JUNE 5, 2002: AIRTIME #22
Tonight was due to stage the semi-finals of the tournament to name a new cruiserweight title contender. However, there is in fact only one, with Christopher Daniels getting a bye to the final.
It’s also the night the Jung Dragons make their first appearance with WCW gold around their waists. But can they keep those cruiser tag belts there when they give Knoble and Kash their rematch in the main event?
Taped on June 4, along with the following Nitro, in Orlando.
Our opening contest saw Rey Mysterio defeat Elix Skipper in the cruiserweight tournament. His opponent in the final, Daniels, attempted to interfere on his XXX team-mate’s behalf only to be stopped by Super Crazy and Psicosis, Rey’s team-mates from the World Cup who were eliminated via Triple X shenanigans on Nitro. That cleared the way for a ‘619’ kick and a springboard rana for Rey to advance at 13:31.
York and Matthews are interviewed backstage. They may have come up short at Slamboree for the heavyweight tag titles, but they have six months to fulfil their promise of winning tag gold in 2002. They add that their contracts expire in January 2003 (it isn’t public knowledge that they in fact run a few months longer than that) and that if they can’t get it done this year, they may as well not renew.
The Full Blooded Italians defeated Jose and Joel Maximo after Kid Romeo, in their corner, crotched Jose on the top rope before a Spanish Fly on Maritato, allowing Marinera to pull Joel off the ropes into a wheelbarrow which Guido met with a Sicilian Slice for the three at 7:42. The Amazing Red helped run off the heels.
We hear from Brian Kendrick who explains how he and Bryan Danielson came up for a tryout together from Texas, where they trained with Shawn Michaels and Rudy Boy Gonzalez, and how even though he was by far the hardest worker, Danielson has always been a darling of his trainers and the indy wrestling fans.
He says it should have been him wrestling on Nitro, and Danielson isn’t even the second best Texas trainee. He offers to prove it next week by challenging Bryan to find a partner from their school to face Kendrick and a Texas grad of his choosing.
Billy Kidman is asked what’s next after his failure to regain the cruiserweight title. He says he isn’t sure, but with WCW in the rude health it’s in he’s looking forward to testing himself against the rest of the roster and says one day, he will once again have championship gold.
Finally, the Jung Dragons defeated Knoble and Kash to retain the WCW Cruiserweight tag titles after a Yang Time moonsault onto Knoble at the 16:55 mark. The lengthy main event saw the heels try everything they could to make the Dragons’ reign a brief one, but it appears the World Cup winners are for real.
JUNE 8, 2002: SATURDAY NITRO #57
Rob Van Dam regained the WCW title from Lance Storm after a week of ladder drama, but it’s hard to imagine the Canadian letting things go with a rematch due. Perhaps we’ll also get some answers regarding the recent actions of GGE, as well as Father James Mitchell’s New Church. And why did Booker T attack DDP last week? Perhaps we’ll find out when the two former friends go one-on-one in the main event.
In what was advertised on WCW.com as ‘The New Church vs Sean O’Haire and three partners of his choosing’, Sinn, Slash, Tempest and Mike Awesome made their way to the ring. O’Haire followed without any allies and immediately started knocking down Church members in the ring.
Thankfully for Sean, Mark Jindrak and Shawn Stasiak rushed the ring just as the numbers overwhelmed O’Haire and the trio cleared the ring to a ‘Thrillers’ chant from the crowd.
The heels regrouped under Mitchell’s guidance and hopped up onto an apron each, ready to continue to outnumber their opponents, when the music of Kanyon hit. Kanyon hit the ring and suddenly, we had a four-on-four match.
Kanyon in particular went after Awesome and nearly got his hands on Mitchell at one point, and as O’Haire finished off Sinn in-ring with the F5 with an official match time of 10:37, Kanyon snapmared Awesome off the top rope and through a table at ringside the US champ had set up earlier.
After the hot and fast start to the program, the announce team belatedly welcome us to the show and say they have some news for the viewership. Last week, Booker T surprised everyone by attacking DDP in the elimination match. Nobody knew why Booker targeted his former friend but it seems a fan with a video camera picked up some footage before last week’s Nitro began that may clear things up.
They apologise in advance for the ‘rough-and-ready’ nature of the footage but extend their sincere thanks to the fan, who got free tickets and merch as a reward, for being able to document the footage at all.
We see outside the studios last week some sort of issue between Diamond Dallas Page and Sharmell over a parking space. The row soon escalates and Page accuses Sharmell of poisoning his friend’s mind over the last 12 months. The footage ends when the fan is seen filming this by a security guard and politely asked to move along.
