OCTOBER 30, 2002: AIRTIME #43
The last month or so has seen the WCW cruiserweight division prove that it still has plenty of fight despite Vince Russo’s efforts to undermine and eventually destroy it.
The amazing series between AJ Styles, Low Ki and Jerry Lynn earned rave reviews and after Styles retained the cruiserweight title at Halloween Havoc vs Sean Waltman, Russo continues to fail to have a stronghold on every championship.
Also, the Full Blooded Italians will presumably be summoned back to AirTime to defend the cruiser tag straps against Kidman and Rey Mysterio, who beat the champs to win the gauntlet match at the PPV.
Taped on October 29, along with the following Nitro, in Atlanta.
Eric Bischoff begins the show from his office, proudly declaring that cruiserweight wrestling is alive and well. Between that and Vince Russo’s “inability” to run a wrestling company, Eric continues, he will soon be lobbying the stakeholders to have Russo ousted and WCW will be back to how it was in 2001 and early 2002.
He finishes by saying Victory Road is our next PPV, and with such a fitting title he wants to mark the cruisers’ victory in the battle against SEX. And just like The Cat had an elimination tag showcase a year ago to celebrate the birth of AirTime, he’s going to book a similar match to mark their survival. Tonight, a battle royal will be held. Open invitational to WCW’s cruisers. The last two men in the ring will be the captains at the PPV.
Our first match was a Tornado Tag between the Jung Dragons and Knoble & Kash, based on the animosity between the two duos that has existed since 2000 in Knoble’s case. All four men brawled around the arena and the Dragons hit a huge stereo dive off the famous Centre Stage entrance to the floor.
Taking advantage of the no-disqualification setting, Knoble and Kash took over via Jamie’s heavy duty boot but miscommunication led to Kash drilling Knoble with the boot later on and Unleash The Dragon followed for the pin on Knoble after 16:46. After the contest, the heels argued and a seething Knoble stormed off on his own.
Backstage, Rey and Kidman say returning to the cruiserweight division was a no-brainer when the style of wrestling that made them both famous was in danger of being wiped out by a “lunatic”. They say they’ll be in the battle royal to captain Victory Road showcase teams, and plan on skippering opposite sites at the PPV as the two-time co-holders of the cruiserweight tag team titles.
We then cut elsewhere to Paul London, who says he’ll also be in the battle royal but regardless of how it goes, he wants another piece of Brian Kendrick and says he’ll do whatever it takes to get revenge on his former friend for screwing him out of victory on more than one occasion.
It was then time for the battle royal. The list of cruiserweights who appeared for the match were as follows: Kidman, Mysterio, London, Kendrick, Jerry Lynn, Low Ki, Amazing Red, the Maximos, Tajiri, Super Crazy, Psicosis, Juventud Guerrera, American Dragon, Jorge Estrada, Christian York, Joey Matthews.
London made a beeline for Kendrick and took both his rival and himself out within the opening moments. The Maximos teamed up to eliminate Estrada but were then despatched by York and Matthews. When Kidman and Psicosis were attempting to get one another over the ropes, Red was able to tip both over and to the floor.
Lynn sent Matthews out before ducking a York lunge that sent Christian to the apron, where a dropkick sent him packing straight after his partner. Dragon almost sent Guerrera out but Juvi hung on before pulling AmDrag out from the apron. He then attempted to form an alliance with Crazy to eliminate the remaining field, only for Crazy to send him packing when his back was turned.
Rey and Crazy then engaged in a lucha sequence which ended when they eliminated each other. That left a final four of Lynn, Low Ki, Tajiri and Red. Jerry took a breather as the other three had a breathtaking triple martial arts exchange, before Lynn leapt to his feet and clotheslined Red over and out.
Tajiri attacked and locked on the Tarantula, but that thoughtless move allowed Ki to reach his leg through the ropes and kick Tajiri on the back of the skull, causing him to fall to the floor. That left Lynn and Ki as our two captains after 14:50, but… N/R
…They suddenly found themselves under attack from a tribe of SEX cruiserweights: Triple X, Rejected, Sonny Siaki, Matt Bentley, the FBI and Sean Waltman beat the pair down and also made short work of anyone who made the save, as it mostly came in the form of a drip feed of tired competitors from the battle royal.
