January 2002: Pre-Sin News and Notes
King Corino cracked his tailbone during his match with Air Paris on Nitro. He offered to work through the injury so we could go ahead as scheduled with his match with Bob Backlund at Sin, but I decided to hold him out of the ring until he's 100% again. It necessitated a fresh contract with Bob since he was set to be finished with us before our doctors estimate Steve will be fully healthy, but that's no big deal.
Hours before we opened the doors to let fans in for Sin, I finalized a deal to purchase the longest-running wrestling company in Japan.
Back in the 80's, All Japan Women's Pro Wrestling (established in 1968) was putting on arguably the best wrestling product in the world. Many of their women, especially the Crush Gals team of Chigusa Nagayo and Lioness Asuka, were basically rock stars in Japan in that era. But those glory days are well behind them, and in recent months I'd been hearing that their debts were accumulating and they were in danger of closing up shop. I called up owner Takashi Matsunaga to begin negotiations on a buyout, and it was now official: WCW had purchased AJW.
I had always been planning on introducing a women's division in WCW, and was strongly leaning towards doing so very soon and starting a tournament featuring our women currently in development, which would crown a new champion at Clash of the Champions in March. That will no longer be necessary, because AJW's titles are obviously part of the sale. Among their titles is the WWWA World title, which traces its lineage all the way back to Mildred Burke in 1937, and depending on how you look at it you could say it is descended from the original women's title created in the 1890's. This will eventually be rebranded as the WCW Women's World championship, but we'll definitely be playing up the heritage of this as the true, original women's championship.
The bigger part of the deal was the option to inherit the contracts of AJW's roster. I didn't retain every single member of the roster, but I did select eight of their best to form the nucleus of our new women's division. There are some supremely talented women in that group, and I think they'll be capable of producing some high quality matches that will give our division immediate legitimacy.
At first we'll simply incorporate the women's division into our current programming, but I think it's possible we could look to split the women off into their own distinct brand later, with a one hour weekly TV show and occasional PPV events every 2-4 months. With the AJW roster at the helm, we could run that brand in Japan every week to make the most of their talents as well as our rapidly growing popularity over there.
We'll need to introduce their characters more thoroughly to our non-Japanese audience when we put them on TV, but I've made a list of the 8 women I acquired in the deal along with their rankings in the 2001 Power 500:
#49: Manami Toyota
#73: Kaoru Ito
#77: Akira Hokuto (currently out with a shattered elbow, back in around 5 months)
#92: Takako Inoue
#102: Toshiyo Yamada
#153: Etsuko Mita (current WWWA World Champion, out for the next two weeks with a broken arm)
#203: Momoe Nakanishi
#210: Shinobu Kandori
Ricky Steamboat has joined us on a full-time deal as a road agent. I'm paying him more money than I would've liked to, but road agent is too important a position to cheap out on and he was the most qualified person available. Now Dusty doesn't have to handle every single match, and we also have a contingency plan for when Dusty isn't available, which does occasionally happen due to his ownership of TCW.
When I heard Jerry Lynn's contract was set to expire I quickly jumped in with an offer. Bringing him in to work with RVD would've been a natural fit, but Vince offered more money and a longer deal than I was really comfortable giving to Lynn considering he's 38 and doesn't have much charisma to speak of. He would've gotten more opportunities with us than he will in WWF, where he's basically a second class citizen despite holding their light heavyweight title. Oh well.
I guess Vince finally remembered he has tag team titles. They shot an angle on Raw where Triple H turned face by attacking Austin in the ring as they were about to defend the titles against Too Cool, who "pinned" Austin to win the titles.
Before he left, Jushin Liger took Vampiro aside and tried to help improve his attitude. It remains to be seen whether or not Vampiro will revert back to old habits, but the signs are promising so far.
I briefly entertained the idea of keeping Jerry Lawler around to manage Corino. I even tested them out in a dark match before our first post-Starrcade Nitro, but I would've needed to see something special out of them to justify the kind of money it would've taken to make Jerry a regular, and that didn't happen. He's now gone from WCW, but it's always possible I could bring him back if the right situation comes along.
