Wednesday, March 9, 2016

How WWE Should Book Until WrestleMania 32

I'm no contracted member of any wrestling creative team. I'm not a freelance member of creative for any wrestling company. Never have been, probably never will be. But I am a lifelong fan, perhaps more hardcore than many, so I know a good product in wrestling when I see one, and a bad product.

But before we spend countless paragraphs talking about smart fans and marks, let's just agree on one thing in particular – wrestling needs us far more than we need wrestling. And judging by live crowd reactions, social media reactions, and the responses from wrestlers sports entertainers themselves on Tuesday radio interviews, it's fair to say the opinions I have don't sway too far from the rest of the pack.

WrestleMania 32, billed when the location in Dallas was secured as the "Biggest WrestleMania Ever" by those idiots in creative (thanks, Hunter), is shaping up to be very underwhelming. Not because of the card—see below—but because of the way the entire product is being booked. Now we can also spend essay after essay discussing why so many talents are so unappealing (I see you, Bray Wyatt’s Win/Loss record), but I’ll discuss how and why I would make WrestleMania 32 better from this Saturday’s March 12 Roadblock special event forward.

Firstly, the WrestleMania 32 card as it is written today:

Triple H defending the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Roman Reigns
Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker in Hell in a Cell for Shane’s control of WWE RAW
Brock Lesnar vs. Dean Ambrose in a No Holds Barred Street Fight
Kevin Owens presumably defending his Intercontinental Championship against Sami Zayn
Charlotte presumably defending her Diva’s Championship against Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch
Kalisto presumably defending his United States Championship in a multi-man ladder match
New Day presumably defending their WWE Tag Team Championships against League of Nations
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Lana vs. Brie Bella

Allow me to work from the bottom of the card up.

I have no issues at all with a Lana vs. Brie Bella match. It is a decent way to get Lana involved in a physical aspect where she will not be so far outclassed by ring presence and skill. No disrespect intended to Brie, but she’s not exactly good in the ring. I like how they have built this feud so far, from absolutely nothing into a mediocre explanation for why Lana wants to get involved. It’s fine for what it is and the pacing of this feud so far has been among the best on the entire card.

As for the Andre Battle Royal, I’ve got my doubts about this match as it has not really done anything to progress any characters so far in its 2-year existence. I would begin putting emphasis on this match by having a few more toss-over spots in the coming weeks and pushing a guy like, say Dolph Ziggler, by allowing him to consistently skin the cat on RAW and declare that he’s going to make his mark this year by winning the Battle Royal. Then have him do it by surviving Braun Strowman, who WWE reportedly wants to win the match but doesn’t deserve it and he can feud with Dolph for a couple months after Mania to really test his mettle.

New Day defending against the League of Nations does absolutely nothing for me. New Day are faces by crowd reaction, heels by action, and it makes no sense to have them work Mania against the fun vacuum faction of Eurasico. If I’m to care for this feud, New Day have to become decisive babyfaces in the next 3 weeks which counteracts everything they’ve done recently with the braggadocios taunting. I’d much prefer this weekend’s Roadblock NXT Tag Team Championship match to result in a disqualification win for Cass & Enzo who then appear on RAW to challenge the trash-talking New Day for the titles at Mania, dispose of the League of Nations to earn that shot, then go on to win the titles as the 1B of the greatest thing going in WWE today behind New Day themselves.

This would for certain free up a second member of the League of Nations to participate in the United States Championship ladder royal, giving us Del Rio AND Sheamus. As the two of them get in each other’s way and play the true heel, they take each other out. It’s at this point we get Sin Cara telling Kalisto to take out Ryback, and ascending the ladder to take his tag team partner’s single’s title leading to a feud which culminates in WWE’s upcoming Cruiserweight tournament quarterfinals.

Charlotte is almost certainly defending against BOTH Sasha and Becky in a triple threat match. The first thing I would change about all of this is to have Charlotte toss the Diva’s Championship into the trash and unveil the new (old) Women’s Championship and mark the end of the disparaging misogyny in that division. While I want Sasha to win the title more than I can express, something tells me what is best for business is Becky walking away with the title just so we get the swerve of the night as the whole world probably feels she’s the only one who will not walk out with the title. Leading up for the next few weeks, Charlotte needs to continue to not compete, and they need to let her get away with it. Sasha and Becky should also have one more match to determine who goes to Mania, where Ric AND Charlotte both trip each girl up and get caught by refs and tension mounts between Charlotte and Ric.

