The Road to Wrestlemania, Episode Eight

This is the eighth episode in a series, retelling the Road to Wrestlemania 2016. This episode covers Thursday Night Smackdown, originally televised on February 18th, 2016.

Promo: Tag Team Championship Promo [The New Day][New Promo]

The final episode before Fastlane opens with the Tag Team Champions coming to the ring to berate their four challengers, and to declare that they will remain the champions until long after Wrestlemania. They are interrupted by the arrival of all four teams, who each declare that they will be the ones to go to Wrestlemania. Stephanie McMahon emerges, and with a smile, organises a Fatal Four Way Match to start the show…

Giving each of these teams a chance to banter with The New Day expands the division a little, providing each of the teams another chance to build momentum with the crowd, allowing for a wider range of challengers to the title post Wrestlemania. In addition, by having a match featuring all four teams just a few days before the pay-per-view, it builds the excitement for the match and gives audiences a look at the chaos that will unfold.

Match #1: Match: Fatal Four Way Singles Match [Curtis Axel vs King Barrett vs Enzo vs Viktor]

With almost a dozen wrestlers watching on from ringside, the chances of this match ending in any way other than an all in brawl was doubtful from the start. When Enzo Amore gets thrown over the top rope though, Big Cass charges over to make sure no one interferes, and runs straight into a Super Kick from Alberto Del Rio. After that, chaos reigns, as The New Day look to sneak away from commentary without getting involved.

A brief alliance between The Ascension and The Social Outcasts allows for them to stand tall in the ring, as Big Cass stands over an injured Enzo, and The League retreat to fight another day.

This match is almost a Lumberjack Match, with the number of non-competing tag team partners at ringside. Showcasing a large chunk of the tag team division, this is in no way about having an actual match. Instead, it is more about the promo beforehand, and the opportunity to ensure there is plenty of excitement about the match at Fastlane.

Match #2: Sasha Banks vs Tamina

At the height of the match, Naomi looked to interfere by jumping up onto the ring apron. Sasha Banks responded, knocking her down before avoiding an attempted clothesline from Tamina, and hitting the Bank Statement for the submission victory.

A post match attack from Naomi and Tamina is thwarted by the arrival of Becky Lynch, though the animosity between Lynch and Banks leaves little room for celebration as Team B.A.D. retreat.

This match is essentially the same one televised, with the only change coming from the removal of the post match attack from Naomi and Tamina. The main reason for removing it is that having Lynch make the save in time to prevent any real damage further separates her from Banks, and leaves just a little bit of animosity in place, as Banks is egotistic enough to believe she didn’t need the help.

Match #3: Chris Jericho vs The Miz

Coming to the ring to address AJ Styles’ Fastlane challenge, Chris Jericho is cut off by The Miz, who has no interest in hearing any more about Styles. Instead, he boasts about his own successes, before attacking Jericho before the bell to start the match. Despite the early advantage though, Miz finds himself tapping out to the Walls of Jericho, after Jericho first reversed the Skull Crushing Finale.

After the match, Jericho gets on a microphone to tell AJ Styles that he will not be accepting the Fastlane challenge. However, Styles appears, charges the ring and takes the fight to Jericho, tossing him from the ring before challenging him again. Glaring up at Styles, back against the barrier, Jericho accepts, declaring that Styles will regret it for the rest of his short WWE career…

This match occurs just as was televised, with a slight alteration to the ending, because I like that finish a little better. Styles and Jericho have developed their rivalry very well over the last few episodes, and it is now ready for a conclusion at Fastlane.

Match #4: Neville vs Tyler Breeze vs Stardust

With an announcement from WWE proceeding this match that Ryback would challenge Kevin Owens for the Intercontinental Championship at Fastlane, three other competitors from the Fatal Five Way Match square off in a Triple Threat Match, hoping to gain momentum in the chase for a shot at the gold. As the bell rings, however, Neville and Stardust attack each other, ignoring Tyler Breeze entirely. The battle between the two wrestlers moves out of the ring and around the floor, as their mutual dislike boils over.

Inside the ring, ignored by the other two wrestlers, Tyler Breeze picks up his camera and climbs onto the turnbuckle, taking selfies and posing for the crowd. He sits back and watches, at times trying to get a selfie with one of the hurt wrestlers before rolling out of the way of an errant attack. He joins the commentary team, getting selfies with each commentator, as he waits for Neville and Stardust to return to the ring; their battle having spread into the crowd.

Stardust tosses Neville back into the ring, but Neville counters an attempted Queen’s Arrow and hits the Red Arrow. But before he can pin, Breeze slides into the ring and hits the Beauty Shot, stealing the victory. He then gets a selfie with the two downed wrestlers, before leaving them in the ring.

While all three superstars could make an argument for being involved in Intercontinental Championship match at Fastlane, that opportunity will come later, with Ryback next in line. What this new match does though is set up the conclusion to the Neville vs Stardust feud, which will now take place at Fastlane, as well as to provide Tyler Breeze with some well deserved momentum which he can carry over after the pay-per-view.

Match #5: Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose vs The Ascension

The Ascension pull double duty three nights before Fastlane, as Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose go looking for retribution for the sneak attack last episode. But barely halfway into the match, Brock Lesnar returns to Smackdown for the first time in 12 years, attacking his Fastlane opponents and ending the match in disqualification.

As The Ascension scramble away from the wreckage, Reigns attempts to hit a spear on Lesnar, only for the Beast to dodge, leaving Ambrose in its path. Reigns barely manages to stop in time, but Ambrose tries to hit him with Dirty Deeds anyway, which Reigns counters into a Samoan Drop. Frustrated at the sudden break down between them, Reigns turns his attention away from Lesnar for a moment, which is all the Beast needs to pounce, sending Reigns crashing to the floor with a devastating F-5.

Smackdown comes to an end with Triple H emerging to stand victorious at the top of the ramp, looking down at the three contenders, satisfied with the state of the WWE…

The final match before Fastlane happens exactly as televised, because this storyline has, largely, been well put together from start to finish. Reigns and Ambrose struggled to remain on the same page throughout the last few episodes, finally breaking down as Ambrose misinterprets an attack from Reigns, whose frustration at a second attempted Dirty Deeds leads to him countering with an attack of his own. With Lesnar happy to lay waste to everything in front of him, the only thing left here is to determine a #1 Contender.

Summary

The Fastlane card is now finalised, with several rivalries filling out a schedule that sees three championships on the line, and two more #1 Contender spots up for grabs. The return of Brock Lesnar has crushed any momentum Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose might have had, and it seems that every match has the potential to spiral out of control.

In the next episode, the first pay-per-view of this rewrite takes place: WWE Fastlane, the first step towards Wrestlemania.

Let me know what you think in the comments down below.

Episode Card
Original Schedule Revised Schedule
The League of Nations def. Dolph Ziggler and The Lucha Dragons The New Day Promo
Sasha Banks def. Tamina Viktor vs King Barrett vs Enzo vs Curtis Axel ends in no contest
Chris Jericho def. The Miz Sasha Banks def. Tamina
The New Day Promo Chris Jericho def. The Miz
Charlotte def. Natalya Tyler Breeze def. Stardust and Neville
Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose def. The Dudley Boyz by disqualification Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose def. The Ascension by disqualification