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Default November 2002: Road to Calgary Stampede

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November 4th, 2002

From the NIU Convocation Center in DeKalb, Illinois

Attendance: 10,000

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

Stu Hart Classic, Group A Quarterfinal: Group A came down to one of the most exciting wrestlers in the world, Rey Mysterio Jr, and seven time World Champion Sting. Sting knew what he had to do, focusing on the legs of Mysterio and trying to ground him. His gameplan led to a successful application of the Scorpion Deathlock, but Rey tenaciously fought to the ropes. Later, after a missed Stinger Splash, Mysterio hit a hurricanrana off of the second rope to defeat the legend. (B)

Post-match: Sting is disappointed, but accepts a handshake from Mysterio and raises his hand in the air. (B+)

Salvation vignette: The group, minus the injured Unnatural, admit that Halloween Havoc was a bad night for the group, with all three members being eliminated from the Stu Hart Classic. But Father Isaac promises that the group will regroup and be back "stronger, and more numerous than ever." (B)

Teddy Hart soared to victory over local wrestler Silas Young, perhaps putting some recent disappointments behind him in the process. (D+)

Post-Halloween Havoc footage: A furious Scott Steiner shoves the trainer away and refuses medical attention. Rick tries to calm him down, but Scott turns his anger on him, blaming him for stopping the match and asking if he'd "gone soft." (B+)

DDP cuts a promo in the aisle, saying enough is enough with he and Shane Helms. "Talking ain't gonna solve anything, so you and I need to settle this in the ring, monkey boy!" Helms comes out and talks trash, agreeing to the challenge before allowing Kimberly to drag him to the back. (B+)

Stu Hart Classic, Group B Quarterfinal: After toppling the massive Destroyer at Halloween Havoc, AJ Styles met someone much closer to his own size in Lance Storm. AJ's aerial skills were matched against the technical expertise of Storm in a very even and competitive battle, with Lance succeeding where Sting failed earlier in the night by making the flier tap out to his rolling half crab. (A)

Booker T is cutting a promo taunting both Steiner brothers when young Bobby Roode interrupts. Booker looks annoyed as he asks "Who the hell are you?" Bobby introduces himself, apologizes for interrupting and says that he wants to learn what it takes to be a top-flight, world champion-caliber wrestler, and there's no one in the world more qualified to teach him than Booker. Booker looks mollified at having his ego stroked and says he'll consider it if the kid can prove he's worth his time. (C)

Chavo Guerrero Jr. confronts American Dragon to ask why he didn't do anything to help him and prevent Brian Adams for interfering in his match with Christopher Daniels at Halloween Havoc. Dragon points out that the exact same thing happened to him at War Games, with Chavo right there on commentary, and he didn't lift a finger to help either. He sarcastically says he assumed it was just another lesson from his "self-appointed mentor", a line that Chavo did not appreciate. He scowls as Dragon brushes past him. (C)

Davey Boy Smith and Shane Douglas are summoned to the office of Arn Anderson. Davey argues that he deserves another shot at the US title since he was disqualified for using the US belt only after Douglas brought it into the ring. Shane calls him a sore loser, says he got his chance and failed and now he's going to the back of the line. Arn doesn't exactly give either man what he wants: instead he gives Davey a chance to earn another shot at the title, in a #1 contender's match next week against Hugh Morrus, who won a battle royal before Havoc went on the air. (B)

Yuji Nagata stepped up and gave Fit Finlay a very tough challenge, but Fit came away with the win in a scientific struggle to make his sixth title defense (putting him four away from having the option to vacate the title and receive a US title match.) (C+)

The Hardys come to the ring to cut a promo. They aren't happy with the way that they lost their titles at Halloween Havoc, but since they introduced the ladder into the match they aren't going to complain or make excuses. Instead they're going to focus on bouncing back and winning the titles for a second time. (B)

In a pre-taped promo, Sean O'Haire says Halloween Havoc was only an appetizer, and he's nowhere near done with Chuck Palumbo yet. (B-)