Then I move to a match I’m adding myself between Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton. Orton makes a return, only to be caught in the swirling lights of the fireflies as Bray attacks. Randy doesn’t even get to say a word going into Mania. There’s a contract signed from home and Bray signs on RAW and they get their match at Mania. Orton does everything he can to win, only to fall to Bray who starts his rise.

So as we saw on RAW this week, Sami Zayn re-re-re-debuted on WWE television to save Neville from an apron-bomb by Kevin Owens. Chances are, you are familiar with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn (or Kevin Steen and El Generico). If you aren’t, you have their names and you should smarten up very fast, as these two have told the same story for years in different promotions and executed it so brilliantly that you don’t care that you’ve seen the two of them do it all before. Owens and Zayn have the kind of chemistry that Bret and Owen had… it just works and is great television. They display emotion better against each other than anyone else in the WWE today. Let them tell their story. Let Owens walk with the title after having to go to the extreme to keep Sami down so that their feud can run through the summer to Summer Slam.

Before I get to Brock & Dean, I’m going to focus on Shane and Undertaker, for good reason which I will get to in a few.

Shane and Undertaker still makes very little sense. Undertaker is a zombie, dead-burying, prostitute from what I can gather. He is going to do Vince’s bidding at Mania to hurt Shane and ensure the survival of Vince’s company. Kayfabe, it makes no sense, because Vince and Taker have never seen eye-to-eye on screen. But we know when breaking kayfabe that Undertaker is Vince’s hand-picked king of the locker room, and Undertaker is as loyal to Vince McMahon’s WWE as nobody else has ever been. I’m certain over the next few weeks we get swerves and finally a face-off between the two on the RAW before Mania where Shane’s attacks don’t really phase the Deadman who hits him with a chokeslam only to spare him going in to Mania from a Tombstone. At Mania, Shane will probably break his own neck trying to keep Taker down for a 2-count, but Shane will probably kick out from a Tombstone himself. At this point, Vince tries to enter the Cell only for Taker to dispatch of him, only to turn into an attack by Shane’s buddies (God please be Titus O’Neil, but I’ll settle for Kurt Angle, but if it’s not him, Mean Street Posse will do). We need something fresh, and Shane McMahon has been the most over on the entire roster, and crowds (some of whom should not know him) have been absolutely electrifying since his return.

Now to the main event(s).

This Saturday at Roadblock, Triple H defends his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Dean Ambrose. Now, the realist in all of us knows for a fact that Triple H doesn’t lose this match… but the idealist (and really, the realist in everyone, including Vince) would take the title off of Triple H at Roadblock and put it on Dean Ambrose. Hell, if you’re so worried about Triple H looking weak, you let Brock Lesnar do the smart thing, help Dean win the title so he has a shot at it at Mania, and we create more tension between Brock and Hunter (which is best for business when the Triple H and Shane war breaks out leading up to Summer Slam). Dean holds the title high to end the show only for Brock to F-5 him repeatedly and declare he’s going to leave WrestleMania as Champion.

Now this leads to Mania, where Triple H no longer holds the title. He goes on second to last against Roman Reigns in a grudge match how it should have been from the moment Roman Speared Triple H into a kayfabe break at NXT Takeover: London. Triple H and Roman Reigns have a bloody fight to settle the score, where Roman Reigns gets the big victory and much of the heat is taken off of him because it’s not predictably for the title to put Reigns over.

Then we hit the main event. Dean Ambrose defending his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Brock Lesnar in a bloody war. Dean retains after enduring a brutal beating but dishing out one of his own and getting the best of Lesnar after repeatedly hitting Dirty Deeds on a chair. Dean stands tall to close out Mania, holding his title high above his head as the crowd pops a deafening roar. His brother in arms Roman Reigns comes out to celebrate with him, congratulating him. It’s a special moment. Dean hits the rope to celebrate as Roman exits the ring. Dean drops down, turns, Roman is back and Spears him out of his boots and beats the Hell out of him. Roman takes a bloody Dean and makes him leak more, taking him outside of the ring and powerbombing him through the announce table and standing with his heel upon Dean’s throat holding the title over his face and bitching incessantly about how another of his brothers stole his WrestleMania moment. It’s obvious how you book from here.