WCW.com ran kayfabe news reports in the two days after Spring Breakout speculating over the fate of the tag team titles with Flair now, in the very best case scenario, semi-retired. Will Sting get a replacement partner? Will the titles be vacated?
It was then noted on Tuesday afternoon via the site that Commissioner Cat would provide some answers Wednesday on AirTime, as well as the World Cup opening ceremony complete with a non-tournament match between the participants. Would Kidman’s Team USA be a man short for the event, as well?
Two contract extensions to report:
Chris Harris (100k, May 1 2001 to April 30 2002) extends for same salary until April 30 2004
James Black (100k, May 1 2001 to April 30 2002) extends for same salary until April 30 2004
MARCH 27, 2002: AIRTIME #12
Tonight will give us the return of the WCW World Cup of Wrestling, with an opening ceremony plus a non-tournament four-way featuring every participating nation. We also saw York and Matthews return as a unit at the PPV, and Triple X will very much be in their sights.
Taped on March 26 in Orlando, along with the following Nitro.
The Cat and Stacy Keibler begin the show by coming to the ring as the commentary team touched upon the issues which required resolving. Cat first announced that he will be summoning Sting and Ric Flair on Nitro to tell him if they feel they can make at least one defence of their newly-won WCW tag team titles every 30 days or if he will be creating a tournament to determine new champs.
He then said that tonight, we’re about to have the opening ceremony for the World Cup of Wrestling. Though tournament matches begin in one week, there will be a big four-team non-tournament opening ceremony match tonight in the main event.
He also declares that he has given Team USA captain Billy Kidman until the end of the show to find a replacement on his crew for Shane Helms, as Helms’ actions in his eyes were deliberate sabotage and not in the spirit of the tournament, hence the lee-weigh. Helms has, however, demanded his title match as soon as possible and so next week on AirTime, it’s AJ Styles and Shane Helms one-on-one for the cruiserweight strap.
Just as Cat is about to have Stacy help him begin the opening ceremony, however, the brawling figures of York, Skipper, Matthews and Daniels spill out through the crowd and towards the barriers! Cat tries to force the duos apart over the mic, but needs the help of referees to finally create separation. He then declares that the two sides can have their scheduled bout right now, while he and Stacy sort out the ceremony.
York & Matthews and Triple X were able to resemble a regular tag match for all of five minutes before things broke out into a melee once more and the referee counted both teams out, official time 5:08. It appeared the heels were getting the upper hand as they seemingly took York out of commission and double-teamed Matthews in the entrance way only for York to climb some apparatus above the entrance and dive onto all three!
Extended highlights aired of the Spring Breakout pre-show match where Juventud Guerrera made his return to WCW and got a non-tournament win for Mexico over Japan.
Then, we got the opening ceremony. First, music and dancers alongside a display which included the flags of all four competing nations, plus a larger flag for host nation Canada. The teams are then introduced, sans the absent Misterio, Liger and whomever will be USA’s fourth man.
Each captain makes a short speech on the mic in their team’s native language (Japanese, Spanish and some very poor Italian from Romeo), concluding with Kidman in English who also confirms that he didn’t need much of Cat’s kind extension to find a replacement for Helms – who Billy promises will get payback once the Cup is over.
His fourth man is a guy he didn’t trust until very recently on the recommendation of AJ Styles – the fourth man is Low Ki! Ki comes out and will take part in the four-trio main event!
Billy Kidman, Jason Jett and Low Ki defeated the teams of Super Crazy, Psicosis and Juventud Guerrera; Tajiri and the Jung Dragons; and Kid Romeo and the FBI. Before the match, Romeo was picked up by a ringside camera telling Amazing Red he would be sitting this one out and to “take notes, watch and learn”. Ki marked his late arrival on the US team by scoring the fall over Psicosis with the Ki Krusher in 21:10, as the announcers noted his impeccable record in these AirTime multi-trio contests as well as what he appears to be bringing to the Team USA table.
MARCH 30, 2002: SATURDAY NITRO #47
After an emotional Spring Breakout PPV, we have NEW WCW tag team champions… or do we? Ric Flair and Sting marked a year after their near-apocalyptic encounter at SB2001 by unseating Los Guerreros, but with Flair openly admitting it was his final crack at main event glory and entering an apparent “semi-retirement”, The Cat will determine tonight whether the duo are fit to defend the belts.
