After TLC we start building to Sami vs. Big E. on the Christmas SD, where Sami manages to win via roll-up. Sami brags about his victory a lot, rubbing the loss in Big E.’s face, and Big E. becomes dejected. Sami winds up having a confrontation with Otis (who has been winning matches on the undercard lately) where he makes fun of Otis’ size and says that if he can beat an athletic big-man like Big E., surely he can beat a fat slob like Otis. Otis- under the guidance of Chad Gable- gets the title shot at the Royal Rumble and fails. From here, Sami starts to insult Gable (who has also been winning on the undercard. The way we build up both him and Otis is by having Gable backstage tell Otis something he’s going to do in a match, have Gable do it in a squash with Otis at ringside, then have Otis repeat the technique in his own match later on). At the February PPV, Sami beats Gable.
Big E., meanwhile has become dejected because he was so sure about his victory. He mopes a lot, and gets taunted by both Zayn and Baron Corbin. Kofi & Woods give him a pep-talk at the Royal Rumble, where he goes on a big run, including eliminating Corbin. Big E. beats Corbin at the February PPV and goes on to challenge Sami for the title at WrestleMania.
SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM TITLES:
The Street Profits beat Roode & Ziggler on TV while we build Nakamura & Cesaro back up to win the belts from them at the Rumble. Nakamura & Cesaro retain in a rematch at the February PPV while Roode & Ziggler put over the team of Rey & Dominik Mysterio. Rey & Dominik beat the Street Profits to earn a title shot at Mania (I know in my review of this week’s Smackdown I argued against the Street Profits losing the titles to a team with criteria that Cesaro & Nakamura arguably fit, but if you want the best Mania match possible for Rey & Dominik, who in the company is a better base for Lucha than Cesaro?).
THE HURT BUSINESS, RICOCHET, RETRIBUTION, AND THE US AND RAW TAG TEAM TITLES:
Raw 12/21- Hurt Business beat New Day in a rematch. Cedric is very cocky afterwards, having gotten the pin on former world champion Kofi.
Raw 12/28- Hurt Business lose to Lucha House Party by roll-up with Shelton getting pinned after he tags himself in in response to Cedric tagging himself in to try to steal the glory. After the match they yell at each other, but MVP calms them down. Under MVP’s direction, the entire Hurt Business attack Lucha House Party backstage and injure them. Lashley begins feuding with Riddle.
Raw 1/4- Shelton & Cedric lose a non-title match to Jeff and Riddle when Riddle pins Shelton after another instance of Cedric and Shelton failing to get along.
Raw 1/11- Shelton & Cedric retain the titles against the Hardy Bros. when Lashley interferes to take out Riddle, leaving Jeff alone. Still, Jeff is almost able to capitalize on a miscue and comes close to winning the titles.
Raw 1/18- The Hardy Bros and the returning Lucha House Party beat the Hurt Business in an eight-man tag when Riddle knocks Lashley out with a knee.
Later in the night, Lashley savagely attacks Riddle backstage and it takes many people to pull him off. Also, LHP are announced as challengers for the tag titles at Royal Rumble.
Raw 1/25- Go-home promos are cut. Riddle vs. Lashley winds up being booked in NXT’s Fight Pit.
Meanwhile, members of Retribution keep losing (other than Reckoning, who just doesn’t wrestle), both to Ricochet in singles matches and to various people in tags, though Ali never takes a pinfall other than losing to Ricochet.
-Lashely beats Riddle to retain the US Title in the Fight Pit
-Lucha House Party capitalize on an error by Shelton Benjamin to win the Raw Tag Team Titles.
-In the Rumble itself, members of Retribution feature heavily early on, but only Ali manages to eliminate people. It winds up being four of them against Ricochet, and Ricochet eliminates all of them (eliminating Ali last). Later in the match, Jeff Hardy has a fine run.
The next night on Raw, Ricochet beats Ali while thwarting all of Retribution’s attempts to interfere, making them look like total losers. After the match, Ali starts ranting at them for being losers and storms out. T-Bar decides he’s going to try to take up the mantle of leadership, but he winds up getting beaten by Ricochet several times, and eventually they all quit, other than Reckoning, who takes off her mask and cuts an “I’m going to do things the right way now” babyface turn promo. She’ll wind up having a match against babyface gatekeeper Nattie, who has decided that Mia is sincere and deserves a chance, and so challenges her to an interbrand match at Mania.
