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1990-92: The PRODIGY Revolution
Even the best games can get boring…especially when it seems like there’s not enough time to go around. 1990 and 1991 came and went, and with it, the CSWA’s history grew. The Parsons became a force; the "Search" became a saga; and events and concepts like ELVIS LIVES and FISH FUND were ingrained into the CSWA’s pseudo-consciousness. Notebooks abounded as we created hundreds of characters, talk shows, miniseries, tournaments, etc. Real-life roadtrips became CSWA events like ANNIVERSARY: Road To Skydome and Best In The West Showdown. The CSWA was a subset of real life…we figured, "Hey, if we’re gonna go to Atlanta and see the Braves go from worst to first…why not have a card." So the dice and a couple of notebooks were packed up and came with us.
And you look through the rest of the history regarding this period…please forgive us. <G> You’ll see sagas such as "Remembering Mickey I-III" where Mickey threatened to retire over and over again. You’ll see references to "Myramania" as the ownership of FISH FUND was threatened. Titles like the CSWA Junior Championship came and went, along with the John W. Boozer Invitational Tag Team Tournament.
On a side note…since I told you about the "Hornet as top contender" inside joke in Chapter 1… you might as well know about the "Spontaneous Title Defense" fiasco. To appreciate the story, you have to realize that there was an unwritten rule that in the majority of cases, especially for title defenses, etc., both of us had to be present to ‘roll’ the match…and the matches were rolled pretty precisely (the die couldn’t touch anything but the surface when it hit or you rolled again; the other person had to see the roll, etc.) So here we are at the Fairfield Inn after the Braves have clinched the division title (over the Dodgers) for the first time in eons. Out comes the tray and the dice….and we decide to have Hornet and Mark Windham defend their World and US Titles. As a lark…we end up doing the matches at the same time. That means that we couldn’t keep track with what the other was doing. So, as Hornet’s defeating whoever it was he was facing (I’d have to hunt through the book to find it), I suddenly realize that something’s funny. It’s nothing concrete, just a feeling as our rolls get faster and faster to see who can finish off their match first. Anyway, long story short…it wasn’t until this year that I got Steve to confess that there was a little shady rolling going on in the Mark Windham/Thomas Uler match. Who knows how Thomas Uler’s career might have been different if he weren’t screwed out of a fair shot by Commish Thomas? (Another note…just don’t ask Steve about the "Ryan’s" fiasco…)
Back to ‘history’….. As we got older, there was less time for the CSWA, or so it seemed… but we were still able to keep it running strong between the two of us, with Rayshone and a couple of others added in every once in a while. But as the Prisoner of Time saga wrapped up and we struggled to figure out where to go in general…interest seemed to wane.
The problem was obvious….there’s only so many brainstorms two people can have, only so much creativity before you start rehashing all the things you’ve done before. And while you can always re-do old angles, etc with a new twist….when there’s just two of you, it’s not as much fun.
(Side note: And how do you know when you’re starting to run out of ideas? Well, the last card before we ‘made the jump’ as you’ll see below was our Pre-Anniversary Special, subtitled "Samoans on the Loose." Only problem was….there weren’t any Samoans involved on the card.)
So that made the answer obvious….get more people involved. But we didn’t realize how to do that until we came across the PRODIGY service.
In 1992, PRODIGY was the number one online service in terms of members. It was a world of bulletin boards…shortly before the explosion of the World Wide Web, Chat, etc. We hunted through the Sports BB and found wrestling discussed in the "Other" section. Professional wrestling was in a slump as the WWF came off the steroid scandal, and WCW began to try and revitalize the old NWA. There was some major discussion going on in "Other"….discussing terms like ‘smart’ and ‘mark’, ‘kayfabe’ and ‘shoot’. New terms…but old concepts, especially in the CSWA.
Also in "Other" were a slew of ‘fantasy sports.’ Surprisingly, wrestling seemed to have a decent following. The few ‘fantasy leagues’ on the board seemed interesting. Many were fashioned around ‘being’ real wrestlers, while others talked about stats or ‘roleplay’, etc. Roleplay was nothing new to us….and what we saw didn’t capture our imaginations. We could do it better… and if not, we could at least try.
So we did. We read through the board, and eventually sent out 70 e-mail to prospective members. (And this was when each e-mail over 30 cost a quarter!) Then to show what we were about, we ran ULTRATITLE 1992 on the board, with small paragraphs explaining what generally happened in the match (based on the ‘rolled’ match). Our first member, Jaret Rice, joined early enough to slip in the 63rd and 64th seeded wrestlers. And thus the CSWA's IPO (Initial Public Offering), so to speak, was successful.
Shortly after the ULTRATITLE, things took off. As CSWA ANNIVERSARY 1992 continue, we explained our system, told people how to join… and guess what….they did. Within a few days, wrestlers like Bonecrusher had joined the ranks of Hornet, Windham, and Melton.
By May, we had over twenty members, had offers to run ‘interleague’ cards, and ran our first full pay-per-view on PRODIGY: ELVIS LIVES CELEBRATION V. By June, the rankings ran out to a Top 80, and we had introduced the Boozer Tag Tournament, the Fish Bowl (Lethal Lottery), and the WHEEL of DEATH to our PRODIGY members. The summer continued strong, featuring almost 20 cards (almost all in short-form at that time), interleague matches, and a Top 100 rankings as the member base continued to expand.
At the same time, I took Hornet on his first ‘tour.’ By the time we had been on PRODIGY four weeks, I had offered to have him face off against two other World Champions, with both World Championships on the line. Hornet quickly won the titles from the JWA and WDWF.
Shortly thereafter, we created the first ‘superleague.’ Six leagues, including the CSWA, joined together to form the Enterprise Superleague, also known as the EN. Hornet continued to face the other World Champions, eventually merging the titles on May 20, 1992 to become the EN Unified Champion. The EN continued in good stead…at least until the next chapter in the Story.
By the end of 1992, we had included over 100 members at some point since expanding the CSWA to PRODIGY. Our cardwriting continued to develop, and we loved it. We were able to work in a mix of our ‘older guys’ and history into the new era. The year closed out with the first-ever IRONMAN of CHAMPIONS at the first official "Thanksgiving Weekend Spectacular", followed by a series of cards leading up to New Year’s Day 1993 and Winter’s Warriors IV.
We had made a good start…but we had plans for 1993. We wanted to solidify the roster, improve the quality of our cards, and start shaping something even larger. Had we known what was coming up the following year….we might not have been so optimistic…