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  • Connor Ewens

Fantasy Booking; Wrestlemania 23

What do you think was the most prominent story heading into Wrestlemania? Could it be Batista vs Undertaker, a battle between two of Smackdown's greatest goliaths? Could it be John Cena vs Shawn Michaels, a battle between WWE's past face of the company against WWE's new face of the company? Or is the battle of the billionaires, hair vs hair between evil billionaire Vince McMahon and equally evil billionaire Donald Trump? Unfortunately, the answer is that last one. The late 00s into the early 10s was a rough time for WWE fans, the quality of the product got worse and worse the more superstars we lost. Eddie Guerrero, Kurt Angle, Trish Stratus, Lita are gone now, and there would be more big names to leave the roster in the coming years. The effects were present on their PPV cards, here is the card we got for Wrestlemania 23:

Money in the Bank Ladder

The Great Khali vs Kane

Chris Benoit (c) vs MVP, US Championship

Batista (c) vs The Undertaker, Heavyweight Championship

ECW Originals vs New Breed

Bobby Lashley vs Umaga, Hair vs Hair

Melina (c) vs Ashley Massaro, Lumberjill match for Women's Championship

John Cena (c) vs Shawn Michaels, WWE Championship

Both world title matches were great and the ladder match was a lot of fun as always, but the rest of the show was lacking. Another awful Khali match, an underwhelming ECW multi-man match and a piss break of a women's match. The hair-shaving angle between Trump and McMahon was stupid fun, but the match was just average. Trump rivals Vince and Linda for the worst ever stunner sell of all time. The 4 world title competitors saved this show from being an absolute wash, but there is a better way for this show to be a bit more enjoyable across the playing field. WWE, this is how its done.

I would still start with the traditional Money in the Bank ladder match though I would swap out some participants. Raw are represented by Jeff Hardy and world tag team champion Edge, Smackdown by Matt Hardy and Mr Kennedy, ECW by CM Punk and Sabu. The main reason I have Sabu in here, so that he can do the crazy jump off the ladder spot through Edge and Mr Kennedy. Why not Jeff? Because I'm booking him to win the match. Kennedy didn't even get to cash in his briefcase as his push got cancelled, but I never really saw him as a future main eventer anyways. He was okay on the mic and I liked his microphone introduction gimmick, but outside of that I saw little in him as a world champion. Jeff Hardy absolutely deserves his spot as a main eventer. I would have a give a lot of screen time to Punk and Jeff Hardy, really make them the MVPs of the match. We can have Edge and Matt Hardy reignite their very real life feud. This should be plenty of fun.

We are not getting any Great Khali here, sorry to any Punjabi Playboy fans. We are getting the US championship match next, I still have MVP as the challenger as well as Rey Mysterio, but the champion will actually be Bobby Lashley. Rey walked out of Wrestlemania 22 as the Heavyweight champion, I would give him a solid 3/4 month reign then dropping it to King Booker who can hold it for the rest of the year before losing to Batista, like in real life. Rey doesn't really need to have a long dominant reign as champion, he is a much more compelling character as a chaser. Plus his title win was more about the Wrestlemania moment and not about having a long reign. I actually have King Booker as US champion this time last year. 2 months after Wrestlemania 22 at Judgement Day, Bobby Lashley defeats him for the title and he holds it all the way. No, Lashley should not be in the ECW world title picture. I think his involvement with ECW was completely detrimental to Lashley's first run in WWE. Lashley's reign should be largely dominant and he enters a feud with MVP on the road to Wrestlemania. MVP criticises Lashley's reign as being a flop and he will never measure up to the past greats. Then, MVP begins to prove that he is as good if not better than past US champions, by beating past US champions. He beats some currently active stars such as Ric Flair but he mainly fights old timers such as Jim Duggan, Lex Luger, Michael Hayes and Tully Blanchard. He beats up these seniors and brags about doing it. A 1v1 singles match is booked for Wrestlemania, however a victory for Rey over MVP at No Way Out earns him an opportunity at the title too. Lashley plays the powerhouse, Rey plays the high-flyer and MVP is the opportunistic heel. Mysterio fights from underneath throughout the match, it looks like he may even be on the path to a giant killing after hitting the 619 and the frog splash to Lashley. However, MVP slides in and delivers a Play of the Day to Rey-Rey and pins him, winning the US championship. This will be his first reign and I would have him hold on to this for a long time, he was one of the best US champions of the era.

We're sticking with Smackdown with a match for the WWE tag team championships. Brian Kendrick & Paul London have held them since Judgement Day 2006, they're challenged by King Booker and the King's Hand, Finlay. These two formed an alliance when Booker was Heavyweight champion as the King tried to hold on to the title anyway he can. After losing the world title Booker and Finlay move into the tag division to claim gold for their kingdom instead. They are unsuccessful however, this is another notch in the win column for Kendrick & London who continue their epic reign.

