Seeing as how SummerSlam is one of the biggest pay-per-views of the year and something that typically sets the pace for a lot of what's to come, including next year's WrestleMania, it's also a good anchor point to illustrate what the landscape of the company would look like if we had any say about it. As we do with every edition of Fantasy Booking, we take a look at what has happened to build up the current event and give our thoughts on some alternative booking decisions that we feel would have led to a better show. What would you do if you were in charge of throwing the biggest party of the summer?
Here are the rules:
1) You need to justify your choices within a reasonable mindset of what WWE has in store. Just because someone is a favorite of yours does not mean WWE would be pushing them to the title in any realistic fashion.
2) You cannot include people who are not a member of the roster, whether they are retired, working for another company, or obviously deceased. You can, however, work under the assumption that injured stars will return in time for certain events (but keep it within reason). Also, be realistic when it comes to bringing NXT stars up to the main roster. WWE never brings up 15 people in a year, so don't flood the market.
3) The earliest time frame you can begin planning is this year's WrestleMania. You can't go back several years.
Note: I restrained a few of my ideas based on current booking and a lot when it comes to injuries, but I'm still giving a generalized idea of what I could do with some revisionist history.
1. [Pre-Show Kickoff Match] King Barrett vs. Big Show vs. The Miz
Let's change this feud around a bit. Bad News Barrett was over with the crowd, but WWE didn't want to turn Barrett face. Well, I would have been on board with them turning him full on face and still having him win King of the Ring, where he could be the king of bad news. Rather than this Big Show and Miz feud involving Ryback over the Intercontinental Championship, it would be for bragging rights, so to speak. Big Show feels like he's the true king when it comes to wrestling because of his dominant size and having won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal (something they should mention more often if they want it to matter). The Miz feels like he's the rightful king because of his celebrity status. Barrett will have built up enough steam by now where he could lose this match to The Miz, who somehow is able to cheat when Barrett knocks Big Show out with the Bullhammer and Miz steals the win from him.
2. [Mixed Tag Team Match]: Dolph Ziggler & Lana vs. Rusev & Summer Rae
I like this idea of Rusev losing his girl, who moves on to Dolph Ziggler. This feud hasn't been perfect, but if I could rebook things knowing what I know now of what WWE's landscape has been, I'm fond of this match happening here. Ziggler and Rusev could have faced each other at Battleground and things would have stepped up with Lana wrestling her first match here, but keeping it a mixed tag scenario so we can cover up if she's terrible. The babyfaces win to start the show off in a good mood.
3. Kevin Owens vs. Randy Orton
Instead of Sheamus winning the Money in the Bank contract, it would have been Kevin Owens. I've been fond of Owens since his debut in NXT and I like the idea of having Randy Orton, who used to be The Legend Killer, facing someone who is the modern day equivalent to that. Owens has run through so many people and he could have targeted Orton, who takes exception to how he's no longer the real Apex Predator at the top anymore. Owens wins to help solidify his importance and to build up even more credibility for when he cashes in Money in the Bank sometime in early summer of 2016 against either Roman Reigns or Dean Ambrose, as one of those two would have won the WWE title at WrestleMania from Seth Rollins in a Shield triple threat match. Probably Roman Reigns would be that champion and Ambrose would be the one to eventually take the belt off Owens around Survivor Series of 2016.
4. [WWE Tag Team Championship]: The New Day (c) vs. The Lucha Dragons
This would be a relatively basic match that, unfortunately, would be booked in a bit of a bathroom break spot only due to the importance of so many of the other matches. However, it's not a throwaway, as this would no doubt be a fun match. The New Day retains with some cheating by Xavier Woods. After the match, when The New Day won't stop celebrating, Ryback comes down to help The Lucha Dragons shut them up. Why? Because Ryback has been using that gimmick of the big guy who doesn't like bullies, and he saw this happen, and his match is next, anyway...
5. Ryback vs. Sheamus
Again, Ryback doesn't like bullies. Sheamus is a bully. That's all you really need to know. This match is kept rather short, as I don't think these two could go for 20 minutes and keep things super entertaining.
