JULY 24, 2002: AIRTIME #29
The week of truth is upon us. One AirTime and one Nitro left until BATB 2002 decides who is in charge. Will it be Bischoff’s way or Russo’s revolution? Who will fill out the rest of their eight-man squads? Can Ric Flair handle the pace after four months inactive? And who will face RVD for the WCW title at the PPV, not to mention Jeff Jarrett’s own mystery opponent match with his own title shot hanging in the balance?
We were set to begin the cruiser hour with a return match between Knoble and Kash and the Briscoes, but the angered brothers took the fight to the former cruiser tag champs as they made their way to the ring and a wild brawl spilled through the crowd between all four. No match.
Matt Bentley defeated Paul London in another confusing contest as Bentley appeared to hurt his knee during London’s comeback. After the Mike Awesome injury, the crowd and staff were concerned another unfortunate accident occurred and London even showed some concern of his own, helping his classmate up with the ref to the ropes… where he was low blowed by Bentley and superkicked for the three count at 10:25. Bentley was pretty proud of his disgusting actions as he picked up another win.
It is announced that there will be a cruiserweight tag team gauntlet on the Bash at the Beach pre-show, with the winning duo to face the Dragons/Guerreros winners.
Brian Kendrick is interviewed backstage about last week’s ‘Loser Leaves WCW’ bout and he gloats about Bryan Danielson being banished from the company and being forced to “work at a gas station in Washington” while stars like Bentley and himself will become world-renowned in WCW.
Kendrick then teamed with Juventud Guerrera to defeat Tajiri and the Amazing Red when Juvi caught Red mid-dive and turned it into a Juvi Driver at 8:47. Exchanges between Tajiri and Guerrera were limited but built towards their final singles bout at the PPV.
Los Guerreros tell Jeremy Borash backstage that their title win over the Dragons at the Bash is in the bag, and then they’ll claim their rematch for the heavyweight tag belts and unify the division.
As promised at the top of the show, we received an update on the US title situation. Cat says the one-night tournament ground to a halt when Shane Douglas had no semi opponent and then ruined the Rhodes/O’Haire semi as well.
He says he would punish The Franchise but realises that Rhodes threw the first punch and since things got out of control between the last three contenders, and since the entire one-night tournament ended up being an out-of-control mess, things will also be out of control at the PPV when Douglas, Dustin and O’Haire fight for the vacant title in a Triple Jeopardy match!
Finally, Chavo Guerrero beat Jimmy Yang with a Gory Special into a faceplant at 8:29 after Eddie lured Kaz into a brawl at ringside which gave Chavo the chance to use the cruiser tag belt his uncle had placed on the ring apron. Los Guerreros posed with the Dragons’ title belts as the show ended.
JULY 27, 2002: SATURDAY NITRO #64
We are 24 hours away from Bash at the Beach, what is set to be the most uncertain and unpredictable PPV of the new era. It’s refreshing, in a way, that things have only occasionally felt this chaotic since the spring of 2001 whereas WCW before then was sheer mayhem month after month. But Vince Russo wants a return to the wild days and if his team win the BATB main event, that’s exactly what will probably happen.
The broadcast begins from Cat’s office. He says it’s 24 hours until the fate of WCW and its future direction will be decided when co-owners Bischoff and Russo send their teams into battle for 1% of the other’s share to become the controlling owner. Behind him is a whiteboard with the known members of each side listed. Under ‘TEAM BISCHOFF’ reads “Sting, DDP, Kanyon, Mysterio, Kidman” while under ‘TEAM RUSSO’ reads “Palumbo, Diamond, Swinger, Skipper, Daniels”.
Cat says each side must make their final three members known to the Commish by the end of the night. He reiterated that the 8v8 main event will be one fall to a finish, but also that Cat will as special referee impose eliminations via DQ or countout. He warns Bischoff and Russo that their reputations precede them when it comes to dirty tricks and that if they try anything sneaky, it’ll probably end up doing them more harm than good.
Cat concludes by saying there will be a six-man main event tonight previewing the battle for control, and Bischoff and Russo will be able to select three team members… of the opposition.
