Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Booking Daniel Bryan/Miz

Of course, pretty much all of this will likely not occur. But it's interesting to see how something made up compares or contrasts to the real-life WWE product. And with that, it's time for Fantasy Booking!

Prologue: Frankly, this feud has been intriguing to me since Daniel Bryan (DB) was announced to be Miz's rookie on NXT Season 1. The tension was clear from the beginning, with the series premiere ofNXT kicking off with Miz telling DB to go out to the ring to Miz's theme music to entertain the fans. Of course, DB does a poor job, so Miz comes out to ridicule DB. The main event that night was frankly one of the best matches in NXT history (not really saying much, since it's spanned only a few months): DB vs. Chris Jericho. While Jericho came out on top, it really made DB look great.

Unfortunately it was pretty much the lone bright spot for DB on NXT. He lost all his NXT matches (officially 0-10), looked weak in the challenges, and ultimately got booted off NXT because "WWE management" decided to punish him and Michael Tarver for wanting themselves off the show.

But of course, DB played a significant role on NXT Season 1 even after elimination. He got into verbal and physical altercations with Miz and Michael Cole -- allowing DB to show a side of himself previously unknown to WWE viewers. DB finally had an attitude to go with his great in-ring abilities, and, with the help of his internet followers from ROH and other independent promotions, gained even more followers.

The beginning of Nexus, where all eight NXT Season 1 rookies formed a union to attack everyone at ringside, was arguably one of the greatest RAW moments of the post-Attitude era. Unfortunately, DB apparently didn't get the memo about "no spitting and no choking people with ties" and was released from the company shortly thereafter.

At the time, many people -- myself included -- felt this was a work. Why would WWE release their biggest draw (no argument here) from NXT Season 1, especially when it would be clear DB would have had a prominent role as the main wrestler for the group? Surely Vince McMahon could have merely suspended DB, fined him, etc., but they went the extra mile to release him?

As an aside, WWE, especially lately, has had a run of inconsistent management decisions. They released DB for the reasons just stated above. But Tiffany apparently got arrested for a domestic dispute with husband Drew McIntyre, and she's only been suspended. And then Serena got released for not living her Straight Edge Society persona even outside of the ring. Huh?

Anyway, DB is off TV for a few weeks, and then, predictably to many, was Cena's seventh man in the WWE vs. Nexus 7-on-7 elimination match at SummerSlam. In my opinion, it was a show-stealing match not just because of DB, but how they booked DB. They booked him extremely strong, having him take out a couple of Nexus members on his own. The back story with Miz was played perfectly. Heel Michael Cole fired on all cylinders, complaining vehemently that Miz should have been the seventh man. Continuity, people. That's another thing that makes me happy when watching WWE programming.

So now we get to the present. After weeks of going back and forth getting the upper hand on the other, DB challenges Miz to a U.S. Title match at Night of Champions, stating that he can beat Miz if given the opportunity. Miz accepts, and fans approve. Miz tries to attack DB, DB slaps on what he now calls the "LeBell Lock" (more on this in the next paragraph). Alex Riley comes from the crowd to attack DB. Miz misses DB with the briefcase and gets dumped over the top. Meanwhile, Riley gets caught in the LeBell Lock. Riley taps as Miz storms away from the ring.

I have dug up some info on the LeBell Lock. It's named after "Judo" Gene LeBell, a two-time national judo champion and former NWA World Champion. LeBell, also a Hollywood actor, roughed it up with the likes of Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, and Steven Seagal. According to LeBell, the LeBell Lock is "a neck crank where you're key locking the guy's arm so he can't roll." This is what separates his move from Chris Benoit's Crippler Crossface. When Benoit put his Crossface on Triple H to win the World Heavyweight Title for the first time, HHH tried to roll out of the maneuver, although he was still stuck in the hold. I am fascinated with submission moves, and the LeBell Lock is quite a devastating move. I think DB picked a hell of a finisher, although I would really love to see Cattle Mutilation in WWE.

So after all this, I now get to the point of this post: Fantasy Booking.

