On that subject, let me get right to my debut column that is a very big "what if", and that's how I would have booked WCW if it had continued past the final Nitro in Panama Beach, Florida that ended with Sting defeating Ric Flair in the final WCW match before Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon did a 20 minute simulcast that worked the WCW purchase into their Wrestlemania X-7 feud. WCW went out with a whimper as the last thing seen on the last Nitro broadcast was a commercial for Wrestlemania, but what if that wasn't the end? What if WCW had continued, the WWF had never purchased the company, and instead of Jamie Kellner cancelling Nitro and Thunder, he instead said, "You know, this WCW thing has been at the top of its industry before and it has the potential to be there again, so not only am I keeping it on the Turner networks, but I'm hiring this sharp kid named Mark E. Mark to book it!" And there begins our story of the alternate dimension where WCW continued on as its own entity beyond March of 2001, and Jamie Kellner lost his mind and put me in charge.
So where do I start? Well, the final episode of Monday Nitro would no longer have been the final episode of Monday Nitro, and therefore wouldn't have needed most of what actually happened on March 26th, 2001. The only thing I would have kept is that I would still have had Booker go over Scott Steiner for the WCW Title. Steiner was injured and needed time off, so we still would have gone with the title change, but I would have scrapped everything else. Also, I don't need a million titles, the only ones I'm keeping are the WCW World Title (held by Booker T), the United States Title (also held by Booker T), the Cruiserweight Title (in the possession of "Sugar" Shane Helms), and the World Tag Team Title (around the waists of Chuck Palumbo & Sean O'Haire). I appreciated the spirit behind the Cruiserweight Tag Team Title, and maybe I would have brought it back at some point, but the division as a whole would have needed to be built back up before I could consider that. The TV Title no longer meant anything, it had been off of the main shows for the better part of four years by that point and the other titles were defended on TV all the time anyway, so it wouldn't have been necessary any longer. No women's titles either, nothing against the ladies but they hadn't been featured in a long time and I had to build up the men's programs before I could think about going back there.
Next up, going to do a LOT of housecleaning on the roster. I'm not necessarily saying I don't see anything in the guys I'm releasing, but one of the problems with WCW was the billion or so people they had under contract and how difficult it was to justify keeping them given that they weren't doing much. So I'm going to walk around with an axe and get rid of David Flair, Evan Karagias, Lenny Lane, Lodi, Tank Abbott, Prince Iaukea, Konnan, Reno, Disco Inferno, Vampiro, Hugh Morrus, Lash Leroux, Johnny The Bull, Big Vito, Mike Sanders, Shawn Stasiak, Mark Jindrak, MI Smooth, the Maestro, Virgil, Alex Wright, Ernest Miller, Stevie Ray, and Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Also, I've still got Kevin Nash, Buff Bagwell, and Lex Luger under contract, but given that they were really doing more harm than good to my product with their creative control clauses, I'll just let them sit at home until their contracts run out if they don't want to play ball and act like professional adults.
Okay, now that I've remade the roster and championship roll call, time to do some booking!
Booker T vs Ric Flair
In spite of the way he was booked toward the end of WCW (and the punchline he's become in the decade since), I honestly believe Flair still had one last main event run in him in early 2001, so I'm going to put him in a feud with Booker T for the WCW World Title. Plus, Flair's last title reigns in 1999 and 2000 really sucked, and given all he's done and who he is, he really deserves to wrap up his championship career better than that.
I have Flair come out to start the first episode of Nitro after the Final Nitro that never happened in my world and say that he's done a lot of thinking, and would like to call the Natural Born Thrillers out to the ring. So Palumbo & O'Haire come out and Flair tells them he's proud of them and all they've accomplished so early in their careers, but he's done all he can for them and now he has something he needs to do for himself. He says that everyone wrote him off five years ago, but he's a 16 time World Champion and he knows he has it in him to walk the aisle one more time. He issues a challenge to Booker T, and Booker accepts since he believes that as Flair has said for all these years, he can't truly be The Man until he beats The Man.
