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INSIDE THE ROPES    
Looking Ahead to WrestleMania 23 

December 21, 2006

by the Canadian Bulldog    
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

No, this isn't a joke (or at least, I'm not trying to turn it into one).
 
Around this time of year, because I'm a huge nerd, I usually start looking towards WrestleMania. Some of the rumored matches we're hearing (John Cena vs. Randy Orton) and Undertaker vs. Batista, anyone?) don't paint a pretty picture for the big event in Detroit.

So, yeah, I realize that many of my own choices are "highly  

unlikely" (™ Gorilla Monsoon) to make it to pay-per-view, but this is more a case of what I'd personally like to see at WM23. A few ground rules I've set for myself:

1) I can only use up to five people who aren't currently on the active rosters of Raw, SmackDown or ECW, and at that, only people who have been on WWE programming in the last two years. It would be great to have The Rock in the main event, true, but it just ain't gonna happen.

2) Just to weave a bit of reality in, I will likely use at least a couple of the rumored match-ups out there.

3) Although the brands aren't really adhering to this much these days, I will attempt to use a minimal amount of inter-brand mingling.

4) I will not, under any circumstances, use deceased wrestlers on the card. A good rule for most fantasy booking, I'd think.

All right, here we go:

Raw main event
John Cena vs. Triple H
(Special referee Stone Cold Steve Austin)

This one has been bandied about already, sure, but apparently as a face vs. face matchup. Although I don't believe Austin has ever been mentioned as the ref.

See, I'd written on my Canadian BullBLOG last month a concept I had for a Stone Cold-John Cena match, but I just don't see them leaving Triple H out of the main event mix. And truthfully, there's probably nothing wrong with having him there, despite what all the HHHaters out there may think.

The setup: Triple H either wins the Royal Rumble, or he defeats Umaga, who himself wins the title at New Year's Revolution. Either way, Cena is pissed at being left out of the title mix and begins turning heel. Let's face it - you need some different elements if you're going to repeat the same main event two years in a row. There were three Austin-Rock and two Undertaker-Kane matches at various Manias, but none of them were exactly the same.

And for this match-up, one guy HAS to be a heel to make it fly. I vote Cena. Everybody else already hates him; why not leverage that into something positive? It would be different if Cena was booed because he sucked, but I truly don't believe that's the case. His gimmick is tired, but the guy (again, in my opinion) has the charisma and ability to stay on top for quite some time. And as The Rick himself says, it's FUN to boo John Cena.

Throw in Austin as the unknown element who cares little for either guy, and it could be a fun match. As a bonus, you have the fact that Cena and The Game haven't really wrestled each other since about April 2006 (though they did have some six-man matches with Shawn Michaels, but whatever), thus it's relatively fresh in WWE terms.

SmackDown main event
Batista vs. Edge

Edge has had a career year, and I would say there's more of an argument he should be me in a WM main event than even Batista. I think these guys may have locked up once or twice in 2004, but for all intents and purposes, it's a "new" matchup.

The setup: Once Rated RKO eventually lose the tag straps (for the purposes of this piece, I'm going to say to Cryme Team) and their feud to DX (because you know they will), the team splits up and Edge grows frustrated again. Meanwhile on SmackDown, because a Raw wrestler won the Royal Rumble, Batista is looking for a WM opponent. He's on the microphone, mid-ring, when Edge's familiar "You think you know me?" rings out over the P.A. system. Only Edge isn't on the entrance ramp; he sneaks in through the audience and clocks The Animal with a chair.

From there, you could have each guy interfere on the other's programs, which could play into both of their strengths; Edge as the manipulating heel and Batista as the revenge-minded monster.

Granted, this wouldn't have been touted as a WrestleMania main event even a couple of years ago, but I'd much rather see this one than Batista-Undertaker.

ECW main event
Bobby Lashley vs. Rob Van Dam

Honestly, up until about twenty minutes ago, I had Lashley fighting ????, which could have meant anything - the debuting Monty Brown, a heel Sandman, or someone else entirely. But in terms of money-making title matches in the current ECW landscape, this is the only one I could really come up with.

The setup: Paul Heyman returns to ECW (and no, I don't count him as "someone not on the active roster" because I still believe his being sent home was all a work). He apologizes to the fans for the last six months of "New Breed" ECW, cuts a scathing promo on his WWE bosses and promises to return the promotion back to its roots. And the first step to doing that is to give ECW original RVD another shot at the title.

Now… does this make Lashley or RVD at the heel? I'm not sure, especially because I just made this whole scenario up a few minutes ago. All I can say is, Lashley-RVD makes a whole lot more sense than, say, Lashley-Test, which is the only "big" matchup I see them playing with right now.

