Monday, October 26, 2015

Pro Wrestling - Designing the Crystal Ball

Dear Loyal Follower(s) ...

Indulge me if you will (and you will) for I have seen the future! OK, not really, but I have imagined it! Well kinda ... you see, I have been inspired by one of my favorite YouTube channels to think about the wonderful world of professional wrestling and how things would work if I ran the joint. Yes, I know, this blog is supposed to be all about sports and my opinions on things in the competitive world. However, I thought it would be relatively harmless if just for today I meandered back into the arena of sports entertainment. Because, even though it's outcomes are predetermined, the athleticism and competitive nature of the WWE is not that far off from any of my other favorite sports leagues. Plus, wrestling has pyro! In order to explain where I'm going with this, you may want to take a quick glance at the YouTube channel mentioned above (or not, completely up to you): WhatCulture WWE

For those of you who were too lazy to click the link, here's the summary of what you missed: This dude Adam runs a YouTube channel all about WWE and has an ongoing series of shows of how he would go back in time and re-write major wrestling storylines as he feels they would have been better told. Given the benefit of reflecting on the past, he takes "angles" (wrastlin term for stories) that were only so-so and tells a brand new story with the same characters in that same time period. Basically, every new history he writes is better than the original because you're able to erase the mistakes and pieces that the fans didn't like. But, that got me thinking, what if you couldn't erase the mistakes? And by that I mean, what if instead of fixing the past he tells a golden story of the future? Well, he has hinted that he might do that one day but it hasn't happened yet. So, I get to do it first. And thus, my vision for the future begins! (Ok, technically Adam started doing this over the weekend but since I haven't watched the videos yet it doesn't count)

So, before the future starts, I should probably mention that I'm making a couple of broad assumptions that will greatly impact my story. These assumptions are big enough that any one of them being false could (and would) completely change what happens in the future. However, they are also based on enough credible information that though they aren't guaranteed, they could very well all come true. With that said, here are the "truths" that I am assuming in putting together my ideal future storylines (in no particular order):

1. The Rock is indeed in talks with WWE about a potential return to the company and that will happen at some point.
2. Daniel Bryan will not be cleared by the WWE medical staff and thus his in-ring career is over.
3. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin has no desire to return to action and will not be strapping on the boots again at WrestleMania 32 in Dallas.
4. Like it or not, Roman Reigns is walking out of WrestleMania next April as WWE World Heavyweight Champion. (Note: I toss this in because it seems to be an inevitable truth right now. Rather than ignoring what will come, I'll write a story that makes it more palatable.)

One more thing ... I'm putting together this view of the future based on how I would "book" (another wrastlin term for story) things, not based on what I think will happen. Naturally, I anticipate the actual WWE version will end up being quite different (and probably not nearly as awesome) than my version of things. Now that we've got THAT out of the way ...

Main Event Picture

For anyone that watched the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view (PPV) last night, you already know that Seth Rollins won the match and retained his WWE World Heavyweight Championship (to make this easier moving forward, we're just calling it the Championship). This was not a surprise finish and the way he thoroughly thumped Kane it makes it clear that a new challenger is waiting in the wings. Now, WWE has strongly hinted that the new challenger for the belt will be Roman Reigns. However, since this is my story and not Vince's, I'm changing this up. Right now ratings for Monday Night Raw are at an all time low and the company is struggling to maintain viewership against Monday Night Football. Unless of course you're like me and you have two TV's going at a time in your living room. But I digress. Since ratings are down and Roman Reigns is not the most "over" (wrastlin term for popular) character right now, I think WWE needs someone to quickly grab viewers. Enter the most electrifying man in all of entertainment ... The Rock. That's right, if up to me, the Rock would return tonight and immediately challenge Seth Rollins for the Championship. Not only would it be a huge ratings boost for the upcoming few weeks, but the next PPV is Survivor Series which is one of the biggest events the company hosts each year. The Rock is a big event draw and putting Rollins versus The Rock on the marquee would certainly draw attention and probably sell more subscriptions to the WWE Network. Plus, the event is in Atlanta and I really want to see the Great One in person.

Over the next few weeks, use TV time to really build this match. The story would basically take the angle that The Rock is sick of watching this brash young hotshot running his mouth and telling everyone how he's the greatest thing since sliced bread. In turn, Seth will go running to the Authority (Triple H and Stephanie McMahon) claiming how outrageous this challenge is and complaining that he shouldn't have to face The Rock. Triple H, being the big softy that he is, will acknowledge that this could potentially be trouble for Rollins but it's also best for business. He will make the Championship Match for Survivor Series but in order to be fair to Rollins, he will insert himself as the special guest referee for the match. This is key. WWE has already hinted at a Rock/Triple H fight building and Rollins will love the position he's been put in. However, WWE has already hinted at some tension between Triple H and Rollins which naturally Seth will completely forget about. Triple H will promise to call the match down the middle but Rollins knows where his allegiance really lies, wink.

