Re-Writing The Book: The Fingerpoke Of Doom, Part 3

Welcome to the first Re-Writing The Book on Inside Pulse! My previous editions (typos and all) are available in the archives, which include Parts 1 and 2 of this seemingly never-ending saga. So, without further ado, let’s dive in to what I’m sure could be described as the long-awaited final chapter (especially after my gag ending last week) of …

What if the “Fingerpoke Of Doom” title change never happened?

Our story resumes on Nitro the following night. Kevin Nash has regained the WCW World Championship, pinning Sting in a three-way dance only a few hours after losing a bloody battle with Hollywood Hogan. Nash’s opponent for Spring Stampede has to be decided, and there’s no shortage of eligible contenders. But the Presidency of the company remains unresolved, and Sting, Scott Steiner and DDP have a lot of explaining to do regarding that …

March 15th: Nitro

Nitro, Tony Schiavone is pleased to tell the audience, is stacked to the rafters with big matches a mere 24 hours removed from Uncensored: Bam Bam Bigelow and Wrath are slated to face Barry Windham and Curt Hennig, Bret Hart gets a piece of Goldberg and Chris Benoit defends his newly-won US Title against good friend Dean Malenko. Plus, a special message from Dr. Harvey Schiller will resolve the issue of the Presidency of WCW, and name Kevin Nash’s first opponent.

Mean Gene Okerlund kicks off the show from the ring, and gets no more than a couple words into a sentence when music–the music of Sting–cuts him off. Okerlund blathers on about how this isn’t scheduled, but Sting–accompanied by Scott Steiner and Diamond Dallas Page–come to the ring. Mean Gene approaches them and is ready to ask what they’re doing in the ring, but Sting’s eyes broadcast a simple command to Okerlund: leave now Okerlund does, handing the microphone over to Sting on the way out.

“No matter where I went today, no matter what I did, everybody kept asking the Stinger the same question: ‘What were you thinking?'” Sting chuckles, but it’s humorless and, in a way, creepy. “I’ll tell ya what I was thinking. See, for the past couple months, WCW has been a battleground. On one side, we have my old buddy, Ric Flair and his Administration, trying to kill off the competition and hoard the spotlight for themselves. On the other side is Kevin Nash, Eric Bischoff and the New World Order. The Stinger has a lot of history with both sides of this fight … some good, most of it bad. But for the past few months, both sides have had something in common: they both claim to be fighting for the best interest of WCW. Flair says the tradition and legacy of the company needs to be preserved, and Bischoff says the young guys like Benoit and Goldberg are being unfairly crushed and kept down by Flair and Hogan and their friends.”

Sting pauses to survey the crowd, who are all hanging on Sting’s every word. When he speaks again, his voice is a lion’s roar. “They’re all a bunch of lying bastards” Sting turns to DDP. “Did you ever ask either Bischoff or Flair to speak for you, Page?” When Page shakes his head, Sting looks at Steiner. “What about you, Superstar? Did you ever ask Flair or Bischoff to fight for your honor?” Steiner’s f*ck, no! is audible over the mike even without it being near his mouth. “People keep asking us ‘Who do you represent? What side are you on?'” Sting points towards the entrance. “See those letters? W-C-W. That’s whose side I’m on. Do any of you really think the nWo or Flair’s Administration are in this for such a noble cause as protecting WCW? Flair’s in this for the same reason he’s been doing this for over fifteen years: the WCW World Title. Same thing with Hogan, Piper, Nash, Hall, Goldberg and everybody in the locker room. There isn’t a man back there who doesn’t dream of being World Champ; the only difference here between the New World Order, The Administration and the rest of us is that us guys in the middle are honest about it; if I gotta beat Page or Steiner to get my belt back, I’ll do it. And they’d do the same. Bischoff and Flair, they couldn’t care less about what the fans want, or the guys in their gangs. They’re greedy, self-serving selfish pigs who only have one real goal: beating the other guy at their own game. Bischoff, Nash, Flair, Hogan and the rest of them care about one person: themselves. So you ask me where the Stinger stands? The same place the Stinger has always stood. What’s going through the Stinger’s head? Same thing that’s always been in the Stinger’s head: I want to be World Champion, and I’m not sucking up to anyone to get there.”

Sting hands off the microphone to Steiner, who bellows with the anger of an enraged rhino. “New World Order! Administration! Nobody asked you to lead WCW, and nobody wants you to lead WCW! The Superstar, the Stinger and DDP won’t let you run over us like roadkill! WCW has had enough of the nWo, and enough of The Administration!”

Page takes the stick, his usual sneer on his face. “Ric Flair! Hollywood-scum-Hogan! Hall, Nash, Bischoff! We aren’t gonna let you run WCW, and the boys in the back, into the ground while you bicker night in and night out! You think you got a problem with each other?” DDP makes his trademark diamond hand gesture, then breaks it apart with a “BANG! You ain’t had to deal with WCW yet.”

Bigelow & Wrath get past the Administration’s Windham & Hennig, although the win is bittersweet; Hennig and Windham attack with chairs after the match ends and leave them unconscious and spray-painted with the now-familiar slashed-out nWo logo on their backs. High up in the audience, the proceedings are witnessed by Sting, Steiner and DDP, their faces masks of stoicism.

Their stoicism remains during the technical masterpiece put on by Malenko and Benoit over the US Title. For twenty long minutes, the two good friends trade blows and maneuvers, both failing to outsmart or outwrestle one another; every chop from Benoit earns him one in kind from Malenko, and every submission hold is rolled through, countered or twisted into a different one. But, like the match before, the Administration has to have the last word, and Bret Hart and Lex Luger end up causing the match to be thrown out. Benoit and Malenko are left in ruin, spray-painted and humiliated, and Bret and Luger leave with the smug satisfaction of having eliminated two of the most promising young stars in the New World Order. All the while, the triumvirate in the crowds remain as still as statues.

Shortly before the Goldberg/Bret Hart main event, Dr. Schiller comes to the ring. In his hands are a microphone and a couple sheets of paper. The crowd quiets down in anticipation of what Schiller has to say, for the future of the company–the leadership of the company–is riding on it.