I put them together at the Great American Bash and have Flair go over to win the title off a classic Flair spot: Flair goes for the figure four, Booker reverses to a small package, and Flair reverses to a small package of his own to score the three count. Now that he's got the title, he wants to do what he did during his prime in the 80s and defend the title every night against the best talent in the world. So over the next couple of months, he defends the title every week on both Nitro and Thunder against guys like Lance Storm, the Wall, Rey Mysterio, Billy Kidman, Chris Candido, and a bunch of the cruiserweights and some tag guys. The idea will be using Flair to go out there and elevate all the young guys by making them look like real title threats before Flair wins out in the end. I'll book it like all these young guys think Flair's an old man and an easy target given his age, only for Flair to go over on them all in the end. The only "old" guy Flair is going to defend against will be Sting at Bash At The Beach, because in order to prove he still is The Man, he has to beat his greatest opponent ever. Flair beats Sting clean, and they do the handshake and show of respect stuff to close the show.
So I'm saying that we're using Flair to elevate the younger guys, but he's beating them all, so what gives, right? Well, you can elevate people without putting them over number one, and nobody was better at that than Ric Flair. We're talking about a guy who took everyone from Ricky Morton to Road Warrior Hawk to Michael Hayes to Lex Luger and made them all look like credible contenders even though he beat them all. Plus, the stronger he looks as a champion, the better it will look when Booker T gets his rematch and wins the title back, which he will at Road Wild. Then I have them do a rematch at Fall Brawl where Booker goes over again, and this time Flair plays the sportsman, hands Booker the belt, and raises his hand.
Now we start building to our Starrcade main event: as soon as all this has transpired, Sean O'Haire runs in and lays Booker out. Ric Flair, being O'Haire's former advisor, tries to talk sense to O'Haire, but O'Haire beats him up too and locks on the Horse Collar (his fabulously dangerous new submision move) and puts Flair on the shelf.
So how did O'Haire get from one half of the tag champs to challenging Booker? Well, let me explain now.
Let's backtrack a bit: Flair cuts the Natural Born Thrillers loose, and within weeks I have them drop the tag title and split up. No big blowup or anything, they just go their separate ways. I start pushing O'Haire hard and let him rack up wins over low level opponents, then he wins a tournament for a shot at the US Title which, as you recall, was held by Booker T. Booker will have already lost the World Title by this point, and now O'Haire is going to beat him for the US Title, and I make sure to have O'Haire kick out of the axe kick en route to victory to really make it look like nothing Booker threw at him had any appreciable effect.
So now with a win over Booker in his back pocket, he goes undefeated for the rest of the year, winning matches both with the Seanton that he had already been using as well as using the Horse Collar as a submission finish. And if you think the Horse Collar is a lame submission finish, watch Sami Callihan beat use it and let me know how quickly you reevaluate your opinion. I start putting him over more of the upper midcard wrestlers and then, as I said in the last section, have him attack Booker and Ric Flair at Fall Brawl and put Flair on the shelf with the Horse Collar.
Now we flash forward to Mayhem, I have a four way elimination match to determine the #1 contender to Booker T at Starrcade that will include O'Haire, Scott Steiner, Sting, and Diamond Dallas Page. Steiner gets counted out (for reasons we'll get to shortly), then O'Haire beats both DDP and Sting to earn the Starrcade title shot, and I hype it up by accentuating what an unstoppable monster O'Haire has been, all the people he's steamrolled over without losing all year, and the fact that he's already beaten Booker once and kicked out of his finish. So even though O'Haire is the young up and comer, the champion is actually the underdog when they face off at Starrcade.
The Tag Team Division
As I said earlier, the Natural Born Thrillers lose the World Tag Team Title fairly early on in my booking regime, and I'm going to have them drop the title to Billy Kidman & Rey Mysterio, which will serve the dual purposes of getting the title off of Palumbo & O'Haire (making sure Palumbo gets pinned given my plans for O'Haire) and also "unifying" them with the Cruiserweight Tag Team Title so I have a storyline reason to get rid of it. They can run with the title for a couple of months, then I have them drop it to Rick Steiner & Animal.
