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Default December 2001: Road to Starrcade, Part I

Quote:


November 19th, 2001

From Valley Ice Garden in Bozeman, Montana

Attendance: 3,500

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



Spotlight Segment:



We began the show with the triumphant arrival of the winner of the first Stu Hart Classic, Rob Van Dam, who got a respectable ovation from the fans in Montana. RVD cut a promo where, in his own laid-back way, he promised to deliver like only he can.

"Starrcade is the biggest wrestling show of all time. It's the original, dude. Way back in 1983, Ric Flair, Harley Race and Jim Crockett Promotions changed the entire game forever. They revolutionized pro wrestling, and that's exactly what I'm going to do at Starrcade eighteen years later! You people, you've seen a lot of big stars as the WCW World champion, everyone from Hogan to Flair to Sting to Savage to Goldberg. But you've NEVER seen a WCW champion like me! I do things in this ring those other dudes could never even dream of. You've seen some of it in my first six months here in WCW, but at Starrcade the whole world will find out what those who supported the Hardcore Revolution have known for years: when it comes to pay-per-view performances, no one in the world does it better than Rob-Van-Dam!"

I'm sure some old timers would pull their hair out at how RVD portrays himself, but this character just works for him. He was fantastic here, and this would've been a good enough segment if we'd just ended it there. But we weren't done yet.





Scott Steiner stepped out into the aisle, and he was none too impressed with his Starrcade challenger.

"This has gotta be some kinda joke. Did somebody slip some drugs into my protein shake or somethin', because I gotta be hallucinogating right now! Is this nobody really the best WCW can bring me for Starrcade, the so-called biggest show of the year? At least Booker T coulda made it interestin' for a few minutes, though of course I woulda beaten him in the end just like I always do! But YOU? You're just some minor league chump! You ain't in my league, boy, and all the crazy flips in the world ain't gonna make a difference when you step in the ring with me! Enjoy that little trophy you got, because that's the only gold you're gettin' here in WCW!"

This was an "on" night for Scotty. He perfectly sold the disrespect I wanted him to show for RVD as a "minor league" guy from ECW. All in all, I don't think we could've asked for anything better to get this build started.



Grade: A*


With new manager Stacy Keibler in his corner, Kaz Hayashi disposed of Jim Duggan. (C+)

Keibler post-match interview: "I could've taken AJ Styles to the top, but he blew it. With me by his side, Kaz Hayashi will be a champion!" (C-)

With Disco Inferno watching from the aisle, American Dragon made Flash Flanagan submit to his Arms Across America hold. (C+)

Bobby Heenan asks Booker T why he attacked Sting and cost him the world title last night. "Why? Why NOT, sucka?! That shoulda been my title shot in the first place, but Sting stole it from me! Sting's got no business winnin' MY belt, and all I did was make sure he didn't steal what belongs to me, ya dig?" (B-)

Unseen footage from Calgary Stampede: Jushin Liger is cooling down after his title defense when he's suddenly attacked in his locker room by TAKA! (C)

The US title was not on the line tonight, but Rey Misterio Jr. still brought his best effort and defeated Shannon Moore. (B)

WCW cameras catch up to Ric Flair backstage after Calgary Stampede: "Candido, I don't give a damn who's running the show! You wanna make a name for yourself at MY expense?! People have been trying to break the Nature Boy for almost thirty years, and I'm still standing!" (B-)

Candido and Tammy Sytch, having just watched Flair's comments, are on the phone with the "CEO." Candido nods and says everything's working out perfectly. "We've got Flair worked up, and Liger's going to be itching for a fight with TAKA now. It's all going just like you said it would." (C+)

They may have doubts about the long-term viability of their team, but Hugh Morrus and Konnan looked good tonight as they got a win over Mark Jindrak and Shawn Stasiak. (C+)

Dustin Rhodes is interviewed; though his focus tonight is on his main event match against Booker T, he knows Father Isaac and his men won't be far behind. "If you choose to get involved tonight, know that I'll be ready, and I'm not going down without a fight!" (C+)

True Heroes continued their hot streak with a win against The Mamalukes, but the real story was the announcement by the commentators that Punk and Storm will challenge the Natural Born Thrillers for the tag team titles at Starrcade. (B-)

In a vignette, a smiling Kanyon reveals that he's found the answer to his recent woes, and he'll share it with the world next week. (B-)

