Sunday, 25 January 2015

Fantasy Booker: WrestleMania Season 2015

Last October I posted a lengthy piece about how I would have booked WWE from Hell in a Cell to WrestleMania 31. Not because I had or have any great affinity for Hell in a Cell but because it was the next pay-per-view at the time and I had some thoughts on how WWE could get themselves from the awkward autumn they were going through (still missing Reigns and Bryan and trying to establish Rollins and Ambrose as main event guys) to ‘The Granddaddy of Them All’.

But that was months ago and WWE’s created a fresh slate since. So I have a new batch of ideas to suggest for WrestleMania 31. The aim of this article is to record them. I’d tried to do it briefly but, well, it didn’t really work out.

I’ll start with some scene- and tone-setting. Firstly, I’ve assumed that The Rock won’t end up wrestling at the show this year. I’d like to make this as realistic as possible and that seemed the best way to go. Secondly, I’ve written this as if I would be continuing to run the company after ‘Mania 31. As such there are elements to it that are designed to set things up for the future that won’t really be detailed much here. There’s no way around this, it’s just the way I think about wrestling. It’s also resulted in several story points revolving around wins and losses. That’s a rarity with the current WWE product (outside of NXT) but it’s something I’d want to do more of. I’d phase it in gradually and that’s reflected here.

So, let’s start with the Royal Rumble card, which is already nicely laid out. Three undercard tag matches, a triple threat world title match, and the Rumble itself. I’d open the show with The Ascension squashing the Outlaws, then have Natalya and Paige lose to the Bellas via some sort of Tyson Kidd flavoured misunderstanding, and then have The Miz and Mizdow lose in their quest to regain the doubles gold. The last would happen after Mizdow mimicked Miz instead of tagging into the match, a decision which would result in Miz getting pinned. ‘The Awesome One’ would shout at Mizdow afterwards and Mizdow would mimic the shouting.

Would I keep the belt on Lesnar until WrestleMania? Read on to see!
The triple threat match, going on before the Rumble, would be won by… Brock Lesnar. No finishing sequence leaps out at me but I’d want Cena taking the loss. Not that he needs it but he could be protected by taking a Curb Stomp and then an F5, ‘The Pain’ wiping out Rollins with a German suplex after he’s Curb Stomped Cena.

A cash-in would be attempted by Rollins. It would be thwarted by Heyman grabbing Rollins’s leg and Lesnar F5ing him. The bell would not ring so it wouldn’t be an official use of the magic briefcase. Them’s the rules.

I’d end the show with the Rumble match because, as I’ve written before, I think it takes a really, really special championship match to follow the Rumble. WWE disagrees with this, as evidenced by the 2006 show being headlined by Kurt Angle versus Mark Henry. Yeah, Mark Henry main evented a Royal Rumble in a singles match.

I’ve fantasy booked several WrestleManias now and I’m convinced I’ve never come up with a half decent Rumble. For that reason I won’t go on too long about this one. Bray Wyatt would start the match at number one, because he’s a big name who’d get a good pop and it would allow for his full entrance. Rusev would enter somewhere in the first ten numbers, immediately eliminate several people, and get the longest lasting gong.

Roman Reigns would enter at fifteen. That’s a big name at the mid-way point and the bodies would have built up enough after Rusev’s clean-up for him to have a few people to immediately lob out. Reigns would be close to eliminating ‘The Bulgarian Brute’ when Big Show would enter at number sixteen. Show would “save” Rusev (by which I mean attack Reigns) only to be eliminated by Reigns single-handed. I’m not saying Reigns would pull a Cesaro and scoop slam Show out, but he’d get him over the top rope and he’d do it alone. Sheamus and Randy Orton would enter at indeterminate points dependent on when big names were required and Adrian Neville would make his main roster debut sometime during the match.

The only elimination spot I’d like to mention is one featuring Damien Mizdow and The Miz. ‘The A-Lister’ would be thrown out (it doesn’t matter who by, it could be a comedic figure getting an “upset” elimination or it could be someone being really efficient like Reigns or Rusev) and look shocked. Mizdow would still be in the match and see that his boss had been tossed out. Miz would leap to the apron and demand Mizdow mimic the elimination. There would be a moment’s pause where it’s clear that Mizdow’s torn between staying in the Rumble and trying to win and doing what his paymaster says. He’d briefly look reluctant then take a bump over the top rope to leave the match. He and Miz would leave together, Mizdow firmly back in character.

