DECEMBER 11, 2002: AIRTIME #49
Tonight, as Starrcade draws ever nearer, Jerry Lynn goes one-on-one with Tempest in a no-disqualification match as the tit-for-tat war between the two comes to a head. We’ll also have our last two qualifiers for Ultimate X 2, but we won’t find out until after Starrcade whether the winner will indeed get a cruiserweight title shot or if it’s merely to be part of history, with the entire cruiserweight division at stake on the PPV.
Taped on December 10, along with the following Nitro, in Nashville.
We begin with the announcers bringing us bad news in a somewhat sombre tone – on Tuesday The Rejected tracked down Low Ki to the WCW Florida training facility and brutally attacked him, just days after he had been cleared to return to action. The assault culminated in them hitting their feared Spiked Vertebreaker in the training ring, leaving fears over whether Ki will ever return to 100% after the move wiped out Jason Jett and Shawn Stasiak.
The Ultimate X structure was once again looming over the ring.
The opening contest decided the third spot in Starrcade’s Ultimate X bout, as Super Crazy defeated Paul London in 8:35. Crazy hit moonsaults one and two in his three-turnbuckle barrage, but ate knees on the second. London immediately went for a Shooting Star Press, but Crazy moved out of the way and capitalised with the straitjacket powerbomb to advance.
York and Matthews tell Jeremy Borash that they’re sick of spending their time in WCW treading water and stopping short of greatness. They won’t be sad about being forced to leave WCW if they fail at Starrcade, they say, because it’s their own decision and the right one. It’s sink or swim in 11 days, and they plan on doing the butterfly stroke all over the FBI.
Tajiri completed the Ultimate X match with victory over American Dragon. The two captivated the crowd trading both strikes and submissions, but Tajiri was able to block AmDrag’s attempted dragon suplex and nail one of his own with a release that sent his rookie opponent rolling off the back of his head and into position for a Buzzsaw Kick to clinch it at 9:33.
Jamie Knoble is out next, and he demands to speak to David Kash face-to-face. It’s not long before Kash obliges but Jamie begs off a physical confrontation. He claims to want to explain their situation, then does so in a very insulting and patronising way to his former partner before warning him that if he doesn’t go and do his own thing and instead sticks his nose in Knoble’s business, he’s going to be in big trouble. Kash acts as though he’s giving that some thought then plants a kick to Jamie’s midsection before laying him out with the double-underhook piledriver.
Another AJ/Liger preview video concludes this time with the reveal that ‘Thunder’ will make his WCW in-ring return next week on AirTime!
Finally Jerry Lynn facd Tempest in a No-Disqualification match, though the main event was slightly delayed by Ric Flair coming out before the match and warning Father James Mitchell that if any New Church member other than himself were to be at ringside during the bout, he’d fire the entire group.
The two men wrestled and fought, with innovative uses of a chair and trash can. Tempest had Lynn in trouble late on but Jerry fought back and landed a huge tornado DDT from the apron/outside of the second turnbuckle and through a table Mitchell set up ringside for his man to use. With no falls-count-anywhere stips, he could only get two when he got Tempest back inside.
When he went for the Cradle Piledriver, Mitchell came onto the apron and ate a right hand – but he had the crowbar in his possession and threw it to Tempest just before he was decked. Tempest’s wild swing was ducked, however, and Jerry grabbed the weapon himself for a KO strike to the head that decided it in 11:21.
Sinn and Slash immediately ran down with the match over and put the boots to Lynn now that the bout was over, until Rob Van Dam made the save with a springboard kick to Sinn and a Van Daminator to Slash. He turned right around into the goozle of Malice, however, and took a huge chokeslam just before we went off the air.
Low Ki was written out of storylines due to creative differences with the company. He has been granted a release from his contract effective immediately.
DECEMBER 14, 2002: SATURDAY NITRO #84
The era of Sports Entertainment Xtreme is threatening to engulf WCW come Starrcade.
With the fate of the company hanging on three matches at the PPV, Vince Russo is finding the upper hand in the tag match recruitment stakes between having what appears to be three quarters of his heavyweights team lay out Sting, Goldberg and DDP one week ago and then having The Rejected possibly end another career just as Low Ki looked set to return to action by aiding the WCW cruiserweights.
He’ll no doubt be feeling confident about his fighting machine Ken Shamrock’s chances of retaining the WCW title in match three when he defends versus Sean O’Haire, whose experience is far less than that of the World’s Most Dangerous Man. Nonetheless, those two men go face-to-face tonight as O’Haire attempts to convince the world, Shamrock and perhaps himself that he’s far more of a threat than the cocky champ believes he is.
The show begins with the eight-man tag made a week ago, with Simon Diamond teaming with SEX cohorts Swinger, Guido Maritato and Tony Marinera to face Christian York, Joey Matthews and America’s Most Wanted.
