The events leading up to Wrestlemania XXVI had the wrestling world watching, but it had a large segment of fans (notably the dreaded IWC, Internet Wrestling Community) that were seemingly bored and/or frustrated with the product that was being put out.
Sales were still strong and the WWE was still the undisputed leader in "Sports Entertainment", but WWE founder, Vince McMahon, had always been an innovator and business man without peer. He had seen his company undergo various promotional phases and understood the need to keep things fresh, but wondered how he should go about freshening up his company and keeping it cutting edge. What to do?
He had more wrestlers than he could use and no viable wrestling companies to take away fans and make them switch the channel. Deep down, Vince missed Ted Turner and World Championship Wrestling because competition brought out the best him. He needed to beat someone. He needed to compete. After much soul searching and brainstorming, Vince began reorganizing his company in his head. The ramifications of this thought process would be soon after Wrestlemania.
WWF Wrestlemania XXVI, March 28th 2010
University Of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
- Yoshi Tatsu won a 26-man Battle Royal featuring members of both the RAW and Smackdown! rosters.
- ShowMiz defeated R-Truth & John Morrison to retain the Unified WWE Tag Team Championship.
- Randy Orton defeated Cody Rhodes & Ted DiBiase in a Triple Threat match to end the Legacy feud. After the match, Orton punted both Rhodes and DiBiase in the head to "kick the idea that either of you want another piece of me out of your heads."
- Jack Swagger won the Money In The Bank match by defeating Kane, Shelton Benjamin, Evan Bourne, Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, Kofi Kingston, MVP, Matt Hardy and Christian.
- Triple H defeated Sheamus in a brawl that saw both men almost get DQ'ed during the course of the match.
- Rey Mysterio defeated CM Punk (with Luke Gallows and Serena). If Mysterio had lost he would have had to join the Straight Edge Society. After the match, Mysterio was attacked by a mysterious assailant wearing a black mask with the letters SES across it. The SES held Rey down as Punk and Serena accosted Rey’s father, Rey Mysterio Sr. and his wife.
- Bret Hart defeated Mr. McMahon by submission in a Lumberjack Match. Vince had thought he had bought off Hart’s family (Bruce Hart, Jim Neidhart and the members of the Hart Dynasty), but Bret turned the tables and revealed that he and his family knew about the ruse the whole time.
- Michelle McCool, Vickie Guerrero, Alicia Fox, Layla and Maryse defeated Beth Phoenix, Kelly Kelly, Mickie James, Gail Kim and Eve Torres in a 10 Diva tag team match when Vickie pinned Mickie James after James was sprayed in the eyes with a mysterious substance by Layla El during a huge brawl involving all the match participants.
- Chris Jericho defeated Edge to retain the WWE Title. During the match, Jericho used the WWE belt in combination with a Codebreaker to knock Edge senseless and claim the pinfall. To further add insult to injury, Jericho attempted to lock the barely conscious Edge in the Walls of Jericho. As he turned the move over, an opportunistic Jack Swagger cashed in his Money In The Bank briefcase and attacked the over-confident champion. Swagger wound up nailing the discombobulated champion with his Gutwrench Powerbomb and earning a quick pinfall after a few minutes of action.
- John Cena defeated Batista to retain the World Heavyweight Championship. After getting dominated by the huge former champion, Cena managed to dig deep and nail Batista with the Attitude Adjustment and apply the STF to earn the submission victory.
- The Undertaker defeated Shawn Michaels in "The Streak vs. The Career" match. After almost 25 minutes of intense action, which saw both men land their finishers multiple times, some amazing outside the ring spots and multiple near falls, Undertaker finally pinned "Mr. Wrestlemania". Both men embraced after the match and Undertaker exited the ring to allow Michaels to enjoy one last post-match celebration with his fans. In a heart-felt moment, Triple H and Ric Flair (recently resigned to a Legends contract) came out and led an emotional tribute to Michaels that left more than a few people in tears.
- It was discovered the next night on RAW that Sheamus viscously attacked Triple H as he emerged backstage from the emotional moment. The enraged Irishman wickedly maimed "The Game" with a sledgehammer and left him for the paramedics.
THE END OF THE "DRAFT LOTTERY" era
Almost two weeks later, Vince McMahon shook up the WWE Universe by holding the WWE Draft Lottery on a special 3 hour RAW; 2 weeks before the Extreme Rules PPV. (The draft lottery has normally been held the Monday after the PPV.)