Daniel Bryan would enter at twenty-one. That would keep people waiting for him (and looking forward to Bryan’s entrance is going to be a theme of this year’s Rumble in actuality) but it would also get him in early enough that his popularity could buoy the match along outside of the closing moments. Because, yes, I’d have Bryan there in the closing moments. The match would come down to him and Big Roman (the other two members of the final four being Randy Orton and Dolph Ziggler). They’d have a babyface versus babyface exchange with Bryan hitting the running knee after a few minutes, wobbling Reigns enough to eliminate him. The show would end with Bryan celebrating, Maggle Cole going crazy, and Reigns (briefly shown) slumped against a crowd barricade with his head in his hands.

There are several things I’d want to accomplish on the following evening’s RAW. I have no idea what order they’d happen in so this is a stream of consciousness coming up. The Authority would announce that Rollins would get another shot at the WWE championship in the main event of Fast Lane. The reason? He’d come close to pinning Cena the night before and his cash-in attempt had been unfairly thwarted. They’re heels, so they can be openly biased.

After the announcement Orton would rush the ring to try and get his hands on Rollins but would be attacked by Big Show, Kane and J&J Security. Rollins would escape unscathed. This would happen a few more times before Fast Lane, with Rollins always just managing to escape before Orton gets to him.

The Wyatt Family would reform. I don’t think they ever should have split. Luke Harper’s been given more to do than I thought he would but Erick Rowan has faltered (and no, a fake firing storyline doesn’t count for anything). I think both are better off affiliated with Wyatt. There’s nothing to say that Harper can’t be treated with more autonomy while still being someone’s henchman. They’d reform in Sheamus’s RAW return match. Across the following month Wyatt would talk about cleansing the world of the greatest evil there is and Harper would talk about wanting to play with toys. Wyatt wouldn’t wrestle, but both Harper and Rowan would have matches against Sheamus and Harper would begin targeting Dean Ambrose, interfering in matches, mentioning him in promos and so forth. Harper would want to make Ambrose his “toy.” These two feuds would (obviously) dovetail at Fast Lane.

Rusev (via Lana) would announce that he’d grown weary of being the greatest thing to hit America since sliced bread and give Fast Lane as the date he’d retire the United States championship. We’d throw in something about the US not deserving a champion of Rusev’s capable too. A string of American wrestlers would take issue with this across the next month of TV, providing a reason for Rusev to have a few more-spirited-than-usual title defences against a range of faces and heels. All would fall to the might of the Accolade or a brainbuster, a new finisher.

Cena would do nothing of interest between Rumble and Fast Lane. But because he’s John Cena I feel I have to address what he’s doing even if it’s nothing. The night after the Rumble he’d talk about refocusing and having the best ‘Mania season possible so that he’s considered first in line for a title shot after the WM31. Then he’d just wrestle some lads until Fast Lane.

Mid-air shot. Exciting, no?
Adrian Neville would wrestle matches against lower card guys on RAW, SmackDown and Main Event. He’d get long enough to have good matches and encourage people to get behind him. The idea would be to draw audiences into his performances and make audiences feel they’re seeing a major new star. His first loss would come at the hands of Cesaro on the February 19 SmackDown. After the match Cesaro would shake hands with Neville and nod, as though he’d noticed something in the plucky youngster.

The January 26 RAW would see Dolph Ziggler and Bad News Barrett agree to wrestle for Barrett’s IC title at Fast Lane. The next month would see them trying to one-up one another. They’d face the same opponents each week, one on RAW and one on SmackDown, and always win. They’d be presented as being evenly matched. This would also, hopefully, help to erase the stigma that the IC champ loses non-title matches all the time.

Damien Mizdow and The Miz would continue working as a tag team. They’d win some matches and lose some matches. Miz would berate Mizdow for every loss and hog the spotlight for every victory, nor matter who had taken or made the pin. The plot would see Mizdow gradually getting more irritated with Miz’s posturing and spotlight-seeking. Miz would remain oblivious to this.

Finally, the January 26 RAW would feature Daniel Bryan celebrating his Royal Rumble victory and being interrupted by Roman Reigns. This would be a tough segment to get right. I’d want Reigns to come across as a babyface but with a hint of whining to his character. It would be implied that he felt it should be him headlining WrestleMania, showing signs that he’s begun to believe in his own hype with regards to being WWE’s next top guy. He would be told to state that the Rumble “could have gone either way” at the end.

