Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Monday Night RAW: Shifting Gears

Missed in all the hubbub about a fan getting hit was a really good showing by the WWE last week on RAW. The last twenty minutes is some of the best television they have produced this year. The story told by Vince McMahon and CM Punk is a tape that should be studied by new wrestlers to learn how to do so much with so little. It also made me want to watch this week instead of Monday Night Football. I would say that is mission accomplished.

This week was another good episode of RAW. I believe it was the episode to sell fans on the Hell in a Cell PPV. Next week is a programming nightmare as RAW goes head to head with the final Presidential debate and MNF is the Lions vs. Bears. Both will take huge chunks of the audience with them. That meant last night was really the go home show for the PPV with next week being just a week to pad the numbers. There were some road bumps, but overall another step in the right direction for the WWE.

Big Show is an underrated talent. His size alone makes him a draw but he is really good at cutting a multi-level promo. He has done a lot for Sheamus while the WWE creative team treads water with the fighting Irishman until a real feud comes along. I think Survivor Series will be a fork in the road for both men. I’m still pushing for a team up of Henry, Tensai, and Show. Or as I like to call them, “HTS” for Half Ton Savages. Think about those three doing a free bird style tag team.

It’s no mystery that Daniel Bryan and Kane are riding a hot streak right now. They are becoming a true attraction for the WWE. Bryan had that crowd going nuts just walking to the ring. These two had a great opener, and once again Bryan proves he can wrestle any person on the roster to a good showing. Show, Kane, and Bryan are all in limbo as neither is in a real feud. Using the three to push their characters is a nice touch.

It also lets Sheamus work a mini-program with Wade Barrett. What an enjoyment that was. I love their chemistry and brutality. I like that Sheamus has yet to finish a match with Barrett. It keeps building up Wade and protects the champ. When they have their real “first” match it will have tons of buzz going into it. Can anyone else say Survivor Series? If Wade Barrett isn’t World Champ by the Royal Rumble then he is my pick to win it.

What happened to Brodus Clay? No entrance and getting jobbed out in a few minutes, rough. His gimmick is limited, but damn who tied a bag of rocks around his leg and dropped him off the WWE bridge? Del Rio is becoming a top tier heel. Poor Brodus is becoming a victim. ADR is vicious and his arm breaker is a feared finisher. He should get the win against Orton. Should. We all know nothing is certain against Reefer Randy.

Side note: Anyone else notice that the DUI dancer for Clay can’t hide the fact that each time Brodus loses, and gets closer to a gimmick switch, that she is a day closer to unemployment? She really is a dead woman dancing.

Kane vs. Striker, The PTP tag match, and Ryback were a bunch of time wasters. Luckily the WWE put them in a good spots. I am guessing the PTP will be the post PPV challengers for Team Hell No. It is good to build them up now. Kane attacking announcers and the GM abusing her power is getting old. Move the storyline forward. Having Vince take control of both shows seems to be the direction they are headed. I'm guessing before Survivor Series. What about AJ managing Ryback? Not a bad team huh. Poor Ziggler is the real guy in the WWE getting no respect. His career looks like his MITB case, beat up.

When it comes to the Diva division I am going to leave that as incomplete. The WWE has done a lot to salt the earth in this division. Honestly this is the time I did some quick clean up around the house before finishing RAW in bed. This had nothing to offer me at this point.

The lowest point of the show was “The 3 Man Band”. Horrible gimmick. Mahal looks so out of place trying to be two stereotypes at once. Wrestling gimmicks are like the streams in Ghostbusters, don’t cross them. Asian Cowboy didn’t work for Jimmy Wang Yang. Rock-a-Billy Hindu isn’t doing anything for Mahal. I like all three workers. They could be a good team. Just not this team. Also the live vignette in the Nashville bar was stupid. I checked on the MNF game at this point.

Antonio Cesaro on the other hand is a gimmick that is hitting. He is a gifted worker with a great look. His, “I’m the best US Champ because I’m not American”, story is great. It doesn’t do the campy old 80’s anti-America heel stuff. It is a fresh take on an old idea. I like that the crowd chants USA during his match. I would like to see Antonio act like the crowd is chanting for him. Who else would they be cheering for? He is the US champ after all.

