The Secret WCW Book Proposal – Part Two


I’ve had a lot of people asking what you need to do in order to get a book published, and the first thing is generally “Get an agent”. But once you’ve got that, then what? Well, generally publishers will want to see a proposal for the book you’re pitching, and here’s what one looks like.

For this example, I’m using the proposal for “One Ring Circus”, the WCW book that I tried pitching numerous times but kept getting shot down because everyone wants WWE material. Book proposals are generally divided into standard sections:

1) Overview
2) Chapter Breakdown
3) Comparitive Reading
4) About the Author
5) Sample Chapter

The overview is a summary of what the book is going to be about. The chapter breakdown is a listing of what each section covers (although, for instance, my initial proposal for “Tonight…In This Very Ring” differed greatly from the finished product in terms of layout). Comparitive reading is so the publisher can see what other titles in the genre have been successful or compare to yours. About the author is self-explanatory, and sample chapter is where you write about 3000-5000 words of the finished product in advance so that the publisher can get a handle on what it’s going to look like. For fiction works, you’ll need to submit the entire manuscript in advance.

In the first part, you can read my overview and chapter breakdowns. In the second part, I’ll post the actual sample chapters so you read what the book would have shaped up to be had it been purchased for publication. It might still be, but better you read it and learn from it than simply rotting away on my hard drive.

The following list of books provide a glimpse into the backstage world of pro wrestling and WCW, showing that what you see on TV isn’t necessarily what was intended, or indeed even the most interesting thing going on that night. The WWF took the mainstream publishing world by storm in the years since its comeback, appealing not only to wrestling fans but casual readers alike with books by their top stars, which resided on the top of The New York Times bestseller list for weeks on end, much to the consternation of “serious” literary critics everywhere.

Have a Nice Day!: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks by Mick Foley aka “Mankind” (Regan Books)
In the New York Times bestseller Have a Nice Day!, the breakthrough mainstream wrestling book of the ’90s, “Hardcore Legend” Mick Foley recounts his turbulent life and completely unlikely rise from bumping maniac on the Indy circuit to sock puppet-toting World champion of the WWF and one of the biggest money draws of the decade. A decidedly inhumane and often cruel sport is looked at through the eyes of a very human Foley.

Foley Is Good: And the Real World Is Faker Than Wrestling by Mick Foley aka “Mankind” (Regan Books)
In the sequel to the bestselling Have a Nice Day!, Foley continues his tales of life as a wrestler (and later an ex-wrestler), picking up where he left off in 1999 and detailing his real-life problems with fellow superstar The Rock, and detailing his quest for the ultimate roller coaster. The book also contains a lengthy essay on violence in sports and how it relates to wrestling.

If They Only Knew by Joanie Laurer aka “Chyna” (Regan Books)
Part feminist, part superhero, Chyna has blazed a trail where no woman had gone before. She has gained the respect of the men inside the World Wrestling Federation, and the world at large. She was the first woman to wear the Intercontinental Championship belt, yet these were not her most significant battles. Another New York Times bestseller, If They Only Knew offers a rare glimpse behind the scenes of the World Wrestling Federation, and a rarer glimpse of what it takes just to get there—the hurdles that must be overcome…and the broken hearts and broken body parts that are suffered along the way.

The Rock Says… by The Rock (Regan Books)
In another of the WWF’s bestselling wrestler bio pieces, the story of phenomenon Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) is chronicled, covering his famous wrestling family and including his own meteoric rise through the ranks of the WWF from his debut in 1996 until 1999. Told mostly within character and in third-person, it offers an interesting insight into the person behind the multi-million dollar wrestler and future Hollywood idol (he hadn’t completed The Mummy Returns at the time of writing the book).

