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Default April 2002: Road to Slamboree, Part I


March 25th, 2002

From the Newcastle Entertainment Centre in Newcastle, Australia

Attendance: 6,500 (sell-out!)

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

Booker T begins in the ring and says that last night he took Roddy Piper's advice--he stopped ASKING for his title shot and instead staked his claim by force. "You think I care that the fans are upset they didn't get to see a winner last night? That don't matter! Neither of those guys should be world champion! That's my title, and I'm not askin' for a shot to get it back--I'm takin' it!" Arn Anderson comes out, but Booker doesn't like what he has to say: "That's not how opportunities are earned here in WCW, so if you want a shot at the world title, you better be willing to get back into the ring and earn it! As far as Slamboree goes, there's already a world title match set: it'll be a rematch between Rob Van Dam and Rey Misterio Jr, and this time I guarantee we'll have a winner!" (B-)

24 hours after retaining his title against American Dragon, TAKA turned right back around and defended the title again, this time against Jamie Knoble. Knoble wrestled a technical-based style similar to what Dragon employed the night before and gave TAKA a big challenge, but the champion prevailed with the Michinoku Driver at the end of a lengthy match. (B+)

Unseen backstage footage from Clash of the Champions: the Natural Born Thrillers and Steiner Brothers argue over who will win the tiebreaker (tonight's main event) and send their team to the finals of the UFS. (B)

Salvation backstage promo: Isaac says recent events have left Salvation in need of reexamining themselves, and Vampiro, Mortis and Unnatural all agree. (C)

Even if the women's championship of the world wasn't on the line, young Aussie wrestler Madison Eagles had an enormous opportunity in a singles match against Etsuko Mita. The crowd cheered their countrywoman on, but it just wasn't to be. Mita was better, and she put the youngster away with the DVD. (C-)

In an interview, Rey Misterio Jr. tells Bobby Heenan that he thoroughly enjoyed testing himself against RVD and looks forward to doing it again, this time with a winner. Shane Douglas interrupts and wishes Rey luck at Slamboree, because his trophy case will be a lot lighter after he takes the United States title from him next week! (B)

There was a "mix and match" cruiserweight tag team match, and the winning team would then wrestle against each other next week to determine who will challenge TAKA at Slamboree. All four men gave it their all in a match filled with eye-popping high flying moves, but it was AJ Styles who pinned Kaz Hayashi with the Spiral Tap to give he and Shane Helms the win over Hayashi and Billy Kidman. (B-)

Alex Wright gives a brief pep talk to American Dragon backstage as he copes with his failed attempt to win the cruiserweight title. (C-)

In non-title action, True Heroes defeated The Mamalukes without much difficulty. (B)

Spotlight Segment:

All of The Empire (minus TAKA, who I figured had been on TV enough tonight after his very long match with Jamie Knoble) came to the ring for a promo. This included the newest member, King Corino. Bischoff began by welcoming Corino to the fold.

"Everyone who doubts my intentions can keep right on doubting. I'll just continue to build the strongest faction that WCW, that this entire business, has ever seen! And more importantly, I'll continue to lay the foundation for the next generation. This group is all about fostering and growing the future superstars of WCW, the young men and women who will lead this company for the next decade. And King Corino, he's a natural fit. Not only is he a world-class wrestler who is wise beyond his years, he's a man with just the kind of go-getter attitude that winners are made of. Just look at what he's been doing for the past several months. Did he allow old men like Jerry Lawler, Terry Funk and Bob Backlund to steal his time in the spotlight because they were jealous that theirs had passed them by? Hell no; he sent each and every one of them packing! He didn't bow to them or show them undeserved respect as they tried to take what was his. He knocked them out of his way and used what was left of their faded stars to make his own shine even brighter, and that's exactly what The Empire is all about!"

Corino was next. He thanked Eric for the opportunity, and said it was nice that someone in a position of power was actually concerned with building the future of WCW.

