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Default January 2003: Road to Sin


January 13th, 2003

From the Tucson Convention Center in Tucson, Arizona

Attendance: 8,916

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

The show opens with RVD in the ring, and he's not smiling or 'chill' like usual. He says Ric Flair was never one of his favorites growing up because he loved watching the guys who were agile and could fly, but he always respected Flair for everything he did during his career. He thought Flair would be the perfect person to watch his back against Eric Bischoff's Empire, but he underestimated Flair's desire for attention. "Well you've got my attention now, Ric. I know you're not here tonight, but the next time you show your face at a WCW show, you and I need to have a face-to-face!" (B+)

Sting returned to his winning ways with the Scorpion Deathlock on Elix Skipper. (B-)

Lance Storm comes into the aisle and congratulates Sting on his win, but says if he can be serious for a minute, Sting is part of WCW's past, while Lance is its present and future, and he'll prove it by beating him at Sin. Sting says he's welcome to try, but there's still plenty of venom left in this scorpion! (A)

Billy Kidman, Torrie Wilson and Teddy Hart are chatting near catering when Christopher Daniels and Brian Adams approach. Daniels mocks Hart for deferring to the man who pinned him at Starrcade, and says it didn't matter who won that Shootout and earned the Cruiserweight title match, because no one will be ending the sacred reign of the Fallen Angel any time soon. This leads to Teddy challenging Daniels and Adams to a tag team match on behalf of he and Kidman, and the match is agreed to for next week on Nitro. (C+)

The Hardys came to ringside to watch the next match, and with good reason: Arn Anderson had agreed with the Jung Dragons' point and granted them a title match at Sin. Hayashi and Yang sent a message to the observing champions by defeating Hayabusa and Jinsei Shinzaki with a double diving leg drop on Jinsei. (B)

Bobby Heenan is interviewing Jamie Knoble, asking him what comes next after he failed to beat Christopher Daniels for the Cruiserweight title at Starrcade. Knoble barely has time to admit it was a setback before The Empire barge into the camera shot. King Corino tells Knoble that he has a lot of nerve to take interview time away from true stars such as himself, and no one cares about what he has to say anyway. Knoble obviously doesn't appreciate the slight. He calls Corino disrespectful and says maybe he oughta teach him some manners inside the ring. Corino laughs the threat off as the group walks away. (B)

Bryan Danielson and Chavo Guerrero Jr. have been participating in a live chat with fans on all night, with Chavo constantly needling Danielson about losing his mask at Starrcade. He makes a comment about Danielson getting what he deserved for disgracing the traditions of lucha libre by wearing a mask in the first place, and finally Danielson has had enough. He says he does in fact respect the traditions of lucha, and with that in mind he challenges Chavo to a lucha libre staple at Sin: a two out of three falls match! Chavo hesitates at first, but realizing the cameras are rolling and he can't back off without losing face, he accepts the challenge. (C)

Harry Smith showed flashes of his potential with some powerful offense, but the experience and creativity of Mortis was too much for him to handle. (B)

Mortis and Alexander taunt Harry after the match, and Davey Boy shoves past them to check on his son. (B)

Booker T was MIA, but Bobby Roode had to put that out of his mind because he had a huge match against Diamond Dallas Page. Roode more than held his own and had Dallas in trouble for long stretches with some fine technical wrestling, but DDP ducked a Northern Lariat and snapped off the Diamond Cutter for the win. (B-)

In an interview with Bobby Heenan, Scott Steiner says Starrcade was a huge wake-up call for him. Rick says their recent misunderstanding is behind them, and they'll have a big announcement to make at Sin. (B)

Our next match held Sin implications: AJ Styles and Hugh Morrus teamed against Shane Douglas and Shane Helms, and if Douglas' team won, he would get his desired rematch against Styles at Sin. Despite some problems between Helms and his manager Kimberly, Douglas persevered and secured his rematch by pinning Hugh. (B)

Vignette: Made in Italy promise to grace us with their presence on January 26th and bring a little style to Sin. (C)

Fit Finlay drops by Arn Anderson's office to remind him (and us) of the fact that he's at nine successful defenses of his TV title, meaning with just one more he has the option of vacating the title and challenging for the US title, or he could try and get to 15 defenses and earn a crack at the World championship. Arn says he hasn't forgotten, and he wants to make sure that Fit's 10th title defense will be a memorable one. That's why he asked Fit here: to introduce him to the man who will challenge him at Sin. In walks Sean O'Haire, who says nothing and lets his imposing physical presence do his talking for him. (B)

