It beat me guys. It got away from me. I started this fantasy booking series thinking it would be a great idea, I could update it as I go and put something great together. I had all the main points planned out, and I thought I had a Wrestlemania card that had something for everyone.
But now I’m coming up for six months behind real time, and I don’t think it’s salvageable. I hadn’t taken into account Crown Jewel, which hadn’t been announced at the time. Plus I made the decision at the start to ignore stuff like injuries, but take stuff like releases and signings into account. Then I watched as Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Rowan of the Bludgeon Brothers and probably more got injured. I saw Big Cass get released and Rey Mysterio come back. Then the kicker came – the announcement of Roman Reigns’ leukaemia. I had him as my top guy in the company, the dominating heel world champion for pretty much all year through to Wrestlemania. I don’t feel like I can go back to that now.
But what I will do, is lay out here the general direction of where I was going for Wrestlemania. I will put up the full results I had planned for the “big 4” PPVs and talk about the highlights in getting there.
As a quick recap of where we were, Money In The Bank was just a couple of weeks away. Roman Reigns was the heel Universal Champion with Paul Heyman by his side, Randy Orton had taken the United States Championship to Raw (where he was joined by the likes of AJ Styles and The Usos) in the aftermath of the Superstar Shake-Up. Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt are still the Raw tag team champions, and in the women’s division Nia Jax is still the face champion, but Sasha Banks finally turned on Bayley and went heel.
Over on SmackDown, Shinsuke Nakamura is the heel WWE Champion having wrestled the title off Styles at Backlash, Seth Rollins took the Intercontinental Championship to Tuesday nights, The Bludgeon Brothers have new challengers for the SD tag team titles in the form of Sanity, and Charlotte took the women’s prize back from Carmella at Backlash. The blue roster was bolstered by Jeff Hardy, Andrade “Cien” Almas, Drew McIntyre, The Revival and Nikki Cross post-Mania.
So, let’s get to the wrap up. If I don’t talk about what a champion does at a PPV, then the defending champion retained. For more context going in, read the last in-depth piece I did here.
The build to SummerSlam
Before Money In The Bank, Randy Orton gets taken out of his ladder match qualifier. He is pissed off that nobody cares, and interrupts a number one contender’s match for his US Title by taking out both men – turning heel. The man who took him out of his qualifier, Samoa Joe, goes on to win the last spot in the ladder match.
Sanity, despite being the number one contenders for the SD tag titles, are announced as being unable to compete at MITB after the attack by the Bludgeon Brothers. A three-way elimination match for the titles is announced instead between Bludgeon Brothers, Heath Slater & Rhyno and Titus Worldwide.
Asuka returns for the first time since Wrestlemania and takes out nearly the entire Raw women’s division, taking the last spot in the women’s MITB ladder match and establishing her as a heel.
At Money In The Bank, Daniel Bryan defeats Baron Corbin and AJ Styles defeats Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn in a triple threat match. Natalya wins the number one contender’s match for the Raw Women’s Championship, throwing Ronda Rousey out of the ring when Ronda had Bliss beat and pinning Bliss. Carmella wins the SD Women’s Championship back from Charlotte with the help of James Ellsworth. Sasha Banks wins the women’s MITB ladder match, and The Miz wins the men’s MITB match.
After Money In The Bank, Owens & Zayn ask Raw GM Kurt Angle what they have to do to get a chance. Angle tells them that a spot just opened up in the tag division (Rusev and Aiden English decide to focus on Rusev’s singles career with the feeling that English is holding Rusev back), so they can make a run for the tag titles if they want to.
Finn Balor is granted the rematch he never got for the Universal Championship against Roman Reigns at Extreme Rules.
After losing to Nakamura at MITB after a low blow, Jeff Hardy says that he used to be known as part of Team Xtreme, and he’s going to show everyone that he hasn’t lost that in their rematch. (This is when Hardy starts using the facepaint again, mirroring his storyline on SmackDown in 2008).
At Extreme Rules, Charlotte regains the SmackDown Women’s Championship by defeating Carmella and James Ellsworth in a handicap match (this writes Ellsworth out again). Sanity finally get their SD tag title shot, and defeat the Bludgeon Brothers. Bobby Roode answers Seth Rollins’ Intercontinental Championship open challenge, and becomes the new champion. Ronda Rousey interferes in Natalya’s falls count anywhere title shot, and prevents her winning the title. AJ Styles beats The Miz as revenge for their MITB qualifier.
Paige and Shane McMahon announce a tournament on SmackDown to find Shinsuke Nakamura’s challenger at SummerSlam. (This is essentially King of the Ring, but I wouldn’t use the name because it’s just a SmackDown tournament. If this goes down well, I would use it as an excuse to bring back KOTR next year across both brands). Seth Rollins is given the option of exercising his IC title rematch clause or entering the tournament. He elects to enter the tournament, and ends up defeating Daniel Bryan in the final.
Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman brag about beating fans favourites like Bobby Lashley and Finn Balor. They say that nobody is on the level of the big dog, when Brock Lesnar makes his first appearance since Greatest Royal Rumble, attacking and laying out Reigns and setting up their rematch for SummerSlam.
The Miz and Randy Orton form an alliance, and due to their past problems with AJ Styles Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn are friendly with them too. Styles says he’s sick of the talk that he has no friends. He has people with him who are closer than friends, he has some good brothers with him. An eight-man tag match is set up for SummerSlam, with Balor Club alongside Styles.
Sasha Banks says that she doesn’t need underhand tactics to win the Raw Women’s Championship with the MITB contract. She announces she is cashing in against Nia Jax at SummerSlam.
Daniel Bryan comes out the week after losing to Rollins and puts Seth over. He says that all he has talked about since coming back to the ring has been becoming WWE Champion again, but last week Rollins was the better man and he deserves the shot right now. Bryan says that he doesn’t know what’s in store for him at SummerSlam, when the lights go out and we hear a gong. The Undertaker’s music hits, and we see a tombstone appear on screen with Daniel Bryan’s name on it and SummerSlam’s date.
Pre-show – Cesaro & Sheamus d Dolph Ziggler & Tye Dillinger, Ember Moon & Naomi d Alexa Bliss & Mickie James, The New Day & Drew McIntyre d Baron Corbin, Jinder Mahal, Heath Slater & Rhyno
Samoa Joe d Bobby Lashley by submission
Ronda Rousey d Natalya
The IIconics d The Riott Squad and Bayley & Becky Lynch in a triple threat tag match
Charlotte d Nikki Cross by submission to retain the SmackDown Women’s Championship
Sasha Banks d Nia Jax by submission to win the Raw Women’s Championship
Sanity d Bludgeon Brothers to retain the SmackDown Tag Team Championships
The Authors of Pain d Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt to win the Raw Tag Team Championships
AJ Styles, Finn Balor, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson d Randy Orton, The Miz, Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
Bobby Roode d Jeff Hardy, Killian Dain & Andrade “Cien” Almas to retain the Intercontinental Championship
Daniel Bryan d The Undertaker by pinfall
Seth Rollins d Shinsuke Nakamura to win the WWE Championship by pinfall
Roman Reigns d Brock Lesnar to retain the Universal Championship by pinfall
SummerSlam to Survivor Series
(Things are in slightly less depth here, because I was going to see what felt natural in how I’d booked people. Because of that, I knew where I was going for Survivor Series but I didn’t have every single match on every single PPV like I did for the ones before SummerSlam. The over-arching theme is that we’re building back to Raw vs SmackDown).
The Miztourage take offence at being sidelined for Owens & Zayn at SummerSlam, and turn against The Miz.
Zelina Vega starts complaining that Almas hasn’t gotten his due since joining SmackDown, asking where his one-on-one title shot is.
Braun Strowman gets the next title shot against Roman Reigns inside Hell In A Cell.
At Super-Show Down in Australia, Rusev defeats Randy Orton to win the US Championship.
Legends return for Evolution, with the likes of Trish Stratus and Lita in featured singles matches. There is no battle royal, and the main event is Ronda Rousey defeating Asuka.
For the first announcement of a member of a Survivor Series team, a video of John Cena airs on SmackDown. He talks about how he started his career on the blue brand, and being drafted to Tuesdays at the 2016 Draft. He says SmackDown will always be his home, and he is proud to fight for the blue brand at Survivor Series.
The build to Survivor Series involved tag team matches featuring members of the men’s and women’s teams as “team building exercises” ahead of the PPV.
It’s announced that the winning brand on the night will get the number 30 spots in the Royal Rumble.
The New Day d Finn Balor, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
Raw Women (Ember Moon, Asuka, Alexa Bliss, Natalya & Ronda Rousey) d SmackDown Women (Nikki Cross, Ruby Riott, Peyton Royce, Bayley & Becky Lynch) – Moon, Asuka and Rousey survive.
John Cena is found unconscious backstage, taken out of the men’s elimination match. The announcers speculate that someone from Raw took him out to boost the red brand’s chances in the main event.
Women’s Champion vs Women’s Champion – Charlotte Flair d Sasha Banks by submission
Tag Team Champion vs Tag Team Champion – Authors of Pain d Sanity by pinfall
Randy Orton & The Miz d Bobby Lashley & The Miztourage by pinfall
Intercontinental Champion vs US Champion – Bobby Roode d Rusev by pinfall
Universal Champion vs WWE Champion – Roman Reigns d Seth Rollins by pinfall
The men’s teams come out for the main event, with Raw’s guys out first. There’s confusion when SmackDown’s four are out, as the referee isn’t sure whether to ring the bell. Then Dean Ambrose returns as the fifth member of Team SmackDown.