It’s True, It’s True! by Kurt Angle (Regan Books)
In an entirely different vein than most of the WWF books, It’s True, It’s True! details the story of a man who was an actual wrestler in the Olympics and won the gold medal for America in 1996 while suffering through a neck injury. Through his training in the Olympics and long, winding journey from post-Olympic obscurity to two-time WWF champion, Kurt Angle’s life puts a decidedly real spin on a sport not known for its realism.
Sex, Lies & Headlocks by Shaun Assael (Crown Publishing)
Examining not only the life of Vince McMahon, but also the Monday Night Wars that raged around him (and because of him), Sex Lies & Headlocks is a decidedly different, and brutally honest, look at the backstage world that created both the WWF and WCW, and nearly destroyed both of them at the same time.
Scott Keith is the author of the best-selling debut The Buzz on Professional Wrestling (Lebhar-Friedman Books, 2000), in addition to his follow-up about the WWF, Tonight In This Very Ring! (Citadel Press, Fall 2002) and an avid follower of wrestling since almost the day he was born. He is currently the owner of one of the largest and most respected independent websites about wrestling, Garnering nearly 2 million pageviews per month, TheSmarks and its predecessor,, have attracted a loyal following over the years, and made up a good portion of the online sales of Keith’s first book.
Keith also worked as a contributing freelance writer for the CBS Sportsline affiliate, doing weekly columns and recapping the WWF’s weekly RAW television show. Wrestleline was, in itself, one of the largest and most successful wrestling websites in history, doing numbers on par with those of the WWF itself, and along with longtime Internet insider Rick Scaia, Keith is regarded as one of the main reasons for that site’s longevity and success. Keith has reviewed and recapped nearly every pay-per-view in the history of wrestling and is generally regarded as the foremost expert on the sport by insiders and observers alike.


Prelude: 1904 Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number (Big Bang – 1986)

I just want everyone to know, for the record, that as much as I enjoy the semi-glamourous life of the wrestling reviewer and the luxuries that writing about my favorite fake sport has afforded me over the years (like, say, food and clothing), this was not a book I wanted to write.
Oh, I mean, sure I wanted to write a book about WCW giving them one final verbal wedgie as a cheapshot to the dearly departed, but at the same time well sometimes I wish I didn’t have to. There are times when I wonder how it ever got this far. And then I watch their shows from the 90s and I go “Oh, that’s why. Stupid of me to forget.”
Take, for instance, July of 1999. That’s a totally random date, basically — after a certain point it all sucked so bad that it doesn’t really matter in the cosmic scheme of things where I pin the proverbial tail on the donkey. But let’s go there for a moment. At that particular point, while the chief opposition (the WWF) was making millions of dollars and generating TV ratings previously unheard-of for a wrestling promotion, WCW was counter-attacking by using rapper Master P in a serious storyline involving black guys (and a couple of deluded white guys) battling it out with wannabe cowboys about the merits of rap music v. country music. The cowboys won the argument in this case. Oh, and there was another music-related deal going on as well, featuring a merchandising agreement with the rock group KISS that extended all the way to dressing up a WCW wrestler in Gene Simmons’ onstage outfit and calling him “The KISS Demon”. Eric Bischoff apparently took the idea to its most logical extreme – planning a millennial pay-per-view special which would feature Mr. Demon taking on goth rocker / wrestler Vampiro in a match motivated by stealing souls and dipping each other in holy water. I’ll leave it to the reader’s imagination to guess who the hero and villain was supposed to be. Eric Bischoff was fired soon after this plan was hatched.
So the question you may be asking yourself is “So why should anyone feel sorry to see this bunch of losers get what was coming to them?” and that’s a question I often ask myself, even when I’m not drunk. The answer (although I don’t usually answer myself well, unless of course I am drunk) is the same one that seems to motivate all of the great underdog stories out there: Because sometimes we like to see the little guy win in the end. But then things get more complicated, because WCW was also owned by a giant multinational media giant, AOL/Time-Warner, and everyone loves to cheer on the independent spirit (Vince McMahon) in his battle with the big mean billionaire (Ted Turner). You can see why the wars between the WWF and WCW caused so much friction amongst fans, I hope.
The thing is, it didn’t always used to be that way between the promotions. Back in the day (“the day” being some variable date between 1980 and 1993, inclusive) the choice was pretty easy for more “hardcore” fans such as myself. The WWF (or “Vince’s One Ring Circus” as we jaded elitists liked to refer to it) was the sideshow freaks of the wrestling world, throwing out muscle-bound goofs and silly skits in place of actual wrestling action. WCW (or the NWA, as it was known for much of the 80s) featured a more realistic, faster-paced athletic style, one which you could talk about at school the next day without sounding like a total dweeb. So you see, I grew up thinking that the NWA (and later WCW) was naturally the superior product, and a little of that bias always remained, even after the promotion completely fell into the septic tank of life in 1993 under Eric Bischoff and became, ironically, the One Ring Circus that we had always been trained to think of Vince’s promotion as.
But things didn’t used to be as they are now, and let me tell you why

