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Default December 2002: Road to Starrcade, Part II


December 16th, 2002

From Claremont Showgrounds in Claremont, Australia

Attendance: 9,492

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

King Corino forced Ernest Miller to tap out to the figure four. (B)

Eric Bischoff cuts a post-match promo for King Corino, claiming that Corino is too angry to speak. The source of that anger is Rob Van Dam, who took it upon himself to wreck the grand plans of The Empire. "Haven't you seen what we do to people who stand in our way, Rob? Ask Ric Flair, if you can pull him away from his intense shuffleboard games at the retirement center!" RVD responds, but not with words; he sneaks in from behind wielding a steel chair and throws it at Corino's face as he turns around in response to the roar from the crowd! Corino reacts in time to catch the chair, but that plays right into RVD's hands--Van Daminator! Bischoff yells for help from the back, but RVD escapes over the guardrail before any more Empire members can show up. (A*)

The Smiths teamed up to defeat Disco Inferno and Flash Flanagan, Davey Boy watching on proudly as his son finished Flanagan with a running powerslam. (C)

The Jung Dragons interrupt the post-match celebration. They complain about WCW prioritizing the "feel-good" story of the father-son team and giving them matches on Nitro while the most underrated tag team in the world (them, of course) isn't given a chance to showcase themselves. The Smiths say they don't make the matches, but they'd be happy to "give the Dragons a chance" to prove themselves any time they want. (C-)

In-ring promo: Chavo Guerrero Jr. says he chose to try and be a mentor to American Dragon because he thought his mask signified a respect of lucha libre and of an established luchador like himself, but clearly he was wrong. He calls Dragon a disrespectful punk, says he's a disgrace to wrestling and doesn't deserve to wear a mask. He formally challenges Dragon to turn their Starrcade match into a mask vs. hair match, and Dragon appears on the video screen to accept! (C+)

Rick Steiner joined the team as a guest commentator and watched as his brother did what he could not, overpowering a very game Bobby Roode and getting the submission with the Steiner Recliner. (B)

Post-match: Booker T ignores his downed understudy and cuts a promo. He calls it ridiculous that he should have to earn a main event that should be his by rights, but guarantees victory tonight as long as Rey Mysterio Jr. "stays out of the way and lets the champ get the job done!" (A)

In an interview with Bobby Heenan, Jamie Knoble takes no offense to Chrstopher Daniels calling him a "country boy." He says he's a country boy and dang proud of it, and he'll fight like only a country boy can at Starrcade. (C)

Konnan served as Fit Finlay's challenger tonight. Finlay got the pin and made his 8th successful title defense, but only after outside interference from Mortis and the unknown masked "brother" of Salvation. (C+)

Vignette: the DDP/Kimberly/Shane Helms saga is recapped, with comments from both. DDP says Kimberly is free to do whatever she wants now that they're no longer together, but she and Helms continued to stick their noses into his business, so now he'll end it at Starrcade. Helms mocks DDP as an old man who has no clue what's in store for him at Starrcade. Kimberly attempts to offer her own two cents more than once, but Helms talks over her. (B-)

Vignette: Made in Italy introduce the woman who completes their unit like the perfect pair of shoes accents any ensemble: Dawn Marie. (D)

We see pre-taped promos from all four participants in the 4 corners #1 contender's match at Starrcade. One wrinkle all four touch on is that Sting and Chris Candido will be fighting alone, but there's a high probability that The Unnatural and The Destroyer will work together. (A)

AJ Styles gave up lots of size to Chuck Palumbo, but that didn't intimidate him. The #1 contender to the US title did very well for himself thanks to his superior speed, and may well have won the match if Shane Douglas hadn't come down and smacked his head into the ring post while Tammy Sytch distracted the referee. Palumbo was subsequently able to hit the Thrill Ride for the tainted pin. (B)

Palumbo is celebrating when Sean O'Haire hits the ring, and the former Natural Born Thrillers brawl as we cut to a commercial. (B+)

In a brief clip, we're welcomed into the office of Arn Anderson, who reveals he's received another note. It reads "You can't stop me." It's not handwritten and so we can't be sure who it came from, but Arn has his suspicions. "Please don't push me on this," he pleads. "Don't make me do something we'll both regret." (C)

In a promo recorded from their home in Cameron, North Carolina, the Hardys reveal they have mixed feelings about who they want to win tonight's main event. "We'd love to be in the main event of Starrcade, but Rey's a cool dude and rooting for the Heroes just feels wrong," Jeff says. They say that whether they're in the first match, the main event or anywhere in between, they'll thrill the fans in Australia and all around the world with their performance, and in the end they'll climb that ladder and take those belts back. (A)

