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Join Date: May 2008
Location: Bluthton
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November 24th, 2002

From Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Attendance: 4,200

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






Official Theme Song: "Desperado" by The Eagles



Quote:
#1 Contender's match for the World Tag Team Championship:
The Hardys vs. Hayabusa and Jinsei Shinzaki vs. The Jung Dragons (w/Stacy Keibler)


I worried that the Hardys might see this as a bit of a demotion from what they'd been doing and might not give it their best effort here, but my concern wasn't needed. Matt and Jeff put in their customary hard work, and between their exciting offense and popularity they were front and center in this match. Jeff was predictably the star. His signature spots got the biggest reactions of the match, and he also impressed with some improved technical wrestling to switch things up here and there. Matt was strong as well, and there was a huge gap between them and everyone else. Hayabusa, Yang and Hayashi were perfectly fine; they just aren't at the level of the Hardys, at least not as a complete package, and it showed. Jinsei Shinzaki sadly brought up the rear with a performance well below everyone else.

This match was first fall wins, so there were lots of spots where a member of one team would go for the victory only for the third team to break it up. There was obviously plenty of aerial stuff on display here with these six guys, but they didn't go so far with it that it became a spotfest. The ending sequence began with Jeff popping the crowd with a somersault plancha to the floor that wiped out Hayabusa and both Jung Dragons. From there Matt hit the Twist of Fate on Shinzaki, and the Hardys earned a chance to regain the tag team titles.



Grade: B
Quote:

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

Everyone knew the score here: the "student/teacher" relationship between American Dragon and Chavo, never strong to begin with, was crumbling outright. That played into the story of this match, as they'd frequently argue with each other. Well, it was more like Chavo would argue when Dragon would attack him or break up his attempts to win; Dragon just wrestled the match normally.

There was some decent action here, but something just wasn't working. This is the second time in the last three PPVs that Daniels and Dragon, two of our better young talents in the cruiserweight division, have shared the ring and produced results I'd consider lackluster. It's all the stranger since Daniels beating unknown prelim guy Eddie Edwards in a Nitro squash was better than both matches. Regardless, Dragon was starting to take command of the match when Brian Adams threatened to come into the ring. That distracted Dragon just long enough for Chavo to surprise him with a brainbuster. Before Chavo could attempt a pin though, Daniels tossed him to the floor and hit the Angel's Descent on Dragon to retain his title.



Grade: B-
Quote:

Salvation (still without The Unnatural, though he should be cleared any day now) visited Piper's Pit. Roddy brought them on to try and get Father Isaac to spill the beans on who his new recruit is, but Isaac would not answer him or even give any hints. His only comment was that their newest brother would give them a clear way to progress on a path they had not yet explored. Isaac didn't look too good here. Roddy tried to stir the pot by asking Mortis and Destroyer if they were offended that Isaac was recruiting new members without their input and not even sharing the information with them after the fact. Piper looked good as the instigator here, and Mortis similarly looked good as he said there was no reason for them to be angry with Isaac. They trusted the Father, and they had every confidence in his judgment. Destroyer showed some improved acting as he warned Roddy against trying to create his own headlines. "Salvation remains strong, and with The Unnatural soon to return and our newest brother on his way, we will soon be stronger than ever before!" Isaac declared.


Grade: B
Quote:
Sean O'Haire and Jamie Knoble vs. Chuck Palumbo (w/Tammy Sytch) and TAKA (w/Eric Bischoff)

This match was here primarily to further the feud between the former Natural Born Thrillers, and that was the focus right away as O'Haire ran into the ring and attacked Palumbo before the bell rang. They brawled with each other quite a bit throughout the match. Chuck didn't perform very well and was honestly the weakest link in the match, but Sean did pretty good. TAKA led the way as the match's best performer, wowing the crowd with a few cool aerial highlights and also doing some nice chain wrestling with Knoble. TAKA's standout performance wasn't surprising given how talented he is, but O'Haire wasn't too far behind him. He's a solid brawler, and his technical skills have improved a bit as well. He'll never be confused for a technician or anything, but he's at least good enough to carry his weight.

Palumbo, tired of dealing with O'Haire's relentless attacks, threw up his hands and fled up the ramp. Sean ran after him, following in close pursuit all the way to the back. That left Knoble and TAKA in the ring to finish the match. They nicely blended mat wrestling and flying, going back and forth and teasing near-falls on both sides, until Knoble trapped TAKA in a guillotine choke and got him to tap out for his highest profile win in recent memory (maybe ever?)



