It’s 2002 and it’s time for World Championship Wrestling to enter a year they weren’t sure they’d ever see.
For the first time, they provide an episode of Nitro followed by an hour of new show AirTime in a week. And AirTime number one is live! The road to the first ever WCW Genesis PPV continues with a double scoop of action.
JANUARY 5, 2002: SATURDAY NITRO #35
Taped on January 3, the first to come from Atlanta, GA.
The Cat announced in a New Year’s Message on WCW.com that the year would kick off with a bang as 10-man action opened the first Nitro of 2002. It was supposed to be Sting, Ric Flair and the Triad vs The Chosen Few and Lance Storm. Jarrett came out with only CW Anderson, however, and said over the mic that The Chosen Few are no more.
He claims he created his own Horsemen and had them trample over the original and main Horseman, Ric Flair. But now the group are not operating as one and he is trimming the fat. He says he no longer needs an army of Horsemen – only an Enforcer. At that point, Los Guerreros come out and exchange words with the duo and shake hands, seemingly agreeing to join the squad before Storm then joins them in the ring.
The heels would pick up the win when the tag champions cheated to allow a Chavo belt shot to Bigelow followed by Eddie’s frog splash for the pin at 12:38. Earlier, Anderson slipped Jarrett his guitar only for Sting to cut the attack off, leaving Storm to pick up the weapon after the bell and smash it over Flair’s head.
The Jung Dragons, surprisingly, give a promo in perfect English saying their days of being oppressed and ridiculed are over. They say it’s time to become the champions they were destined to be since forming in the year of the dragon, 2000.
We suddenly cut elsewhere in the backstage area, where CW Anderson is beating on and manhandling Norman Smiley before dragging him to face Jeff Jarrett. Jarrett berates Smiley for ‘stealing’ an ‘unfair’ win over him before the duo complete a vicious beating.
The Dragons began their promise to start afresh by scoring a shocking upset over the Mamalukes, with Kaz reversing a Vito DDT attempt into a small package for the duke at 6:40. The heavyweight duo, who are often petitioning for a tag title match, tried to solve their embarrassment by beating the cruiserweights down afterwards only for York and Matthews to make the save.
The Cat is admonishing Jarrett and Anderson in his office, and he fines the pair of them five grand apiece. Suddenly, a commotion outside distracts all of them which turns out to be their former stablemates Mark Jindrak and Shane Douglas brawling in the corridor with Torrie screaming at them both. Jeff and CW break up the brawl on Cat’s orders, but have little else to do with their former comrades.
Sean O’Haire continued to prove himself a fighting champion early into his United States title reign with a successful defense against Buff Bagwell. Sean ducked out of a Blockbuster and quickly followed up with a Seanton in 7:53. His celebrations were halted by Mike Awesome, however, who kept it short and sweet after his arrival by saying he wasn’t beaten at Starrcade and that he’ll end this ‘fighting champion’ deal before it even properly begins. O’Haire appears to accept.
The commentators plug the debut of AirTime this coming Wednesday and run down the card: Super Crazy and Tajiri will defend the cruiserweight tag team titles, Psicosis will make his WCW television return, and in the main event, AJ Styles defends his cruiserweight title against former champ Elix Skipper.
AJ is interviewed backstage by Mean Gene about the rematch and the debut of AirTime, but is soon cut off by former partner Air Paris who has a title shot in the bag following the Starrcade pre-show. He says he hopes Styles retains… because taking the belt from him will be so much sweeter.
We cut to the locker rooms where Dustin Rhodes continues to mentor America’s Most Wanted.
Rhodes, AMW and Johnny B Badd then defeated Glenn Gilbertti Enterprises after Gilbertti tried to interfere and ended up decking his own man, Guido Maritato, with brass knuckles, before Badd laid out Glenn and pinned the FBI member in 8:11. Maritato and Marinera were so furious they walked out on their manager, Simon Diamond and Swinger after the bout.
A pre-tape featuring Jamie Knoble and David Kash hanging out at a trailer park sees them declare themselves the top contenders to the cruiser tag titles. They say they’re on holiday and unavailable to cash in at AirTime, but want whoever wins that bout at the next pay-per-view.
