Let's Fantasy Book: Wrestlemania 32
This is it, Maggle! The road to Wrestlemania has finally come to an end and we've reached our destination. After a fantastic showing at Fastlane Bray Wyatt looks poised to become the New Face of Fear and the WWE at large, while Brock Lesnar looks to reclaim what is rightfully his. However, for the fans, the only hope is that by the end of the night, a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion is crowned. Anyone but you Roman... anyone but you.
We are riding a huge wave of momentum coming off of last month's show, but that doesn't mean we can rest on our laurels. Fans expect 'Mania to showcase the best of the best and that is exactly what we need to deliver. Thankfully, with such spectacle, comes a great deal of freedom in our booking. In the interest of composing an entertaining and memorable show, creativity can take center stage in crafting this, the 32nd edition of Wrestlemania.
Before we begin the show of shows, lets recap our previous show, WWE Fastlane. In addition, lets see what direction, if any, Creative has taken with our programs as well as a brief recap of our current Champions.
Stardust has defeated Dolph Ziggler to become the Number One Contender to the WWE United States Championship. He has been booked quite strongly through his unique brand of promo work.
Ryback has been booked quite strong after defeating Braun Stroman. A heel turn appears imminent.
AJ Styles has been challenged by the Undertaker
Adam Rose (still in his party gimmick) appears poised for a break out and fairly decent push.
Chris Jericho and Dean Ambrose are embroiled in a very intense and violent feud. Both wrestlers have displayed a great amount of passion during their quest for the Intercontinental Title. Chris Jericho's heel turn is driven by one goal, and that is cementing himself as the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time.
Becky Lynch is the Number One Contender to the WWE Diva's Championship. She has repeatedly stated in promos that she will “erase” Charlotte from history. Their feud is getting attention on the Smackdown program, being showcased in a main event capacity.
The Dudley Boys have clinched the Number One Contendership of the WWE Tag Team Championship.
Bray Wyatt has defeated Triple H, gaining access to the main event at Wrestlemania against current Champion, Roman Reigns and Royal Rumble Winner, Kevin Owens.
Alberto Del Rio is the WWE United States Champion
Chris Jericho is the WWE Intercontinental Champion
The Lucha Dragons are the WWE Tag Team Champions
Charlotte is the WWE Divas Champion
Roman Reigns is the WWE World Heavyweight Champion
Despite us using the “fantasy” title, for the purposes of this year long project, there are rules we must follow. We cannot outright hire people or call up talent from NXT, “just because.” If something happens, “In real life,” this must affect our booking.
This is a recap of ongoing real life events that will affect our booking decisions.
John Cena has announced that he will be unable to compete at Wrestlemania
Sheamus has returned from injury
Alberto Del Rio is still nursing a hurt lower back
King Barrett has returned from injury
Titus O'Neil is suspended, presumably for assaulting a white man.
Daniel Bryan has retired (This has huge implications for the United States Championship)
Sasha Banks has returned from injury
Nikki Bella has suffered a career threatening neck injury
Seth Rollins remains injured
Paige Has returned from injury
Randy Orton remains injured
Sin Cara has returned from injury
Cesaro remains injured
Neville is injured
Mark Henry has a possible rib injury
Sami Zayn has debuted on the main roster.
The Dudley Boys vs The Lucha Dragons for the WWE Tag Team Championship
For weeks now, The Dudley Boys have gone deeper and deeper into heel territory, and that turn is on full display tonight. Hard shots, taunts to the crowd and isolation of Sin Cara are the main weapons in the Dudley Boys arsenal. While, it may seem odd to book the Dudley Boys so strong, particularly in the opening match of the biggest wrestling show of the year, there is a long term plan in play guiding our direction this evening.
Not only is WrestleMania an opportunity to tie up loose ends and close out existing threads in popular storylines, it is a prime opportunity to begin new tales for the audience to sink their teeth into. Our goal this evening is to not only satisfy the crowds desire to see the saga for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship come full circle, but to keep the audience talking and on edge from start to finish.
During the hard hitting contest, Sin Cara will find himself much on the receiving end of the Dudley's beating. Of course tables attempt to come into play in the match early, with several being set up outside the ring in anticipation for a high spot. Eventually, Kalisto will find himself in the match, hitting all of his crowd pleasing maneuvers.
After a Salida del Sol and a false finish, the match comes to it's crescendo with Sin Cara tagging himself into the match. Sin Cara quickly eats a 3D, much to the shock and outrage of Kalisto. Unable to break the pin, due to D-Von running interference, the Dudley's score a victory and our first title change of the evening.
