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Default April 2002: Road to Slamboree, Part II

Quote:


April 8th, 2002

From the Wheeling Civic Center in Wheeling, West Virginia

Attendance: 5,000 (sell-out!)

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

The show opened with a singles match between AJ Styles and Chris Candido. Styles looked to prove a point to the stablemate of the man he'll challenge for the Cruiserweight title at Slamboree, but a missed Spiral Tap allowed Candido to hit the fisherman buster and get the pin. (B)

TAKA joins Candido in beating AJ down as Bischoff and Corino taunt him about daring to think he could challenge the Empire. Sting and Ric Flair run down for the save (still wielding the baseball bats) and chase The Empire off. (B)

Backstage: American Dragon complains about Chavo Guerrero Jr. grabbing the tights during their match last week. Chavo tells him he lost because he's a kid with all the talent but none of the smarts, and suggests he watch how a true professional (himself) operates during tonight's main event against Rob Van Dam. (C-)

Madusa stepped into the ring against fellow veteran Shinobu Kandori. Mike and I introduced Kandori to the audience as a former Olympic judoka and extremely dangerous submission specialist. She showed some of those skills here, but Madusa had the savvy to avoid getting trapped in any submissions and won the match with a German suplex. A cutaway to Etsuko Mita watching on a monitor backstage showed her scowling, the World Women's Championship around her waist. (C)

Salvation backstage promo. Isaac: "If I know you, Vampiro, I know that you're as stubborn as a mule and won't be wise enough to slink away and avoid us as you should. So if you have revenge on your mind, we'll give you a chance to do just that against all of Salvation in a six man tag team match at Slamboree--if you can find two men on this Earth who can tolerate your presence long enough to team with you!" (C+)

Vignette: Lex Luger visits a school. But he wasn't there to make a speech for the kids; he was there to speak to a bus driver. Why? Who knows. (C)

Scott Steiner had his way with Johnny the Bull before finishing him with the Steiner Recliner. (B-)

Shane Helms interview: despite losing the #1 contender's match last week, he's still the cream of the crop in the cruiserweight division. To prove it, he's issuing an open challenge to any cruiserweight to face him at Slamboree. (B-)

Rick Steiner and Buff Bagwell are both experienced tag team wrestlers, and they tried to use that experience to hand a setback to the red-hot Hardys. The veterans made things interesting, but Matt and Jeff continued their winning ways as a team when Jeff hit the Swanton Bomb on Bagwell. (B)

Backstage: Rey Misterio Jr. approaches RVD as he's warming up for the main event and the two discuss the situation at Slamboree. Both men are excited to have a chance to set the standard and tear the house down again at Slamboree, but they agree that they'll need to keep an eye out for Booker T. (B+)

Ultimate Fan Series, Final Round: #2 Agents of Chaos vs. #4 The Dead Jesters (Agents of Chaos lead 1-0)
The Unnatural attempted to give the Agents a 2-0 lead as he took on 1/2 of the World Tag Team Champions, Lance Storm. Unnatural looked very effective when he was able to brawl, but Storm wisely kept things technical as much as possible. It was a fairly even match until Animal of the Road Warriors stormed down to the ring, decked out in the iconic spiked shoulder pads. His presence made Storm take his eye off the ball just enough to fall victim to Unnatural Selection, and the Agents of Chaos needed just one more win to achieve total victory. (B)

Spotlight Segment:




Shane Douglas cut a backstage promo with the United States title over his shoulder. He said this moment was long overdue.

"I should've been a major player in WCW all along. The moment this company first signed me back in 1989 they should've treated me like the future legend I was and groomed me for success, but they had no idea what they had and let me slip through their fingers. They had another chance when I returned in 1999, but there wasn't a single person in a position of power who knew a damn thing about how to promote a successful wrestling company. I surrounded myself with a few like-minded individuals so we could start our own "revolution" within WCW, but then my so-called friends lied to my face, took Vince McMahon's money and left me high and dry.

