On the latest episode of Monday Night Raw Paul Heyman, the advocate of the WWE Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar, reassured everyone that Lesnar would be defending his WWE Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania. If you don’t pay attention to the happenings of WWE outside of the ring, that statement probably seemed like it was coming out of left field. Well, in reality, it holds some significance. Two weeks ago Brock Lesnar was scheduled to make an appearance on Monday Night Raw, but a legitimate business meeting between Lesnar and Vince McMahon went south and Lesnar walked out of the arena.
Immediately following Raw, rumors began circulating on the line that Lesnar’s WrestleMania Start Button status was in limbo and WWE was already working on a back-up plan just in case Lesnar were to no-show the biggest wrestling event of the year.
If Lesnar’s status were actually up in the air, I seriously doubt that Heyman would’ve been allowed to come out and proclaim that his client would be at WrestleMania and “anywhere he damn well pleases” before or after the event–this was a reference to Lesnar’s appearance at UFC 184 last Saturday, which only escalated the rumors that WWE would not be able to re-sign Lesnar after his WrestleMania title defense. Though, Heyman is the type of guy who would come out and speak his mind regardless of what the McMahon’s or anyone else thinks about it.
For one week it was fun to wonder what exactly WWE’s back-up plan would be if the Lesnar situation went from bad to worse. Even now, after Heyman’s promo, it’s fun to play the “What If” Game. You aren’t going to believe this, but I have a radical idea of my own on how WWE’s biggest event could have not only went on, but improved without one of it’s current headliners.
The WWE Heavyweight Title has been rather insignificant for the last six months, save for two title defenses by Lesnar since he defeated John Cena in dominant fashion back at SummerSlam. That’s not to say that Lesnar’s reign has been all bad. His absence coupled with the absence of the Title has resulted in a bigger spotlight being shined on some of the younger talents on the roster like Roman Reigns, Dolph Ziggler, Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt, all of whom have been impressive in main-eventing pay-per-views over the last six months.
WWE has done a reasonable job keeping Lesnar in the mix. Actually, scratch that. Paul Heyman has done a spectacular job of making Lesnar’s title reign feel like a big deal, when in reality it is not a big deal to defend the championship only twice in a span so long. If there is one defense to make for Lesnar not only holding the WWE Heavyweight Title, but also for his victory over The Undertaker at last year’s WrestleMania, it’s that it has created plenty of opportunities for Heyman to do what he does better than anybody else in wrestling. The evidence:
Do yourself a favor and lose another hour of your day watching Paul Heyman videos. The guy is, pardon my French, a fucking God on the microphone. As great as Heyman is though, WrestleMania could thrive without his client in the main event picture. And that brings me to my point. Lesnar has monopolized the WWE Heavyweight Title for six months now. A year or so before him, it was The Rock who occupied the WWE Title for a couple of months despite going chunks of time not making an appearance on WWE TV.
So here is my hypothetical proposal: why not make WrestleMania Start Button almost entirely about the WWE Heavyweight Title?
Let’s assume that after Lesnar’s backstage blow-up last week were bad enough that Vince McMahon would’ve transformed into Mr. McMahon and told Lesnar that he was fired. As long as Brock didn’t pull a Bret Hart and knock Vince out, the next week on Raw Vince could have strut down the aisle to the ring and make this ground-breaking announcement for WrestleMania:
In the spirit of WrestleMania IV, the WWE Heavyweight Title will be up for grabs in a one-night tournament.
Before you go ahead and send in my application to become a writer for WWE (oh wait, I’ve done this already even though I’m terribly under qualified), I can’t take all of the credit. A brief mention of a Title Tournament on Grantland’s Cheap Heat Podcast put this idea in my head and I’m convinced that even if WWE wouldn’t use it this year, there is no reason why this wouldn’t work at a WrestleMania somewhere down the line.
Obviously, if Lesnar were to walk out on WWE this would be an all-too-perfect way to salvage the WWE Title match. What’s better than one WWE Title match? How about five! Here is what I’m thinking:
12 Superstars vying for the chance to walk out of the year’s biggest wrestling event as WWE Champion. Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins are all heavily involved in the title picture, so they get three spots. Stephanie McMahon and Triple H would stack the deck in favor of The Authority, so Randy Orton, Big Show and Kane would get three spots. The John Cena and Rusev feud would be dissolved into this tournament. Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett would get the tenth spot, and two former Authority foes, Dolph Ziggler and Dean Ambrose, would be forced to team together on Raw the previous week to earn their way into the WWE Title Tournament. The final spot would go to the returning CM Punk! Just kidding, we’ll toss Sheamus into the tournament since his return is imminent.
