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  • Connor Ewens

Fantasy Booking: Wrestlemania 25

I'm going to say what I need to say in capitals because I want to stress how much this bothered me. THE 25TH ANNUAL SHOW DOES NOT MEAN IT IS THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY. THE YEAR YOU GET MARRIED, IS NOT YOUR FIRST WEDDING ANNIVERSARY. STOP IT. Anyways, Wrestlemania 25 is precisely remembered for 3 things. The cool double AA spot by John Cena, a man winning a battle royal celebrating women and Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels. Here is a card reminder:

Money in the Bank ladder

'Miss Wrestlemania' Battle Royal

Chris Jericho vs Jimmy Snuka, Roddy Piper & Ricky Steamboat, Handicap elimination match

Matt Hardy vs Jeff Hardy, Extreme Rules

JBL (c) vs Rey Mysterio, IC Championship

Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels

Edge (c) vs John Cena vs Big Show, Heavyweight Championship

Triple H (c) vs Randy Orton, WWE Championship

For such a highly promoted celebration of Wrestlemania, this is quite a forgettable show. CM Punk wins the MITB for a second year in a row which didn't feel as special as the first time around considering how his first title run went down. The Miss Wrestlemania battle royal was awful and then won by Santino Marella in a dress and a wig. Chris Jericho beat up 3 grandads, only 1 of them could still wrestle competently. The Hardy Boyz feud was a good match but tame and disappointing considering the quality and the story. JBL is squashed in 20 seconds and then retires out of shame which was admittedly pretty funny. Undertaker and Shawn Michaels wrestled one of the best wrestling matches in WWE history. The Heavyweight triple threat was a fun match that exceeded my expectations, then the main event was slow, boring and underwhelming. They built up this crazy feud with insane levels of intensity, remember when Triple H broke into Randy's home and beat his ass? That was great fun. Then, they made the stipulation that Triple could lose his title by DQ or count out, which did make sense but my god did it make the whole thing boring. So many mistakes, so many easier ways to book a fun show. WWE, this is how its done.

As usual, the MITB ladder match to start Wrestlemania. CM Punk and Kofi Kingston represent Raw, Shelton Benjamin and MVP represent Smackdown, Christian and Evan Bourne represent ECW. ECW is pretty dead in the water at this point, so this will be the last we talk about them in these Wrestlemania bookings. Christian was the only thing ECW had worth watching. This is a pretty exciting line-up; you have Kofi, Benjamin and Bourne willing to do death-defying stunts to wow the crowd. Christian is a ladder veteran and an amazing wrestler. MVP plays the opportunistic heel. CM Punk wins here though, finally winning his MITB briefcase and putting the locker room on notice.

I'd begin with a big battle royal featuring all of the men on the roster I do not mention elsewhere on the card, gives them all something to do. The winner can have a title shot of their choosing. Big Show can win it, he's big and they can do the "how can anyone eliminate him" shtick.

We get a backstage segment where Jeff Hardy is getting ready for his WWE championship match with the champion Chris Jericho later, but he is ambushed by a mysterious assailant and left injured. More on this later on.

Do you know what is so baffling? That WWE unified tag team championships for the first time and it was on the pre-show. I couldn't believe it. The WWE tag titles had been active for 7 years, whilst the World tag titles have a history dating back to the 70s, and they were combined in a forgotten match that most people probably haven't even seen. That is a huge disservice to tag team wrestling. In August of 2008, Cody Rhodes defeated himself by turning heel on his tag champion partner Hardcore Holly, teaming with Ted to win/lose the titles. Confusing, but I loved the booking. I would have them keep a hold of those tag championships right up until Wrestlemania. On the other brand, I would still have Carlito as one half of the WWE tag champions, but instead of his cousin Primo I'd team him with Rey Mysterio. Have Carlito bring Primo in as his inexperienced cousin and train him up. Carlito and Rey then form an alliance and form a mini Latino faction and defeat Hawkins & Ryder for the WWE tag championships. After a competitive match, the heels representing Legacy score a cheap victory to unify the tag championships.

