AUGUST 21, 2002: AIRTIME #33
The WCW title situation was resolved at Battlebowl via the surprise debut of Ken Shamrock. Not only that, but Jerry Lynn took the cruiserweight division by storm, winning the belt in a mind-blowing three-way.
Matches like that will keep the cruisers and the cruiser show in rude health despite the rule of Russo – but the cornerstone division of the promotion will be well aware that the philosophical war has just begun.
Taped on August 20, along with the following Nitro, in Atlanta.
A cold open kicks off the hour, with Vince Russo sat at his desk looking rather serious. He informs the audience that it is with great regret that he has been forced to remove The Cat from his position as WCW Commissioner and terminate his employment with the company.
He says that Cat breached the code of conduct written by Eric Bischoff at the promotion’s rebirth last year when he attacked a member of the roster. He finishes by assuring Miller that the firing was not personal and that he was left with no choice but to remove a friend from the company, before stating that he is in the process of finding a new Commissioner to take WCW forward.
Juventud Guerrera won a six-way one-fall exhibition over Super Crazy, Psicosis, Tajiri, Brian Kendrick and Paul London when he caught a Psicosis twisting crossbody off the top and turned it into a Juvi Driver after 10:43. Showing an improvement in maturity from recent months, the victorious Guerrera helped up his comrade and checked on him before shaking hands with everyone involved – except Kendrick, who sulked his way backstage.
The announcers reveal that Knoble and Kash will finally meet The Briscoes next week on AirTime, with the brothers expected to be cleared to return in seven days.
The American Dragon made quick work of Kid Romeo with the Cattle Mutilation submission in 3:58. An attempt to interview him on the walkway after the bout saw Dragon silently walk away from questions regarding whether or not he is Bryan Danielson.
We see clips of the incredible triple-threat cruiserweight title match from Battlebowl, where Jerry Lynn claimed WCW gold within a month of his emergence at BATB.
The Amazing Red defeated Matt Bentley by disqualification when Bentley’s new stablemates in SEX, Triple X, rushed down to push Red off the top rope at the 8:11 mark, before the Infra-Red could connect. The Maximos made the save before a triple beatdown could put Red in serious trouble.
Jerry Lynn comes out for his first interview as champ. He says he has spent the last decade scratching and clawing for acceptance as a no-frills wrestler while the industry has become wilder and wilder. He says he wouldn’t change wrestling one bit because he has seen how much the fans have enjoyed the ride over those 10 years but as long as he’s still able to go, he’ll be doing most of his talking in the ring and flying the flag for world class athletic competition.
He admits he’s a bit of an old man in one of the youngest, hungriest and most cutting edge cruiserweight divisions ever assembled but warns them all that they’ll need better than their A-Game to take the belt from him and that AJ Styles and Low Ki can have a rematch whenever they want, whether it be one-on-one or another three-way dance.
Finally, Billy Kidman and Rey Mysterio defeated The Rejected when the Jung Dragons came out seeking revenge for Helms and Moore costing them their cruiser tag title rematch at Battlebowl. Their distraction just as Moore attempted to bring a steel chair into the match was enough to turn the tide and Kidman finished off Helms with the Kid Krusher in 12:25. Triple X and Matt Bentley rushed out for a brawl between the faces and SEX before the luchadores, Tajiri and Paul London from the opening contest helped run Russo’s army off. The battle rages on, through the cruiserweight-orientated show.
AUGUST 24, 2002: SATURDAY NITRO #68
The first Nitro following Battlebowl and, as it turns out, the first without Commissioner Cat after Vince Russo ‘reluctantly’ fired him for attacking K-Krush at the PPV. Even in their welcome to the show, commentary note the overwhelming inconsistency between Russo’s harsh letter-of-the-law treatment of his ‘friend’ while letting K-Krush, who instigated the beef with Cat, serve a measly one-day suspension.
Tonight, new WCW champion Ken Shamrock, who made a surprising and glorious debut at the event, will make his first defence against the man he last survived in the battle royal gauntlet, Malice of the New Church. Also advertised in advance was a four-way match to decide a WCW title challenger at Fall Brawl involving DDP, Booker T, Lance Storm and Jeff Jarrett.
Firstly, Triple X went to a no-contest with the Maximos after 6:49 when cornermen Matt Bentley and The Amazing Red inevitably got involved. The faces sent the heels packing post-match, and a six-man tag is surely on the horizon.
