WWE Announces 2016 Brand Split And SmackDown! Goes Live

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express. BIG NEWS coming from the WWE, with the official announcement that the WWE brand split is coming back. RAW and SmackDown! will once again receive different and unique rosters, with SmackDown! also additionally becoming a permanent live show on Tuesday nights. This may be obvious, but there’s a lot to talk about with regards to this news and we’ll delve right into all of the speculation regarding how many titles we’ll have, who’s going where and the reasons for the brand split in the first place.

Dave Meltzer from Wrestling Observer, addressed this on the Wrestling Observer Live radio show I believe. He explained that one of the main reasons for WWE bringing back the brand split is to help generally increase television ratings, particularly on SmackDown! With SmackDown! previously being taped, the incentive to watch it dropped as wrestling fans could simply read what happened online and lose interest to actually see the show as it airs. This was obviously a big reason for why the decision was made to make it a live show. Jerry Lawler hinted at SmackDown! going live earlier on in the year and now, it’s actually happening.

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This picture was already clearly painted with the announcement made by Stephanie and Shane McMahon, but it is expected that Stephanie and Shane will run each show separately. The interesting thing is that both of them are reportedly expected to be babyface authority figures at first, which is a very unique direction for this brand split. Past brand splits usually saw one brand with the babyface authority figure and one with the heel authority figure. When the first brand split started, Ric Flair (the babyface) controlled RAW while Vince McMahon (the heel) controlled SmackDown! When the general managers were introduced, Stephanie ran SmackDown! as a babyface and Eric Bischoff ran RAW as a heel. Having two babyfaces controlling the show is different and it is a fresh change from the dictatorship we’ve seen since August 2013. I’m not sure whether it is wise to have BOTH brands being run by babyfaces. The purpose of having two different shows and a brand split is to make the audience seem like both shows are unique, in talent and in storylines. I could see why at this stage, they wouldn’t want Stephanie to be a heel going forward. With her upcoming memoirs, it is understandable why the WWE want Stephanie to be perceived better by the public. Turning Shane is possible, but Shane is still a popular babyface authority figure. That would be a hugely risky endevour. I would suspect that if there’s going to be any heel authority figure around, it will be Triple H.

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There are two big names earmarked for being the top guys on both shows, with John Cena and Roman Reigns ruling the roosts. No surprises here. Which superstar will go where is a big question. If the WWE are still banking on Roman Reigns, they may want to keep him on RAW and portray him as the top guy on the main show. However, it is possible that WWE would want John on RAW to get the RAW ratings right back up. John’s got a better ratings track record than Roman, so it would make sense. If Roman is also on SmackDown!, then there’s a lot less pressure on him to succeed on the “B show.”

An interesting note which came out is that it’s not a sure thing that Brock Lesnar will end up on RAW. I wouldn’t have assumed that Brock would be on RAW either as he appeared on SmackDown! a few times in the build up to WrestleMania. I think it is better for Brock to be on RAW than SmackDown! as he does do wonders to the ratings on that show. It’ll be interesting to see where all the part-timers go.

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There is reportedly a plan in place for two world championship in the WWE, one for each show. A lot of people will argue that there should be one main belt but I personally think that you’ve got enough diversity for their to be one for each brand. I argued way back before the titles were re-unified that the roster had become too integrated in order for two world titles to be around. Now though, you have enough talent to be able to keep these two shows separated. Now everyone can have their chance at each of the titles.

The one thing which will initially drive me nuts I think is the proposed idea that the Women’s Champion would be on both shows. I kind of agree with this as there’s not enough depth on the women’s side of things to be able to do two titles. However, I am very much against the idea of seeing Charlotte on both shows. To see her this much would really drive people away, knowing that all you’ll get in women’s angles from now on is just her. I don’t think she’s talented enough to able to undertake that kind of responsibility and pull it off. If Sasha Banks wins the title shortly afterwards, it’d be much more tolerable I think.

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So another big question is when the date of the draft will be? It’s highly expected at the moment that the draft lottery/selection will take place on the July 11th edition of RAW, which will be taking place in Detroit. Funnily enough, it’s a show that’s currently scheduled to feature Brock Lesnar.

I actually think that this makes a lot of sense, considering that this will follow the July 4th edition of RAW, with reportedly a lot of belief within the company that the July 4th edition will see a serious decline in viewers in a similar fashion to a lot of the past Christmas episodes. It’ll be good for them to want to show off a huge increase in the ratings for this big draft, and I think the ratings will be quite huge for this one.

It’s actually interesting, as it’s been reported that a lot of the talent were taken back by this. According to sources, they have no idea what’s going on or where they’ll even end up in the draft. This wouldn’t be the first time, as a lot of the wrestlers had no idea about the draft selections in the past. I remember the 2008 draft, when Jim Ross was drafted to SmackDown! He blogged about it the next day, saying that he had no idea beforehand. This draft may end up causing a lot of morale issues backstage, especially if certain acts are split up. I don’t think acts like the New Day will be broken up, but maybe some of the smaller teams could be done. I can even see a team like Enzo Amore and Big Cass being broken up. They’ve surprised us in the past.

Lastly, Vince McMahon is said to be “really pumped” about the brand split and I’m pretty much pumped up too. I remember blogging about bringing back the brand split last year and how much good it’ll do. Do go back and check it out at this link as there’s a lot of advantages to this.

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Overall, great news for the future of WWE in my opinion. Short term hard work for a long term gain, as Jim Ross once said. What do you think of the news? Tweet at me @TomRobinson5199 or the @ArmbarExpress, or leave a comment below.

 

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How I Would Book… The nWo 19th Anniversary Special [2002] [Final Part]

WARNING: Please read the first five parts of this series first if you haven’t already. They will clue you up on the storyline for this particular “How I Would Book…”.

Here it is. The FINAL chapter in this nWo saga. We’ve seen the nWo shake the foundations of the WWE. With Hollywood Hogan at the helm, they’ve gone toe to toe with the WWE’s top stars. Hogan’s beaten the likes of Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H and Shawn Michaels as part of his group’s domination of the company. He currently reigns as RAW’s World Heavyweight Champion while Big Show reigns as SmackDown!’s WWE Championship. Vince McMahon, who had brought in the nWo to “kill” the WWE, suddenly realizes just how dangerous the group has become. They’ve took over RAW and now they’re taking over SmackDown! Vince’s response was to bring back the Undertaker as the 30th entrant in the Royal Rumble to win the match and earn a title shot. The road to Wrestlemania 19 has begun…

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The war between Vince McMahon and Hollywood Hogan is now well and truly under way. Vince McMahon is the owner of the company but Eric Bischoff still holds a considerable amount of power as RAW General Manager and as a leading member of the nWo. Bischoff reveals that the WWE would have to pay him a HUGE amount of money in order to fire him. Even if they did fire him, that wouldn’t stop Bischoff and the nWo from running rough shot over the entire company. They have the two top titles in the WWE. It really has turned into such a power struggle for Vince.

First, Vince has to find someone on the SmackDown! roster to face WWE Champion Big Show at No Way Out. There’s a lot of wrestlers to choose from but Vince feels that he needs to bring a true star back into the fold. He feels that he needs to bring back the “Great One”… The Rock. With a promise of a WWE Championship match at No Way Out, The Rock returns to the WWE as a part of the SmackDown! brand. Upon his return, The Rock’s commitment to the WWE has come into question. When he makes his big return on the SmackDown! before No Way Out, The Rock is back as a cocky Hollywood star. The Rock doesn’t really grasp the importance of his match with Big Show at No Way Out, but The Rock reassures Vince that he’ll get the job done at No Way Out.

