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Default February 2003: Pre-SuperBrawl News and Notes

February 18th, 2003
Early morning

I laughed when I looked at the caller ID. I'd been expecting, and I have to say looking forward, to this call.

"Good morning, Vince," I said by way of greeting. "Calling to congratulate me?"

"Is that supposed to be funny?" Oh, so not in the joking mood today. I wonder why.

"I thought it was," I quipped.

"I don't have time for your nonsense," he grumbled.

"You're the one who called me, you know." I could practically picture him gritting his teeth on the other end of the phone, and it made me smile.

"I'm very disappointed in you, Bret," he said, ignoring my banter. "I thought you wouldn't stoop as low as Bischoff did."

"Stooping? How exactly am I stooping?"

"You know what you did. We built Austin. I built him! And now you're trying to profit off of my hard work!"

I could only shake my head at his audacity. "First off, it was YOU who decided to let his contract expire. Was he just supposed to never work again?"

"He could've come back as an ambassador! Just like I would've used you, if you hadn't sold me out for Ted Turner's money!" Okay, now I wasn't sure whether to be angry or confused. Was he just trying to get under my skin, or had he told his lies so often that he'd convinced himself they were true?

"I TURNED DOWN Turner's money out of loyalty to you," I reminded him. "I signed a twenty year contract with you. And then a year later you told me you couldn't afford to pay me and you wanted out of the deal."

"And I helped you get the most money you could out of Turner!" he shouted. "And this is how you repay me? Not only do you swoop in and steal WCW right out from under my nose, now you bring in my greatest creation?!"

"You didn't CREATE Steve," I said calmly. "Steve is Steve. He saved your ass, he saved your entire company, and you rewarded him by kicking him to the curb as soon as you decided to present Rocky as the figurehead. That's what you do. But Steve still has a lot left to give, so do I, and so does WCW. Now you've got all three of us to deal with, because this war is only just beginning."
We're all-in on our national expansion. The great success of our past couple of PPVs made a believer out of Austin, who now saw us as a legitimate competitor and was willing to come to the negotiating table. I gave him a number of concessions to coax him into lowering his asking price, including assuring him he'd be presented as a main event icon, giving him house shows and B level TV shows off (not that we even have a B show anymore), and giving him the authority to nix any new hires if he has a personal issue with them. That incentive package got him to drop his fee quite a bit, but he'll still be our highest-paid employee by far. His wage is more than double that of everyone in the company except for Booker T, and he's only a few thousand away from doubling up Booker too. I think it's a worthwhile investment though. If we're truly going to try and directly compete with WWE again, we need star power. Even with Steve we're still well behind WWE in that respect, but at least he narrows the gap somewhat.

Another plus in all of this is our television partners were willing to renegotiate and give us better time slots. Almost all of our broadcasters for both Nitro and Renaissance will now be airing the shows in prime time, with the only exception being Renaissance on Much Music in Canada. It also meant that we were able to move on from FX and get Renaissance onto USA, so that program will reach more homes in the US once the FX deal expires next month.

Our production quality has always paled in comparison to WWE's. That wasn't as much of a problem before when we were focused on just rebuilding faith in WCW and winning fans back, but we couldn't afford to look second rate now that we're heading back into prime time TV. We had to pump quite a bit of money into upgrading our production and it will be much more expensive to maintain on a monthly basis as well, but there's no room to cut corners there. Part of the expenses include shelling out top dollar for music from major licensed bands, which started with getting an Ozzy Osbourne song for Austin's theme and will probably continue with most, if not all, of our PPV themes going forward.

Eric Bischoff called me when he heard I was negotiating with Austin and said he didn't think it would be a good idea, because there's still some hard feelings between the two over the way Eric fired him from WCW in 1995. If he actually expected that to stop me from hiring one of the biggest stars ever, I think he overestimated his own value to us. Eric's pretty annoyed now, but he'll just have to live with it.

A botch by Konnan gave enhancement talent Billy Kim a minor concussion in a dark match on the February 17th Nitro, and he caught some heat with the locker room for it.

I saw Austin chatting with Harry Smith backstage on his first night in. He told Harry he's turning into a really good worker and could wind up being even better than his dad.

"Why're you still tryin' with this Elix Skipper? He's been here for years and nobody gives a damn about him! He calls himself Primetime, but ain't nobody got time to watch him 'cause he sucks!" -Scott Steiner

Takako Inoue thinks Allison Corino is struggling to connect with the Japanese fanbase.

Amidst the backstage hustle and bustle as we got ready for SuperBrawl to go on the air, I saw Sting giving some pointers on psychology to Johnny Parisi. He took the kid under his wing when he was just a job guy and the mentorship has continued after Johnny's return from developmental. He improved quite a bit down in Wildside, and if Sting continues to help him out he could get even better.

NOAH held their Big Egg Rebellion PPV on February 17th. There was some great stuff on the show, but the match placement hurt the overall feel. The main event was Mistsuharu Misawa and Yoshinari Ogawa defeating Masao Inoue and Tatsuhito Takaiwa in a tag match that was very good, but was only the third best on the show. Akira Taue retained the GHC Heavyweight title against Kenta Kobashi in a great semi main event, but the highlight of the night came just before that when Jun Akiyama beat Akitoshi Saito in a show-stealer. It was still a very good show, but missed out on being a great one like we saw from them last month.