D-Bry would be the all-round nice guy with a fighter’s spirit he’s usually presented as and tell Reigns that he’d be willing to face him again. He’d offer Reigns a match at Fast Lane. Reigns would ask for it to be for the number one contendership. There would be no pause from Bryan: he’d agree instantly. Because that’s the heart of a champion, right there. They’d shake on it and Reigns would leave.

After a commercial break we’d be shown shots of Reigns heading backstage, gathering up his stuff and exiting the building. He wouldn’t appear in-ring for the next month. Instead we’d be treated to weekly updates of him working out, beasting masked jobbers in a private ring, jogging through woods, and other assorted training montage activities. Bryan would stay on TV, facing anyone and everyone, and beating them really quickly. Because he’s willing to turn up to arenas to see the fans and he’s hyper-competent when it comes to winning.

Fast Lane would open with the Dust Brothers v Miz and Mizdow. The Dusts would win the match and Miz would flip out afterwards. He’d attack Mizdow and storm backstage. Mizdow would be helped to the back by officials. The attack is the only reason this match would be happening. I don’t really like that but I’d only be able to get rid of so many silly tropes in the first few months. Meaningless PPV matches would have to stay for a bit.

After that Orton would run the gauntlet against, in order of entry, Jamie Noble, Joey Mercury, Kane and Big Show. In storyline terms this match would exist to punish Orty. In real terms it would exist to re-establish him as a big deal who wins. He’d eliminate Noble within thirty seconds, do the same with Mercury, drop Kane within two minutes, and then finish off Show with a single RKO after he’d entered the ring. It would be quick and explosive. The goal would be to make Orton look exciting.

Sheamus and Ambrose would defeat Harper and Rowan with Bray at ringside. After the match ‘The Eater of Worlds’ would attack the faces with a chair. Rowan would then hold down Sheamus (after checking that they don’t have some sort of matter and anti-matter deal due to them basically being exact opposites) and Harper would hold down Ambrose with Wyatt again talking about destroying the greatest evil… ending with him challenging The Undertaker to return and face him at WrestleMania.

Rusev’s US championship retirement ceremony would follow that. It would be interrupted, of course, by John Cena. I’d want him to cut a spirited promo decrying Rusev’s attitude but putting him over as a great talent who could go far in WWE and become a world champion. I wouldn’t want silly jokes or anything belittling Rusev or Lana. Whether this could be achieved is questionable, but let’s assumed it’d be managed.

Rusev (via Lana) would come back about America being wasteful (or something) before moving on to the more pertinent point that Cena, despite his nationality, is amongst the most accomplished WWE stars ever. Lana would challenge him to face Rusev at WrestleMania. Cena would accept. The ceremony would end with Cena and Rusev going face-to-face, but not fighting. For the record a bloke dressed in a drab suit would be there to be handed the United States championship. He would be referred to as a representative of Russia’s government.

After a Divas match, Paige defeating Brie Bella to earn herself a title match with Nikki at WM31, we’d get Barrett v Ziggler for the IC title. They’d be given fifteen minutes and encouragement to try and steal the show. The finish would see Bad News sidestep a super kick and Bullhammer Ziggler in the back of the head.

Bryan and Reigns would take the semi-main event spot. They’d get somewhere in the region of ten minutes, because Reigns is better in smaller doses but anything less than ten minutes wouldn’t seem substantial enough. The opening moments would see Reigns throw Bryan over the top rope to the floor, nodding to himself afterwards. Obviously the point of this would be Reigns “proving” he could have thrown Bryan out of the Rumble and won the thing as he’d claimed. The finish of the match would see Reigns give Bryan a Superman punch and then ready himself for a spear. Bryan would stagger to his feet and then turn the spear into a small package (or similar pinning predicament) for the three.

After the match Reigns would sit in the ring looking dumbfounded. Bryan would celebrate on the turnbuckles. A handshake would be offered to Reigns by D-Bry but Reigns would just get up and walk to the back. At this point I’d want there to be heavy boos for Reigns.

