Big Vito suffered a dislocated shoulder during the Stretcher match at Bash at the Beach and, with his contract up in November, his WCW status is up in the air when he is 100% fit again.
JULY 31, 2002: AIRTIME #30
The unthinkable happened on Sunday: Vince Russo calls the shots in WCW. Not just as a head writer like two years ago, but as the majority owner of the promotion. Just what does he have in store with his S.E.X vision? How much can 49% owner Eric Bischoff do to keep him in check? And is new cruiserweight champion Low Ki about to join his army alongside his former Triple X stablemates?
Taped on July 30, along with the following Nitro, in Orlando.
The announcers introduce the show, the first WCW television episode since Vince Russo secured a controlling share of the company. They struggle to hide their concern over what will happen to the revitalised promotion, especially this very show given Russo’s disdain for a lot of cruiserweights.
Match one saw Brian Kendrick defeat Paul London with an assist from Matt Bentley, whose issue with London continues to smoulder. A well-timed distraction led to Sliced Bread #2 at 8:03. As the heels walked to the back feeling rather proud of themselves, London took the mic and challenged them to a tag bout next week so that neither of them can sneak around and cheat.
The duo laughed as Kendrick said nobody will team with London now they’ve run his buddy Bryan Danielson out of WCW. Bentley cuts in and says he knows what Paul has planned, and accepts the challenge saying he and Kendrick will be happy to kick London and Red’s asses once again next week.
We get an update on The Mamalukes after they were stretchered out and put into an ambulance by America’s Most Wanted at BATB in their feud-ending title match. Vito suffered a bad shoulder injury and is out indefinitely. Johnny The Bull should only miss a few weeks at most.
In Cat’s office, he oversees Jerry Lynn signing what appears to be a WCW contract. Despite not falling in line with new bossman Russo at the PPV, Cat says he is impressed enough with Lynn’s debut and how he conducted himself to offer him a deal. Lynn notes that the “signing incentive” was enough to get him to sign alone, let alone the salary etc. Cat finishes by telling Jerry his AirTime debut will be up next.
Just then, Jeff Jarrett enters the office and Lynn leaves to get ready. Jarrett tells Cat he beat Hennig at BATB, the masked Russo allies were Hall and Waltman not him, and he even pinned the world champ on Saturday. He says he carried his end and deserves a title shot. Cat says he’s right, but RVD was assaulted on Sunday by the New Church and his status is up in the air. Once that’s sorted out, Cat says Jarrett will indeed get a title shot.
Lynn defeated Kid Romeo with the Cradle Piledriver in 6:52 to celebrate his new deal in the best way possible and earn his first WCW win.
Backstage, Russo watches Lynn celebrate and silently fumes before telling the man next to him that he was wrong about Jerry – he doesn’t have what it takes to be a top man in SEX because he believes in crap like sportsmanship and respect and more importantly, is too old and lost the big one vs RVD. The other man, now revealed to be Matt Bentley, mentions what happened to Van Dam and notes he deserved it for laying Vince out. Russo stops him and “swears tah gawd, bro” that he had nothing to do with the New Church and their new giant attacking the champ and leaving him for dead.
He quickly changes topic and says unlike Lynn, he feels Bentley could be a great fit for SEX and that he’s keeping an eye on his progress. Up walks Juventud Guerrera, who asks Russo what he wanted to see him about. “Speaking of someone with a lot of potential,” says Vince as Bentley leaves the scene. Russo says he has big plans for Juvi. Guerrera asks if that means a title shot. Vince says, actually, he was thinking they should bring back “Da Juice” as it was such a big hit in 1999-2000. He wants him on commentary mis-pronouncing a bunch of stuff and having lots of fun.
Juventud asks him if he’s serious. Russo asks him if he won at the PPV. Juvi walks off.
The commentary team, prior to our main event, mention that a medical update should be available on Van Dam and the status of the World title this Saturday on Nitro, but that early signs suggest it “doesn’t look good”.