K-Krush comes out and says he is officially a free man. He says he is free from the oppression of Ernest Miller, an ‘Uncle Tom’ who tried to use his friendship with Krush to control him. He says he is also free of his stupid ring name. He says his name is Ron Killings. He tells the audience that they will soon know him as The Truth.
He claims to bring the truth to WCW whether anyone can handle it or not, and that tonight he will take down the ‘golden boy’ Sean O’Haire with some cold hard facts of life.
His meeting with rival O’Haire was in fact a tag match alongside CW Anderson versus Sean and Chris Kanyon. It didn’t take long for Killings and O’Haire to brawl to the back, leaving Kanyon and CW working a singles match. Ron and Sean later re-emerged, fighting with a trash can and trading shots before the referee threw the whole thing out after 7:31.
Kanyon and CW separated the two along with security before arguing over who would have won if not for the match breaking down. Two tag matches, two non-finishes.
Shane Douglas is backstage with Torrie Wilson and Mean Gene asks him who will be next in line for a US title shot now he has emerged from his war with Dustin Rhodes still the champion. Douglas says he knows all four of those men in the ring just now are gunning for his belt as are many others but that he is the man to beat and SEX is the movement to try and stop. He says WCW can only hope to contain SEX and they’ll have to try and find a way to contain him being US champ for a long time to come.
Christian York and Joey Matthews won a non-title contest against cruiserweight tag champions the FBI when Glenn Gilbertti pulled his man Marinera to safety before Y&M’s Full Effect finisher, and the Italians took an intentional countout after 8:08.
The team who’ve been forced to put into writing that they’ll leave WCW if they do not become champions this year exchanged words with the fleeing champs from the ring, but the Commissioner-less WCW has failed to deliver finishes in all three Nitro matches so far.
The lack of authority and referee stewardship is surely not helping matters, which is something else commentary underscore as they observe the situation so far.
The Jung Dragons tell Mean Gene backstage that they’re not surprised the Italians relied on Gilbertti to spare them from a pinfall loss, and that the next time they get them in the ring they’ll make sure there’s nobody sticking their nose in.
That may not be anytime soon, considering the way Helms and Moore suddenly cut short the interview and laid waste to the Dragons, tossing them into and through the interview set and threatening Gene himself before leaving.
Scott Hall and Sean Waltman defeated America’s Most Wanted in 7:50 thanks to a distraction from SEX colleagues Simon Diamond and Johnny Swinger, which allowed Hall to set up a quick Outsider Edge from the corner to Harris as he mounted the buckles to yell at the tag champions.
Simon and Swinger’s evening wasn’t all fun and games, however, as they were jumped on the walkway after the bout by Los Guerreros to another surprisingly-loud pop.
Evidently still feeling they were shafted out of their title rematch by Vince Russo, Eddie and Chavo dropped the champs and whipped them with the title belts before retreating before Hall and Waltman could get their hands on them.
Jeff Jarrett makes his way to Vince Russo’s office and simply asks him: “what’s our deal?”.
Russo claims he doesn’t follow. Jarrett notes their history and while he isn’t looking for handouts, he has done what was required of him to earn a one-on-one world title match – even enduring accusation after accusation that he was conspiring with Russo from the start. So, since he’s due a title match, why isn’t Fall Brawl – or even tonight – Ken Shamrock vs Jeff Jarrett?
Vince says he has a fair argument and he’s glad the two of them are keeping their wrestler-boss relationship on the up-and-up this time around, but Malice was the runner-up on Sunday so he gets the first crack. And while he promises Jarrett will get a title shot regardless, the PPV slot has to be done fairly since he’s already having the shareholders breathing down his neck over various suspicions.
He finishes by telling Jeff, however, that of the four men in the match he is the one with the ‘Stroke’, if he knows what Vince means, so he’s sure it will end up being Jarrett advancing to Fall Brawl anyway. Jarrett shoots him a puzzled look before leaving.
As Jeff leaves, Curt Hennig arrives and reminds Russo that his short-term deal to return to WCW hasn’t been renewed yet. Vince says he isn’t sure if he should renew it, since Hennig’s quest to finally capture the WCW title ended in failure.
Hennig says he knows he’s in the final stages of his career, but then suggests himself as a replacement for Cat as Commissioner, noting that he has a knowledge of the business second to none and won’t be pushed around by anyone on the roster. Russo says he’ll consider his application and get back to him.