"From the moment I've come in to this company, I've had to deal with old man after old man who just couldn't let go. They just kept trying to hang on to any scrap of relevance they could get their hands on, and to hell with the young, hungry generation who was trying to forge a new legacy! I used to call myself the 'King of Old School', but now I'm simply King, because the truth is that I am better than any of those old school "legends" ever were! The Empire is paving the way to the future, and I'm honored to stand beside them as we do it!"

Candido was next, and like the others he stuck to a script this time. Tammy's presence in the ring really helped him (I'm sure it would've helped me too if I were engaged to her) as he gloated about his win over Ric Flair at Clash of the Champions.

"Flair, you're the biggest offender of them all! You should've retired AT LEAST ten years ago, but you continue to limp out here in your robes straight out of the 70's and try and pretend you're still the Nature Boy. But the truth is that the Nature Boy is long dead, Ric! You're a shell of the man that you used to be! The old Ric Flair from the glory days would've at least given me a challenge, but OLD Ric Flair doesn't even belong in the same ring as Chris Candido! So why don't you do yourself a favor and hang up that stupid robe for good, and do the rest of us a favor and take that Brandon Lee wannabe Sting with you while you're at it!"

Sting and Flair had heard enough. They stepped out into the aisle, Sting holding his customary black baseball bat and Flair (presumably) holding the bat that Bischoff had left behind last night in his hurry to escape from Sting. They also stuck to a script (see why I didn't let the guys improv this time? Five speakers all going off the cuff sounded like a bad idea.) Flair assured Candido that he was far from done. Maybe he wasn't the same Nature Boy that had beaten Harley Race inside the cage at the first Starrcade, but Space Mountain was still very much in business, WOO! (He made sure to look at Sytch as he said this. I'm sure he would've done that whether I told him to or not.) It fell to Sting to close it, and that was a good decision. The fans loved Sting here, and his performance really stood out. He was short and to the point, but very effective: if he and Flair were as over the hill as the Empire say they are, obviously they'd have no problem beating them in a tag team match? The fans cheered that idea, but we got no answer from The Empire before we cut to commercial.

Grade: B

RVD is signing autographs for fans in another area of the building when Booker T walks by. They get into an argument, with Booker yelling at RVD that he probably put Arn Anderson up to signing a rematch with Rey because he knows that if Booker ever got his title shot, that belt would be gone for sure. RVD brushes the comment off in his usual calm manner, telling Booker that he doesn't make the matches but he'd have no problem showing him what Rob-Van-Dam is all about. (A*)

The adrift tag team of Hugh Morrus and Konnan tried to get themselves back into the thick of the tag title hunt, but they were unable to take down the Hardys. Matt claimed the win for he and his brother with a Twist of Fate on Konnan. (B-)

Backstage: Buff Bagwell tells Lex Luger he wants nothing to do with him anymore, because he's not "the stuff" and is dragging him down. Lex smiles and says that's fine; he has a plan to get back to the top, and it'll only work if he's on his own. (C-)

Christopher Daniels interview: "Good things come to those who wait, and the best thing possible for all of WCW will be when I make my grand debut in the cruiserweight division!" (D)

Ultimate Fan Series, Semifinal Round: #2 Agents of Chaos vs. #8 The Wild Cards (series tied 2-2)
Who would join The Dead Jesters in the finals? It was up to the Steiners and Thrillers to answer that question. The wisdom of both team managers came through here in selecting established tag teams to represent them in the tiebreaker, because both of these duos showed great teamwork throughout. It was a back and forth, seesaw match, but Scott Steiner forced Palumbo to submit to the Steiner Recliner while Rick held O'Haire at bay. The finals were now set: it's the Agents of Chaos vs. the Dead Jesters! (B+)

Show Grade: B+

Taped immediately after Nitro

Announce Team: Tony Schiavone and Don West

Takako Inoue knocked Madison Eagles out cold with her 'Night Night' spinning backfist. (C-)

