Creative Control: The GPS to Wrestlemania XXX, Part 2 (CM Punk, Dolph Ziggler, Shield, Wyatt Family, NXT, PPV)

That did not take long at all.  Just two weeks into doing this and I embarrass myself in spectacular fashion.  I make a joke about a couple of columnists stepping on my fantasy booking toes and I go and do a Wrestlemania XXX card only three weeks after James Sawyer posted his own well-received version.  When I went and reread Sawyer’s take on the card, it came back to me that I had read it.  However, when I came up with the idea for the column in the first place, I had forgotten all about it.

In rereading Sawyer’s column, I liked a lot of his ideas and matches.  We had one nearly identical match (Taker/Cena; I just added Rock into the mix to wrap up his multi-year story with Cena), but it is one people have been speculating about for a couple of years.  We differed on the main event.  Sawyer appeared focused on booking the last dream match that is available to WWE with Punk/Austin.  I went at it from the long narrative storyline of Daniel Bryan fighting his way to the top and achieving his dream of capturing the WWE Title. He did have Bryan achieving revenge by “retiring” Triple H.  In my opinion however, any outcome that does not end with Daniel Bryan in the middle of the ring holding the WWE Title in victory to close out Wrestlemania does not provide a satisfying end to his story-arc that began at SummerSlam.

I admit some intimidation in presenting the remainder of the card.  However, since there are no fewer than five people who in some way shape or form discuss Raw on a weekly basis here, I figure there is more than enough room for multiple takes on a potential Wrestlemania card.

Second Thoughts:

There were two consistent criticisms to my card last week: one minor, one major.  The minor one was people pointing out the apparent oversight on my part that it was not possible to have a cage match (Bray Wyatt vs. Daniel Bryan) at Elimination Chamber, given the Chamber would be suspended above the ring.  I did factor that in. I thought I remember a way the WWE did a cage match where it was assembled and set up by bringing the pieces from backstage and did not require a separate hanging structure.  If my memory is off (and I do not doubt that) and that is not possible, a cage is not essential to the narrative of the match.  I like the imagery from a storytelling perspective, but they can still have a standard match that ends with Wyatt submitting to the Yes Lock and Bryan moving on to Lesnar.

The major complaint was my Triple H vs. Randy Orton match at Wrestlemania.  To say this was not well received is a massive understatement.  And the critics are right.  Even in my own write-up of the match, I stated I did not like the match, but was trying to come up with something to keep them occupied and away from the main event program.  That was lazy thinking on my part.  I should not be just looking to contain problems in fantasy booking; I should be about putting together something entertaining that tells compelling stories and when possible, make every participant shine.  Therefore, I scrapped the match and tweaked the card accordingly.  I am sure not everyone will agree or approve of the final product (I am sure universal agreement on the internet is a sign of the apocalypse), but there you go.  And as always, you have a better idea, lay it out below in the comments.

Booking Wrestlemania XXX Part II

So, here’s the card in full (explanations skipped for all matches discussed last week)

(Undisputed) WWE Championship Match:  Brock Lesnar (champion) vs. Daniel Bryan

Triple Threat Elimination Match:  John Cena vs. The Rock vs. The Undertaker

 Triple H/Kane vs. CM Punk/Dolph Ziggler 

How We Get Here:

Ziggler and Punk are still in the Elimination Chamber as I laid out last week.  Ziggler still goes through a series of qualifying matches to get in as opposed to the other participants who are just selected and Punk still taunts The Authority in the lead-up about how a Bryan/Punk main event at Wrestlemania would be their worst nightmare. Punk and Ziggler though do not have the confrontation in the Chamber as I discussed last week.  The night after Elimination Chamber, Ziggler is seen backstage commenting to someone about an earlier segment where the Authority throws their weight around.  Kane and Triple H come up behind him, hearing the comments and put him in some form of a punishment match, like a gauntlet or handicap match.  As that match progresses, Ziggler is worn down and it is clear his opponents have no plan to end the match short of referee stoppage or medical intervention.  This leads Punk to come out and make a save.

The next week, Punk and Ziggler appear together in an interview segment.  Punk notes how he and Ziggler are cut from the same cloth.  They speak their minds, they bust their backs every night to try to steal the show, and they piss off the Authority to no end.  This leads Triple H to throw his weight around determined to break the pair as they do not seem to know or understand their place in the hierarchy of the company.   They are booked into matches designed for them to lose, but they keep coming out on top.  The two hijack commentary, putting over independent talent, name dropping guys who they feel never got a fair chance.  Ultimately, this leads to Triple H deciding that the only way for the Authority to deal with the problem is to deal with it himself, and therefore taps his Director of Operations Kane to assist him to not only defeat the pair but to punish them on the biggest stage so badly, nothing could rebuild them.  The match ends with Ziggler nailing Triple H with the Zig Zag and scoring the victory.