Now, I know it's against the rules of internet wrestling writing to portray anyone who had their prime prior to 1997 in any positive light, but Steiner and Animal were both H-U-G-E tag team stars and, with Scott doing the singles thing and being out with an injury to boot, I think there was still something to be gotten out of Steiner & Animal as a team. Given both their places in tag team history, I would have put them together and had them refer to themselves as Tag Team Royalty, since you had (arguably) the two greatest teams of the 80s and 90s coming together to form a single juggernaut team.
So I have Steiner & Animal absolutely squash Kidman & Mysterio to win the title and then destroy them again in a rematch or two to build them up as killers. At this point, I do something similar to Flair where I use them as a catalyst and a bridge from one generation to the next to get the younger guys over, and at this point I'll have a pretty deep tag team roster that includes Steiner & Animal, the Harris Twins, Kronik, Lance Storm & Mike Awesome, Billy Kidman & Rey Mysterio, Paul London & Spanky, and I'll probably have grabbed Christian York & Joey Matthews as well. Given their style, I'm going to need to have Steiner & Animal steamroll over the teams like London & Spanky and York & Matthews, but somebody's got to be at the bottom of the ladder and hey, everyone's gotta pay their dues.
Fortunately, we'll get a little more meat out of the bigger teams like Kronik and the Harris Twins since they're better physical matches for Steiner & Animal, and I'll actually have the champs feud with both teams and present the tag division as a really tough, physical part of the company. Tag Team Royalty will beat both teams, and then I'll set up Lance Storm & Mike Awesome (aka Team Canada) as their Starrcade opponents by having Steiner & Animal team up with Team Canada to face Kronik and the Harris Twins in an eight man tag. I'll have one of Team Canada in the ring going toe to toe with one of the opponents, and Rick Steiner will sneak in behind the referee's back and waylay the opponent with his dog collar. Team Canada will get mad at them and refuse to take advantage of Steiner cheating, and end up losing the match for their team.
This will lead to friction between the two teams, with Tag Team Royalty cutting a promo on Team Canada for losing the match, and Team Canada saying they don't need to cheat to win and they definitely don't need Tag Team Royalty's help to win matches. This isn't going to be a hard face turn like "Okay, we're fighting the bad guys, we're babyfaces now!" but just the fact that they want to win straight up and are young guys fighting a team that both the casual and smart fans are going to boo will hopefully set them along that course. Team Canada will beat Tag Team Royalty in a non-title grudge match, and this will set them up for the title shot at Starrcade.
Sting vs Diamond Dallas Page
Yes, they've wrestled before and the World Title has changed hands between them before, but that happened in the dark period before I took over as booker and they never had a real meaningful feud. So, I'm doing it now! If you recall, Sting had been off TV for a few months when the Flair match happened on the last Nitro, but since that match never happened in my world, I'm going to keep Sting off TV for a little while longer. I'll have DDP wind up in a feud where he's facing 2-on-1 odds, maybe against his former Jersey Triad partners Chris Kanyon & Bam Bam Bigelow. He'll go into a PPV match against them with a mystery partner, who will be revealed to be Sting, and the two of them beat Kanyon & Bigelow, then I'll separate them again afterward. This is going to be a slow burn angle that will play out the entire year, and right now I'm just trying to establish them as friends.
Now we flash forward a month or two and Sting winds up in a feud with the Harris Twins or somebody, and now DDP comes in to help Sting out. Since they've been so successful as a team, they decide to make a go for the World Tag Team Title, held at this point by Rick Steiner & Animal. They beat a few lower level teams and challenge Steiner & Animal, but Sting accidentally causes DDP to get pinned through some kind of miscommunication. They get a rematch, and this time Steiner & Animal pull some kind of chicanery that eventually causes DDP to lose his cool and he comes after them with a chair and gets disqualified. Sting gets mad at DDP for costing them another title shot and they argue for a bit before DDP just throws his hands in the air and walks off.
