Fantasy Booking 101: Wrestlemania XXXII…

We are only a little over four months away from Wrestlemania XXXII, the WWE’s biggest show of the year, coming from Dallas, TX. Obviously, the WWE is going to pull out all of the stops to make this one of the biggest and best Wrestlemania events of all time. The hope and plan is to fill up a 100,000 plus seat arena to capacity and set a new attendance record. But with so much of the roster currently out with injuries, can it be done? I started thinking about it and what kind of show will the WWE present? Who will be there? Who won’t? And then I decided that it was time to do some fantasy booking and match making.

I decided to see if I could come up with a card that would draw fans, keep the WWE Universe happy, attract some old-school fans back to the fold and truly be worthy of being Wrestlemania XXXII. And using the current active roster (and two surprise names that I fully and truly do expect to participate in Dallas), I put together what I think would make a great show. Tell me what you think.

Pre-Show Matches:

Zack Ryder versus Bo Dallas

Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
(Mark Henry, The Ascension, Adam Rose, Alex Riley, Fandango, Big Show, Braun Strowman, Chris Jericho, Darren Young, David Otunga, Fernando, Diego, Goldust, El Torito, Wade Barrett, The Miz, R Truth, Tyler Breeze, Baron Corbin, Apollo Crews, Rhino, Sami Zayn, Tye Dillinger and James Storm)

Wrestlemania XXXII Matches:

4-Team Elimination Match: Winners Get Shot At WWE Tag Team Championship
The Lucha Dragons versus The Usos versus Luke Harper & Erick Rowan versus Curtis Axel & Damion Sandow

NXT Championship Match
Finn Balor (c) versus Samoa Joe

Intercontinental Championship Match
Dean Ambrose (c) versus Bray Wyatt

The Undertaker versus John Cena

WWE Tag Team Championship – Tables Match
The New Day (c) versus The Dudley Boyz

Retirement Match: If Bryan loses, he must retire forever
Daniel Bryan versus Triple H

Divas Championship
Charlotte (c) versus Sasha Banks

(Bonus Challenge Match)
Heath Slater versus Hulk Hogan

10-Man Money In The Bank Ladder Match
Sheamus vs Neville vs Kane vs Ryback vs Alberto Del Rio vs Jack Swagger vs Dolph Ziggler vs Titus O’Neill vs Stardust vs Rusev

WWE World Championship Match
Roman Reigns (c) versus Brock Lesnar versus Kevin Owens

So there you go. I’ve tried to make the matches diverse and interesting. Everyone on the roster has a spot and we even get the chance to feature some of the NXT talent as well. Is this a Wrestlemania worthy event? Comments and thoughts welcome.

Tossing Salt – Worldwide News: December 13, 2015

Tossing Salt – Worldwide News
December 13, 2015
Doug Maynard

I’m Doug. It’s Sunday, December 13, 2015 and guess what? I think we’ve got a column. Let’s do this!

We are just hours away from the WWE’s latest pay-per-view offering, Tables, Ladders and Chairs (oh my) and I’m confused. Should we still call them pay-per-views even though now, they’re more of a WWE Network event than traditional PPV offering? Well, some folks are still paying fifty-plus dollars to watch these events, albeit fewer and fewer each and every month, so I guess the PPV label still stands for now anyhow and that’s what I’ll stick with. But then again, I still call Catilyn Jenner by his birth name, Bruce, so what do I know, right?