Stevie Ray is also soon to be gone, which was why I wrote that angle where Booker attacked him. I'm sure Booker would've liked it if he were still around, but there just wasn't a place for him.
The WWF did a bit of roster cleanup, releasing the Bushwhackers, Public Enemy and Corporal Kirchner. Seriously, why did they bring back Corporal Kirchner in the year 2001?
New Japan ran their annual January 4th show at the Tokyo Dome. They headlined with Fujinami retaining the IWGP title against Osamu Nishimura, and Fujinami turned back the clock and delivered a performance straight out of his prime in the 1980's. It wasn't as good as Misawa's best matches over in NOAH, but it was still a great main event fitting of headlining NJPW's biggest show of the year.
Ever since Misawa led the mass exodus of talent to form NOAH in '99, perpetual rivals NJPW and AJPW had been on friendlier terms than they'd ever been. Their pact of nonagression seems to be a thing of the past, which was probably inevitable with NJPW being the biggest promotion in the country but NOAH putting on so many classic matches that they won the company of the year award for 2001. It'll be interesting to see what happens with shared wrestlers like Mutoh, Liger and Jinsei Shinzaki.
Kidman has changed to a more standard fan favorite character, and it's been okay so far. Nothing special, but nothing horrible either.
I signed TAKA and Midajah to contract extensions. TAKA initially came in under a short deal but will now be with us long term.
Chance Beckett shattered his elbow on an ECCW show and will probably be out for a year or more. That's a rough break for him, but not a significant problem for us since he was enhancement talent and only under a PPA agreement.
Prior to the purchase of AJW, I signed Canadian female wrestler LuFisto to a developmental deal. Between the eight women who came over in the buyout and the six we now have down in Wildside, we should wind up with a pretty talented and deep women's roster.
Vampiro really isn't a fan of TAKA. He continues to insist that he can't connect with the WCW audience. Maybe he was in the bathroom during TAKA's match at Starrcade. On the other side, no less an authority than Ric Flair had nothing but good things to say about Bryan Danielson's in-ring skill.
Hugh Morrus has been fighting the flu recently. At least it hasn't spread to the rest of the locker room.
Originally Posted by michgcs
Agreed with most of the guys saying you should just pop in and alter the inner workings of the WWE, so I'm glad that's what you did. Booking for 2 major companies will take a tremendous toll on you and we don't want that, now, do we?
Booker T and Scott Steiner are big enough headaches, as it is.
Scotty honestly hasn't been as bad as I thought he'd be.
(Probably because I got rid of steroid testing.)
Originally Posted by michgcs
American Dragon vs. "Sugar" Shane Helms
Sorry, but I can't ever take someone named American Dragon seriously
Don't worry; it's not like that skinny nerd will ever win anything! He doesn't even drink SODA!
Originally Posted by Cro Cop Rules
This event is giving guys who normally miss pay-per-views some nice air time, like Helms, 3 Count, Totally Buffed. Really excited to see the outcomes here, and I would love to see a Sting-Finlay match in real life.
Yep; that's a byproduct of stars like Steiner, Booker, and Flair not having matches on the show.
Originally Posted by Briskout
General diary comments/questions/critiques: This pay per view seems like a filler, not that that's bad! Filler PPVs build up to the big ones, so I'm not criticizing it at all. Interesting you used Steiner once in the whole post PPV build, which is why I think BPP interferes. Glad you figured out your Power Trip problem, I'm not sure how I'll handle it. Maybe HHH will tear a quad
It's definitely a "B" PPV. That's how I approached it at least; doesn't mean the grades reflected that.
Maybe you should turn on Kenny Deaths and see if he has an unfortunate encounter with a wood chipper.
Originally Posted by Kijar
General diary comments/questions/critiques: RVD is the World Champ!? Why was I not here sooner lol Great stuff man.
Well he did
only just win it.