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Default April 2003: Clash of the Champions Wrap-up and Hall of Champions

April 20th, 2003
Less than an hour after the conclusion of Clash of the Champions

I sat in my hotel room, chuckling to myself at the early comments flooding our message boards. Many people were asking if I'd been fired (obviously not possible since I'm the owner) or had been overruled (again, not possible), because surely there's no way I would ever hire Bill Goldberg after he ended my career!

It seems like almost everybody believes that I hate Bill, but they're mistaken on that. I do think he was careless in that match, but it's part of the job. There's not any bad blood between us now, and there wasn't back then either. I've always gotten along well with Bill, though I know some people find him to be selfish.

Some people are also worried that this is a sign we're abandoning our current focus on great ring work to go back to the old days of WCW, when the dinosaurs like Hogan dominated the main events while the Jerichos and Guerreros and Mysterios busted their asses in the openers. That's not going to happen. We're going to continue presenting the best wrestling matches in the world, and having a superstar like Bill in the fold will hopefully get more eyeballs on the product, where they'll then see how great guys like Rey, AJ, Punk and Storm are.

Oh, and speaking of Rey...

Six days earlier
Dayton, Ohio
Bret Hart's office

"Here it is," Rey said, pushing the contract offer across the desk. I glanced at it, and sure enough, there was his signature.

It was official: Vince did his very best to pry my top guy and champion from me, just like he'd done to so many territories in the '80s. But unlike those territorial owners, I'd amassed the funds to fight back. He'd failed. Rey Mysterio Jr. had just signed a brand new contract that will keep him with WCW until 2008.

"Thanks," I said, grinning at him. "You won't regret this."

"I'm a top guy, and I'm getting paid more money than Steve Austin," he said, chuckling. "I know I won't."

"You're worth it," I said, and I meant it. I'd had to pay dearly to make this happen, but this wasn't someone I could let slip through my fingers if I could help it. He's always been a fantastic worker, and now he's got the superstar look and the popularity to match. Guys like that don't grow on trees.

"I appreciate that, Bret, and I appreciate you giving me this chance. No one else has ever believed I could be a major headliner."

We shook hands before he left, both of us smiling. He had plenty of reason to smile, of course. He was now one of the highest-paid guys in the entire business. His hard work had brought him a big payday. And between him staying and my big signing from WWE, I definitely felt I'd gotten the better of this recent skirmish with Vince.

I'd worked out what I thought was a pretty damn good backup plan in the event Rey left, but now my options were wide-open. With the short-term crisis averted, it was time to return my focus to the big picture.

Retaining Rey was huge, and made the loss of Booker T far more bearable. Maybe I could've done more to try and hold onto Booker, but I want to try and be smart about managing my payroll and chose to put most of my effort into keeping Rey. Booker will now be among the highest-paid guys in the WWE, even before you factor in the big bonus he'll get every time he appears on-screen. He obviously wasn't happy about being squashed by Sean O'Haire, but I spent years doing everything I could to keep him happy, protecting him and keeping him looking strong as much as possible. He was damn sure going to repay that on his final PPV by trying to give somebody else a rub, and O'Haire was the choice. We'll write him out officially on the next Nitro.

I think our young, talented roster won't be affected too much by the loss of Booker, but he does create a big hole in my long-term plans. It was going to gradually be revealed that Bischoff had used Booker's obsession with the world title against him, luring him to The Empire with grand promises of a sixth title reign while actually using him as nothing more than a pawn. It would've all led up to a Booker face turn and a big Starrcade match with Corino, but that's all out the window now. Time to go back to the drawing board.

The day of the Clash didn't get off to the best start. Jeff Hardy was extremely late to the building, to the point I started worrying we might need to make a backup plan. I told him off when he finally did show up, and switched the finish so Matt got the pin instead of him. Not exactly what I want to see from a guy I hope will become one of the cornerstones of the company.

I knew Austin wouldn't be too thrilled losing to Corino, but he was okay with it when I laid out the planned finish. He realized the nature of the loss wouldn't do much to damage him, and it was also necessary for the story. I did make sure to praise him in the post-show speech, right before leading a round of applause for AJ and Rey for their great main event.

