In two weeks WWE will present the Royal Rumble, the event which traditionally sees the promotion start the work for WrestleMania, their biggest show of the year. Call it WrestleMania Season. Call it the Road to WrestleMania. Call it whatever else you like. It all means the same thing. It’s the time of year when WWE lays out its plans for all to see.
I thought it would be nice to do what I’ve done a couple of times before and describe what I’d do if I were booking WWE in the two months between the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania. As always I will approach this as if I were staying on after WrestleMania, meaning I will be doing things that you wouldn’t necessarily do unless you were setting something up for later in the year. I’ll also be ignoring the brand extension and assuming all wrestlers are free to appear on any show as and when needed. WWE does it so I will too.
If fantasy booking doesn’t interest you then it’s probably best to stop reading now, because that’s all this blog’s going to be. Embrace it or ignore it. Those are your choices.
I’ll start with the Royal Rumble. Right now WWE seems to be heading towards a fairly solid card so I’d stay on course with that and officially begin laying out my plans on January 29th. The Royal Rumble match is, obviously, going to be a part of the card, as is the already confirmed WWE championship match between defending champion CM Punk and my 2011 Wrestler of the Year Dolph Ziggler. It looks as though we’re going to see a triple threat match for the World Heavyweight championship between Mark Henry, Big Show and champion Daniel Bryan added to the show too. I don’t think that will be a great match but it will provide a nice finish to several months of storylines, so I’d officially announce that bout on this Friday’s edition of SmackDown.
My first and only original addition to the card would be a Divas’ championship match. I always think it’s a good idea to feature a Divas bout at the Royal Rumble. With the majority of the male roster involved in the Rumble bout the handful of singles matches that happen on the undercard generally receive more running time. That gives the Divas a chance to show what they can do in longer than two minutes, which is a rarity. It also prevents too many guys from having to wrestle twice in one evening.
Over the next two weeks I’d reintroduce the Beth Phoenix and Natalya versus AJ and Kaitlyn story. That had potential but seems to have been dropped over the last couple of months, partly because AJ has recently been used to establish Daniel Bryan as a heel. That’s wasting her ability. The match at the Rumble would be Kaitlyn challenging Beth for the Divas title with Natalya and AJ at ringside. Natalya would be booked to tussle with AJ as Phoenix struggles to overcome her opponent, with the champ just managing to get the clean victory. The idea is to establish that Phoenix wanted help but Natalya wasn’t there to give it when needed. There would be tension hinted at between the heels, but they would embrace before leaving together.
Yes. Trouble would be brewing in Camp Pin Up!
The ladies would be sandwiched between the two world champs (not like that). Daniel Bryan facing the two giants would open the show, with the World champ openly playing heel and Mark Henry playing a subtle tweener. Ideally I’d like ‘The World’s Strongest Man’ booed against Big Show and cheered against Bryan. I’d book Bryan to play a coward throughout the match before sneaking in at the end to score a pinfall on Mark Henry following a choke slam from Big Show. Something along those lines anyway. The important thing would be to keep the title where it is and wrap up the months long story, ready for all three to move onto something new.
Going on after the ladies would be the WWE title match between Dolph Ziggler and CM Punk, with John Laurinaitis as referee. I have a feeling that WWE are building towards some sort of match between Laurinaitis and Punk at Elimination Chamber but aping that approach doesn’t interest me at all. Therefore I’d have Laurinaitis remain largely impartial and competent throughout the course of the match, and I’d give them twenty minutes to put on as great a show as possible.
The finish would see Punk hitting a GTS on Ziggler and Laurinaitis feigning an injured elbow before he can count the three. Classic heel referee tactics! Punk would respond to this by hitting Laurinaitis with a GTS and then going through a second finishing sequence with a recovered Ziggler, only this time a replacement, unbiased, ref would be at ringside to count the three. Punk would retain, everything would be right with the world.