Side Note:

I know people are salivating at the idea of Triple H/Shawn Michaels vs. Punk/Bryan after the end of Raw last week.  As I discussed above though, I feel Bryan’s storyline should end with him winning the WWE Title at the end of Wrestlemania.  I also do not think that Michaels will come back.  I vaguely remember hearing something about how he was disappointed that Flair went on to have matches in TNA after he had given Michaels the honor of retiring him at Wrestlemania 24. With this in mind, I do not see Michaels disrespecting the Undertaker by pulling a similar maneuver; no matter how common it is for a retired wrestler to come back for “one more match.”  Triple H and Punk have an established history and the seeds were sown for another altercation following the end of Raw.  I wanted though to come up with something that also helps build Ziggler back up to the main event level after his untimely concussion and subsequent burial this past year.  That was the purpose behind the original Punk vs. Ziggler match I came up with last week.  With this match, we get a D-X vs. management feel with Punk and Ziggler now as the disruptive influences, but in their own acerbic way versus the juvenile prank style of Triple H and Michaels.  Ziggler pinning Triple H would do wonders to rebuilding his standing.

Intercontinental/U.S. Unification Match:  Big E. Langston vs. Dean Ambrose

 Divas Championship:  Tamina (champion) vs. Natalya

Roman Reigns vs. Kofi Kingston

 How We Get Here:

After Ambrose secures the unification match against Langston, he notes that the Shield should use this year’s Wrestlemania to prove that each member’s individual superiority compared to last year when they showed their dominance as a unit.  Therefore, he tells Reigns and Rollins to go find challengers for themselves.

Kingston goes on a tear starting with the lead-up to the Royal Rumble.  His current feud with the Miz culminates at the Rumble in a Falls Count Anywhere match.  The match is designed to be a final confrontation between the two given their history of endless matches over the last three years along with multiple betrayals when as a tag team.  He also competes in the Rumble itself and makes it to the final six.  At Elimination Chamber, he defeats Alberto Del Rio.  During these months, he gets interview time and talks about with the new year, he made a resolution to not only wow the audience, but to climb to the top, giving it everything he had.  Kingston claims that he strapped a rocket to his own back and nothing is going to stop him.  He notes that he has been in the company for years, but has always hit a glass ceiling, and this was the year he was going to break through it.

Reigns picks Kingston as his opponent feeling that if he can derail the momentum of the veteran, he will show his individual dominance.  At Wrestlemania, as the Shield make their way escorting Reigns down to the ring, Ambrose indicates he wants Reigns to go at it alone; that he and Rollins will stay away from ringside to allow Reigns to show what he can do with no excuses from Kingston about the Shield distracting him.  This is different from earlier in the night when Ambrose and Reigns were ringside for Rollins’s match.  Reigns wins with an impressive spear that catches Kingston in the midst of a top rope maneuver.

Side Note:

The match is designed primarily to give Reigns a big win and to allow for the Shield dissolution storyline to take off after Wrestlemania.  As I mentioned last week, following Ambrose’s decision Reigns should be without the Shield at ringside, Reigns makes a similar call prior to Ambrose’s match with Langston.

The build-up is designed to push Kingston.  While not known as a great talker, when he has been allowed to be himself, or shown as driven, he has a certain charisma.  There is a moment I remember a number of years ago, where he was Intercontinental Champion and his opponent stole the belt (it may have even been the Miz).  On the following Raw, the opponent was in a backstage interview with Josh Matthews.  Kingston interrupted the segment, leveled his opponent, picked up the title belt and looked at Matthews.  He kind of shrugged his shoulders, nodded to Matthews, said “Hi Josh,” and walked off.  I loved that moment because that defined Kingston’s character as a nice guy, but at the same time a determined competitor who will not let anyone walk over him or take him for granted.  Sadly, they did not use that moment to develop him.  The lead up to Wrestlemania would do that.  Let him fly around the ring, let him do his flips and crowd participation, but let him win.  Let him be aggressive and get a string of victories.  Have the commentators note the new focus and fire driving Kingston.  Let him talk about it.  That way, not only does it build him up, but when he does lose, it makes the opponent who does it, seem that much more impressive.