Also Jim Ross on commentary did amazing stuff for Cesaro last night. Pointing out the little things on the replay was huge. JR truly is the greatest of all time. How many stars have been made just because of Ross? He gives each WWE superstar depth to their character.

Kofi vs. Miz is interesting. Miz is calling Kofi a sideshow performer when that is what most people have thought about Miz his whole career. I like that this is feud that is playing a bigger role on their ION show. It helps that product grow, and gives this feud more chances to expand. I liked their rushed match near the end of the show. That kick from Kofi was nasty. I’m sure it wasn’t planned to be so stiff, but damn did it look good. I hope Miz doesn’t have brain damage. If he is ok then that kick did a lot to open people’s eyes to this feud. Good mid-card battle here.

The Rhodes Scholars is a great team. I am so excited that tag team wrestling is on the upswing. There really are 5-6 strong teams right now. JR said it best last night when he stated that Team Hell No has restarted this division. I really hope the WWE is going to keep these teams together. They need some guys willing to give up the next 2-3 years to help bring the tag titles back to glory. I think that Hell No vs. The Scholars at the PPV could be the dark horse for match of the night. Next week against Rey and Sin Cara should be a good one too.

I’ve waited to cover the Punk-Vince-Cena story. This whole angle since last week has been the shining light for the WWE. Punk has developed this unique character that is part weasel, part ego-maniac, and part serial killer all mixed together with a sense that at the end of the day the thing that pisses you off the most about him is that he might be right; he might be “the best in the world”. Paul Heyman plays perfectly off Punk with his facial expressions. They are really a good mesh of talents. I hope the WWE doesn’t cut the legs off this beast before it gets a chance to really run its course.

Vince has been top notch the past two weeks. He hasn’t been overused. He isn’t his cheesy dancing make a dick joke self. He has a little of that attitude and swagger about him from a decade ago. You kind of expect that from a guy who two weeks ago was told by a top star that his current product is the drizzling shits. It’s weird that so many compare Punk to Austin, and it is Vince who really helps elevate both men. I would say that Vince makes Punk the anti-Austin. His in ring psychology last week was some of the best in a WWE ring this year outside of Punk and Bryan.

Finally, John Cena has done something that nobody thought possible. He has embraced the hate. He looks to be a man who HATES every bone in CM Punk’s body. He has no respect for the man. He wouldn’t piss on him if he was on fire. It has been the one true emotion that Cena has lacked his entire WWE career. When the two hook up in a month or two, this will be something that makes that match up special.

The Cena injury might be the biggest gift the WWE has ever received. First nobody wants anyone to be injured. That is stupid. What I am saying is that the elbow has forced the WWE to slow down the pace of a really good story. It is no secret that Punk and Cena can deliver in the ring. Yet the WWE was ready to hot shot everything this month and leave a hole between now and the Royal Rumble. Now it is unfolding that the path to WrestleMania will be filled with tons of goodies.

This month we get Ryback vs. Punk. A match up that might draw more PPV buys than Punk/Cena Month 3. The big man is a hot ticket right now. Is he WWE championship material? Not yet. He can benefit from playing in the main event. Punk can make him look like a beast and then he can go rip the WWE mid card a new ass.  I am guessing somehow Punk gets out of HIAC with his title. Got Brock?

Next Month is the Survivor Series PPV. The last BIG PPV of 2012. It is already being leaked that a classic five man match is going be the selling point here. I am guessing either team Cena vs. team Punk or Team McMahon vs. Team Heyman. They’re kinda both the same, just depends on the angle. Ryback gets to play on team Cena and Brock can hang with team Punk. The rest fills in leading up to the PPV. I for one think having the winning team’s captain name the stipulation for Cena vs. Punk in December would be a smart decision. It adds extra buzz to the match without doing anything.

