(Jed’s note: Apologies for not getting this out last Friday. Had a very busy weekend that kept me away from the computer. Anyway, enjoy this, the final chapter of this RTB book-that-never-was. And send Neil an email with your thoughts, praise, questions, sexual advances and Nigerian financial transfer offers. He put in an obscene amount of work, so he deserves the adulation.)
by Neil Cathan
What if…John Cena’s Worst Year Ever Actually Was?
What if…The Planned Dean Ambrose/Mick Foley Program Had Happened?
Epilogue: The Year After And Beyond
We’ll divide things into their title scenes and into rough sketches of the matches we’d know will happen at Summerslam and Wrestlemania 31. While Jed co-planned everything else in this story, these ones are all me, so if they’re dumb and terrible, that’s why. Lots of things are planned in here, but if you make everything on RAW have purpose and actually use Smackdown as a show in which things are allowed to happen, there is more than enough time.
WWE Title Scene
The absolute top of the pack.
Seth Rollins is going to drop the belt to Dean Ambrose at Summerslam. They have both risen to the top without ever crossing paths over the course of two years. An Orton/Batista feud can give Rollins his first three defences, against Batista, in a triple threat with both, then Orton ends his feud with Batista on RAW, sending Batista to do publicity for his great role in a great film, while Orton goes on to face Rollins at Money In The Bank. John Cena at Battleground will be the last defence for Rollins before he drops the belt to Ambrose. The idea is to establish Rollins and put him over the three big names of the last generation, before he drops the belt to another fresh face on the scene. He will lose the feud with Ambrose, stretching another 1-3 months, then work with Bray Wyatt, trying to understand insanity. Around The Royal Rumble, Lesnar returns, Heyman accusing Rollins of being unable to beat Lesnar on his own – which will lead to Rollins getting his singles win over Lesnar at Wrestlemania 31.
The whole Daniel Bryan and friends vs Wyatt family thing will continue for a while, with Wyatt rightly taunting Reigns for having a cousin who cares about helping him only when the biggest spotlight is on, the Wyatt Family are true family, so forth. The feud will end in victory for the Wyatts at Battleground. Bryan will then move into a program with an upper mid-card heel, Wade Barrett seeming the strongest contender, based on shared Nexus history, until Cena becomes free after Hell In A Cell. Bryan will win his program with Barrett, then lose a bout with Cena at Survivor Series, win the rematch at TLC and go on to win the Rumble and be the man to dethrone Ambrose once again.
(On Bryan, Barrett and their injuries: I’m stretching the rules of RTB here. Bryan has been kept from using his diving headbutt throughout the story because I had watched every match being worried about his neck every time he did it and he wouldn’t have been allowed to in any company I ran (that is to say, any entirely fictional company). This might save his neck. Who knows? As for Barrett, if we keep him and everyone else we love away from Jack Swagger, its all allright, right?)
CM Punk will almost certainly leave in July, when his contract comes up. The concept is to put him up against Cena, building off the events of Elimination Chamber. It’s a classic feud with new flavour, as the face and heel roles have been reversed. Stretch this one out for three months, Cena winning the first bout by brute force, Punk the second by outwitting Cena, Cena wins the final after both realise that maybe the company isn’t big enough for the both of them, making it a loser leaves town affair. Punk got a Wrestlemania main event, so I’d like to think the door would still be open. I’d like to, so I will. If he does ever plan to return, I’d try to organise CM Punk as a heel against Steve Austin for Wrestlemania 32 in Texas for his return angle.
How to kill time with Dean Ambrose in between ending The Undertaker’s Wrestlemania streak and winning the belt at Summerslam remains a mystery to me. Absolute last ditch, scraping the barrel ploy would be to have him do something completely heinous and get suspended until the time was right. After he’s won the feud with Rollins, Orton can turn face, giving us a veteran hand on either side of the alignment chart, and also letting Orton make another new face go over strong and cement that they belong in the top tier.