Brock Lesnar was screwed out of the WWE Championship at No Way Out. He has a rematch clause, but Brock insists on challenging Hollywood Hogan for the World Heavyweight Championship instead. Eric Bischoff decrees that Brock must beat the Outsiders in a handicap match at No Way Out in order to get his title shot at Wrestlemania. In the World Heavyweight Championship match, Shawn gets his rematch for the title against Hogan in one final encounter at No Way Out.

Brock is able to beat the Outsiders following interference from Triple H, who delivers a cross chop to both Nash and Hall after Brock pins one of them. The Rock challenges the Big Show for the WWE Championship, but the Brahama Bull is not putting any effort in. He’s constantly mocking Big Show and not taking it seriously at all. The Rock hits his finishers but does not pin Big Show and instead just gets on the mic and talks about himself. The commentators can’t believe how foolish The Rock is being and are telling The Rock to just pin him. In the end, The Rock hits a Rock Bottom and goes up to the top. He signals for an elbow drop from the top but is caught in mid-air by Big Show who pins him. The Rock is scratching his head over what’s happened but then just laughs and walks away. Hogan retains the title against Michaels with the Outsiders delivering another beatdown to the Show Stopper. Triple H makes the save, signalling the return of DX as the DX music hits to end the show.

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With No Way Out in the books, here’s all the confirmed Wrestlemania 19 matches so far…

  • Hollywood Hogan (c) vs Brock Lesnar for the World Heavyweight Championship
  • Big Show (c) vs Undertaker for the WWE Championship
  • “D-Generation X” Triple H and Shawn Michaels vs “The Outsiders” Kevin Nash and Scott Hall in a hardcore tag team match (This would be announced on the RAW after No Way Out)

The Rock appears on RAW on the night after No Way Out, claiming that a clause in his contract stated that he could choose which brand he wanted to be on after his match at No Way Out. The Rock claimed that he wanted to be on RAW and demands to be added to the World Heavyweight Championship match at Wrestlemania. He is interrupted by the return of the “Texas Rattlesnake” Stone Cold Steve Austin, who gives him the Stunner.

Austin cuts a promo the next week on RAW. He says that while he’s been away from the WWE, he watched his own matches back and realized that he wasn’t himself when he was going up against Hollywood Hogan at King of the Ring. He said he wanted vengeance against the nWo but he was not motivated enough to get the job done. That was another part of the reason why he lost to Hogan at the main event. However, he  re-played the match back and one moment stood out. It was the return of The Rock. The Rock came back at King of the Ring with the passion and the desire needed to achieve his goals. Austin talks about how he watched Big Show vs The Rock at No Way Out. Austin talked about how The Rock was pathetic in that match and that The Rock needed to remember just how important wrestling is. He challenges The Rock to a match at Wrestlemania 19. After a few declines, The Rock finally agrees to the match. The Rock states that there’s one thing that he hadn’t done… beat Austin at Wrestlemania 19. He says that he’ll get the job done at Wrestlemania and will be known as the greatest of all time.

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That takes care of Austin and Rock. Now we’ve got to look at one last thing. Eric Bischoff would cut a promo on RAW taking about Vince McMahon. He calls Vince a coward and desperate for bringing back all of his big guns to take on the nWo. He tells Vince that now is the time to man up. Eric tells the story about how he challenged Vince to a fight when he was running WCW but the fight never took place. Eric now challenges Vince to a sanctioned MATCH at Wrestlemania. Eric asks Vince for a tag team match with Eric and a partner of his choosing going up against Vince and a partner of his choosing. If Eric won, he and the nWo would win 100% control of the company. If the nWo lose, they’re done. Bischoff would be fired. All the power they had would be gone and they would disband. Vince accepts. Almost immediately after Vince agrees, Eric introduces his partner… Scott Steiner.

Vince thinks that in order to fight with Bischoff, he has to fight dirty. In order to fight dirty, Vince believes he needs the dirtiest player in the game. Vince believes he needs Ric Flair. There’s still hostilities between Flair and McMahon after THEY battled for control in 2002. Ric says that he doesn’t trust Vince but will fight alongside him because he knows from his time at WCW just how dangerous the nWo are. Ric says he’ll do it with one other added stipulation… if Ric and Vince win, Ric regains control of RAW. Vince agrees and the match is set.

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So the major matches are pretty much set. Other matches on Wrestlemania would includes Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit taking on the Guerreros for the WWE Tag Team Championship from SmackDown! We’d also have Chris Jericho jump to RAW to take part in a fatal four way match for the Intercontinental Championship alongside Kane, Booker T and Rob Van Dam. Let’s just run down the card one last time..

  • Hollywood Hogan (c) vs Brock Lesnar for the World Heavyweight Championship
  • Big Show (c) vs Undertaker for the WWE Championship
  • “D-Generation X” Triple H and Shawn Michaels vs “The Outsiders” Kevin Nash and Scott Hall in a hardcore tag team match
  • Eric Bischoff and Scott Steiner vs Vince McMahon and Ric Flair for 100% control of the WWE
  • The Rock vs Stone Cold Steve Austin
  • Eddie Guerrero (c) and Chavo Guerrero (c) vs Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit for the WWE Tag Team Championship
  • Kane (c) vs Rob Van Dam vs Booker T vs Chris Jericho for the Intercontinental Championship

So… WRESTLEMANIA 19!

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Before we get started, I would like to state that Hogan vs Lesnar would be the main event of the show. I’m usually a supporter of the claim that the Rumble winner should always be in the main event. However, I’m sure I’m right in saying that majority of wrestling fans would be more interested in Hogan vs Lesnar than Show vs Undertaker. Hogan vs Lesnar seems like the perfect ending to this storyline. No disrespect to Big Show and Undertaker, but surely they’d understand the importance of finale of the nWo storyline ending the show.

For the WWE Tag Team title match, the Guerreros would retain after Kurt would turn on Chris Benoit. This would spark a feud between Benoit and Angle to take place following Wrestlemania. Chris Jericho would win the Intercontinental Championship. I know this feels a bit of a step down for Jericho, considering he had his classic with Shawn Michaels in real life at the event. However, at least he’s still a champion coming out of Wrestlemania. Him and Shawn could feud later on in 2003 anyway. The Rock would beat Stone Cold Steve Austin, putting an end to one of the greatest feuds of all time. But now, let’s get to the nWo stuff.

DX would beat the Outsiders in their hardcore tag team match. I feel that DX standing tall would be the best way to end the Outsiders’ role in this storyline. The Outsiders would seem to have the advantage when former nWo member X-Pac would get involved to get revenge on the Outsiders, who turned on him at Armageddon. He would hit both Hall and Nash with chairs and depart. Hall and Nash would be throwing up the Kliq signs, begging Shawn and Triple H for forgiveness. However, DX wouldn’t be too forgiving and a super kick and sledgehammer onto Nash would give DX the victory. On RAW the next night, I’d have Triple H turn on Shawn in similar fashion to how he turned on him in real life.

Undertaker would beat Big Show to win the WWE Championship. This would be a great moment for Undertaker and for Big Show too. In title matches at Wrestlemania, Big Show usually just acts as the third wheel. It’s good to actually give him a legitimate one-on-one match between him and Undertaker. Plus, Undertaker’s streak goes on and it’s cool to see him leave Wrestlemania with the title.

