Anticipation for the return of an early-1990s WCW staple is at peak now that we are 24 hours away from Battlebowl live on PPV. Though the Lethal Lottery once again decided the participants, the battle royal format will be slightly different this time around.
The 20 wrestlers will draw numbers, with #1 and #2 starting the match. The others join the fray at regular intervals depending on the number they drew, and when 18 of them have been eliminated via going over the top rope, the final two will face off with a pinfall or submission deciding the new top contender to the WCW World title.
Before then is the go-home Saturday Nitro, featuring a huge eight-man main event of The Chosen Few going up against Sting, Ric Flair, Sean O’Haire and Chuck Palumbo! CW Anderson and Mark Jindrak ended the seemingly-unstoppable tag team title run of O’Haire and Palumbo last week, while Flair and Jeff Jarrett face off in a Bunkhouse Brawl in just 24 hours.
Saturday Nitro #16: first aired on August 25; taped on August 15
We begin Battlebowl weekend with a sea of WCW competitors surrounding the ring, – in fact, it’s the 20 men who qualified for Battlebowl tomorrow, wisely separated in a way to ensure no rivalries are too close to each other.
Out comes Commissioner Cat to the ring itself and he addresses the 20, reiterating the rules of the bout and that the winner will compete for the world title in two weeks’ time on Nitro. He reminds them of the WCW tradition of Lethal Lottery and Battlebowl, telling them they’re fighting not only for a title shot but to be the man who brings this tradition into the new era on their own back.
He is cut off by Stacy Keibler – the only second who actually insisted on being out there with her participating client – who enters the ring along with Shawn Stasiak, as the two once again self-promote to the chagrin of pretty much everybody else.
He’s cut off in turn by Sting, who accuses him of being an all-talk punk who left his team-mates in the lurch last month and that he’s happy to teach ‘Mr. Mecca’ another lesson at the PPV. Finally, Scott Steiner enters, threatens Sting and calls Keibler a ‘hoochie’ leading to those three men brawling, which then of course leads to a 20-man melee in the ring previewing Battlebowl!
In the midst of it, Cat gets knocked down and out of the ring, and replays show to nobody’s surprise it was Kanyon, albeit in a manner which could have either been a legit accident or a very craftily-executed cheapshot in the melee. The furious Commish grabs another mic and threatens to remove anyone from Battlebowl who doesn’t halt, as security swarms in to help ensure that happens.
Finally, with order restored, we get our first proper match of the evening between AJ Styles and Jimmy Yang as the commentary team confirms that Air Raid and the Jung Dragons will compete in a ladder match tomorrow night with a contract for a cruiserweight tag title shot hanging above the ring. Of course, a ladder came into play courtesy of Kaz and Leia after a Styles Clash finished off Yang in 8:16, and the heels left the faces in a heap once more.
Knoble and Kash, in a pre-tape from a bar somewhere, promise to end the careers of those two ‘pretty boys’ York and Matthews when they meet in another tag showdown on the Battlebowl pre-show.
The Cat stops by Mean Gene to say he’s seen the replays and he knows Kanyon was the man who decked him but Chris is swearing blind it was an accident and that he cannot prove otherwise, so has only been able to warn him.
Speaking of physical altercations, he says Rhodes and Awesome have been brawling without control for weeks but with just 24 hours to the PPV and their Ambulance match, he’s banning them from interacting until their bout tomorrow or else they’ll be suspended. He adds that, as a result, Rhodes has taken the spot to be DDP’s tag partner as the two world title combatants face off in tag action tonight, while Booker T has chosen Lance Storm to be his partner.
The Mamalukes, who have finally been awarded their tag title match in just 24 hours’ time against The Chosen Few at Battlebowl, won a tune-up contest against Norman Smiley and Johnny B Badd with Vito’s implant DDT finishing Smiley in 6:22. They warned the champs after the bout, via a nearby camera, to keep the belts nice and shiny for them.
Simon Diamond and Johnny Swinger are watching this on a monitor in their changing room. Glenn Gilbertti switches the monitor off and tells them not to worry about missing out on the belts just yet, because up next is Battlebowl and if they work together, it could come down to the two of them in the end to decide the next contender to the title. Maritato and Marinera ask their boss what they should do, without invites to the battle royal. Gilbertti tells them to let him think of something.