Schiller clears his throat, then brings the microphone into place and begins to read from the first paper. “First of all, I’d like to congratulate ‘Big Sexy’ Kevin Nash on once again becoming WCW World Heavyweight Champion last night at WCW Uncensored.” When the cheers subside, Schiller continues. “However, events at last night’s event complicate naming an opponent for Kevin Nash at Spring Stampede, namely that Kevin Nash lost to Hollywood Hogan earlier in the night.” A chorus of boos cut of Schiller, who has to wait until they die down before he can resume. “However, the match between Hollywood Hogan and Kevin Nash was unsanctioned by WCW. Simultaneously, Bill Goldberg was not involved with the pinfall decision in last night’s triple threat match, but he did lose. However, he has yet to receive his contractually promised rematch. Added to that is the issue that Sting also is contractually bound to receive a rematch at some point in the near future. Therefore, it is the determination of the championship committee that, next week on Nitro, Hollywood Hogan will have his first match back from his length contract dispute, and it will be against Sting. The winner of that match will join Bill Goldberg in challenging Kevin Nash at Spring Stampede.”

Once the crowd settles down from that announcement (and Schiller switches papers), Schiller clears his throat again. “The second matter of discussion involves the Presidency of WCW. Last night at Uncensored, due to the actions of Scott Steiner, Sting and Diamond Dallas Page, the Last Man Standing match between Eric Bischoff and Ric Flair resulted in a tie. Executives from WCW and TurnerSports have reviewed the tapes and all potential legal issues regarding this highly volatile issue, and it is an issue that required a hasty resolution. Therefore, it is the decis–“

Schiller’s voice is drowned out by the music of Sting, who comes out with DDP and Steiner along side. The trio slide into the ring, and Schiller immediately backs up. “I don’t need to remind you of who I am, gentle–“

Sting, who has pulled a microphone from his trenchcoat, gets right in Schiller’s face. “Shut up.” The crowd bursts into cheers as Sting paces back and forth. “Did you listen to us earlier, doc? Did you hear a word we had to say?” Sting gets back in Schiller’s face, their noses almost touching. “We don’t want Bischoff or Flair in charge.” Sting backs away, but Schiller looks like he’s ready to piss his pants in fright. “WCW needs one of them as President like I need to be hit in the head with a chair. But you could care less, right, Schiller? You’re perfectly happy, sitting in your plush office CNN Towers, letting two corrupt, morally bankrupt cancers like Eric Bischoff and Ric Flair fight it out over who gets to drive this company into the ground, so long as tickets keep selling, right? Did you bother to ask the boys who they want as President? I bet you didn’t. I bet you couldn’t care less. Well, let me tell you something, Doctor Schiller–you can have those two idiots face each other at every event from now into infinity, and me, Page and Steiner will make sure every last damn match ends in a no contest until you wise up.”

Schiller composes himself (wiping the nervous beads of sweat off his brow and even taking a brave–for him–step towards Sting) “And what would you have me do instead? Hand over the Presidency to someone you declare is worthy?”

Sting smiles. “How about letting someone else into the match, to represent WCW?”

“Do you have someone in mind, or are you graciously going to accept the honor yourself?”

Sting chuckles, but again, Sting’s laugh is humorless and chilling. “Very funny, Schiller. How about we make it democratic? Let the wrestlers pick.”

Schiller mulls it over for a moment. Finally, after a few drawn-out moments of suspense, Schiller nods. “Fine then. Next week here on Nitro, there will be an election to nominate a third person to compete for the Presidency of WCW. The winner will face Eric Bischoff and Ric Flair at Spring Stampede.” Sting mulls over the decision with his partners, who all give their endorsement. Sting shakes Schiller’s hand and leaves without any further words on the topic.

But the good feelings are quickly wiped away as the main event kicks in, as it becomes obvious The Administration aren’t messing around anymore. Their plan, a systematic and total decimation of all people associated with the New World Order, continues to unfold when members of The Administration come to the aid of Bret as he reels from a Goldberg spear. Goldberg manages to take out Luger and Piper, but as the numbers mount against him–Windham, Hennig, Flair, Arn Anderson and even Hollywood Hogan–even Goldberg falls to the combined might. Even when Benoit and Malenko come to try and even the odds, they find themselves outnumbered, and Nitro ends with the grim visage of Goldberg being beaten on by Hogan (and held down by half the Administration), Malenko tied up in a figure-four by Flair, and Benoit locked in Bret’s Sharpshooter.

March 22nd: Nitro

Nitro’s opening shot is of quite the peculiar sight: a line of wrestlers, from masked luchadores to people like Raven, monsters like Wrath and anyone else not affiliated with either of the opposing camps, registering at a table manned by Doug Dillenger, picking up ballots and waiting for their turn to cast their votes in the privacy of a curtained booth. Tony Schiavone screams about how history is in the making as Nitro’s opening graphic rolls, ushering in what is promised to be a pivotal episode for the future of World Championship Wrestling. In addition to the ballot results (to be read by the legendary Dusty Rhodes), Hogan and Sting will battle for the third spot in the World Title match at Spring Stampede (with Nash acting as guest referee), Scott Steiner and DDP team up to take on Windham and Hennig, and a six-man tag pitting Goldberg, Malenko and Benoit against Bret, Luger and Flair.

And no time is wasted by WCW in solving one of its issues, as Sting and Hollywood Hogan’s match is slated first. Nash views his job as referee as one of little output, choosing to let the competitors bend the rules as they choke, punch and use every dirty trick in the book in their quest for a World Title shot, and for a while, Sting managed to shrug off everything Hogan can bring and has the upper hand. But a shot to the crotch drops the Stinger, and Hogan immediately sets about putting the boots to his old nemesis. Nash is content to let the beating continue (even when Hogan is blatantly using closed fists on Sting’s head), but steps in when Hogan tears off his weight belt and tries to whip Sting with it, and that incurs Hogan’s wrath, which gives Nash a hearty shove. Nash ignores it and turns away, but Hogan grabs Nash and hauls him back around, yelling at Nash’s interference. Nash tries to ignore it, but Hogan reaches out and slaps Nash right across the cheek. Nash fumes a moment, then suddenly swings (forgetting he is still holding, buckle out, the weight belt); Hogan ducks and the blow lands right on the jawbone of dazed Sting, dropping him once again. Hogan quickly realizes the chance and covers Sting. Nash hems and haws for a moment before getting down and issuing a slow three-count. The crowd is left silent at the reaction, shocked at what has just happened. Hogan, however, could care less, and celebrates like he’s won the title and not just a shot. Nash stands back and watches Hogan’s ridiculous carrying on before he can stand it no more, and delivers a stiff boot to the gut when Hogan turns to face him. Nash grabs Hogan before he can catch his wind, hauls him up and drops him with a vicious Jackknife. The crowd knows how to respond to that, and Nash leaves the ring–as well as Sting and Hogan–to cheers.