Now for the tag team match with Bischoff and Steiner going up against Vince and Ric. I’d like to see a cameo with Rowdy Roddy Piper, since he did make a cameo during Hogan’s match with Vince at Wrestlemania 19 in real life! His appearance could lead to the finish. In the finish, Flair makes Bischoff tap out to the figure four leg lock. The WWE is saved! However, there’s one last match…

Hogan defends the World Title against Brock Lesnar. Hogan cuts a pre-match promo saying what happened to Bischoff doesn’t concern him. The nWo will leave one last dent in the legacy of the WWE, which will haunt Vince McMahon for generations. Hogan guarantees that he will retain the belt and says that Brock Lesnar is nothing to him. However, Brock actually beats Hogan for the title in a passing of the torch. If you want to have the Hogan turn face, simply have him shake Lesnar’s hand after the match.

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And that…. FINALLY wraps up the nWo storyline! I hoped you enjoyed all of that. It was a lot of fun to write and I hope that ending lived up to all of the build!

Have any suggestions for a How I Would Book? Simply tweet me at either @ArmbarExpress or @TomRobinson5199 on Twitter with your suggestions. Do also check out the rest of the content on my blog. I do a lot of other cool fantasy booking blog posts with my playthroughs of fantasy booking game Extreme Warfare Revenge. And there’s all sorts of other wrestling content as well. You never know, you might just like what you see!

If you have a fantasy nWo storyline of your own, tweet me on the @ArmbarExpress Twitter account! I’m interested in hearing other people’s versions of this storyline!

How I Would Book… The nWo 19th Anniversary Special [2002] [Part Five]

WARNING: Please read the first four parts of this series first if you haven’t already. They will clue you up on the storyline for this particular “How I Would Book…”.

Last time, things picked up for the nWo. After kicking Shawn Michaels out of the group, the nWo started to assert their dominance on RAW under the reigns of World Heavyweight Champion Hollywood Hogan and RAW general manager Eric Bischoff. Hogan had to contend with HBK’s best friend Triple H at Unforgiven and No Mercy, but the Hulkster walked out with the title still in his grasps. The group rolled into the Elimination Chamber match at Survivor Series, with Hogan, Big Show and Kevin Nash representing the nWo. But returning to the WWE in the Elimination Chamber match would be Shawn Michaels, who was able to pull off on hell of a comeback to win the World Title. Needless to say, the nWo have just suffered a huge loss.

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Hollywood Hogan would come out on RAW and address the losses of the nWo at Survivor Series. On RAW, he would do a similar deal that Wade Barrett did after Nexus lost at Summerslam. He would give an ultimatum to everyone in the group. Big Show finds out he’s been booked in a inter-promotional match against a SmackDown! guy for Armageddon. If he doesn’t win that match, he’s out of the group. Knowing the heat between Scott Hall and X-Pac from Part 4, Hogan tries to get everybody on the same page. Therefore, it’s announced that Nash, Hall and X-Pac will team up in a six man tag team match against Kane, Rob Van Dam and Triple H. If they don’t get the job done, the one that gets pinned or submitted is fired. Not just fired from the nWo, but from the WWE as well. Since Bischoff and McMahon are with the nWo, this stipulation would be no problem.

Meanwhile, Hogan announces that he’s getting his rematch against Shawn Michaels for the World Title at Armageddon. X-Pac questions Hogan’s leadership in giving everybody else ultimatums for failures, when Hogan himself failed at Survivor Series too. Bischoff then agrees with X-Pac and decides that if Hogan loses at Armageddon, then he’ll face “extreme punishment”. So everybody in the group is under pressure leading into Armageddon.

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It’s revealed that Big Show’s match at Armageddon is against SmackDown!’s WWE Champion Brock Lesnar. Big Show wants the title to be on the line but SmackDown! General Manager Stephanie McMahon says no. Vince eventually makes the final call. If Big Show beats Kurt Angle and Chris Jericho in a triple threat on SmackDown!, he’ll get the title shot. If Big Show loses, he’s fired from the WWE. Big Show wins due to interference from the nWo.

This is the moment where things between Hogan and McMahon begin to go south. The nWo are now interfering with SmackDown! business which Vince doesn’t like. He reluctantly gives in to Big Show’s demand but implements severe consequences for the Big Show if he loses. Vince is now getting into the nWo’s business as Hogan already had plans for the Big Show put in place. Things are starting to break down between the two.

At Armageddon, Big Show wins his match with Brock Lesnar via disqualification. Brock Lesnar gets DQ’d for using a chair and F5s him through the announce table. Show never won the title, but he didn’t lose the match either. The stipulation clearly stated that he just had to win his match. Therefore, Big Show keeps his spot in the group. In the six-man tag, Triple H’s team win against the nWo when HHH pins X-Pac. Following this match, the Outsiders lay out X-Pac. This is his last moments in this storyline.

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X-Pac left WWE a lot sooner than he does in this storyline. However, I don’t really have any big plans for him leading up to Mania yet. By the way, X-Pac would have gotten his rematch for the Intercontinental Championship on an episode of RAW before Armageddon. In case anyone was wondering why X-Pac wasn’t getting it at Armageddon.

In the main event, Hogan loses due to a botched interference by Vince McMahon. Hogan is livid that McMahon cost him his match with Michaels. The two have a huge confrontation the next night on RAW. An argument leads to McMahon revealing that Bischoff has signed Hogan to a match at the Royal Rumble. Hogan is given one more match for the World title at the Royal Rumble. If Hogan loses, he is fired for good from the WWE. The Outsiders are in the Royal Rumble and Big Show is given one more match with Brock. This time, Big Show needs to win the title or else…

So Brock Lesnar defends the WWE Championship against Big Show. This time, it’s no disqualification. So this gives the Outsiders an open invitation to go after Brock. Brock takes them all out one by one. In the end, he goes to finish off Big Show in the ring. He hits the F5 and goes for the cover. All of a sudden, the lights go out. When they come back on, Brock is out bloodied, with the nWo logo spray-painted on his back. Big Show goes for the cover and wins the WWE Championship.

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In Hogan’s match, the nWo interfere again. Nash and Hall hit their finishers on Michaels when the ref is out. Hogan hits the leg drop and regains the World title. Everybody in the group are laughing as they now have both major world titles in the company. The Outsiders could also possibly win the Royal Rumble match too. This is the worst case scenario for Vince. The nWo has now completely taken over the show. Vince goes on an angry tirade backstage about how the nWo has ruined everything. Vince then stops, smiles and walks away.

In the Royal Rumble match, it’s down to six. There’s still one more man to enter the match at #30. Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle are all still there, with all of them having been in for at least 40 minutes or so up until this point. Benoit and Jericho are like #1 and #2, and Kurt comes out at like #5 or something. The Outsiders came out very late into the match. Triple H came out late too but is completely overwhelmed by the Outsiders. The Outsiders then begin casually just throwing out Benoit, Jericho and Angle over the top rope.

I know this is similar to the 2015 Royal Rumble match, when Big Show and Kane were doing the same thing. But trust me, it’ll work. It’ll work because the heel heat on the nWo is truly immense. The fans are disgusted. The Outsiders then toss out Triple H and seemingly have the Rumble won. Nash gets on the mic saying that the nWo rule the world and to “bring out the last jobber”. Then we hear Undertaker’s music hit.

Undertaker returns and is #30 in the Royal Rumble match! Taker starts to overcome Nash and Hall but then Hogan and Big Show comes out. It’s a huge beatdown on Taker when Brock Lesnar comes out for revenge. He F5s Big Show and takes out the rest. Taker then eliminates both the Outsiders to win the match. The night ends with Hogan trying to attack Lesnar but walking into an F5 instead. Brock then hoists up the World Heavyweight title and Taker hoists up the WWE title as Vince gets onto the stage and laughs. And that’s the end of the show.