Grade: B
Quote:

We ran another vignette for Made in Italy, again with an introduction provided by Bobby Heenan. It was similar to the first, with Parisi and Mamaluke walking the streets in their expensive-looking suits, but it wasn't exactly the same. They talked about some of the more well-known tag teams in WCW, saying that none of them had their sense of style. "I wouldn't be caught dead in those brightly-colored rags Matt and Jeff Hardy wear," Johnny quipped. Bobby once again came across well, while Mamaluke's performance was poor. I'm considering signing a few different potential valets and testing them out with the duo in dark matches to see if any click, because I think it could enhance their act.


Grade: D+
Quote:
Diamond Dallas Page vs. "Sugar" Shane Helms (w/Kimberly)

The focus here was less on the in-ring action and more on the soap opera-ish story which has Kimberly, DDP's ex-wife, managing his opponent. The match was fine, helped out by some natural chemistry between DDP and Helms, but a real point of concern to me was watching how Helms performed with Kimberly in his corner. While the two do work well together (which is why Helms was paired with her to begin with), Shane doesn't seem to know how to work a manager into his routine without hindering his own performance. That negates most of the positives of pairing him with Kimberly and really has me questioning how long I'll keep them together.

Everyone was waiting for Kimberly to get more involved beyond simply clapping and encouraging Shane, and inevitably she climbed onto the apron to distract DDP. He turned to tell her to get down off the apron and stay out of this, which left him open for a blind side attack from Helms. Dallas saw it coming though, stepping out of the way. Helms had to put on the brakes to avoid colliding with Kimberly, and turned around right into a Diamond Cutter.



Grade: B-
Quote:
Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Candido (w/Tammy Sytch)

RVD might be our top overall performer and Candido's pretty capable in his own right, so I anticipated this being one of the best matches of the night. I carved out a good chunk of time so they wouldn't have to rush anything and could let the match build up organically. There were some issues with the story told here, specifically with some limb work going ignored, and that held the match back from being truly great. It was still very good though thanks to the talents of both men, not to mention RVD's popularity.

Candido spent a lot of time working over RVD's legs, but Van Dam overcame that with some kicks and aerial stuff (back to my point about problems with the story.) When Candido's strategy didn't seem to be paying off, he started going for flash pins in hopes that he'd be able to catch Rob in a sudden 3-count. RVD was able to get his shoulders off the mat every single time and eventually came away with the victory via Five Star Frog Splash, getting some payback on Candido and The Empire for knocking him out of the Stu Hart Classic.



Grade: B+
Quote:

Corino and Bischoff cut a backstage promo to hype the main event. Both men delivered the goods in this segment. Corno was good as he again bragged about retiring Ric Flair, said that he had become the true master of the figure four leglock and once he got it on Rey Mysterio Jr. tonight, the match would be over.

As good as Corino was, Eric was even better. He really knocked it out of the park with a speech about his uncanny ability to identify and develop talent, from Bill Goldberg to Eddie Guerrero to The Giant to, yes, even Rey Mysterio Jr. "But my greatest find of all was this man to my left," he said, pointing to a smirking Corino. "I'd dreamed for years about finally retiring that old fart Ric Flair, and King Corino made that dream a reality! Now it's time for The Empire to elevate WCW to heights unseen in its history, and it all starts tonight when Corino wins the Stu Hart Classic and punches his ticket for a World Heavyweight Championship match at Starrcade!"



Grade: A
Quote:
The Steiner Brothers vs. Booker T and Bobby Roode

Talk about a high profile spot to make your PPV debut! It wasn't surprising to see the match drag when Roode tagged in. Not so much because of his ring work, because he's a solid worker; he's just not over at all yet, so the crowd reaction was muted for him. Scott Steiner was the polar opposite. The fans in Calgary loved Scotty and popped huge for everything he did. He ate it up, flexing and posing in between striking his opponents and suplexing them around the ring. The match itself was good but not a contender for match of the night, but as an individual performance Scotty might have been the MVP of the show.

The story here was built around the Steiners and whether or not they were truly on the same page. They functioned well early on, showing off their team chemistry and experience that Booker and Roode, tagging for the first time ever, had no hope of answering. Booker looked sharper than usual both when he was trading holds with the Steiners on the mat and when he executed a couple of flying maneuvers, but a lot of the time he took it easy on the apron and left it to young Roode to carry the load.