* * * * *

Okay, first things first: There’s an awful lot of backstory to the whole NWA thing covering more than 50 years of “real” history and another 40 of made-up history, and suffice it to say that if I started getting into it all here, we’d be here forever and frankly we have to get from 1949 to 1996 as efficiently as possible anyway. So take it on faith that a group of promoters banded together in 1949 and called themselves the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and that they were still around in, say, 1984, which is the point where we’ll pick up the story.
In 1984, there was a pretty good selection of wrestling out there for a fan to choose from assuming you liked the WWF. These days wrestling fans are used to having two-bit promotions cropping up on national TV and failing all the time, but back then it used to be a big deal to have a national distribution deal. Ted Turner knew this, which is why he was so happy to get some of that “rasslin” on his struggling Superstation WTCG (later WTBS) – it was cheap and inoffensive programming that appealed to the unwashed masses and gave him good ratings in the morning on Saturday and Sunday. The beneficiary of this goodwill from Ted happened to be Alan Rogowski’s Georgia Championship Wrestling program. Alan is better known to longtime wrestling fans as “Ole Anderson”, one of several members of the Anderson family, none of whom are actually related to each other in real life. This sort of thing happens a lot in wrestling, so I try not to worry about it any more. At any rate, GCW did ratings that were good enough to give it a permanent home on Saturday mornings and draw lots of redneck fans to the arenas for the shows, so everyone was happy.
Everyone, that is, except for Vince McMahon. Vince, who already had a nationally-distributed syndication deal for his WWF programming, couldn’t understand why southern fans preferred the more athletically-inclined product presented on TBS to his “sports entertainment”, and in order to rectify that situation he made one of the sleaziest end-runs in wrestling history.
Now, Ole Anderson is generally regarded by most casual and longtime observers alike as a simpering boob who was going to drive GCW into the ground within a couple of years anyway, but his backers (longtime promoter Jim Barnett and the Brisco Brothers, a pair of famous NWA mainstays) were smart enough to see the writing on the wall, and when Vince came to them with an offer to buy them out, they took it. This left the owner, Anderson, on the outside of things and suddenly without a company or a timeslot. Vince, after screwing him out of his company, was kind enough to offer him a job in the WWF, but Anderson was the kind of guy to hear you out and then tell you to go f*ck yourself. And that’s just what happened. Which is why you’ll never hear about Ole Anderson’s contributions to the sport on any WWF programming now or in the future.
To the shock of no one, Vince’s muscle show completely alienated the southern fanbase, and ratings plummeted during the short time that WWF programming ran on TBS. In desperation, Turner gave a timeslot on Sunday mornings to upstart promoter Bill Watts and his Mid-South Wrestling, and damned if Watts didn’t destroy both Anderson AND McMahon combined with his ratings. Of course, before Vince left TBS, he made sure to screw over Watts, too, by waiting until Turner promised the timeslot occupied by the WWF to Watts’ hot new product, and then selling GCW to Carolina promoter Jim Crockett instead. The end result of all this was Vince up a million or so, Crockett on national TV with his World Championship Wrestling program for the first time, and Watts rapidly approaching bankruptcy due to his expectations of Saturday ratings that would now never come. We’ll get back to Watts a bit later, but for the moment the #1 and #2 promotions in America were clearly Vince McMahon’s WWF and Jim Crockett’s WCW. Just to confuse you a bit more, since Crockett was a member of the NWA, his shows almost always went by that name and he had almost total control of the entire thing anyway, so “NWA” is interchangeable for “WCW” from here on in.
Okay, with that in mind, let’s meet Dusty Rhodes

Section One: The Death of the NWA (1986-1991)

