JULY 10, 2002: AIRTIME #27
Vince Russo’s return as a co-owner of WCW and formation of a ‘Sports Entertainment Xtreme’ army has sent shockwaves throughout the promotion over the last week. Will we see any follow-up tonight? Will Russo even bother to show up on the cruiserweight show, unlike seven days ago?
Taped on July 9, along with the following Nitro, at the Nashville Asylum.
The show begins with the arrival of Elix Skipper and Christopher Daniels, wearing ‘Sports Entertainment Xtreme’ shirts, showing the allegiance to Vince Russo made evident at the end of last Saturday’s Nitro. Skipper tells us of Russo’s disgust at an extra weekly show being added to the schedule, saying it’s “too much work” for someone as busy as Russo. Not only that, but it’s a show centered around cruiserweights.
Skipper says only a select few athletes under 230lbs are worthy of Russo’s valuable time – definitely no vanilla ‘rasslers’ or “those dime-a-dozen foreigners”. Triple X introduce themselves as the pinnacle of Russo’s vision of cruiserweights, and say they’ll be recruiting “ideal candidates” to rebuild the division in Russo’s image.
Finally, Daniels says one of those candidates is someone they’ve had a falling out with, but who’ll always be family – they’re pleased to announce that Low Ki will be rejoining XXX when he returns at Bash At The Beach and brings the cruiserweight title to S.E.X! The announcers discuss how this is far from a verified announcement before we hit the opening credits ahead of our first bout.
Kash and Knoble, now well and truly out of the cruiser tag title picture, took on the Briscoe brothers in a battle of two southern US duos. Knoble and Kash dominated the bout outside of a few hope spots, but were stunned when Jay reversed a very slow and arrogant set-up for the tiger driver by Knoble by rolling forward and landing on top of Jamie in a cradle for the three in 6:20! The humiliated ex-champs beat down Jay and Mark hard after the bell in a futile attempt to spare their blushes.
Christian York and Joey Matthews are interviewed backstage and discuss how they’ve seemingly fallen off the radar after failing to win the tag titles at Slamboree. Just then, Daniels and Skipper show up and Y&M ready themselves for a fight with their old rivals. However, Elix says it may be time to put their issues aside for “the greater good”, then tells the camera crew to get outta here.
Bryan Danielson and Brian Kendrick went at it one more time as their rivalry gathered pace. Kendrick, clearly livid that Danielson emerged as the ‘top of the class’ on the GAB pre-show, ended up getting himself disqualified at 8:44 for just blatantly choking Danielson down in the ropes. Both Matt Bentley and Paul London had to pull Kendrick off Danielson, but when it seemed like two other rivals were putting their issues aside for the safety of a fellow student, Bentley blindsided London with a superkick! Kendrick and Bentley left together, albeit not exactly best buddies, with Kendrick screaming at the cameraman that “WCW isn’t big enough for both of us”.
Finally, Jason Jett was set to main event against Shannon Moore, who turned on Jett on Nitro and as of yet has not given any sort of explanation or rationale as to why he heeded the words of Shane Helms, who unlike Jett has treated Moore horrifically in the past.
Moore arrived dressed rather rough and looking emotionless. Jett didn’t care for his state of mind after his actions, of course, and met him with a tope on the walkway. The two brawled around ringside before taking their fight into the ring, with Jett on top pretty much the whole way. Helms eventually ran down but was seen coming by Jason and decked as he came in through the ropes.
As the referee tried to force Shane away from the ring area, Triple X entered via the crowd and pummelled Jett before putting Moore on top and leaving the ring. Jett, somehow, kicked out at two. Bottom’s Up followed and gave Shannon the three-count at 13:51, however, and Helms and XXX re-entered the ring.
Shane whispered something to Moore, who climbed to the top rope and assisted a devastating and never-before-seen spike Vertebreaker to Jett! Daniels and Skipper stopped Super Crazy and Psicosis from making the save, but the four heels fled after the damage was done when Kidman and the Jung Dragons also rushed out. The cruiserweight community all tended to the severely hurt Jett as the show ended.
JULY 13, 2002: SATURDAY NITRO #62
The Cat makes his way out at the top of the show, and he brings with him both Shawn Stasiak and Mark Jindrak in regular clothes including their ‘bro’ themed new t-shirts. Cat says we’re going to start right away with the debate between the two co-owners of the company, two men who are the reason Cat is here today and two men who cannot agree on how WCW should be run, with the aim of finally settling this tonight.
Cat says both men have agreed to come out and debate alone, and Cat has brought two guys to help moderate and ensure no funny business occurs. Russo is out first followed by Bischoff, who in a rare occurrence is the one favoured by the crowd.
Vince immediately starts off, going on a rant about how Bischoff was seen as a revolutionary, the man who turned the wrestling world upside down, until Russo “brought the attitude” and when he started kicking Eric’s ass. Russo says that instead of fighting back, Eric started flailing around and got benched.
