If Fusient Bought WCW #55: One Last Chase

Is this the end for Ric Flair’s in-ring career, or can an old friend persuade him to embark on a final adventure?

FEBRUARY 27, 2002: AIRTIME #8

The cruiserweight division was not without its fair share of news coming out of Superbrawl weekend, and the first post-PPV AirTime promised to deliver fallout from the big Triple X split and the upcoming World Cup of Wrestling.

Taped on Monday February 25 in Nashville, Tennessee.

The show opens with Commissioner Cat in the ring, surrounded by ‘World Cup of Wrestling’ branding and he says he is pleased to announce that the cup will be decided on PPV, in April and the inaugural event of the revived concept will be hosted by Canada.

The Toronto event will be the culmination of a month-long competition between four teams of four: USA, Japan, Mexico and Italy. The confirmation of Italy as the fourth side puzzles the announcers somewhat. Cat notes that captains have been set and their teams must be finalised by Spring Breakout, March’s PPV offering.

He then introduces team captains Billy Kidman (USA), Tajiri (Japan), Super Crazy (Mexico) and Kid Romeo (Italy). For the second time, the announcers question the Italian announcement, wondering if Romeo is even Italian.

Low Ki defeated Julio Dinero in singles action. All alone and seething from the shocking attack by his former XXX colleagues at Superbrawl, Ki viciously beat down Dinero and ran through his trademark moves before getting a tapout with the Dragon Clutch in 2:57.

Ki immediately took a mic and called out Skipper and Daniels in as few words as it required. Skipper emerged from the back and headed to the ring, before pausing at the ropes… only to allow Daniels to hop the rail and attack Ki from behind. Nobody stopped the 2-on-1 beatdown, unsurprisingly so considering how many bridges the martial arts master had burned while running alongside the duo.

Managerial assistant Stacy Keibler is seen backstage greeting Psicosis, Jason Jett and Shannon Moore at Cat’s office. She informs them that they will receive cruiserweight title opportunities in the near future for their victory in six-man action at Superbrawl. Jett and Moore in the tag division, and former titlist Psicosis in singles.

Shane Helms defeated Christian York with the Vertebreaker in 6:16. Afterwards he demanded a one-on-one shot at AJ Styles’ Cruiserweight title since he was ‘cheated in a handicap match’ at the PPV.

A pre-recorded interview gave viewers more insight into the Brooklyn teenage sensation known as The Amazing Red, after his recent upset win over Air Paris. Paris himself interrupted the interview portion towards the end and demanded a return match to prove Red was a flash in the pan. Red accepted.

Finally, in a main event billed as a six man tag that would see Tajiri and Kid Romeo head up teams which would reveal two of their respective World Cup team members, Romeo unsurprisingly brought out the FBI while Tajiri opted to recruit the Jung Dragons, who have been enjoying improved form in 2002 thus far.

That said, their form was hampered on this evening with many of the participants still showing the battle wounds of the ladder madness from Superbrawl. Romeo got the win after avoiding a Yang Time from the top rope and hitting the Last Kiss after 20:34. He and his new colleagues waved the Italian flag to close the show.

MARCH 2, 2002: SATURDAY NITRO #43

Superbrawl settled many scores in WCW, and yet it also raised a host of brand new questions.

What’s next for WCW champion Rob Van Dam? Why did Bam Bam Bigelow betray his friends DDP and Kanyon? And is he really aligned with former rival Mike Awesome? Plus, what on earth is going on with Chuck Palumbo and Sean O’Haire?

We can only hope to gain some clarity as the road to Spring Breakout, a popular annual WCW event that has been upgraded to PPV status after the emotional series finale of Monday Nitro one year ago, begins tonight.

Taped along with the previous AirTime on February 25 in Nashville.

Rey Misterio’s entrance kicked off the post-Superbrawl Nitro. Rey described what an honour it was to stand side-by-side with Sting at the big event and to even emerge victorious, but said all he could think about was Jarrett and Anderson’s attempt to re-injure him post-match. He said as a luchador, his honour is his life and his temper isn’t particularly long so he challenged Jeff Jarrett, one-on-one.

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Jarrett came out and belittled Rey, saying the ‘midgetweight’ division and its little flippy stars were beneath him and that he would not waste his time with him. Misterio decided, in that case, that he’d bring the fight to Double J but as he marched up the walkway he was blindsided by CW Anderson, who was in position for an ambush.

Jarrett and Anderson pummelled Rey and targeted his bad knee. Sting made it out belatedly to run off the heels, but Jarrett was able to snatch off Rey’s mask just before they fled, to add the ultimate insult to injury.

Backstage, Simon Diamond and Swinger are chewing out their agent Glenn Gilbertti for having them run interference blindly at Superbrawl, only to find out there was no major new member of GGE. Gilbertti apologises for the errant orders and assures them that it was all part of a bigger plan, devised by a power much higher than he.

When they press for more details, Glenn says he cannot tell just yet. Just as the two are ready to walk out on their boss, he begs them back and promises them a gesture tonight that will prove that GGE is the place to be, to reward their loyalty.

That ‘gesture’ proved to be a 6-foot-plus leather-clad enforcer for their tag bout versus Jay and Mark Briscoe, as Simon and Swinger defeated the rookies with the Problem Solver in 5:05 and then watched new GGE member Chuck Palumbo lay waste to what was left of the brothers. Gilbertti celebrated with his reinforced clientele afterwards.

Cruiserweight tag champions Jamie Knoble and David Kash cut a pre-taped promo on their ladder match success at Superbrawl and warn Jason Jett and Shannon Moore that after going through metallic hell to stay champs, there’s no way those two punks will be able to end their reign.

