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Join Date: May 2008
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Default May 13th, 2001: The Big Bang



May 13th, 2001

From the John H. Lewis Gymnasium in Atlanta, Georgia

Attendance: 6,283

Announce Team: "The Professor" Mike Tenay and Bret "The Hitman" Hart





Official Theme Song: "Lateralus" by Tool





Quote:

Chavo Guerrero Jr. vs. "Sugar" Shane Helms {}

I sent the cruiserweights out first with the idea that they could put on a good match that would get the crowd hot and let us hit the ground running on our first PPV. I'd say they did a solid job of carrying out that assignment overall. They didn't tell much of a story out there, as it was more or less a sequence of big moves, but said moves were athletic and exciting enough to entertain the fans. The most exciting (and dangerous) of all, the Vertebreaker, gave Helms the successful title defense. That move never fails to pop the crowd, but every time I see him do it I'm afraid he's going to break the other guy's neck. Chavo was thankfully just fine though. I should also point out that I thought he seemed really at home playing a classic old school heel in this match, knowing just how to rile the fans up and keep them from cheering him despite doing some pretty impressive acrobatic moves that would ordinarily get the crowd behind the wrestler executing them.


Grade: B-
Quote:

We aired a pre-taped vignette of one of my new signings, CM Punk. Punk had been making some waves on the independent scene in Chicago, and after seeing some tapes of his work in IWA Mid-South, I was quick to offer him a contract. He might be young, but he already brings enough to the table both in the ring and on the microphone that the decision was made to debut him straight on the main roster. I gave him this promo to introduce himself to our audience, and I thought he did a really good job. He used his real-life straight edge lifestyle as a means with which to claim superiority over both the rest of the WCW locker room and the fans watching at home. I tend to give my guys freedom to cut promos without scripts, and Punk seemed quite comfortable with that. He spoke confidently and with conviction as he delivered his closing motto: "I am straight edge, which means that I am drug free and alcohol free. But more importantly, straight edge means I'm better than you." I got the sense that even if the fans didn't react much to this guy they'd never seen before, this straight edge character was going to be an effective one.

After that ended, Tenay and I discussed what we'd just seen and heard. I think Mike went a little too over-the-top in his condemnation of Punk's superior attitude, to the point that it sounded forced and hokey. I believe I did a better job in that regard, saying his decision to live a drug free life was commendable, but lording it over everyone was bound to rub people the wrong way. All in all, I think this segment went about as well as could be hoped considering Punk is a complete unknown to the fanbase at large. He's only just beginning, and it's not like I'm going to strap a rocket to his back right out of the gate or anything, but I think this kid could be special.



Grade: C
Quote:
Alex Wright vs. Fit Finlay

There was no fanfare or hype here, because we only had two weeks of TV and Finlay was involved in the US title tournament for both of those shows. This was still a good match despite not having any story behind it, as both guys had their working boots on and let the quality of their work speak for itself. Fit won the match with the Tombstone, but I see both of these guys as valuable members of the new WCW. Wright still needs to be built back up after the Berlyn debacle (what a disaster that turned out to be), but he's so young that he should have plenty of time left.


Grade: B-
Quote:

Sting did a backstage promo to hype his match against Ric Flair tonight. He referenced all the years of history between he and Flair, saying it felt like they'd been doing this forever. He'd assumed the match on the final Nitro on TNT was the final chapter to their story, but if Ric wanted to write an epilogue tonight, that was just fine with him. "But here's a spoiler, Nature Boy: tonight you're gonna feel the scorpion's sting one more time!"

Sting brought his usual enthusiasm here, and his delivery was on point. I could hear the fans cheering along as they ate up this promo from the man more synonymous with WCW than any other. This was a great way to get people excited for the match later on, and also just a tremendous segment in general.



Grade: A
Quote:
Dustin Rhodes vs. Shane Douglas

This was a rematch from the opening round of the US tournament. That was a good match, and this one was on the same level. They built off of the finish to that first match, with both Rhodes and Douglas using lots of roll-ups and quick pin attempts. The finish came when Dustin's signature Bulldog was avoided, and Shane schoolboyed him for a three count in something of a role reversal of their first match. As you can probably surmise, this is not the end of this program.


