12 months ago, an old World Championship Wrestling staple returned to a warm reception as Sean O’Haire won the 2001 Battlebowl and foreshadowed his breakout as a singles star. Many fans were excited for the second post-rebirth instalment… though this year, there are some tweaks.
Another WCW trademark, the Lethal Lottery, put Battlebowl prospects into random pairings for tag team qualifiers last year. The eventual winner of the battle royal would then receive a WCW World title match.
These days, however, the company is in turmoil. Vince Russo has returned, having wormed his way into part-ownership with the money he basically stole while under contract in 1999 and 2000. After the events of Bash at the Beach, he claimed an additional 1% from Eric Bischoff to have the final say on day-to-day operations.
This year, a vicious assault from The New Church and new member Malice on reigning champion Rob Van Dam means the title is currently vacant. And WCW Commissioner The Cat’s skepticism over old friend Russo’s potential involvement in that and other shady dealings has led to him striking the deal that the 51% owner can handpick 10 Battlebowl entrants, if Cat is in charge of the other 10.
Also on the show, Dustin Rhodes and Shane Douglas add another chapter to their blood feud as ‘The Natural’ challenges ‘The Franchise’ for the United States title in a Last Man Standing match, while both sets of tag titles will be decided as S.E.X members must give the teams they dethroned under dubious circumstances their mandatory rematches. Meanwhile, Low Ki defending the Cruiserweight belt against AJ Styles and Jerry Lynn could well steal the show.
AUGUST 18, 2002: WCW BATTLEBOWL – Greenville, South Carolina
On the pre-show, we received word that The Briscoes were not medically cleared to compete against Knoble and Kash, and a cameraman caught a glimpse of Jeff Jarrett leaving Vince Russo’s office, shaking his hand as he went.
The pre-show contest saw new S.E.X recruit Matt Bentley pin The Amazing Red, reversing a roll-up and holding the tights for the win after 9:29.
Opening match: Jamie Knoble & David Kash vs The Briscoe Brothers
The PPV kicked off with Jamie Knoble and David Kash making their way out and demanding on the mic that they be declared the winners via forfeit. Just then, Los Guerreros’ music hit and out came Eddie and Chavo, still clearly steaming mad over the events surrounding the tag titles as of late.
Opening match: Jamie Knoble & David Kash vs Los Guerreros
Words were exchanged and we had a replacement match, won by Chavo with a brainbuster on Kash in 10:57. It generated the best reaction from the fans that Los Guerreros have received in ages, as they found themselves in the rare position of being the crowd favourites in a match… at least for tonight, anyway.
The American Dragon vs Brian Kendrick
The American Dragon, rumoured by many to be banished athlete Bryan Danielson in disguise, made Kendrick tap out to Cattle Mutilation in 8:17. Kendrick tried on several occasions to get the mask off, but was unsuccessful. Dragon’s identity for now remains a mystery, and his WCW career remains off to a perfect start.
Eight-man tag team grudge match: Psicosis, Juventud Guerrera, Super Crazy and Tajiri vs The Rejected and Triple X
The SEX team’s vicious side and constant cheating fired up the babyfaces when Crazy tagged in for the closing stretch, and the Insane Luchador even attempted to give Helms a taste of his own medicine by setting up a Vertebreaker – which would have been big trouble now the move is outlawed – but Skipper took out Crazy’s leg and then held the good leg down while Helms pinned Crazy for the cheap three count after 13:00.
The two sides continued to fight afterwards, with the faces fighting off the heels and blasting each of them with a dive to the outside on each side of the ring.
WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team Championship: The Full Blooded Italians (c) vs The Jung Dragons
The FBI held onto the belts they stole from the Dragons a few weeks ago when Glenn Gilbertti’s presence at ringside allowed Helms and Moore to run down. They took a dropkick each but it allowed the FBI to seize control and hit the double Rubik’s Cube on Kaz at the 14:48 mark to retain. Maritato and Marinera may not have intended to reunite with Gilbertti, but their recruitment into S.E.X. has certainly paid off early doors.
