Friday 31 August 2012

No Longer a Lord

What happened to the push of Tensai?

The former A-Train returned to the promotion to much fan interest after several years away from WWE wrestling in Japan. During this time he improved as a worker and became a genuinely big star for Pro Wrestling NOAH.

His return was not only heralded by a series of vignettes but also a new character that was different to everything else on the roster. With his height and bulk, not to mention his improvement in the ring, the feeling was that Matt Bloom would receive a big push under the new guise of Lord Tensai. There were rumours he would be associated with then on-screen boss John Laurinaitis and feud with John Cena. It looked as though Bloom was going straight to the top.

Anyone who has been watching WWE programming over the last six months will know that this hasn’t happened.

Things started off well enough. Lord Tensai won his first few matches via squash and the commentary team went out of their way to put him over as an experienced competitor, mentioning his time in Japan and the fact that he had had a less than stellar run in WWE a decade before. This is rare behaviour for Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler. That they were putting Tensai over indicated that management had big plans for him.

It was only a few weeks after he’d returned to the promotion that Lord Tensai was permitted the ultimate honour: he defeated John Cena. He didn’t do it clean, David Otunga, John Laurinaitis and his personal manservant Sakamoto all involved themselves in the no disqualification bout and Tensai used the dreaded Green Mist finish, but it was still a promising sign. That he was booked to beat Cena, the company’s golden boy, in any fashion was big news.
Tensai has proven a textbook example of how to bury someone. Good work, John...
From there it all just… stopped. Tensai toppled Cena in a few more outings but it didn’t take ‘The CeNation Leader’ long to get his win back. There was no pay-per-view clash between the two and Tensai found himself without any actual storyline. He was simply hired muscle that happened to be doing a Japanese gimmick.

It wasn’t until July’s Money in the Bank, three months after he had returned to WWE, that Tensai wrestled on pay-per-view. He made up the numbers in the World Heavyweight championship MITB clash. By this point fans had accepted he wasn’t going to be used as a headliner: he had been booked to lose numerous times to wrestlers of varying status, from Cena to Tyson Kidd, and had numerous tweaks made to his character (such as the loss of his Lordship) that made him stand out less.

It’s a pity. Had WWE formulated a plan for using Tensai he could have been an interesting addition to the main event scene. His size allows him a surprising amount of versatility: he could be booked as a monster against the likes of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, muscle around giants like Kane and Big Show, or have an intense “slobberknocker” of a match with a guy like Sheamus.

Tensai is one of the few men on the roster who can get a bearable outing from John Cena. WWE can still book this match whenever they like but we’ve seen it several times over the last few months and it won’t feel particularly special anymore.

Had Tensai decisively beaten Cena at Over The Limit and No Way Out he could then have been used as a contender to World Heavyweight champion Sheamus at Money in the Bank. Had that happened then ‘The Celtic Warrior’s’ run with Alberto Del Rio wouldn’t have outstayed its welcome and there would have been a purpose to Tensai’s return to the company.

As things stand right now Tensai is lost in the mid-card and doesn’t look as though he’ll be doing anything meaningful any time soon. Another wasted chance by WWE’s creative team.

Thursday 30 August 2012

NXTweet 29.08.12

Seth Rollins is the new NXT champion! What a shock!

Well, no, not really. Rollins’ title victory was recorded on July 26th, meaning that the result was not a surprise when the tournament final aired. Knowing the outcome of the Mahal v Rollins clash did not detract from its quality though. The two men constructed an evenly paced main event with several tidy spots and enjoyable near falls.

It’s been common knowledge that Rollins is the NXT champ for over a month. What I’m interested in is how the writers will follow up on his victory. A good job was done of establishing the importance of the new strap by the commentary team and the wrestlers, but it can only become truly meaningful if Rollins is booked to defend it often and in exciting matches.

Next week’s show should give us a good indication of what’s in store for Rollins and the belt. I hope it’s positive.
Derrick Bateman doesn't look impressed
The title tournament may have been the focus of this week’s episode but it wasn’t all that happened. Big E Langston was given his second squash victory. It was decent enough for what it was.

A feud between the Usos and the Ascension was progressed when O’Brian and Cameron jumped Jimmy and Jey during their lights out entrance. A one-sided beating was topped off with Total Elimination to one of Rikishi’s boys. It was nothing ground-breaking but it didn’t need to be: it created a reason for the two teams to clash at some point in the future

Once again proved to be a well-rounded show. Now it has a figurehead in the form of Rollins I’ll be interested to see if the format changes. I hope it doesn’t. It’s great as it is.


Tweet 1: NXTweet.
Tweet 2: Tyson Kidd is on the opening of the show. Doesn't bode well for his career...

Hunico and Camacho v Jason Jordan and Mike Dalton

Tweet 3: Jason Jordan and Mike Dalton are going to wrestle since the first time since that upset they got a few weeks ago.
Tweet 4: I expect they'll get another win.
Tweet 5: Hunico... No bike in sight. Poor.
Tweet 6: Right then... who's Dalton and who's Jordan?
Tweet 7: You know what Hunico likes to do? Hunico likes to party.
Tweet 8: Hunico, a cruiserweight, just performed a one arm powerbomb. Ridiculous, you say?
Tweet 9: Few things in wrestling irk me more than people being booked as though they're in a different weight class.
Tweet 10: Big Show will perform a Swanton on RAW.
Tweet 11: The heels won by cheating. Presumably there will be a deciding third match soon. I expect the faces will win that.

The Usos call out The Ascension

Tweet 12: The Usos need new ring gear.
Tweet 13: The Ascension: NXT's most confusing gimmick.
Tweet 14: Kronus never needed the ropes for Total Elimination. #justsaying
Tweet 15: Who will leave the NXT Arena as champion, Byron? Seth Rollins. #tapedelay

Big E Langston v Chase Donovan

Tweet 16: He's a big fella... #BigELangston
Tweet 17: Chalking up his hands. That's to show the power gimmick you know?
Tweet 18: Langston seems stiff...
Tweet 19: He has a weird finisher. It's like a cutter but to the torso rather than the neck.
Tweet 20: He should use the Dominator as a finisher. It should be named the Big E Bomb.
Tweet 21: The roster is on the stage. Apparently they want a look at the belt. Why?! It's so ugly!

Briley Pierce interviews Big E Langston

Tweet 22: Briley Pierce looks familiar... #Dolphsbrother
Tweet 23: No words from Langston. Just grunting and heavy breathing. #doeshistalkinginthering

NXT Championship – Seth Rollins v Jinder Mahal

Tweet 24: I can't see the ring announcer... Is it Fink? It sounded like The Fink!
Tweet 25: Here's Dusty. I hope he cuts a scathing promo about how it's the ugliest belt he's ever seen.
Tweet 26: It was Finkel!
Tweet 27: "I truly believe he's going to win tonight" - William Regal on Jinder Mahal
Tweet 28: "The flagbearer of individualism!" - Byron Saxton, sounding a little too much like Matt Striker
Tweet 29: I just caught a glimpse of JINDER MAHAL'S PERSPEX BOX!!
Tweet 30: Anyone else remember Finkel's comedy heel turn on Trish Stratus and Lilian Garcia?
Tweet 31: It happened at SummerSlam. I don't remember which one. I'd say at the very latest it was 2003.
Tweet 32: Mahal does not adhere to the code of honor. #heel
Tweet 33: Rollins took a big bump from the apron onto the ramp. His willingness to do that is one of the reasons he should be on the main roster.
Tweet 34: Why isn't Dusty on commentary?
Tweet 35: He's not on commentary but 'The Dream' is at ringside. He should've been billed as the ringside enforcer.
Tweet 36: "His spine is severely damaged" - William Regal
Tweet 37: Someone needs to tell JR that Rhodes is a GM, not a commissioner.
Tweet 38: How is someone jumping off a turnbuckle to the floor "defyign gravity"? Surely to defy gravity they'd have to float into the air.
Tweet 39: I love the fact that Rollins is so over as a face. It's so rare to get such a positive regular audience in wrestling.
Tweet 40: I've watched ROH's show for the last few weeks and I think the fans at Full Sail are better than those in the Du Burns Arena.
Tweet 41: That's not a reflection on the ROH product, I just think NXT has a louder, more appreciative crowd.
Tweet 42: I want a buckle bomb and I want a buckle bomb NOW.
Tweet 43: Full Nelson slam. Poor attempt at a believable near fall.
Tweet 44: Buckle bomb followed by a Black Out for thw win. Lovely stuff.
Tweet 45: Dusty gives Rollins a hug and a pat on the backside. Erm...
Tweet 46: “Rollins captures the biggest honour of his young career" - Byron Saxton, who clearly isn't a fan of Ring of Honor

Wednesday 29 August 2012

The Man Called Kane

If you missed Monday’s RAW then you missed one of the funniest segments of WWE television in years. Daniel Bryan was shown attending an anger management class (“filmed earlier in the day”) across three videos, the third of which prominently featured Kane.

