Taking a break from some of my tag team delirium, The Fantasy Book is back to take a look at a current item in professional wrestling and how it could be booked. I’m talking about the Vincent J. McMahon Legacy of Excellence Award.
To backtrack a second, the WWE announced this past week on Raw that this new and distinguished award would be presented to someone on the February 22 edition of Raw. At first I found that odd. Wouldn’t the presentation of the “most distinguished award ever given out in WWE,” per Michael Cole, be a special event? Perhaps one that could also be promoted to get more buys for a pay-per-view? Especially a PPV that doesn’t have a lot of marquee matchups? A PPV like Fastlane perhaps? You know, the PPV that is scheduled for February 21, the day BEFORE the award is being presented?
But, to be fair, the WWE does think highly of their product. They probably don’t want any distractions from their ongoing stories like Alberto del Rio versus Calisto for the twentieth time. So, fine, Monday Night Raw is when the award is presented. And anyone who has watched wrestling for any period of time can logically assume this “award” is nothing more than an attempt to push a Wrestlemania storyline.
I thought about the current storylines, as well as the proposed matchups heading into Wrestlemania, and couldn’t think of a valid one to attach this new wrinkle. None of the current feuds really need a new trophy to add any excitement. Even the feuds that are sort of dead in the water wouldn’t be helped much by a new piece of hardware floating around.
Which leads to this – what kind of angle could a “new” award, named after the patriarch of the McMahon family, actually jumpstart? I will lay out three possibilites in the order of what I consider to be most likely to least likely (which also happens to be the most intriguing order).
1. The Vincent J. McMahon Legacy of Excellence Award will go to Vincent K. McMahon! In a vain attempt to make sure everything revolves around him and his family, Vince decides everyone should bow down to what a fantastic leader and businessman he is. He could also go onto a rant about “Making WWE great again!” and try to pull some Donald Trump heat. The whole thing could just be a huge ego-fest, designed to get some mainstream media coverage (especially if he uses the award to announce a new initiative, like building a wall around cancer or something). The same type of ego-stroking idea could follow if the award is given to Stephanie McMahon or Triple H. In fact, if Vince or Triple H is the recipient of the award, it could go a long way towards a “power-mad emperor” type of storyline. Nero in tights, if you will. The whole Vincent J. McMahon Legacy of Excellence Award just feels like another way to make the McMahons the center of attention of everything heading into Wrestlemania.
2. The second possibility for the Vincent J. McMahon Legacy of Excellence Award leads itself directly to a Wrestlemania match. And I do think a variation of this angle is just as likely as the Vince ego trip theory above. Let’s think about what is set up for Wrestlemania so far… a whole lot of nothing. They haven’t even begun an Undertaker tease, and given the volume of injuries to key players this year, the WWE has to be banking on a HUGE Undertaker match for the Wrestlemania stage. Now what would that match be?
- Given the current Wyatts versus the WWE “Titans” storyline, Undertaker could be added in there as a fourth Titan to help take down the Wyatt Family. But UT and Kane already defeated the Wyatts several months ago on their own. Now adding Big Show and Ryback to the mix doesn’t really make the possible matchup any better.
- I’ve also heard rumors of Undertaker and Brock Lesnar teaming up to take on the Wyatt Family. The past few weeks have moved away from a Lesner versus Wyatt storyline, so I don’t think this is as likely. But if the Wyatts thoroughly destroy Big Show, Ryback, and Kane at Fastlane, and cost Lesnar another shot at the title, perhaps a Lesnar/Undertaker combination out of necessity could work. But again, Undertaker just recently beat the Wyatt clan with a lesser partner in Kane. Why would we think Undertaker and Lesnar could possibly lose such a match? Plus, Undertaker just dispatched Bray Wyatt at Wrestlemania last year, and pretty handily. So I don’t really think Undertaker becomes involved in any Wyatt business this year.
- I had a long-term Fantasy Book idea about Undertaker and Sting finally meeting up at Wrestlemania. But given that I have heard exactly zero rumblings of any Sting appearance at Wrestlemania (or any other event due to his neck injury), I think that possibility is a no-go.
- Another rumor making the rounds, and one that has been picking up steam in no small part to Jim Ross speaking to it, is that a John Cena versus Undertaker match could be coming to Wrestlemania. This would definitely work in that it would be the HUGE matchup the WWE is hoping to get for their biggest event of the year. And if Cena and Undertaker are healthy, they could put on a great match.