Then, he claims Bischoff screwed him in their 2000 alliance and killed the company. Then, Bischoff gets what he wanted all along – complete control – and he sits around putting on a “sweet little rasslin’ show” because he doesn’t have what it takes to set the wrestling world ablaze anymore.
Bischoff cuts in and says he’s glad he used those words because setting wrestling on fire means it burns down. The blaze may be glorious but you’re left with nothing and he says he learned that in the late 1990s. Things were amazing but it nearly led to everyone being unemployed or worse, working for a Vince even slimier than the one he’s forced to share a ring with right now.
He says he couldn’t stop Russo being the one buying a share when the company needed further investments, and in fact he appreciates Russo’s injection of cash but he’s sad to realise that Vince hasn’t learned from a single mistake he made since first arriving in WCW and in fact, seems oblivious to the fact he even makes mistakes.
Russo says Bischoff may have saved jobs via Fusient but his help is clearly limited and it’s time for Russo to take over and run this company so that the Wars can return. Bischoff says he won’t let anyone – even fellow investors, run this company into a brick wall after all it has been through.
Russo then proposes a way to settle things – a match at Bash At The Beach. Bischoff’s men vs Russo’s men. Winner becomes 51% owner and calls the shots. Bischoff agrees.
Cat cuts in and reminds the two that they assured Miller not only is his job safe, but that they each trust him to run the matchmaking and the direction of the talent without partiality during their conflict, so he suggests he be allowed to set the terms of this match and enforce a fair outcome. They all agree Cat will be the referee and remains Commissioner regardless of the outcome, if he doesn’t screw anyone over.
Russo says he wants 8vs8 – the biggest main event in WCW history. He also feels confident there aren’t eight guys who agree with Bischoff’s direction. Eric agrees as long as all participants are WCW employees as of today, so that Russo cannot “swerve” anyone. Cat says the bout will be one fall to a finish, but he will eject anyone who breaks the rules which means cheaters will end up leaving their team at a numbers disadvantage. Bischoff agrees, but Russo hesitates before shaking on it.
Cat says one more thing – the war is at Bash At The Beach, so there will be no more assaults and such like we have seen almost every week in recent weeks. He says after the events of AirTime where cruiserweights in Russo’s camp put Jason Jett on the shelf “maybe permanently”, he has the backing of the board that nobody in a position of power will get away with vicious “gang attacks” on members of the other side.
Russo claims he is in agreement, saying he “swears to Gawd, bro” that he didn’t tell Helms and Moore to put Jett out, and that XXX didn’t have anything to do with it. He promises that after Bash At The Beach, everyone will be on his side anyway against tradition and all about the ratings and putting butts in seats.
AJ Styles defended his cruiserweight title against Tempest, as the commentators explained that Father James Mitchell and The Cat agreed that the New Church would get cruiser and tag title shots if no stable-mates went near ringside barring Mitchell himself, and if Mike Awesome gave Kanyon another US title shot tonight as well. Styles retained with the Clash after 12:14 in a competitive bout with his most unorthodox challenger yet.
We get a medical update on Jason Jett, which confirms what was mentioned in the opening segment that the neck injury sustained from the spike Vertebreaker may be a career-ender. Several uncomfortable replays of the move follow. The commentators speculate that Helms and Moore are indeed in SEX, and that Russo was perhaps the man who convinced Moore to abandon Jett in the first place.
Cut to a locker room backstage where many cruiserweight competitors are watching this Jett update on a monitor. Billy Kidman then takes the floor and says if Russo somehow wins at Bash At The Beach, this is what the cruiserweight division has to look forward to. He says Russo hates cruiserweights and would shut down the entire division if he had control. And if anyone resisted, they’d end up beaten down like Red and the Maximos or even taken out like Jett.
He says they need to be united in case Russo really does get the chance to destroy what they worked for years to build – and singles out Tajiri and Juventud Guerrera as senior members of the resistance who need to get along, saying the three of them almost did at the PPV but need to really lead the charge against Russo. Guerrera isn’t happy and says he wants to finish this with Tajiri once and for all before any of this.
Kidman says Russo’s shot at power is the Bash, so perhaps he’ll speak to Cat about one more singles match for the two at the PPV if it means everyone is ready to fight for the division after that.
Brian Kendrick and Matt Bentley cut a promo on Bryan Danielson and Paul London, reiterating their claim that WCW isn’t big enough for all of them. They say they are willing to get back on the same page to send at least one of them back to Texas and challenge them to a tag match on Wednesday where the loser of the fall is gone from WCW.
America’s Most Wanted retained the WCW tag team titles over Sinn and Slash of the New Church with the Death Sentence in 12:34. Post-match, they were blindsided by The Mamalukes who snuck in via the crowd. It appears they aren’t willing to let their grudge against AMW go just yet after all – or perhaps, are conveniently reviving it now their rivals have the tag titles.