Our main event saw Rey Mysterio Jr. in action for the first time since winning the World Heavyweight Championship, taking on Alexander. Alexander showed a much more aggressive style than we're used to seeing from him, but Rey still got the upper hand and looked to be closing in on the victory until The Unnatural came through the crowd and attacked him for the DQ. (B)

The rest of Salvation swarms the ring, forming a circle around Unnatural and the downed Rey. Unnatural crouches down next to Rey and speaks to him. "We're surrounded by a protective cocoon, Rey. This noble group of men who stand all around us saved me from my own hubris and gave me true purpose for the first time in my life. What is your purpose, Rey? Is it being the World Heavyweight Champion? Is it being a hero for all these impressionable children in the audience wearing your replica masks? All of those things are superficial, Rey. I'm going to take your title from you at Sin, but not out of greed or my own selfish desires. I will take it--for you. I will take it to help you shed this false skin you currently wear so you can find your true self, just as I did." (A*)

Show Grade: B+

January 18th, 2003

From the Sendai City Gymnasium in Sendai, Japan

Attendance: 7,000

Announce Team: Joey Styles and Tracy Brooks

Allison Corino has given great effort every time out but hadn't yet found victory on Renaissance. That changed tonight, as she pinned Sonoko Kato with an Oklahoma Roll. (D+)

New developmental call-up Momoe Nakanishi delivers a pre-taped introductory promo: she declares herself the "Genius of Pin" (referring to the fact that she can flawlessly execute intricate 'flash pin' sequences at any time.) (C-)

A video package shows Booker T losing the World Heavyweight Championship to Rey Mysterio Jr. at Starrcade, then leaving the building in a daze. The video poses the question of what is next for Booker T, who has not been seen in WCW since that night. (B+)

Takako Inoue recovered from her loss at Dancing with the Devil by defeating Kaori Yoneyama. (C)

Kyoko Inoue and Aja Kong cut promos on a singles match signed between them for next week, in which Kong will "unofficially" put her AAAW Singles title on the line. Inoue has held the title now recognized as the WCW World Women's Championship on three occasions, but she says she welcomes the chance to add the other major joshi championship to her trophy case. Kong says that she will demolish another challenger next week and continue to prove that she is the undisputed champion of the world. (C+)

Chigusa Nagayo promo: she says that she's disappointed she failed to defeat Aja Kong, but she won't let it discourage her or make her think it's time to call it quits on her career. She knows how close she was to winning that match, and the fans know it too. Chigusa promises not to give up and says she will continue to come to the ring and give it her all. (B)

Manami Toyota and Toshiyo Yamada renewed their partnership in our main event against Daffney and LuFisto (who probably need a team name since they'll be regular partners going forward.) It looked as if Daffney was about to hit Toyota with the mist in a replay of Dancing with the Devil, but Melissa Anderson ran down to the ring and distracted her. Yamada went on to get the win for her team, beating LuFisto with a Saito suplex immediately followed by a roundhouse kick to the head. (B)

Etsuko Mita comes to ringside and confronts Toyota, saying that Manami has been carrying "her" championship long enough, and now that she's put that "little pest" Alexis Laree behind her she wants it back. Toyota doesn't back down, telling her she'll meet her in the ring any time and any place. (A)

Show Grade: B

January 20th, 2003

From the Reno Events Center in Reno, Nevada

Attendance: 8,691

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

In our opener, Jamie Knoble tapped Cash out with a guillotine choke. (B)

Post-match, Knoble grabs a microphone and says that where he's from, you settle a grudge with your fists. King Corino insulted him last week, and he wants to make his statement in a match. Corino comes out and seems amused that Knoble even thinks he's worth his time. He's a future world champion, while Knoble is a nobody. "But hey, I've got a few open minutes to kill this Sunday, so I accept!" Corino says. (B+)

Billy Kidman and Teddy Hart used some nice high flying against Christopher Daniels and Brian Adams, but a cheap shot from Adams took Teddy out of the equation. Kidman fell victim to a two on one, and Daniels finished him with the Last Rites. (B)

A brief shot shows Rey Mysterio Jr. arriving at the building earlier in the day, with a voiceover revealing that he's said he's going to confront The Unnatural after Unnatural's main event match against Rob Van Dam. (B-)

Post-Nitro footage from last week: the Jung Dragons walk backstage and taunt the Hardys, who were still standing nearby after having watched the Dragons' match against Hayabusa and Shinzaki. They tell the Hardys that they had their moment at Starrcade, but at Sin the Dragons will finally get their chance and they aren't going to waste it. Jeff tells them to bring it on, because if heroes and ladders couldn't stop them, dragons won't be able to either. (B)

