I’m quite often coming up with booking ideas in my columns – x can work with y, z should turn face/heel. But it’s easy to be an armchair booker like that without giving much thought to the details of the feud, and how it impacts the rest of the roster. So with a couple of ideas in mind, I set myself the challenge of booking SmackDown’s men’s division from now through to Wrestlemania 34 – detailing each week what I would actually do, how I would have storylines progress, giving an idea as to what would be said in promos, that kind of thing. I’m going to set it out by giving the night’s match results plainly, explaining what would be said in promos, then giving further storyline context or justification if I feel it’s warranted.
When I say the men’s division, I mean the singles championships, so the WWE Championship and the United States Championship pictures. I’m not doing anything storyline wise with the women’s division or the tag team division – and bear in mind that I’m not excluding them from the show completely, so some shows that look a bit empty in my mind would be filled out by an added focus on one or both of them.
The last things to note are that I’m not changing anything that’s already happened, and I keep going with what seems to be planned in real life right now. My SummerSlam card features Jinder Mahal vs Shinsuke Nakamura for the WWE Championship, Kevin Owens vs AJ Styles for the United States Championship with Shane McMahon as the special guest referee, Randy Orton vs Rusev and the expected addition of John Cena vs Baron Corbin.
I assume they will keep going with monthly PPVs on non-big 4 months (even though they haven’t all been announced), I don’t change the face/heel dynamic for anyone, I give “free agent” John Cena a couple of months on Raw at a time and I only call up one superstar from NXT. The one thing I have changed is to reunite Erick Rowan and Luke Harper as a team, since for me they are now the best option to be attacking Breezango and neither man is featured on TV right now, taking them out of contention for my storylines.
So with all the parameters set, can I do a better job than WWE Creative? Let’s find out.
August 8th, SmackDown
Results: Shinsuke Nakamura defeats Sunil Singh by pinfall, Baron Corbin defeats Chad Gable by pinfall, Kevin Owens & Rusev defeats AJ Styles & Randy Orton by pinfall (KO pins Styles)
Promos: – SD opens with Daniel Bryan in his office, quickly joined by Jinder Mahal and the Singh brothers. Bryan notes that the Singhs have interfered every step of the way in Mahal’s time as WWE Champion, and he doesn’t want the WWE Title match at SummerSlam to have that interference. Mahal assures Bryan he can beat Nakamura on his own, and he doesn’t need any help. Bryan says he’s just going to make sure of that, and announced Nakamura will face each of the Singh brothers – if Nakamura beats them, they’re banned from ringside at SummerSlam. And if they head to ringside anyway, they will be fired.
– As Baron Corbin celebrates his win over Chad Gable, John Cena’s music hits. Cena comes out with a mic, and tells Corbin last week he made the biggest mistake of his life attacking Cena after his match. Cena asks Corbin if it was attention he was after, if it was a spotlight. Cena says if Corbin wanted some, all he had to do was ask. Cena challenges Corbin to a match at SummerSlam, to which Corbin shouts back (without a mic) “you’re on”.
August 15th, SmackDown
Results: Rusev defeats Tye Dillinger by submission, Shinsuke Nakamura defeats Samir Singh by pinfall
Promos: John Cena and Baron Corbin face off in the ring. Cena says when Corbin atacked him Corbin wanted to make a name for himself, but all he did was put a target on his own back. Cena says that he sees arrogant upstarts all the time in this business, they get some success, then it goes to their head, and more often than not it’s Cena who’s there to give them a reality check. Cena tells Corbin he has Cena’s attention now, and it’s not going to end well for Corbin. Corbin says he made a name for himself by winning the Andre The Giant Battle Royal his first night in WWE. Corbin says he made a name for himself by becoming Mr Money In The Bank. He didn’t attack John Cena to make a name for himself, he did it because he likes hurting people. Corbin tells Cena he should have stayed home because he doesn’t have what it takes to be at the top anymore.
Cena fires up by telling Corbin he’s heard it all before from people who accomplished a lot more than Corbin, and every single time he’s proven them wrong. He tells Corbin that contract he’s holding isn’t a guarantee of anything, Cena knows that better than anyone, Corbin still has to perform every single time he steps into the ring, and he has to act like a champion outside the ring. Cena tells Corbin he hasn’t done that. Cena tells Corbin that he has all the tools to be a superstar, but he doesn’t conduct himself the way a champion should. Cena says if Cena doesn’t belong here anymore, Corbin has to prove that, but at the same time if Corbin isn’t ready to be champion, Cena will prove it on Sunday. Corbin throws a punch at Cena, who blocks it, hits one of his own, and Corbin retreats up the ramp.
