With the Great American Bash in the books and a new WCW World champion crowned – the first time the top belt has changed hands since the company’s rebirth – the June 30 edition of Saturday Nitro is the first on the road to Bash at the Beach 2001.
What will new champ Goldberg have to say on the first TV show he will appear on as the official titleholder for the first time since late 1998? Will ex-champ Booker T be a little calmer, after storming out of the ring post-match? And are the issues between Ric Flair/Jeff Jarrett and Lex Luger/Sting behind them now?
All that and more come live from Centre Stage in Atlanta, taped along with the following episode on June 27th.
And the eighth edition of Saturday Nitro kicks off with Goldberg himself, dressed in street clothes and shades and proudly carrying the big gold belt to the ring over his shoulder.
Goldberg says it’s been a long and painful journey back to the top but it was all worth it for this moment. He gives credit to Booker T for a hell of a battle, but says he hopes T isn’t embittered by the loss – alluding to the ex-champ’s refusal of a handshake post-match.
He has had dark thoughts of his own when he suffered setbacks – citing the summer of 2000 as a good example, and encourages Booker to rise above it, take his rematch and give it all he’s got. Goldberg finishes by saying he doesn’t plan on giving up this belt for a while to come, and starting with the T rematch, anyone who feels they can take this away from him is welcome to be “next”.
Joey Styles, Don Callis and Mike Tenay are our commentary team as usual. They formally welcome us, and mention that Cat has booked an eight-man tournament to set up the next cruiserweight title contender.
The first contest in this tourney is the broadcast’s opening bout, and sees Jason Jett beat Christopher Daniels to advance to the last four with a Crash Landing in 8:41. The two relative new arrivals put on a fun exhibition for the fans, but it’s the in-form Jett who continues his roll to reach the semis.
Backstage, Mean Gene is with Low Ki who apologises for not being able to make a recent scheduled appearance, promising to make it up to the fans with a great performance and victory when he competes in the cruiserweight tournament next week against Elix Skipper.
A suit-clad and smiling Ric Flair heads to the ring for a promo, where he says he proved something to himself at the Bash by going toe-to-toe, 1-on-1 with a younger, faster, hungrier prime athlete in Jeff Jarrett and still coming out on top.
It made him realise that hiding behind a faction was not the way to end his wrestling days, admitting that the near-demise of the entire company in March was what brought him to realise that life is too short.
He jokes about finally going back to competing in trunks, giving JJ a little credit for motivating him to get back into decent enough shape for the first time in years. He says even though 2000 was rough, 2001 will not be the same, and he’s looking forward to one final run in the ‘new, improved and better than ever’ WCW before finally calling it a career on his own terms.
He’s interrupted by Shane Douglas, back in full Franchise pomp including merchandise and Perfect Strangers ripoff music. He reminds us that he’s never liked Flair and that they have unfinished business, adding that he’d love to end this ‘one last run’ as early as tonight. Flair says he’s in too much of a good mood to turn down a challenge and will gladly shut the Franchise’s mouth once and for all later on.
In the tournament to decide the next challenger for Shane Helms’ cruiserweight title, Super Crazy won his first round tie against Tajiri, getting the winning cradle in a long sequence of pin reversals after 12:32. He offered a handshake afterwards, in an attempt to show respect to his longtime rival, only to eat a faceful of green mist for his troubles.
Backstage a cameraman follows Chavo Guerrero and Shannon Moore as the former is still giving the latter a hard time over not helping him beat Jason Jett at the Bash. Chavo points out Shane Helms down the hallway about to be interviewed about the contenders’ tournament for his title, and says if Moore wants to make up for his ‘mistake’ he’ll goad Helms into a title match and win the belt so that, with Helms no longer the champ, Chavo can re-challenge.
Moore heads over just before Shane can predict a tournament winner to Mean Gene and awkwardly insults Helms about their time together in Three Count, daring him to prove he was the better man and put the title on the line next week on Nitro. The champ says he has no problems proving himself to his former partner, proving he is a fighting champion, and lastly proving to Chavo that he really is frozen out of the title scene for a long time, going as far as to pointing the schemer out in the background. The heels scurry off.
Shawn Stasiak beats James Black with his neckbreaker in 5:02, before Stacy Keibler enters the ring with a mic and says there’s great news tonight: ‘The Shawn and Stacy Show’ will be expanding. Stasiak then extends an invitation to join to a man who he says reminds him a lot of himself, only older, less built and less talented – Lex Luger.
We have a sitdown interview with both Jamie Knoble and David Kash, with Knoble claiming that he’s been messed around by everyone in WCW and needed someone he could trust. When he saw Kash’s talents during the last weeks of the old WCW era, and he saw the company overlooking him as well, that’s when they started talking.
They say we’ll never see Evan Karagias again, that he deserved to be taken out for betraying Knoble months ago, and that anyone else who messes with them will suffer the same fate.
When asked about cruiserweight wrestling, they express disgust at how smaller wrestlers are expected to ‘flip and flop and fly’ and state that cruisers can fight and inflict pain, too. They intend to prove nobody can do that better than them.
