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Default August 2002: Road to War Games, Part I

((I interrupt this discussion on the legal drinking age to return to our regularly scheduled programming. ))


August 19th, 2002

From Hartford, Connecticut

Attendance: 7,600

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

Billy Kidman and Psychosis had an entertaining cruiserweight match to open the show, won by Psychosis when he caught Kidman with a La Magistral Cradle. (B)

Scott Steiner promo on The Unnatural: "You can't run from me forever, you damn freak! Sooner or later I'm gonna get my hands on you, and you ain't never gonna be the same!" (A*)

The newest member of The Empire, Chuck Palumbo (with Tammy Sytch in his corner) dominated local rookie Eddie Edwards and finished him with the Spinning Bossman Slam we're now calling 'Thrill Ride.' (C)

Sean O'Haire rushes the ring with vengeance on his mind, but Palumbo flees before his ex-partner can strike. (B)

Booker T promo: "The Japan Supershow was the Booker T show, dawg! I'm the leader of this company, and everybody better start givin' me my respect!" (B+)

Veteran Dave Taylor resurfaced for one night to take on Jamie Knoble. It was a very technically-sound bout, with Knoble earning a submission via the Guillotine Choke. (C+)

DDP interview; he and Bobby Heenan discuss the behind-the-scenes issues between Dallas and Kimberly with the end of their marriage. DDP says he wants to keep that part of his life separate from his career, but he doesn't know what Kimberly's thinking or why she showed up during his match at Bash at the Beach. (B-)

Video footage of Rick Steiner eliminating Davey Boy Smith to win a pre-show battle royal at the Japan Supershow; as a result of that victory, Steiner is being given a United States title shot against Shane Douglas at the next PPV on September 22nd. (B+)

Mike Sanders simply couldn't handle the speed of Hayabusa; the masked man beat him handily with the Phoenix Splash. (C+)

The Jung Dragons attack Hayabusa after the match. Hayashi and Yang perform tandem diving sentons off the top rope as Stacy Keibler smiles and claps from the aisle. (C+)

Eric Bischoff comes to the ring to finally answer Ric Flair's challenge. "You want War Games, Ric? You want The Empire in "the match beyond?" We've got nothing to fear from you, old man! I accept your challenge!" (A*)

In a battle of powerhouse wrestlers, Davey Boy Smith was the stronger against Shawn Stasiak. (C+)

New Cruiserweight Champion American Dragon cuts a celebratory promo backstage with the belt around his waist until Chavo Guerrero Jr. angrily interrupts. "After all I did for you, this is the thanks I get?" he complains. He advises Dragon to watch and learn, because tonight he and Shane Helms will be victorious in the main event against The Hardys! (C)

Vignette: Rob Van Dam is signing autographs for fans when he's attacked by Mortis! The Flatliner through the autograph table renders RVD unconscious, after which Mortis says that if Rob won't join them and accept Salvation, he will take it upon himself to destroy him! (A)

As promoted by Chavo earlier, he and Shane Helms took on the Hardys in non-title action in the main event of the night. The talents of Helms and Guerrero made this an entertaining bout, but there was no answer for the tag team experience of the brothers Hardy. After the champions reeled off several combination moves, Jeff held Chavo off and Matt beat Helms with the Twist of Fate. (B)

The Hardys are still having their hands raised when they're attacked from behind by True Heroes! Punk and Storm drop the champions and pose with the belts. (B)

Spotlight Segment:

Booker came down to the ring, unannounced and uninvited as Mike and I were preparing (or pretending, kayfabe) to sign off for the night. He said that the show wasn't over until the champ said it was over, and he wasn't leaving until Arn Anderson came down to the ring.

Out came the commish, who didn't look amused about being ordered around. Booker paced around the ring as he aired his grievances.

"You done screwed with me long enough, Arn, and it needs to stop, man! Earlier tonight I heard Bischoff come out and accept Ric Flair's challenge to a War Games match. Hey, that's great, man! Flair and The Empire can beat the hell outta each other inside those two rings and rip each other's flesh apart in the cage. They can do that all night for all I care! But that match ain't stealin' the spotlight from Booker T! I'm the champ, dawg, and you betta not be plannin' on bumpin' me out of MY main event spot for that freak show!"

Booker was really good here; he's embraced this neurotic, insecure "top guy" character and made it his own. Arn's response was calm and measured. First, he complimented Booker on a hard-fought successful title defense against Kensuke Sasaki in Japan. He proved on that night that he's a worthy champion and deserves his position in the company. But as for September 22nd, Arn had some bad news.

