Today, I rebook WCW from the end of 1993 to the debut of Hulk Hogan in 1994 and give my take on what it would have looked like if Sid Vicious was still a part of the company. To bring the uninformed up to speed, Sid was supposed to beat Big Van Vader in the main event of Starrcade 93 to win the WCW World Title and become their new top star. That never happened because Sid got into a fight with Arn Anderson in a hotel during a tour of England that saw Sid get ahold of a pair of scissors and nearly stab Arn to death. Arn was badly hurt, Sid was fired immediately, and WCW went in an entirely different direction by inserting Ric Flair into the main event of Starrcade and had him beat Vader instead.
But what if that fight never happened? How would WCW have looked if 1994 began with a completely different WCW World Champion and Ric Flair wasn't main eventing? Well, here's what I think it would have been like if I was booking...
Okay, we're going to change a few things here: Sid obviously beats Vader and wins the WCW World Title, and he's going to hold it straight through to the Clash in June of 94 since that's what we're building to here. Since Ric Flair is out of the main event and Arn Anderson isn't laying in a hopsital bed, I put them together and have them beat the Nasty Boys for the World Tag Team Title. After they drop the title, I fire the Nasty Boys because they contribute nothing as far as I'm concerned, unless someone at CNN Center can convince me that I have a need for two fat, sloppy, obnoxious locker room parasites who can't work and like taking liberties on people.
I know Davey Boy Smith was booked to challenge Rick Rude for the International World Title at Starrcade and ended up being replaced by the Boss, but I forget exactly when WCW knew he wouldn't be there. So since I'm making the whole thing up, I'll just imagine I knew a month ahead of time and won't even book him for the show. Instead I'll have Sting challenge Rude and lose clean, which may seem like an odd decision, but it sets up a bunch of stuff down the line.
I'm still going to have Steve Austin beat Dustin Rhodes for the US Title, but I'll hold off on that match for the time being and instead have Austin wrestle his former partner Brian Pillman. They never really had any kind of sustained feud after the breakup of the Hollywood Blondes thanks to the geniuses they had running the show back then, but instead of blowing the match on a Clash of the Champions like they did in real life, I'll save the match and put it on Starrcade. Austin still goes over, but I think it would be a natural match to put on the biggest show of the year.
Since Dustin now needs a challenger, I have him defend against Ricky Steamboat. Dustin actually offers Steamboat the match since, if you go WAY back to the beginning of 1993 when Dustin beat Steamboat in the finals of the tournament to win the US Title in the first place, he did it by countout after Barry Windham DDT'd Steamboat on the floor. I'll have Dustin say that it's been eating at him all year that Steamboat got screwed like that, and wants to make it right by offering Steamboat the rematch he never got. Dustin did the chivalrous thing and will be rewarded by going over Steamboat clean.
As for the rest of the card, I have Harley Race hire the Equalizer (Dave Sullivan for those who don't remember him during this phase) as his hitman and send him after Cactus Jack, who destroys him in a fairly brutal squash. After the match, Cactus looks into the camera and tells Vader it's not over and he's coming for him. Lord Steven Regal successfully defends the TV Title against Maxx Payne by going to a time limit draw, and Harlem Heat beats 2 Cold Scorpio & Marcus Bagwell.
Rick Rude & Sting
Now that I've set things in my new direction, it's time to start cleaning up some of the mess that got dumped in my lap. The first order of business: getting rid of the stupid International World Title, and we do that by unifying it with the WCW World Title since that's the only thing that really makes sense. Rick Rude comes out and challenges Sid, calling him a pretender to the throne, and says that he just beat Sting, who happens to be the only guy to beat Sid since his return to WCW. Rude says he knows he can beat Sid and take his title as well, he challenges Sid to a title vs title match at Superbrawl IV, but Sid beats him and unifies the two titles.
Now that we've got that out of the way, we're going to use Sting and Rude to set things in place for when Hogan gets to WCW. The series of events with Rude beating Sting at Starrcade and then mentioning that he beat the guy who beat Sid was done to establish three things:
1)Rick Rude is a serious threat to Sid's reign as champion.
2)Sting is a serious threat to Sid's reign as champion.
3)Put adversity in Sting's path for him to overcome as he works his way back to a rematch with Sid.
Over the next several events, I have Sting pick up a series of wins against tough opponents, including Paul Orndorff at Superbrawl and Big Bubba Rogers (who I will have brought back under that name instead of the Boss) at Spring Stampede. Eventually, we'll lead into Slamboree with Sting saying that he's been undefeated since Starrcade and that he wants a shot at the WCW World Title. This will bring Rude out to say that Sting may be undefeated since Starrcade, but that's because Starrcade was where Sting lost to Rude. This all leads into Slamboree where Sting will beat Rude, avenging his Starrcade loss, and the win will earn him a shot at the WCW World Title on the Clash Of The Champions in June.