Our main event had huge implications for Starrcade, so despite their differences Rey Mysterio Jr. and Booker T did attempt to work together. Their problems were twofold. One, we'd previously learned that they didn't function well together as a team, and two, their opponents were perhaps the greatest team in the world today. The Heroes obviously had the superior teamwork from the word go, but the individual efforts of the World Heavyweight Champion and the 2002 winner of the Stu Hart Classic were enough to keep this match competitive. Ultimately it was an errant axe kick from Booker that caught Rey when Punk ducked that made all the difference. The Heroes threw Booker to the floor and wasted no time in hitting the Heroic Finish. (A)

Post-match: Booker T snaps! He assaults Rey in the ring, pummeling him with punches and hitting the Book End. In a callback to the incident that injured Rey at Bash at the Beach, he pulls back the protective mats on the floor and teases hitting the Book End on the concrete, but officials and fellow wrestlers rush out and succeed in stopping him. (A*)

Show Grade: A*

December 21st, 2002

From the Hokkaido Sports Center in Hokkaido, Japan

Attendance: 7,508

Announce Team: Joey Styles and Tracy Brooks

Manami Toyota and Devil Masami cut pre-taped promos hyping their championship rematch announced for the debut Renaissance PPV on January 12th, now titled 'Dancing with the Devil.' (B)

Last week Daffney aided Mayumi Ozaki in her win over Melissa Anderson, and this week the two teamed up to defeat freelancers Yuu Yamagata and Aki Kambayashi. (C-)

Post-match: Ozaki cuts a promo mocking Melissa and Nattie Neidhart, saying it doesn't matter who they are or who they're related to, because she and Daffney will erase them from the public's memory if they have the guts to face them at Dancing with the Devil. Melissa and Nattie step out to accept the challenge. (C-)

With Alexis Laree watching from commentary, Etsuko Mita took care of Kaori Yoneyama with the Death Valley Driver. (B-)

Candid footage: Shinobu Kandori confronts Meiko Satomura during an autograph session, saying she's sick of hearing all the hype about Meiko as a future star on Renaissance and wants to crush that hype inside the ring. Meiko accepts the challenge, and we've got another match set for the PPV. (C)

Kyoko Inoue stepped into the aisle to watch, but Takako Inoue didn't allow that to derail her as she defeated freelancer Yumi Ohka with the Takako Panic. (C-)

Video footage of the previous Nitro airs, along with the announcement of a blockbuster main event for the final Nitro before Starrcade: Rey Mysterio Jr. teams with Matt and Jeff Hardy against Booker T and True Heroes in a star-studded six man tag! (A*)

Former All Japan Women's talent/tag team champion Tanny Mouse attempted to earn a full-time spot in Renaissance by beating World Champion Manami Toyota in a non-title bout. A desperate Tanny showed aggression and gave Toyota a tougher match than most analysts expected, but Manami put her away with the Ocean Cyclone Suplex. (B-)

Chigusa Nagayo comes to the ring and says enough is enough where it comes to Aja Kong. If Kong holds it against her that GAEA is gone, fine, but she's not going to sit back and serve as her personal punching bag. Kong says that she's the true world champion and her belt's the only one that matters, so surely she should be willing to defend that title against Chigusa? Kong appears on the video screen, and she laughingly accepts the challenge. Another big match is set for Dancing with the Devil! (B)

Show Grade: B

December 23rd, 2002

From the Townsville Entertainment Centre in Townsville, Australia

Attendance: 5,257

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

Rey Mysterio Jr. and the Hardys cut a backstage promo on tonight's six man tag main event. They appear to be on the same page as they talk about taking down their foes and making a statement six days before the biggest night of the year. (A)

In a preview of the four corners #1 contender's match, Sting and Chris Candido made an unlikely team against The Destroyer and The Unnatural. Sting and Candido had zero trust for one another, so it was no surprise to see their uneasy partnership disintegrate. The Unnatural Selection on Candido spelled the end. (B)

Bobby Heenan introduces another Made in Italy vignette. Mamaluke, Parisi and Dawn Marie say that it doesn't matter which team leaves Starrcade with the tag team championship, because it'll be Made in Italy that gives WCW the makeover it needs. (C-)

Rob Van Dam promo: he says that he knows he's fighting not just King Corino this Sunday, but all of The Empire. They'd conspired as a group to eliminate him from the Stu Hart Classic, and they would've swarmed him last week if he hadn't been prepared to escape. He teases that he won't walk into Starrcade alone, because he'll be bringing an "equalizer" along with him. (B+)

Harry Smith went one-on-one with Kaz Hayashi six days before they'll meet in tag action. Both of their partners were ringside to offer encouragement, but it was left to the men in the ring to settle it. Smith's superior strength shone through, but Hayashi exploited his experience advantage by baiting the rookie into a false sense of security and catching him off-guard with a cradle. (B)

