NOVEMBER 20, 2002: AIRTIME #46
It appears Eric Bischoff’s brand of human chess may finally be working on Vince Russo, who despite taking that extra 1% of WCW from ‘Easy E’, has been cracking under the pressure with total control seemingly out of his reach.
For the cruiserweights, however, the war rages in in the form of WCW’s first ever Torneo Cibernetico and a highly-anticipated cruiserweight tag title match at Victory Road. Tonight, just days before the PPV, AJ Styles defends the cruiserweight singles title against months-long rival Jerry Lynn over two out of three falls, despite them both being on Team WCW at the Cibernetico.
Also, Sonny Siaki must finally face Jorge Estrada one-on-one, while SEX have reportedly demanded a face-off with Team Canada which was granted just before Stacy Keibler was sent home by Bischoff.
Taped on November 19, along with the following Nitro, in Orlando.
Opening the hour is the Estrada/Siaki grudge match, which goes Siaki’s way in 6:27 when Torrie Wilson comes out and distracts the referee, throwing a pair of brass knuckles to her SEX team-mate in the process. The KO punch allowed Sonny to steal the win from his former friend.
We head to Eric Bischoff’s office, as the minority owner confirms the teams for Cibernetico and also announces that Simon Diamond and Johnny Swinger will defend the WCW tag titles against AMW, Los Guerreros AND Kanyon and a partner of his choosing in a four-team elimination bout at Victory Road. Also, Ron Killings will defend the US title against Dustin Rhodes. He finishes by promising fair matches for the entire remainder of the Starrcade Series, with severe punishment for anybody who defies this.
Teddy Hart, Eric Young and Johnny Devine defeated Matt Bentley and the FBI with an assist from Kidman and Mysterio, who came out and brawled with the cruiser tag champs while Canada coach Lance Storm distracted the referee. A unique wheelbarrow lift into a neckbreaker from Young finished Bentley in 6:59.
A pre-tape interview from Jamie Knoble is next, with Knoble saying he is sick of everybody holding him down, from past partners to old enemies to WCW to SEX. He is going to take no prisoners, he claims, and finally get what he deserves: the cruiserweight singles title.
We see Paul London and Brian Kendrick separated by Eric Bischoff and a couple of referees in Eric’s office. The co-owner calms them down and tells them that their issue needs to be settled in the ring and he doesn’t care what Kendrick says, he calls the shots around here so he will face London again. But since the two of them want to just drag American Dragon into their affairs, it’ll be a triangle match.
Finally, AJ Styles defended the WCW cruiserweight title against Jerry Lynn, two out of three falls. He was stunned when Lynn brought a sudden end to a fluid technical opening with AJ’s own Styles Clash for the first fall in only 2:37, but was eventually able to tie things up at 13:57 with a Cradle Piledriver to the master of them.
After more gruelling see-saw wrestling in the deciding fall, Styles was able to backdrop out of a Cradle Piledriver attempt and reverse Lynn’s subsequent try for a sunset flip with the old Bret-Bulldog pin at 24:10 to retain the title, 2-1.
Lynn, now pretty much out of title contention for the time being, was dejected after the loss but showed class and congratulated the champion, even strapping the belt around his waist.
NOVEMBER 23, 2002: SATURDAY NITRO #81
With seemingly no Vince Russo all weekend, Eric Bischoff has the freedom to ensure Victory Road – and the Starrcade Series – are carried out in a more traditional WCW style. Despite this, most of the title matches at the PPV feature WCW traditionalists trying to bring the titles back from members of SEX, with the two sides also going to war when Jeff Jarrett meets CW Anderson and almost the entire cruiserweight roster collides in Torneo Cibernetico.
Tonight will mostly focus on each of the 12 SS participants as they all have their final block matches. But though nine of them still have a mathematical chance, the smart money is on Curt Hennig vs either Lance Storm or DDP in the Finals.
We are joined by Goldberg at the top of the show, just 24 hours before he returns to in-ring action in a bit of a dream match versus WCW champion Ken Shamrock. Goldberg says he cannot put into words how much it means to him to be where he is now after thinking his career might be over after the injury in March.
He says every day he fought to rehab himself and when Vince Russo and an army of big-name, big-money mercenaries showed up at the company’s door it made him even more determined to return. Tomorrow, he returns to the title picture the injury took away from him, but tonight he vows to find Ken Shamrock and give him a preview of Victory Road before Nitro is done.
The first Starrcade Series block closer of the evening had a bit of bad blood thrown in after Chuck Palumbo nearly maimed Booker T’s girl Sharmell last week. In fact, a fired up T was on top of most of the bout and weathered a brief spell of trouble before hitting the Book End to win in 7:03. It put the former five-time champion level with Curt Hennig on six points and in need of a Hennig loss to take Block B to overtime.
