kids don’t know that this is a certain process and they don’t know that the veterans expect certain things because they’re not being smartened up to it. So, it was a really tough time. Let’s put it this way, I’m very glad that that’s not the culture today. It’s not like people didn’t see it as concerning at the time, but it’s nice to see it’s evolved into something that’s a bit more professional, a little more conductive. That whole period of time was rough. I mean, there were guys that would just be dressed down and humiliated by guys like Chris Benoit. I don’t think it really helped anyone’s cause. I don’t think it really helped the talent in any way. I think it demoralized talent."
Things didn't get much better for the next guy coming out. Shane Helms followed, and he knew that as fired up as the guys in the ring were, he was about to get some residual chops. He wasn't wrong.
"I remember them chopping the shit out of Puder and thinking, 'I'm gonna get some of these when I get in there.' I didn't talk to them about chopping the shit out of me, and I didn't talk to them about chopping the shit out of Puder. Puder was one of those guys who was getting a little bit of heat in the back. I don't think he meant to or did anything malicious. That's just how that locker room was sometimes. I remember they were beating the shit out of him, though. They got me in the corner and Eddie hit me right in the lips! We didn't call how I got eliminated. I tried to talk to Eddie during the day and he had a lot going on. He kept trying to brush me off a little bit. I knew I was only going to be in there a little bit and wanted to make it count. When we got in there, there was a moment that was the perfect moment to get me out of there. I felt it, they felt it, without saying anything, three minds came together and made it work. Once again, it takes two of the biggest superstars in wrestling to eliminate me," Helms said.