Punk would celebrate and head backstage, leaving Ziggler frustrated and annoyed in the ring. Vickie would console him and they would begin heading to the back as Justin Roberts steps into the ring to explain the rules of the Rumble bout. He would finish the customary diatribe by introducing the number on entrant into the match... at which point Ziggler’s music would hit.
Ziggler would be shown in the aisle, not having made it backstage, with officials explaining that he must return to the ring now if he wants to compete in the Rumble. ‘The Show Off’ would kick up a heelish fuss before heading back to the ring to kick off the Royal Rumble.
I’m not going to book the entire Rumble match from here but I’ll say what I’d like to accomplish. The idea behind putting Ziggler into the match at number one allows him to do something nobody else has done before: wrestle for a world title and then go into the Royal Rumble as the number one entrant. That would give him something to brag about and let him be seen as the rising star he is. By having him last a long time (which he will, we’ll get to that) Ziggler would have ample opportunity to shine, make a name for himself and begin compiling clips for those future highlight videos of his career.
Entrants two and three always strike me as fairly important decisions so I’ll say who they’d be too. Entering second would be Kofi Kingston. He always has great exchanges with Ziggler and they know each other well enough to be able to put together an electric two minute opening segment. Number three would be Justin Gabriel because he’s popular enough to get a decent response without being a big name talent that’s being introduced to proceedings too early.
Kane would enter at number eight and would eliminate everyone except Ziggler and Kingston very quickly. Ziggler would eliminate Kingston as Kane makes his final elimination, leaving ‘The Heel’ and ‘The Big Red Monster’ to have a staredown. Ziggler would beg off as Cody Rhodes (number nine) enters the match. I like Kane’s gimmick of lasting for long periods of time in the Royal Rumble and he’d be in there for as long as possible in my 2012 match.
Elsewhere in the match: Christian would return to action; Chris Jericho would enter at number twenty-one and milk audience at ringside and in the aisle until the final minutes of the match; Randy Orton would enter at number twenty-seven (a number that used to be pushed as lucky in Rumble matches) and target Wade Barrett before eliminating him; Brodus Clay would strut to the ring, quickly eliminate two guys, and then last at least ten minutes before being eliminated by a group effort; Dustin Runnels would enter as Goldust and would eliminate Cody Rhodes; Zack Ryder would be eliminated by Jack Swagger; and Kane and Cena would have a Clear Ring Staredown Moment™ which would lead to an exchange of punches culminating in Cena being eliminated and Kane doing his maniacal laugh.
The match would come down to a final four consisting of The Miz, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, and Dolph Ziggler. Orton would be double teamed by Ziggler and Miz while Jericho is forced into the ring by an army of referees, having loitered at ringside since his number came up. Orton would throw Dolph over the top and then drop to his knees to rest. ‘The Heel’ would “skin the cat”, only to be immediately clotheslined over and out by Chris Jericho, who would follow up by also eliminating the Miz.
Several minutes of action between ‘Y2J’ and ‘The Viper’ would follow, ideally with as much suspense and as many false finishes as possible. Ultimately the winner would be... Chris Jericho. The Rumble would go off the air with Jericho celebrating and milking the crowd, still not having said a word since his return on January 2nd.
During the three weeks between the Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber on February 19th RAW and SmackDown would be used to continue setting up larger storylines for WrestleMania. Naturally that would include preparing for Elimination Chamber too. Just as naturally the January 30th edition of RAW would be a busy one. I won’t go into the intricate details of every TV show or we’d be here for days, but the post-Rumble offering would be an important one, so I’ll flesh that out a little.
The show would begin with a confrontation between John Laurinaitis and CM Punk regarding the “physical abuse” the WWE champion inflicted on the Executive Vice President of Talent Relations the previous evening. The natural (heel) response would be for Laurinaitis to fine and or suspend Punk, and he would announce his intention to do just that. Before making it official he would be interrupted by World Heavyweight champion Daniel Bryan.
