MARCH 19, 2003: AIRTIME #61
Content filmed before the Spring Breakout PPV in Orlando included:
- An opening ceremony for the 2003 World Cup, with team members and unnamed flag bearers for each of the six participating nations. Ric Flair formally declared the Cup underway and said the first match would be defending champions Japan vs Canada in 4vs4 action, leading to heated words between those two groups.
- Sonny Siaki and Matt Bentley, with their new entourage of Glenn Gilbertti, Trinity and Desire, defeated the Maximos in 7:54 with Siakilypse to Joel.
- Bryan Danielson, Paul London and Brian Kendrick defeated Chris Sabin, Frankie Kazarian and Julio Dinero with London’s SSP to Kazarian in 8:14.
- TAKA Michinoku and Dick Togo made their WCW bows with an exhibition win over Cassidy O’Reilly and Chase Stevens in 6:35 after a Michinoku Driver to O’Reilly was followed by Togo’s Senton Bomb.
MARCH 22, 2003: SATURDAY NITRO #98
Rob Van Dam’s ever-growing Hardcore Revolution stable, based on his brotherhood with fellow ECW alumni, was getting to the stage where it appeared pretty much unstoppable. It seemingly dovetailed perfectly with RVD’s long-overdue return match for the WCW title that was taken from him due to injury – but true colours emerged at Spring Breakout when half of his crew assaulted the rest and watched a stunned Van Dam fall to the champion, Sean O’Haire.
One can only expect an extreme civil war to kick off tonight. As for O’Haire, we’re expecting to find out more about his next challenger with Commissioner Flair promising an announcement regarding the next title defense.
Taped on March 20 in Orlando.
Ric Flair opened the show in the ring, beginning by hyping the Spring Breakout PPV and plugging the replay showings. He says it was at the Spring Breakout Nitro two years ago that WCW nearly ceased to be, but from the ashes came a fantastic 21st century product that’s not only fast approaching its second anniversary but also the 100th episode of Saturday Nitro. That show will be in two weeks, he says, and will be a live three-hour special. He says all the titles will be on the line, just like that Spring Breakout Nitro in 2001, as well as some other special matches as the World Cup finals take centre stage at the next PPV.
He finishes by saying we’ll find out who’ll challenge for the WCW title on Nitro 100 in the main event of Nitro 99, when four of the top athletes on the roster – and four men who were here when the company almost disappeared – battle in a one-fall four way dance. It’ll be Jeff Jarrett vs Lance Storm vs Chris Kanyon vs Dustin Rhodes.
The evening’s first match saw America’s Most Wanted invoking their WCW tag title rematch at the earliest opportunity to challenge the men who shocked them on Sunday, Sinn and Slash. Ultimately, the same thing cost AMW tonight that cost them at the PPV, as the recently-back-from-injury Elix Skipper and his Triple X partner Christopher Daniels ran in and ate superkicks from the babyfaces which only distracted the ref to allow a Tempest crowbar shot to leave James Black prone for the Slash pin in 7:11.
After the bell, XXX and the New Church continued to assault AMW until the 3 Live Kru ran down for the save. BG James took the mic and reminded us all that they each have the right to a title match of their choice thanks to winning the tournament at Superbrawl, so long as they give notice. So here’s the notice: it’ll be Sinn and Slash defending against two members of the 3LK next week on Nitro. Which members? Tune into next week’s Nitro to find out, they say.
Speaking of the tag title picture, we hear from Los Guerreros backstage who tell JB that they don’t care who’s issuing challenges for the belts tonight, next week or even the week after that at the 100th Nitro because they have already agreed with Ric Flair when they’ll receive the shot they earned at Spring Breakout: at the World Cup PPV, in Mexico. They finish by promising to become three-time WCW tag champs in front of their own.
Shane Douglas looked to give Sonny Siaki a taste of pain for he and Matt Bentley’s decision to turn on their mentor and seek the guidance of Glenn Gilbertti instead. Unfortunately for The Franchise, the presence of Gilbertti and Bentley at ringside played a huge part, as did that of Trinity and Desire which cancelled out Torrie Wilson. Gilbertti hooked Douglas’ leg during a Pittsburgh Plunge attempt which set up the old ‘cover while manager holds a foot down from outside’ finish, giving Siaki a huge singles win in 4:46.
We get a pre-tape promo from Team UK, with captain Doug Williams warning the five other nations to be ready to be outwrestled, outfought and outsmarted by the more cultured British wrestlers.
Following that is a pre-tape where Billy Kidman says he picked Danielson, London and Kendrick for Team USA because they are incredible talent on the rise and they know a thing or two about teamwork and loyalty – which came across as a bit of a dig at his regular tag partner and Mexico captain, Rey Mysterio.
AJ Styles teamed with Kid Kash and The Amazing Red to defeat Jamie Knoble and The Rejected in a six-man featuring four current title-holders. Commentary speculated over the mental state of Kash after what happened to the Hardcore Revolution at the PPV, but he seemed totally focused on this match – and cruiserweight champ Knoble in particular. He even pinned the titlist and his former partner to end things after 9:23 with the Money Maker.
Sean O’Haire and Vince Russo are in an undisclosed location where Russo says nobody has survived the WCW champion with their physical and mental wellbeing intact. He says O’Haire has either crippled his opponents and put them on the shelf or left them a shell of their former selves as their worlds crumbled around them, citing RVD’s recent HR issues and Jeff Jarrett, in Russo’s words, “being washed up and having his lack of friends catch up to him”.
He says it doesn’t matter who advances to Nitro 100, because Sean will be happy to finish the job on Kanyon or Jarrett, send Lance Storm back to Canada for good or end the Rhodes family legacy once and for all. O’Haire creepily sings happy birthday to Nitro with the amended final line “the purge is coming… for you.”
