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Default December 2001: Pre-Starrcade News and Notes

December 16th, 2001

"Mr. Hart, Mr. McMahon is on line 1. Should I put him through?"

"Go ahead," I said to my personal assistant. I saved the word document where I was writing down some post-Starrcade ideas and picked up the phone. "Vince? To what do I owe the pleasure?" I didn't bother to try and hide my annoyance.

"Bret," he said neutrally. "It's time for you to come to your senses." Well at least he was skipping the false pleasantries this time.

"If you're calling to try and get me to sell to you again, you're wasting your breath and both of our time. We've got a good thing going here."

"Not for long."

"Is that a threat?" I asked.

"No, it's just the reality of the situation," he said as if he was talking to a very simple-minded person. "I've overlooked your little company until now because you're quite frankly beneath our notice, but your overtures into Japan are going to force my hand."

"Ah, so this is about Starrcade," I said. "Somebody finally told you we're making Japan one of the pillars of our business?"

"Indeed," he said. "You must be aware that we're aggressively pursuing Japanese expansion."

"It'd be hard not to. You've been running all your shows there for almost a month. You even ran the Survivor Series in Osaka."

"Yes, and what a show it was!" he boomed. "Stone Cold retained the world championship over Chris Benoit in one of the greatest matches of all time!"

"It was great," I agreed. "The semi main with Kane and Big Show stunk though."

"It's not my fault! I thought the Japanese would love a good old fashioned Godzilla vs. Mothra showdown! But even you must admit that the show was excellent. Deep down you know you can't hope to compete with us. You're doomed to fail, Bret."

"So I take it this is the part where you offer me one last chance to sell before you drive us out of business?"

"While I wouldn't put it so crudely, I guess that's one way to look at it. You're no threat to us domestically, but your distribution with tv asahi and now running your biggest show of the year in Tokyo makes you a potential competitor to us in Japan. You know what I do to competitors."

"Yeah, I saw that little stunt you tried to pull with handing out anti-Michinoku Pro signs before one of your Smackdown tapings. That sure blew up in your face, huh?" I was really glad I had an opportunity to needle him about that little incident, because I got a good laugh out of it.

"A few vocal diehard fans make no difference," he grumbled. "We're an empire, and in the end we'll crush them like everyone else."

"So we can expect similar tactics against us in the future?"

"Unless you move Starrcade to a different venue and cancel your contracts with tv asahi. I'll even pay for all the costs you incur for doing so," Vince offered.

"How generous. The answer's still no."

"Then you can consider yourself my enemy."

"You've been my enemy for years," I said. Having had all I could stomach, I hung up the phone.

Vince wants a war? Fine by me. We may be a heavy underdog right now, but I honestly believe the future is bright. The WWF ruled the wrestling world in 2001, and if we're being realistic they'll do the same in 2002 and probably 2003. But by 2004, 2005, 2006, I think we can get ourselves back into the fight.

Japan might be the focal point of the beginning of the Monday Night War, Phase 2, but eventually this will be a global battle if I have anything to say about it.
In addition to Survivor Series, WWF also put on their final PPV of the year, Armageddon. The fans in Hawaii received a rare treat: The Rock actually wrestled on the show! He, Undertaker and Bradshaw worked with Steve in a very good 4-way for the title. Two guesses on who ate the pin when Steve retained. Billy Gunn, Spike Dudley and Ivory all retained their titles, but the real story was Dean Malenko getting a victory over...Bushwhacker Butch. Who in their right mind would think that's a match fans want to see, especially on PPV?

Mike Awesome failed another drug test immediately after his first failure. I followed through on my warning and hit him with a suspension this time. I think that might have gotten through to him, because he thanked me for the wake-up call and promised it wouldn't happen again. Fingers crossed.

The issues with Booker T continue. He complained loudly about being asked to lose in the Nitro tag match against RVD and Sting, and became very disgruntled. He was still extremely angry after a week off. I was afraid his working relationship with us would fall apart completely if the situation was left as it was, so I gave him a pretty substantial money bonus as a sort of peace offering. He still seems a little annoyed, but at least there shouldn't be any imminent danger of him packing his bags up and going home. I'm going to have to be very particular on how I book him if he's going to be this big a nuisance even when asked to put over fellow main event talent.