August 20th, SummerSlam
Results: AJ Styles defeats Kevin Owens by pinfall to retain the US Championship, John Cena defeats Baron Corbin by pinfall, Rusev defeats Randy Orton by submission, Shinsuke Nakamura defeats Jinder Mahal to win the WWE Championship, Baron Corbin defeats Shinsuke Nakamura to win the WWE Championship.
Storylines: – During the US Title match, after AJ Styles kicks out of a pop-up powerbomb, a frustrated Owens grabs a chair, but before he can use it Shane grabs it and takes it away from Owens. Owens argues with Shane, then turns round into a Phenomenal Forearm for the 1-2-3. Post-match, Owens powerbombs Shane on the apron.
– This is John Cena’s last appearance on SmackDown for a while, I thought he needed the win against Corbin to be a title challenger on Raw in the next few months, and Corbin wouldn’t be hurt too much based on what happens later in the night.
– After Nakamura wins the WWE Title, the Singh brothers hit the ring and attack him, quickly joined by Mahal. This beat down leads to Corbin cashing in his Money in the Bank contract, and walking out of SummerSlam as WWE Champion.
August 22nd, SmackDown
Results: Randy Orton defeats Dolph Ziggler by pinfall, Jinder Mahal defeats Chad Gable by pinfall
Promos: – Kevin Owens storms to the ring to start the show. He complains that the referee in his SummerSlam match interfered, and claims a biased official cost him the US Title. He demands another shot at the title. AJ Styles comes out and says he beat Owens fair and square. They’ve battled a lot over the last few months, but if Owens wants another shot he can have it – on the condition it’s the last time they face each other for the US Title.
– Daniel Bryan runs into AJ Styles backstage, and says on top of having to make a decision around the WWE Championship, his US Champion is going around making his own matches. Bryan tells Styles he’s lucky Bryan promised Shane he’d let Shane handle the Owens situation when he recovers from the SummerSlam attack.
– A video package airs recapping Corbin’s WWE Title win, ending by saying Daniel Bryan will address the situation before the end of the night
– After Mahal’s victory over Gable, Bryan comes out to the stage, and says Jinder Mahal and Shinsuke Nakamura are both owed title rematches. So at the next PPV, Vengeance, Baron Corbin will make his first WWE Title defence against both Jinder Mahal and Shinsuke Nakamura in a triple threat match.
Storyline: During the next week, WWE announce on social media that AJ Styles and Kevin Owens will take part in a beat-the-clock challenge next week on SmackDown, with the winner picking the stipulation for their title match at Vengeance. A rematch between Nakamura and Mahal is also announced for next week’s SmackDown.
August 29th, SmackDown
Results: AJ Styles defeats Dolph Ziggler by pinfall, Kevin Owens defeats Tye Dillinger by pinfall, Shinsuke Nakamura vs Jinder Mahal ends in a no contest
Promos: – After winning the beat-the-clock challenge, Kevin Owens says he’s sick of referees getting hurt or interfering in matches, he’s a better wrestler than AJ Styles and he’s going to prove it in a match where you can’t fluke a win. He picks a 30-minute Iron Man match for Vengeance.
– Backstage interview with Randy Orton. He says he knows he’s lost a lot of big matches recently, he lost the House of Horrors match against Bray Wyatt, he lost the WWE Championship to Jinder Mahal, and now he’s lost to Rusev at SummerSlam. He says everyone has ups and down in their career, and he’s sure it won’t be long before he’s back to winning ways. He then gets cut off by an attacking Rusev.
Storylines: Styles beats Ziggler in 8-9 minutes, before the bell rings with Owens and Dillinger Owens attacks, and when the match is finally underway picks up the easy win inside two minutes.
September 5th, SmackDown
Results: Rusev defeats Sami Zayn by submission, AJ Styles & Shinsuke Nakamura defeat Jinder Mahal & Baron Corbin (Nakamura pins Mahal)
Promos: After Rusev’s win, Orton appears on-screen in the arena. Orton says Rusev got him at SummerSlam, and Rusev got him again last week. But all Rusev has done is reawaken the viper within him, and on Sunday Vengeance will be Orton’s.
Storylines: Kevin Owens is on commentary during the tag match
September 10th, Vengeance
Results: Kevin Owens defeats AJ Styles 3-2 in an Iron Man match to win the United States Championship, Randy Orton defeats Rusev by pinfall, Baron Corbin defeats Jinder Mahal & Shinsuke Nakamura to retain the WWE Championship (Corbin pins Mahal)
Storylines: In the triple threat WWE Title match, the Singh brothers interfere, leading to Nakamura battling them up the ramp, allowing Corbin to pin Mahal.
