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Default August 2002: Road to Japan Supershow, Part II


July 29th, 2002

From Worthington Arena in Bozeman, Montana

Attendance: 6,378 (sell-out!)

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

The show began with the finals of the tournament to crown the first TV Champion in years. Fit Finlay found himself in the unusual position of being in the ring with a man who was able to keep up with him in a brawl, but he showed impressive strength in spiking the big man with a Tombstone to win the title. (B-)

A brief teaser shows Ric Flair and Arn Anderson chatting in the parking lot. Arn apparently likes what Ric has to say and invites him into the building to continue their conversation. (B-)

With Etsuko Mita watching on commentary, Akira Hokuto picked apart the unsigned veteran luchadora Esther Moreno. (C-)

Bobby Heenan interviews AJ Styles, American Dragon and Chavo Guerrero Jr. about the announcement that since last week's #1 contender's match ended in a draw, they'll meet in a triple threat for the title at the Japan Supershow. AJ and Dragon have no problem with the decision and look forward to the match, but Chavo complains that his "stupid rookie" has no business in the match and it should be him alone challenging for the belt. (C+)

All three male members of The Empire joined up to defeat Billy Kidman, Animal and Ernest Miller in a six man tag match. (B)

The post-match celebration is interrupted by the Natural Born Thrillers, who challenge The Empire to a tag match "any time, any place." Corino steps up to accept, saying the Thrillers proved they were losers by rejecting an offer to join the group, and he and Candido will prove it even further by defeating them at the Supershow. (B+)

Spotlight Segment:

After the Thrillers left ringside, Ric Flair stepped out into the aisle. He requested that Bischoff send the rest of The Empire to the back, because this is about the two of them and no one else. He promised to stay in the aisle and not try to attack Bischoff, but Eric was skeptical, asking why he should trust the word of "Slick Ric." Flair swore on his legacy, on his honor and on his kids that he would not step one foot closer to the ring. Eric gave his smarmy little smirk and said Ric had clearly listed those in order of personal importance, but he did as Ric asked and sent the rest of his group to the back. (Though they had quite the staredown with Ric as they passed him, and Eric made it clear that they would be close by and ready to "put the Nature Boy down like Old Yeller" if he broke his word.)

Once it was just the two of them, Bischoff asked what the point of all this was. Was he here to celebrate being let back into the building by Arn Anderson? Or did he wish to congratulate King Corino on his glorious victory at Bash at the Beach, and finally admit that Eric was the better man, The Empire was the future of this business and Ric's star was already burned out? Ric more or less ignored Eric's taunts. He wasn't in the mood for bickering or jokes tonight; it was serious business. At first he'd felt betrayed when Double A hadn't let him into the building, but after a week to reflect he'd come to realize that Arn's words had been correct.

"Arn Anderson's the best friend I've ever had in my life. He knows me better than maybe any human being walking this planet, even myself, and what he said to me last week was a wake-up call. It's no secret that I hate your guts, Bischoff. I hate you more than I've ever hated another man, in this business or outside of it, and I've been letting that hatred blind me. Sting, a man who I've gone to war with hundreds of times in my career, if not thousands, and a man that I've always respected even when we were bitter enemies, has had my back through all this. He's the conscience of WCW, and he knows what a scumbag you really are, Bischoff. He's offered his support in this fight, but I've been trying to do it alone. We took your boys on in a tag match at Slamboree, and I let you distract me and walked into an obvious trap because that's how much I hate you. I sent Stinger away at Bash at the Beach and took on Corino alone, knowing damn well that you and your little cronies would get involved. I tried to march into Nitro the past two weeks to fight my way through every last member of The Empire, by myself, just so I could get to you. To make a long story short, I wasn't acting like Ric Flair. I was acting like the kinds of guys that Ric Flair and Arn Anderson were one step ahead of for our entire careers, and it took Double A's tough love to make me take a long, hard look in the mirror and admit it.

"Arn told me to take a week and think about how I would've handled this ten or twenty years ago, and I took his advice. The old Ric Flair never would've allowed anyone, especially a little worm like you, to goad him into obvious traps. The old Ric Flair never would've been stupid enough to try and tear the entire Empire down by himself. How would Ric Flair and Arn Anderson have dealt with this when we were riding in the limos and flying in the jets every single night? For one thing, we never would've allowed ourselves to be at a disadvantage. But how would we end this war, once and for all? How do you settle something like this, Bischoff?"

"Here's how. On September 22nd, WCW's got a big PPV event set for Charlotte, the heart of Flair Country, and that's where I'm going to get you out of my life for good, Bischoff. Two teams. Two rings. No pinfalls, no disqualifications, nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. Bischoff...I want The Empire in a match that will take all of us beyond our limits. I want them in THE match beyond. I want....WAR GAMES!"

