APRIL 3, 2002: AIRTIME #13
Tournaments are all the rage in WCW at present, and the latest midweek slice of cruiser action will not only complete the first round of the tag team title brackets but begin the World Cup of Wrestling. If that wasn’t enough, Shane Helms finally gets his chance to dethrone AJ Styles after eight battles with Kidman, one attitude change and months of bitterness.
Kicking off this week’s show was the final first round match in the tournament to crown new tag team champions but as York and Matthews made their entrance they were ambushed on the walkway by Daniels and Skipper. The heels sent Matthews flying off the walkway before pummelling York and throwing him in the ring.
The referee begrudgingly rang the bell and a quick ‘Power-Plex’ finisher ended the contest in a matter of 18 seconds under very dubious circumstances. It also marked the second straight week the two feuding teams contested an unruly fight against one another which only added fuel to their fire.
The World Cup began in the next contest, a singles bout between USA’s Low Ki and Mexico’s Psicosis. Ki would make it two straight wins over the luchador in as many weeks after a hard-fought contest with the Firebird Splash at 11:24.
It was announced on the show that Saturday’s Nitro would feature the quarter-final contests in the tag tournament, as well as a No-DQ Street Fight for the United States title between Sean O’Haire and Chuck Palumbo.
Team Japan’s Jung Dragons defeated Team Italy’s FBI with stereo inverted tombstones before Kaz pinned fellow legal man Marinera after 10:56. It means USA and Japan are off the mark with two points each while Mexico and Italy remain on zero.
Finally, Shane Helms defeated AJ Styles to become the NEW and two-time Cruiserweight champion in the main event. Helms faked a knee injury after AJ sidestepped a Sugar Smack attempt and left it to hit nothing but thin air. The performance was convincing enough to get the trainer and other refs out and lower Styles’ guard long enough for a sudden low blow and Vertebreaker, forcing the stunned official to register the three at an official time of 9:21. A smirking Helms held the title belt aloft with one foot on Styles’ chest as the show went off the air.
APRIL 6, 2002: SATURDAY NITRO #48
The tournament to crown new tag team champions continues this week with all four quarter-finals tonight, while we’re also expecting some news with big implications for the World Cup PPV. Firstly, Rob Van Dam is expected to answer Lance Storm’s challenge for a title match in Storm’s home country of Canada. Secondly, what was the deal with Father James Mitchell and Mike Awesome destroying Bam Bam Bigelow so soon after their unholy alliance?
The first of four QFs begins this week’s broadcast, as America’s Most Wanted advanced over Elix Skipper and Christopher Daniels to continue their gradual return to winning ways. To the surprise of nobody, a taped-up Christian York and his partner Joey Matthews attempted to rush the ring for payback from Wednesday only to be held back by a wave of security. The distraction was enough, however, to help lead to a Death Sentence on Daniels for the three in 12:12.
Chris Harris takes the mic post-match and says he knows the semi-finals will give them either Sting and Rey Misterio or Simon Diamond and Swinger. He says it’d be an honour to battle two WCW legends for a chance at the tag titles, but if GGE somehow sneak their way past it’d be just as much pleasure to get some payback over those two “punks”. James Black then says whatever happens in the tournament, the Mamalukes are gonna get theirs and if they win the straps, they’ll happily put them on the line to lure “those spineless Italian goons” into a fight.
Somewhere damp, dark and isolated, Father James Mitchell talks in a pre-record alongside Mike Awesome. He explains that in chess, you always move the pawns first. Bam Bam Bigelow was easily recruited against his former friends in a moment of weakness but that weakness was too prevalent for him to truly stand as a member of Mitchell’s ‘church’. Now that the pawns have made space, he says it’s time for the heavy artillery to move forward, starting with his ruthless destroyer Mike Awesome and soon, the rest of his ‘New Church’ will follow.
Los Guerreros are also halfway to winning back their tag titles after overcoming the Jung Dragons in a rematch from two weeks ago. They attempted to get the same DQ win as back then, but were foiled this time… only for Knoble and Kash to run in as the referee got rid of the chair and lay out the Dragons with their cruiserweight tag title belts, presumably as payback for their first round loss. One frog splash later and Eddie got the fall over Kaz in 15:35.
It was revealed that Ric Flair has become an official WCW ambassador via a pre-tape promo from the Nature Boy himself, and Flair also revealed he’d be at the World Cup PPV to watch the next generation first-hand.
Shane Helms came out for his first promo since regaining the cruiserweight title on AirTime but was tackled by a furious former champ in AJ Styles as he brought the mic to his lips in the ring. Understandably angered by Helms’ deceptive cheating to win the strap, AJ mounted Helms and pummeled him until referees were able to separate the two.