Eric Bischoff is on the phone with someone in his office, and we hear him discuss something about the path being clear for him when York and Matthews enter. Bischoff tells them that their constant talking of leaving WCW if they couldn’t win titles this year means they put themselves in this situation, but he sympathises that they’ve not been given a fair crack thanks to SEX. He says he has a solution, and some papers for them to look over and sign.
Glenn Gilbertti is again shown talking to the SEX locker room – this time, there is notably no Scott Hall, Sean Waltman, Shane Douglas or any of the veterans. He tells them that Vince Russo recruited them to his cause because he sees their potential but he doesn’t think Vince quite sees it all clearly enough.
Gilbertti says right now, Russo is having a breakdown and dealing with angry executives while they have a fight to win and titles to defend. He tells them that if they need absolutely anything, come to him, nobody else.
Scott Hall’s admittedly miniscule chances of featuring in the Starrcade Series finals were eradicated entirely by Dustin Rhodes’ very first win in this year’s event. He backdropped out of an Edge attempt and capitalised with a quick bulldog for a very liberating three count at 8:15. Post-match, however, there were no celebrations as he was immediately attacked by Ron Killings. The US champ and Hall left Rhodes laying and fled.
Cruiserweight tag champions the FBI teamed with SEX’s Cibernetico team captain Sean Waltman to face counterparts Billy Kidman, Rey Mysterio and Jerry Lynn, but the match was thrown out after just 3:53 when it turned into a massive brawl featuring the entire Cibernetico squads.
Jeff Jarrett, in a pre-tape, says CW Anderson wants the world to think JJ treated him badly, or abused their friendship. The truth is, their partnership was mutually beneficial and nothing ever stopped CW from just going his own way. In fact, when Russo and his goons laid out Jarrett, he assumed that he was on his own.
However Anderson made a point of helping Jeff up only to knock him back down a day later because he was bitter, JJ claims, probably ever since the days of the Chosen Few. Jarrett says he will show CW tomorrow that everybody is held accountable for their own decisions. Including Jeff himself, but especially “that no-good piece of crap”.
CW Anderson was in action next, against Sting in the Starrcade Series. CW was out of the running thanks in part to Jarrett himself, and seemed less than thrilled by having to fight the Icon in what to him was an afterthought. Early on, Anderson appeared to hurt his leg and dragged himself over to the corner. The referee checked and then called for the bell. In what was a bit of a unique scenario for an SS bout, the official ruling was that because CW was unable to continue, two points were awarded to Sting with an official match time of 3:11.
As BG James came out to help CW to the back with another referee, the New Church jumped Sting once again. This time, however, as Malice set up a table at ringside he suddenly felt a chair flung at his head… and the man doing the flinging was the returning Rob Van Dam!
RVD cleaned house in the ring using another chair, before kicking Malice off the apron as he climbed back up onto it, sending him through the table! Sting and RVD celebrated together to a huge ovation.
Simon Diamond and Johnny Swinger are out next, and they cut a promo bragging about defeating the entire tag division so handily that their next challenge is five guys they’ve already beaten and a mystery partner, all at once.
AMW interrupt, saying the way they’ve held onto those titles makes them sick and that they’ll get their comeuppance at Victory Road. Los Guerreros then appear via the crowd, and admit Simon and Swinger have channeled the spirit of Eddie and Chavo with how they lie cheat and steal to remain champions, but that they will pay for making the mistake of crossing them to do so.
It soon turns into a four-on-two fight thanks to the champs’ big mouths continuing to goad their challengers, but eventually the old rivals end up going at each other while Simon and Swinger sneak out of there and laugh at the brawl from the walkway, holding the title belts up as they retreat.
Sean O’Haire vs Shane Douglas looked set to bring Block B onto the home stretch. A winner by pinfall or submission would join Booker T and Hennig on 6pts and we’d surely either have the conclusion of Curt’s fairytale or a triangle tiebreaker. With a hard line on outside interference from Bischoff, Douglas was forced to fight with only Torrie Wilson’s backup and ultimately O’Haire was able to hit an F5 for the win in 8:28. Now, all he could do is wait…
We see CW being treated by the trainer with BG James by his side. Eric Bischoff comes over looking for an update, and the trainer says it’s early but it doesn’t look great and another match in 24 hours isn’t a good idea. Bischoff says if CW can’t face Jarrett, then Jeff will just have to make do with kicking the ass of some other friend who turned his back on him – he then stares BG in the eyes for a while before leaving.
