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Join Date: May 2008
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Default April 6th, 2003: Unified



April 6th, 2003

From Sapporo, Japan

Attendance: 23,000

Announce Team: Joey Styles, Tracy Brooks and Bret "The Hitman" Hart






Official Theme Song: "Seven Nation Army" by The White Stripes


Quote:
Nattie Neidhart vs. Shinobu Kandori

A few hours after her very real ass kicking at the hands of Momoe Nakanishi, it was time for Shinobu to go to work. This match was nothing special, but it was a decent opener that got the show started on a positive note. Both women were at about the same level of performance here, each doing their job and getting the crowd hotter. Shinobu worked some of her judo techniques into the match and tried to maneuver for a submission, but Nattie fought her off and hit a discus clothesline to get the pin. Nattie was always going to get the win here, but Kandori did her long term prospects no favors with her antics earlier in the day.


Grade: C+
Quote:
Momoe Nakanishi vs. LuFisto

This match was a bit of a step up from the opener. The bulk of the credit for that belongs to Momoe. While LuFisto is solid, Momoe was definitely leading the way here. She's a very likeable babyface, and her personality as an expert of flash pins continues to get more over. She went for several such pin variations throughout the match, with LuFisto continuing to kick out. LuFisto's greatest success in the match came when she was able to get down and dirty and turn things into more of a brawl, but the Momo*Latch resulted in a second straight babyface win.


Grade: B-
Quote:

We aired a video recapping the dispute between Aja Kong and Manami Toyota over who is the true world champion, with comments from both women. The story started back in January 2002, when Kong left AJW and focused on her work in GAEA, in the process vacating what was then known as the WWWA World title. That was the title that eventually wound up becoming renamed the WCW World Women's Championship when we purchased AJW, and months later when we bought GAEA as well, Aja Kong joined our roster and brought that promotion's top title, the AAAW Singles belt, with her.

Aja glared into the camera and said no one had been good enough to beat her for the belt Manami now wore, just like no one was good enough to take the AAAW Singles title now. She cannot be beaten, and tonight all of Manami's adoring fans in Sapporo will be forced to watch as their hero is put in her place. For her part, Manami said she knew she was in for a grave challenge tonight. She'd battled Aja many times over the years, and it was a fierce battle each time. Sometimes she won, as she did in March 1995 when she ended Aja's nearly two and a half year long reign as WWWA World Champion. Sometimes she lost, and she was not ashamed of that. But this was a new day, a new era and a new world for women's wrestling, and she planned on proving to all the fans watching all around the world that she is the greatest female wrestler on the planet.

Tracy's commentary was noticeably weak here, but the segment itself was great and it made an already hot story even hotter as we prepare for the big main event.



Grade: A
Quote:
Toshiyo Yamada vs. Takako Inoue

I expected this to be pretty good, and I wasn't disappointed. This was the best match of the night to this point, with both women doing a good job. I thought Takako was slightly better, probably because she's more charismatic and can project as a star better than Yamada, who is talented but not much of an entertainer. That said, the work of both women was good, showcasing their well-rounded skillsets.

Toshiyo threw lots of kicks here as per usual, and Takako made a show of trying to avoid taking any blows to the face. (Not that that wouldn't be a logical thing to do, but here it was more about her being superficially concerned with her appearance.) Inoue did some nice heel work, playing to the fans when she had control and mockingly asking Toshiyo if "oneesama" (big sister, a reference to her partner Manami Toyota in this case) was too busy to worry about her tonight. Takako's arrogance came back to bite her when Toshiyo connected with a flurry of kicks, culminating with a corkscrew roundhouse kick to the face that finished her off.



Grade: B
Quote:
Ultimate Fan Series Finals: #3 Sin-free Society vs. #4 Satyr's Hopeful Few (series tied 1-1)
Daffney (Society) vs. Melissa Anderson (S.H.F.)


