The morning after the Great American Bash, WCW.com was seemingly compromised by a pro-Vince Russo and Glenn Gilbertti Enterprises party. Footage of the PPV’s ending was at the forefront of the site, with an ominous promise of further details this Saturday on Nitro, as well as footage of what happened in the arena when PPV time expired to come this Wednesday on AirTime.
JULY 3, 2002: AIRTIME #26
The hour begins with a video package looking at the first six months of the groundbreaking cruiserweight-orientated TV show, a package that segues into the shocking ending of the Great American Bash three days ago, ending on a still of Vince Russo’s face. Is Russo an investor in the company!? Perhaps we’ll find out the truth tonight. We’ll at the very least have some scores settled in tag action: The Briscoes meet Siaki and Estrada, while AJ Styles and Rey Mysterio have to get their epic cruiserweight title battle out of their system to face the men who assaulted them post-match, Daniels and Skipper.
Taped on July 2, along with the following Nitro, at the Nashville Asylum.
Mark and Jay Briscoe settled the score with Sonny Siaki and Jorge Estrada in a Tornado Tag match, finishing Siaki with a springboard Doomsday Device in 7:49.
We are then introduced to what happened after the PPV broadcast ended on Sunday, as Russo, his two masked henchmen and the entire GGE faction destroyed security and put an additional beatdown on RVD, Sting and Ric Flair. They then proceeded to tear apart the Bash set, finishing with Russo himself taking a pickaxe to the giant old-school ‘WCW’ logo beside the giant screen.
We hear from the announcers that Russo is indeed a co-owner of the company as the head of the consortium that invested late last year, and has outright refused to come to AirTime to discuss what happens next. He’s expected to finally explain himself and the last few months of creating mayhem on Saturday Nitro.
In the changing room, Billy Kidman is speaking to most of the babyface cruiserweight roster. He explains that Russo being the mystery co-owner is potentially terrible news for anyone who takes pride in their craft as a professional wrestler, especially cruiserweights and anyone who happens to be from another country.
He says if Russo is looking to make changes, a lot of them could be in trouble. He asks Psicosis and Juventud Guerrera to back him up with first-hand experiences from 1999-2000, but instead Juvi goes off on a rant at Tajiri. Psicosis and Crazy try to calm him down as the Jung Dragons stop Tajiri from reacting to the provocation.
Kidman regains order and says maybe the two of them should ask Cat for a match on Saturday if that’s what it takes to get this out of their system, as they may well have even bigger problems than the New Church on their horizon.
Matt Bentley defeated Paul London after sneaking in a low blow and cradling with a grab of the ropes at 6:50. London’s high-flying continues to get great reactions from the crowd but once again he’s put down by the any-means-necessary route.
We discover that Chavo Guerrero has challenged AJ Styles to a Cruiserweight title match on Nitro, having pinned the champion in a recent tag match. Styles has accepted, but first we hear an interview with AJ and the man he narrowly beat at the Bash, Rey Mysterio.
Styles apologises to Rey for how tense things got between them going into their title match, but now they have a common enemy. Mysterio says they’re good, and that he doesn’t know why XXX targeted them. But tonight, they’ll unite stronger than ever with no title rivalry clouding their judgment and put Skipper and Daniels in their place.
Also on Nitro, the weird triangle between Jason Jett, Shannon Moore and Shane Helms becomes an actual triangle match!
A video package teases that Low Ki will return from injury at the Bash At The Beach PPV.
Styles and Mysterio defeated Triple X in the main event when Rey finished off Skipper with a springboard senton press in 18:12. Moments before the finish, Daniels laid out Styles with his own cruiserweight title belt but was unable to make the save in time. He quickly laid out Rey with Last Rites and XXX stood tall to end the show despite their defeat.
JULY 6, 2002: SATURDAY NITRO #61
Clips of the GAB ending as well as the post-PPV footage that debuted on AirTime is aired once more before the opening montage. The unthinkable has happened: Eric Bischoff has unwittingly sold half of the company to a consortium headed up by none other than Vince Russo, and the future of the company is up in the air.
What does Russo have planned? Why has Glenn Gilbertti and his stable been so eager to help him the last few months? And who were those two unidentified henchmen who helped Mr. Wrestling III unmask as Vinnie Ru at the PPV?
As we head to the arena, no time is wasted getting to the surreal image of Vince Russo: WCW Co-Owner strutting out with his chest puffed as far out as it can go. He’s flanked as expected by Glenn Gilbertti and his troops, the men who helped Russo undermine so much of the last few months of wrestling whilst Russo appeared to be the man to make sure they remained on the payroll throughout.
“Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Vince Russo and I am the antichrist of professional wrestling.”
Russo goes on to explain that when he moved to Atlanta in 1999 to help get this rickety old “rasslin” company ready for the 21st century, they weren’t ready for Vince Russo and people did nothing but undermine and block his creative genius. He mentions he was paid a ton of cash regardless, however, and even moreso when his contract was paid up following the sale to Fusient.
So, since he had all this money and Fusient needed help to keep the company going themselves, he invested under the cloak of a consortium and waited for his chance to move for a controlling share.
He says it sickens him that WCW survived the doom of being cut by Time Warner, only for the company to wave the white flag in the Monday Night Wars and insist they’re happy just putting out a little weekly show for “rasslin fans”. Russo says he will take control of this company, the easy way or the hard way, and revive the most successful era in the history of the business with a full-on war.
From here on out, Russo concludes, the WCW roster has to decide whether they are happy being small-time “rasslers” or if they want to be a part of history. And anyone who is not with them is against them.
Backstage, Lance Storm expresses his disdain that he remains unable to challenge for the WCW World title for as long as RVD continues to hold it. He says he is the rightful champion and until he gets what he deserves, he will continue to make people pay just like Sean O’Haire did in Baltimore.
In our first bout of the evening, AJ Styles retained the cruiserweight title against Chavo Guerrero Jr. An attempt by Eddie at ringside to swing the bout in his nephew’s favour was cancelled out by an appearance from Rey Mysterio, and Styles blocked a brainbuster attempt, lifted Chavo up for a suplex of his own instead and then transitioned Chavo down into a Styles Clash for the three at 15:17.
We go back to The Cat’s office, with the Commissioner sat at his desk looking uncertain as none other than Eric Bischoff paces back and forth in front of him. Bischoff rants over how Russo will assume control of the company over his dead body, complains that this threat has forced Bischoff to come out from behind the curtain having settled into an off-screen role post-restart, and about how WCW looks set for a philosophical civil war even though he’s made the standalone company profitable and is trying to learn from his mistakes, unlike Russo.
The silence from Cat prompts Bischoff to ask him if Miller is with him or not. A conflicted Cat explains that two men got him this far in his career: Bischoff and Russo. He doesn’t want to see two guys he owes everything to going to war when they should be working together for the good of the company, and he asks Bischoff not to drag him into this.
Eric pauses for thought and notes that Cat’s official job description is controlling the matchmaking, title contention and disciplinary procedures of the roster. If Cat’s not taking a side in this, Bischoff says he needs to make absolute certain that this philosophical battle remains a fair fight – because in a fair fight, he’s absolutely certain the last year of rebuilding WCW’s image will rise above Russo’s “extreme sports entertainment BS”. Cat agrees, then notices something on his computer. Stunned, perhaps angry, Cat excuses himself and leaves.
The simmering rivalry between Tajiri and Juventud Guerrera remained deadlocked in one-on-one action, following their draw in the cruiserweight contendership tournament last month. A double-countout ended the bout after 9:04 as the two brawled at ringside, showing that things have continued to heat up.
With the New Church targeting cruiserweights at times and now Vince Russo having a say in the running of the company, it won’t thrill the rest of the cruiser roster to see two of their biggest names at each other’s throats in such a manner.
Booker T and Sharmell tell Mean Gene that a shot at RVD had better be on Booker’s horizon after they “squashed Diamond Dallas Page like a bug” at the Bash.
The Maximos and The Amazing Red continued their momentum with another Nitro appearance and another win, this time over Julio Dinero, Chase Stevens and Cassidy O’Reilly. The ever-impressive Spanish Fly finished off O’Reilly after 5:43.
However, as they celebrated they were ambushed by all six members of Glenn Gilbertti Enterprises, who also put the boots to the defeated trio. The heels stood proud over their handiwork, seemingly safe in the knowledge that they are the co-owner’s boys.
Up next was the triple threat match between Jason Jett, Shannon Moore and Shane Helms. However, as the three approached each other as the bell rang and jockeyed in a three-man circle, Moore and Helms suddenly laid out Jett with a double superkick! The duo then viciously assaulted Jett and left, without even attempting to pin him. It appears Helms did get into his former tag partner’s head after all.
The Cat is scouring backstage for someone. He seems to find who he’s looking for: Russo, introducing himself to a few wrestlers and when Miller approaches him, he’s talking to Christian York and Joey Matthews. Y&M tell Cat they’re not yet booked tonight and are about to ask something when they’re sharply cut off by Miller, who says he’s busy right now and to give he and Russo a moment.