Stu Hart Classic, Group D Quarterfinal: Rob Van Dam is a former World Champion and still very much in his athletic prime at just 31 years old, while 24 year old CM Punk is pegged by many as a future World Champion himself. He certainly acquitted himself well tonight, as he and RVD had a lengthy battle to try and advance to the Semifinals. Punk did a lot of damage to RVD's neck but was unable to make him submit to the Second City Stretch, and Van Dam eventually put him down with a flying side kick and finished the match with the Five Star Frog Splash. (B+)

RVD is celebrating his hard-fought win when he's attacked by The Empire! The entire group swarms him with full force, battering his leg with a steel chair and allowing King Corino to slap on the figure four, with officials still trying to pull him off and restore order as Nitro signs off. (A)



Show Grade: B+






November 9th, 2002

From the Namihaya Dome in Osaka, Japan

Attendance: 6,800

Announce Team: Joey Styles and Tracy Brooks

We opened with young Alexis Laree taking on former World Champion Etsuko Mita. Mita was determined to work her way back into contention and was all set to do so with her signature Death Valley Driver, but Laree countered into a crucifix pin for a shocking three count! (C+)

Takako Inoue confronts Kyoko Inoue backstage and tells her she still thinks the two of them combined can dominate Renaissance, but she's tired of waiting and Kyoko needs to come to her senses soon. (C)

Alexis Laree is visited in her locker room by Manami Toyota. Toyota congratulates her on her big win, but warns her that Etsuko Mita is not someone who will take a defeat like this lightly, and she should be careful. (B)

Toshiyo Yamada utilized her kicking power very effectively in defeating freelancer Tsubasa Kuragaki. (C)

Yamada is jumped in the ring by Devil Masami! Masami beats on her and gets on the microphone to demand some real competition. (B-)

Aja Kong wears her AAAW Singles title to the ring, and even though it is not an officially sanctioned WCW title, she says it's the true world championship. And because she's a fighting champion, she issues an open challenge for anyone to come and get a shot at the championship, right here and now! Nattie Neidhart comes out to accept the challenge! (C)

Whether it was a title recognized by WCW or not, Kong was putting it at stake in her WCW in-ring debut. Nattie knew her best chance was to use her mat wrestling to take Kong down and prevent her from using her strength and stiff striking. It was a sound strategy, but Kong was still able to fight her off and defeat her after hitting her devastating Uraken (spinning back fist.) (B-)

Not content with simply winning, Kong holds up the belt and poses with her foot on Nattie's chest. Chigusa Nagayo runs down and confronts Kong, telling her that that belt meant a great deal to her too, but GAEA is gone now and Aja needs to let it go and focus on the present. Kong laughs and tells her that SHE is the past, the present and the future, and this belt is the only belt that matters because SHE is the one holding it. If Nagayo wants her to stop displaying it, she should find the courage to try and take it from her. The two women glare at each other as the show ends. (B-)


Show Grade: B-

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November 11th, 2002

From the Pierre Charbonneau Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Attendance: 2,700

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

Stu Hart Classic, Semifinal Round: The Empire's attack at the end of last week's show worked exactly as intended, because RVD limped to the ring for his Semifinal match against King Corino. It was a debilitating injury for him, as he couldn't execute his kicks or unique aerial spots (so basically 80-90% of his offense) with the same effectiveness. Corino's entire strategy was built around attacking the injured legs, and it paid off as RVD was in too much pain to get his shoulders off the mat while locked in the figure four. (B)

CM Punk is chatting with Lance Storm backstage, telling him nothing was going to stop him from beating Rey Mysterio Jr. in the main event tonight and advancing to the finals of the Stu Hart Classic. They're interrupted by AJ Styles and Sting. Storm taunts AJ for a bit about beating him last week, but AJ lets him know he hasn't seen the last of him. Sting reminds them that he and AJ still have a tag team title match owed to them from the first Ultimate Fan Series, and they'll be using it imminently. If Storm wins tonight and moves on to the finals it'll take place next week on Nitro, and if he loses it'll happen at Calgary Stampede. "Either way, it'll be showtime soon!" Sting promises. (B+)