After the Punk feud, Cena will have business after Summerslam with Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler will have just come out of a losing match with Brock Lesnar, and Cena, seeing a chance to finish what he started a year ago, will try again to end Ziggler’s career. This will lead up to a Hell in a Cell match at the PPV of same name, in which Ziggler shows a lot of fighting spirit but gets kinda killed and has to go off TV with the beating. Cena will then go onto the two PPV series with Bryan, then be eliminated in the Rumble by a returning Dolph Ziggler, en route to putting Ziggler over at Wrestlemania 31 to firmly establish Ziggler’s place in the main event going forwards from there. Since I don’t know what to do with either Cena or Triple H at Summerslam and since they should both have matches, probably, they can do their thing at each other at Summerslam. Cena will probably work heel for a year or two after this, winning enough so that it means something when he puts the people he needs to over, then give him one last face run on top for old time’s sake.
Not really sure what to do with Orton after the Ambrose feud, if I’m honest. He’s worked heel to give legitimacy to Rollins’ reign, then turned face to do the same for Ambrose’s. I’ll scratch out what the rest of the year looks like and give him the biggest available win at Wrestlemania 31 as a bit of a thank you.
World Heavyweight Championship Scene
This belt will continue to be what’s won as a tester for the main event, and is as such a mix of up and comers with vets who are as high as they’ll probably get, unless something really hot takes off with them.
Rob Van Dam
Bad News Barrett
(Alberto Del Rio)
Dolph Ziggler will put on great showings with the belt, probably including some Alberto Del Rio work until Del Rio leaves. At Battleground, Heyman will help Cesaro claim the title. When Ziggler comes for revenge, he’ll encounter a Brock Lesnar shaped road-block and we’ll get the visuals of Ziggler selling for Lesnar at Summerslam. After this, its the work with Cena mentioned in Cena’s section.
With Kofi Kingston, I feel that you either have to elevate him to this level and keep him there, or give up on him for good, really. He’ll get his first run immediately dethroning Cesaro at Summerslam, but then drop the title a month later to Bray Wyatt. A three way program between Kingston, Wyatt and Cesaro will end with the belt around Cesaro’s waist once more. Kingston will then be there to step in when a face champion is needed or a face challenger is needed, giving the upper mid-card a young high flier and giving him as much shine as he’s probably going to get.
Rob Van Dam’s here to job to heels. That’s about it. He’s the person you beat as a heel before you feud with the face champion.
After the Wyatt/Bryan and friends feud comes to a close, Wyatt will beat Sting at Summerslam. This gets him a brief run with the World Heavyweight Championship as part of the above-mentioned three way program, before it goes back to Cesaro for a longer reign. He’s needed for Rollins, then at Wrestlemania, he’ll be the one Orton wins to thank Orton for turning so that he could legitimise both Rollins and Ambrose’s reigns. The WHC scene is going to be centred on another heel shortly after this, so it’ll be more feuds and character building than title matches for the foreseeable future.
Cesaro gets the WHC for a second mid-way through the year, then picks the belt up when Rollins/Ambrose is ready to end, so that Wyatt is available for Rollins. After this, he’ll hold onto the belt until Wrestlemania 31, where a face-turned Wade Barrett claims it from him in a super-stiff battle. Given Cesaro’s talking ability, he’s unlikely to move above the WHC scene, but given his wrestling ability, he’s unlikely to move below it. As a general rule, he is the anti-part to Kofi from here, the heel who wears the belt when a heel champion is needed for the up and coming face, or the heel challenger coming after a face champion.
Barrett will be his entertaining self leading into the Summerslam – Hell In A Cell program with Bryan. The hope is that by letting Barrett be a charming dick-bag for a full year under the Bad News Barrett gimmick and putting him in a program with someone like Bryan, who can elevate his already great in-ring game to new levels, the fans will be ahead of us on turning him face to take the WHC from Cesaro. Barrett’s an interesting case in that he certainly could get to the WWE scene, but there’s no guarantee that he will. Use the WHC run as a springboard and see where he gets is all we’d be able to do with him.
Alberto Del Rio has fallen to the wayside due to the requirements of trying to take two people from debuting to being in a position to beat Lesnar for the WWE title or end The Undertaker’s streak. Me and Jed haven’t given him any reason to stay after the racism incident, unfortunately. Get some work with Ziggler in while we can.