A video package looks at Goldberg’s return to prominence in 2001, including his brief world title reign and the fact he has another world title shot to come after winning the brutal war with Scott Steiner.
Triple X defeated York, Matthews and Lash Leroux in six-man action with a triple-team suplex to Lash in 7:09, before Skipper cut a promo saying that they dominated the cruiserweight division in 2001 but will dominate WCW entirely in 2002. He promises to regain his title against Styles on AirTime’s debut but says XXX will also prove they’re the best trio, period. Any weight class, any style of wrestling – they can beat them.
Another Rey Misterio return video reveals he will be at the debut of AirTime!
Finally, two feuds intertwined as RVD and Billy Kidman main evented against Booker T and Shane Helms. The commentary team revealed during this one that the two singles pairings from Starrcade would face off again at Genesis, in a world title rematch and the Best of Seven series respectively.
A furious world champion went after Booker at every chance following the brutal assault last week but only hurt his ribs further, leaving a chance for Helms and T to double-team Kidman and a Book-End to finish off Billy in 14:21. The heels posed and taunted before a wounded Van Dam chased them away with a chair to end the broadcast.
Card so far for WCW Genesis:
- WCW World title: Rob Van Dam vs Booker T
- WCW United States title: Sean O’Haire vs Mike Awesome
- Best of Seven Series: Billy Kidman vs Shane Helms
JANUARY 9, 2002: AIRTIME DEBUT
It is time for the very first WCW AirTime.
One of the company’s biggest burdens in the old days was the mandated addition of Thunder to their line-up. While there’s a hope that the company does not make the same mistake twice, there’s also a belief that the company’s current business model can withstand an additional hour on top of a two hour flagship show better than the previous madhouse handled a total of five live hours a week.
Not only that, but Eric Bischoff’s vision of cruiserweight action is getting its biggest spotlight yet as the focal point of the secondary show. On tap for the debut episode are two cruiser title matches and the return of Rey Misterio… mask and all, it seems?
Airing live from Orlando.
WCW’s new, midweek, cruiserweight-orientated show kicked off with a bang as Billy Kidman defeated Shane Helms to take a 2-1 lead in their Best of Seven Series. As the two once again traded roll-ups and pin attempts, Helms’ attempt to cheat with the ropes was this time seen by the ref and after he admonished ‘Sugar’ Shane, Kidman caught him in a flash small package for the win in 10:34.
Psicosis made his singles return to WCW with an impressive win over Kid Romeo, finishing him off with his trademark top rope legdrop at the 6:32 mark.
Guido Maritato and Tony Marinera said backstage they were done with Glenn Gilbertti and his stable after broken promises galore. Then, almost as soon as they were done with him, The Cat called them and offered them a cruiserweight tag title shot on AirTime. They claim that this proves GG is nothing but bad luck.
Their bad luck continued, however, as Crazy and Tajiri retained the belts against the FBI in a back-and-forth tag encounter after a Buzzsaw Kick followed by a Crazy moonsault to Marinera in 9:24.
A video reveal detailed April’s all-new PPV concept – the World Cup of Wrestling is returning to WCW, and as its own sub-branded event! Not much else was revealed other than the fact that Japan, Mexico and the USA would be three of the nations taking part.
Finally, AJ Styles proved he was no Starrcade fluke by defying the odds to retain the belt against former champ Elix Skipper. By ‘odds’, that meant co-ordinated interference from both Daniels and Low Ki to evade the ref’s line of sight which gave Skipper two huge near falls.
At a point when the numbers and the cheating appeared too much for the new champ to overcome, an explosion of pyro near the ramp marked the return of Rey Misterio Jr – back in a mask – as he ran down to attack Ki and Daniels. This allowed Styles to fight back in the ring and win with a Pele kick followed by a springboard 450 at 16:47. Styles and Rey celebrated in the ring to close a memorable first AirTime.
Next time: The Best Of Seven Series continues! And RVD and Booker T set the stipulations for their World title rematch!