The announcers get some face time to update the viewers on the format, rules and status of the election. The rules, Schiavone explains, are that all WCW wrestlers, save for members of the New World Order and The Administration, are eligible to vote. In all, there are nine candidates: Dusty Rhodes, Harley Race, Ricky Steamboat, Terry Funk, Kevin Sullivan, Lou Thesz, JJ Dillon, Nikita Koloff and Magnum TA, as well as a write-in slot, which can be used on anyone, past or present, in WCW, save for members of the nWo and Administration. As Steiner and DDP make their way to the ring for their match, Schiavone explains that close to three-fourths of WCW have cast their votes so far, and updates will continue throughout the show.

Before Hennig and Windham make their way out, DDP grabs a mike. “Pay attention, Dr. Schiller! We want you to pay real … close … attention to this match. You know why? WCW has a long history of tag-team wrestling, and Scott Steiner and me are sickened at how it has been ignored and forgotten. The Superstar and I, we’re here to represent WCW, and Scotty …” DDP gives Steiner a clap on the shoulder. “I can think of no better way then to bring back the Tag Titles. Whattya think?”

Steiner takes the microphone and adds his opinion to the mix. “Hennig and Windham! Bam Bam Bigelow and Wrath! I don’t care if you get two of those little masked guys in a team … come on down and try and beat the best team WCW has to offer!” Hennig and Windham race down to the ring, and a full-scale brawl ensues. Steiner and Windham pair off, slugging their way out of the ring and brawling into the crowd. DDP and Hennig’s brawl heads up the ramp and into the locker room, and eventually, the referee has to throw out the match (which barely started in the first place).

The main event also begins as a donnybrook, with all six men battling in the ring. The nWo team gives the crowd a nice moment (and a good send-off to a commercial) when Flair, Bret and Luger are all driven out of the ring and to the arena floor, leaving Goldberg, Benoit and Malenko in the ring to taunt and mock the Administration members and play to the crowd. Eventually, the Administration regroups and comes back, and the match begins properly, with Luger starting off against Goldberg. Goldberg overpowers Luger, and quick tags to Benoit and Malenko keep the momentum going in favor of the New World Order, using their scientific prowess and Goldberg�?��?s raw strength to make putty of The Total Package. But a blind tag by to Flair on a toss into the ropes catches Benoit off guard, and The Administration takes over.

Benoit is made to suffer punishment beyond reproach, as Flair, Luger and Bret takes turns dismantling the technical wizard body part by body part. Through constant wear-down holds and targeted strikes, Flair and Bret turn Benoit’s legs into jelly, while Luger uses brute force to inflict general pain, and rob Benoit of his wind. The punishment continues for what feels like forever to the audience (and for Benoit, even longer).

No one notices that Sting, Steiner and DDP are vanished from their upper-deck outpost.

The punishment continues until Bret makes the mistake of going for his patented second-rope elbow. Benoit rolls away, and Bret crashes down on his arms. Benoit crawls over to his corner, but to his horror, finds it empty–Malenko and Goldberg have dropped to the mat to head off the oncoming reinforcements of Roddy Piper, Windham and Hennig. Benoit stares in disbelief, yelling to get their attention, but Goldberg and Malenko are too focused on the yelling match they’re engaged in with the Administration flunkies to hear Benoit’s cries for help. Meanwhile, Bret has finally rolled back and made the tag to Flair, who drags Benoit away by the legs and goes for the figure-four.

Flair never sees it, but all around him, hell breaks loose. The war of words with Goldberg and Malenko and The Administration turns into a fistfight (drawing the attention of the referee, part of the plan all along). But Luger and Bret are likewise occupied by the surprise of Scott Steiner and DDP coming through the audience and blasting them with chairs. The crowd’s screams do nothing to draw Flair’s attention, which is singularly focused on the goal of finishing off the legs of The Crippler once and for all. So much so, in fact, that he never notices man ascending the turnbuckle to his left. And until he sees video of it, he will never know that it was the elbow of Macho Man Randy Savage that stabbed into his chest, driving the wind out from his lungs and sending splotches of black to cloud his sight.

The crowd’s frenzy gets even louder when Savage pulls off his shirt to reveal another shirt beneath, striped black and white–a referee’s shirt. Benoit frees himself from the tangle of Flair’s legs and drapes an arm across Flair. He never hears Savage count to three and order the timekeeper to ring the bell. And when Sting drops from the rafters, attaches a harness to Benoit and drags him back up to safety, he doesn’t notice that either. But the crowd witnesses it all, amidst the all-out chaos of DDP, Sting and Savage laying waste to anyone and everyone that moves–agents of WCW, making a true stand against the oppressive force of The Administration and the deceptive, questionable New World Order.

It is only the recognizable patois of Dusty Rhodes that can cut through the chaos, and indeed, all activity shuts down when Dusty yells over the noise of the crowd and the fighting.

“My friends!” says Dusty, his familiar accent mangling a syllable here and dropping a letter there. He holds up a sealed envelope and says; “The people … WCW has spoken! And right here in my litty-bitty hand, I have the results! The man WCW has chosen to go to war against the likes of Ric Flair and Eric Bischoff! The man WCW wants as their leader and President!” Dusty sticks a finger in the envelope and breaks the seal, blows the envelope open, and removes the results. He reads them over, and a smile as big as his home state dawns on his face. He looks up, first at the ring, then above him, towards the rafters. “The man WCW has chosen as their representative … with 95% of the vote … is the man called STING!

