June 2002: Road to Bash at the Beach, Part I
June 17th, 2002
From the Knapp Center in Des Moines, Iowa
Attendance: 7,002 (sell-out!)
Announce Team: "The Professor" Mike Tenay and Bret "The Hitman" Hart
Show-opening in-ring promo between Booker T and Rey Misterio Jr. to promote their title match at Bash at the Beach. Both men agree they have unfinished business, referencing their US title match at SuperBrawl, Booker costing Rey the US title by interfering in his match against Shane Douglas as well as his involvement in both of Rey's World title matches against Rob Van Dam. They also reference the "pick your poison" where both guys will choose an opponent for the other over the next two weeks. It starts next week, with Rey telling Booker he'll be facing the man who beat him to end his last reign as world champion: Scott Steiner! (B+)
The first match of the night saw the Natural Born Thrillers run right through 3 Count. Eric Bischoff stepped out into the aisle to watch the match and nodded his head at what he was seeing. (B-)
Mark Jindrak confronts Shane Douglas backstage and requests a rematch, believing he was close to winning the title and can do it with one more chance. Douglas laughs in his face and tells him to accept that they're on two completely different levels. (B-)
Yang gave a strong effort, but Chris Candido grounded his flying and beat him with the fisherman buster. (B)
Post-match, Candido and the rest of The Empire mock Ric Flair for returning last night. "You should've stayed at home and tried to live off of what was left of your sad, pathetic legacy. Now we're going to have to destroy whatever is left of the once-great Nature Boy!" Bischoff proclaims. (B+)
In the locker room, a chat between AJ Styles and American Dragon is interrupted by Chavo Guerrero Jr. Chavo tells his protége that he's very disappointed in him for his failure last night, and even more now that he's standing here talking to the guy who beat him like they're old buddies. He challenges both of them to a tag team match next week, and introduces the man who will help him teach Dragon a much-needed lesson: Shane Helms! (B-)
Christopher Daniels didn't have any trouble beating former WCW wrestler Lenny Lane. Jamie Knoble watched the match from the announcer's table and made it clear he was interested in testing the skills of the self-proclaimed "God's gift to the cruiserweight division." (C+)
Stacy Keibler and Kaz Hayashi approach Yang as he unwinds following his earlier defeat. Keibler says both men have been struggling recently, and suggests they reform the Jung Dragons and pursue tag team glory. Yang doesn't appear to totally trust Keibler, but says he'll think about it. (D+)
In a match between two world-class technical masters, Lex Luger forced Big Vito to submit to the Torture Rack with Gene and Katarina watching on. (D)
Luger cuts a post-match promo in which he calls Davey Boy Smith "despa-despicable" for invading America, and promises to send him packing just like the fathers of this country sent that disgusting tea into the Boston Harbor. Afterwards, there's a shot of Davey watching on a monitor and shaking his head in confusion. (C+)
Toshiyo Yamada is the much more experienced and seasoned competitor, but she seemed thrown off by the eccentric Daffney, who defeated her with the Banshee Knee. (C-)
Post-match, Daffney trash talks Yamada as Akira Hokuto goes on the attack. Manami Toyota rushes out to save her occasional partner and dares both members of Chaos to fight her, but Daffney just laughs as she and Hokuto leave. (D+)
True Heroes took to the ring to boast about withstanding the challenge of the Hardys and retaining their tag team titles last night, and it wasn't long before Matt and Jeff came out to confront them. Jeff wasn't good as he tried to call them cowards, but the way he delivered it came across as whining and unsympathetic, which obviously wasn't what we want out of a babyface promo. The Heroes mocked him a bit for that.
Storm wasn't anything special, but wasn't bad either as he called up a replay of Jeff using a closed fist during the match and said that that had been clear grounds for a disqualification. After the referee allowed that to slide, the Heroes naturally assumed that the rulebook had been thrown out the window and so merely attempted to fight fire with fire. Matt responded to that on behalf of the brothers, and he was honestly the strongest performer of the entire segment this time. He avoided Jeff's mistakes and didn't really whine. Instead he confidently said that no matter what flimsy excuse the Heroes wanted to make, they got themselves disqualified because they knew the Hardys had their number and were about to take their titles, and that's exactly what will happen when they get another shot at the titles. Punk shot that down, and he was a solid performer on the microphone as usual even if Matt was a bit better this time.
"Good luck with that. Unfortunately for you, you failed to take the titles last night. The record books might say that you won, but it was your job as the challengers to pin us or make us submit, and you couldn't do it! That means that you go to the back of the line while we move on to new, more worthy challengers!"
"That's not your decision to make, Punk."
All attention turned to the new voice that had joined the conversation.
Our commissioner stood in the aisle, and he had a microphone of his own.