So I again separate them for a couple of months, but they cross paths again at Mayhem when they both wind up in the four way elimination match for the Starrcade title shot. They cut a bunch of promos where they talk about how they put the tension over the tag team run behind them and they're cool now, but both want that title shot and will do what they have to at Mayhem to get it. After Steiner gets counted out (for the reasons that I promise I will get to in a moment), it's down to the two of them and Sean O'Haire. Sometime during the match, DDP accidentally runs into Sting and sends him tumbling to the floor, allowing O'Haire to sneak in and roll DDP up and eliminate him. DDP flips out, slamming his hands on the mat and yelling at the referee before walking off. Later on, O'Haire tries to get cute and puts Sting in the Scorpion Deathlock and holds the ropes for extra leverage, and DDP comes running out and gets on the apron to alert the referee. O'Haire drops the hold and gets in DDP's face, Sting gets up and takes a run at O'Haire, but he moves and Sting rams into DDP. DDP flies to the floor now, Sting goes down in the ring, and O'Haire hits the Seanton to get the win and earn the title shot.
Sting starts to stir and looks mad too, but goes out to the floor to check on DDP, who gets up and shoves him. They start arguing because they both think the other cost them the match, and this leads to the two finally coming to blows and needing to be pulled apart. They've finally had it, both stay babyfaces but both are convinced the other has been trying to sabotage them all year and both think they need to settle this in the ring. Presto, we have another marquee match for Starrcade.
The Cruiserweight Division
As I said before, the Cruiserweight Division needs to be rebuilt, it was the centerpiece of WCW at one point and I want to bring it back there, especially since the WWF wasn't doing anything with their lighter wrestlers and it would have once again offered something they weren't. Luckily, I just freed up a bunch of money with all the folks I let go, so my first step here is to bring in a bunch of indy and former ECW guys who wouldn't have cost a ton of money but would have been hungry to make an impact and grab an opportunity. So I'm grabbing Bryan Danielson, Low Ki, Jerry Lynn, Yoshihiro Tajiri, Paul London, and Spanky. I already had Christopher Daniels and AJ Styles, as well as EZ Money, Kid Romeo, Kaz Hayashi, Jimmy Yang, Jamie Noble, Elix Skipper, Kwee Wee, Rey Mysterio, Billy Kidman (who would have gotten his first name back), Juventud Guerrera, Chavo Guerrero Jr, Shannon Moore, and Cruiserweight Champion Shane Helms.
This is going to be the easiest part of the company to book, because I'll just send them out there to do what got the division over in the first place: fast paced, athletic matches. Christopher Daniels is going to be the guy to break out of the pack, because even though everyone else is really talented (I would have released them if I didn't think so), he's the strongest out of the bunch from a character standpoint. I'm going to have him beat Helms for the title, then have Helms win it back at some point, then do another back and forth swap with it winding up on Helms. The idea is to build the two of them up as so good and so even that when I match them up at Starrcade, it'll be in a 30 minute Ironman Match because it'll be the only way to get a clear winner between the two of them.
Bill Goldberg vs Scott Steiner
All right, I may go a little unrealistically far into the realm of fantasy here because I'm not exactly sure when Scott Steiner was ready to wrestle again after the injury, but since I'm making this whole thing up anyway, let's say sometime in September. Bill Goldberg was off TV at the time WCW went out of business in the real world, so I would have brought him back around June and booked him into another winning streak. Around September, he'll announce that he wants a shot at the WCW World Title, but Scott Steiner will make his return and tell Goldberg that he needs to get in line because he wants his rematch first.
JJ Dillon decides that the best way to rectify the situation is to have them wrestle each other for a shot at the title. Goldberg (who, like Billy Kidman, will also have his first name restored in my WCW) will beat Steiner and get a shot at the title, but Scott Steiner will run in and blatantly attack Goldberg with his steel pipe right in front of the referee to cause a DQ. Goldberg will be justifiably upset with Steiner over this, so they'll face again in a no DQ match at Halloween Havoc and Goldberg will win again.
Now with the scourge of Scott Steiner firmly behind him, Goldberg's ready to rededicate himself to his quest to regain the WCW World Title. JJ Dillon announces that Mayhem will feature a four way match between the top four contenders (Sean O'Haire, Bill Goldberg, Sting, and Diamond Dallas Page), and the winner will go on to challenge Booker T in the main event of Starrcade. Steiner will be livid about not being included, but Dillon will tell him he's the #5 contender and would have been in the mix if he had beaten Goldberg at Halloween Havoc, but he lost so he won't be a part of the match.