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate these gimmick-based shows? I don’t mind having “TLC” matches or “Hell In A Cell” matches or any other kind of speciality match for that matter, but building an annual event or show based on the gimmick that it’s all speciality and gimmick matches kind of sucks and defeats the purpose in my opinion. Why can’t they just give these shows a more generic name, like say perhaps “Starcade” for the December events or “Halloween Havoc” or “Fall Brawl” for the September or October events. Yes, I’m trying to live in the past to a degree, but if they (WWE) own the rights to these names and the names have a history, use the old names. And just put on a show of mostly regular singles and tag matches that sell themselves based on the person or persons wrestling rather than depending on cheap gimmicks. And save the speciality and gimmick matches for special events, like titles on the line or the culmination of a feud or any reason, but keep them few and far between to make them matter and special to the fans. What sounds more exciting. Wrestler A telling Wrestler B that they’re going to fight in a TLC match just because it’s December and there’s a PPV that’s coming up based entirely on gimmicks, smoke and mirrors and they can be one match among many (or) Wrestler A telling Wrestler B that they’ve been going round and round and it has to end. No more games and shenanigans. It’s time to put it all on the line and they’re going to do it in a “TLC” match at the next PPV and since it’s the only “gimmick” match on the card, it’ll be the main event and they can go all out and lay it on the line and steal the show. Stick with one gimmick match on a card of traditional matches and it’ll have more meaning and impact. A high impact, speciality match on a card full of high impact, speciality matches means it’s just another match and kills everything that might make the match stand out and be special. Does any of that make sense or am I just rambling? Well, it’s 4am on a Sunday morning so it’s probably a little bit of both. I hate gimmick matches except for when they actually matter. ‘Nuff said!

Okay, enough of all of that. Let’s get to the root of the matter and why we’re all here and that is predictions and thoughts about the TLC 2015 event that comes up tonight on the WWE Network. I can’t find my “Sister Cleo” outfit or even my Gary Spivey wig so you’ll just have to settle for me, myself and I on the prediction front. Hey, that’s a De La Soul reference. Who says I can’t go old school. Woo-hoo! And speaking of old school… I forget where I was going with that. Never mind! Disco… Inferno… Rocks! Let’s do the Jeanne Dixon thing and make some predictions. Are you ready? I said, “ARE YOU READY?” That just doesn’t work well in the written media. Oh well… *sighs*

Predictions for WWE Tables, Ladders and Chairs 2015

WWE World Heavyweight champion Sheamus vs. Roman Reigns – TLC Match.

I am trying to be excited for this match. I really and truly am. But “Tater Tots”? As Mean Gene used to say quite often (or was it Gorilla Monsoon?), give me a break! Roman is okay and I understand that the WWE wants him to be their top guy in the months to come, but they need to cut out the long promos and pull it back a notch. If Reigns is going to be the top guy, let him find his own way so the fans and WWE Universe can appreciate him and accept him naturally. Everytime they pull the lame stunts like a never-ending chat and “Tater Tots” like they did on Monday night, it just makes him feel more forced and like a Kevin Nash 2.0 edition, complete with Breck Girl hair rather than a legitimate top star in his own right. If he’s good enough to be the top guy, they need to let him evolve at his own pace. The big push when no one cares just isn’t going to cut it.

And let’s don’t even get started on Sheamus. Sheamus is a tough guy and he’s been a bad-ass for most of his WWE career. And now, all of a sudden, he has the WWE Championship and he’s a candy-ass whimp? Seth Rollins played a great heel champion. Ric Flair was a great heel champion. Sheamus? Not so much because it’s not the same character that we’ve gotten to know. Where is the consistency in his character? While he’s not the man that I want to see as the WWE Champion and face of the company, I wouldn’t really mind all that much if he was still the tough guy brawler who loves to fight. Then, he’d be tolerable and watchable. This joke of champ they are showing now? Bleh!

As for this match, it’ll be brutal and still and far more complicated than it needs to be. Look for the “League of Nations” to get involved in the match because otherwise, what is the point in even having the group exist? And via the shenanigans and other craziness, Sheamus will manage to steal a win from the jaws of defeat and will retain the title, thus setting up a big rematch at the Survivor Series. One more month of Sheamus at the bat… fella!

Winner and STILL WWE World Champion: Sheamus

WWE Intercontinental champion Kevin Owens vs. Dean Ambrose.