All the while, Shane Douglas and Torrie Wilson were on the other side of the guardrail at the point from which the invaders had entered ringside. The Franchise was seemingly directing traffic on this ‘hit’. With the line of defence down and out, the heels then began to wreck parts of the AirTime set as Douglas and Torrie egged them on. The hour concluded amidst the chaos as SEX’s self-imposed exile appears to be over.
NOVEMBER 2, 2002: SATURDAY NITRO #78
It’s hard to focus on the ongoing Starrcade Series with all the craziness going on around it. The cruiserweights of SEX have returned to AirTime, led by Shane Douglas of all people, and destroyed the WCW traditionalists. CW Anderson, longtime ally of Jeff Jarrett, turned his back on JJ at Halloween Havoc and cost him the WCW title opportunity he’d waited months for in the process.
Behind the scenes, Eric Bischoff appears to be succeeding in forcing the strain of running WCW to crack Vince Russo, but at what cost? And are we set to see the hard-hitting dream encounter of Ken Shamrock vs Goldberg?
The latter point comes up right at the very top of this week’s show, as the WCW champion comes stomping out to the ring without music and in his street clothes, dragging the belt behind him. He snatches the mic away from David Penzer and screams for Goldberg to get out here. He says he’ll put the title on the line if he has to, but either way he’s going to destroy Goldberg.
With that, Vince Russo comes speeding out even faster than when he’s running away from an enemy. He snatches the mic away from his main man and shouts “What are you doing!?” off-mic. He then speaks into it properly himself to say that as of today, Bill Goldberg is suspended for 30 days for his behaviour at the end of Halloween Havoc. Shamrock is furious, but Russo tells him not to go around giving out title matches for free like he did with Sting and Jarrett.
We’re then joined by Eric Bischoff on the stage, who again points out that Russo is attempting to avoid delivering matches that his champion is publicly promising on national TV. He also says that he is able to look into and dispute suspensions even as only the 49% owner, so he doubts Goldberg will remain suspended.
Russo, clearly losing it over things not going his way, goes on a mass screaming and shouting rant about the “goddamn politics” and how this is “his company”. He finishes by telling Shamrock and Bischoff that if they want their Goldberg title match, they can have it before storming off and leaving down the side of the walkway.
The announcers recap the lively start to the show and the cracks appearing in Russo’s hostile takeover, speculating that Goldberg doesn’t appear to be suspended after all if he’s getting Shamrock at Victory Road.
The first match of the night pits Booker T (2pts) against Curt Hennig (4pts) in Block B of the Starrcade Series. Hennig’s resurgent form since telling SEX where to go and applying himself as if it’s his last chance to win a world title continued as he emerged victorious in a bit of an upset, catching Book in the Hennigplex after sidestepping a missile dropkick for the three after 13:58! Three matches into his five-match run, Hennig is 3 for 3 and is in a great position to reach the finals at Victory Road!
Backstage, Lance Storm is with Jeremy Borash and his three new proteges. Storm introduces Johnny Devine and Eric Young as two of Canada’s finest prospects then says Teddy Hart needs no introduction as a member of the finest wrestling dynasty on the planet. Storm adds that for months WCW has been nothing but gang warfare, but now he has a team of rookies to learn from the best and ensure he gets the WCW title match at Starrcade like he deserves. Team Canada is back, Lance concludes, and America truly does have nobody to blame but themselves.
We get a pre-tape from Shane Douglas and Torrie Wilson where Shane explains that Vince Russo has had enough of the “flippy little twerps” resisting his vision for the company and claims he was able to convince the boss that leaving something to rot is far more time-consuming than just pouring gasoline over it and burning it to the ground. He says he will help the cruiserweight members of SEX realise their full potential and it starts by destroying the division that is pigeon-holing their entire careers.
Block A’s basement battle was next in the Starrcade Series, as Dustin Rhodes (0pts) and CW Anderson (0pts) looked to get on the board at the expense of the other. Rhodes was in control late on and looked for the bulldog, but Mark Jindrak ran out and hopped on the apron. Jindrak ate a Rhodes bionic elbow, but Dustin turned right around into the spinebuster to suffer a third defeat at 7:15. CW glared at his former tag team title co-holder Jindrak as the SEX member backtracked to the stage, seemingly having no prior knowledge of the assist.
