MAY 29, 2002: AIRTIME #21
Not only do we enter the latest month of WCW action with confusion and controversy surrounding the status of the WCW World title, but internet reports 24 hours after Slamboree suggest the cruiserweight division could be in a state as well amid reports that new number one contender Low Ki apparently suffered an injury at the PPV.
We will at the very least see the belt itself decided tonight, as champion AJ Styles gives Billy Kidman a one-on-one title shot in the main event after their groundbreaking participation in the very first Ultimate X match last Sunday.
Taped on May 28, along with the following Nitro, in Orlando.
The announcers introduce the show by acknowledging the chaos that ran rampant at Slamboree. With that, we begin with the arrival of The Cat and Stacy Keibler to the ring, with Keibler carrying the WCW World title belt.
Cat says he wants to waste no time trying to untangle some of the mess coming out of Slamboree. First, Low Ki won the battle royal for a cruiserweight title shot. Unfortunately, he sustained an injury in the process and will miss 6-8 weeks. He promises that Ki will get a shot as soon as he’s fit, but the whole idea that the winner went onto the Great American Bash is out the window. So, the eight men who lasted longest in the battle royal but didn’t win will contest an eight-man tournament to challenge for the title at the Bash, starting Nitro.
He adds that he’ll deal with Jeff Jarrett, GGE, and whoever this new Mr. Wrestling is on Saturday as well. But one thing that has to be sorted out right now is the inconclusive finish to Slamboree. Who is the champion? He brings out both RVD and Lance Storm for this.
Cat admits each man had a fair grab of the belt when the PPV went off the air, but on Nitro we will have a ladder rematch that will continue until only one man has the belt in his hands. If it runs past Nitro’s timeslot, they have permission to overrun until there’s a champion. Until then, the belt stays with Stacy until it’s hung above the ring one more time on Saturday.
RVD says he has no problems with that. Storm, meanwhile, asks Cat to clarify the official ruling for Sunday’s match – was it a draw? Cat says yeah, sure, that was a draw and Nitro they do it all over again. Storm points out that the WCW rulebook points out that ties go to the champion so that means the belt isn’t held up or vacant – it’s still his til at least Saturday. He then snatches the belt off Keibler.
Cat says fine. That’s fair enough. Storm’s title reign remains intact and on Nitro, the ladder match will have a do-over… but Lance quickly decks RVD with the title belt to cut off Miller’s speech. Cat and Keibler admonish the champ as he stands over Van Dam and says: “see you Saturday night.”.
Bryan Danielson earned his first WCW win, days after turning heads in the Slamboree battle royal. He won a respectful technical contest against Brian Kendrick via tapout in 9:21 with an impressive bridging double armlock he apparently calls Cattle Multilation, but Kendrick suckerpunched him after a handshake and beat his ‘friend’ senseless.
We get stills of the revolutionary Ultimate X match between Styles, Helms and Kidman on Sunday. We are then shown previously-unseen footage from after the bout. The PPV broadcast cut to video packages for the next match while AJ and Kidman laid in the middle of the ring and, Kidman used what little energy he had left to extend a hand to the prone champ beside him which was accepted. Tonight, the two wounded warriors fight one-on-one for the title.
Jay and Mark Briscoe beat Jorge Estrada and Sonny Siaki in what was their first win on WCW television as Jay reversed an O’Connor roll on Estrada for the three at 4:10. The fuming heels blindsided them after the bell, however, and fled before retribution could be dished out.
We get highlight footage of the Slamboree pre-show where Red and his two debuting friends, Joel and Jose Maximo, gained revenge on Kid Romeo and the Full Blooded Italians. We get several replays of the incredible ‘Spanish Fly’ finisher. It’s followed by quick stills of the six men participating in the battle royal on the PPV.
Backstage, an embarrassed FBI and Romeo say Red and the Maximos “fluked” that six-man win because they weren’t able to scout their opponents properly. They issue a challenge for next week: Maximos vs FBI, 2 on 2.
Finally, AJ Styles defeated Kidman to retain the WCW Cruiserweight title in a slow-burner from two men still feeling Ultimate X which nonetheless sizzled into a hot finale. Styles missed a Spiral Tap but Kidman’s immediate attempt to follow with a Shooting Star Press was also dodged. Styles was then able to deadlift the all-fours challenger into a Styles Clash for the win at 17:03. Again, the two showed mutual respect afterwards as the show came to an end.