Bryan would mock Punk for not being able to defeat Ziggler cleanly and point out that he beat two monsters at the Royal Rumble. He would call into question Punk’s ‘Best in the World’ moniker and state that ‘The Voice of the Voiceless’ doesn’t deserve to call himself that. The two would trade barbs, with the goal being to plant the seeds of a champion versus champion match. The segment would not see any physical confrontation and would end with Laurinaitis stating that he won’t suspend Punk but that he will keep a close eye on him. I also like the idea of having Laurinaitis endorse Bryan by telling Punk he could improve himself by emulating the World Heavyweight champion.
Chris Jericho would be advertised for a “victory speech” on the show. Would he speak? Of course not. The non-speaking gimmick has a lot of potential in the hands of a guy like ‘Y2J’ and I don’t think he’ll speak in reality for a while yet. I would book him to go out, shout “I did it!” off-microphone and work the crowd. Eventually he would be interrupted by the Miz. ‘The Awesome One’ would state that Jericho cheated to win the Rumble. He didn’t play fair. He didn’t get into the ring when he should’ve done and so went in fresh against three guys who had been competing for far longer. Miz would claim that if it weren’t for Jericho he would be heading to WrestleMania XXVIII to reclaim his WWE championship.
Jericho wouldn’t verbally respond to any of this, which would lead to Miz getting in his face. Jericho would just smile and leave.
Cody Rhodes would confront his brother Dustin about his performance the previous evening. This would be another worked shoot situation based around the pair’s real life kinship. Cody would be desperate to try and get Dustin to agree to a match, but Dustin would decline. The segment, which would need to happen in the ring but also be kept relatively short, would end with Cody attacking Dustin and hitting him with Cross Rhodes.
Intercontinental champion Cody Rhodes is someone WWE ought to try to turn into a genuine star at this year's 'Mania.
A video would play announcing the Undertaker’s latest return for the Elimination Chamber. Yeah, I’d put that on pay-per-view, not free TV. I understand that it may help sell tickets and pay-per-view buys. WWE doesn’t seem to.
Kane and John Cena would have another confrontation. I’m not enjoying their feud myself but I understand WWE’s reasons for going through with it. Basically Cena needs someone to occupy him until The Rock returns to television in mid- to late-February and they want to tease a Cena heel turn. That won’t happen, but Cena’s legions of young fans won’t know that. Kane’s a good choice for the role. I’d have them confront one another again and then set up a street fight on the February 6th RAW to put the feud to bed. Cena would win that, naturally.
The main event would be a tag team match pitting Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler against Randy Orton and CM Punk. This match would need at least fifteen minutes because it should be tremendous. The heels would go over after Wade Barrett sneaks in and hits Orton with a Barrett Barrage, allowing Ziggler to get the win for his team. The Orton v Barrett feud would be addressed on TV between the Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber, with the two settling things in a cage match on SmackDown. That would put the dispute to rest in a satisfactory manner and allow both men to move on to other things.
Up until Elimination Chamber I’d want to continue preparing for the full Bryan v Punk feud. Both men would one-up each other in promos on RAW and SmackDown, with Bryan eventually challenging Punk to give Jericho his title shot at Elimination Chamber instead of waiting until ‘Mania. Punk would accept and Laurinaitis would officially make Punk v Jericho for the Chamber PPV. He would also state that as Punk isn’t in a Chamber match it would be unfair to make Bryan compete in one. Instead he’d make an Elimination Chamber bout featuring men from RAW and SmackDown with the winner receiving a World Heavyweight title match later on the pay-per-view.
That would give Elimination Chamber three big matches featuring big name talent. A light undercard would be necessary, but that’s not a bad thing as it gives each match on the show longer and gets some underutilised talent some time in the spotlight. I’d make a United States title match between Zack Ryder and Jack Swagger and a Divas tag match pitting Beth Phoenix and Natalya against AJ and Kaitlyn.