AJ Styles and Shane Helms are interviewed about their #1 contender's match next Monday on Nitro. (C+)

Yang was one step ahead of Elix Skipper, gaining victory with Yang Time. (C+)

Before his match, King Corino cuts a promo taunting "the golden oldies" Ric Flair and Sting. (B-)

With Eric Bischoff in his corner, Corino prevailed over Norman Smiley with the piledriver. (B-)

Show Grade: B-


April 1st, 2002

From the Eastern Kentucky Center in Pikeville, Kentucky

Attendance: 5,666

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

AJ Styles and Shane Helms worked together as partners last week, but they were back on opposing sides now with a shot at the cruiserweight title hanging in the balance. It could've been anybody's match, but the back-and-forth, athletic bout ended with a Styles Clash. (B)

TAKA ambushes AJ and lays him out with the Michinoku Driver as Eric Bischoff taunts him, saying he doesn't have what it takes to drag this Empire down by taking away one of its prized assets. (B+)

Rey Misterio Jr. and Shane Douglas each cut pre-taped promos for tonight's main event. Rey says he's honored to be United States champion and will fight to keep that title whether he's got a world title match coming or not. Douglas says that he earned this match by proving he truly was more deserving of the spotlight than Diamond Dallas Page, and now he'll take advantage of that by winning the US title. (B)

Doomsday are the experienced team, but they were outwrestled and defeated by Chris Candido and new Empire member King Corino. (B)

Ric Flair and Sting are shown on the big screen from backstage, and they want an answer to last week's challenge. Corino says that it'll be his pleasure to send Flair and Sting packing just like he's already done to so many has-beens already. Candido agrees with his partner--they'll meet them at Slamboree! (B+)

True Heroes are backstage, and they wonder if any team will even be able to give them a real challenge, or if they'll just have to eventually retire with the belts. Their gloating is interrupted--

--by the Road Warriors! Hawk says that any team who starts thinking they're dominant has them to answer to! How about they prove how great they are against the REAL most dominant tag team of all time? (C+)

Ultimate Fan Series, Final Round: #2 Agents of Chaos vs. #4 The Dead Jesters
The finals opened up with Rick Steiner taking on Kidman. The Dog Faced Gremlin had a big size and strength advantage, but Kidman was able to do a lot of flying to neutralize that. He went for the shooting star press, but Steiner cut him off and hit a belly to belly superplex to win the match. (B)

Spotlight Segment:

Salvation talked about a need to reexamine and analyze their strengths and weaknesses last week, and tonight they came to the ring to reveal the results of that introspection. Mortis struggled a bit as he talked about needing to look past the superfluous and dig deep to find out what is going on underneath the surface. Unnatural said that after much soul-searching and contemplation, they as a unit had identified a fatal flaw that was holding them back and would continue to do so unless they corrected it. Vampiro then took the microphone, and he came through with a solid improvised performance.

"We are supposed to be a brotherhood. Alone we are flawed, imperfect beings. It is only by standing together that we become something more, something bigger and grander than any mortal being could ever be. Together we are Salvation, and we are unstoppable. But we have not been whole. We have been incomplete because one of our supposed brothers has not been here to stand beside us. But he is here tonight, so it is time for us to make this right. Destroyer, join us inside the ring!"

The Destroyer did as he was bade, and Vampiro delivered a speech straight to him.

"My brother, you were supposed to be our destroyer. You were supposed to be the blunt instrument with which we silenced dissent and helped others find Salvation, just as you did for Brother Unnatural. But where have you been? How can you be our destroyer, how can you serve our cause, if you continue to disappear? You truly are a destroyer--but it's Salvation that you are destroying, and we can allow it to stand no more. You are hereby excommunicated from Salvation!"