Special attraction
Hulk Hogan vs. The Big Show

I'm going to conveniently ignore the fact that Show is seriously injured and for the moment done with WWE, because all know this match is probably in the works anyways, so let's get it done and over with. Hell, Hogan's daughter all but confirmed it during an appearance they had last week on a Canadian talk show. Plus, you've got the whole "WrestleMania 3 Tribute Match" vibe going on, so there's a cerain amount of appeal there.

The setup: It doesn't have to be complicated. Show can return to ECW and claim he's ready for one final match before he retires. Perhaps he talks about the history of WrestleMania 3 and how, if he were in the ring with Hogan back then, it would have been a different conclusion at the Pontiac Silverdome that night.

There's, of course, an additional element at play with this match, in that it would be Hulk Hogan debuting in ECW, and with a more hardcore style, it might limit some of his weaknesses. Then again, I'm not expecting this to be a classic by any stretch, but allowing Hogan to brawl and use foreign objects (not to mention the injured Show being able to do so) may help to cover up various injuries and shortcomings.

Bonus points if WWE signs Bobby Heenan to be in Big Show's corner for this one…

Tag Team Money In The Bank Match
The Hardy Boyz vs. The World's Greatest Tag Team vs. Paul London & Brian Kendrick vs. MNM vs. Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman vs. the return of.... The Rockers

[Editor's Note: Bulldog would like it known that he presented me with this column over the weekend BEFORE Armageddon's impromptu four-way tag team ladder match. He would also like it known that the only logical explanation for said match taking place at Armageddon is that I leaked his idea for a match to WWE. Because I am a bastard like that, I guess! -- Rick]

How would a match involving 12 people and ladders work, exactly? I have no clue. That's why this is called "fantasy booking" and not "reality booking". I'll admit, coming up with this one was part 'trying to replace the traditional Money In The Bank match' and part 'trying to find something for Shawn Michaels to do'.

The setup: I've already explained that Cryme Team will defeat Rated RKO, perhaps right before the Royal Rumble. Then you could have Haas and Benjamin win the belts within a week or two after that. This allows WGTT to claim they are, indeed, the World's Greatest Tag Team, which brings protests from the reunited Hardyz and MNM, who all happen to conveniently be in the same building that night, despite Matt Hardy and Joey Mercury not really working for Raw. Coach books a three-way tag team title match for WrestleMania which, in itself, is probably good enough.

Over on SmackDown, London & Kendrick complain that, as the long-time champions, THEY are truly the world's greatest tag team. Teddy Long petitions Vince McMahon for it to become a fatal four-way affair, and for the winning team to receive a tag team title shot some time in the next year. Over on ECW, Sandman and Dreamer somehow throw themselves in the mix.

The match is about to be signed with four of WWE's best teams (and Dreamer/Sandman) in the ring when Shawn Michaels arrives at ringside. He says that he's also a great tag team competitor and deserves to be in the match. Coach points out that Michaels' partner Triple H is already involved in the main event of WrestleMania. True, says Michaels, but he was also part of The Rockers, and cues his partner Marty Jannetty… who likely stumbles down drunk and is fired by WWE within a week.

Still, as a one-time appearance, this could be a fantastic train wreck of a match.

The Undertaker vs. Umaga

You want Undertaker to face someone to keep his streak alive? Fine, just don't make it for a title. And even so - streak vs. streak (Undertaker's WrestleMania streak vs. Umaga's undefeated streak) isn't a bad little stipulation at all.

The setup: Perhaps Umaga attacks Taker at the Royal Rumble or somesuch? Again, it doesn't have to be complicated to work. "My undefeated - ha ha - Samoaaaaaan submission machine is going to win because he's not afraid of choo, Undertaker," says Armando Elejandro Estrada. Which is what every Undertaker opponent always says before getting beaten.

Other potential matches

Let's be honest here: after the top five or six marquee matches, there aren't usually a lot of rhyme or reason for the way everything else shapes up at WrestleMania. But here are some other ones I think might work:

Chris Benoit vs. Mr. Kennedy
C.M. Punk vs. Test
Kane vs. King Booker
Ric Flair vs. Randy Orton
Ashley vs. Queen Sharmell
(Because of the whole "Playboy" promotion thing)

Battle Royal featuring: Carlito, Chris Masters, Kenny, Cryme Tyme, Eugene, The Boogeyman, Finlay, Chavo Guerrero, MVP, Gregory Helms, William Regal, Dave Taylor, The Miz, Elijah Burke, Sylvester Terkay, Sabu, Mike Knox, Daivari and The Great Khali

So there you have it: a pretty decent twelve-match show, featuring only a couple of non-WWE guys (and none of them dead, either). Let me know what you think at bulldog@onlineonslaught.com.

And next week - we return to the (hopefully) funny, with my annual two-part ITR Year In Review!!!

E-MAIL THE BULLDOG    
BROWSE THE ITR ARCHIVES

CANADIAN BULLDOG  is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.


  
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