After four years in the wilderness, the classic WarGames format returns to professional wrestling. 1998 and 2000 played host to hideous reimaginations of the concept. 1999 didn’t have a WarGames at all. Now, with WCW enjoying a new life, the double cage, submission-or-surrender score-settler is back.
The company’s near-demise led to an emotionally-charged scene at the end of Spring Breakout, what could easily have been the final Nitro ever. Ric Flair’s love of the company broke through his hard-nosed exterior as the head of the Magnificent Seven syndicate and caused frictions with his comrade Jeff Jarrett.
Jarrett responded by challenging Flair to a match, but The Nature Boy showed he still had a little left in the locker with victory at the Great American Bash. This led to JJ forming The Chosen Few, an ‘anti-Horsemen’ stable comprised of longtime Flair nemesis Shane Douglas, neglected Natural Born Thriller Mark Jindrak and even a member of a family close to Flair’s heart, CW Anderson.
Victories for the Few followed at Bash at the Beach and Battlebowl, but now the stakes are at their highest. Flair will side with fellow Few enemies Diamond Dallas Page, Bam Bam Bigelow and Dustin Rhodes as well as the man whose embrace back in March started all of this, Sting. Opposing them are the four key Few members and dangerous mercenary Mike Awesome.
Not only that, but WCW World champion Booker T faces Goldberg one more time with the title on the line. They have traded PPV wins over the summer but the animosity between them has never been greater. And this time, the rules are relaxed. There MUST be a decisive winner, by any means necessary.
WCW Bash at the Beach 2001 – September 30, Norfolk Virginia
In the pre-show match, America’s Most Wanted went to a no-contest with Simon Diamond and Johnny Swinger in 6:08 when Guido Maritato and Tony Marinera attacked AMW on Glenn Gilbertti’s orders. Alex Wright, Norman Smiley and Johnny B Badd made the save, leading to an impromptu challenge…
…as Wright and Smiley defeated the FBI when Alex turned an O’Connor Roll attempt by Guido into a seamless German Suplex after 6:33. AMW and Simon/Swinger remained ringside and brawled as the match neared climax, while Badd stopped Gilberti from interfering only for the sports agent to nail Johnny with a set of brass knucks.
After that double header and the usual main card analysis, it was go time.
Opening match: Shannon Moore vs Chavo Guerrero Jr
Moore opened the PPV with a big win over Guerrero, in which he appeared to let all of his angst from the months of poor treatment out on the conniving Chavo and eventually pinned his tormentor with the Bottom’s Up to cap a crowd-pleasing curtain-raiser after 11:27.
Sean O’Haire & Chuck Palumbo vs The Mamalukes
O’Haire and Palumbo beat Big Vito and Johnny The Bull in a physical and competitive tag match to seemingly put themselves in line for another rematch with Anderson and Jindrak. Vito lined up an implant DDT on Palumbo only for O’Haire to leap up to the top rope and leap off with a twisting clothesline, leading to a Palumbo pin and bridge after 8:30.
The Mamalukes accepted their offer of handshakes afterwards… only to reel them into a post-match attack. It appears the Italians have finally had enough of playing nice.
Two out of three falls: Super Crazy vs Tajiri
Crazy beat Tajiri, two falls to one, in their feud-deciding match. Tajiri surprised the commentators by not going for the mist at all, perhaps a little fazed by the last attempt hitting Leia Meow by mistake. Tajiri went one up with a majistral cradle after a missed moonsault in 7:17 before Crazy ducked a Buzzsaw Kick to level with a roll-up of his own at the 9:38 mark.
In a blistering finale, both men blitzed each other with chops kicks and forearms before launching into a sequence similar to their roll-up reversal finish at Guilty As Charged 1999, which Crazy came out on top of for the win in 16:24.
Surprisingly, Tajiri even accepted a handshake post-match – and unlike the previous contest, looked like he actually meant it.
Billy Kidman vs Chris Kanyon
Kidman beat Kanyon for a small measure of revenge in another smooth contest, considering how well the two know each other. The Kid Krusher was enough for the win at 9:45.
WCW Cruiserweight tag team titles: Triple X (c) vs Air Raid
Low Ki and Christopher Daniels retained the titles against Air Paris and AJ Styles after a lightning home stretch, during which the challengers did indeed stay on the same page. However, when Paris was lured into a tumble to the outside and Ki and Daniels double teamed AJ until Angel’s Wings finished the job at 12:49, Paris’s frustrations came back to the forefront post-match… and he snapped and laid out his own partner when he returned to his feet! A furious Paris didn’t spend too long feeling bad about his actions and he left alone to a chorus of boos.