JUNE 1, 2002: SATURDAY NITRO #56
A promotion swept up in several waves of uncertainty looks to clear several issues on the road to the Great American Bash. Despite Low Ki earning a cruiserweight title shot at Slamboree, his injury means a tournament begins tonight to set up a new challenger for AJ Styles. The Cat says he will get to the bottom of Glenn Gilbertti Enterprises’ recent actions, as well as the mysterious figure dressed as the legendary Mr. Wrestling that helped Jeff Jarrett win at the PPV. Are the two related, considering GGE’s involvement in Jarrett matches as of late? Lastly, the inconclusive world title match on Sunday gets a do-over tonight as Lance Storm and RVD have a second ladder match for the belt.
This week’s opening contest saw Rey Mysterio defeat Bryan Danielson in quarter-final number one of the tournament. Rey was too much for the new sensation, who nonetheless put in a good showing on his Nitro singles debut and earned a handshake from Mysterio post-match. A rapid-fire huracanrana into a pinning combination finished things at 7:34.
The Cat is in his office, awaiting someone it seems. With that, in comes Jeff Jarrett along with CW Anderson. Cat immediately says: “30 days. You’re suspended. Now get out.”
Jarrett is outraged. He claims he should be in line after Sting for the WCW World title after his win at Slamboree, and swears he didn’t know about any interference. Cat says he’ll rescind the suspension if he gives up the name of whoever was ‘Mr. Wrestling III’, as he’s seemingly being referred to now.
Jeff says he honestly hasn’t a clue. Cat calls him a liar and tells both men to get out of his building. Jarrett throws some stuff around and storms out with Anderson.
Christopher Daniels beat Psicosis in quarter-final number two thanks to an illegal assist from Elix Skipper, leading to a cheap pin at 6:44. This brought out Super Crazy to brawl with Skipper, and since the two were due to also battle in a last-eight encounter, that bout started immediately.
Skipper bested Crazy as XXX once again cheated successfully despite Psicosis’ attempts to keep Daniels neutral. The Fallen Angel distracted Crazy long enough to prevent his trademark moonsault and allow his partner to snatch the Insane Luchador into a powerbomb followed by a folded press with feet on the ropes at 8:11. The luchadores certainly didn’t look finished with Triple X, even though they were out of the tournament.
In the dressing rooms, Shannon Moore is unpacking his stuff. Shane Helms comes over and sits next to him. Given their history, Moore is immediately ready to fight but Helms tells him to relax and listen.
He asks Moore what’s worse than someone who treats a man the way Chavo and himself treated Shannon? Moore doesn’t answer. Helms says the answer is someone who treats him that way but tries to act like his friend the whole time.
Shane says Shannon thinks he finally found an equal in Jason Jett, but Jett, according to Helms, sees the same thing Chavo and Helms saw. A sidekick. A reject. Jett comes along at this stage and threatens Helms, having overheard the last few bits it seems. Helms leaves without a fight and Jett tries to apologise for Slamboree to Moore. Moore isn’t particularly ready to hear it.
Glenn Gilbertti is next into Cat’s office. Miller shows him a form, and Glenn isn’t happy reading it. Cat explains that he has mounted an unprofessional conduct case against GGE, per the by-laws of the company, that places them all on probation. And, if there’s one more offense, they will be terminated no matter what other part-owners of the company try to do to block it. He says their suspensions are officially done, but their first call of duty coming back is a 5-on-5 elimination tag match… next.
Gilbertti leads out Simon, Swinger, the Mamalukes and Chuck Palumbo for the elimination bout. Their opponents are only known to anyone but Cat as they make their entrances. First come Diamond Dallas Page and Kanyon. Next are America’s Most Wanted. Finally… here’s Sting!
The bout stays at 5-on-5 for a good while but as DDP looks set to land the Diamond Cutter on, ironically, Diamond, Sharmell runs down and distracts the ref allowing Booker T to hop the rail and blast Page with the ring bell, setting up a Problem Solver and the shock pin by Simon at 9:24. The announcers cannot fathom why Booker has an issue with former friend Page that made him want to do this, as Book hurls the bell onto the floor and storms out of the building.
GGE enjoy the 5-on-4 advantage until James Black and Big Vito become legal and it spills into another AMW/Mamalukes brawl, all the way towards the entrance way which has the referee disqualify all four at 11:55. Suddenly, Los Guerreros emerge from the back with chairs and wipe out AMW, who earned the next shot at Eddie and Chavo at the PPV. They then lamp the Mamalukes with the chairs for good measure and head back to the back.
Still with a 3-on-2 advantage, Palumbo Simon and Swinger work over Kanyon while Sting tries to tag in. As Swinger cuts off one attempt at a hot tag, however, Kanyon proves that the Flatliner can come out of nowhere as much as the Cutter and suddenly brings it to two versus two at 14:58.
Palumbo pulls Kanyon out of the ring and when Kanyon fights him off, Gilbertti drops down and holds the leg so he is counted out at 15:30. This brings out Ric Flair who chases Gilbertti all the way to the back to a big pop.