‘The Big Red Machine’ recapped his life story, covering the character’s most absurd and humorous moments since first appearing on WWF television on October 5th 1997. Being brought up in a basement, burning his parents alive, abducting various people, locking Paul Bearer in a freezer, the bizarre rivalry with Pete Rose, and (of course) Katie Vick: all the memorable aspects of the gimmick were mentioned.

It was an amusing use of a character with a varied history within the company.

It does beg the question of where Kane can go from here though. ‘The Devil’s Favourite Demon’ is the most established guy on the roster. Glenn Jacobs, the man who wears the mask, has achieved everything he is ever going to in the company. He’s wrestled practically every major name that has passed through the promotion in the last decade and a half and every member of the current roster worth mentioning. This includes multiple feuds with the Undertaker and outings against him at WrestleMania.
If you're like me you'll be wondering why that clothing rail is doing in the background
He’s held every active championship except the US belt (and who wants to hold that anyway?). He’s headlined pay-per-views. He’s played a good guy, a bad guy, a comedy figure, and a monster. The only things he hasn’t done are win the Royal Rumble and main event WrestleMania. At 45 years old and with WWE now relying on outside performers for key spots at ‘Mania it’s not likely he’ll be in the final match of ‘Mania XXIX.

It’s time for Kane to go part time.

With nothing new left for him to accomplish all Kane is doing is holding an upper mid-card spot that somebody else on the roster could have. Having wrestled for twenty years and accomplished everything mentioned above Jacobs would make a fine addition to the ranks of trainers and agents WWE employs.

This situation would be ideal as it would allow others to benefit from Jacobs’ knowledge and experience and ensure that he’s always on hand for a cameo or surprise squash match.

I’d like to see him booked in a role similar to 911 in ECW. For those unaware 911 was used as a way of writing failed gimmicks off of television. If a performer hadn’t gotten over then 911 would head to the ring and give them a choke slam, which was sold as a devastating move by having the recipient helped to the locker room, often on a stretcher.

The wrestler would often return a few months later but in a new role with a new gimmick. A choke slam from 911 was a gimmick killer.

Using Kane in this fashion would not only provide a way to writing failed characters off TV, he could be used to write bigger stars out of storylines if they’re injured or heading off to star in a tedious WWE Studios production. We wouldn’t see any more full length Kane matches, there’d be more time to promote young stars, nobody would get sacked and fans of the character would still get to see him once every month or two.

Monday 27 August 2012

The Heel Turn That Wasn't

RAW 1000 ended with CM Punk giving The Rock a GTS. It was viewed as the WWE champion turning heel. It’s true that Punk’s demeanour and promos have been decidedly more villainous since he attacked ‘The Great One’ on July 23rd but does that make him a heel?

No. Not yet at least.

The GTS to The Rock was designed as a starting point, not a definitive signal that Punk is now a completely different character who must be booed by fans. Getting to that point will take time. The man has been pushed as the promotion’s number two babyface for over a year. Fans will not just turn on him for that one act.

Some people will support ‘The Straight Edge Superstar’ more because of his assault on ‘The People’s Champion’. The sentiment behind the assault doesn’t contradict Punk’s character. Nor does it contradict the fact that he speaks his mind, which is what helped him gain support in the first place. What will encourage the majority of fans to jeer instead of cheer is his new habit of demanding respect and using shady tactics in his matches.

It’s impossible to say when Punk’s turn will be finalised and he will be considered a bad guy. Whenever it occurs he will undoubtedly be the new lead heel. There’s not really much competition for that spot anyway (Brock Lesnar’s part time, Daniel Bryan hears as many cheers as boos, and everyone else is either a mid-carder or a glorified mid-carder) but Punk’s push, status and lengthy title reign would help him to supplant even the most dominant of heels.
This man is on a collision course with The Rock
I expect the champion’s clash with John Cena at Night of Champions will see him go farther down the path to the dark side. Cheating to beat the hometown hero would get a lot of heat and portray Punk as a poor sport, especially if the announce team were bright enough to remind us that Cena played fair in Punk’s hometown at Money in the Bank 2011.

If I had to guess I would say that Punk will be a full on heel champion by the time of Survivor Series. By that point he will be two months away from a clash with The Rock and will need to start being built up as an unstoppable villain in order to convince people that he can beat ‘The Great One’ at the Royal Rumble.

It’s an interesting character development and one that benefits the Chicago native. It allows him to stay fresh and relevant and opens him up to new feuds and situations. It’s also something new for the wrestling business and its fans. We’re used to things taking place in a very short period of time. It’s nice to see a turn booked with some clear forethought applied to it.

RAW 1000 was a signal. Get ready for the heel turn. It’s coming.

Sunday 26 August 2012

Preparing a Heel

Judging by what happened at the conclusion of Friday’s SmackDown it would appear that a Ziggler versus Orton feud is in the works. This is just about the best thing that could happen to ‘The Show Off’. 

Orton is one of the best in WWE at helping others advance. He seems happy to lose cleanly to anybody, no matter their place in the company pecking order, and knows how to beat people without making them look inferior to him. This is the sort of opponent Ziggler needs if he is to establish himself as WWE’s newest headline star.

Orton’s programme with Wade Barrett earlier in the year helped the Mancunian get that little bit closer to the top, and his feud with Cody Rhodes last autumn made it seem as though the former ‘Dashing One’ was going somewhere too. Meanwhile Friday’s SmackDown saw him lose clean via submission to Alberto Del Rio and he famously lost the World Heavyweight championship clean to Mark Henry (yes, that Mark Henry) last October. ‘The Viper’ isn’t afraid of going under.

Dolph Ziggler has just finished a very short programme with Chris Jericho. While he was booked to lose at SummerSlam he did manage to pick up a win over ‘Y2J’ on RAW that has seen the rock star “fired” (in reality he’s on tour with Fozzy). Moving straight into a rivalry with another established star will help to lend credibility to ‘The Heel’ and keep him firmly at the top of the card.

That’s a good move. Instead of simply putting the belt onto him and expecting him to be accepted as a new main eventer Ziggler is being promoted as a main eventer before winning the gold.  Fans will view Ziggler as a headliner by the time he becomes champion, not a glorified mid-carder who got lucky with a briefcase. Very few people are elevated in this fashion by WWE these days. It should be done more often.

Of course it doesn’t hurt that Ziggler has developed an on-and-off rivalry with World Heavyweight champion Sheamus over the last several months. Challenging ‘Great White’ for the gold at No Way Out and on SmackDown has helped to present Ziggler as a headline star.
Dolph should really take better care of that briefcase
Working with Orton doesn’t just provide Ziggler with the opportunity to pick up wins, it helps him to appear as a top guy. Only established names or people WWE want to become established names get to work with Orton on pay-per-view. This feud will keep Ziggler around the top of the card and further advance his burgeoning headline career.

A match between the two at Night of Champions is a possibility. ‘The Apex Predator’ is set to leave WWE television after that show to film a movie for WWE Studios. ‘The Heel’ could be used as a way of writing Orton off of TV as he was with ‘Y2J’.

If Ziggler were to lose to Orton and then become World Heavyweight champion during his absence then the two would have a reason to be rematched against one another. This is already the case for Chris Jericho. Giving Ziggler feuds with big names like those at the start of his title reign would give him a good chance of having a memorable run.