Post Match, Kalisto has calmed himself down and enters the ring to help his fallen teammate. While attempting to console him in their loss, Sin Cara shoves him away and knocks him to the floor, obviously distraught over the loss. As the Dudleys are celebrating their victory on the entrance ramp, Sin Cara, microphone now in hand calls out to the victors.
“Hey culos!” He calls out, gaining the attention of the new Tag Team Champs. “He's all yours...”
Remember those tables set up outside the ring? One of them has now found it's way into the ring... and is on fire. The stunned, and beaten Kalisto finds himself on the receiving end of a very crowd pleasing 3D through a flaming table, the prior teased spot now coming to fruition. It has been a while before we've seen a masked wrestler that is a true heel. Plus, with Kalisto poised to fill the void left by Rey Mysterio, taking his revenge against 'Cara will be a good way to get him on the right track.
Winner and new WWE Tag Team Champions: The Dudley Boys.
Sin Cara has Turned heel, The Lucha Dragons appear to have split.
Adam Rose vs Goldust
Previously, it was determined that Adam Rose as a character is deserving of the type of treatment and booking he received at Full Sail. In Florida, Rose was well received due to his unique persona and incredible in ring talent. If given the right type of molding and care, Rose will enjoy the same level of popularity he received in Florida. To begin the journey down this long and winding path, we will employ a tried and true booking method.
By pairing Rose with the equally sound and entertaining Goldust, we've enjoyed a month of great back and forth promo work and great demonstrations of in ring prowess. While this feud may not have the background or credence of a Michales/Hunter feud giving fans a match featuring their favorite performer is typically a recipe for success. Add to this the fact that this isn't a gimmick match or one with a career on the line, and you are left with a fun bout with the purpose of getting over a younger talent and entertaining the fans.
In our first unique entrance of the evening, Rose will enter second, leaving Goldust in awe of the site he's about to see. Normally running twenty or so deep, The “Rosebuds” now number at least a hundred. Clad in bright and colorful outfits, this cavalcade of groupies sell the idea of Rose as a not only a party god, but as somewhat of an actual figurehead. This is very important as we continue to grow and evolve the character.
With his Rosebuds leading chants at ringside, Rose and Goldust will engage in a lengthy match featuring a slow and calculated build. Goldust has wrestled for three decades and to best him in combat, Rose will need to employ every skill and tactic he's acquired at NXT.
Rose will eventually come away with a hard-fought victory via a Party Foul. Rose is technically a heel, but not necessarily a bad guy. He's a party animal; drugs, debauchery and revelry are his bag. A respectful handshake is not out of the question however I envision the sight and sound of a hundred cheering roadies is enough to drive home the point that Rose can be seen a legitimate contender.
Winner: Adam Rose
Becky Lynch vs Charlotte for the WWE Divas Championship
Previously, creative had contemplated adding a Ladder Match stipulation to this match to add an aura of danger and high stakes to an already important match. However, the gravity of the match itself is enough to give credence to the importance of the fight. Our outcome will be determined by a clean victory in the center of the ring.
Charlotte has done wonders in elevating herself and her character over the past few months. Where Charlotte has shined is in presenting herself as a dangerous and unpredictable heel, much like her father. However, where Charlotte has failed is in elevating the prestige of the WWE Divas Championship. Yet, it is important to remember that her shortcomings are not her fault.
Thanks to the sins of men residing in an ivory tower, an entire gender of athletes are being held back by aesthetics and marketing. Whether the fans believe it or not, Becky Lynch and Charlotte are saving the WWE Womens Division tonight.
Lynch's claim that she will “Erase” her from history may not sound like the words of someone in the role of a strong baby face, but it is important to realize the context. Charlotte is not the Women's Champion, she is the “Divas” Champion. Much has been said about eliminating the “Butterfly” strap, and tonight appears to be the night to do it.
After a long and hard fought battle, Lynch will come out ahead, despite the repeated interference by Ric Flair. While Charlotte was forced to tap to the Dis-arm-her, her sacrifice will not be in vein. Charlotte will indeed be erased from history as Becky Lynch debuts her prize the next night on Monday Night Raw:
The now reinstated WWE Women's Championship.
Winner: Becky Lynch. WWE Divas Championship is retired. Replaced with now reinstated WWE Women's Championship.
