Rewriting The Book – RTB presents … Top 10

39 Submitted by on Wed, 31 August 2016, 14:34

Today’s topic is simple, and directly related to the parent column: ten RTB concepts I won’t do. Ever. Don’t ask, don’t suggest, don’t offer your first born, they ain’t happening. Why? A variety of reasons, from taste to knowledge to … well, you’ll see.

As always, top 10 lists are based on opinion, and these here are my opinions. There is no “wrong” answer. You may disagree, and I’ll be happy to debate in the comments in a civil manner. It’s just my opinion is all. Now, let’s not waste any more time.


10. Any idea based on urban legend.
One of the fundamental principles of RTB has always been historical turning points. Finding those moments in wrestling’s rich history where events – maybe the industry itself – hinged on the outcome of a certain moment, and then veering in the opposite direction from what we know. The Montreal Screwjob, Sting blowing out his knee, The Fingerpoke Of Doom … you know the deal. I stress this to every prospective RTB writer we’ve ever had; history is the field from which we harvest. This isn’t fantasy booking; it’s alternate reality fiction. So when you take something that never actually happened and turn it into the basis of a story, you’re not changing the course of history; you’re just going off into your own little dream world. The multiple Ultimate Warriors theory, Sid having the Hershey squirts at Wrestlemania 13, the Randy Savage and Stephanie McMahon, Sunny days … at best, we’re dealing with baseless rumors. At worst, borderline slander/libel. In either case, they don’t have a date attached to them, no specific event, and rarely relate to what goes on in the ring directly. Spinning a yarn from them that fits the RTB narrative would be exceedingly difficult, and considering most of the rumors, not worth the time and effort.

9. Anything involving the AWA, WCCW, USWA, Japan or Mexico.
A big element of RTB, for me, is revisiting moments I experienced first-hand and turning them on their ear. Ted DiBiase trying to buy the WWF Championship was a huge influence on the birth of RTB, so going back to it and making my childhood nightmare come true was fun. Yeah, I was a little Hulkamaniac. Sue me. But I run into problems when I have to step out of my familiarity zone. I know WWF/E like the back of my hand; been watching since 1985. While I didn’t grow up seeing NWA, I’ve seen enough of it in retrospect to mimic the booking style, and I know who the players are and how they lined up on the card. WCW and ECW I watched plenty of, and modern day feds are easy to research. But unless you experienced it first-hand, or sit down and watch it ad nauseum on the Network, doing stories for old promotions like the AWA and WCCW in kayfabe style can be borderline impossible. There just isn’t enough data to get the alignments and angles right, and mimicking the booking style and speech patterns is equally difficult. And don’t get me started on overseas promotions. At least I know who Nick Bockwinkel is, even if I’ve never seen him wrestle. I’m not a puro/lucha guy, no matter how hard the enthusiasts of those styles try to push it as the superior product. The number of puro guys I know on sight I could probably count on one hand. That’s a poor start for writing an RTB, and I’m not investing the time to change it.

8. Trying to make true Wrestlecrap into something good.
Okay, right off the bat, I know a few of you are rushing to the comments section to point out Simon Rawls doing Red Rooster, and my turn at recasting the Gooker-winning InVasion (was Muhammad Hassan inducted? I don’t recall). The InVasion should’ve been all the money ever forever, so I’m excusing that. And the Red Rooster … well, they at least tried to push him, so there was some bedrock on which Simon could build. But there’s some Wrestlecrap inductees that are just hopeless. You can fantasy book all you want; TL Hopper vs The Goon would never have main-evented Wrestlemania, even if the rest of the roster got King Ralph’ed somehow. Glacier was a bad idea before it was teased for 73 months, let alone once he debuted and started throwing kicks like he was moving underwater. The saga of Claire Lynch is totally, unbelievably, should-not-be-allowed-by-science-levels-of unsalvageable. Saving these abortions is just not worth it, to me as a writer or you as a reader. Better to take those missed forks in the road than explore dead ends.

7. The infamous Trish Stratus as a Horseman submission.
I considered it as an April Fool’s edition. Aside from the fact that I suck at comedy writing … no. This idea is too ludicrous to work, even as a joke. It makes Monty Python look like as straight-forward as a knock-knock joke. No. Just … just no.