RVD knew his value was steadily rising, so it wasn't too unexpected when he approached me asking for a raise. I gave him 75% of the requested amount, and he seemed pretty happy with that. Jamie Knoble also asked for a raise and received the same percentage, but he didn't seem overly happy or upset by the outcome. Don West only got 50% of what he asked for, and that made him angry. Like I care. Next time I'll make it 0% and we'll see how he likes that.

Scott Steiner and Stacy Keibler both came up with new catch phrases over the past few weeks that should improve their promo work. Thankfully Scott's catch phrase doesn't violate our content guidelines, which is always a risk with him.

I knew Disco Inferno was still not thrilled about the idea of losing to American Dragon, but I guess he's still too intimidated to speak up. I'm sorry, but that's just hilarious.

I'm not sure of the root cause, but I've been told a strong dislike has developed between Vampiro and Evan Karagis. It also seems like Vampiro is becoming frustrated and feels like he's a locker room pariah. Maybe he should stop being such an ass. He also told me TAKA isn't connecting with the audience. Whatever.

Maybe New Japan is feeling the heat from the WWF's moves in Japan, because they've made a bunch of signings. Super Crazy, Psicosis, Road Warrior Hawk, Simon Diamond, Damien, Heavy Metal and Phil LaFon have all joined the King of Sports. I considered jumping into the bidding for Psicosis so he could return to our cruiserweight division, but all it took was one look at the kind of money they were offering him to get me to back off from that thought. They'll need those guys, because Don Frye is taking time off from NJPW to shoot an action movie.

New Japan has tabbed Masahiro Chono as the figurehead of the company. I understand it, but I'm not sure that's the move I'd make with a guy who is already 38.

Christian suffered a broken pelvis and will miss a couple of months. That's a shame because this has been a big breakthrough year for him (and Edge too.) The WWF has depended on the E&C/Power Trip feud to drive their TV all year.

NOAH held a pair of big shows. Misawa retained the GHC title on both shows, over Yoshihiro Takayama and Yoshinari Ogawa in a pair of great main events. NOAH isn't the most successful company in Japan business-wise, but with Misawa leading the way in the main event I don't think anybody is matching the quality of their shows.

I agreed to an extension of our existing deal with The Score to air Nitro in Canada. I was honestly hoping to move to a bigger network, so I only asked for a short term deal so I can reevaluate our options in a few months.

Big Vito blew off plans to go out with the boys after a recent taping, and Jushin Liger took on the role of disciplinarian and told Vito to make up for it by buying some beer for the boys. Vito seemed to take it in stride, good-naturedly ribbing Liger about it.

Mike Sanders is still upset with his booking. Maybe one day he'll realize that he just doesn't fit into my plans and is only here to pad the roster.

Chono and Tenzan won NJPW's annual tag league, defeating Koji Kanemoto and Minoru Tanaka in the finals. Kind of odd since even though they're an established team from the past, they've since gone their separate ways, with Chono working as a singles and Tenzan currently holding the tag titles with Satoshi Kojima.

Samoa Joe and Kohei Sato won the vacant NWA Intercontinental tag titles in Zero-One. Joe is definitely on my radar for the future, but for now it's probably a good thing for him to gain experience over in Japan.

The real NWA vacated their North American title when Robby Ryce signed with All Japan. Who?

A Yokozuna memorial show was organized on the independents, with BG James beating Scott Hall in the main event.

My contacts in Wildside say that Alexis Laree has started dating Jimmy Rave, while Allison Danger has been seen out with Tony Mamaluke. I think every one of our developmental women has started dating one of the guys in Wildside now. Mamaluke's the only one of them actually under contract with us though.

Originally Posted by Dead_Jester View Post
World Heavyweight Championship: Rob Van Dam vs. "Big Poppa Pump" Scott Steiner {}
-Really tough choice but I'm leaning RVD based completely that Starrcade will be held in Japan where RVD is more over.
He's much more over in Japan than in the US, but he's still below Scott even in Japan. With his pop, Scott would be a main eventer even in WWF.

Diamond Dallas Page vs. Shane Douglas
-Fan of both guys but would seriously love to see Douglas rise up the ranks, maybe even a US Title run at some point.
If so, hopefully it goes better than the inconsequential, nothing reign he got shortly before WCW closed.

Originally Posted by Beejus View Post
That doesn't sound good.

