JUNE 19, 2002: AIRTIME #24
The Great American Bash showdown between WCW cruiserweight champion and breakout star of the new era AJ Styles and junior heavy legend Rey Mysterio is a bona fide dream match. Tonight, the two men take part in a face-to-face interview hosted by Mike Tenay. Plus, Tajiri, Juventud Guerrera and Billy Kidman square off in a three-way match based off each man’s recent claims to be deserving of a future shot at the title AJ and Rey will contest at the PPV.
Taped on June 18, along with the following Nitro, in Atlanta.
In a No Disqualification match, The Amazing Red finally beat Kid Romeo. The FBI attempted to get involved but were neutralised by the Maximos. An Infra-Red through Romeo and a table got the three-count at 11:36 and completed Red’s redemption.
Jason Jett arrives in street clothes and says Shane Helms has been trying to damage his friendship with Shannon Moore ever since Slamboree. He says if Helms has a problem with him, come out right now and they’ll settle this. Helms eventually arrives on the stage, removes his jacket as if he will indeed fight Jett tonight… then thinks twice and walks backstage.
The much-hyped three way dance between Kidman, Tajiri and Juventud Guerrera was an action packed encounter which all three came close to winning several times. Ultimately, there was no winner thanks to the interference of New Church’s Tempest, getting the bout thrown out.
Tempest hit moves on all three with the elements of surprise and freshness working in his favour, before he intimated that he too wants to be cruiserweight champion. The angered competitors recovered and started pinballing Tempest around with kicks and forearms, which led to Sinn, Slash and Mike Awesome arriving on the scene on James Mitchell’s orders to destroy all three of them. The no-contest was officially called at the 8:28 mark.
Mike Tenay hosts a face-to-face interview with cruiserweight champ AJ Styles and his GAB challenger, Rey Mysterio. It starts off respectful as the two gush over each other’s credentials but soon enough, Saturday Nitro comes up and things get heated. AJ tells Rey that just because he used to hold the belt and he found his old mask doesn’t mean he’s better than AJ, and that’s the line that leads to a pull-apart scene thanks to security on hand.
Finally, Triple X teamed with Knoble and Kash to beat the Jung Dragons, Super Crazy and Psicosis. A Daniels distraction allowed Skipper to low blow his way out of Unleash the Dragon, but after hitting Play of the Day on Yang, Kash blind tagged in and Knoble cheapshotted both members of XXX before watching out for Crazy and Psicosis – still bent out of shape from a sequence of dives to the floor – as Kash pinned Yang at 13:45.
JUNE 22, 2002: SATURDAY NITRO #59
The main event of the 2002 Great American Bash is set, and it’s a doozy: Rob Van Dam defending the WCW title against Sting in a first-time-ever bout, with sterling support from another dream match, AJ Styles vs Rey Mysterio. With just eight days until the marquee WCW event, it remains to be seen what else we’ll see on the show – as well as what will happen with regards to GGE, Jeff Jarrett and Mr. Wrestling III.
Glenn Gilbertti is alone in the ring as this week’s Nitro begins. He says he’d like to publicly apologise to Eric Bischoff, Ernest Miller and all of WCW for the actions of his clients and himself over the last few months. He explains that his crew needed more marquee matches and stiffer competition than they received in 2001 so he devised a scheme to turn his squad into wanted men and make them the talk of the town.
He admits they’ve earned a few ass kickings because of this but they’ve served their punishments, in-ring and out, and have proven themselves as top level competitors worthy of big matches as a result. He finishes by saying he hopes that the company will realise enough is enough as far as exacting revenge on GGE is concerned, and that his men look forward to continuing to take on the best WCW has to offer in big bouts going forward. Nobody in the building is buying it, but Gilbertti leaves as serious and as sincere-looking as he arrived.
The first bout of the night sees Sinn, Slash and Tempest of the New Church defeat Sean O’Haire, Mark Jindrak and Shawn Stasiak. The Natural Born Thrillers reunion again popped the crowd but didn’t get a result, with Father James Mitchell throwing powder into O’Haire’s eyes to take him out of the equation and leave Stasiak wide open for a double DDT by Sinn and Slash for the pin at 7:58. O’Haire received medical attention after the bout, still struggling to see clearly out of both eyes.
