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Default April 2003: Pre-Clash of the Champions News and Notes

April 14th, 2003
Dayton, Ohio
The Afternoon--Before Nitro

Today was the day of truth. Negotiations had gone back and forth, but today I was going to get my answer.

I'd already resigned myself to losing one of the major stars Vince targeted. I did come back with multiple counteroffers to try and sway him. I matched Vince in offering a hiring veto, but creative control was a no go for me. That's something I won't hand out to anyone, no matter what. I believe my base financial offer was competitive, and might have even been slightly higher than what WWE gave, but I could only shake my head when he told me they would be paying him a bonus of 20% of that figure every single time he appeared on screen, whether it be on TV or PPV. I was willing to offer a similar perk for PPVs, but doing it on TV as well just didn't make financial sense to me.

It was no surprise when he called me yesterday to tell me he was signing with WWE. That made today even more important.

I hadn't spent all my time fending off Vince though. These moves won't generate the headlines our big coup will once it inevitably leaks, but I've signed another trio of people away from the WWE.

-I signed a particular non-wrestler to a deal. They could wear a variety of hats for us, from manager to personality to color commentator. I spent a little more money here than I really probably should on a non-wrestler. I think I was feeling particularly vindictive and just wanted to sign someone away in retaliation, but hopefully it'll be worth it. They'll also fit in nicely with a story we've currently got running too.

Aside from him, I signed away a couple of Vince's developmental talents:

-Lisa Marie Varon has agreed to leave WWE's developmental system and join us. They offered her an extension, but she wants to be a wrestler and was tired of being used strictly as a manager. She'll probably be in 5SSW to start, but I think she'll be on Renaissance sooner or later. She's a former bodybuilder and fitness competitor with a good look, and she says she's been working on honing her in-ring skills despite them not booking her in actual matches. I actually have a ready-made idea for her once she's on Renaissance.

-I also came to terms with Shelton Benjamin. Shelton was an amateur wrestler at Minnesota the same time Brock Lesnar was there, but unlike Brock he never got the call to hit the main roster. He has no blowaway skills but is passable at just about everything, and he is a super athlete. WWE did offer him an extension but they didn't try very hard to improve their offer once I jumped in, so I guess they don't value him too highly. I'd love it if he can prove them wrong with us.

Those were really just appetizers, though. Distractions from the main course. All three have the potential to be solid contributors to WCW's future in their own ways, but nothing like this. This is a shootout, and I need all the ammunition I can get my hands on. If Vince steals this guy away from me, he's not stealing a bullet that can then be fired back at me. More like a grenade that he can lob right at my foundation.

I don't think it would kill us, but it would be a major blow for sure. That's why I went all out, did everything I could to try and convince him to stay. While I made an honest effort to keep Vince's other target, I went above and beyond for this guy. If he stays, his base pay will be even higher than Austin's, and he'll get the same perks as Steve (house shows off, hiring veto), PLUS wage matching and a 20% PPV bonus. Not even Steve got those last two, but he wasn't the beneficiary of a bidding war.

I didn't offer creative control. That remains the one thing I refuse to budge on, but I'll admit I was tempted here, especially since I know Vince DID offer it to him. I just have to hope the rest of my terms will be enough to make up for it.

Today's the deadline. If he's going to be leaving, this Sunday will be his last PPV with us and I need to plan accordingly--not just for Sunday, but for the next month, six months, the next year. He promised to give me an answer today though, so all I could do was wait.

Speak of the devil. I saw him walk out of catering, and he said a quick goodbye to Billy Kidman before coming over to me. I sat up, put my booking notebook down and took a deep breath.

"Well," I said, "you have an answer for me?" Please let it be good news.

"Yeah, I do," Rey said. "Can we talk in your office?"

Arn Anderson will be sticking around, but he'll only be under a PPA deal now.

Mike Sanders finally realized I had no intention of ever doing anything with him. He came to me to ask for his release, and I was happy to give it to him. He had over two years left on his deal that we now don't have to pay him, but it's not like he was making much anyway. He wanted an opportunity to prove himself that he wasn't going to get from me, so now he has a chance to latch on somewhere else. I wish him luck, and there are no hard feelings on my end.

Jason Jett did the same, and I gave it to him. I don't think it was so much the lack of push in his case as it was my refusal to give him a raise. I guess you could say those two things kind of go hand in hand though.

Rhyno re-signed with the WWE. I did negotiate with him, but didn't pursue him seriously. At least I drove up the price a bit!

Eli Blu re-signed too. He's probably better known as one of the Harris boys, though I'm not sure which one plays Eli and which one is Jacob, and I don't really care either. Vince is welcome to him.

Oh, and Barry Windham, aka The Stalker, signed an extension. I know Barry was considered one of the best in the world at one point, but those days are long gone. I guess it doesn't matter much since he's just being used as an opening match guy.

