Welcome everyone to the third and final part of this special fantasy booking piece, where I’ll try to change WWE’s anonymous RAW General Manager storyline from 2010-11, and make the most of it. If nothing else, at the very least make it more than just a hilarious Vince McMahon joke, and try to elevate some potential new stars out of it.
Big shout out to Justin Leeper for the idea, that he pitched directly in a meeting with WWE’s creative team back in 2011. Justin is known for his work with WWE’s videogames SmackDown vs. RAW 2009, 2010 & 2011, as the writer and director of the “Road to WrestleMania” mode in the aforementioned games. Check out Justin’s original booking sample, and make sure to follow his Twitter and subscribe to his YouTube channel for fun stories and to keep up with his current endeavors.
Please enjoy! Make sure you leave your feedback down below.
BY ANY MEANS
As you saw in part two, Zack Ryder is our new United States Champion. And with him basically in charge due to the association with John Laurinaitis, being able to do everything he wants to, this reign has to be different. We need to make it unique, memorable and above all else, since he’s a heel… f*cking annoying, in order to create a star in the end.
Laurinaitis can’t exceed the 30-day championship clause, but Ryder never defends the belt at all on television. You like your mini-classics over the US Title on TV? Too bad, Ryder is a heel and we’re going to get your 50 bucks to watch him defend it exclusively on pay-per-view every month.
The first shot, at Extreme Rules, goes to the incredibly underrated Tyson Kidd, after winning a No. 1 Contendership tournament, beating R-Truth in the first round, veteran William Regal in a highly-intense semi-final, and Cody Rhodes in the final, winning all the matches with the Sharpshooter. Ryder knows Tyson is a terrific technical wrestler, the last graduate from the physically-demanding Hart Family Dungeon, and he’s aware that it won’t be an easy task.
So what does Ryder do? He convinces Johnny to bring back the concept similar to the “Duchess of Queensbury Rules” from Chris Jericho vs. William Regal at Backlash 2001. For those not familiar with it, basically Regal (the heel) brought a duchess to ringside and she could change the rules at any time, as it was technically “her match”. In this case, we’re calling it something like Big Johnny’s Rules, or maybe The People’s Rules, something along those lines.
After about ten minutes of a solid hard-hitting match at Extreme Rules, Kidd connects with a vicious knee to the jaw, knocking Ryder’s lights out. He makes the pinfall, but just before the ref’s hand hits the mat for a third time… Laurinaitis rings the bell. He tells Justin Roberts something. Roberts: “Ladies and gentlemen, I have just been informed by Mr. Laurinaitis that round one of the Big Johnny Rules Match has ended”. Say what!
The “second round” begins with Ryder still out of it, and Kidd dominating things. Not long after, Ryder cheats with a thumb to the eye, setting Tyson up for the Rough Ryder. Kidd, however, catches the charging Ryder into the Sharpshooter in mid-air, making Zack submit. Laurinaitis signals for the bell, and hands the belt to the referee. Roberts walks up to John for the official result, and after a short talk, Roberts announces: “Ladies and gentlemen, round two of Mr. Laurinaitis’ Big Johnny Rules Match has no submissions“. Ugh, come on now really!? The furious Kidd starts yelling at John and the referee, sick of this joke of a match. Laurinaitis orders the ref to ring the bell for “round three”, but then immediately climbs up on the apron with a mic in hand. “Hey Tyson, don’t worry, round three of my special match has submissions. But do you know what it doesn’t have? DQs“… WHAM! As soon as Laurinaitis says this, Ryder knocks Kidd out cold with a title belt shot to the back of the head, retaining his US Title!
A GIANT REINFORCEMENT
The following night on RAW, Vince McMahon himself comes out and personally asks John Laurinaitis backstage to keep title matches fair, effectively banning the Big Johnny Rules Match from the rulebook. Furthermore, at Over the Limit, Zack Ryder will defend the gold in a normal wrestling match against the winner of tonight’s 20-man battle royal. Finally, Vince adds to that bout a man who Laurinaitis spent the last number of weeks tormenting, The Big Show!