The US title match would be built easily enough in the standard WWE fashion. As for the tag bout I think the best approach would be to have Phoenix and Natalya face AJ and Kaitlyn in singles matches between the Rumble and EC, with Phoenix winning and Natalya losing. They could also lose a tag match or two to the likes of Alicia Fox and Tamina and the Bella twins. Nothing complex is needed: the plan would be to highlight that Natalya is the one getting pinned, not Beth Phoenix.
I would also continue highlighting Miz’s bitterness during this period, having him blame everyone else for his Rumble loss and generally complaining that he’s treated unfairly. He wouldn’t interrupt Jericho again, but he’d interrupt others. The idea of him barging in on a Bryan v Punk segment, perhaps on SmackDown, appeals, as it could set up a nice Punk v Miz match as a television main event.
I would also set up an EC match to advance the Cody Rhodes v Dustin Runnels storyline. Or he could wrestle as Goldust. I’d go with whichever ring name felt best at the time. A tag match pitting former tag team champions Goldust and Booker T against Cody Rhodes and Wade Barrett would be good. Having Barrett involved would allow another ‘Mania match to be prepared.
Elimination Chamber would open with that tag team match. The general story of the match would be that Barrett and Rhodes will go to any lengths to make names for themselves and earn a victory and that Booker and Goldust are near the end of their careers. Michael Cole would need to be briefed before this match (in fact he’d need to be briefed when I first took over about his entire approach to commentary) not to belittle the veteran babyfaces, because if he does that then all Barrett and Rhodes have done is beat a couple of jokes. That doesn’t make the rising stars look good and makes viewers feel foolish for having supported such losers. It’s not an intelligent approach for a commentator.
Booker and Goldust would win the match to get the show off to a positive start. It would also allow them a moment of glory before WrestleMania.
The second match of the night would be the Elimination Chamber match. It would be made very clear that the winner of the match would face Daniel Bryan for the World Heavyweight championship later on in the show. The competitors would be Dolph Ziggler, Mark Henry, The Miz, Christian, John Cena, and Randy Orton.
The obvious starting two are ‘Captain Charisma’ and ‘The Apex Predator’. They work so well with one another that it would be silly to have them in the same match and not highlight their chemistry. Ziggler and Miz would need to follow at entrants three and four so that Orton could work as the outnumbered babyface. That would continue until Super Cena entered and evened the odds. The faces could then get an elimination each to whittle the field down. I’d likely go with Cena pinning Christian and Orton pinning Miz. That would leave Ziggler, Orton and Cena in the Chamber as Mark Henry is unleashed from his cell.
I’d attempt to keep the booking of Mark Henry as strong as it has been over the past several months by allowing him to blast through all three men with clotheslines and power moves. After a minute or two of that, by which point ‘The World’s Strongest Man’ would almost certainly be completely knackered, I’d have Ziggler hit him with a Zig Zag, Orton nail him with an RKO and then Cena scoop him up for an AA. I’m not a fan of keeping Cena strong or a fan of Mark Henry in general but both decisions are best for business.
Cena would stand back up doing his best to look fatigued, at which point Ziggler would connect with another Zig Zag and eliminate him. That would leave just ‘The Show Off’ and ‘The Viper’ in the match. After a few minutes of what I expect would be solid action Ziggler would eat an RKO and Orton would be announced as the new number one contender. Given Ziggler’s history of working two matches on pay-per-views and my use of him at the Royal Rumble I think this could make for a pretty suspenseful final two: people would expect Orton to win but may be fooled into thinking ‘The Heel’ will win in order to work a second match.
Ziggler would attack Orton after the match, not only to keep him strong but also to make it clear that they’re feuding. Daniel Bryan’s music would hit as Ziggler exits and the champ would come out with a microphone. He would say that he’s so hyped to face Orton that he just can’t wait until later on the show and that John Laurinaitis has cleared the match to take place right now. It would be very clear that Daniel Bryan doesn’t play fair and is a coward who wants to hold onto his title at any cost. I think if given around twelve to fifteen minutes the two could tell the story well and provide fans with an enjoyable encounter.