Before I get into the specifics of the tournament, let’s first finish out the rest of the card. With a four hour show, these five Title Tournament matches (Four semi-finals match-ups, one Fatal Fourway elimination match for the WWE Heavyweight Title) would probably make up half of the card. That leaves time for the following matches that are already on the card or on track to be on the card:
Triple H vs. Sting: A match that has virtually no chance of living up to it’s build up, but that being said, at least the build up has been on point so far.
Bray Wyatt vs. The Undertaker: Same thing can be said for this one as the Trips/Sting match. For what it’s worth, Wyatt has been sensational in the early going making this match feel like a big deal even though there is a 75 percent chance that The Undertaker can’t have a good match at this point in his career. My hopes: Wyatt demolishes The Undertaker this year at Mania and gets a major push immediately after. He’s ready for it. And if that is the course of action, a rematch between a white hot Bray Wyatt and a soon-to-be-retired Undertaker at WrestleMania 32 practically writes itself.
AJ Lee and Paige vs. The Bella Twins: Or we can just take the Bella Twins out of the picture and give AJ and Paige fifteen minutes to put on a wrestling clinic like NXT Divas do every week.
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal: Any remaining feuds can be settled here. Uso’s vs. Tyson Kidd and Cesaro … Goldust vs. Stardust … The Ascension vs. Prime Time Players … Damien Mizdow vs. The Miz … R Truth and Little Jimmy.
Back to the Title Tournament … this is how you book it in the weeks leading up to the event:
The Authority would try to stack the deck against Roman Reigns, so we’ll put Reigns in the opening match of the night against Big Show and Kane. Next up would be the Triple Threat qualifier between Dolph Ziggler, Dean Ambrose and Bad News Barrett, which would double as an Intercontinental Title match. After that, it would be Randy Orton vs. Sheamus vs. Seth Rollins. Orton’s role in the match per The Authority would be to ensure that the future of the WWE (Rollins) gets into the main event. The final triple threat qualifier would be Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena vs. Rusev. And while we’re at it, why don’t we put the United States Title on the line in this match.
To recap, we have Roman Reigns vs. Big Show vs. Kane; Dolph Ziggler vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Bad News Barrett; Randy Orton vs. Sheamus vs. Seth Rollins; and Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena vs. Rusev. Ultimately, we need Reigns, Ziggler, Rollins and Bryan in the main event. Here’s how it would go down:
Reigns defeats Big Show and Kane, and not because they couldn’t coexist. We need Reigns looking strong, and the best way to do so is by overcoming the odds, not by getting a boost because of the rocky relationship of the two corporate giants.
Ziggler defeats Barrett and Ambrose and wins the Intercontinental Title in the process. We need Ziggler in the main event, and not just because he’s got a lot of Shawn Michaels 2.0 in him. Ziggler is super over with the crowd, and we need the crowd hot in this main event.
Rollins defeats Orton and Sheamus. Orton and Rollins play nice until Sheamus is momentarily out of the picture and Rollins insists Orton lay down for him. Orton wouldn’t oblige and he’d come damn close to moving on. We need Rollins in the main event though. He’s the hottest heel in the company right now and a damn good worker. Plus, we need an Authority presence in the main event.
Bryan defeats Cena and Rusev and wins the United States Title. Bryan would score the pinfall over Cena as a way to keep Rusev from being pinned or submitted. Hey WWE, please consider allowing Rusev’s undefeated streak to live on at WrestleMania. You almost killed all of Bray Wyatt’s momentum last year with Cena’s victory. Don’t do the same thing to Rusev!
With the vacated WWE Heavyweight Title on the line, it’s Royal Rumble winner Roman Reigns vs. Money In The Bank briefcase holder Seth Rollins vs. Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler vs. United States Champion Daniel Bryan. Even more than the belt being on the line, the unofficial title as the future of the WWE would be on the line as well.
And that’s it. I don’t need to tell you how I’d book the main event match. With those four guys in the match, there really wouldn’t be an incorrect way to do so. It’s not like this is the way it’s going down anyway. Lesnar will be at Mania and Reigns will win the title from him there. I hate to take on the role of the overly critical wrestling fan, but isn’t my way more fun?