Cactus Jack vs Vader
The Cactus-Vader feud continues into 1994 as I said back at Starrcade, and we kick off the next step in the program with Cactus goading Vader into the Cactus specialty, a Falls Count Anywhere match. Vader initially refuses, so Cactus gets under his skin by saying that he knows Vader isn't refusing the match because he's already beaten Cactus, it's because he lost the WCW World Title and now the world knows that he's beatable, it's gotten into Vader's head, and now Vader's afraid he can't beat Cactus again. This, of course, sends Vader bonkers and he agrees to the match, with Cactus winning this time around on some brutal spot like a Cactus DDT through a table or something.
Now that they're at one win apiece, we really drive home how even a fight this is by having them go after each other in a battle royal to determine the WCW World Title challenger at Spring Stampede. I'll talk more about the battle royal a bit later, but the part that's important to this feud is that they fight so vigorously that they both go out at the same time while pummeling each other, and fight all the way to the back. This leads to another match on WCW Saturday Night where I have the announcers put over how Cactus was carried out the last time they met on WCW Saturday Night, and wondering if history will repeat itself. The brawl ends up getting so out of hand that the referee has no choice but to throw the match out, and this leads to security and jobbers coming out of the back to try and pull them apart. They aren't exactly successful, as Cactus and Vader fight them all off and go back to pummeling each other.
WCW finally decides that there's only one way to settle it: in a Last Man Standing match with no rules, and the referee is only there to count one man down. Problem is, they beat each other so severely that the referee has to count them both down, making the match a draw, and again leaving the feud unsettled. We'll move on and come back to these two in a little bit.
Steve Austin vs Brian Pillman
Since we saved it to do Austin-Pillman at Starrcade, I'll do the match where Steve Austin beats Dustin Rhodes for the US Title at Superbrawl. The twist coming into the show is that I'll have Pillman beat both of them in non-title matches on TV in the weeks leading into Superbrawl, and then he'll win the opener on the PPV by beating some scrub (Paul Roma, let's say) and then challenge the winner of the US Title match in a postmatch promo. And hey, surprise surprise, Austin wins, so now he has to defend against Pillman.
We do the match at Spring Stampede and Austin wins again by cheating after pulling the tights or knocking him out with a foreign object, something like that. Having gotten Pillman out of the way for the time being, Austin pulls rank by challenging Sid for the WCW World Title at Slamboree since he's the automatic #1 contender as the US Champion. Sid beats Austin, and Pillman earns one more crack at his former partner by winning a mini-tournament for a shot at the US Title shortly after Slamboree.
Lord Steven Regal
Just for the sake of covering everything, there' not going to be a whole lot going on in the world of Lord Steven Regal and the TV Title. I think the title is fine where it is, but I'll have Regal defending against top challengers like Dustin Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat, and Arn Anderson since the TV Title offers some unique rules that make it advantageous to someone like Regal. Because it only has a 15 minute time limit on title defenses, Regal can retain without beating these top flight opponents, but the other thing to keep in mind is that those guys will all have failed to beat Regal as well, a fact I plan to use at some point in the future.
Ric Flair & Arn Anderson
I'm going to give Flair & Arn a good run as champions, mostly because they were always the two core members of the Horsemen, but never were given a real run as a regular tag team and I think I can get something out of that before putting them back in singles roles. In the meantime, I'm going to try and beef up the tag division since the Hollywood Blonds split up and the Nasty Boys are on their way out. I've already got Harlem Heat, Thunder & Lightning are coming in, I'll put Marcus Bagwell with Brad Armstrong since Scorpio is on his way out as well and I need a young team for the chicks to gush over, and Orndorff and Roma would seem to be a natural as well since I already had them booked for Starrcade.
Arn & Flair's first challengers will be Harlem Heat, who I'll set up as challengers by having them beat the Nasty Boys and mess them up so badly that they're on the shelf forever, which is my loving way of writing them out. We wonder how Flair and Arn can possibly beat two such vicious thugs, but of course we're talking about the Horsemen here, and they pull out every dirty trick in the book to beat them at Superbrawl.
The next several months are going to see Flair & Arn defending the title against the other new teams I mentioned above. One of the other reasons I gave them the title is that I have a young tag division I need to build up in a hurry, and I want to use the Horsemen to give them all a rub by making them look competitive.