March 29th and April 4th: Nitro

The build-up to Spring Stampede continues on the last two episodes of Nitro before the massive PPV. On the March 29th episode, Tony Schiavone delivers two announcements: the first, that Randy Savage has been granted status as a WCW official, specifically to officiate the WCW World Championship match at Spring Stampede. Second, that the championship committee has decided to reinstate the World Tag Team Titles, and institutes an eight-team tournament to begin immediately (with the finals to occur at Spring Stampede), and names the eight teams participating: Steiner & DDP, Windham & Hennig, Billy Kidman & Chavo Guerrero Jr., Fit Finlay & Dave Taylor, Wrath & Bam Bam Bigelow, Benoit & Malenko, Raven & Saturn and Horace Hogan & Bryan Adams.

The first round of the tournament sees Steiner & DDP roll past Finlay & Taylor; their opponents turn out to be Raven & Saturn, who do away with Hogan & Adams. The other side of the bracket features Wrath & Bigelow, who eliminate Kidman & Guerrero, and their opponents, Hennig & Windham, who beat Benoit & Malenko.

But the Hennig/Windham victory is overshadowed by the events in the match, as neither man seem to be on the same page, and Malenko constantly shoots dirty looks at Benoit. Finally, after miscommunication between Malenko and Benoit cause their loss (a mistimed missile dropkick by Benoit connects with Malenko instead of Hennig), Benoit and Malenko get in a shoving match. In no time, shoves and insults become fists and feet, and the two are going at it as bitterly as can be imagined. Only the interruption of Bigelow and Wrath (pulling Malenko away) and DDP & Steiner (keeping Benoit held back) keep the two from tearing one another limb from limb. Finally, they both calm down enough to act civilized, and Malenko gets a mike.

“What’re you thinking, Chris?” he asks plaintively. “First Sting comes out of the rafters like Batman and whisks you to safety … and now, you got these guys backing you up? What’s gotten into you?”

Instead of Benoit answering, it is DDP. “The question you should be asking is, what’s with you, Dean Malenko? Look around you … what do you see? Running buddies? Friends?” DDP shakes his head. “Bigelow and Wrath want the same thing you want. There are no real friends in the New World Order. You think Bischoff and Nash and Goldberg care about you? Do you see them out here? Were they out here last week, when you and Benoit were getting your asses kicked? Were they out here mixing it up, or were they in the back, watching the scrubs fight it out while they sipped on champagne?”

Benoit asks for the stick, and DDP forfeits it. “You wanna know what I’m thinking, Dean?” Benoit says between breaths. “I took a look around. You know who helped me get that United States Title? Nobody The same nobody who bailed us out last week when the Administration were stomping us into the ground. The same nobody who say they’re all for getting rid of the old guys … so they can take their spots. What am I thinking, Dean? I’m thinking that Scott Steiner may be a crazy son of a bitch … and that DDP might be too smart for his own good … and that Sting may be a little twisted … and that I probably can’t trust any of these guys not to go after the same things I want … but unlike the nWo, these guys won’t stand in my way of going after the World Championship. There’s no pecking order … no friends … just a bunch of guys who want to see WCW cleansed of the filth it’s choking on. It’s up to you to decide if you’re willing to take charge of your career … or let guys like Nash and Goldberg ‘defend’ your career for you while you sit on the bench!” With that, Benoit drops the mike and joins DDP and Steiner in leaving the ring, and its three perplexed residents.

With the gauntlet thrown down by Benoit, the championship committee is again put in a position of determining who is the more deserving contender: Bret Hart (who is due a rematch, and contends he never lost since he never said “I quit”), or Dean Malenko (who went to a tie with Benoit, and has also has an axe to grind). The committee comes to the conclusion that neither man is more deserving than the other, and a third triple-threat match is added to Spring Stampede–this one a round-robin submission match, where one competitor has to score a submission victory over both of his opponents to win the match, dubbed the “Theatre Of Pain” match–thus completing a three-way main event (each a three-way match).

The April 4th edition of Nitro has the semi-finals of the tag tournament, with Steiner & DDP going over Raven & Saturn; their opponents at Spring Stampede end up being (no surprise) Hennig & Windham, who have to resort to every dirty tactic in the book to get past Wrath & Bigelow. But there will be no dirty tactics or cheating for them come Spring Stampede, when they–and the audience–are told the finals will be no-DQ.

The final segment of the final Nitro before Spring Stampede gives the viewers a taste of what is to come on the PPV, if through a most unorthodox path: a debate. While none of the three men vying for the Presidency are actually campaigning or winning by vote, all three address the crowd–and, more importantly, WCW–about what they intend to do if they capture the Presidency. Bischoff is the first to issue his statement.

“Friends, fans, wrestlers and employees of WCW … I’m not going to stand up here and tell you what I can do to help WCW through this time of crisis. My record speaks for itself: I took command of WCW when it was in financial ruin, and turned it into a juggernaut. I took the bold risk of challenging Raw head-to-head with Nitro, and in just over a year, I beat it for 82 weeks straight. I gave new life to guys like Hogan and Savage and Luger and Flair, and I cultivated new stars: Chris Benoit, Goldberg, Chris Jericho, Rey Misterio Jr. I brought lucha libre wrestling to America and made it popular. My track record as the leader of WCW is illustrious and just goes to show what you can expect of me if I retake the Presidency of this fine company. Not only will I redirect the company back to the promised land it once ruled, but I will purge this company of the poisons that are killing it bit by bit, with every passing day, and in doing so, restore the pride to the name and legacy of World Championship Wrestling!”

Ric Flair laughs, shaking his head and rolling his eyes. His voice starts off calm and reserved; “My opponent seems to think running a wrestling company is as easy as running a McDonald’s. But ya know something … I’ve been a wrestler for over twenty years. I’ve worked for a lot of promoters and a lot of executives in my lifetime … some of them good, and some of them not so good. And for the past few years, I’ve worked for Eric Bischoff. Sure, he did some big things for World Championship Wrestling, but then he let the lure of power and fame and money call him over to the New World Order, and he tried to demolish the very company he’d turned into a leader in this sport. He can list all his achievements and sound all important, but the fact remains that two years ago, when he threw his WCW colors away and joined up with the nWo, he left WCW high and dry. And now …” Flair loosens his tie and takes off his jacket. He slips the microphone out of the holder on the podium and begins to pace back and forth, and now his voice is becoming more animated, his face a deep red. “And now he stands here saying he can cure WCW of the poison in its veins? How can he do that when he is the poison in WCW? There’s only one man who’s been around the block long enough to know what this company needs! Only one man who’s taken on the challenges of men like Dusty Rhodes and Harley Race and Terry Funk, challenges that are the kind of thing makes a man a man! Only one man who stands up for the tradition and honor of WCW, and that’s the Nature Boy Ric Flair! Whoo!”

