MAY 8, 2002: AIRTIME #18
With Team Japan in ecstasy and the Mexico and Italy contingents experiencing internal strife after coming up short at the World Cup, more fallout from the tournament is expected this week on the fast-paced cruiserweight show. The US team seems far more at peace despite coming up short, with the team imploring Kidman to resume his beef with Shane Helms now his captain duties have concluded.
However the entire company cannot get their heads around the conclusion to Nitro where GGE shockingly and inexplicably assaulted the owner of the company, Eric Bischoff! We may get some of the aftermath tonight, too.
Taped on May 7 in Orlando, along with the following Nitro.
Juventud Guerrera kicked off the hour with victory in a four-way, one-fall contest which included Jason Jett, Christopher Daniels and Air Paris. Paris landed on his feet when Juvi rolled away from a Lionsault only to walk straight into a somersault lariat from the apron by Jett. Daniels sent Jason and himself outside and Guerrera hit the Juvi Driver on Paris for the win in 9:43.
He then took the mic and said unlike some people, he knows he is a cruiserweight and the best in the division at that. He wants a title shot and will beat everyone else around if he has to.
WCW champion Lance Storm is interviewed backstage. He says the American conspiracy to get the belt off him as quickly as possible is so desperate, they’ll even accept a Japanese wrestler over a Canadian. He says Tajiri may have won the World Cup and earned the sway to force the champ here to this ‘second-rate’ show for a title defense, but Storm claims the only story from Toronto was the main event and he’ll prove why tonight.
Kid Romeo and the FBI declare in a pre-tape that Italy lost the World Cup purely because of Red. They say without the weak link, they’ll go on to great things and will soon own all three cruiser title belts.
Sonny Siaki and Jorge Estrada defeated Bryan Danielson and Brian Kendrick after jumping their opponents before the bell and never looking back. Estrada pinned Kendrick with a swinging fisherman’s suplex in 3:36.
Super Crazy and Psicosis confirmed backstage via a Spanish interviewer and subtitles that they would be pursuing tag team glory as a unit after their strong showings during the World Cup. They add that singles cruiser glory remains in their sights, but the tag belts will also be theirs.
The interview is cut short by a fracas nearby, as it turns out Jamie Knoble and David Kash are viciously assaulting the Jung Dragons. They take a lead pipe to Yang’s shoulder before Crazy and Psicosis run them off. The Cat comes and checks on Yang with the trainers, looking furious at what happened. Stacy Keibler follows and seems to want to discuss an idea with Cat that the Commish fled from upon hearing about the attack. Cat tells her they can discuss it later.
The commentators speculate if Cat/Stacy’s discussion pertained to GGE’s shock attack on WCW owner Eric Bischoff. They go to a video recap of the Nitro ending and presume that surely, Gilbertti and his goons will be fired for their actions.
Finally, the WCW World title match between Lance Storm and Tajiri, set up by Tajiri’s World Cup-winning title shot of his choosing, brought a huge buzz with it. The first time the belt was defended on AirTime was a 18:54 action-packed tussle but ultimately, an errant Buzzsaw Kick striking the turnbuckles early in the bout left Tajiri’s leg vulnerable and after a few very close calls, Storm avoided the defeat and got the tap with the Maple Leaf.
MAY 11, 2002: SATURDAY NITRO #53
Tonight we hear from Rob Van Dam for the first time after his WCW title defeat in Toronto to Lance Storm. Perhaps more ominously, we will hear from WCW management regarding the shocking conclusion to the last Nitro, where Glenn Gilberti Enterprises looked far from the somewhat goofy faction they’ve been for the last year when they assaulted the owner of the company, Eric Bischoff, seemingly without provocation. It’d take something special for the entire crew to keep their jobs.
This week’s edition kicks off with a big time singles encounter as Sting does battle with Booker T. The two put together an engrossing contest, and the Stinger rallied after lengthy Booker control, the turning point coming when Sharmell was caught trying to interfere and sent to the back.
However, the sight and sounds of Dustin Rhodes and Shane Douglas brawling out from backstage distracted fans and commentators alike during Sting’s comeback and as they fought at ringside, Booker kicked Sting off a Scorpion Deathlock attempt to send his opponent flying out of the ring and onto Rhodes and Douglas. The bell was called at the 14:00 mark as the four men brawled with each other until security broke it up.
We cut to Cat’s office where, unlike his regular announcements of matches and the like, his tone is far more formal and the atmosphere a lot more tense. He addresses the controversy last week where WCW owner Eric Bischoff was prevented from attending the one year re-birthday anniversary by a vicious gang attack by Glenn Gilbertti Enterprises.
He says Bischoff is banged up but recovering at home, and will address WCW live via telephone later. He also says he and Bischoff were in agreement that Gilbertti and all his charges were to be fired for their unprovoked assault on their boss. However, this was blocked by the rest of the WCW ownership, who invested in the company late last year to help keep the company going forward.
