We are just one month away from the return of WCW’s biggest event of the year, at the end of a crucial year for the company. Two of the main matches at Starrcade 2001 have already been decided. One will decide the WCW title, the other will end the career of one of the group’s biggest stars.
Rob Van Dam won the inaugural Starrcade Series to earn the right to challenge Booker T for the big gold belt at the PPV. Booker has been WCW’s new main event hope for much of 2000-01, but after the company rebirth grew jaded and paranoid about being overshadowed as the Ace.
With Sharmell by his side, he has run through all the top names with his newfound mean streak, but must now face a man in RVD who represents to wrestling in late 2001 what Booker did in the summer of 2000.
And back when Booker was first minted as a top guy, Goldberg and Scott Steiner were tearing each other apart in one of WCW’s few highlights of a tough time. Each man has lost the World title to Booker this year and Steiner in particular has grown even more unhinged, deciding that things won’t be right again until Goldberg is gone for good – something he and the Magnificent Seven almost did at the start of the year.
Four episodes stand between now and those two huge bouts, plus lots more. It’s time to begin the Road to Starrcade!
Saturday Nitro #30: first aired on December 1; taped along with episode 31 on November 28
The first Nitro on that road begins with Jason Jett and the star of Victory Road’s cruiserweight showcase, AJ Styles, teaming up to defeat Air Paris and Kid Romeo. The Styles Clash on Romeo ended the bout at 11:39 and added another big win to AJ’s remarkable resurgence since losing to Paris at Halloween Havoc.
In his office, The Cat is cornered for an interview, where he commends Styles stepping up in the run-up to the launch of AirTime, and rewards him for his big PPV win with a shot at Elix Skipper’s cruiserweight title at Starrcade. Cat also mentions that Starrcade will be WCW’s first four-hour event, and that Styles v Skipper joins a “double main event” of Booker T v RVD for the World title and the Goldberg/Steiner Caged Heat loser-leaves-WCW war.
Over in the Chosen Few locker room, Jeff Jarrett is trying to keep his squad together despite recent setbacks. He says their defeats at Victory Road proves to him more than ever before that the group needs to overcome their problems and start taking WCW by the scruff of the neck again.
He then produces a list which he says is a collection of names that have been obstacles to them. He proposes they take all of them out tonight. Douglas, Sanders, Anderson and Jindrak agree.
Super Crazy and Tajiri defeated the Jung Dragons when Crazy followed Tajiri’s Buzzsaw Kick to Yang up with a moonsault off the top at 7:31. The unlikely duo then used short and sweet basic English phrases to get to the point and challenge XXX to a cruiserweight tag title match, having dispatched of Ki and Daniels rather quickly at Victory Road. Their challenge is answered abruptly by all three champions, who seem to accept by beating down the enemies-turned-allies.
Back in the changing rooms, Jason Jett approaches Shannon Moore and tells him it’s about time he had a friend who treated him as an equal – with that, he suggests the duo team up in the future. Moore seems open to the idea.
Just then, we hear a female shouting and screaming as well as furniture being thrown outside. The cameraman heads out there and sees Leia Meow going to town on the Dragons for their latest defeat. Again, the Dragons continue to take it from their boss.
Johnny B Badd and Norman Smiley beat Simon Diamond and Johnny Swinger by DQ in 2:37 when the FBI ran down and kicked off a 5-on-2. By the time Alex Wright arrived, it was easy enough for the GGE troops to hold him in place for Gilbertti to administer a few slaps before hitting the Last Dance. York and Matthews belatedly arrived on the scene along with a host of officials as the heels smugly departed.
GGE brag as they go back through the curtain, only to be confronted backstage by The Cat who says there will be consequences for Gilbertti’s actions – such as a proper one-on-one rematch with Wright. Gilbertti screams that he has already beaten Wright as Cat walks off.
This situation unfortunately blinds Cat to another backstage altercation, as the Chosen Few have jumped Dustin Rhodes and left him in serious agony.
We sit down this week with Buff Bagwell, who made a surprise return at Victory Road and attacked Sting. Bagwell says his motives were simple: Sting put him out and now he’s going to put Sting on the shelf.
As he did when the two met in the summer, he points out that they’re WCW’s two longest serving performers and have been here since the company evolved out of the NWA.