McMahon told a shocked crowd that had better enjoy this year's draft lottery because the event would be going to "fundamentally changed to level the playing field between Smackdown and Raw and encourage competition and stability." Before going on further, he told the WWE Universe they would have to wait to see what would happen...next.
As Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler speculated on what Mr. McMahon meant, McMahon called Theodore Long, the GM of Smackdown, and his executive, Vickie Gurrero, to the ring. As a puzzled Long and Gurrero paced nervously, McMahon reminded each of them of their greatest decisions and worst failures as GMs during their tenure in the WWE. He made it clear that the guest GM spot on RAW was a thing of history; as was Long's reign as the Smackdown GM. As Vickie laughed at the crestfallen Long, McMahon cut her off and told her she had better get used to being around Long because they would be working closely together as the new co-GMs on a special project he and his wife Linda had thought up.
McMahon- "Beginning in May, you two will be in charge of the WWE DIVAS brand on My TV Network. You two and all WWE women competitors will be replacing WWE Superstars with WWE DIVAS every Thursday night. This brand will focus totally on our Divas and give them the spotlight they deserve. I will hold both of you personally responsible for the success or failure of this new exciting part of our history. Do both of you understand me? Both of you will be in charge of the newest WWE program featuring our athletic female competitors. Starting Thursday on USA, WWE DIVAS will replace WWE Superstars!"
Diva graphic by JDK
As both GMs spoke with McMahon, he smiled and introduced the two commentary team that would be calling the action for "his newest baby". Todd Grisham and WWE Diva Legend, Trish Stratus , came out to a cheering crowd as Teddy and Vickie looked at each other with hard stares.
The night progressed with matches determining who would be changing brands: Edge, Rey Mysterio, Chavo Gurrero, Crime Tyme, The Dudebusters and Paul Burchill all became new members of the "Red Brand". Joining the rival "Blue Brand" were RAW stalwarts Sheamus, The Miz, Goldust, Ted DiBiase, Cody Rhodes, Shelton Benjamin, Hornswoggle and a returning Triple H. (The later announcement both shocked and infuriated Sheamus.)
Due to ShoMiz being separated due to the draft, McMahon announced that the Unified WWE Tag Team Championship had vacated and UN-unified. The World Tag Team Championships would be staying on RAW and the WWE Tag Team Championships would be going to Smackdown.
At the end of the night, Mr. McMahon reappeared and asked the crowd if they were happy with all the big changes. As they gave him a small ovation, the WWE owner said he had one more announcement to make. Each brand would be needing new General Managers and he had decided that WWE needed to get back to its roots. The WWE was started by his father and was, and always will be, a "family company". Who better then to run each brand?
A shocked crowd exploded as Stephanie McMahon was announced as the GM of RAW and her brother, Shane McMahon, was announced as the GM of Smackdown. The two siblings were all smiles to their father as they accepted their roles, but the friendly facade faded as Vince reminded both siblings that they would now be competing against one another for the future of the company.
McMahon- This business is about the future. One of these days, Vincent Kennedy McMahon will not be here. One of YOU TWO will be running this company, in the future. May the best McMahon win!
The show ended with Shane smirking at the glares his sister shot into him from across the ring.
Extreme Rules, April 25, 2010
1st Mariner Bay Arena, Baltimore, Maryland
- The Hart Dynasty won the WWE Tag Team Titles by defeating The Miz and Drew McIntyre (The Miz abandoned his partner early in the match saying that being a tag team champion again "wasn't worth his time"), Luke Gallows and the mysterious new masked member of the Straight Edge Society and The Gatecrashers (Vance Archer and Curt Hawkins) in a 4-Way Dance.
- Mark Henry & MVP captured the World Tag Team Titles by defeating The Great Khali & The Big Show and The Colons in a Triple-Threat elimination match. After the match, Show and Khali got into an argument about Khali accidently striking Show and costing their team the victory.
- Layla El defeated Melina to unify the Diva and WWE Women's titles. Michelle McCool and Vickie Gurrero interference played a key role in determining the victor. As the three heels celebrated, Beth Phoenix and Mickie James sprinted the ring and came to Melina's defense. An outraged Vickie fired both of them on the spot; only to have Teddy Long come out, rehire them and set up a handicap tag team match featuring James, Phoenix and Melina vs. Lay-Cool on the first episode of WWE DIVAS.