Mike Awesome rides out to the ring in an ambulance and says tomorrow, Rhodes is leaving the building in one of these. But since he cannot touch the ‘washed up old bastard’ until then, how about an ambulance match open challenge?
Out comes Bam Bam Bigelow, who fought Awesome in this match at the last Starrcade… but he’s immediately jumped by old rival Shane Douglas, who cheated to beat and bloody BBB in a chain match a few weeks ago when we saw Bigelow last. The duo beat down Bam Bam with a chain, a chair and finally a double-team through a table – and it looks like Bigelow is clutching his shoulder in agony as they load him into the ambulance and send it on its way.
Backstage, Elix Skipper alongside Christopher Daniels says Low Ki will beat Shane Helms so badly tonight in match 2 of the XXX gauntlet that he’ll give up his title shot tomorrow and quit wrestling. However, that leaves them short for a six-man tonight… so he made a call to an old friend, and with that quote appears Kid Romeo. The three then head to the ring.
However they lost their contest to Jason Jett, Billy Kidman and Rey Misterio when Misterio pinned Romeo with a spinning rana counter to the set-up for a Last Kiss in 10:58.
A video package looks at the storied history of Super Crazy and Tajiri, starting with their first meetings in ECW which sparked much hype and interest, and now here in WCW where they continue to be at loggerheads.
Shane Helms defeated Low Ki clean with the Vertebreaker in 7:49, only to be caught unawares as he walked up the aisle by a lurking Elix Skipper and nailed with the title belt Primetime took from him. Helms has worked through two members of XXX, but tomorrow comes the big one, his title rematch.
This week’s sitdown interview is conducted with WCW’s newest breakout team, Chris Harris and James Black, now known collectively as America’s Most Wanted.
They discuss their time on the local indies and doing spots for Worldwide and Saturday Night, and mention that they have no idea if they would have made it or even properly got to know each other had WCW folded. They have no regrets over the beatings and defeats they suffered early on, saying it’s part of the process, and that sticking it out and getting that first win over Jarrett and Storm against all odds will remain a career highpoint even after they retire.
AMW say their future goal is not only to win the tag team titles, but to be remembered as the first ‘new’ stars of the new WCW era. When asked about Battlebowl and how that could accelerate their route, they agree it would be amazing to go from journeymen to WCW title challenger inside six months. They also say, to each other, that they have no problem fighting one another to achieve that, if need be.
DDP and Dustin Rhodes defeated Lance Storm and Booker T. Towards the end, Mike Awesome pushed a stretcher down the aisle and watched on as Rhodes noticed his foe’s arrival, only to be jumped as he left the ring by the world champion (fortunately, in a way, as suspension beckoned if Rhodes and Awesome fought). Page followed and brawled with Booker over the rail and out of sight, leaving Storm the only man to beat the count and win it for his team via countout after 14:16 of action.
Shawn Stasiak offered opponent Lash Leroux the opportunity before their singles bout to help Shawn win Battlebowl in return for, in his words, a ‘considerable footnote in the memoirs of the Mecca of Manhood’ after he wins the world title. Unsurprisingly, Leroux answered the offer with a right hand but ultimately lost to Shawn’s hangman’s neckbreaker in 4:40. Stacy gave out more signed photos of Stasiak after the bout.
Mean Gene is with the Chosen Few, who wrestle Ric Flair, Sting, Sean O’Haire and Chuck Palumbo in the main event. Douglas says tonight he gives Sting a day’s notice on what will happen in Battlebowl, or maybe even send him to the same hospital as Bam Bam Bigelow tonight. Jindrak says he and Anderson will prove their superiority over the so-called hottest team of 2001 before they beat the Mamalukes at the PPV, while Torrie Wilson checks her reflection in Mark’s title belt the whole time. Lastly, Jarrett warns Flair that he doesn’t need his team to “take Flair to school” on Sunday, but the boys may just all break his bones tonight in the eight-man.
Flair, Sting and the former tag champs ended up getting the win over the Chosen Few in a heated eight-man match when a Jungle Kick/Seanton combo finished off their former Thrillers partner Jindrak in 11:28. Flair and Jarrett spent much of the bout fighting around ringside, and the eight continued to fight until the show went off the air.
Next time: Battlebowl returns to WCW! Who will survive 19 other men and earn a World title opportunity? And who will come out on top when former friends Booker T and DDP clash for the gold in the main event?