Zack can’t believe this, and immediately finds a way to prevent Show from winning. In a short segment that same night, he finds a staff member in the back, and hands him an infected burrito to be delivered in Big Show’s dressing room, much like Eddie Guerrero did to him.
Show laughs in the guy’s face before rejecting, telling him he’s not falling for this one again! Later on, Ryder pays off Tensai to place something huge in front of Big Show’s door, locking him inside right before the battle royal.
The battle royal starts without Big Show, who’s shown trying to break free from his locker room. Twenty start, and Show’s locked. Fifteen left standing, nothing achieved. Ten left, the door’s still resisting. Finally, with about six participants, Show spears the door and rips it off its hinges. Zack Ryder, sitting at ringside watching it develop on the titantron, is livid! WEEEEEEEEELL… IT’S THE BIG SHOW starts playing in the arena, and out comes the giant. He cleans house like a French maid, hitting big moves on everyone before winning the whole thing, earning the right to challenge Zack Ryder at the PPV. Ryder is fuming!
Over the Limit rolls around, and Ryder gets the beating of a lifetime. He gets thrown from pillar to post, he gets whipped into the turnbuckle, he gets clotheslined, he gets big boots, he gets everything. Finally, Ryder manages to avoid Big Show’s spear, and scores with a quick dropkick that dumps Show to the floor. Zack follows him to the outside for a few shots, but he’s unable to throw Show into the post, who quickly overpowers him and hits him with the KO Punch at a count of seven. However, Show’s not exactly the quickest person in the world, and while he manages to get Ryder back to the ring, Show himself fails to get back inside in time. Zack Ryder defeats The Big Show! Later in that night’s main event, Big Show turns heel by assisting John Laurinaitis like in real life, revealing they had been working together all along.
John Laurinaitis broke the deal made with Vince the previous month, which brings the Chairman back to put Big Johnny’s job on the line at No Way Out. Vince also demands Laurinaitis to book a US Title match for the pay-per-view between Zack Ryder and the last person eliminated by Show in the prior month’s battle royal, Tyson Kidd. Wanting to prove he’s a fair GM, Laurinaitis suggests adding Tyson’s tag team partner, Justin Gabriel, to the title match. Ryder’s not happy about this.
In the title match at No Way Out, the US Champion tries everything in his power to turn the friends against each other, constantly running away from the action and making them fight one another. Ryder runs in during the bout’s final stages trying to take advantage, only to get knocked to the floor by the faces. Back inside, Gabriel tries the 450 Splash but finds no water in the pool, as Kidd quickly applies the Sharpshooter on Gabriel for the submission, winning the championship.
During Tyson Kidd’s celebration, John Laurinaitis comes out looking worried. “Tyson, first of all, I would like to congratulate you on your huge submission victory. Now, as you all know, this is a huge night, a big pay-per-view event with epic implications, including my own job as the General Manager of both RAW and SmackDown being on the line later on. It’s safe to say it hasn’t been easy managing this show, with all that’s happening tonight. With that said Tyson, again, congratulations on your submission win over Justin Gabriel. What I forgot to tell everyone, due to my grueling schedule, is that this… this… I’m really sorry, Tyson. This is an elimination match.” Big Show immediately delivers a KO Punch from the apron, leaving Kidd groggy and open for a Rough Ryder, as Ryder again manages to escape with his title. However, in that night’s main event, Show loses the steel cage match to John Cena despite Ryder’s interferences, and John Laurinaitis is fired as the General Manager. Uh oh!
FEED HIM MORE
With No Way Out in the books, John Laurinaitis is no longer around and Zack Ryder no longer has control over things, but still holds the WWE United States Championship. Ryder qualifies for the World Title Money in the Bank Ladder match with a win over R-Truth, but he’s unsuccessful at the pay-per-view, with Dolph Ziggler claiming the blue briefcase.
On RAW the next night, the new General Manager AJ Lee finds Ryder in the back: “hey Zack, you’re just the guy I was looking for.” Ryder, looking worried: “what, AJ?” AJ: “damn, what happened to you? Where’s the smirk? Where did all the catchphrases go? Even the spiked hair has disappe...” Ryder interrupts her: “just get to the point, AJ.” Lee pauses, and with an ironic smile on her face, says: “more than anyone else, you should know that interrupting your boss isn’t a good idea. Now onto business. I know there hasn’t been a US Championship match on television ever since before WrestleMania. That changes next week Zack, on RAW 1000. Next week, you defend your United States Championship against… RYBACK!”