- Triple H defeated Sheamus in a Street Fight. The two brawlers battled one another throughout the arena throughout the match; taking out two referees and a whole rack of lockers (which Sheamus tipped over on "The King of Kings"). The end of the match happened when Sheamus left a downed Triple H (who appeared beaten) to taunt Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair (who was sitting together on the front row at ringside to support their friend). As the cocky heel jawed with both legends, Triple H recovered and clubbed his foe with his sledgehammer to get the pin. Both Flair and HBK jumped the front row and helped Triple H to his feet as the crowd cheered. An exhausted "Game" was helped to the back by both legends as the crowd cheered.
- With his hair on the line, CM Punk managed to defeat Rey Mysterio in the duos final match before Rey headed off to Raw. Luke Gallows and the SES's masked member played a key role in the match; frequently distracting the referee and allowing Punk to avoid several near falls. Punk ,ultimately, bashed Mysterio senseless with electric clippers as his cronies distracted the referee. The SES attempted to unmask Rey, but he was ultimately rescued by John Morrison and Matt Hardy. The two faces seemed to have the heel faction on the run, but Morrison unwittingly unmasked the new SES member. A shocked Morrison started into the eyes of his old partner in M and M, Joey Mercury! As Morrison struggled to comprehend what was happening, Gallows clipped him from behind and beat him down. Mercury joined in on the beat down as announcers, Todd Grisham and Matt Striker, verbally explained how close M and M used to be. Punk in his minions leave the ring victorious as Rey, Hardy and Morrison lie around the ring in pain and shock.
- Jack Swagger defeated Chris Jericho in a steel cage match to retain the WWE title. Jericho seemed on the verge of regaining his title when he handcuffed the champion to the ring ropes and preceded to waltz towards the door. As Jericho casually backpedaled to the door talking smack to the arrogant champion, Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin entered the cage and began beating the hell out of "Y2J". The announcer reacted in shock as the newly reformed "Worlds Greatest Tag Team" beat Jericho down and freed Swagger. Swagger exited the cage with his two new friends to retain. As the crowd booed loudly, Swagger introduced his "Varsity Club" to the WWE Universe.
- Despite losing, John Cena retained the World title after losing to Randy Orton in a Best-Two-Out -Of - Three-Falls match. The old foes squared off in an intense affair, which saw Orton capture the first fall and Cena rally to capture the second. Orton appeared to have the match won when he lined up to punt a stunned Cena in the head. As he rushed forward, his old partner in Evolution, Batista, intercepted him with a huge spinebuster that shook the ring. As the referee signaled for Cena's disqualification, Batista brutalized Orton with a sit-down powerbomb and stomped away on him. With an intense smirk, he speared a recovery Cena and locked in the Batista-Bite submission hold. Cena cried out in pain as the PPV went off the air.
The NXT Generation of Superstars is coming...
The following night on RAW, Vince unveiled his newest concept to the WWE Universe. With the NXT logo prominently displayed on the Titantron behind him, McMahon revealed that a new show featuring WWE rookies would be debuting on the Sy-FY network on Tuesday nights. As the crowd murmured in excitement, McMahon introduced the broadcast team that would be calling the action to explain the concept.
The Oklahoma University fight song exploded out of the speakers as "Good Ole' J.R.", Jim Ross, emerged from the back sporting his classic Stetson. McMahon handed him the microphone and gracefully exited the stage as Ross received a standing ovation from the crowd.
Ross- Thank you. (pausing while the crowd continues to cheer)
Thank you all. It is so good to be back here on Monday Night Raw. Some of the best times of my life can be traced back to this show and I know my old broadcast partner is glad to still be here. I miss you, King.
(The crowd erupts again as Jerry Lawler stands and waves at his old partner from the broadcast booth.)
That being said, Michael Cole has done a helluva job replacing me and making this show his own. He deserves a big hand folks.
(The crowd gives the obligatory cheer with some boos mixed in.)
NXT will be a unique experience. In order to capture that, I was given a unique broadcast partner. Ladies and gentlemen;, my partner, a WWE hall of famer and one of my dearest friends, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin!
(The breaking of shattered glass is heard throughout the auditorium as the crowd explodes. Austin comes out and embraces Ross. Together the two soak in the adoration of the crowd.)
Ross- NXT will bring up 16 rookies and pair them with WWE superstars who will mentor them and get them ready for their WWE careers. Over the course of 10 to 12 weeks, depending how the competition goes, you will see these young superstars compete against one another for the right to vie for a WWE championship.