Backstage, Cat and Stacy Keibler have Booker T and Sharmell in their office, making excuses for Spring Breakout and demanding one more title match. Cat says Booker is at the back of the line but he does want him on board for a concept of his. Cat plans on having a ‘heavyweight showcase’ elimination match at the World Cup PPV, with the world’s cruiserweight talent taking centre stage on this occasion he felt it’d be a good reverse of the cruiserweight version which lit up Victory Road. He tells Booker he wants him to captain one of the two teams. When he and Sharmell refuse at first, Cat points out that the sole survivor will get a world title shot and T immediately accepts.
In the surprise result of the quarter-finals, Simon Diamond and Swinger beat Sting and Rey Misterio with an assist from Glenn Gilbertti, Chuck Palumbo and the Mamalukes. The interference-enabled Problem Solver on Rey for the 1-2-3 at 10:28 then led to Sean O’Haire, Dustin Rhodes and AMW rushing down, kicking off a huge 12-man brawl. O’Haire then laid down his belt in the ring and goaded former friend Palumbo to start their title match street fight right there and then.
With both men in street clothes and the other nine men surrounding the ring, it was almost a Lumberjack Street Fight for the US title. A trash can, Palumbo’s belt and two steel chairs were involved in the brutal war, before O’Haire intercepted Gilbertti’s attempt to throw Chuck a riot baton, beat down his former partner and then superkicked a chair into his face as he staggered back up to retain after 9:47.
The mass brawl quickly re-ignited between all parties: AMW went straight for the Mamalukes and Sting almost got his hands on Gilbertti. When GGE retreated, Sting got on the mic and challenged them to a five-on-five match next week!
The latest World Cup update recapped the wins for USA and Japan on AirTime, showing them with 2pts apiece and Mexico and Italy with zero. It revealed Wednesday’s matches will see two singles matches between the four captains as Kidman meets Kid Romeo and, interestingly, former cruiserweight tag champs and longtime rivals Super Crazy and Tajiri face off.
We then see four pre-tape promos, with Romeo telling FBI they need to up their game and again belittling Red; Team Mexico in Spanish vowing to recover from their slow start to win the cup; USA hailing the late arrival of Low Ki and Tajiri and the Dragons promising the arrival of Liger very soon.
Shane Douglas, alongside Torrie Wilson, tells Mean Gene that tonight he ends his losing run of results against RVD and says Dustin Rhodes got what he deserved last week for ‘cheating’ to beat the Franchise.
Nonetheless, Van Dam again beat Douglas in a competitive match with the Frog Splash at the 9:00 mark. Afterwards he took the mic and said Cat filled him in on the situation: Lance Storm says he hasn’t had a fair shot. Lance Storm says he beat RVD. Lance Storm feels he is number one contender. Lance Storm blah blah blah!
Van Dam says he has beaten Storm more than he’s beaten Rob, and that he has no qualms giving him a one-on-one shot on his home soil but proposes Lance does something other than talk a big game. He says if he doesn’t win the title in Toronto, he has to agree to be frozen out of the world title picture for 12 months.
Shawn Stasiak and Mark Jindrak are depressed, despite being on a beach in Florida somewhere. Stasiak suggests they get massages and regroup to restart their quest to be the ‘coolest bros’ to ever win the WCW tag team titles.
Lance Storm bursts into Cat’s office and says: “did you see that? Van Dam accepted. Make the match.” Cat, confused, pauses before asking Storm if he saw the stipulation that RVD demanded. Storm says he did, and that he’s fine with it. If he loses to an “unworthy champion” like RVD in front of his own, he says he may not ever challenge for the belt ever again. Cat interprets that as an upping of the ante and says it’s official: Storm can never challenge for the title again if he loses. Storm isn’t too pleased that his words were taken as gospel, but with a world title match set, leaves peacefully.
Finally, Jeff Jarrett and CW Anderson beat DDP and Kanyon to set up a semi-final clash with Los Guerreros in the tag title tournament. After a hot tag to Page, DDP ran rampant on both heels only for Jarrett to sneak his guitar into the ring. Kanyon intercepted him but CW picked it up and waffled Page for a huge pinfall win in 21:24.
World Cup of Wrestling card so far:
- WCW World title: Rob Van Dam (c) vs Lance Storm
- World Cup singles four-way: USA vs Mexico vs Japan vs Italy
- World Cup tag team four-way: USA vs Mexico vs Japan vs Italy
- Elimination match for world title shot: Team Booker T vs ?
Next time: The World Cup and tag title tournament both continue, and who will join Booker T for the elimination match in Toronto?