This should be probably the most realistic and physical match of the night. Owens and Ambrose are the two, in my opinion, top guys in the WWE right now and are the men that SHOULD be getting the push from management instead of Roman or even Sheamus. Ambrose is crazy and Owens is a prize fighter. And I’m looking for these two men to go out there and do their best to steal the show. And when the smoke clears and settles, it’ll be a hard fought win and victory as Owens retains and walks out still WWE Intercontinental Champion.

Winner and STILL WWE Intercontinental Champion: Kevin Owens

WWE Divas Champion Charlotte (with Ric Flair) versus Paige

It’s too early to pull the title off of Charlotte, so she’ll retain and keep her title, hopefully to move into a feud against Sasha Banks. The thing to watch here is will Charlotte be a tweener, using a few tricks made famous by her Hall of Fame daddy, but still basically being a good girl OR will she take command in that ring and be the “dirtiest girl in the game”, doing anything and everything to steal the show and more importantly, retain that ugly butterfly belt? I’m hoping that they don’t rush things and let the change come more slowly as she grows into that championship. I’d love to see the WWE bring in Tessa Blanchard to partner with Charlotte as well. Charlotte as the champ. Tessa as her partner in crime. Becky as her best friend and “Enforcer” who helps her protect the title. And Ric Flair as their manager. Works for me and kind of reminds me of another group that dominated the 80’s and 90’s that also had a Flair and Blanchard involved. What was that group’s name? I can’t recall… lol. Anyhow, Charlotte retains, by hook or by crook, come Sunday night and will still be the WWE Divas Champion. Charlotte versus Sasha at Wrestlemania? Yeah, that’ll work.

Winner and STILL WWE Divas Champion: Charlotte w/ Ric Flair

WWE Tag Team champions The New Day vs. The Usos vs. The Lucha Dragons: Ladder Match.

Another match that should be off the charts and wild and crazy and several other adjectives. I’m not really crazy about these matches where the champions don’t have to be defeated to lose their titles, but that doesn’t make the match any less exciting and action packed. The New Day should win and retain their titles. They are too hot and way too over to fall to the lower card, plus they have the numbers edge with three members in their team as opposed to only two members for the Dragons or the Usos. The New Day is also seriously in danger of being overexposed. They’re fun. They’re exciting. They’re charismatic. And they’re on like every third segment of RAW and Smackdown. That’s way too much.

If there is a title change on this card tonight, I can see the WWE pulling a swerve and this would be the match where it could happen. If we do have new WWE World Tag Team Champions at the end of the night, I think it would be the Lucha Dragons, just because they’ve never been tag champs before and are popular with the kiddies. And even if that did (or does) happen, the New Day will regain the titles at the Survivor Series. Nah, forget that. Unicorn power will reign supreme. Champs retain the gold because… New… Day Rocks! Yeah, I said it!

Winners and STILL WWE World Tag Team Champions: The New Day

The Wyatt Family vs. The Dudley Boyz & Rhino & Tommy Dreamer: Table Elimination Match.

Remember when the Dudleys came back and it felt all special? That lasted about two matches and now they’re just another team. Tommy Dreamer is back and everyone was excited for that first match. Now, not so much. And Rhino? He’s been doing great down in NXT, but has there even been any kind of buzz for his return to the main roster? Not that I can hear. As for the Wyatt Family, the buzz for that grouping isn’t quite what it was, but it’s still there and there is still some hope for them. The chants from the crowd when they faced off against the League of Nations a few Monday night’s ago proved that. And I’d love to see the Wyatts face off against the League in a match or two. Or maybe go after the New Day and those tag team belts. Follow the Buzzards and be entertained. Wyatts have to win here or else they may as well just write them off and send them home. The ECW Originals are all good and well for the sake of nostalgia, but that’s about it. A still match with lots of “Holy Crap” moments and lots of broken tables, but in the end, the Wyatt Family always wins.

Winners: The Wyatt Family

WWE United States champion Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger – Chair Match.