After the show went off the air, we had Goldberg squash Lash Leroux in like a minute. Just a chance for Bill to work off a bit of the ring rust, since it's been awhile since he worked.

This was a great night. Not even Scott Steiner ranting about me needing to fire Aguila or Shannon Moore complaining about his push were going to hurt my mood. Rey was sticking around, Goldberg made his shocking return, we put on a fantastic show that blew Backlash out of the water by all accounts, and we've got our brand new WWE signing waiting in the wings. If Vince isn't worried yet, he will be soon.

WWE ran their own PPV, Backlash, on April 20th as well. The best match on the show was Kurt Angle retaining the ECW title against Chris Benoit in a Wrestlemania rematch, but that was only the semi-main event. (And it wasn't as good as Unnatural vs. Storm or Rey vs. AJ anyway!) The main event saw Big Show and Triple H win a tag match against Scott Hall and Mr. Perfect. Uhh...okay? That match was good, but it was a weird choice to put in the main event. Less than a month after the biggest night of his career, WWE Champion Chris Jericho's only appearance on the show was in a confrontation with Angle. Kinda thought they'd have him defend the title there, but hey, I guess Val Venis beating Funaki by DQ was an essential part of this PPV. The show was good, but ours was much better.

Hall of Champions:



World Heavyweight Champion:

Rey Mysterio Jr.

Won: December 29th, 2002 from Booker T at Starrcade in Sydney, Australia

Previous Champions (since March 2001):
Booker T (#5): May 19th, 2002-December 29th, 2002 (224 days)
Rob Van Dam: December 30th, 2001-May 19th, 2002 (140 days)
Scott Steiner (#2): July 15th, 2001-December 30th, 3001 (168 days)
Booker T (#4): March 26th, 2001-July 15th, 2001 (111 days)

United States Heavyweight Champion:

AJ Styles

Won: December 29th, 2002 from Shane Douglas at Starrcade in Sydney, Australia

Previous Champions (since March 2001):
Shane Douglas (#2): April 1st, 2002-December 29th, 2002 (272 days)
Rey Misterio Jr (#2): October 14th, 2001-April 1st, 2002 (169 days)
Kanyon: August 5th, 2001-October 14th, 2001 (70 days)
Rey Misterio Jr: May 13th, 2001-August 5th, 2001 (85 days)
Booker T: March 18th, 2001-April 30th, 2001 (44 days)

Cruiserweight Champion:

"American Dragon" Bryan Danielson (2nd reign)

Won: April 20th, 2003 from Christopher Daniels at Clash of the Champions in Toda, Japan

Previous Champions (since March 2001):
Christopher Daniels: September 22nd, 2002-April 20th, 2003 (210 days)
American Dragon: August 11th, 2002-September 22nd, 2002 (42 days)
AJ Styles: April 21st, 2002-August 11th, 2002 (112 days)
TAKA: December 30th, 2001-April 21st, 2002 (112 days)
Jushin Liger: August 5th, 2001-December 30th, 2001 (147 days)
Shane Helms: March 18th, 2001-August 5th, 2001 (140 days)

World Television Champion:

Sean O'Haire

Won: January 26th, 2003 from Fit Finlay at Sin in Denver, Colorado

Previous Champions (since July 2002):
Fit Finlay (#2): July 29th, 2002-January 26th, 2003 (181 days)

World Tag Team Champions:

The Hardys (Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy, 2nd reign for both individually and as a team)

Won: December 29th, 2002 from True Heroes in a ladder match at Starrcade in Sydney, Australia

Previous Champions (since March 2001):
True Heroes (Lance Storm and CM Punk): October 27th, 2002-December 29th, 2002 (63 days)
The Hardys (Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy): July 14th, 2002-October 27th, 2002 (105 days)
True Heroes (Lance Storm and CM Punk): December 30th, 2001-July 14th, 2002 (196 days)
The Natural Born Thrillers (Chuck Palumbo and Sean O'Haire): January 14th, 2001-December 30th, 2001 (351 days)


Mayhem Battle Royal (held every May):

2002: Diamond Dallas Page

Stu Hart Classic Tournament (held every November):

2002: Rey Mysterio Jr.
2001: Rob Van Dam



World Women's Champion:

Manami Toyota (4th reign)

Won: October 5th, 2002 from Etsuko Mita on Women's Wrestling Renaissance in Tokyo, Japan
((This was formerly the WWWA World Championship, the top title in All Japan Women's Pro Wrestling. The title was renamed the WCW World Women's Championship upon WCW buying AJW, and its title lineage was kept intact.))