The Jung Dragons weren't going to be happy when they learned they would not be the next team in line for a title shot, but tonight they cruised to victory over local wrestlers Kevin Steen and El Generico. (C+)

Booker T sat in on color commentary to observe Bobby Roode in action. Roode took on a familiar name in Animal, and it was the veteran who found himself staring at the lights after Roode dropped him with a Northern Lariat (a lariat to the back of the head), which seemed to impress Booker. (D)

Arn Anderson summons Christopher Daniels, American Dragon and Chavo Guerrero Jr. to his office. Dragon and Chavo both state their cases as to why they deserve the next title shot; Dragon points out that he was supposed to be in the last #1 contender's match before Chavo weaseled his way into it, and Chavo complains about Brian Adams attacking him during his title shot (though he ignored Dragon's reminder that the same thing happened to him.) Arn says they both have a point, and that's why it'll be Dragon vs. Chavo vs. Daniels in a three way for the title at Calgary Stampede. (C)

Teddy Hart followed up his win over Silas Young last week with another win against Elix Skipper in a match filled with aerial high spots, so seemingly he's starting to build some momentum. (C-)

In "the battle of North Carolina" (unofficial title), the Hardys didn't have much trouble disposing of 3 Count when Matt hit the Twist of Fate on Evan Karagis. (B-)

Sean O'Haire is interviewed by Bobby Heenan; they discuss the announcement that he and a partner of his choice will take on Chuck Palumbo and another member of The Empire at Calgary Stampede. O'Haire seems to embrace the idea of taking Chuck and "one of his new buddies" out all by himself, but Jamie Knoble stops by to offer his services as a partner. O'Haire shrugs and says that's fine with him, as long as Knoble doesn't get in the way of him getting his hands on Chuck. (C+)

Hugh Morrus' blend of strength and athleticism gave Davey Boy Smith trouble, but a missed moonsault opened the door for Bulldog to finish the match with a running powerslam and secure his desired rematch against Shane Douglas. (B-)

Shane Douglas steps into the aisle with a mic and taunts Bulldog. "Way to go, Davey, you got your rematch. But what excuse are you going to make when you fail this time? How are you going to try and convince your fans, and yourself, that you're still as good as you think you are?" Davey responds that it'll be Shane who needs to find an excuse after he hits the running powerslam and takes his title. (B+)

Rick Steiner calls brother Scott out to the ring to try and patch things up between them. He explains his side, saying that he knows Scott is a fighter and never would've given up, but he saw that cut above his eye, he saw the blood dripping into his eye, and as his big brother he felt he had to step in and protect his little brother like he always did growing up. Scott doesn't appreciate that. "I don't need your damn protection!" he shouts. "I ain't needed it for years, 'cause in case you ain't noticed, I'm bigger, stronger and better than you!" Scott throws the microphone down and walks to the back, ignoring Rick's attempts to reason with him. (B+)

Stu Hart Classic, Semifinal Round: Rey Mysterio Jr. and Lance Storm set the tone in many ways for the relaunch of WCW with their memorable match in the US title tournament finals that headlined The Big Bang, but tonight was an even more important match with even higher stakes. The two men were as evenly-matched as always, going back and forth as each proved himself an elite competitor at his chosen style of wrestling. Neither man showed any signs of tiring even after the match went past the half hour mark, and as good as their original match had been, both men had grown tremendously since then and as a result this match was on a totally different level. Storm cut Rey off on the top rope and went for a superplex, but Mysterio blocked it and hit a twisting hurricanrana off of the top to finally get the pin. (A)

Rey is celebrating when The Empire appear in the aisle. They don't rush him like they did RVD last week though; instead they merely taunt him. Bischoff takes credit for plucking Rey out of "some flea-infested dump in Mexico" and bringing him to WCW in the first place, but says his role was solely to put on entertaining matches at the beginning of the show before the real stars came out at the end. King Corino says that nothing has changed; Rey is great, but Corino is the true star, and he's destined to win this match at Calgary Stampede, then go on to claim the World Heavyweight Championship at Starrcade. (A*)