DDP in-ring promo; he's not impressed by Shane Douglas. "Last night I listened to the so-called "Franchise" whine and complain because his career didn't turn out the way he wanted. Well you can complain all you want to, because while you were spending your career complaining about not getting opportunities handed to you, I was working my butt off, defying the odds and making my own breaks! I earned everything I've got, and I'll prove it to you any time, any place, if you got the guts to stop talking and start fighting!" (A)

Dustin Rhodes and Booker T had a lengthy, back-and-forth battle in the main event. As expected, there was some outside chicanery. Dustin was ready to knock Vampiro off the apron, but it was merely a diversion so The Destroyer could lay him out with the Destruction Bomb while Isaac had the referee occupied. Booker T happily accepted the help and finished Dustin with the Book End. (B)

Booker's celebration is interrupted by Sting, who chases him out of the ring with the bat! Sting grabs the microphone: "Booker, you just can't let it go, can you? You're obsessed with that world heavyweight championship, and you've let it poison your mind! Well I'm going to take it upon myself to do you a favor and knock some sense into you!" (A)


Show Grade: B+






Taped immediately after Nitro

Announce Team: Tony Schiavone and Don West

While we don't know Yang's thoughts on his Jung Dragons partner Kaz Hayashi throwing his lot in with Stacy Keibler, he executed Yang Time to record a singles win over Cash. (C+)

American Dragon interview; he doesn't care about Disco Inferno's wounded pride, and invites Disco to wrestle him again if he can't accept his first defeat. (D+)

Vampiro and The Destroyer overwhelmed the hapless duo of Chance Beckett and Jason Jett. (C-)

Norman Smiley pre-taped promo; he'll be back soon after being out for months with a broken leg. (D+)

Perhaps motivated by the chip on his shoulder, Shane Douglas negated Ernest Miller's kicks and beat him with the Franchiser. (C+)

Arn Anderson announces a blockbuster tag team main event for Nitro: Rob Van Dam and Sting against Scott Steiner and Booker T! (B-)


Show Grade: C+
Quote:


November 26th, 2001

From Memphis, Tennessee

Attendance: 4,600

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

In the opening match, AJ Styles soared to victory over talented unsigned cruiserweight Blitzkrieg. (B)

Styles post-match interview in which he shrugs off Stacy Keibler's new alliance with Kaz Hayashi, but says if Keibler wants to prove her new client is better than him, he'll have no problem taking him on. Out step Keibler and Kaz, with Keibler telling AJ he'll regret those words, just like he'll regret ending their business partnership. (C)

RVD and Sting backstage promo; both men are on the same page as they look forward to taking out Scott Steiner and Booker T in the main event. (B+)

The Natural Born Thrillers didn't have any trouble dispatching Alan Funk and Flash Flanagan in non-title action. (C+)

True Heroes out in aisle for post-match promo. Punk: "Congratulations on taking out a couple of nobodies tonight, but at Starrcade you'll have to defend those titles against the hottest tag team in the world today. The name True Heroes isn't just us bragging. It's the truth, and come December 30th we will rescue the tag team division from your control like the heroes we are!" (C+)

Ric Flair and Chris Candido are welcomed to Piper's Pit. Piper asks Candido if he really knows what he's gotten himself into by picking a fight with the legendary Ric Flair, but Candido is unconcerned. "With the CEO there to guide the way and draw up the plans, I have nothing to fear from anyone in WCW!" Flair begged to differ. "Your 'CEO' is going to lead you nowhere but to the unemployment line, bud! When people come at Ric Flair, they come back a shell of a man! WOOO!" (B+)

DDP, Hugh Morrus and Konnan took care of Totally Buffed and Mike Sanders in six man tag team competition. (B-)

Shane Douglas appears on video screen: "I'll be more than happy to prove just how undeserving you are, Page, and prove that I've been better than you for a decade. But we'll do it on my terms. We'll do it at Starrcade so the whole world can see it!" (B)

With Fit Finlay watching on a monitor backstage (C-) , Jamie Knoble teamed with Alex Wright to defeat 3 Count. (B)

Dustin Rhodes confronts Vampiro and Father Isaac; says he's been looking for The Destroyer all day, and won't leave until he's gotten a piece of him. They laugh and inform him that the Destroyer has been sent away on "other business" and won't be seen for weeks, which frustrates Dustin to no end. He says that if that's the way it is, maybe he'll just have to take THEM out before the "blunt instrument" returns! (C)

