Monday, October 22, 2012

Jeff Plays WWE Booker through WM 2013

Twenty years ago, I ran a pro wrestling newsletter called FANTASY FEDERATION.

The premise was simple – We had the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and seldom did a main event performer slip from one group to the other.

I also ran matchups from different eras, such as Bruno Sammartino vs Ric Flair. And the occasional Japanese headliner vs an American champion (this was when I had the time to pay for and watch tapes from overseas).

After a few years, Hulk Hogan made the move to WCW and the dam broke. There was no reason for me to keep producing the newsletter when we had the Monday Night Wars and main event programs were being wasted for the sake of an extra 200,000 viewers on an October night.

CM Punk
Now we have one major promotion (WWE) and one minor promotion (Impact). Since Impact does not know how to build a superstar, their most popular talent are the people who were once big names in WWE, living in the dying days of their stardom.

As the fall season develops, WWE begins its build to the biggest show of the year – WrestleMania 29 (April 2013 in New Jersey). WWE has spent a few months dropping teases of things to come. Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson announced that he would challenge for the championship at January's Royal Rumble. CM Punk then delivered a Rock Bottom (Rock's own finisher) to Johnson on an episode of RAW.

Most observers felt that Punk was being kept strong through Rumble to set up a Rock vs Punk match, where Rock would win the championship. He would then hold the title and drop it to John Cena in a rematch of last year's "Match of a Lifetime" that drew a near-record buyrate for PPV.

But then age and injuries caught up with WWE. Cena needed surgery to repair his injured wrist and the damage was determined to be worse than thought. He would have to miss October's HELL IN A CELL PPV that was to be headlined by him vs Punk. In a jam and lacking live bodies, WWE punted and elevated Ryback into the spot.

A former Tough Enough contestant, Ryback was last seen as Skip Sheffield, a smiling hick cowboy member of the Nexus, a gimmick from three years ago. An injury took him out of that angle and he was rebuilt as a clone of Bill Goldberg. Given an undefeated winning streak, Ryback won squash matches and said little. WWE ignored the chants of "Goldberg" and after months of minute-long bouts, Ryback started to slowly get over with crowds.

The problem is, raising Ryback's hand at HELL IN A CELL, and giving him the championship over Punk, ruins months of previously-planned booking. Not to mention in all likelihood throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars of business in the trash. The locked cell gimmick has already been compromised. So another "crap" finish devalues the gimmick. But Punk has been champ for 300+ days, which has gotten over huge. And Ryback is undefeated (with a few DQ or countout victories over that stretch). Something's gotta give.

Ryback
I have a booking suggestion that allows WWE to keep their scheduled booking plans, and diverts Ryback into some big matchups of his own.

The best potential solution would be Punk's "manager" Paul Heyman making a frantic phone call on RAW, telling someone that "Money is no object."

At the end of the episode, Heyman gets a text or a voice message and looks relieved, as a tease.

John Cena should be announced as the special guard for the door at HELL IN A CELL, to prevent interference from Heyman or anyone else.

Cut to the PPV: Late in the match, Ryback hits his finish.

A rip appears in the corner of the fabric covering the ring and a hand appears from the rip, distracting Ryback.

The hand grabs his leg and pulls Ryback through the ring.

Cena is going nuts outside the ring, demanding the ref unlock the door. 

Inside the cell, Punk recovers and heads for the door.

A man climbs out from under the ring, wearing a hoodie, carrying a pipe.

He tosses down the pipe and throws back his hoodie: BIG DAVE BATISTA.

The crowd goes nuts. Heyman laughs. Cena is stunned.

The ref opens the cell. Heyman distracts Cena and Punk bolts past him and stumbles up the ramp, losing by DQ.

As the PPV goes off the air, Cena and Batista do a stare-down. No sign of Ryback.

Ryback should not appear on TV in the buildup for SURVIVOR SERIES (November's PPV). The main event should be a three-way championship match between CM Punk, John Cena, and Batista.

For the SS finish, Cena hits the Attitude Adjustment on Punk but Batista breaks it up. Before Batista can hit his finisher on Cena, Ryback's music plays and Batista bails as the big man runs to the ring. Ryback spears Punk (who gets the win via DQ).

This leaves the WWE in exactly the same place it wanted to be when Cena was injured – Punk as champ, positioned for Rock.

But they have a ready-made feud program for Ryback (with Batista) to cement him as a main eventer.

And Cena is "free" to set up a match with Undertaker, if that's the direction the WWE wants to go.

Batista gets a tremendous six-month payday for working limited dates and headlining multiple PPVs (Survivor Series, TLC, Rumble, Elimination Chamber, and WM). If Batista wants to stick around, there's a built-in babyface turn so he can be programmed against Punk post-WM, to get Punk's heat back after losses to Rock and possibly Undertaker.

There's some amateur armchair booking from a guy who spent 3+ years doing it in his spare time. Enjoy the show and let's see how the WWE works their way out of it.
Post a Comment