Over on the Raw side of things for a little while. First we have the women's match. I'd keep all of the title changes throughout 2006 the same. Lita defeating Mickie ahead of her match with Trish at Unforgiven. Trish wins her 7th women's title before vacating it as she retires on top of the division. Lita wins her 4th women's championship in a tournament and then loses the title to Mickie in her retirement match at Survivor Series, though I definitely wouldn't have Shad & JTG from Cryme Tyme flogging Lita's personal belongings to the audience. It wasn't the greatest farewell for one of WWE's most influential female wrestlers. From there, I'd keep the title on James until Wrestlemania where she is challenged by Melina. It's rather slim pickings in the women's division here on out. Melina is a good wrestler though. We can get a good 10 minute match out of them, Melina should go over and win her first women's title here. These two can continue to feud over the title throughout 2007 until a certain Glamazon debuts in the company.

Carlito walks out of Wrestlemania 22 as the IC champion and he resumes his feud with former friend Chris Masters, Masters can even win the title if you like but I would keep the title on Carlito and have him drop the strap to rising singles star Johnny Nitro at the Vengeance PPV. There you can begin the Nitro and Jeff Hardy feud which happened because they had some good matches, but crucially although the title goes back and forth between them, Nitro wins the feud overall by last taking the from him in November. Umaga does not win the IC, I have different plans for him. Nitro holds the title all the way until Wrestlemania, Carlito wins a battle royal featuring past IC champions to earn himself a match against Nitro at the flagship event. Both of these guys are incredibly gifted wrestlers, I think they could have a very fun match at Wrestlemania. I'd give Nitro the win here, he is a star on the rise with a higher upside than Carlito at this moment.

If ECW are going to get one match on the show, then it has to be for the title and actually ECW rules. I like the ECW originals as much as the next person, but watching them destroy 4 rookies in under 10 minutes with only a single weapons spot was criminal. ECW was already dead in the water by this point, so I will try and salvage as much as I can. RVD walked out of Wrestlemania 22 with the MITB briefcase. I'd still have him cash in on John Cena ahead of time to set up that awesome WWE title win for him at One Night Stand 2006. Then, like I mentioned yesterday, I'd have RVD emulate the time Shane Douglas threw down the NWA title and introduced the ECW title but with the WWE title instead. I'd keep the ECW title on RVD until the December to Dismember where he defends it inside the Extreme Elimination Chamber. The final two are him and Chris Benoit, RVD goes for a five star frog splash from the top of the chamber pod, through Benoit, through a table. Benoit rolls out the way though, RVD crashes and burns then Benoit locks in the crippler crossface. RVD passes out and Benoit wins the ECW title. I'd have Benoit start to display a lot more aggression and ferocity in his offence, not fully turning heel but definitely making the fans favour RVD over him. He refuses to give RVD another title shot, in fact he refuses to give any other ECW originals a title shot and only offers title opportunities to the "New Breed", aka anyone not an original. He has matches with CM Punk, Hardcore Holly, Snitsky, Shannon Moore and whoever else they had on their roster. GM of ECW, still Paul Heyman in my universe, finally intervenes and books a Extreme Eliminator match featuring 6 of ECW's biggest names; Tommy Dreamer, The Sandman, Sabu, RVD, Balls Mahoney and Stevie Richards. RVD is the last survivor and earns himself a title rematch at Wrestlemania. Fun fact, Benoit and RVD only ever wrestled each other 3 times, all 3 in 2002, twice in singles matches one of those being at Summerslam 2002. Give these 10-15 minutes and we're bound to get a very good match. Of course, make sure that it is a hardcore match too, it is ECW, for fuck sake. ECW's hero RVD gets a win to recapture the ECW title, bring out some of the old ECW legends to celebrate with him because why not.

Our first world title match is next and it is John Cena defending his WWE title against...Umaga! God they really could have made this man a main event monster. 2006 should be the year of Umaga, he returned to screens in April and for the full year he should be an unstoppable force, gradually working his way up the card and demolishing anyone in his path. He doesn't go for the IC champion, instead his manager Armando Estrada pre-warns John Cena that if he is still the world champion when Umaga is ready, then all he can do is beg for mercy. At Armageddon Cena appears on the Smackdown PPV to team with Heavyweight champion Batista to defeat King Booker and Finlay. At New Year's Revolution, I'd have John Cena defeat King Booker to retain his WWE title. After the match, Umaga attacks and Samoan Spikes him. He pins him, to prove that he can beat the champion. At the Royal Rumble, I wouldn't have any world titles on the line but instead have a special champion vs champion match between Cena and Batista. Batista wins thanks to Cena being distracted seeing Umaga stand in wait at the top of the ramp. After the bell, Umaga attacks again this time spiking him on the entranceway and pinning him once again. Estrada says no matter the time, place or means, Umaga is destined to defeat John Cena and take his place on the throne of WWE. Cena, being the baby face savior, challenges Umaga to a match at Wrestlemania and they make it a Falls Count Anywhere match. At Wrestlemania, their match plays out similarly to their Last Man Standing match in real life because that was a banger of a match. Both men destroy each other with their entire arsenal and anything around them, but neither man will quit. The finishing sequence happens somewhere in the crowd, Cena and Umaga fight up towards a platform. Cena hoists him up on his shoulders for a super duper FU down the ground maybe 15 ft below. Umaga reverses, lifts him into a Samoan drop and both men plummet to the ground (of course there is a crash pad and whatever else). Umaga is on top of Cena as the referee counts the 1-2-3. Umaga beats John Cena. Umaga was such a good wrestler and I think he really deserved to win a world title, a huge clean win over Cena at Wrestlemania is a huge endorsement. Being the side character in a battle of the billionaires is beneath this legend. I'll address Umaga's reign tomorrow but he should have a nice dominant run for most of the year, still being unbeaten.