I'm told that Jericho has started dating a woman outside the business. Best of luck to him.

New Japan's 'Glory of History' event took place on April 11th. They finally filled the vacancy created when Yuji Nagata tore his quad, and they once again returned to a big name from the previous generation to carry the torch. Riki Choshu beat Masahiro Chono in the main event of the show to claim the vacant IWGP Heavyweight title. It's the fourth time the 51-year old Choshu has won the title, but the first in over a decade. That seemed like a poor decision to me, and the match being one of the worst on the entire card would back my opinion up. Easily the best match came in the third to last spot, when Tatsumi Fujinami, Koji Kanemoto and Satoshi Kojima won a six man tag against Manabu Nakanishi, Osamu Nishimura and Don Frye. With such a poor main event dragging it down, this was the worst big show NJPW has put on in years. This company isn't doing themselves any favors in their booking, and their mistakes are hurting them all the more now that they're caught up in a 3-way national fight with us and Vince in Japan.

All Japan's annual Champion's Carnival tournament wrapped up on April 12th, and in a bit of a surprise, Jushin Liger won the prestigious trophy by beating Genichiro Tenryu. That was a great match, but a pair of MOTYCs were produced earlier in the tournament when Toshiaki Kawada beat Hiroshi Hase and Liger defeated Keiji Mutoh. This was an excellent show for anyone, never mind a company of their current size, though All Japan's big event in March was even better. I wonder if booking Liger to win the tournament was an attempt to sway him to their side when Jushin is eventually forced to choose between them and New Japan? He's just a midcarder in NJPW, so maybe the lure of being a main eventer in AJPW will be enough to get him to leave his longtime home.

I've been hearing rumors that Big Japan Pro Wrestling is on its last legs. First ECW, then CZW and now potentially BJPW. I guess the hardcore fad is truly dead, and I can't say I'm upset about it.


I debated whether or not to reveal the identity of either or both of the people Vince was trying to steal, but I thought this would make the PPV an even more interesting read!

Question: does anybody have a good picture of Victoria/Lisa Marie Varon looking suitably crazy, like from her initial heel run in WWE? None of the pictures in the mSp pack or Taker's cuts have been quite what I'm looking for.

Originally Posted by James The Animator View Post
General diary comments/questions/critiques: The new format looks very good! The only drawback to it is that we might have to wait a bit longer for updates. But the content is definitely worth the wait. I'm definitely looking forward to the show, as well as seeing which big name from WWE just came in!
Obviously it's too early for me to know how it'll work out over the long haul, but at least so far I've actually found this style makes it easier for me to get through shows more quickly. I'm a writer at heart, so spending more time writing about the major storylines and less time describing filler segments and copying down segment grades is very appealing to me.

Originally Posted by Uncrewed View Post
Wait, Reno is the champ in Wildside? Bring him up and push him to the moon!
Outside of David Flair he's probably the worst worker in Wildside, at least of the developmental guys.

Originally Posted by Kijar View Post
World Heavyweight Championship: "The Phenomenal" AJ Styles vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. {©}
A world where this is a WCW main event is a world I want to live in.
...But will it be a one time only match, before Rey takes a big money offer to go job to Big Show?

Originally Posted by JMike View Post
General diary comments/questions/critiques: At first I didn't care for the format but now it's growing on me. I think it works better on Nitro than on Renaissance because there's more storylines going on. I also like the fact that we can see all the dark matches and stuff. Was not expecting a True Heroes turn
Yeah, it was designed with Nitro in mind. Another thing to remember is that there were only two weeks of Renaissance to cover before that PPV, so none of us, myself included, have seen how it'll function under a more standard timeframe.

I tried not to hint too much about the Heroes' impending face turns, but I'd been planning it for awhile. Doing it in the finals of the UFS and with Salvation as their nemesis actually meshed shockingly well with where I was already planning on going, which is one of the major reasons I put these two teams in the finals.

Originally Posted by Happy0wns View Post
General diary comments/questions/critiques: After the women's update I was a little on the fence, but after seeing the latest update, I'm a fan of the new style, really easy to follow, i enjoy it.
I'm glad to hear it! This is actually more in line with what my original concept was when I first started the dynasty, and I'm liking the move so far.

Originally Posted by crackerjack View Post
Hays Bush’s
This is one of the best autocorrects I've ever seen!

Originally Posted by Theheel View Post
"The Hellraiser" Steve Austin vs. King Corino
I like Austin to get the win here but look for the Embassy to get their heat back after the match. Corino has been so good and improved so much, I hate to see him lose this one.
...I think these promos probably wouldn't be going as well if it were Prince Nana doing the talking instead of Bischoff!
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