Finally, I'll have Harley Race come out in May and say that he has found a new partner for Vader, and he'll debut that new team at Slamboree and then they're coming for the World Tag Team Title. To everyone's surprise, that partner will be Cactus Jack, and after they get done squashing someone (Bagwell & Armstrong, let's say), Cactus will reveal that after a year of destroying each other, he and Vader came to respect how tough one another really is. Harley Race came to him and said that instead of fighting each other, they could be champions if they were to put their differences aside and work as a team. Cactus and Vader still hate each other, but now they share a respect and a common goal of winning the World Tag Team Title, and he finishes by saying that if they're so willing to destroy each other, we don't want to know what Cactus and Vader will do to Ric Flair & Arn Anderson.
Ricky Steamboat is in for a really tough year, and you're going to wonder why I'm going to do what I plan to do with him, but hear me out because I'm going to take him in a new direction. As you recall, he failed to beat Dustin Rhodes for the US Title at Starrcade, and I'm going to have him blow another opportunity at Superbrawl. He earns a TV Title shot by beating Lord Steven Regal in a non-title match, but Regal beats him when they wrestle again at the PPV. They begin to close in on the time limit, but then Regal catches him in some kind of rollup and pins him with only seconds left on the clock.
Steamboat's down, but not out because he wins a battle royal on WCW Saturday Night to earn a shot at the WCW World Title at Spring Stampede. You'll notice that Steamboat hasn't exactly had a great record so far this year, and part of the build to the match with Sid will be that Steamboat was nowhere near in line for a title shot if he didn't win that battle royal. The announcers will question whether Steamboat will have a realistic chance against Sid, and I'll even have him drop a match to some low level scrub (Paul Roma worked before, so let's use him again) that would outwardly appear to be a squash before he gets caught in a small package and pinned. The idea is to make Steamboat look like such an underdog going in that people think he has to win in order for the storyline to make sense.
We get to Spring Stampede and Steamboat goes out and wrestles a perfect match, having a counter for everything Sid throws at him. The announcers will go nuts and proclaim that they were all wrong, Steamboat has Sid's number and he's going to win the WCW World Title, but then Steamboat will make one tiny mistake, maybe losing his footing when going to the top rope or something, and Sid will capitalize and hit the powerbomb for the win. Steamboat gets up after the match looking frustrated as hell because he did absolutely everything right up until the very end, and he slowly gets up and heads to the back looking totally frustrated at his inability to win when it matters.
If you've been keeping track, there's one last title Steamboat hasn't blown a shot at this year, and that the World Tag Team Title held by Ric Flair & Arn Anderson. Steamboat pairs up with Dustin Rhodes because they've been champions before and know they can do it again, and he respects Dustin because of the way he gave him his rematch for the US Title like a true sport. They win a mini-tournament to earn a title shot and come into Slamboree with a ton of momentum, and this is going to be my workrate match of the year. I'm going to give the teams 40 minutes and have them come perilously close to the 45 minute time limit and have the challengers get several extremely close near falls, but then a mistimed lariat from Dustin lays Steamboat out, allowing Arn to follow right up with a DDT for the win.
This is finally too much for Steamboat, and he starts screaming at Dustin for blowing it after all his hard work and all he did to bring Dustin to this level. Dustin's going to be really sorry and apologize profusely, but finally Steamboat slaps him in the face and that's when he crosses the line. Dustin shoves Steamboat and tells him they can fight if that's what Steamboat really wants, and Steamboat stares at him in disbelief for a moment, then turns to walk out...and turns back around and attacks as soon as Dustin turns his back. Steamboat beats Dustin down and piledrives him, with the announcers putting over that they've never seen Steamboat piledrive anyone in their lives because Steamboat was always such a good sport that he never wanted to hurt anyone. They decry that the honorable Steamboat did what nobody ever thought he would by throwing good sportsmanship out the window and viciously attacking his poor protege Dustin Rhodes.
Clash Of The Champions - June 1994
All right, now we're heading down the home stretch and we start bringing all these storylines together at the Clash. Before we get there, we have to deal with what we all knew was coming when we announce that Hulk Hogan has signed with WCW. I know, I know, but it was my boss Eric's decision and I have to go along with it with since we're paying the guy, so we announce that he'll make his first live appearance at a WCW event at Slamboree. He shows up, gives a generic Hulk Hogan interview where he puts over WCW as the place to be, and says that he's beat some of the biggest and baddest dudes in professional wrestling, but he saw the competition in WCW and knew that he had to come here and be a part of it. I'll have Mean Gene ask Hogan what he has planned now that he's in WCW, and Hogan will just say that he'll be at the Clash of the Champions in June and he'll tell the world what's on his mind then. Fine.
