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Default October 27th, 2002: Hallowen Havoc



October 27th, 2002

From the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada

Attendance: 15,000

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






Official Theme Song: "Halloween Havoc"


Quote:
Stu Hart Classic: Second Round in Group B
AJ Styles vs. The Destroyer (w/Father Isaac)

I thought this would be a good way to get the show started, and I wasn't wrong. Awesome has always been an athletic big man, and he did a great job keeping up with his smaller opponent here. Both guys carried their own weight and turned in solid performances in what was a very good big man vs. little man match. They told the obvious story, with AJ trying to use his speed and high flying moves and Destroyer rag dolling him around the ring whenever he got his hands on him. They relied on all the standard tropes in a match with this sort of size disparity, but they executed them well.

AJ's springboard attack was cut off when Destroyer caught him out of the air and tossed him with an overhead belly to belly suplex. When he went for the Destruction Bomb, AJ countered it into a swinging DDT. He went back out to the apron and hit a beautiful springboard 450 splash to slay the giant and move into the Quarterfinals, where he'll meet Lance Storm.



Grade: B
Quote:

Chavo Guerrero Jr. vs. "Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels {} (w/Brian Adams)

In a parallel of last month's title match, American Dragon sat in on color commentary here. This was necessary for the story, but much like Chavo at War Games, Dragon wasn't very good at the desk. He was there to advance his ongoing issues with both men, but he spent a bit too much time lamenting his loss to Lance Storm in the Stu Hart Classic and it took some focus away from the action in the ring.

Despite the obvious drawbacks of a heel/heel match, this was better than Daniels' title win over Dragon. At least partial credit has to go to Brian Adams, or more specifically the good chemistry between he and Daniels. The in-ring work was good as well, with Chavo stepping up and engaging Daniels in some good technical wrestling with both guys also heeling it up and slipping in some dirty tactics. It was an even match, but the turning point came when Daniels sent a charging Chavo over the top rope with a back body drop. Adams picked up Chavo and slammed him on the floor before rolling him back into the ring. From there Daniels hit the Angel's Descent, and just like Chavo last month, American Dragon remained at the desk and merely watched as the pin was counted.



Grade: B
Quote:

True Heroes were participating in a live chat for WCW.com when Rob Van Dam approached. Punk waved Storm away and got in RVD's face. RVD said he knew Punk had a huge match tonight as they tried to take back the tag team titles from the Hardys, but he reminded him that when Nitro returns on November 4th, it'll be the two of them meeting in the quarterfinals of the Stu Hart Classic. Punk assured him he hadn't forgotten. The True Heroes weren't just going to dominate the tag team division; they were going to control the singles scene as well, and they'd start with an all-Heroes tournament finale. They went back and forth for awhile, trading barbs and taunting each other. They put forth the idea that they're two of the men who will be leading WCW for years to come, which hopefully has a ring of truth to it. And a good thing for all of us if it does, because this was a fantastic segment that the fans ate up. Hopefully the match is just as good.


Grade: A*
Quote:
Stu Hart Classic: Second Round in Group C
Sean O'Haire vs. Chuck Palumbo (w/Tammy Sytch)


With the personal history here, I didn't think it would make sense to book this as a conventional match. Palumbo met O'Haire on the ramp during his entrance, and the two men started trading fists. That set the tone for what this match was going to be all about. It was an intense, personal fight, the kind of battle Gordon Solie used to call a pier six brawl. They fought in the ring, on the ramp and around ringside. The match had a different feel to anything else on the show, which is always good, and I have to say the match exceeded my expectations slightly. O'Haire was clearly the star of the team as well as the star of this match, but the heel turn has done good things for Chuck, as has the pairing with Tammy Sytch. Tammy did good work at ringside at showing her fear of the wild brawl, and she really adds to Palumbo's act.

As had happened several times throughout, the match once again spilled out to the floor. O'Haire and Palumbo fought on top of the announce table, forcing Mike and I to abandon ship. They continued brawling, heedless of the referee's ten count, and thus the match ended in a draw.