That got a nice pop. Eric stood there with a stunned look on his face and made no reply before we cut to commercial. This was a really good segment though. I let both guys go without a script, and while they didn't excel, neither of them screwed up either. Most importantly, it advanced this storyline in a major way.

Grade: A

The Destroyer dominated Air Paris. (C)

Shane Douglas comes out to berate Destroyer and Father Isaac after the match, calling Destroyer a "witless idiot" and Isaac a fool for thinking that he was some easy target. Isaac explains the attack wasn't personal and they have nothing against Douglas; they just want his title, and they'll hurt him to get it. Shane backs off a bit but agrees to give him a title shot, so long as Isaac agrees not to instigate any additional sneak attacks. The bargain is struck. (B)

Backstage: The Unnatural is bragging about suckering "the arrogant Mr. Pump" into his carefully laid trap last week when Scott's brother Rick attempts to attack him. Unnatural flees with no real harm done. (B)

Shane Helms prevailed over Cash in cruiserweight action. (B-)

Stacy Keibler and The Jung Dragons go to Arn Anderson's office to complain about "outsiders" Kojima and Tenzan getting a title shot, especially after their huge victory over the Thrillers recently. Arn arranges for a PPV spot where they can try and impress him, in a match against a new addition to the tag team division. He refuses to give any hints as to the identity of this mystery team. (C-)

The Hardys prepared for the title defense against Kojima and Tenzan with an emphatic victory over Shawn Stasiak and Elix Skipper. (B)

DDP and Kimberly are seen talking backstage, though they both break off once they see the camera around the corner. (C+)

Booker T cuts an in-ring promo before the main event. He again brags about being the biggest star and the premiere athlete in all of WCW, the only man deserving of the main event. He all but ignores his next challenger, Kensuke Sasaki, not even referring to him by name, showing just how little he apparently respects him. (A)

It was a non-title match, but Konnan knew just what a win over Booker T would do for his career. K-Dawg gave it his best shot, but Booker countered his rolling thunder clothesline with an axe kick and then finished the match off with the Book End. (B)

RVD and Mortis pay a visit to Piper's Pit. RVD states how important his individuality and independence is to him. "You might be okay with being just another cog in the machine, Mortis, but that's not me! I'm Rob Van Dam, and I'm one of a kind!" Mortis says that he used to be just like RVD (the whole 'Who betta than Kanyon?' shtick), and that's why he wants to help him. "You're a great athlete, Rob, but you could be so much more with the support of Salvation. At the Supershow, I'm gonna show you that you're wasting your 'one of a kind' talent." (A*)

Show Grade: B+

Taped immediately after Nitro

Announce Team: Tony Schiavone and Tracy Brooks

Takako Inoue used her Night Night finisher to defeat Esther Moreno. (C)

Bobby Heenan interviews new TV champion Fit Finlay, who dares anyone who wants a good fight to come and try to take the title off of him. (C+)

Psychosis defeated Jason Jett. (C)

Christopher Daniels promo; "Give me your best shot, Japan!" (C)

Chavo Guerrero Jr. beat Lash Leroux with a frog splash. (B-)

Show Grade: C+

August 5th, 2002

From the Namihaya Dome in Osaka, Japan

Attendance: 6,513

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

We opened with young New Japan junior Wataru Inoue having a showcase match and defeating Flash Flanagan. It was revealed that Inoue had accepted Christopher Daniels' challenge for a match at the Supershow, and Daniels was on color for the match to insult his opponent and call it an easy victory. (D+)

Footage of Booker T arriving earlier in the day, blowing off the group of Japanese fans who hoped to get an autograph from him. (B+)

The Japanese fans were happy to welcome Manami Toyota back to her homeland, and she had a successful outing against independent worker Kyoko Ichiki. (C)

Shinobu Kandori confronts Toyota in the ring, telling her she's sick of constantly hearing about how great she is and she wants to embarrass her in front of the Japanese fans on Sunday. Manami accepts the challenge. (C+)

On Sunday they'll be opponents in a three way match for the cruiserweight title, but tonight AJ Styles and American Dragon worked together to defeat 3 Count when Dragon forced Evan Karagis to submit. (B-)

A backstage confrontation sees the Natural Born Thrillers chase King Corino and TAKA (no Chris Candido) out of the building. (B+)

Fit Finlay made his first title defense, taking on Katsushi Takemura, a former Tatsumi Fujinami trainee who was previously in New Japan and is now a free agent. Takemura has decent brawling and technical skills and so gave Fit an interesting match, but the champion retained. (C)

We get a video recap of last week's big segment where Ric Flair challenged Eric Bischoff and The Empire to a War Games match in Charlotte. We plug the idea that Bischoff will respond to the challenge next week on Nitro. (C)