The day of the Mayhem PPV, JJ Dillon comes out to announce that Goldberg was attacked and will not be able to participate in the four way match. Scott Steiner swaggers out, casually brandishing his pipe, and says that it's a real shame about what happened to Goldberg, but since he's out of the match then the next highest contender (who happens to be himself) should be inserted into the match in Goldberg's place. Dillon and everyone else knows Steiner attacked Goldberg, but has no way of proving it, so since the rules are the rules, Steiner's in the match.
Midway through the four way, Goldberg comes out of the back with a bandage wrapped around his ribs and distracts Steiner. One of the other participants will knock Steiner to the floor, where he'll brawl with Goldberg until he gets counted out. Steiner comes out at the beginning of Nitro the night after Mayhem and takes the show hostage, setting up camp in the middle of the ring with his pipe and saying that he's not leaving until Goldberg comes out so he can kick his ass. Goldberg tries to get in the ring to confront Steiner, but security swarms out to separate them. JJ Dillon comes out and says that he's tired of this, if they want to get their hands on each other then they've got it, but it's not happening there. He's making a match between the two of them at Starrcade, and since Steiner loves swinging that pipe around, he'll get the chance to do it within the bounds of the rules because the match at Starrcade will be a Steel Pipe On A Pole match.
Ric Flair vs Jeff Jarrett
Ric Flair comes back from the injury about a month or so after O'Haire put him out of action, but he favors the leg O'Haire attacked in such a way that it's obvious he's not at 100%. While he's been away, Jeff Jarrett has started using the figure four as his finish, and when the outraged interviewers ask him why, he laughs and says something to the effect of "Well, Ric Flair won't be needing it anymore because he's done! The old man finally got put out to pasture, and now it's time for me to take his spot!"
So obviously, Flair comes back and before too long, Jarrett's going to confront him and tell him that he shouldn't have come back. Flair tells Jarrett that he doesn't know who he thinks he's talking to, because he's talking to the Nature Boy and all the normal Flair bravado, but Jarrett isn't amused and says that Flair owes him. He reminds Flair how happy he was to recruit Jarrett into the Horsemen, only to dump him months later. Flair still owes him for that, and if Flair's not going to step aside, Jarrett's going to put him back on the shelf where he belongs. This leads to a match where Jarrett mercilessly attacks the injured leg and forces Flair to submit to his own figure four.
Flair goes home for a couple of weeks after that, but comes back and challenges Jarrett to another match. Jarrett says he beat Flair already and has nothing left to prove, but if Flair does, he'll give him one more match if Flair agrees to an added clause in the contract. See, Jarrett's on his way back to the top of the mountain and wants the WCW World Title back, but he knows that Flair will come sniffing around again once it's back around his waist. He really doesn't want to have to deal with Flair ever again, so he'll face Flair one more time, but it will be a submission match and if Flair loses, he won't ever be able to challenge for the WCW World Title again. Of course Flair agrees, and we've got another Starrcade match.
All right, it's December and after booking nine months of WCW that never happened, here is the card for Starrcade 2001:
-WCW World Title: Booker T vs Sean O'Haire
-Sting vs Diamond Dallas Page
-Steel Pipe On A Pole: Bill Goldberg vs Scott Steiner
-World Tag Team Title Match: Tag Team Royalty (Rick Steiner & Animal) vs Team Canada (Lance Storm & Mike Awesome)
-30 Minute Ironman Match for the Cruiserweight Title: Shane Helms vs Christopher Daniels
-Submission Match: Ric Flair vs Jeff Jarrett
-Chuck Palumbo vs Bam Bam Bigelow
-Low Ki vs Tajiri
I'll kick off the show with Low Ki and Tajiri, and they're going to go out there and have a really stiff match and kick the crap out of each other to get the show off to a hot start. Low Ki goes over because he's next in line to get inserted into the Cruiserweight Title picture in the beginning of 2002. Next up will be Palumbo and Bigelow, and they'll have more of a hard hitting power match to contrast from the opener. It really doesn't matter who wins, but I'd probably put Palumbo over so I can try and do something with him next year.