They leave and Vince tries to be super-friendly and hug Cat, who shoves him away. Cat asks Russo: “where is she?” Russo plays dumb but then Miller reveals that he knows he hired Stacy Keibler to work as his assistant, noting the order from “WCW Owner” which he assumed was Bischoff at first. He then collates some of her decision making and her constant shadowing of Cat to Russo’s agenda.
Vince begs off, saying he just wanted to see how Miller was getting on. He says Cat is one of his few true friends from his first WCW stint and he is aware of his situation. He says he knows Cat doesn’t want to be dragged into a conflict and implores Miller to do his thing while Bischoff and Russo “have a heart to heart” about the future of the company.
Cat then gets straight to his next point and asks why he and Jarrett are covering up their cahoots. Russo denies they are in cahoots. Cat runs down his history with JJ and the fact he had two masked men help him stick it to Flair, Sting and RVD. Russo “swears to god, bro” that it wasn’t Jeff and CW but that he wants to speak to Jarrett as it’s been a long time.
Cat warns Russo that he’ll be the sheriff keeping WCW on the right track while the two owners go at it like a couple of stray cats, and neither of them wants to test Cat’s ties to either. He finishes by saying tonight’s main event will be RVD and Sting against the back-from-suspension Jarrett and CW Anderson, and that the champ and the Stinger will soon beat the truth out of those two.
The Jung Dragons retained the WCW Cruiserweight tag straps against Super Crazy and Psicosis, with the commentary team explaining that the champs chose to give the luchadores a straight tag title shot after their showing in the four-way at the PPV. Kaz pinned Psicosis after Unleash The Dragon in 11:57.
America’s Most Wanted are interviewed by Mean Gene and they discuss their dream of capturing the WCW tag titles being realised at the Bash. They promise to be fighting champions and say they’re ready for Los Guerreros’ mandatory rematch any time, any place.
The Cat returns to his office where Father James Mitchell is sat in his chair, wishing to discuss “business”. Cat warns him that he picked a bad time, but Mitchell assures Cat that he’ll like what he hears. Stacy Keibler shows up at this moment, seemingly unaware that Cat has figured out her ‘mole’ mission for Russo and Cat immediately discards Mitchell to tell Keibler: “you’re fired.”
Keibler reacts in shock before Cat reveals what he knows. Stacy argues that Miller doesn’t have the power to fire her. Cat says she’s right, so she’s going to resign instead. Otherwise, he’ll be thinking a hell of a lot about what his so-called friend Russo and her conspired to do behind Cat’s back when making matches involving GGE and anyone else who sides with Vince. Keibler pauses, then excuses herself and makes a hasty exit.
Sean O’Haire destroys David Young in 1:48, finishing with an F5. Clearly the last month or so of bad fortunes have lit a fire under the big man. During the bout, the commentators receive word that Stacy Keibler has indeed resigned as the Commissioner’s assistant with immediate effect.
In a pre-tape, Diamond Dallas Page says WCW may be enjoying a new lease of life but the place is as filled with politics and turmoil as ever before. He says he’ll slap some sense into Booker T if it’s the last thing he does, and that regardless of what direction the company ends up in, he’ll make Vince Russo pay for sticking his nose in Page’s affairs at Slamboree in order to help his buddy Jeff Jarrett.
The Cat announces via a brief formal cut to his office that next week, Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo will go face-to-face with himself in the middle to try and sort out this mess as quickly as possible.
Finally, Sting and Rob Van Dam took the fight straight to Jeff Jarrett and CW Anderson, under the widely-accepted assumption that they were Russo’s two masked aides last weekend. All four men brawled around the arena and even tried to battle in a proper tag bout at one stage, but once the bout turned into a pier-six for the second time, all-out chaos ensued. GGE rushed the ring and laid out Sting and RVD, as Jarrett and Anderson slid out of there and disappeared.
Suddenly, Ric Flair’s music hit and the legend rushed the ring in street clothes, flanked by a handful of WCW wrestlers – Billy Kidman, Rey Mysterio and America’s Most Wanted. The brawl was pretty even from there until Triple X ran down with baseball bats, as well as Stacy Keibler with a couple more bats to hand to The Mamalukes. Russo marched back out and says he listened to Bischoff’s words earlier and heard a great concept – not “extreme sports entertainment” but “Sports Entertainment Xtreme”.
He, Keibler and Gilbertti then covered the main Nitro sign by the entrance with a giant banner with the words one above the other, spelling out the acronym “S E X” down the left. “The war has just begun!” declares Russo as his army leaves several top WCW stars and traditionalists laid out to close the show.
Next time: Russo and Bischoff go face-to-face, as the civil war between World Championship Wrestling and Sports Entertainment Xtreme heats up!