Grade: B
Quote:

We take a visit to a private room backstage, where a camera man had been invited to The Empire's party. You might think they'd be in a bad mood after just having watched Chuck Palumbo get eliminated, but it was just the opposite. They were actually celebrating, but not without reason: the draw between Palumbo and O'Haire meant that King Corino gets a bye in the quarterfinals and moves straight to the semifinal round. Corino and Bischoff handled the talking here, bantering back and forth, and Corino was good as he applauded Chuck for "clearing the way" for him. They had a good laugh over RVD and CM Punk having to kill each other for the right to advance, while he would be sitting back and relaxing.

Corino quipped that he wasn't sure anything would ever match the feeling of accomplishment he got when he ended Ric Flair's career, in Ric Flair's match, in Ric Flair's adopted hometown, with Ric Flair's best friend calling for the bell, but this Stu Hart Classic might give it a run for its money. Bischoff cackled and bowed down to him for "beating the man", and said The Empire's revitalization of WCW would be complete when Corino won the World Heavyweight Championship at Starrcade. These guys came across as annoying arrogant and full of themselves here, which was exactly the point. Very strong segment for The Empire.



Grade: A
Quote:
Stu Hart Classic: Second Round in Group A
Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. The Unnatural (w/Father Isaac)

I felt that this was a potential show-stealer, and so I instructed them to go all out and try to do exactly that. That probably wasn't the best idea though, because Rey seemed to put too much pressure on himself and wasn't quite as great as he usually is. He was still one of the better performers on the night just because he's so talented, but the pressure got to him. It didn't deter Dustin at all though. I think he's often underrated as a worker, and tonight he not only hung with one of the most athletically talented guys in the business, he was actually the superior performer in this match (though only slightly.) The match itself was very good, but a bit too short to be a truly great one.

The story here was Unnatural being vicious and dirty. He tugged at Mysterio's mask, trying to rip it, but spent more time simply attacking his face and trying to make good on his promise to soak the mask with Rey's blood. Rey fought back with a bit of aggression of his own in addition to his usual aerial spots. Somewhere along the way Dustin's left eye started bleeding, maybe on a face-first bump he took into the buckle? Whatever the case, Rey hit a twisting hurricanrana to win the match and advance in the tournament.



Grade: B
Quote:

We did a brief segment where Bobby Heenan dropped by the locker room of Scott Steiner. Midajah and Rick stood by in support, but both remained in the background. They only had a few minutes to work with, but that might have been a positive, because Bobby and Scotty had some entertaining back and forth banter in that time. The end result was Bobby fleeing in fear of the unpredictable challenger, and I bet that fear was only partially feigned. I'm sure Bobby won't soon forget that incident with the rental car last year!


Grade: B
Quote:

Davey Boy Smith vs. Shane Douglas {}

This was a big match for Davey; his biggest in years, honestly. If this were the Davey of old it could have had the chance to be something truly special. Time and personal demons have taken that Davey away forever, but it's good to see him healthy again at least. Shane found himself in the familiar position of needing to lead the way and carry a less talented opponent to a quality match. He wasn't at his best tonight, with a couple of poorly-timed spots and some sloppy execution here and there. He was still the much stronger performer even despite the off night, and it was largely thanks to him that this was Davey's best singles match since his return.

We told the story that Shane was wary of the Bulldog's power but believed he could neutralize it with mat wrestling. Only it didn't work as well as he'd hoped, because Davey showcased some of his Dungeon-honed technical skills to escape Shane's holds and get back to his feet, where he could use his strength once again. After ref Marty Rubalcaba took an errant elbow to the side of the head, the opportunistic and crafty Douglas went to the floor and retrieved the US title belt, intending to use it as a weapon. He swung--but Davey blocked it, wrested it away from him, and clocked Douglas with it instead! The champion was out cold! Unfortunately for Davey, Rubalcaba had shaken off the cobwebs in time to see him use the foreign object and awarded the match to Douglas via disqualification.



Grade: B
Quote:

Just before the huge tag team title match was set to begin, The Jung Dragons and Stacy Keibler visited the office of Arn Anderson to state their case as to why they should get the next title shot at whoever holds the gold after tonight. Yang (who seems to be stepping up his promo skills recently) pointed out that they'd avenged their defeat in Japan by beating Hayabusa and Shinzaki last month at War Games, and Keibler stated that they would be more than a match for either the Hardys or True Heroes. As Hayashi put it, they were more exciting than the Hardys and better wrestlers than Storm and Punk (both highly debatable points, but at least they don't lack confidence, right?) Arn was noncommittal, saying only that he would consider it.


