AJ Styles has signed a new contract, though his former tag partner Air Paris could not agree to terms. Paris will continue to appear for the time being on a pay-per-shot deal.
Also putting pen to paper is The Amazing Red, whose pay-per-appearance situation concludes as of the next tapings.
APRIL 17, 2002: AIRTIME #15
The World Cup continues this week with a mouth-watering main event of Billy Kidman vs Tajiri! Will Team Italy, meanwhile, ever get any points on the board? And why is Kid Romeo benching Red when he appeared so keen on the youngster during the recruitment process?
Taped along with the following Nitro on April 16 at Centre Stage, Atlanta.
The hour of action begins with a non-tournament contest as Low Ki continues his recent run of form post-XXX with a win over Air Paris. It takes the enigmatic striker just 3:49 to finish off Paris with the Ki Krusher.
Jamie Knoble and David Kash are on a trailer park talking about how beautiful America is. Unfortunately, they add, they have to leave the “greatest country in the world” and wrestle in Canada, which they call a “third world country”.
They finish by claiming they plan on proving USA’s superiority over Canada and their superiority over any cruiserweight team in Toronto by challenging “any two backwards inbred Canadian cruisers” to accept their open challenge for a championship match.
The Full Blooded Italians defeated Super Crazy and Psicosis in World Cup action to finally give Italy points! A second rope ‘Sicilian Slice’ on Psi earned the pinfall for Guido in 16:43.
We see Team Italy celebrating backstage when the FBI return to the changing rooms. Kid Romeo then tells Red that he has been giving it thought and decided that Red does deserve the chance to prove himself in the team and so he will be their representative in singles action against Japan on Nitro! After everyone else leaves, Red realises: “isn’t that when Liger’s coming in?”
It was confirmed prior to the main event that AJ Styles will get his rematch against Shane Helms for the cruiserweight title at the World Cup PPV.
Finally, Tajiri defeated Kidman to end USA’s perfect record in the tournament and give Japan another two points after a 18:15 scorcher. Tajiri went for a powerbomb that Kidman attempted to turn into a face crusher only for Tajiri to hold onto the top rope, sending Kidman onto his knees and in perfect position for the Buzzsaw Kick that had been evaded three times previously in the bout. Tajiri helped Kidman up after the decision and the two showed respect as the show ended.
World Cup standings:
- USA: 6pts
- Japan: 5pts
- Mexico: 3pts
- Italy: 2pts
APRIL 20, 2002: SATURDAY NITRO #50
We are a shade over a week away from the return of the WCW World Cup and not only is the tournament unfolding nicely, but we have a huge main event with Canadian hero Lance Storm challenging for the WCW title in front of his own in what could be his final crack at the belt.
Not only that, but we are about to witness the WCW return of Jushin Liger as he is in Atlanta to represent Team Japan! We’ll also find out tonight who will battle for the vacant tag titles at the PPV.
The first match of the show was the first semi-final in the month-long tournament to find new WCW tag team champions with Ric Flair retiring from full-time duty. America’s Most Wanted were in control for much of the early stages against Simon Diamond and Johnny Swinger of Glenn Gilbertti Enterprises, until Gilbertti himself summoned AMW’s arch-rivals and his other clients The Mamalukes down to ringside. They were but the distraction, however, allowing Chuck Palumbo to sneak in through the crowd and drill legal man James Black with a superkick for a hot near fall.
Sean O’Haire then chased Palumbo out of the building while Sting and Dustin Rhodes, armed with baseball bats, ‘convinced’ Vito and Johnny to do the same. Gilbertti himself went for a final roll of the dice while the ref was caught up in all of this only for Black to duck his clothesline, hitting Swinger instead and leading to a hot tag to Harris and a small package for the three in 14:48! America’s Most Wanted will compete for the tag titles on PPV after a hard-fought win in the clash of two of WCW’s top young rising teams!
Backstage, Sting and Rhodes join Mean Gene. The Stinger says he is pumped that Harris and Black triumphed against the odds and hopes they’re the team to succeed he and the Nature Boy as champs. He then invites Dustin to join his elimination match team for the PPV, which Rhodes accepts before warning his captain that if they do indeed clear out the other team, he will give Sting the fight of his life for that ‘sole survivor’ title shot. Sting says he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Booker T and Sharmell are watching this on a monitor, again performing research in the tried and tested ‘backstage monitor at a wrestling show’ manner. It compels Book to turn to Sharmell and say: “Go and tell Awesome he’s in”. Sharmell replies “why me? That James Mitchell is creepy.” Booker just stares at her until she leaves to do just that.
Lance Storm defeated AJ Styles in a competitive bout, reversing a Styles Clash attempt into the Maple Leaf for the submission at the 13:53 mark. The announce team mention it will also be RVD vs Shane Helms tonight.
The entire GGE organisation is fuming in their locker room as a backstage interviewer crashes for some questions. Gilbertti cuts her off and says “the entire WCW roster cheated” to cost his boys a spot in the final. Big Vito cuts in and says they should make sure AMW don’t win at the PPV. Gilbertti shuts the idea down and says as fun as that would be, they’ve been given a more important task for the event that cannot be compromised by getting themselves in hot water earlier in the day.
Simon Diamond asks if it’s another wild goose chase like Superbrawl. Gilbertti says no – this is the real deal for the sake of their “crown jewel” but stops to kick the interviewer and cameraman out before elaborating.
