Okay, right, stick with me through this first bit. I want to offer a bit of context to me joining the booking team so you can fully appreciate what I was working with, ya gets me? I joined TWOstars way back in June 2008 and was made head trainer in November of the same year. About 12 months later I was brought into the fold as the Tag booker and very quickly got rid of the belts (I'm still sorry about that PTP) due to a lack of (potential) teams. I'm not exactly sure what I did until 'Nova VI - maybe the TV title actually? I definitely remember there being real numbers problems in that division as well - when I became head booker. For a year I ran things until just after 'Nova VII when I stepped down and left the fed completely.
As a booker I worked primarily with Darky, Megs (although during most of my run he was in charge of the Women's division) and Deaders. I came into the role having been shaped most by the freedom that Darkstar offered me during my initial major push in late 2008 when Samson made Sickness tap, and by the thrill I got from planning out an initially month-long filler feud for a young Lucian Jones and turning it into a 3 month career maker (all credit does NOT go to me - the collaboration in both examples went a huge way to how I approached everything after that). I came into the role wanting to offer writers as much freedom as possible, but knowing in my heart how impossible that was going to be. I wanted everyone to have a story and an angle so that it didn't matter if you had a belt or not, cause you were having fun either way. I was thorough and open to change but had high standards and demanded ideas to be justified. People seemed to react well to the style and I seemed to encourage good work out of a lot of people in return.
EDIT: I spent a chunk of time booking TV matches that had dusty finishes of one sort of another cause I appreciated the effort that had to go into any sort of match writing. Seriously, I booked interferences, DQs and weapon beatdowns left, right and centre. It was an attempt to keep things manageable but who knows how that worked out. Just suddenly remembered, ha!
What was your favourite angle you booked?
I joined very late into the Consortium angle so can't take much credit for that unfortunately. And I didn't really book the rise of CVD/Jones either... so can't take a stake in that.
I LOVE the Lucian Jones/ Ed Samson feud. That three months is some of my favourite writing I ever compiled and I felt so happy to have really brought someone into the fed and made them comfortable and given them room to just run with the ball (again, dsr could - and I'm sure WOULD - have done it with anyone, but it happened to be me and I know I consciously tried to involve and put him over as much as possible). The lynching, the hotel room brawl, the Road to Redemption and the Jonestown Street Fight - aaaaaaaargh, what magnificent fun that was.
I seem to remember really liking Iagan and Jason Bell's chemistry together. We pushed the idea of hardcore VS pure wrestling and, definitely from the booking threads I've been looking back over, I really like what I see but I honestly can't remember how it was in execution. Dodo was a weird guy to work with - if Jayfunk has any thoughts on it then I'd love to hear from him? I might go re-read a 3 wishes match I booked where Bell's last wish was a proposal to then girlfriend and manager Portia. It was such a cheesy idea but I remember coming off pretty darn well.
There was an uber complicated tournament that I created a couple years back between Team CVD VS Team JRock where both men had been co-ERE champ for some time (CVD going MENTAL cause he was sharing the only limelight he had left since losing the Triple Crown at 'Nova and Rocky being his usual selfish self). Each man got to pick members of a team that then had to earn spots for a potential war games style PPV match where, once the opposing team was eliminated, you fought your team mates to the bitter end.
Sound complicated and convoluted? IT WAS
The match ended up being Rockefeller, Samson, Twiggie & Roko VS CVD, DC & Deadman.
The idea was cool cause although the heels didn't want faces on their team, it was in their interest to recruit people who could win them spots for the PPV match to create a handicap against the other team. DC/DM had been feuding for some time, Samson was at that point under Rocky's thumb and Twiggie and Roko were two of the biggest good guys in the company.
Everyone promo'd all month and made sure to play up their parts and the various dynamics that existed across the teams and amongst them. It came to the end and I couldn't believe how great everybody had been.
Plus I got to make Twiggie ERE champion which was grand by me cause I'm a huge massive Twiggie mark.
ANGEL's Triple Crown win was a brave move and one I think solved the problem of who could possibly topple Lucian?! He'd been champ for 8 months or so and appeared invincible. How do you overcome that? By having the ex-wife of the challenger step in on the last show of the year. Although arguably the decision opened up problems of how to get the belt off of her I was happy we made the decision and am pretty damn proud that we gave the women that kind of credit because they were real show stoppers.