SmackDown Men (Shinsuke Nakamura, Daniel Bryan, Andrade “Cien” Almas, Drew McIntyre & Dean Ambrose) d Raw Men (AJ Styles, Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe, Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn) – Dean Ambrose is the sole survivor
After the match, Seth Rollins comes out to welcome Ambrose back and raises his hand, celebrating SmackDown’s triumph in the match and on the night, 4-3. But Ambrose turns round and lays him out with Dirty Deeds, standing tall as the show goes off the air.
Survivor Series to Royal Rumble
Dean Ambrose demands the number 30 spot in the Royal Rumble since he was the sole survivor in the deciding match. Paige says that what he did in the match was impressive, but she can’t condone what he did afterwards. Daniel Bryan comes out and says that the Royal Rumble is a fast track to the main event of Wrestlemania, and the main event means a title match. Bryan says he was as delighted as anyone to see Ambrose return, but Ambrose showed his true colours and his lack of loyalty. Bryan challenges Ambrose to a match for the number 30 spot, which Paige makes official for TLC. Ambrose refuses to reveal why he attacked Rollins.
A triple threat match is set up on the Raw side of things for TLC between AJ Styles, Braun Strowman and Samoa Joe. Kurt Angle says that the winner will get a Universal Championship match at the Royal Rumble, but Stephanie McMahon decrees that whoever takes the fall will enter the Rumble match at number one.
The three survivors from the Raw women’s team at Survivor Series all angle for a title shot. Angle makes Sasha Banks & Asuka vs Ember Moon & Ronda Rousey for TLC. There’s dissension between the two teams in the build up, with everybody essentially hitting their finishers on each other in the weeks leading up to the PPV.
Bayley and Becky Lynch reminisce with Charlotte about the Four Horsewomen after Survivor Series. They both say that they’re friends with Charlotte, but they want a title match. The triple threat gets made for TLC.
At TLC, The Revival defeat Sanity to become the new SmackDown Tag Team Champions, Randy Orton defeats Rusev to regain the US Title, Dean Ambrose defeats Daniel Bryan after Seth Rollins accidentally costs Bryan the match, Rousey makes Banks tap out, Strowman wins the triple threat by pinning AJ Styles, Charlotte defends the SD Women’s Championship, and Shinsuke Nakamura defeats Rollins in a TLC match to win back the WWE Championship after Ambrose interferes.
After TLC, John Cena returns to SmackDown and says that he got blindsided at Survivor Series and doesn’t know who attacked him. He says that he’s always used the mantra that if you want some, you can come get some, and that whoever did it didn’t need to take him out from behind, they could have walked right up to him and tried it. He says that there’s nothing he can do about that now though, because it could have been anyone from Raw or SmackDown or NXT. He says that he could have gone all over the place looking for his attacker, but instead he is focused. He is focused on doing the one thing that he has never done in WWE – winning the Intercontinental Championship. The match gets made for Royal Rumble.
Roman Reigns says that it was two years ago at the Royal Rumble that his issues with Braun Strowman began. He says that a lot has changed, but the one thing that hasn’t is that Strowman has always found a way to be a nuisance. He promises that the Royal Rumble will be the end of this saga, that Strowman will never get a title shot against him again, and that when all is said and done he will still be the Universal Champion.
Nikki Cross wins the number 30 spot in the Women’s Royal Rumble in a battle royal on SmackDown.
The Revival d Sanity to retain the SmackDown Tag Team Championships.
The Usos d The Authors of Pain to win the Raw Tag Team Championships.
John Cena d Bobby Roode to win the Intercontinental Championship.
(After the match, Andrade “Cien” Almas lays out Cena, with Zelina Vega saying it was Almas who took him out at Survivor Series).
Randy Orton d Rusev to retain the US Championship.
Ronda Rousey wins the women’s Royal Rumble match.
(Jason Jordan tries to attack Braun Strowman backstage, but Strowman shrugs him off)
Shinsuke Nakamura d Seth Rollins to retain the WWE Championship after a distraction from Dean Ambrose.
Roman Reigns d Braun Strowman to retain the Universal Championship.
Daniel Bryan wins the men’s Royal Rumble.
(Bryan enters at number two. Ambrose is attacked by Rollins on his way to the ring, but still makes it to the final four with Styles and Samoa Joe).
Royal Rumble to Wrestlemania
Jason Jordan costs Braun Strowman an Elimination Chamber qualifying match. Kurt Angle asks Jordan what the hell he was thinking, but Jordan keeps ignoring him. Jordan tells Angle to get away from him, saying it was all a lie, that Angle isn’t really his dad and the DNA results were faked. Jordan says he couldn’t care less about Angle, or his broken necks or anything, because he was only ever taking orders from someone else. Angle makes Strowman vs Jordan for Elimination Chamber in a street fight.