Grade: C
Quote:

2/3 Falls:
True Heroes vs. The Hardys {}

Expectations were through the roof for this one after the first two matches between these teams. As difficult as it was going to be to try and top their first match at Great American Bash, a legitimate match of the year contender, all four guys aimed to do so. I gave them a large chunk of time and told them to try and produce an epic. I thought all four guys took to the pressure well and did their part to do exactly that. There were no weak links here, just strong ones, yet Jeff still stood apart from the pack; all the more impressive when sharing the ring with performers like this.

With all that said, there was one big problem; the show had been a little bit too good to this point. That might not sound like a problem, but the crowd had been kept too amped up for too long. They were still into this match, but it just wasn't quite as hot as it could have been. That unfortunately turned what might have been a classic into merely a very strong match.

The first fall was a seesaw, back and forth affair with lots of double teaming and near-falls. The story was that both teams were evenly matched and knew what to expect from each other at this point, so it was going to take something out of the norm to make the difference. After sharing a nod, the Hardys introduced that new wrinkle into the match in the form of a ladder. Matt dragged the ladder out from underneath the ring (why was it under there? I don't know...ring crew maintenance? Just go with it.) and slid it inside to Jeff. Referee Charles Robinson warned him not to use it, but Jeff wasn't going to use it as a weapon and get himself disqualified. Instead he set the ladder up in the ring and climbed to the top of it! The fans came to their feet for the Swanton, but Storm came to Punk's aid and shoved the ladder over, causing Jeff to tumble off and land throat-first across the top rope! The Heroes knocked Matt off of the apron and Jeff was easy pickings to end the first fall after that.

The Heroes dominated the early portion of the second fall as well, until Jeff hit his mule kick and made the hot tag to Matt. The Hardys fired up after that, with Matt holding both Heroes off until Jeff recovered enough that they could pull off some more of their double team combos. The Hardys were well on their way to winning the fall, and everyone knew it. That included the Heroes, and that may explain why Punk went to the floor, retrieved the ladder and smashed Jeff with it! Several jabbing shots to the ribs followed, all in full view of the referee, which obviously meant that the Hardys won the second fall via DQ.

It wasn't honorable but it was a very shrewd tactical move, because Jeff was down and out and the third fall was effectively a handicap match. Matt did everything he could and even got a couple of near-falls, but he wasn't going to take down both Heroes by himself. The Heroic Finish was delivered, and with no Jeff to break it up, a battered Matt had to quit.



Grade: B+
Quote:

Roddy welcomed DDP, Kimberly and Helms into the Pit tonight. Kimberly tried to play mediator, but neither DDP or Helms were interested in that. Dallas said that he doesn't know what the relationship between Kim and Helms is, and he doesn't care. But when Kimberly deliberately came out at the perfect moment to distract him and cost him his Stu Hart Classic match, he'd had enough of trying to be understanding towards her bizarre behavior. Helms butted in to say that Kimberly is his new manager, and whatever their personal relationship is, that's none of Dallas' business. And it wasn't Dallas' business either when Helms advanced to face Shane Douglas in the second round; it was no longer his business as soon as he lost to the better man in the first round. The way Shane saw it, DDP owed them both an apology for sticking his nose in and costing him the match against Douglas.

Kimberly's mediation continued to fail, as DDP and Helms got into a shoving match. That spot might not have been the best idea; Dallas came across like a star, but Shane looked out of place shoving DDP around. Anyway, Kimberly whispered in Helms' ear and he allowed himself to be led away by the arm. This was intended as kind of a cool down angle, but the crowd actually loved this far more than I expected.



Grade: A
Quote:
Teddy Hart vs. TAKA (w/Eric Bischoff)

This was the cooldown match, intended to give the crowd a chance to breathe after that tag title match. I guess we should've put it on BEFORE Hardys/Heroes, but not much I can do about that now. Anyway, the match did what it was supposed to do. Teddy and TAKA worked an up tempo match with some nice aerial stuff, but didn't overdo it. Teddy is a pretty talented kid when it comes to working that cruiserweight style, arguably on par with TAKA in some ways, but TAKA is a much more known commodity to the fans and thus was easily the star of this match. Teddy gave it his best effort but in the end was defeated clean with the Michinoku Driver.


