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Default April 2003: Road to Clash of the Champions

The Backstories:

A Clash of Babyface Kings

-We're continuing on with our new tradition of having the United States Champion challenge for the biggest prize in WCW, the World Heavyweight title, at Clash of the Champions, and for the second year in a row it will be an all-babyface affair. Last year Rey Mysterio Jr. was in the role of the challenger against RVD, but this year he's defending against young AJ Styles. This is without a doubt the biggest match of AJ's career to this point. It won't be his first PPV main event, as he was involved in the War Games match last year, but this time the spotlight will be more on him since it's a singles. It's a huge spot for him, but I believe he'll be up to the task.

At the beginning we pushed the idea that this would be a friendly contest between two sportsmen. This continued despite Roddy Piper trying and failing to stir the pot and create tension between the two men on Piper's Pit, but the story then received a new twist when The Unnatural crashed the Pit and said he regretted to inform AJ that he was going to be forced to shatter his dreams. He had obligations to fulfill and debts to pay, and the first step towards doing so was going to happen the following week, where he would use his US title shot earned in last year's UFS.

When the time came for Unnatural's title shot, the rest of Salvation interfered early and often to swing things in their brother's favor. Rey Mysterio Jr. had seen enough from the back, and he ran down to even the odds. His presence threw Unnatural off just enough for AJ to surprise him with a springboard forearm, then hit the Styles Clash to retain his title and make the match against Mysterio official. The two champions found themselves outnumbered after the match but received some unlikely aid from True Heroes, who had their own issues with Salvation thanks to the ongoing UFS finals.

They made for an improbable quartet when they took on all of Salvation in an eight man tag on the go home show. Neither of them factored into the finish and there was no hint of awkwardness between them in teaming, so the match is still being presented as "may the best man win."
Restraining The Hellraiser

-Steve Austin's first-ever match on Nitro was a great one, as he beat Chavo Guerrero Jr. in the main event of the March 24th show. But the real story came after the match, when The Empire presented Austin with a restraining order that would result in "severe legal and financial consequences" if Austin were to attack Eric Bischoff (who will be wearing a neck brace for the foreseeable future in order to milk the Stunner he took at SuperBrawl.) The following week Austin got one over on the group by instead hitting King Corino with a Stunner after his match while Bischoff could do nothing but watch.

Corino wasn't going to stand for that. On April 7th he yanked the microphone away from a nonplussed Jamie Knoble to go on a diatribe directed at Austin. He insulted his way of life, called him a drunk coward and said Austin didn't have the guts to try and take him on when his back wasn't turned. Later in the show, Austin delivered a pre-taped promo where he said he wouldn't just look Corino right in his beady little eyes--he would stomp a mudhole in him and walk it dry!

The Empire attempted to soften Austin up with an ambush in the ring six days before the PPV, but Booker T accidentally struck Chuck Palumbo with a lariat, and among the chaos Austin dropped the reluctantly participating Jamie Knoble with a Stunner before slipping out the back door. A camera covertly recorded some apparent friction between The Empire later in the night, as Corino and Bischoff reprimanded Booker for his errant clothesline that helped Austin slip the trap. Can the group get on the same page before Corino's showdown with Austin? And who was Bischoff talking to on the phone? That's for me to know, and the fans to (hopefully) order the PPV to find out!
The Ultimate Finale

-To the surprise of pretty much no one, the Ultimate Fan Series finals are coming right down to the wire. After the early wins from Alexander and CM Punk, Melissa Anderson put Satyr's Hopeful Few one win away from victory by beating Daffney at the Unified PPV. With his back to the wall, Kaz Hayashi delivered for the Sin-free Society in a must-win situation with a clutch non-title win over Cruiserweight Champion Christopher Daniels. Now it all comes down to one match at Clash of the Champions: Lance Storm vs. The Unnatural.