Scott Steiner and Booker T cut an uneasy promo. The bad blood between the two is still present, and each warn the other not to get in their way tonight. (B+)

Disco Inferno had The Wall come out to the ring with him, and said Wall attacked Rey Misterio Jr. during Disco's match against Rey. American Dragon came out to even the odds, which allowed Rey to fight his way back into the match and pin Disco with a swinging hurricanrana. (B-)

Kanyon comes out, reveals he realizes why he's been feeling so lost; it's because Rey is walking around with HIS title! He's going to prove there truly ISN'T anyone better than Kanyon by taking the United States title back at Starrcade! Rey accepts the challenge and says he's looking forward to it. (C+)


Spotlight Segment:




The fans in Memphis roared as Jerry "The King" Lawler came to the ring. Jerry took some time to stand there and soak it in, and you could see he was genuinely touched by the reaction. He covered it up with some humor, then reminisced for a bit about all of the fond memories he'd made in Memphis. All the titles he'd won, the opponents he'd vanquished, all the years he'd spent being "The King of Memphis"--and all of it only possible because of these great people in Memphis! Jerry did a good job here, as he knew just how to use his words to bring these fans back in time with him.

"We've had a lifetime together, guys. I may wear a crown and call myself a king, but everything that I have is because of you guys. Everybody knows I like to joke around a lot, but know that I'm being deadly serious when I tell you that being your hero for all these years has been the greatest honor of my life. But...all good things must come to an end. I've been thinking about this for a long time, and the moment I took off my boots following Calgary Stampede eight days ago, I knew it was time. While the memories will live forever, I can no longer be that guy I once was. I can no longer be the guy who piledrove Andy Kaufman, the guy who beat Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, the guy who beat anybody who dared to try and become the new face of Memphis. That's why, tonight, here in front of the very fans who made me "The King", I'm letting the world know that I'm taking off my crown. I'm announcing, effective immediately, my retirement as a professional wrestler."

None of this was news to those who follow the dirt sheets, but those in the arena who don't keep up with those things were shocked by the announcement, and marks and smarks alike were emotional at having to say goodbye to the king.







The sadness turned to outrage when Steve Corino walked to the ring, smirking.

"Oh, what a heartfelt speech! I swear I was tearing up listening to it in the back! But how about you stop lying to these people, Jerry? Stop trying to convince them this is some kind of noble decision you're making! You aren't 'taking off your crown'; I ripped it from your head in Calgary! You're retiring because you know that not only do you not belong here anymore, and not only are you unable to keep up with me anymore, you were never good enough to keep up with me! Even in your heyday, even at your absolute best, you were never as good as Steve Corino, and knowing that has broken your spirit! So go ahead and fade away into obscurity, Jerry, because there's a new king of Memphis! In fact, I don't think the 'King of Old School' name fits me anymore. I will henceforth be known as King Corino--and you, pretender to the throne, are standing on my territory!"

Corino blasted Lawler in the face with a superkick and posed as the fans booed. A few even showed their anger by throwing trash into the ring. Steve was tremendous here; his speech pissed these fans off in a big way.



Grade: B


In a blockbuster main event, the promos from earlier proved to be prophetic. RVD and Sting had no issues working together, but Steiner and Booker still hated each other and it showed in everything they did. Eventually Steiner's temper led to him hopping off the apron and leaving Booker high and dry, which left him easy pickings for a Five Star Frog Splash from Van Dam. (B)


Show Grade: B






Taped immediately after Nitro

Announce Team: Tony Schiavone and Don West

The high flying of Blitzkrieg could not overcome the technical skills of the American Dragon, who won the battle of the masked men via submission. (C)

Disco and The Wall come out after the match, Disco says Dragon won't be able to stop his disco fever now that "the wall is up." Dragon says he'll chop down the wall one on one on Nitro! (D+)

You could've counted to three hundred rather than just three once Shane Helms used his Vertebreaker on Chance Beckett. (C)

Ric Flair and Chavo Guerrero Jr. chat in the locker room; Chavo says he has no problem with Ric taking care of business with Chris Candido before they focus on their future tag title match. (B+)

Dustin Rhodes didn't let Father Isaac's presence as a guest commentator throw him off his game as he dominated Flash Flanagan. (C)

Schiavone and West promote the official RVD vs. Steiner contract signing this Monday on Nitro. (C)


Show Grade: C+
Quote:


December 3rd, 2001

From the Hugh S. Greer Fieldhouse in Storrs, Connecticut

Attendance: 4,562

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

Kaz Hayashi was too much for inexperienced local high flyer Amazing Red. (B-)

Stacy Keibler post-match promo interrupted by AJ Styles; after a back-and-forth argument, they agree to a Styles/Hayashi match at Starrcade! (C-)

Big Vito was ready to fight, but Fit Finlay's superior skill allowed him to come out on top. (C-)

Sting pays a visit to Arn Anderson, who agrees to give him a one-on-one match against Booker T. Sting wants it as soon as possible, even tonight, but Arn tells him Booker has been given the night off and the match won't take place until Starrcade. (A)

Local tag team Divine Storm were being given the opportunity of a lifetime to wrestle on Nitro, but they had no luck against Totally Buffed in what was a completely one-sided match. (C-)

Alex Wright and Jamie Knoble interview; Wright says he enjoyed teaming with Knoble last week and is strongly considering making him his partner in his tag title shot. Chavo Guerrero Jr. interrupts, tells Wright it doesn't matter who he chooses as his partner because the titles will belong to he and Ric Flair as soon as Ric settles up with Chris Candido. (C)

RVD and Scott Steiner are shown in different backstage areas in a brief shot to let Mike and I quickly hype the contract signing later in the night. (B)

Disco Inferno accompanied The Wall to the ring and had the best seat in the house for his match against the American Dragon. It was an obvious physical mismatch, but Dragon defied the odds and submitted his gigantic opponent with Arms Across America! (C)

Shane Douglas comes to the ring to "tell the truth" about DDP. According to Douglas, the only reason Dallas ever reached the main event level was because his wife took off her clothes in Playboy and Randy Savage thought it'd be funny to mock them both! DDP comes running out from the back and tackles him to the ma, where they begin pummeling each other. Wrestlers and officials hurry out from the back to pull them apart! (A*)

Ernest Miller did connect with some kicks early on, but Vampiro delivered the Nail in the Coffin to put him down for the count. (C+)

With Vampiro out in the ring and The Destroyer still MIA, there was no one to protect Father Isaac as Dustin Rhodes corners him backstage! Isaac tells him that beating him up physically will accomplish nothing in the grand scheme of things. "You're right," Dustin agrees, "but I'll sure as heck enjoy it!" He punches Isaac's lights out! (C)

Candido and TAKA interview; Candido says that tonight's tag match against Ric Flair and Jushin Liger is simply the next phase of the grand plan. (C+)

Chuck Palumbo took on Lance Storm in what was ostensibly a singles match, but Sean O'Haire and CM Punk both got involved frequently. A cheap shot from Punk directly led to Storm winning via superkick. (C+)

"King" Corino comes out to the ring and boasts about sending "deposed monarch" Jerry Lawler to the old folk's home, but he's interrupted by TERRY FUNK! He says he and Lawler spent years fighting each other with everything they had, and you have to at least respect a man who fights you tooth-and-nail, who takes your best shot and just keeps coming. "But you, Corino, I have no respect for! You wanna humiliate Jerry Lawler, a man who gave everything he had to professional wrestling, right when he announces his retirement? You need to learn to respect the men who paved the path for you, and I'm just the man to teach it to you, you dirty egg-suckin' dog!" (C+)

Ric Flair and Jushin Liger would seem to be a very odd team, but the Nature Boy and the prolific Japanese cruiserweight joined forces against common enemies in Chris Candido and TAKA. With about 45 years of combined experience, Flair and Liger made for quite a formidable duo and it showed throughout this match. One thing they didn't have was a wildcard like Tammy Sytch, who distracted Flair and gave Candido enough time to pin Liger with the New Jersey Jam. As stated by Mike and I during the match, his team winning earned TAKA a cruiserweight title shot at Starrcade. (B)

Just as Arn Anderson is about to go to the ring for the contract signing, Kanyon pulls him aside to ask for his match against Rey Misterio to be made a best 2/3 falls match "so there'll be no doubt that he ain't betta than Kanyon!" Arn tracks down Rey for his opinion, and after he agrees Arn makes it official. (B-)


Spotlight Segment:




A table was set up in the ring, and Arn oversaw the proceedings. Arn started the segment off by introducing the participants and talking about the importance of competing for the WCW title, especially in the main event of Starrcade. I thought he did a decent job as far as getting over the magnitude of the match and the credentials of both guys.