That said a match between Ziggler and Orton at Night of Champions is by no means definite. Recent booking of the former Evolution member could indicate that he will be added to the Sheamus v Del Rio match on the show. Ziggler would then be left to cash-in, or at least tease a cash-in. Either scenario would work: ‘The Show Off’ could be used to get rid of Orton at the show whether he wrestles him or not and they could continue their feud upon Orton’s return.

In an ideal world I’d like to see him wait until December or early next year to cash in the briefcase but the fact that he’s tried using it several times in the last month makes me think WWE are keen to get the belt onto Ziggler sooner than that. He seems the likeliest candidate to take the belt from Sheamus. If someone else happens to beat ‘The Celtic Warrior’ then their immediate loss to Ziggler seems a safe bet (and that would give Ziggler yet another person to clash with).

It’s encouraging that WWE seem to be taking a longer approach than usual with promoting Dolph Ziggler. There’s less immediate gratification but a greater chance that ‘The Show Off’ will stick at the top when he finally wins a world title.

Saturday 25 August 2012

SmackTalk 24.08.12

On Thursday night I dreamt about Booker T.

I went to his house and had a conversation with him while sitting on his staircase. He had a cream coloured carpet. I told him that I missed him calling SmackDown. As I was leaving a graphic appeared in the lower right corner of my vision advertising a Kane v Booker T match. The words “Up Next” were displayed.

I then heard Michael Cole’s voice. It was not necessarily in my head, it was as though what I’d just lived through were now a backstage vignette. He described Kane as a “dangerous new threat” to Booker T. Then I woke up.

None of this has anything to do with SmackDown. I thought it would make a nice addition to the recap.

This week saw the boring feud between Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio rumble on. I had hoped SummerSlam would mark the end of it but it appears it will continue for at least another month. I’ve written several times that both men would benefit from fresh opponents. I still think it.

Del Rio versus a tweener Daniel Bryan could be fun and should provide some excellent matches, while ‘The Celtic Warrior’ would be the ideal opponent for the soon-to-return Wade Barrett. This rivalry has been going for close to half a year and they rarely produce anything other than a satisfactory bout.

While Night of Champions is currently set to see a singles match between ‘The Great White’ and ADR the booking of this week’s SmackDown makes me think ‘The Viper’ will be added to make the match a triple threat. The addition of Randy Orton to proceedings could freshen things up but it won’t take away from the fact that we’ve seen Del Rio and Sheamus clash many times before.

It’s looking as though Orton will be clashing with Dolph Ziggler at some point in the not too distant future but I don’t think it will be at NOC. I think the triple threat idea I more likely. A scenario that sees ‘The Show Off’ cost Orton the match would create a reason for the two to face off at Hell in a Cell in October.

SmackDown boasted some pretty good undercard segments.

Ryback trounced Jinder Mahal. Hopefully that match will mark the end of their dispute. As a short rivalry to give Ryback something to do and bring out a little more of his personality it worked well. He sold a little too much for my liking but working against an unlikeable fella like Mahal has helped him to get over. His various catchphrases are working well for him.

While I didn’t really acknowledge it when tweeting I thought the tag match pitting Epico and Primo against Kofi Kingston and R-Truth was very enjoyable. I hope the rumoured multi-team match at Night of Champions includes both units alongside Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd. The Prime Time Players would likely get the final spot but I think it would be better given to the Usos. The PTPs would benefit from having a pay-per-view off and doing a run-in after the match instead.

Santino’s “comedy” promo was given far too much time but the appearance of Antonio Cesaro rescued things. As much as I find Santino irritating I think he’s a great opponent for ‘The Swiss Superman’: because he’s so over audiences sympathise with him, which means they react more to Cesaro’s heelish antics.

As decent as this week’s SmackDown was, it couldn’t compare to a dream about Booker T. Things don’t get much better than that.

Video recapping the events of the Alberto Del Rio v Sheamus feud

Tweet 1: Ooooh... tense stuff at the start. Serious announcer guy recapping the whacky finish to the SummerSlam World title match.
Tweet 2: Del Rio wants answers. Sadly all Booker T has are questions.

Randy Orton promo, featuring Sheamus, Booker T and Alberto Del Rio

Tweet 3: Orton promo. This looks bad. It will sound bad too...
Tweet 4: "My name is Randy Orton." He should have followed that with "But you already know that!"
Tweet 5: Orton is talking about the internet. I think the world may explode.
Tweet 7: Here's Booker. Get ready for some LOLage.
Tweet 8: ADR says the ref robbed him. At this point I'd happily watch a Del Rio v Chioda feud over more of his matches with Sheamus.
Tweet 9: I think Del Rio just said Hooker T.
Tweet 10: The good thing about Booker being GM is that we get to hear his entrance music every week.
Tweet 11: Jazz Mathews.

Ryback v Jinder Mahal

Tweet 12: Ryback, wearing a fresh singlet and entering to new music. Believe it or not he's singing on this track.
Tweet 13: As far as promos go Ryback is a modern day Ultimate Warrior.
Tweet 14: The "Feed me more!" catchphrase is over. The fans love them some Ryback.
Tweet 15: Ryback doesn't march around the ring before hitting his finisher. He wades.

Alicia Fox v Layla

Tweet 16: Alicia Fox gyrating like a stripper in the ring. She's a great role model.
Tweet 17: I like Kaitlyn but she may not have been the best choice of guest commentator for this match.
Tweet 18: "... she deserved to eliminate herself like she did last night in the battle royal" - Kaitlyn, inadvertently admitting SmackDown is taped
Tweet 19: Random Eve appearance. Why not? If they change their minds about the direction of the feud they can forget it happened. Not like this is RAW.

Where are they going with this?

Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero gloat backstage

Tweet 20: Ziggler's backstage at SmackDown. #goodtimes #ShowOff #heelsdoitbetter
Tweet 21: Teddy Long appears. Is he going to make a tag match?
Tweet 22: No, he’s not. He made a non-title Ziggler v Sheamus match for tonight's show. Prediction: Ziggler will lose. There will be no cash-in.
Tweet 23: There will be a fake attempt though.

Sin Cara v Heath Slater

Tweet 24: Cody Rhodes is about to commentate a Sin Cara match. That will be the highlight. Cara is a terrible little botch machine of a wrestler.
Tweet 25: Heath Slater's not much better but at least he's funny.
Tweet 27: "Sin Cara excites the WWE Universe" - Michael Cole, lying
Tweet 28: I hate Sin Cara's 80s style mannerisms.
Tweet 29: Rhodes twists Cara's mask around, blocking his vision and allowing Slater to win.
Tweet 30: Even when the mask is on right Cara's eyes are covered. How does he see? Maybe he's blind and wrestles using sonar. Like a bat.

Dolph Ziggler v Sheamus

Tweet 31: Arrive. Ask "How damn good am I?" Leave.
Tweet 32: Why is Vickie Guerrero on commentary? Why isn't Christian just calling the entire show? Why am I listening to Michael Cole?
Tweet 33: They're not calling the action. Cole is just prattling away about Booker T being GM.
Tweet 34: "Tell us about the public celebration you and Dolph had once Chris Jericho was banished from WWE" - Michael Cole, refusing to call a match
Tweet 36: Here's the teased cash-in I called earlier. This will be a regular feature of WWE television for a while yet.

Dolph Ziggler gives us the first fake cash-in of the night

Santino promo, featuring Antonio Cesaro

Tweet 37: What does it say for SummerSlam that one of its best matches was broadcast on YouTube?
Tweet 38: Santino promos bore me. I want Cesaro to come out and uppercut him.
Tweet 39: Is this the beginning of a Santino v Cobra feud? If it's not it should be.
Tweet 40: I love Cesaro's walk. It's as though he's too burdened with muscles to be able to move properly.
Tweet 41: Yes, it's Antonio Cesaro. Heeey!! #veryEuropean
Tweet 42: Interesting that Santino's right hand is obsessed with Aksana. Says a lot about his love life. #PGera

Kofi Kingston and R-Truth v Epico and Primo

Tweet 43: Darren Young and Titus O'Neil are on commentary. This won't go well...
Tweet 44: At least AW's not around. If he hadn't been fired before he certainly would be after a stint alongside Cole...