"You're the champ, Book, and nobody's going to deny it. But War Games is a spectacle. War Games is something special. This War Games match is front page news, and it's going to be in the main event of the PPV, which will appropriately be titled 'War Games.'

That set Booker off, of course. He got right in Arn's face and said this was a travesty.

"This ain't happenin', Arn! I'm not takin' a damn back seat again! You wanna put War Games in the main event? Fine, knock yourself out, man! But if I ain't needed to defend my title in the main event of the PPV, then I ain't needed at all! So if that's the way it's gonna be, then I ain't showin' up, sucka!"

Grade: B+

Show Grade: B+

Taped immediately after Nitro

Announce Team: Tony Schiavone and Tracy Brooks

Disco Inferno beat Air Paris. (C-)

Cash defeated Eddie Edwards. (C)

Etsuko Mita and Eric Bischoff cut a promo about Mita remaining the premiere women's wrestler after beating Akira Hokuto at the Supershow. (B-)

Sean O'Haire's size and athleticism won out over the mat wrestling skills of Dave Taylor. (C)

O'Haire post match promo: "Chuck...I'm coming for you." (B-)

Show Grade: C

August 26th, 2002

From Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Attendance: 8,900

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

In Fit Finlay's second title defense he had to deal with Jamie Knoble. Knoble spent most of the match proving his own technical skills to be superior to Finlay's, but the champion took control with some roughhouse brawling and retained his title. (B)

Backstage: The Unnatural tells Scott Steiner that if he wants a match with him, he can have it. "Do not let the paint fool you, Mr. Pump. If it is a war you want at War Games, then it is a war you shall have." (A*)

Psychosis is being interviewed by Bobby Heenan about his desire to become a 3-time Cruiserweight Champion when Billy Kidman interrupts. He congratulates Psychosis on getting the better of him last week, but says the result would be different if they had a rematch, (C+)

Christopher Daniels defeated local wrestler Xavier in impressive fashion. (B)

Post-match: Daniels runs through his resume since coming to WCW and declares that it is past time for God's gift to the cruiserweights to finally get his chance at the Cruiserweight Championship. American Dragon comes out and agrees with him, so as long as the matchmaking committee approves it, Daniels is next in line. (B-)

Stacy Keibler and the Jung Dragons gloat about their attack on Hayabusa last week and say that the result at the Japan Supershow was merely a blip on the radar. (D+)

In their first match since Bash at the Beach, True Heroes ran right through Air Paris and Jason Jett. (B)

Post-match: True Heroes let the Hardys know that the honeymoon is over, their fifteen minutes of fame are up, and the true champions are coming to take their belts back! (B-)

In a #1 contender's match for the World Women's Championship, Manami Toyota outlasted Takako Inoue and finished her with the Ocean Cyclone Suplex to earn another title shot at Etsuko Mita. (B)

Mita and Eric Bischoff step out into the aisle after the match and let Toyota know that Toyota's second title shot won't go any better than her first: she'll leave empty-handed again. Manami points out that their match at the Great American Bash ended in a no contest thanks to the interference of Chaos, and promises that this time she'll win and take that title before anyone else can even think about interfering. (B-)

Davey Boy Smith is being interviewed by Bobby Heenan about coming back from some personal problems and trying to rebuild his career here in WCW when he's cut off by the music of the Disco Inferno. "Nobody came here to listen to you tell your boring life story in that terrible accent--these people came to see the Disco Inferno dance!" Disco is all smiles as he busts out his dance moves, but Davey is not amused. (C+)

Shane Douglas sat in on color and observed as his next challenger, Rick Steiner, hit a top rope bulldog to defeat Buff Bagwell. (C-)

Backstage: Sean O'Haire and Chuck Palumbo are brawling backstage. Several wrestlers and officials pull O'Haire off as Corino and TAKA of The Empire escort Chuck to safety. (B+)

Booker T is summoned to Arn Anderson's office. Arn says that if Booker wants to pass up on a PPV pay day by refusing to defend his title at War Games, so be it. But that doesn't mean he'll get out of defending his title. Next week there will be a battle royal, and the winner of that battle royal will challenge Booker for the title in two weeks right here on Nitro! Booker scoffs and says at least he'll actually get to be the main event of Nitro that week. (B+)

Jeff Hardy went one-on-one with Mortis in the main event of the evening. It was an even match until Lance Storm came down the aisle. While the ref cut Storm off and warned him not to get involved, CM Punk came in through the other side and hit the Devil Lock DDT on Hardy. Mortis picked up the pieces, hitting the Flatliner to win the match. (B)