Lashley begins to feud with Jeff Hardy, who he defeats handily at the February PPV. Shelton and Cedric have even more trouble working together, as they are now blaming each other for the tag title loss (with Cedric pointing out that when they lose, it’s always Shelton who gets pinned). MVP finally thinks he has them on the same in time for their rematch at the February PPV, but they lose cleanly when Shelton suffers an injury, and once again start arguing.
Shelton is off TV for a few weeks, and during these few weeks, Cedric starts lobbying MVP to get him a new tag team partner. MVP really isn’t having it, so Cedric goes to Adam Pearce with his plan and gets a non-title match approved so he can prove the viability of his plan to MVP: Lucha House Party vs. Cedric Alexander… and his former best friend, Mustafa Ali. Cedric and Ali win their match, and Cedric goes to MVP to get Ali a spot in the Hurt Business. MVP is obviously suspicious, and the now-returned Shelton reminds Cedric that when Cedric joined, he told him that if this was a plot to screw them over form the inside, he would pay dearly… and Ali has already turned on them once.
Due to their win, Cedric and Ali are granted a tag title shot the next week, and win the titles. MVP agrees to let Ali into the group tentatively, telling Shelton that they’re about making money, and you can’t argue with results. The next week, something else will happen (details on that in the women’s division section) that will convince MVP that Ali is with them, though Shelton remains suspicious.
The Hardy Bros. win matches on the undercard and wind up with a tag title shot at Mania.
Also winning matches on the undercard is Ricochet. He cuts a promo noting that he has had two major thorns in his side this year. Now that he has dispatched Retribution, he is coming for the Hurt Business… and he wants Bobby Lashley’s US Title. MVP has Shelton play gatekeeper, telling Ricochet he can have a title shot at Mania if he beats Shelton. Ricochet beats Shelton clean to earn the title shot. Lashley vows to obliterate him. In an attempt to prove himself after his losses, Shelton challenges Keith Lee to a match at WrestleMania.
RANDY ORTON, THE RAW WORLD TITLE PICTURE… & THE FIEND?
For the world title picture in December/January, we get pretty much what we got on TV, with Lee and Sheamus both being Drew’s friend and also wanting a title shot. They meet in a #1 contendership and Lee wins, leading to a match on Legends’ Night with all of the legends watching Drew win clean. Goldberg then comes out and says he needs to know if Drew is the real deal and challenges him to a match the Royal Rumble, which Drew accepts.
On the Raw after TLC, Charly Caruso asks Randy Orton if he thinks he went to far “with what you did to The Fiend” at TLC, to which Randy responds with an incredulous “did I go too far? Are you kidding me?” and storms out. Throughout the show, there is much chatter about him having gone too far.
The next week on Raw, Randy asks for time to address the situation. He doesn’t understand why everyone is suddenly so angry at him. The Fiend has been terrorizing WWE for almost a year and a half, and Randy did what no one else could do: Get rid of The Fiend for good… “and now you’re all saying I ‘went too far?’ I should be a national hero!” Randy insists that The Fiend is gone forever, and he wants a reward from WWE for getting rid of him. He wants a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Title.
The next week, Adam Pearce tells him that they’re not going to reward his behavior, so Randy decides to go on strike for a bit. He returns on the Raw right before the Rumble and announces his entry into the Rumble, threatening to maybe “go ‘too far’” again if he doesn’t get what he wants.
In the Rumble itself, Randy makes his entrance and runs wild with RKOs, but is distracted when the message, “Randy, you should believe in ghosts” appears on the TitanTron, and John Morrison eliminates him. Orton gets back into the match and goes nuts on Morrison.
The next night, Randy demands to know who was behind that message flashing on the TitanTron. It must be someone here because he knows it can’t be The Fiend. He says this is evidence that WWE is trying to screw him out of a title shot they know he deserves. Drew McIntyre comes out and offers to put the title on the line against Randy at the February PPV if it will shut Randy up.
In the following weeks, “Randy, you should believe in ghosts” shows up on the Tron before and after every Orton match. Randy says he knows the tech guys aren’t doing it of their own accord and demands to know who is behind it, but no one confesses. Randy says he knows Drew is too honorable, but wonders if his buddies Keith Lee and Sheamus are. Each deny it but suggest that it might be the other. Randy attacks each of them one week, and they blame each other for it, leading to a match at the February PPV, which Sheamus wins clean.
