This is going to be one of the most disjointed columns I’ve published in a long time. Usually I like to write to make a point, to address one or two ideas through exemplification and analysis. There will be aspects of that here, but there were so many things I wanted to talk about it is a bit of a mish-mash of ideas. That is because last week, I went to the Raw house show in Glasgow and the Aberdeen house show in Aberdeen – and when you see so much, it gets you thinking about a lot of different things too.
It’s nearly TLC time, but last night the WWE Universe was rocked by news of two major changes to matches at the PPV tomorrow night. Usually in my PPV Spotlights I focus on one match, but I think under the circumstances I’m going to change things up for one show only and just write about the changes – they’re major enough that I think that’s all anyone is talking about anyway.
So first off, why the changes? In short, illness. WWE have confirmed that three of their performers are currently suffering from a “viral infection”. The rumour going around wrestling news sites is that they’re suffering from viral meningitis. The three performers in question are Bo Dallas (who has been missing from the last couple of Raw’s), Bray Wyatt (who hasn’t appeared in person during the same time frame), and most significantly Roman Reigns.
Here we pick up my fantasy booking of the SmackDown men’s division through to Wrestlemania 34. Read part 1 here for the stories so far and the general ground rules underpinning this whole thing, but here’s a brief summary of where we got to:
- Shinsuke Nakamura is WWE Champion, with Baron Corbin owed a rematch
- Kevin Owens is United States Champion, with AJ Styles never getting a US Title match against him again
- Randy Orton has had a poor six months, with questions over whether he can still win a big match, and will address his future on the next SmackDown
- Team SmackDown just lost the Raw vs SD 5on-5 elimination match at Survivor Series
And so we pick up two nights after Survivor Series. Strap in, it’s a long ride!
November 21st, SmackDown
Results: Baron Corbin defeats Sin Cara by pinfall, Sami Zayn & Tye Dillinger defeat Jinder Mahal & Rusev by pinfall (Dillinger pins Rusev), AJ Styles defeats Mike Kanellis by pinfall
Promos: – Post-victory, Baron Corbin demands his WWE Title rematch. (Danel Bryan later grants this for the next PPV, Roadblock.)
– Backstage post-victory, AJ Styles says in an interview that the reason Team SmackDown lost at Survivor Series was Baron Corbin. Styles challenges Corbin to a match next week on SmackDown, saying Corbin isn’t the only one who want to be WWE Champion.
– Randy Orton makes his way to the ring for the main event segment. Orton says he knows he let people down at Survivor Series. It was embarrasing, and it was one of the lower points of his career. 2017 started out so well, but it’s turned into a trainwreck. He’s starting to wonder if he’s still cut out to be a player on SmackDown. Continue reading
I’m quite often coming up with booking ideas in my columns – x can work with y, z should turn face/heel. But it’s easy to be an armchair booker like that without giving much thought to the details of the feud, and how it impacts the rest of the roster. So with a couple of ideas in mind, I set myself the challenge of booking SmackDown’s men’s division from now through to Wrestlemania 34 – detailing each week what I would actually do, how I would have storylines progress, giving an idea as to what would be said in promos, that kind of thing. I’m going to set it out by giving the night’s match results plainly, explaining what would be said in promos, then giving further storyline context or justification if I feel it’s warranted. Continue reading
The Money in the Bank briefcase has launched the careers of many a WWE superstar over the years into the stratosphere. It bridged the gap between upper mid-carder and main eventer, and led to greats like Edge, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan winning their first World Championships in WWE. Not every briefcase holder has been a success (Jack Swagger, Damien Sandow), and even two little known wrestlers called Randy Orton and John Cena have won Money in the Bank matches, but since they’re little more than footnotes in history we’ll move on quickly from them. Regardless of the blemishes on the record though, holding the MitB briefcase is a sign that WWE higher ups have faith in you to deliver big as and when required. Tonight, we find out who the latest man to write their name in the history books will be.
This will be the same format as the preview of the women’s match I posted earlier, where I look at how to make each individual the star of the match, and then assess their chances of winning and being able to call themselves Mr Money in the Bank for the foreseeable future. Without further adieu… Continue reading
As we head into Wrestlemania, all eyes are on the ultimate thrill ride, and rightfully so. It’s not WWE’s pinnacle for no reason. But, as ever with WWE storylines, a big part of the excitement around Mania is the possibility for what will come next. So I’ve put my fantasy booking hat on (I mean come on, I don’t really ever take it off) and come up with eight rivalries I want to see on SmackDown coming out of Wrestlemania season. In case you’re wondering, I’m only doing SmackDown because I’m too uncertain about who will be in what spots and roles on Raw, and I’m doing eight feuds because there are eight segments in a typical SmackDown broadcast. And the roster isn’t really big enough for more. Got that? Let’s go!
WWE Championship – Randy Orton vs Bray Wyatt ©
Ahh Survivor Series. Raw vs Smackdown, as it has essentially been branded. I have to admit, when I first heard about the concept I wasn’t too keen, as I thought it was coming too soon. I didn’t think we had enough reason to care about seeing everyone in the same ring just a matter of months after they were split up.
But dammit they’ve done it, and I’m excited.
This PPV Spotlight is going to focus on the men’s 5-on-5 elimination match. Theoretically the ten top guys in the entire company, going head to head in the battle for brand supremacy. Now obviously, it never quite works out that way because of booking or injuries (or TV-hosting), but we still have an intriguing match-up with some mouth-watering potential clashes.
The WWE Draft is just a matter of hours away. The big question is of course, who will end up where? I decided to write about who my priorities would be if I were one of the selectors. But I’ve also shaken things up a bit and called in the reinforcements! I asked a couple of friends to join me in choosing their top picks, just to see if there was a consensus for anybody on the roster.
The criteria I gave the guys was that they had to pick at least one woman, at least one team (for the purposes of this I said you could pick the Wyatt Family or The Club as a team) and we could pick a maximum of one NXT superstar to call up. Simple enough, right? Let’s get to the picks, starting with the choices of… Jonny Bird!
The main focus for me right now in wrestling – as I’m sure is also true of millions of WWE fans around the world – is the upcoming draft. In roughly two weeks, the roster will be split, characters will be separated. And as yet, nobody knows who will go where. We don’t even know for sure what the situations with the Championship belts are. But with uncertainty comes speculation, and with speculation comes dreams. So I’ve put together 10 feuds that I would love to see happen – and think we should see happen – in the months after July 19th. Continue reading
This is the first in a new monthly-ish feature I’m starting up. Back when I used to do predictions for each PPV, I found I would have literally a line to say about some matches, and paragraphs to say about others. So instead of going through every match, I’m going to pick out one match on the day of a PPV, and give my thoughts on it. For Money in the Bank, I’ve actually kind of cheated, because I’ve already written about the ladder match. But here, I’m going to focus on AJ Styles vs John Cena. Continue reading