Destroyer considered that for a second--then floored Vampiro with a huge clothesline! Attention immediately shifted to the other members of Salvation, but they did not immediately move. Time stood still until Father Isaac nodded and gave a devious grin. Mortis and Unnatural acted at that precise moment--by attacking Vampiro! Together with The Destroyer, the three of them stomped and kicked at the defenseless man as Isaac picked up the microphone from the mat, where it had fallen from Vampiro's hands when he was first struck.

"You seem to be operating under a false assumption, Vampiro, so allow me to enlighten you. It is not The Destroyer who is our fatal flaw--it is you! You were correct in saying that we are only whole when we stand together, but from the very beginning you have rejected our brotherhood and instead embraced solitude. You rejected my guidance and insisted that you walk to the ring alone for your matches. I did my best to ignore your selfishness, choosing to believe that my faith was not misplaced when I recruited you, but over this past week I could ignore it no longer. All throughout this past week you behaved as if you held power over us, insisting that The Destroyer needed to be eliminated and we would be better off without him. You ignored our counsel and remained stubbornly insistent, and your behavior made it crystal clear to the rest of us that a man such as you is not fit to stand beside us. You were never a leader of Salvation. Salvation has no leader; every man in our brotherhood stands as an equal, yet you couldn't accept that. You wish to walk alone, Vampiro? Well now you have your wish, because you are no longer our brother in Salvation! Destroyer: finish him!"

Mortis and Unnatural helped Destroyer pick Vampiro up and toss him onto the mat with the Destruction Bomb, leaving an exclamation point as the group walked off.

Grade: B-

Rey Misterio is warming up for the main event when RVD approaches. They agree that they'll raise the bar again for world title matches (taking a few potshots at the WWF and its ancient world champion crowned 24 hours earlier in the process) at Slamboree, but Van Dam wonders whether Rey will still hold his title by then. (B+)

American Dragon looked to be well on his way to a win, but Chavo Guerrero Jr. pinned him with a cradle (and a handful of tights.) (B)

Backstage: Madusa tries to confront Etsuko Mita, but Bischoff cautions her against that. "I suggest you go back to playing with your little trucks. This is a new era of women's wrestling in WCW, and you're no match for the new standard bearer!" Madusa, undeterred, says she'll put her monster truck career on hold if it means she gets a chance to knock that arrogant look off the champ's face! (D+)

Vignette: Scott Steiner is trying to get in a good workout at the gym, but is annoyed when Lex Luger comes in as well. He yells at Luger to beat it, but Lex says he has to get to work on "getting back to basics." (B)

It was main event time, and Rey Misterio Jr's US title was on the line. Shane Douglas knew his key to victory was slowing the pace down and keeping Rey on the ground, and he was able to do that very effectively after withstanding an initial outburst from the champion. He was set on grinding his way to the title, but Rey eventually freed himself and picked the pace of the match up again. Just when everything was going his way, Booker T hopped over the guard rail and tugged on his foot as he was about to perform a springboard hurricanrana! Rey landed roughly inside the ring, and Douglas covered him to become a 2-time US champion! (B+)

Booker beats on Rey after the match until Arn Anderson comes out from the back and demands he leave immediately. Booker has a heated response: "Until you give me my title shot, I'll keep wreckin' things for you and your two golden boys every single week, dawg! What happened at the Clash is only the beginning!" (B+)

Show Grade: B+

Taped immediately after Nitro

Announce Team: Tony Schiavone and Don West

Takako Inoue defeated local talent ODB. (C-)

AJ Styles interview; he says TAKA attacked him after his match because he's threatened and knows AJ can take that title from him at Slamboree. (C+)

Yang defeated local talent Ray Gordy. (C+)

3 Count vignette; still scouting for a third band member. (D)

Our main event featured Fit Finlay defeating Alex Wright via Tombstone. (B-)

Show Grade: C+

So I've decided to try splitting each 'Road to' into two parts, at least for this month. Let me know what you think about it. As I said, this won't have any impact on how quickly I progress through shows; it just means the month will be covered in two posts instead of one. I'm hoping to get the second part/Slamboree prediction post up tomorrow, and if I don't manage that it should almost definitely be up on Tuesday.