Next we have the women's championship match, still champion is Beth Phoenix defending against Michelle McCool. I've had her as the women's champion for 2 years now and I would still keep it on her. The division is floundering with only a handful of women you could consider as solid wrestlers, the rest of them are athletic models essentially. Alongside the women's title, they can still introduce the Divas title, though I definitely wouldn't have it be a silver and pink butterfly. That gives another women's championship that the likes of Mickie James, Melina and Gail Kim can hold and defend as the only other wrestlers I would call good on the roster. McCool ain't too bad though, she's a pretty tall and powerful woman who can almost match with Phoenix but ultimately the Glamazon is still on top of the division. A title reign of epic proportion, being built up for a future newcomer to get a big rub from.

Phoenix's comedy ally Santino Marella should still be the Intercontinental champion by Wrestlemania. I really liked the whole Honky Tonk-o-meter thing. I'd have him beat Kofi for the IC championship a little later in 2008 at No Mercy in October a few weeks before Cyber Sunday. Then, Marella introduces the meter and retains his IC championship against all challengers mostly thanks to Beth Phoenix being an effective manager. As Santino's reign goes on and on, he gains more confidence and brags about being better than IC champions of old. He lists them off, mispronouncing their names as he does; "Pedro Morello (Pedro Morales), Pat-Pat Son (Pat Patterson), Titty Santa (Tito Santana) and The Dragon, Richard Rowboat (Ricky Steamboat)" This brings out Ricky Steamboat, who thinks Santino should put his money where his mouth is, challenging him to a match at Wrestlemania, 22 years after when he won the IC championship for the first time at Wrestlemania. Before he goes out to the ring, Santino is told by Beth that he must do this alone. She says "if you cannot beat a pensioner on your own, you shouldn't be the champion." Santino is out on his own, Steamboat enters and he is flanked by former IC champions Roddy Piper and Tito Santana. This shouldn't go too long, 5+ minutes of Steamboat proving he can still go and even defeating Santino to win the IC title, becoming the oldest ever winner of the IC title at 56 years old. Marella is a comedy heel and he can take a quick loss to a legend, a feel good moment for a legendary return. You can still run the Jericho vs Steamboat feud at Backlash where Jericho can take the IC belt off of him.

Following that we have a Hell in a Cell match, Triple H vs Randy Orton, no title on the line. This feud didn't need to be about the world title, it was so personal that they should want to go out there and tear each other to shreds, not wrestle a match that prohibits one of them from getting the revenge they want. So, an injury to Orton puts him on the shelf in 2008 from June until November, Jericho has cashed in his MITB contract and won the WWE championship from Orton just before his time away. It was a match against Triple H that Orton got injured in. At Survivor Series, a WWE title match between Jericho and Triple H is interrupted by the returning Randy Orton. He drops Jericho with an RKO, before extending a handshake out to Triple H. HHH is confused, goes to finish off Jericho but is also hit with an RKO. Then we see the debut of the punt kick Orton uses, he kicks Triple H right in the skull and drags Jericho on top of him. Triple H is carted out on a stretcher. Orton put HHH on the shelf in return for Triple H injuring him, but this goes much more than that. Once again, Hunter actively tried to sabotage Orton's rise, a theme that has been reoccurring ever since Evolution. Triple H is jealous of Orton, he feels threatened by how superior he is to him and he will do anything to stay on top. Orton tells Hunter to stay at home, and never come back. Vince McMahon comes out and denounces Orton for his actions and threatens to suspend him. Orton RKOs him and then also his Vince with the punt kick. Vince is also wheeled out on a stretcher. Stephanie McMahon takes control over the company temporarily and goes to suspend him but Batista says no and demands that Orton is kept on the roster so that he can deliver justice. He and Hunter never always see eye to eye, but to threaten his livelihood, his career and to attack Mr McMahon is too far. At Armageddon, Batista is kicking Orton's ass but then Orton gets some help from Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase Jr. and eventually defeats Batista. Legacy is formed shortly after. Sorry Manu, you weren't a good fit. Orton continues to punt kick his way through the roster and get into heated confrontations with Stephanie. Orton is forcibly entered into the rumble at number 1 by Stephanie but he doesn't mind as he dissects anyone he comes up against. Later in the match though, entering around 15 is the returning Triple H. He immediately targets Orton and eliminates him. Later in the match, Orton returns to the ring and eliminates HHH from the match, RKOing him on the announce table and again hitting him with a punt kick. Orton brags about his actions, he threatens a similar fate for Stephanie when we see the on-screen return of Shane McMahon. He challenges Orton to a No Holds Barred match at No Way Out, which Orton wins after, you guessed it, a punt kick. Triple H returns and demands to face Orton at Wrestlemania, but he is ambushed by Legacy. They hold him down as Orton drags out Stephanie McMahon for an RKO then a punt kick, and that kiss on the cheek because that segment was fucking gold. Steph is now also wheeled off by doctors. Triple H invades Orton's home like in real life because that was a lot of fun. Afterwards, Triple H tells Orton how stupid he is. He has went and targeted all of his family to try and get revenge on Hunter, when he has also made his life even harder. With no McMahon around in power and without an active GM, the control of Raw now falls into the hands of the next family member in line. As the boss' son in law, that's Triple H. He books himself vs Orton for Wrestlemania inside Hell in a Cell. No Legacy, no where to run, it all comes to an end.

