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Join Date: May 2008
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Default July 14th, 2002: Bash at the Beach

July 14th, 2002

From Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia

Attendance: 16,820 (sell-out!)

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

Official Theme Song: "Outshined" by Soundgarden


The show opened with Arn in the ring to announce the results of the poll. He was given a script to stick to, and maybe that's why he came off sounding so dreadfully dull and robotic. He sounded like he was reading straight off a teleprompter as he announced that the winner, with 59% of the fan vote on, was the No DQ tag team title match between the Hardys and True Heroes.

Booker (thankfully) came out to cut him off. The champ stormed into the ring and called this a massive conspiracy.

"First ya'll took my title from me even though I wasn't pinned and never quit. Then you refused to give me my rematch for ten months. Now that I've finally got my belt back, now you're givin' my main event spot to somebody else? This is BS, man! You, the fans, the Hardys, all of you are tryin' to screw me over, and I ain't gonna stand for it! I'm the FIVE TIME, FIVE TIME, FIVE TIME, FIVE TIME, FIVE TIME WCW Heavyweight Champion of the World, and everybody better start showin' me the respect I deserve!"

Rey came out to tell Booker to stop whining. He himself was disappointed at missing out on the main event, but the fans had their say and they voted the other way, and he respected that. All that mattered now was taking the world title and shutting Booker's mouth. There wouldn't be any so-called conspiracy once Rey pinned Booker tonight, and whether it was the main event, the middle of the card or the opener, Rey was going to realize his lifelong dream and win the world title. This set off a back-and-forth argument, and the outcome was both men agreeing that since they weren't the main event, they should just go right now. Arn agreed and summoned a referee, and the first action of the show was now going to be for the world title. This angle got the crowd excited for the title match and was a nice way to start the show off strong.

Grade: B+

Rey Misterio Jr. vs. Booker T {©}

I think most of the fans were surprised to see this match right out of the gate, but I thought this was an interesting way to take the poll into account and give the show a unique feel. Just because this was now the opener didn't mean that Rey and Booker weren't going to treat it like a main event, or we wouldn't give them a good amount of time to work with. I think it's possible that Booker might have been legit upset at not being in the main event, because his performance was nowhere near what he's capable of. Rey was more than ready to pick up the slack though. He performed fantastically tonight and really drove this match to a high level. I wasn't expecting to say that Booker needed to be carried, but that's essentially what happened in this particular match. Thanks to Rey's effort this was still a fantastic match. I even thought he was able to draw some more technical wrestling and flying skills out of Booker.

The story of the match was that no matter what Booker tried, he just couldn't keep Rey out of the air for any significant stretch of time. His attempts to ground Rey with holds were unsuccessful, and the quicker challenger evaded Booker's strikes and slipped out of his throws and slams. Mike and I commented that Rey was wrestling the match of his life, and he could sense the title within his grasp as with each successive aerial move it took Booker longer to kick out and recuperate. Rey snapped off a tiltawhirl headscissors, then went to the apron for his big Springboard Hurricanrana. But that's when Booker launched an extremely effective counterattack: he caught Rey with a Harlem Sidekick that knocked him off the ropes and sent him crashing down to the floor.

All Rey's momentum crashed and burned with that landing, and Booker had all the control. He went right out to the floor and began punching Rey in the face, yelling at him that he was the champion and this company revolved around him. He pulled Rey up by his hair and rammed his face into the ring post, and then against the steel steps several times. Not stopping there, he slammed Rey down onto the floor with a Book End!

Booker rolled back into the ring, and with Rey unmoving, he could've won the match by countout. But he wasn't satisfied. Between not getting the main event spot he felt he deserved and then being pushed to the limit by his challenger, Booker was furious and in the mood to inflict even more punishment. He broke the referee's count by going back out to the floor, then pulled back the padding to expose the concrete beneath. Rey was still out of it after the first Book End and could do nothing to prevent what was coming next. With a sickening thud, Booker hit a second Book End, this time on the concrete! Referee Nick Patrick abandoned his ten count to come out and check on Misterio. Finding him unmoving and unresponsive, he called for the bell and awarded the match to Booker via ref stoppage.

