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.

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