Booker and Rick battled in the ring while Scott battered Roode on the floor. Rick was faring pretty well for himself against the 5-time world champion, but as referee Nick Patrick's attention was momentarily on the fight raging outside the ring, Booker kicked Rick below the belt. He crumpled in a heap and was quickly victimized by the Book End. Scott looked up in time to see his brother being covered and tried to return to the ring to break it up, only for Roode to grab onto his leg and hold him in place long enough for Booker to get the three count.



Grade: B


Scott kicked Roode off of him just after the bell and climbed into the ring, despite knowing he was too late to change anything about the outcome. Booker rolled out and grabbed his belt in a hurry, but Scott paid no attention to him. He walked right up to Rick and started yelling at him. Rick pointed to his groin in an obvious attempt to explain what had happened, but Scott just kept shouting at him. He turned and left ringside in disgust, leaving Rick to recover in the ring on his own.


Grade: C+
Quote:

We did a brief segment where Rey's close friends Konnan and Billy Kidman, along with Torrie Wilson, tried to motivate him as he got ready in his locker room. Not much to it.


Grade: B-
Quote:

AJ Styles and Sting vs. True Heroes {}

We've been sitting on this Styles/Sting title shot for over a year, since the conclusion of the first UFS. Between Sting's participation in Flair's feud with The Empire and AJ's cruiserweight title run, there was just never a good time to do it until now. The match was fine, but not up to the usual standards the Heroes have set. This was actually the worst tag team title match since last year's Calgary Stampede show, where Palumbo and O'Haire retained the titles against Doomsday one month before Storm and Punk ended their reign. A lot of that had to do with Sting. It would've been tough for him to keep up with the other three guys involved in the match even if he'd performed as well as he's currently able, which he did not. AJ had no such problems, but it was still clearly the True Heroes who were carrying this one.

As good as Sting and Styles are individually, there was no substitute for the teamwork displayed by the tag team champions. The Heroes used mat wrestling to ground AJ, trap him in their half of the ring and wear him out. A hot tag allowed Sting to briefly run wild, but their teamwork overcame it. After Punk staggered Sting with a dropkick to the back of the head, Storm struck with a superkick to finish him off.



Grade: B
Quote:

Davey Boy Smith vs. Shane Douglas {}

Building off of last month's dq finish, Douglas did everything he could to make Davey Boy angry. He trash talked him, slapped him, and led him on a merry chase around ringside. Everything he did in the first several minutes was done in the name of trying to get the challenger to make a mental mistake. But the Bulldog did not bite (heh.) He refused to let Douglas get into his head, and with every power move he hit, the fans in Calgary started to believe more and more that he'd complete his road back by capturing the United States title. Douglas adapted and started doing some ground wrestling, specifically targeting Davey's arm.

The fans popped as Davey lifted Shane over his shoulder for the running powerslam, but Douglas squirmed free, took him down to the mat via the arm and went for a crossface. Davey used his arm to prevent the hold from being fully applied, but suddenly found himself rolled onto his back with a cradle that he couldn't kick out of in time!

This match was good, pretty much exactly at the same level of their match last month, as well as Shane's defense against Rick Steiner the PPV before that. Seems like I can throw Shane in there with pretty much anybody and count on a semi main event match that will be good without having to worry about it being a blow-away that will overshadow the main event. I know a lot of people expected me to give Davey the win here for the feel-good moment, especially in Calgary, but Shane is doing good work with the title and I also have a story in the wings for him. I've got something cooking for Davey as well, so all is not lost.



Grade: B
Quote:

We went to the offices of Arn Anderson. The man in charge said he hoped everyone was enjoying the show thus far, with the main event still to come. But as great as tonight had been, he couldn't help but look ahead to the granddaddy of them all, the original wrestling supercard, Starrcade. He made a big deal out of the fact that Starrcade would be held in Australia for the very first time, on December 29th.

Just as he was about to wrap up and send us back to ringside, an aide entered the office and handed him a note. When Arn asked who it was from, the aide said she didn't know as it was delivered anonymously. He unfolded the piece of paper, read its contents and frowned. And the plot thickens...



Grade: C+
Quote:

We cut away from the ring introductions for our main event as Mike and I had gotten word that something suspicious was going on near the curtain. A camera made its way back to find Chris Candido and Chuck Palumbo lurking, evidently laying in wait for Rey Mysterio Jr.