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That’ll wrap things up for Part Five. This part was VERY hard to write up. I changed my mind on so many aspects of what happens in this time period. After all, the final part will be covering Wrestlemania. So it has to be really spot on, especially when The Rock, Undertaker and Steve Austin are coming back into play. So I’ll think I’ll give the WWE writers from back then a little slack! However, I think this scenario has set up a pretty good little set up for Wrestlemania 19. Brock Lesnar will be going after Hogan’s World title and Taker will be going after Big Show’s title. It’s a bit of work around as far as the brand structures are concerned but we can think of something. Vince could just proclaim a trade the next night on RAW where Brock goes to RAW and Taker goes to SmackDown! Then everything works… kind of.

But I hope you all are sticking with this and I’ve got quite a big finale set up for you next time!

Have any suggestions for a How I Would Book? Simply tweet me at either @ArmbarExpress or @TomRobinson5199 on Twitter with your suggestions. Do also check out the rest of the content on my blog. I do a lot of other cool fantasy booking blog posts with my playthroughs of fantasy booking game Extreme Warfare Revenge. And there’s all sorts of other wrestling content as well. You never know, you might just like what you see!

Wrestling Flashback – The SmackDown! Six

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In 2002, the WWE draft would have a major impact on WWE television. Gone were the days of competition from WCW. With the contracts of WCW talent being bought out by the WWE, it became apparent that all of these stars couldn’t possibly be given the chance to perform. With the entire roster working on all of the TV shows, there was little opportunity for lower-card talent to get an on-screen appearance on RAW or SmackDown! There was simply too big a roster to deal with. The WWE draft came up with a solution… split the roster down the middle creating two separate brands called RAW and SmackDown!

Another potential reason for the roster split was down to the ratings for RAW and SmackDown! taking a huge hit coming off the “Attitude Era”. According to Paul Heyman, who became the head writer of SmackDown! in 2002, SmackDown! was facing cancellation as the writing team was split up to serve both brands. Internally, all eyes were on RAW and Heyman’s job was to “take SmackDown! of their plate”. With the need to feature everybody and pressure on both WWE’s two flagship shows, the brand wars was on.

With all eyes on RAW, Paul Heyman was left with Stephanie McMahon to build up the stars that the “powers-that-be” didn’t see a lot of potential in. When the time was right, WWE could eventually pluck out these stars for their “flagship” show RAW. One of the first examples of this was when Chris Jericho was moved to RAW from SmackDown!, after finishing up a great rivalry with the up-and-comer Edge. Paul protested this move as Jericho was making Edge into a legitimate star on SmackDown! However, Heyman was offered a “compensation” for losing the main-event star Jericho. Heyman wanted Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero (who were, according to Heyman, the “nWo’s whipping boys” at the time on RAW) in exchange for losing Jericho. Heyman saw a lot of potential in Benoit and Guerrero, while the RAW writers didn’t. With the trade agreed and Benoit and Guerrero “stolen” by SmackDown! General Manager Stephanie McMahon, the table was set for Heyman to take these stars to the next level.

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The funny thing about looking back at 2002 is the relaxed booking from Paul Heyman compared to the frankly desperate attempts for ratings on RAW. Heyman didn’t have to resort to featuring HLA or a storyline about necrophilia in order to grab ratings. All it took for Heyman was simple story-telling and build up which resulted in more eye balls watching SmackDown! to see the intensity of these stories build over time. And the reason that’s so funny is because NXT is trumping WWE’s flagship shows right now for the very simple reason. Why do you think the fans of Brooklyn went nuts for Bayley vs Sasha Banks at NXT TakeOver while they paid little attention to the Divas Revolution on Summerslam and RAW?

Heyman allowed the action in the ring to tell the stories for the viewers, and the viewers understood the story-telling very well. Michael Cole and Tazz didn’t need to talk about the storylines as much and could refocus the viewer’s attention to the match. That’s what made them such a great pairing.

Heyman’s most notable claim to fame as SmackDown! head writer was the introduction of the SmackDown! tag team division. RAW never really had a strong tag team division of it’s own at the time as it was mostly considered an after-thought by the writers. This was Heyman’s chance to seize the moment. With Guerrero and Benoit now apart of the roster and Rey Mysterio being brought into the company in July, Heyman could bring them together in a tag team environment in order to push them as singles stars. Rey Mysterio was teamed up with Edge, with the both of them being strong fan favourites and possessing a unique chemistry as a tag team. Eddie Guerrero was thrown into the mix too, with his nephew Chavo being promoted up to the main roster as well. These two tag teams naturally clicked together but what about Chris Benoit? Having just turned in face in mid-2002, who could Benoit team up with in this tag team division? Well, in a move that could benefit everyone, Paul decided to interject one of his main-eventers into that tag team scene to team with the “Rabid Wolverine”. That way, it would be more acceptable for all of these men to be featured in the main events on SmackDown! This main eventer… was Kurt Angle.

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Chavo Guerrero vs Rey Mysterio in the main event of SmackDown! would have seemed a bit of a fantasy considering the stars like Brock Lesnar and Undertaker on the show. But Rey Mysterio vs KURT ANGLE would have worked as Kurt already had the star power to justify his position in the main event. Putting him up against Rey, Edge, Eddie or Chavo would also give them the main event spotlight too, resulting in the stock of all these men rising as individuals. That way, their rise to success as singles star moved along in a much faster rate in that tag team scenario.

It was truly masterful to see how Heyman used the tag team division as a means to get these six into the main events of SmackDown! From a business standpoint, the SmackDown! six delivered when it came to ratings and merchandise. There was heavy competition for SmackDown! at the time, including the final season of “Friends”. However, the ratings were holding and everybody in that tag team scenario benefited immensely. While RAW was up against the ropes, SmackDown! was pulling out all the punches.

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The storyline itself was introduced when Stephanie McMahon announced a tag team tournament to crown the first ever WWE Tag Team Champions. Edge and Mysterio were partnered up and Eddie sided with Chavo. However, Stephanie McMahon also decreed that Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle would be a tag team in the tournament too. This wound up both men as they had been feuding at that point. Stephanie ruled that Kurt and Benoit would be suspended for a year without pay if there were any physicality between them. However, Benoit and Angle proved to be a formidable tag team. Despite their differences, they were able to make it to the final by defeating Los Guerreros. At No Mercy, Benoit and Angle defeated Edge and Mysterio in the final to become the first ever WWE Tag Team Champions.

Angle and Benoit would be presented with a trophy to commemorate their tournament win. However, things would break down after Angle and Benoit began arguing about who was the “captain” of the team. This would lead to Stephanie being accidentally smacked in the face with the trophy. Stephanie responded by slapping both men and booking a match for them to settle their differences “the old fashioned way”. However, Los Guerreros would get involved which led to further brawling later that night. Edge and Rey Mysterio were able to capitalize on Angle and Benoit’s troubles, winning a 2 out of 3 falls tag match on SmackDown! to win the tag titles. This led to a triple threat tag team match at Survivor Series between Edge and Mysterio, Benoit and Angle and Los Guerreros for the tag titles. The Guerreros finally got the job done, winning the match and the titles.

Each of these men would go on to establish themselves as singles stars and all of these men would end up winning world titles later on in their careers. Kurt Angle had already been a WWE Championship before the “SmackDown! Six” but did go on to win the WWE Championship again just a month later at Armageddon. Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero won world championships in 2004, with the two of them closing out Wrestlemania XX as World Heavyweight Champion and WWE Champion respectively. Edge and Rey Mysterio would win their first world titles in 2006 and Chavo Guerrero would win the ECW Championship in 2008.

It seems then that Heyman succeeded in elevating all six of these men as singles stars, after grouping them as tag teams first in the tag team division. This was one of those eras in wrestling when tag team wrestling was at its finest. True competition put together with a simple and logical storyline to help elevate the importance of the championship and the tag teams competing for the gold. Heyman’s had a lot of successes as a writer, but the “SmackDown! Six” era was Heyman’s finest hour…

 

How I Would Book… The nWo 19th Anniversary Special [2002] [Part Four]

WARNING: The links to the last three parts are down below. Be sure to check them out first before reading part four to get a better understanding of the storyline.