September 12th, SmackDown
Results: Mike Kanellis defeats Sami Zayn by pinfall, Tye Dillinger defeats Dolph Ziggler by pinfall, Chad Gable defeats Aiden English by submission, Rusev squashes a jobber
Promos: – Shane McMahon returns to SmackDown to open the show, says he could suspend or fire Kevin Owens for his actions at SummerSlam, but now that Owens is US Champion it would be a PR disaster and frankly, that’s not how they settle grudges on SmackDown. He announces that there will be a six-man tournament to decide Owens’ next challenger, with three singles matches tonight, and the winners facing each other in a triple threat match next week. He says the superstars participating will be Sami Zayn, Tye Dillinger, Chad Gable, Mike Kanellis, Dolph Ziggler and Aiden English.
– Baron Corbin brags to Daniel Bryan backstage that he has now proven he’s the best superstar on SmackDown, and the WWE Title is his evidence. Bryan responds by saying that Shinsuke Nakamura wasn’t pinned at Vengeance, and Corbin has never beaten him in a fair fight. Bryan tells Corbin that in four weeks, Corbin will defend the WWE Championship against Nakamura inside Hell In A Cell.
– AJ Styles walks out to the ring. He says one year ago he reached the top of the mountain and became WWE Champion for the first time. He says it sucks that he lost the US Title, but he’s never gotten anywhere by feeling sorry for himself, and now it’s onwards and upwards. He says he wants to be WWE Champion again. Styles is interrupted by Jinder Mahal, who says Styles needs to get in line for a title shot, and if he’s after the WWE Title he needs to get past the 1.3 billion people behind the Maharaja first.
– After his squash win, Rusev gets on a mic and demands Randy Orton one more time.
September 19th, SmackDown
Results: Chad Gable defeats Mike Kanellis & Tye Dillinger (Gable pins Kanellis), Rusev & Mahal defeat Orton & Styles (Mahal pins Styles)
Promos: Pre-taped sit-down interview with Shinsuke Nakamura, who says he’s reached the top of the mountain, but that moment was taken away from him by Baron Corbin. He talks about how he’s never been inside Hell In A Cell before, but says Baron Corbin has also never beaten him in a fair fight before. He ends by saying he will be WWE Champion again.
Storylines: Kevin Owens is on commentary during the triple threat match, rips on Shane McMahon for thinking any of the three were good enough to challenge him
September 26th, SmackDown
Results: Chad Gable defeats Dolph Ziggler by submission, AJ Styles vs Jinder Mahal is a no contest
Promos: – Backstage interview with Randy Orton. He says Since Wrestlemania he had been sleeping, but Rusev has jolted him back to life. There’s an old saying that you should be careful what you wish for, and Rusev’s going to find out exactly why at Hell In A Cell. Locked inside that steel structure there’s nowhere for Rusev to hide. There’s nowhere for Rusev to run. And Rusev is going to be locked inside a cell with a pissed off viper who has nothing to lose and everything to prove again.
– Sit-down interview with Baron Corbin. He says that holding the gold makes him the best SmackDown has to offer. He says Hell In A Cell suits him, because while Nakamura likes to play mind games, he likes violence, and there aren’t as many matches as barbaric as the Cell. He says Nakamura is going to feel an extraordinary amount of pain, but inside those steel walls, Corbin is going to feel at home.
Storylines: – Kevin Owens lays out Chad Gable after his win with a pop-up powerbomb
– AJ Styles makes his way to the ring for a match against Jinder Mahal when he is ambushed by Mahal & the Singhs. Mahal stands over AJ to end the segment.
– Throughout the week a contract signing for the WWE Title match at Hell In A Cell is announced for next week
October 3rd, SmackDown
Results: Kevin Owens & Rusev defeat Chad Gable & Randy Orton (Owens pins Orton), AJ Styles defeats The Singh Brothers by pinfall in a handicap match
Storylines: The contract signing between Baron Corbin and Shinsuke Nakamura descends into a brawl. Nakamura signs the contract, then Corbin attacks him with a steel chair, and puts him through the table. Corbin then signs the contract, and holds the WWE Title over Nakamura as the show goes off air.
October 8th, Hell In A Cell
Results: Randy Orton defeats Rusev by pinfall inside Hell In A Cell, Kevin Owens defeats Chad Gable by pinfall to retain the United States Championship, Jinder Mahal defeats AJ Styles by pinfall, Shinsuke Nakamura defeats Baron Corbin by pinfall inside Hell In A Cell to win the WWE Championship
October 10th, SmackDown
Results: Baron Corbin defeats Chad Gable by pinfall, AJ Styles defeats Jinder Mahal by submission
Promos: Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon open the show in the ring, and says after a great Hell In A Cell PPV, up next for SmackDown is Survivor Series, and like last year it’s going to be SmackDown vs Raw in elimination matches. They announce the men’s team will be captained by their new WWE Champion Shinsuke Nakamura, who joins them in the ring. They announce that tonight and next week they will be holding qualifiers to fill out the rest of Team SmackDown. They are interrupted by Baron Corbin, who demands his WWE Title rematch. Bryan and Shane say that he will get it, but for now that have to focus on Team SmackDown and brand superiority, so he will have to wait until after Survivor Series for his shot. Corbin starts to complain, but Shane cuts him off, saying his qualifier is next.