He says he resents Sting for having more popularity than him and vows to achieve two goals by the end of the year: teach Sting a lesson and finally win his first United States title, since he’s returning to the ring in a three-way dance for the title shot at Starrcade.
That three-way also featured Mike Awesome and Sean O’Haire, but unsurprisingly featured an appearance from Sting complete with darkened light, thunder and lightning. Sting and Bagwell brawled on the walkway while O’Haire and Awesome did battle in the ring – but after Sting/Bagwell disappeared through the curtain, guest commentator Shawn Stasiak slid in and laid out both remaining combatants, spoiling the match to determine a challenger for his title for an official no-contest at 10:52.
We cut backstage where Bagwell is retreating from Sting all the way to the parking lot – where the Stinger is jumped by the Chosen Few.
It is then revealed that America’s Most Wanted were found laid out backstage, which perhaps explains their absence during GGE’s actions earlier.
Shane Helms comes out in street clothes and says it’s typical of Cat to just hand a cruiserweight title shot to one of his little ‘pet projects’. Helms says now he has cleansed himself of the things holding him back such as Shannon Moore and hunting for the fans’ approval, he is ready to get his title belt back.
He’s interrupted by Billy Kidman, who wonders aloud what has gotten into the guy who immediately granted Kidman a title shot when he first won the belt because it was the right thing to do. Helms says he grew up, and speaking of age it’s time Kidman retired because he’s a ‘cruiserweight dinosaur’.
Kidman challenges him next week to prove he is the here and now of the division. Helms accepts, but a cheapshot attempt fails and Kidman chases him away.
Jamie Knoble defeated Evan Karagias by DQ in 7:23 when Karagias kept a ringpost figure-four locked on the man who ripped his knee apart months ago until the referee called for the bell. Security had to drag Evan out when he let go only to grab a steel chair with the intention of doing further damage. **1/4
Next up came the reunion of the entire Jersey Triad as DDP, Kanyon and Bigelow faced off against Jarrett, Anderson and Jindrak of the Chosen Few. However, the recently-returned Eddie Guerrero and his nephew Chavo slipped in through the crowd to wipe out Kanyon ringside, leaving DDP and Bigelow to receive a four-on-two beatdown when Douglas joined the fray, resulting in no match.
Jarrett got the mic and said he and his men have set things right in WCW, now that his hitlist was complete – well, except for one final target. He’s interrupted by The Cat, however, who says he’s had crap on his plate all night thanks to the Few’s attacks and all the indecisive finishes to matches, and that he knows they want Flair last since they know he’s addressing the crowd shortly.
He says Flair will do so in peace because he’s kicking the Few out of the building. Douglas dares Cat to find a security force strong enough to remove them, but Dustin Rhodes, Sting and AMW rush down to do it personally – aided by the Jersey Triad as they catch a second wind.
Flair heads out as scheduled, amid rumours that he’s to make a big announcement having lost his final WCW title shot the previous week. Flair assures the crowd that his failed crack at Booker T wasn’t the end for his in-ring days – and that while he knows he doesn’t have long left as a competitor, the match actually made him feel more alive than he ever did during his miserable last few years in the old WCW. He says the new era of stars will have to go through him because to be the man – whooooo! – you gotta beat the man.
He’s interrupted by Lance Storm, who says that the new era of stars begins and ends with him, as he’s the fastest-rising star in the company and the poster boy for WCW in the 21st century. Flair says if he thinks he’s all that, there’s an event coming up that Ric knows a little bit about, called Starrcade… so how about it? Storm accepts.
Finally, the new top contender to the World title, Rob Van Dam, faced one of his biggest tests to date in the form of the dangerous Scott Steiner. Unfortunately for the Cat, his frustrating night of thrown-out matches continued as Booker T ran down and attacked his Starrcade challenger for the DQ at 16:41. Goldberg made the save from the 2-on-1 and the double main event for the PPV paired off to brawl as the show closed.
Starrcade card so far:
- WCW World title: Booker T vs Rob Van Dam
- Caged Heat, loser leaves WCW: Goldberg vs Scott Steiner
- WCW Cruiserweight title: Elix Skipper vs AJ Styles
- Ric Flair vs Lance Storm
Next time: The united babyfaces seek revenge on The Chosen Few, titles are on the line and Ric Flair teams with RVD to face Booker T and Scott Steiner!