Jason Jett and Shannon Moore were far from completely on the same page in their bout against Sonny Siaki and Jorge Estrada, with Jett doing his best to carry the load for his team and seek Moore’s forgiveness for eliminating him at Slamboree, while Moore mostly stood on the apron looking conflicted. Not helping Shannon’s mentality was Shane Helms’ decision to join commentary for the bout, ensuring his words to his former partner were fresh in Moore’s mind.
Moore did eventually tag in and clean house, but was hit with a low blow by Siaki as he prepped Bottom’s Up with the referee distracted by Estrada. This forced Jett to tag back in and he picked up the win with the Crash Landing at 6:11. A smug looking Helms left the table, looked into Moore’s eyes and said: “See? I told you.”
Triple X claim in a backstage interview that when Christopher Daniels beats Rey Mysterio tonight and then AJ Styles for the cruiserweight title, XXX will be back on top of the division and they will rebuild it in their vision. Super Crazy and Psicosis then show up and aggressively say something in Spanish to the heels. A bit of a brawl breaks out before the luchadores lure Elix Skipper into a room. Psicosis slips out and Crazy locks the door, and the two barricade it for good measure. After interference helped them knock off Crazy and Psicosis in the last eight, it looks like they’ve ensured a fair fight for their compatriot in the final!
Mysterio thrived in the fair environment and defeated Daniels in a great match to make it Rey vs AJ Styles at the Great American Bash! Filled with near-falls and counters, Mysterio eventually turned an attempt at Angel’s Wings into a huracanrana with a pinning cradle for the three at 13:53.
After the bout, Styles came off commentary to face off with Rey in the middle of the ring, giving fans their first peek at what will be a cruiserweight dream match!
Mean Gene catches up with Kanyon as he takes his bag out to the car park. When asked why he joined the match earlier and helped O’Haire, he reminded us all that not only did Father James Mitchell target he and DDP when he first returned to WCW, but that he and his “millions of aliases” have been involved in Kanyon’s affairs for many years.
Not only did he want a piece of Mitchell, Awesome and the other cronies but he wants what Awesome has – the United States title. He’s then jumped by the entire New Church and beaten down until Stasiak and Jindrak show up with lead pipes and force a retreat.
America’s Most Wanted teamed with mentor Dustin Rhodes to face Shane Douglas and Los Guerreros, but it may as well have been a non-title preview of the Great American Bash’s tag title bout instead.
Rhodes and Douglas continued to fight each other with no clue what else was going on around them. And although AMW controlled a short bout against the tag champs, Torrie Wilson’s attempt to hand Douglas a chain was cut off by Rhodes, sending the chain flying into the ring. Eddie spotted it, pocketed it, tagged in and on a suplex attempt by Harris, Guerrero socked him between the eyes and fell on top for the pin at 8:46.
After the bout, Los Guerreros told Mean Gene on the walkway that AMW simply cannot beat them, and that they may as well forfeit their title shot at the Bash to save themselves any further embarrassment. The interview is cut short as things have escalated ringside between Rhodes and Douglas, with the Franchise choking Dustin out with Wilson’s belt. He’s pulled off the unconscious Rhodes by a team of officials.
DDP, in a pre-tape, says it looks like WCW may be heading towards uncertain times with someone in the ownership seemingly trying to raise hell and rallying a bunch of the roster to do his bidding.
He doesn’t know why GGE are going along with it, nor whether Booker T is one of them as well, but he knows this guy decided to make Page his first direct victim. Big mistake, Page says.
He says he’ll hunt down Mr. Wrestling III, but for tonight he has some business to settle with an “old friend”.
Tajiri and the Jung Dragons defeated Super Crazy, Psicosis and Juventud Guerrera in a return of the Spring Breakout pre-show match that served as a ‘World Cup preview’.
Skipper and Daniels showed their faces at ringside at the climax of a great six-man cruiser exhibition and distracted Crazy and Psicosis with a shouting match long enough for Guerrera’s attempt at a Juvi Driver on Kaz to be halted by a Tajiri high kick, followed by Kaz and Yang’s ‘Unleash The Dragon’ finish of an Iconoclasm from Yang into a sit-out powerbomb from Hayashi.
The three-on-one secured the win for Team Japan after 9:22 as Yang and Tajiri made sure Crazy and Psicosis couldn’t break the pin when they realised what was happening.
The Cat, Stacy Keibler and Ric Flair are in the ring after an ad break. Cat immediately calls out Glenn Gilbertti, adding that he doesn’t care if his ‘ass-kissing gophers’ join him or not. They do indeed join him: the entire GGE group enters the ring, but Cat and co stand their ground.