Storylines: Gable is shown walking backstage after his loss, and in the background you can see Rusev laughing at him.
October 17th, SmackDown
Results: Randy Orton defeats Dolph Ziggler by pinfall, Jinder Mahal wins a battle royal
Promos: Kevin Owens comes out to the ring to complain about not being in a qualifier for the Survivor Series team even though he’s the United States Champion. Shane comes out and says that he makes a valid point, but there’s only one spot left, and that will go to the winner of a last chance battle royal later tonight. Shane offers Owens a spot in that, which Owens takes.
Storylines: – In the battle royal, Sami Zayn eliminates Dolph Ziggler, Mike Kanellis and Aiden English, Gable eliminates Rusev but Rusev comes back in and throws Gable out, Mahal eliminates Zayn, Dillinger eliminates Owens, Mahal eliminates Dillinger to win.
– Next week is announced as a special Taboo Tuesday edition of SmackDown, where the fans will make the decisions.
October 24th, SmackDown (Taboo Tuesday)
Results: AJ Styles defeats Jinder Mahal (fans pick the stipulation – choice between a tables match, steel cage match or a street fight), Shinsuke Nakamura defeats Kevin Owens by pinfall (fans pick special referee – Baron Corbin, Tye Dillinger, Shane McMahon)
Storylines: Chad Gable is asked backstage about Rusev laughing at him two weeks ago, then eliminating him from the battle royal last week, but before he can answer he is attacked by Rusev
October 31st, SmackDown
Results: Luke Harper & Erick Rowan defeats AJ Styles & Jinder Mahal by pinfall (Harper pins Mahal), The Usos defeat Baron Corbin & Randy Orton (Jey Uso pins Orton), Rusev defeats Tye Dillinger by submission
Promos: Daniel Bryan opens the show by saying that there’s too much infighting between Team SmackDown with less than three weeks to go until Survivor Series. They need to work together, so Team SmackDown members are going to be in tag team matches together to learn how to work as a unit.
Storylines: – During their tag match, Baron Corbin attacks Randy Orton and leaves him to take the fall
– Kevin Owens distracts Tye Dillinger during his match, leading to Dillinger’s defeat
November 7th, SmackDown
Results: AJ Styles & Shinsuke Nakamura defeat The Ascension (Nakamura pins Konnor), Baron Corbin & Jinder Mahal defeat The Hype Bros (Corbin pins Rawley), Randy Orton defeats Kevin Owens by pinfall, Chad Gable defeats Dolph Ziggler
Storylines: – Tye Dillinger distracts Kevin Owens during his match, leading to Owens’ defeat
– Rusev is on commentary during Chad Gable’s match
November 14th, SmackDown
Results: Team SmackDown defeats Aiden English, Mike Kanellis, Dolph Ziggler, Tye Dillinger & Kevin Owens in a 5-on-5 elimination match, Sami Zayn defeats Rusev by pinfall
Storylines: – In the 5-on-5 elimination match, Corbin eliminates Dillinger, Orton eliminates English, Owens gets himself counted out but is met on the ramp by Dillinger who brawls to the back with him, AJ Styles eliminates Kanellis and Nakamura eliminates Ziggler for a clean sweep win
– Chad Gable is on commentary for Rusev’s match
November 19th, Survivor Series
Results: Team Raw defeats Team SmackDown, Kevin Owens defeats Tye Dillinger to retain the United States Championship, Chad Gable defeats Rusev by submission
Storylines: – In the 5-on-5 elimination match, Orton is eliminated first and very early on. The announcers talk about how it’s another damaging defeat for Orton in 2017. Mahal is eliminated next. Nakamura then gets an elimination, and Styles gets another elimination. Corbin gets eliminated, but attacks Nakamura before leaving. A prone Nakamura gets eliminated. Styles gets one more elimination before the numbers game becomes too much, Raw winning 2-0 (most likely some combination of Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman and Samoa Joe).
– As a free agent who can appear on both shows, John Cena doesn’t take part in the elimination tag match for either brand
– Randy Orton addressing his future is promoted on Raw, social media and during SmackDown as the main event segment following another disappointing defeat
I’m going to leave it there for this part, that’s the best part of four months covered and it’s a good pivot point for the storylines I have. What’s next for Randy Orton? Will Baron Corbin be able to regain the WWE Championship? How long before I run out of ideas? And since it didn’t happen in this part, who will my only NXT call-up be? Look out for the second part towards the end of the next week!