Backstage, Stacy Keibler is bossing around workers who appear to be putting together an office for Vince Russo at the Universal Studios home of Nitro. Eddie and Chavo Guerrero enter and further berate the workers, just for the fun of it presumably, before asking Stacy why she wanted to see them.
She says she has a big favour to ask on behalf of Vince Russo. As it stands, Los Guerreros are next in line for the tag titles via their rematch clause and could take it at Bash At The Beach, but Russo has a great idea that would pay off for them if they’re patient. She says he likes the Guerreros and The Mamalukes and wants either of them as champs over AMW, but Vito and Johnny would love to end their rivals once and for all at the PPV.
So, Stacy is authorised to offer Los Guerreros a shot at the Jung Dragons for the cruiser tag titles at BATB so that Eddie and Chavo can “beat down those chumps” and then have a huge tag title unification bout three weeks later vs The Mamalukes at Battlebowl. Chavo is uncertain and even mentions his past issues with Russo, but Eddie seems keen on the idea of winning all the tag belts in the space of 21 days and says they have a deal, despite Chavo’s protests.
Mike Awesome’s US title defence vs Chris Kanyon ended in unfortunate circumstances as Awesome appeared to badly injure his knee catching the challenger’s dive to the outside from the top rope. The match had to be halted at the 10:26 mark and Awesome was stretchered out.
Eric Bischoff is speaking to Cat in his office, imploring Miller to keep doing what he does and vowing to have Russo down to a shareholder in just over a fortnight without causing any sort of a rift. He then proposes we main event tonight’s show with a five-on-five match between early recruits for BATB, just so he can show Russo just how much the roster believes in the rebirth of the company over Vince’s tired and doomed-to-fail plans.
Jeff Jarrett and CW Anderson walk in and Bischoff and Cat are immediately on guard. Bischoff even urges Jarrett to hurry up and reveal he has been in Russo’s camp all along already. JJ says he has history with Eric and history with Vince but for the final time he swears that all his present and future are about are championship matches. He says he put together an army last year and he walks side by side with just one man, his enforcer, now. All along, his goal has been to be champion.
Bischoff and Cat both refuse to green-light his request, and Bischoff says he knows the two masked men at GAB were JJ and CW. An angry Jarrett promises that someday, they’ll realise they’ve been barking up the wrong tree all along.
Booker T looked set to take on Lance Storm in an intriguing battle between two former WCW champs and perennial contenders (barring Storm’s inability to challenge while RVD remains champion) only for Sharmell to jump between the two after a couple of lock-ups and an exchange of solitary right hands which looked set to ignite the bout.
She tells both men they should not be at each other’s throats at a time like this. She says they should only ever be fighting each other in the PPV main events with the WCW title on the line, and that since management is keeping them away from that and since management is in a civil war, they should be sticking together. The two calm down and shake hands, forging a curious alliance. Match thrown out at 2:09.
The announcers update us on Dustin Rhodes and Shane Douglas, who’ve missed two weeks after their brutal match at the Bash. They’ll be back in action next Saturday on Nitro.
Finally, Vince Russo led out Simon Diamond, Swinger, Chuck Palumbo, Elix Skipper and Christopher Daniels, to the surprise of nobody. Eric Bischoff then came onto the walkway before being joined by Billy Kidman, Rey Mysterio, Diamond Dallas Page, Sting and finally… the WCW champ himself, RVD! Russo seemed particularly flabbergasted at the fifth and final member of the team.
The tag bout was a heated one but moments after Kidman hot tagged to Sting and the legend cleaned house, Russo attempted to swing Sting’s own bat at him only for the man in paint to catch the shot. Palumbo nailed Sting as the DQ was called at 21:28, but Bischoff took the chance to sneak into the ring and spear Russo down, following up with punches in a receipt for the attacks Vince has orchestrated on Eric and others.
Glenn Gilbertti ran in and pulled Bischoff off Russo before Ric Flair ran down and beat the tar out of Gilbertti! As the ten actual participants brawled around ringside, The Mamalukes were joined in a run-in by Shane Helms and Shannon Moore, all wearing SEX shirts. They were soon given plenty of their own fight by America’s Most Wanted and a horde of angry cruiserweights, however. The chaotic scenes continued as the show closed on Bischoff going back to stand over a prone Russo and tell him: “you want a war? You’ve got a war!”
Bash at the Beach 2002 card so far:
- 8 vs 8, winning co-owner gets controlling stake: Team Bischoff vs Team Russo
- WCW Cruiserweight title: AJ Styles (c) vs Low Ki
- WCW World tag titles: America’s Most Wanted (c) vs The Mamalukes
- WCW Cruiserweight tag titles: The Jung Dragons (c) vs Los Guerreros
Mike Awesome’s knee injury is legit and unfortunately he looks set to miss as much as six months.
Also, Jason Jett is expected to miss a few months due to injury, hence the storyline on AirTime.
Next time: Who will join Team Bischoff and Team Russo as the battle for control of WCW draws near?