Grade: A

Booker continued to beat on Rey even after the bell, stomping him in the chest and punching him in the face. He was finally pulled away by security so the medical staff could check on Rey. As they carefully loaded Rey onto a stretcher, Booker rolled back into the ring and grabbed the microphone.

"You see that right there? That's what happens when you disrespect the champ! WCW, you betta start treatin' me like the champion I am and givin' me the respect I earned. 'Cause if you don't, there's gonna be a whole lot more chumps gettin' stretchered outta here!"

This angle played off of the match finish perfectly. Booker got all kinds of heat, and Rey did a fantastic job selling the seriousness of his attack. Tenay's attempt on commentary to get over the heinousness of Booker's actions wasn't all that effective, but that's just nitpicking. Overall, this was great, great stuff.

Grade: A*
Diamond Dallas Page vs. Buff Bagwell

This wasn't technically a cooldown match, but it might as well have been. I knew the crowd would need some time to decompress after that match and angle, and that's what this match was for. DDP and Buff worked a pretty basic match and focused on continuing the story we'd set up. Playing off of the buildup, DDP refused to go for any pins early on and instead yelled at Buff that this wasn't going to end until he told him why he'd ambushed him for seemingly no reason. It wasn't a onesided squash, but Dallas took the bulk of the offense as planned, and as he should. It all led up to...

Kimberly stepping out onto the entrance ramp towards the finish. DDP looked stunned to see her, but she merely smiled and waved at him. His preoccupation nearly cost him the match, but he battled back and hit the Diamond Cutter to finish Buff as Kimberly clapped.

Grade: C+
Jamie Knoble vs. "Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels

In direct contrast to the simple and story-driven match that had just ended, this was a match put together with exciting high spots in mind. I told Knoble and Daniels to give it their all and put on an athletic spectacle, and both of them rose to the occasion. There wasn't a ton of high flying done (though there were a few aerial spots, including a really impressive Arabian Moonsault to the floor by Daniels), but they still worked a really fast pace and maintained it the entire way with neither guy getting tired.

I think both of them viewed this match as a chance to make a statement. I'm a fan of Knoble, and I know he's got several supporters in the locker room as well, but he's kind of fallen by the wayside in recent months as we've focused on other guys (it didn't help that we were all set to begin a long-term storyline centering around him and Alex Wright, and then Alex got injured.) This was a chance for him to showcase himself on a big show. As for Daniels, this was the most important match in his career to date. Honestly, you could argue that no one had more on the line tonight than Daniels. It was up to him to impress me and prove he's worth the effort we're putting in and we should continue to try to elevate him, and he did exactly that. The back and forth match reached its conclusion when Daniels slipped out of a submission and hit the Angel's Wings for the victory.

Grade: B+

It was time for the Thrillers to give Eric Bischoff their answer. Eric was confident as they assembled in the ring, saying that he knew the Thrillers weren't dumb. They realized that as dominant as they'd been in the past, they could go to a totally different level of dominance, fame and fortune if they joined The Empire.

Palumbo acknowledged that Bischoff was one of the most influential and powerful men in wrestling history, and in the present day we'd seen what he'd done for the careers of the other members of The Empire. They'd given his offer some serious thought, and now they'd reached an answer. He handed the microphone to O'Haire, who told Eric that he was right.

"You're right, Eric. We were the most dominant tag team in WCW history--so why do we need your help? We'll get those titles back, and we'll do it without you or your Empire controlling us!"

Eric's smile disappeared. He stayed at ringside and shook his head as the Thrillers left, telling them they'd just made a huge mistake and blown the biggest opportunity of their careers.

Grade: B
Etsuko Mita (w/Eric Bischoff) and Manami Toyota vs. Chaos

This was the first of back-to-back matches in which there was a subplot about whether or not partners would be able to trust each other. As I noted earlier, Mita and Toyota actually work really well together as a team even if the storyline says the opposite. They seemed to know exactly what to do in order to play up their dissension, and that really might have been the best part of the match. Toyota is also just a really great worker in general, and her performance established her as the clear star of this match.

Both members of Chaos worked Toyota over for quite a bit, setting up for the classic tag team formula. She hit a double underhook suplex on Daffney to create an opening for the hot tag. Just when she was reaching the corner, Mita hopped off of the apron and walked to the back with Bischoff. Now stranded, Toyota was the victim of a double team onslaught before Hokuto finished her with a Northern Lights Bomb.

