MARCH 20, 2002: AIRTIME #11
We are fast approaching decision time for the World Cup captains, with only four days remaining to finalise their squads for April’s big tournament. Team USA is now full with Billy Kidman surprisingly recruiting his rival Shane Helms along with Jason Jett and Shannon Moore. But as for the other squads…?
Tonight, we find out if hot newcomer The Amazing Red will use his fractional Italian heritage to join Kid Romeo and the Full Blooded Italians, while Tajiri and the Jung Dragons need one more Japanese star and Super Crazy only has Psicosis for the time being on Team Mexico, though we’re also waiting for an answer from one Rey Mysterio…
Taped on March 19 along with the following Nitro.
The high-flying hour begins with a showcase of new talent as Sonny Siaki and Jorge Estrada defeat Jay and Mark Briscoe with an assisted sit-out powerbomb in 6:29. Showing rulebreaking tendencies, the winning duo appear to be adopting new attitudes after being shoved around in recent weeks.
Backstage, Billy Kidman is asked if he can keep his title contention issue with Helms separate from their attempts to win the World Cup together. Before he can properly answer, he’s interrupted by Knoble and Kash.
The cruiser tag champs berate Kidman for picking “a pair of chumps instead of champs” for his “crappy little team”, and as soon as Billy tries to reply, it turns physical and a 2-on-1 spills out to ringside…
…Jason Jett and Shannon Moore rush out to save Kidman from the cruiser tag champs only for Elix Skipper and Christopher Daniels to show up and turn the tide back in a 4-on-3.
Surprisingly, Shane Helms makes the save for his USA team-mates with a steel chair and the four attackers retreat. The Cat appears on the big screen and demands an eight-man tag begin immediately.
Kidman, Helms, Jett and Moore beat Knoble, Kash, Daniels and Skipper when Helms snuck in illegally to Sugar Smack Knoble, allowing Moore to pick up another three-count in non-title action on the champs after 14:10!
Team USA celebrated after the match, although Helms was a little less into the shows of camaraderie than the other three and left early on his own.
Rey Mysterio speaks in a pre-taped interview and says that junior heavyweight wrestling is his home. It’s how he became a star and representing Mexico means the world to him. That’s why… he accepts Super Crazy’s World Cup invite!
He goes on to say that the Cup is after Spring Breakout. And at the PPV, he plans to teach Jeff Jarrett a lesson about the size of the fight in the dog – especially when you kick that dog while he sleeps.
Air Paris sought revenge on Tajiri for a tag team defeat on Nitro. However he didn’t fare any better in singles as the Japanese Buzzsaw won their encounter with a brainbuster in 5:51.
The commentary team noted that on the Spring Breakout pre-show, Tajiri and The Jung Dragons will face Super Crazy, Psicosis and their yet-unnamed fourth Mexico member in a non-tournament exhibition.
The Dragons joined their WC captain in the ring post-match as Tajiri took a rare mic spot and uttered the words: “WCW World Cup… Japan team… Jushin Thunder Liger!”
Backstage, Kid Romeo is interviewed alongside the FBI. He says he is proud to introduce the final member of Team Italy: The Amazing Red. Red gives more humble and subdued interview contributions compared to his three brash and arrogant team-mates, but the four are all confident of World Cup glory.
And the omens were good in the main event when Kid Romeo and Red defeated Crazy and Psicosis. It came with an asterisk, however, as Tony Marinera distracted the referee while Guido Maritato tripped up Psicosis from the outside leading to a Romeo cradle plus his feet on the ropes in 10:43.
Red wasn’t quite as into his team-mates’ antics, but nonetheless Mexico fell to the numbers game with only two team members in the building to Italy’s four.
MARCH 23, 2002: SATURDAY NITRO #46
We’re just 24 hours away from Spring Breakout, and the final pre-PPV Nitro will see Sting and Ric Flair go at it one-on-one just like they did a year ago, back when it appeared the company was staging its very last show.
