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Default August 5th, 2001: WCW vs. The World

August 5th, 2001

From the Tokyo Racecourse in Tokyo, Japan

Attendance: 7,500

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

Official Theme Song: "Sweetness" by Jimmy Eat World

Ultimate Fan Series Semifinal Round: #1 Satyr's Hopeful Few vs. #4 The Dead Jesters (series tied 1-1)
"Nature Boy" Ric Flair (S.H.F.) vs. Chris Candido (w/Tammy Sytch) (Dead Jesters)

They did some respectable technical wrestling early on, but the focus of this match was more on the interactions between Flair and Sytch, and how it affected Candido. Flair's strutting, wooing and general "Nature Boy" antics in Sytch's direction incensed both members of the power couple, and it brought out a more aggressive side of Candido. He plays a great self-centered prima donna character (and continues to grow more comfortable in that role), but he got to wrestle a more vicious kind of match here.

The worm turned when Flair countered Candido's suplex with one of his own, and he started to build some momentum after that. Sytch realized that her man was in trouble and slipped an unidentified foreign object into the ring when the ref's attention was elsewhere. The dirtiest player in the game was wise to those kind of tricks though, and he grabbed the object himself and clobbered Candido with it before slipping it into his tights. The ref, none the wiser, counted the pin. Candido is nowhere near Flair's level and I never considered having him win this match, but I think merely sharing the ring with the legend and holding his own in a solid PPV match should be a good thing for his career.

Grade: B-

Totally Buffed attacked Flair in the ring after the match. They got the upper hand and put the boots to him, with Buff once again delivering some weak-looking stomps. Did nobody teach this guy how to make his stuff look at least somewhat believable?

Sting ran down for the save, and unlike Buff he showed some fire. The Japanese fans really responded to Sting's rapid-fire punches on both Luger and Bagwell, as well as the double clothesline that knocked them to the floor. Sting and Flair shared a nod, and that was the end of this segment.

Grade: B
AJ Styles, Alex Wright and Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Steve Corino, Fit Finlay and Minoru Tanaka

While the story of this match was built around Styles versus Corino, all six guys got the chance to show what they're capable of. I'm sure the Tokyo fans familiar with his New Japan work weren't surprised at how great Minoru Tanaka looked here. He was the unquestioned standout in this match. It's a shame he isn't someone I can bring in full-time, because his technical wrestling and striking could bring some real flavor and variety to the cruiserweight division. Alex Wright was the weakest link in the match, but that's not so much an indictment on him as it's a statement on how talented the other five are, even Tanahashi despite only having one year of wrestling experience. I bet Alex probably picked up a thing or two in his mat wrestling exchange with Tanaka though.

Styles and Corino clashed a decent amount, but we avoided having either of them factor into the finish. Instead, Wright countered Finlay's rolling fireman's carry spot into a crucifix for a surprise three count.

Grade: B
Ultimate Fan Series Semifinal Round: #2 The K-Nections vs. #3 Sin-free Society (series tied 1-1)
Sting (K-Nections) vs. CM Punk (SfS)

CM Punk is still in the process of being introduced to the fanbase at large. We've featured him fairly heavily already, but sharing the ring with a bonafide star like Sting was a totally new level of exposure for him. I thought he stepped up to the plate and delivered pretty well. Even if Sting was the star of the match and the one the fans reacted to, Punk's performance was solid.

We let Punk take a fair amount of the match and build some heat with a mixture of ground wrestling and brawling, taunting Sting and the fans all the while. Sting's comeback was teased several times but always delayed, whether it be by Punk countering or just outright cheating to maintain the advantage. The Stinger finally made his big comeback towards the end, running through many of his signature spots.

After being hit by the Stinger Splash, Punk fell to the mat and Sting stepped through for the Scorpion Deathlock. One problem, though: Punk raked his eyes before he could turn him over, stopping that attempt cold. He grabbed the blinded Sting for the Devil Lock DDT. Sting slipped out, wound up behind him and nailed the Scorpion Deathdrop to secure a 2-1 lead for the K-Nections.

Grade: B

Mutoh cut a backstage promo in Japanese (with subtitles for our English-speaking viewers, much like how our international broadcasts see promos subtitled into their native languages.) I know next to no Japanese, so obviously I was going to give Mutoh full control over the content of his promo. From reading the subtitles, the gist of it was that he was a legend who'd reached the pinnacle of success in Japan, but now he wanted to do the same by winning the most important championship in the United States. Judging by the response from the Tokyo crowd it seemed like he did a good job with this, and obviously these people see him as a huge star.

