First, John Cena needed surgery, which led to a sudden ascension of Ryback from jobber-killer to WWE Title contender. Then, in order to remedy the Ryback winning streak situation, we received back-to-back screw job finishes that brought four new potential stars to the company in Brad Maddox and The Shield. Now, CM Punk gets hurt, and The Shield ends up with a main event level match at TLC.
And people wonder what happens when Cena gets hurt. I guess good things can happen. It forces the company to get creative.
So with the arrival of new stars and the re-routing of storylines at the last minute for TLC, here’s my new Road to Wrestlemania. It’s rooted in reality, not just pure dream matches. Not all of these would be my top choice, but we’re operating within a Vince McMahon-operated organization.
Matches appear in the order they’d occur on the card. Please share your comments below.
Pre-Show: Tag Team Championship
Rhodes Scholars vs. Gabriel and Kidd
It kills me to put this on the pre-show, but I ran out of space on the card.
This is the result of so many part-time performers being on the card, i.e. Rock, Taker, Triple H, Lesnar. These four account for the top three matches on the show and none of them will impact the rest of the wrestling calendar. It’ll pop a buyrate, but you have to wonder about the long-term health of the company when they are so reliant on these few names to generate such a massive chunk of the bottom line in a single night.
In reference to this match, Cody’s injury really put a damper on their rise. I expect him to be back for the Royal Rumble, which would be a good time to finally take the belts off Team Hell No, since Kane and Bryan are both good candidates for the Elimination Chamber bouts.
Since I don’t expect WWE to come up with an respectable babyface challenger to Rhodes Scholars, Cody and Damien go here and get a win.
Winners: Rhodes Scholars
Wade Barrett vs. Kofi Kingston
I expect the big Englishman to take the belt off Kofi at TLC in a clean victory that will lead to a long chase that hopefully establishes this “Wildcat” persona they are trying to sell. This is a feud that can go a long way in elevating both guys with a series of solid matches.
At TLC, we see Barrett get the win clean as a whistle. He simply beats Kofi. This leads to the contractual rematch at the Royal Rumble where Kofi brings out the fire that made some of us consider him a future main eventer a few years ago against Randy Orton. Barrett gets pushed to the limit and then cheats to win to hold off Kofi. Both men go into the Elimination Chamber and Kofi hits Barrett with the Trouble in Paradise to knock him out and set up this rematch.
We get the pay-off the chase with Kofi scoring the pinfall to pop the crowd and kick off the night. Barrett is closer to being main event-ready than Kofi, and this title reign can prep him for that.
The next month at Extreme Rules, the two battle again in a Falls Count Anywhere match that lets Kofi hit some crazy spots and defend the title. Both men move on heading into the summer.
Winner: New IC Champion, Kofi Kingston
Alberto Del Rio vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Sin Cara
This is the match that Mexico has been waiting for. It’s obvious that Del Rio is most at him and interesting when battling Rey Mysterio. It’s really the only feud he’s had that held the audience’s interest. So instead of trying to do something else, run with it and make money.
At TLC, we get Del Rio vs. Sin Cara in a one-on-one match with Rey in his tag partner’s corner. Mysterio has mentored Cara for the last few months, and now that Del Rio has been picking on the newcomer, telling him that he was nothing in Mexico and that Del Rio was the true star, they come to blows.
Ricardo begins messing with Rey during the match and toward the end, Rey goes to chase him off and chases him backstage.
That’s when ADR turns to dirty tactics and beats Sin Cara, wrenching in the cross arm breaker and refusing to let go after he taps. Rey comes down to help his friend, but it’s too late, the arm is seriously damaged.
ADR faces Rey the next month with Sin Cara at ringside, arm in a sling. ADR goes for a weapon, but Sin Cara stops him and lays out Ricardo at ringside, giving Rey the clear path to a win.