The first match of the night dovetails two current rivalries as Tajiri teams with the Briscoe Brothers taking on Juventud Guerrera, Jamie Knoble and David Kash. Juvi was far from a welcome member of the redneck team and found himself frozen out of exchanges unless he forcibly tagged himself in. Knoble and Kash’s stubbornness would cost them as Juvi grew frustrated and walked out on his team, leaving a 3-on-2 that allowed Tajiri to creep in and wipe out legal man Kash with a Buzzsaw Kick before Mark draped an arm over for a second surprise three-count on the former cruiser tag champs at 7:48.
Tajiri will be pleased with the match-deciding impact he made having been kept out of the bout by Knoble and Kash’s dirty tricks and referee deception for the most part, but that happiness was soon erased when Guerrera snuck back in and nailed him with a spinning heel kick before escaping the wrath of Jay Briscoe.
Cameras find Vince Russo in the hallways speaking to Lance Storm and Booker T. He reminds the two of their impact in WCW main events since their ‘World champion vs triple crown champion’ bout back in the summer of 2000. He tells them how honoured he was to help them realise their full potential but he comes to them now asking them to return the favour to the man who gave them their main event breaks.
He says his S.E.X faction is three short for the 8vs8 thanks to The Mamalukes, Douglas, Helms and Moore being otherwise booked. He is extending a formal invitation to both of them to join S.E.X and promises they will be the focal point of the company once he is in control. Storm and Booker tell Russo they’ll give it some thought and get back to him.
Mean Gene is with Shane Douglas – who corrects the veteran interviewer and makes him call him “Franchise” Shane Douglas – and Torrie Wilson. Douglas says 2002 has been the year of redemption so far for the Franchise. He got his girl back, he got his standing as the main man back, and he says on Sunday he will get back the US title that Rick Steiner robbed from him without ever giving a rematch. Not only that, but he’ll get revenge on Dustin Rhodes in the process for the Dog Collar defeat at the GAB. Douglas says he doesn’t care whether he pins Dustin or Sean O’Haire to regain his title, but under Triple Jeopardy, anything goes rules, he’ll look forward to laying in the shots on Rhodes in particular.
Shane Helms and Shannon Moore, again with a drastic change to their clothing and apparently going by the name ‘The Rejected’, teamed with apparent SEX associates Los Guerreros to defeat their collective BATB opponents Super Crazy, Psicosis and the Jung Dragons. A Helms low blow behind the ref’s back allowed Eddie to finish off Yang with a brainbuster after 12:27 as the cruiser tag title challengers’ dominance over the champs in non-title bouts continued.
It should be noted that there was more than one awkward exchange between Chavo and Shannon on the ring apron, given their history. That said, it mostly came from Chavo as Moore was again almost entirely devoid of emotion out there. Crazy and Psicosis blasted Moore and Helms with stereo dives after the bell and beat them all the way backstage, while the Guerreros taunted the fallen champs with their own title belts.
Eric Bischoff addresses Russo in his backstage interview, saying how bored he is of hearing Vince take credit for things he didn’t create. He says that while Booker T and Lance Storm may not be the most popular athletes on the roster, they’re two of the hardest working and they’re also representative of what WCW is all about beyond the Turner era.
Bischoff adds that for the two of them to know which side of the line they fell on, all they had to do was hear Eric admit that both Bischoff and Russo made mistakes that nearly ended the company and hurt their careers. He tells Vince that unlike Russo, he can admit to his mistakes and learn from them and that’s why he’s proud to present the two newest members of Team Bischoff as Storm and Booker enter the frame.
A sneering Booker, with Sharmell by his side, immediately reminds Bischoff that he promised Book a title shot if they win the 8v8. Eric says he is a man of his word. Storm also asks if the freeze on future title shots until RVD loses the belt is also over so that he gets a shot as well. Bischoff says that was indeed the deal. The two walk off, having got what they wanted from the agreement. We then see Russo watching from the SEX changing room and blowing a gasket.
The camera inside SEX HQ then follows The Mamalukes out of it, at their insistence, as they use the screen time to challenge America’s Most Wanted to meet them in the parking lot later tonight if they want a preview of what it’s like to be taken out on a stretcher.