Misawa has been dealing with a nagging back injury recently. I was strongly considering bringing him in for a show or two very soon, but I may hold off on that until he's all healed up.

The Japanese branch of Ultimo Dragon's Toryumon held their last show on February 11th. It ironically was the best big show they've put on in several years. The group did have some talent, but they were never able to break out of the pack and establish themselves in a crowded Japanese indie scene before their debts caught up to them.

The rather odd pairing of Samoa Joe and Kendo Kashin won the NWA World Tag Team titles from Kory Chavis and Eddie Colon on a recent Zero-One show.

MEN's Teioh, formerly of Kaientai and currently working for Big Japan, suffered a gruesome knee injury in a recent match which will apparently keep him out for at least a year and possibly even longer.

Vince Russo's attempt to get the former Mantaur over continues into 2003. He's really going all-out with it too, because he's the new TNA champion after beating reigning champion BJ Whitmer and Ice Train in a three way at TNA's Early Warning show on February 14th. That was a pretty bad main event which was totally overshadowed by the much better semi main where Sonjay Dutt beat Matt Sydal (non-title), but at least the show was better than last month. This show also had Sara Del Rey win the NWA Women's title from Selina Majors.

In news that happened a few months ago but only caught my attention recently, independent worker Low Ki officially announced his retirement as an active wrestler. He showed some promise and was someone that was on my radar for potentially bringing in on a developmental deal down the road, but he never returned after a severe injury to his neck and spine in the summer of 2001.

AJPW put their All-Asian Tag Team titles (their second-tier, midcard tag team titles) on the team of Masanobu Fuchi and Mike Barton (the former Bart Gunn.) They ended the more than year-long reign of Hideki Hosaka and Gran Naniwa on the February 15th AJPW TV show.

The Mexican branch of Toryumon, which from now on I'll simply call Toryumon since the Japanese version has folded, just became a member of the National Wrestling Alliance. I'm assuming the end of the Japanese branch had something to do with this based on the timing. The NWA hadn't had any alliance members in Mexico in recent years, so this deal makes sense for both sides.

Originally Posted by K-Nection View Post
What will be match of the night? I'm torn so there is probably a good reason you are headlining Punk vs. Mysterio
I'm torn too! I'm about to run the show, and I feel like there are three or four matches that could conceivably win it.

General diary comments/questions/critiques: FYI If I win the UFS I have an interesting pick on my team on who I will give the shot to. (no its not Harry lol)
I'm guessing you'd suggest Manami Toyota vs. Rey Mysterio.

Originally Posted by Kijar View Post
The Steiners vs. Made in Italy
Uhhh...I think he's in ROH.

Originally Posted by sportsfanmas View Post
General diary comments/questions/critiques: Loving this dynasty, wish I could write a dynasty half as good as you do, and wish I had more time to commit to mine. Getting Steve Austin is a big pick-up, hopefully he can still give you a few good years and his neck injuries won't hold him back. If anything, you've got another guy that is golden on the mic. Keep up the good work
I wouldn't worry too much about comparing your dynasty to any others; just write at your own pace and have fun with it. It's not like we're getting paid or anything!

Austin's obviously great on the mic and it seems like he should still be able to put on great matches too. He doesn't show up on time decline or anything, so that's good. I really don't need him for show quality purposes though. His big contribution will be giving me a point total in the national battle that's way above everyone in WWE aside from Rock. I'll still need to do more to try and get into the fight though.

Originally Posted by kinnikuniverse View Post
The tide of battle has changed! Oh I can't wait to see vince's reaction!
Hopefully it didn't disappoint!

Yay, the king of swag style has arrived. I'm surprised that noah didn't grab him! And I like minoru. Very good MMA style worker. Them having Chem as a tag team is also great for the division!
It's weird because some of the guys that NJPW fired, like Wataru Inoue, got scooped up pretty much immediately. Guess nobody sees a future in this Shinsuke kid. He and Minoru should make for an interesting team once Shinsuke gets called up.

Originally Posted by DiamondKnucklez View Post
General diary comments/questions/critiques: Got to say man, still really enjoy reading this. Its just crazy how far you have come with this and I hope there are many more in game years to come. I ain't going to lie, was really shocked when Steve Austin made his return. Its great man, I cannot wait to see where you go from here.
I don't plan on ending any time soon. I'm as invested as ever, especially after hitting national and signing Austin. The thought of being in a position to get into a legit war is really cool, because that's something I've never really done in TEW before. In my other two long running games I was either a small regional company (ROH 2002) or a giant already far ahead of everyone else (WWF 1987.)

That Austin debut is one of my favorite things in this dynasty so far. I had a lot of fun writing it. I've got well defined plans for Austin for the rest of 2003 which I think should be really interesting.

Originally Posted by The OGI View Post
United States Heavyweight Championship: Lance Storm vs. AJ Styles {}
Storm winning the US title while Punk loses his shot could be interesting
...Or they could both win, and if they retain at Slamboree next month, they'd meet champion vs. champion at Clash of the Champions!

General diary comments/questions/critiques:
I'm interested in seeing what you do with Austin. He's a major star but isn't exactly the best fit for the current product. Also emotionally distraught Booker T is amazing.
Poor Booker. Hopefully he gets things figured out soon!
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