Austin- Lemme break this down, 16 suns-a-GUNS (pausing and smiling at the crowd)" You thought I was gonna say it didn't ya? "
(The crowd answers with "What?" )
"You know the word."
("What?")The word that comes after sons of-
(Austin begins laughing and flips off the crowd with a big grin. Naturally, WWE TV cuts off the gesture at the wrist, but the reaction of the crowd tells everyone at home what happened.)
Anyways, 16 PROSPECTS will get in that ring and have a battle royal the first night of the dat-blame show. Then we are gonna bring out 16 WWE superstars to see who is going to be who's coach. Some of these guys, like "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes, are the real deal, son. Some of them are...(Austin ponders the correct word to use next)...some of them are idiots like Zack *censored*ing Ryder.
Ross- The battle royal will determine seeding for the season long double-elimination tournament. That tournament will help determine the place these young men will enter the ring in the first ever Rookie Rumble at the new Money in the Bank pay- per- view this July.
Austin- That's right. The Rookie Rumble, it's just like the Royal Rumble except the winner of the damn thing gets a title shot at either the US title or Intercontintal title; depending on which brand he gets drafted to.
Ross- I'm glad you mentioned the WWE Draft, Steve. You see folks, the WWE draft will take place the first Monday in August on RAW and these young men will be the draft pool. This show is their opportunity to show Shane and Stephanie what they are made of. It is a chance to make an impression. Think of it like the Rose Bowl, the Final Four and the College Baseball World Series all rolled into one.
Austin- So stayed tuned in the coming weeks, WWE Universe. All of these potential superstars will be introducing themselves to you on RAW and Smackdown. You all need to check it out. And that's the bottom line because Stone Cold said so!!!
John Cena (World Champion)
*Big and Great
The Big Show
The Great Khali
MVP & Henry
*MVP (World Tag Team Title)
*Mark Henry (World Tag Team Title)
R-Truth (US Title)
Rajinn Singh (manger of The Great Khali)
The Dude Brusters
The Uso Brothers
Kofi Kingston (IC title)
The Hart Dynasty 2.0
*David Hart Smith (WWE Tag Champion)
*Tyson Kidd (WWE Tag Champion)
Hornswoggle (manger of Fit Finlay)
The Varsity Club
*Jack Swagger (WWE Champion)
The Straight Edge Society
Serena Deeb (manager of CM Punk, Joey Mercury and Luke Gallows)
The Bella Twins
*Layla El (WWE Divas Champion)
*Note From The Author*
*Note on Cryme Tyme in this diary. Rather than have them fall apart after Wrestlemania, I chose to keep them together becuase I need them to tag AND I have big plans for them. They play a central role in one of my main RAW storylines. Imagine that, Cryme Tyme in a good angle.
As of now, they are still arging with one another
NXT will be taken in a totally differnt direction in this diary. Think of it more as more of a tournament and NOT a reality show. The mentors will have a big part in training and giving the "rookies" their spin on things, but the show is about showcasing new talent for the WWE universe and giving the WWE a draft pool for the draft. Established stars will NOT be jumping brand to brand or appearing on each others shows. When it does happen, it will be a HUGE occurance.
DIVAS will be developed slowly and steady. Its only a 1 hour show so my roster is about the right size to showcase every. That being said, I plan on bringing in 3 very important female workers that will add some excitement. I'm treating these ladies like actual workers; not eye candy. They will have legit angles and motivations for doing what they do. (It won't just be "Kelly Kelly is pretty. I hate her." or "Maryse is a bitch for no reason. Let's pillow fight.")
Stables will mean something like the old Horsemen or the orginal NWO. It won't just be set up to prop one guy up. These groups will have reasons to be together and will be orginizations that benifit everyone involved. I'm going to throw a tad bit of old 80s/90s style booking into the modern scene to give it a more authentic and meaning ful feel. Tag Wrestling will mean something. I plan to use it to build up wrestlers for the singles scene and help build the Carlito Colons and Shelton Benjamins into the new Brett Harts and Shawn Micheals. A ton of major stars came from a tag background. (HBK, The Hitman, Stone Cold, Ric Flair, etc.) I want to get back to that.
Managers will be used... Quote me. "Managers will be used." Just wait and see. (Hornswoggle and Rosa are a challenge, but real managers are coming eventually. Wait and see.)
The layout and majority of the graphics are courtsey of LJM. His help in this has been invaluable.
JDK was kind enough to help me with the DIVAs graphic while LJM was on holiday. (Both are great members over on another site.)