6. [WWE Divas Championship]: Nikki Bella (c) vs. Charlotte
I love what's going on with the divas division right now, but I also think WWE is screwing themselves out of Survivor Series by doing the teams at SummerSlam. I'd rather see Survivor Series be a crop of heels led by the Bella Twins (maybe Nikki, Brie, Sasha Banks, Naomi and either Tamina or Cameron) against a group of babyfaces (Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Paige, Alicia Fox and Natalya). That being said, all of the divas from those teams would be slowly building up over the course of the months leading up to Survivor Series, with Charlotte coming onto the scene here to face Nikki and come up short after Sasha Banks made her debut to cost Charlotte the match.
7. The Wyatt Family vs. Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Sting or The Undertaker
I'm working under the assumption that Erick Rowan is still injured in this scenario. If that's the case, I like the idea of turning Adam Rose into Leo Kruger, but only if the character is a little different. Obviously, the Adam Rose name needs to go and he needs to be rechristined something else. You can even choose a different name from Leo Kruger if you want, but he needs to have an edge to him. I mentioned the idea before of making a third Wyatt Family member different from Wyatt and Harper in the sense that he's more of a crazy jackal to offset Dean Ambrose and I'd like to see Rose/Kruger fall into that role. Sting OR The Undertaker come into play to offset Wyatt's whole mysticism thing that he has going on. I'd rather see Sting in the role just for something different, but if WWE has never had plans for Sting to wrestle (which as of right now, he's not advertised) then Undertaker fills the spot snugly as Wyatt and Undertaker had their match at WrestleMania and despite losing, Wyatt's not been humbled.
8. [Title Unification Match]: United States champion John Cena vs. Intercontinental champion Cesaro
You heard me right. I'm not the biggest Cesaro fan in the world, but his matches with John Cena have been great and I think having him as Intercontinental champion would be kind of interesting. John Cena as United States champion doing his US Open Challenges has been great. For a while now, I've been pitching the idea that these belts become unified and WWE sort of embraces something new. The Intercontinental Championship would be the name of this new title, but it wouldn't just undo the United States title. Instead, the side plates would follow the WWE title's methodology of switching out with flags of the current champion. As John Cena would win this match, he would essentially make it the Intercontinental USA Championship (unofficial title) with the American flag on the side. If someone like Sheamus were to win it down the line, it would still be the Intercontinental Championship, but it would have the Irish flag. This makes it so the IC title becomes something that people want to buy on WWE Shop to represent their country. Cesaro wouldn't need to be heel, by the way, but he might be. That would depend on what was necessary for the moment.
9. Stardust vs. Neville (with special guest Stephen Amell)
I'm a fan of the superhero genre, so even though it's a bit cheesy, I like the idea WWE is going with for this one. Knowing that Cody Rhodes didn't want to return as Cody Rhodes after Dusty's death, I would respect his wishes and not do what I would much rather do, which would be for him to start getting a massive push toward the main event as a babyface "Cody Rhodes" while dropping the Stardust character. Villain Stardust and superhero Neville being backed up by Green Arrow could be a lot of lighthearted fun as a bit of a breather after the last match and before we get into the next.
10. [WWE World Heavyweight Championship]: Seth Rollins (c) vs. Brock Lesnar
This match wouldn't have taken place at Battleground, because it was too big of a match to take place there. No Undertaker interference in here, also. Rollins would figure out a way to legitimately defeat Lesnar, which would give him even more of a reason to gloat and actually piss Triple H off, leading to a match between those two (Rollins and HHH) at the next pay-per-view, which would not be Night of Champions, because I don't like that event now that the number of champions has dwindled. Yes, I understand the irony of unifying a belt and then saying this, but my problem with Night of Champions is more so similar to how Extreme Rules should have all stipulation matches and Night of Champions should still be all title matches. Now that it isn't, there's nothing separating "the night of champions" from every other event, so just call it something else, like Breaking Point. I liked that name. Anyway, Lesnar and Rollins ties this all back to WrestleMania at the midway mark of the year and quite frankly, while I'm interested in Undertaker vs. Lesnar, I'm not as interested as WWE would like me to be for SummerSlam, so I'm not missing anything by not having it.