6. The “hit” on Hulk Hogan before the first Wrestlemania.
If you’re not familiar with this rumor, allow me to explain. Legend has it that someone was offered a large sum of money to injure Hulk Hogan during the run-up to Wrestlemania (usually either a broken arm or broken leg). On the surface, yes, this would be an earth-shattering turning point. Wrestlemania without Hogan would send the event up in flames. It could spell the end of Titan Sports and the WWF. The NWA would not only survive, but the contraction into JCP might not happen. No 80’s mainstream boom. No Ted Turner buyout. No Monday Night Wars. No ECW, which indirectly lead to CZW and ROH. It would be landmark. So why won’t I consider it? I’ve heard too many variations of the story to consider it anything more than rumor. Some say the hitman was to be Iron Sheik. Some say Harley Race. Some say Paul Orndorff. I’m sure there are other variations I’ve yet to hear. The point is, when you have this many variations, it really makes one wonder how true it is. Could there have been multiple offers to multiple hitmen? Maybe. But there’s just way too many versions of this story for me to believe it’s anything more than myth.

5. The Black Scorpion.
Now, despite the fact that this is Wrestlecrap, that isn’t the objection here. This one is logistical. To really effectively do this one, you have to rewrite the angle from the very beginning. With all the hints they dropped in the build-up that were red herrings, starting at the reveal would likely lead to disappointment. So that means going all the way back. And, well, let’s face it, it was a dumb angle to begin with. Really, crucially dumb. There was no need for a stupid mystery angle to build up a challenger. The idea of rescuing an angle that was pointless and unnecessary to begin with just makes me shudder. Plus, I think I’d wind up breaking Blade Braxton’s heart, and he’s a cool guy. Had him over to my house once to watch Wrestlemania. I can’t do that to a bro.

4. The Mass Transit Incident.
This is a matter of logistics and taste. Logistically speaking, I don’t know if there’s much story in doing a “what if it didn’t happen”, because ECW really wasn’t hampered by it. Barely Legal got pushed back a few weeks, and one or two PPV carriers wouldn’t carry it. Big whoop, two weeks. The ripple effect is almost non-existent. Doing the story the other way around is where I run into taste concerns. I’m just not comfortable pushing the story on the back of a kid who nearly got bled out in the middle of the ring and using that as the leverage point. It feels mawkish and exploitative somehow.

3. Anything about the Hulk Hogan/Gawker situation.
Again, this is logistics and taste. As far as taste goes … um, eww? Do I need to elaborate? And logistically speaking, well, look at the situation. Hogan was no longer active in the ring, and he couldn’t get medical clearance to wrestle again. So the whole situation goes down and he gets fired from … special appearances? He doesn’t host Tough Enough? There’s no mileage down that path … there’s not even footage.

2. Anything with Chris Benoit as a major character.
*puts up flame shield*

Some of you may be able to separate the wrestler from the man and can still appreciate his matches. Some of you may think history shouldn’t shy away from his historical contributions in the ring. I am not one of those people. I don’t begrudge your opinion if you feel otherwise, but I simply do not see things from your point of view. I cannot think of him without thinking of that weekend and the acts he committed. I cannot separate wrestler and man. And as such, I can’t bring myself to put him as a primary character in a story. I realize this crosses out a number of potentially awesome stories, such as anything to do with the Radicalz, or the rumors of him substituting for Kurt Angle at Wrestlemania XIX (I still think that match would’ve been BOSS). I wish I could, guys, I really do. But I can’t do it. As much for those readers who share my opinion and could never read a story built around him, as it is for my comfort level in having to write about him.

And finally, the #1 RTB concept I will never do is …

1. What if [X] didn’t die?
Wrestling history is, sadly, full of premature deaths, and more than I’d care to acknowledge that affected the in-ring product; Pillman, Guerrero, Owen, Spicolli, Candido, Misawa, Eddie Gilbert, Art Barr, most of the Von Erichs … I could go on and on. Each of these deaths caused a fundamental shift in the on-screen stories, and there is ample reason to be curious where things would go if they hadn’t died. Would Owen have turned face and feuded with Jeff Jarrett? Would Art Barr not dying prevent Eddie Guerrero from going off on his own? Would David Von Erich surviving change Kerry Von Erich’s life and career, and would he become the lead face in NWA? All very good, very valid questions. But to do that, I have to invalidate a death. That’s not changing a script, that’s messing with real life in a fundamental way. It feels … creepy somehow. I just don’t feel comfortable crossing that particular boundary. I don’t hold it against those who’ve written or will write RTB’s – Neil Cathan did a fantastic job with the Bruiser Brody story – but it’s just not for me.