Grade: C+

Stacy Keibler and the Jung Dragons were backstage for an interview with Bobby. Ordinarily the bulk of the talking would've been left to Stacy, but this time I decided to just have her smile and strike a pose in the background so we could see how Yang and Kaz handled themselves. They weren't exactly great. I kept it scripted, but I still thought Kaz was very underwhelming and Yang performed poorly. Keibler was the best part of the segment even without speaking; her nonverbal performance was good. The gist of the interview was that the Jung Dragons were pleased to see the tag team title match in the main event tonight. That raises the profile of the belts, which will make their eventual title win even more noteworthy. No matter if it was the Hardys or True Heroes who held the gold after tonight, they were going to have to deal with the Jung Dragons sooner or later.

Grade: C
The Steiner Brothers (w/Midajah) and Rob Van Dam vs. Salvation (w/Father Isaac)

Mike and I were quick to play up the history between Scott Steiner and RVD and question whether we'd see a repeat of the previous match where Etsuko Mita walked out on Manami Toyota. The answer was no. We made a point of establishing that RVD and Scotty don't like each other, but were willing to set their differences aside so they could focus on their rivalries with Salvation. We made sure to highlight the individual battles between RVD and Mortis and Scott and Unnatural, since those two programs were the foundation of this entire match. Rick was really off of his game tonight, executing some sloppy suplexes and being out of position a few times. He was the low point of the match. On the opposite end of the spectrum was RVD. The Australian fans popped big for Van Dam's kicks and aerial spots. He was the star of the match for sure. Everybody bar Rick held their end up well enough though, and gave us a very good six man tag.

I debated the best finish to run here. Even the day of the show I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do, but eventually I made a decision. The match ended when, after Father Isaac organized a group huddle on the floor, all three members of Salvation grabbed chairs and commenced an all-out assault for an obvious disqualification.

Grade: B+

The steel chair assault continued after the bell, with Isaac grabbing the microphone and saying that winning or losing a match is of little consequence as long as you achieve what you really entered the ring for. I'm not sure the fans really understood what the hell he was trying to say.

Unnatural got his turn on the microphone, and he told Scott Steiner that this was a punishment he'd brought upon himself with his own greed and self-adoration, and this was what awaited him until he became a more humble man. Mortis took a different tack with RVD, saying that this was further proof of why he needed to accept Salvation into his life and join their family. This angle was a success largely because of how much the fans cared about RVD (and Scott to a lesser degree.) They didn't care about Rick nearly as much, especially since he was just kind of a third wheel in all of this, so the attack probably would've worked better if we'd taken Rick out of the picture and focused fully on RVD and Scott.

Grade: B+

Chavo Guerrero Jr. (w/American Dragon) vs. AJ Styles {©}

A lot of cruiserweight matches are designed around flashy high spots executed at a relentless pace. We went a different direction in this one, largely because I've noticed that AJ doesn't do too well when being told to go all out. He's at his best when I give him minimal instruction and let him work at his own pace without the pressure of trying to fit in as many exciting spots as he can. I gave he and Chavo the freedom to wrestle this as they saw fit, and since they weren't going to be going quite as fast and quite as hard I gave them a bit more time than I usually do to the cruiserweight matches. This wound up being a great decision, because this match was tremendous. It was just a half a notch below the Booker/Misterio opener, and one of the best cruiserweight matches in WCW history.

The story here was that Chavo grew progressively more frustrated as his attempts to cleanly outwrestle AJ met with only mixed success. After sending Styles over the top rope with a back body drop, he gave American Dragon a significant look and immediately started arguing with the referee to occupy his attention. That was an obvious signal for Dragon to get in a cheap shot, but instead he merely picked AJ up and rolled him back into the ring. The match continued on as normal, and eventually AJ hit the Styles Clash to retain his title.

Grade: A

Sting approached Ric Flair as he warmed up in his locker room and again offered to watch his back tonight. He said that they both knew The Empire were more than willing to fight dirty, so it only made sense for him to be there and even the odds. Flair refused.