Women's champion Etsuko Mita took on Daffney in non-title action. Daffney's wild and unpredictable style made things interesting, but in the end Mita hit the Death Valley Driver and sent a message to Daffney's partner in Chaos and Mita's challenger on Sunday, Akira Hokuto. (C+)

Hokuto comes down to check on her partner after the match, and Mita begins taunting her, telling her she'll do the same to her at the PPV. Hokuto says maybe Mita forgot just who she is and why she should be deathly afraid of stepping into the ring with her, but on Sunday she'll remember it all too well. (B)

Hayabusa's high flying skills were too much for Cash to handle. The masked cruiserweight prevailed in his home country with the Phoenix Splash. (B)

With Scott Steiner still recuperating from a backstage ambush by The Unnatural, RVD and Rick Steiner tagged up against Unnatural and Mortis. The match ended without much satisfaction, as Salvation walked out for an intentional count out less than ten minutes in. (B)

With their IWGP Tag Team belts over their shoulders, Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan cut a promo on the Hardys. They say that the whole world might be impressed with Matt and Jeff for what they've done, but their achievements as a team pale in comparison to that of TenKoji. They say that while the Hardys have been winning titles, losing titles and changing home promotions, Kojima and Tenzan have been completely dominating. They've held the IWGP Tag Team titles for over two years now, and on Sunday they'll prove they are unquestionably the best team in the entire world when they win WCW's tag belts as well. (B+)

Main event time, as Kensuke Sasaki took on the massive Destroyer. Sasaki took some punishment, but his great physical brawling style allowed him to take the fight right to The Destroyer in a way almost no one else is capable of. Destroyer's opponent on Sunday, Shane Douglas, made his presence felt by sneaking down to ringside and ramming his challenger's head into the ring post behind the backs of both the ref and Sasaki. None the wiser about the unexpected help, Sasaki finished Destroyer off with a stiff running lariat. (B+)

Spotlight Segment:

Sasaki began cutting a post-match promo in which he thanked the fans for coming out and promised to give his best effort at the Supershow, but he was soon interrupted by Booker T. The champion strolled down to the ring with his title belt over his shoulder and made a show of adjusting and polishing it so everyone in the arena focused on it. With an interpreter on hand to translate for Booker, Sasaki spoke directly to the champion. He said he'd heard Booker was disrespecting and underestimating him as a worthy challenger, and this was a major mistake for him to make. He went over his credentials: 7 time IWGP Tag Team champion. 2-time winner of New Japan's annual G1 Climax tournament. Three time IWGP Heavyweight champion. Even a reign as the United States champion in WCW, which he earned by defeating the legendary Sting. Booker was going to need to bring his very best if he wanted to have a chance at retaining his title on Sunday. Sasaki said he'd had a wonderful 16-year career to this point, and he intended to make that career even greater by winning the WCW World Heavyweight championship this Sunday.

Throughout it all, Booker continued to dismiss the idea of Sasaki as a threat. He smirked, laughed and sarcastically clapped as the interpreter delivered Sasaki's message and accomplishments. Sasaki didn't take kindly to Booker's attitude. He walked up to the champion, slapped him across the face and dared him to fight right on the spot! Booker scowled, but after several seconds' pause turned to leave the ring. It was merely a ploy though, as the moment Sasaki turned away from him to address the fans again, he took the belt off of his shoulder in order to bash him in the back of the head with it!

Kensuke saw it coming though. He blocked the strike and connected with several chops to the chest before slamming the champion to the mat with an authoritative Volcanic Eruption!

Sasaki posed with the belt as Booker writhed in pain on the mat, and that was the closing shot of the go-home Nitro.

Grade: B+

Show Grade: B+

Taped immediately after Nitro

Announce Team: Tony Schiavone and Tracy Brooks

Psychosis defeated Jason Jett. (C+)

Jung Dragons promo; it doesn't matter what team Arn Anderson throws at them, because they'll prevail. (C)

Melissa Anderson defeated Kyoko Ichiki. (D+)

Jamie Knoble grounded Elix Skipper and earned a submission win. (B-)

A video package promotes the major matches for the Supershow, with major focus on the World and US title matches. (B)

Show Grade: B-


Fan Scorecard:

World Heavyweight Championship: Kensuke Sasaki vs. Booker T {}

World Tag Team Championship: TenKoji vs. The Hardys {}

United States Heavyweight Championship: The Destroyer vs. Shane Douglas {}

Three Way Match for the Cruiserweight Championship: American Dragon vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr. vs. AJ Styles {}

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

Rob Van Dam vs. Mortis

Natural Born Thrillers vs. The Empire (King Corino and TAKA)

Wataru Inoue vs. "Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels

Manami Toyota vs. Shinobu Kandori

The Jung Dragons vs. ???

What will be match of the night?

How many championships will change hands?

What team will the Jung Dragons face? (Hint: the team already existed in the database, and one of them is already part of WCW.)

General diary comments/questions/critiques:
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