Happy Wednesday Everyone!
Before we move on to the Opening Matches from WrestleMania 21 to 25, I thought I’d do this because reviewing the opener of Mania X-8 brought up my thoughts on how to book it differently, as it’s a Mania with a lot of filler that I think could have been better with some tweaking. Hence I’ve given it a bash this week.
We’ll be back to Opening Matches next week. Feel free to leave your own comments about this new line-up. I doubt this will be a regular feature I do, I just felt like doing it this time out.
Main Event of Sunday Night Heat
WWF Cruiserweight Title
Champ: Tajiri Vs Kidman
These two had a great match together at Backlash the following month so you just have it here instead, with Kidman winning the belt at Mania and then Tajiri getting back in the rematch at Backlash. Obviously not putting them on the main card is a drag, but having it as the Heat Main Event means you can give them at least 10 minutes and they’ll do an excellent job of warming up the crowd. Probably better to put them here than bury them on the main card in a quick match. They can go out there, have enough time to tell a story and can then get themselves on the DVD as a special feature, giving people who missed Heat an extra reason to pick up the home release.
WWF Women’s Title
Champ: Jazz Vs Mighty Molly Vs Lita Vs Trish Stratus
Jazz, Victoria and Trish had a good match the following year because they were given some time and it was early enough on the show that the crowd wasn’t burnt out yet, so you essentially try and capture that here with Jazz and Molly holding it together, Lita getting to hit a couple of high spots, and then Trish going over to pop the crowd right out of the gate. You can always put it back on Jazz down the line if that’s the plan. Plus, putting the women in the opener so that they’re front and centre as the main show starts is a better use of them than burying them out of the way in a quickie match of little consequence later on in my opinion.
10 Minute Scramble for the WWF Hardcore Title (Whoever holds the belt at the end of the 10 minutes wins)
Champ: Maven Vs Goldust Vs Test Vs Al Snow Vs Big Show Vs Albert Vs Scotty 2 Hotty Vs Bradshaw Vs Faarooq Vs Funaki Vs Tazz Vs Spike Dudley Vs Hugh Morrus Vs Mike Awesome Vs Rikishi Vs The Godfather
Throw in anyone else who I’ve left off who isn’t involved elsewhere. Basically this is the “cram everyone on to the show” match so that everyone gets a payday, with this being plenty of guys to keep a wacky Hardcore match interesting. Basically whoever holds the belt at the end wins, so you have a bunch of guys “win” the belt throughout the match to pop the crowd and you keep all the Hardcore silliness isolated to one segment instead of dragging it out throughout the evening. To keep the trend of putting Canadians over, I’d have Test win the belt here to pop the crowd. He can always lose it soon after and it will be a momentary nice moment for him.
Winner Gets An IC Title Match on Raw
Booker T Vs Rob Van Dam
First off this gets us away from that awful shampoo storyline and it also not only gives both men a match with stakes on WrestleMania, but you also then create a hook for Raw the next night in order to give that show something you can hype in advance. Booker Vs Rob would probably be a decent match and it’s a far less silly thing for Booker to be doing. You can even build the match up by having both guys talk about how important it is for them to be #1 contender, thus increasing the value of the IC Title. I’d have RVD win here and then go on to win the belt the next night on Raw.
WWF European Title
Champ: Christian Vs Edge
Trying to get Christian booed in Canada is a losing battle, unless he’s fighting an even more popular Canadian in the form of Edge. The story of former tag team partners battling one another in their home country on the biggest show of the year practically writes itself, and it’s a far more interesting story than Christian’s losing streak or Edge fighting over shampoo. It also actually makes the European Title actually seem important again as well to be in a feature bout like this. Just like in the previous match, I would have both guys push in promos just how important it is for them to be Champion at Mania. In the end I’d have Edge win to pop the crowd and I’d keep the rehabbing of the European Title going by making it exclusive to Smackdown following the brand split and having Edge get a lengthy reign with it.
Undertaker Vs Ric Flair
This pretty much just needs to go how it did in real life with some small tweaks. Firstly, if Flair is losing then the feud doesn’t need to be as one sided, so Flair can actually get one over on Taker a few times prior to the show. Secondly, Vince McMahon actively gets involved in the finish and costs Flair the match, thus giving the board of directors a reason to split the rosters due to Vince overstepping his boundaries.