"You think I don't know their game, Stinger? I INVENTED that game! The Horsemen and I were using those same tricks before Steve Corino hit puberty! If they wanna try and outsmart the dirtiest player in the game, they can bring it on! But this fight isn't about The Empire, and it isn't about you, Stinger. It's not even about Corino. Corino's just the guy Eric Bischoff is hiding behind. This is about me and Bischoff! He spent years using his power to try and destroy me, professionally and personally, and now that he got fired for running WCW into the ground, he's brainwashed these kids into doing his dirty work for him. Tonight I'm going to go through Corino, and anybody else from The Empire if I have to, until I get my hands on Bischoff. I'm going to slap the taste right out of that smug SOB's mouth! But I'm going to do it alone. We tried working together at Slamboree, and it didn't work. I want you to promise me that you're going to leave the building so you're not even tempted to come to the ring, because I appreciate the support, but it's time for me to take care of this problem myself. Tonight it's time for me to walk that aisle, by myself, and show Eric Bischoff that Ric Flair is still the man! WOOOOOOO!"

Sting reluctantly agreed to honor Flair's wishes. He shook his hand and wished him luck before leaving. Ric was fantastic here. He delivered a vintage Flair promo that did exactly what it needed to do.

Grade: B+
Davey Boy Smith vs. Lex Luger (w/Mean Gene and Katarina)

Time for the cooldown match. They were asked to calm the crowd and let the fans relax before the last few matches. Mission accomplished. Davey was really off of his game tonight, but an off night for him is still much better than Lex's baseline performance. His delusional patriot comedy act has gotten over with the hardcore fans, but holy crap is he bad in the ring. He couldn't lace my boots in our WWF days, but he was practically Lou Thesz back then compared to where he's at now. Katarina did do her part in helping the act with some entertaining and well-timed poses to go along with Lex's frequent flexing. The match ended when Davey won clean with the Running Powerslam. Lex and his entourage will remain on TV, but I need to limit his actual ring time as much as possible.

Grade: D+
"Nature Boy" Ric Flair vs. King Corino (w/Eric Bischoff)

You know what to expect with a Flair match by now. We relied on his psychology and focused on telling a story to offset his physical limitations as much as possible. The man still knows how to put a match together like few others, but he simply can’t execute anymore. Corino basically had to carry him through, which is kind of sad to see. I felt especially bad for Ric when he took a whip into the post and didn’t properly protect his face, which resulted in a broken nose. He gutted his way through and finished the match, but he was hurting.

True to his word, Flair saw most of Corino’s tricks coming and stopped them cold. He lived up to his “dirtiest player in the game” moniker with some dirty tactics of his own, and it was thanks to a stealthy low blow that he had Corino down on the mat and got him into the figure four. The Empire had a defense ready for that very situation though. As the referee crouched down to check on Corino, Bischoff jabbed Flair right in the throat with the baseball bat he now always carries around with him! That obviously broke the hold, and Corino won the match moments later with a piledriver.

Grade: B-

The rest of The Empire joined Corino and Bischoff in the ring after the match to celebrate. They didn’t attack Ric any further though. Instead Candido grabbed the microphone and said there was no reason for them to beat up Ric any further, because he was a beaten man already. He handed the mic off to Corino, who said that he’d already run off several so-called legends who tried to hang on past their expiration dates, and Flair was just the latest to discover that they are now living in the era of The Empire. Bischoff took the mic last, and he spent a long time insulting Flair. He talked about the years of hatred between them, and blamed it all on Flair, who he called a failure at everything.

”Everyone likes to pretend that mean old Eric Bischoff tried to ruin Ric Flair’s life, but let’s be honest about this, Ric. You don’t need any help from me, because you’re an old pro at ruining your life! You are a failure, Ric. You failed to keep the NWA prominent against the rise of Hulkamania, you failed to make WCW number one despite the financial backing of Ted Turner, and you failed to stop me from dragging this company out of the past, into the future and revolutionizing this entire business! But those are only the beginning of your failures, aren’t they? You’re a financial failure, because even though you were once the top star in the sport, you blew all of your money on limos and beer and Rolexes! You’re a failure as a father, because you were too busy partying and being the “Nature Boy” to actually be there for your kids! And you’re obviously a failure as a husband, because your wife just left you on the curb like the broken down piece of old furniture you are!