The main event would be an Attitude Era special. It would be announced as being no DQ just before starting and would feature interference from J&J, Kane, and Big Show. Orton would run out in the early going but be wiped out by The Authority lads and hit with a Curb Stomp by Rollins to eliminate him from proceedings. Lesnar would essentially be the lone wolf babyface. He’d whittle away all the Authority goons and just be left with Rollins. Even with no assistance Rollins would be shown to be capable against ‘The Pain’, using his speed to survive. Eventually Triple H would appear and get Brock’s attention by grabbing Heyman (because everyone loves it when Heyman is presented as the monster’s sole weakness, right?). That would allow Rollins to use a chair and then get in a Curb Stomp.

At that point the lights would immediately cut out, coming back on a few seconds later to reveal Sting in the middle of the ring. He’d Scorpion Death Drop Rollins, spurring ‘The Game’ to get into the ring. He and Sting would trade some punches before a recovered Lesnar wiped out Triple H with an F5. He’d then stare down ‘The Stinger’ and grab him for an F5. Rollins would try to Curb Stomp Lesnar immediately after he’d given Sting the move but Lesnar would block or dodge it and get another F5, this one on Rollins, for the three.

The following night’s RAW would have the classic opening: a heel promo. Triple H would say he’s tired of Sting interfering in his business and challenge him to a match at WrestleMania. Rollins (who, let’s not forget, would still have the magic briefcase) would say it’s the fault of Sting and Randy Orton that he didn’t beat Lesnar. Trips would announce Rollins v Orton for WrestleMania.

Ziggler and Barrett would have a non-title rematch from the night before. It could be explained as The Authority being impressed with Ziggler’s performance the previous evening or as Ziggler having challenged Barrett to a non-title bout. The important thing is that they’d wrestle. They would again get fifteen minutes but there would be no clean finish this time. Instead Roman Reigns’ music would play and he’d march to the ring, now down the aisle instead of through the crowd. He’d be so over crowd entrances. He’d be all about looking moody in the aisle at this point.

This would happen. I've put a picture of it and everything.
Ziggler and Barrett would continue their match, unaffected by the music playing (because this is a good time to drop the wrestlers-being-distracted-by-music-they-hear-playing-all-the-time scenario). Reigns would get into the ring. Barrett would put Ziggler between himself and Reigns and Reigns would attack Ziggler. Barrett would leave and Reigns would maul Ziggler with power moves and a Superman punch. Reigns doesn’t really use many power moves now. That would need to change and he’d need some in his arsenal by this point. This would be part of that process. Reigns would leave without saying anything. Ziggler would be helped backstage during the break, shown exclusively on the WWE App!

A Sami Zayn vignette would also air for the first time. It would announce him as “coming soon.” The following weeks would reveal Zayn would debut on the March 30 RAW, the night after WrestleMania.

The final things of note for the February 23 RAW would concern Rusev and John Cena. Rusev would cut the main eventer treatment and come to the ring for a promo. He (via Lana) would talk about everything he’d accomplished over the last year and everything Cena has accomplished in his decade-plus. Lana would promise that Rusev would defeat Cena at WrestleMania, go on to capture the WWE championship, and make 2015 his year.

Cena would get a promo spot of his own in which he’d again put over Rusev’s ability but put down his attitude. Maybe he could tie this in with his “hustle, loyalty, respect” and “rise above hate” mantras. Because that’s what the kids love, am I right? He’d also say he needs to beat Rusev in order to justify his position at the top of WWE. Though in a more colourful, Cena-esque manner.

The following weeks would see Orton continuing to try and get his hands on Rollins, always just coming up short. Rollins’s excuse for ducking out of these confrontations would be that he doesn’t want to make Orton look good until ‘Mania. Orton would get closer and closer to getting his hands on Rollins but he’d never quite manage it. They’d go into the show without Orton getting in any offence on Rollins. I’d want people desperate to see Rollins take a pasting.

On the March 2 RAW (or maybe the March 5 SmackDown) Adrian Neville would be mocked by Bad News Barrett for not having beaten any upper mid-card names. Neville’s response would be to challenge Barrett to a title match. Barrett would offer him a non-title match on the March 9 RAW, which Nev would accept and win. That win would be used to set up an Intercontinental title match between Barrett and Neville at WrestleMania, with Neville continuing to rack up wins beforehand.

Sheamus and Rowan would head off into their own feud, as would Ambrose and Harper. Wyatt’s challenge would be accepted, in person, on the March 2 RAW, with ‘The Dead Man’ appearing in person at the top of the ramp to tell Wyatt he’d see him at ‘Mania. He’d return on the March 23 RAW to go face-to-face with ‘The Man of 1,000 Truths’. They’d fight, Bray throwing the first punch and ‘Taker getting the best of the exchange, ending it with a choke slam.

