The Road to Wrestlemania, Episode Eighteen

This is the eighteenth episode in a series, retelling the Road to Wrestlemania 2016. This episode covers Monday Night Raw, originally televised on March 14, 2016.

Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman come out to gloat about Roadblock, and how they ended Dean Ambrose and the Wyatt Family. Vengeance served, sayeth the Beast. Now, Jack Swagger.

Paul Heyman says that, if Swagger wants to serve himself up as the sacrifice, fine. Lesnar has earned a walk in the park. He’ll take the paycheck, end Swagger’s career, and then he’ll take back his title.

The Beast was unleashed at WWE Roadblock in Episode 17, clearing house of all those that had prevented him from taking back his championship. Now, he’ll bide his time, and wait for the chance to take it from whoever holds it after Wrestlemania.

Match #1: Goldust vs Tyler Breeze

With the United States Championship Ladder Match announced at WWE Roadblock, Goldust and Tyler Breeze go head to head for one of the four remaining spots. The wily veteran keeps Breeze as grounded as possible, grinding him down, even tying him up in the corner ropes ready to hit Shattered Dreams. But Breeze slips out through the ropes, catches Goldust in the head with a kick, and uses the top rope to hit a Super Beauty Shot for the three count, and the spot on the Wrestlemania card.

Tyler Breeze has been on a bit of a roll, and now he gets another chance at the title. Goldust has a solid role in the company as someone who can put young talent over, but as a main card title contender, his time has passed.

Match #2: Natalya vs Alicia Fox

Having lost her chance to steal Charlotte’s spot in the Wrestlemania Triple Threat, Natalya looks to get back on the Road to Wrestlemania against Alicia Fox. Venting her frustration from the last few weeks, she dominates from start to finish, forcing Fox to tap out to the Sharpshooter.

Natalya’s music never plays though, as Naomi and Tamina arrive and make their way down the ramp. Natalya prepares for the attack, helping Fox to her feet in the hopes of finding an ally. But Fox pushes her away, rolling out of the ring and escaping into the crowd; hurt by the loss, she is unwilling to get involved in someone else’s fight.

As a result, Natalya is left alone to face the two on one assault, which only ends once Naomi has locked in a Sharpshooter and Tamina has kicked the tapping Natalya in the head.

Naomi and Tamina are the dominant heels in the Women’s division. They continue to make statement attacks on wrestlers, particularly Natalya, building their reputation within the ring, and cutting off any allies Natalya might hope to rely on.

Jack Swagger is seen backstage, drinking from a water bottle. Bo Dallas appears in frame, a concerned look on his face.

“You see Lesnar earlier?”

Swagger nods.

Dallas grimaces. “Look, you know you can do this. Just got to Bo-lieve! And besides, I’ve organised a match to help prepare you for Wrestlemania.”

“You organised a match.”

Dallas nods, a smile on his face. “Trust me, big guy. I’m going to get you ready for this fight, and you’re going to win. THAT is what I Bo-lieve. So grab your bag and get moving.”

Dallas heads off screen, leaving Swagger to finish drinking from his water bottle. He reached for his bag, then frowns. Reaches inside, and pulls out a card. Looks around, turning it over in his hand. Stares at it a moment. Then he nods once, grabs his bag, and tosses the card onto a nearby table.

As he walks away, the camera pans in on the card. “You will rise to the Beast.”

Bo Dallas continues to split his attention between his own rivalry with the League of Nations, and his attempt to train Jack Swagger in preparation for his match against Brock Lesnar. While it hasn’t affected his focus yet, his return to his Bo-lieve Training mentality could push the unity of the Social Outcasts to the edge…

Match #3: Jack Swagger vs The Social Outcasts

Jack Swagger comes to the ring, accompanied by Bo Dallas. Dallas grabs a mic, and announces that today’s main attraction will be a handicap match.

When Swagger is confused, Dallas explains. “Brock Lesnar is a crazy mix of speed and strength. He keeps coming no matter how hard you hit him. So you need to get used to being constantly under attack. Hence, your opponents.”

The Social Outcasts music hits, and the three remaining members make their way to the ring. When all five wrestlers are in the ring, there are a few moments of confusion. Eventually, Dallas points out that the three members of the Social Outcasts are all talented wrestlers, but together, they can keep attacking and attacking the same way Lesnar does. So even with the odds stacked against him, Swagger will get a feel for what being in the ring with Lesnar is really like.

He heads to commentary, and the bell rings.

The Social Outcasts swarm their opponent, using the numbers advantage to great affect, as Swagger struggles to fight them off. Multiple tag attacks leave him slumped against the turnbuckle, held in place by Adam Rose and Curtis Axel, while Heath Slater brags and taunts their opponent.

Slater’s taunting provides an opening for Swagger though, and the early advantage shifts. Swagger goes on a tear; the Outcasts are caught offguard, and Swagger is almost able to pin Rose.

But the sheer numbers overwhelm him, and eventually a double submission forces him to tap out.

After the match, Bo Dallas gets on the mic and tries to lift Swagger’s spirits. He did much better against three opponents than expected. And now he knows he can’t ease up against the Beast…

Bo Dallas’ plans for building Jack Swagger up and preparing him for Brock Lesnar continues on its rocky road, though the lessons for Paul Heyman’s “sacrifice” are present.

Emma is being interviewed backstage about her return to the WWE main roster, when she is blindsided by Paige. The former Women’s Champion beats Emma into the ground, locking in the PTO and refusing to break the hold until several backstage officials are forced to intercede.