As for Orton himself, he loses cleanly to Drew at the February PPV, and after Drew leaves, the lights go out and the message once again appears on the screen, followed by the date for WrestleMania. Then all of the screens in the Thunderdome turn into Fiend faces, and The Fiend is seen slithering into the ring behind Orton. Orton turns around… right into a SPEAR. Wait a minute… that guy’s too tall and thin to be The Fiend! He takes off his mask… and it’s EDGE!
For the first Raw after the February PPV, Sheamus pesters Drew about a title shot and they win a tag team match. The next week, Drew comes up to Sheamus and says he went to see Pearce and he got Sheamus a title match just like he wanted, and that match will take place tonight… when they challenge Lucha House Party for the Raw Tag Team Titles!
Before the match, Sheamus turns on Drew and beats him bloody, and Drew is sent to the hospital. The next week, Sheamus explains that he Drew knows that he has deserved a title shot and won’t give it to him because he’s afraid of him, etc., so Sheamus pretended to be Drew’s friend again, but even that didn’t work, so he had to take matters into his own hands. Keith Lee comes out to avenge Drew but gets beaten down with a weapon as well. When Drew comes back, he agrees to a title match at WrestleMania, and vows to make Sheamus pay (and I we’ll throw in some sort of no DQs stip here, too).
(And yes, The Fiend really is dead and gone forever, never to return in any form. F*ck The Fiend, and f*ck Bray Wyatt, too.)
SMACKDOWN WORLD TITLE PICTURE AND THE BLOODLINE:
Kevin Owens claws his way back up for a one last world title shot at the Royal Rumble, and Roman even agrees to a stipulation that Jey Uso will be barred from ringside… but if Owens loses, not only will he never get another shot as long as Roman is champion, but he can’t even be in the same match as Roman, or get within fifty feet of him. Daniel Bryan is also being pushed as a challenger and feuding with Roman, after choosing Owens as his challenger, Roman and Heyman try to make Bryan jealous of the “less worthy” Owens and get him to interfere in the title match, but Bryan doesn’t take the bait.
The Rumble comes, and with Jey Uso barred from ringside… Owens is screwed out of the title by the returning Jimmy Uso. Owens continues feuding with the Usos but always getting screwed by the numbers game. Other lower-level babyfaces step up to help him but the Usos take them out quickly. Eventually a savior appears: Seth Rollins. Rollins is now a babyface, saying that the demise of The Fiend means that Seth is free of his corrupting influence. Seth says that he is currently embarking on an “apology tour” to make good on all of the people he hurt. The Mysterios and Murphy reject him, so he decides to put them aside for now and go back to the first person he hurt: Kevin Owens. Owens is incredulous, but he needs allies, so he accepts Rollins offer of help. Those two are booked at WrestleMania in a match against the Usos which will go on right before Bryan vs. Roman, with the idea being that they will incapacitate the Usos so they can’t interfere in the Universal Title match.
For the month of February, Roman dismisses Bryan as not being a threat to him. Instead, he wants to out-do Drew and says he can beat Goldberg even faster than Drew did. Goldberg obviously accepts the challenge, and Roman does as he says, making him look like an even more unbeatable monster going into WrestleMania against Bryan.
Bryan’s promos are basically that he has the support of the fans and that he will outwrestle Roman and give the fans a champion they can be proud of. Roman does the usual “Head of the Table,” “you can’t beat me” stuff.
Charlotte calls in a “favor” from Asuka to get a title shot at Royal Rumble (after winning some matches, of course, but the idea is that Charlotte bartered a title shot in exchange for being Asuka’s replacement partner at TLC). Charlotte loses cleanly in the opener. After the next match, we see her leaving Adam Pearce’s office in a grumpy mood.
Later in the night, the #30 entrant in the women’s Royal Rumble is supposed to be Lana (which was announced in advance), but she has been laid out backstage, bleeding from the forehead (and there is blood on a nearby equipment case) and put through a table, and Pearce lets Charlotte take her spot. The final three are Charlotte, Bayley, and Bianca Belair, and Bianca manages to win. Bianca announces that she wants to challenge Sasha Banks at WrestleMania. Bayley manages to talk her way into getting Bianca to put her title shot on the line at the February PPV, but Bianca wins clean, setting up her showdown with Sasha at WrestleMania (and we just let them go nuts cutting promos on each other).