Last time in the series, we reached Summerslam. Summerslam proved to be a big PPV for the nWo 2002 storyline. We saw nWo member Shawn Michaels return to the ring for the first time in four years to wrestle The Rock, who he had taken out of competition before. We saw Vince McMahon regain control of the WWE thanks to help from the nWo and its newest member, Eric Bischoff. Lastly we saw Brock Lesnar defeat Triple H to win the Undisputed Championship, taking it to SmackDown! in the process.

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For the nWo, things are going great. Vince McMahon just regained 100% control of the company, meaning they don’t have to answer to Ric Flair on RAW anymore. Vince solidifies the group’s control of RAW by appointing Eric Bischoff as RAW General Manager. Bischoff is the nWo’s authority figure that will be able to book matches that benefits the group. So the nWo’s takeover of RAW is basically complete. Bischoff gets right down to business as there are two issues that the brand has to worry about. Firstly, it’s Brock Lesnar taking the re-branded WWE Championship to SmackDown!…

This leaves RAW WITHOUT a World Champion of their own. They need their own title as they can’t have RAW superstars challenging Brock Lesnar, as the title is exclusive to that show. So that’s exactly what Eric Bischoff does. On the night after Summerslam, he brings out the “big gold belt”. Formerly known as the WCW World Championship, Bischoff brings it to RAW as the World Heavyweight Championship. The primary belt for his brand. Rather than doing a championship tournament or something like that, he simply awards the title to somebody. And who else is he going to award it to… than Hollywood Hogan.

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Remember, Bischoff is a member of the nWo now. His best interests is keeping the power in the stable. With Hogan now as the World Champion, the rest of the RAW roster knows where the power lies. And to be honest, the top stable in the company really should be led by a World Champion. Hogan accepts the title and announces a nWo party for later that night.

Later that night, all the members of the group arrive. New Intercontinental Champion X-Pac, Big Show, the Outsiders, Bischoff, Hogan and Shawn Michaels are all there. Michaels would probably get the largest reaction out of the group coming off his big comeback match with The Rock. Hogan raises a toast to all the members of the group, but singles out Michaels. He tells Michaels that he owes it all to him for putting The Rock in his place at Wrestlemania (in part 1, Michaels cost The Rock his match with Hogan at Mania X8). Hogan tells Michaels that he respects him more than anyone and praises him for his performance against The Rock. After a hug between the legends, Michaels hugs the rest of the group. While Michaels hugs Bischoff last, Hogan opens up a present that was in the ring along with confetti and stuff. He opens it up and it’s revealed that there’s a lead pipe in the present. With it, Hogan clobbers Michaels in the back in the head. The nWo proceed to swarm Michaels and beat him down before Hogan delivers the Leg Drop. Michaels has officially been kicked out of the group.

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Yes, Shawn Michaels is the first man to be kicked out of the nWo. Firstly, this writes Michaels off of television up until his return just before Survivor Series (which happened in real-life and we’ll get to later on in the post). Secondly, Bischoff can now take over in the “hand of the king” role which Michaels played initially for the group. After all, Bischoff did it with Hogan during the nWo’s ORIGINAL run in WCW. So it makes all the sense in the world that he’d come back in a very similar way. Finally, it’s hard to say how well Michaels would fit in the group now that Bischoff’s in the fold. Everyone in the group has to have a purpose.

Hogan’s the leader. Bischoff is his deputy. The Outsiders are the tag team. Big Show is the big bodyguard. X-Pac is the Intercontinental Champion and the “cruiserweight” of the group. Since Michaels doesn’t really have any authority and is just another top star, he would be a bit left out. Everyone in the group should have a REASON for being in it. Michaels doesn’t have as strong a reason than anyone else to be in it. Plus, him being the only one of the group to be beaten at Summerslam gives Hogan all the more reason to get rid of him. However, Michaels will be set to comeback to RAW in a big way….

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Also, what this beat down does is provide motivation for another prominent wrestler in the storyline… Triple H. If you’ll recall, Triple H has just lost the Undisputed Championship to Brock Lesnar at Summerslam. And if you’ll also recall, Triple H was NOT drafted in April as he was the Undisputed Champion defending the title that night against Chris Jericho and Stephanie McMahon. Triple H has pretty much been a free agent ever since that night, appearing on both RAW and SmackDown! So now he’s no longer the champion and without a brand, he must decide whether to go to SmackDown! or RAW. With Triple H hoping to get another crack at Lesnar, it seems set in stone that Triple H will sign up with Stephanie on SmackDown!…

However, learning what happened to his friend Shawn Michaels, Hunter is upset. While Shawn Michaels was with the nWo during Triple H’s title run, little interaction has actually taken place between the two. Shawn might have had an exchange or two with Triple H before Hogan challenged HHH for the title at Vengeance, but there’s been no real heat between the two. So HHH would no doubt still value Shawn as a good friend. Seeing what the nWo did to his friend might motivate HHH to go to RAW and invoke his rematch clause there. Invoke his rematch clause against the newly-crowned World Heavyweight Champion Hollywood Hogan… who just so happens to be the leader of the nWo! The stage is set for the two of them to do battle at Unforgiven. The match ends with Hogan getting himself disqualified and retaining the title. This sets things up easily for our next PPV No Mercy. But before we head into No Mercy, let’s discuss the other members of the group and their roles at Unforgiven….

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Eric Bischoff would be hoping to further assert the group’s dominance on RAW. The nWo already have X-Pac as the Intercontinental Champion, so that title is firmly in their grasps. You could have Eddie cash in his rematch clause against X-Pac for Unforgiven, despite the fact that the two of them are on separate shows. If you want to keep the two shows as separate as possible, then you could have someone on RAW like Booker T challenge X-Pac for the belt instead. We’ll go with X-Pac vs Eddie for this particular storyline, as I’d like to make sure that things like rematch clauses can be exercised as much as possible. Either case… X-Pac wins.

As much as I’d hate to leave any members of the group off the PPVs, the Outsiders aren’t featured in a match. I was going to have them challenge the Hardy Brothers for the tag titles at Unforgiven, but I’d rather have them challenge them to a tag title match the night AFTERWARDS to help tie-in another feud within the group.

Undertaker, after him and Ric Flair lost to Vince and Hogan at Summerslam, isn’t the happiest of campers. Bischoff books Undertaker vs Big Show for Unforgiven, which results in the Outsiders interfering on the behalf of Big Show. Show wins the match via count out and further annoys the Deadman. The Outsiders get their award for helping the Big Show with a tag team title shot the next night on RAW. The match is made No DQ so several other nWo members can get involved. Undertaker tries to aid the Hardyz but is overwhelmed. Eventually, someone else comes to the rescue of the faces…. the Undertaker’s brother, the returning Kane. The road to No Mercy begins for the nWo.

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The Outsiders are already dealt with for the PPV, with a tag team match against the “Brothers of Destruction” Undertaker and Kane. This would actually be a pretty decent in-ring match, with these four big guys tearing each other apart. It’d be another fantasy match-up which we’d be able to fulfill! X-Pac can defend the Intercontinental title against somebody else on RAW, probably Rob Van Dam. I’d put Big Show in a match with somebody like Booker T, to give Booker a high-profile match with somebody that just beat the Undertaker. For the World Heavyweight Championship match, we’d see Triple H get his rematch against Hogan… in a Last Man Standing match.