3 on 2 Handicapped Match:

The Wyatt Family vs. Cody Rhodes/Goldust

 How We Get Here:

Following his inability to convert Daniel Bryan to join the clan, Bray Wyatt turns his attention on the Rhodes.  He is intrigued by their dynamic.  On one side, you have the clean cut, average looking Cody; on the other his disturbed, unpredictable brother Goldust.  There is a power between the two that allowed them to weather the storm of the Authority.  It is a power that allowed them to not only win the tag titles but hold onto them for several months and defeat their rivals.  It is a power that Wyatt envies.

From there a psychological war develops as Wyatt looks to tear apart the team due to his feeling that their bond some way threatens his clan and leadership.  The Rhodes pull out their own mind games, but are not quite as effective as those of the cult’s.  At Wrestlemania, the Wyatts are victorious.

Side Note:

A fairly simple storyline based on Wyatt’s twisted logic that somehow, the Rhodes brothers are a threat to his stature.  I would have Goldust and Cody dissolve as a team following this match.  I am not sure if I would have the break-up lead to a feud between them, or if it would be a rare occurrence where two partners decide they’ve run their course.  A feud between the two has potential (as noted by Sawyer) and this storyline could be a great catalyst with Goldust becoming unhinged due to their encounters with the Wyatts.  I am curious to see if Cody can capitalize on the apparent push he received from the Authority storyline and make a run as a single’s star in the upper card or even break through to the main event.

Tag Team Title Fatal Four Way:

The Real Americans (champions) vs. Big Show/Rey Mysterio vs. The Usos vs. Randy Orton/Alberto Del Rio

How We Get Here:

Swagger and Cesaro win the titles at the Rumble (I originally had them winning last night at TLC).  They fend off Los Matadores before the participants in this match start lining up.  Rey and Big Show remains a unit both tag teaming and accompanying each other for individual matches, while the Usos continue to fight all comers, looking to climb their way to the championship.

Orton, as noted last week, loses at TLC, does not win the Rumble, and fails in the Elimination Chamber.  As a result of this string of failures, he is ignored by the Authority.  His demands go unanswered.  He is livid that someone of his stature and pedigree suddenly is cast aside.  In his mind, he is still the face of the company.

Facing similar delusions of importance but lacking stature is Del Rio.  Despite his viciousness and drive, he has failed to secure a championship.  He feels entitled, but ignored as well.  A chance encounter backstage leads the two to form a bond.  It is one of hatred for everyone else and a feeding of each other’s egos about how important they are.  This alliance forces its way into the tag team scene and secures a spot in the title match at Wrestlemania where they are able to steal the titles from what appears to be a victory for the Usos.

Side Note:

Is there any way I can claim that I had a variation of this match set up before I reread Sawyer’s column and anyone would believe me?  I did have a fatal four way tag title match lined up in my first draft, but with the Primetime Players instead of Orton/Del Rio.  After I dropped the Triple H/Orton match, I needed to find something to do with Orton, but there was no singles match that was speaking to me.  Then I started thinking about Del Rio and his recent string of losses, and realized the pair of self-important, floundering heels could work.  I debated putting the titles on them to start a feud with the Usos, who should eventually win the titles and have their stature raised from beating a pair of former main eventers. The loss of the belts can lead to a break-up of the Real Americans with Zeb Colter and Swagger blaming the foreign Cesaro for the loss and start to build Cesaro again for singles competition.

Seth Rollins vs. Sin Cara

 Not much to say for setting up this opening bout for the card.  Sin Cara is the target selected by Rollins for the Shield’s series of one-on-one matches at Wrestlemania.  With the way they are building up the Hunico version of Sin Cara, he should be at a level by Wrestlemania where his loss at the hands of Rollins appears significant.  I see a fast-paced match between these two which is perfect for firing up the crowd.

 Pre-Show

NXT vs. WWE 10-Man Tag

Sami Zayn, Bo Dallas, Adrian Neville, Alexander Rusev, Aiden English vs. R-Truth, Xavier Woods, Ryaback, Curtis Axel, Fandango

I like the idea of involving NXT in some capacity with Wrestlemania.  Including some of the talent on the cusp of joining the main roster on the biggest show of the year is a great way to promote NXT.  I am not sure how well having both teams being a blend of faces and heels would work, but it does not hurt to try it.  Also, call me whatever names you like, but I am sold just on the idea of seeing Fandango and English square off in a clash of gimmicks. 

 

There it is; my complete take on the Wrestlemania XXX card.  I am much happier with this final version then what I had first lined up.  There isn’t a match on here where I am feeling it is “making do” like I did last week.  Is it perfect?  Of course not, what card ever is?  However the match selections and the stories told to reach them I feel makes for compelling entertainment, which is the end goal.  What is the likelihood any of these matches occur?  Well, we’ll find out in about three months.

Until next week, I relinquish creative control.

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