By Graham "GSM" Matthews and John Napolitano
All wrestling fans fantasize about what could have been or what could be inside the confines of the squared circle, whether they're realistic or not. When the current Creative Team fails to intrigue us as an audience, we ask ourselves, "What if we were the bookers?" We then take it upon ourselves to plan out storylines, feuds, matches and more the way we think they'd make sense, the way fans want to see it happen. In this multi-part series, Graham "GSM" Matthews and John Napolitano, collectively known as The Boo'Kings', take complete creative control of WWE and do some "beast booking" of their own. In this edition, they break down how they'd like to see Kurt Angle's WWE return executed and everything else that would come along with it.
The calendar reads September 22, 2014, and the WWE is fresh off of the heels of an epic Night of Champions Pay-Per-View. Of all the riveting results from the card, the WWE Universe is especially disappointed to have witnessed the “World’s Strongest Man,” Mark Henry, fall short to the still undefeated Rusev. The final segment of Monday Night Raw is scheduled to see Rusev and his manager Lana make a challenge to any American who can beat the “Bulgarian Brute.”
Mark Henry’s music hits the arena and is received with a mediocre pop from the Memphis fans. Henry heads to the ring where he is quickly sidelined and ultimately thwarted. Rusev takes the microphone, but before he can speak he is once again interrupted, this time the by the eruption of none other than Kurt Angle’s entrance music.
The Memphis crowd unseats in unison bursting with cries of shock and awe. Angle basks in the glory of his long-awaited return to the WWE and proceeds to sprint to the ring. Rusev’s expression is that of terror and disbelief as he throws an unsuccessful clothesline at the Olympic Gold Medalist who answers with a perfectly executed German suplex. Rusev rolls to refuge as Kurt Angle drops the straps of his singlet and challenges the runner back into the ring. As Rusev retreats, Kurt Angle enjoys the admiration of the WWE Universe.
This earth-shattering encounter sets up a match between these two stallions at the Hell in a Cell Pay-Per-View. It is at this very venue in Dallas, Texas, on October 26, 2014, where Rusev defeats the “Wrestling Machine” Kurt Angle, by the skin of his teeth.
Angle didn't return to WWE after an eight-year absence to endure the agony of defeat. He didn't win 13 world championships and an Olympic Gold Medal for nothing, and he'd soon prove his mettle (no pun intended) by challenging Rusev to a rematch at the Survivor Series Pay-Per-View. Rusev managed to eek out a win against Angle at Hell in a Cell, but Angle wouldn't allow lighting to strike twice in the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
The November pay-per-view may have lost its luster in the past, but not on this night of November 23 when two of wrestling's biggest and brightest stars at the moment clashed for a second time. Once again, the two engaged in a battle for the ages with the momentum constantly shifting between the two Superstars. As Rusev sets up his lethal superkick, Angle reverses with an Ankle Lock of his own, twisting and tearing the already injured ankle of Rusev.
To apply even more pressure to the hold, Angle sits back and falls down the ground with his grasp still on tight. At last, Rusev taps, but not before the referee can pin Angle's shoulders down to the mat for a three count. An instant replay shows that Rusev slapped the mat at the same moment the referee's hand made contact for the three, resulting in the match ending in a draw.
Still determined to solidify his patriotic dominance, Angle would challenge Rusev to one last match at the TLC Pay-Per-View in Cleveland. This time, it wouldn't be any ordinary contest; Angle and Rusev were going to battle in a Ladder match with their respective medals hanging high above the ring. Despite his strong showing against the Wrestling Machine, Rusev is unable to claim the prestigious prizes, leaving Angle to be named the victor. Although Angle finally beat the beast, Rusev remains unbeaten via pinfall and submission.
The next night on Raw, with Rusev to be found no where in sight, Angle throws his name into the hat of participants in the 2015 Royal Rumble match, making his intentions known of becoming WWE World Heavyweight Champion again. He rides a wave of momentum going into the event, entering the Rumble at No. 5 and laying waste to everyone in sight. The final two men in the ring, Angle and Reigns engage in an epic stare down for the ages as the clock counts down to signal the No. 30 entrant. As the familiar buzzer goes off, a strange silence comes over the arena as the Philadelphia crowd eagerly anticipates whom it might be. All of a sudden, a fairly familiar static sound goes off and the Wells Fargo Center comes unglued. “Look in my eyes! What do you see? The cult of personality!” No one watching worldwide (on the WWE Network for only $9.99) can believe their eyes. CM Punk has returned!
Much like everyone else, Angle and Reigns are taken by complete surprise. Punk comes out from the back to an even bigger roar from the crowd, looking better than ever. Not taking the time to embrace the audience, Punk makes direct eye contact with Angle in the ring. Reigns takes advantage by attempting to toss Angle over of the top rope, but The Olympic Gold Medalist survives. Punk slowly makes his way to the ring and engages in battle with two stars representing the past and the future, respectively. After several minutes of back-and-forth action, Punk outsmarts Angle by playing possum and tossing him out to the floor.
Almost exactly one year removed from his final WWE appearance, Punk was looking to win the very match that caused him to leave in the first place. The only issue is that he was too busy taking pride in proving his superiority over Angle that he didn't notice Reigns sneaking up on him from behind, throwing him out of the squared circle to be deemed the winner of the 2015 Royal Rumble match. However, in an ironic twist of fate, the audience would boo Reigns after having his hand raised by the referee. This was the same man who the Pittsburgh crowd wanted to see win the match the year prior when he was going up against Batista, and now they were booing him. Was the WWE Universe starting to resent Roman Reigns?
The night following the Rumble would see the return of Rusev. Despite being off of television for several weeks now, the “Bulgarian Brute” boasted a brash confidence. The bark to Rusev’s bite, Lana, would scream to the WWE Universe that his loss to Kurt Angle did not count and that there was no American who could pin her monster. Well “Dr. Frankenstein,” may I introduce you to the returning Ryback. The WWE Universe loses control, as they are about to witness Godzilla and King Kong clash.
The reinvigorated Rusev shows no sign of distress this time; he would not let another major return get the better of his emotions. Ryback eases down to the ring to go nose-to-nose with his Russia-revering rival. Lana raises the microphone to her lips and without even giving her a glance, Ryback snatches the mic from her grip and drops it to the mat. This is all the “Big Guy” would need to do to get the duo to slowly back away and exit the ring.
These two titans will meet at the Elimination Chamber Pay-Per-View, where Ryback goes on to win via disqualification, as the Russian sympathizers feared defeat was imminent. The ultimate American victory takes place in Santa Clara, California, at WrestleMania 31, where Ryback delivers ‘Shellshock’ and pins Rusev in the middle of the ring. Thusly, Ryback’s ascension to the top of the mountain will begin.
Following the Ryback versus Rusev clash at WrestleMania 31, the “Best in the World,” CM Punk and his equally accomplished counterpart, Kurt Angle would engage in their first of many bouts and absolutely steal the show. The beauty of this program is that there is no personal animosity; these two technicians just want to go out there and prove who’s the stronger shooter on the grandest stage.
And that, my friends, is how you kickoff an Olympic Gold Storyline.