So now we're on to the Clash, and it's only a two hour show (90 minutes without commercials), but I'm going to cram a lot in here. We start off with Cactus Jack & Vader challenging Flair & Anderson for the World Tag Team Title, and I was originally thinking of holding this match off for Bash At The Beach, but since Hogan is supposed to be the draw for that one, I'll do it now and have Cactus & Vader win the title, then have the rematch at Bash At The Beach.
In the second segment, I'll do a backstage interview with Ricky Steamboat, who will talk about how he's got an entire repertoire of moves he's never used because he didn't want to hurt the guys he was in the ring with, but good sportsmanship has cost him enough opportunities and it's time for Ricky Steamboat to get his due.
That leads into the third and final Steve Austin vs Brian Pillman match, again for the US Title, and this time it's two out of three falls. Remember how Austin beat Dustin in two straight falls at the real Starrcade 93? Well, I'm doing that here as Austin beats Pillman once and for all and leaves him as an afterthought on his way to superstardom. Speaking of superstars (brother), I'll have Hulk Hogan come out for his promo after that match and do exactly what he did on this show in real life: challenge the winner of tonight's World Title match to defend against him at Bash At The Beach.
Next we do Steamboat against Dustin Rhodes, who is pissed off at the way Steamboat laid him out at Slamboree and attacks Steamboat in the aisle before the match even starts. Steamboat (with a new, cocky attitude and some kind of sleazy new entrance music) will get the advantage and wrestle a completely different style than we're used to in this match, cheating his ass off the entire time and cheapshotting Dustin every chance he gets to put over the fact that we're looking at a new Ricky Steamboat. Steamboat wins by hitting Dustin with a low blow behind the referee's back and then gets a piledriver for the win as the announcers continue to bemoan his transformation.
Now it's main event time, as Sid Vicious defends the title against the one man who has beaten him since his return to the company, Sting. Sting seems to have Sid's number like the last time they wrestled, but Sid is determined not to lose to Sting again and manages to hit the powerbomb. Sting somehow kicks out, and Sid just stops for a moment with a look of disbelief on his face before picking Sting right back up and giving him a chokeslam. Sid goes for another cover, but Sting kicks out again. Sid can't believe it, so he sets up to drill Sting with a big boot, but Sting ducks out of the way and Sid takes out the referee. Sid decides that this ends here and he's going to do whatever it takes to beat Sting and keep the title, so he goes to the outside and gets a chair that he uses to beat Sting into oblivion before hitting another powerbomb just as the referee recovers and pins Sting for the win.
Sid won the match, but is furious that Sting took all his best shots and kept coming, and decides to make an example out of him. He picks the chair back up and nails Sting with it before hitting another powerbomb, then picks him back up and is ready to deliver yet a third powerbomb, but Hulk Hogan comes to save the day. He fights Sid off, stops briefly to glance in Sting's direction to make sure he's still alive, and cuts a promo promising (in order of importance) to win the WCW World Title and stop Sid's reign of terror in WCW.
Looking To The Future
I think you all can figure out where that's heading, and it's not too much different than where it did in real life. This project ends here, but even though WCW becomes The Hogan Show from here on out, I tried to set up some good stuff on the rest of the card.
My plan is to have Austin keep going and add "longest reigning US Champion in history" to his similar record for the TV Title before moving him up to the World Title challenger level at some point. Speaking of the TV Title, I'll have Regal hold onto it for another month or two and then drop it to Pillman. Pillman will have done a good job helping me build up Austin and he deserves something for it, and I think he would make a fine champion besides.
I'm going to split Ric Flair & Arn Anderson back into singles at this point, no big blowup or anything, but my main event for Starrcade has to be Hogan vs Flair for the title. In the meantime, Cactus Jack & Vader are going to be dominant World Tag Team Champions, and I'm going to try and wave some money under the Steiners' noses to see if I can get them to come back for a run with the champions since I think it would make for some stiff goodness. Ultimately though, my plan is for the top challengers to be Harlem Heat, who I'll turn babyface and feud with Vader & Cactus.
I'm going to put Sid back with Sting after Sid drops the title to Hogan, since Sting will want revenge for what happened at the Clash, and I'll keep Sting out on his own instead of making him a Hogan flunky, which he became by default in real life. Ricky Steamboat's going to continue being a cocky jerk and rack up a whole lot of wins with his new attitude, and I'm thinking of feuding him with Flair for a few months before Flair challenges for the title at Starrcade, and I'll probably do Steamboat and Sting at Starrcade as well.
Well, I hope you enjoyed the latest edition of Bookerman's Corner, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you think, and I'll see you next time!