I failed to take time to comment on things on the build to Starrcade (sorry man!) but it has definitely made a great place to be. The only match that I am not overly hyped for is, surprisingly, Sting/Booker. To me and what all I read, it felt like it took a slight back seat to things like Steiner/RVD, DDP/Douglas, and even Flair/Candido. I do really like the show spotlight, because it gives us, the readers, a little more insight into the biggest angle of the show. And only doing one angle per show shouldn't be enough to start dragging on you, in comparison to doing the whole show as short-form type. Can't wait for Starrcade!
Heh, no worries; I know all about that! Sting and Booker have had some very good grades, but I'd agree that the other three feuds you mentioned have made for more interesting stories. Only doing one in-depth segment per show is definitely a help. So far I think it's good as it lets me strike a happy medium where I can get through a show in a lot less time, but still pick one segment I think is important and flesh it out.

Rey Misterio - It's a pretty interesting WCW where the top two titles are held by guys under 40 and under 300 pounds, but it is definitely a Bret way to go to give accolades to those who work the hardest each night.
Scott Steiner technically fits that criteria too. (He's 39, so not for long, but it still counts!)

DESTOROYAH - Gonna need two Godzillas to take him down!
Maybe Vince will send out Big Show and Kane for an encore!

KingRino -Keep pushing this man!
I've been taking a close look at my roster's psychology after Starrcade, and was pretty surprised at how much progress Corino is making. He's one point away from a B+ rating, and the only full-time active wrestler on the roster with a higher rating is Flair. If he can make that last little breakthrough into B+ territory, and maybe even higher, the sky's the limit for him. (There's also the fact that he was one of my favorite characters to write in my 2008 ROH diary.)

A lot of the younger guys on the roster have also shown rapid growth and many are already into the B- to B territory, so hopefully they'll continue to improve and can carry the load as future main eventers.

Originally Posted by K-Nection View Post
Diamond Dallas Page vs. Shane Douglas
I'm really shocked to find out that Shane has only average microphone skills with those grades.....maybe he just has the correct personality for non scripted promos that is carrying these segments (I'm assuming that you are not scripting him given how he has been delivering promos)
Almost every promo is unscripted unless I have like 5 or 6 people talking, or it's someone who I've noticed seems to bomb without a script a lot (Rey.)

Terry Funk vs. King Corino
I'm loving the role of Corino right is like a Legend Killer type of role but not. Terry will give him a good fight but this match will be obvious.
Sort of, yeah. He's the KING of oldschool; he blows all the so-called "legends" of the old school out of the water!

Originally Posted by crackerjack View Post
World Heavyweight Championship: Rob Van Dam vs. "Big Poppa Pump" Scott Steiner {}
I honestly can't see a long reign for Van Dam. He's a good fit for the champ, but I feel like Sting was a much better option here. But, my 2001 save gave them bad chemistry as well. That's the way the crumbles cookies
Sting was never in consideration for the Starrcade main event.

Sting vs. Booker T
Maybe there's some Time Decline for Sting?
It's not terminal yet, but yes.

Originally Posted by rjhabeeb View Post
What will be match of the night?
Lets go crazy and take Liger vs Taka
With their skills, my product and the show being in Japan, that's the opposite of crazy.

Originally Posted by Briskout View Post
King Corino
-Bring in the Warrior!

Originally Posted by LordofGustav View Post
World Heavyweight Championship: Rob Van Dam vs. "Big Poppa Pump" Scott Steiner {}
It's time for the new blood to run...
I'm sure Scott would be just fine making sure RVD's blood ran!


Originally Posted by michgcs View Post
Cruiserweight Championship: TAKA vs. Jushin Thunder Liger {}
Liger's old and TAKA's... less old
He's 37 at this point, so he's not THAT bad off yet.

General diary comments/questions/critiques: You've done a good job fleshing out the established names while giving the spotlight to some young guns, and I think it's going to set you up nicely because let's face it-- the main event scene's growing old LOL All in all, all I wanna say is True Heroes better win!
Yeah, if I'm ever going to compete with WWF it's going to be with the younger guys stepping up to the main event level. Guys like Sting, Flair and DDP are good to have around, but their best days are well behind them.

Originally Posted by K-Nection View Post
I was bored so I made you a 2001 Era Poster to celebrate Starrcade!
Awesome, thanks! I'm totally using that on the show.
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