So I'm going home from a work conference, and to fill the long, lonely I-90
drive, for some reason my inner monologue turns to my fictitious job
interview for that Writer position at WWFE that was on HotJobs.com a little
"What would you do if we hired your dumb ass?" Mr. McMahon would ask.
"I'll tell you what I'd do," I'd say.
Then the interview sort of turned into a rant about the state of the Alliance angle. I kept away from the "fantasy booking" part, since everybody does that, and I have my irrational favorites (Jericho, Kane, Hardcore Holly) just like everyone else. This was just me thinking about the general structural things I'd do if I were in charge.
1 -- Set a program. I presume they've got the Survivor Series figured out. After that, they need to pick a WrestleMania main event right dammit now so they can start building to it. From that, they pick the rest of the card and start building to it, too. Leave a little room, but a basic structure should be in place. Remember this year when Undertaker-HHH was added because neither of them was in an angle with anyone else? That was (and this part I particularly relished telling my imaginary Mr. McMahon) fucking disgraceful. So build to those angles through December, kick it into high gear at the Rumble, and let No Way Out/St. Valentine's Day Massacre just heat it up more. Soon after that February PPV, we come up with a similar plan for SummerSlam and use King of the Ring to build to that, and so on and so forth.
2 -- End this Alliance crap. No one's buying that it's a separate promotion, or that Shane and Steph don't work for their dad -- it's beyond even the massive suspension of disbelief we have to undergo to enjoy wrestling. If the post-Survivor Series plan aligns with that, great. If it doesn't, then that's what we do for ArmaVengePayback or whatever we're calling the December PPV this week. Dump it like Duke Droese and move on. Which leads to:
3 -- Trim the belts a bit. Too many straps of allegedly equal status.
3b -- WWF Intercontinental title is back to being the second most prestigious belt in the WWF.
3c -- WCW U.S. title can stay, as the third-highest title in the WWF. Just take off the "WCW" from the front of it.
3d -- WWF Tag Team title stays.
3e -- WCW Tag Team title becomes the International Tag Team Championship. Shove some of that bloated talent roster into tag teams.
3f -- WWF European title stays but is strictly Heat/Metal/Jakked territory. Let the curtain-jerkers have their own belt that they don't have to worry about some political weasel from the midcard stealing.
3g -- WWF Hardcore title stays, but the 24-7 rule dies. Go back to the days when Mankind and Al Snow were fighting in scheduled matches for it, but (and this is a big BUT) Hardcore matches need to mean something again. No-DQ matches, especially for other titles, are very rare. Mix up the Hardcore style -- some weapons stuff, some falls-count-anywhere, and occasionally, just a regular match that doesn't happen to spill outside the ring. Mostly, the Hardcore division is a true division -- you don't have much mixing between guys who generally fight Hardcore and the regulars. Every now and then, put it on an upper-midcarder and let someone like Sho Funaki score an upset by using a fire extinguisher or the like. Emphasize that even the toughest superstars just aren't used to this Hardcore style.
3h -- WWF Light Heavyweight title stays. However, more to come on the booking.
3i -- WCW Cruiserweight title goes, but (and this is one of my few actual booking ideas) have some fun with its departure. Get Chavo Guerrero Jr. to be this crazy SOB who thinks he's the WCW Cruiserweight Champion. Despite everyone telling him the belt was retired, he insists on wearing it. After someone finally just takes the damn thing, he shows up with a fake one made from jar lids and string. Might work well with Hurricane Helms, too.
3j -- WWF Women's title might as well stay in limbo.
Is that all of them? Whew.
4 -- Change up the shows. Raw and Smackdown are pretty much the same thing with different sets. If the plan is for WCW/ECW to get one after Survivor Series, perfect. If that's no good, then here's what I suggest. One of them, preferably Smackdown, goes to two nights a week, an hour each. Most storylines do not cross over. Say, for instance, that the Intercontinental title storylines happen almost exclusively on Raw and the U.S. title storylines almost exclusively on SmackDown. Instead of filling two shows with the same wrestlers twice, fill three shows with all different wrestlers. Even the main eventers only show up on two out of the three shows each week, and only the last week before a PPV. That way, each one can go on a rampage most the time he's on the show without fear of his arch-nemesis interfering.
4a2 -- The addition is a fifteen-minute segment every week, maybe 8:30 to 8:45 (after a match, the Boring Interview of Death and another match). The magazine segment is independently produced, hosted by a more-or-less neutral party (maybe Coach, maybe Lilian, maybe Cole, just NOT Heyman or Tazz or even JR) and looks good. High-end production on a variety of topics. Shill Mick Foley's book! Plug the superstars' appearance on the Weakest Link! Tell an interesting story from a wrestler's life! But spread it around -- not "This Week In The Rock's Great Life" every week, but something cool every now and then, such as "The Wacky Thing That Happened To Edge In The Airport Last Week" or "What WWF Superstars Are Doing For Thanksgiving." Think an expanded version of those weird little stories that pop up on WWF.com every now and then. Almost never are storylines advanced on the magazine show, and aren't even mentioned that often.
4c -- Smackdown Two (this one should stay Smackdown, just because I like it when the Rock calls it "the Rock's show" and he can't cut as many promos on Smackdown One) stays mostly the way it is, hard-selling the PPV and house shows for non-PPV weekends.
Note: If UPN won't let Smackdown go to two nights a week, then Raw gets split up. The key is that Raw and Smackdown aren't just Part One and Part Two of the WWF Weekly Product. People can regularly miss one of the shows but catch the others and not have missed much that affects the shows they do watch, while the hard-core fans won't have to sit through endless recapping of what happened before.
4d -- Heat/Metal/Jakked can stay more or less the same, but not so much recappery. Let it be a proving ground for the Mavens and Dupps of the world. Give house show results and plug upcoming ones.
4e -- Kill Excess. Did we learn nothing from LiveWire?
5 -- Organize a formal booking committee. Here's where I freely admit I am spectacularly ignorant of the true workings of the WWF. As near as I can figure, there are anywhere from three to twelve people who have input in various ways. Fine. But I'd make much more distinct divisions -- a Hardcore Booker, a Light Heavyweight Booker, a Main Event Booker, a Midcard Booker, a Heat/Metal/Jakked Booker, and One Ring to bind them -- sorry, a Head Booker to glue it all together, settle the arguments and present the unified plan to Vince, who let's face it runs the place. Also, there's probably room for a separate Dialogue Booker, a script doctor, preferably a comedian who can punch up promos and create catchphrases and the like. Subsidiary to this is a Very Important Rule -- NO WRESTLING BOOKERS. Kevin Nash, Kevin Sullivan and Vince Russo killed WCW. All three of them were wrestling bookers. Many people track the downfall of the WWF to the Feuding McMahon storylines, many of which resulted in Shawn-vs.-Shane matches. Sean Waltman's reign as Light Heavyweight/Cruiserweight booker seems devoted almost entirely to keeping the belt on himself. Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action. The wrestlers are encouraged to come up with all the ideas they can, but they don't get control of their matches.
So that's it. Set a program, end this Alliance crap, trim the belts a bit, change up the shows, and organize a formal booking committee. Here endeth the rant.