It was once again their ever-present cornerman Glenn Gilbertti who made the difference, doing everything he can to prevent a three-count being registered when Y&M hit Full Effect on Marinera and then later, when Swinger felt the Death Sentence. Maritato grabbed the tights rolling up York to win it in 17:25, after which the heels retreated to the walkway and mocked Y&M’s loss, motioning that they would send the team out of WCW altogether come Starrcade.
Backstage, Rey Mysterio is in the changing room with Jerry Lynn and Billy Kidman. Kidman asks if the outlook on Ki is bad. Rey says it is, and they’re without a fourth man. Jorge Estrada then knocks and enters, apologising for interrupting but then saying he heard the news and that he wants to help WCW’s cruiserweight division stay alive.
He may not be a veteran, Jorge explains, but he has the passion and the ability to replace Low Ki if they’ll just give him a chance. Lynn cuts in and says he does admire Estrada’s heart. Rey tells Jorge they have a lot to process and some other guys with just as much desire to save the division as he does, but he appreciates the offer. It’s not a no, but it’s not a yes. They’ll let him know. Estrada says that’s all he needed to hear before politely leaving.
A video package looks at Sean O’Haire training for his huge match at Starrcade. It details his own Toughman credentials and shows plenty of footage of him incorporating kickboxing techniques into his training, ahead of a bout with one of the most decorated martial artists to ever fight. It also features interview excerpts of O’Haire being spoken after the training footage was shot, during which he’s asked if having the fate of the company potentially placed in his hands adds extra pressure. O’Haire skips past that aspect and reiterates his desire to win the big one and become WCW champion.
Elix Skipper defeated Jerry Lynn with the Play Of The Day in 10:50 in a bout that saw the two men’s respective partners for the crucial cruiserweights match at Starrcade all get involved. With Team WCW down a man at present, the numbers game allowed The Rejected to keep Rey and Kidman occupied as Daniels tripped Lynn coming off the ropes, leading to the finish.
A beatdown attempt after the bell was thwarted, however, by Jorge Estrada who ran out to even the numbers before hitting a crossbody from the top to the floor on all four heels. His rescue appeared to impress captain Mysterio and his colleagues.
Shane Douglas and Torrie Wilson stop by Vince Russo’s office, where the Franchise sucks up to Russo for the attack by BG James, Sean Waltman and Scott Hall on the WCW legends last week. He says he’s the man to round off the squad and wants in.
Russo questions whether Douglas can get along with Hall in particular. Shane replies that he’s a team player – look at he and Jindrak, back on the same page and teaming up to cripple Jeff Jarrett later tonight. Russo appears to be considering him when Glenn Gilbertti barges in, looking for praise for his role earlier tonight.
Douglas insults Glenn for butting in on his chat with the boss but Gilbertti brushes it off and suggests to Russo that he have Gilbertti ringside for every SEX match at Starrcade, since he and Bischoff will only be permitted ringside for the three matches to decide 100% control. Douglas cuts in again leading to more bickering over who the ‘sergeant’ of SEX is until Russo yells to shut them both up and orders them out, saying he’ll take their pitches under consideration.
Lance Storm is flanked by Team Canada in a pre-tape where he says America is trying to marginalise the superior country from the biggest PPV of the year, but he won’t allow it to happen. He issues a four-on-four challenge to any four Americans to face them all at Starrcade.
In a familiar meeting of cruiserweight veterans, Tajiri linked up with the Jung Dragons to face Super Crazy, Juventud Guerrera and Psicosis in six-man action. Though the bout was evenly-contested, it proved telling that the Mexican contingent would all be opponents in Ultimate X 2 while Tajiri as the fourth participant was the only member of his team involved, and worked fluidly with two men who helped Japan win the World Cup.
Rare mis-communication between Juvi and Crazy led to Unleash The Dragon on Guerrera for the pin in 15:27. The luchadores argued over the finish, just over a week before they battle over the cross-cables.
US champion Ron ‘The Truth’ Killings hits the ring after the break and runs down The Cat over the mic, promising to put the “rusty old kitty” in permanent retirement at Starrcade. Miller comes out to respond, and generally gets the verbal edge over Killings as only he can.
After ripping into his PPV opponent for a while, Cat gets serious and says he realises that the two of them never were friends and Killings always was looking for the chance to stab him in the back and advance his career. That’s why, he claims, taking the US title from him in his first match in forever will damage his career so bad it’ll make the perfect revenge.
Jeff Jarrett and Los Guerreros defeated CW Anderson, Shane Douglas and Mark Jindrak when a Chavo tornado DDT to Jindrak was followed by an Eddie frog splash for the pin in 17:21. Jarrett was worn down by all three of his former stablemates for a large chunk of the bout including his PPV opponent CW, who’d only enter the ring when Jeff was in a bad way.
After the bout, a man in a Sting mask grabbed Jarrett’s guitar and brought it over Jeff’s head before escaping the wrath of Eddie and Chavo. He met with CW, Douglas and Torrie on the walkway before a beaten Jindrak eventually joined them. The man unmasked to reveal… forgotten Chosen Few member Mike Sanders.