Shortly after this attack, word begins to spread that Emma and Paige’s long standing rivalry, stemming back to NXT, would be settled in the ring at Wrestlemania, in a Submission Match.

The Women’s Championship contract signing takes place next, as Charlotte is forced to confront both of her Wrestlemania opponents. The Women’s Champion takes the opportunity to gloat about her accomplishments, belittling both Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks as wrestlers and as “Horsewomen”. She signs the contract, and tosses it in the face of Sasha Banks before leaving the ring, showing herself to be completely dismissive of her challengers.

Lynch passes Banks a pen, and a brief moment of calm before the storm allows them to each sign the contract without issue.

Having the Women’s Championship Triple Threat contract signing in the centre of the ring elevates the title to the place it should be - as the equal highest championship in the company. While there is no physical violence during the signing, Charlotte has set the tone, while Lynch and Banks’ previous alliance shows through for one more day… which could play a role later down the line…

Match #4: The League of Nations vs The Ascension

In their first match since kicking King Barrett out, the League of Nations work like a well-oiled machine, as Alberto Del Rio and Rusev punish The Ascension, while Sheamus paces at ringside, assisting and distracting whenever the referee’s attention shifts. Rusev locks in the accolade on Konnor, and Del Rio kicks Viktor in the head to claim the victory.

Sheamus then gets on the microphone, and declares himself for the Andre the Giant Battle Royal. But more importantly, he challenges the Social Outcasts to a Tag Team Match at Wrestlemania…

With the League stronger than ever, they intend to take Wrestlemania by storm. While Sheamus considers a possible United States Championship attempt a possibility, as a former King of the Ring, he understands the power that can come with winning a Battle Royal or tournament. An opportunity to fight that many other wrestlers isn’t something he is likely to pass up. Meanwhile, Del Rio and Rusev are a tightly knit tag team, and the Social Outcasts will have their work cut out for them at the Show of Shows.

Match #5: Chris Jericho vs Neville

This match is exactly the same as the televised version, as Neville was injured and Chris Jericho was disqualified.

It is a shame that Neville was injured here. He would have been a perfect contender for the United States Championship, and there are a number of wrestlers who could provide him with quality mid-upper card feuds.

Shane McMahon emerges to talk about the Undertaker accepting his father’s demands. He says that he understands why Undertaker had to accept. That he doesn’t want to retire the Deadman. But that, to protect his family’s legacy, he’d do what only Brock Lesnar could do. He’d beat the Undertaker at Wrestlemania. Something not even Triple H could do, in three attempts.

Behold the King. Triple H’s music sounds, and the Game stalks out to the top of the ramp. Carrying the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on his shoulder, dressed in a suit and tie, he looks as if he is ready to unleash hell. He paces back and forth, venting at Shane about how much effort and dedication he has put into this industry. Things Shane knows nothing about when it comes to the business. His business. He talks about how Shane left because he doesn’t care about the business anymore. How his family moved on without him. Got stronger, without him.

“But you think you’ll beat the Undertaker? You’ll be lucky to survive the night. It’s not like it used to be, Shane. The locker room isn’t yours, anymore. The boys aren’t back there to protect you. There is no loyalty to you.”

Triple H stalks closer. “You aren’t the golden child anymore, brother dear.”

He gestures to the back, and six security officials head to the ring. “This place isn’t for you anymore. And you won’t steal my legacy from me.”

The security officials rush the ring, and while Shane successfully fights them off for a time, the numbers overwhelm, and soon he is beaten to his knees and held in place. Triple H gets in the ring, and slaps Shane several times. Screams in his face that it is over.

Until a hooded figure slips over the barricade, slides into the ring, and attacks the officials. Triple H gets knocked from the ring, while the new arrival and a recovering Shane deal with the six security guards.

As the chaos clears, Shane and his saviour stand face to face in the ring. The hooded figure takes up a mic, cocks his head slightly, and says two simple words.

“You’re welcome.”

As the crowd goes wild, the hooded figure drops the mic, climbs the turnbuckle, unzips his hoodie and pulls back the hood.

The show ends with Damien Sandow, dressed in civilian clothes, raises a fist to the audience, looking down at a stunned Triple H.

I have been looking forward to this one for a while. The return of Damien Sandow, after having no presence whatsoever in the previous seventeen episodes, provides a shift in momentum heading into Wrestlemania. But more importantly than that, Sandow represents everything that Shane could be for the company. A highly loved, talented star, who has been wasted by a poor creative team and bad bookings. Now if only there were a few others like that on the roster…

Summary

Another twist in the tale of The Authority, as Damien Sandow, belittled and ignored for so long, sides with Shane McMahon in the fight for control of WWE. Will that swing the fight in Shane’s favour? And how will Vince and Stephanie respond…

In the next episode, Triple H unleashes his hounds, and there is a twist in the tale of the Intercontinental Championship…

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

Episode Card
Original Schedule Revised Schedule
The New Day def. The League of Nations Brock Lesnar Promo
Brock Lesnar Promo Tyler Breeze def. Goldust
Ryback def. Sin Cara Natalya def. Alicia Fox
Dolph Ziggler Promo Jack Swagger Promo
Sami Zayn def. The Miz The Social Outcasts def. Jack Swagger
Naomi and Tamina def. Brie Bella and Alicia Fox Emma Promo
The Usos def. The Social Outcasts Women’s Championship Contract Signing
Triple H def. Dolph Ziggler The League of Nations def. The Ascension
Neville def. Chris Jericho via Disqualification Neville def. Chris Jericho via Disqualification
Hell in a Cell Promo Hell in a Cell Promo