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
I’ve been quiet since Wrestlemania and the superstar shake-up, and that’s because I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions. If I had written a column in the immediate aftermath of the draft last summer, the tone of it would have been far angrier than if I had waited a week. My main reasoning for that is I want to give WWE the chance to let things play out, as maybe something that as a fan I find frustrating one week is actually building to something bigger. But tonight is Payback, and since the build has been muddled and just generally not that good, I’m going to address something from the shake-up that ties into a match tonight. I’m just going to go ahead and say it.
I have no idea why Bray Wyatt was moved to Raw.
Should WWE’s “Face of Fear” stayed the face of SmackDown?
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 ©
As the premier prize in the industry, the WWE Championship match at Wrestlemania should always be the most highly anticipated spectacle at the showcase of the immortals. But we’ve seen during the brand extension that that’s not always the case. When there are two world titles, one has to take priority over the other at the biggest show of the year, and just as it did in the early stages of the original dual world title era, this year it’s the WWE Title match that’s taking the back seat.
Part of that is because the build up to Randy Orton vs Bray Wyatt this year has been… weird. In theory, this is a seven months storyline that has had its twists and turns, elevated both men with some character development and is peaking at the right time for maximum impact. Practically though, the last month or so especially has been confusing and very hit or miss.
We’ve had to surrender to the supernatural in the last couple of weeks
Six months ago, I wrote a column on the aftermath of the draft. I wrote about how the gauntlet was being laid down to SmackDown’s women’s division – and we have seen a star rise in Alexa Bliss. I wrote about how Dolph Ziggler wasn’t even on a list of names I’d noted weren’t on last year’s Battleground. And he was one of the stand outs in WWE for the latter part of 2016 alongside The Miz. Who would’ve seen that coming? I wrote about how the draft was all about the same thing that Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan had been pushing the blue brand to be all about – opportunity.
Now I want to talk about another superstar who has an opportunity. Now I want to talk about a wrestler who could have a career defining couple of months ahead of him. Now I want to talk about a superstar who six months ago was on the shelf through injury, and wasn’t even mentioned at any point in my previous article. Now I want to talk about Luke Harper.
The Road to Wrestlemania begins… tonight. It’s the Royal Rumble, where 30 men battle to throw each other over an obstacle. There is a rumoured Wrestlemania card out there online right now, but excitingly nobody seems to be sure where the titles will be. So the question on everyone’s lips tonight is, who will stand victorious having won the Royal Rumble match? That’s what I’m focusing on here by picking the Rumble match itself for my PPV Spotlight. And if you ask me…
I have absolutely no earthly idea.
This is the most open Royal Rumble… possibly ever. You actually need two hands to count the potential winners in 2017, instead of there just being two options. Let’s go through the apparent contenders. Continue reading
We head into WWE TLC tonight with a solid card of six matches that almost all have months of build-up. Long term booking is something I’ve written about before as being one of the big positives to come out of the 2016 version of the brand extension, and tonight should be one of the first real examples of how that is really advantageous to the show quality.
However, PPV-day means it’s time for my PPV Spotlight, and this time round I’ve picked the one match that hasn’t had months of direct build: the SmackDown Tag Team Championship match between The New Wyatt Family and Rhyno & Heath Slater.
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 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