Finally, Tenay mentions they face two newcomers next week in Christian York and Joey Matthews. Kash says they’ll be able to swap bedpan tips with Karagias by the time it’s over.
The Mamalukes went up against Simon Diamond and Swinger in a match with possible tag title contendership implications. Tag champs O’Haire and Palumbo were shown watching on a screen backstage ahead of a post-match interview about their PPV win over the legendary Steiners.
The newcomers upset the former tag champs when Gilbertti distracted the ref to allow Maritato and Marinera to interfere, leading to a Problem Solver and pin on Vito in 13:50. Looks like Gilbertti Enterprises has a new tag team, as the Full Blooded Italians celebrated and departed with Glenn, Simon and Johnny.
Mean Gene asks the champs backstage for their thoughts on the match. Palumbo says they’ll defend against Simon and Swinger if need be, and they’ll retain because nobody has had a six-month period like they have so far in 2001. O’Haire then lists off Nash and DDP, their own former Thriller team-mates, Totally Buffed, Team Canada, Kronik and even the Steiners have all fallen to the hurricane force of O’Haire and Palumbo.
This brings Kidman and Rey into view, who point out that they also hold tag gold at present, and that they once held the heavyweight straps too. Kidman says if anyone should be next in line, it should be them. The two sets of champs face off as we cut back to the arena.
Lance Storm comes to the ring and says that he doesn’t care if Booker T emerges from his sulk and takes his rematch or not – because at the Bash he made former WCW Champion DDP tap out and as a result, he should be the one who is ‘next’ for Goldberg.
Page himself interrupts by coming onto the stage, pointing out that Storm got the win when Awesome took his partner out and made it 2-on-1, and that singles title shots should be earned solo.
He suggests the two of them face off to decide which deserves a title match, only for Scott Steiner to attack DDP from behind and put him in the Recliner on the stage, screaming that nobody gets another shot before he does as security attempts to pull him off and Storm merely makes his exit without incident nor care.
Mike Awesome makes quick work of Chris Harris with a top rope splash in 3:10, putting him through a table after the bell for good measure. A Dustin Rhodes promo comes up on the screen as Mike is on his way to the back, and Rhodes warns Awesome that once he heals the injuries the Career Killer inflicted, there will be some ‘old school’ retribution.
Backstage, The Cat says he has granted Shannon Moore’s request for a title match against Shane Helms for next week, and that Chris Kanyon will also defend the US title once more against RVD next week for deliberately getting himself DQd at the Bash.
Just as he acknowledges he has some thinking to do regarding the tag titles, Glenn Gilbertti enters and makes a big deal of Kidman and Rey’s ‘champs v champs’ challenge, saying it’s a great idea… BUT adding the fans deserve to see the titles defended at least once a month. With that in mind, Gilbertti says he has a great idea, and tells the cameraman to ‘skidattle’ before he continues his pitch.
Alex Wright defeated Fit Finlay in 8:26 of a physical encounter with touches of each man’s European wrestling background. Wright slipped out of a Tombstone attempt and planted Finlay with the German suplex for the win. Norman Smiley and Crowbar came out afterwards and celebrated with the German, who this time was receptive of their attempts to strike up a friendship.
Lex Luger walks out after the ad break, surprisingly to his mid-90s ‘Slammer’ theme rather than the elaborate ‘Total Package’ entrance, once again in street clothes and holding his wrestling boots in his hands.
Lex says he knows he almost did this a month ago, but that the Bash was the perfect way for him to call it quits – at a marquee WCW event opposite the Stinger. He says whether you love him or hate him, he did what it took to stay on top but now he just doesn’t have the energy anymore and that it’s time for the O’Haires, the Palumbos, and the Van Dams to step up and become the new franchise players.
Luger says he may stick around to watch it happen, but as a wrestler he is officially done. He symbolically leaves his boots in the ring and exits to a warm reception. Not a single mention is made of Stasiak’s invitation earlier in the show.
Finally, Ric Flair took on Shane Douglas in the main event. The two rivals went back and forth for 9:19 with Flair showing that renewed vigour he mentioned earlier, compared to when these two men went at it last year.
However, the contest was thrown out when Jeff Jarrett ran in and attacked Flair, seemingly for revenge after the Bash defeat. The Nature Boy fought back… only for CW Anderson to blindside Ric. It was a three-on-one assault on Flair until Arn Anderson made his way out in an attempt to talk sense into his ‘family’… only for CW to punch him out cold with the famous Anderson right hand!
The lights go out and Sting’s music hits, but as the bat-wielding hero runs down the aisle, he’s jumped from behind by Mark Jindrak and Mike Sanders, with Torrie Wilson cheering both on! It appears she decided to work with both men after all… but it seems to be more than just that.
The heels leave Flair and Sting out cold in the ring before Jarrett, Anderson, Douglas and Jindrak mockingly throw up an upside-down version of the Four Horsemen symbol over their prone bodies as Sanders and Wilson applaud to close the show.
Up next: Will Booker T return from licking his wounds? And what is this new apparent faction we saw form before our very eyes?