So how does that tie into the Vincent J. McMahon Legacy of Excellence Award? Well, there is no real animosity between Cena and Undertaker, so some has to be established. And why not over an award so distinguished that it has never been presented to anyone before. Being the first Vincent J. McMahon Legacy of Excellence Award winner could count for something, right?
Maybe so, but what if there is a schism between the panel that is going to present the award? What if Triple H and Stephanie want to give the award to the Undertaker while Vince wants to give it to John Cena? Or vise versa? Or everyone agreeing to give it to Cena for his charity work, etc, only to have the prodigal son Shane McMahon return to defend his grandfather’s good name and give the award to someone who has always stood for what was best for the company – The Undertaker? Or some combination of all of that? Maybe that could work, plus it would have the added benefit of the McMahons having their name all over the main event of Wrestlemania.
But more intriguing, what if the award is presented to The Undertaker. The Undertaker comes out in full character, not really caring about the award, but then Cena interrupts the presentation. Cena could then go on an egotistical tirade about everything he has given to this sport, this business, and this company. He could talk down Undertaker’s achievements while trying to showcase his own worthiness for the award. In fact, he could keep going in this manner until he says too much and The Undertaker grabs Cena and chokeslams him. Cena could continue in this heel manner, going full out in following weeks to accuse the Undertaker of stealing his earned spotlight, etc. WWE would have to truly commit to a Cena heel turn however for it to work, and I doubt they would do that.
However, what if the reverse happened? What if the award was presented to Cena and Undertaker came out to say he didn’t think Cena deserved it? And while Undertaker was making his case, he would run down Cena a bit as well. And Cena would finally have enough and hit Undertaker with an FU. Cena maintains the high road the following weeks, not engaging Undertaker, but UT continues to come out and bait Cena, insulting him up and down. This continues until they decide to settle things at Wrestlemania in a “Who’s Most Worthy?” match. (The pros of this approach include Undertaker working better as a heel than Cena, Cena can continue to be the “face” and sell merchandise to the pre-teen crowd, and the majority of the crowds will cheer Undertaker anyway just to see him kill John Cena. The con of this approach is getting people to think that Undertaker would care about this award one way or another, but a little decent writing could make it more about “respect” than the award, and a “respect” storyline is right in Undertaker’s wheelhouse.)
3. The third possibility I see for the Vincent J. McMahon Legacy of Excellence Award is also the least likely one I see happening. It starts with Vincent K. McMahon presenting the award to himself, with one of the most egotistical speeches ever. Towards the end, Vince gets interrupted by Titus O’Neill! O’Neill manages to push his way past security, and lays into Vince verbally, and pointing out that he has lost it (referencing the multi-month suspension as well). Either at this point, or going into following weeks (which would surely include some more arrest hijinks, police and security escorts, maybe even O’Neill being represented by David Otunga in a threat to sue McMahon and the WWE, etc), O’Neill would continue to lash out at McMahon.
Finally, McMahon would be pressured by his family, his advisors, everyone around him to give Titus O’Neill some time to make his points. This could result in a “debate” between the two (because nothing says ratings like ripping off political storylines). The debate could even be a special event if they could get some extra TV time from USA, or air on the WWE Network with massive promotion.
During the debate, O’Neill could go “off script” and point out the WWE’s history of racist characters, lousy history with black wrestlers, the insulting way the WWE handles Black History Month, and more. McMahon could lose it on the spot, reinstate O’Neill and challenging him to a match at Wrestlemania, with the Vincent J. McMahon Legacy of Excellence Award on the line.
This possible storyline could tie into a lot of real-life discussion, support a number of high-profile causes, and bring HUGE mainstream attention. (Unfortunately, it could also bring in Donald Trump to stump for Vince McMahon, but let’s hope that wouldn’t happen.) It ties some reality into the fantasy of the wrestling world. It would get people talking in a very real and important way. And it could allow for a broader view of WWE’s storylines, showing they don’t have to just be a reactionary view of society, but how they can be real agents of social change.
That would be something worthy of the Vincent J. McMahon Legacy of Excellence Award.
Regardless, that sweet looking trophy will most likely be destroyed before Wrestlemania.
Until next time…
Tags: John Cena, The Undertaker, titus o'neill, Undertaker versus John Cena, VInce McMahon, Vincent J. McMahon Legacy of Excellence Award