Sting is initially double-teamed by Diamond and Palumbo, only to send Chuck into Simon, throw Palumbo out of the ring and submit Diamond with the Scorpion Deathlock at 17:34. Palumbo blindsides Sting as we’re down to one-on-one.
After a couple minutes working over the Stinger, Palumbo attempts to go for the Outsider Edge… only for Flair to head back out and hop onto the apron. Palumbo drops Sting and decks Flair, only to be pulled back into the Scorpion Death Drop for the three count at a total time of 19:51. Sting is the sole survivor!
In the darker confines of the area, Father James Mitchell stands with his four monsters, now all unmasked. Mitchell says his New Church has risen, and Mike Awesome stands as their king and United States champion. He introduces the two unnamed members as Slash and Sinn, before rechristening the former Devon Storm/Crowbar as Tempest.
The promo is interrupted by the sound of Shawn Stasiak nearby, who has apparently wandered into the vicinity to find decent cellphone signal. He’s talking to a ‘bro’ on the phone about nearby tanning salons, until Mitchell sends his Church to attack Stasiak 4-on-1 and leave him laying.
We see short pre-tapes from, first, Knoble and Kash who promise to win back their cruiser tag titles on AirTime and take the Jung Dragons out of wrestling in the process. And then one from the Dragons, who talk about finally earning gold in WCW as they promise to remain champs for a long time to come.
Tajiri and Juventud Guerrera fought to a double-countout which eliminated them both from the cruiserweight contention tournament after 7:37. The announcers looked up the bracket and realised this means Christopher Daniels goes straight to the final, with Rey Mysterio and Elix Skipper competing in what is now the only semi-final.
They summarise that the ‘other three’ of the battle royal’s final four have survived so far, while Rey has to run the ‘XXX gauntlet’ if he wants the title match. A frustrated Juventud levelled Tajiri with a spin wheel kick after the decision was announced.
Shane Douglas and Torrie Wilson hit the ring, with Douglas blaming Rhodes’ vendetta for him as the reason he’s not the next contender for the world title right now. He says he and Rhodes need to settle this and calls him out. Rhodes doesn’t waste any time making his way out for a brawl with Shane on the walkway.
The two fight around ringside with Dustin mostly in charge until the Franchise goes to the eyes before fetching a chain from Wilson. He turns around, however, and Rhodes has brought his own chain, landing a punch to the head of Douglas! He mounts Shane on the floor and opens him up further with more punches. Wilson jumps on his back, allowing a groggy Douglas to prepare to lamp Rhodes with his chain after Rhodes shakes off Wilson and gives her a spanking in the ring.
The two men end up on their knees trading chained fists, each man covered in blood, when Cat finally decides they’ve had enough and has security break it up.
Sean O’Haire was fired up for his bout with the New Church’s Tempest, interrupting the faction’s entrance to brand new music and laying in shots on all four wrestlers before sending Tempest into the ring as referees ushered everyone but Mitchell to the back. Tempest took control and got a near fall from a sit-out gourdbuster, but Sean soon rallied and destroyed Tempest with clotheslines and a big boot before an F5 got him the three-count at 5:49. He was jumped after the bell by Sinn and Slash, who held him down for an Awesome splash.
An interview with AJ Styles about being the first man to win Ultimate X aired. He says the bout is one of many things that will take wrestling forward to the next level and goes on to say it’s a shame a title match with Low Ki will have to wait. He doesn’t care if it’s Skipper, Daniels or Misterio who replaces him.
Finally, Rob Van Dam arrived for the highly-anticipated ladder rematch, followed by WCW champion Lance Storm. Storm handed over the belt, the referee hooked it up to go high above the ring and the two elite combatants and longtime rivals immediately picked up where they left off on Sunday.
RVD managed to enforce a more extreme edge to the second ladder bout, dominating the early going with chair- and ringside-based offense as only he can. However, Storm pulled him off the ladder and into a kneebreaker to resume his work on the challenger’s hurt leg.
Van Dam fought back and the two exchanged near-retrievals and wild stunts before finally, RVD hit a Van Daminator before performing a huge Five-Star Frog Splash off the penultimate rung of the ladder before recovering to slowly scale the ladder and unhook the belt at 18:43, just before Storm could begin to drag himself up the other side. Rob Van Dam is a two-time WCW champion after a hellacious match to end Nitro!
Great American Bash 2002 card so far:
- WCW World title: Rob Van Dam (c) vs Sting
- WCW World Tag Team titles: Los Guerreros (c) vs America’s Most Wanted
- WCW Cruiserweight title: AJ Styles (c) vs tournament winner
Next time: The tournament for the right to challenge AJ Styles continues, Booker T’s beef with DDP is revealed and the WCW World title triangle between RVD, Lance Storm and the Stinger isn’t over yet…