Grade: B-
Quote:
Stu Hart Classic: Second Round in Group A
Sting vs. Mortis (w/Father Isaac)

Before the match started we had a brief shot of Rey Mysterio Jr. and Konnan watching on a monitor backstage, as Rey will meet the winner of this match in the Quarterfinals.


Grade: B


Obviously I know by now that Sting is pretty limited physically, which was why I told them to focus on telling a story. What I really wanted out of this match was for them to get the crowd heated up again before the main event, and in that respect Sting and Mortis succeeded. There was a lack of psychology at times, I think because Sting's offense and mannerisms work best against a cowardly heel who will beg off and show fear (Flair), and Mortis' character doesn't allow him to do that. That problem in turn was offset by the great natural chemistry between Sting and Kanyon as opponents, as the match really heated up when they were going back and forth. Mortis was the definite star of the match though, pretty much carrying his 43-year old opponent to a solid semi main event match.

Mortis' innovative offensive moves gave Sting fits and the near-falls piled up, but Sting was able to hold onto the top rope to block his signature Flatliner. After a flurry of punches and backhand blows, he hit the Stinger Splash and then finally the Scorpion Deathdrop to win the match and move on to a Quarterfinal bout with Mysterio.



Grade: B
Quote:

Booker cut a last-minute promo before stepping through the curtain. I inserted this here basically to get the crowd as excited as I could heading into the main event. Booker did a good job at that with some strong delivery in his role as the egocentric champion who demands all of the attention. He admitted that there had been some really good matches tonight, but the only thing anyone would be talking about after the night was over was his own dominant performance against Scott Steiner.

"Hey, I won't lie: Scott Steiner's really good. But he ain't Booker T, ya dig?" he said. "This ain't that cartoon land of entertainers where they got two guys callin' themselves the world champion. There's only one world champion in WCW, and only one world champion in this whole damn business that matters, and his name is Booker T, sucka!"



Grade: B+
Quote:

"Big Poppa Pump" Scott Steiner (w/Midajah) vs. Booker T {}

In a case of life imitating art, I think Booker really wanted to prove that he was capable of carrying the ball and closing out the show with main event quality matches. I gave he and Scott a good bit of time; not quite the length of the tag title match, but still plenty of time for them to properly build towards a big finish. (Scotty probably would've been gassed if this match had run towards the 30 minute mark anyway.) Both guys did a pretty good job at that slow build, but the match was hurt by some poor psychology as some early leg work by Booker went ignored and unsold later in the match. If these guys were trying to prove that this match deserved to be in the headline spot, they sadly missed the mark. Even with the overeager crowd that hurt the tag title match, it was still easily ahead of this one. This match wasn't bad, but it was only about the fourth best of the night.

The story here was that Steiner was in Booker's head. When Booker tried to take him to the mat, Scott used his amateur skills to get the better of him. When he tried to trade strikes, Steiner outstruck him. When he tried to run, Big Poppa Pump chased him down. Whatever Booker tried, Steiner had an answer for. He looked well on his way to claiming his third world title--but then Booker dove out of the way of a charging Steiner, and Scott's head clanged off of the post. It soon emerged that Steiner bladed--err, was cut on the head, just above the eyebrow. Like a shark smelling blood, Booker adapted his game plan and focused exclusively on the cut from that point forward, opening it up even further with punches and kicks. Before long Steiner's blood was dripping down into his eye, but he fought on anyway.









Rick Steiner eventually came to ringside out of concern for his younger brother. Scott continued to fight and even got some offense in, but the eye was clearly hampering him. Booker countered a belly to belly suplex grip with a vicious headbutt, knocked Scott to the mat with a Harlem Sidekick and began raining down punches on the cut. Rick had seen enough; he urged Midajah to exercise her authority as Scott's manager to end the match. Scott showed no signs of quitting and Midajah was reluctant, but Rick continued to plead with her until she finally relented and threw in the towel. (Not a real towel. A proverbial towel. You get the point.)


Grade: B


Show Overall Grade: B+
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