Like I said December is probably the best month for Punk vs. Cena. Not only is it the end of their feud. Not only is it for the WWE championship. The winner also goes on to face the Rock at the next PPV, Royal Rumble. That is a lot of different factors playing into this B-list PPV. It could be a real boon for the WWE to save this match for such a pay per view. It’s like a bonus pay day for them.

Finally there is the Royal Rumble and the Rock. The winner of the feud will be red hot going into this matchup. The Rock will bring it. A very huge way to start 2013. It is a great place to be heading into WrestleMania, which should be a top notch show this year.

Last night picking Ryback over John Cena, with no fight from Cena, was a move in the right direction. Cena stepped aside because he now wants something more than the WWE title. He wants the destruction of CM Punk. As I said earlier, he has embraced the hate. Now the WWE has the potential for five big PPVs leading into WrestleMania. That is something to get excited about.

Monday Night RAW had a good show for a second straight week. I think next week will be a wash with all the other options on TV. The WWE has shown some life after the shakeup in the creative team. The new blood seems to be paying off. I’m already looking forward to the PPV. I would say with these strong showings the past few weeks that the WWE brass has gotten the kick in the ass they need to finally begin shifting gears.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Armchair Booker: When Taker Met Punk

Earlier this week I talked about the state of the WWE creative team and how Vince McMahon is fed up with the current direction of the WWE writers. I laid out a loose plan for how to fix what is broken. My keystone idea being that the WrestleMania 29 main event should be the Undertaker vs. CM Punk for the WWE title in a streak vs. streak match. With that in mind you can book the rest of your year to build toward that pinnacle point. I said I would go deeper into this idea, and share some of my booking beliefs that I used in starting two different regional wrestling television shows, both highly rated in their timeslots, and a series of nationally distributed DVDs. Let’s dive in.

CM Punk is the hottest talent on the WWE roster today. John Cena is the most established. There is a difference. Cena has a very loyal fan base, but CM Punk has a constantly expanding fan base. Not all of these people are supporters of Punk, but more people are putting eyes on Punk than Cena these days. Even the high brass at Comic Con said that Punk was a better draw for them this year than Cena had been in the past. Be it to cheer for him, or to watch him get beat up, more people are opening their wallets to see CM Punk. That is why he is the WWE champion, and that is why he needs to be at the top of the WrestleMania 29 bill.

The Undertaker is the hottest talent in WWE history. He can stay away from the WWE for months, and with a toll of his bell, the fans are rabid to see him walk the aisle. He might be the greatest persona in pro wrestling history, dating back to the original carnival days. His undefeated streak at WrestleMania makes him a top draw each year. People want to see what is going to happen next, and at 20+ years, they don’t know which match is his last. This built in hype, and near god-like status, makes the Undertaker a necessity for the main event at WrestleMania 29. He’s a draw by just walking out the curtain, and that’s a great foundation to build on.

The two also have a small history. It’s only a few minutes on the CM Punk “Best in the World” DVD, but it was Undertaker vs. Punk for the world title after Summer Slam that cemented the disrespect the WWE brain trust had for Punk. They took a hot talent coming out of a sizzling feud, and fed him to the phenom. On the DVD they state that Taker had no respect for Punk going into their program, but over time that changed. It’s a great starting point given the current “No Respect” card being played by CM Punk. The standard bearer of the WWE is the only man left standing in the way of CM Punk getting the respect he believes that he deserves. The kind of respect that can’t be denied after beating the Undertaker at WrestleMania.

This is one of the many drawing factors for this match. There is the streak vs. streak dynamic. The Undertaker is 20-0. That is something in the current WWE that will never happen again. To get a talent that stays with the WWE for over two decades, and a creative team that handles that talent correctly the entire time, you’d have a higher success rate betting on Tammy Sytch staying out of prison. This will never happen again. Never. The uniqueness of the situation is another draw in itself. It’s like watching a comet that flies by the earth every millennium. It will never happen again during our life time. Things like this make money in any medium.