The shot of a graveyard is followed by the unmistakable laugh of Father James Mitchell, as the camera then moves onto Mitchell and his New Church. The Father says pride always comes before the fall, just like it did when RVD refused to swallow his pride and join the winning team, SEX. It led to Van Dam being put on the shelf with furious… malice… and losing his cherished championship without actually being beaten. Now, he wants revenge in a No Holds Barred match and thinks he can outgun the Church.
Mitchell warns RVD that this time, the fall will be far greater and have a much more painful landing because No Holds Barred means Malice will take his punishment of Rob to the… Extreme. Mitchell bookends the segment with his laugh as we move on to…
…the commentators running down the Starrcade card only to be cut off by a development outside. We then see Shane Helms and Shannon Moore assaulting Jorge Estrada in the parking lot, putting his head through a car windshield before security finally drags them away. Once again, SEX is looking to ensure team WCW is short-handed in the crucial cruiserweight tag team war by any means necessary.
Next up was Sting vs Booker T, a very interesting match as commentary explained when previewing the bout earlier in the show that Sting had in fact demanded this match and received it from good friend and interim Commissioner Ric Flair.
A Sharmell-less Booker went back-and-forth with Sting in a gripping feature contest before dodging a Stinger Splash by holding the top rope and leaping over his opponent, twisting on the way down and catching the Icon in a sunset flip for three after 9:22.
As Booker celebrated, Sting requested a mic and congratulated Booker, a gesture that put the jaded and bitter Book on the back foot. Sting then told him he knows they have had their differences and that’s fine, because at Starrcade WCW is fighting for its very identity and in his mind, the team that will help save the company is a team comprised of men who’ve kept the company going for years, through so many rough times and huge threats.
He invites Booker to be their fourth team member and extends his hand. Booker hesitates… and in the end never gets to make a decision as BG James and Sean Waltman attack from the crowd. This brings DDP and Goldberg running out only for Scott Hall to blindside Goldberg, who was trailing Page by a couple of feet. Page enters the ring alone and is overwhelmed by Waltman, BG and then Hall.
All the while, Booker T leaves the ring and walks to the back. He stops and looks back at what’s going on, but decides to keep walking.
Rob Van Dam is on the phone to someone backstage. He tells whomever it is that he’s been watching him do his own thing since RVD got to WCW, but given what has happened recently he thinks it’s time for him to embrace his roots. Van Dam then admits he himself probably needs to embrace his roots a little more, and how Starrcade may be a chance for them to embrace their roots together. He finishes by telling this person “alright kid, I’ll speak to you later.”
We see footage of Ken Shamrock training for his title fight at Starrcade. In his own interview excerpts, he says he hasn’t altered his regimen at all for O’Haire. He knows Sean is big and fast and very talented, and that he has a fighting background of his own, but he’s nothing Shamrock hasn’t already faced, beaten and humiliated.
We are then joined in the ring by O’Haire and Shamrock, with Mike Tenay moderating and four security guards on hand. Ken arrives second and continues to attempt to belittle his challenger as being beneath him the whole time, going as far as to stop Sean from getting a word in at any stage.
When Shamrock did finally give Sean the chance to say something for himself, the challenger gave it some thought then chose instead to smack the champ right across the face! The brawl was on with the security team quick to snuff it out. The two then took out a pair of guards each before going back at it as Tenay fled the scene and the episode ended with a wild pull-apart that could hardly be contained.
Starrcade 2002 card so far:
- Fight For Control Match #3, WCW World title: Ken Shamrock (c) vs Sean O’Haire
- Fight For Control Match #2: Sting, Goldberg, DDP and ? vs Scott Hall, Sean Waltman, BG James and ?
- Fight For Control Match #1: Rey Mysterio, Kidman, Jerry Lynn & ? vs Triple X & The Rejected
(Whichever side wins two out of three Fight For Control Matches will win 100% ownership for either Eric Bischoff (WCW) or Vince Russo (SEX). If WCW wins the FFC series in two straight, Ric Flair gets 5mins with Vince Russo. If SEX wins the FFC series in two straight, the cruiserweight division will be abolished)
- WCW World tag titles, steel cage match: Simon & Swinger (c) vs America’s Most Wanted
- WCW United States title: Ron Killings (c) vs Ernest ‘The Cat’ Miller
- WCW Cruiserweight title: AJ Styles (c) vs Jushin Liger
- WCW Cruiserweight tag titles: Full Blooded Italians (c) vs York and Matthews
(The titles can change hands on a count-out or DQ. If Y&M lose, they will leave WCW.)
- Ultimate X: Juventud Guerrera vs Psicosis vs Super Crazy vs Tajiri
- Bunkhouse Brawl for a WCW title shot: Jeff Jarrett vs CW Anderson
- No Holds Barred: Rob Van Dam vs Malice
- Open Challenge: Team Canada vs Any four Americans
Next time: The 50th edition of AirTime – but will it be the last? Plus, a pivotal Saturday Nitro just 24 hours before the Fight For Control at Starrcade!