This was obviously a big match with the UFS implications, and there's also some history between these two with the tag team feud between Our Generation and the Daffney/LuFisto pairing. I had originally envisioned doing a big blowoff tag match for that feud on this show, but that plan was abandoned when I decided to take advantage of the timing of this show and include the UFS finals here. Unfortunately, it turned out that these two women just didn't work well together at all without their partners there to join in. Both women worked hard, with Melissa's performance being slightly better. The match itself was fine, but obviously it could've gone better without the bad chemistry in place to drag it down.

The idea we sold here was that Melissa was the more skilled wrestler, but Daffney's wild and unpredictable style made it difficult for "Arn's niece" to gain the upper hand. She even teased spitting the poison mist at one point, but seemed to think better of it when Charles Robinson insisted she would be disqualified (and thus put the Society one loss away from elimination.) Eventually Melissa rattled Daffney's brains with a spinebuster and got the duke with a bridging German suplex, putting the Hopeful Few ahead in the series 2-1.



Grade: C+
Quote:
Chigusa Nagayo vs. Etsuko Mita (w/Eric Bischoff)

There was a pre-match package recapping the feud, with comments from both participants interspersed. Mita did a good job with her delivery, coming across as genuinely dismissive of anything she could hope to learn from Chigusa, and Bischoff added to that simply by standing there and being his naturally smug self. Tracy's announcing was again a detriment to the segment, but it was still a strong one.


Grade: A


I had pretty high hopes for this one, so I gave them a good amount of time and told them to start off slow and really draw out the drama for maximum effect on the fans. Both Chigusa and Etsuko thrived under those directions, each turning in strong performances. I'd say Chigusa was slightly better, but it's splitting hairs and honestly irrelevant because their output was well above any other match to this point.

With Bischoff egging her on, Mita went out of her way to try and show up the veteran. It worked well because Etsuko is a very good heel, but even more importantly, Chigusa is a truly top notch babyface. The fans love her and naturally rally around her, and it enhances every match she's in. The fans urged her on, cheering when she kicked out of a superplex, sighing in relief when she evaded Mita's signature Death Valley Driver, and coming to their feet when she executed a folding powerbomb. They were momentarily disappointed when Mita got a shoulder up just before three, but the veteran wasted no time in going right back on the attack. She pulled Etsuko to her feet and hit her with the 'Super Freak II' (a spinning Doctor Bomb), and there was no kick-out this time.



Grade: B+
Quote:
Meiko Satomura vs. Devil Masami

The first singles meeting between these two in WCW was less about the action and more about the story being told. That might have kept the match from fulfilling its maximum potential, but it also wasn't helped by Devil having an off night. When she was supposed to be ruthlessly punishing Meiko, her offense just didn't look as credible as it usually does. There's nothing negative to be said about Meiko's performance, though Devil still contributed slightly more to the match based on her good brawling skills and superior charisma. The match itself was fairly good, but I'd be lying if I said I hadn't expected it to be better. Still, I tentatively viewed it as the third best match coming in, which was why I put it in this semi main event slot to act as a bit of a buffer between Chigusa/Mita and the main event.

The story here was that Devil was more interested in trying to beat on her opponent than actually win the match, even passing up multiple potential pinning situations in order to inflict more punishment. Meiko had no such qualms, but she found Masami to be a tough nut to crack. She thought she had an opportunity to connect with her signature Scorpio Rising kick, but Masami had actually been suckering her in and put her on her back with a hard lariat. From there Devil slapped on her sleeper hold, which has made numerous opponents pass out. Meiko squirmed and struggled, but was fading fast. Just when it seemed like she was done, she summoned one last bit of fight. Meiko burst out of Devil's grip, surprised her with a go-behind and rolled her up for a sudden three count, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.



