While staring its own demise in the face in 2001, World Championship Wrestling reflected upon its own sins – but only worked through revenge and greed before the lights went out.
Thankfully, there was an unexpected resurrection, leading to a big bang. And, after managing to regroup all the components that made the promotion a success in the first place, entering 2002 after looking at one point as though they’d never see January 1 of that year marks a big moment in the WCW tapestry.
The ‘Genesis’ of a company that flirted with oblivion begins with this brand new PPV, main evented by two of WCW’s hottest new main eventers of the past 18 months when Booker T cashes in his rematch clause against WCW World champion Rob Van Dam with no disqualifications. The jaded ex-champion has used weapons to take his frustrations out on RVD in recent weeks, but a lawless wrestling match suits the new champ to a tee.
Elsewhere, there are new champions aplenty facing big tests early in their reigns. Sean O’Haire must prove himself as formidable in singles as he was as a tag team throughout 2001 when he defends the United States title against Mike Awesome. Los Guerreros face a reckoning against the team they dethroned for the tag team championships, DDP and Kanyon. Super Crazy and Tajiri’s odd-couple reign with the cruiser tag belts goes head-on with the vicious pairing of Knoble & Kash. And 2001’s breakout cruiserweight AJ Styles must defend the singles title against his former friend and partner, Air Paris.
How will the new WCW shape up in the new year with, as owner Eric Bischoff mentioned at the end of ’01, new financial backing?
JANUARY 27, 2002: WCW GENESIS: ATLANTA, GEORGIA
The pre-show opened with York and Matthews facing the Mamalukes in the Italian thugs’ speciality, a Sicilian Street Fight. Y&M show a surprising amount of aggression in the brawl which mostly sticks to the ring and features trash cans, kendo sticks and the usual props. They then shock the heels in their own match, putting JTB through a table with a double-team top rope splash/legdrop combo off the same turnbuckle for the win in 12:26.
Shane Douglas defeated Mark Jindrak in 6:46 with the Pittsburgh Plunge after Torrie Wilson showed her true colours and turned on Jindrak to return to her old charge ‘The Franchise’.
The pre-show ended with footage of Goldberg’s monster truck arriving at the arena!
Opening match: Billy Kidman vs Shane Helms
The PPV proper begins with part six in the Best of Seven Series. Down 3-2, Kidman must win tonight otherwise Helms wins the series with a match to spare and advances to a cruiserweight title match. Fortunately for Billy, he pulls it off and forces a decider in a long bout which plays off several of their previous finishes.
Having missed one SSP and found nothing but knees on another, Kidman finally lands his famous move after clinging onto the ropes to block an attempted swinging neckbreaker from the top, sending Shane crashing down on his own and into perfect position for the finish at 19:17.
Dustin Rhodes and America’s Most Wanted vs Triple X
Dustin and AMW beat Triple X after mis-communication between Skipper and Ki left the latter wide open to a Death Sentence and pin by Black after 7:50. The heels argued afterwards but appeared to resolve things and left together – though defeat certainly took the wind out of their ‘best trio in WCW’ argument.
Rey Misterio Jr vs Shawn Stasiak
The re-masked Misterio summoned his old ‘giant killer’ roots by defeating the much larger Shawn Stasiak clean with a top rope huracanrana in 5:41. The result infuriated Stacy Keibler, who stormed off leaving the ‘Mecca of Manhood’ all alone in the ring.
WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team Championship: Super Crazy & Tajiri (c) vs Jamie Knoble & David Kash
Knoble and Kash defeated Crazy and Tajiri to become the NEW cruiserweight tag team champions, using the ring bell during a ref distraction to steal the belts as Knoble pinned Crazy at the 11:32 mark after Kash’s timely shot.
WCW Cruiserweight Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs Air Paris
AJ Styles finally found closure against Air Paris, retaining the cruiserweight title with a Styles Clash followed by Paris’s own Asai Moonsault, a receipt for the personal touch from his former partner 24 hours ago, after 9:45.
WCW World Tag Team Championship: Los Guerreros (c) vs Diamond Dallas Page & Kanyon
DDP and Kanyon attempted to ensure both tag titles changed hands on the night, in their return match vs Los Guerreros. However just as it looked like a win was on the cards for the former titlists, Eddie used a steel chair to break up Kanyon’s cover on Chavo post-Flatliner for a deflating DQ at 10:22. The two sides proceeded to brawl all the way to the back.
WCW United States Championship: Sean O’Haire vs Mike Awesome
O’Haire, still feeling the beatdown from Mike Awesome 24 hours prior, retained his United States title in a big man slugfest against Awesome with the Seanton Bomb in 8:36.
As he celebrated his win, however, he was interrupted by the appearance of his former tag team championship partner Chuck Palumbo – with a new short haircut and wearing denim and leather – on the stage! No words were spoken between the two as they locked eyes, and Palumbo’s glare seemed far from congratulatory.
Tag Team Grudge Match: Ric Flair & Sting vs Jeff Jarrett & Lance Storm
Jarrett and Storm beat Flair and Sting after CW Anderson ran down to distract Sting as he had Storm in the Scorpion Deathlock. Flair was the legal man, however, and when Sting knocked CW off the apron and beat him down at ringside, Jarrett lamped Flair with his guitar as the ref ejected Anderson. Storm then put the Maple Leaf on an out-cold Nature Boy while Jarrett kept Sting at bay and the ref called it via stoppage at the 16:12 mark.
WCW World Championship, No Disqualifications: Rob Van Dam (c) vs Booker T
Finally, RVD saw off Booker T once and for all in their lawless return bout for the WCW title. Unlike your typical hardcore plunderfest (for instance, the pre-show Sicilian Street Fight) this bout saw a lot of relatively-restrained and creative usage of weapons etc.
There were a few minutes out by the merchandise stands, and Van Dam in the spot of the match countered another announce table Book End attempt mid-move into a DDT. RVD retained the belt with a stunning Van Terminator at 21:29.
As RVD celebrated, the music of Goldberg hit and the man himself made his return to a WCW ring… and after staring down the champion, he extended a hand and the two shook. They celebrated together and posed for the fans to close the show, but it’s only a matter of time before Goldberg cashes in the title bout he earned at Starrcade.