The Empire trio of TAKA, Candido and Palumbo beat Hugh Morrus, Konnan and Harry Smith after Palumbo hit the Thrill Ride on Smith. (B-)

Post-Nitro footage from last week: Shane Douglas gloats in AJ Styles' face about winning the tag match and earning his US title rematch. He says that merely pinning Styles to take his belt back wouldn't be satisfying enough, so he wants to make it a submission match. That would seem to be a disadvantage for AJ since he has no notable submissions at his disposal while Douglas has won many matches with the crossface, but he accepted those terms nevertheless. (B+)

In an interview with Bobby Heenan, Bobby Roode reveals that Booker T has told him he'll show up at Sin to address the fans. (B-)

Lance Storm warmed up for his match with Sting by submitting Ernest Miller. (B)

Post-match: Sting walks into the aisle and says he was very impressed with Storm's performance, and thinks he's very talented in general. "You may be annoying, but you're great! But how great are you? How great will you be when you have to dig down deep, and there's no partner to tag out to? How will you do when it's show time, and you're all on your own? On Sunday at Sin, we'll find out!" (A)

With Bryan Danielson watching on from commentary, Chavo Guerrero Jr. didn't have much trouble defeating local wrestler Jack Evans. (B)

Fit Finlay cuts a promo on Sean O'Haire. He says O'Haire already had his shot at the title and failed (only partially true; Finlay retained the title, but O'Haire won by DQ when Chuck Palumbo interfered.) But he won't complain about it, because he's no coward and has never backed down from a fight. O'Haire might be bigger and stronger, but Fit is tougher, and he'll prove it on Sunday in his 10th title defense. We then cut to a shot of O'Haire watching on a monitor, and he just smiles, eagerly anticipating his chance to win the first singles gold of his career. (B+)

We'll have to wait until Sunday to find out what the Steiners are going to announce, but tonight they were on the same page in a decisive beating of 3 Count. (B)

RVD is warming up for his main event match against The Unnatural when Roddy Piper walks up to him. He says he knows he has a lot on his mind tonight, but he wants to let him know that he's invited his old friend Ric Flair onto Piper's Pit Sunday at Sin, and Ric has accepted. Roddy extends an invitation to Rob as well, and RVD says he wouldn't think of missing it. (A)

Unnatural has the biggest match of his career on Sunday, but he couldn't afford to look past former World Heavyweight Champion Rob Van Dam. RVD brought the fight with his usual array of kicks and aerial maneuvers, including a split-legged moonsault that came a half a second away from ending the match. Unnatural got the knees up to block the Rolling Thunder, and that was a major turning point in the match. Unnatural Selection was delivered, and the #1 contender picked up a huge win less than a week before his championship challenge. (A)

As promised, Rey Mysterio Jr. comes to the ring after the match. He gets right in The Unnatural's face and says that he can try and play all these mind games, but they won't work. They didn't work when Rey beat him at Halloween Havoc, and they won't work now. The rest of Salvation come into the aisle at that point, and Unnatural smiles widely. "Don't you understand, Man of Mystery?" he says, taking a seat in the corner. "I am playing no games and spreading no falsehoods. When I speak of your 'American dream' becoming a nightmare before your very eyes, I speak from personal experience. When I caution you about the fleeting and superficial accomplishments you focus on, I do so as a man who once obsessed over those same things and had to learn the hard way that it was folly. I didn't tell you I'm going to help you find your true self because I hope to distract you. I told you I'm going to do so because you are in dire need of Salvation, and just like my brothers in the aisle once gave it to me, I will give it to you this Sunday at Sin." (A*)

Show Grade: A

January 25th, 2003

From the Gamagori Motorboat Place in Gamagori, Japan

Attendance: 7,912

Announce Team: Joey Styles and Tracy Brooks

Kyoko Inoue and Aja Kong cut pre-taped promos on tonight's main event, repeating some of the points they made last week. Inoue says Kong is tough but even she won't survive the Victoria Driver. (C)

Momoe Nakanishi made her in-ring debut, and the 'Genius of Pin' earned her name by pinning Sonoko Kato with the Momo*Latch. (C+)

Melissa Anderson comes to the ring and addresses the audience in passable Japanese. She says Nattie's eyes were damaged by the poison mist and she hasn't been cleared for a return yet, but in her absence Melissa will get revenge on Daffney and LuFisto. (D+)

Vignette: Devil Masami warns the audience, and the rest of the Renaissance roster, that the devil is far from vanquished. (B)