For No Mercy, X-Pac would retain his championship against RVD or whoever. The Big Show vs Booker T match result probably wouldn’t matter significantly for this match. For me, I’d see Booker T win via disqualification and have Big Show destroy Booker post-match. However, it doesn’t really matter to a degree what happens. As long as you can keep both men from suffering too badly, you’re in business. Shockingly for the Outsiders vs Brothers of Destruction match… the Outsiders win clean.

I feel for a match this big between two top legendary tag teams that there should be a clean finish. You could argue that Kane and Undertaker need it more, but keep this in mind… Undertaker is off from TV after No Mercy. After his match with Brock Lesnar in real-life, Undertaker was written off TV and didn’t come back until the Royal Rumble. If the Outsiders are still going to be there, then they really should secure a big win like this to truly establish themselves as probably the TOP team in the WWE. Kane losing his first big match back in WWE clean might seem a bit of a momentum killer for Kane. However, if Undertaker is the one that gets pinned, then that should keep Kane looking strong going into Survivor Series. By the way, to write off Undertaker in this storyline, simply have Big Show throw Undertaker off the stage like he did in real-life. It’s easy enough and Big Show still looks dominant.

Lastly, to wrap up No Mercy, Hogan wins after copious amounts of interference from the nWo. It’s a strong PPV for the nWo leading into Survivor Series, where business really starts to pick up.

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Following No Mercy, Eric Bischoff excitedly announces his newest creation for the World Heavyweight Championship to be contested in… the Elimination Chamber match. The chamber debuts and Eric announces that Hogan will be in it as the #6 entrant. Big Show is also awarded a spot in the match after taking out the Undertaker. Bischoff decides to have at least one of the Outsiders in the match and decides to leave it to them to decide. The Outsiders jokingly have a rock, paper, scissors match to decide who gets automatic entry into the match, which Kevin Nash wins. Bischoff tells Scott Hall that all he has to do to get into the match is simply beat somebody like Rob Van Dam or Booker T in an Elimination Chamber qualifier. However, botched interference from X-Pac sees RVD/Booker qualify for the chamber. Triple H is then told he can win entry spots for him and another man of his choice for the chamber match. All he has to do is win a one-on-three handicap match against Hogan, Nash and Big Show on RAW! Triple H pulls off the miracle thanks to the distraction from the return of the “Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels! Triple H gets on the mic and gives Shawn Michaels the last entry spot and says if you’re not down with that, they’ve got two words for you…

There’s heat between Hall and X-Pac but Bischoff decides to have the two of them take their anger out on another threat to the nWo, Kane. It’s decided that X-Pac, Hall and Kane will have a triple threat for the Intercontinental title at Survivor Series. X-Pac and Hall would be prohibited from pinning one another, making it essentially a handicap match. I decided to re-introduce the stipulation from the Austin-Kane-Taker match from Unforgiven 1998, as it does add a lot to the finish of this particular match… Kane beats them both and wins the Intercontinental Title. It also introduces a bit of dissension between the group…

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Now let’s get down to the Elimination Chamber match for the World Heavyweight Championship. A few notes to make. Firstly, whoever beat Scott Hall would be able to score a pin on the Big Show during the match. This gives them a little something to take away from the match before they are eliminated by Kevin Nash. Triple H, who would have entered the match at #1, would be eliminated next by Hogan. It’s two on one for a while until Triple H returns to the chamber to nail Nash with a sledgehammer. HBK would super kick Hogan, who’d fall on Nash and accidentally cover him for the elimination. After a little back-and-forth between Hogan and Michaels, Michaels would get the pin and win the World Title. The big comeback story is complete with Michaels beating his old nWo leader. And we end Survivor Series like that….

And that’s pretty much it for this part… well at least for the RAW brand. If you want to know how SmackDown! would be booked, WWE Champion Brock Lesnar would beat Chris Benoit at Unforgiven, Kurt Angle at No Mercy and Chris Jericho at Survivor Series. At least with this format, you can still have the famous “SmackDown! Six” storyline which the genius Paul Heyman was able to cook up! Since Angle would be fighting Lesnar at No Mercy, Edge and Rey Mysterio would win the WWE Tag Team title tournament by beating Los Guerreros in the finals. Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle would team up to win the titles from Mysterio and Edge on SmackDown! which would lead to Survivor Series, where the Guerreros would win the belts.

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And with that little added detail, it’s time to finish. There’s a lot of developments that have happened in this part, I must admit. It’s a bit hard to keep up with it, but now it’s all coming together nicely! Shawn Michaels has returned in a big way at Survivor Series and the rest of the nWo have looked strong with a number of big wins over the likes of the Undertaker. Granted, Survivor Series was not a successful night. However, this will now play into the events of part five. Please check out part five to be uploaded some time before next week…

How I Would Book… The nWo 19th Anniversary Special [2002] [Part Three]

WARNING: Be sure to check out parts one and two of this series before reading part three if you haven’t already. Just want you to be clued up on what’s been happening in the nWo storyline so far.

In Part Two, there was a lot of developments in the nWo storyline. With Ric Flair drafting the nWo to RAW, the stable respond by attempting to destroy the show and in the process, help Vince McMahon win the ratings war with Ric Flair. It started with the nWo attacking Flair, which led to Hogan beating Flair at Backlash thanks to it’s newest member the Big Show. The group created chaos on RAW, and even targeted Stone Cold Steve Austin. Austin would beat the Big Show at Judgement Day to get Hogan at the King of the Ring. The two icons clashed, with the nWo’s Shawn Michaels getting involved. However, his interference was cut off by the returning People’s Champion, The Rock. Despite all of this, a corrupt referee and Vince McMahon helped Hogan pick up the win in this once-in-a-life time match-up. Shortly after, Austin would quit the company (as he did in real-life).

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Again, to have a more in-depth look into the storylines, I would suggest you check out parts one and two first. However, now things are getting really interesting. The Rock is back from his sabbatical and is looking for revenge after the events of part one in this series. However, The Rock was drafted to SmackDown! and his contract prevents him from stepping foot on RAW. However, Rock would ignore his contract and would wind up costing the Outsiders their World Tag Team titles against the Hardyz on RAW. This gives the nWo reason to be mad at The Rock and under pressure from both parties, Vince McMahon would allow The Rock and a partner of his choosing to face the Outsiders at Vengeance. Ric Flair would add a stipulation himself… if The Rock and his partner get the win, The Rock would be allowed to wrestle any member of the nWo at Summerslam. The Rock’s partner would be this up-and-comer called Edge and of course, The Rock and Edge would win the match. The next night on RAW, The Rock would announce his opponent for the match at Summerslam… the nWo’s Shawn Michaels!

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Michaels’ big comeback match is on and this is one of the dream matches I’ve always wanted see in the WWE. Why not have the match be Shawn Michael’s big return match, considering Michaels cost The Rock his match with Hogan way back at Wrestlemania X8? Everything we’ve seen with Michaels and Rock before was a build up to this big match at Summerslam. So what about Hollywood Hogan and the rest of the group? What’s been going on with them?

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The nWo’s X-Pac and Rob Van Dam would continue their feud, which started way back at Backlash. RVD and X-Pac would face of in a street fight at Vengeance, with Rob Van Dam picking up the win. The next night on RAW, Intercontinental Champion Eddie Guerrero would announce his intention to sign up with SmackDown! alongside his returning buddy Chris Benoit. However, Ric Flair cuts him off, saying that if he’s going to jump ship, he will at least put the belt on the line against one of RAW’s finest at Summerslam. He therefore books a fatal four way match between RVD, X-Pac, Booker T and Christian. X-Pac shockingly wins the match and earns a title shot. X-Pac tries to change Eddie’s mind on jumping to SmackDown! and invites him to be apart of the nWo on RAW. Eddie declines by smacking X-Pac with the belt. The Intercontinental title match between the two is booked for Summerslam, with X-Pac bringing home the gold for the nWo and keeping the title on RAW in the process.