Also in the build-up to the Rumble, Peyton Royce and Lacey Evans pick up some wins despite not getting along. Ditto for Jax and Baszler. Jax and Baslzer think they deserve to be handed a title shot, and when they are booked against Lacey & Peyton in a #1 contendership match in mid Febryary, they assume they are getting punished for everyone- including Shayna- assuming that Nia was the one who attacked Lana. Peyton & Lacey get the win and challenge for the titles at the February PPV, and shock the world when Lacey knocks Asuka out with the Woman’s Right and they win the titles.
Jax blames Baszler for them losing the tag title #1 contendership match, to which Baszler responds that they wouldn’t have had to be in one if Nia hadn’t attacked Lana. Jax insists that she didn’t attack Lana, and gets angry at her partner for not believing her, and attacks Baszler. Baszler will come back for revenge at WrestleMania.
As we head towards Mania, Charlotte keeps trying to talk her way into a title shot, telling Asuka that Asuka owes her because Asuka cost them the titles and noting that she has Asuka’s number in one-on-one matches. Asuka is unable to defend against Charlotte because Lacey is named #1 contender due to pinning Asuka when she won the tag titles. That match happens in mid-March, and Asuka wins clean.
After the match, Charlotte comes out to congratulate Asuka and try to talk her way into a title shot, but suddenly Lana appears and reveals that she just bought hacked security camera footage from Mustafa Ali that reveals that Charlotte was the one who attacked her from behind that the Royal Rumble! (The mercenary selling of this info convinces MVP that Ali now agrees with the Hurt Business’ mantra of making money being the most important thing).
Asuka refuses to give Charlotte a title shot, and Charlotte vs. Lana is booked for the next week. Charlotte destroys Lana and threatens to keep beating on her unless Asuka gives her a title shot at Mania, and Asuka does so.
Meanwhile, on the undercard, with The Fiend now gone, Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss! have revived their friendship (Alexa will do the big mea culpa and Nikki will cry and hug her) and they tart picking up wins and challenge for the tag titles at Mania.
AJ STYLES, OMOS, THE MIZ, & JOHN MORRISON:
Coming out of TLC, AJ blames Miz for screwing him out of the world title, while Miz blames AJ for screwing up his Money in the Bank cash-in. They bicker a bunch, leading to a match on TV where AJ beats Miz after Omos easily stops Morrison from interfering.
At the Rumble, AJ is thrown out but Omos catches him… only for Omos to then dramatically drop AJ to the floor and walk off. Miz comes out to the top of the ramp and hands Omos a big wad of cash. Omos now works for Miz.
Also in the Rumble, as described, above, Randy Orton comes back in and injures John Morrison. This leaves the feud on Raw as AJ vs. Miz & Omos. We wind up with Miz talking AJ into agreeing to a handicap match at the February PPV (AJ reasons that it will be a two on one anyway, so we might as well make it official), and Omos helps Miz pin AJ. On Miz’s orders, Omos puts AJ through the announcers’ table injuring him.
The next night on Raw, Miz throws himself a big celebration. In the middle of this celebration, John Morrison returns from injury. Miz didn’t know this was going to happen. JoMo explains that this was his surprise to Miz. Morrison says he’s so happy that they have Omos working for them now, at which point Miz corrects him, saying “Omos doesn’t work for us; he works for me.” After a few more minutes of JoMo being JoMo and getting on Miz’ nerves, Miz interrupts JoMo by saying that he has a special surprise announcement. JoMo excitedly asks what it is, and Miz responds that “now that I have Omos, I really don’t need you,” at which point Omos attacks JoMo.
We wind up with both AJ and JoMo trying to get revenge on Miz and Omos, resulting in them realizing that they need to work together, and a tag match is booked for WrestleMania.
So, here is WrestleMaina XXXVII (as a two-night show), as booked by BRM:
WrestleMaina XXXVII: Night 1:
KEITH LEE vs. SHELTON BENJAMIN (w/MVP)-
Lee wins clean.
SHAYNA BASZLER vs. NIA JAX-
Shayna wins clean.
Shayna will probably be a tweener after Mania. Jax might form an on-again, off-again frenemies team with Charlotte.
RAW TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: The Hurt Business (Cedric Alexander & Mustafa Ali) vs.
Hurt Business win clean (and, of course, Cedric and Ali can rub their win in Shelton’s face if we want to go that way).
WWE WOMEN’S TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: Peyton Royce & Lacey Evans(c) vs. Alexa Bliss! & Nikki Cross-
Heels win clean.