Survivor Series - Besides the fact that this story would be great, there's no doubt that Rollins could carry the aging Rock to a tremendous match. It would likely be an instant-classic between Seth's athleticism and The Rock's charisma and fans would probably be going crazy. Throughout the contest, there would be building tension among all three men in the ring because the biggest title in the company will be on the line. Towards the end of the match we will reach a point where Rollins puts a strong move on The Rock, goes for the pin, and The Rock kicks out at two. Infuriated that Triple H wasn't counting faster, Rollins will attack the referee who will respond by hitting the Pedigree on Rollins. Now out cold, Rollins just lays there ready to be pinned. The Rock revives himself, sees Rollins in the middle of the ring, and confronts Triple H for not letting the match play out fairly (after all, The Rock is a face, aka good guy). Triple H will take exception to this and deliver his finisher again, the time to the Brahma Bull. Yeah, I get it, Dwayne has a lot of nicknames. Now that both guys are out thanks to Triple H, he stands back and waits for the two competitors to finally return to their feet. The match continues and eventually The Rock wins cleanly following a Rock Bottom and People's Elbow. The Rock is your new champ and he is immediately attacked by Triple H after being declared the winner.

At this point, Seth Rollins "disappears" from TV (enjoy your vacation) and we'll get back to him later. The match at Survivor Series clearly sets the stage for a showdown between Triple H and The Rock. Keep in mind that the tension in this feud has been building for close to two years now. Since The Rock likely won't compete in whatever crappy PPV the WWE puts together in December (it's not a major enough one) this gives them two months to build the excitement for a title match at Royal Rumble. Not only will this be anticipated around the world, but the Rumble is being held in Orlando next January which also happens to be the home location of NXT. Who is the man running NXT in the real world? Oh yeah, Triple H, happy coincidence. Now, I don't believe NXT will have anything to do with the main event on the "card" (wrastlin term for match lineup) that night, but there should be a stronger crowd reaction due to The Game's involvement in that area of the country. Ultimately the bad blood should result in this being some type of a gimmicky match, but even now these two guys could pull off a really strong straight forward contest.

Royal Rumble - Very important ... the Championship Match needs to be on the card before the actual Royal Rumble match. For this story to work, the title needs to be on the line first. Sometimes WWE does this, sometimes they have the title match at the end of the card. Why is this important you ask? Well ... as predicted Triple H and The Rock go head to head for the Championship in an epic battle. All of the key spots are hit during the match and it's looking like anyone could win. And, for the heck of it, let's throw in a good knocked out referee for fun. Just as it appears Triple H is going to finish off The Rock with a Pedigree ... here comes Seth Rollins! Rollins charges down to ringside, hops on the ring apron, and distracts Triple H long enough to get his attention and prevent the finisher. Triple H confronts Rollins who immediately threatens to get physical with both the challenger and the champion. Just as chaos begins ... here comes Roman Reigns! Reigns, the real-life cousin of The Rock, jumps into the ring and immediate goes after Rollins to prevent any further interference in the match. While they fight on the outside, The Rock refocuses and hits Triple H with the Rock Bottom and People's Elbow. Reigns wakes the referee, throws him in the ring, and The Rock gets the 3 count and retains the title. Reigns comes back into the ring, big hug for his cousin, raises The Rock's hand, and back-stab! From out of nowhere Roman attacks Dwayne and absolutely beats him to a bloody pulp. He leaves the ring smirking as the crowd is livid and shouting all sorts of mean things towards Reigns. "You big poopie head!" "I don't like your hair cut!" "You're hot, can I get your phone number?!" Later in the night Reigns goes on to absolutely destroy the competition in the actual Royal Rumble match. He will break his own record for the number of eliminations in a single contest, he will eliminate John Cena from the match (welcome back from your long vacation sir) when they are the last two men and fans will be hating it the entire way knowing for the second year in a row Reigns was going to win and there's nothing they can do about it. The "heat" (wrastlin term for hatred) on Reigns will be greater than ever and Roman will move forward as a full blown "heel" (wrastlin term for bad guy).

That, of course, brings us to WrestleMania 32 in Dallas ... Jerry's House. You have one of the biggest stars in company history defending the title against the most hated man in the company, and his own cousin, Roman Reigns. As you already know from my assumptions above, Reigns will go on to defeat The Rock and take over the Championship. Since at this point he will be detested by fans, he'll probably find a way to cheat during the match so the win over The Rock will be slightly tainted (a very heel thing to do). Instead of giving The Rock a hug after the match in the typical display of appreciation, he will instead slap his cousin in the face and walk up the entrance ramp leaving a defeated Dwayne in the ring to close out the show. Queue the fireworks.