The angle where Briskout resurrected the ECW title (as a main event title) has given me an idea. I'm considering using that as the jumping off point for a brand split, with ECW replacing Smackdown and the ECW title obviously serving as that brand's top prize. It seems like something they might logically do in this universe with WCW still alive, and I definitely think they have the roster depth to support it. I'm not for sure on this, but if I do it it'll likely be right around the same time they change from WWF to WWE.

Originally Posted by K-Nection View Post
Here is some more loading screens!
Nice! Definitely wasn't expecting any Etsuko Mita!

Originally Posted by Briskout View Post
-Show starts with Saliva playing Superstar… Glad to have bought this pay per view just to see this for five minutes, I guess I can go to sleep now.
I have a feeling I'll be wishing they'd only given 5 minutes to whatever music act(s) are going to be on the show tonight.

-Opening match, Chris Benoit & Chris Jericho v. William Regal & Eddie Guerrero.This sets the standard pretty high for the rest of the show as the four men who should be nearing the main event, find themselves much like they did prior to leaving WCW: aimless. Benoit and Regal start and exchange hold after hold before Guerrero does the same with Benoit, tag to Jericho and the pace quickens. The pace slows back down with Regal however. Crowd going back and forth between all four men and it’s Regal who manages to pull the victory when he connects with the Power of the Punch on Benoit for the win.
Awesome opening match! If this were a real show this would've been the thing I was most looking forward to.

-European Title Match, Spike Dudley v. Mr. Perfect. This is a glorified squash match as Perfect, who had been pretty relegated to a veteran hang up role as of late, manages to tap into the glimpse of what made him so great in the last decade. As Tazz put it, “the swagger was back” and Perfect makes quick work of Spike finishing him off in under 6 minutes for his first European title reign.
Good for Perfect! They haven't done much of anything with him after outbidding me, and he's a much more credible champ than little Spike.

-In one of the strangest decisions of the night, Funaki defeated Jerry Lynn for the Light Heavyweight belt. The crowd saw this as somewhat of a bathroom break though and missed a good display of wrestling between Lynn and Funaki. Funaki came away when he hit the Fisherman Buster which means in the two top US promotions, two members of Kai En Tai hold their lightweight belts. Interesting.

(Everybody knows TAKA's title is way more important though.)

-Hardcore Battle Royal time as it was weapons galore. Paul Heyman joined the announce team for this one. 29 men and Chyna were involved as was a ton of weapons. Kane, as he tends to do, eliminated the majority and the final four were Tommy Dreamer, the Hardcore champ, Rhyno, Kane and Jake “the Snake” Roberts. The attempt to eliminate Kane by the other three was backfired when Jake turned on Dreamer quickly, meaning there’d be a new Hardcore champion. Robert was next as he was unceremoniously dumped by Kane who turned around into the GORE - GORE - GORE of Rhyno, giving us a new Hardcore champion!

-In a quickly shocking maneuver, Paul Heyman jumped into the ring the ECW title as referee Jim Korderas was handing Rhyno the Hardcore title. Rhyno threw the Hardcore title on the ground as Paul Heyman declared that men like Rhyno weren’t hardcore, they were EXTREME and declared that Rhyno was once again the REIGNING AND DEFENDING ECW World Champion!

Never would've thought of this, but it's a really interesting angle. It also put an idea in my head as you can see above...

-The next match showed that Scott Hall was still struggling with demons as Hall lost to Steve Austin in what should have been a great match but was rushed due to Hall’s condition forcing Steve Austin and referee Tim White to improvise much of the ending to keep Hall safe.
What a screwup Hall is. (Guess it's fitting.) I'm glad I didn't bring him in, which I seriously was thinking about before WWF jumped in with an offer.