They have a violent 20+ minute war, Triple H is full of aggression whilst Orton's offence is slower, more deliberate and sadistic. Triple H gets revenge with a sledgehammer shot to the head, a pedigree on to a chair and also a punt kick of his own. Triple H wins, Orton is carted off on a stretcher. He isn't gone for long, but I think it ties up the whole Orton vs HHH arc pretty nicely. We get another little backstage segment, medical staff are attending to Jeff Hardy who is adamant to go out there but doctors are not so confident.

We have our heavyweight title triple threat that does indeed include Edge and John Cena, but someone else instead of Big Show. As silly and soap opera the whole Edge and Vickie Guerrero angle was, it was entertaining and for the most part a well booked, long term story right until the end. Triple H revealed that Edge had been cheating on Vickie Guerrero, cancelling their wedding and she got Undertaker to exact vengeance as Edge was chokeslammed through the ring and off TV for 3 months. When he returned, he was brought back by Vicky and it seemed like things were back to normal. Edge vs Big Show was booked, but John Cena got himself added to the match by leveraging some information, that Vickie was now cheating on Edge with Big Show. It didn't really make much sense. First it makes Vickie look like a moron to bring back her ex to win the world title when she is already banging someone else that she could have inserted in the match instead. Also, wasn't Edge only hooking up with Vickie to benefit his own career? Like they weren't actually supposed to be in a romantic relationship. Vickie loved Edge, but Edge was manipulating her. That was the story, but they quickly forced it into a love triangle arc for some reason. So, everything leading up to Summerslam 2008 should be kept the same except Edge is the Heavyweight champion after taking it back from Undertaker. Undertaker wins the match and the title, sending Edge to hell at the end of it. Undertaker holds the title until Survivor Series where he loses it to John Cena. Around this time Edge, returns but heads over to Raw and stays away from Vickie. She is not the GM of Raw, just Smackdown. Edge comes back and wins the WWE championship from Chris Jericho at the Royal Rumble. At No Way Out, he is eliminated in the first 2 minutes of the Elimination chamber match and Jericho wins the title back. Later in the night, Edge attacks Kofi to enter and win the Heavyweight title EC, because that was an awesome moment and great booking. Edge now has to move back over to Smackdown and he is congratulated by Vickie. Edge tries to suck up to her and win back her favour but she says he has ruined his chances with her and she has found someone else and he will be facing Edge for his world title at Wrestlemania. That man is...Matt Hardy. Think back to 2005, the very real feud turned into a storyline where Lita cheated on Matt with Edge. 4 years later, now it is Matt Hardy who has taken Edge's partner. This is the beginning of a small push for Hardy, who is transitioning towards being a heel anyways. Hardy can move up to an upper-card position. In a backstage segment, Edge confronts Matt says "You do realise that she means nothing to me right? I was using her to keep my status as world champion?" To which Matt responds "How do you not know that I am doing the same thing?" Of course big match John Cena doesn't like all of this and finds a way to get himself added to the match. He defeats Edge in a non-title match on Smackdown, turning the match into a triple threat. The match goes down similarly like in real life, Cena getting the victory and we can even see him hit that double AA spot rather than just holding two men on his shoulders. You can follow with an Edge vs Hardy feud, maybe turn Edge face, or you can redo a Cena x Edge feud if you like. Dealers choice.