Flair turns around to pick up his jacket and ends up nose to nose with Sting. Sting is as still as a lake on a windless day, his microphone in one hand, his black bat in the other. Flair backs up slowly, his eyes never leaving the eyes of his old nemesis (but keeping the bat in his peripheral vision as well). Sting raises the mike to his mouth, and the crowd cheers before he can say anything. When they finally die down, he does it again; “I don’t know about any of you guys in the audience, but the Stinger’s been down here in the ring, and all he’s heard so far is a bunch of crap!” The crowd lights up at that. Flair histrionic outrage is almost comical, while Bischoff just leans against his podium. “I mean, look at who I’m up against here: a blow-dried Ken-doll who’s stabbed WCW in the back already …” More crowd noise for that (while Bischoff remains still and silent). “… and on the other side is some washed-up old man with delusions of grandeur.” The crowd pops again, but Sting gets right in Flair’s face–nose-tips almost touching this time–and says; “Tell me, Flair … you say you are WCW. How much WCW were you in 1991? How much of a loyalist to this company’s tradition were you when you took its title belt to another company and left us without a champion? How can you possibly stand upright, Flair, cause to say the things you’ve said, you must have balls as big as Mack trucks!” The crowd is almost in a joyous riot (as is Flair, minus the joyousness). Sting backs away from Flair, looking out into the crowd. “There’s only one man in this ring who’s represented WCW for his entire career. There’s only one man who represents the tradition and dignity of World Championship Wrestling … and I don’t need a bunch of old geezers, or a bunch of glory hounds to back me up.” He raises the bat up in the air. “This here is my back-up. And at Spring Stampede, this will become my Vice President.”

Out of his mind with rage, Flair can take no more and he shoves Sting, who collides with the podium. The bat falls from Sting’s hands. Sting waits a moment, then shoves Flair. Flair lets the momentum carry him back into the ropes, and bounces off them into a run; Sting ducks and Flair’s clothesline clobbers Bischoff. No sooner is Bischoff hitting the mat then Flair and Sting are trading blows. Nash comes out to protect Bischoff and this draws out Hogan; while they go at it, Goldberg comes out, and right behind him, Malenko, then Benoit, then Hart. Nitro’s last image is of the nine competitors from the three triple-threat main events, all slugging it out while Tony Schiavone promises Spring Stampede will be the biggest pay-per-view in all of wrestling’s history.

April 11th: Spring Stampede

The crowd at the arena is amped for Spring Stampede, they can barely keep it in. The undercard matches are given rousing welcomes, from the cruiserweight matches and the hardcore garbage-fests right up to the tag titles. And even though Hennig and Windham use every foreign object and dirty trick in the book (thanks to the leniency of the no-DQ stipulation) to win the vacant Tag Titles against Steiner & DDP, the fans–and Hennig & Windham–know that they have a lot of teams hunting for their heads.

But it is the triple-threat main event that everyone really wants to see, and when the first match of the three is announced–the three-way Theatre Of Pain match for the US Title–Michael Buffer has to compete to be heard with the fans.

No one even tries to form an alliance in the match, as any alliance will inevitably have to be broken; all three men trade blows right from the get-go. Benoit gets a series of chops on Bret that leave a stripe of across his chest, then works on Malenko. Malenko counters, and unleashes his own chops, but is cut off by Bret, who beats on Malenko. When Malenko is dazed enough, Bret sets sights on Benoit, but he is ready and counters with more chops. For five minutes, the men counter and re-counter one another, landing little more then chops and strikes, until Bret sneaks away while Benoit and Malenko are occupied with one another, and removes the protective covering on one of the turnbuckles. Bret grabs Benoit and slings him into the turnbuckle as hard as he can. Benoit crumples in a heap when his back collides with the steel. Bret turns his focus to Malenko and uses his size advantage to overpower the cruiserweight. He focuses a great deal of attention on Malenko’s back, punishing him with hard suplexes, backbreakers and slams. And after every few moments, he stops and delivers a little more pain to Benoit in the form of sending his head into the exposed steel. Bret’s barrage of misery on Malenko finally leads to a Sharpshooter, and Malenko, too small to power his way out or pull Bret to the ropes, has no choice but to tap out, giving Bret his first of two falls.

Bret turns his attention to Benoit, who has rolled out of the ring and onto the floor, seemingly out of energy and strength. But Benoit, who has had ample time to rest and save up some energy, ends his possum-play with a kick to the crotch. Benoit is up before Bret can fall, and he throws Bret shoulder-first into the steel steps. The steps have barely settled before Benoit picks up Bret and shove him from behind, shoulder-first into the steel post. Bret slumps against it, and Benoit circles around, grabbing Bret’s arm and pulling him against the post, stretching the shoulder and twisting the arm. But Benoit’s twisting around the post comes too close to Bret, who jabs a thumb in Benoit’s eye to buy himself some time. Benoit staggers away, but Bret gets no recovery time, as Malenko is right behind him; he slams Bret headfirst into the post, and then tosses Bret into the ring. When Benoit comes back and sees Malenko, he makes the mistake of charging. Malenko catches Benoit in a drop toehold, and Benoit crashes face-first into the dislodged steel steps, putting him out.

The real challenge of the match’s format now become apparent, to no one more then Bret Hart: he is one victory from winning, but his target lies unconscious outside the ring. Meanwhile, Dean Malenko–a man he has already beaten and has nothing to gain and everything to lose by fighting–is stalking him, looking for vengeance. And Malenko pounces on Bret like a lion on a wounded gazelle, using his speed to dazzle and blind him. Hurrancanranas, head-scissors and an array of high kicks keep Bret rocked enough for Malenko to use precision attacks–single-arm DDT’s, hammering elbows and arm wringers–to continue the work started by Benoit. Bret tries to reverse a throw into the ropes, but his arm is too weak to propel Malenko with any force, and Malenko turns, drops Bret with a toehold, then floats up and over to his wounded arm, seizing it in a Fujiwara arm-bar. Bret tries to power out, but Malenko leans back as far as he can without dislocating Bret’s shoulder entirely, and Bret has no choice but to do–for him–the unthinkable: tap out.