Reigns would not be seen until the March 9 RAW after attacking Ziggler on the post-Fast Lane show. Upon his return he’d cut a promo designed to give him a discernible character with understandable motivations. He’d say he’d like to be able to apologise to what he did to Dolph Ziggler. He’d like to but he couldn’t. He’d lay into Ziggler for being like Daniel Bryan, a guy who thinks just because they get talked about on the internet they should be on top of WWE. Basically I’d want Reigns to become the embodiment of WWE’s anti-internet view. He’d argue that he should be on top, should have won the Rumble, should main event WrestleMania, should get a WWE title match because he’s obviously the next breakout star, not Bryan or Ziggler or anyone else.

Ziggler would return four nights later on SmackDown. He’d wrestle a match and also challenge Reigns to a ‘Mania match. This would be accepted in the following weeks and Reigns would tell Ziggler he’ll pulverize him because he no longer cares about being nice. Mean ol’ Reigns, eh?

Cena and Rusev would each record videos that could be played weekly on RAW and SmackDown in which they’d discuss why they’d want to beat each other and put over their own accomplishments. The idea for the Cena v Rusev match would be to have Cena taking Rusev dead seriously and wanting to beat him not only for national pride but because he wants to be the first man to say he pinned Rusev. ‘The Super Athlete’ would obviously want to beat Cena for the immense bragging rights.

They’d confront one another for the second time on the March 23 RAW. Rusev would stoically promise to defeat Cena at WrestleMania. Cena’s calm fa├žade would slip slightly and we’d get him looking slightly worried in the face of an opponent who doesn’t seem intimidated by his status. Angrily Cena would say he doesn’t just want to beat Rusev for all the reasons he’s given until that point, he also wants to beat him to teach him some humility. Cena would try to provoke Rusev. Rusev would remain calm, telling Cena (via Lana) he’d see him at ‘Mania, and leave.

Sting would accept and the world would have its mediocre match.
Triple H would continue to call out Sting for a ‘Mania match. Sting would appear on the big screen on the March 16 RAW and say the words “I accept.” The following week, the pre-‘Mania episode, he’d appear in the ring to even the odds in a show-closing brawl pitting Brock Lesnar, Seth Rollins, Triple H and the lackeys against Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton.

Why would Lesnar be sharing a ring with The Authority after they’d tried to rob him of the title at Fast Lane? Glad you asked! The March 9 RAW would feature Lesnar and Heyman (mostly the latter) putting over Rollins as a tough, talented guy who took Brock to the limit and is undoubtedly the future of the company. They would profess that they have nothing but respect for him but urge him not to do anything foolish with his briefcase. That would segue them to the topic of Daniel Bryan. Heyman would bring up Bryan’s shaky medical history and urge him not to do anything foolish, like compete in a match with a wrecking machine like Brock Lesnar.

Bryan would join them in the ring and say he respects Heyman and Lesnar but that he doesn’t fear them. He’d be willing to go through ‘The Beast’ to regain the championship he never lost. I’d want him to mention the history of the title since SummerSlam 2013, how Bryan defeated Cena to win the championship and never lost it fairly in the middle of the ring, always being stripped or screwed out of it instead. Probably the most important thing with this would be emphasising that Lesnar beat the same man Bryan did, Cena, to become the champion, but that he never beat Bryan. Bryan v Lesnar would need to have a sports vibe to it. It fits with the characters of both men and the match they’d likely have.

Lesnar’s response would be something short and sweet, but more substantial than his usual dinosaur-like wailings. A simple “At WrestleMania, I’m going to eat you up and spit you out. You’re nothing” would fit well enough with Lesnar’s character and establish that Lesnar doesn’t see D-Bry as a threat.