Grade: B-
Quote:
Hugh Morrus and Konnan vs. The Steiner Brothers

The Steiners got some promo time before their opponents were introduced (well, more like Scott talked and Rick just kind of stood in the background.) He said he'd heard Booker T hadn't shown up to the building yet despite promising to be there to hand the United States title over, and he doubted he was going to show up at all. "Everybody knows Booker T's too scared to show his face because he knows the man with the largest arms in the world could break his neck in two quarters of a second!" He wrapped the promo up by saying that Booker's probably going to return the US title to WCW by FedEx rather than showing up, but if he's smart he'd send the World title in too, because that's the only way he's going to escape a beating from Big Poppa Pump.

Scott was great here. His promos may not always make much sense, but they usually get the job done as long as he stays on topic. I'm also pleased that he's taken my warnings about our more family-friendly content to heart. His promos used to be filled with lots of sexual comments, but he's toned that way down per my instructions. If anything hurt this promo it was probably my own color commentary. I tried to get across the point that he should be more focused on his upcoming match than his pursuit of Booker T, but I didn't do too great a job at it.



Grade: A


As for the match itself, I have to say it exceeded my expectations. A lot of that had to do with just how good Rick and Scott are as a team. They might not team up as regularly as they used to, but in this match they showed they can flip the switch and work together just as well as they did for all those years when they were one of the very best teams in the world.

Scott was really at the top of his game. He was far and away the standout performer in this match. Whether it was suplexing his opponents across the ring, flexing his arms for Midajah's approval or even looking into the camera to taunt Booker T, Scott came across as being on a different level than anyone else involved. It was too bad Morrus and Konnan did a subpar job at selling his offense, otherwise he would've looked even more impressive and the match would've been better as a result. The 'locker room leaders' got their share of offense in, but this match was primarily about Scott and so naturally he went over in the end by making Hugh tap out to the Steiner Recliner.



Grade: B
Quote:

Stacy Keibler was interviewed backstage by Bobby Heenan. Mean Gene, as much as I love him, did a pretty poor job as the interviewer on our first Nitro, so we're trying Bobby out in that role for now. The point of the interview was for Stacy to confirm that she's done with Shawn Stasiak and is currently looking for new wrestlers to associate with. She called herself an excellent scout of talent, and a peerless motivator who could get more out of her clients than anyone else. Keibler struggled here, jumbling a few words and repeating some points needlessly, but Bobby was great at feeding her lifelines and using his quick wit to keep the segment on track. Odds are good that he'll be sticking around in this role for some time, especially if he's going to continue to more than hold up his own end like this.


Grade: C
Quote:
Diamond Dallas Page vs. Kanyon

Despite the nature of this storyline, with Kanyon calling DDP a relic of the past, I think Dallas still has a fair amount left in the tank. He seemed to validate my belief tonight, because he and Kanyon put on one of the best matches of the show. The story they told was Kanyon trying to wrestle at a slow, methodical pace and test the stamina of his older opponent, but DDP would answer with big moves that would get him closer and closer to the win each time. Finally the moment came, and many of the fans rose to their feet as they saw the Diamond Cutter coming.

Kanyon was able to save himself from a sure defeat by grabbing onto the top rope just before the move hit. Spooked by the near miss, he retreated to the floor. Page was hot on his tail, and the fight continued on the outside. Page caught him with some punches, but Kanyon cut him off with a knee to the gut and used a sort of modified version of his Flatliner finisher that sent DDP crashing into the guardrail. Kanyon rolled back into the ring, and eventually DDP shrugged off the cobwebs enough to start crawling back to the ring. He got his hands up onto the apron, but that's when the ref's count hit ten, giving Kanyon a count out win. I liked that finish and think it will play nicely into how the story progresses from here.



Grade: B
Quote:

I gave Ric a vague window of about 5-8 minutes and told him to say whatever he wanted (so long as it didn't violate our rules on content) in order to hype his match with Sting just before he went out. He took that ball and ran with it, going on a long, emotional rant about what WCW means to him, and why he needs to win this match. "Sting, there's only room for one icon in WCW, and no matter what people might say, that icon has ALWAYS been me! You're looking at the man who built WCW from the very beginning! You're looking at THE MAN! And I'll STILL be the man in the new era of WCW! WHOOO!"