"Punk, Storm, congratulations on your success last night. You found a way out, you found a loophole and you exploited it. I can't even get angry with you for doing so, because fifteen or twenty years ago I might very well have done the same thing. I didn't wear a white hat, and I didn't allow a little thing like the rules to get in my way. As the onetime Enforcer of the Four Horsemen, I have to tip my cap to you. But as the commissioner of World Championship Wrestling, it's my job to give these fans the best professional wrestling in the world. If you want to be a champion here in WCW, you're going to have to earn it, and if you think you proved anything last night you are sadly mistaken. While it is ordinarily true that we don't grant immediate title rematches, the Hardys were victorious last night. In my mind that means they're still the #1 contenders to the world tag team championship, and so I can announce right here and now that there will be a rematch for the titles at Bash at the Beach!"
The fans popped for that, the Hardys high fived each other and the Heroes shook their heads and complained. Arn turned and walked back towards the curtain, but suddenly turned around like he'd just remembered something.
"Oh, I almost forgot. To make sure we don't have a repeat of last night, this rematch will have no disqualifications!"
24 hours after coming up just short in his world title shot against Booker T, DDP dominated Alan Funk and beat him with the Diamond Cutter. (C)
Post-match interview with Heenan: Bobby tries to ask DDP about the current state of his career, but he's suddenly attacked and laid out by a chair-wielding Buff Bagwell. (B)
Post-Great American Bash footage: Sting welcomes Ric Flair back, but asks him if his arm is fully healed from the bat shot. Ric tells him not to worry about it, because the Nature Boy is back to style and profile! (B)
Our main event featured Hugh Morrus and Konnan butting heads with Mortis and The Unnatural of Salvation. While Morrus and Konnan kept it competitive as usual, Mortis secured the victory for his team with the Flatliner. (B+)
The Steiners run in and attack Mortis and Unnatural after the match. They cut off The Unnatural in the aisle as Salvation tries to retreat, and batter him against the guard rail. Mortis makes it almost to the curtain when RVD steps out, throws a steel chair right at his face and connects with the Van Daminator! He does his "R-V-D" thumb pose and the Steiners continue to beat on Unnatural as the show ends. (A)
Show Grade: B+
Taped immediately after Nitro
Announce Team: Tony Schiavone and Tracy Brooks
Fit Finlay gave Lenny Lane a beating in a one-sided match. (C+)
Christopher Daniels interview; he says he'll confront Jamie Knoble on Nitro. (C-)
Hayabusa won a cruiserweight bout against Cash. (C+)
AJ Styles and American Dragon cut a promo about their match against Chavo and Shane Helms on Nitro. (C+)
Rick Steiner defeated Mike Sanders. (C)
Show Grade: C
June 24th, 2002
From Trusts Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand
Announce Team: "The Professor" Mike Tenay and Bret "The Hitman" Hart
The show opener saw The Empire duo of King Corino and Chris Candido outwrestle the physically superior Doomsday, with Candido pinning Bryan Clark. (B)
The Empire's post match promo is interrupted by a chair-wielding Ric Flair. The Nature Boy grabs the mic and challenges anybody from Empire to fight him any time, any place, and he'll show them he's still got plenty of fight left! (A)
Davey Boy Smith's match against Shawn Stasiak was interrupted by Lex Luger, who attacked Bulldog and put him in the Torture Rack for a dq. (C-)
In an interview with Bobby Heenan, Christopher Daniels accepts Jamie Knoble's challenge and says he'll prove that he truly is God's gift to the cruiserweight division. (C)
We aired footage recorded at a recent house show, where Bischoff approached the Thrillers in the ring after a victory in a tag team match. He applauded them on their win and revealed that The Empire was always on the lookout for new talent, and he'd had his eye on them for some time.
"You guys were the most dominant tag team in the modern era. For nearly an entire year you ruled WCW's tag team division before True Heroes came along. Now you've made it clear that you want to get those belts back, but I'm sure you're frustrated that Matt and Jeff Hardy have leapfrogged you in the contender's rankings. They haven't even done a fraction of what you guys have done in WCW, yet they're the ones challenging for the titles on two straight PPVS! That should be you guys! You're the most decorated and accomplished team in WCW today, and it's about time you got treated as such!
"I can help you there. You guys want those belts back, while I want to add more talent, more gold and more influence to my Empire. It's a win-win situation, gentlemen. Join The Empire, and I guarantee you I'll help you become bigger, better and RICHER stars than you ever were on your own."
The Thrillers talked amongst themselves off-microphone but didn't verbally respond to Eric. The angle didn't call for that, and O'Haire and Palumbo come off better when they don't have to speak anyway. Eric did a good job with his delivery here. It came across as a powerful and persuasive speech. He told the Thrillers to take some time and think it over, and he was sure they were smart enough to make the right decision.