One of those potential challengers, Dustin Rhodes, tuned up for the big four-way with a win over Team Canada rookie Bobby Roode. The veteran polished Roode off with a bulldog in 6:21 after Jarrett ran off the attempted interference of Storm, giving Dustin (and JJ) a little retribution against the Canadians.
A Team Italy pre-tape has captain Guido Maritato appearing to take the competitive aspect of the World Cup a little more seriously than his team-mates, with Tony Marinera, Johnny Stamboli and Sal Rinuaro mostly bragging about how they would beat down five different nationalities then go party in the trendy nightclubs with the trophy in tow.
Rey Mysterio says he, Super Crazy, Juventud Guerrera and Psicosis were Mexico’s team last year, but weren’t entirely on the same page. This year, however, they’re seeing eye-to-eye, Psicosis is back to full fitness and they’re motivated to win the Cup on home soil.
Raven required only 1:48 to destroy Jorge Estrada, who was making his full-fledged return to action after being put through a window by The Rejected. A blitz of offense led to the Evenflow for the pin.
After the bout, Raven cut a promo about being overlooked for a WCW title match because he wasn’t here during the rough times, saying the four men being handed a golden opportunity on a silver platter should be punished for hanging around while the ship sank, while he should be idolised for walking away from the chaos. He then decides to send a further message by breaking two of Estrada’s fingers in brutal fashion.
He’s stopped from targeting a third by Kanyon, who rushes out and resumes his hostilities with Raven, leading to the two fighting out of the arena.
We see Vince Russo and Father James Mitchell meet at their usual rendezvous point. Russo sucks up to Mitchell, noting that they are now both managers of world champion wrestlers, before apologising for coming across as too demanding before. He says it would still benefit the two men to work together, and says as a show of good faith he could even see to it that “his monster” is trained and prepared by O’Haire, Palumbo and Jindrak to fulfil his destructive potential. Mitchell tells Russo to keep talking, before spotting the cameraman and threatening him into leaving.
Lance Storm’s promo with Team Canada, unlike the four WC team interviews before it, comes seemingly direct from backstage moments before the next match. He says the only reason Canada aren’t the defending champions is because they weren’t even invited to compete in a tournament that was held in their country. He says instead, he won the WCW title in front of a rabid Toronto crowd and upstaged the entire Japan win. He says he and his team will go one better tonight by humbling the “so-called champs” and exposing them as the paper champions they are.
Tajiri, Dick Togo and TAKA Michinoku all make short half-English and half-Japanese comments from a similar setting elsewhere in the arena, basically promising victory for Japan tonight and a second World Cup. Yang then wraps with a more straightforward English promo, warning Storm and Canada that their cheating ways will not save them from the best junior heavyweight country in the world.
The reigning champs then got the first points of the 2003 World Cup when Tajiri, Yang, Togo and Michinoku beat Storm, Eric Young, Johnny Devine and Joe Legend. Tajiri had Devine beat with a Buzzsaw Kick only for Young to distract the ref so Storm could blast him with a superkick. When he draped Devine on top, however, Togo quickly climbed to the top and came down with a Senton Bomb before swapping the two back over for the Japanese win in 16:39.
Finally, Rob Van Dam came out flanked by Jerry Lynn, Christian York, Joey Matthews and Kid Kash. RVD says he’s only just got his head around what happened on Sunday, but one thing is obvious: everything about what happened from the timing to the people involved was in the works for a long time, perhaps even right around the start of the Hardcore Revolution, when they first began to expand. He says the next step is also quite clear, as he calls out CW, Awesome, Simon and Swinger for an Extreme ass-kicking.
Instead, we get the sound of a voice unfamiliar to some – and very familiar to others. The voice tells Van Dam that a fight is coming, but on their terms – the terms of the Extreme Horsemen. We then see none other than Steve Corino lead the quartet onto the stage.
Corino tells the audience of how he was lined up to make his wrestling debut for the ‘new’ WCW right around the same time Van Dam did, only for a serious knee injury to put him out for over a year. Then, when he was ready to come back, the WCW front office told him he was “doing too good a job” as a syndication and internet presenter to be moved to the active roster. So he was left with no other choice than to force the company’s hand and make a serious impact.
Steve continues that he has been plotting to undermine this ‘revolution’ since it started, and that it didn’t take long to convince these four men to join their former brothers until the time was perfect to bring the walls down from the inside. Corino says the ‘ECW spirit’ is a sham, and that the only legacy that ‘cesspool’ will leave will be bringing together this group and elevating them from bingo halls to where Horsemen belong, WCW, to the point where even those in charge cannot deny their, and Corino’s, greatness.
An angry Lynn cuts in saying enough talk, it’s time to fight. And this time, the Horsemen oblige as a 5 on 5 brawl kicks off around ringside. Unfortunately for the Revolution, Awesome is able to isolate the already tired Kash and powerbombs him through the announce table. The Horsemen gradually impose a numerical advantage, taking out a foe one-by-one until Van Dam is left alone to take a beating in the ring. A grinning Corino leads his men in standing tall as the show fades.
World Cup 2003 card so far:
- Quarter-final six-way singles elimination match
- Semi-final four-way tag elimination match
- Final: ?? vs ?? vs ??
World Cup 2003 standings:
- Japan: 2pts
- Mexico: 0pts
- USA: 0pts
- Italy: 0pts
- UK: 0pts
- Canada: 0pts
Next time: Who will earn a shot at Sean O’Haire on the 100th Saturday Nitro? Plus, the World Cup continues and the ‘Extreme civil war’ rages on!