Night of Champions PPV (9/19/10): I personally would have Miz retain here, while booking DB very strong. The match goes about 15 minutes, with several near falls and submission attempts from DB. Fans get really into the match as it becomes clear DB could really win. All of a sudden, Alex Riley comes out (from the crowd or the ramp) to distract DB and the ref. Miz grabs his MITB briefcase and plants DB with the Skull-Crushing Finale on the briefcase. Miz discards the evidence and pins DB. Cole plays the heel role all the way and celebrates as King backs DB and Striker likely stays neutral (giving both men two thumbs up). Hoping for a match around the ***3/4 range.

Next night on RAW: Miz either opens the show or gets the beginning of the second hour to gloat about his win at NoC and tells DB to go back to the minors where he belongs. Heel Cole does his thing and praises Miz through the headset, as usual, while Lawler likely just stays silent for the most part (perhaps chiming in with support for DB otherwise). DB's music plays, so King now gets a little more talkative. Miz looks up the ramp, ready to fight. DB comes through the crowd and ambushes Miz. Michael Cole's obviously pissed. Riley comes out, but DB gets him as well. Miz and Riley retreat.

Next few RAWs leading up to Hell in a Cell: More of Miz and DB trading getting the upper hand on the other. Not feeling too creative to think up many specifics, but it could involve DB and Miz feeding monstrous opponents (i.e. Mark Henry, Khali) to the other, or ridiculous stipulations (i.e., wrestle with one arm tied behind back).

Also, we could see tag matches. Can you say Miz/Riley vs. DB/Kaval? Might as well incorporate Kaval into the RAW picture because then Cole can criticize Kaval as well, right?

On one of the RAWs before Hell in a Cell, DB, perhaps with the help of the anonymous RAW GM, is granted a rematch for the U.S. Title "based off favorable reactions from the crowd and rewarding Daniel Bryan for his valiant effort...and because Miz had to cheat to win." Miz is pissed. Cole is livid. Of course, I would also have Miz getting the last laugh on the RAW before Hell in a Cell.

Hell in a Cell PPV (10/3/10): A 15 to 18-minute match. At the end, ref is knocked down accidentally for whatever reason. Riley comes down to interfere again, but DB sees what's coming and trades blows with Riley by the ropes. Miz hits a low blow on DB. The MITB briefcase is conveniently nearby.

Riley holds Bryan up against the ropes. Miz charges with the briefcase, DB moves out of the way, and Miz nails Riley. DB gets Miz in the LeBell Lock in the middle of the ring as the ref starts coming to. Cole is livid, King is excited. Fans are on the edge of their seat. Ref checks on Miz, and after about 30 seconds, Miz taps. DB is the new U.S. champion! DB celebrates in the ring as Cole fumes on air. Match around ****.

Next night on RAW (10/4/10): Miz opens the show dejected. More heel Cole on the air, saying it was a fluke win for DB. DB comes out to taunt Miz, saying he knew he could beat Miz and proved it at Hell in a Cell. Miz says he is still Mr. MITB and that is something DB will never be. DB says Miz is right, he's not Mr. MITB...he plans on winning the Royal Rumble in 2011 to earn his World Title shot, instead of relying on a briefcase.

Miz says he is entitled to a rematch. He says they are tied, 1-1 (although it's more than that with the encounters they had while DB was still a part of NXT), and the rubber match will take place at an appropriately named PPV, Bragging Rights. Whomever wins at Bragging Rights can claim bragging rights over the other. It would likely be the only match on the card that is not RAW vs. Smackdown.

NOTE: Bragging Rights could also be a PPV where other titles (other than Divas/Women's) could be unified. For purposes of this Fantasy Booking, I'm assuming that will not be the case here.

Next two RAWs: Anyway, DB continues to tell Miz and Cole that they can't say he never accomplished anything in WWE anymore, because he holds the U.S. Title. Who knows, maybe they can throw in a segment where DB has promo time, he gets Cole in the ring, and pretty much intimidates him much like what Drew McIntyre did to Teddy Long. That might get a bunch of DB marks to go nuts.