Grade: B-
Quote:

Aja Kong {} vs. Manami Toyota {}

The pace of this match became clear right from the opening bell, when rather than coming after each other and getting the action started off quickly, the two champions had a staredown in the center of the ring. Make no mistake: this was going to be a slow, deliberate match that gradually built to high drama later on. Given Aja's physical limitations at this point of her career, I figured this was for the best. Trusting in the psychological savvy of Toyota, I let them call this one in the ring and do whatever they felt was best to keep the crowd invested. They had a very good match, but I think it'd be fair to say it was a slight disappointment. It was clearly a step down from Manami's title match with Devil Masami from the first Renaissance PPV, and even Kong's semi main event against Chigusa Nagayo from the same show was slightly better than this. It was good, but Nagayo vs. Mita wound up being the best match from this show, which I would not have expected heading in. I can't blame Toyota too much for that though. She did her part and had another great individual outing, probably the best all night, but Kong just couldn't match her level.

The story early on was Toyota throwing dropkicks, flying forearms and a bevy of other attacks at Kong, only for her to shrug each and every one off with little to no effect and dare Manami to try and stop her. She did stagger Aja with a missile dropkick, but when she went back up top to try and repeat the move, Kong caught her out of mid-air and drove her into the mat with a powerslam. Thus began an extended run of Kong brutalizing her smaller opponent with slams, splashes and strikes. Toyota beautifully sold having the breath knocked out of her body with a splash from the second rope, but still got a shoulder up before she could be defeated. Manami ducked underneath the Uraken backfist and started rallying back with some forearms before heading back up to the top rope, but she was again thwarted. This time Aja cut her off and launched her halfway across the ring with a military press. With a smile, Aja slapped Manami across the face a few times before lifting her into the air and delivering a vicious Aja Bomb! The fans in Sapporo went silent as Charles Robinson counted once, twice...








...but Toyota got a shoulder up before the three! Aja let out an angry snarl and began peppering Manami with blows to the face. She picked Toyota up for a powerbomb, but the WCW World Champion showed championship poise by countering it into a facebuster. Manami went back to the top rope yet again, and yet again Kong was there to greet her. She climbed up and joined Toyota on the ropes this time, intending to throw her back down from an elevated height. She wrapped her hand around Manami's throat in what apparently was going to be a chokeslam, but Toyota blocked it and rocked Kong with several forearms to the face. But with her back to the floor and Aja's bulk being almost impossible to move from that angle, there wasn't much Toyota could do to follow up.

Knowing she was in a bad position, Manami slid through Kong's legs until her feet were back on the mat, but they weren't there for long. She quickly climbed back up the ropes, standing on the top rope behind Kong. Those who knew Toyota's pre-WCW career well came to their feet, recognizing this setup...and sure enough, she nailed the Victory Star Drop! Not even the mighty Kong was kicking out of that one!



Grade: B+



I came into the ring after the match and presented Toyota with both titles, officially making her the undisputed world champion and #1 women's wrestler in the world. (We probably won't refer to the belt as the undisputed/unified title or anything like that though; I'd like to keep it simple.) She shook my hand and bowed, then took the microphone to thank the fans. While I couldn't understand her speech to the Japanese fans, there was no doubt that it got over. I rewatched it later with subtitles, and basically she'd thanked the fans for their support, said it felt good to remove any doubt about the validity of her status as the world champion, and promised that she would continue to represent Renaissance and WCW as the champion with pride until someone rose to the occasion and defeated her. She asked the fans to continue watching and supporting Renaissance and WCW, because together, WCW and the fans can change the wrestling world!

I felt it was necessary for someone to present Toyota with the two belts to drive the moment home, and there was no one better than me to do it. My presence was really missed at the desk though. Tracy did a poor job on color, and it was magnified without me there to help Joey mask her weaknesses. She does continue to improve, but it's going more slowly than I'd like. I'm not sure we have a better option though. Anyway, the promo itself was great and sent the fans home happy.



Grade: A


Show Overall Grade: B+






Lots of speculation about who Vince is trying to steal, which is obviously what I was going for! I'm not going to give anything away here, but I'll probably include another little teaser in the post-Unified story update tomorrow.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluestillidie00 View Post
Predicting RVD or Rey is caught up in the bidding war. Maybe Punk?