Now, Jim Crockett is a nice guy who people liked, but he was thrust into a position that he didn’t want and wasn’t ready for. And as a result, he often ended up delegating things to people who he felt knew the business better than him (i.e., everyone).
During the 80s, the two biggest stars of the NWA (and most influential backstage) were undoubtedly “Nature Boy” Ric Flair and “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. Rhodes had made his bones in Florida and turned himself into a major star — and the size of his stardom (and ego) was equaled only by his own tremendous girth. Dusty, who was disliked by many of the rival promoters who made up the NWA, was thus prevented from ever truly being a dominant champion in the NWA. So he aimed his ambitions elsewhere – namely booking (i.e., writing the TV shows and deciding who wins and loses). This worked well for a few years, but by 1986 two problems with his booking philosophy were becoming evident:
1) Dusty had a tendency to give preferential treatment to his friends, the so-called “Charlotte Clique”, which was made up of himself, Nikita Koloff, Magnum TA, Barry Windham, Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson. Certainly not a lineup of star power to scoff at, but the shows became completely centered around those guys and no one else. So you’d get months of Flair defending his title against Rhodes, Koloff, Windham and pretty much no one else. And one guess who Dusty considered to be the biggest star of the bunch and the rightful recipient of all the TV time? In fact, his ego-f*cking at one point got so out of control that even the hottest heels in the company would be instructed to make sure to mention Rhodes’ name in every interview, just to remind the fans who the biggest star was.
2) Dusty loved gimmick matches. He’s a very creative guy and could come up with really neat concepts for stuff that worked once, but much like the push for his friends, it soon got beaten into the ground and stale. His favorite was the cage match, and by the beginning of 1987 he’d be booking one on every show, no matter how feeble and lame the main event was. You’d get midcarders main-eventing spot shows for 500 people in the middle of nowhere, and it’d be a cage match for a feud that no one cared about. He also drove the idea of the Bunkhouse Stampede into the ground – a kind of anything-goes battle royale – by winning 90% of them himself. He also developed a fondness for barbed-wire themed matches – and won all of them, too. Do you sense a pattern here?
That’s not to say Dusty was all bad – he had one HELL of an idea for a match, which was called WarGames: The Match Beyond. And the first one, in1987, shook the foundations of wrestling with brutality and sheer hatred not seen before or since. From my review

– Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson, Lex Luger & JJ Dillon v. Dusty Rhodes, Nikita Koloff, Hawk, Animal & Paul Ellering. This is it — the first WarGames, ever. The story: Everyone hates each others’ guts. That’s all you need to know. Big Dust and AA start out. Lots of situations where a pinfall would usually happen to stress that there are no pinfalls. AA is bleeding two minutes in, just like everyone else in this match. An 11 year tradition begins here, as the heels win the first ever coin toss. Tully is next and Dusty elbows them both before they inevitably destroy Dusty. The overriding storyline of the match: When it’s even odds, the faces are in command, but when the heels have one man up, the faces have no chance. Animal comes in to make the save and slingshots Tully into the cage THREE TIMES. No release. Wild stuff. Flair is in next (whoo!) and Animal is bleeding 10 seconds later. You like blood? This is the match for you. Incredibly hot crowd, they must’ve been distributing speed in the hot dog vendors or something. Koloff is in and just obliterates everyone. Luger is in and goes right after Koloff, and Flair helps out by giving the most blatant ballshot you’ll ever see. Then Flair and Tully give Koloff *two* spike piledrivers in a row. Brutal. Even the bad wrestlers look good because they can punch and kick away and it’s totally in context. Dillon is in last for the heels and not surprisingly doesn’t turn the tide much. Ellering comes in, wearing the spiked gauntlet from one of the Warriors, and starts jamming it into Dillon’s eye. Then the Warriors corner Dillon 2-on-1 and just absolutely murder him for about three minutes until he finally surrenders to the end the whole thing. A bloody, brutal classic. *****

