July 2002: Road to Japan Supershow, Part I
July 15th, 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
Earlier in the day: Security prevents Ric Flair from entering the building, and he's stunned to hear that it's per the orders of his good friend Arn Anderson! (C+)
Psychosis used his Guillotine Legdrop to beat Ernest Miller in the opening round of the TV title tournament. (C-)
Short vignette: Booker T arrives at the building, ready to celebrate his victory/injuring Rey Misterio Jr. (B)
Scott Steiner rants to his brother about the news that The Unnatural won't be in Newcastle tonight; he promises to "rearrange that geek's ugly face!" next week. (B)
Akira Hokuto picked apart local Aussie Madison Eagles as Daffney laughed at ringside. Etsuko Mita sat in on color to promote the announcement that Hokuto will challenge her for the Women's title at the Japan Supershow on August 11th (due to Hokuto pinning the champ in the tag match last night.) (C-)
A Hardys celebratory promo is interrupted by Lance Storm. Lance claims Punk was injured (kayfabe) by the "reckless style" of the Hardys, and promises that True Heroes will be back to reclaim their titles soon. (B)
Billy Kidman advanced in the TV title tourney after hitting a beautiful Shooting Star Press on Shawn Stasiak. (C+)
Shane Douglas comes to the ring to gloat about beating Mark Jindrak for the second straight month and says that there's no one on the horizon who is even a threat to his US title reign. He's attacked from out of nowhere by The Destroyer, who lays the champion out with a Destruction Bomb. Father Isaac picks up the microphone and cautions Shane against thinking he's top dog, "because you never know when a bigger dog will emerge to put you in your place!" (B-)
Shane Helms was the cruiserweight, but it was Hugh Morrus who came off the top rope with his No Laughing Matter moonsault to get the win and set up a Semifinal match against Psychosis next week. (B)
The Empire barge in on a Natural Born Thrillers interview for WCW.com. Bischoff says that they made a mistake and threw away a career-making opportunity, and now they have to face the consequences. (B+)
Brief vignette: Booker T is having a celebratory beer backstage; pours the last of it on the floor in tribute to "the broken career of Rey Misterio Jr." (B)
In the final opening round tournament match, Fit Finlay outlasted Konnan and spiked him with the Tombstone to get the win. (C)
DDP interview: he has no idea why Kimberly showed up last night, but he wants answers just like everybody else. (C)
In the locker room: Chavo berates American Dragon for his failure to help him win the cruiserweight title last night. He demands a rematch against AJ since he only lost because of his "foolish understudy." Dragon says Chavo should've been able to beat AJ by himself if he's so great, and suggests he's more worthy of a title shot after his big win over TAKA. AJ has an idea: next week, it's Dragon vs. Chavo in a #1 contender's match! (B-)
Our main event featured Sting against Mortis. The match was wrestled to a deadlock until the referee was inadvertently taken out with a Stinger Splash. Mortis grabbed a chair and prepared to strike, but RVD ran down and hit a Van Daminator! The ref recovered in time to count Sting's pin. (B+)
Booker strutted out to the ring in a suit and bragged about proving that he's the best WCW has to offer.
"All you suckas doubted me! You gave MY main event spot to a couplea tag teams, but ain't nobody gonna remember the Hardy Boys winning the tag titles last night! The only thing you need to remember from Bash at the Beach is what I did to Rey Misterio Jr! He thought he was gonna take my title, but the only thing he took was a trip to the hospital, ya dig? So let that be a message to Arn Anderson and to all you people who voted against me: Booker T IS WCW, and don't you ever forget it again! Cause if you do, and if I got to put some more fools in the hospital to remind you that I'm the top man in this whole company, that's just what I'll do!"
Booker did well tonight, coming across with just the right mixture of arrogance, anger and insecurity I was hoping for. His promo led to...
Arn Anderson coming out. Arn agreed with Booker that his title defense last night was very memorable, but scolded him for focusing on injuring Rey rather than simply trying to beat him and retain his title. He revealed that Rey had suffered some rather serious internal injuries (again, kayfabe) and would be out of action for an undetermined amount of time, thanks to Booker. Booker laughed off the charge and said Arn only had himself to blame for putting his champion and top star in that position in the first place by allowing the fans to give his main event position away. Arn said that there will be no such problems at the Japan Supershow, because Booker will indeed be in the main event as he defends his title.