While the overall company situation is much healthier now, Ric and the Stinger have the small matter of a tag title bout 24 hours they face across from one another for the umpteenth time. Will Eddie and Chavo’s scheming pay off? And will RVD fall victim to Booker T and Lance Storm once more ahead of a precarious triangle match for the WCW title?
We began the go-home show with Los Guerreros showing up for the action Commissioner Cat promised they would be involved in to counteract their manipulating of Sunday opponents Ric Flair and Sting into tonight’s main event. In fact, Chavo and Eddie took opposite corners, as if expecting to have to do the same. Chavo then lays flat out on his back as Eddie smirks and tells the referee to ring the bell… only for the ref to stare at him blankly.
Cat then arrives at the entranceway with Stacy Keibler, and says he had a feeling they’d try something like that… if he had indeed made them wrestle one another. Instead, Cat explains, he figured it’d be easier to tune the Guerreros up in tag action. He then introduces their opponents, the Jung Dragons!
A short and action packed exchange between the two teams ended in a DQ win for the tag champs when Eddie pulled his old antics, placing a chair Chavo had introduced in the hands of Kaz Hayashi and playing dead for the dodgy decision in 11:16. The enraged Dragons dropkicked the Guerreros out of the ring but the champs gloated on their retreat, holding the title belts aloft.
Mean Gene is backstage with Sting and recalls one year ago, when Sting and Flair appeared to be writing a swan song for WCW. Now, 12 months on, they’re on the verge of tag team glory in Flair’s last crack at gold but first, an anniversary exhibition of what was to be their ‘final’ encounter.
Sting says there are certain things in life that will have their ‘final’ time 50 times. He and Flair going at it is one of them, but last year and this year, Sting says, they do so as elder statesmen of the company and as close friends.
Los Guerreros think they can hinder their tag team strategy by having them go at it tonight? Sting says it’ll only bring them closer together. Here’s to a huge weekend for WCW and for Ric Flair, concludes Sting.
Dustin Rhodes and Chuck Palumbo went to a no-contest after just 4:25 when AMW and Simon/Swinger inevitably got involved. The faces sent the heels packing as the commentary team reiterated what they’d noted during the match: that these two trios will square off on Sunday at the PPV.
Shane Douglas, w/ Torrie Wilson, is asked about his US title shot in 24 hours against Sean O’Haire and his chain attack at ringside on the champ last week.
Before he can complete his first sentence, the Franchise is jumped by O’Haire who looks for revenge for being busted open! He ends up tackling Douglas through the interview backdrop as referees and security rush over to diffuse things.
AJ Styles teamed with Low Ki, Jason Jett and Shannon Moore to face Triple X, Jamie Knoble and David Kash in a preview of two of Sunday’s big tag team contests. Ki looked forward to having Daniels all to himself as a sequence of dives cancelled out all of the other six, but a sneaky low blow that the ref didn’t pick up allowed Daniels to roll up his former partner for the three count in 14:09.
Triple X fled with Styles in hot pursuit, while Knoble and Kash decked Jett and Moore with their belts at ringside and taunted their fallen challengers.
The next World Cup update looks at the four completed teams. USA are Kidman, Helms, Jett and Moore. Japan are Tajiri, the Jung Dragons and Jushin Liger. Italy will be Kid Romeo, the FBI and the Amazing Red, and Mexico have Super Crazy, Psicosis and Rey Mysterio with their fourth man not being officially registered until the deadline tomorrow. The announcers note that they’re doing this to spring a surprise on Japan when Tajiri and the Dragons face Crazy, Psicosis and the fourth man on the PPV pre-show.
The rules of the Cup are also detailed: each country faces the other three twice apiece – one singles, one tag match. 2pts for a pin or submission win, 1pt for a DQ or countout win, 1pt each for a draw and -1pt for “an unsporting defeat” such as a deliberate DQ.
These take place on the Nitros and AirTimes between Spring Breakout and the actual World Cup PPV in Toronto, where the finals of two four-way matches take place. One singles, one tag, with first eliminated getting 0pts, second out getting 1pt, runner-up 3pts and the winners 5pts.