Borash attempts to ask CW about turning on Jarrett when he heads backstage, only to be pinned up against the wall by Anderson, who says he owes nobody an explanation before putting the interviewer back down and storming off.
Borash and the camera crew then hear a commotion going on elsewhere in the back and follow the noise to where a near-riot is breaking out. The WCW’s main cruiserweights and the victims of Wednesday’s assault on AirTime are launching a revenge attack on members of SEX inside and outside their own private dressing room area.
It appears to mostly be the SEX cruisers in there, plus Glenn Gilbertti and Shane Douglas, with Torrie Wilson screaming and fleeing just as the cameras get there. It appears that the resilient junior-heavys have had enough of being whipping boys. Kidman and Jerry Lynn lead the wave of retaliators away before extra numbers can show up.
After the break, Glenn Gilbertti has led Jindrak, Chuck Palumbo and Johnny Stamboli to the ring where he berates the “little morons” over the mic before daring any three of them to come out and take a beating from these three “real men” inside the squared circle.
The call is answered by Kidman, Rey Mysterio and Tajiri, who go on the defeat the three former Natural Born Thrillers when the Buzzsaw Kick lays out Stamboli in 6:53. The commentators spend the entire match expecting some sort of big attack from SEX but it never comes.
We hear from Sean O’Haire, who says his quest to realise the potential everybody told him he possessed two years ago is on the verge of collapsing. He is 0-for-2 so far in the Series and as much as he respects Kanyon, he has to go through him to avoid failing on his mission.
O’Haire (0pts) is indeed able to stop the rot by defeating Kanyon (2pts) in Block B action, catching a twisting crossbody and powering his opponent up into an F5 for the pin in 9:49.
Simon Diamond and Swinger head out to talk about how they have beaten every top tag team in WCW and will keep the straps in SEX for a very long time. Out come America’s Most Wanted, who say the champs have done nothing but shortcut and slip their way out of losing the belts. They promise they’ll get them back from Simon and Swinger but are told by the champs that they should be at the back of the line.
“What about these guys?” asks James Black, as out come Eddie and Chavo Guerrero. The two former enemy teams head to the ring to confront their common enemy, and though Simon and Swinger go on the attack as they approach, they’re soon sent packing by the angered pair of duos.
We hear from US champion Ron Killings who sits alone inside a locker room, saying WCW has for years discriminated people like him because of his skin colour, his previous employment and his musical ability. He says this belt is his way of shoving it in the faces of all the haters and that nobody will be able to shut him up and take the title away from ‘The Truth’.
Father James Mitchell is stood in front of his New Church muscle inside a chapel, where he says Sting has only just begun to pay for his sins. He says the beatings will continue until he is out of the Starrcade Series, out of WCW, out of options and out of hope.
Finally, another huge match brought to us by the Starrcade Series pitted Diamond Dallas Page against Scott Hall in Block A. The two old friends came into this bout with perfect records from their first two contests in the Series, and they went back-and-forth until a Diamond Cutter stopped Hall dead in his tracks at the 11:27 mark.
Page was immediately jumped after the contest by Sean Waltman, Simon Diamond and Swinger. Los Guerreros and Kanyon ran out for the save but were cut off at the pass by a lead pipe-wielding CW Anderson, who appears to have accepted the apparent invite from former tag partner Jindrak to join the faction.
The five men wipe out the babyfaces before we cut to scenes in the back where SEX have indeed retaliated against the cruisers and Dustin Rhodes and AMW are also being destroyed. With the likes of Sting, Goldberg and Jeff Jarrett not in the building tonight, WCW forces are being torn to pieces on an evening where it seemed as though they were finally beginning to fight off Russo’s disturbing vision for professional wrestling.
WCW Victory Road 2002 card so far:
- WCW title: Ken Shamrock (c) vs Goldberg
- Starrcade Series finals
- AirTime cruiserweight showcase elimination tag
Starrcade Series standings after week four (three matches for all except Storm, Sting, Douglas, Palumbo):
Block A: DDP 6pts, Hall 4pts, Storm 3pts, CW 2pts, Sting 1pt, Rhodes 0pts,
Block B: Hennig 6pts, Booker 2pts, Douglas 2pts, Kanyon 2pts, Palumbo 2pts, O’Haire 2pts
Next time: Ken Shamrock confronts Goldberg as WCW’s ‘civil war’ continues to escalate!