Overall, however, Dusty’s booking was becoming a disaster, as Flair was made to defend his NWA World title against tag wrestlers like Ricky Morton and Michael Hayes on a regular basis, and business started tailing downwards, quickly. With Dusty’s chosen superstar, Magnum TA, out of commission because of a car accident that ended his career, the search was on for the next guy to carry the mantle of the NWA. It was at this point that a long-simmering real-life feud started to take its toll on the already-volatile situation.
It was safe to say that Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes had a love-hate relationship in the best of times, and with business on the way down and no end in sight, both guys figured they had the solution to the woes of the company. Dusty endorsed Florida muscle-man and Hogan-clone Lex Luger, whom he felt could cut into the WWF’s audience. Flair favored ex-bodybuilder and hot rookie Sting, who was better suited to the fast-paced, athletic style of the NWA. That’s when it got ugly.
By early 1988, Dusty began asking Flair to lose the title to Luger, and Flair kept refusing by invoking his incredibly one-sided contract, which said that he had the right to refuse any jobs he didn’t feel were warranted. Flair wanted to wait for Sting to be ready for the spot and then lose to him, but Dusty was adamant about Flair losing to Luger and the shouting matches backstage became a nightly ritual that lasted all of 1988. By the end of the year, Dusty had gone completely over the edge and tried to book a finish for their biggest show of the year, Starrcade 88, whereby Flair would drop the title in under 5 minutes to midcarder Rick Steiner. Flair, enraged, threatened to quit on the spot and go to the WWF with the NWA title belt, and the end result was that Flair got to win his match against Luger that night, and Dusty ended up being the one gone to the WWF.
None of that mattered any more, though, in the grand scheme of things.
Jim Crockett had gone the spending spree of two lifetimes upon being handed the keys to the vault, giving the Charlotte Clique (all of whom were friends with Crockett) huge guaranteed contracts and private jets to fly from show to show every night. Between his excesses and Dusty’s incompetent booking, the company was losing too much money to stay afloat much longer by the end of 1987. The hope was that the new pie-in-the-sky revenue source, pay-per-view television, could bail out the troubled company in one fell swoop. The centerpiece show of the year for the NWA, “Starrcade ‘87”, was scheduled for PPV in November, and cable companies were exciting about the prospect of competition for viewer dollars. Vince McMahon was another story, however. In order to teach Crockett a lesson, he created an entirely new WWF PPV, Survivor Series, to run on the same night as Crockett’s Starrcade show. And to make things worse, he gave cable companies an ultimatum: Carry my show or never get another WWF show again. About 95% of the cable companies in America capitulated, and Starrcade ’87 was a dismal failure that cost Crockett millions. And the cable companies, for that matter. It cost them so much money, in fact, that they went to Vince and told him that in fact they would drop his programming, and not vice-versa, if he pulled a stunt like that again.
So in January 1988, when Crockett tried it again with the Bunkhouse Stampede PPV (one guess who won the featured match) Vince made sure not schedule any competing PPVs. Instead, he put a PPV-caliber show on free TV, called the Royal Rumble, featuring (and here’s a shock), an anything-goes battle royale, much like the one being shown on PPV that very night. How about that. But Crockett fired back with the big guns in March – because when Vince ran his annual Wrestlemania show with a tournament headlining and thus no real advertised main event, Crockett used his clout with TBS to run a free special called the Clash of Champions, a two-hour spectacular that produced two Match of the Year candidates and scored the highest cable rating for wrestling in history to that point. The main event of the show featured Ric Flair taking on the red-hot Sting in a 45-minute draw that turned the rookie into a bonafide star of the future. From my review

– NWA World title match: Ric Flair v. Sting. You know the deal, five judges at ringside, 45 minute time limit, JJ locked in a cage at ringside, etc. Sting is wearing black and white makeup…could this be a secret alliance with the nWo B-Team? TUNE INTO NITRO TO FIND OUT! Wristlock to start. Chops have no effect and Sting dropkicks Flair out of the ring. Sting controls for the next few minutes, with a lot of basic stuff. Side headlock, bearhug, etc. I don’t think Sting was ready for this match. Sting misses a blind charge to the corner and messes up his elbow about 15 minutes in. Flair goes to work, methodically destroying Sting. Sting has a mini-comeback about 25 minutes in to keep the crowd going, but misses a charge outside the ring and hits the post. The comeback continues, however, for a couple of two counts. Outside-in suplex and Deathlock, but Flair makes the ropes. Sting goes flying out of the ring and comes back in with a flying bodypress for two. Flair goes to work on the knee. Figure-four at 30 minutes. Amazingly, he cut to the crowd for a second, and when we return FLAIR is in the figure-four. Wow, that’s some magic trick. Must have been the Black Scorpion. Now Sting is working on Flair’s leg. We jumped to 40 minutes, so there was some definite clipping for home video. The ring announcer does the annoying NWA trademark minute-by-minute countdown to time limit. Sting misses a splash and goes flying out of the ring. Nice bumping by Sting. They exchange two counts. Flair Flip leads to a bodypress, which is reversed by Sting for two. 10 punch count leads to the Stinger Splash and deathlock with 30 seconds left. Flair holds on to time limit, and we go to the judges’ decision: A draw. Well, that pretty much shoots down the “there must be a winner” stipulation. The Penthouse bimbo gives it to Flair, Gary Juster gives it to Sting, Sandy Scott scores it a draw. They clip the other two judges’ decisions, but I don’t think anyone cares what Eddie Haskell has to say. Not a ***** classic by any means, but still excellent. ****1/2