Mortis appears prepared to bash Hardy with a chair after the match, until RVD runs to the ring. After a standoff, RVD challenges Mortis to a rematch at War Games and says that since it ended in a DQ last time, this time they should make it no DQ. Mortis accepts the challenge, saying that no rules will make it that much easier for him to destroy Van Dam. (A*)

Spotlight Segment:

Our closing segment of the show saw Ric Flair and Sting come out to the ring. Sting confirmed that he would be fighting by Ric's side in War Games. He'd been in more than a few War Games matches himself, he knows what the match is all about and the price a man has to pay inside that cage, but it's worth it to oppose Eric Bischoff and prevent him from gaining any more power here in WCW. Sting was good here, but this segment wasn't really about him.

Flair took the microphone and said that while he, Sting and two partners were going to be stepping inside the match beyond against The Empire, this has always been about the personal animosity and hatred between himself and Eric Bischoff. Since he knew Bischoff wouldn't be man enough to fight in the match himself like JJ Dillon had sometimes done back in the Horsemen days, Ric had a proposal to make sure this will truly be the end. If--when--his team wins, the rest of The Empire leaves the cage, the rest of Flair's team leaves the cage, and Bischoff steps inside it. The door is locked, and for five minutes he and Bischoff are in there, just the two of them, with no backup and no corporate protection and no threats of legal action. Just two men, if Bischoff can really be called a man, surrounded by a steel prison and free to do whatever they liked to each other. Ric was really good tonight as well, getting the crowd into it as Bischoff and The Empire appeared on the big screen.

From their locker room, King Corino taunted both Flair and Sting alike. Sure, they'd been in plenty of War Games matches in the past, but this wasn't about the past. It was about the future, and The Empire was going to be at the forefront of that future. Corino was pretty bad tonight, with some unconvincing dialogue. He was really the only negative about this promo, but thankfully things picked right back up when Bischoff took over. With regards to Flair's proposal, he suggested that Ric be careful what he wished for. Eric might not be a wrestler, but he was a fighter and a skilled martial artist, so five minutes inside a cage might not go the way Flair expected it to. He declared that he was not afraid of Flair, but he did a great job with his facial expressions, making it clear that this was just false bravado. He cleared his throat and said that even if he had nothing to fear by agreeing to Ric's proposal, he had nothing to GAIN from it either. He would be a poor businessman if he accepted a wager without receiving something in return.

"Name your price, Bischoff!" Flair shouted. "You want my cars? They're yours! You want my ring robes? They're yours! All the title belts I've earned throughout my career? Yours! My house? Yours! This Rolex I'm wearing? Yours!" He took the watch off and tossed it on the mat for emphasis. "You love to talk about my bank account and all the money I've spent. I've still got quite a bit left even after all these decades being the Nature Boy, but if you want, I'll take every last dime I've got and give it to you. Your guys win, and you can take it all!"

Eric smirked and shook his head. "I don't want your cars or your house, and I wouldn't be caught dead with those ridiculous robes! I don't want your money either. I've got money of my own. There's only one thing you have that's of any value to me, Ric. There's only one thing that I want, and it's the only thing that has ever truly mattered to you. It's that thing you're standing in right now. The only place you've ever felt at home is inside that ring. Your legacy, your accomplishments, your reputation as the Nature Boy, it means more to you than any money or jets or limos ever have. You would be nothing without pro wrestling, Ric. And that's what I want: I want to reduce you to nothing. I want to take away the only thing that's ever mattered to you, and I want you to have to watch from the sidelines as The Empire and I remake this company, this BUSINESS, that you love so much. I'll accept your stipulation, Ric, but when we win, your career is OVER!"

Eric was fantastic tonight, with just the right mix of smarmy, arrogant and vindictive. Ric's response was simple:

"You're on!"

Grade: A*

Show Grade: B+

Taped immediately after Nitro

Announce Team: Tony Schiavone and Tracy Brooks

Konnan defeated Alan Funk. (B-)

Disco Inferno beat Xavier. (C+)

The WCW matchmaking committee have confirmed that Christopher Daniels will challenge American Dragon for the Cruiserweight Title at War Games. (C)

Shane Helms beat Lash Leroux with the Vertebreaker. (B)

DDP says that since Kimberly hasn't returned his calls or responded to his emails so they can handle this in private, he's requesting a face-to-face meeting Monday on Nitro. (A)

Show Grade: B

Last edited by The Final Countdown : 07-23-2017 at 08:16 PM.
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