For the first time since the match with John Cena at TLC, Ryder’s desperate and actually has to put in effort in his work. Everyone expects a squash heading into this match, much like Ryback has done to all of his opponents so far, and this is how we elevate Ryder. He’s struggling to find flaws in Ryback’s matches, because he’s never had a match that has lasted more than a couple of minutes. So Ryder takes it to another level. He’s been on the road with Ryback for a few years, and he thinks back to his short time with The Nexus, and what took the then-Skip Sheffield off WWE programming for over a year – a broken ankle.
On RAW 1000, the bell rings and Ryback just runs over Zack Ryder like he did with everyone else. Less than two minutes in, he’s already doing the “feed me more” signal for the Meat Hook Clothesline. Ryback charges, but Ryder drop toeholds him and holds tight onto Ryback’s feet, making him land right on that leg. Ryback sells the pain and grabs the ankle to get the point across, and Ryder immediately goes to work on the leg. He drops elbows on it, drops knees, legdrops, takes off Ryback’s kneepad and squeezes his elbow on Ryback’s bad ankle.
Zack Ryder applies an Indian Deathlock and Ryback’s clearly in pain, but he uses his upper body strength to take Ryder off him. However, he’s too beat up, and when he gets back up to his feet, Ryder charges for the Rough Ryder… Meat Hook Clothesline! FINISH HIM! Ryback picks him up for the Shell Shocked, but his leg gives out. Zack unloads on Ryback’s leg even more aggressively immediately. Ryder takes Ryback to the corner, leaves the ring and applies Bret Hart’s ringpost figure four for more pressure, with Ryder keeping it on until the count of four. With Ryback crawling on the floor, Ryder picks Ryback’s bad leg and applies an Ankle Lock, even adding Kurt Angle’s heel hook. Zack Ryder, is that you!? However, Ryback uses his upper body strength to get to Ryder’s head, and just slams it repeatedly onto the floor to cause the break. Now Ryder is a bit out of it as well.
Ryder somehow manages to place Ryback back inside the ring, wanting to be able to say that he was the first to defeat the monster. Ryder’s a bit groggy but he signals for a second Rough Ryder. Ryback uses the ropes to get up, turns around, Rough Ryder. One, two… nearfall! Ryder can’t believe it. He wants to hit another one straight away to end this. Ryder charges and goes to connect, but Ryback literally LAUNCHES him into the air, and then takes him down with a vicious Meat Hook. Ryback limps around the ring, looks down at his leg, shakes it off, and does the “finish him” taunt. Can he? Ryback picks Ryder up anyway, limps around the ring using just the good leg, and hits the Shell Shocked to win the United States Championship. Ryback limps his way up the ramp with his new belt in hand, looking back in a respectful way, while Ryder gets back to his feet and nods his head yes, almost as if he’s telling himself “you’re not as bad as you think you are“. Kicking off a babyface run for Zack Ryder in the future.
We’ve reached the end of the story, I hope you liked it. If you were expecting me to turn Zack Ryder into a five-time World Champion in one year you’re disappointed, but this is not what this story is about. We took someone who was literally doing nothing before this story began, slowly introduced him to television, gave him a featured role, a solid run with a midcard title, a couple of noteworthy matches with names like John Cena and Big Show, and even gave him two wins at the same WrestleMania!
The character of Zack Ryder is someone who is desperate to get noticed, using the internet to try to get himself over with the fans, then hacking the anonymous GM system to force his way to television. Once he was there, I feel it made sense for him to stay desperate, insecure and hiding behind Laurinaitis, not wanting to go back to his previous position on the card. Despite losing to Ryback, he was the first to even take him to his limit, and that matters. It should get him over. I also tried to elevate some other underrated workers along the way during the story, notably Tyson Kidd. And Ryback getting a run with the United States Title is a healthier way to push him rather than just shooting the guy straight into a WWE Championship feud.
Please comment down below to let me know what you think of this fantasy booking. Thank you very much for reading. See you next time!
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