"WCW was all but dead, and my attitude at the time was 'good riddance!' This diseased company deserved to fade away into nothingness, and I knew I was too much my own man to ever get another offer from the WWF even if I'd wanted to go back to that hellhole, so mentally I already had one foot out the door of professional wrestling. But then, against all odds, WCW was resurrected. I could've just sat at home and collected a paycheck until my contract with those idiots at Turner expired, but there was something eating away at me. I had never been given a chance to fulfill my potential on a global stage and become the legend I always knew I could and should be. So I made a decision. I was going to be part of the new WCW when it relaunched, but I wasn't going to allow anyone or anything to hold me back anymore. Incompetent management, locker room politics, fair-weather friends who would sell me out at the first opportunity: nothing would stop me until I showed the world what Shane Douglas is truly capable of!

"Diamond Dallas Page was just the beginning. He was a stepping stone and nothing more. After I beat him it was on to bigger and better things, like this United States title. This right here is now the most prestigious championship in all of wrestling, because I'm the man holding it! You Internet geeks can gush about Rob Van Dam and Rey Misterio as much as you want to, but I'm the real star of this show! And anyone in this company who's thinking of making a name for themselves at my expense by taking this title away from me: do your worst!"


Shane was absolutely fantastic here. He's legitimately been full of anger and resentment about his career path for years, and he channeled that perfectly here into a fiery, defiant promo. But the segment wasn't over just yet.








The Natural Born Thrillers walked into the shot. They didn't say a word, but both guys made their intentions clear by not just staring down Douglas, but also glancing at his United States title. This segment was awesome. It was encouraging to see Douglas maintain this high quality without the presence of DDP and his star power.


Grade: A


As Chavo mentioned previously, he took on the reigning World Heavyweight Champion in a non-title main event. Chavo has never been a legit world title contender, but at least on this night he looked like he truly belonged in the ring against the best of the best. He used a combination of athletic ability and the knowledge of a third-generation wrestler with over a decade of ring experience to give Van Dam a very stern test, but ultimately RVD showed his championship mettle by planting Chavo and hopping to the top for the Five Star Frog Splash. Before he could actually deliver the move, Booker T ran down and shoved him off of the top rope for a DQ! (A)

Booker continues to attack Van Dam after the match until Rey Misterio runs down from the back and slides into the ring. Booker takes a swing, but Rey ducks it, hits the ropes on the other side and gives him a dropkick to the chest! Booker rolls out to the floor and backs off even as Rey dares him to come back in for some more. "You're not so tough now that you're looking at me face-to-face instead of jumping me from behind, are you?" Rey shouted into the microphone at the man who'd cost him the United States title one week earlier. (B+)


Show Grade: B+






Taped immediately after Nitro

Announce Team: Tony Schiavone and Bret Hart

CM Punk easily defeated M.I. Smooth. (C-)

Billy Kidman soared to victory over Evan Karagis. (B-)

A Christopher Daniels promo is interrupted by Jim Duggan, who challenges Daniels to stop running his mouth about his debut and actually meet him in the ring this Monday on Nitro. (D-)

American Dragon overcame the aerial skills of Yang to record a submission win. (B-)

Unseen footage from Nitro: Ric Flair and Sting recruit AJ Styles and convince Arn Anderson to give them a six man tag match against The Empire Monday on Nitro! (B)


Show Grade: C+

Quote:


April 15th, 2002

From the Reilly Center in St. Bonaventure, New York

Attendance: 5,780 (sell-out!)

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

Ultimate Fan Series, Final Round: #2 Agents of Chaos vs. #4 The Dead Jesters (Agents of Chaos lead 2-0)
It was up to Shane Douglas to keep the Dead Jesters alive as he took on Mark Jindrak. The new United States champion proved his mettle by wearing his muscular opponent down and tapping him out with the crossface. (B-)

The Thrillers confront Douglas in the ring, and Chuck Palumbo verbally states what was made obvious last week: they want a shot at the United States title! With a smile, Douglas agrees to give ONE of them a title match this Sunday at Slamboree--and they can determine who the challenger will be by wrestling each other, right now! (B+)

The 'divide and conquer' strategy of Shane Douglas was obvious, but O'Haire and Palumbo shook hands and went straight to it. They wrestled a clean match with lots of power spots, and O'Haire earned the victory and the title shot with the Widow Maker. (B-)

RVD and Misterio approach Arn Anderson in his office and demand that he come up with a solution for the Booker T problem so they can concentrate on their title match. Arn frowns and says he'll do his best. (B+)