At this time, Cat says neither he nor Bischoff know why the consortium has taken this stance, and Bischoff is adamant that the group contains someone who doesn’t like him who ordered the attack, in hopes of a power grab. Cat says all he knows for now is that as Commissioner, GGE’s actions will be dealt with in-ring and Cat promises to make them wish they were fired.
As advertised last week, we’re joined by Rob Van Dam to address the loss of his World title at the last PPV. He says that in Toronto, Lance Storm rode the support of his native fans and beat him fair and square. RVD says it stung to lose the belt, but after some meditation and time to weigh things up, he isn’t upset – he’s cool, he’s calm and he’s ready for his rematch and that’ll happen at Slamboree.
He says Cat made a match earlier this week for tonight: RVD and two partners vs Storm and two partners. Whomever’s side wins, that man picks the type of match the return bout will be. He finishes by warning Lance that he still has the edge over Storm in all their WCW encounters to date, and that if Storm wants to prove he’s the better man and THE man in WCW, he’ll have to beat R…V…D, one…more…time.
WCW tag champs Los Guerreros defeated Shawn Stasiak and Mark Jindrak in non-title action. Though a serious chance for the ‘bromance’ to earn a real shot at the belts with a win here, the bout featured plenty of laughs thanks to the goofy title hopefuls and the conniving titlists. Chavo sprayed some of Stasiak’s own spray tan into his eyes which led to an Eddie roll-up for the three in 6:48.
Jeff Jarrett and CW Anderson are shown meeting with Father James Mitchell. Jarrett says he’s willing to make a deal with the devil himself to take care of DDP, Kanyon and Sean O’Haire all in one go tonight. He asks Mitchell: “So, devil… do we have a deal?” Mitchell smiles and shakes JJ’s hand.
Jamie Knoble and David Kash tell Mean Gene that the Jung Dragons have been poking two mean dogs with sharp sticks for weeks with their “fluke” wins in “meaningless” matches and that Yang got what he had coming. Knoble and Kaz go one-on-one later.
Rey Mysterio recovered from a sneak attack at the bell from his opponent David Young and blitzed the new face with fast offense before turning his old through-the-ropes dodge into a ‘619’ kick and following up with a springboard huricanrana for the pin in 2:27.
Afterwards he takes the mic and says his commitment to his cruiserweight heritage has been questioned, but the fact is that he’ll take on heavyweights from David Young to Kevin Nash and cruisers from Juventud Guerrera to AJ Styles – and regardless of who is put in front of him, he reiterates that his end goal is to challenge Styles for the cruiserweight title. He says AJ has helped bring back the glory days of the division and he wants to test the new king.
Backstage, Lance Storm is in his dressing room and says that it’s a travesty that Canada didn’t have a team in their home World Cup last month and he is going to make sure that error isn’t allowed to repeat itself next year. However, with no worthy Canadian athletes by his side just yet, he says a couple of Americans who share his values and integrity will do for tonight’s six man.
With that, in walks his former stablemate Elix Skipper and Skipper’s partner Christopher Daniels. XXX say they’ll help ensure Storm is WCW champion for some time to come, and prove themselves worthy of a tag title shot in the process.
Jeff Jarrett and CW Anderson made their way out for their six-man tag. The lights went out and a red spotlight plus sinister new theme music brought out Father James Mitchell and a new-look Mike Awesome, in a combination of his regular shiny black trunks, his old Gladiator facepaint and a gothic-looking cape. The trio beat DDP, Kanyon and Sean O’Haire when the aggressive Awesome pinned the US champ with a top rope splash in 13:10 after Jarrett smashed a guitar over Sean’s head.
Van Dam tells Mean Gene backstage that he isn’t surprised Storm went with Skipper and Daniels. He picked two partners who always like to get their hands on XXX and two proteges of his from his ‘extreme’ days. With that, York and Matthews step into the frame and exchange high 5s with RVD.
Kaz Hayashi, without Jimmy Yang whose shoulder was damaged by the cruiser tag champs on AirTime, beat Jamie Knoble by DQ when Kash jumped in after 4:04. A 2-on-1 followed but as the heels prepared to injure Kaz’s shoulder as well, Tajiri rushed out and ran the duo off.
We cut to The Cat verbally tearing into a smug looking GGE in his office. Knowing their jobs are safe, the faction aren’t fazed by Cat’s dressing down even when Miller says three of them will face Dustin Rhodes and America’s Most Wanted later. Their tone changes, however, when Cat adds that they can pick whichever three members they want for the match – as long as one of them is Gilbertti himself.