Anyway, good to see you back dude, favourite diary by far.
Thanks, I appreciate it! It's nice to know so many people are enjoying this and are happy to see it return from its brief hiatus. Sometimes I need to take a bit of a step back to recharge the batteries and focus on other things, and it's reassuring that people are willing to wait those periods out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GingeyOne View Post
General diary comments/questions/critiques: Great to have you back! I am writing this from a Japanese laundrette on my trip to Wrestle Kingdom! Cool to see Jericho get the big push in this WWE after his amazing performance against Omega. It has really revitalised me as a fan of his!
Oh man, I'm seriously jealous! I hope you enjoyed yourself. I'd love to see an NJPW show live, never mind Wrestle Kingdom. I'm not a huge fan of flying though, so I probably wouldn't do well on a trip halfway across the world. Other than ROH regulars like Cody and the Bucks, the only NJPW guys I get to see live are the ones that come to ROH on excursion (so Hiromu/Kamaitachi in 2016, and Jay White, Sho and Yoh last summer. If ROH comes to my area in the summer again like they have for the past several years, maybe I'll be seeing Kitamura this time?)

I'm totally with you on Jericho. I've been a fan of his ever since he turned heel in WCW and had that incredibly entertaining run in the cruiserweight division. I was kind of sad watching him wrestle AJ Styles a couple of years ago, because it just didn't impress me. His angles with Kevin Owens were a lot of fun, but this whole thing with Omega has just been on a different level. The build-up was great, but the match really blew me away! It was quite possibly my favorite Jericho match ever. The only other contender I can really think of was that ladder match he had with Shawn, but that was what, over nine years ago? He's always been a master of reinventing himself and adding different facets to his character, but I never would've thought he'd have a match of this caliber in 2018!

Quote:
Looking forward to he bidding wars to begin. It will be interesting to see the lay of the land after it all. Defections are something Wrestling is missing these days!
I totally agree. That's one of the reasons I wanted to do something in this time period rather than a later one where WWE had already taken everything over. I think the game world has gotten a whole lot more interesting now that I've hit national. WWE can steal my guys, but I'm in a position to try and do the same!

Quote:
Originally Posted by kinnikuniverse View Post
Aw, sucks for doi! Btw are you gonna open dragon gate, like you mentioned back then?
Yeah, I probably should.

Quote:
OMG, wrestle kingdom was awesome! Just when i thought that new japan sucks now that nakamura and shibata are gone and that they lost what made them unique thanks to too many foreigners and going American, they deliver an awesome show that surpassed my expectation!
I understand what you mean. Gedo was apparently a big fan of American territory wrestling, and it shows in his booking. The product is a blend of US wrestling and traditional Japanese style, for better or worse.

Quote:
Honestly, i loved new japan more when it was obscure and Japanese and an Internet only thing.Im sorry, I know thats hipster AF, but That's really how i feel.
While I've watched certain individual matches and shows from Japan since about 1999, that was pretty infrequent and I only became an avid New Japan fan a few years ago. I get what you mean though, because I probably feel pretty similarly about ROH. Last year was apparently their best year ever business-wise, but I was a much bigger fan of the company in 2005 or 2006.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluestillidie00 View Post
Because he can half arse it and get a shit ton of money. No point working this hard hitting main events which will **** your body up, for less money than a safer, less draining style.
Yep, pretty much this, plus I think he always wanted to try becoming a star in America.

Quote:
You're vastly overrating the popularity of NJPW in America, it still is an internet only thing.
It's exponentially bigger than it was even a year or two ago, but yeah, it's still very much a niche thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kinnikuniverse View Post
Man, TFC, you have a way to build intrigue and suspense!
I do what I can!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beejus View Post
Sorry I don't have much to add about these matches, but I will say I'm happy seeing this back at the top of the forum again
You and me both! I hope to see Hate the Game up there again soon as well!
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