This is what people watch SmackDown for

Tweet 45: Titus sounds like he has a mouthful of gravel, treacle and wasps. Who decided to give him a microphone?
Tweet 46: Titus is now doing impressions of Booker T. I didn’t think things could get worse. I was wrong.
Tweet 47: Name of R-Truth's finisher this week: Jimmy Time.

Matt Striker interviews Kingston and Truth backstage before several other teams show up to ruck

Tweet 48: Four teams have shown up backstage to claim a shot at Kingston and Truth. All it did was emphasise how few duos there actually are in WWE.
Tweet 49: Of the teams that were present I'd like to see Gabriel and Kidd face Kingston and Truth at Night of Champions.

Booker T, Eve and Teddy long discuss the tag team division

Tweet 50: Eve has compiled win-loss records for all of those teams. #nerd
Tweet 51: We didn't learn which team has had the most wins. That's because someone in WWE would have actually had to work it out.

Alberto Del Rio v Randy Orton

Tweet 52: The commentator for the main event? Sheamus. WWE seem to have gone out of their way to pick the worst possible people to work with Cole.
Tweet 53: Albertoooooooooo Delllllllllll Riiiiiiiooooooooooo!!
Tweet 54: I wonder how much ADR pays to have those license plates with his logo on them.
Tweet 55: Nothing gets heat from a crowd like slapping your own chest and grimacing.
Tweet 56: I'd love it if Sheamus turned to Cole and said "What makes Del Rio such a tough opponent is that he works stiff."
Tweet 57: Reference to the car hood attack from Cole there. Sheamus didn't acknowledge it, just like he didn't sell the incident when it happened.
Tweet 58: ADR is working the left arm. For some reason this has reminded me Jarrett used to do that in '99. He'd then use a Figure Four as a finish.
Tweet 59: I think that's part of the reason I dislike Jeff Jarrett. Poor psychology.
Tweet 60: Orton tapped to the cross armbreaker? I didn't see THAT coming. How often does 'The Viper' lose clean?
Tweet 61: Hilariously Ricardo is now handing ADR his shoes to be lobbed at Sheamus.
Tweet 62: Sheamus won't sell a car bonnet be closed on his skull but he will sell a shoe to the chest.
Tweet 63: Another fake cash-in? This is getting out of hand. #lazybooking
Tweet 64: RKO to Ziggler. Guess that'll set up a Sheamus and Orton versus Del Rio and Ziggler match for next week.
Tweet 65: If that leads to a Ziggler v Orton singles feud I'll be happy.

Friday 24 August 2012

NXTweet 22.08.12

This week’s NXT differed from the norm in several ways. Firstly there were features on what’s been happening on the main roster, specifically all the fun and frolics that were had at SummerSlam Axxess. Videos were also aired to promote the importance of becoming the first NXT champion. Featuring the likes of Daniel Bryan, Santino, Ted Dibiase and John Cena, it was as though the people who’d put it together had gone out of their way to find as disparate bunch of stars as possible.

The show was also notable for two post-match run-ins. The first occurred after Tamina Snuka had beaten Sofia Cortez. The second was Richie Steamboat saving Vader junior from a beating at the hands of Kassius Ohno. Both were done to set up feuds, and there’s nothing wrong with a simple run-in.

The trouble was that they were booked to happen one after another. NXT is usually so tightly booked that the repetition was far more noticeable than it would have been on a more haphazard, anarchic show like RAW.

The final segment of the show was given over to an in-ring interview of the two Gold Rush tournament finalists. Hosted by NXT commentator Byron Saxton is was a predictable affair. Rollins spoke about how he’s always wanted to hold a WWE championship and guaranteed that he’ll accomplish his boyhood dream on next week’s show. He had presumably been watching some Shawn Michaels tapes form 1996.

Jinder Mahal sought and received some cheap heat by comparing Rollins to the underachieving fans. There was nothing fancy about this approach, but there didn’t need to be. It’s a simple feud for a simple show. That’s not intended to sound disparaging. NXT’s appeal lies in its basic approach to presenting wrestling.

The interview naturally descended into chaos, Jinder striking Rollins first so that the babyface could retaliate without looking unsportsmanlike. The two shouted and postured their way off the air. As an segment designed to heighten interest in the tournament finals it was very good. Yet another example of why sometimes a simple approach is the best.

Derrick Bateman v Antonio Cesaro

Tweet 1: NXTweet
Tweet 2: Did Regal just call Derrick Bateman "Dave" Bateman?
Tweet 3: Antonio Cesaro. Heeeey!! #veryEuropean
Tweet 4: They didn't acknowledge Cesaro's US title win at SummerSlam. He's not even wearing the belt. #tapedelay
Tweet 5: If you glance at Aksana and then look away quickly enough she kind of looks like Ricardo Rodriguez.
Tweet 6: I think William Regal is the only one who calls it the Gotch Style Neutralizer. Everyone else calls it a Neutralizer. Regal's great.
Tweet 7: A fan in the front row went NUTS for Cesaro's win. Probably an ROH fan...

Is that Aksana or Ricardo Rodriguez?

NXT championship video

Tweet 8: And now for a video hyping the NXT championship.
Tweet 9: Daniel Bryan, in full on face mode, believes that there are thousands of people who would like to be NXT champ.
Tweet 10: There's the obligatory Cena appearance. He doesn't even know what NXT is.
Tweet 11: It doesn't matter how much they talk up the championship, it's still a fugly belt.

Sofia Cortez v Tamina Snuka

Tweet 12: Anyway, it's time for a Divas match. The inexplicably over Sofia Cortez versus Tamina Snuka.
Tweet 13: Tamina looks like her dad. That's not a good thing.
Tweet 14: "The Samoans just love the physicality, they love to fight. They're a race of superpeople" - William Regal on Samoans
Tweet 15: "Was that not impressive or what?" - Byron Saxton with an attack on grammar
Tweet 16: Raquel Diaz looks like a cross between Beyonce, Lady Gaga and someone I can't quite put my finger on... #Eddiesdaughter
Tweet 17: That was a decent match. The prospect of a Diaz v Snuka match is less than appealing though.

How do you get heat in 2012? Use lipstick to draw an L on the head of a tepidly popular babyface
Jake Carter v Kassius Ohno

Tweet 18: It’s Kassius… OHNO!
Tweet 19: Jake Carter is Vader's son and still gets the "already in the ring" intro.
Tweet 20: I've assumed incorrectly regarding that intro on NXT before. I won't bet against Ohno though. He'll win. Hopefully via KO.
Tweet 21: Ohno matches always make me think of the ROH on HDNet show. Nobody agrees that this show feels the same. They're wrong. All of 'em...
Tweet 22: Ohno has borrowed Daniel Bryan's beard for the evening.
Tweet 23: Ohno won via the rolling elbow. Regal referred to it as the Dreamkiller. That's not a bad finisher name.
Tweet 24: A second post-match run-in? That's two matches in a row. Who's booking this?!

SummerSlam Axxess video

Tweet 25: Another hype video. This one for SummerSlam Axxess.
Tweet 26: Sheamus looks like like he's hiding something with that hat.
Tweet 27: Piers Morgan says he's a Lesnar fan. He's just sayign that to be cool.
Tweet 28: More from Be A Star. Naturally David Otunga is present.

Another NXT championship video

Tweet 29: More wrestlers talking about the NXT title. Cena says they need to rise to the occasion.
Tweet 30: And there's a random appearance by Ted Dibiase Jr.
Tweet 31: It's obvious from Cena's generic comments that he is unfamiliar with NXT.

Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel v Michael McGillicutty and Johnny Curtis

Tweet 32: Kidd and Gabriel were being presented as a regular team months ago but they're still getting separate ring entrances.
Tweet 33: Jim Ross calling this match is A Good Thing™.
Tweet 34: Breaking news (on a taped show): Steamboat challenges Ohno to a match! It's all kicking off!
Tweet 35: Curtis is very good. He should be on the main roster. Perhaps he could become the new tag partner of Curt Hawkins.
Tweet 36: Referee sliding along the mat like a shark there.
Tweet 37: Kidd well and truly messed that springboard up. I'm surprised the fans didn't get on him for it.
Tweet 38: Double team Blockbuster FTW! No mention of Buff Bagwell, sadly.

Briley Pierce interviews Kassius Ohno

Tweet 39: Briley Pierce looks familiar… #Dolphsbrother
Tweet 40: Kassius Ohno, throwing some elbows after his match. Fine, no... that's fine.
Tweet 41: Kassius accepts. He WILL face Richie Steamboat. I expected nothing else.

Interview segment with Jinder Mahal and Seth Rollins, hosted by Byron Saxton

Tweet 42: Byron Saxton is hosting an interview segment with Seth Rollins and Jinder Mahal about the NXT belt.
Tweet 43: I'd like JR doing it but it's nice to give someone else a chance. Byron needs to be groomed for a main roster commentary spot.
Tweet 44: Jinder Mahal is 'The Punjabi Nightmare'? I thought that was Khali.
Tweet 46: Just a warning: promos aren't Rollins' strong point.
Tweet 47: Will he put over the ROH title? Doubtful.
Tweet 48: Rollins has wanted a WWE belt since being a kid. #childhooddream
Tweet 49: Jinder is going for the traditional heel promo, insulting the audience and saying he deserves the belt because he’s better.
Tweet 50: Very camp body language followed by a punch to the face. Mahal can do it ALL.
Tweet 51: Show finishes with the two opponents shouting at one another, kept apart by referees. Decent build I think.

Thursday 23 August 2012

Tuft Luck

Yesterday WWE announced the release of Superstar Tyler Reks. Real name Gabriel Tuft, Reks had requested his release from the organisation on Monday 20th August in order to spend more time at home with his girlfriend and young daughter. He had made his wrestling debut in February 2007 and had been under contract to WWE since January 2008. In June 2009 he made his WWE television debut on the floundering WWECW.

On paper it’s an impressively quick career. Reks went from starting out as a wrestler to appearing for the biggest company in the world in a year and a half. Unfortunately for him he wasn’t selected for a prime spot on the roster and so didn’t receive a memorable introductory push. He was lumbered with a bland babyface surfer gimmick, limiting his opportunities for advancement.

ECW’s closure led to Reks being relocated to SmackDown. There he became a heel and had a wholly unimpressive run, the most notable moment being his appearance for Team SmackDown in a clash with Team RAW at Bragging Rights 2010. Even the most avid fan would be hard pushed to remember that tedious match and pay-per-view in any great detail. That it was the highlight of Reks’ SmackDown tenure tells you all you need to know about what he achieved on the show.

Reks found himself making regular appearance on weekend show Superstars soon after Bragging Rights. He had become one of the many wrestlers on the roster that creative weren’t interested in using in any meaningful way. When NXT was quietly reformatted into a middle-ground between developmental and the main roster last year Reks found himself moved there to form a team with Curt Hawkins.

It was this unit, dubbed the MidCard Mafia, which granted Reks his most successful run in the promotion. Using their lack of exposure on RAW and SmackDown as a storyline Reks and Hawkins became the show’s comedic heels and foils to matchmaker extraordinaire Matt Striker.

The two took the opportunity being placed into a team presented them with. They got matching outfits, worked on some double team moves, and tried their best to make themselves into an act the writing team would want to promote to the main roster.

Things didn’t happen quickly (they rarely do in WWE) but the duo’s patience paid off when they were rewarded with screen time on RAW, SmackDown and pay-per-view alongside on-screen boss John Laurinaitis. They weren’t off of NXT, but they were making appearances on more respected shows. It was a step in the right direction.
Say goodbye to these two as an act
The most recent change of direction for NXT led to the two being moved back to the main roster. All signs indicated that the two were to be rewarded with a minor push on SmackDown based around Booker T wanting them to up their game. Reks and Hawkins had pestered the GM for a chance to wrestle on a more regular basis, which had prompted Booker to tell them to “make an impact.”

That impact came in the form of a striptease on the August 17th episode of the show.

It was a promising sign for the tag team but Reks’ departure from the group means it will progress no further. As the act drew a decent amount of heat I believe WWE would have continued with it for a while. If the gimmick had become a regular part of the blue brand I think it could have been a hit, a strong heel act that would have gradually gained a following. We’ll never know now though.

Where does this leave Curt Hawkins? Unfortunately it may mean another drop into obscurity for the former Major Brother. It’s probable he’ll crop up on NXT and Superstars but there’s a small possibility that he’ll be awarded a low key singles push on SmackDown, perhaps keeping the stripper gimmick as a solo act. The good news for him and his fans is that he has a proven skill for reinventing himself and remaining relevant despite a lack of interest from the writing team.
It’s a pity that we’ll see the back of the MidCard Mafia act because there was a lot of potential there and it seemed that something was finally going to be done with them. I can understand why Reks wanted to leave WWE though. The travel schedule is incredibly tough and he wanted to spend more time at home with his family. That he has business interests outside of WWE has allowed him to make that happen.
This should be taken as a warning by WWE: Reks had worked hard to get himself noticed and earn a decent spot for himself. That he decided to ask for his release just as it appeared he was finally being given the chance he’d wanted could indicate that there’s a general feeling amongst mid-card members of the locker room that a career in WWE may not be worth pursuing.
The company needs guys in these positions, and as such they should be thinking of ways they can ensure more people don’t follow Reks out of the door.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

The Secondary Strap

Last year I wrote an article about how not every top star needs to win a world championship to validate their career. You can remind yourself of that, or read it for the first time, here . The general gist is that by not putting their world championship on every headline talent at their disposal a promotion can actually make it mean more.

WWE currently has two world titles. The WWE championship, held by CM Punk, dates back to 1963 and is generally considered the more prestigious, having been held by the company’s various leading men. It’s the strap that Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin and The Rock have all worn.

The World Heavyweight championship will celebrate its tenth birthday on September 2nd. It was created in order to allow WWE’s two rosters to each have a world championship. For several years it was treated as the equal of its more prestigious counterpart and was held by a number of talented workers including Triple H, Edge, Rey Mysterio, CM Punk, and Randy Orton.

The company’s leading man during the majority of the World Heavyweight championship’s existence has been John Cena. While he has held the title before he has always been more concerned with winning the WWE belt. That Cena has only worn the World title twice while he’s captured the ’63 strap ten times illustrates which is the more important belt.

CM Punk shows off the ugly WWE championship belt

That Cena has only ever treated the World Heavyweight championship as a trinket to pursue when the more established strap is unavailable to him is possibly what started the poor booking of the secondary world belt.

For the last few years the WHC has been booked almost like a second tier belt. It’s comparable to the way the Intercontinental title was presented in the 1980s: the company’s biggest names would battle for the WWE championship while second string talent and rising stars would clash for the IC gold.

In the past size was a determining factor in which belt a wrestler would challenge for. Smaller more athletic workers would generally be pegged as Intercontinental challengers while bigger guys would be pushed to the top to go for the company’s top prize. This was a holdover from the days when a champion was the biggest toughest guy in the company.

By pitting him against a string of challengers bigger and nastier than himself and having him triumph the champ was made to look even tougher. See the booking of Hulk Hogan throughout his various WWF title reigns in the 80s for numerous examples of this.

While the Intercontinental title still exists in the company it is no longer used as a tool for elevating mid-carders and trying them out for the main event. That is now the role of the World Heavyweight belt.

A perfect example is CM Punk. Over the last year he has enjoyed two reigns as WWE champion and has been presented and accepted as a headline talent. He won his first World Heavyweight championship way back in 2008. He held that belt three times but never felt like a true WWE main eventer. He wasn’t treated like a top star, nor was he viewed as one.

It wasn’t until his face turn and feud with John Cena last year that ‘The Straight Edge Superhero’ first appeared to have cracked the top of the card. Those three World Heavyweight championship runs helped prepare him but they didn’t make him the promotion’s number one guy.