"And seeing as we'll be in Japan, it seemed only fitting to go outside the regular WCW roster and find one of the best and most respected competitors Japan has to offer. That's just what we've done, because this man has achieved great success both in Japan and right here in WCW. Not only is your challenger a three time IWGP Heavyweight champion, but he also beat none other than Sting to win our own United States title. That's an international superstar if I've ever heard of one. The only thing that's missing from his resume is the WCW World title itself, and now he'll have the chance. On August 11th, Book, you'll defend the World Heavyweight Championship against Kensuke Sasaki!"
Arn's delivery was great here. He played the strict but fair disciplinarian, admonishing Booker without coming across as being biased against him. Sasaki is a star in Japan and a great worker besides, and I have high hopes for the match he and Booker will be able to put together. Unfortunately he's basically an unknown in Australia, so the announcement of him as the challenger meant nothing to this audience and basically sank the entire angle.
Show Grade: B
Taped immediately after Nitro
Announce Team: Tony Schiavone and Tracy Brooks
Etsuko Mita beat Madison Eagles in a non-title match. (C-)
The Empire's Chris Candido and TAKA squashed The Mamalukes. (C+)
The four Semifinalists in the TV title tournament cut pre-taped promos. (C-)
With Chavo watching on color, American Dragon defeated Shannon Moore. (B-)
Vignette: In response to Scott Steiner's threat on Nitro, The Unnatural tells him to "bring it on, Mr. Pump." (B+)
Show Grade: B-
July 22nd, 2002
From Phoenix, Arizona
Announce Team: "The Professor" Mike Tenay and Bret "The Hitman" Hart
The opener featured Kidman's high flying against the brawling of Fit Finlay. It was Finlay who succeeded in grounding Kidman to move on to the finals of the TV title tournament. (B)
Out in the parking lot, Ric Flair was again being held out of the building by security. Sting was out to try and calm him down. Sting did a good job as a calm voice of reason, trying to convince Ric to leave so they could get this all straightened out before he did something he'd regret. Flair was having none of that, yelling that he wasn't leaving until his "so-called best friend" Arn Anderson came out, looked him in the eye like a man and told him why he refused to allow him in. Ric was pretty bad tonight, falling into the incomprehensible ranting pitfall he sometimes has. Mike Tenay was similarly poor on commentary as he tried and failed to get across the long time friendship between Flair and Anderson.
It all led to Arn walking out to do as Flair wanted, and speak to him man to man. Flair demanded to know if Anderson had been duped by Eric Bischoff just like the members of The Empire, a charge that Arn flatly denied. He told Ric that he was holding him out of the building for his own good. Flair screamed at Arn, telling him he owes Bischoff a beating after the things he'd said about his personal life and his family at Bash at the Beach, and he didn't need Arn's pity. Arn shook his head and said pity had nothing to do with it. Ric was approaching this thing all wrong, and Arn wanted him to wake up and realize that.
"If you were just dealing with Eric Bischoff, that'd be one thing. But you aren't. Bischoff's got an entire group of men surrounding him, men who are united, men whose only response to him telling them to jump would be to ask him how high. The Ric Flair I know would be smart enough to know that's not a problem he can handle by throwing himself straight into the fire like some brainless wannabe superhero. Bischoff's the puppeteer, and you're doing exactly as he wants just as sure as Candido, Corino and TAKA are. He's set the trap, and you're willingly walking right into it. You're too smart for that, Ric. You've never been the biggest, the strongest or the fastest, but you're darn sure one of the smartest men I've ever met in my life. Start acting like it, and think about how you would've handled this problem ten or twenty years ago. You spend the next week thinking about that, and next week we can talk."
Flair still wasn't happy, but you could see the wheels turning in his head as he allowed Sting and security to lead him away from the building entrance.