Previous Champions (since January 2002):
Etsuko Mita: January 9th, 2002-October 5th, 2002 (269 days)

The Ultimate Fan Series

2003: Satyr's Hopeful Few, managed by Satyr24 (Mortis, The Unnatural, Alexander, Christopher Daniels and Melissa Anderson)

2002: The Agents of Chaos, managed by Beejus Pilgrim (Scott Steiner, Rick Steiner, Mark Jindrak and Dustin Rhodes)

2001: The K-Nections, managed by Kevin Gaines (Booker T, Sting, AJ Styles and Alex Wright)

1989? Championship Pedigree, managed by Bernie Klein (Hulk Hogan, Ted DiBiase, Tito Santana, Robert Gibson and The Rougeau Brothers)

Prediction Scores (out of a possible 11 points):

Kijar: 10

DGenerationMC: 9
Happy0wns: 9
Warhawk8492: 9
chrismday: 9
ElectricX: 9

James The Animator: 8
Dead_Jester: 8
Theheel: 8
Smasher1311: 8

kinnikuniverse: 7
DavidCorperial: 7
crackerjack: 7

Danny_H22: 6
K-Nection: 6
Uncrewed: 6
Satyr24: 6
evileddie10: 6
JMike: 6
Nobby_McDonald: 6
Texasrangers13: 6
Cro Cop Rules: 6
2Sweet: 6
The Pitbull: 6

deanohbk: 5
jscotty: 5
Rateddc: 5
DHK1989: 5
michgcs: 5
Wolfman84: 5
WilburTrey: 5
Ian carlisle: 5

KnowYourEnemy: 4
bonnie: 4
GingeyOne: 4
Beejus: 4
Standings in prediction contest after two shows:

Warhawk8492: 15
Kijar: 15

Happy0wns: 14

James The Animator: 13
DGenerationMC: 13

kinnikuniverse: 12
Satyr24: 12
Theheel: 12
chrismday: 12

Dead_Jester: 11

K-Nection: 10
JMike: 10
evileddie10: 10

michgcs: 9
jscotty: 9
DavidCorperial: 9
ElectricX: 9

Rateddc: 8
Smasher1311: 8

GingeyOne: 7
Beejus: 7
Danny_H22: 7
crackerjack: 7

KnowYourEnemy: 6
deanohbk: 6
Uncrewed: 6
Nobby_McDonald: 6
Texasrangers13: 6
Cro Cop Rules: 6
2Sweet: 6
The Pitbull: 6

DHK1989: 5
Wolfman84: 5
WilburTrey: 5
Ian carlisle: 5
bonnie: 5

cbacon87: 2

Goldberg isn't the big WWE signing, guys. He's never been in WWE in this universe; he's been on hiatus since the game started.

Originally Posted by kinnikuniverse View Post
Hold on, Bischoff - Sama speaks japanese? Since when??? And why do I imagine Frieza ' s voice coming out of his mouth???
He's developed passable Japanese skills. I'm guessing he picked it up appearing as Etsuko Mita's manager on the Renaissance shows, because all of the American members of the Renaissance roster have developed some level of Japanese as well.

Originally Posted by Hashasheen View Post
Bill Goldberg coming back as a heel is one of those WCW 2000-esque decisions that just has me recoiling. Interested to see how you work this out.
Unlike the train wreck that was WCW in 2000, I have what I believe is a character explanation that makes sense, as well as a long-term plan for all of this. It's not being done just for the sake of a nonsensical "SWERVE!"
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