Bryan would retain after cheating (I like the idea of him low blowing Orton and following up with a small package) and then cut a promo saying that the best man won before reminding fans that he is to be considered the ‘Best in the World’.
Jack Swagger challenging Zack Ryder for the United States championship would follow that. Five minutes or so is long enough to allow Swagger to put in a credible performance before losing, so that’s what they’d get.
The Divas tag match would be next. Team Pin Up Strong would lose and it would again be because of Natalya. This is where we’d get the first confrontation between the two heels. AJ and Kaitlyn would celebrate in the aisle and head to the back as Phoenix shouts at her partner in the ring. Natalya would apologise and Beth would storm out of the ring by herself, title in hand.
Beth Phoenix and Natalya: WrestleMania opponents if I have my way.
A tag team title match between Air Boom and the Usos would be a good choice of filler to take us through to the evening’s big return segment and main event. The champions would retain. Or maybe they wouldn’t. It doesn’t matter as I wouldn’t be concentrating on rebuilding the tag titles at this point. WrestleMania Season is not the time to do that.
The lights would go out in the arena, the creepy music would play and the Undertaker would make his first appearance on WWE programming since being carted out of the Georgia Dome at WrestleMania XXVII last year. Once in the ring (and I appreciate the entrance would eat up a lot of air time, it’s part of the character’s appeal) Triple H’s music would play and ‘The Game’ would come out. I would be deliberately emulating ‘The Dead Man’s’ 2011 return, before I’m accused of unoriginality.
Triple H would get into the ring and say everything you would expect. They took each other to the limit last year. They had not only the match of the night but the match of the year. Triple H came “this close” (he would hold up his thumb and finger with barely any light showing between them, they may even be touching) to ending the Streak and ‘The Phenom’s’ career. He would announce that he wants a rematch at this year’s ‘Mania and he won’t take no for an answer.
Undertaker would take a microphone but before he could speak a countdown would blare out over the speakers and Chris Jericho would make his way to the ring. Dressed to compete (only his second match since returning on January 2nd, the first being his victory in the Royal Rumble), Jericho would get into the ring, walk passed Triple H and stand right in front of the Undertaker, locking eyes with him. He’d point at himself, then ‘The Deadman’, and then say (not into a mic, but loud enough to be picked up as the rest of his jabbering has been) “WrestleMania.”
Triple H would get in between the two, pushing Jericho back and barking into his face that he will face the Undertaker at WrestleMania and he will end the Streak. Jericho won’t react as Undertaker attacks Triple H and the two veterans exchange punches. ‘Taker would get the better of the exchange and finish ‘The Game’ off with a Tombstone in the centre of the ring. He’d pick up a microphone and say one word while looking Jericho in the eye. “WrestleMania.”
The lights would go out for a few seconds, coming back on to reveal only Jericho and Triple H.
With Triple H helped to the back by medical staff we’d get the WWE championship match between Chris Jericho and CM Punk. There should be enough time for the two men to have a solid finute minute match. Ideally they’d get longer.
It would be a face versus face match with Punk getting the victory after a couple of GTSes. Jericho can’t go down to just one if he’s challenging the Streak. After the match the two would shake hands and WWE champion CM Punk could celebrate on a turnbuckle. At that point I would have Daniel Bryan’s music play and the World Heavyweight champion would saunter halfway to the ring to gloat with his gold belt. The show would go off the air with WWE’s two world champions talking trash and staring one another down.
From there it’s matter of connecting the dots between Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania XXVIII. Obviously CM Punk v Daniel Bryan is intended as a big part of my WrestleMania XXVIII card. I’d want to bill it as a title unification match and make as big a deal of it as possible. After Elimination Chamber the feud would escalate and become more physical, though the two would still very much be about proving who is ‘The Best’. Between EC and ‘Mania I’d have them facing the same opponents each week, one of them wrestling on RAW and the other on SmackDown. It wouldn’t matter who they worked against, the idea would be to have each of them pick up a victory to illustrate how evenly matched they are whilst also highlighting their different approaches to competition: Punk would be more sportsmanlike while Bryan would stall and take shortcuts.