CM Punk is also doing something that will never happen again. He’s closing in on one year as WWE champion. That is something that doesn’t happen in the era of fans that have a train of thought only 140 characters long. By WrestleMania 29, he’ll be closing in on 18 months. It’s another unheard of situation that on its own draws people in. There will be fans who tune in because they don’t know when and if CM Punk is going to end the longest title reign since Hulk Hogan’s 1474 days between 1984-88. That’s before The Undertaker was lacing up his boots as “Mean” Mark Callous in WCW (1989). It’s a big deal.

As I stated earlier this week, it creates an unstoppable force vs. immovable object type of situation. Fans will tune in because they know something historic is going to happen. Neither looks to be giving ground, but one has to end. The mystery of the unknown has always been the best way to attract fans in pro wrestling, even more now in the “know-it-all” era. Add this dynamic to the draw both CM Punk and The Undertaker on their own have, and this angle has the steam to drive WrestleMania sales to record levels.

Just because you have the angle doesn’t mean you’re going to be a success.  Two things have to happen. The build to the match has to be good and the match has to deliver. You can’t promise prime rib, and give the fans tube steak.

The build on this match needs to be drawn out from the first RAW after the Royal Rumble up to WrestleMania 29. The Rock and Punk are fighting at the Rumble. No need to play the Undertaker card until after that takes place. Rock vs. Punk is going to be a good draw on its own, and will play an important role in setting the table for Mania. This is the match that is supposed to get Punk his respect. Beating the Rock is going to change everything for him. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t.

Punk beats Rock, but it doesn’t fill the hole in his ego. There isn’t a red carpet when he walks through the arena door. The locker room isn’t kissing his feet as he strolls through the back. Vince McMahon isn’t his personal ball washer. What does CM Punk have to do?

Cue the Undertaker.

Each year the Royal Rumble winner selects which title he is going to challenge for. Usually the winner comes out at the end of RAW and him haws between the World title and the WWE title. Whomever the winner is plays up the crowd, tilting to both sides, until eventually narrowing in on one champion. I would start with this.

The winner comes out and before he can start the Undertaker interrupts. He comes down and lays out that it doesn’t matter who he wants to pick. This year the Rumble winner will be facing the World champion because the Undertaker wants CM Punk and the WWE title. If you’ve got a baby face winner then he does the noble thing, tips his hat to the Taker, and leaves the ring. If you’ve got a heel winner, then he gets tossed out on his ass, and runs to the back with tail between legs. It gets established early than the Undertaker has that kind of clout and aura to bend things to his will. He’s the true King shit in the WWE universe.

Cue CM Punk.

The two meet in the ring. Punk talks respect. Taker lets him know respect is only earned by going to hell and back. They jab at each other for a few minutes. Finally a deal is made with the devil, only hang up is which guy is the Devil? The stakes are high for both, and the buzz begins.

Now you’ve got roughly 9 weeks to build this match up. The Undertaker stays protected. He’ll make appearances here and there for a promo or a vignette, but he isn’t wrestling. You save that for Mania. Punk can carry this feud on TV. He’ll even prove he’s better than the Undertaker by beating those victims of “The Streak”.

The next few weeks on RAW, a former WrestleMania opponent of the Undertaker gets rolled out to be taken down by CM Punk. Do the low hanging fruit first with the older legends like Snuka, Jake Roberts, or Sid that the WWE can send out for a cheap one night pop. Then move into the active roster opponents by having him face all the old opponents in an elimination chamber. That would be Kane, Orton, Tensai, Mark Henry, and Big Show. When Punk comes out champion, he can claim he beat five of Takers “victims” in one night. It also fills the required need for an Elimination Chamber match before Mania.

Finally the homestretch leading up to Mania is Punk being confronted by HHH, HBK, Nash, and Flair. He can run all four men down. He can talk about doing what they couldn’t. He has held the WWE title longer than any of them. Now he’s going to end the streak that claimed their careers. Its four weeks of dueling promos that should help build up the intensity of this match. The last two weeks then are spent drawing both the Undertaker and CM Punk into a collision course, with the closing moments being a face to face showdown filled with pipe bombs and near blows. They shouldn’t physically get involved, just tease it. Both men need to leave the ring with their head held high exuding the confidence that come Sunday they’ll have their hand raised.

