So, the weeks leading up to WrestleMania are always the most exciting in a wrestling fans calendar – even for those, dare I say it, that usually carry an ideological distaste for the WWE. This post is simply a manifestation of my own excitement leading in to WrestleMania XXVIII. Now, ‘go home’ shows can be hit and miss, and there is a reason for this; at this point your building to very specific matches, and it doesn’t make sense to venture outside of the established feuds, so they are often limited in booking terms. Not only that, but in order to sell PPV’s, you want to build expectation, rather than give the action away on free TV, so the people feuding can only go so far as relates to physical violence. This, of course, doesn’t mean ‘go home’ shows are necessarily tame, in fact, often the best ones are the exact opposite, it’s just a case of finding a balance between building tension and giving content away, while hopefully doing it in an interesting, entertaining way.
This is what i’m going to attempt to do. I’ll also leave some notes for the ‘go home’ Smackdown – though it should be remembered that go home Smackdowns are often very limited in content due to the tradition (one I like) of featuring a lot of content from WrestleMania Axxess to really give that feel of WrestleMania almost being here.
Here are the matches which need to be built:
Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos vs Beth Phoenix & Eve Torres
Randy Orton vs Kane
Intercontinental Championship: Cody Rhodes (c) vs Big Show
Team Teddy (Santino, Kofi, Truth, ?, ?, ?) vs Team Johnny (Otunga, Mark Henry, Christian, Ziggler, Swagger, ?)
World Heavyweight Championship: Daniel Bryan (c) vs Sheamus
The Undertaker vs HHH (Hell in a Cell, Special Guest Referee: Shawn Michaels)
WWE Championship: CM Punk (c) vs Chris Jericho
The Rock vs John Cena
At the start of the show, the announcers run through some of the advertised matches: HHH vs The Miz (w/ Special Referee, Shawn Michaels), Daniel Bryan vs Sheamus in a ‘WrestleMania Preview’ match, CM Punk & Big Show vs Chris Jericho & Cody Rhodes, plus, both John Cena and The Rock ‘in action’.
Cut to arena and Jericho’s music hits. He comes to the ring and cuts a promo about being the best in the world and how he doesn’t want or deserve to be in the ring with CM Punk, a man so delusional due to drink that he thinks he’s the Best in the World, more than he needs to be. He’ll wrestle him at WrestleMania, and that’s all. At that point, Bryan’s music hits and he comes down with AJ. He says he can relate to Jericho’s problem as he has been put in a match with a drunk too, a brute from Ireland, Sheamus, and he doesn’t feel he should have to wrestle him at any other time apart from WrestleMania either. He doesn’t care who Sheamus wrestles, he can wrestle AJ if he wants, just not me. He goes to leave but then Sheamus charges the ring and beating on Bryan and Jericho too. At this point, HHH comes out and explains that with the GM’s fighting, and superstars from both shows in the ring, he’ll sort out the issue. He says Sheamus will have a match later, and so to will Bryan and Jericho. He agrees that they shouldn’t face their WrestleMania opponents, and that he’s got something else in line for them. Jericho will go one on one with John Cena. Bryan looks smug, until Trips announces he’ll go one on one with The Rock in tonight’s main event.
Beth Phoenix and Eve to the ring. They brag about not needing TV stars to help boost their profile and call out their WrestleMania opponents. Kelly Kelly comes out alone, and Eve asks where her partner is before answering that ‘oh yeah, she’s not here. Still wanna face us?’ Resolute, Kelly makes her way to the ring to face them in a handicap match. A few minutes of the heels dominating. Beth goes for a pin but holds Kelly up for more punishment. Natalya comes out to aid Kelly and she and Beth end up brawling to the back (which can also set up a post-Mania feud for them). In the distraction, Kelly hits a K2 to Eve for the win.
Kane promo from inside his red-lit boiler room. He says his powers have Orton on the back foot and lacking confidence like never before. He promises that what he does to Orton at WrestleMania will be BURNED on to his retina just like that moment he was humbled and humanised with a hand shake is to him. Kane is about to continue, but Orton appears behind him in the boiler room and quips ‘You’ll burn in hell’ or some such before attacking him and getting the best of it.