The argument between Torrie Wilson and Stacy Keibler at Great American Bash led to a rematch between Kidman and Kaz Hayashi tonight. A back and forth aerial showcase was crashed by Yang, who attacked Kidman behind the ref's back and opened the door for Hayashi to finish him with a back senton. (B)
DDP confronts Buff Bagwell, demanding to know what his problem was. Buff laughs it off and says he got "a great incentive" to attack Dallas with the chair last week. (C+)
Pre-taped promos reveal that Rob Van Dam and The Steiners will take on Salvation in a six man tag at Bash at the Beach. In addition to hyping their feuds, both teams make note of RVD and Scott Steiner teaming after their battles over the world title, adding an extra wrinkle of intrigue to the match. (A*)
Melissa Anderson served as the opponent for Akira Hokuto's first match in WCW since 1997. The niece of Double A was a very tough obstacle, but Hokuto defeated her with the Northern Lights Bomb. (C)
Manami Toyota appears in the aisle after the match and says she wants a piece of Chaos, but Etsuko Mita and Eric Bischoff come out and say that they have an axe to grind with Chaos as well for ruining the match at Great American Bash, and the champ's desires supersede whatever Toyota wants. Daffney stands beside Hokuto in the ring and laughs at the drama. (C-)
Shane Douglas' interview for WCW.com is interrupted by Mark Jindrak, who walks right up to him but doesn't say anything. Douglas laughs and tells him to beat it, because the champ is too busy to deal with a peon like him. Jindrak remains silent, but slaps Douglas right across the face before walking off! (C+)
As promised, American Dragon teamed with AJ Styles against Chavo Guerrero Jr. and Shane Helms. All four guys got a chance to showcase their offense here, and the Dragon/Chavo story advanced with Chavo talking about "tough love" and "hard lessons" when he went on the offense against his pupil. Chavo got the win for his team in the end, and he did it by pinning the reigning cruiserweight champion with a frog splash. (B+)
Arn Anderson informs the Hardys and True Heroes that their match at Great American Bash was so good, the rematch was being considered for the main event spot at Bash at the Beach. "We couldn't decide, so in the end we'll leave it up to the fans. Right after this show a poll will open on WCW.com, where we'll allow the fans to decide whether the tag title rematch or world title match should be the main event." (B+)
The main event featured Booker T in non-title action against Rey Misterio Jr's hand-picked opponent, Scott Steiner. Mike and I spent a lot of time talking about the intrigue here, as Steiner defeated Booker to end his last title reign and also has a guaranteed world title match to his credit after leading his team to victory in the UFS. It was more of the same action between these two, but The Unnatural showing up at ringside threw Scott off just enough for Booker to hit him with a Harlem Sidekick to the back of the neck and roll him up for the 3 count. (B+)
After the match, Rey comes out to hear who Booker has chosen as his opponent for next week. Booker hypes the opponent as one of the biggest rivals of Rey's career, a man who knows him better than just about anybody and knows just how to beat him, just how to hurt him. He introduces the opponent:
Show Grade: A
Taped immediately after Nitro
Announce Team: Tony Schiavone and Tracy Brooks
In women's action, a tornado DDT propelled Alexis Laree to victory over Shinobu Kandori. (C)
Backstage promo: Stacy Keibler celebrates the reunion of the Jung Dragons. (D)
With Christopher Daniels watching on color commentary, Jamie Knoble defeated 3 Count's Shannon Moore via submission. (C+)
Bobby Heenan interviews Psychosis, who says he doesn't care about Booker T, Rey Misterio Jr or their title match. He's here to make a statement and earn his way back to WCW full-time. (C-)
True Heroes squashed the team of Jason Jett and Lash Leroux. (C-)
Show Grade: C-
Here's the poll to decide the main event of Bash at the Beach.
The TV title poll is still open, but the result is pretty obvious at this point. The Yay's ran away with it.
Originally Posted by shawn michaels 82
That was a great show. Curious to see what comes out of here. The Tag match being 99 after a DQ finish was great and keeps me interested to see a rematch (or two) happening. I'm also wondering what Kimberly will be up to, but I guess betraying DDP will probably be a part of it.
Loving all these storylines so far. Can't believe Lex made it to the PPV this time. His segments are gold. "The Internet" (meaning us at GDS) loves them, so even if the grades aren't gonna be that big, you still have to keep that ball going.
Hey, where is Kimberly? Why hasn't she shown up the past two weeks?
I considered having Lex miss it. Part of me thought it would be funny for him to be stranded over in Japan until I return there (probably in August.) It's a good thing Lex's new character is a hit and I'm having so much fun writing him, otherwise I would've jumped at the chance to fire him when he failed that drug test.
Originally Posted by Nobby_McDonald
The Hardy Heroes stoke the show.
They really did! That's why I'm running the poll that could potentially give their rematch the main event spot.
Originally Posted by RKOwnage
I echo what everyone else has said. Great show!
okuto, the H
arbinger of H
avoc? Someone up north might not like this little "game" you're playing
Heh, I never made that connection. As much as I would love to take potshots at Mr. Best for Business, Hokuto's not the right person to do it with.
Aside from that, anyone who watches current NJPW can tell you that Triple H parody gimmicks are a recipe for disaster.