Ric was fantastic here. I might have my differences with the guy, but there's no denying that he's one hell of a talker. Who knows how much longer he'll be able to keep going in the ring, especially with the more physically demanding style I'm instituting, but he'll still have great value for us so long as he can cut promos like this one.



Grade: A
Quote:

During Ric's walk from the backstage set to the curtain we stuck in a brief shot of Booker T "pulling up to the building" wearing a suit, with both the World and United States Heavyweight titles in his possession. Not much to this; just a transition.


Grade: B-
Quote:
Sting vs. "Nature Boy" Ric Flair

The promos were fantastic, and there was no question that this was far and away the biggest match on the show in terms of name value. The real question was whether or not 42-year old Sting and 52-year old Flair could still get it done once the bell rang. I had my doubts, which was why I decided against putting this in the headline spot. It only took me about two or three of the twenty minutes this match ran for to know that I made the right call. The match was far from bad, don't get me wrong. These two have worked together so many times that they could probably have an acceptable match in their sleep, and sure enough that old chemistry was still there. They were able to fall back on some familiar routines to make up for a lot of their physical deficiencies, but it could only go so far. The combined 94 years of age showed here; both guys just couldn't perform at the level they were once capable. The fans still responded well and were more into this match than any other on the show, but the in-ring quality couldn't come close to matching the crowd enthusiasm.

As I said, they went through a lot of their tried and true routines, including the Gorilla Press off the top, Sting rolling over to counter the Figure Four, etc. Sting had Ric backed up in the corner and unloaded with punches, then hip tossed him across the ring. Ric cowered back into the corner, and Sting followed through with the Stinger Splash--but Flair caught him with a punch to the jaw that dropped him. He dropped down into the cover...

...and got the pin! If that sounds like an odd ending, that's because a replay revealed that as he'd backed into the corner, Ric pulled "brass knuckles" out of his tights and slipped them on his hand. The ref didn't see it though, so the dirtiest player in the game got the win.



Grade: B-
Quote:

Jeff Jarrett stormed to the ring and told everyone how great he was, how he was the biggest star in the latter days of the old WCW and was still the biggest star now, but apparently some people in the office here in Atlanta have a problem with that. "WCW and its new brain trust are afraid to let any of their stars get embarrassed by the Chosen One, so they aren't giving me any worthy competition! Double A, if you don't come out here and get me some real competition right now, I'm gonna come back there and take it out on you!"

Arn came out, and kept up his tough guy persona by not looking afraid or backing down. He and Jeff were really great here, smoothly bantering back and forth and feeding off of each other. Arn reminded him that he'd offered him a variety of different opponents for tonight only for Jeff to reject every one of them because they were apparently beneath him. This led to Arn saying that if no one already on the roster was a worthy opponent for Jarrett, maybe he'd like to meet the newest member of WCW who'd just signed his contract?










Out came Rob Van Dam, and the fans familiar with ECW gave him a superstar reaction. Jarrett bailed out long before Rob actually got to the ring, so RVD introduced himself to the WCW fanbase. He cut a promo establishing himself as a cool, laid-back dude; basically his ECW character, minus any references to weed. The fans reacted well to the character and applauded when Rob promised to put on five star matches every night and show the fans something they'd never seen before, because there was only one Rob...Van...Dam! (finger pointing.)


Grade: B-
Quote:

Totally Buffed vs. The Natural Born Thrillers {}

I wasn't sure what to expect from the Sting/Flair match, so I slipped this match in as something of a buffer between it and the main event just in case. This was the worst televised match on the show, and that's a good sign since this was a perfectly acceptable match.

This wasn't the sub-60 second squash the previous regime put on with these two teams at Greed, but it wasn't an epic clash either. It was the shortest match on the PPV and the only one to clock in under ten minutes, but we didn't need ten minutes to tell this story. In short: the Thrillers are better. O'Haire used a (frankly sloppily-executed) version of Jeff Hardy's Swanton Bomb to pin Bagwell and retain the titles. O'Haire didn't do very well in this match. Perhaps he was laying in his shots a little too snug for comfort in response to Buff's backstage antics earlier (but that's a story for another time.)