In a changing room backstage, Kidman and Tajiri are watching what just unfolded. Juventud Guerrera comes in and starts raging at both, saying he was robbed of a surefire win over both of them on AirTime. Kidman shuts him up and says who knows who would have won, because the New Church is attempting to muscle in on the cruiserweight and tag title scenes as well as having the US title. Kidman says the three of them may be rivals and not like each other, but they need to stand together when under attack from guys like the Church. Tajiri says he agrees. Juventud waves them both off and leaves in a huff.
It was Kaz Hayashi vs Elix Skipper vs Jamie Knoble vs Psicosis in a four-way singles match to preview the elimination bout for the cruiser tag belts at the Bash. Unlike the GAB encounter, this was a one-fall showdown. Skipper dodged a spin kick from Kaz that left the title co-holder with a foot caught in the ropes, then blindsided Knoble after he blasted Psicosis with a tiger driver to steal the pin at 7:24, turning the tables on what happened in last week’s AirTime eight-man.
In the trainer’s room, O’Haire is having his eyes checked out and flushed out with water when Lance Storm enters, apparently for a previously-scheduled check to clear him to compete after ladder and cage wars for the world title in recent weeks. Storm, clearly in a foul mood due to losing the title back to RVD, throws a fit about having his scheduled meeting with the trainer jolted by emergency treatment for Sean. “He can’t see,” proclaims the trainer. “Oh yeah? Can he see this?” says Storm before superkicking O’Haire as he sits with his injured eyes covered.
Eddie Guerrero defeated Chris Harris with help from his devious co-champion and nephew Chavo despite the presence of James Black at ringside as well. Chavo pulled off the old ‘hook rival’s leg during a suplex attempt’ to put his uncle on top for a pinfall at 6:44, during which Chavito continued to hold down the foot of Harris. The belief continues to be that Los Guerreros are always one step ahead of America’s Most Wanted and that AMW have a mountain to climb if they’re to finally become tag team champions at the Bash.
We cut to scenes backstage where Mike Awesome and Chris Kanyon are brawling. The rest of the New Church belatedly arrive and hold Kanyon for their main man to punch and kick at will, until Kidman and Tajiri come to help out. The numbers soon throw things back the Church’s way until Juventud Guerrera shows up swinging a steel chair and forcing a retreat. Perhaps Juvi isn’t quite the ‘Lobo Solitario’ he had been claiming in recent weeks.
Shane Douglas is with Torrie Wilson and clutching a dog collar chain in a pre-tape. He says he and Dustin Rhodes aren’t that different. Early 90s blue chippers, chewed up and spat out by promoters “up North” and now back in WCW as elder statesmen as the new wave of talent arrives in droves. And yet, in another sense they’re nothing alike, he claims.
He says he despises the goody-two-shoes ‘common man’ he and his “entire stinkin’ family” represent. When wrestling chewed Douglas up and spat him out, he claims he got back up, jumped back down the throat and kicked it right in the tonsils. He will tread on anyone to get ahead, get the titles, get the money and get the girl while Rhodes wants everyone to think he does things by the book.
One problem: at the Great American Bash there are no rules. Just two men who hate each other and a big heavy chain attached to their necks. Nice guys don’t just finish last in the Franchise’s realm, warns Douglas – they finish in the hospital.
WCW.com hyped AJ Styles taking on Rey Mysterio in a ‘dream partner’ tag match tonight. Mysterio arrived alongside Super Crazy, his Team Mexico comrade. The cruiserweight champion, rather cunningly, selected rival/friend and former Mysterio tag team partner Billy Kidman. Kidman, a little banged up from an altercation with the New Church earlier, was still good to go and had great exchanges with the man he once held both versions of the WCW tag titles with.
Styles-Mysterio didn’t happen until around the 10-minute mark, but as the two squared off, Tempest of the New Church yanked Kidman off the apron, which caught the attention of the other three competitors. The match eventually continued after Tempest was run off, but he had done enough behind the ref’s back to leave Kidman hurt clutching his knee at ringside, and even the champion struggled in a 2-on-1, eventually succumbing to a Crazy sitout powerbomb/ Rey senton press from the top combo, with #1 contender Rey getting the fall at 11:37.