The show was not only a ratings success, but it absolutely decimated Vince’s profits for the PPV, as everyone decided to watch the free NWA show and skip Vince’s overpriced, overhyped Wrestlemania. The cable companies finally forced a truce between the warring companies, but the damage was done – on both sides. Whereas the WWF went into a bit of a slump with the absence of Hulk Hogan for the year, Crockett went bust outright and ran out of money. Nearing bankruptcy, he made the only decision he had left – he went to Ted Turner and offered 100% of Jim Crockett Promotions to Turner Broadcasting. The proverbial deal with the devil made, Crockett took a job in the front office of TBS and quietly faded from the wrestling business. Turner was anything but quiet, however, as he called Vince McMahon that very night and crowed that he “was in the rasslin’ business!” You can almost picture the bug-eyed double-take Vince might have done.
The whole WCW organization was immediately shaken up, as Rhodes was sent packing to the WWF and Flair was made head of a booking committee, with the intention being to fight the WWF by concentrating on the wrestling aspect of things. Now a corporate-run entity, the first bearer of the title “Executive Vice-President in Charge of Wrestling Operations” (which has since become something of a running gag in online circles, used to indicate total incompetence) was Jim Herd, a longtime Turner employee with a good head for business and absolutely no clue how to run a wrestling company. Luckily, Flair had a clue, so free agent Ricky Steamboat was brought in from semi-retirement to headline against Flair, and Sting was turned into his pet project for development into a major star. After Flair and Steamboat had a series of matches so great that they’re still spoken of with reverence by wrestling fans today, veteran brawler Terry Funk came in and attacked Flair to set up a feud between them. As for Sting, he was programmed with ultra-hot heel The Great Muta, who was revolutionizing what the very idea of high-flying was and was getting more over by the day as a result. The resulting showdown between four men took place at Great American Bash ’89, which is today still considered quite possibly the greatest PPV of all-time.
All was not wine and roses with Flair, however. A falling-out with Jim Herd led to a sudden swing in backstage feelings against him, as the others began openly complaining that Flair put himself over too much (despite being considered one of the greatest wrestlers of all-time) and was too old to headline. On the second point, I’d just like to point out that people had been saying that about him since 1986, and in 2002 he was still main-eventing and still having great matches there. At any rate, by the beginning of 1990 the Flair era as booker came to a crashing halt, and ever gracious about it, Flair offered to lose the title to Sting and then move down to the midcard in a team with best friend Arn Anderson. Problem: During a tag match against an evil Japanese contingent, Sting took a bad fall and blew out his knee. And thus began again the great dance: The booking committee asked Flair to put over Lex Luger instead, Flair refused, shouting matches resulted, repeat nightly. Flair absolutely refused to lose to Luger, instead endorsing Sting as champion. By June, Flair had been ousted completely as booker and replaced with Ole Anderson, and that’s when people wondered openly if Jim Herd had the slightest clue about what he was doing here.
The answer, as we learned later, was “no”, but for the sake of argument we’ll continue on.
Now, Ole – well, we covered him a little bit earlier. I believe the term “simpering boob” was used at one point. Now, the problem here was that Ric Flair had just spent, oh, 3 years (give or take) grooming Sting to be the next big star of the promotion and waiting all that time to do the job specifically for him and him only. On the other hand, Ole Anderson HATED Sting and “pretty boy” wrestlers in general (Ole is a pretty ugly guy). Actually, that’s something of an unfair generalization about the guy – in fact the issue was that Ole was not only woefully incompetent, but criminally cheap as well. His philosophy was generally along the lines of “If I’m paying this guy $700,000 a year, I can pay ten of my friends $70,000 a year instead.” In fact, during one notable conversation with Sting over salary talks, he was heard to comment that Sting shouldn’t be complaining about ANYTHING for that kind of money. “Hell,” Ole reportedly said, “for that amount of money I’d suck cock all day and all night! Line ‘em up!” I think you get the picture.
So Ole, cutting costs like WCW wasn’t owned by a multi-billionaire who maintained it merely as a plaything and source of cheap programming, got rid of as much of the expensive top-level talent as he could afford (and BOY was he pushing to dump Ric Flair).
Quick story: Back in 1986, Flair led a group of heels called the Four Horsemen, who many of those reading have probably heard of. It was Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard and Ole Anderson playing fourth-stringer. Well, during the period when Lex Luger was a hot rookie and Crockett was desperate to find a slot for him, Flair suggested slotting him into the Horsemen in Ole’s place, and in order to back this up Ole was actually suspended for several weeks because he chose to go to his son’s collegiate wrestling championships instead of wrestling a fairly unimportant date for Crockett. Ole never forgot that and held a grudge against Flair all the way up until 1990, when suddenly he was the guy knocking Flair out of the boss’s chair. And the punchline? In 1999, Eric Bischoff suspended Flair for several MONTHS for missing a fairly unimportant date because he chose to go to his son’s collegiate wrestling championships instead.
But I digress.
Ole had a Plan. Capital “P” intentional. Like it or not, Sting was still the champion of WCW and they needed a villain for him to battle. Since Jim Herd was just the money source, more or less, and Ole was the idea man, that left it on his shoulders.
Quicker story: Jim Herd actually DID have two ideas, both for tag teams. One was to be called the Hunchbacks, and they wrestle with humps on their back. Herd’s thinking was that they could never be pinned. Ole replied that he’d just put a spinning toehold on them until he submitted. This idea went back to the drawing board, before re-emerging as The Ding-Dongs (Ding and Dong), a pair of guys in pink suits who wrestled with bells on. It was supposed to appeal to the kids. It lasted two matches before dying. Herd didn’t do much of the thinking after that.
So anyway, a challenger to the belt was needed, and keep in mind here some conditions that needed to be met to suit Ole Anderson’s unique perspective on life and wrestling booking:
1) He had to be acquired cheaply.
2) Mystery was definitely a plus – the longer they could stretch it out, the more money it would make.
3) If they could convince the audience that it was a current WWF star and thus cash in on the name without ever mentioning them, all the better.
4) Magic tricks! Everyone loves magic tricks!