All other champions retained their belts at the PPV, while cruiserweight titlist AJ Styles – who fought in tag action instead – has a Shane Helms willing to do absolutely anything to regain the strap breathing down his neck.
This week’s edition kicked off with Dustin Rhodes teaming up with US champion Sean O’Haire to face respective thorns in their side, Chuck Palumbo and Shane Douglas. Despite the recent issues between O’Haire/Franchise and Dustin/Chuck, it was Douglas and Rhodes in the ring while the former tag champion partners brawled at ringside, and ‘The Natural’ reversed a Franchiser attempt into a roll-up for the win after 9:56. Post-match, O’Haire and Palumbo continued to brawl while Douglas pulled out his chain and decked Rhodes out of anger over the sudden defeat.
Commissioner Cat then made his way out, followed by Sting and, in one of his finest suits, Ric Flair. Both men had their tag team titles in hand when they joined Cat in the ring, but the Commish soon told the audience that after discussing the situation with both men through the week, it was agreed that Flair would not be able to honour the titles as an all-but-retired competitor and as of this moment, the belts were vacated.
As they handed the straps over to Cat, the music of Los Guerreros hit. Eddie protested that if they were never going to defend the titles, last Sunday should have been non-title and they should hand the belts back to he and Chavo. Flair took a mic and said ending full-time with a title win alongside Sting in a PPV main event was a dream way to go out, and tells the Guerreros to “deal with it”.
Cat says there will be a tournament to decide the new champs, concluding at the World Cup PPV. He offers Los Guerreros a choice: enter the tournament, or don’t. Whichever choice they make, he promises they will retain their rematch option after the PPV. Chavo says, in that case, they’re in. Cat then finishes by noting that Sting will be in the tournament with a new partner of his choosing.
After the heels trudge off, Cat and Sting leave Flair to address the fans alone. He tells them all thank you for the journey, and that you haven’t seen the last of him quite yet because when one journey ends, another begins. Whooooo!
After the break, the commentators discuss being handed a tournament bracket sheet which Cat sent to them after presumably getting the final decision from Sting and Flair during the week and confirmation just now of Los Guerreros’ participation. The first round begins tonight and the very first bout is now – it’s an interesting one, to boot…
Simon Diamond and Swinger took on their former stablemates, the Full Blooded Italians. Both sides kept it pretty sporting in a relatively-short bout which Swinger won by reversing an O’Connor roll from Marinera for the three in 7:23.
After the match, Gilbertti got into the ring and told FBI there are no hard feelings about their decision to leave, but that big things are on the horizon and it would be to their career benefit to rejoin the fold. Before they can answer, Glenn tells them not to decide right now – he knows they’re busy with the World Cup and as part-Italian, he and the faction are rooting for them. He says he’ll be back for an answer ‘when the time is right’.
Mean Gene is with Jeff Jarrett and CW Anderson. Jarrett cuts off a question as soon as Rey Mysterio is mentioned, under threat of violence. Jarrett says he just found out he and CW have Super Crazy and Psicosis in the tag tournament first round. He says it’s a great chance to teach some of “that punk” Mysterio’s friends a lesson after the “fluke” on Sunday.
Jarrett and Anderson got the win over Crazy and Psicosis, surviving a comeback from the luchadores before Jarrett planted a knee in the back of Crazy as he came off the ropes, sending him straight into an Anderson spinebuster at 6:56.
In the dressing room, America’s Most Wanted say they’ve been on a bit of a barren run recently. They say this tag tournament is the perfect chance for them to get back to winning ways and do so for the ultimate prize: their first ever tag team championship reign. They also love the brackets giving them a chance at revenge on The Mamalukes at the same time.
AMW would advance at the expense of the Mamalukes w/ Glenn Gilbertti, albeit via disqualification thanks to GG after 5:44. The three men put the boots to Harris and Black until Rhodes and O’Haire attempted a save, only for Palumbo, Diamond and Swinger to jump them on the walkway. GGE left their four chief foils laying as they headed backstage.
Shawn Stasiak and Mark Jindrak are applying a last-minute spray-tan and getting a quick few free-weight reps in before their first round bout. They say their recent bonding makes them the perfect team to succeed Flair and Sting as tag team champions.