WCW Cruiserweight Championship: Low Ki (c) vs AJ Styles vs Jerry Lynn
A dazzling array of innovative three-way manoeuvres and fast-paced aerial offense, the finish came when Ki attempted another super Ki Krusher on Styles. AJ blocked and went for the superplex. The two went back and forth in a stalemate until Lynn springboarded onto the ropes from the apron and sunset-flip powerbombed Styles whilst simultaneously forcing the superplex on Ki before flipping over into a bridge which covered both for the pin after 17:03. The two defeated wrestlers showed respect to the new champ after what was a mind-blowing triangle match for what’s once again becoming one of the hottest properties in wrestling.
WCW World Tag Team Championship: Simon Diamond & Johnny Swinger (c) vs America’s Most Wanted
After fluking their way into title contention and snatching the belts away from AMW, the champs barely escaped the PPV with their prized possessions intact. Glenn Gilbertti threw Harris off the top rope before he could complete the Death Sentence on Simon, drawing the disqualification that saved the titles after 8:22 of action.
Dustin Rhodes ran off Gilbertti before a 3-on-2 could properly develop, but was jumped by Shane Douglas which led directly into…
WCW United States Championship, Last Man Standing: Shane Douglas (c) vs Dustin Rhodes
Rhodes fought back from the blindside start, until a chain shot brought us the first count of the match. Up at 7 but bleeding, Rhodes fought off several other counts via big moves and a steel chair before reversing a whip and sending Douglas headfirst into the chair in the corner and leaving both men busted open.
A brawl into the crowd followed before they returned back to the ring where Douglas set up a table. Just like the other week on Nitro, both men fell through at the same time. As the count got to 7, Torrie Wilson dragged Douglas out of the ring where he was returned to his feet on the floor without actually having to get up. At 9, that was enough to keep Shane as champ after 18:32 as he barely stood while leaning on the apron. Meanwhile, Rhodes struggled to get off his stomach in the ring.
Battlebowl 2002 for the vacant WCW World Championship
Finally, it was time for Battlebowl. 20 men entering at two-minute intervals with over-the-top eliminations until two remained, at which point pinfall or submission would crown a new WCW champion.
In at #1 was Curt Hennig, meaning his attempt at an Indian summer title victory couldn’t be tougher. #2 was CW Anderson, who stuck his nose in when Hennig returned to WCW in defeat to Jeff Jarrett at BATB. Just before #3 was due, Hennig was able to low bridge CW and eliminate him!
Next up was Johnny The Bull, who wasted no time beating down Curt only to find a suplex attempt reversed into the Hennigplex. Hennig then picked up JTB and sent him over the ropes as the fans began to get into his hot start. Could he really pull it off?
#4 was Booker T but despite a stern challenge from a former WCW champ, Hennig was a house of fire, feeding off the fans’ support. He missed a charge and stopped himself from flying over, but turned round into a Harlem sidekick that ended his dream.
Booker awaited #5, and it was none other than DDP! The two renewed their hostilities for two fast-paced minutes before #6 Sinn of the New Church interrupted and attacked both without discrimination. #7 was then Slash, who sided with his stablemate and helped beat down Page and Booker, forcing the two former friends and current enemies to co-operate to fight back.
DDP held Sinn for an Ax Kick before T hoisted Slash up for an impressive flapjack/Diamond Cutter combo. Page tossed Slash as Booker got rid of Sinn just in time for the arrival of #8 Sean Waltman. Page and Booker knocked Waltman down before Booker turned on Page with a clothesline.
Interrupting the three-way fight was #9 Billy Kidman who paired off with Waltman while Page and Booker fought in the other corner. #10 was Scott Hall who blindsided Kidman as he beat on Waltman. Hall then used a Fallaway Slam to send Billy flying over the top.