Talking about the battle of the bilionaires. Now, my initial instinct was to just not have this happen. However, the shaved head meant we got Durag Vince which might be my favourite version of Vince. Plus, I cannot ignore that the whole Vince vs Trump feud was weirdly a big draw. So have the feud play out as it did, Donald Trump flexing his money over Vince and even threatening to buy Monday Night Raw and all of that silly shit. When the two come up with the 'Battle of the Billionaires', it goes different. Vince McMahon challenges Donald Trump to a Wrestlemania match. Trump initially refuses but after some childish taunting by Vince future US president agrees to the match. Not only do they decide to wager their hair, but Vince McMahon claims that to prevent a lawsuit against him or the WWE, their match will be an unsanctioned match. Appointed referee is Detroit's own Eric Bischoff, because why not. So we have the match time, Vince McMahon walks down in his black vest, incredibly oiled up. Donald Trump walks down in his golf polo and shorts because it is such a funny sight. Just as the bell rings, Trump grabs the microphone and says "You know what is great about being a billionaire Vince? It is that I can usually find someone willing to do a job for me. Turns out, I found someone who was very enthusiastic to be paid to kick your ass for me tonight". Glass shatters. Out comes Stone Cold Steve Austin. He speeds down on his ATV, he does his taunt to the crowd. He approaches Vince who tries to talk him down but Austin nails him with a stunner. Trump hooks the leg and Bischoff counts the 1-2-3. Donald Trump goes 1-0 at Wrestlemania. Austin and Bischoff hold Vince down whilst Trump takes the razor to his hair. Austin then grabs a couple "Steve-weisers" for a three-way toast. Bischoff is very hesitant, Austin tells him there is nothing to worry about. They toast, drink, stunner to Bischoff. Oh the lols. Trump probably finds this all funny. Before the segment ends, Austin grabs a mic for a quick promo. "I've kicked Vince McMahon's ass so many times over so many years for free, so being paid to do it felt like a blessing I couldn't refuse." He approaches Trump for a handshake whilst saying "There is one thing you should know about shaking hands in the wrestling business. DTA. Don't trust anybody." He drops Trump with a stunner, poses some more and takes his leave. I think this is a fun enough segment whilst both Lashley and Umaga do bigger and better things. Also the idea of Donald Trump having a Wrestlemania is hilarious. Some of you will hate that but aaah who cares.

That leaves out main event being Batista vs Undertaker for the Heavyweight title. This remains relatively unchanged, these two had great chemistry together. Undertaker wins the Royal Rumble and sets his sights on Batista. They have professional respect for each other however as the weeks go by tension rises ahead of their big encounter. After a back and forth encounter, the Deadman defeats the Animal to win the Heavyweight title and go 15-0 at Wrestlemania.

There you have it. I gave Jeff Hardy an early opportunity to win his first world title, Umaga wins his first world title over John Cena, the battle of the billionaires is arguably more wacky and more fun. Most importantly, I'm actually having mid-card titles be defended at Wrestlemania when they're usually a forgot prop. Here is a card recap:

Money in the Bank Ladder

Bobby Lashley (c) vs Rey Mysterio vs MVP, US Championship

Brian Kendrick & Paul London (c) vs King Booker & Finlay, WWE Tag Championship

Randy Orton vs Shawn Michaels

Mickie James (c) vs Melina, Women's Championship

Johnny Nitro (c) vs Carlito, IC Championship

Chris Benoit (c) vs RVD, ECW Championship

John Cena (c) vs Umaga, Falls Count Anywhere for WWE Championship

Vince McMahon vs Donald Trump, Unsanctioned Hair vs Hair

Batista (c) vs The Undertaker, Heavyweight Championship

Did you like it? Did it suck ass? Let me know, come back tomorrow when we take a look at Wrestlemania 24. "I'm sorry, I love you" Until then, see ya!


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