An emergency tie-break will be added to the PPV in the event of a tie, and captains can pick whoever they want for each match based only on the type of fixture (ie: tag match v Italy). So, some team members may hardly feature and some may feature a lot.
We catch up with Jindrak and Stasiak discussing their upcoming rise as a tag team through the power of bonding as bros… at a tanning salon, natch.
Mike Awesome defeated Chris Kanyon with the help of both Father James Mitchell and the interfering Bam Bam Bigelow, capping it off with a top rope splash in 8:27. Of course, this drew out DDP for yet another wild brawl between the two teams which will hopefully be settled in 24 hours.
Jeff Jarrett tells Mean Gene he will leave “those Mexican jumping beans” a man short for their World Cup campaign when he rids wrestling of Rey Mysterio at Spring Breakout. Tonight, his enforcer CW Anderson will soften the “fraud” up for JJ to pick clean what’s left at the PPV, claims Jarrett.
It actually looked like Rey would pull off a huge win over Anderson in their competitive encounter, only for Jarrett to run in and smash a guitar over Mysterio’s head for the DQ in 8:18. He and CW went for the mask again, but retreated when Super Crazy and Psicosis came out with chairs to prevent another slap in the face to lucha culture.
Kidman and Shane Helms are interviewed together backstage. Tomorrow they fight as they have for months, to earn a shot at the cruiserweight title. An overtime, or match eight if you will, for their Best of Seven Series. Then after that, they team up for Team USA in the World Cup.
Kidman says he and Helms aren’t friends but they don’t have to be to win the Cup. And tomorrow, it’s best man wins. Helms adds that he doesn’t care if he has to wait until May to cash in his shot, he’ll come at Kidman with all he has to win their series and will have no issues transitioning into his tag partner because the Cup is as big as being cruiserweight champion, and both he and Kidman want both – even if one has both and one has only the Cup.
World champ RVD took on his two Breakout opponents, Lance Storm and Booker T, in tag action with a mystery partner, who was revealed to be US champ Sean O’Haire!
O’Haire’s PPV opponent Shane Douglas emerged late on and brawled with Sean out of sight, having weathered the previous tussle backstage. Sharmell sprayed something in Van Dam’s eyes as he fought off both men, and a Book End planted the champ… only for Storm to tag in then superkick a protesting T, before hooking both legs for the pin on RVD in 16:37!
A furious Sharmell entered the ring and berated Storm, before a pair of slaps gave RVD and Booker time to kick off a three-way brawl ahead of the title match tomorrow.
With Mean Gene, Flair says that a year ago, he and Sting thought they were saying farewell to WCW the only way they knew how. When they hugged and left the ring of wrestlers that night… he admits he actually felt nothing.
He was numb to the reality of WCW’s near-death, because the place had worn him down and made him hate wrestling. When he fights his friend a year on, tonight, Flair claims his feelings are back in full flow.
They’re back thanks to a better than ever WCW full of hungry talents and people who love the business. They’re back thanks to friends like Sting being by his side, as well as standing across the ring from him. They’re back thanks to enemies like Jeff Jarrett, The Chosen Few, Lance Storm and Los Guerreros. And they’re back because Flair is gonna go out on his terms, rather than because of the failure of WCW.
He says his two matches over two days won’t be his last ever, but it’s the end of his full-time schedule and the beginning of the end of his career. And he couldn’t think of a better way to begin the last ride at Space Mountain. Whoooo!
The Flair vs Sting match had a huge atmosphere from the entrances to the opening stages, thanks to the history and despite Los Guerreros’ motives for pitching the idea. In fact, many members of the roster congregated on the entranceway to watch it as it went on.
The two went back and forth in a slower yet more emotional version of their classics over the years, but unfortunately we were robbed of a grandstand finale as the tag champs ran in as Sting began a vintage comeback on Flair and attacked both men at around 8:00.
Watching wrestlers, furious at the spoiled outcome, ran off Eddie and Chavo then helped Sting and Flair to their feet as the two hugged in a scene similar to that which closed the Turner era. This time, however, WCW is alive and well – and Spring Breakout is upon us!
Next time: Spring Breakout makes its debut as a PPV!