A video package recaps the saga of Sean O'Haire and Chuck Palumbo, from their origins as Power Plant graduates and part of the Natural Born Thrillers faction, their nearly year-long reign as World Tag Team Champions, and Palumbo's betrayal to join The Empire at the Japan Supershow. It all comes to a head in a street fight at Starrcade. (B+)

Eric Bischoff is an unwelcome guest in Arn Anderson's office. He says that he and Arn both know what's going on right now; they know who RVD plans to bring to Starrcade. "I personally ran that bum out of WCW, and if you allow him to come crawling back, my lawyers will sue you for everything you're worth!" Bischoff shouts. (B-)

We previewed Sunday's Cruiserweight Showcase with a six man tag, Billy Kidman, Hayabusa and Teddy Hart against TAKA, Psychosis and Cash. Aerial high spots abound here, and TAKA got the win for his team with the Michinoku Driver on Hart. (B-)

Both Steiners cut pre-taped promos on Sunday's singles match. Rick says it's a shame it had to come to this, but Scott's always been a hothead. That's why he broke up the team in the first place to join the nWo, and it's why this match is necessary so he can remind Scott he never had to be "carried" to anything. Scott showed his customary confidence. He says he loves his brother and might send one of his freaks to cheer him up after the match, but once that bell rings "Big Poppa Pump" will treat him like any other victim. (B)

We cut to the parking lot, where King Corino and the rest of The Empire are assaulting Rob Van Dam! Corino bounces RVD's head off of the hood of a car repeatedly as he asks him where his "equalizer" is at to help him make it to Starrcade? Event security run out to escort The Empire away, but RVD is left down and in obvious pain. (A*)

Six days before his Cruiserweight title shot, Jamie Knoble took on Christopher Daniels' backup, Brian Adams. Adams threw Knoble around for a bit, but the gutsy Cruiserweight used his technical skill to cut the big man down to size. He was attempting to lock in his guillotine choke when Daniels entered the ring and attacked Knoble for a dq. (B-)

Hugh Morrus and Konnan cut a promo on the match they'd received upon request: a tag match against Mortis and the newest member of Salvation at Starrcade. They don't know who the newest "brother" is and don't care, because both he and Mortis are due for a beating. (C-)

Bobby Heenan interviews American Dragon. He says he donned his mask out of tribute and respect to the traditions of lucha libre, and he'll follow that honored tradition by putting his mask on the line just as the luchadors do. He calls Chavo a "phony" who weaseled his way into Dragon's career like a parasite, and at Starrcade he'll teach his so-called "teacher" a thing or two. (C)

AJ Styles and Diamond Dallas Page teamed up against the Shanes (Douglas and Helms.) Both singles matches were previewed without giving too much away, and some mistimed interference from Kimberly set Helms up to be finished with the Styles Clash. (B)

Booker T and True Heroes cut a promo moments before heading out for the main event. There's still some tension there, with Booker bristling as the Heroes brag about headlining Starrcade, but all three agree that they need to work together to make sure the final scene before Starrcade is them with their hands raised. (A*)

The top two matches at Starrcade were previewed in one huge six man tag. No one went all out here, and there was just a taste of the two big matches rather than extended periods of Booker versus Rey and the Heroes against the Hardys. Rey hit a springboard hurricanrana on Punk, but Booker slipped into the ring to break up the pin. The match dissolved after that, all six men meeting in the ring and fighting. The referee threw the match out, ruling it a no contest, but it was all about Rey battling Booker and the Heroes brawling with the Hardys as the show closed. (B+)

Show Grade: A

December 28th, 2002

From the Iizuka Car Race Place in Iizuka, Japan

Attendance: 5,000

Announce Team: Joey Styles and Tracy Brooks

The show opens with pre-taped promos for tonight's main event: a huge tag match pitting Manami Toyota and Chigusa Nagayo against Devil Masami and Aja Kong. (B)

Alexis Laree got the better of Sonoko Kato with a tornado DDT. (C)

Etsuko Mita steps into the aisle after the match and promises to wipe the floor with Alexis at Dancing with the Devil, proving once and for all that Alexis' win over her was a fluke. (C+)

Mayumi Ozaki is conspicuous by her absence, but Daffney is joined by LuFisto as they attack Melissa and Nattie in the backstage area. (C)

Allison Corino did her best, but Takako Inoue defeated her with the 'Takako Panic' flying knee. (B-)

Takako talks trash about Kyoko Inoue, calling her a fool for rejecting the obvious benefits of a partnership. Kyoko comes out to confront her and says Takako has been too busy styling her hair and looking into a mirror for her to be worth anything as a partner, which leads Takako to hurl insults at Kyoko and her face paint. The end result is that they agree to a singles match at Dancing with the Devil. (C)