Why does this script make sense? Well, there's several reasons:

1. Right now, nobody wants Roman Reigns to win the Championship. Wrestling fans feel like this future has been forced upon them for the last year and a half so you may as well make the guy a heel since the fans are going to boo him anyway.
2. Beating The Rock at WrestleMania adds legitimacy to his resume. He needs a big win, and beating the Great One at WrestleMania is as big as it gets.
3. This allows The Rock to help his cousin out in real life. Reigns his struggling for fan approval right now and The Rock can use his celebratory and status to put over family. Hatred sells in wrestling.

What About Everything Else?

So, there you have your Championship picture. But, there's still quite a few pieces of the story to be told. I'm not going to go into nearly as much detail as I did above, but ...

- Remember how Rollins interfered in the Royal Rumble Championship Match above? Well, that's exactly what WWE needed to setup the anticipated Triple H versus Seth Rollins match for WrestleMania. You're welcome.

- The next big thing in WWE is Bray Wyatt. So, it would only be fitting for the former "Next Big Thing" to be the one to put him over and build a strong case for Wyatt to be champion. I would expect that during the actual Royal Rumble match, a sneak attack by Wyatt and his family ruins the hopes of Brock Lesnar to win the coveted main event spot at WrestleMania. The Wyatt family would illegally enter the Rumble, gang attack Lesnar, and throw him over the top rope. That would setup a match at WrestleMania featuring Lesnar and Wyatt where Wyatt would come out the victor. Lesnar is inching closer to retirement (based on comments he made on the recent Stone Cold podcast) and this would give him a chance to allow a budding superstar to leap off his massive reputation.

- Undertaker versus Sting at WrestleMania. If you follow wrestling, you know what I'm talking about.

- The return of Alberto Del Rio last night was a huge wrinkle in the story that I did not see coming. He is a big name that has been gone for over a year and his defeat of John Cena to win the US Title will play a huge part of the company's booking moving forward. Between now and the end of the Royal Rumble, Del Rio needs to feud with Dean Ambrose without ever dropping the belt (I'd love to say Cesaro but WWE clearly has him on an inexplicable collision course with Stardust). Del Rio should drop the title back to Cena in the WrestleMania return match and THEN allow Cena to drop the belt to Dean Ambrose in the coming months. Big moment for Cena at WrestleMania, then let him put over Ambrose to build more credibility.

- I love Kevin Owens as the Intercontinental Champion. I think he's just a stronger character with a belt on his shoulder than he is without one. However, eventually he's going to lose the title and I think it should happen before WrestleMania so that someone can retain a belt at that event. The guy that I would have beat him? Samoa Joe.

- At some point Sheamus needs to cash in his Money in the Bank Contract on the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Pick one of the smaller PPV's in between Survivor Series, Royal Rumble, and WrestleMania. Whenever you book it, have him lose to The Rock. There's no need for Sheamus around here.

- Speaking of Money in the Bank, the Money in the Bank PPV next year needs to feature TWO of these specialty matches. The first match will be filled with a bunch of active superstars and should ultimately be won by Seth Rollins. He's just too good not to have him in the title picture. The next match will be contested by only NXT roster members who are being given the chance of a lifetime to prove themselves. This will be the chance that Finn Balor needs to make a name for himself on the main roster. Having two MITB holders will create a very cool dynamic as well as you can have Rollins and Balor creating all sorts of havoc when tripping over each other to cash in on Roman Reigns at the opportune time. It will be the foundation for an incredible rivalry moving forward, one that the company can rally around for years to come.

- In the Divas division ... for goodness sake get the title to Sasha Banks! I think there needs to be a dramatic build to this happening though as the fans desperately want Sasha to be the focus of the women. I'd have her lose in controversial fashion once or twice as they build to a WrestleMania Championship Match featuring the horsewomen in a Fatal Four Way. This match would have so much hype that they could open the show with it (first time ever for the Divas) and give them a nice long time slot to work with. Sasha would walk away with the belt just like she did when these ladies met in a similar match down in NXT.

So there you have it, the wrestling world according to me! Of course, I mentioned that my assumptions could be wrong ...

1. If The Rock doesn't return right away, the chances of him facing Reigns for the title at WrestleMania are virtually non-existent. Much more likely that he would face Triple H at WrestleMania.
2. If Daniel Bryan is able to make a return, he figures to be a prominent addition to the US Title picture in the short term before making his return to the main event scene in about a year.
3. If Stone Cold agrees to wrestle in Dallas next April, it's going to be against Brock Lesnar, no questions asked.
4. Who are we kidding, there's no way that Reigns doesn't win the main event in Jerry's World unless he's injured and unable to compete. Even if I don't like the guy, I would never wish that upon him.

Now that the fantasy has been written, let's see how the reality plays out ...

- Fishy