Show Grade: A






November 16th, 2002

From Iizuka, Japan

Attendance: 5,000

Announce Team: Joey Styles and Tracy Brooks

In the opener, developmental talent Katarina Waters attempted to prove she deserved to be on Renaissance by defeating Manami Toyota in a non-title match. The outcome was never in doubt though, as Toyota won without much trouble. Back to 5SSW for Katarina. (C+)

Footage from after last week's show went off the air: Alexis Laree is packing her gear and preparing to leave when she's attacked by Etsuko Mita! Mita slams her head into a locker door, knocking her out, and tells Alexis she will regret humiliating her. (C+)

Sonoko Kato gave Kyoko Inoue a nice little match, but Inoue pulled a standing switch when Kato went for a dragon suplex and finished her with the Victoria Driver. (C)

Post-match: Takako Inoue steps into the aisle and lets Kyoko know that she's giving her one more week to realize the obvious benefits to renewing their alliance here in WCW. (C)

Scream queen Daffney battered Chigusa Nagayo quite a bit, but the veteran outwrestled her much less experienced opponent later in the match and finished her with the Super Freak. (B-)

Nagayo cuts a post-match promo in which she says that she still believes she can compete at a championship level here in her 22nd year as a pro, and with the fans' support she can get back to the top. The feel-good moment is ruined by Aja Kong, who surprises Nagayo with her Uraken backfist to knock her out cold in the middle of the ring! (B)

Stemming from last week's attack, the main event saw Toshiyo Yamada against Devil Masami. Yamada was a different level of competitor than anyone Masami has faced in WCW thus far, and she gave the Devil her receipt for the ambush with several hard kicks. But after Masami ducked a roundhouse kick, she caught Yamada in a sleeperhold that ended the match. (B-)

Masami refuses to release the hold even after the bell, and keeps it on despite the bell ringing several more times. Officials and other wrestlers try to get her to break it, but she holds on and smiles. Finally Manami Toyota runs out to the ring, pulling Masami off of her frequent partner. Several hard forearms rock Devil, and a dropkick sends her to the floor. Toyota grabs the microphone and says that if Masami wants tougher competition, she's just found it! (B)


Show Grade: B-

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November 18th, 2002

From the Brantford Civic Centre in Brantford, Ontario, Canada

Attendance: 2,981

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

Brief highlights of last week's Semifinal matches in the Stu Hart Classic are shown, with the stage set for Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. King Corino in the finals this Sunday at Calgary Stampede. Tonight the two finalists will come face to face in Piper's Pit. (B-)

RVD comes to the ring unannounced, and he's far from his usual "cool" self. He angrily demands that anyone from The Empire come out and fight him, right here and now. The group (minus Corino) step into the aisle and laugh at him. Bischoff tells him not to whine and be a sore loser. "The King's on to bigger and better things, but if you want to get beaten by The Empire again so badly, Chris Candido will be happy to oblige you this Sunday!" The group then surround the ring, preparing to ambush him, but Sean O'Haire and Jamie Knoble run down and chase them off! (B)

With Kimberly in his corner, Shane Helms got the best of Ernest Miller with the Nightmare on Helms Street. (C)

Helms and Kimberly are celebrating in the ring--BAM! DDP from out of nowhere spins Helms around and hits the Diamond Cutter! He smiles and flashes the Diamond Cutter hand signal to the fans as Kimberly crouches down to check on Helms. (B+)

True Heroes pay a visit to the locker room of AJ Styles and Sting to tell them they have no chance. Punk admits that individually, Sting and AJ are pretty good (though he does point out Lance eliminated AJ from the SHC just two weeks ago.) But they're not a tag team, and thus they have no hope to defeat the best tag team in the world. Sting goes to speak but AJ says he'll handle this. He tells Punk that he and Sting might not have the team experience that the Heroes do, but their partnership made the difference in the K-Nections winning the very first Ultimate Fan Series. "We'll make just as big a difference this Sunday--and tonight in the main event, you'll find out just how phenomenal AJ Styles is!" he shouts at Punk, who he'll meet one on one tonight. (A)

Teddy Hart continued to put his disappointing first couple of matches behind him, tonight defeating young Petey Williams from Windsor, Ontario. (D+)

