Except there was a problem....well, there were two. The first problem was, as Sting would say (no not that Sting, the other one) I was an Englishman in New York. Not that that was a major problem, Vince had enough legal power behind him to ensure my work Visa with WWF Magazine was transferred over to a more general WWFE contracted Work Visa, this now meant I was an official WWF employee.....the bigger problem was something not so simply solved. See there was a reason I'd left the UK in the first place, and that reason was Tommy Comerford. "Who?" I hear you ask. Tommy Comerford was an organised crime figure back in the UK. Tommy was a wrong 'un with a finger in a lot of pies, mainly narcotics and drug trafficking, Comerford was one of the first criminals to establish an international drug trafficking network in England.....he was very wealthy, very powerful, very dangerous.....and very much in prison....because of me. Long story short, my testimony put away one of the biggest crime figures of the 80's and early 90's, and he wanted my head.....literally. Now as an anonymous magazine writer (I wasn't even credited for my Pulitzer worth letter page in the magazine) that was fine. But as a writer for the WWF creative team, it would only be a matter of time before at least one mention of me was made somewhere. One of the dirt sheets, this new fangled internet thing, sooner or later either my name or my face would pop up somewhere and that terrified me (I'm rather attached to my head after all and I wanted it to stay that way.)
Except Vince being Vince, had a plan and he wasn't someone used to not getting what he wanted. He wanted me on the booking team, and he was going to have me on the booking team one way or another. He guaranteed me total anonymity, nothing more than a name on the payroll....he even went so far as to hire a patsy....a man that could be seen in interviews and photographs....he hired someone who could be the voice of my ideas, someone who could be credited with my success....or my failure....he hired a man who already knew my position and need for secrecy, because I already worked with him....he hired this man....
.....Vince Russo, to basically play the part of me.
Yeah you know him don't you. To be fair, old Vinnie Ru wasn't a bad guy, I liked him, but he didn't have a clue what he was doing when it came to booking anything. Vince Russo, for all the good you heard of him in the WWF, was nothing more than the highest paid body double in history. Every single idea you ever heard credited to him while he worked for Titan, good and bad, came from me. Years later, WCW would go on to hire him as the saviour of the company, thinking he'd actually been the one bringing success to McMahon and the WWF.....and left to his own devices, his own ideas, his own storylines?.....well, let's just say we will cover that when we get there.....but Vince Russo made himself a lot of money, made himself a household name in the wrestling community and landed a job with the competition that he was no where near qualified for, all off the back of my ideas.
But I digress, I'm sure you all know well enough about Vince Russo's path post WWF, let's talk about what happened when he/I started in creative. For starters, the main event needed a serious shake up. Diesel was stale, Bret Hart had been stuck in mid card feuds for the best part of a year, likewise The Undertaker. Razor Ramon was the intercontinental Champion.....again.....Shawn Michaels mouth had landed him in hot water and he was on the shelf after being on the receiving end of a serious beating from "9" thugs and Sid hadn't had a decent match all year.....we needed a heel, a strong heel.....we needed a bad ass and I had just the man in mind....a 450lb monster from the Rocky Mountains by the name of Vader. Unfortunately Eric Bischoff had the same idea....he also had the bigger cheque book which meant even though he spent most of 1995 jobbing to Hogan, Leon White inexplicably chose to sign with World Championship Wrestling instead of us (as did the Ultimate Warrior, but to be honest I wasn't too sad about that one. Warrior had name value and star quality oozing out of his face paint, but thinking back I'm not really sure where he would have fit into my vision.)
So anyway, it was back to the drawing board....I needed a monster heel, I needed a bad ass....and I had one right in front of me all along in the form of the WWF Champion Diesel, a man who had got over in the first place playing the bad ass, monster heel. Getting there was pretty easy and killed two birds in one stone because it got Bret Hart back where he belongs, in the main event. Bret beat Diesel in an excellent match at Survivor Series 1995, a match that really pushed the envelope for the WWF as it saw the Hitman get sent crashing through the announce table, something not really seen before in the WWF. After the loss, Diesel lost it, beat the hell out of the new Champion, and hey presto, a new monster heel is born. Fast forward to the Royal Rumble and Diesel has been growing more and more frustrated and after losing again in his rematch on RAW he snapped again, destroying the Hitman and Jackknifing him through a table at ringside. Diesel then took it upon himself to interfere in every one of the Hitman's title defences, confusing the Champion and everyone else, because it always helped Bret to retain. At the Royal Rumble, the Hitman is set to face The Deadman, will Diesel play a part?
Coming back from adversity and injury, Shawn Michaels is going against doctors orders and putting his name in the hat for the Royal Rumble match, which he claims he's going to win, before achieving his boyhood dream of becoming champion at Wrestlemania.
Razor Ramon is locked in a battle with the debuting star Goldust, with the pair scheduled to clash over the Intercontinental strap at the Rumble.
In comings and goings the WWF signed both Ron Simmons and Barry Windham to written deals, as well as 2 Cold Scorpio, Chris Jericho and a number of other cruiserweight wrestlers to kick start the new WWF Cruiserweight division, a division which will crown its first champion at the Rumble. Simmons has been re-christened Faarooq and has formed a stable with Kama and the unlikely duo of Mabel and Mo who have repackaged themselves as a more serious unit, going by the names Nelson Knight and Bobby Knight respectively. The group is going by the name of The Nation of Donination, and appear to be somewhat of a militant group. This was a major victory for me, because Vince had this gladiator gimmick set for Ron, complete with helmet and everything, so I was glad to be able to talk him out of it. Windham however has yet to even debut as I'm not really sure what to do with him....Vince signed Barry out of spite because WCW were sniffing around him and he was fed up of losing out to them. Barry is a great hand, but he's no spring chicken, I'm hoping to find some way to utilise him to his full potential eventually.
There's been no major leavings, although there has been some phasing out of the sillier acts, Duke Drose, Isaac Yankem etc haven't seen much TV time. Isaac is a decent worker for a big man though so I'm hoping to repackage him eventually. Both Marty Jannetty and Chris Candido have been sent to rehab after both turned up to work completely wasted on God knows what, they were both pretty pleased by the decision as they obviously want to get clean. It did however royally screw up the tag team scene, as Candido (as Skip) and his partner Zip were feuding with the Tag Team Champions the Smoking Gunns at the time, while we were experimenting with different partners with Marty to see if we could recapture that old "Rockers" spark.
Because of this we had to bolster the tag division a bit, which we did, bringing back the Harris Boys with Paul Ellering as a mouth piece because neither of them can talk a lick, as well as Henry Godwinns old tag team partner Dennis Knight who was renamed Phineas Godwinn. Owen Hart and Yokozuna had ran their course of a team as well, so Owen was paired with brother in law the British Bulldog and the pair are set to face the Gunns for the gold at the Rumble.
The Million Dollar Corporation were chasing Tag Team gold too, as the 123 Kid and Tatanka had taken to teaming, while The Ringmaster was locked in a vicious feud with Savio Vega, after Savio spurned the Million Dollar Mans offer to join the corporation.
I was really excited about the Rumble, it was the first of the "big four" PPVs I really placed my stamp on, because other than the title change at Survivor Series, I hadn't had much say in the event. That and the Rumble was my favourite event, even more so than Wrestlemania, and this one was all mine.....what could possibly go wrong?