Jack Swagger is back from limbo and challenging for the United States title. This match would be a lot more interesting if several things hadn’t happened. Why did the WWE break up Del Rio and Zeb Colter this past Monday on RAW. That should have been saved for this show. Now, you’ll either have Zeb come out with Swagger and turn on him, proving Jack is the new incarnation of Sting and a trusting ass-clown or else… I don’t know what else. It was just a wasted moment that could have been used to build Swagger or build Del Rio as a bad ass, but instead it’s just there. Even if they had Del Rio threaten and slap Zeb on Monday and have Jack make a save, that would have made it matter and help build for this match. Now, we have a chair match and no one has any reason to care. Will Zeb even be there tonight? Who cares?

And the other thing that kind of kills it is that Del Rio has been announced as the opponent for Brock Lesnar when Brock makes his return to the WWE ring at an upcoming show in L.A. If anyone even thought that Swagger had some kind of chance against Del Rio to start with, think of this. Would the WWE allow Del Rio to lose the U.S. title to a guy who has been on the lower card for the past year if they’re building him towards Brock? If he’s wrestling Brock, he has to look strong and dominant first and thus, he has to beat Swagger. So look for Del Rio to win and retain. *YAWN!*

Winner and STILL United States Champion: Alberto Del Rio

Ryback vs. Rusev.

And finally, we have the two big powerhouse brutes going against each other. Rusev needs a win worse than Ryback does and I just don’t like Ryback anyhow. Anyone who’s catch phrase could double as the logo for an all you can eat Chinese buffet just doesn’t work for me. Lana gets “hurt”, Ryback falls for it and does the pity thing and Rusev does that crush thing that he used to do so well before he was Cenasized. And there you go.

Winner: Rusev

So there are my predictions for the matches tonight at the Tables, Ladders and Chairs pay per view event, live on the WWE Network. And while I’m in the predicting mood, let’s take it a step further down the road. How about some predictions for the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2016. Yeah, that sounds good so…

My Predictions for the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2016

Let’s start off with the headliners. The first one is a no-brainer, especially since Wrestlemania XXXII is taking place in the city where he currently resides. I’m thinking that as a thank you for his great match against Seth Rollins a few months ago, Steve Borden, better known as “Sting” will be the top guy and first inductee. He’s a multiple time World Champion in the NWA, WCW and TNA and a true icon and legend. With this man, it’s not a question of “if”, but instead “when” and no better time than the present.

The second inductee is also a no-brainer and also resides in the Dallas area. He’s an icon, a legend and has a record of 21 – 1 at Wrestlemania. For my second pick, it’s another no-brainer. Who more deserving of being in the WWE Hall of Fame than The Undertaker.

And now that the two headliners are established, let’s fill out the event with a few men and women who are available and very deserving, in my opinion, of this distinct honor.

The Fabulous Freebirds: Long before there was a New Day, there were Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts. They wrote the book on three-man teams and dominated tag team wrestling in Texas, the Mid-South and Atlanta for years and years. Their matches in the Dallas area against the Von Erich’s in the World Class days are the stories of which legends are made and there are few teams more deserving of that legendary HOF status than this team. And after Terry Gordy passed away and Buddy Roberts was forced to retire, Hayes kept the legacy alive in WCW with Jimmy Garvin as his partner. It’s time for the WWE to take a trip down Badstreet USA and give these men the honors they well deserve.

Jacqueline (Jackie Moore): It doesn’t matter if she was using the name “Miss Texas”, “Jacqueline” or just plain old “Jackie”, this is one pretty mean sister and there are few ladies who can match her talent or toughness in that ring. She’s been a valet, a referee and a top female wrestler for years and made a name for herself in Texas, Tennessee, WCW and the WWE during the attitude era. She’s wrestled and defeated men twice her size and won’t back down from a fight with anyone. And she lives in the Dallas area. One of the time female grapplers of all time and well deserving of this honor.