Malenko releases the hold as soon as the bell is rung and stands up, just in time for Benoit to come roaring in his direction, crashing into him with a thunderous shoulder block. The impact sends Malenko tumbling out of the ring. Benoit immediately turns to Bret, who is still on the mat nursing his shoulder, and starts pounding on his arm and shoulder with clubbing forearms. Bret tries to crawl away, but Benoit keeps pounding away until he stands and turns punches into stomps. Stomps become dropped elbows, and after the third drop of his elbow right into Bret’s shoulder, Benoit wraps his arms around Bret’s head, locks Bret’s arm between his legs and rears back. The mask of agony on Bret’s face is enough to send even the hardest of viewers into fits of sympathy pains. Bret tries to claw his way to the ropes with his free hand, but Benoit pulls back even harder, putting even more strain on the shoulder. Bret fights, trying to jam his hand in between Benoit’s to break the hold, but Benoit’s hands are clasped as tight as the locks on a bank vault. Bret’s free hand raises into the air, hesitating as long as he can, his hand quaking with the agony … and finally, it comes down on the mat, tapping out a hurried surrender. The crowd lights up–Benoit has evened things up, and Bret Hart is finished.

By the time Bret leaves the ring, Malenko has stirred enough to drag himself into the ring. Benoit gives Malenko a moment’s reprise to enter the ring before striking. Benoit lets loose with a volley of suplexes–three Germans in a row followed by a snap and a gutwrench–and follows it up with the high-impact punishment of a DDT and a gutbuster. Benoit makes the slash-across-the-throat sign and heads for the turnbuckle to execute his swan-dive head-butt; but the set-up is just enough time for Malenko to gather himself, and he rolls out of the way when Benoit takes to the air. Benoit crashes down, and with the little wherewithal he has left, Malenko scrambled onto Benoit, crossing his legs over one another, lacing his arms through and pulling back on the Texas Cloverleaf. Benoit’s screams are quite audible as the pain ravages through his exhausted body. He reaches back to Malenko’s legs, but Malenko inches them forward, sitting down even further and locking the move in tighter. Benoit pushes himself up, the curtain of agony on his face horrific to look upon, and Malenko rises with him. Benoit keeps pushing until his arms can’t push himself up any further; by this time, Malenko is almost standing up. Benoit twists his body a little, then quickly latches on to one of Malenko’s legs, now almost as vertical as Malenko is. Benoit pulls and tugs on Malenko’s leg, and Malenko has no choice but to let go of the hold, sending Benoit’s body crashing down to the mat. The pain is immeasurable, but Benoit fights through it, grabbing both ankles and pulling, tripping Malenko down on his back. Benoit grabs both legs as he stands and starts to turn Malenko over in a Boston Crab; Malenko fights the turn, twisting and contorting himself to prevent the turn. Benoit stops trying to turn Malenko over and instead, cinches up on his grasp of the legs, moving up to the thighs, and falls back, sending Malenko into a slingshot, kissing the turnbuckle. Benoit quickly jumps up, grabs Malenko’s arm and drags him down to the mat, locking in the Crossface. When Malenko tries to reach for the nearby ropes, Benoit rolls backwards, taking Malenko with him, until they are in the middle of the ring, with Benoit’s arms still locked tight around Malenko. He has no choice but to tap out, and when the bell rings and the ref presents Benoit with the belt, Malenko is the first one to shake Benoit’s hand amidst the standing ovation.

It is a hard act to follow, but with two matches to go, it must be done, and the follow-up is to determine the Presidency of WCW. At first, Sting is content to let Flair and Bischoff maul each other … even if Bischoff, with all his karate skills, is totally outmatched by Flair. Flair works over Bischoff’s legs, eliminating his one useful weapon, punishing them with strategic locks, maneuvers and good old fashioned stomping. But Flair knows better and eventually switches targets to Sting. The two old rivals engage one another in a battle of chops and counter-chops, clotheslines and Stinger Splashes, and the classic over-the-top throw into the corner for Flair, who is clotheslined to the floor afterward. Sting gives chase and is set to pound Flair into the guardrail, but a mule kick from Flair in the balls stops Sting’s onslaught. Once Flair has caught his wind, he sets about tossing Sting into the guardrail and bashing him into the ring post until he is dead weight. Satisfied, Flair slides back into the ring.

There, Bischoff, who has had several minutes to recoup, is waiting, and on weakened legs, plants a kick in Flair’s gut. Bischoff starts unloading on kicks to the shins and palm strikes, sending Flair scurrying for the corner. As he seeks shelter in the turnbuckle, Flair pulls the referee in the way as a shield, and Bischoff, acting on instinct, tattoos referee Randy Anderson’s jaw with a roundhouse. The mistake suddenly sinks in, and Bischoff pauses in realization of his mistake, which gives Flair long enough to drop to his knees and hit a low blow. Flair grabs Bischoff’s legs and starts to stomp Bischoff’s thighs, knotting up the hamstring. Flair drags Bischoff to the middle of the ring, gives a whoo! to the crowd, and makes the spin for the figure-four. But Bischoff kicks him in the ass, sending him into the ropes; when Flair bounces back, Bischoff mule-kicks him in the gut from the mat, driving the wind from Flair’s lungs.