It may not be treated like a world title but at least it looks the part

Last year Mark Henry captured the World Heavyweight championship with a clean pinfall victory over Randy Orton. I find it hard to imagine him capturing the WWE championship in the same fashion. ‘The World’s Strongest Man’ was built up for the run well but he wasn’t, isn’t and never will be headline material. That he won the World belt further indicates that is a mid-card title, being used to trial rising stars and give veterans something to do.

The most recent two World Heavyweight champions illustrate my point nicely. Before cashing in his briefcase and dethroning Big Show at TLC last December Daniel Bryan had held the United States title. During his time with that belt he was afforded no extra screen time and was treated as just another member of the roster. He may as well not have had the US gold at all.

The World title win afforded him more time on TV, more interest from the booking team and some development in the character department. Fans started taking more of an interest in him too, because they realise someone winning the World title means something, while someone winning the United States belt isn’t especially important.

Bryan had been on the roster for a year and a half at that point and it was the first time the booking team had really pushed him. You could easily forget his US title run, imagine the World title as the Intercontinental title and view that reign as Bryan’s first taste of mid-card glory.

The man who beat him and holds the belt now is Sheamus. He won the WWE championship twice between late 2009 and the summer of 2010 and while he didn’t do a bad job he didn’t really connect with fans as the promotion’s lead heel. It was an experimental reign.

The company dropped him down to the mid-card and gradually built him back up, turning him face in the process. When he captured the World title at WrestleMania he was far more over and more believable in the role of champion. This is partly because he was more experienced and partly because the World Heavyweight championship is not seen as being as important as the WWE title. There’s less pressure and it feels a better match for ‘Great White’ at this time.

Part of the trouble is that WWE has too many titles. The United States and Intercontinental belts have been devalued by changing hands too often and not being booked as titles people actually want to hold. The emphasis has firmly been on the two world titles.

WWE cannot get rid of its two mid-card belts and keep two world belts though. It’s not practical and would not solve the issue of the WHC being the clear second yet still billed with world status. I would suggest getting rid of the World Heavyweight championship and the US championship, in that order, and returning to the days of the WWE championship and the Intercontinental championship being the two prizes the organisation offers.

The WWE title is already the top prize in the business. It’s the belt held by one of the company’s most over stars in CM Punk and wanted by merchandise king John Cena and Hollywood megastar The Rock. It is already treated about as well as it can be by the writing team.

The Intercontinental title needs a boost though. If the other belts were written off TV the company would need to dedicate time to rebuilding the white belt’s tattered image. It would need to look like a star builder again. The best way of accomplishing that would be to book it as the World Heavyweight belt has been booked for the last several years. Treat it as a secondary world title, just don’t actually make it one.

Sunday 19 August 2012

Fantasy Booker: SummerSlam 2012 to WrestleMania XXIX

With WWE having confirmed the main event for next January’s Royal Rumble event months in advance I thought it would be a good time to do another fantasy booking piece. This time I’ve decided to tackle the WWE championship from SummerSlam 2012 to WrestleMania XXIX. Let’s go!

The champion going into SummerSlam is CM Punk, who will defend his belt in a triple threat match against Big Show and John Cena. I do not expect it to be a pretty affair. In reality I’m expecting Punk to retain. For the purposes of this article he would definitely retain. I don’t see any point in switching the belt onto ‘The World’s Largest Athlete’ and Cena is as over as he’ll ever be without it. Punk is one of the company’s best workers and is the best candidate for WWE champion of the three.

That being said I would want to keep the Punk v Cena rivalry going for a while longer. September’s Night of Champions will be held in Cena’s hometown of Boston and I think it would be great to have him go into that pay-per-view challenging one of his chief rivals.

To keep the feud alive a point of dispute would need to be created in their SummerSlam clash. To my mind the best way of doing that would be with a finishing sequence that makes it clear that Cena was about to become champion. I’d have a finishing sequence of Cena ducking a clothesline from Big Show and then hitting him with an AA. Before he could make the cover Punk would grab him and hit him with a GTS. Punk would then pin Big Show to retain.

This paints Punk as someone benefiting from somebody else’s hard work, and also creates an argument that Cena could have won, because it was his finisher that earned ‘The Straight Edge Superstar’ the victory. It also has Show doing the job, handily invalidating any claim he may have to the title and writing him out of the title picture.

Cena would voice his frustrations on the following evening’s RAW, and ask Punk why he opted to cover Big Show. Punker would come out with the deliberately lame excuse that Big Show was closer to him than Cena was. The announcers can then be left to speculate that Punk pinned Cena because he trusted the AA more than the GTS.

A rematch would be booked for the August 27th edition of RAW. That match would go on last and get a good twenty minutes or so. During the inevitable ringside brawl Cena would blast Cena into a barrier and then roll back into the ring. It’s a standard WWE move usually followed by the man who’s been tossed into the barrier rolling back in just before the ten count. Instead of that Punk would recover at around five or six and then tease getting back into the ring, agonising over the decision.

The referee would continue counting and Cena would shout for Punk to get back into the ring and continue the match. The champ would not. He would stand still until getting counted out, collect his belt from the timekeeper’s table and then head to the back, leaving Cena to mug and gurn RAW off the air (he does it so well).

During this period I would also be preparing Randy Orton as a title contender. He would not be directly interacting with Cena or Punk, but would mention when interviewed (probably by Matt Striker) that he has his sights set on the WWE championship. He would be winning constantly and would perhaps work a brief TV feud with Heath Slater or someone similar to keep him busy for the month.

The September 3rd RAW would include an opening promo from Cena calling out Punk. He would come to the ring and tell Cena that he doesn’t have to explain his actions to anybody, which would bring out AJ to make a match between the two at Night of Champions. Punk would become incensed with this, demanding to know why Cena constantly gets awarded title shots while other guys on the roster have to earn them. AJ would suggest a tag match between Punk and Cena with the partners of their choice, with a stipulation that if Punk’s team wins the Night of Champions title shot would be Cena’s last during Punk’s current championship reign.

How long would I keep the WWE title on CM Punk? Find out below

Punk would win that tag match. This would elevate the stakes and create a must-win situation for Cena in his hometown. That, coupled with Punk’s increasingly unsportsmanlike behaviour and whiney attitude, should ensure that the fans are firmly behind ‘The CeNation Leader’ at NOC.

Punk v Cena would be the final match to go on at Night of Champions. It’s possible it would be turned into a no disqualification match but the initial plan would be to have it as a straight wrestling match. The two men would again get twenty minutes or so to turn out as good a match as possible. I like the idea of teasing the count out finish again, only for Cena to go out and throw Punk back into the ring, so if it wasn’t a no DQ environment I’d have that included.

The finish would see Cena go for an AA only for Punk to wiggle free, drop to his knees and hit a low blow followed by an immediate schoolboy for the win.

The September 17th RAW would feature a crowing promo from Punk about how he toppled John Cena in his hometown and the fact that he’s become the first WWE champion in years to not have to worry about defending the belt against him.

This would bring out… no, not Cena. It would bring out Randy Orton. ‘The Viper’ would tease that he’s going to speak to Punk but would instead nail him with an RKO. He would then take a microphone and say that John Cena is not the only man capable of winning world titles. He would then go to leave only to be stopped by Cena himself.

Cena would tell Orton that he appreciates what he just did to Punk but that he would have liked the opportunity to do it first. ‘The Apex Predator’ would smirk and walk up the ramp, leaving a now-recovered Punk alone with Cena. ‘The Doctor of Thuganomics’ would tell Punk that he’s angry and disappointed. Not because he doesn’t have the WWE title, that would have been nice but he can earn another shot in the future, but because of the man CM Punk has become.

Punk would reply with a self-righteous promo about how Cena has been on top too long and that it’s given him a false sense of entitlement. This would finish by Punk saying that he won’t have to worry about Cena for a very long time.

The main event of this episode of RAW would be a twenty man battle royal, with the winner getting to face Punk for the title at Hell in a Cell. Featuring all the usual suspects (with the exception of Cena) plus some random jobbers everyone knows have no chance of winning this match would be won by Randy Orton.