Salvation showed their unity in a dominant six man performance against Yang and The Mamalukes. During the match there was a split screen shot of Vampiro watching the match alone on a backstage monitor, and Mike and I questioned whether he'd be able to find two partners before Slamboree. (B-)

Ric Flair, Sting and AJ Styles and The Empire cut pre-taped promos hyping both tonight's six man tag main event and their matches at Slamboree on Sunday. (B+)

True Heroes summon the Road Warriors to the ring. Storm says that they weren't planning on granting a title shot to the tag team of the '80s, considering they are the team of the new millennium, but Animal sticking his nose into his UFS match last week changed the equation. Punk says they'll be happy to give them a title match at Slamboree and have already arranged it with Arn Anderson, but they've also arranged a match right here and now where Hawk and Animal can work off the ring rust and test themselves against a tag team on the same level as them. (C+)

The team that True Heroes hand-picked to face the Road Warriors, who they said were "on their level?" 3 Count. Hawk and Animal did not appreciate that little dig, and demolished the wannabe boy band in a one-sided match. (C+)

Chavo Guerrero Jr. pats American Dragon on the back and says he'll do him a big favor: he's going to take him under his wing and show him the ropes! It's hard to see Dragon's expression underneath the mask and his tone of voice didn't make his feelings obvious either, but he shrugs and goes along with it. (C-)

Shane Helms promo on his open challenge: "TAKA and AJ Styles can have their little match, but whoever walks outta that match with the cruiserweight title is living on borrowed time! I'm taking that belt back, but first I'm gonna show how great I am by beating any cruiserweight brave enough to accept the challenge at Slamboree!" (C+)

Christopher Daniels finally made his in-ring debut against Jim Duggan. Daniels put his cruiserweight skills to good use, moving with a fluidity that the hapless Duggan could not answer. He avoided Duggan's sloppy telegraphed punches and had fun humiliating him before eventually winning with a move dubbed Angel's Descent. (C-)

Booker T cuts a short backstage promo taunting Arn Anderson about feeling the heat due to refusing to give him his title match. (B)

Vignette: Lex Luger goes to a hardware store and buys a bunch of paint. Just what is the Total Package up to? (B-)

During a women's tag team match pitting Madusa and Alexis Laree against Etsuko Mita and Takako Inoue, Mike and I made it official that Madusa will get a title shot at Slamboree. Unfortunately the challenger came out on the wrong end tonight as Inoue knocked her out with her Night Night spinning backfist from the apron and Mita made the cover. (C-)

Backstage: Jeff Hardy and Scott Steiner argue about their Ultimate Fan Series match at Slamboree. Scott says he's gonna "beat that dye right out of your stupid hair and send you runnin' back to that circus you came from!" Jeff shows his fearlessness and says they don't need to wait for Sunday, they can go right now! Scott tries to do just that, but Rick is there to calm him down while Matt leads his own brother away, telling him to save it for Slamboree. (B+)

Our big main event six man tag gave a preview of two of Sunday's matches. The Empire operated as a unit, but the experience of Flair and Sting served as a nice equalizer. The x-factor wound up being AJ Styles, who countered an attempted Michinoku Driver into a rollup for a flash pin. If he does that on Sunday he'll be the new Cruiserweight champion! (B)


Spotlight Segment:




Booker T came to the ring to further rub in all the chaos he was causing. He said chaos was what the world title picture deserved, because the title's credibility was damaged with every day that passed without him getting his title shot, and he was going to continue to bring that chaos every single night. Rey and RVD both came down to confront him. Both said that they owed him some payback for ruining their match at Clash of the Champions, attacking them the past two weeks, and in Misterio's case costing him the United States title. Booker laughed at their anger, calling them both "golden boys" and saying neither one of them had a right to complain after all the opportunities they kept getting. I kept all three guys scripted as I usually do whenever Rey has a speaking role, so there were no exceptional performances to note, but there also wasn't anybody tripping over their own words and dragging things down. Rey suggested that he and RVD take care of Booker right here and now, together, and Van Dam was on board with that idea. Just when it seemed like we were about to get a fight...

"Hold it right there!"









Double A hurried to the ring and got between the three superstars. The commissioner said that he couldn't have the three of them getting into a fight right now and put the Slamboree main event at risk, especially after the way the Clash of the Champions main event ended.