Lesnar wouldn’t appear again until that show-closing brawl segment on the March 23 RAW. The rumours of his imminent departure could be subtly acknowledged by Tripper and not-so-subtly acknowledged by Maggle Cole. Trips would casually write off Bryan’s chances and make a remark about vacating the title should the need arise. Bryan would come out to remind The Authority how writing him off worked out at WrestleMania XXX. Rollins would pipe up about “Plan B” in response to Bryan and Heyman would tell Bryan that he wouldn’t be able to overcome Lesnar, let alone Lesnar and then Rollins. Lesnar would look irked at Heyman for this comment. Then Orton would come out to round things out, mentioning that once he’s done with Rollins he’ll be going after the championship too. Lesnar would attack Bryan and Rollins would join in, triggering Orton dashing to the ring only to be cut off by the various Authority henchmen. They’d be cleared out but Rollins, Lesnar and Triple H would overwhelm Orton and Bryan before Sting appearing to make the save.

That would (finally) lead us into WrestleMania 31. The pre-show would open with Sheamus defeating Erick Rowan then feature a four-way tag title match, the Usos defending against The Ascension, the Dust Brothers and the Masters of the Universe. The MOTU would win. I’ve not really touched on the tag scene much because I’ve only concentrated on sketching out the feuds I’d be building for WrestleMania. I’d have tried to make it more prevalent and meaningful on TV. Cesaro and Kidd would get the tag straps because they’re a good team and because it would be a surprise for the crowd. I’d have made it a point to build them as stars in the division.

Miz and Mizdow would close the pre-show. Mizdow would get the victory. I think this would be Miz’s first loss at a WrestleMania. Yeah, I’d end a streak. Deal with it.

I’ll rattle through the card in the order I’d book it. Orton v Rollins would open the show and Orton would beat ‘The Future’ clean in the centre of the ring with the RKO. Second would be the Intercontinental title match, Adrian Neville defeating Bad News Barrett with the Red Arrow to win gold in his ‘Mania debut.

Reigns v Ziggler would follow. The match would be relatively short and set out to make Reigns look like a dominating beast and Ziggler to look like a man who doesn’t give up. Reigns would win after a sequence of power moves (established across the previous two months) and the Superman punch. That would be followed by Dean Ambrose defeating Luke Harper.

Rusev v Cena would be match number five. I think twelve minutes is a decent amount of time for this. It allows them time to milk the atmosphere and put on a good match but also ensures they wouldn’t overstay their welcome. Cena would come close to powering out of the Accolade but wouldn’t quite manage to do it. He’d make it to the ropes instead. Rusev would strike him with some kicks and a brainbuster to win the match via pinfall.

Wyatt and The Undertaker would follow. With no Streak to be concerned with the match could go to either of them. Ultimately I think it would be better if Undertaker won, so that he was coming off a win for WrestleMania 32. That’s expected to be his retirement match so it makes sense for him to look as good as possible so that a fresh face could be given a win over him and have it mean more.

Paige defeating Nikki Bella would have a story behind it but that’s not included here in an attempt to keep this article close to a readable length. Sting v Triple H would go on last. I could see arguments for both guys winning the match. As it wouldn’t really have any long term effects I’d decide nearer the time who’d win. I’d lean towards Sting though, because it would very probably be his one WrestleMania appearance and his inexplicable popularity means a win is probably the right call. When in doubt, put the face over.

Best possible ending.
The main event would see Daniel Bryan defeat Brock Lesnar for the WWE world championship. I mean, how could it not? It’s too obvious a story what with the size difference and Bryan’s comeback and Lesnar leaving. It’s the only result the match could have. Afterwards Seth Rollins would appear and cash-in his Money in the Bank contract. Heyman, still at ringside from Lesnar v Bryan, would trip Bryan as he went for the running knee, with Rollins Curb Stomping him and pinning him for the title straight afterwards. Lesnar would shout at Heyman from the ring, Heyman warbling back that it was just business. Rollins would smack Lesnar with the championship belt, Curb Stomp him on it and then pose in the ring. Heyman would join him after a minute or two. WrestleMania would close with Heyman raising Rollins’ arm.

The following night would need a big angle. Because post-‘Mania RAWs have big angles now. It’s the done thing. Mine would take place in the final segment of the show. The Authority and Heyman would throw Rollins a lavish in-ring celebration for his first WWE title win. Stephanie and Triple H would put him over as the future of the company and the industry as a whole. Heyman would gush about his ability and declare himself Rollins’s new agent, met with questioning glances between Stepher and Trips.