Kane vs Ryback
Kane's time in the ring is winding down, that much is for certain. He's stated that he feels that he can continue to perform for years to come, however his character may simply not agree. Thats not to take away anything from Kane's athletic ability and sound ring psychology. He's one of the greatest to ever step between the ropes, however over the better part of two decades we've seen Kane; unmasked, set on fire, turn babyface, turn corporate, turn heel again, have a girl friend, lose said girlfriend, befriend Randy Orton and everything in between.
While his clout is no where near as damaged as The Big Show, in most circumstances, Kane as a believable demonic, monstrous force in the ring doesn't have the same weight as it did in 1998. Luckly for Kane, this isn't normal circumstances.
At WrestleMania, big match heels are as vicious and intimidating as the day they were introduced. For the 90,000 in attendance and many of the first time or returning viewers at home, Seeing the muscle-bound Ryback standing toe to toe with the equally imposing Kane is a recipe for success.
Our goal, much like in the Rose match prior is simply to build Ryback as a heel. He may not be destined for the top heel spot at this time, but Ryback can easily be slotted into a role previously held by the likes of The Big Show. It may not be the star studded fare the rest of the card offers, but it has a key component of a memorable 'Mania match; two guys beating the piss out of each other.
A Note on Interludes: Hall of Fame and The Rock's Segment
In what can only be described as one hell of a coincidence, all of the inductees (as of the penning of this article) have clear and deep ties to the south, Texas in particular... huh. Thankfully, this interlude will chomp a bit of time off the clock, along with The Rock's segment, Whatever the hell that is going to be. Quite frankly, as the lead booker, I don't give a shit what he ends up doing, as long as it doesn't interfere with our ongoing storylines.
With the knowledge that Dwayne can't wrestle due to insurance conflicts, we're a bit limited as to what we can expect from him. We know he won't want to work with the confines of a script, so that's out the window. We'll just send him out there with a list of the seven words you can't say on television and hope for the best.
Stardust Vs Alberto Del Rio for the WWE United States Championship
After giving the crowd a chance to calm down from the Divas Title change, we are beginning to get into the meat of the program. While the present may look unfavorably at the selection of Stardust in this high stakes title match, history will prove the decision to press forward with the character as the right one.
Those in the internet wrestling community continue to debate the merit of Goldust and his lack of a WWE title run. As previously stated, Cody Rhodes carries a great deal of talent, one that I refuse to allow the same mistakes to befall. Rhodes as Stardust may not benefit from the same framing as Goldust, but the penalty of parental guidance shouldn't be a hurdle to Stardust's lasting success.
For the time being, Alberto Del Rio has been a fantastic Champion, however unlike Cena before him, his desire to continue to hold the belt has been a difficult sell. That's not to say that he's looking to throw a fight to drop the belt, but there is some truth in freeing up Del Rio to send him in hunt for a greater prize.
Dropping the belt to a rising star has, and will continue to be the right decisions when faced with a situation such as this. As a member of the creative team, I firmly believe if given the chance, Stardust can ascend to a high level, maybe even one above that achieved by his brother. A huge, clean victory here pushes Stardust to commit to the character and creative to carefully mold his direction ahead.
Sheamus vs The Miz vs Dolph Ziggler in a Triple Threat Last Man Standing Match
A late edition to our already stacked card, a high impact match with a unique stipulation adds a bit of star power to the card, and gives the audience a chance to wind up as we head into the final stretch of the show. All three of these athletes are amazing wrestlers and I intend to utilize all of them post 'Mania. As such, I personally want them on the main stage, instead of the Preshow battle royal.
The match works much the same as an elimination match. Once a combatant is counted to ten, they are out of the match. As the rules are quite simple, so will be the booking. Our goal is to build and showcase all three warriors, and overbooking the contest will just get in the way of that.
Ziggler will fall first, by way of a White Noise through a table, leaving Miz and Sheamus to duke it out to a very flashy finish. After a Skull Crushing Finale fails to put Sheamus down, the brawl spills outside the ring. Sheamus will score the victory after a Brogue Kick sends Miz crashing off of the top of the Wrestlemania stage.
The Undertaker vs AJ Styles
In a perfect world, or at least in one where I had the job before my predecessor, The Undertaker would have never lost. Perhaps the biggest mistake in WWE creative could have been entirely avoided and Lesnar's reputation as a legitimate fighter would remain intact. With that stated, I have no intention of breaking the streak now.