Okay, so, what’s next for RTB? Well, I’m looking to try out the fantasy warfare idea that was suggested to me. I’ve got to work on the style and presentation, but I think it could be fun, in a silly kind of way. A throwback to Apter mags, with a severe dose of geek factor flavored in. I even have a sufficiently Wrestlecrappy title for it: THE GREATEST NIGHT IN THE HISTORY OF OUR SPORT.

And beyond that, I already have two new RTB writers working on projects! If you’d like to contribute for #RTB10 (or even in the immediate future!), contact me at or hit me up on Twitter.

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Guilty of creating Rewriting The Book and The Greatest Night In The History Of Our Sport, and publishing them somewhat infrequently. Father of three, husband, avid gamer, lover of 90's MTV animation. Available for podcasts and children's birthdays at
39 Responses to "Rewriting The Book – RTB presents … Top 10"
  1. Seven says:

    Chirs Bentit most likely was severely brain damaged, so some people beleave that he was a good person before the brain banged an the drug addiction. I understand your opinion, but mine is different.

    • Jed Shaffer says:

      I won’t argue the brain damage. The autopsy confirms it. He had the brain of an 85 year old man. But his final days are too horrific a shadow to see past for me, regardless of what caused it.

  2. Brownie_the_3rd says:

    Would you consider doing a RTB based around the steroid trials? There is alot of story telling potential from version of history where Vince was found guilty and the fallout that would result for the WWF and WCW. Or you could go the other direction and do a scenario where the trials never happened and Vince was free to continue pushing the roided up muscle men he was so fond of and what that would mean for the smaller stars that would have gone on to headline in their absence.

    • Doctor Flawless says:

      Never thought about the steroid trials as an option for RTB. That would be cool if he was willing to do it.

      As far as the Black Scorpion, I understand what you are saying, but couldn’t you structure the story to make Rick Rude debuting the next year at Halloween Havoc the Black Scorpion. I understand that you would pretty much write an entire year of story lines to get to the point of Rude as the Scorpion, but I believe that’s the only real way that story line could have been salvaged.

      • Jed Shaffer says:

        And that’s why I won’t do Black Scorpion: it has to be taken back to the beginning to make any ending worth it, let alone the fact that it was just a stupid angle.

    • Jed Shaffer says:

      I’ve long considered an RTB around the steroid trials. It’s one of the top ideas on the MASTER LIST. Problem is, I’ve never had a good handle on a story direction. The scope would just be tremendous.

      • saintstryfe says:

        Well, just spitballing a few ideas. McMahon was cleared on June 24, 1994.

        I believe Diesel was still champion at the time, and either Razor was IC champ. I believe the tag straps were on the Headshrinkers. Diesel has gotta go – he’s too big. Someone small – Shawn or Bret?

        WWF would of course run time decrying how unfair it was, and how he deserves a retrial or an appeal. Either way, I would see a complete lack of big guy champions, I’d see guys like Diesel, Mabel, the Harris Brothers (at the time playing Jacob and Eli Blu), these guys all let go. It would probably mean the end of “New Generation” – I could also see WWF working harder to keep Savage in the fed.

        Honestly, in the leadup to the trial, they did a lot of the work, so there wouldn’t be massive changes, but I’m sure you’re way more creative with actual ideas here.

        • Neil Cathan says:

          The Steroid Trial is the White Whale of Rewriting The Book. Once or twice a year, I cast my eye over it and sometimes even bother Jed with “hey, man, here’s how we’d do it” but it is mammoth. Writing The Steroid Trial is like catching Jack The Ripper. That way leads madness.

        • Jed Shaffer says:

          Diesel didn’t become champ until just after Survivor Series that year. At the time, Bret was champ, feuding with Owen.

          The issue would be if you take it in the direction real life was leaning — Jerry Jarrett taking a larger role in booking, which might steer the product towards a more southern rasslin’ feel. How does that play against WCW? Is there an Attitude era? Does WWF even survive? It’s just really, really huge. Like, so huge.