Storm (along with his partner CM Punk) and The Unnatural have been featured players all finals long, with Punk and Dustin doing most of the talking for the teams on TV. True Heroes have been getting their share of cheers in recent months just out of respect for how good they are, and we played to that with some subtle lines designed to get the fans even further behind them. The turn was fully completed when they made the save for Mysterio and Styles at the end of the April 7th show, so even though Lance is more natural as a heel, we'll be trying to portray him as the hero in this final match. The Heroes coexisted with former rivals Rey Mysterio Jr. and AJ Styles in the eight man tag the following week, but The Unnatural got the advantage six days before the final match by pinning Storm.
RVD Gets Roode

-Ric Flair was quick to proclaim to the world that his new protégé Bobby Roode is not the 'next Ric Flair', but the first Bobby Roode. There won't be any Nature Boy knock-off robes or styling and profiling, because Roode is going to be his own man and carve his own path, with Flair there to advise him. RVD replied on the March 31st Nitro by saying that he doesn't care about Bobby Roode's image or what path he hopes to carve, because the path he's chosen has put him on a collision course with the Whole Dam Show. Flair and Roode accepted the challenge the following week, warning Van Dam that he'd be taken to school at Clash of the Champions.

After RVD won a competitive match against Shane Helms on the go-home show, Roode ambushed him and wore him out with a steel chair. Roode and Flair mocked RVD on the microphone, saying "Mr. Hardcore" didn't look so tough now. But on color, I was quick to point out that Roode will have to take on RVD face to face at Clash of the Champions rather than jumping him from behind with a chair.
Brothers vs. Brothers

-The Steiners still had a tag team title shot outstanding from last year's UFS, so I figured it was probably time to make use of that. They made their intentions clear on the March 24th Nitro, grabbing the mic after a squash win to state they'd be taking those belts for a fifth time and prove that they're not only the best brother tag team of all time, but the best team of all time, period! Jeff Hardy beat Rick Steiner in a rather standard singles match the next week, but Scott Steiner's temper led to a post-bell shoving match between the teams.

Big Poppa Pump truly made things personal on April 7th, when the Steiners interrupted a Hardys interview and told them he was going to "take your girlfriends just like Vince's kid did, 'cept I'll break ya in half first!" That improvised reference to Matt's real-life drama couldn't have made either Hardy happy in reality, but it also added a touch of personal dislike to what is an all-babyface matchup. That point was really driven home the following week, when the Hardys crashed a Steiners interview with and a brawl erupted between the two teams (though not before Scott again threw the Lita/Shane McMahon scandal in Matt's face.)
O'Haire's Empirical Problem

-After making his 6th successful title defense against Harry Smith, Sean O'Haire was challenged by TAKA (well, it was Bischoff on TAKA's behalf, but you get the point.) O'Haire accepted the challenge and defeated TAKA on the April 14th Nitro, but afterwards Booker T stepped into the aisle and said that Sean wouldn't have nearly so much luck if he defended that belt against the best that The Empire has to offer (meaning himself, obviously.) Never one to back down, O'Haire accepted the challenge and here we are.
Destroying a Punk?

-This was a late addition to the show, based on reshuffling a few things, but it's a logical progression building off of other events. Punk and Lance Storm turned face making the save against Salvation, and with Lance obviously busy with his UFS match against The Unnatural, it was only natural (heh) to pair Punk up with another member of Salvation. The match was announced on the go home show, with Salvation saying Punk would pay a heavy physical price for his transgressions courtesy of their own personal Destroyer.
Angels and Dragons

-The program between Bryan Danielson and Christopher Daniels began on the March 24th Nitro, where Daniels mocked Danielson for thinking he had any chance of defeating Daniels' UFS partner The Unnatural the night before. Danielson had enough of the bragging and said that he might not have been good enough to beat The Unnatural on that night, but he knew he was good enough to beat Daniels and take his title on any night. Daniels said he would consider giving him the chance to prove it, but only if he could defeat his bodyguard Brian Adams the following week. Despite the size difference, Danielson succeeded and earned his title shot.

