OCTOBER 9, 2002: AIRTIME #40
The Round Robin Challenge concludes on this week’s AirTime, as Low Ki defends the Cruiserweight title he regained only two weeks ago against AJ Styles, a rematch from Bash at the Beach when Ki won the title for the first time. If the champ retains, he wins the series. If AJ becomes a three-time titlist, however, the Challenge is officially a tie and the feud between these two and Jerry Lynn remains inconclusive.
Also, the cruiser tag straps will also be up for grabs as Eric Bischoff uses his minority ownership shrewdly to force the Full Blooded Italians to make a rare SEX appearance on the midweek hour.
Taped on October 8, along with the following Nitro, in Orlando.
We begin with Jamie Knoble and David Kash’s challenge of the FBI, who have only Glenn Gilbertti alongside them as a licenced manager. The battle of the two rulebreaking duos made for a weird dynamic but the redneck loners ended up garnering (unwanted) support as Guido and Tony took turns working over Knoble. Kash tagged in and took both men down but opted to punch Gilbertti off the apron rather than hoist Marinera up for the double-arm piledriver he was setting up. The fracas allowed someone wearing a Sting mask to hop the rail and hand Guido a pair of brass knuckles, which he used to deck Kash for the cover to retain after 14:24. The SEX members retreated with the masked man, who took off the cover to reveal Johnny Stamboli.
We see AJ Styles preparing backstage, knowing this is pretty much a must-win match tonight for the man who considers himself the face of the division post-rebirth. He then finds himself face-to-face with Gilbertti, Stamboli and the FBI, who implore him to think about where he belongs and bring the cruiserweight title to SEX.
They’re suddenly attacked by Red, The Maximos, Tajiri and the luchadores. Sonny Siaki, Matt Bentley, Triple X and The Rejected show up from the nearby exit to attack, but here come Knoble and Kash swinging a chair and a lead pipe to send the intruders fleeing. All the while, Styles continues to warm up as if nothing is happening.
The viewers can still hear the fracas when we cut to another area of the arena, where Jeremy Borash has Paul London with him. London says he doesn’t know what all that noise is but he does know that he and Brian Kendrick have a score to settle. He challenges Kendrick: any match, any time.
A video package announces the official Starrcade Series groups, once again running down the point system and route to the final. Block A consists of Sting, DDP, Scott Hall, Lance Storm, Dustin Rhodes and CW Anderson while Block B features Booker T, Curt Hennig, Sean O’Haire, Kanyon, Shane Douglas and Chuck Palumbo. Saturday on Nitro we will see the first match from each block, as Booker takes on O’Haire in the B opener while Sting and Scott Hall meet in a blockbuster A opener.
When we cut back to the commentary team they admit that they weren’t expecting to find out this information tonight, given 51% owner Vince Russo’s disdain for the second show.
Finally, AJ Styles challenged Low Ki for the cruiserweight title in the third and final match of the Round Robin Challenge. An epic encounter warmed up from a cautious start into a frantic exchange of incredible maneuvers, which included a Styles Clash from Ki to AJ (!) and a Ki Krusher from Styles to the defending champ (!!).
A big kick to the head put Styles in position for Ki’s Phoenix splash but the challenger moved at the last second and quickly followed with a springboard 450 for the closest two count of the match. However, AJ clung onto Ki’s legs as he kicked out and muscled him up into a Styles Clash for the pin at 29:41 to become a three-time cruiserweight champion.
The show was so close to running out of time that it ended seconds into AJ’s title celebration, with the commentary adding drama to an already gripping match by fretting that they’d run out of time throughout the closing moments.
OCTOBER 12, 2002: SATURDAY NITRO #75
The Starrcade Series finally kicks off tonight, and the two blocks were revealed on Wednesday’s AirTime which seems very unlike the 51% owner who is actively trying to tank the midweek broadcast.
WCW.com has also teased that Vince Russo is set to make AJ Styles “an offer he cannot refuse”, while Ken Shamrock no doubt has his eyes on the WCW title defence against Jeff Jarrett having got by Sting last week.
Speaking of that, it’s difficult to imagine that the Stinger won’t have something to say about the New Church, who cost him the title seemingly because the Icon helped his friends vanquish James Mitchell’s men in the Gangfight recently.
We begin the show with Russo leading his entire SEX army to the ring. He says he is the 51% owner of WCW and the man who will lead them to a new tomorrow. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as if the entire company want to be successful and progressive, because all he’s had since he took power is resistance and people questioning his vision.
He says that resistance will be silenced once and for all tonight when all of the championship belts finally find their way into his camp. He says Johnny Swinger will take the US title from Kanyon, but first he’d like to introduce the NEW cruiserweight champion, a man he feels has a lot in common with he and his comrades and the man who will finally deliver the cruiserweight title with him, AJ Styles!