The final week before WrestleMania (probably on RAW because that gets more viewers and so has more impact on pay-per-view buy rates) the two would finally brawl with one another and Punk would lay out his SmackDown counterpart with a Go To Sleep.
Jericho v Undertaker is another huge match, obviously. With Undertaker not a regular on television and Jericho not speaking it would be a tricky one to hype. I think I’d stick to Jericho’s weekly non-speaking appearances and leave it to the announce team to mention the WrestleMania match, highlighting the accolades and career highlights of both as well as the fact that they’ve never wrestled in a high profile environment before. I’d consider having Jericho speak on the final RAW before the event, simply stating that he intends to end the Streak and finish ‘The Dead Man’s’ career. I’d play that by ear though. I like the idea of having the match take place with the two not having cut any promos whatsoever.
Chris Jericho: the perfect choice to tackle 'The Streak'.
The February 20th RAW would be the time to start preparing Miz for WrestleMania too. He would come out to continue complaining about how he’s treated unfairly and should have been the one to challenge Daniel Bryan the previous evening, only to be interrupted by Mick Foley. ‘The Hardcore Legend’ would put Miz over as a great wrestler before telling him that the only thing holding him back is his own ego. Miz would go ballistic and smack Foley around ringside before finishing the beating with something suitably dramatic. Perhaps a con-chair-to. Perhaps a one way trip through the announce table. I don’t know. The detail of that isn’t important. What is important is that Miz be seen as a dominant character and the man who took out Foley.
After that Miz could spend his time boasting about how he took out the “indestructible” Mick Foley. Until Foley’s inevitable return, of course. The March 19th RAW would be a good time for that. Foley could return after a Miz victory and challenge ‘The Awesome One’ to a hardcore rules match on ‘The Grandest Stage of Them All’. The match can be agreed to with two weeks of promotion time left, and an episode of RAW to produce one final segment to build heat for the match.
The storyline between Natalya and Beth Phoenix would need to be well timed in order to work. I think I’d end up having the two finally come to blows, following weeks of teasing it, on the March 12th RAW. That would leave two weeks for them to have some wild pull-apart brawls and explain in promos why they dislike each other (Beth would feel like Natty’s dead wood, Natty would feel like she’s escaping a shadow). I think if this feud was treated seriously (which it would be, by me) it could hold the fans’ interest and make them care about the Divas’ division, its competitors and title.
Goldust versus Cody Rhodes and Booker T versus Wade Barrett would be two feuds that could run in tandem nicely, crossing over as and when needed. Goldust and Cody would eventually have a Championship versus Career stipulation added to it. That allows the match to mean a little more and adds heat to Cody. The fact that one man in each feud is a part-timer would also be useful as it would allow them to pick active guys to represent them in singles and tag bouts against the heels. It would be a nice way to have Goldust and Booker elevate guys.
In order to allow rest periods for the WrestleMania crowd I’d also put together a eight man tag match. It’s always best to break long shows up and it’s an approach WWE have been taking for years. The match could be set up with as little as a week to go before ‘Mania, but I’d probably aim for two weeks because I dislike such last minute additions. The match would see Sheamus, Zack Ryder, Brodus Clay and Santino face Heath Slater, Alberto Del Rio, Mark Henry and Christian.
The final match I’d add to the card would be Dolph Ziggler v Randy Orton. My treatment of Ziggler at the Rumble and EC was designed to make him look as strong as possible without putting a world title on him (because I wanted to book Bryan v Punk). Having him jump Orton after the Chamber match would be the spark for six weeks of feud between the two. I think they have good chemistry in the ring and their characters would work well in segments with one another. I think Ziggler’s progressed to the point where he could handle promos with ‘The Viper’ too.