RVD got to speak first, and he cut a promo pretty similar to the one from the night after Calgary Stampede: he's a one of a kind athlete, he can do things no one else can, etc. He did focus more on Scott Steiner specifically this time, as he said he respects everything Scott has accomplished both as an amateur wrestler and since turning pro. RVD did a good job here.

"I take nothing away from you, dude: you're one of the best around. But you aren't THE best. You might have your suplexes, your amateur skills, your freakish strength and...well, your freaks. But the one thing you DON'T have is the athleticism of R-V-D. But don't feel bad about it, dude, because NOBODY can do the things that I can! You may be the champion right now, but everybody who's been watching knows that nobody steals the show like Rob Van Dam! And how appropriate it'll be when at Starrcade, the biggest star in WCW becomes the world champion! After I'm done showing the fans live in Japan and watching on PPV all over the world just who the best in the world is, there'll be a new name engraved on that belt you're holding: ROB-VAN-DAM!"

After RVD signed the contract, it was Steiner's turn to talk. He was angry about what he saw as a lack of respect from Van Dam. Scott is always best when he gets worked up about something, so it was no surprise that he was the star of the segment. He told RVD he should've stayed down in the bingo halls where he could pretend he was a huge star in front of fifty people. Now he was in the big time, and no one is more big time than Scott Steiner.

"Starrcade's gonna be the worst night of your whole life, boy. That's when you're gonna realize that you ain't half as good as that fat walrus Paul Heyman convinced the other fat slobs and nerds you are. You ain't steppin' into the ring at Starrcade with some drunk or some fat slob who can't do nothin' but swing steel chairs. You're steppin' into the ring with the genetic freak, the man with the largest arms in the world...you're steppin' into the ring with the CHAMP! And after I'm through with you, ain't nobody gonna talk about ROB-VAN-DAM no more, cept as some wannabe who got embarrassed by Scott Steiner."

Steiner signed his name on the contract, and just as Arn was starting to wrap the segment up, the champion ambushed RVD with a clothesline to the back of the head! After some stomps and punches, he launched RVD through the table with a German suplex! RVD laying amongst the broken wood while Steiner stood and flexed with the title around his waist was a great visual to close the show, but I didn't think Arn looked sufficiently appalled or concerned as he ordered Steiner to the back. A great segment regardless.



Grade: A


Show Grade: B+






Taped immediately after Nitro

Announce Team: Tony Schiavone and Don West

3 Count recorded a win over Divine Storm. (C-)

King Corino interview; he doesn't know who Terry Funk thinks he is, but he'll be happy to send him into retirement right behind Lawler. (C)

Now Wall-less, Disco Inferno emerged with his hand raised in a match against Amazing Red. (D+)

Disco promo about The Wall being worthless, says he'll have to deal with the American Dragon on his own. He challenges him to a match for Nitro, and Dragon comes out to accept. (D+)

Arn Anderson announces gimmick over next two weeks where RVD and Steiner will choose an opponent for each other to wrestle on Nitro. Steiner's match is up first, and prior to the contract signing RVD let him know that Scott's opponent will be...Rick Steiner! (B-)

Billy Kidman looked to be slightly off on some of his timing tonight, but he was still able to hit the shooting star press to defeat Elix Skipper. (C+)


Show Grade: C+







Between the six week build between PPVs and the addition of the Spotlight Segment, I figured it'd be better to split the Road to Starrcade into two posts so it didn't get too long. The final three weeks + the prediction key will be up later in the week.

What do you think of the Spotlight Segment? Is it a good addition, or should I just go back to doing what I was doing after Starrcade?

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Lariat View Post
If Booker's gonna keep complaining, I see someone stepping up to take his spot soon.
The situation with Booker has only gotten worse, as you'll see once we get to the pre-Starrcade notes.

Quote:
Sources say WCW have contacted WWF Talent Terri Runnels. Many think she may reprise her "Alexandria York" character.
Great, now I've gotta switch up my plans! Dang dirtsheets spoiling everything...

(BTW, the Steiner/Mutoh match was at WCW vs. The World, not Halloween Havoc.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by K-Nection View Post
I'm loving these Wrestling Observer articles to go along with this!
Me too! KYE's posts are really fun for me to read too, and I think they provide another layer to the game world. Even if I totally imagine Bret reading them and grumbling to himself anytime his decisions are criticized!
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