Bragging Rights PPV (10/24/10): Match again given considerable time, around 20-22 minutes. At some point, Miz will try to shock everyone by attempting to put the LeBell Lock on DB, but DB blocks it, gets out, and hits the Skull-Crushing Finale on Miz. False finish. End comes when Miz sends DB into the turnbuckle (perhaps exposed from a previous spot), goes for SCF, but DB counters into a crossface (NOT LeBell Lock). Miz attempts to fight out -- and he'll even try to roll out of it (LeBell Lock wouldn't allow the rolling to occur) -- but DB holds on. Miz agonizingly close to the ropes. Miz gets to ropes. Miz to the corner, DB misses a foot in the corner. Miz tries for the SCF again, but DB grabs the ropes as Miz tries to drop down. With Miz now flat on his face, DB drops down and clamps on the LeBell Lock. Miz struggles for a while before tapping again. DB retains; match around ****1/4 to ****1/2.

Road to Survivor Series: Miz is still fuming. Cole still calls DB a tool. Miz says Survivor Series is coming up, and while he may not have the U.S. Title, he plans to show once and for all what John Cena was missing out on when Cena took DB instead of Miz at SummerSlam. Miz challenges DB to a Survivor Series elimination match at the PPV, with Miz and DB being captains of their respective teams. Basically, I see Miz recruiting Nexus members to face DB, while DB recruits Darren Young, a few upper midcarders, and perhaps even main eventers. Miz could merely be a "coach" -- almost like his NXT role as a pro -- or be in the match itself to make it a 6-on-6 match. Continuity, people!

Since there is about a month gap between Bragging Rights and Survivor Series, I would make the match rather early and have Nexus members continually get the upper hand on DB and his team. Build Nexus strong.

And why did I not make Darren Young a surprise entrant for DB's team? Because Young, back on the 9/6/10 RAW, had already planned on getting back at Nexus for kicking him out of the group. Surprise really won't work now -- even if they dismantled Young early on, to the point where he could be doubtful for the PPV...and then show up anyway.

Survivor Series PPV (11/21/10): Teams trade eliminations, with Darren Young surprising many by eliminating a couple of Nexus members (we'll use Tarver and Slater here, just because I said so). Nexus eliminates other guys DB recruited. We'll have it down to Miz, Barrett, and Gabriel vs. DB and Darren Young. Gabriel, with help from Barrett and Miz, hits the 450 on Young. Down to 3-on-1. After a couple minutes, DB takes out Gabriel with the LeBell Lock. Barrett comes in and hits his finisher on DB.

Miz wants the tag. Barrett tags Miz in reluctantly. Miz picks up a prone DB for the SCF. DB counters out and puts on the LeBell Lock. Miz pleads to Barrett to help him, but Barrett does nothing -- still fuming from Miz wanting in the match. Miz taps...down to DB vs. Barrett.

Barrett and DB exchange moves. Eventually, DB makes a mistake, Barrett hits his finisher again, and gets the three. Barrett is the sole survivor. Match would go about 20-25 minutes and get around ***3/4 to ****.

And now, folks, what I feel is the best part begins.

11/22/10 RAW: The night after Survivor Series, DB, being the fighting champion he is, has a match with a Nexus member (we'll go with Gabriel because he has flashy moves too). After a hard-fought win, DB is obviously drained as Cole starts to at least give DB a little respect for the good matches he's had lately --but Cole still thinks DB is a tool.

All of a sudden, Miz comes through the crowd and blindsides DB with the briefcase. He then CASHES IN his MITB briefcase to the shock of everyone. Cole, being a Miz fan, is torn on the decision, but does end up supporting it. Ref allows DB to get to his feet.

Bell rings, Miz hits the SCF on a prone DB. Miz gets the three count and is the new U.S. Champion. Cole now goes off his rocker on how genius that move was. Of course, Lawler and the fans are sick to their stomach.

11/29/10 RAW: Miz gets a segment on the show to once again say he has the last laugh on DB.