It was Gilbertti, Simon Diamond and Johnny Swinger facing Rhodes and AMW. Gilbertti avoided combat at all costs, aside from the occasional brief beatdown on a hurt foe when his side were in control. A hot tag to Rhodes later, and Dustin’s team took out Simon and Swinger and forced a tag out to Gilbertti. Chuck Palumbo soon emerged and distracted the referee, allowing the Mamalukes to engage their rivals Harris and Black in a ringside brawl… and that in turn allowed Shane Douglas to hop the rail and wipe out Rhodes with a chain for the unthinkable pinfall defeat to Gilbertti after 9:21 of action.
The chaotic aftermath saw brawls continue, including Sting coming out to save his friends and get some more licks in on Douglas. This led to Booker T re-emerging to attack Sting and the four-way brawl from earlier re-ignited, with even Torrie and Sharmell getting into an argument outside!
Cat greets GGE as they head through the curtain, their smugness having resumed. After a long, furious stare, Cat tells Mamalukes they’ll face AMW once and for all at Slamboree, no DQ. He tells the rest he’ll deal with them later. He then tells Stacy Keibler to make sure Sting, Booker T, Dustin Rhodes and Shane Douglas are all made aware that they’ll be fined for their conduct throughout the evening – but will also face off in a four-way at Slamboree for a WCW World title shot.
Low Ki says in a pre-tape that his liberation from Triple X has breathed new life into his career and that he has one goal in his sights: the cruiserweight title. He says he’ll also be watching the Kidman/Helms street fight with interest, hoping Kidman gets revenge on Helms once and for all.
The come-as-you-are fight between Billy Kidman and Shane Helms was up next, and included many references to their battles over the last six months. Chairs, baking trays, trash cans and a table were all involved, with Kidman putting Helms through the wood with a SSP to the outside, only to be unable to get him back in the ring soon enough for more than 2.75.
Helms hit a desperation low blow, a la Spring Breakout, and went for the Vertebreaker just like back then. But Kidman powered back over and turned the Vertebreaker hoist seamlessly into a Kid Krusher onto the chair Helms himself was aiming for, and got his revenge after 12:29 of intensity! He removed an extra-thick groin protector afterwards, showing he had learned his lesson from before.
Kidman got the mic afterwards and added his name to the list of people wanting a shot at AJ Styles, only to be attacked by Helms with a bullrope/cowbell. Helms proceeded to choke out Kidman until AJ himself ran down and made the save… but was caught coming in with the cowbell and laid out with a Vertebreaker.
Joey Styles is live on the phone with Eric Bischoff, who confirms he is recovering at home after suffering a concussion, broken nose and bruised ribs. He says he had no idea last week why he’d be a target for GGE, but his co-owners’ vetoing of the attempt to fire them all makes it crystal clear in his opinion. He says the consortium is fronted by a few names he has very little history with, if any. But Eric says he knows for a fact there are silent backers and dares whoever it is who put a ‘hit’ out on him to have the balls to come forward and admit that they are making a power play.
He warns that won’t come without a fight, after all WCW has been through. He also warns Jeff Jarrett that if he has anything to do with this, to think twice. He knows GGE has been doing JJ’s bidding lately and he knows Jarrett likes to be the ‘Chosen One’, but hopes he learned his lesson from the ‘Chosen Few’ and steers clear of this power struggle.
We are then joined by Ric Flair in a surprise appearance. Flair documents his history with Bischoff and says he never liked the man, but he has no choice but to respect the fact that he admitted when he was wrong and committed to running WCW the right way – a way that has revived the company and restored their pride and prestige.
He says he may not be a full-time wrestler, but he’s still an ambassador and an employee and more importantly, he is WCW through and through. He warns GGE that if he has to punch Glenn Gilbertti in the mouth himself to get answers, he will.
In our main event, RVD, York and Matthews beat Lance Storm and XXX when Y&M hit their double-top-rope finish on Skipper for the three in 10:08. The action-packed tag saw York and Matthews once again get revenge on XXX, and means Van Dam chooses the terms for his PPV title rematch with the champion.
Van Dam took the mic as the heels retreated up the entranceway and said he won’t leave Storm in suspense about what their match will be. York and Matthews pulled a ladder out from under the ring and slid it in, where RVD set it up, climbed to the top and did his signature pose as the fans chanted along to close the show.
Slamboree 2002 card so far:
- WCW World title, ladder match: Lance Storm (c) vs Rob Van Dam
- WCW Cruiserweight title: AJ Styles (c) vs Shane Helms
- WCW Cruiserweight tag titles: Knoble and Kash (c) vs Jung Dragons
- For a WCW title shot: Sting vs Booker T vs Dustin Rhodes vs Shane Douglas
- No Disqualification: America’s Most Wanted vs The Mamalukes
Next time: Will we discover the identity of the silent partner(s) co-owning with Eric Bischoff? And, a game-changing raising of the stakes for the entire cruiserweight division!