ADR begins working to divide Cara and Mysterio. He picks at Cara, that it was Rey’s fault his arm is broken in the first place for abandoning him at ringside. He picks at Rey, asking him how long it will be before Cara is tired of being in his shadow and comes for him.
The match is booked as a triple threat at Mania. Rey and Sin Cara show some hesitation to partner up at the beginning, but then nod at each other and go after Del Rio. We do get a spot where ADR is laying outside the ring and Cara and Rey shake hands before embarking on a 2-minute lucha exhibition sprint to tease a future match. In the end, though, ADR ducks dive from Mysterio that takes on Sin Cara. ADR tosses Rey from the ring and pins Sin Cara.
After the match, ADR escapes arm raised while Mysterio goes to help Sin Cara. Pissed, Sin Cara blows off Mysterio and kicks him in the head, beats him down and storms off.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
Ryback vs. Big Show
Big Show has been booked as a dominant force for the last year and the best possible way to use him is to get over another dominant force: Ryback.
After Big Show drops his belt at the Royal Rumble, he enters the Rumble match. Ryback single-handedly eliminates the Big Show to a huge reaction.
Big Show fails to qualify for the Elimination Chamber and on the night of the PPV we find Ryback out backstage. Forced to find a replacement, Big Show is entered. During the match, Ryback storms down to the ring and rips open the cage, smashes through the pod and pulls Big Show out of the cage and beats the hell out of him outside. For all intents and purposes, Big Show is eliminated.
This match is signed as monster vs. monster. It’s kept very brief, no more than five minutes. It’s all just set up for Ryback to hulk up and then (hopefully) life Big Show up into the Shell Shock position for the finisher in an impressive feat of strength.
Daniel Bryan and Kaitlyn vs. Dolph Ziggler and AJ
Bryan and Ziggler are two of the most over members of the roster, but when trying to logically book them for this show in the current status quo, I find it difficult to place them. They are two most negatively affected by the presence of the part-time performers.
At TLC, during the Cena-Ziggler match, AJ turns heel. She’s been on Ziggler’s side all along, hiding their relationship from Vickie Guerrero. Now that Vickie has shown her true colors and screwed Ziggler, they don’t need to hide it any longer. Nonetheless, Super Cena overcomes the heel turn and wins the MITB briefcase anyway. I know; it sucks.
At the Rumble, Bryan and Kane drop the tag belts to the Rhodes Scholars. Kane and Bryan split amicably, both setting their sights on more gold. That’s when AJ interrupts Bryan during a backstage interview to remind her former boyfriend that if he wants singles gold, he needs to get in line because Dolph is the hottest young star in the company. We get some Edge-Lita type segments out of these two.
Ziggler helps AJ win the Divas Championship and they are officially a “power couple.” Bryan and Kaitlyn team up to take out their two adversaries in this match that is an excuse to get a tolerable Divas match onto the card.
Obviously, Bryan and Ziggler work the majority of the match, but it ends with AJ rolling up Kaitlyn for a pinfall victory. Once Wrestlemania is over and Rock, Taker, Triple H and Lesnar are gone, it opens up spots on the PPV cards where Ziggler and Bryan can finally have their first PPV single contest at Extreme Rules with Ziggler up one on Bryan.
Winners: Dolph Ziggler and AJ
The Shield (Maddox, Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns) vs. Sheamus, Orton, Miz, Kane
To not really anyone’s surprise, The Shield reveals that Brad Maddox is one of them. They target a variety of guys on the roster that they feel have had an unfair advantage over the years and don’t deserve what they have received.
The rationale here is that Sheamus is friends with Triple H, Orton is a second-generation star that is only here because of his father and family connections, Miz is a joke that was only offered a spot because of his reality show past and Kane is a washed up has-been monster that should retire already.
Thus, we get an 8-man tag match to one-fall. This goes a long way into getting a lot more people their Wrestlemania paychecks.