DDP vs Lance Storm was, in most ways, a simple play-off to decide who goes to the SS Finals. However, a select few scenarios would allow Sting back into the fray. Only Teddy Hart joined Storm at ringside, and the commentators’ speculation that Storm wanted any eventual interference to be streamlined and not backfire rang true as a simple distraction rescued Lance from a Diamond Cutter, and a Storm superkick made him the first man to reach the 2002 Finals at 12:53. With an unbeaten record, no less!
Sting and RVD are talking backstage when Jeremy Borash approaches them and welcomes Van Dam back. RVD says there was no way he would be missing WCW’s return to Philadelphia, and said he wants a piece of Malice for taking his WCW title and four months of his livelihood away from him. Sting proposes a match between the two of them and the three members of New Church still available at Victory Road, now his SS run has been ended.
The final match of the Starrcade Series blocks pitted Chris Kanyon against Curt Hennig and carried relatively simple permutations. If Hennig won in any manner, he would advance to the Finals tomorrow to face Lance Storm. If Kanyon emerged victorious, we would be left with a three-way tie between Hennig, Booker T and Sean O’Haire. One would imagine that Hennig possessed enough wherewithall after all these years to not get himself purposefully disqualified or counted out and leave Book and O’Haire to battle for the Finals slot, but stranger things have happened.
The match told the story of Kanyon attempting to stay one step ahead of Hennig with innovative manouvres and quick thinking, while Curt aimed to grind Chris down with tried and tested techniques and old-fashioned savvy. Hennig sent Kanyon flying into the post shoulder first and quickly capitalised with the Hennigplex… for nothing more than a huge near-fall.
In disbelief that his go-to move wasn’t enough, Hennig actually went out of his wheelhouse, attempting a Flatliner that Kanyon blocked only to walk into a Hennig Book End (!) for two and a half. Hennig kept trying to find a way to clinch his Finals spot and looked like he was going for O’Haire’s F5, but Kanyon turned it into a crushing DDT in mid-air and scored the pin in 11:55. Hennig, Booker T and O’Haire are in a dead heat upon completion of Block B.
Booker T storms out after the decision, with Sharmell in tow, and badgers the referee to know what happens next. Sean O’Haire also makes his way down in search of clarification as Kanyon departs and Hennig slowly regains his bearings inside the ring.
Eric Bischoff comes out to the stage and announces that there will indeed be a Triangle Tiebreaker at the PPV – sudden death, no time limit, winner of the first fall advances to meet Lance Storm later that night. We get a shot of all three’s reactions before they bicker with each other in the ring and finish with a shot of Storm and Team Canada backstage, celebrating this development as if Lance has already advanced to the Starrcade main event.
The announcers run down the Victory Road card, which now includes the Triangle Tiebreaker and Sting and the returning RVD taking on Malice, Sinn and Slash in a ‘relaxed rules’ handicap match.
Finally, we’re joined by Ken Shamrock who says he hears Goldberg wants a piece of him 24 hours early. Well, he isn’t a hard man to find and if he wants some, come get some. After a pause, Goldberg’s music hits and here he comes towards the ring… only for a horde of security to try to keep them apart.
The crowd boos this, but the two WCW title combatants at the PPV begin to punch their way through the sea of masses to cheers and finally get it on! More referees and security guards try to break things up with little success, as the two spill out to ringside and fight over the ringside tables as the show cuts out.
Final WCW Victory Road 2002 card:
- WCW World title: Ken Shamrock (c) vs Goldberg
- WCW World tag titles: Simon and Swinger (c) vs America’s Most Wanted vs Los Guerreros vs Kanyon and DDP
- WCW Cruiserweight tag titles: FBI (c) vs Billy Kidman and Rey Mysterio
- WCW United States title: Ron Killings (c) vs Dustin Rhodes
- Starrcade Series finals: Lance Storm vs Block B tie-breaker winner
- Starrcade Series tie-breaker: Booker T vs Sean O’Haire vs Curt Hennig
- Relaxed Rules handicap match: Sting & Rob Van Dam vs Disciples of the New Church (Malice, Sinn & Slash)
- Jeff Jarrett vs CW Anderson
- Torneo Cibernetico: Jerry Lynn (capt), AJ Styles, Super Crazy, Psicosis, Juventud Guerrera, Tajiri, Kaz and Yang vs Sean Waltman (capt), Shane Helms, Shannon Moore, Elix Skipper, Christopher Daniels, Sonny Siaki, Matt Bentley and Tempest
Final Starrcade Series group standings:
A: Storm 9pts, Sting 7pts, DDP 6pts, Hall 4pts, Rhodes 2pts, CW 2pts
B: Hennig 6pts, O’Haire 6pts, Booker 6pts, Kanyon 5pts, Douglas 4pts, Palumbo 3pts
Next time: Victory Road 2002, featuring Goldberg vs Shamrock and the Starrcade Series finals!