Christopher Daniels didn't have much trouble defeating young Jack Evans. (B)
After the match, Daniels grabs the mic and says he wants any cruiserweight Japan can throw at him for the Supershow. (C+)
Manami Toyota and Melissa Anderson defeated Shinobu Kandori and Katarina when Toyota pinned Katarina with the Ocean Cyclone Suplex, much to Kandori's disgust. (C)
Booker T cuts a backstage promo about showing the world that WCW is his company at the Japan Supershow, all but ignoring Kensuke Sasaki, who he only mentions in passing. (A)
Hugh Morrus fought Psychosis to determine who will meet Finlay to determine the new TV champion. Psychosis missed a Guillotine Legdrop, and that spelled the beginning of the end for him. (C)
Shane Douglas comments on The Destroyer in a backstage promo: "I don't know what you think you accomplished last week, but you've gotten my attention now, big man, and that's bad news for you!" (B-)
A brief vignette shows Scott Steiner searching for The Unnatural backstage, where a terrified staff member told him he'd seen the former Dustin Rhodes in another area of the building. (B)
The Natural Born Thrillers seemed like heavy favorites in a match against The Jung Dragons, but a surprise attack from Chris Candido and King Corino aided the Dragons in scoring a big upset win on O'Haire while Palumbo chased the Empire members off. (B-)
A backstage confrontation between RVD and Mortis sees Mortis telling Van Dam that he wants to make him see how much better he could be as a brother in Salvation, and he'll do so one-on-one in Japan. RVD accepts the challenge. (A*)
We cut to a commotion backstage, where Scott Steiner is out cold and face down on the ground, with The Unnatural standing over him. He'd lured him into a trap and taken him out with an ambush! (A*)
AJ Styles joined the announce team for the #1 contender's match between American Dragon and Chavo Guerrero Jr. It was a lengthy back and forth match blending technical wrestling and aerial skills, with the mentor and student holding nothing back. Dragon had Chavo right where he wanted him after a belly to back superplex, but the bell rang before he could follow up. The 30 minute time limit had expired, meaning the match ended in a draw and no number one contender had been decided. (B+)
The Hardys come to the ring to thank the fans for making their WCW careers so amazing so far. They say it's been an honor and a rush of adrenaline to be part of a company where tag teams can live up to their fullest potential and main event major pay per views. They look forward to having another great match at the Japan Supershow, where they've been told they'll be defending their titles against the top team in Japan: the reigning IWGP Tag Team Champions, Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan. (D+)
Show Grade: B+
Taped immediately after Nitro
Announce Team: Tony Schiavone and Tracy Brooks
Hayabusa defeated Mike Sanders. (C)
Etsuko Mita and Eric Bischoff cut a promo on Mita's title defense against Akira Hokuto. (C-)
The Flex Express was out in full force as Lex Luger dominated the physically inferior Jack Evans. (D)
Hugh Morrus and Fit Finlay are interviewed about the upcoming finals of the TV title tournament. (C)
Jamie Knoble forced Alan Funk to tap out in the main event. (C+)
Show Grade: C
Originally Posted by Danny_H22
I've officially caught up on 61 pages and I must say, wow! You've done an unbelievable job here! I messed around with TEW and EWR in the past but never managed to stick it out long term, but you've really inspired me to give it another go. Thank you.
I might also have to join in with some predictions for future events
Good luck in the future
Thanks! I'll never forget being inspired to jump into TEW by Wildfire1234's old NWA diaries, so it's always cool to hear I've provided similar inspiration to someone else.
Originally Posted by smartman
Actually, the lack of psych penalty has been nerfed (FINALLY!!!!!!!!!). I finally dove back into a game after the change, and I had an Undertaker/Kane match from the Montreal Aftermath mod get that note and still scored a 95. Not to mention that it just seems weird to me to not slow build a 20+ minute match. What does not using that note mean? The wrestlers are hitting a ton of impact moves, but just slightly below what All Out would be? There's going to be a build up to the finish.
And coming in almost dead last is why I don't do predictions very often.
Yeah, I'm aware of that. The first match between the Hardys and True Heroes got the psychology note and still got a 99 score, which obviously never would've happened before. I just meant that I worried that there would be a harsher penalty for it in matches using slow build.
Originally Posted by K-Nection
I really stunk that prediction contest up
It's about time, considering how dominant you've been! I'm sure you'll still bounce back and earn a spot in the UFS anyway!
Originally Posted by Beejus
The big shock is, of course, AJ Styles. Wouldn't have figured that he would be pulling in that kind of grade at this stage, but then again this is about the time that in real life he was the face of TNA. All he needs is serious challengers such as Chavo to bring the best out in him apparently. Too bad Jindrak is out for a few months, too. It didn't seem as though you had any big plans for him in the near future, but he could have grown nicely in the time that now he will be laid up.
I doubt he'd be able to pull off A rated matches at this stage if I wasn't running a perf > pop product. With my product though, he can already do great things with the right opponent. The future looks pretty bright if I can get the likes of AJ, Dragon and Punk up to bonafide main event popularity.
Originally Posted by DiamondKnucklez
I just started following this today and I got to say, this is one hell of a diary. I'm catching up now with 2001 alone and it's great. Definitely glad to hear your still keeping up on it.
Yep, I don't plan on going anywhere any time soon!