The actual match is where the true magic and shock happens. First I would start the match entrances at 9:30 PM. The earlier start will have the smart fans wondering what is going on. They’ll believe that there is something big coming. It’s just too early to begin the main event.

The two will then wrestle for sixty minutes. It’s the kind of match the current WWE audience has never seen. Punk, if you’ve followed his career, is a master at the sixty minute match. He understands the pacing and how to protect somebody like the Undertaker, whose age can limit him. For an entire hour the two go to war. They pull out all the stops with false finishes, brawls outside the ring, etc. Then the bell rings to signify that time has expired. The match is a draw. Punk keeps his title, and The Undertaker is still undefeated. The fight doesn’t stop though.

As the bell rings they keep trading blows. The ref tries to pull them apart, and he’s laid out. They continue to fight all over the place because to them only one man is walking out tonight. More officials and security try to stop it, and they’re laid out too. For a good ten minutes Taker and Punk either fight each other or those trying to get between them. Finally the two fight on to the main stage trading big blow after big blow. Each man trying to finish the other with one big shot, their bodies broken and bloody. Then in the end, on their knees, they trade fists, chops, and head-butts. Finally, leaning on each other tossing noodle fists with both gas tanks empty, Taker and Punk collapse next to each other laid out on the main stage.

As WrestleMania ends officials, paramedics, and staff surround the two as double stretchers are wheeled out. Both men being checked on and eventually wheeled out as Punk holds a thumbs up in the air. He didn’t beat the Undertaker at WrestleMania, but he did something nobody has ever done. He survived him.

People will tune in the next night. Sure there will be fans that don’t like a draw finish, but it’s the one thing the WWE can do to protect the Taker’s streak, and pass the torch to the next generation before it is too late. It’s something nobody will see coming, and a moment that will cement the legacy of both men like what happened for Hogan and Andre at WM3.

You keep both men off RAW the next night to sell the brutality. The next week you promote the appearance of Punk the following week on RAW. Finally on the third RAW after Mania, you have Punk come out to address the fall out. This can lead to a new feud or it can start planting the seeds for their rematch at WrestleMania 30, probably both.

No matter what, if this was to happen it would always be remembered as the night Taker met Punk.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Armchair Booker: It’s All About WrestleMania

I haven’t really been in the wrestling loop the past few weeks. I even took a break from the internet for the weekend. Sometimes it is nice to be hold up in a spot that doesn’t even have cell phone reception. It lets you clear out your head, which is highly recommended at least once a year. Like an oil change for the brain. Then I came back Tuesday and waded back into technology. The first thing I saw was about CM Punk back fisting a fan. That made me hit the dirt sheets to find out more. The second thing I learned was that Vince McMahon verbally undressed his writers and gave the brain trust of the WWE creative team a swift kick in the pants. While the first had more sizzle, the second has more impact.

As far as CM Punk and the fans go, sucks that the guy got hit, but why didn’t he do anything to stop the mob of fans from pushing Punk down the stairs? Change the setting for a second. Take the WWE, Wrestling, and Fans out of the equation and look at it for what it was. If a guy is trying to be pushed down the stairs by a handful of people, and you’re standing less than a foot behind the person then isn’t doing nothing just helping those morons push the person down the stairs? It’s like the end of Seinfeld when they watched a guy get mugged but didn’t do anything about it. They went to jail, and this kid tasted the back of Punk’s hand. Justice is justice.

The kid who got hit isn’t pressing charges. Good for him. He didn’t have the balls to standup to the people around him who were trying to physically injure a person for their enjoyment. Maybe next time he’ll grow a pair and not let a guy get kidney punched & pushed down a flight of stairs. When we were kids and we did stupid shit then a smack on the head reminded us to not be an idiot. Seems this fan got exactly that. Had he stepped in and stopped a douchebag from being a douchebag then he wouldn’t have gotten a smack on the head. Lesson learned here: Grow a pair and don’t get smacked like a bitch.