Meiko Satomura continued to add wins to her resume, this week defeating Kaori Yoneyama with the Scorpio Rising kick. (C+)

Vignette: Manami Toyota and Toshiyo Yamada are chatting at an autograph signing when Etsuko Mita taunts them with the announcement that Mita and Yamada will meet in a #1 contender's match next week. She assures the friends that the title won't come between them, because Yamada won't win the #1 contender's match and won't come anywhere close to Toyota's title. (B)

A lengthy video package hypes the Sin PPV tomorrow night, specifically focusing on the main event where The Unnatural will challenge Rey Mysterio Jr. for the World Heavyweight Championship. (B+)

Kyoko Inoue's best approach probably would have been to try and outwrestle Kong, but instead she tried to beat Aja at her own game. Kyoko is one of the biggest and toughest women on the roster, but this strategy didn't work too well for her. She tried several times to hit her Victoria Driver but could never manage to get Kong's bulk onto her shoulders for the move, and Aja's Uraken backfist put her down for the count. (B-)

Show Grade: B


Fan Scorecard:

World Heavyweight Championship: The Unnatural vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. {}

World Tag Team Championship: The Jung Dragons vs. The Hardys {}

Submission Match for the United States Heavyweight Championship: Shane Douglas vs. AJ Styles {}

World Television Championship: Sean O'Haire vs. Fit Finlay {}

Cruiserweight Championship: Billy Kidman vs. "Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels {}

Sting vs. Lance Storm

Jamie Knoble vs. King Corino

Two out of Three Falls: Bryan Danielson vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr.

What will be match of the night?

How many championships will change hands?

BONUS (worth three points): Who will be the next World Heavyweight Champion?

General diary comments/questions/critiques:

I now have four 99 rated matches. Two of them were PPV tag title matches between the Hardys and Heroes. The other two are random main events on Nitro...both featuring The Unnatural.

Originally Posted by K-Nection View Post
It is kind of sad to see Aja Kong in time decline (You have really hit some bad luck with that when it comes to your vets) but she will do great for you in protected situations. I'm seeing her as a female Undertaker in his last two years of full time kind of role.
It wasn't bad luck in Kong's case. The mod gives her a decline age of 30.

Originally Posted by kinnikuniverse View Post
Back on topic. though It would take a million years for the American female workers to match the japanese ones, like IRL, I do hope that they improve to a good level! Wonder if you'd put them on nitro once they reach that level.
I'd be beyond thrilled if any of them ever come close to Toyota in the ring. Not that long ago I believe she was one of only two or three people in the entire company that the game rated as 'Excellent' workers, though that number is increasing. (Kaz Hayashi FTW!) They're developing okay, but the Japanese women are understandably carrying the brand in an in-ring sense. Fourteen of the Renaissance women are rated as 'Great' in-ring workers or above, and thirteen of those are Japanese, with the lone exception being Nattie. Alexis is on my Next Big Things list and Melissa and Allison Corino are on the Hot Prospects, so hopefully they'll see some great growth over time.

They started on Nitro, but going back there would feel like a demotion. I think carrying their own brand where they're the focus makes the women a much bigger deal than being in the middle of the card on Nitro. You may see them occasionally pop up on Nitro for promos and possibly some kind of mixed tag if the storyline called for it, but other than that, Renaissance is their home.

Also, was bret really popular in japan? I know he fought misawa and tiger mask (sayama), but other than that, i thought it was owen who's the more popular hart, due to him being a regular in NJPW before WWF.
I wouldn't rate him as exceptionally popular in Japan, but that's where he's at now. Keep in mind that he's been the color guy on Nitro from the very beginning, and I have huge TV exposure in Japan. I think this mod does in general overrate the international popularity of major American stars though. Guys like Austin and Rock start at or near 100 popularity across the board, but I wouldn't rate them anywhere near that high in Japan specifically.

Originally Posted by michgcs View Post
Damn, I whiffed on a lot of my picks. It sure as hell's lonely at the bottom

I liked the show, though. Lot of nice grades and logical steps forward. I just thought Alexis would be good enough to earn the win, and ditto with Nattie and Melissa.

Can't wait to see what you have in store for the gorgeous ladies of WCW Renaissance
Both of those matches absolutely could have gone either way. So much so that I didn't have a winner written down in my notes ahead of time for either of those matches, and instead left the decision until it was time to put the show together in the game.

I have to say that seeing the way your own NXT brand has worked out was a big inspiration in me wanting to try this whole experiment out, so thanks for that!
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