We hear for the first time in a little while from York and Matthews, who understandably sound frustrated. After a great run of form in the spring, they tried and failed to unseat Los Guerreros and after that, they’re suddenly struggling to get booked on TV. They say they’re starting to feel a little sick and tired of the wrestling business at present, and perhaps they really should pack it in if they cannot claim gold in 2002.
Though Swinger curiously gave Booker T the easiest win of his career last week, Cat responded by forcing him to follow in his partner’s footsteps and battle Diamond Dallas Page. DDP was of course happy to make the bout much more physical for Swinger than last week, and would go on to win with the Cutter at 5:51. He was jumped immediately after the bout by Booker, however, as Sharmell shouted encouragement from ringside and handed her man a chair to deliver the final blow. The commentary team speculated on T’s link with GGE, given the events of the last couple of Nitros.
Dustin Rhodes is on his family’s property in a pre-tape interview. He says his entire WCW career has been one war after another. He and Shane Douglas go back a long way but unlike in 1991 when the two had a lot in common, he says he despises what the Franchise stands for now. At the Bash – an event steeped in tradition – Rhodes promises to teach Douglas the error of his ways in a brutal, bloody, life-changing manner. He finishes by saying a Dog Collar match is fitting because he’s going to beat Shane like a dog and rub his nose in a puddle of his own blood.
Rob Van Dam was teamed with Sting to face the Mamalukes in a bout which resembled those a few months ago, when world champ RVD attempted to co-exist with another challenger he respected in Goldberg to take on Vito and Johnny The Bull. After Gilbertti’s speech earlier, the Mamalukes did indeed take the bout very seriously and seemed up for the high-profile challenge, with no stablemates lurking around ringside including Gilbertti himself.
However, Van Dam and Sting showed little sign of being opponents in a huge world title bout just eight days from now as they worked together well, overcame heat on RVD and won via a Sting Deathlock on JTB at the 12:10 mark. Afterwards, as the two celebrated their win, the ref handed Rob his belt – and Sting snatched it away from him, leading to a close-up staredown as intense as the one they had from distance at the end of last week’s show.
Finally, we’re treated to a surprise appearance from Ric Flair. The Nature Boy apologises for taking up TV time, but he has something to get off his chest. He implores all of us to disregard Gilbertti’s apology from earlier. Flair says it’s utter BS that they were just goofing around and making a name for themselves, and he doesn’t know if it’s Jeff Jarrett or Booker T or someone else running around as Mr. Wrestling III, but something is going down and he won’t stop until he gets rid of “scumbags” like Gilbertti and his benefactor.
This brings Glen, alone, to the stage. He tries to convince Flair he was sincere, and recent matches are what they wanted: DDP vs Simon, DDP vs Swinger, RVD and Sting vs the Mamalukes. Flair cuts him off and reminds Glenn that he had Chuck Palumbo lay him out recently. What match was that for? He’s as good as retired! He says if Gilbertti is sincere, then prove it and reveal to the world the identity of Mr. Wrestling III. Gilbertti swears he has no idea who it is, claiming it’s a rogue freelancer.
Flair keeps demanding an answer and Gilbertti feigns ignorance, giving MW3 the chance to sneak into the ring behind Flair – brandishing a Jeff Jarrett guitar, no less. He waits for the fans to warn Ric to turn around and then brings the six stringer crashing over Flair’s skull. The masked man quickly attempts to flee through the crowd – and it’s none other than Chuck Palumbo who helps him escape. The announcers scream about the undeniable proof that there’s a conspiracy afoot in WCW as the show ends.
WCW Great American Bash 2002 card so far:
- WCW World title: Rob Van Dam (c) vs Sting
- WCW World tag titles: Los Guerreros (c) vs America’s Most Wanted
- WCW Cruiserweight title: AJ Styles (c) vs Rey Mysterio
- WCW Cruiserweight tag titles: Jung Dragons © vs Jamie Knoble and David Kash vs Super Crazy and Psicosis vs Elix Skipper and Christopher Daniels
- WCW United States title: Mike Awesome (c) vs Chris Kanyon
- Diamond Dallas Page vs Booker T
- Dog Collar Chain match: Dustin Rhodes vs Shane Douglas
Next week: Great American Bash weekend! What twists and turns will take place 24 hours before the PPV?