A lengthy Starrcade video package is aired, focusing on the Booker T vs. Rey Mysterio Jr, True Heroes vs. Hardys and Rob Van Dam vs. King Corino matches. Fans are urged not to miss the biggest show of the year, tomorrow night from Australia! (A*)

The two title matches for Dancing with the Devil (well, one official and one unofficial) were previewed in the main event of the night. All four women got their time to shine and took it to their rival for a bit, but the turning point of the match came when Aja Kong entered the ring as the illegal woman and hit an unsuspecting Nagayo with a Uraken backfist to the back of the head. Nagayo was out after that, but Masami slapped on her sleeper for good measure as Kong prevented Toyota from making the save. (B)

Show Grade: B+


Fan Scorecard:

Ladder Match for the World Tag Team Championship: The Hardys vs. True Heroes {}

World Heavyweight Championship: Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Booker T {}

United States Heavyweight Championship: AJ Styles vs. Shane Douglas {}

Cruiserweight Championship: Jamie Knoble vs. "Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels {}

Rob Van Dam vs. King Corino

"Big Poppa Pump" Scott Steiner vs. Rick Steiner

Street Fight: Sean O'Haire vs. Chuck Palumbo

World Heavyweight Championship #1 Contender's match: Sting vs. Chris Candido vs. The Destroyer vs. The Unnatural

Mask vs. Hair: American Dragon vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr.

Diamond Dallas Page vs. "Sugar" Shane Helms

Cruiserweight Shootout: Billy Kidman vs. Hayabusa vs. Teddy Hart vs. Cash vs. Psychosis vs. TAKA

Hugh Morrus and Konnan vs. Mortis and ???

The Smiths vs. The Jung Dragons

What will be match of the night?

How many championships will change hands?

Who or what is Rob Van Dam's "equalizer"?

Who is the newest member of Salvation?

TIEBREAKER: How long will the main event be? (minutes and seconds)

General diary comments/questions/critiques:

Originally Posted by michgcs View Post
Ah, didn't know that was a thing LOL but then again I'm only used to playing with WWE Hopefully you get the chance to sign him down the road.
I've actually discovered a workaround that I could use to sign Nakamura immediately (without having to go into the editor), but I'm undecided on whether I want to use it because it feels like a bit of an exploit. Not sure what I'm going to do...

Originally Posted by DiamondKnucklez View Post
like the set of Shows. I enjoy the concept of Made In Italy, hopefully they can execute well both on promos and matches. If so, they could achieve some future success in a tag division that will eventually get small once you break up The Hardy Boyz and True Heroes. Im sute once you make that decision though you'll have newer teams. Its a shane you can't sign Nakamura. Though, I expect you to pull a big surprise on us once you can sign him. Best of luck to you on Starcade, hyped for it!
It's interesting comparing the performances of Made in Italy. Parisi's microphone skill improved greatly down in Wildside (to the point that he's now among the top 5 with an in-ring push on Nitro going purely off of that one stat), but most of their dark show matches have included a note that Mamaluke carried the action. Hopefully they'll be able to offset each others' weaknesses and make for a strong team.

I'm hyped for Starrcade too!

Originally Posted by K-Nection View Post
Hardys vs. True Heroes is going to be amazing. Booker T vs Rey as well. AJ vs Shane is going to be a great sleeper match as well.
Don't forget about RVD vs. Corino. Their angles to build their match up have gotten better grades than any of the other feuds.

I missed the detail somewhere is Renaissance going to have a specific name for their PPV or is it just Renaissance?
Yeah, as you can now see I had a name in mind but held back on announcing it because it was tied to the character. I should've pmed you with it before you took the time to design a poster!

Originally Posted by smartman View Post
It's International if you're doing Semi and impossible if it is Full, so likely it won't be until he hits International. Considering I don't think he's hit National yet, that will be a ways off since you have to be bigger in your home area for that than at National. He should jump straight to it once he gets the US pop up since Japan and Australia are as big or bigger as his US pop.
Australia is slightly ahead in pop, and Japan's slightly behind. I'm closer to National in US than I would be in Japan or Australia though, I guess because of the differences in regional importance.

Originally Posted by smartman View Post
You can't jump two levels anymore, at least when you're going up for the first time. You have to only reach 65 importance in 8 areas in the US to hit National, but you have to hit 71 in those 8 areas to hit International (plus Cult in 3 other regions). So he's not going to hit International any time soon since he's not at National yet, and going from 65 importance to 71 takes an eternity in 16 (8 or so pop for most regions at that blissful 0.4 per show rate).'ll take me a LONG time to hit 71 importance in 8 US regions. I have 5 that are already there, but the last few will be very slow going it appears.
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