AJ Styles wrestling pedigree has been vetted with the majority of the hardcore wrestling audience, however the more casual wrestling fan has likely been wondering what exactly the “Hottest free agent in the world,” brings to the table. While a few matches with Chris Jericho and Curtis Axel have helped demonstrate his value to the sport, many still require a bit more of a challenge before accepting the “Phenomenal One” as their own.
On the other hand, The Dead Man doesn't much care for those stepping on his turf. This is and will always be, Undertaker's ring. If Styles wants into the WWE, he needs to pass the gatekeeper first. He call himself “Phenomenal,” But The Undertaker is the only Phenom.
Styles can fall in this match, however he can remain a power player with the benefit of strong booking. By employing a calculated, slow build to this 30-minute bout, AJ Styles will walk away the victor, even if he falls to the Tombstone Piledriver. The Undertaker will eventually win the match, but he will need to dig deeper than ever to walk away with the victory. After such a grand display of bravery and heart, The Undertaker will have no choice but to shake AJ's hand.
Winner: The Undertaker
Dean Ambrose vs Chris Jericho in a Ladder Match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
Ladder Matches allow for a strong, high impact and crowd pleasing match, while still protecting both individuals in the contest. Historically at WrestleMania, the ladder match has been used as spectacular method to change a title belt. This match will buck the trend.
Dean Ambrose is a fantastic wrestler, perhaps the best on the roster. However, Dean Ambrose has not been a good Intercontinental Champion. His brief feud with Kevin Owens is not typically remembered in a fond light and his time with the belt was lackluster at best. Ambrose's quest to dominate the midcard fell flat with the fans because many, myself included view the Lunatic Fringe as a main eventer, rather than a midcarder.
With the recent history of the Intercontinental Title tied to the mid card, bucking the trend will require Jericho to cherish and dominate the belt just as he would the World Heavyweight Championship. One simply doesn't become a ten time Intercontinental Champion by accident. Jericho achieved this mind blowing statistic through talent and energy. We must harness that emotion to save and restore the belt, much as Cena did with the Untied States title.
Jericho retaining the belt allows Ambrose the freedom to focus his energy towards the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. A convenient side effect of extending Jericho's title reign is the giant push that will be given to the performer that does manage to beat him for his title.
Jericho will employ every dirty trick in the book to retain his title. Shots with chairs, stairs and even the ladder itself will echo throughout the arena. While both wrestlers will be booked as evenly matched, Jericho will eventually retrieve his suspended gold. A particularly crowd-pleasing spot involves Jericho catching Ambrose in a Codebreaker after an attempted Atomic Elbow from the middle rung of the ladder.
Winner and still WWE Intercontinental Champion: Chris Jericho
Bray Wyatt vs Roman Reigns vs Kevin Owens vs Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
We've reached a critical moment in WWE, and it involves a lot of individuals willing to take medicine that might leave a very negative taste in their mouth. Allow me to be frank: Roman Reigns cannot continue to hold our company's marquee title. It is time for all involved to take a moment and realize that this experiment has failed. Roman Reigns may have his time in the sun, but that time is not now.
Brock Lesnar leaves us in a very unusual position as well. Admittedly sloppy booking has diminished his star power somewhat, leaving me to believe that the audience would not be very receptive to another period where the belt is not being regularly defended. This is a very sobering reminder that with power as unique as Lesnar's great care needs to be utilized to book him effectively in entertaining matches and storylines.
KO and Bray Wyatt will spend most of the match isolating Lesnar, effectively making this a handicap match. Although Lesnar will remain incredibly strong throughout the bout, it will be these two up, and comers are leaving the biggest impact. Kevin Owens is certainly destined for great things; headlining Wrestlemania is but the first in his long pedigree of accomplishments. However, if we are going to pull the trigger on placing Wyatt as the next Undertaker, we have to pull the trigger now.
It may seem hyperbolic, but the long-term health of the company rests on Bray Wyatt winning the title and winning it clean. Well, at least as clean as one can in a Fatal Four Way. If we are to put Wyatt over in a big way, The Wyatt Family cannot interfere; he must score the victory via pinfall. As an added level, Wyatt will score the pin on Roman Reigns via a Sister Abigail.
Kevin Owens will, in time have his day with the big belt. However, we must acknowledge that Wyatt is damaged goods. Like Lesnar, the careless booking has left him I a weakened state. With a clean victory here, we can ensure that his legacy will continue, and the “New Face of Fear,” can finally live up to his namesake.