The Road to Wrestlemania, Episode One

This is the first episode in a series, retelling the Road to Wrestlemania 2016. This episode covers Monday Night Raw, on the 25th of January 2016, the night after the Royal Rumble

The Monday Night Raw after the Royal Rumble [January 25, 2016] opens with The Authority celebrating their championship victory at the Royal Rumble. Triple H, Vince McMahon, and Stephanie McMahon announce that a review of the entire locker room would take place, and they make it clear that a decision on the #1 contender would be made later in the night…

This promo is exactly as it was on TV. It sets the stage for the run to Wrestlemania, acknowledging that the new champion controls the destiny of anyone who wants to face him.

Match #1: Kevin Owens vs Dolph Ziggler

The first match of the night is a non-title singles match between Kevin Owens and Dolph Zigger. Owens, frustrated by his elimination by Sami Zayn in the Royal Rumble match, and failing to win back the Intercontinental Title, vents all of his anger at Ziggler. The Show Off stays with him for a short time, but Owens puts him away with a Pop-Up Powerbomb.

Following the match, Owens continues his attack on Ziggler, powerbombing him against the ring apron, and leaving him for medical staff.

This match is very similar to the televised match. The main difference though is the frustrated dominance Kevin Owens shows, and the post-match attack. This is designed to further build Owens’ dominance, set up later stories, and to give Dolph a break from TV shows. He needs it, and the audience need a break from him to reenergize about his matches.

Match #2: The Dudley Boyz vs The Social Outcasts

The second match sees the Dudley Boyz taking on the Social Outcasts. Heath Slater’s ongoing rivalry with Flo Rida continues, with a rap battle leading to the arrival of the Dudley Boyz, and an impromptu tag match. The Outcasts hold their own, but an assist from Flo Rida ensures victory for the Dudley Boyz.

While the televised version of this match was largely a confrontation between a wrestler and a local celebrity, followed by an otherwise irrelevant tag match, the changes in story a little later give this match a little more meaning.

Match #3: AJ Styles vs Chris Jericho

AJ Styles makes his debut on Raw against Chris Jericho. Both turn back the clock, swapping counters and classic moves. Styles misses with the Styles Clash, but catches Jericho in a rollup to win.

This match happens exactly as it did on television. It was a solid match that set up the rivalry, and also had one key feature that was used less well later on - AJ Styles couldn’t hit the Styles Clash on Jericho…

Match #4: Sasha Banks vs Becky Lynch

After Sasha Banks’ return at Royal Rumble, she returns to the ring against Becky Lynch. Lynch is looking for vengeance, but so is Women’s Champion Charlotte. Charlotte attacks the pair, leading to a disqualification victory for Banks.

Another match that was televised exactly as it should have been, Charlotte gets her vengenace for Sasha Banks’ post match attack at the Royal Rumble, and lays out both her rivals in one stroke.

The Rock returns to Monday Night Raw in Florida, to talk about the current state of the WWE. He mocks a collection of superstars, but is interrupted by the Wyatt Family. Walking calmly to the ring, surrounded by his flock, Bray Wyatt expouses his distaste for the current WWE as well. That the Rock truly is the Great One. And that the Wyatts would be taking what was theirs.

The lights go black, and when they return, the Rock is alone in the ring…

The first major change to the card moves this promo earlier in the schedule, and changes who interrupts the Rock. While the New Day makes sense from providing the Rock with some fun banter opponents, and ties in the Uso connection, replacing them here with the Wyatt Family allows for the hinting at the story to come, while leaving a couple of red herrings in place.

Match #5: Natalya and Paige vs Brie Bella and Alicia Fox

Continuing the ongoing rivalry in the Women’s division, Brie Bella and Alicia Fox take on Natalya and Paige in a tag match. Despite a solid showing from Brie Bella, Paige picks up the win for her team with a Ram-Paige, after Alicia Fox is knocked out by Natalya.

This match is identical to the televised version. The women’s division has a number of ongoing rivalries, particularly since the “Revolution”. Providing Natalya and Paige an opportunity here, while also showcasing a solid effort from Brie Bella (which will become relevant later on).

Match #6: Stardust vs Neville

There are a number of wrestlers vying for potential spots in various Wrestlemania matches, and the process to begin separating them out begins as Stardust takes on the high flying Neville. The man gravity forgot finds himself grounded by a focused Stardust, and though he breaks free long enough for several high flying moments, Stardust kicks the top rope out from under him, leading to a quick roll up victory.

This is the first new match in the rewrite. Stardust and Neville have had some great matches, and with both in contention for potential title shots, giving them both a push creates a number of potential opportunities for down the line.

Match #7: Kalisto vs The Miz (Non-Title Match)

Kalisto, the new United States champion, begins his title reign with a singles match against the Miz, avoiding Miz’s attempts to slow the pace, and countering the Skull-Crushing Finale into the Salida del Sol for the clinical victory.

Another match that remains the same as the televised version, Kalisto’s victory provides him with a confidence boost and popular victory leading into the renewal of his rivalry with Alberto Del Rio, while Miz, though defeated, is brought to the front of the undercard vying for title matches in preparation for future storylines.

Match #8: Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose vs The League of Nations

Two Brothers. In a van. Dean Ambrose, the Intercontinental Champion and runner up in the Royal Rumble, teams up with his brother in arms Roman Reigns, the former champion, in a match against the League of Nations’ Sheamus and Rusev. Despite the presence of King Barrett and Alberto Del Rio though, the brothers seal victory with a spear, and post match, put Rusev through the commentary table as a statement of their unity.

However, Stephanie McMahon emerges at the top of the ramp, and announces that the #1 contender match at Fastlane will be a Triple Threat Match: Dean Ambrose, versus Roman Reigns, versus Brock Lesnar…

This match and the ensuing promo are identical to what was televised. The storyline is obvious, and the complications offered by a triple threat match pitting them against each other are too good to pass up.

Summary

Following a solid Royal Rumble, not much changes on the first step towards Wrestlemania, beyond adjusting the context of a couple of matches, to set the stage for future rivalries, and removing those matches that lacked in either storytelling or match quality.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. The story continues with Thursday Night Smackdown…

Episode Card
Original Schedule Revised Schedule
Authority Promo Authority Promo
Kevin Owens def Dolph Ziggler Kevin Owens def Dolph Ziggler
The Dudley Boyz def. The Social Outcasts (Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel) The Dudley Boyz def The Social Outcasts (Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel
AJ Styles def. Chris Jericho AJ Styles def. Chris Jericho
Sasha Banks def. Becky Lynch via Disqualification Sasha Banks def. Becky Lynch via Disqualification
Bray Wyatt def. Kane The Rock Promo
The Rock Promo Natalya & Paige def. Brie Bella & Alicia Fox
Natalya & Paige def. Brie Bella & Alicia Fox Stardust def Neville
Kalisto def. The Miz Kalisto def. The Miz
Roman Reigns & Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose def. The League of Nations (Sheamus & Rusev) Roman Reigns & Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose def. The League of Nations (Sheamus & Rusev)