Okay, I made that last one up.
So in July of 1990, at a point when even the traditionally unstoppable WWF machine was tanking badly, Ole Anderson introduced the newest sensation that would sweep wrestling. Superman had his Lex Luthor, Sherlock Holmes had his Moriarty, and now Sting would have The Black Scorpion.
It was a good name, I’ll give ‘em that. Very ominous, gave immediate impressions of something that might be related to Sting while at the same time sending the firm message that this was the BLACK Scorpion, thank you very much.
Oh, there’s just one small problem that I’ll get to in a second.
So the Scorpion made his TV debut, cutting a mysterious, silhouetted promo one week, with voice distorted by shifting the pitch downwards, talking about history on Venice Beach with Sting and how he was returning for revenge and so on and so forth. Good, solid stuff.
Except of course for that one small, niggling little problem I mentioned earlier. Not even worth mentioning, really, and yet I must.
In building up to their Clash of Champions XII show, a match between Sting and the Scorpion was announced, and people were actually excited to see who this masked man turned out to be. It did a great rating. The match was pretty decent.
Except of course that WCW brass didn’t actually know who the Scorpion was supposed to be. And I mean that in both the figurative and literal sense. Figuratively, they had no idea what mysterious person from Sting’s past this guy was supposed to be representing – vague notions of the WWF’s Ultimate Warrior (Sting’s ex-tag team partner) or indy wrestler The Angel of Death (Sting’s ex-training partner) were floated out there, but Warrior was under WWF contract and Dave Sheldon (The Angel of Death) wanted too much money to play the part. Literally speaking, they didn’t know, either – journeyman Al Perez was the poor sap who got to job for Sting at the Clash, but right after that match ANOTHER Scorpion appeared and declared that the war wasn’t over yet.
Truer words have never been spoken.
The Scorpion storyline took an even more bizarre twist as they attempted to appeal to the younger set by having him become a bad stage magician, doing such horrifying acts of evil as turning innocent bystanders into circus animals, or using trick stage props to cause the illusion of heads spinning around. In reality, the only heads left spinning were the viewers’, who were having more and more trouble following the ridiculously complex storyline. By October, at the Halloween Havoc PPV, Sting was fighting monster heel Sid Vicious and had no credibility left because of his inability to finish off the ridiculous Black Scorpion threat. One such showdown between them, from that very show, featured Sting cutting a promo to hype the match with Vicious, only to witness the Scorpion causing an audience member to disappear. Well, the storyline was doing that all by itself, but this time it was intentional. Of course, the question of why Sting couldn’t just walk the 15 feet over to the other stage where Scorpion was practicing his bad stage magic probably never crossed the minds of the increasingly-desperate bookers, who were watching the company sink like the Titanic with Sting on top. And of course Sting got blamed for this downturn, even though the main storyline involved a guy who would probably shout “Nothing up my sleeves!” before every move in the ring.
Quick sidebar: The WWF also toyed with stage magic as a gimmick, giving Del Rios the name of “Phantasio” for one TV match where he pulled a jobber’s underwear out from underneath his tights, and then did an even better trick — disappearing back into indy hell for the rest of his career. WCW probably could have learned something from that.
The year concluded with a suitable ending to the Scorpion storyline, as Sting met his (cough) arch-rival at the Starrcade ’90 PPV in a cage match for the World title, and in case you were wondering, Ole Anderson was fired as booker by that point. And in the end, who did they go crawling back to yet again? From my review