Now onto the bigger news from the week: Vince McMahon is beyond pissed with the creative team, including preparing to diminish the role of his two senior writers and promoting some of the new blood. If you’ve been visiting this website for the past few months then you know I have no love loss for the creative team at World Wrestling Entertainment. They are old, tired, and burnt out. They haven’t produced a meaningful piece of television since maybe RAW 1000, and that really wasn’t their doing. This could be the transfusion of energy that the WWE as a whole needs to get over this stale hump they find themselves in.

It would seem that the WWE is under pressure from NBC to turn around ratings that have been in free fall since the switch to three hours and the beginning of the NFL season. The biggest issue being with the creative team that has the success rate of a drunken Ray Charles tossing darts. They could barely produce content for two hours of RAW and it hasn’t gotten any better by stretching the show to three hours. Some would say that the lack of compelling content also lies at the feet of the talent, which has a big drop off after the top tier of wrestlers on the roster. I believe that problem is also something you can attribute to the current creative team at the WWE.

There are undiscovered gems in the WWE right now. Their developmental system is stockpiled with future stars. Dean Ambrose, Kassius Ohno, Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt, and Luke Harper are just some of the future talents that the WWE creative team hasn’t unleashed yet. The main reason being that creative has nothing for them on the main show just yet. How can you call yourself creative if you can’t create? That is why the WWE is in its current situation. They have a whole team that can’t do what their name suggests. It’s like football players who can’t play football.

Now the reboot has started. New minds are being put in charge. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a slew of firings and hirings that take place over the next few weeks. Somebody once told me it is never nice to talk about people losing their jobs. Then again if they did their job right, they wouldn’t be losing it. Nobody has ever a fucked up a situation by doing it correctly.

Since this is an Armchair Booker article then I’m going to lay out how I believe it is done correctly. I’ve never worked for the WWE. I’m pretty sure I’ll never work for the WWE. Not to say I wouldn’t like the job. I just don’t see it in my cards. First off, I’ve never written a sitcom. Second, I still call sports entertainment pro wrestling. In my opinion Sports Entertainment has never pulled a 5 share, but Pro Wrestling has. There is a difference between the two.

To start the WWE needs to build their WrestleMania. I would believe this has happened. It’s creative writing 101. You need to know your destination before you can map out your path. Not to say that the WWE should have the entire show timed out with detailed segments, but a rough idea of the four main events on the show should be hashed out by now. Honestly this should be done before Summer Slam.

Without knowing what you’re building to then what direction are your current shows pushing towards? Without direction you’re drifting. Having your four main events for WrestleMania planned gives you something solid to begin building on. The middle stuff, or filler, can be hashed out later, but these main events need to be what drives the WWE car from day one. If you know you’re doing Cena vs. Rock 2 then Summer Slam & beyond needs to keep that in mind.

I for one would actually stay away from Rock vs. Cena at WrestleMania. The Rock is coming back at Royal Rumble. His initial draw for WrestleMania is being used up by that appearance. Some fans will tune in to see him at Mania, but his real effect will be seen at the Rumble. Unless he is going to return fulltime, then his value depreciates with appearances that close together. He has a high burn rate, and two months apart is too close to be a double draw.

From what I can tell you have The Rock signed on for Mania. You also have Brock Lesnar. Add into the mix The Undertaker, HHH, John Cena, and CM Punk. Those are your drawing six. They will sell the majority of tickets and PPV buys. Daniel Bryan, Sheamus, Randy Orton, and Albert Del Rio are your second tier draw. They will move tickets and buys on their own, but nothing that tips the needle. I for one think by Mania that Bryan could be a draw, but right now he’s stuck in that limbo between the two. That is the ten talents you can build your show on.

To start I would determine what is the best possible true main event to close the show. This is the match that will sell the most and provides true sizzle. To me that takes HHH vs. Brock & Cena vs. Rock out of the picture. These sheep have both been sheared. They’ll push some sales but they no longer have the shine they once had. In fact I wouldn’t do either match on the card.