HHH’s match with Miz. Miz out first, and he asks why he should wrestle someone like HHH when he’s not even getting a WrestleMania match. He’s no tune up, he’s a main eventer! HHH comes out and promises him a match of some kind at WrestleMania if he can win. Miz agrees. Decently long match here so Miz doesn’t look too bad, but Trips in control eventually. At this point, the lights go out and the bells of Undertaker toll. Taker on the tron who simply says in six days, you will meet your end (or some Taker-y stuff like that) and when the lights come back, Miz ambushes a distracted HHH with a Skull Crushing Finalé and goes for the pin. Only, Shawn doesn’t count the pin, at least not straight away, and HHH kicks out before getting the upper hand and winning with Pedigree and Taker-taunt pin before he and Shawn do the ‘Suck It’ taunt to Miz and the announcers speculate about whether HBK is on Trple H’s side at WrestleMania, and the Streak being in dire jeopardy.
Sheamus beats Jinder Mahal after a bit of offense from Mahal so it’s not a squash, but shows Sheamus’s strength against a decent opponent. At that point, Sheamus gets a mic very quickly, says Daniel Bryan does a lot of talking, while he lets his actions show that he’s a champion.
Next up is CM Punk & Big Show vs Cody Rhodes & ? Jericho comes on the tron and gloats about not having to compete before introducing his replacement, former tag team champion with Rhodes, Drew McIntyre. Give Punk a lot of time with both heels in the ring respectively while having Rhodes avoid Show throughout the match in a cowardly kind of way. Punk and McIntyre in the ring. McIntyre goes for his Future Shock DDT, but he’s wrestled on to Punk’s shoulders, but just before he delivers, Jericho interrupts on the tron, saying ‘Hey Punk. what are you doing fighting my replacement when i’m right back here?’ Furious, Punk puts McIntyre down and goes after Jericho. Big Show is distracted by this and calls after Punk, but with his back turned, he’s rolled up by McIntyre who grabs the tights, and for extra leverage, Rhodes pushes on Show’s back out of the referee’s line of sight, and Rhodes and McIntyre win it. All this happens before Punk has left the stage, and incensed, he storms back to the ring while Jericho says ‘You’ll have to do better than that on Sunday, Punk’. He walks around the ring and grabs a mic, and enters the ring as the heels are still celebrating. He goes to talk, but instead drops the mic and GTS’s both of them. He then picks up the mic again. Now it’s kinda cynical to say ‘Punk shoots’, because that can’t just be a fall-back, but in this scenario, to build for the match, it’s a good call. Let him go off on Jericho for whatever he wants before having him say. I am the Best in the World, but this is about more than that now. You’ve insulted me, my family, and gotten under my skin, but that’s the worst mistake you’ll ever make. At WrestleMania, you wont be able to troll, and you certainly wont be able to hide from the ass-kicking you’re in line for. CULT OF PERSONALITY.
A bit of relief from that in the form of Team Long vs Team Johnny. First off, Long’s music hits, and out he comes with Santino, Kofi, and Truth. He has two more members to add to his WrestleMania team tonight. First off, out comes Brodus Clay! I don’t know if this is the best way to use the FUNKASAURUS, but he needs some sort of catalyst to progress, and his entrance would be great at WrestleMania. Secondly, he says he has heard the fans at arenas and through twitter, and the fifth member of Team Long is Zack Ryder! Ryder comes out and thanks Teddy very strenuously. At this point, out come John Laurinaitis with the rest of his team so far ‘ Otunga, Mark Henry, Christian, Dolph Ziggler, and Jack Swagger. Big Johnny congratulates Teddy on convincing five people to fight for him, but, as usual, he has out done him. ALBERTO DEL RIO’s music hits! I think it’s important he’s given a big entrance like this. With everyone still on the stage, Del Rio makes his full entrance, with pyro and stands with them all on the stage. He shakes hands with Johnny and Johnny holds up one of Del Rio’s shirts. Del Rio cuts a promo about how Teddy hampered him on Smackdown, and how his destiny on RAW took him to the WWE Championship. For that, he is forever loyal to Big Johnny and more motivated than ever to fight if it means ridding the WWE of Long.