AJ Styles and Rey Mysterio defeated Elix Skipper and Christopher Daniels in a continuation of their ongoing issues. Styles pinned Daniels with the Clash in 12:24 – however, a great match was overshadowed by the first playing in a long time of familiar entrance music as Low Ki returned from injury! He stood on the stage, pointed at AJ and made title belt motions. No indication of whether he had re-aligned with XXX was apparent.
Jeff Jarrett and CW Anderson are discussing something backstage when Jarrett suddenly finds himself face-to-face with Russo. The tension is thick as Jeff barks “what do you want?” Russo says he is sorry that everyone thinks Jarrett has been on Team Russo all along this year but if he thinks about it, SEX is where he belongs.
He reminds JJ that he was 4x world champion under Russo’s rule and says he will be again if Vince wins tomorrow. He knows Jarrett has been frozen out of the main event but he’s here to ask for the services of CW Anderson. Jarrett points out that Russo hasn’t said a word to Jarrett since he walked out of the company at the end of 2000 and now suddenly he’s back here all friendly when he needs something, despite everything Jarrett has been accused of lately.
He says CW will NOT join Team Russo and that if he wants to prove to JJ and CW that he wants them as his top men, he’ll go and win BATB without them and then make good on his promises rather than running over here with his tail between his legs because Storm and Booker turned him down. Vince “swears tah gawd, bro” that he was coming over here even if they said yes, as he needs three men and he wants Storm, Book and CW.
Jarrett coldly replies “well, you still need three and you have about an hour to find them”. Russo goes to leave, but stops to say one more thing: how about he proves that he is all-in on Jarrett and strongly recommends to Cat that he book Jarrett vs RVD, non-title, tonight – giving Jeff the chance to prove he can beat the champ even if Eric and Cat won’t let him challenge for the title at the moment. Jeff says that’d actually be a good start.
Dustin Rhodes cuts a promo backstage emphasising just how much he represents the ‘old school’ and tradition in WCW. That means someone like Shane Douglas – especially now he’s buddied up with Russo yet again in SEX – will always be a mortal enemy of someone like him. A Shane Douglas is also, says Rhodes, a mortal enemy of a Sean O’Haire; someone who represents the new school but who understands and respects the business unlike punks like Russo, Douglas and Wilson.
He says he’s spilt Douglas’s blood many times and will happily do so again to once again become US champ, and as far as O’Haire goes? Well, we’ll see whether old school or new school wants it just that little bit more and who is willing to sacrifice the most to be the champion.
The Mamalukes are waiting outside in the parking lot, wielding a trash can and a stickball bat. Here come AMW, also in street clothes and unarmed. Black catches Vito’s stick ball bat shot and JTB and Harris trade trash can shots as the brawl is on. It goes back and forth and is almost a five-minute match in itself, one that concludes thanks to Chuck Palumbo parking up an ambulance on the scene and helping the challengers lay out the champs with a tire iron.
Palumbo opens the doors as Vito and Johnny toss AMW into the back of the ambulance and Chuck drives them off, leaving The Mamalukes discussing going to the locker rooms to steal the title belts as they re-enter the arena.
An increasingly-panicked Russo is pacing the halls, seemingly waiting for someone to meet him. That someone ends up being Christian York and Joey Matthews, who ask him what he wants. He kisses Y&M ass, calling them the future of the tag team division and says he wants them on Team Russo for their first ever PPV main event.
York cuts him off, saying he knows he’s asking them out of desperation and that he didn’t care who they were until everyone else said no. Matthews then points out that Russo’s “direction” ended the career of Jason Jett and that’s not something they want to associate themselves with.
Vince is about to deny knowing about or condoning the spike Vertebreaker but is cut off mid-”swear tah gawd” as York and Matthews say they’d rather go through on their threat of leaving WCW without winning a single title than be champions under a man like Russo, and walk off.
Kanyon defeated Simon Diamond with the Flatliner in a 6:41 bout which saw Glenn Gilbertti’s attempted interference thwarted by Sting and his bat.