As fate would have it, they were paired with Sting and his partner in round one. Sting arrived and introduced his mystery man – fittingly, Rey Misterio! The two men who won at Superbrawl in tag action then overcame their opponents, with Sting submitting Stasiak with the Deathlock to advance in 6:37.
Cruiserweight tag champions Jamie Knoble and David Kash are interviewed by Mean Gene about their chance to unify the two tag divisions if they go all the way in the heavyweight tag tournament. Kash says they’ve always told everyone they’re the best team in WCW, and that holding both sets of straps will prove it once and for all.
Unfortunately for Knoble and Kash, they lost their first-round encounter – and to another cruiserweight team. The Jung Dragons will feel deserving of a shot at the cruiser champs after a Yang moonsault press on Kash sealed the tournament (but non-title) win after 11:18.
The World Cup update recapped the opening ceremony and the news that Kidman has replaced Shane Helms with Low Ki. It then reveals the first two WC matches which will happen on Wednesday’s AirTime: Jung Dragons (Japan) vs the FBI (Italy) and Psicosis (Mexico) seeking revenge for last Wednesday’s ceremony defeat to Ki (USA)!
A video package airs featuring brand new interview excerpts from AJ Styles and Shane Helms ahead of their Wednesday clash for the Cruiserweight title. Helms brags about his fooling of Kidman to get the edge in their title contention decider and mocks AJ for being so similar to himself during his first title reign, trying to please the fans and be the ‘new generation’ cruiserweight. Styles says all the tricks and cons in the world won’t change the result for Helms against him.
Los Guerreros overcame the first hurdle on the road back to the tag team titles with a round-one victory over Jason Jett and Shannon Moore, first with Chavo psyching Moore out in the early going due to their history and then after a hot tag to Jett, the former champs lured Moore into a ringpost ambush outside leaving Jett open to the double-team for the pin by Eddie after 9:29.
The commentators run us through the updated brackets, with all but two first round tag matches complete. Los Guerreros will meet the Jung Dragons, Sting and Rey Misterio face off against Simon Diamond and Johnny Swinger, America’s Most Wanted await the winner of York & Matthews vs Triple X which takes place on Wednesday’s AirTime, and Jeff Jarrett and CW Anderson will wrestle either DDP and Kanyon or Mike Awesome and Bam Bam Bigelow, which is tonight’s main event in a rematch from Spring Breakout.
Lance Storm comes out to the ring and stresses that he was not defeated in the world title match at the PPV – Booker T was. He says though he didn’t win, he is in the midst of a six-month hot streak that includes a win over world champion RVD. He adds that his one blemish, at Starrcade vs Ric Flair, was avenged so decisively that Flair decided he couldn’t hang with the full-time roster anymore. As a result, and because the next PPV is in his home of Canada, he demands to be named the number one contender.
This brings out Cat, who says that he finds Storm extremely annoying and wishes he could turn him down on the spot, but admits he does put together a very strong case. However that doesn’t mean he’s a lock to be the next challenger, Cat adds, and so he offers the following proposal: if RVD accepts Storm’s challenge next week on Nitro when he returns to the arena, Cat will green-light it. If not… Cat will decide what to do about the next world title match.
Finally, DDP and Kanyon faced off once again with Mike Awesome and Bam Bam Bigelow in a regular-rules rematch from their wild brawl. The outcome was the same, however, when Bigelow attempted a moonsault to finish off Kanyon only for Chris to shake the ropes and bring Triple B crashing onto his back, knocking him loopy enough for a cover to advance in 16:06.
Page and Kanyon celebrated in the crowd before exiting that way. Meanwhile, a clearly none-too-pleased James Mitchell and Awesome re-entered the ring as Bigelow slowly started to pull himself up to his feet using the ropes… and Mitchell gave Awesome the signal to blast Bigelow with a clothesline! The duo then propped up a table in the corner for Mike to Awesome Bomb the behemoth Bigelow through. It looks as though Bam Bam failed his initiation under Father James.
World Cup of Wrestling 2002 card so far:
- World Cup finals contests TBA
Bam Bam Bigelow’s appearance tonight was his last, with his Time Warner deal up in July and no plans to offer him a Fusient contract. Bigelow will heal up some nagging injuries and enter free agency in the summer.
Also, Johnny B Badd and Air Paris will not have their contracts renewed and will leave after April 30.
Next time: World Cup action, plus the tag team title tournament continues! And will Rob Van Dam accept Lance Storm’s challenge?