Grade: C+
Quote:

United States Heavyweight Championship Tournament Finals:
Rey Misterio Jr. vs. Lance Storm


Booker came out first and cut a promo, but only made passing mention of Scott Steiner. The focus was on the United States title, which Booker put over strong as a prestigious prize with a rich history dating all the way back to Harley Race. He said that he wished he could carry on that tradition as a fighting US champion, but he couldn't take on that schedule in addition to the grueling demands of being the world champion. But he knew the US title was going to be in good hands without him. He was constantly amazed by the things Rey could do, and he respected Storm's technical ability even if he didn't like his attitude. Booker did a good job here at getting over both the importance of the title and the credentials of the two guys about to fight for it. About the only thing wrong with this segment was Storm's subsequent entrance. He looked poor here; as good as he is, he has some trouble carrying himself like a star.


(Grade: B-)

This match was a litmus test for my vision of WCW in a lot of ways. If we're going to pride ourselves on making excellent in-ring action our calling card, having this match deliver in the main event spot would be the perfect way to prove that this new direction has promise. But all I could do was make my contributions on color commentary and hope that Misterio and Storm could pull it off.

They made me look like a genius. Sting and Flair may have had the big crowd reaction, but nothing on this show could compare to what these two did inside the ring. For nearly twenty four minutes they wrestled and put on a damn good show. Rey performed some of his amazing flying moves with great precision, while Lance was equally great in his execution of mat wrestling holds and counters. They told a nice story here, with Rey busting out his exciting offense and Storm doing everything he could to negate it by focusing his attack on the smaller man's legs and using holds to try to keep him on the mat and out of the air. Finally Rey had his opportunity to hit his big Springboard Hurricanrana...

...but Storm caught him with a perfectly-timed Superkick! The fans oohed and aahed at that, and so did I to be honest; he really did time it flawlessly. From there Lance went to step through into the Sharpshooter (which he is using as his primary finishing hold now with my blessing), but quick as lightning, Rey hit a kip-up rana! That kid really is spectacular. He wrapped his arms around Storm's legs to hold him down, and the fans counted along with the referee once...

twice...



..three times! Rey won the title in a thriller, and I was amply rewarded for my decision to give these two the main event spot.



Grade: B+


Booker presented Rey with the United States title, gave him a handshake and a pat on the back, then left the ring and went to the back so the spotlight could be on the new champion. We sent several babyfaces, including Rey's good friends Konnan and Billy Kidman, out to celebrate with Rey. He got on the microphone and thanked the fans for their support, which was crucial in him getting the biggest win of his career tonight. He cut a promo about how he would probably give up a lot of size to his challengers in every single one of his title defenses, but that wasn't going to stop him from defending this championship with every ounce of fight he had in his body. Rey isn't necessarily a dynamite promo, but this was fine.

As the celebration continued, Tenay said we were getting word of a commotion in the backstage area and a camera man was hustling into position so we could find out what was going on...



Grade: B-
Quote:

We cut to the back to find Booker T on the ground, clutching at his injured shoulder in obvious pain. Above him were the Steiners, who were attacking Booker's shoulder and throwing punches at any staff or (lower-tier) wrestlers who tried to get involved. Booker's brother Stevie Ray rushed in but got taken out by Rick. Meanwhile, Scott taunted Booker as he continued his attack. "You like that, Booker! There's more where that came from! I got more for ya!"

He put Booker in an arm bar and started wrenching, and Booker screamed in pain. Finally a larger squadron dispatched by commish Arn Anderson was able to pull Scott off of him and herd he and Rick away, but significant damage had already been done.

I was pretty pleased with the way this attack went down, and I think it'll build more heat for the eventual title match between Booker and Scotty. They'll definitely have big shoes to fill if they want to match or surpass tonight's main event though.



Grade: B+


Show Overall Grade: B+

Last edited by The Final Countdown : 07-19-2017 at 01:01 PM.
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