We see Father James Mitchell giving a ‘sermon’ of sorts to Tempest, Sinn and Slash of the New Church, declaring that their overlords will bless them with a new superpower to compensate for the untimely loss of their warrior Mike Awesome. He’s interrupted by a pair of shoes and a familiar voice that says in a thick New York accent: “is this where I come to sell my soul, Devil Man?” Mitchell smiles as we go to the adverts.
Back from the break, we do indeed have RVD vs Jeff Jarrett in non-title action. The announcers play up the fact that both men are in action tomorrow at the PPV against opponents who won’t be revealed until right before bell-time.
The two go back-and-forth but eventually a subtle but timely interjection by CW Anderson cuts off the Five Star and allows Jarrett to hit a Stroke off the second turnbuckle for a huge three-count over the reigning WCW champion at 15:55!
Though Jarrett needs to overcome his BATB challenge and prove he and CW didn’t ruin the GAB main event before Cat will seemingly let him near the title picture, his worthiness of a shot is hard to argue now.
And indeed, The Cat is in his office watching the end of the match and seems to know he has a tough situation on his hands now. A knock on the door is followed by the entrance of K-Krush, who Cat immediately chews out for such unprofessional behaviour after losing his debut last week.
Cat says it reflects badly on him when he was the one who brought him in. Krush is full of apologies and asks him for another chance at the PPV. Cat says he will give him another chance but tonight and the PPV are booked up so it’ll be next week on Nitro.
Sean O’Haire says BATB is his chance to right the wrongs of the New Church stealing the US title from him by winning Triple Jeopardy. But to become a 2-time champ, he has to walk through the eye of a storm in the form of Rhodes and Douglas and their blood feud, in a no-DQ environment.
He says nothing will stop him reclaiming the title he never should have lost. Not a blood feud, not a war between tradition and sports entertainment, not two other men, not five other men. He promises to be champion in 24 hours’ time.
Finally, we discovered the teams picked by Bischoff and Russo for each other in tonight’s six-man tag. Russo forced recent rivals DDP and Booker T to team up as well as Billy Kidman. Johnny Swinger came out first for the opposition alongside manager Glenn Gilbertti. Then the Cat came out and said that we may as well ring the bell because Bischoff rather craftily listed the team for Russo as “Swinger and whoever team members seven and eight are”. Cat says there seems to be no members so we’re stuck with a 3-on-1.
Russo comes out and says not so fast, because desperate men resort to desperate measures. With that, the New Church theme hits and it appears that not only are all three remaining members on Team Russo but Sinn and Slash will team with Swinger tonight.
The bout was as heated, given the stakes, as it was disjointed, given the makeshift teams. Kidman tried his best to stop Page and Booker resuming their hostilities while Swinger found it difficult to get along with the oddball duo from the New Church. Kidman reversed a powerbomb from Swinger into a facebuster and climbed the ropes for the Shooting Star Press. Sinn and Slash attempted to intervene but Page and Booker entered as one to wipe out the New Churchers to a pop before the SSP connected. Gilbertti pulled the ref out at two, however, for the DQ at 8:43.
Gilbertti decked the ref soon after as the other members of Team Russo, as well as Helms, Moore and The Mamalukes, rushed the ring. Sting, Kanyon and Rey soon joined and so did Crazy and Psicosis. Lance Storm belatedly walked down as the others brawled and merely pulled Booker to safety. The heels outnumbered the faces as Lance and Book walked to the back until they stopped and looked up at the screen, gave it some thought… and ran back down to a great reaction and joined in alongside their BATB allies.
It was still a numbers struggle, however… until Also Sprach Zarathustra hit the PA and out ran Ric Flair, of all people, armed with a couple of baseball bats to help the traditionalists finally clear the ring of SEX. Flair even went as far as to offer Storm and Booker a helping hand up before embracing with Sting and shaking hands with the others.
Crazy and Psicosis picked up chairs to ensure Team Russo didn’t return as the eight men in the ring, on Flair’s lead, held up the old Four Horsemen hand symbol on both hands, reading a total of eight. It looks like the teams are finally set in stone for Bischoff and Russo’s battle to control WCW!
Next time: Bash At The Beach 2002!