In World Cup action, former WCW tag champs Rey Mysterio and Juventud Guerrera defeated Jason Jett and Shannon Moore after their old Nutcracker finish to Moore in 7:49. The commentators discussed the potential ‘controversy’ of the winners using a shot to the groin area for the finish, but replays made them wonder if it was in the junk or not quite. USA won their first three but have now lost two on the bounce, while Mexico catch up.
We cut from the celebrations and handshakes to live footage of Jeff Jarrett and CW Anderson jumping DDP and Kanyon backstage before barricading them into their own changing room. Jarrett punctuates this by yelling: “Try screwing us out of the belts now, Slapnuts!”
Jarrett and CW versus Los Guerreros was a contest of who could get away with the most cheating. Ultimately, it was the music of DDP that sidetracked JJ and Anderson long enough for Eddie to roll up ‘The Enforcer’ and grab the tights for the three after 9:01. Los Guerreros will fight AMW for the vacant tag straps at the PPV and still have their rematch if they lose. Eddie and Chavo got out of there as fast as they could afterwards, almost as if they had a hand in the distraction…
…and, true to form, Eddie headed to the production area afterwards to hand off some cash to ‘Hector’, the sound guy, despite it being common knowledge that WCW’s regular sound guy was Brad. Chavo then warned Eddie that Jarrett and Anderson would likely come for them as a result. Eddie replied: “Yeah. Let’s let Page and Kanyon out of that room.”
Shane Douglas is pleading his case to Cat in the Commish’s office that he deserves a second crack at O’Haire’s US title, with the champ saying he wanted to take on all comers. Cat mentioned the failed tilt at the title at Spring Breakout, and said Shane would have to earn another crack. Next week there’ll be a multi-man match with the winner getting a US championship match the next day at World Cup.
Shane Helms targeted RVD’s sore knee in their non-title ‘champion vs champion’ match, giving himself a very respectable amount of control over the world titlist. Van Dam made the comeback and went up for the Five Star, but struggled to put pressure on the leg. This delayed him long enough to allow Helms to shove him off and all the way down to the barricade, catching his chest and landing on the bad leg on the floor. The referee made the count to 10 and Helms, albeit via countout, earned a surprise win over the champ after 11:38!
Mark Jindrak catches up with Shawn Stasiak in the changing room on their night off, handing him a gin and tonic. He tells Shawn he just got word they’re both in the US title contendership match next week. Stasiak is worried the match could come between the two bros. Jindrak assures them they will always be bros, no matter which one of them becomes US champ at World Cup.
In eight-man action, Jamie Knoble, David Kash, Elix Skipper and Christopher Daniels defeated Kaz Hayashi, Jimmy Yang, Christian York and Joey Matthews. Skipper used one of his team-mates’ cruiserweight tag title belts to lay out Matthews for the pin at the 8:13 mark, keeping hostilities between those two sides at fever pitch.
The World Cup update tracks the end of USA’s hot form, Italy finally getting off the mark, and Japan and Mexico’s mixed fortunes. They preview the last three matches before the finals at the PPV: Italy rather questionably throw rookie Red in there with the legendary Jushin Thunder Liger tonight, and on AirTime it’s Mysterio and Psicosis vs Liger and Tajiri and the FBI vs Jett and Ki.
The arena was buzzing for the arrival of Liger who did a full blown entrance and received streamers. It’s fair to say Red was a little starstruck in their World Cup encounter, but gave a great account and got in plenty of offense before succumbing to a pair of palm strikes and a Liger Bomb for the three in 6:54. Thunder helped up the beaten Red after the decision and offered words of comfort.
In a match made earlier tonight by Cat after Sting and Booker’s first recruit each to their PPV teams, Booker and Mike Awesome defeated Sting and Dustin Rhodes when Sharmell distracted the referee during a cover by Rhodes on Booker, before Father James Mitchell slipped a foreign object to Awesome. He dropped both opponents behind the referee’s back and draped Booker over Rhodes for the finish at 7:40.
Jeff Jarrett and CW Anderson then came out and Jarrett told Booker to recruit the two of them to his team, now that they’ve been “screwed” out of the tag tournament. Before Booker can answer, DDP and Kanyon rush the ring and brawl with JJ and CW. Booker and Awesome make it a four-on-two until Sting and Dustin recover and help run all four heels off.
Finally, Lance Storm comes out for the contract signing overseen by Cat and Stacy Keibler, followed by a hobbling champion. Storm taunts RVD over the fact that he has a sore leg against the master of the Maple Leaf, will be coming to Canada to defend it against “Canada’s favourite son” and couldn’t even win his tune-up match tonight. He says everyone thinks the pressure is on him for being frozen out of the title picture if he loses, but he doesn’t feel a bit of pressure because it’s all on Van Dam.
After Storm signs, RVD says he’s glad the pressure is all on him because that’s how he does his best work. He says Storm has beaten him once in WCW and he has to hope those conditions recreate themselves or else he’ll never hold the world title. He welcomes Lance to target his leg, lean on his fans and do whatever it takes – because he claims he’ll have to kill RVD to get the belt from him. Van Dam signs and the two stare down to close the show.
World Cup of Wrestling card so far:
- WCW World title: Rob Van Dam (c) vs Lance Storm
- WCW World tag team titles, tournament final: Los Guerreros vs America’s Most Wanted
- WCW Cruiserweight title: Shane Helms (c) vs AJ Styles
- 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 Sting vs Team Booker
- Christian York and Joey Matthews vs Elix Skipper and Christopher Daniels
World Cup standings:
- Japan: 7pts
- USA: 6pts
- Mexico: 5pts
- Italy: 2pts