Billy Kidman won a quick exhibition over Jorge Estrada with the SSP in 4:34 before being stopped on the walkway by an interviewer regarding Shane Helms laying claim to the next cruiserweight title shot on AirTime. Kidman points out that he was the man who wasn’t pinned at Superbrawl, and says he wants AJ Styles next.

We next move to a World Cup of Wrestling update, noting that US captain Kidman has yet to name any team members while focusing on getting another cruiser title shot, but that Tajiri and the Jung Dragons are on Team Japan so far while Kid Romeo and the FBI represent Italy.

Mexico captain Super Crazy then ends the segment with a subtitled Spanish promo introducing his first recruit, a man who could himself be cruiserweight champion: Psicosis! Also in Spanish, Psicosis says he hopes to enter the summer as both champion and a World Cup winner.

Booker T and Los Guerreros defeated Dustin Rhodes and America’s Most Wanted. Booker scored the fall after spending much of the bout evading a wounded but fuming Rhodes both in and out of the ring. When Eddie was able to post Rhodes at one stage, T tagged in and Book Ended Chris Harris for the pin in 14:55.

DDP and Kanyon join us to discuss their cage match defeat at Superbrawl – and particularly the betrayal of their former ally Bam Bam Bigelow. They call out Bigelow and his apparent co-conspirator Mike Awesome. They get their wish, but the ensuing brawl goes the way of the behemoths when weapons are introduced and the duo powerbomb Page and Chris through tables to end the beatdown.

They’re then summoned backstage by a mysterious man who walks out onto the entranceway when the carnage is almost done – well, mysterious until Joey Styles recognises him, yelping: “That’s the Sinister Minister! Father James Mitchell!”

In a Superbrawl rematch, Shane Douglas again defeated Johnny B Badd, this time under No Disqualification rules. Badd almost used Douglas’ own chain against him, but Torrie Wilson ran interference until Shane recovered enough to use a chair to set up a Franchiser for the duke in 8:39.

Post-match, Douglas made threats to Sean O’Haire, who recently scuppered a Franchise sneak attack on JBB. Douglas warned that his current wave of momentum puts O’Haire’s US title firmly at risk.

We see clips of Mark Jindrak and Shawn Stasiak putting recent misfortunes behind them at a bonding break at a spa – or as they put it, ‘bro-ding’.

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Former Triple X colleagues collided after a video package detailing the ejection of Low Ki from the group – and it looked as though Ki had former co-champ Christopher Daniels beat until Elix Skipper broke it up for the DQ  in 9:41 and began another 2-on-1 beatdown.

This time, however, someone was willing to save Ki: the cruiserweight champion, AJ Styles! Ki didn’t know what to make of the interference when he staggered to his feet, clearly not expecting anything close to an ally after his transgressions. Styles simply left after running the heels off.

Lance Storm is out to gloat about his PPV win over Flair – especially with announcers, WCW.com and fans alike speculating that Ric is considering finally hanging up the boots now. He says that his run over the last six months makes him by far the top contender for the world title held by RVD.

The Cat pops up on the video screen and admits Storm is definitely in contention, but that he has Booker T constantly whining for another chance and that Goldberg himself may well deserve a second crack. So, next week three top contenders who’ve all been defeated by Van Dam in the past will fight in a three way dance for the title shot at Spring Breakout. Storm notes that only one has actually defeated Van Dam – himself.

RVD himself was out for the next match, teaming with the man he beat in the main event six days prior – Goldberg – against two men who had been thorns in their side for the last month, the Mamalukes. After some double-teaming on Van Dam, the tag was made to Goldberg and the Jackhammer finished Johnny The Bull in 10:24 as RVD Van Daminated a chair-wielding Vito before he could break it up.

The two megastars – a lot more on the same page after some tense miscommunications pre-Superbrawl – celebrated their win, but Goldberg made sure to point out to RVD that he wants that belt and another chance could be his in March.

Finally, Ric Flair made his way to the ring. Clad in one of his finest suits and looking even more emotional than usual, it felt as if something big could be happening.

Flair gave credit to Lance Storm for winning their war at Superbrawl. He says 10 or 15 years ago, the outcome may have been different but time doesn’t work that way. He’s heard all the whispers about his career status since Sunday, and he repeats what he has said many times: Ric Flair will probably never retire. But.. maybe now is the end of Ric Flair, full-time performer.

He announces that from here on out, he’ll be winding down his schedule. Semi-retirement? Special appearances? Call it what you will, he says – but there’s a new generation of stars ready to dominate the new WCW and there’s only so much the dirtiest player in the game can offer going forward.

With that, Sting appears and joins Flair in the ring. The two hug to a great ovation but before a tearful Flair can leave, Sting says he’s going about this the wrong way. If this is the end of a chapter, the end of an era… fine. But he begs Flair not to end it on a bittersweet Superbrawl.

When Ric asks him what he has in mind, Sting says Flair is royalty here and surely deserves to go out in a title match. Flair’s flattered but reminds his friend that he waived any future title shots when he failed to unseat Booker T last November.

Sting pauses, then has an idea. How about he and Flair pursue one last gold rush together? Adding that the two of them nearly dethroned Los Guerreros at the end of 2001, he asks Flair if he’ll consider ending his full-time career as a co-holder of the tag titles with the Stinger.

The Nature Boy’s answer is as short as it is trademark: Whoooooooooooooo!

Next time: Who will earn the next shot at Rob Van Dam? Who will round out the World Cup squads? What is James Mitchell doing back in WCW? And will Los Guerreros accept Sting and Ric Flair’s apparent challenge?

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