Rollins would be handed the mic and would acknowledge that, yes, he truly is the best thing ever. But he’d also say that while he appreciated The Authority’s help he didn’t need it. He’d have made it to the top without them sooner or later, because true talent can’t be held back. He’d mention Reigns’s complaining, stating that his face fits but he’s not the talent Rollins is. He’d get more openly aggressive, talking about how WWE holds down wrestlers who are capable and deserving of so much more than they’re given. He’d end by saying that as champion he considers it his responsibility to lead from the front, making sure everyone gets what they deserve and putting on the best match every night.

Triple H would get in Rollins’ face, berating him and having a go and blah-blah-blah. What you’d expect from him in this sort of segment basically. With the camera closed in on the two of them we wouldn’t see Cesaro, Tyson Kidd, and Adrian Neville until they were in the ring. They’d make quick work of Kane, Big Show, and J&J, then take their time with Triple H. Heyman would applaud this from ringside and the show would go off the air with every male champion on the main roster standing on a turnbuckle with the COO laying defeated beneath them.

The intention would be for wrestling ability to become more important to WWE from this point, and this group would be able to have good matches with everyone on the roster. They’d also work as tweeners. Rollins would be a heel against someone like Daniel Bryan because he stole his moment and his title at WrestleMania. But he’d be a face against someone like Reigns who’d be arguing that he should just be given everything he wants because he is so obviously imbued with the traditional requirements for the top spot. The intention would be to expand the group quickly with the very good wrestlers. An initial story would be the group trying to recruit Sami Zayn, who would have debuted hours before their formation, and Zayn declining, wanting to earn his way to the top rather than get it through politicking and a gang mentality. I’d avoid including Dolph Ziggler at first so that he could feud with the group. If it caught on he could join later.

Long term there would be several title contenders ready for Rollins. Bryan would be entitled to a rematch. Orton would have pinned Rollins hours before he won the championship. Rusev would have pinned Cena, a major accomplishment within WWE. Reigns’s attitude would fit well with The Authority would contrast with the new group’s, and he’d have already stated his desire to be the top boy.

Cena and Reigns would both have lengthy arcs to occupy them. Reigns could do his entitled routine until people became sick of booing him and embraced him as a cool heel. At that point a slow turn could be started, with an eye to having him win the world title as the culmination of that. Cena would be plagued by self-doubt after his loss to Rusev (shut up, yes he would) and would decide he wants to work his way back up, having a match with everyone on the roster to prove to himself he’s still as good as he and his fans thought. That could culminate in a rematch with Rusev, a title match, or challenging Undertaker at WrestleMania 32. He could even take a few months off to “rediscover himself”, giving the younger guys time in the spotlight.

Would this be better than what WWE will give us? We’ll know in a few months. But I don’t think it would be dreadful. If only because it would give WE the shakeup it’s been needing for a long time.

***

For ease and simplicity here are the matches I’ve laid out above.

Royal Rumble (25.01.15)
Daniel Bryan to win the Royal Rumble, last eliminating Roman Reigns
Brock Lesnar to defeat John Cena and Seth Rollins to retain the WWE championship
The Usos to defeat The Miz and Damien Mizdow to retain the tag team championship
The Bella twins to defeat Paige and Natalya
The Ascension to defeat The New Age Outlaws

Fast Lane (22.02.15)
Brock Lesnar to defeat Seth Rollins to retain the WWE championship
Daniel Bryan to defeat Roman Reigns to retain his number one contender status
Bad News Barrett to defeat Ziggler to retain the Intercontinental championship
Paige to defeat Brie to earn a Divas championship match at WrestleMania
Rusev US title retirement ceremony
Sheamus and Ambrose to defeat The Wyatt Family
Orton to defeat Jamie Noble, Joey Mercury, Kane and Big Show in a gauntlet match
The Dust Brothers to defeat The Miz and Damien Mizdow

WrestleMania 31 (29.03.15)
Daniel Bryan to defeat Brock Lesnar for the WWE championship
Sting to defeat Triple H
Paige to defeat Nikki Bella for the Divas championship
Undertaker to defeat Bray Wyatt
Rusev to defeat John Cena
Dean Ambrose to defeat Luke Harper
Roman Reigns to defeat Dolph Ziggler
Adrian Neville to defeat Bad News Barrett for the Intercontinental championship
Randy Orton to defeat Seth Rollins
(Pre-show) Damien Mizdow to defeat The Miz
(Pre-show) The Masters of the Universe to defeat The Ascension, the Usos and the Dusts Brothers for the tag team championships
(Pre-show) Sheamus to defeat Erick Rowan

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