After a bit of an awkward pause, Styles’ music hits and he comes out to the stage, stopping there. Before he can speak, Russo says he can’t help but sense that AJ isn’t going to join SEX by the way he’s not entering the ring, but he says he just wants AJ to know that he’s not gonna get attacked or threatened with any of that ‘with us or against us’ stuff.
He wants AJ to know that he is a fit in SEX, and that he knows Styles will, sooner rather than later, outgrow the cruiserweight division. He tells AJ to bring the title to the group and when he finally runs out the Eric Bischoffs and the Stings, he’ll get rid of the cruiser division and Styles can one day even be WCW champion!
AJ finally weighs in, saying he appreciates Russo’s faith and kind words, but yeah he’s staying on the walkway because he has seen how this goes all too many times. He says he isn’t six feet, he doesn’t have moviestar looks and he wouldn’t even have been given a chance in wrestling if not for two things: Vince Russo… and the cruiserweight division.
He says he hasn’t been frontline in this battle because he honestly doesn’t have a side. He owes a lot to the Vince Russos and he owes even more to the Eric Bischoffs. He is going to defend this cruiserweight championship just like he has for two reigns already and show the world what he can do, and he’s not gonna be a pawn in a war that’s only tearing WCW apart.
Russo changes expression and says he misspoke earlier. It is indeed that he’s either with him or against him. AJ responds “well, if you’re trying to tear down cruiserweight wrestling, that means you don’t care for the up and comers as people say you are, and that means I’m against you.” It looks like Russo is about to send a few men up the walkway, only for…
…the music of Eric Bischoff to hit, as the co-owner stands beside Styles… slowly followed by the rest of the cruiser division and some of the heavyweights who’ve been on Team WCW as of late.
Bischoff says Russo seemingly will never learn. Despite all the tricks he has pulled so far to get a stake in WCW, turn half the roster against him and gain controlling power, he still cannot play the game.
He says his belligerent ploys to ruin everything that’s good about this company are actually pretty easy to contain, even with just 49%. His efforts to undermine the cruiserweights give Bischoff free reign to make the division better than ever. His attempts to control all the title belts make people want to defend them that much harder. And, majority or not, he’s going to do the same thing he does every time he cannot get his way: throw a tantrum about how unfair it is, take his ball and go home.
Russo responds with a sea of shouting and raving, but Eric cuts him off and says Styles realises what makes WCW special, and to make amends for his frustration over the last few weeks he has agreed to give Low Ki and Jerry Lynn their rematch on Wednesday, in one final triangle match: a triangle Iron Man Challenge!
Bischoff also seems set to announce something regarding the cruiser tag titles but Commissioner Keibler interrupts and says the FBI have met their obligations for the next 30 days. Eric says if that’s how they’re going to play it, fine. But there will be a tag team gauntlet at Halloween Havoc to determine who faces the Italians on day 30.
Russo finishes by warning Bischoff that Vince is the one who is going to win this war. Bischoff retorts that the war has only just begun – and Russo doesn’t know how to handle war.
The show begins proper with The Amazing Red and the Maximos defeating Sonny Siaki and The Rejected when Jorge Estrada once again made his presence felt and attempted to get into the ring to attack Siaki, only for Moore and Helms to stop him. This allows Red to fly in out of nowhere with a springboard tornado DDT to Siaki for the pin in 6:52.
We get a pre-tape with US champion Chris Kanyon, who says he first won the United States title when the previous champ won the World title and had to vacate, and that’s the way he’s going to end his second reign, a day after Starrcade, when he main events and wins the WCW title.
We then hear from Scott Hall, who says he will no longer be denied. He will win his first world title at Starrcade and there’s not “a single fool in dubyah-see-dubyah” who can stop him.
Kanyon then retained the US title against Swinger, with the Flatliner in 5:27.
Booker T is with Sharmell in his pre-tape, where he says the biggest injustice in WCW history will be corrected a year to the day, when he returns to the top of the mountain as a six-time, six-time, six-time, six-time, six-time… six-time WCW champion. Sharmell adds: now can you dig that?
Sting says the Starrcade Series is just the thing he needs right now: two months to wrap up another shot at the world title in which time he can take every single member of the New Church and beat them so bad they’ll question their faith. He tells Father James Mitchell there’ll be hell to pay for his personal sins.
Up next, Chris Harris met Eddie Guerrero and Simon Diamond in a triangle match. The announcers relayed that the winner would earn a tag title shot for their team, but neither would get a shot if Diamond won. And unfortunately for Los Guerreros and AMW, that’s exactly what happened when the seemingly-alone Simon pinned Harris in 8:14.
While Swinger was nowhere to be found, seemingly still healing up from his defeat earlier, Mark Jindrak and Johnny Stamboli ran out and wiped out James Black and Chavo Guerrero only for a livid Eddie to pescado onto the pair of them. This enabled Diamond to escape a Catatonic attempt, hit Harris low and roll him up for the win.
Sean O’Haire says 2002 has had its ups and downs, but he plans on finishing on the ultimate high, becoming WCW champion.