The SEX members again targeted Booker and Page collectively until Kanyon made the save at #11. #12 was Rey Mysterio and #13 was Lance Storm as a serious battle royal began to emerge for the first time during the second half of the entrants. Hall again saved Waltman as Rey attacked, but couldn’t get the masked man over the top rope as Storm sent out Kanyon as he tried to eliminate Booker.
#14 was Sting who cleaned house to a huge reaction and dished out Stinger Splashes to everybody until #15 was revealed as Malice. The New Church monster faced off with Sting and overpowered the man in paint, before tossing Mysterio out like he was a feather.
2001 winner Sean O’Haire was #16 and he went straight for Malice, being the first man to knock him off his feet with a top rope clothesline. He was kicked down by Waltman in Bronco Buster position, only for O’Haire to catch and convert into a powerbomb before throwing Waltman out.
In at #17 was former O’Haire partner Chuck Palumbo and the two wasted no time trading blows. #18 was Jeff Jarrett as the announcers noted that not only is he a hot favourite with his great draw and recent form but appears to be back in Vince Russo’s camp.
To the shock of many, #19 was K-Krush, back from his miniscule suspension for attacking The Cat and straight into a world title opportunity in a great position, with commentary pointing out that Russo must have put him into the bout since Cat refused to. He and O’Haire were soon back at each other’s throats. Palumbo and Krush attempted a double-team on Sean but he avoided it and sent Chuck over the top for another elimination.
Just before the final countdown of the match, Page elbowed out of a Book End attempt and clotheslined Booker over and out. Commentary deduced that the final entrant must be Cat’s mystery unnamed pick, who he seemed ready to reveal before he was attacked by Krush. And the countdown cued up new entrance music and the arrival of… Ken Shamrock!
Shamrock nailed suplexes on everyone and a huracanrana on Malice, and speaking of The Cat, he then stormed out onto the walkway with referees trying to stop him. Krush saw him coming and dared him to do something… allowing O’Haire to send him flying over the top and onto the walkway where Cat shoved the refs away and lit up Krush with kicks!
Miller beat Krush all the way back to the back as we found ourselves left with DDP, Scott Hall, Lance Storm, Sting, Malice, Sean O’Haire, Jeff Jarrett and Ken Shamrock. One of these men would end the night as the new WCW World champion.
A big face-off between Sting and Shamrock came next with Sting being the first to slow down Ken’s momentum. But as he nailed Shamrock with a second Stinger Splash, Hall was there to push Sting’s legs up after impact and send him over and out.
He bragged about the scalp, but turned round into a Storm superkick that eliminated Hall himself, ridding the bout of Russo’s marquee choice for the field of 20. Storm worked over Shamrock until Ken was able to reverse things and launch Storm over the top.
Meanwhile, Malice was beating down Page in one corner while O’Haire and Jarrett did battle. Just then, K-Krush returned to ringside and tried to pull Sean out from the outside until O’Haire decked him. That was enough to allow Jarrett to haul out last year’s winner, however. Krush got out of town, job done.
The final four was Page, Malice, Jarrett and Shamrock. The tired DDP found a second wind and knocked down JJ, Shamrock and even the huge Malice. When he attempted a Diamond Cutter on the New Churcher, however, the monster deadlifted him over the ropes to the apron before booting him out of the match to end a long, valiant run.
Jarrett attempted a Stroke on Malice and was shrugged off, as was Shamrock attempting a German suplex. The two teamed up to get Malice on the ropes, only for Shamrock to take his chance and send Jarrett flying out, leading to a referee entering the ring. The richest prize in the sport would be decided between two men who were not on the roster a month ago!
Shamrock was thrown around for a bit but slowly picked away at Malice with leg kicks and hard strikes to the head, before countering a chokeslam by finally hitting a belly to belly on the big man and slapping on the anklelock.
Malice crawled to the ropes but Shamrock dragged him away… and finally got the tap-out! Ken Shamrock is the NEW WCW World champion! Total Battlebowl time: 47:17. Confetti and fireworks greeted Shamrock’s title celebration as the PPV came to a close.