Finally, the Full Blooded Italians cashed in their cruiserweight tag title shot and challenged the Jung Dragons, a duo they’ve been clashing with on and off since arriving in WCW. Not only that, but they went ahead and became the NEW champions in a long back-and-forth match after a run-in by none other than their former agent, Glenn Gilbertti.
Gilbertti distracted the ref which allowed Chuck Palumbo to lay out Yang with a boot and enable Guido to cover for the three count and the titles at 18:29. Gilbertti and Palumbo re-entered the ring, each holding one belt in one hand and a SEX t-shirt in the other. They pretty much demanded the FBI rejoin Gilbertti and sign up with SEX – and the new champions did exactly that.
Kaz attempted some revenge but was quickly overwhelmed and beaten down before the quartet laid the t-shirts over the Dragons’ fallen bodies. Tajiri, The Amazing Red and the Maximos attempted a save but they were soon outnumbered themselves when Triple X and The Rejected followed them down.
Next came Rey Mysterio, Billy Kidman, Super Crazy and Psicosis only for the remainder of SEX – Simon, Swinger, Shane Douglas – to ensure Russo’s army left their enemies laying. Russo took the mic and declared that the cruiserweight show would be done his way from here on out and anyone who isn’t with SEX is against them, as the show ended.
AUGUST 3, 2002: SATURDAY NITRO #65
With 51% control secured, Vince Russo is already making moves to completely paint over the last 18 months of WCW. The new cruiserweight tag team champions have been recruited to SEX, in addition to the US title going Shane Douglas’ way at BATB. The faction is growing by the week. Even more worrying, there’s no telling what else is to come – and not only is the new cruiserweight champion potentially joining SEX but the status of WCW champ RVD is up in the air.
Immediately, the changes to the Nitro set are noticeable. Sports Entertainment Xtreme branding is all over the place, there are scantily-clad women dancing in cages near the entrance and the big screen above the entrance has ‘RUSSO-TRON’ in big letters on the bottom rim.
The man himself arrives at the top of the broadcast, flanked by his entire SEX crew, barring the injured Mamalukes: Glenn Gilbertti, Stacy Keibler, Torrie Wilson, Shane Douglas, Chuck Palumbo, Simon Diamond, Johnny Swinger, Triple X, The Rejected, new members and new cruiserweight tag champs the Full Blooded Italians and, bringing up the rear, none other than Scott Hall and Sean Waltman. Wilson and Keibler are pressed particularly provocatively, offering further evidence of Russo’s “vision”.
Vince says a new era has dawned on WCW, it’s best yet. One that will see them rise to the top of the industry for a second time under the rule of the man who put “that other company” back on top in the first place, he claims. Russo says at 51% owner he has more power than ever before and this time, he won’t be undermined or vetoed by a bunch of “wrinkly old prudes in suits”.
He admits that Eric Bischoff kept this place alive via a life support machine, but claims he will be able to ensure the machine is no longer even necessary while Bischoff sticks to what Russo claims he knows best: negotiating TV deals and marketing merchandise. He then warns Eric not to try any funny business and to accept last weekend’s defeat “like a man” if he wants to keep hold of the 49% he still has.
Russo then moves onto his changes to the show, promising more to come, and promising to ensure the wrestlers get plenty of opportunities to shine if they show they are made of the “right stuff”. This segues into the group of performers with him in the ring, saying his faction are talented, good-looking, championship-material stars and the door is open for anyone who wants to join the winning team, if they prove themselves worthy “unlike those flippy floppy anonymous do-gooders we wiped out Wednesday night on that waste of airtime called AirTime”.
Russo says a second weekly TV show is the bane of his existence and by the time he’s done, the show and most of the “losers” on it will be toast if he has his way. He offers congratulations to Douglas for the US title win and the FBI for the cruiser tag belts, finishing by saying he wants all the champions within his camp, one way or the other.
This brings out Commissioner Cat, who instantly points out that one champ, THE champ, RVD, was beaten down savagely by the New Church and their new pet monster. He officially confirms that Van Dam’s injuries are severe enough that he will be out for months and regrettably, the WCW championship is vacated. He warns Russo that if he finds out he green-lit the New Church assault because of what RVD did to him earlier in the night, there’s going to be hell to pay because Cat is still in charge of day-to-day operations and he told both Russo and Bischoff not to make him a pawn.