  3. sdm1121 says:

    re number 6: the name that been tossed around for taking out hogan at wm1 is bruiser brody (at least, that’s the name on that list of wrestling urban legends that’s still floating around online)

    as it goes, he was offered 100k to jump the rail and break hogan’s leg (of course, how he could hide at his size never gets answered)

  4. John Q Occupier says:

    Would you define The Berzerker as “true” Wrestlecrap? I always wondered if he could have been bigger had he been written properly, is all…

  5. Deathedge says:

    I definitely understand your stances here, particularly on number 1 since a lot of deaths were seemingly unavoidable, but I would argue Owen’s death could have been avoided by re-writing the script and removing his pratfall from the show.

    Still, I’m kinda glad you aren’t doing it. While it certainly is interesting to think about, when it comes to wrestlers I grew up watching I believe it’d be bit of a somber read for me seeing how much more they could have done had they died.

  6. lisa says:

    what if Shawn didn’t face hhh at summer slam 2002? According to backstage rumors the origional plan was to have hbk go against vince because they were not sure about his back. If that match have happened we might not have gotten all of the matches from shawn we did get and it would have changed booking significantly for that year.

    • Jed Shaffer says:

      I had not heard that. Might have to research that.

      • Tempest_Fennac says:

        Shawn mentioned it in his autobiography. Supposedly, he suggested having a match against Mr. McMahon after Nash tore his quad with Shawn’s idea being that Vince had wrecked Shawn’s health by working him to the bone and then he’d done the same thing to Nash. Vince apparently suggested that Shawn fought HHH instead because he would be better at carrying Shawn if necessary. I’ll admit I think it’s a good job Vince didn’t wrestle Shawn at that point being as the storyline idea was kind of daft given how little Nash had done before he ripped his quad.

  7. Mister Forth says:

    #7 is news to me. I need to ask.

    • Jed Shaffer says:

      Oh, dude, where have you been?

      Long time ago, a reader sent in a story suggestion, and it was just as plain as the header on #7 says: “What if Trish Stratus became a member of the Four Horsemen?”. No explanation of how Trish moved from WWE to WCW, let alone being good enough to be in the Horsemen a couple years before her WWE debut, let alone be good enough to be a Horseman.

  8. DGenerationMC says:

    Long-time reader, first-time commenter here. I like to rebook random wrestling stuff on various forums as a “creative” hobby but what you’ve done is absolutely amazing. It’s easy to just switch out names and say, “there,” but you guys have done creative writing masterpieces that just so happen to involve pro wrestling and I just wanted to let you know how much I respect the work from all of you on WrestleCrap.

    Now that that ass-kissing is out of the way, I wanted your opinion on a couple of possible RTBs I thought would be cool:

    1) What If CM Punk didn’t leave Money in the Bank 2011 with the WWE Championship? Let’s say Punk doesn’t re-sign, spending 2 1/2 years away from pro wrestling doing other things like MMA, comic books, etc. What direction does it take Punk and the WWE respectively while he’s gone? Does the company and wrestling world as a whole change that much compared to reality? How does his surprise return at the 2014 Royal Rumble affect the looming Wrestlemania XXX event and beyond?

    2) Fantasy Warfare: Kurt Angle vs. Bryan Danielson in PWG during 2006-2007 (TNA allows Angle to work ONE match before officially debuting for them, who wins?)

    Would be very cool to see what you think and if it aligns with any future projects you folks would be interested in doing. Also, really looking forward to the ROH-CZW story and whatever else you cook up. Keep on keeping on.

  9. Noah Martinez says:

    Hey Jed, you are awesome, keep on doing your thing. I just wanted to suggest a few topics people might find interesting:

    1)What if Samoa Joe signed Mick Foley’s contract in 2005 to enter the Royal Rumble?
    2)What if the fans decided to cheer The Rock in 2003? There is a promo where he literally asks the crowd whether he should be heel or face.
    3)Please ReBook Wrestlemania 2000!!
    4)What if AJ Styles had won the Royal Rumble this year?
    5)Fantasy Warfare: Chris Hero vs. John Cena, I don’t know why but I think this would be a great match.
    6)Fantasy Warfare: CM Punk and Colt Cabana vs. The Young Bucks, I remember Punk saying that he wanted to work with the Bucks in PWG.
    7)Fantasy Warfare: Bullet Club vs. WWE, I am talking the BC at full force, Cole, Balor, Styles, the Bucks, Omega, Anderson, Gallows, and Tama Tonga completely invading the WWE. Probably a year long war between both camps.

  10. Vincent Thomas says:

    How about an idea where if WCW won the Monday Night Wars and bought WWF? How different would things be then, I wonder?