The Rock is a one match per talent type of wrestler right now. He gets the most bang for his buck when you can give him somebody fresh to feud with. He also needs to win at WrestleMania. It keeps his ego happy. Who is better for the Rock than Daniel Bryan? Bryan can protect Rock’s ring rust plus he has shown he can get over with any gimmick they give him. Rock vs Bryan has some roots in RAW 1000, and could be a solid 9pm hour main event. This is a really hot match that will blow a lot of fans away and is a possible show stealer. This slot on the card is the best place to put show stealers. It also puts a lot of pressure on your closing, or true main event, match.

John Cena is a draw for a select fan base. He has really burned out a good size portion of the fans. His true value is his hard work. He’ll never mail it in. That makes him the perfect bar setter. He should be the talent that is opening the show. He should be the man who says everyone has to be better than that tonight. That’s why I like Randy Orton vs. John Cena to open the show. They are both established talents. They have good matches with each other. Not putting either in a “Main Event” allows for a rehash of their feud. It’s not meant to be a ticket draw, but both have the ability to set the tone for the evening. That is very important for a big show. It might be why I have always considered the first match of a show as the second most important match behind the main event or closing match.

As for HHH, he’s going to wrestle. I just don’t think it should be Brock Lesnar. Their rematch should happen before WrestleMania. I would much rather see him in the ring with an Albert Del Rio. It’s fresh and the angle writes itself. ADR is HHH when he began. He’s a rich pompous ass with tons of talent. They can do a feud based around ADR being a younger HHH. The young lion will prove that the old lion isn’t who he used to be. The old lion will claim the young lion is him without the experience. They’re both good on the mic, and in the ring it should be a good story. I would say this is tailor made for the 7pm Main Event. Nice solid match up to keep building the night on. It will sell tickets.

With Brock free to fight then he needs to be tossing fists with the man who loves to fight, Sheamus. The young Irishman is being primed to be a top draw. He needs a blockbuster feud. The two would work very well together. Sheamus is a good rough and tough baby face. Brock is a great heartless bully. Their physical styles should mesh well together. Placing them as the 8pm Main Event should help protect them from any potholes. It’s the safest main event slot on the show.

That leaves the closer for the show. I for one would be keeping the title on CM Punk. He is a draw. Simply put, if he and John Cena stopped working for the WWE, then the company wouldn’t have a true ticket seller on the roster. He has a built in big match with Royal Rumble coming up. Punk vs. Rock will have an amazing buy rate. I explained a little above.

Personally I think giving Punk the win at the Rumble does a lot more for the WWE than having Rock win. First it establishes Punk as the man. Second it extends a title reign that will be hard to build again. One year plus makes it so that people will want to see if tonight is the night he drops the strap. Third, it allows for a matchup at WrestleMania that will be a true draw: Undertaker vs. CM Punk for the WWE Championship – Streak vs. Streak.

When Mania rolls around the Undertaker has built in buzz. His streak is something of legend. Another big streak is the days that CM Punk has been champion. A matchup that features the immovable object vs. the unstoppable force is always a draw. In this case it is streak vs. streak. If they meet, then one has to end. Will the Undertaker go 20-1, or will CM Punk have his nearly 18 month title reign ended? You’ll have to pay to find out!

Not only are the two names by themselves big draws. Not only are they going to put together an amazing match. They have the mystery about their finish that adds to the fire. Nobody truly knows who is going to win, and in today’s era of dirt sheets that is a rare commodity. It’s the kind of perfect storm that sets WrestleMania sales records.

The CM Punk vs. Undertaker WrestleMania match is something I have thought hard about. I actually have a creative writing mock-up of the feud. I will be putting that out in the next few days. Check back for the details on that. If I was booking it I would do something that no fan was expecting.

These five matches are the loose skeleton that the WWE can use to build their WrestleMania. There is a solid opener, and four top notch main events. The closing match is a draw that pulls from a variety of angles. This sets the table for the rest of the year, and allows for the WWE to begin pushing toward this end result. As I said earlier, they’ll have a destination and now they can map out the path. Just never forget, it’s all about Wrestlemania.