-Number one contender’s match as another multiman match came up as Big Show defeated Triple H and The Undertaker after hitting both with a chokeslam. Jim Ross makes a big deal out of the loss, noting it’s the first time Undertaker suffered defeat WrestleMania.
Wait...did The Big Show just end the streak?

(I guess it wasn't really a big deal yet though; I think he was only 9-0 heading into WM18?)

-In the main event, Hollywood Hogan won the fourway dance pinning Bubba Ray Dudley after hitting the leg drop. This match was hot for the crowd, but the crowd couldn’t overcome the fact that Dudley was the champion and it dragged away from the fact that Hogan, Angle and the Rock were involved in the match. As Hogan posed with fellow heels Mr. Perfect & Scott Hall, Jim Ross expressed it best ”this was supposed to be WrestleMania damn it!”
Some real star power there, but you had an uphill battle trying to deal with Bubba as the world champ. No such issues for the AI with Hulk, so we'll see what they do.

Overall the show fell flat. The heel antics of Hogan, Perfect and Hall were minimum really but well aware. Whether the Federation takes action against Hall is yet to be seen as he was clearly drunk, but otherwise it just felt flat. The best match of the night (the opening tag match) set the stage for a great match moving forward but everything else sort of seemed iffy at best. Last year’s WrestleMania set the stage for another great show this year and with the return of Hogan and Hall, matches like Hogan vs. Austin, Hogan vs. Rock, Hogan vs. HHH were all possible as well as Hall against the same people, but instead we saw a drunk Scott Hall, a really bad main event (thanks to both booking decisions tonight and booking decisions leading into the show) and strange set up moving forward, after Mania (with Big Show winning a number one contender’s match). There were some highlights of the night still. The tag match was phenomenal, some of the undercard pushes coming were great such as Test & Albert gaining their first tag titles and Rhyno reclaiming the ECW title could be interesting, but this felt more like Backlash than WrestleMania and may go down as one of the worst WrestleManias in WWF history.
Pfft, this was a historically great show in comparison to the abomination that was WMIX.

You were really hamstrung by the game removing all the ongoing AI storylines when you popped in. That's definitely something I'll need to address when Summerslam approaches and someone gets the chance to guest book it.

Originally Posted by Armando Payne View Post
Just re read this from Page 20, it seems like WWE's pulling a WCW with Hollywood Hulk Hogan winning world titles whereas with RVD as world champion it seems WCW's more like WWE. WCW seems to be the top show and I'm assuming Rhyno's ECW win is a dig at the fact that 2 of the top guys in WCW are ECW Alumni (Shane Douglas and Rob Van Dam.)

Maybe you could buy Damien 666 and have him join Vampiro, The Destroyer, The Unnatural, Mortis & Father Isaac?
It's an interesting direction for sure. Definitely something that I'll comment on here and there within the story, as you can see in that RVD/Rey backstage segment from the Nitro the next night.

Never gave much thought to Damien, but Salvation may have a spot open now!

Originally Posted by Satyr24 View Post
Why Not Crowbar
Crowbar's an interesting possibility, and would fill a new role as Salvation doesn't have a member that can chase the cruiserweight title. That was initially going to be Christopher Daniels' spot, but I decided against that for a few different reasons.

Originally Posted by K-Nection View Post
I'm curious of the grades from Wrestlemania? Care to post?
MOTN: Opening tag, 80
Main event: 79
Show overall: 67

Like I said, the combination of Bubba as the world champion and no time to build any active storylines (in a product that requires them) really handicapped Briskout. I think what I may do is have the guest booker jump in for the Smackdown (or maybe ECW?) right before Summerslam just so they have a chance to set up and build heat for a few of the big storylines before the PPV.

Last edited by The Final Countdown : 07-26-2017 at 09:04 PM.
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