Sting and The Undertaker
After losing to Wyatt at Summerslam (Sting) and Ambrose at Wrestlemania 31 (The Undertaker), both will feel the need to bow out. But there remains this one unanswered question, the mirror images of themselves that must be faced. Two old gunslingers go out at high noon one last time at Wrestlemania 31, then both ride off into the sunset.
Diva’s Title Scene
The idea with this title is to have one wrestler who the entire scene centres around. For the two years of this story, that wrestler has been AJ Lee, who passed the role of central figure on to Paige. So the division will focus around Paige, which will mean getting another month or two out of PaiJ matters and then Natalya Neidhart. There’s a plan for an Anoa’i stable, which will mean Paige vs Tamina at some point as part of Wyatt vs Anoa’i. The next wrestler to be the central figure of the division will probably be Charlotte Flair. As for AJ Lee, the plan is not to discard the former central figure, but to keep her in programs. In doing so, the Diva’s division is carefully expanded using wrestlers the audience already has an investment in and a reason to care about. So AJ Lee is now a featured player with feuds running as secondary parts of the division to Paige’s feuds. When Charlotte (probably) comes up and becomes the central figure, Paige and AJ will both be working secondary programs. Slowly, we expand the division, change the fucking name and destroy the fucking butterfly title in a vat of fucking acid.
Tag Title Scene
A mix of lifers and those who are only here as a stop along the way, fans have been a bit too programmed by the cult of the individual in WWE for the Tag titles to ever be as respected as the singles belts, and building the Diva’s division to equal footing is far more of a priority, but there is no reason that this cannot be an exciting and fun division.
Bald Is Beautiful
(New Age Outlaws)
Bolieve In The Kidd
The Usos are lifers. Whether as challengers or champions, they’ll remain a presence in the title scene. We’ll want the belts off them when the Anoa’i stable begins feuding with The Wyatts, so that we can have a high profile tag feud between them and The Wyatts in addition to whatever the tag champions are doing.
The Rhodes are for the year and that’s it. Cody will take his disastrous run as World Heavyweight Champion personally and decide that he’s not made for high level singles competition. So him teaming with his much older brother is a kind of personal defeat for him. The two will claim the tag titles fairly early and have a run of great matches before dropping them, most likely to The Ascension. Resentment will grow in Cody, as he gets the majority of the pins and Goldust does the majority of the getting pinned. He’ll see their team as a sign of his failure at the start, have a great time with his brother, then begin to resent Goldust for taking advantage of his low self-esteem, all of this building up to a heel turn and him retiring Goldust at Wrestlemania 31. He’ll then join the WHC scene as a heel, being the next in line to take the WHC after Barrett and playing chicken shit heel with it. We’ll see where he goes from there. (Well, we won’t. Reality has Strong Looking Roman Reigns, but in my version of reality, we see where he goes from there.)
Bald Is Beautiful will continue for exactly as long as it takes for the joke to wear thin. Tensai will then be betrayed by noticing that Sheamus has stopped shaving his head, leading to a break up that sends Sheamus to be a face in the WHC scene who is mostly there to help elevate whoever is planned for elevation. It’ll send Tensai into a backstage role and he’ll probably re-emerge on the NXT commentary desk.
Rybaxel are lifers. They hide the other’s weaknesses well. They’re written in as faces because Ryback is a charming talker and because with the Rhodes and Bald Is Beautiful both breaking up inside the year, we’re going to need more teams on the face side of things.
Oh you didn’t know? The New Age Outlaws are just here to do the honours when needed, to fill in when there isn’t another face team that can take their role.
The Wyatts are The Wyatts and how long they remain a tag team is a question of how long the stable lasts. Harper’s probably destined for a strong role in the WHC scene, but with his look and style, it would be a waste not to make a serious effort to get him in the WWE scene. He is unique. There should definitely be a moment where the Wyatt Family are all with gold, Bray holding the WHC, Paige the Diva’s, The Wyatts the Tag.
Legally Strong are lifers, as Henry is to injured to seriously push and Otunga is too not very good to advance. They play the dual roles of powerhouse heels and comedy heels, and they should continue to be a fun addition to the division.