I’ve made it this far without addressing the Cena v Rock match. It’s already been announced. It’s happening. How could I start fantasy booking WrestleMania and change or cancel that match? It doesn’t matter anyway, as I happen to think it’s a good move for WWE. It should earn them a stack of money and make WrestleMania XXXVIII memorable. As far as booking it goes: I imagine the reality is that Rock and Cena both have a lot of say in what is said and done in their segments with one another. I can’t, therefore, definitively state I’d do anything because it would be a group effort involving two people I don’t know. It’s also incredibly tough to book a feud with one of the participants being an active Hollywood star. I’ve no idea what episodes of RAW Rock will be appearing on.
Well, that’s a slight lie. I will be amazed if Rock doesn’t appear on the final RAW before WrestleMania. I can tell you that I would book that episode of RAW to end with both men in the ring to cut their final promos on one another before the big match. They’d get a minimum of twenty minutes and it would end with Cena AAing The Rock, in order to continue the tease of turning ‘The Champ’ heel. The final shots of the show would be Rock sitting up in the ring (probably selling his ribs, he loves doing that) with Cena looking back impassively from the top of the ramp.
As an act of formality I’ll go through my running order for WrestleMania XXVIII itself. I would open it Booker T picking up a win over Wade Barrett. Barrett wouldn’t be hurt by the loss as Booker can make guys look good even when beating them. It’s not the biggest match of the card or the former Nexus leader’s career either, so it’s better to give the audience something to cheer about.
I’d follow that up with the Career versus Title, Brother versus Brother match, Cody Rhodes defending his Intercontinental championship against Dustin ‘Goldust’ Runnels. ‘The Dashing One’ would get the victory and Goldust would get a few moments to say goodbye to the fans from the ring.
Match three would be the hardcore encounter between Foley and the Miz. ‘The Awesome One’ would pick up the win in that one because Foley loves putting guys over and it would be a nice bragging point for Miz. They’d also be instructed to take the match all over the building, as it’s the only gimmick match on the show. That would be followed by Ziggler pinning Randy Orton clean, preparing him as a big star for later on in the year.
That would be followed by Natalya defeating former friend Beth Phoenix for the Divas’ championship, which would in turn be followed by the Undertaker v Chris Jericho. I’d want to break up the night’s three biggest matches a little bit. Jericho would be booked strong against ‘The Dead Man’ and I’d want to try and recreate the success of Edge v Undertaker from WrestleMania 24. I wouldn’t end the Streak. I don’t think it should ever be broken, and if it does I think a heel John Cena is the man to do it.
The eight man filler match would come next and would feature a babyface win. Then it would be time for CM Punk v Daniel Bryan in a WWE champion v World Heavyweight champion title unification match. I’m an advocate of WWE having only one world championship and I think Punk and Bryan are the best two wrestlers in the company to pull off a unification angle. They’d produce a match worthy of the legacies of both titles and would address the importance of the situation on television in the correct way. I’d have Punk uniting the belts, heading into the late-spring and early-summer as the WWE heavyweight champion to work pay-per-view bouts against as wide a selection of talent as possible, instead of the same guys over and over again. Long term I’d likely switch the belt(s) back to Bryan later in the year.
The show would be topped off by Cena versus Rock. We all know it’s not going to be the best match ever but it is going to get some beautiful crowd reactions. I don’t know how WWE are going to book it but I’d have Cena go over and then be confronted by The Rock as he’s celebrating. The Rock would extend a hand and the two men would shake. I’d consider having Rock pull Cena in for a Rock Bottom but ultimately I don’t think I’d go through with it. It may create a nice moment but it would just underline how much more popular The Rock is than Cena, and after the post-WrestleMania RAW ‘The Great One’ will be off again. Cena needs to leave this match looking strong because he’s the guy that’s going to be wrestling on house shows in May, not The Rock.
And THAT is how I’d book WrestleMania XXVIII. I know I’ve not used guys like Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus, Zack Ryder, and Christian in prominent roles but there are only so many spots available and I went with a mixture of veterans that will sell the show and young guys that should be big stars by the end of this year. Will what I’ve written better what we end up actually seeing? We can only wait and see.