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SmackDown! owner Vince McMahon would appear on the RAW after King of the Ring to “shoot” on Austin quitting the company alongside Hogan from the nWo. Vince said he warned everybody that he would be the one to kill the WWE and he’s made good on his promise so far. He’s forced one of the WWE’s top stars to take his ball and go home while the nWo stands tall. Vince rewards Hogan with a Undisputed WWE Championship match at Vengeance against Triple H. Undertaker, who’s be inadvertently cost the Undisputed title by Hogan in the past, would be outraged. Vince and Ric would agree for Undertaker to be put in a match with the newest King of the Ring, Brock Lesnar at Vengeance. Brock’s title shot earned by winning the tournament would be on the line. However, the Big Show (who was the runner up of the King of the Ring) would protest saying that he should be in the match too. Big Show and Undertaker would fight for the right to face Brock at Vengeance, but Brock’s interference would result in a no contest. It would be decided that it would be a triple threat match at Vengeance, with the winner going on to fight the Undisputed Champion at Summerslam.

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The match at Vengeance would have the Undertaker and Big Show double chokeslamming Brock through the announce table and the match would boil down to those two. Undertaker would chokeslam Big Show for the finish when the nWo interfere to help the Big Show by attacking the Undertaker. However, with the group distracted with Undertaker, Brock Lesnar would sneak back into the ring, smack Big Show with the chair, and pick up the win. Brock would keep his title shot and the Undertaker would be pissed. This leads to the Undisputed title match later that night between the champion Triple H and the challenger Hollywood Hogan. Triple H would retain the title once more after interference from the Undertaker, who costs Hogan the match. Flair would come out on stage (like Vince did at King of the Ring) clapping on and smiling at what he saw. With tensions between the Undertaker, Hogan, Flair and McMahon reaching a boiling point, a tag team match is booked for 100% control of the WWE. It would be unlikely allies Undertaker and Ric Flair (who fought at Wrestlemania X8) teaming up against Vince McMahon and Hollywood Hogan at Summerslam. So Summerslam would be a pretty stacked card.

You’d have…

  • X-Pac challenging Eddie Guerrero for the Intercontinental title (which X-Pac won)
  • The Outsiders could team up against Goldust and Booker T at the PPV, since they feuded in real-life. The Outsiders would win this.
  • The Rock would finally face off against Shawn Michaels.
  • Hollywood Hogan and Vince McMahon would team up against Ric Flair and Undertaker for 100% control of the WWE.
  • And for the main event, Brock Lesnar would get his Undisputed Championship match against Triple H.

NOTE: In case you were interested, the match between Rey Mysterio and Kurt Angle at the event would probably still happen. The Big Show could go up against Booker T, while Rob Van Dam would go up against Christian. And on SmackDown!, it’d be either Chris Benoit or Chris Jericho going up against Edge. The winners for these wouldn’t really matter to the main storyline. I guess the Big Show might need to get the win over Booker T to look strong since he’s lost a few PPV matches in a row. But other than that, not a lot needs to be said about the finishes of the other matches.

So Summerslam….

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The three big matches we’ve yet to cover is the tag match for control of the company, The Rock vs HBK and Lesnar vs HHH for the title. Out of all of these three, I’d go for Rock and HBK going on the earliest of the three. The only reason I go with Rock vs HBK first is because control of the WWE and the Undisputed title are all important in the nWo Storyline at this moment. It’s a tough call either way you slice it, but the tag match and the title match are all pretty important in my storyline going forth. So Rock vs HBK goes first.

The winner of this match would be… The Rock. No interference or anything. Shawn Michaels would request that his group not get involved in this match as it is between him and The Rock. This is a 25 minute classic and near-falls everywhere. In the end, Rock ducks the Super Kick and delivers the Rock Bottom for the pin fall over Shawn Michaels. I’d hate to have Michaels lose this match, but I feel I owe The Rock a big match win after jobbing him out to Hogan at Wrestlemania! Shawn doesn’t really lose a lot of from this, even if it’s his first match in over four years. When Shawn Michaels had his match with Triple H at Summerslam in real-life, it was supposed to be a one match deal. He didn’t know how well his back would cope, so there’s no reason to get Michaels back on the full-roster just yet since you wouldn’t know whether Michaels could go 100% yet. So it doesn’t hurt Michaels that much by having him lose. Also, The Rock does eventually return to WWE in 2003. If you want The Rock to keep his credibility as a big star, he has to go over. The Rock goes over, the two shake hands and the crowd applauds their efforts. A heart-warming moment for the WWE universe.

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Up next, would be the 100% ownership tag team match. The team of RAW owner Ric Flair and the Undertaker, against the team of SmackDown! owner Vince McMahon and nWo leader Hollywood Hogan. Now I know that Hogan and Undertaker never exactly had the greatest of matches in their real-life encounter at Judgement Day 2002. And I highly doubt that this would be considered a technically sound wrestling match at this point in all of the competitors’ lives. However, if you threw in a no disqualification stipulation, this match could be brought up a bit in this all out brawl. Also, it’s not like these four need to have like a 20 minute match or something. Considering all the other matches on this card, you can keep this to about 10-15 minutes or so. Let’s get to the finish. Vince and Hogan would pick up the win after Flair gets hit with a lead pipe by a masked man with a nWo shirt on. After Vince and Hogan are announced as the winners, the masked man would reveal himself to be none other than former WCW president… Eric Bischoff!

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Bischoff will become a key player in the WWE now Vince has back control of his company. As we know, Eric Bischoff was put in charge of RAW as general manager and Stephanie McMahon was put in charge of SmackDown! The same thing happens here, just a month or so after it originally happened in real-life. With Vince having 100% control and the nWo taking control of RAW, Eric becoming the general manager and Bischoff taking control of RAW is the final step in the nWo controlling of the RAW brand. Eric Bischoff will now be officially running the show on behalf of the nWo. The takeover is officially complete and that final step will have huge implications for the group going forward….

And while we’re at it, let’s wrap this up with the Undisputed WWE Championship match between Triple H and Brock Lesnar. Not much else really needs to be said other than this… Brock Lesnar wins the belt.

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It’s the final step to Brock’s ascension to the top star in the company. It’s important to note that he will be on SmackDown! defending his belt, which will now simply be the WWE Championship. Which leaves RAW without a belt. Speculation begins as to the future of RAW and it’s title picture….

And that wraps things up for part three. Things are really starting to develop now with the nWo gaining more power within the company. I’m looking forward to bringing you part four of this series as we build towards Survivor Series. Business on RAW will be picking up…

How I Would Book… The nWo 19th Anniversary Special [2002] [Part Two]

WARNING: If you’ve not seen part one of this How I Would Book, please do so. You’ll need to read that one first in order to understand the storyline a little more. The link is down below:

Part One

Last time during this special nWo How I Would Book, I began re-booking the nWo storyline that started in February 2002 on WWF Television. We recapped what happened in that storyline, the problems on and off-screen with it and we talked a little bit about other takes on this particular “How WWE Should Have Booked”. Let’s recap my booking from the last part of this series.

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Everything went exactly as it did in the original nWo storyline until Wrestlemania itself. The nWo arrived and attacked Austin at No Way Out. The Rock challenged Hollywood Hogan for Wrestlemania and Steve Austin would face Scott Hall. At Mania, Hogan would beat The Rock after interference from the newest member Shawn Michaels. The nWo would attack The Rock the next night, which writes him off of television. But now we must turn our attentions to the WWF Draft where things get a little interesting for the faction.