Finally, another zebra comes to the ring, but the mood quickly turns sour when everyone realizes its Flair’s crooked ref, Charles Robinson. Robinson slides into the ring, and as he comes up behind Bischoff, kicks his leg out from underneath him. Flair struggles to make a lazy cover, and Robinson counts to two-and-three-quarters faster than most referees count to one. As Flair and Bischoff struggle to their feet, the crowd erupts at the sight of Macho Man Randy Savage, wearing his referee shirt, sliding into the ring. A stiff right puts Robinson’s lights out. Flair and Bischoff don’t notice the change in officiating until they’re on their feet. The delay caused by the surprise is long enough for the rested Sting, who has also come back in the ring, to wrap his arms around the heads of both his opponents in reverse headlocks and drop backwards, hitting simultaneous Scorpion Death Drops. He leans forward, grabs a leg from each man and pulls back, and Savage makes simultaneous three-counts with both hands. The crowd almost drowns out the proclamation of the new President of World Championship Wrestling as Sting and Savage shake hands. Almost the entire locker room–ve for the members of the Administration and the nWo–come out to celebrate the anointing of the new leader of the company, a man who everyone knows stands for fairness, justice and above all, has never been tainted by corruption like his defeated opponents. Sting is carried around on the shoulders of friends and adversaries alike, all united for one brief moment under one common banner: wrestlers of WCW.

The World Title match is saved for last, and proves to be the most violent of the three. Special referee Randy Savage is more then content sit back in the corner and let Nash, Goldberg and Hogan beat the living hell out of each other however and with whatever they can find. At first, its merely a slugfest, but when Hogan finds himself outmatched by the younger, more intense Goldberg and Nash, he resorts to bringing in a chair and waffling Goldberg with it in the back. Nash times a kick to the chair in Hogan’s face just right and goes for an early cover, but Savage’s one-and-a-half count is slow and deliberate. Nash shoots up and immediately starts yelling at Savage, but Savage points to his shirt and reminds Nash who the law is in the match. Nash tries to argue some more, but gets dropped with a low blow from Hogan. Hogan struggles to a standing point, bringing the chair with him and immediately goes to work tuning up on both men. After a volley of shots to Goldberg, he rolls of out the ring, leaving Nash to take all the abuse.

Hogan disposes of the chair and sets to a slow, torturous pace of beating on Nash, back raking, eye gouging and every other dirty tactic in his arsenal. Every time Hogan goes for the cover, Savage is there with his deliberate, one-one-thousand style count. Hogan knows better than to argue with Savage about the speed of the count, but frustration visibly sets in as every cover ends before two. Finally, Hogan can take no more, and he starts arguing with Savage. Savage does the same thing he did with Nash–pointa to his shirt to remind Hogan who’s boss. But frustration gets the better of Hogan and he give Savage a shove. Savage waits a moment to respond, then unloads with a series of blasts to Hogan’s jaw. Goldberg finally comes to and crawls in the ring in time to see Savage laying into Hogan, and he tries to break up the fight; for his troubles, he gets clocked in the back of the head by Hogan, trying to reach around Goldberg to hit Savage. Goldberg turns to Hogan, his eyes as cold as icicles. Fear wraps itself around Hogan, and he starts to back away, but Goldberg is on the hunt and will not be denied.

Goldberg lets loose on Hogan with vicious kicks and forearm shots, sending the legend into the turnbuckle. A whip across the ring to the other turnbuckle leads to a splash, then a military press slam. Goldberg crouches down, a predator ready to pounce on his prey, waiting for Hogan to get to his feet. When he does, Goldberg springs and folds Hogan in half with a spear. The crowd erupts as Goldberg gives the signal for the Jackhammer. He grabs Hogan by what hair he has left, hoists Hogan up above his head (holding him there, letting the blood flow to his head), then sends him crashing down. Savage is there to make the count, and the crowd counts with him up to two … when Nash makes a dive to interrupt the count.

Goldberg gets to his feet first, eyes blazing with rage. Nash struggles to get to his, and is welcomed to a vertical position with shots to the jaw. Goldberg sets up Nash for a powerslam, but Nash drops out of it behind Goldberg and shoves him chest-first into the turnbuckle. Nash picks up Goldberg over his shoulders, points to the turnbuckle, then his Goldberg with the Snake Eyes. Goldberg is whipped into the ropes, and Goldberg eats the leather of Big Sexy’s boot. Nash puts a fist in the air–the call for the Jackknife.

But Hogan crawls behind Nash and again sinks to a low blow to stop Nash. Nash goes down, and Hogan gets up, looking at his opponents. He mockingly does his ear-to-the-audience schtick, then points to Goldberg, the man who took his title almost a year ago. Hogan bounces off the ropes, connects with his legdrop and makes the cover; Savage counts to two, and Goldberg kicks out. Hogan is aghast, but when he sees Nash stirring, he pushes aside his frustration and delivers a legdrop to Nash for a cover. Again, his opponent kicks out, and Hogan is beside himself. Hogan stands up and turns in time to see Goldberg charging with another spear; this time, Hogan sidesteps and helps Goldberg use his own momentum to be propelled out of the ring. Goldberg lands in a heap on the arena floor, and Hogan taunts Goldberg.

Nash gets to his feet and hammers the distracted Hogan in the back. Nash puts Hogan over his shoulder and drops him into the turnbuckle Snake Eyes-style. When Hogan staggers around, holding his face in pain, Nash grabs him by the air and puts him in position. The crowd is screaming, and this time, there is no signal to waste time with. Nash picks him up and hits a picture-perfect Jackknife. Savage’s count is deliberate, and Goldberg gets to his feet and the apron of the ring in time to see Savage’s hand fall for the third time. Savage orders the timekeeper to ring the bell, and Michael Buffer proclaims that Kevin Nash is still the WCW World Champion. Savage helps Nash to his feet to raise his arm and give him the belt, but Nash looks to his left and sees Goldberg, his gaze a cold, sharp dagger in Nash’s direction. Champion he might be, but Nash knows he has yet to prove himself in one crucial category: he has yet to truly beat Goldberg. And he knows Goldberg will plead his case of not losing the match to Sting, who is none too sympathetic to either The Administration or the New World Order. No doubt Sting will have his own plans for both groups, and especially for Nash (torment probably does not begin to cover it, and it will probably start as soon as Nitro goes on the air the next night), but Nash knows somewhere, sometime, he will have to face Goldberg one-on-one and resolve the lingering question between them: who’s the better man?

The End

And finally, this saga is done.

Pimps to Eric S, as always; he’s been a loyal supporter and promoter of me for a while, and I hope to continue as such now that we’re here on Inside Pulse.