Now to the joint main events. First up, John Cena vs Chris Jericho. Cena out second, but before the match starts, Rocky’s music hits and he comes down to commentate. Both of these matches need and deserve decent time, mainly because neither man can look weak. After a while Jericho gains control and slams Cena in to the announce table, but he and Rock have history too, and Jericho talks trash to Rocky, saying stuff like ‘what are you doing here, i’m the best in the world’, etc and shoves Rock. This is too much for Rock, who punches Jericho. The referee sees though, and this costs Cena the match, who looks angry and then gives a wry smile to Rocky. Jericho celebrates on the turnbuckle meanwhile, and Punk dives out from the crowd to attack him, and beats on him until Jericho escapes and backs off up the ramp. Punk stares a hole through him before chasing after him to the back. After this, Cena gestures to the ring for Rock to enter for his match, while Cena goes to joing commentary.
Out comes Daniel Bryan. This was one of my first ideas when booking the show. Not only could Bryan vs Rock be amazing and fresh, but most importantly, it gives a helluva rub to Bryan, which only helps legitimise Rocky’s involvement in WWE. The match has to be similar to the first in that both men need to look good, which against Rocky, will make Bryan look awesome! The match, like the first, ends up out of the ring. Now because Rocky’s more douchey, he would throw Bryan over the table and in to Cena. Cena and Rock shout at each other with the referee trying to seperate them. Meanwhile, Bryan grabs the ring bell from where he landed, and with the referee distracted, nails Rock with it and crawls in to the ring to gain a count out victory. YES! YES! YES! celebrations. Rock, who has recovered, then goes to attack Bryan, but Bryan escapes and runs to the back while celebrating. Meanwhile, Cena stands right behind Rock, and once Bryan’s escaped, Rock turns round right in to Cena. Staredown. Fade to black.
Some less detailed Smackdown thoughts now. Now, people like The Rock, John Cena, Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, and probably Triple H, aint gonna be appearing on Smackdown, so this opens the floor for everyone else even more. So, in rough chronological order, but not necessarily:
Eve vs Natalya, for costing her the match. Kelly in Nattie’s corner, Beth in Eve’s. Beth interferes with Nattie throughout the match until Kelly confronts her. This time, Eve takes advantage of the distraction and rolls Nattie up for the win.
Tune up matches for both Kane and Orton. Kane beats Khali pretty quickly while Orton later beats Hunico (I really like Hunico, so I don’t like jobbing him out, but he deserves an appearance) in similar fashion. Only, Orton gets interviewed after the match, and is attacked and glovehanded by Kane.
Cody Rhodes is at Axxess and shows us ‘Big Show’s Hall of Blame’ showing pictures of Big Show embarrassed at WrestleMania in picture frames with a photoshopped picture of Rhodes with his foot on Show’s chest in the final frame.
Team Teddy are out to announce their final member … Evan Bourne! Now, I’m not in favour necessarily of Bourne appearing at Mania as he shouldn’t be rewarded like that right now, but he is popular and would get a pop. This is with the caveat that Rey Mysterio isn’t fit to wrestle. If he is, replace Bourne with Rey. Team Johnny appear on the stage, and he motions for them to rush the ring. A brawl between all 12 men in the ring that can’t be stopped as they go to commercial!
As for the two heavyweight title matches, Punk and Bryan have wrestled a lot, so it’s not that original, but having them face-off in the main event is better than a tag match. So inter-twine the matches and have Jericho vs Sheamus first. Bryan distracts and costs Sheamus the match to Jericho but again, in a match that makes everyone look good. Main event, Punk vs Bryan. Eventually, turnabout is fair play as Sheamus comes out and costs Bryan the match. Show ends by highlighting Punk at the end of the show as he celebrates. Everyone looks good, but no one better than their opponents (both Punk and Jericho won, and both Bryan and Sheamus lost, though still looking strong).
So I hope you enjoyed this bit of fantasy booking. I think it’s pretty strong, but i’d love some feedback, so don’t hesitate to comment, suggest booking of your own, and follow me @RTVWOW for more opinions, info, and live-tweeting, including coverage of WrestleMania’s past which i’m doing in the run up to this year’s extravaganza!