With ‘The Apex Predator’ enjoying a bit of post-match posing Punk would come to the ring through the crowd and smash him in the head with the title belt. He would then hit him with a GTS. After posing Punk would go to leave but look back at Orton and decide to return to give him another GTS. RAW would go off the air with Punk holding up the title and Orton knocked out.

Across the next four weeks the Punk v Orton rivalry would become increasingly heated. Punk would continue with his supremely confident character, delighting in rubbing his opponent the wrong way and demanding respect as the champion. Meanwhile Orton would want to prove that he is just as much of a threat as anyone on the roster (meaning Cena, but that would never be explicitly stated).

Cena would remain on the periphery of this feud, not being involved every week but appearing enough to make it clear that Punk considers him the biggest threat to a champion and that Orton wants to prove he’s better than him.

I would also gradually introduce Daniel Bryan to the title picture, at first as an uneasy ally of Punk for a tag match or two against Cena and Orton. The idea would be to tease a Bryan v Orton feud for the future. Would that be the true plan? Stay tuned!

Two weeks before the pay-per-view AJ would confirm that the Punk and Orton would meet in a Hell in a Cell bout. It would also be announced that Cena would act as the official in that match in order to ensure that there is a clear winner and no controversial finish takes place. Punk would freak out at this (it’s unfair and disrespectful to the champ, and so on) while Orton would not appear terribly happy either.

At Hell in a Cell on October 28th Punk and Orton would go on last. I actually think this is a match WWE should book for the event in reality. Both men are excellent wrestlers and I believe they’d turn out as good a Hell in a Cell outing as you can in the PG Era. There doesn’t need to be blood and half a dozen chair shots to make Hell in a Cell worthwhile.

Throughout the course of the match both competitors would make their displeasure at Cena’s presence clear. Both would begin getting in his face over two counts, which would be met in the predictable Cena fashion of smiling, wagging his finger and pointing at his ref shirt.

The finish I’d book would see Orton go for an RKO on Punk, only to be shoved off into Cena. Cena, thinking that ‘The Viper’ had finally snapped and attacked him, would shove him and receive a shove in return. The two would then slug it out with one another with Cena getting the upper hand (rationalised by the announce team stating that he’s far fresher than Orton because he’s not been wrestling) and scooping Orton up for an AA.

That’s where Punk would stop watching and yank ‘The Viper’ off of Cena’s shoulders to hit him with a GTS (perhaps not the first of the match). He would then cover Orton, staring and smiling at Cena as he’s forced to make the count.

The point of this finish would be to set up a Cena v Orton feud. The following evening on RAW Cena and Orton would wind up in the ring together and ‘The CeNation Leader’ would offer a handshake. Orton would look to the fans, tease accepting, look back to the fans, and then shake… then do a DDP and pull Cena into an RKO. To fully cement the heel turn ‘The Viper’ would follow the RKO up with a stomping session. I’d like to book him to give Cena a punt to the head too, but there’s possibly still a ban on that.

Don't worry: if I was booking WWE up to WrestleMania XXIX Cena wouldn't be going anywhere

This would write Cena off TV for a week or so and create a reason for Orton v Cena to take place at Survivor Series and TLC. I’m not sure which of the two would go over when but they’d each get one pay-per-view victory apiece and their TLC clash would be a gimmick battle of some sort.

Back to the WWE championship. The night after Hell in a Cell I would turn Daniel Bryan face. It may sound poorly planned to do it just like that but the Bryan character is so over that I believe WWE could actually turn him into a huge babyface sensation any time they liked. His monosyllabic chants are a gift for any performer.

I would have Punk head to the ring for a bragging session about having overcome the top two stars in the company before stating that there’s nobody who can beat him and that he’ll be the man to face The Rock at the Royal Rumble. He would then say that he’d like to borrow an idea from Daniel Bryan and ask the fans if they want to see him versus ‘The Great One’. He’d then start chanting “Yes!” which would bring out Bryan.

Hopefully the audience would have chanted “No!” at Punk. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if they didn’t but it would make Bryan’s turn a little smoother. ‘The American Dragon’ would say he agrees with the fans or rhetorically ask himself if he wants to see Rock v Punk, then start chanting “No!” at Punk.

He would remind everyone that he has issues with The Rock himself, but also wants the chance to get into the ring with one of the best of all time at one of WWE’s biggest events of the year. He would challenge Punk to defend the belt against him at Survivor Series. Punk would decline but AJ would appear to say that she agrees that Bryan deserves a shot at the belt.

Bryan v Punk would be made for Survivor Series. There would be no special referees or stipulations, just two great wrestlers having a great match. The lead up to their match would consist of the usual array of tag battles and promos. Punk would continue his unsportsmanlike streak by taking count out losses and refusing handshakes before matches. During promos Bryan would milk the “Yes!” and “No!” cries as much as possible. A good way of safeguarding Bryan would be to have Punk infuriated by the chants, meaning that audiences enjoy chanting and don’t become bored with it.

Punk would go over at Survivor Series with some shady tactics. This would be either his low blow and schoolboy routine or a rollup while holding the ropes. The idea would be for there to be a clear need for a rematch between the two at TLC.

On the post-Survivor Series RAW Punk would attack Bryan with a chair. On the November 26th show Bryan would retaliate by putting Punk through a table. On the December 3rd episode Punk would set up a chair, a table and a ladder in the ring and cut a promo talking about how they’ve used one weapon each, with the ladder being the next logical step. Bryan would join him and the result of the segment would be the two agreeing to face off in a Table, Ladders and Chairs match at TLC.

I think Punk and Bryan could have a great TLC outing. Punk worked a highly enjoyable bout with Jeff Hardy under those rules at SummerSlam and I’m sure he could do the same again with Bryan. There would perhaps be less stunts than the average gimmick bout, but they’d still be the best two men to headline the card.

Punk would win clean at TLC. Well, as clean as you can in a whacky match such as TLC. The best finish I can think of is Bryan being shoved off the top of the ladder through a table, allowing Punk to snatch the belt and remain champion. If something better presented itself I’d book that, but Punk would be the man leaving as champion.

That would set up Punk v Rock for the WWE championship at the Royal Rumble on January 27th. It would also mean that Punk becomes the first WWE champion to hold the belt throughout one calendar year since Hulk Hogan’s first reign from January 23rd 1984 to February 5th 1988. It would also give him an impressively long title reign by modern standards. This trivia would keep Michael Cole bleating for weeks.

I’m not sure exactly when WWE will have access to The Rock in the hype for the Royal Rumble. I assume he will appear on at least one episode of RAW so that he can interact with the champion and create interest in the pay-per-view clash.

The Rock would appear in the main event segment. The best way to keep people watching during a three hour show is keeping your biggest star until last. ‘The Great One’ would come out to cut a promo discussing the Rumble pay-per-view, the importance of the WWE championship to him and his eagerness to go into WrestleMania XXIX with the strap. Then, and only then, would he turn his attention to CM Punk.

There’s no point trying to write out a script for a Rock promo. Broadly speaking he would say that CM Punk has lost his way and not represented himself as the champion he said he’d be when he first threw a “tantrum” (that’s a terminology suggestion I’d make). He’d dust off all his old catchphrases and state that he’s lay the smack down on the champ at the Rumble.

CM Punk would head to the ring to join him. Basically, Punk would disagree with The Rock’s view (I know, mind-bending stuff here). Punk would not see himself as having lost his way or failing to be the champion he said he’d be. He’d point out that he’s held the title for fourteen months and beaten everyone put in front of him. At the Rumble that list will grow to include Rock.

The tension would increase throughout the segment and would end with the two battling with one another. Punk would go for a GTS. Rock would slide out and go for a Rock Bottom. Punk would break free with elbow strikes and go for another GTS. Rock would block that and send Punk to the ropes for a spinebuster, followed up by a People’s Elbow.

I’m not sure if The Rock would connect or not. It would be a great moment and get a tremendous pop, but with the result I have planned at the Rumble it’s not really needed. I think if this segment took place on the final RAW before the Rumble then Rock would connect with the Elbow. If it was on an earlier episode of RAW then Punk would slide out of the ring and retreat clutching his title.