Grade: A

Billy Kidman (w/Torrie Wilson) vs. Jushin Thunder Liger vs. "Sugar" Shane Helms {}

The animosity was between Kidman and Helms, but on commentary Mike and I stressed that both would have to be focused solely on winning if they wanted to prevent Liger from winning the championship. This match was almost non-stop action, with flying and high spots galore. This was a wise approach, because both Kidman and Liger really excelled in this type of match. In what was no surprise to me, the legendary masked man carried this match. I think both Helms and Kidman couldn't help but learn a few things while sharing the ring with Liger. 17 years in the business and he's still excellent.

Helms went for the Vertebreaker on Kidman, who wiggled free and hit the Kid Krusher. In a singles match this would've likely won him the championship, but before he could attempt a pin he was struck by Liger's rolling koppu kick. He followed up with the running Liger Bomb to become cruiserweight champion for the first time (second if you include WCW's old light heavyweight title from the early 90's in the lineage.)

Grade: B

Liger got on the microphone after the match to thank the Japanese fans for always supporting him and New Japan Pro Wrestling, as well as buying tickets to come and watch this show put on by "our American friends" in WCW. He promised that he would be a champion that NJPW, WCW, and the fans in Japan and all around the world would be proud of.

Grade: B
Extreme Rules:
Rob Van Dam vs. Mike Awesome

Even though our product has a decreased emphasis on the hardcore style that ECW popularized, I let these two guys work in that style here. It may not be my preferred style of wrestling, but it does get a reaction and RVD and Awesome are both really good at it. They produced an entertaining ECW-style match, mixing in weapons like chairs and kendo sticks while also doing some more standard in-ring work so it didn't descend into pure mindless "garbage wrestling", as the late Giant Baba once termed it.

RVD ducked a chair shot and put Awesome on his back with the Van Daminator, then hopped up to the top rope for the Five Star Frog Splash. He of course had to pose and do his finger pointing shtick before taking flight, and it cost him. The showmanship gave Awesome time to recover and jump up onto the top in front of him. Both men punched each other as they fought for control on the top rope. Van Dam eventually scored with a head kick that sent Awesome staggering back down into the ring. Awesome picked the chair back up and prepared to use it, but Van Dam came flying off the top with a supersized variation of the Van Daminator! Awesome was out cold after that. All RVD had to do was lay a finger on him for the pin. Except he couldn't.

Van Dam was rolling around on the mat, clutching his left leg in agony from an apparent awkward landing (kayfabe, don't worry.) Ref Nick Patrick bent down to check on him and quickly determined that he was unable to put any weight on his leg to stand. As Awesome was unconscious, neither man was in any state to continue. With no other option, Patrick called for the bell and ruled the match a no contest.

Grade: B
Ultimate Fan Series Semifinal Round: #2 The K-Nections vs. #3 Sin-free Society (K-Nections lead 2-1)
Booker T (K-Nections) vs. Lance Storm (SfS)

I felt coming in that this was a potential showstealer, and it was definitely at that quality. Booker is a solid all-around worker, Storm a tremendous technician, and together they put on exactly the kind of match you'd expect. It was a back-and-forth match in which both guys got in plenty of offense. Storm mainly worked on Booker's legs with submissions, but Booker, knowing the UFS was his path back to a potential world title rematch, refused to quit. Even when Lance got on the rolling half crab, Booker grit his teeth and crawled to the ropes.

Realizing that a submission win probably wasn't in the cards, Lance switched approaches and attempted to put Booker's lights out with a superkick. Booker caught his foot and reeled him into the Book End, but Lance got his shoulder up just before 3. Refusing to fall into despair, Booker went right to the top rope and delivered the Harlem Hangover, and this time Storm was unable to kick out.

Grade: B+

The rest of the K-Nections joined Booker in the ring after the match to celebrate advancing to the finals. We didn't have any of them talk due to the language barrier, so it was nothing more than celebratory high fives and handshakes. The fans were familiar with Booker and Sting and treated them like the stars they are, but Styles and Wright didn't get nearly as big a reaction.