Dustin Rhodes says the world title has eluded him since day one, and it consumes him every day. He says he will go through 11 other men if that’s what it takes to realise his destiny.
The 2002 Starrcade Series kicked off proper with its first match as Sean O’Haire met Booker T in Block B. The bout was as competitive and back-and-forth as their match for the WCW title itself shortly after Battlebowl 2001, but unfortunately for O’Haire the result was also the same. Sean blocked a Book End attempt and hoisted T up for an F5, only for the former champ to slip out behind him and roll him into an O’Connor Roll for two. O’Haire reversed it for two of his own before Booker rolled back on top and grabbed Sharmell’s arms for leverage and two SS points in 13:29.
Lance Storm says a nation rejoiced this spring – a superior nation – when he won the title in Toronto. He says he will stop at nothing to regain what is his even if he has to have a second coronation in the second-rate United States.
Curt Hennig says he will do anything to have one last run and especially one last world title. The world has seen what he’ll do to be the top guy once more. So, he warns his 11 “roadblocks” in the Series: imagine what he’ll do to move on to Starrcade in the main event.
Tajiri and the Jung Dragons defeated the FBI and Johnny Stamboli by DQ after 5:51 when Chuck Palumbo and Glenn Gilbertti got involved. Super Crazy, Psicosis and Juventud Guerrera ran out for the save but were outnumbered 5-to-3 with the Japanese contingent already beaten down by the SEX heels. Jamie Knoble and David Kash ran out with chairs and got a couple of licks in on Stamboli and Marinera before the group retreated.
Knoble then saw Kaz Hayashi return to his feet and brought the chair across his longtime rival’s back, and the rednecks fled themselves before six furious cruisers could make them regret it.
We then cut to Chuck Palumbo’s pre-tape where he says nobody thinks he has a chance, which is exactly why he’s going to shock the world. He reminds us that he had the WCW title in his hands for just a few moments when he was last backed by Vince Russo – he says this time, it’ll be the real deal and in the main event of the biggest show of the year.
Diamond Dallas Page says he doesn’t know how much he has left in the tank but he does know that he’s either got enough to win one more WCW title at Starrcade, or at the very least to make sure SEX do not get as far as the Finals.
A true WCW all-star match opened up Block A, as Sting and Scott Hall went one-on-one. Their brief sprint was almost a ‘greatest hits’ of their memorable moves and spots until Father James Mitchell attempted to have Sinn and Slash play a role from the walkway.
Though being caught interfering would have been an instant DQ and negative points for Hall, their running out was just a ruse to keep the ref occipied as Tempest and Malice hopped the rail and snuck to the corner where Hall slouched.
Tempest moved Hall from a Stinger Splash and Malice grabbed the Stinger by the throat as he came into the empty corner, holding him just long enough for Scott to grab Sting’s arms for a quick Outsider’s Edge which gave him two points in 6:40.
Shane Douglas has Torrie Wilson by his side as he says he cannot wait to see Chris Kanyon defend and defend and defend his US title until a member of SEX takes it from his tired, proud hands. He’d love to regain the belt himself but he has bigger fish to fry: namely, going to Starrcade to challenge the WCW champion.
Finally, our 12th pre-tape starts with the back of a familiar bald head. CW Anderson then turns around and simply utters the words: “I’m back.”
Jeff Jarrett and Los Guerreros sought revenge on SEX in the main event, one that put JJ opposite WCW champion Ken Shamrock as he teamed with Ron Killings and Shane Douglas. The anti-SEX brigade got the win as Jeff broke up an anklelock on Chavo with a guitar to Shamrock’s skull while Eddie distracted the ref. Jarrett later tagged in and pinned legal man Killings with the Stroke in 14:14.
As the winning trio celebrated, Russo’s Iron Man ripoff hit the PA and a clearly fuming and stressed out Vince came out to the stage alongside Commissioner Keibler. Russo asks Jarrett if he thinks it’s funny to assault the WCW champ with weapons? Well, at Halloween Havoc maybe Shamrock will get the chance to return the favour, he says. Just maybe.
Nobody will know for sure until the PPV, continues Russo, because at Havoc if Jarrett wants the title shot Russo says he whined and cried about for months, then he’s going to have to “spin the goddamn wheel and make the goddamn deal!” the show closes on a look of surprise from the number one contender.
Halloween Havoc 2002 card so far:
- Spin the wheel, make the deal – WCW World title: Ken Shamrock (c) vs Jeff Jarrett
- Starrcade Series tag team match
- Cruiserweight tag title contendership gauntlet
Starrcade Series standings after week one:
Block A: Hall 2pts, DDP 0pts, Sting 0pts, Rhodes 0pts, Storm 0pts, CW 0pts
Block B: Booker 2pts, O’Haire 0pts, Kanyon 0pts, Palumbo 0pts, Hennig 0pts, Douglas 0pts
Next time: More from the Starrcade Series, plus AJ Styles defends the cruiserweight title against Jerry Lynn and Low Ki in a 45-minute Iron Man Challenge!