Since AJ Styles and Sting exercised their right to challenge for the tag titles at Calgary Stampede, Arn Anderson announces a #1 contender's match to decide who'll get the next shot: it'll be a three way between the Jung Dragons, Hayabusa and Jinsei Shinzaki...and the Hardys! (C)

Spotlight Segment:



We had Bobby Heenan introduce a pre-taped vignette for our newest tag team, Made in Italy. Johnny Parisi (formerly Johnny Swinger) and Tony Mamaluke walked the streets in "custom-made" suits and bragged about how the finest things are Made in Italy, just like them. So yeah, rather than the traditional Italian mobster gimmick, they're doing a fashion gimmick of sorts. Bobby was good in his role. Mamaluke was very underwhelming every time he opened his mouth in this segment, and to be honest I'm not completely sold on him as part of this team. His time in Wildside helped him develop into a pretty good worker, but he's still atrocious on the microphone. Parisi maybe isn't as technically sound as Mamaluke, but his in-ring ability did progress nicely in his year in developmental, plus he's a better talker and has more of a star presence than his partner. They've been teaming together a lot in Wildside to build the experience to go along with the natural chemistry that was what got Mamaluke signed in the first place, so we'll see how it goes.


Grade: D+


American Dragon and Chavo Guerrero Jr. had to work together in a tag team match against Christopher Daniels and Brian Adams. Daniels obviously had no problem working with his hired muscle, but Dragon and Chavo's partnership degenerated into an argument, one which allowed Daniels to hit the Last Rites and pin Dragon. (B-)

Rick Steiner tells Scott that he got them a tag team match against Booker T and a partner of his choosing at Calgary Stampede, so they can put their problems to rest by beating the crap out of Booker. Scott seems to like that idea. (A)

Vignette: Father Isaac tells Mortis and The Destroyer that not only will they be rejoined by The Unnatural once he's "recovered from his sojourn to Hades", but Isaac has also found a new brother who will help them spread Salvation even more effectively. (B-)

Booker T was joined by Bobby Roode in tag action against Hugh Morrus and Konnan. Roode did his part, but it was the champion who took charge and won the match for the team with a missile dropkick on Konnan. (B)

Post-match promo; Booker says he wasn't surprised when Arn Anderson told him he would again be booted from the main event position so the finals of the Stu Hart Classic could close the show. "That's just the kinda crap I'm dealin' with right now! Those two guys get the main event, and they're fightin' over the right to lose to me at Starrcade!" He'd just proven how great a star he is, and so he'll be able to beat the Steiners even with a "green kid" like Roode as his partner. Bobby is elated and promises not to let Booker down on Sunday. (B-)

Shane Douglas easily defeated Air Paris in a non-title squash. (C)

Post-match: in contrast to most of the build, where Douglas has done the bulk of the talking, it's Davey Boy Smith's chance to speak his piece as he stepped into the aisle. He says Douglas has done a lot of talking, but Davey learned long ago that people who talk as much as Douglas are usually more bark than bite. "But I'm all bite, and Sunday in Calgary this Bulldog's gonna take a bite out of you!" (B)

In a match that could very well headline Starrcade one day, AJ Styles and CM Punk met in the main event of Nitro. It was a chance to gain some momentum before the tag title match on Sunday, but it was also a chance to possibly find out if the hype around the future of both men is real. The match started at a slower place with some solid mat wrestling, but eventually both were busting out their big moves. Ultimately it would be savvy counterwrestling rather than a big move that decided it--Styles countered Punk's Devil Lock DDT into a nifty cradle to get the pin! (B)

Rey Mysterio Jr. and King Corino are welcomed into Piper's Pit six days before their match in the Stu Hart Classic finals. Rey references the comments last week, where Bischoff said he was brought in to WCW to get the crowd warmed up for the real stars. "That might've been true once upon a time, but to these people I AM a star now!" Rey says, and he proves his point by taking off his shirt and throwing it in Corino's face, showing off the impressive physique he'd built over time, a major contrast to how he'd looked in 1996. Sure enough, the fans reacted. Corino laughs and says Rey can pack on as many muscles as he wants, but it'll never be enough. "You've always had the moves, and now you have the physique and the love from the fans as well, but you'll never be SMART enough to be a world champion, unlike me!" Corino says he's the smartest man in the room, and he'll use that to dash Rey's foolish hopes of winning the tournament and challenging for the world title at Starrcade. (A)