Grade: C

Gedo and Jado vs. The Natural Born Thrillers {}

It would have looked beyond silly for Gedo and Jado to match up with the Thrillers physically given the size difference, but thankfully that's not their style anyway. They're all about crafty, shifty wrestling, in some ways resembling a tag team version of modern-day Ric Flair. They have plenty of experience working that style of match, and by this point they know exactly how to work together seamlessly to put on an entertaining match (something we worked in from a kayfabe sense as well, with Mike and I saying their years of experience as a team was their biggest advantage over the Thrillers.) Gedo and Jado's experience and chemistry were instrumental in this being the best tag team title match since the relaunch of WCW, even if Palumbo struggled to keep up at times.

It was a good match, but there was never any real doubt as to the ending. Palumbo delivered a running powerslam to Jado to retain the titles.

Grade: B

Ultimate Fan Series Semifinal Round: #1 Satyr's Hopeful Few vs. #4 The Dead Jesters (S.H.F. leads 2-1)
Kanyon (S.H.F.) vs. Rey Misterio Jr. (Dead Jesters) {}

Mike and I praised Rey for being a fighting champion and agreeing to defend the title in this UFS match. This was a situation where we could've used a heel color guy to offer a counterpoint and call him an idiot. Anyway, two things became obvious pretty quickly during this match. The good news was that Rey and Kanyon's styles mesh really well together, with Rey flying all around the ring and Kanyon living up to his old "innovator of offense" moniker by doing some cool-looking throws on his lighter opponent. The bad news was that they were so focused on doing cool stuff that they forgot to put any real story together.

Misterio (should I start calling him Mysterio?) pulled off a dizzying series of headscissors, dropkicks and other things, then went out to the apron and flew at Kanyon with a springboard hurricanrana. But Kanyon caught him and hit a sitout powerbomb for a near-fall. Rey's reprieve was short-lived: Kanyon pulled him right up to his feet, hit the Flatliner and both won the United States title and sent Satyr's Hopeful Few into the finals of the UFS.

Grade: B

Much like after the K-Nections won earlier, the other members of Satyr's Hopeful Few came out to celebrate the win with Kanyon. Before long, Flair and Bagwell were nose-to-nose and arguing with each other, forcing Kanyon and Chavo to pull them apart. Chavo looked a little silly trying to physically restrain the muscular Buff; maybe we should've planned that out differently.

Grade: C

Keiji Mutoh vs. "Big Poppa Pump" Scott Steiner (w/Midajah) {}

We did a pre-match video featuring clips of Steiner's title win, as well as highlights of Mutoh from his earlier stint in NWA/WCW and more recent clips of him in New Japan.

Grade: A

Let's start with the negatives in this match, and there were quite a few. Both Steiner and Mutoh did not perform at the level they're capable of. Mutoh mistimed a few things that threw the pace of the match off more than once, and Scott was even worse, throwing a couple of really poor suplexes. The match was also hurt by both guys no selling some big moves that should by all rights have set up legitimate near falls. With all of these minuses you'd probably expect a flat and disappointing main event. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mutoh and Steiner are so great that these were minor quibbles in the grand scheme of things. Even with the occasional hiccup this was an amazing match, definitely the best we've put on to date. It does make me say 'what if' though. If this is what these two guys did on an off night, they may very well have put on the match of the year if they'd actually been at the top of their game.

Steiner hit one of the aforementioned bad-looking german suplexes and slapped on the Steiner Recliner, but with the Tokyo fans cheering him on, Mutoh gutted it out and made it to the ropes. Scott screamed at the referee and then went for the Steiner Screwdriver, but Mutoh slipped out behind him, knocked him back into the corner with a rolling savate kick and hit a cartwheel elbow. Steiner staggered out of the corner and Mutoh blasted him with the Shining Wizard! Charles Robinson counted once...


...three times!

...No! Robinson waves it off when he notices Steiner's foot is on the bottom rope! Instant replay revealed that Midajah put his foot on the rope, and Mike and I had a field day complaining that without her help Mutoh would have won the world title right there. Steiner rolled out to the floor, and Midajah climbed onto the apron to argue with both Mutoh and the ref, giving Scott time to recover. As all that was going on Steiner grabbed the belt, snuck around from the other side and smashed Mutoh in the back of the head with the gold. Robinson was completely unaware of the belt shot and turned around to count the fall as Steiner covered an unconscious Mutoh. Steiner gets a big win in an amazing match, Mutoh gets cheated to save face with the Japanese fans, everybody wins.

Grade: A

Show Overall Grade: A

Last edited by The Final Countdown : 07-21-2017 at 10:04 PM.
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