WCW Cruiserweight title: Elix Skipper (c) vs Jason Jett
That was as good as it got on the night for Triple X, however, as Jason Jett upset Elix Skipper to become the new WCW Cruiserweight champion!
Low Ki wandered down halfway through, but was forced back from ringside by Super Crazy, who’s had trouble with XXX in the past. When Daniels tried to run-in during the closing stretch, Billy Kidman came and stopped that after what XXX did to Rey Misterio. Finally, Jett hit the Crash Landing for his first WCW accolade after 14:31.
WCW United States title: Rob Van Dam (c) vs Lance Storm
The second PPV showdown between RVD and Storm went back-and-forth, with upcoming challenger Shawn Stasiak as well as Stacy Keibler both on commentary trying to change the subject to themselves as much as possible.
In the end, a Five Star Frog Splash pinned Storm at 17:55 – though the Canadian’s foot appeared to just about break the ring boundary, beneath the bottom rope. Van Dam celebrated while Storm pled his case to the official, to no avail.
WCW World title, there must be a winner: Booker T (c) vs Goldberg
Champion and challenger brawled into the crowd early on in their rubber match for the big gold belt. Booker had control for periods but was constantly on the back foot in a dangerous environment against a man out for not only the title but revenge as well.
However after Goldberg finally blasted T with a spear at the third attempt in the match and signalled for the Jackhammer, he was nailed with a lead pipe by Scott Steiner, back from his 30-day suspension! Booker crawled over and draped an arm for the three count at 15:44.
Sharmell pulled the champ to safety, while Steiner continued to beat on Goldberg before putting on the Recliner for good measure. Cat had security drag him out yet again – this time, he didn’t do anything else to warrant a suspension.
WarGames: Team Flair vs The Chosen Few
Finally, it was time for Ric Flair, Sting, DDP, Dustin Rhodes and Bam Bam Bigelow taking on Jeff Jarrett, CW Anderson, Mark Jindrak, Shane Douglas and Mike Awesome in WarGames 2001.
Page and Anderson kicked off the bout and went back and forth for five minutes until with about 10 seconds left, Page sprang the Diamond Cutter on CW!
With the Chosen Few winning the advantage on Saturday, next in came Mark Jindrak who put Page down only for DDP to mount a comeback, until CW recovered enough to allow the tag champs to double team Page.
They sent him into the steel and busted him open as Dustin Rhodes entered next and cleaned house, even busting open Anderson on the steel as well.
Douglas was next and he immediately loaded up the chain to put down both faces and open up Dustin. Ric Flair had placed himself in the middle of the order, however, and returned the favour with powder to the eyes of all three heels as well as low blows!
Unfortunately for the faces, a mis-communication between Rhodes and Flair near the end of the period led to DDP having to play peacemaker yet again and allowed a fresh Mike Awesome to destroy all three of them.
Sting made the save two minutes later and Stinger Splashes were had for all of Team Jarrett. Speaking of Jeff, he carried his guitar in with him as the last member of his crew and immediately targeted the nearby Rhodes… only for Ric to shove him out of harm’s way and take the hit, which in turn busted him open.
Seeing this unfold, the last man to enter, Bam Bam Bigelow, reached under the ring and produced a trash can full of weapons, which he took in with him for the biggest cleaning-house moment yet.
He took great pleasure in busting open Douglas as the match beyond began and the two sides went back-and-forth in trying to force an opponent to give up from the violence. Torrie Wilson then tried to scale the cage, only for Arn Anderson to pull her down.
Mike Sanders pulled out a crowbar and looked to slip it in to Jarrett, but Dusty Rhodes but him off with a huge bionic elbow before carrying Wilson backstage. Jarrett went for the figure four on Flair only for Dustin to nail him with the trash can.
As this happened, CW was yelling at Arn for getting involved – at which point Double A slipped the crowbar from before through the fencing, past his relative’s foot and to where Flair could grab it, spin CW around and knock him out cold!
Flair then strapped the figure four on Jarrett while Page and Sting held Jarrett’s arms down, and they got the submission at 30:26. The babyfaces celebrated their victory through the pain barrier as the PPV ended.
Up next: Another old favourite is coming back, as the road to Halloween Havoc 2001 begins! Plus, the start of the Starrcade Series…