Show Grade: B+






November 23rd, 2002

From the Matsuyama City Center in Matsuyama, Japan

Attendance: 3,379

Announce Team: Joey Styles and Tracy Brooks

In pre-taped promos, Manami Toyota and Devil Masami promoted tonight's main event: a tag team match where Toyota and regular partner Toshiyo Yamada meet Masami and Shinobu Kandori. (B-)

Meiko Satomura, making her main roster debut after a stint in 5SSW, is touted by many as the future of women's wrestling. Takako Inoue gave her a rude welcome to WCW--at least until Kyoko Inoue came out to scold a gloating Takako, which allowed Satomura to roll her up and win the match! (C-)

Etsuko Mita's in-ring interview is cut off when Alexis Laree attacks her! Laree gives the former World Champion a receipt for her locker room ambush by spiking her into the canvas with a leaping DDT. (C+)

A triple threat match saw Melissa Anderson toss LuFisto to the floor so she could finish Sonoko Kato with a german suplex. (C+)

Plucky Allison Corino gave her all, but she ran into the force of nature that is Aja Kong. Kong gave her opponent a beating and finished her with the Uraken while Chigusa Nagayo observed from the aisle. (C+)

Mayumi Ozaki vignette: Ozaki, a chain around her neck, says she'll debut next week to create some mayhem. (C+)

The tag team experience of Manami Toyota and Toshiyo Yamada was on display in the main event, as they made quick tags and showed all the traits of a well-functioning tag team. Devil Masami and Shinobu Kandori were individuals, and despite the vicious nature of Masami and the judo techniques of Kandori, they seemed out of their depth against such an experienced team. All that changed when Masami punched Toyota as she was leaping off the top rope, then locked on the sleeper hold! Kandori knocked Yamada off the apron, and despite Toyota's struggles, she was put to sleep! (B)

Devil Masami keeps the hold locked in well after the bell. Eventually she releases it, stands over the unconscious champion and says if this is the best competition available to her in WCW, The Devil's Reign will continue on uninterrupted for as long as she likes. (A)


Show Grade: B





Quote:

Fan Scorecard:

Stu Hart Classic Finals: Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. King Corino

World Tag Team Championship: AJ Styles and Sting vs. True Heroes {}

United States Heavyweight Championship: Davey Boy Smith vs. Shane Douglas {}

Cruiserweight Championship: American Dragon vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr. vs. "Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels {}

The Steiner Brothers vs. Booker T and Bobby Roode

Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Candido

Diamond Dallas Page vs. "Sugar" Shane Helms

Tag Team Championship #1 Contender's match: The Hardys vs. Hayabusa and Jinsei Shinzaki vs. The Jung Dragons

Sean O'Haire and Jamie Knoble vs. Chuck Palumbo and TAKA

What will be match of the night?

How many championships will change hands?

Will Father Isaac's newest Salvation recruit appear on this show? If so, who is it?

TIEBREAKER: How long will the Stu Hart Classic Finals last? (minutes and seconds)

((This tiebreaker question is for the special Stu Hart Classic prediction contest, which is separate from the standard UFS contest that's been running since Bash at the Beach. You only need to answer this question if you filled out that bracket before the tournament began, AND if you picked either Mysterio or Corino to win the tournament.))

General diary comments/questions/critiques:

Quote:
Originally Posted by K-Nection View Post
I don't know why I haven't thought of this before but what are Sheri Martell or Tammy Stytch's colour skills like? I know they both had a run at the desk for a while in WWF. Oh and I just remembered Mike McGuirk and Jasmin St. Clair.
McGuirk's not in the database. None of the other three have any color skill, and their microphone skills aren't up to snuff either if I were to use my little workaround I mentioned earlier.
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