Russo “swears ta gawd, bro” that he didn’t tell the New Church to attack RVD, noting that he barely got them to agree to fill out his team at the last minute and pointing out that they’re vicious and unpredictable psychopaths. Russo then says he will discuss some potential candidates to compete for the vacant title, noting that Hall is one of the best ever to not yet be world champ, but Cat says it’s already sorted: no Lethal Lottery this year, 20 hand-picked and worthy competitors will fight it out at Battlebowl for the belt. He tells Russo he can feel free to suggest names, but that this will be a fair fight whether he likes it or not.
The Amazing Red, Jose Maximo and Joel Maximo defeated Quiet Storm, Chris Devine and Brian XL in a fast-paced opening bout with the Maximos’ amazing Spanish Fly seeing off XL at the 6:20 mark.
The Cat is walking backstage when he’s stopped by Los Guerreros. They complain about the Jung Dragons “cheating” to beat them at BATB but say even though they agreed to delay their heavyweight tag title rematch, they want it next week because it’s still owed to them. Cat says they’re right: he’ll speak to Russo about when it’ll happen but the rematch is still their right and he’ll make sure they get it.
Sean O’Haire was scheduled to face K-Krush after Krush cost O’Haire the US title at the Bash. However, O’Haire attacked Krush during his in-ring promo, during which Krush was referring to himself as a “21st century superstar” who should immediately be placed in title matches, and the two brawled around the arena, requiring security to prise them apart after a good few minutes of wild fighting. No match.
Russo is having his office finished up and ‘51% owner’ placed on the door and the desk. Cat arrives to discuss Battlebowl participants. Russo wants his guys in, saying 10 of them and 10 of Cat’s picks is fair. Cat agrees, but notes that champions will be expected to defend their own belts on the undercard. He also tells Russo that Los Guerreros want their title rematch and though the champs vs champs idea fell apart, that’s still their right so it’s happening next week. Russo says that’s fine.
York and Matthews then enter, saying Vince asked to see them. Russo informs Y&M that they have been running their mouths about maybe retiring if they can’t win any gold so much that the company’s reputation is on the line and he has been “forced” to hold them to it. If they cannot win a tag title by the time 2002 ends, they are out of the company.
Y&M protest to Cat, arguing that this is Russo being vindictive after they turned him down last week, but Miller says this is one area he cannot help them – especially after they did indeed threaten such a self-imposed stipulation on national TV. He assures them they won’t be prevented the opportunity, however, and says they’ll receive at least one more shot this year minimum. Russo, at Cat’s insistence, agrees that’s fair.
Curt Hennig defeated Sonny Siaki with the Hennigplex after 4:29 of his first match back on Nitro, after coming up short as Jeff Jarrett’s mystery opponent at BATB. He takes the mic post-match and says this may be his last run in the squared circle and his last chance to earn a shot at the world title, so he asks to be considered for one of the 20 spots in Battlebowl for the vacant WCW title.
Next up is what’s advertised as AJ Styles, Billy Kidman and Rey Mysterio teaming up to face “all three members” of Triple X. Skipper and Daniels are out first and they introduce their returning partner, new cruiserweight champion Low Ki, with much enthusiasm. Ki comes out, but dressed to work out rather than to wrestle, and he doesn’t look pleased.
He hits the ring and tells the duo that after what they did to him he would never team with them again, and the cruiser title is proof of what he can achieve without them. Suddenly, someone in a hooded sweater hits the ring and blindsides Ki.
Skipper and Daniels add some boots before Elix says they had a contingency plan just in case Ki “did something stupid” – as the man removes the hood to reveal Air Paris. Styles, Kidman and Mysterio ran down and the six-man was on…
Kidman, Rey and AJ beat Triple X and Air Paris by DQ when Helms, Moore and the FBI rushed the ring as Rey had Paris seemingly beaten at the 11:30 mark. Low Ki, who remained at ringside in the corner of the faces, attempted to help but the numbers were against them until a horde of cruiserweights came down and ran them off.