The Ascension are lifers and are planned to hold the role of the the heel counterparts to The Usos, an ever present part of the title scene. They will be pushed strong out of the gate, ending The Rhodes title reign and going on a run of dominance.
Bolieve In The Kidd will be a debuting team for Bo Dallas, seeing him paired with Tyson Kidd. Kidd will be low and down in the dumps about his lack of TV time or career progression and a concerned Nattie will insist he sees a motivational counsellor, who will of course, be Bo Dallas. There are a lot of places that the story can go from there, but the idea by the end of it is to get both Dallas and Kidd over as singles wrestlers with strong personalities. For the foreseeable future, they’re always featured in some manner, getting their entertaining personalities and great ring work over.
The Intercontinental Title Scene
AKA The Roman Reigns title. The idea behind the belt is that it and the United States titles should have individual identities. The Intercontinental Title will be the under-card title that feuds and PPV matches are build around, and will generally see longer reigns, such as Roman Reigns’ reign. He’s a very handsome gent with a muscular physique and he’ll wind up in the main event scene and honestly, there’s a place for him, as long as he’s not forced on us. The plan is to do it slow, he’ll end up there inevitably. He will lead the Anoa’i stable, which will largely serve as a vehicle for him, as multi-man matches really let him shine. In addition to getting shine from the multi-man matches that arise from teaming with Bryan against the Wyatts, then leading his own stable, he will learn how to work well as a big guy by holding the IC title and facing big guys who can really go. Harper and Wyatt can work some singles matches with him as part of both the Bryan and friends vs Wyatts feud and the Anoa’i vs Wyatts feud. Kane’s veteran knowledge will be useful to Roman, as will working with a super-worker like Cesaro. These are all the names that jump out at me, I’ll admit. He’ll be holding a belt and leading a stable up until sometime in late 2015, in preparation for him going on to win the 2016 Rumble and claim a spot at the top at Wrestlemania 32.
The United States Title Scene
AKA The Big E Langston title. If the plan for the IC belt’s identity is for it to be the mid-card title that storylines are built around, then what will the United States title’s identity? I’m glad you asked. The plan will be for this title to be a TV title in all but name: given 10-15 minutes every RAW in which it is defended, with regular title changes being a part of the design. Give one or both of the wrestlers a quick couple of minute promo building up their bout, giving the audience a chance to learn who they are on the mic, then they go out and put on the best match they can, featuring sensible finishes, giving the audience a chance to like who they are in the ring. The contender for the next RAW will be decided each Smackdown in another decent length match with a sensible finish. I’ve nicknamed this the Big E Langston title because he’s been left in NXT for too long at this point and because not letting Big E talk and be himself on the main show is one of the biggest mistakes I feel WWE has made recently. When he talks, whether in online skits, on NXT or on the Fallout press conference style interviews, he’s entertaining, funny and charming. Add in his speed and power and they have someone who if they got behind, could be a massive deal. Genuinely feel they are sleeping on a potential top star in Big E. So yeah, he debuts into this division and gets serious attention. If he doesn’t take off for whatever reason, he doesn’t, but he certainly gets the chance. By no means undefeated, regular title switches will actually be good for a belt like this, they’ll add an air of importance to the weekly matches.
Dean Ambrose defeats Seth Rollins to win WWE Title.
Bray Wyatt defeats Sting.
Brock Lesnar defeats Dolph Ziggler.
John Cena defeats Triple H.
Kofi Kingston defeats Cesaro to win World Heavyweight Championship.
Wade Barrett defeats Daniel Bryan.
Daniel Bryan defeats Dean Ambrose to win WWE Title.
The Undertaker defeats Sting.
Seth Rollins defeats Brock Lesnar.
Dolph Ziggler defeats John Cena.
Paige defeats Tamina Snuka to retain Diva’s Title.
Wade Barrett defeats Cesaro to win World Heavyweight Championship.
The Usos defeat The Ascension to win Tag Titles.
Cody Rhodes defeats Goldust, retiring him.
Randy Orton defeats Bray Wyatt.