WCW World title match: Sting v. The Black Scorpion (cage match, title v. mask). The end of the worst feud, ever. Four Scorpions come out of the dressing room, then a flying saucer thing lowers itself from the ceiling and a fifth Scorpion emerges. I am not making this shit up. This just kills the good flow that the show had built to this point. Finally, Sting makes his entrance. The Scorpion doesn’t wrestle like anyone in particular, which makes it very hard to tell who he is if you didn’t know. But there are clues, which I’ll run down for you in case you don’t already know his identity. The Scorpion is faced with an interesting challenge: He has to take great pains not to do any of his trademark stuff, while at the same time putting on a good match. It doesn’t work all that well. Clue #1: Scorpion puts both feet on the ropes during a chinlock. Clue #2: White hair pokes out from beneath the mask. Clue #3: Sting gives him the Stinger splash, and he flops to the mat face-first. Clue #4: At one point, the Scorpion is on the top rope and Sting shakes him off, causing him to crotch himself on the top rope. Know who it is yet? At any rate, Sting gets him in the Deathlock, but he wriggles free. Sting rams him into the cage and rips off the mask…but another one is underneath. He has somehow managed to blade himself through the mask. Sting to the top, and a flying bodypress finishes off the Scorpion for good. **1/4
– Now the other Scorpions attack, and Sting and the Bruiser fight them off one-by-one, ripping off masks as they go (Col. DeKlerk and the Angel of Death, who was the original choice for the Scorpion, btw, are clearly seen). Now Arn Anderson and Barry Windham rush the ring and lock Sting and the Scorpion in and start destroying Sting. We’ve got less than a minute left in the PPV’s alloted time, when suddenly Sting recovers and tears off the Scorpion’s final mask to reveal…
…that we’re out of time.
Just kidding.
It’s Ric Flair, of course. And now we’re really out of time.

In exchange for being the poor patsy that got to pay off the worst storyline idea ever, Flair was given the title back on January 11 / 1991.
But bigger changes were afoot, as all throughout 1990 WCW had taken great pains to only refer to itself on TV as “WCW” and not “NWA”, even though it was still (in theory) the biggest and most influential member of that group. The feeling was “Hey, we’re the biggest member and we control the champion by default, so why should we bother paying the membership fees?” And they had a point there.
So on January 1 1991, WCW officially split from the NWA and became World Championship Wrestling in all broadcast forms, later sending a whole generation of wrestling historians into near heart-failure due to the effort of trying to interpret what that meant for the titles before, during and after the changeover.
But that wasn’t even the most cataclysmic thing that happened to the promotion that year, because Jim Herd was still the guy in charge, and he still didn’t think Ric Flair should be on top of the promotion, and by the middle of the year you knew that the promotion wasn’t gonna be big enough for the both of them.