    • Jed Shaffer says:

      That’s not a specific point in time, though. RTB is about taking a single moment and going left where we know history went right. It would have to be something more specific, maybe the Austin/Tyson angle not catching on, or WCW not screwing up Sting/Hogan.

  11. PaternalSith says:

    What if…Shawn got the Montreal Screw Job? or What if…Hogan STAYED after WrestleMania IX? or What if… Andre won at WrestleMania III? or What if… Kurt Angle stayed in the original E.C.W? or What if…Hogan won “The Ultimate Challenge?” at WM VI? or What if… Nitro won the “Monday Night War?”

    • Jackwagon says:

      If Nitro won the Monday Night War, it probably would have resulted in wrestling lapsing into semi-obscurity again, unless the way events would unfold either 1) made WCW profitable enough that it wouldn’t be jettisoned in the wake of the AOL/TW merger or 2) persuaded Jamie Kellner to keep WCW on the air after said jettisoning.

  12. David says:

    Long time fan of RTB and I’ve got an idea that has been bouncing around my head in the last few weeks. What if Roman Reigns turned on the Shield instead of Seth? From a work perspective it makes sense as Roman is the only one of the group not to come from the indys and thus has a lot more incentive to work with the powers that be in the WWE. He’s also is related to a man who in his time also sided with the WWE over the fans. On a shoot level it also sort of fits. The fans would believe that the Authority would pick Roman over the other two given his look and connections. He also is a fit for the departing Bautista. Him and Orton could even work as a Two Man Power Trip 2.0.

  13. CMC says:

    Regarding the Benoit thing, how does that explain him being one of the main players in the “What If Rikishi wasn’t the one who ran over Steve Austin in 1999” story? Seemed to me that he was one of the leads in that one, anyway. I will say, though, that I’m with you in not viewing him the same after that weekend, I tried watching WMXX straight through the main event after I got the Network, had to fast forward to the end when the main came on, just couldn’t do it.

    • Mlsq42 says:

      That one, as well as the Fingerpoke of Doom one where Benoit featured heavily, were written before his last days, and thus at the time there wasn’t an issue with him. Thus any new story where Benoit would have to be a focal point is unlikely to happen. Heck, one RTB had to get rebooted because of that.

  14. PaternalSith says:


  15. Venomous says:

    What if Taka Michinoku became the WWF Champion in 2000 on Raw?

    At the very least, it would prevent Jericho from getting his shot the week after.

    • PaternalSith says:

      Taka winning THE belt in WWE(F) would prove the long-standing conspiracy that Vince’s been on “Cocaine” for 30+ years

  16. Jason Darby says:

    What if…Hulk Hogan lost to Ric Flair and a new 4 Horsemen at Bash at the Beach 1994?

  17. John Q Occupier says:

    What if Andre had double-crossed Dibiase and refused to hand over the belt?

  18. An angle I thought had some real potential was in late 2004, following the Survivor Series, with Team Orton (Orton, Jericho, Benoit & Maven) winning out over Team Evolution (Triple H, Batista, Edge, Snitsky), with the winning team having each one of its members running RAW for a week, acting as GM and making any and all matches and stipulations they would like.

    I remember Maven being first and, of course, lining himself up for a World Title shot versus Triple H in the main event. This is where the angle I’m talking about comes into play, as Triple H attempted to subvert Maven’s grasp for his gold by offering him a spot in Evolution. This had intrigue permeating throughout the whole episode, with online polls about whether Maven would join, him weighing the pros and cons, as well as his teammates explaining why it wouldn’t work for him in the long run. What I found most interesting was his unusually astute observation concerning Orton: Was Randy really looking out for HIM, or simply looking for lower-hanging fruit since Randy couldn’t challenge Triple H for the World Title at the time?

    With that in mind, I thought they might pull the trigger on a turn for him, but it turned out to be all for naught as he went after and lost against Triple H, and then pretty much slip-slided down the card until he was stuck in a lowball tag team with Mike “Simon Dean” Bucci and subsequently released months later.

    Now, with the benefit of hindsight, we all know that at this point in time Evolution was on its last legs, with Batista being heavily teased for his run against Triple H for the World Title, but it still feels like there was a “missed opportunity” here, especially since Maven was young and still had boatloads of potential, and could’ve had Flair as a sort of “antithesis” to Al Snow as a mentor, bringing out more of his deceitful, cocky tendencies and perhaps succeeding where Flair “failed” with Orton.

    What do you think?

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