“Go ahead and blame me, Ric, but I’m not the bad guy here. I’m the hero of this story! While you continue to come out here and embarrass yourself by hanging on for whatever scrap of attention these people still show you out of sheer pity, I am helping to establish the next generation of superstars that will take WCW to new heights! Everything evolves, Ric, and professional wrestling has evolved past you. You’re finished, even if you haven’t realized it yet. You obviously aren’t going to accept that on your own, so this won’t stop until we’ve finally driven the message home.”

Grade: B

Mark Jindrak vs. Shane Douglas {©}

Why did we do a rematch here after Shane beat him clean last month? Simply put, it’s because I didn’t have anyone else I wanted to use in this spot. Mark looked nervous out there and worked pretty sloppy, so it was up to Douglas to carry him as best he could. Shane was solid as usual, but Jindrak’s poor performance meant that this wasn’t as good as their match last month. Douglas survived some power-based offense from the challenger and made him tap out to the Crossface for the second PPV in a row.

Grade: B-

A brief video aired in promotion of the return of the TV title, with a tournament starting tomorrow on Nitro. The eight participants (pictured above) were announced, as were a couple of wrinkles to give the title a little flavor beyond “midcard title that heavyweights can hold.”

-All title matches will have a 15 minute time limit.
-Upon recording ten successful title defenses, the champion can choose to vacate the title and challenge for the US title, or hold on and try to reach 15 defenses. If fifteen defenses are made, he’ll automatically vacate the title and receive a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship.

Grade: D

No DQ:
The Hardys vs. True Heroes {©}

At last, it was time for the main event. What a massive opportunity this was for all four guys, following on the heels of their unforgettable classic last month. I knew all four would be chomping at the bit to try and make this match just as memorable, if not even better. With that in mind I told them to go out and steal the show. This was a mistake on my part. For one thing, I gave them about 25 minutes to work with, which was just too long for an all-action match like this one and also made it difficult for them to tell a great story. For another, I don’t think Matt reacted well to the pressure of this spot and struggled with trying to go all out, which made him something of a weak link in this particular match. Even then he wasn’t really BAD though; it’s just that the other three handled the pace fine and had great performances, and Jeff was just sensational. The crowd loves him and his flashy, risk-taking style results in memorable matches. Maybe he’s not a technical master, but he’s a superstar and the fans treat him as such.

Anyway, with those few negatives weighing it down, this match never approached the match of the year contender level of their first match. It was still great and delivered just fine in the main event spot (though the Booker-Rey opener was ever so slightly better), but I think most would consider it a mild disappointment compared to what we know these teams are capable of doing together.

As for the action itself, both teams used the no DQ environment to get creative with their offense. The Heroes introduced a chair into the match and wore both Hardys out with it for awhile, until Jeff ducked a shot and knocked both of them down with a Whisper in the Wind. The Hardys used the chair as well, with Jeff setting it up in the ring for a one man version of their Poetry in Motion double team, and Matt dropping Storm across it back-first with a Splash Mountain Bomb for one of the match’s many near-falls. Probably the best use of any weapon was when Punk smacked Matt in the knee with the ring bell. That set up the Heroes working over Matt’s leg for a long time, while Jeff could only watch in the corner and cheer his brother on. Lance locked on a half crab right in the center of the ring and we teased a tapout, but Jeff saved his brother with a missile dropkick.

Matt hit a swinging neckbreaker and then crawled to his corner for the hot tag. The crowd popped big for Jeff’s house of fire in which he flew around the ring with spot after spot on both Storm and Punk. Matt reentered the ring to knock Storm over the top rope with a (limping) clothesline, and then he and Jeff brought a table out from underneath the ring and set it up inside. With Matt holding Punk on the table, Jeff came off the top and hit the Swanton Bomb! That smashed the table, and more importantly it allowed Jeff to cover Punk for the three count! The Hardys won the WCW World Tag Team Championship, much to the delight of the fans in Melbourne!

Grade: A

Show Overall Grade: A

I’d stopped doing the PPV theme songs, but had to bring it back at least for this one show. I’ve never been a huge music aficionado or anything, but Chris Cornell is my favorite vocalist ever. I wanted to honor him in my own small way.

Credit to K-Nection for the poster.

If you’re wondering:

Booker/Rey: 91
Chavo/AJ and Heroes/Hardys: 90

Last edited by The Final Countdown : 02-05-2018 at 02:26 PM.
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