Also one for David Goforth, the only other (to my knowledge too, Goforth) guy who was hired in the big “Summer at 411” blitz that jumped ship. Him and I seem to have the same motivations for having come to the Pulse, and I respect that … I’d much rather continue to earn my stripes amongst the titans of the IWC then be catapulted to fame on a site that isn’t the same as I knew it, as he feels. No disrespect to 411 … they still got some decent writers (two of them pimped my lame-ass “goodbye” faux-column this past week, which was awful decent of them). But the community meant more than the title, so, here we be, eh, Goforth? Memo about the monster pushes, though: Rhyno’s push in ECW. That was an effective monster-push. He was a wrestler who liked to inflict pain and tear through people, and he didn’t care who it was. Even in losing (such as the loss to Kid Kash for the TV Title) made him look good, since it took half the damned roster to beat him. But then again, I’m a big mark for Rhyno, so maybe I’m biased.

Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t give one to the boss himself, and one to Ross Williams. Ross was quite vocal (as he put it) about keeping me on … and Widro agreed with his assessment of my talents and said “door’s open, son, come on in”. I’m indebted, sirs.

And, naturally, big non-link pimps to my human sounding-boards for their tireless efforts in contributing the little things that make this engine purr: Kurtis (who was shorted his pimp for coming up with the “fake ending” idea, so I apologize for that), Bonto and Gohan, all of whom offer story advice, plot twists and general opinions on a daily basis.

So, in the spirit that this is a new website, this is a perfect time to re-review the rules of the road here at Re-writing The Book; yes, I’m sure most of you are 411-converts, but I’d like to believe the new site is picking up new readers, and so, for them, I feel a duty to spell out a few things …

#1: If you have an idea for RTB, feel free to send it in. If it hasn’t already been thought of by someone else (and meets the standards … more on those in a moment), it’ll go on my list and when I write it, you’ll get the credit for the suggestion.

#2: Don’t flame me if you suggest something, I tell you it’s on the list, and it doesn’t get done for six months. As of the writing of this sentence, I have 129 ideas on tap (that’s not including permutations of the same topic, such as Who Ran Over Stone Cold?, which could be done six or seven times alone), and I don’t do them in any specific order. I try to alternate between my own ideas and reader submissions, but in what order I pick them in is strictly whatever sounds good at the time.

#3: By now, the most obvious ones have already been picked. The InVasion, the Black Scorpion, Owen’s death, the WWE nWo invasion, the roster split, the MSG Incident … I’d say 90% of all the obvious ones have already been thought of. That doesn’t mean you can’t take a shot and send ideas in, but just so you know … to score an original one, you’re more than likely gonna have to dig deep.

#4: You can use “non-TV” moments as the basis, such as “What if the first WrestleMania was a failure?” or “What if Bischoff bought WCW in 2001?”.

And finally, The Standards. I didn’t have these at first, but recent suggestions have forced me to create these. Some people, bless their hearts, are right on the money about what I’m looking for (Joseph Violet, for instance, who’s probably responsible for 20-30 ideas alone), and some … well … misguided isn’t quite the word. So, here, a quick rundown of criteria:

I only do three feds: WWF/E, NWA/WCW (I mean the NWA pre-Turner buyout, not TNA) and ECW. Why? Everybody’s seen something from the big three. However, your average fan might not know of World Class, Mid-South, UWF, USWA or foreign feds, and I’m trying to draw the largest audience, not a niche. And garbage feds like XPW and CZW aren’t even worth mentioning. Oh, and on the AWA … I have one or two possible columns lined up for it, but those ideas are tenuous at best … I’ve seen all of one AWA match (on the Shawn Michaels DVD) in my entire life. Not the best basis for storytelling.

The idea must spring from a real-life incident. I once got the idea of “What if the 4 Horsemen came to the WWF and Trish Stratus was in it?” There are so many logistical problems with this, listing them would take a whole new column. This column isn’t “fantasy booking” … fantasy booking is making Stevie Richards WWE Champion by Survivor Series 2004. This is looking at alternate histories, and as such, I need a real moment in our time to springboard from: the Owen-driver at SummerSlam ’97, for instance. What if Austin never recovered and had to retire? Or what if the move hadn’t been botched at all? That’s what I’m looking for: a real moment where things, had they gone differently, would have sent events in a drastically different direction.

The other criteria: make them important. Now, I know that sounds limiting, but I’m not trying to handcuff you to main-eventers and notorious moments. What I’m trying to do is eliminate story ideas based on pointless moments. Does anyone really think a story around the concept of “What if The British Bulldogs never got Mathilda back?” will get read? or “Terri wasn’t lying to D’Lo Brown about being pregnant?” will draw people in? Some questions are just better left unanswered (and any mention of Mae Young’s “hand” or Katie Vick is going being deleted on sight). Stick to stuff that would have an impact.

Death and/or catastrophic injury is not a pre-requisite for being worthy. Owen? HUGE. Pillman? Damned important, I’d say. JYD? Not so. Miss Elizabeth? Not really. Weigh the death of the person versus the contribution of the person at the time of his death. One person (I won’t name names, but I do apologize in advance, since he’s a constant reader and a decent guy) suggested Curt Hennig. At first I thought, hey, yeah, who wasn’t saddened by the death of Mr. Perfect? But the more I thought about it, the more it occurred to me that his contribution at the time of his death was nil: he’d been fired from the WWE and was working indy feds. Reversing his death would simply mean no 10-bell salute to open Raw.

Two more things I have to mention, then I’ll let you all go. First, the archives are up and running here at Inside Pulse, and I will be fixing the typos and story errors soon (and, somehow, posting the lost ending to The Higher Power story!). The second issue is that this column, as of now (and with the blessing of Widro) is going bi-weekly. I hope you understand, and if not, I point to the story arc we all just wrapped up. It was intended to be a one-shot … then, a two-parter. It ended up being a trilogy, written in something of a mad rush, and the ideas literally coming as I was typing them. I want to present the best possible stories for you, getting every fact straight and keeping continuity tight as a drum. If I can finish a story faster, I’ll try to get it in sooner, but bi-weekly really takes the stress off me to finish these monstrosities in less than a week (plus, it gives me some leeway to spend time with my wife, which is kinda important). Hope you understand.

And to send us off, a new feature to RTB: a preview for the next edition. Next time we meet, we’ll be facing the question:

What if Vince McMahon picked someone else besides The Rock to be his Corporate Champion?