RtWR 2016 Introduction
I've been a wrestling/sports entertainment fan for a long time. Most of my life really, though my interest has ebbed and flowed as my perspective has changed. When I was younger, I was a fan because the Undertaker was cool, Steve Austin said things I wouldn't dream of saying to my boss, and the Rock and Chris Jericho could make me love them and hate them all in the space of a single promo.
As I got a little older, my interest in the shows themselves waned, for reasons I didn't quite understand at the time. Yet I found myself still buying the video games, still creating my own wrestlers and coming up with backstories for them.
And still hitting opponents that looked surprisingly like people at work in the face with chairs.
Over the last couple of years, my interest in wrestling has returned, and I've found myself watching the shows more often, keeping an eye on other wrestling promotions (NJPW and Lucha Underground, mainly), and watching channels like WhatCulture Wrestling (BX for life) and Wrestling with Wregret. In short, I'm a fan again.
A lot has changed from when I was younger though. And not just with the product itself. I'm no longer a wide-eyed kid watching my heroes leap from the tops of ladders. Now I'm a storyteller myself. A full-time writer and storyteller, with far more experience and understanding of how to critically analyze a story and its elements.
Not that you need that experience to tell the stories in WWE right now are poorly planned rubbish.
Whether it is poor writing, a lack of planning, or just bad luck with injuries and availability, the last year and a half of WWE programming in particular has felt lacking in those great storylines that developed over the course of several months, building to a final confrontation at a pay-per-view. Matches have felt unnecessary, repetitive, storylines seem to stall or are forgotten, and the threads and groundwork that is laid sometimes fails entirely to bear any fruit whatsoever.
Now don't get me wrong, there are exceptions to this. Like many WWE fans, I love NXT. It more than anything else has rekindled my love of sports entertainment. Shinsuke Nakamura versus Sami Zayn at Takeover:Dallas was a thing of sublime beauty. But that isn't the flagship product.
So let's talk about Wrestlemania.
It was a disappointment. For me, and for a lot of people. It was disappointing for me because, looking back over the potential that was there after the Royal Rumble, it felt like the WWE had dragged their heels to get themselves to the end, knowing full well how things were going to go, and doing it despite the fans at the shows and the viewers at home. The feedback was clear, and yet it meant nothing. WWE must have muted the boos when Roman Reigns won the WWE Championship clean without a heel turn or interference. Because by all accounts, they were deafening at the stadium. And for a character that is either a Face or a Tweener, being booed by most of the crowd is not the reaction you are looking for.
Which brings me to this: I'm going to rewrite the Road to Wrestlemania 2016. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I'm going to rewrite every episode of Monday Night Raw and Thursday Night Smackdown, starting with the Monday after the Royal Rumble, and culminating with Wrestlemania 32, and including both WWE Fastlane and Roadblock. While I won't write the promos word for word, or describe the matches move by move, I will provide summaries, and the context around them.
Many matches will remain as they were in the WWE (though as we get further from the Royal Rumble, each change will take the stories further from their televised counterparts). With that in mind, below are the rules I will be (mostly) adhering to:
- Only currently active wrestlers can be used. So no returns from Cesaro/Nikki Bella.
- Injuries, and important moments, must remain in place. That means events such as Daniel Bryan's retirement speech and the Chris Jericho/Neville match that resulted in Neville's injury have to occur exactly as they did (though in the case of the Neville match, the context can be changed).
- Hindsight cannot be used to avoid ruining storylines. What I mean by this is very simple: I can't ease off on a Neville push knowing that he will be injured, and I can't ease off on a Titus O'Neil push just because I know he will be suspended soon.
- It is the Women's Championship. I won't refer to it as anything else.
- NXT must remain a viable entity. That means no Shinsuke Nakamura, no Bayley, no draining of the NXT talent pool to offset injuries. NXT wrestlers can be brought up to the main roster if it makes sense, but not in overwhelming numbers.
- The results of the 2016 Royal Rumble remain exactly as they were, with the context they were in. That is the starting point for everything I write afterwards.
- And finally, the Shane McMahon vs Undertaker for control of WWE match at Wrestlemania must remain in place (though the context and ending can change). What's a project without a challenge ;)
Beyond that, I will take what I think works well from what WWE televised, make changes to matches or make new ones as necessary, and provide a clear context as to why those changes have been made, in the hopes of producing a Wrestlemania that doesn't require most of the Hall of Fame to come out to ensure a pop or three, and one that doesn't waste the heat the crowd produces.
The episodes will be posted as they are completed, and will all be available here.
2016 Royal Rumble Results
- Mark Henry and Jack Swagger def. Darren Young and Damien Sandow, The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray Dudley and D-Von Dudley) and The Ascension (Royal Rumble Entry Match)
- Dean Ambrose (c) def. Kevin Owens (Last Man Standing Match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship)
- The New Day (c) def. The Usos (Tag Team Match for the WWE Tag Team Championship)
- Kalisto def. Alberto Del Rio (c) (Singles Match for the WWE United States Championship)
- Charlotte (c) def. Becky Lynch (Singles Match for the WWE Divas Championship)
- Triple H wins the Royal Rumble and WWE Championship