Ronda Rousey chooses to jump ship and challenge SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte at Wrestlemania. Rousey says she has beaten everyone on Raw, but while she’s been busy breaking arms Charlotte has been dominating the SmackDown women’s division. Rousey says she wants to challenge the best, and the best is Charlotte. Flair says she will prove that Ronda is right by defending her title inside the Elimination Chamber, and she will prove Ronda right again by being the first person to beat her at Wrestlemania.
Andrade Almas and Zelina Vega come out and say that they were never being given the spotlight in Shane McMahone’s “land of opportunity”, so Almas took out the biggest star in the company to make a statement. They ask if they have everyone’s attention now? Vega says Almas is the future of the WWE, and if Cena wants to move to Hollywood so bad then nobody here is stopping him, because they are all sick of him hogging the attention. Over the weeks, Almas beats Cena, Drew McIntyre beats Almas and Bobby Roode beats McIntyre, setting up a fatal-4-way at Wrestlemania.
With Rousey moving to SmackDown, Asuka vs Ember Moon is announced for Elimination Chamber with the winner getting a title shot at Wrestlemania.
At Elimination Chamber, AJ Styles wins a Chamber match to earn a Universal Title shot at Wrestlemania, Charlotte defends the SD Women’s Title inside the chamber, Daniel Bryan & Seth Rollins defeat Shinsuke Nakamura & Dean Ambrose, Asuka vs Ember Moon ends in a double countout (Sasha Banks is on commentary and attacks both women after the match, screaming that they’re not on her level), Jason Jordan defeats Braun Strowman with help from Triple H.
Samoa Joe starts calling himself the biggest bully in the playground after eliminating the most people at the Royal Rumble and in the Elimination Chamber match. He says someone like him deserves a top match at Wrestlemania, and he calls out The Undertaker for weeks. Eventually, Undertaker shows up and hits a Tombstone on Joe.
Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn win a tag team turmoil match to earn a title shot at Wrestlemania.
Cruiserweight Championship Match, Men’s Battle Royal, Women’s Battle Royal (These would all be the pre-show, and I hadn’t figured out personnel or winners. Again, that was going to be a re-evaluation of what seemed to make sense/who was going to get pushed after Wrestlemania).
Dean Ambrose d Seth Rollins by pinfall
Braun Strowman d Triple H by pinfall
Samoa Joe d The Undertaker by referee stoppage (I would have Joe choke him out, and I would have this actually be Undertaker’s retirement).
Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn d The Usos to win the Raw Tag Team Championships
The Revival d Sanity, The New Day and Bludgeon Brothers in a fatal-4-way ladder match to retain the SmackDown Tag Team Championships
Ember Moon d Sasha Banks and Asuka to win the Raw Women’s Championship
Ronda Rousey d Charlotte to win the SmackDown Women’s Championship
Andrade “Cien” Almas d John Cena, Bobby Roode and Drew McIntyre to win the Intercontinental Championship
Finn Balor d Randy Orton and The Miz to win the United States Championship
AJ Styles d Roman Reigns to win the Unviersal Championship
Daniel Bryan d Shinsuke Nakamura to win the WWE Championship
Afterwards, The Miz runs down and attacks Daniel Bryan, cashing in his Money In The Bank contract.
The Miz d Daniel Bryan to win the WWE Championship
I would then make a few changes post-Mania in the Superstar Shake-Up. I would move Roman Reigns to SmackDown, partially to make it the A-show with having him and Rousey there before the station move to Fox. You would have The Miz vs Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins vs Dean Ambrose as on-going programmes on SmackDown, with the potential for Reigns vs Jeff Hardy and Almas vs McIntyre. Down the line, rivalries like Bryan vs Reigns or Ambrose and Rollins vs Almas would be money.
I would move Bobby Roode to Raw and call up the Undisputed Era to Monday nights to strengthen the heel side of things there. Maybe Aleister Black too. You’d have Styles, Strowman and Black as the top faces with Samoa Joe, Roode and Adam Cole as the top heels, with guys like Balor, Orton, Rusev and Lashley ready to step in. You’d also have in-built feuds between Ember Moon and both Sasha Banks and Asuka, who would probably have become more of a tweener in the Mania feud. I’d also probably move Becky Lynch over to Raw, with all of those being new matches for her. Plus, a Raw tag division with Owens & Zayn, AOP, Undisputed Era, Cesaro & Sheamus and the Usos would be ace.
In terms of what’s next here, I’m not sure. I absolutely loved putting this together, and it may be an idea I revisit around the Shake-Up next year. It can be time consuming, but I love the creative freedom that comes with it. But as far as this particular story goes, that’s officially a wrap.