The WWF Draft would still happen and Ric Flair would win the coin toss to go first. His first pick for RAW would be the nWo, to the shock of everyone. The nWo would be initially angry about not working under Vince McMahon, who brought them into the WWF. However, Vince backstage assures the group that things will work out. The rest of the draft picks would play out pretty much the same and The Rock would be Vince’s first draft pick for SmackDown! Vince’s reason for drafting The Rock was to make sure that The Rock would not mess with the nWo on RAW. The Rock would be out at the moment but when he gets back, Vince says he’d do whatever it takes to get the Brahma Bull in line. I would also have Brock Lesnar drafted to SmackDown! rather than RAW. This will play into the storyline later on.

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At the end of the draft, Vince would challenge Ric to a fight in the middle of the ring to prove to their newest draftees who’s the top owner in the WWF. Vince lures Ric into the ring and says “Allow me to show you why I’m happy about the nWo being on RAW,” which brings out the group. The nWo attack Ric Flair to end the show. Flair responds the next week by making a match for Backlash… Hollywood Hogan with Shawn Michaels in his corner against Ric Flair with The Big Show in his corner. I’m sure a lot of you will know where this is going!…

Steve Austin, who’s had issues with the nWo himself, would then sign up with RAW. Austin would want the nWo but Flair denies him the opportunity as he wants Hogan himself. He does give Austin a chance to be in the Undisputed Championship match at Backlash, which is a triple threat match between the champion Triple H, SmackDown!’s Chris Jericho (getting his rematch from Wrestlemania X8) and RAW’s #1 contender. Flair would book Steve Austin vs The Undertaker on RAW. Of course, shenanigans from the Outsiders would result in Undertaker winning and going on to the PPV. Austin would then be booked in a tag team match against the Outsiders with a partner of his choosing at Backlash. Austin’s partner would be Intercontinental Champion Rob Van Dam. However, the Outsiders would pick up the victory at Backlash thanks to the nWo’s newest member, X-Pac. Later on that night, Flair would face Hogan. In that match, Big Show would turn on Flair giving Hogan the victory. This would result in Show also joining the nWo. I understand that having a lot of members in the group are what hurt the nWo in the first place and having two new members revealed on PPV would be a bit much. However, I think Big Show and X-Pac would be nWo inevitabilities anyway, so it’s best to just get them on board early. Also, X-Pac interfering in this way sets things up nicely for him in the coming months…

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Ric Flair is pretty banged up from his fight with Hogan but is still running the show on RAW. For the next PPV “Judgement Day” he books a few matches. Since Austin is still gunning for the nWo, he will fight The Big Show inside of a Steel Cage. If he wins this fight, he gets to fight Hogan in the main event of King Of The Ring. Rob Van Dam would come up to Flair and demand a hardcore match with X-Pac at Judgement Day. X-Pac would agree as long as the Intercontinental Championship was on the line. HOWEVER, Eddie Guerrero would end up beating RVD in a non-title math on RAW (albeit with interference) and would demand an Intercontinental Championship match himself. Flair ended up settling the issue with a triple threat match for the Intercontinental Championship at the PPV. Lastly, after winning the World Tag Team titles at Backlash, the Hardy Boyz would challenge the Outsiders to a tag title ladder match at the PPV which they’d accept.

For Hollywood Hogan, he wouldn’t be booked for Judgement Day. However, he would make an agreement with the Undertaker to help him in his upcoming Undisputed Championship match against Triple H at Judgement Day. Hogan said that he needed to maintain the chaos in the WWE and Undertaker winning was a big part of that. So Judgement Day is all set for the nWo….

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Judgement Day is a PPV of ups-and-downs for the group. Kevin Nash and Scott Hall would walk out with the tag team titles after beating the Hardyz due to botched interference from Lita. Eddie, RVD and X-Pac have a hell of a match for the Intercontinental Championship but it would be Eddie Guerrero that walks out with the title. Austin would beat Big Show in the Steel Cage match thanks to Ric Flair, resulting in Austin vs Hogan for King Of The Ring. In the main event, Hogan’s attempt at interference results in him hitting Undertaker with the chair. Austin comes out to thwart Hogan’s plan and gives him the Stone Cold Stunner. Triple H retains the championship among the chaos. This sets up the King Of The Ring…

The big match, which I would book as the main event, is Hogan vs Austin at King Of The Ring. Along with that, Shawn Michaels says he’s going to be in his corner for the big match. However, let’s have a look at everyone else in the stable…

The Outsiders would be defending the tag titles in the rematch with the Hardyz, so they’re taken care off. The King Of The Ring tournament would feature X-Pac and Big Show as participants for the nWo. X-Pac would be eliminated by Rob Van Dam in the 1st round. However, X-Pac would cost RVD his quarter final match against The Big Show. However, Rob Van Dam would be booked for his Intercontinental Championship rematch with Eddie Guerrero at King of the Ring. X-Pac tells Eddie that he’s watching out for him, hoping for him to win. The Semi-Finalists for the tournament would be Big Show, Booker T, Brock Lesnar and Edge. The Undisputed Title match would be Triple H defending the title against SmackDown!’s Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle and RAW’s Undertaker in a fatal four way elimination match. And of course, it would be Hogan and Austin in the main event. The stage is set.

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The Outsiders, of course, will retain the tag team titles. X-Pac would hit Rob Van Dam with the Intercontinental Championship while Eddie was out and the ref was distracted somehow to help Eddie retain the title. Eddie would look confused as X-Pac embraced him. The King of the Ring tournament would go a little bit like this. In the semi-finals, Brock Lesnar would beat Booker T while Big Show would beat Edge. Big Show tells the nWo that this rookie would be a piece of cake. However, Brock shocks the WWE universe by F5’ing the Big Show and pinning him to be crowned the 2002 King of the Ring. Triple H would retain the Undisputed title which would bring us to Austin vs Hogan.

The match goes on until there’s a ref bump and the ref gets taken out. Shawn Michaels takes advantage to deliver Sweet Chin Music to Austin. However, you hear this….


The Rock has returned and targets Michaels who took him out and cost him the Hogan match at Wrestlemania. He delivers Rock Bottoms to him and Hogan and departs. Austin covers but Hogan kicks out. In the end, Austin would hit the Stunner and the ref would start counting but stop at two. Austin would grab the ref but Hogan would hit the low blow. Hogan hits the leg drop and the ref performs the fast count for the win. Hogan is surprised but elated at these turn of events. Vince McMahon would then come out on the ramp, rubbing his fingers and with a huge smile on his face! And the PPV goes off the air…

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And that about wraps things up for part two. Again, that’s a lot to take in for a very short period of time. But again, every member of the group has to have a good reason for being in it. And we are led to the big Hogan vs Austin match that we never got in real-life. For this particular storyline, I’m going to pretend that Austin left the company AFTER King of the Ring rather than just before it (when he left in real life). Because I at least wanted to get the Hogan/Austin match in somehow as that would be something fans had been dying to see. So there you have it. At least Hogan looks incredibly strong now after beating The Rock, Ric Flair and Steve Austin in the space of a few months.

Stay tuned for part three where we build towards Summerslam. Triple H vs Brock Lesnar is the main event for the Undisputed Championship, but the nWo are looking on at this up-and-comer who had just defeated The Big Show in the King of the Ring final. Also, we’re building to ANOTHER dream match we never got to see in real-life for Summerslam. And I think judging by how I booked things, you may be able to see what I have planned! Speaking of plans, what are the plans being cooked up by Hollywood Hogan and SmackDown! owner Vince McMahon?

Stay tuned for part three of this storyline!