Jim Cornette and the Midnight Express: I don’t expect to see this one actually happen, but few wrestlers and few teams are as respected and appreciated as Bobby Eaton, Dennis Condrey and Stan Lane, aka “The Midnight Express”. With Cornette as their mouthpiece for years and years, this team dominated the wrestling scene all throughout the south-east, the Mid-South and Texas. Their feuds against teams like the Rock & Roll Express and the Fantastics are legendary and if you look up tag team wrestling in the encylopedia, you’ll see their pictures looking back at you. And Cornette is one of the greatest wrestling minds (and most outspoken personalities) in the history of our great sport. I wouldn’t expect it to happen, but then again, maybe it will. They deserve it to be sure and considering the legacy they left in the Dallas area back in the 80’s, it would sell tickets and put butts in the seats. I really want to see this happen.

Waylon Mercy (Dan Spivey): Dan is kind of a wild-card pick right now, but he’s a solid choice. His career in that ring was memorable for both his role in the team of the Skyscrapers, managed by Teddy Long and partnered with a pre-dead man Mark Calloway, aka “The Undertaker” and then to the WWF for a timely, albeit way too short run as Waylon Mercy, a true gentleman / psychopath who would shake your hand before the match and crush in your skull afterwards. The thing about Spivey that makes him stand out is that he managed to overcome years of addiction problems and personal issues and get things back on track and now works, unofficially, as a type of counselor for wrestlers and others who are going through the same issues. He defeated his demons and now he’s helping others defeat theirs. A great role for a great man who would make a great fit for the WWE Hall of Fame crowd.

“Ravishing” Rick Rude: He’s a legend and icon who passed way too soon, but his memory and legacy live on. He was a star for the WWF, WCW, World Class, the NWA and in so many others places and he’s a first ballot Hall of Famer by anyone’s standards. His induction is long overdue and let’s hope that Dallas, TX, in April of 2016, he’ll finally get that recognition that he so well deserves.

“The Lariat” Stan Hansen: Former AWA World Champion, a true legend in Japan and all over the world, the man who “broke” Bruno Sammartino’s neck and one of the legitimate toughest men to ever step foot inside that ring. A true rebel and roughhouse brawler who has headlined and dominated all over the world. Can anyone deny this man his place in the history of our great business? Nope! And can anyone deny that this big man from Borger, TX belongs in the WWE Hall of Fame? Nope, I didn’t think so either.

And finally, our “Celebrity Inductee”. And unlike some of our previous inductees in this category, this lady deserves it. Without this woman, there would never have been a “Rock & Wrestling connection”. The WWF would never have had a chance to air live events on MTV. Her name and support helped to propel the WWF into the world of mainstream media and beyond. She helped make the stars of the WWF, like Hulk Hogan, Captain Lou Albano, Roddy Piper, Wendi RIchter, The Iron Sheik, Freddie Blassie and so many others into household names. She’s a rock star. She’s a Diva. She’s a legend. And she should have long ago already been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. They owe her so much. So for “Celebrity Inductee”, we have to go with Cyndi Lauper.

And there you go. If I was the man calling the shots and making the selections for the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2016, those would be the men and women I would want standing up there getting honored. Sting! The Undertaker! The Fabulous Freebirds! Jacqueline! Jim Cornette and the Midnight Express! Dan Spivey! “Ravishing” Rick Rude! “The Lariat” Stan Hansen! And Cyndi Lauper! A true Hall of Fame class that no one could dispute and everyone would be proud and honored to see. ‘Nuff said!

And I guess I’m going to call it a day here. Thank you for reading. Questions and comments can be addressed to my e-mail at Doug28352@yahoo.com. Come check me out on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/saltpalace and I’m on Twitter at @doug28352. Enjoy WWE Tables, Ladders and Chairs (oh my) tonight on the Network. I’m Doug and as the great Baron Von Raschke would say, “dat is all de’ people need to know!”. Have a great one and I’ll catch you on the flip side. Ubuntu!