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.

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