The plot was foiled when Rob Van Dam and Sean O'Haire went on the attack! With the Empire members now occupied, the planned sneak attack on Rey Mysterio Jr. was a no go. (None of the men involved in this segment had to speak, but Palumbo still looked very underwhelming. It's no secret who the star of that team was.)


Grade: B+
Quote:

Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. King Corino (w/Eric Bischoff)

This was a chance for a major statement for both of these guys. Both Rey and RVD were strongly considered for this spot, but I put my faith in Rey despite Van Dam being the more over of the two. He'd come through with an excellent semifinal match against Lance Storm, but this was an even bigger spot. As for Corino, he was the logical heel to go with here on the heels of retiring Ric Flair in War Games. I'd say there was more pressure on him here though, with this being his first singles main event.

Did the two of them rise to the occasion and pass the test? I'd say yes, but it's probably more accurate to say that they rose well beyond the occasion and breezed through the test like they had a cheat sheet. This match was an instant classic. It was every bit as good as the Lance Storm/AJ Styles match from Nitro, and the Observer currently ranks it as our best singles match since the relaunch. I gave them close to forty minutes, and the match didn't drag for a single second. They built it up perfectly, knowing when to slow things down, when to build heat and when to have Rey explode with his exciting offense. Both guys did great here, but I was mildly surprised to see that Corino was actually slightly better tonight than Mysterio, one of the most talented workers in the world. Did he deserve the rub of retiring Flair? I think he answered that question beyond all doubt tonight.

The scheme laid out by Corino and Bischoff had been obstructed by RVD and O'Haire, so he needed to try and beat Rey on his own merits. He took the rather obvious route of grounding Mysterio with mat wrestling, focusing on his legs both to negate his flying and to soften him up for the figure four he'd "inherited" from Flair. Any time Rey was able to get to his feet and start flying, Bischoff would pound the mat and urge Corino to take him back down.

It was all a question of which style would prevail. Rey had things going his way after a big flurry, but Corino avoided a springboard attack and took him to the mat with a double leg. From there he quickly went for the figure four, but Rey countered into a small package! Nick Patrick hurried into position and counted once...



twice...




...but Corino kicked out just in time! He hurried to his feet, flustered by the counter and near defeat, and charged at Rey to put him right back down. Rey was ready for him though, using Corino's own momentum against him with a drop toehold that sent him throat-first across the middle rope. Rey struck from that position with a boomerang kick to the face, and as Corino staggered backwards, he was hit with the springboard hurricanrana. Patrick counted the one...





two...







...three! The classic bout was won by Rey Mysterio Jr. in 37:21, setting up a championship match against the man who injured him back at Bash at the Beach, Booker T.



Grade: A


After that incredible match it was time for the trophy presentation. I was joined by Teddy Hart and Nattie just like last year, except this time they're both already on the main roster. This year we were also joined by Davey Boy and his son Harry Smith, who is still currently working in Wildside. All of the others were just there to provide a bit of gravitas to the moment though, because I was the only Hart that spoke. I congratulated Rey on his win, said this match and this victory had been a great honor to witness, and handed him the trophy.

He shook my hand and thanked me. He paid homage to the man the tournament was named after, saying that even if he'd never met Stu, he knew his reputation and the respect he'd earned from everyone he'd ever worked with in wrestling. He said he was humbled by the win and thanked the fans for having his back. They'd supported him all these years, they continued to support him after the beating he'd been given by Booker T back in June that had him doubting himself, and they'd motivated him to come back better than ever. Now all that was left for them to keep supporting him as he defeated Booker T at Starrcade and silenced every doubter he'd ever had in his career by becoming the World Heavyweight Champion!

Rey has a tendency to stumble when he speaks off the cuff, so I gave him very specific talking points to focus on here. Not only was that a good idea, but after I came to the back and had a chance to rewatch the footage, I was really impressed with the job Tenay did on commentary at selling this as a historic moment. He talked about what an incredible and improbable journey this had been for Rey, a man constantly underestimated and overlooked because of his size, to win this tournament and earn a chance at the world title on the biggest show of the year. Mike sometimes goes over the top and sounds hokey when he tries to get an angle over, but he nailed it tonight. It was a great way to close the show.



Grade: A*


Show Overall Grade: A


Thanks once again to K-Nection for the poster!
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