We have the WWE championship match next. So Jericho won the MITB at the previous mania and cashes in on Orton for the belt. He holds it throughout the entirety of 2008 and into 2009, turning heel when he feuds with Shawn Michaels. Edge wins it from him at the Royal Rumble but I would have Jericho win it back in the Elimination Chamber. Jeff Hardy once he is back from his suspension should be right back at the top of the card competing in the main event scene. I'd have Jeff Hardy challenge Jericho for the world title but fail to win it at Armageddon. Jeff Hardy goes on to win the 2009 Royal Rumble and book himself a world title match and he chooses Jericho. Jericho says there is no way Hardy can beat him. So, Jericho does his entrance first, when Hardy's music hits he does come out but he is limping down to the ring. He even stumbles and falls down on the ramp, he is not in a good way. Referees and medical staff try and prevent Hardy from going in the ring. Then, we hear This Fire Burns by Killswitch Engage. CM Punk comes down with his MITB briefcase, he checks on Jeff and speaks to him. He says "Don't worry Jeff, you need to stay healthy and fix yourself up. I'll go down there and take care of business for you." Punk grabs a microphone and announces he is cashing in his briefcase right now to wrestle twice in one night. Jericho is shocked and clearly rattled, arguing about the legality of it. We get CM Punk vs Jericho and I'd give them like 15-20 minutes, Punk will be able to wrestle for such a long time at this stage in his career. Punk should win here and secure his first world title at Wrestlemania. Then, in the following weeks, it is revealed that CM Punk is the one who attacked Jeff Hardy. Punk turns heel and justifies his reasoning as not wanting a self-destructive junkie as a world champion. This kicks off the amazing feud between these two which can run longer from Mania to Summerslam, a few back and forth title changes with eventually Punk winning and Hardy leaving the company. Now, I know I run a serious risk here of a royal rumble winner not actually wrestling at Wrestlemania. I'm hoping that the support for CM Punk is equal to the support for Hardy and the shock of a MITB cash in on the same night of Wrestlemania will outweigh the disappointing of the rumble winner not wrestling.

Main event is Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels. Yeah, I don't really need to add much else. This is one of the all time great WWE matches. I actually like the Wrestlemania 26 rematch more purely for the story that has been told, but this is still one of the best matches ever. I loved that it was so even all the way through, that the only way Undertaker won was from one mistake, catching a moonsault attempt into a tombestone piledriver. This is perfection and I could not do it any better.

A quick recap of the card I booked:

Money in the Bank Ladder

Rey Mysterio & Carlito (WWE) vs Legacy (World), Tag Championship Unification

Beth Phoenix (c) vs Michelle McCool, Women's Championship

Santino Marella (c) vs Ricky Steamboat, IC Championship

Triple H vs Randy Orton, Hell in a Cell

Edge (c) vs Matt Hardy vs John Cena, Heavyweight Championship

Chris Jericho (c) vs CM Punk, WWE Championship

Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels

What did you think? Was it a good show? Did you hate the whole 'removing the advertised contender' thing? Lemme know and check out the article tomorrow for Wrestlemania 26, a show with one great match, a couple of good matches and a lot of fucking nothing. I've got plenty of changes prepared to make. Until then, see ya!


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