The third match will be the Ironman Match for the Cruiserweight Title, and even though most of these Ironman matches are tied until the final minute or so when someone gets the winning fall, I'm really going to put Helms over strong and have him beat Daniels 4-0. Given the way they've been booked throughout their feud, you'd expect it to come right down to the wire so I would do something unexpected, but in a good way that doesn't go into stupid swerve territory. After Helms gets the win, Low Ki will come out to the top of the ramp and have a staredown with Helms and will motion that he wants the Cruiserweight Title.
Now it's time for the Submission Match, and with Jeff Jarrett being the twisted, sick sadist that he is, he'll spend the whole match working Flair's leg over to an almost disturbing extent. There's no disqualifications, so Jarrett works the leg over with a chair and puts him in the figure four, and Flair can't use the ropes to break the hold, so he has to physically drag himself out of the ring and to the floor to get out. Jarrett is stunned at Flair's willpower, but rolls him back into the ring and puts the figure four back on again, and this time Flair reverses the hold to get Jarrett to break. Jarrett grabs the chair and begins working Flair over with it, but Flair won't stay down and Jarrett starts yelling at him to stay down if he knows what's good for him. Flair still gets up, so Jarrett gives him another shot and tells him to stay down if he knows what's good for his family. Flair climbs to his feet again so Jarrett goes to take another swing, but Flair moves and Jarrett hits the ropes and the chair bounces back and hits him in the head. Flair takes the chair and starts working Jarrett's knee over, then Pillmanizes the knee and puts on the figure four. The announcers will wonder how strong Flair's figure four can be given all the punishment his knee has taken, but Flair has the chair in his hands and whenever Jarrett tries to sit up, Flair will nail him with it. Finally left with no way out, Jarrett is forced to submit.
On to the World Tag Team Title Match, this is actually going to just be pretty standard stuff with Storm getting worked over until making the hot tag to Awesome and then all heck breaking loose until Storm superkicks Steiner and then Awesome nails him with the top rope splash for the win and the World Tag Team Title.
All right, now we're down to the big three matches, and we'll start off with the pipe on a pole match between Steiner and Goldberg. They'll go back and forth until Goldberg goes up to try and get the pipe, but Steiner will nail him and hit the extremely rare top rope Frankensteiner, but Goldberg kicks out so Steiner goes up and gets the pipe instead. He starts to beat Goldberg down with it, but Goldberg ducks a swing and spears Steiner, then takes the pipe and works Steiner over until he's completely unconscious. Steiner is out on the mat and Goldberg tries to pick him up for the Jackhammer, but Steiner is dead weight and slumps back to the mat, so Goldberg picks the pipe back up and just beats on Steiner's motionless form until the referee stops the match. Goldberg is awarded the win, but he goes back after Steiner with the pipe and the referee tries to pull Goldberg off of him, but Goldberg decks him and goes back to destroying Steiner with the pipe. Finally, JJ Dillon comes out and stern talks Goldberg with warnings of fines and suspensions if he doesn't leave right now. Goldberg gives Dillon a death stare, but finally drops the pipe and walks off having taken his frustrations out on Steiner.
Our semi-main event will be Sting and DDP, and it's going to be a strict babyface vs babyface match with a clean finish. Both men will take turns controlling the match, Sting will block the Diamond Cutter, DDP will block the Scorpion Deathlock, and Sting will hit the Stinger Splash and the Scorpion Deathdrop to get the 100% clean win. DDP will roll out to the floor looking angry as Sting's music plays and he celebrates, but then he'll roll back in and go face to face with Sting for a tense staredown before extending his hand. Sting takes it and then DDP raises his hand in victory, but when Sting goes for the hug afterward, DDP will give him a gentle shove away and walk off. I know babyfaces are supposed to make up after matches like this, but to me this makes more sense because these guys got mad enough at each other that they decided to fight it out, so why should they suddenly be best friends again because the match is over? I think it makes more sense for the guy who won to have this feeling of closure because he came out on top, while the guy who lost does the babyface thing by showing respect for the other guy and raising his hand, but still not exactly being thrilled with him.