I seem to remember liking the idea of running The Chav's purposeful losing streak (partly inspired by an idea Hancock pitched me about a Bullingdon Club style tag team between Rockefeller and Rush if the two ever got to work together) but the execution always felt a little off and nobody ever got quite as behind it as I'd hoped.
ANGUS' RETURN AGAINST DEADMAN OUT OF THE COFFIN!!
A shame that ZERO basically disappeared right after that but f*ck me was that amazing. Generally actually I quite liked D-man's bodybagging as a quick trick of getting rid of loose ends.
EDIT: We booked the last show of one year (2009?) where every match ended in a low blow because we thought it was a super stupid and fun idea. That makes me laugh to think about. How funny it'd be as each match went up and the readers realised that each result looked really familiar... Such silliness.
What was your favourite idea that never got the green light?
The only really big idea I remember was a pitch Maxx made about the Se7en faction which would be a real nasty evil heel group somehow embodying the deadly sins. It seemed like a great idea and unfortunately due to a lack of numbers it was always impossible.
I never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never got to book the perfect end to a cage match!!!! Needed a manager to make it work. A VS B w/C set up. A is climbing up cage to escape when suddenly C gets hold of control panel and starts raising the cage. A is trapped, gripping on for dear life as B slowly recovers and simply walks out. It is so heelish and evil and I'm so frustrated I never made it happen. Always had Angus and Famous in mind for it.
There was a very short period of time when Chambers came back and I was going to build the TV title around him. Sparrow didn't stick it though, but for a very short while I booked that character like a wee monster.
What was the worst idea you ever came up with?
Jeez louise, there's different things - especially about Edward - that I look back on and groan. Trying to push Edward as a silent face was met with mixed to negative reactions (people didn't like Edward as a face, they liked him when he was opposite JRock). There are times I booked Edward to win things (his second TC title, the MitB briefcase, the BR) and it was always because there was some quick loss following it and I worried about how people feel about being used as a stepping stone (ZERO left so I took it to give away as quickly as possible during Consortium angle, cashed it in the same night against CVD and he beat me after thrilling match with Gringo, was only person to not go to 'Nova cause title shot was moved to PPV before and lost anyway to set up DM VS Gringo). I was always very conscious that people might see it as self-glorification and I hope it never really came over as such.
I know a lot of people were very disappointed when we teased Kyle Gilmore turning heel and then bluffing him back to face. I think that was my decision and I guess I just misread what the fed wanted. It might have been a numbers problem - so often with face/heel turns it was.
dsr and I had talked about, for 'Nova VII, the idea of Lucian going from ending the previous year as TC champion to being the curtain jerker and not even getting an end to his match (it was interrupted by the fighting females). It seemed like an interesting idea but people really hated the non-match ending and thought it was a terrible decision to have Lucian starting the show.
What matches do you wish you'd been able to book?
I dunno about specifics but there are writers I wish had stuck around more. Hancock was great and, selfishly, wished had stuck around during our little back and forth (although, to tip my cap, there were people who didn't realise Johnny had stopped writing my end of things was so good ;)). Generally though he was great and had a lot of potential to do some amazing things.
ZERO, ZERO, ZERO, ZERO. My heart breaks constantly. He was and is one of my favourite writers and he just couldn't find the motivation to come back full time. I probably bullied him into a return he never wanted which somewhat damaged the character, but I will go down now as saying Angus McDonald is one of the greatest characters the fed ever had. He never got to his full potential but fortunately is remembered fondly for his antics with Roko and the incredible end to 'Nova V with the MitB cash in.
I would have liked to work with The Judge (Rog?) a bit but he disappeared almost literally as I arrived. He was at the height of his push and disappeared unfortunately and due to some storyline trickery we were gonna be tied together for a lifetime but... unfortunately... it never came to be.
OH! Actually, I dunno if Craig'll remember this but I desperately reached out to A.C. of Acid Christ fame to return for a 'Nova match ala Ricky Steamboat and Chris Jericho. He seemed up for it but disappeared as quickly as the deal was sealed so Craig got eliminated from the Battle Royale by the former champ for nothing and went on to fight Sickness for the MitB briefcase at that 'Nova. So I wish that'd happened.
Was always sad that Reno didn't stick about more. Helms and Eddie were all set up to hate each other and the Tonkatsuman character was a stroke of genius!