DB comes out to interrupt. And this is his promo:

"No, Miz. Daniel Bryan has won in the end. Why? For two reasons. First, at the beginning of the year, no one knew who Daniel Bryan was in WWE. But now, everyone knows Daniel Bryan. I have traveled the independent scene, made a name for myself there, and then even when starting out a lowly rookie on NXT and dealing with your crap, I still managed to break out and make a name for myself here.

But second, and most importantly, I got under your skin so badly over the last few months, you had to give up your most prized possession -- the Money in the Bank briefcase and a possible World Title shot -- to get a shot at beating me one more time. And while you did beat me -- in a cowardly manner -- the former champion ALWAYS gets a rematch. But it won't just be any rematch. It's the rematch to end this epic feud...we must settle the score once and for all. And I will exercise my rematch clause at the next PPV...Tables, Ladders, and Chairs. That's right, Miz! You and I will go at it one last time for the U.S. Title...in a Ladder Match!"

Next two RAWs: Probably a bunch of promo work. DB and Miz will likely get random opponents to face to showcase their dominance.

TLC PPV (12/19/10): This will be a war from the start. Miz comes out first and immediately goes for the U.S. Title. DB races down the aisle to stop Miz, and the war is on. I see Miz going after DB's leg, while DB might eventually try to work over Miz's arm and neck. Maybe a Skull-Crushing Finale off the ladder? I dunno. It needs to be extreme (push the boundaries of whatever WWE will allow them to do) to further illustrate the bad blood between the two.

Anyway, I would give the match anywhere from 25-30 minutes. For the finish, I'd go with Miz and DB fighting at the top. Two ladders side by side. Miz decks DB down south to send DB down the ladder. Miz climbs a rung or two and has his hands on the belt. But suddenly, DB hits a kick to Miz's leg, and then another. Miz crumples and lies on top of the ladder. DB with the LeBell Lock on the top of the ladders as the fans go insane. Miz is tapping but it doesn't matter. Miz goes unconscious. DB lets go as Miz just lies there. DB grabs the title and, while stepping on Miz, unhooks the belt and wins the U.S. Title. Hopefully a match that garners about ****1/2.

Epilogue: After this PPV, DB will start feuding with others for the title (Alex Riley, maybe?). I hope to see DB and Kaval feud over the title, but that would mean one of them would probably go heel.

In the meantime, Miz will sulk for a week, but then be one of the first to toss his name in the hat for the 2011 Royal Rumble. I would have him as one of the favorites to win.

I know WWE is planning on unifying all the major titles, and they've already started plans to unify the Divas and Women's Titles, something I felt was long overdue. If WWE goes ahead to unify the WWE and World Titles, that might mean Taker/Cena as the main event at WM 27. This would leave Miz in a bind of sorts, but I could still have him winning the Rumble and getting a title shot after Mania.

Of course, if the WWE and World Titles are not unified, I could see Miz winning and then challenging Cena for the title. Remember when Miz first came to RAW as a singles star, fresh off the breakup with John Morrison? Yeah, all those times he would say he's 1-0...2-0...up to 5-0 against Cena? And then they buried Miz temporarily. Well, Miz can restart that feud all over again. And it will be better than the "feud" they had before.

Goals of this fantasy booking:
(1) Book Daniel Bryan as a star. And yes, DB will be a star this way.

(2) Give Miz that defining feud to forever cement him as a main eventer and push him to the next level. Heck, he could be most improved three years in a row with my booking.

(3) Bring back prestige to the U.S. Title. Miz did a good job of bringing a little prestige to the belt, but this feud will push that prestige to astronomical heights. A Ladder Match for a secondary title? Yeah, that's right baby. Don't see that every day anymore.

(4) Show continuity in past storylines. For example, DB's past with Nexus and Miz, Miz's past with Cena, Darren Young and Nexus, etc.

NOTE: If you actually read all this, you either really love wrestling or have a lot of time on your hands...but seriously, if you did, thanks for reading.

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