And now we come to the main event with Sean O'Haire, United States Champion, challenging the man he's already beaten once before, Booker T, for the WCW World Title. O'Haire completely dominates him for probably the first ten minutes of the match, and then Booker T starts making false comebacks only to get cut off by O'Haire. Finally Booker manages to lay O'Haire out and then goes up top for the Harlem Hangover (a top rope somersault legdrop, for those who never saw him do it), with the announcers putting over how long it's been since he's done it and how it's got to be a dire situation for him to pull it out. He hits it but O'Haire kicks out anyway, Booker goes for the axe kick but O'Haire catches the foot and locks Booker in the Horse Collar. Booker makes the ropes, so O'Haire goes up for the Seanton, Booker gets his knees up, further injuring the leg O'Haire had in the Horse Collar in the process, but manages to get to his feet long enough to hit the axe kick and both men go down. The ref starts a double count and Booker's leg is in such bad shape that he's just down and out, but O'Haire starts pulling himself to his feet and JUST BARELY misses getting up by ten and the referee officially counts both men down. It's got to be really close, and I'm talking photo finish, several inconclusive replays, the whole nine yards.
The match is a draw, Booker retains even though he didn't beat O'Haire, O'Haire didn't win the title but he didn't lose either, and he still looks like the better man because he nearly made it up and it was so close that the decision is questionable. Hopefully this will inspire the fans to be dissatisfied, but in a way where they come away thinking that O'Haire got robbed and deserves a rematch they'll want to pay to watch. Which leads me to...
Setting up 2002
So we've wrapped up 2001, and I tried to book it out so that we'd have good stuff to build on going into the next year. O'Haire obviously got screwed, but in a legitimate, by the book way and not an "evil commissioner sends his 87 cronies out to jump him and then had a crooked ref make a fast count" way. O'Haire still is strong and didn't lose to Booker, and is in line to come back for a rematch and win the title, which he absolutely will do in 2002 even though I might hold off for a couple of months. I'm thinking I'd have them rematch at Souled Out or Superbrawl and have O'Haire absolutely dominate Booker, with Booker getting almost no offense in, only to get caught on a fluke rollup and pinned. Then I start building O'Haire back up to get the title at the Great American Bash, and I'd have Booker drop the title in the meantime and have O'Haire beat him decisively a third match to earn a title shot where he finally gets the belt. He's got a ready made challenger in Booker, and I can also program him with Sting, Flair, DDP, and Steiner while building to O'Haire vs Goldberg at Starrcade, with Goldberg doing the old "I'm the one man you haven't beaten" schtick.
Sting and DDP, much like if two real life friends got mad at each other and got into a fight, aren't going to be all buddy-buddy again right from the get go, but I'd find some way to put them back together down the line, probably by having one of them get laid out by a dastardly heel (I'm thinking Scott Steiner) and have the other make the save.
I already mentioned that I was going to move on to Helms vs Low Ki for the Cruiserweight Title, and after letting that run for a couple of months I'd probably bring Daniels back in to make it a three way feud, with Bryan Danielson and Spanky bubbling up underneath as guys who could break through by the end of the year. Since the WWF had let him go, I'd make a real strong grab to try and bring Eddy Guerrero in and use him as the sort of "cruiserweight legend" of the division to give it some extra name value, and I think a feud with Eddy and Tajiri would be pretty good stuff.
As for Flair, he got his last run with the World Title and it was treated with dignity, but he is starting to get older by this point, so much like his old rival Dusty Rhodes, I'm going to push him down to the midcard. I really haven't thought about how I'm going to get the US Title off of Sean O'Haire, but when it does it'll probably wind up around the waist of Ric Flair, putting him in a good spot on the card while having him work with and help elevate younger guys on the way up. I'm going to put the US Title over as super important since it led O'Haire to the World Title and is now currently around the waist of the greatest former World Champion of all time.
I'll probably put Jeff Jarrett in the running for the tag title and maybe give him and a partner a run with the straps, but it's mostly going to be about Storm and Awesome as champions for the first half of the year.
So there you have it! Hope you enjoyed my debut column, and if you want to let me know what you think, drop me a line at email@example.com. Thanks, and I'll be back soon with another edition of Bookerman's Corner!