I never really like Royal Rumble pay-per-views headlined by anything other than the thirty man match. I don’t think that’s an option here though. You can’t have a match featuring The Rock go on before a match featuring Heath Slater. It’s just not realistic. The Rock and CM Punk would be the only choice for the main event spot of this show and as such they would go on last.

I don’t know how good this match would be. The Rock v Cena clash at ‘Mania suffered from a slow pace and a multitude of poorly disguised rest spots. These were added to the match for Rock’s benefit and I can’t imagine his conditioning has improved in his time away from the ring. I think a shorter, quicker match would be the best thing to book for Punk and Rock at the Rumble, but it would be up to the combatants ultimately.

Rock would go over clean with a Rock Bottom followed by a People’s Elbow. That would mean that the biggest name associated with the company has the most important championship heading into the biggest show of the year (WrestleMania XXIX, not Elimination Chamber). That allows for the company to go all out getting WrestleMana and WWE in general covered by mainstream media.

This man would have to go on last at the Rumble
Daniel Bryan would enter the Royal Rumble at number one and last around forty minutes or so. Bryan’s elimination would be linked to a sequence designed to start two WrestleMania programmes. The first step would be John Cena eliminating Dolph Ziggler. By this point Ziggler would have won and lost the World Heavyweight title in order to free him up for ‘Mania season, and Cena would have been permitted into the match as a special one-off attempt to earn a WWE title match permitted by AJ (perhaps he’d have to beat Punk in a non-title match to earn a spot in the Rumble, I don’t know).

Anyway, Cena eliminates ‘The Show Off’ on the aisle side of the ring. Ziggler, unhappy with this situation, yanks Cena out of the ring under the bottom rope and throws him into ring steps and hits a Zig Zag onto the floor. Basically attacks Cena more viciously than we are used to Cena being attacked by anything other than a top guy.

While that’s going on Bryan eliminates Randy Orton on the announce desk side of the ring, but as the officials are all preoccupied with Ziggler and Cena this goes unnoticed. ‘The Viper’ sneaks back into the ring and chucks an unsuspecting Bryan over the top rope into the aisle right in front of all the referees. Bryan protests (perhaps screaming “No!” depending on whether or not that cry becomes too heelish after his face turn) but ends up heading to the back.

Cena would clamber back into the ring to valiantly continue his quest to regain the WWE title and would make it to the final four alongside Orton, Sheamus and Brock Lesnar.

This is as good a time as any to mention that Lesnar would have recorded some vignettes leading up to the Rumble stating that he wants to win the WWE title so that he can dominate the company as champion for years and destroy it from the inside. The destruction of WWE would be Lesnar’s stated mission heading into the show.

‘The Pain’ would work over Cena while Sheamus and Orton battled one another. ‘The Viper’ would manage to eliminate ‘The Celtic Warrior’ by using the tried and tested Protected Babyface Elimination Method™ of pulling the rope down as Sheamus charges him.

Orton and Lesnar would double team Cena in the closing moments of the match. Cena would fight back and manage to get and fluke elimination on Orton, leaving us with Lesnar and Cena as the final two. I like the idea of reusing the spot from Extreme Rules that saw ‘The Pain’ sail over top rope to the outside of the ring as Cena’s method of eliminating him. If that was possible to work without ring steps I’d book it and have Cena win that way.

Yes, Cena would win. Cena v Rock II at WrestleMania XXIX? Read on to see!

The following evening on RAW there would be a big angle to set up the Elimination Chamber three weeks later. Cena would come out to cut a victory promo about how he now has a rematch with The Rock to look forward to, which would be quickly interrupted by Dolph Ziggler. ‘The Show Off’ would state that if there were any justice he’d be the man facing The Rock and remind everyone of how he battered Cena the night before.

This would bring out Orton, who would say that he was only eliminated by luck and that if Cena had the guts to put the Rock match on the line against him there’s no way he’d win. ‘The Viper’s’ presence would attract Daniel Bryan. He would say he’s not there to whine about losing the night before, he’s there to make Orton tap out.

Before that could happen Lesnar’s music would play and Paul Heyman would come out to the entrance ramp with a business proposition for Cena: sell his match with The Rock to Brock Lesnar and allow ‘The Pain’ the pleasure of breaking the neck of the company’s saviour in the headline match of WrestleMania XXIX.

Cena would give his typically comical response to everyone who’d joined him before saying he’s a fighter and not afraid to back down from anyone, agreeing to put his Rumble victory up for grabs in an Elimination Chamber match on February 17th. With that RAW would go to a break.

Later in the show AJ would make the Chamber match official in a backstage segment and add CM Punk to the mix to make the number up to six. Speaking of Punk, he’d get his own in-ring segment later in the show to talk about the epic title reign he’d just enjoyed (stretching from November 20th 2011 to January 27th 2013), his pride at having been champion for that long, and to make a promise that he’d be the man to dethrone The Rock.

There would be no WWE championship match at Elimination Chamber because The Rock wouldn’t be booked to wrestle (though I’d try to have him appearing in some capacity). The Chamber bout itself would go on last and would be the only one on the show (the trend of booking two on the card is excessive and only dilutes the importance of what is supposed to be a gruelling bout).

Dolph Ziggler and Daniel Bryan would start off and give us solid wrestling for the first five minutes. They’d be joined by Randy Orton next, allowing Bryan to be the underdog babyface battling superior numbers. The fourth man in would be John Cena, who would immediately target Dolph Ziggler. Before entrant number five entered ‘The Heel’ would eat an AA and be eliminated.

Cena would then turn around into an RKO to write him out of proceedings for a moment or two. Bryan and Orton would wrestle for a minute or so before Bryan would get a surprise small package on ‘The Apex Predator’ and eliminate him. Orton would go ballistic at the officials telling him to leave the ring as Bryan drags himself up with the ropes.

As Bryan turned around to rejoin the match he’d get an RKO from Orton. Lesnar would then enter as the fifth man and briefly have a stare off with Orton. The former Evolution member would raise his hands up and indicate Bryan limp on the mat, then leave. Brock would pin Bryan and we’d be down to he, Cena and Punk, with Punk still in his pod.

Lesnar would batter Cena for several minutes. There are numerous spots that could be planned to make him look an animal. In addition to basic heat building devices such as throwing Cena to the outside and into the chains Lesnar could also ram ‘The CeNation Leader’ through the Plexiglas of a vacated pod and wrench a length of chain free to wrap around his first. The aim would be for Cena to take a battering and make it clear that he’s a beaten man: ‘The Pain’ could win whenever he’s ready.

Sometime during this Punk’s pod would open but he’d stay put watching the carnage. Cole could push this as smart, Lawler could call it a coward’s way out.

After a few minutes of Cena being pulped the lights would go out, coming back on a moment later to reveal the Undertaker in the ring. Lesnar would turn around and go to attack, only for ‘Taker to fend him off and nail a Tombstone.

‘The Dead Man’ would pull a bedraggled Cena onto Lesnar, the referee would make the count and we’d have two men left: Cena and Punk.

Punk would immediately dash out of his pod to attempt a quick pin on Cena. Cena would kick out. Punk would hit a GTS. Cena would kick out. Punk would then either lock in the Anaconda Vice for a victory via stoppage or wrap the length of chain Lesnar used around his knee and get Cena with a second GTS for a pinfall victory.

This would set up Punk v Rock II for WrestleMania XXIX. At the show Punk would regain the title and go forward into 2013 as a massive heel and the man who handed The Rock his first loss in over a decade.

On the WrestleMania XXIX undercard Daniel Bryan would get a win over Randy Orton and John Cena would put over Dolph Ziggler. Building for the future. That’s what WWE should be doing.

Brock Lesnar would be the man to challenge The Streak. The hype for that match would be based around Lesnar’s yearning to destroy WWE, with ‘Taker built up as the last bastion of hope for the league. Naturally Undertaker would win, his undefeated record couldn’t be ended, but I think a lot of people would be torn if that match were booked well enough.