Danielson had a great view beside me and Mike on the April 7th show when Daniels lost his UFS match against Kaz Hayashi, failing in his chance to wrap the series up for the Hopeful Few. Though Danielson stayed at the desk the entire time and made no effort to get involved in any way, Daniels still blamed the loss on his "distraction" the following week. Bryan laughed off the accusation and said that if him sitting at ringside was such a problem for him, he was going to be in for all kinds of trouble when he was in the ring with him on Sunday.
Cruiserweight Contendership

-After beating reigning Cruiserweight Champion Christopher Daniels in their UFS match, Kaz Hayashi went to Arn Anderson and said that the planned Bryan Danielson/Christopher Daniels title match should be cancelled so he could get a title match instead. Arn wasn't going to do that, but he did book Hayashi in a #1 contender's match against a cruiserweight who had won a match earlier in the show: Hayabusa. This was another late addition that came about due to reshuffling the show, but I think it'll be good. Especially since the show is being held in Japan, where both guys are considerably more over.

Show Summaries:



Notes from this show:
-Hugh Morrus was very unhappy about putting over Made in Italy, but I wasn't concerned. This is his role, and he's going to have to get used to it.

-The Unnatural wasn't fond of the idea of losing to AJ Styles, pointing out that he was quite a bit more over than AJ and this would probably put a damper on what's turning into the best run of his career. The match design was going to protect him though, with all of the interference and outside shenanigans, so he went along with it after he got the full booking plans.

-We completed the face turns of CM Punk and Lance Storm in the closing angle, where they saved AJ and Rey. Both turns were moderately successful, but Punk's new cocky rebel gimmick was only average to begin with. Lance's legitimate wrestling machine gimmick is above average though.


Notes from this show:
-Chris Harris and James Storm made their main roster return on the pre-show under the team name The American Outlaws.

-Sean O'Haire and TAKA had no chemistry as opponents.

-Scott Steiner struggled when going off-script, focusing so much on taunting Matt about Shane McMahon and Lita that it temporarily got the segment sidetracked.

-What a main event! I gave it a ton of time to make sure all eight guys got featured, but I wasn't expecting that kind of magic!


Fan Scorecard:

World Heavyweight Championship: "The Phenomenal" AJ Styles vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. {©}

"The Hellraiser" Steve Austin vs. King Corino

Ultimate Fan Series Finals--The Decisive Match: Lance Storm (Sin-free Society) vs. The Unnatural (Satyr's Hopeful Few)

Rob Van Dam vs. Bobby Roode

World Tag Team Championship: The Steiner Brothers vs. The Hardys {©}

World Television Championship: Booker T vs. Sean O'Haire {©}

CM Punk vs. The Destroyer

Cruiserweight Championship: "American Dragon" Bryan Danielson vs. "Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels {©}

Cruiserweight Championship #1 Contender's Match: Hayabusa vs. Kaz Hayashi

What will be match of the night?

How many championships will change hands?

General diary comments/questions/critiques:

Originally Posted by Texasrangers13 View Post
Love the tease, and overview on the roster.

How is Alex Wright doing? La Parka? Prince Iaukea? ... all personal cheeseballs
Alex Wright turned heel and joined Salvation, being re-named Alexander in the process. He and Mortis form the team The Unbound.

La Parka works in CMLL and IWRG, and was #190 in the last Power 500.

Prince Iaukea is technically a "semi-active wrestler", but he's never had a match since the start of the game.

Originally Posted by JMike View Post
I have a feeling I know who it is but I won't say freaking anything. Two questions, what's Nakamura's best match in NWA Wildside so far and who is the NWA Wildside champion?
Nak's best match is his most recent one, a TV loss to Brian Kendrick. He's an Enhancement Talent down there, so he's doing nothing but losing. I'll have to work on his momentum when he gets called up.

The champ in Wildside is Reno.

Originally Posted by kinnikuniverse View Post
Also, who's impressing the most in developpement? Is samoa joe still kicking butt in japan?
I pay more attention to how their skills are developing as opposed to their match grades, but off the top of my head I'd probably say Kendrick. Joe's doing great in Zero-One, yeah. I'll surely make a move to bring him in sooner or later, but he's probably better off over there right now instead of down in Wildside.
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