- These two are really the only heel team in the division now that I’m breaking up Shayna and Baszler, so it’s best to have heel champs while I build up new ones on the undercard (possibly a turned Riott Squad). Plus, my most ready-made challengers after Mania will be Asuka and Lana getting the title shot they were supposed to get at TLC, so that’s another point in favor of heel champs. Alexa and Nikki can then do a story where the loss puts their renewed friendship under stress but they overcome it.
WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH: Sami Zayn(c) vs. Big E.-
Big E. wins clean to win the title. Kofi and Woods come out to celebrate with him.
SOME SORT OF GIMMICK MATCH (maybe Hell in a Cell, because Hell can play into the ghost theme?): Randy Orton vs. Edge-
Edge wins. We come full circle with the babyface on top. If we only have Edge for a few matches a year, I think the next thing I want to do with him is have him put Drew over, so he needs to win here for that to happen.
WWE SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH: Sasha Banks(c) vs. Bianca Belair-
Bianca wins clean.
I thought long and hard about which of these last two matches should be the main event, and despite both wanting to give the women a main event and wanting to give the main event to the person who won the Rumble, I didn’t want to have two SD main events, wanted Asuka vs. Charlotte the next night to spread out the heel victories, and- most importantly- I think this is the match that is the most certain to be top-notch.
NO DISQUALIFICATIONS MATCH FOR THE WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE: Drew McIntyre(c) vs. Sheamus-
WrestleMaina XXXVII: Night 2:
NATALYA vs. MIA YIM (F.K.A. Reckoining)-
Nattie wins a hard-fought eighteen-minute match clean and shows Mia respect after the match, accepting her into the locker room, whereas she previously had to change outside because she was in Retribution and thus everyone hated her.
After Mania, Mia continues her babyface journey, feuding with someone who still doesn’t accept her for selfish reasons. Nattie will go on to challenge and put over Bianca.
THE MIZ & OMOS vs. AJ STYLES & JOHN MORRISON-
Heels win clean when Omos pins JoMo.
The problem going on from here is that AJ should still want revenge on Omos, but I don’t want Omos to lose, either, so we’re going to avoid the issue by having AJ traded to SD in exchange for Seth Rollins, who will now be on Raw to apologize to Humberto Carrillo, then can get drafted back to SD to make up with the now-accepting Mysterios in the fall.
JoMo will keep trying to get revenge on Miz and failing.
WWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH: Bobby Lashley(c) (w/MVP) vs. Ricochet-
Ricochet wins clean with a roll-up. Lashley is furious with himself and starts smashing things. MVP calms him down. Where we go from here is a similar finish in a rematch in April, followed by Lashley going on a rampage and being built up for Drew at SummerSlam, where he probably wins the title.
Ricochet maybe feuds with Shelton, once again trying to regain his teammates’ respect and failing. I can see a feud with the Hurt Business resulting in Ricochet and Lee winding up in a “big man, small man” tag team at least for a bit, but I’m not totally sure I’d want to go that route. I’d definitely need to start building up some good heel challengers for the US Title, because there really aren’t any.
WWE SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: Shinsuke Nakamura & Cesaro(c) vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. & Dominik Mysterio-
The Mysterios win and everyone is happy.
WWE RAW WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH: Asuka(c) vs. Charlotte Flair-
Charlotte wins clean.
1. Asuka has mostly emptied out the division of heels at this point.
2. I like the idea that Asuka just can’t beat Charlotte at Mania, so you have that in your back pocket if you need it for a future Mania.
3. Charlotte has a ready-made match with Lana and is a good person for Reckoning to lose to on her journey, and then, of course, you want her to be the champion so that Rhea Ripley can show up and take the title off of her. Maybe Rhea wins the title at SummerSlam, or maybe a little later.
THE USOS vs. SETH ROLLINS & KEVIN OWENS-
Owens & Rollins win, injuring the Usos so they can’t get involved in the…
WWE UNIVERSAL TITLE MATCH: Roman Reigns(c) (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Daniel Bryan-
Bryan wins clean, and everyone is happy.
The sky is the limit
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Hold #712: ARM BAR!
FIP in 2005
PWG All-Star Weekend V: Night 2
DGUSA Open the Northern Gate
CHIKARA Hot Off the Griddle
FIP in 2005
PWG All-Star Weekend V: Night 2
DGUSA Open the Northern Gate
CHIKARA Hot Off the Griddle
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