I said it before but I'm very sad I never got to properly work with Nimf. I was never super focused on my female character and she never really stepped my domain while I was a part of it, but she was a bright spot in the company and everything she touched seemed to sparkle.
Who was your favourite person to book?
I didn't have many problems with anyone. dsr was a dream and gave me a consistently great head character which the company had been sorely lacking for a long time before that. He was the cornerstone that I got to build the entire company around and stability came with him.
Andrew was game for anything, comfortable enough in his position as an 'old timer' to be messed around and rising to any challenge put in front of him. He wasn't precious about the ERE title, instead happy to offer thoughtful feedback when necessary.
Wayne and I generally got on pretty well. Although he was incessant with requests and ideas we worked together and produced a pretty good run for his character I think (although the Cancer stuff and punt was definitely him).
Hancock was great at thinking outside the box in a way that I don't think I generally can (Megs is from the same cloth). I tell quite simple effective wrestling stories but these guys are interested in Nabakovian style tales with layers and ideas and metaphors and underlying themes and more. It's a skill I just didn't really have but hearing that kind of thinking out loud was often refreshing and stimulating.
Rudie was a wee gem to book. He seemed to really listen to ideas and would go away and think about them. Then suddenly he's the one coming to you with ideas. Then the next time those ideas are actually sorta' useable. Then the next time you're having to rebook shows because Rudie's plans have shaken you to your very core. He grew with the fed, he got measurably better and his confidence flourished with it. He is our Jeff Hardy and we're lucky to have had him.
Twiggie (again) was f*cking great. Let me use his character in a thrilling twist in my Sickness feud, then bounced along happily to anything I asked from him on his return. Was a great Ex-Rev champ and delivered one of my favourite matches ever in the BYOWeapon handicap tag from 'Nova VI.
Darky is Darky and Darky is great. It's almost a waste to say but that man was so happy to be slotted in wherever I needed him. His ego doesn't exist and since my start with the fed he has bent over backwards to help him in anyway I needed. He also put up with a lot of eFed texts back in the day, ha!
Who was your least favourite person to book?
Okay, so I've got a few people who I didn't enjoy booking too much.
One is ZERO. As much as I love the character and his writing, unfortunately he'd promise me he would return and then back out at the last minute which caused problems with long term planning.
I have always struggled with B-Man. He had carved out his legendary status by the time I joined but during my time as a writer he was never anything special and as a part of the booking team he came across as unapproachable and negative. When the roles were reversed he repeatedly quit the fed in a huff and would often complain about not getting deserved respect even though he hadn't, for a long time, done anything to deserve it. He would bring negative attitudes into threads claiming it was the overall feeling of the group when the rest of the roster were being positive and generally seemed unenthused by the fed. He seemed to take it seriously in the bad sort of way and, yeah, sorry but I just never really got anything out of working with him. HOWEVER I barely did work with him and certainly not in his prime so maybe there's a side to him I don't know about and I'm sure his contributions to the booking squad is far greater than I, on the outside, am aware of. But for me, nah.
Sparrow is somebody else who sticks in my teeth. During the run I mentioned (way) above he was fussy about how Chambers was used and what finisher he used. Demanding to use the G2G or not bothering at all, he refused to ask Darky for permission (a policy we've long ran by), telling me to do it instead. Eventually the ok was given and by that point he wanted a roundhouse kick. Suggesting the heavy-set Apollo could instead use ground & pound MMA influences, he was picky and didn't seem impressed by the idea of having an ENTIRE DIVISION built around him. Real bad attitude which disappointed me cause I got on well enough with him outside the fed.
Jack Eastwood's handler was terrible. Beating up the tag champs, bloodying one of them and then calling out Draven Cage... what the f*ck?! Yet, STILL, I take a match with him in it and make him look like a million bucks. He didn't get it, he didn't want to get it and he wasn't interested in being a team player. The WORST kind of writer possible.
Biggest regret or missed opportunity?
I dunno, I've written down so much here. I feel like a chunk of 'Nova VII became about MAKING Deadman VS Gringo happen NO! MATTER! WHAT! So the card felt kind of forced into that rather than occurring naturally in the wild. We got a great match out of it, but just in retrospect it sticks out as being slightly jarring.
I'll come back if I think of anything, ha!