Ken Shamrock received a tremendous response as he emerged for his first Nitro with the WCW title around his waist. And his maiden title defence was a success over Malice, despite interference attempts by Tempest, Sinn and Slash. Dustin Rhodes and AMW ran out to fight the interfering Church members all the way to the back as Shamrock pinned Malice with a belly-to-belly to retain after 8:42.
Low Ki comes out and gives credit where it’s due: Jerry Lynn deserved to win the cruiserweight title on Sunday. However, being only a three-week champion has lit a fire consuming Ki, and he promises to avenge the defeat as soon as he gets his rematch.
AJ Styles interrupts and says he’s still owed a one-on-one return bout of his own, suggesting Ki will have to wait in line. As the two bicker in the ring, Lynn emerges on the walkway and holds the belt aloft before pointing at both men and sticking three fingers up. Could we see another triangle title match after their amazing contest at the PPV?
It was then time for Diamond Dallas Page, Booker T, Lance Storm and Jeff Jarrett to determine who moves on to Fall Brawl for a WCW title match. All four men were in the ring at once, with the first fall sending the winner to the PPV to face new champion Shamrock.
Storm and Booker’s recent attempts to work together in their pursuit of title recognition seemingly fell apart as they brawled at ringside after a double-team miscommunication. When this left Page and Jarrett in the ring, Chuck Palumbo and Johnny The Bull ran down.
JTB distracted the referee while Palumbo fetched Jarrett’s guitar and held it out to Jeff… only to pull it away as JJ reached, instead smashing it over the nearby ringpost.
As a shocked and confused Jarrett argued with Chuck, he was spun around into a Diamond Cutter for the three after 17:36 as Palumbo and JTB held Storm and Booker back from making the save outside. Did Russo order his men to do that, or did they go rogue?
A promo reveals that the Starrcade Series returns this October.
We are then joined in the ring by Russo himself, with his masked enforcer beside him. Commentary notes that he waited until well after Jarrett staggered out of the arena.
He takes the mic and announces that he has found the perfect candidate to become the new WCW Commissioner. Someone who, like the previous commish, will be tough and uncompromising and knows how to keep Russo in check. He then introduces… Stacy Keibler.
Keibler joins them in the ring as the biggest giveaway yet that Russo has been pulling one huge powerplay since December dawns on the commentators and the audience.
They are soon interrupted by Shawn Stasiak and Mark Jindrak, who look far from their usual chilled bro selves. Stasiak cuts a fired-up promo on Russo, telling him that he discarded his so-called friend Cat just like he abandoned the Natural Born Thrillers and anyone else he ran out of use for. He tells him that they’re out here to avenge The Cat, whether his unknown henchman likes it or not.
As they approach Russo, the masked enforcer stands in front of his boss… but then Jindrak suddenly nails Stasiak with a clothesline! Russo screams “SWERVE! SWERVE!” and then pulls a spare SEX shirt out from his jacket.
While Jindrak is putting on the shirt, The Rejected rush down and put the boots to Stasiak. Helms then sets Shawn up for a Vertebreaker as Moore climbs to the top, only for Vince to yell at them to stop, presumably because the move is banned.
He then says they need to do something first, before handing the mic over to new commish Keibler so that she can unban the move. With that, Helms lifts Stasiak up and the duo nail the spike Vertebreaker!
Keibler leans over the injured Stasiak and mockingly plants a kiss on her ex’s forehead… suddenly, the lights go out and when they return, Sting is in the ring!
Baseball bat shots neutralise Helms, Moore and Jindrak before the Stinger finds himself face-to-face with the masked bodyguard, with Russo cowering behind him. This merely buys the rest of SEX enough time to rush the ring and jump Sting, however, and the numbers game leads to a beatdown on the Icon.
The faction then surrounds the ring to prevent the various babyfaces still in the arena from stopping the enforcer from unmasking… revealing Ken Shamrock.
Russo aims one final “SWERVE!” at Sting as Shamrock holds him up for a pair of smacks from the 51% owner, before the WCW loyalists get over their shock and begin to brawl with SEX as the show fades.
WCW Fall Brawl 2002 card so far:
- WCW World title: Ken Shamrock (c) vs Diamond Dallas Page
Next time: Jeff Jarrett wants answers from Vince Russo, as the 51% owner takes full, unabated control of the product.