"But our main event is already in jeopardy, isn't that right, Booker? Our fans were very unhappy about you wrecking that great main event. Obviously you don't care about that, but I do, and the WCW front office does. That's why I made the rematch, and that's why I guaranteed that this time we'll have a winner. That's something everybody wants, from the fans to myself to the front office to RVD and Misterio themselves--everybody but you, Booker. You don't care about anything but yourself and your own single-minded pursuit of becoming a 5-time world heavyweight champion, even if you have to ruin highly anticipated matches to do it.

"Now there are a lot of ways I could handle this, but none of them are good. I could suspend you and ban you from the building on Sunday, but knowing you, you'd probably find your way in somehow. I could threaten you with a pink slip if you get involved in this match, but that's just not an option for the long-term. Whatever I might think of your behavior of late, there's no denying that you're a world-class wrestler and a main event player. If we fire you, those sports entertainers in Connecticut would snap you up in a New York minute. You may be a little on the young side for them these days, but not even they are so blind as to overlook just how good you are, and I'm not about to let them get their greedy hands on you."


Booker laughed and said the answer was obvious then: just give him the title shot like he should've done the moment he lost the title last July! Arn grimaced as if the very thought gave him a bad taste in his mouth.

"RVD approached me and said he was more than willing to give you a title shot should he still be the champion after Sunday, and I'd wager that Rey's gonna want a piece of you no matter what, title or no title. Simply handing you the title match would seem to be the simplest solution, as much as I hate the idea of rewarding your behavior. But with everything you've done, all the whining you've done, it wouldn't surprise me if you wrecked the main event of Slamboree regardless just to be a nuisance. That's not something I or the WCW front office can allow to happen, so I've come to a decision. Booker T, you want a world title shot? You can have it--but there's a catch. Simply ordering you not to get involved on Sunday isn't enough of a guarantee for my taste, so instead you're going to be VERY involved. You'll have the best seat in the house, Booker, because you are going to be the special guest referee. If you call that match right down the middle and we get a clear winner without incident, you'll get the next shot at the title. If you don't? I can promise that you will never, ever get another world title match so long as I'm the commissioner!"

Booker smiled and thanked Arn for finally coming to his senses. He promised that he would be a perfectly impartial ref.

"And why shouldn't I be? RVD, Rey--it don't matter one bit who's holdin' the title after Slamboree, because you are lookin' at the soon-to-be 5 time heavyweight champion of the world! Now can..you...dig..."

Booker was cut off as Rey suddenly hit him with a hurricanrana! RVD shrugged, then joined in the fun with a Five Star Frog Splash! Not exactly the best way for either guy to ingratiate themselves to the guest ref for their world title match.



Grade: B+


Show Grade: B






Taped immediately after Nitro

Announce Team: Tony Schiavone and Tracy Brooks

Kaz Hayashi got his hand raised against Air Paris. (B-)

True Heroes pre-match promo taunting the Road Warriors, who Punk mockingly calls "O.L.D." (C+)

True Heroes picked up a non-title win against Alex Wright and Norman Smiley. (B)

Jeff Hardy and Scott Steiner pre-taped promos about their UFS match at Slamboree. (B+)


Show Grade: B





Quote:

Fan Scorecard:

World Heavyweight Championship: Rey Misterio Jr. vs. Rob Van Dam {} (w/guest referee Booker T)
Will Booker T be an impartial referee?

United States Heavyweight Championship: Sean O'Haire vs. Shane Douglas {}

World Tag Team Championship: The Road Warriors vs. True Heroes {}

Cruiserweight Championship: AJ Styles vs. TAKA {}

World Women's Championship: Madusa vs. Etsuko Mita {}

Ultimate Fan Series Finals--#2 Agents of Chaos vs. #4 The Dead Jesters (Agents of Chaos lead 2-1): "Big Poppa Pump" Scott Steiner vs. Jeff Hardy

Sting and "Nature Boy" Ric Flair vs. Chris Candido and King Corino of The Empire

Vampiro and ??? vs. Salvation
Will Vampiro find two partners? If so, who?

"Sugar" Shane Helms vs. ???
Who will answer Helms' open challenge?

What will be match of the night?

How many championships will change hands?

General diary comments/questions/critiques:

Last edited by The Final Countdown : 07-26-2017 at 09:11 PM.
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