Scott Hall w/ Kevin Nash Vs Diamond Dallas Page
The story for this one is simple. DDP lived through the whole nWo thing in WCW and knows how dangerous they are, so he’s putting a stop to this version of the group before the worst can happen. It gives DDP an actual proper storyline to get his teeth into and allows him to revert to a more serious character. He’s real life buddies with Hall as well and I’m sure if given the time he could meticulously put together as good a match as possible in order to make Hall look good and keep the crowd invested. Also, the nWo really needs to win a match at Mania and DDP will happily do a job for Hall, so that will take care of that issue. You go from a lousy Hall/Austin match where Austin wins to essentially kill off the hot new Heel stable to a hopefully much better Hall/DDP match where Hall gets to pick up the win. It also gives Nash and Hall a reason to be angry at Hogan for losing, as they held up their end of the bargain earlier on.
Kurt Angle Vs Stone Cold Steve Austin
This match had been done to death but never in a big stadium setting like this. You’re going to need a challenger for Triple H coming out of Mania, so having Angle win this one clean will elevate him nicely into that position and you can even give Austin a month or two off following it if he’s burnt out. Heck, even have Angle wrench in the ankle lock and recreate the Mania 13 finish of Austin passing out, thus making Angle look like a dangerous prospect for Triple H whilst also giving Austin a ready-made storyline for when he comes back.
WWF Undisputed Title
Champ: Chris Jericho Vs Triple H
I’ve always thought this was a really good match that just happened to be in the wrong place on the card. The fans were bushed after Hogan/Rock and just weren’t going to get into this match as a result. If you put it on earlier in the show, and also remove the horrible dog walking stuff that poor Jericho had to contend with in the build-up, then you probably get a much hotter crowd and the match is far better remembered than it is. You put Triple H over here and you have Angle already prepped in the previous match as his first big challenger post-Jericho. I’ve left Stephanie out of this just because Jericho destroying the quad originally is an easy enough sell and you can always bring Stephanie back post-Mania to give Angle an extra jolt. Having Jericho be Stephanie’s subordinate really took away from his star power, whilst Angle is better at playing the smarmy Heel sucking up to the horrible vile witch he and wouldn’t be hurt as much from playing that role in my opinion. Let Jericho fly solo for this feud and cut some promos about how this time he’s running Triple H off for good whilst Triple H survives constant sneak attacks and plans to destroy him on route to the Title.
TLC Match for the WWF Tag Team Titles
Champs: Billy and Chuck Vs The Dudley Boyz Vs Lance Storm and Hurricane Vs The Hardy Boyz
My idea for this one is that you have Hurricane essentially be the reason Storm gets his job back following the defeat of The Alliance, with Hurricane going to bat for “Citizen Storm” with Ric Flair, leading to Flair agreeing to Storm’s return provided Hurricane be his sponsor and partner. Thus you have Storm and Hurricane as the wacky miss-matched tag team looking to become the Tag Champs, whilst The Dudleyz and The Hardyz continue their seemingly never-ending issue. For a finish here I think you either finally let The Hardyz win one of these TLC matches after being on the losing end so many times or you go with Storm and Hurricane winning the belts to pay off their storyline. You could also have Storm finally stick a knife in Hurricane’s back because he has the support of Vince McMahon now he’s re-hired and build to a feud from there, but I think that would go down pretty flat on a big event in Canada like that, so maybe you have Hurri-Storm win here instead and that twist is always in reserve when you feel the time is right.
WWF Intercontinental Title
Champ: William Regal Vs Kane
Poor Regal and Kane are left in the death slot in a quick match where Kane wins by DQ thanks to Regal using the knux. Regal can try a beat down post-match but Kane can fend him off and pop the crowd with a Choke Slam and his pyro. It’s not a great role for either man, but it’s a Mania pay day and you can always potentially then have Kane as a future challenger for RVD once he defeats Regal for the belt, as he technically wins the match here even though he doesn’t win the Title.
Hollywood Hogan Vs The Rock
This goes exactly as it did in real-life with one change. Hogan and Rock close the show to “Real American”. Aside from that, you don’t need to change any of this, it’s great.
And there you go, that’s how I would re-book Mania X-8. Everyone has something to do, there’s a lot of crowd pleasing Canadian victories, the nWo is actually still somewhat a Heel threat, you have a reason for the brand split to take place, you have a ready-made challenger for Triple H and you have a hook for Raw the next night with RVD’s IC Title challenge.
Please let me know if you think I’ve improved the show. Heck, let me know if you think I’ve made it worse. Feel free to share how you would have changed things. I’ll hopefully see you all next week when we get back to reviewing Opening Matches.