Cat says since it’s obvious they’re up to something and have been for months, and that whoever is pulling the strings even showed up in person (albeit under a mask) at Slamboree, the time for cryptic talk and avoiding questions is over. Cat says if GGE want any sort of career in WCW, they’ll be honest about what they and their benefactor are planning against Eric Bischoff.
Gilbertti laughs and says Bischoff was awesome, wasn’t he Cat? He got he and Miller their jobs, oversaw the best period in WCW history, made the company cool, made his employees rich and then what? He loses his touch and then tucks his tail between his legs. Glenn says Bischoff now hides in an office while WCW sits in their little bubble having great “rasslin” matches for a bunch of Florida and Georgia hicks.
Gilbertti says he has been authorised by his benefactor to disclose that his investment in WCW was not invested so they could have a comfy little TV show every week for people who want a change from the circus in New York. Gilbertti says the consortium invested in the company to bring back the wars, the chaos, the mayhem, because war is good.
Flair snatches the mic and tells Gilbertti to shut up. He says a war is coming alright, if GGE keep doing what they’re doing. Flair adds that the only ‘winner’ should be the fans and in the last 12 months they’ve had a feast of wrestling for every taste, both in WCW and on other networks. He warns the investor via Gilbertti not to upset the balance and cause what nearly happened in 2001 to happen all over again because it will “kill the industry”.
Gilbertti says he agrees with Flair… on one thing he said. He agrees a war is coming. He advises Cat and co to be ready when it happens because it’s coming sooner rather than later and it’ll divide the company.
GG finishes by asking if his guys are booked to compete tonight. Cat says no. Glenn says in that case, they’re leaving. Cat warns them as they’re leaving to be ready to fight next week – all of them.
The Amazing Red and the Maximos once again beat Kid Romeo and the FBI, with the Maximos debuting the Spanish Fly on Nitro to beat Romeo after 7:26. Afterwards, Guido and Tony blindsided Joel and Jose and incapacitated them, allowing the heels to beat up Red 3-on-1. The FBI held an arm each of Red’s so Romeo could taunt, slap and finally beat up his enemy before the Maximos finally recovered enough to run them off.
At a studio location, Mike Tenay oversees a ‘summit’ of sorts between WCW champion Rob Van Dam and the man who temporarily dethroned him, Lance Storm.
Tenay talks through their history, fighting on the first ECW PPV and in RVD’s WCW PPV debut. Tenay says they have fought on and off during the entire first year plus of the reboot, and Commissioner Cat has declared that the chapter must end.
They have apparently agreed to battle for the belt one more time in seven days on Nitro, and if Storm fails to win his rematch, that’s it for him as long as Van Dam is champ. Also, if Storm wins the title back, RVD will not get a return match on the basis that he received his handpicked rematch type, a ladder match, twice.
The only thing left to arrange is the match type this time, and Tenay informs them that he received official word from Cat that the Commish be making this decision rather than offering it as a prize to the two. He paraphrases Miller and announces the only way to settle this year-long feud once and for all is in a 15-foot-high steel cage. There will be no interference and there will be a decisive winner.
Storm says he will finally prove next week that he always has been better than RVD. The champ, meanwhile, simply states that this all ends next week, one way or another.
We cut to Sting backstage, who says he’ll be watching next week’s cage match with more interest than anyone. Cat confirmed to him that he’ll fight the winner at the Bash PPV, and he says while RVD and Storm represent the new generation of talent taking WCW to new levels, they’ll have to be at their absolute best to deny him one more title run. He finishes by saying the GAB is the last gate before greatness, and he is the last gatekeeper they’re gonna want to encounter.
DDP made his way out for the main event… only to be attacked by Booker T on the walkway. The two brawled all over the arena and eventually, it spilled out the doors of the studio. Amazingly, fans actually followed the action into Universal Studios as the two brawled around nearby attractions.
The crowd got bigger as tourists who didn’t attend the show began to join the spectatorship. Security from both the show and the theme park finally got a handle on the wild scenes as we ran out of time.
WCW Great American Bash 2002 card so far:
- WCW World title: RVD or Lance Storm (c) vs Sting
- WCW World tag titles: Los Guerreros (c) vs America’s Most Wanted
- WCW Cruiserweight title: AJ Styles (c) vs Rey Mysterio
Next time: Who will win the final encounter between RVD and Lance Storm, inside a steel cage? And, what is this “war” that Glenn Gilbertti has promised for WCW?