Psicosis, Super Crazy, Tajiri, the Yung Dragons and notably, Jerry Lynn and Juventud Guerrera sent the SEX cruisers into retreat. The united front of junior heavyweights showed they were ready to fight for their very identity in WCW.
Shane Douglas and Torrie Wilson head out once more, this time on their own, to brag about Shane’s US title win and his 2002 so far. Dustin Rhodes interrupts and claims everything Douglas stands for – especially when he stands with SEX – has to be destroyed.
He wonders aloud if putting the title on the line at Battlebowl for a chance at revenge over the Great American Bash appeals to Shane, and says he doesn’t care what kind of match it is if it means taking the belt away from Douglas and SEX.
Shane says Dustin is right – he would love to do to Rhodes what he did to the Franchise at the GAB, and promises that if Rhodes has the guts to show up for a title match at Battlebowl that only one of them will be standing when it’s done. Rhodes says he accepts – him versus Douglas in a Last Man Standing match.
Shane is confused as he didn’t realise he was laying out that particular challenge, but eventually accepts the terms.
In a cemetery somewhere, Father James Mitchell is with Tempest, Sinn and Slash. He explains that human turnover is an everyday part of life and that the cause is greater than any one man who joins it. When fate removed Bigelow and Awesome, the movement continued to grow nonetheless. And thanks to the right powers, the New Church has an extra added dose of… Malice.
As he says that, the artist formerly known as The Wall enters the scene. No longer smartly dressed and groomed, Malice’s hair and clothing were all over the place. Mitchell says the body count will reach the sky now that they have unleashed true Malice upon WCW.
DDP and Kanyon took on Booker T and Lance Storm in the last bout of the evening. Stemming from Page and Booker’s issues over the summer and apparent alliance against the common enemy of SEX that fell apart during the PPV main event, hostilities were renewed here between the two men who stuck at it and the two men who got pissed and walked out on their team.
Storm spent time weakening the leg of Kanyon but the hot tag to Page eventually arrived. DDP took down both men until Sharmell hopped onto the apron and distracted him. Page dodged Booker’s charge and T stopped just short of knocking his girlfriend flying, only to turn around into a Diamond Cutter. Kanyon held Storm as the three count was registered by Page on Booker at 19:49.
Page took the mic afterwards and said their issues with the current state of WCW weren’t even close to being resolved. He challenged ‘old buddies’ Scott Hall and Sean Waltman to step up and face them next week, promising to make them pay for choosing Russo’s side. He says that will leave Russo himself all alone, who Page says is still owed for costing him big match after big match.
They are then joined in the ring by Sting, who shakes both men’s hands. He takes the mic and says he has something to get off his chest, before rattling off a short history of the ups and downs of his WCW tenure.
He says he was here from the start and he’ll be here until the very end, and if Vince Russo thinks he can steer the company off a cliff, he’s making the biggest mistake of his life. He says he will fight Russo’s troops at every turn and he won’t be alone – the resistance is here, and it’ll protect the integrity of this company because if they can survive Russo and other clowns the first time around, they’ll damn sure do it again.
Russo arrives on the entrance and looks to respond, but thinks twice and instead gives the signal for his heavyweight troops to rush the ring. The brawl is on and the babyface trio aren’t outnumbered for long as here come Rhodes and AMW to even the odds against Simon, Swinger, Palumbo, Douglas, Hall and Waltman.
The SEX cruisers belatedly join the fray after their brawl earlier, as do the men who sent them packing in the name of the cruiserweight division. The entire studio becomes rife with combat in a wild closing scene, ending with Sting getting free to stalk Russo up the walkway before pinning his bat against his throat and hoisting up against the wall of the entrance set-up, promising Russo that Sports Entertainment Xtreme will never prevail.
WCW Battlebowl 2002 card so far:
- 20-man Battlebowl for the vacant WCW title
- Last Man Standing, US title: Shane Douglas (c) vs Dustin Rhodes
Next time: Los Guerreros invoke their rematch clause on America’s Most Wanted, while DDP and Kanyon challenge S.E.X’s returning terrors Scott Hall and Sean Waltman!