In the match, we get a giant swerve that positions The Shield as a powerhouse faction that sets them up to dominate the show going forward. During the match, Orton turns heel, aligning himself with The Shield and hitting the RKO on Miz for the pinfall victory.
The next night on Raw, Orton with The Shield at his side cuts a promo about how these four men opened his eyes. Their courage and bravery in righting the wrongs of the WWE Universe is something he supports and is now proud to call himself a member. He’s one of the biggest stars, the most talented competitors on the planet and he’s been given second billing for too long. Orton is the Apex Predator and ready to claim his top spot on the roster.
This turns into what Legacy should have been. With Orton out front as their championship competitor, we can have Rollins & Reigns as a tag team, Ambrose gunning for the IC Title and Maddox learning the ropes as the least of the team in the ring.
Winners: The Shield
Undertaker vs. CM Punk
Here’s one of the big wrestling rules I’m going to break on this card that will rub some people the wrong way. Punk loses the belt to The Rock at Royal Rumble. He then enters the Rumble match toward the end hobbling on his still ailing knee. Then, he wins the damn thing to become the first person to ever lose the WWE Championship and win the Royal Rumble on the same night.
Earlier that evening, John Cena challenges Big Show to a match for the World Title at wins.
However, Punk being the only person that can do this, cuts a promo with the following points:
1) He holds the record for longest WWE Title reign of the modern era. He’s not going to challenge for that belt at Mania.
2) He’s already beaten John Cena on multiple occasions and doesn’t need to prove himself anymore against him.
3) He loves the feeling of gold around his waste, but he’s also a student of history. He’s cemented in history as one of the greatest champions ever. But for some reason that hasn’t brought the respect he wants from the fans. The only way he’s going to get that respect is by ending The Streak. He demands that in lieu of his title shot, he faces the greatest legend Wrestlemania has ever known: The Undertaker.
Punk carries the feud on the mic and begins claiming that he’s better than anyone Undertaker has ever beaten.
This brings out Triple H. Punk and Triple H spar over the idea that Lesnar left Triple H a broken man at SummerSlam. These two face off at Elimination Chamber, which leads to Lesnar’s re-emergence. He doesn’t actually interfere in the match, but his presence distracts Triple H, leading to Punk hitting the GTS for the win.
At Mania, we get our standard theatrics from Taker and after a 10-12 minute match of traditional Taker spots, Punk eats a Tombstone for pinfall.
Winner: The Undertaker
Last Man Standing
Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar
It’s one of the biggest rematches that nobody was begging for. Well, the biggest one of all time is the main event.
After Elimination Chamber, Triple H is incensed and wants Lesnar. Heyman, still Lesnar’s representative, says that they’ll only accept the match if Triple H puts a contract for Brock on the line. The contract is filled with all of the demands he had last summer from Big Johnny. Triple H says he’ll accept those terms under a stipulation of his own: the match at Wrestlemania is Last Man Standing.
In the end, Triple H wins. And that’s what WWE paid Brock Lesnar $5 million to do. Job to John Cena and Triple H. Money well spent I must say.
Winner: Triple H
Title Unification Match
WWE Champion The Rock vs. World Heavyweight Champion John Cena
So here’s the rundown. Rock beats Punk at the Rumble. Cena beats Big Show at the Rumble. The two men don’t like each other. They also happen to be holding the two top prizes in the industry, each claiming it proves they are the greatest.
Vince sees dollar signs. He calls both men to the ring and announces that they will faces each other in a rematch at Wrestlemania, but this time the stakes are higher than before. Both titles are on the line as they will be unified under a single champion for the first time in more than a decade.
They cut promos about how they don’t like each other. Super Cena gets super serious a few times between cracking poorly timed, unfunny jokes. The Rock says a lot of sale garbage that we’ve been hearing for the last three years. There is only so much that these two can say about each other that hasn’t been said already.
Winner: Your Undisputed WWE Heavyweight Champion, John Cena.