It is once again time for one of World Championship Wrestling’s most well-known PPVs, and the infamous score-settling cage match that frequently takes residence on it.
This year, however, nobody could have imagined the scenario in which two teams will do battle inside the double-ring cage that is WarGames.
Owner Eric Bischoff’s attempt to continue the company’s survival and growth without the financial comfort blanket of Ted Turner led to him welcoming outside investments. He even sold 50% of the company to a consortium that were presumed to remain silent partners while Bischoff and his appointed Commissioner, The Cat, ran the show as normal. However that was far from the case.
Vince Russo, one of the most infamous figures in WCW’s history, was in fact secretly the bulk of the money in that consortium and had the green-light to operate with the complete backing of his side’s 50%. That meant he and Bischoff were equal partners, something Russo revealed after sabotaging various aspects of the show for weeks then revealing himself at the Great American Bash.
Since then, Russo has successfully picked apart all of the good faith and stability WCW built up since almost going under in 2001. He brought back many ‘values’ and philosophies wrestling fans hoped to have eradicated under his Sports Entertainment Xtreme tribe of ardent followers. He goaded Bischoff into a match to determine a majority owner and took 51% majority control. He orchestrated for supposed friend Cat to lose his job and be replaced by SEX lieutenant Stacy Keibler. Midweek cruiserweight show AirTime has been completely abandoned by the new management, while Saturday Nitro has been overhauled with sleaze and chaos.
Luckily for WCW, its hottest stars and biggest names are doing everything in their power to keep the fight alive. The cruiserweights have begun to stage AirTime completely off their own backs, making their own bouts and staving off ambushes from the likes of The New Church. Generally-disliked wrestlers such as Lance Storm, Booker T, Los Guerreros and even longtime Russo ally Jeff Jarrett have taken a stand against the current direction and the new boss’s treacherous ways. And WCW’s great protector, its Icon, Sting, has called for WarGames in hopes of pushing the SEX smother back further.
The Stinger, Dustin Rhodes and America’s Most Wanted – four wrestlers synonymous with WCW – will be joined by the legendary ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair, if his bad leg can hold up, to go to war with SEX’s Scott Hall, Sean Waltman, Mark Jindrak, Chuck Palumbo and the reluctant new member, Curt Hennig. Hennig of course has plenty of history with WCW and Flair inside the double cage, but this time around he seems to have no choice if he wants a job and the chance at an ‘Indian summer’ in wrestling.
Elsewhere, Jerry Lynn was brought in by Russo to impress then-World champion Rob Van Dam enough to join S.E.X. However after their thrilling title fight at Bash At The Beach, both RVD and Lynn told Russo where to go. Lynn now stands as the only champion not in Vince’s faction and will defend the cruiserweight title in a rematch from Battlebowl’s superb triangle match… only this time, there’ll be ladders! Van Dam on the other hand…
…was assaulted by The New Church in what is now pretty clear as an order from Russo himself. Forced to vacate, Battlebowl crowned a new champ in the form of the debuting Ken Shamrock, who unfortunately turned out to be a Russo soldier all along. Diamond Dallas Page will have something to say about that in their title bout tonight – and DDP already proved last night on Nitro that a Diamond Cutter can crown a new champion in just three seconds.
SEPTEMBER 15, 2002: WCW FALL BRAWL 2002 – Charleston, West Virginia
The pre-show ran down the card in depth and also featured one bout, as Super Crazy and Psicosis got a little revenge on Elix Skipper and Christopher Daniels for the attack on Nitro in their re-arranged tag match. Crazy finished off Skipper with a sit-out powerbomb in 15:47.
We concluded the warm-up section with news that Ric Flair was struggling to get clearance from doctors to fight in WarGames tonight and that his participation was up in the air.
Opening match, Triangle Ladder match for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship: Jerry Lynn (c) vs Low Ki vs AJ Styles
The main card began in blockbuster fashion with this return bout from Battlebowl, which Russo decided would be a ladder match so as to further weaken the three men best poised to keep that one final belt away from SEX.
Styles continued to show more of an aggressive streak in the bout, but his burning desire to return to the top of the division would not be satisfied on the night as he found himself tipped off the ladder and crotched on the top rope by both opponents, somewhat of a slice of karma for his actions on Nitro.
Lynn and Ki then fought on the ladder, ending with an incredible cradle piledriver from the middle rungs which gave the champ the time he needed to retrieve his belt and retain after 19:31.
WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team Championship: The Full Blooded Italians (c) vs Christian York and Joey Matthews
More cruiserweight championship action followed, as York and Matthews sought to make good on what could be their only chance to become titlists by the end of the year and remain in WCW by challenging the Full Blooded Italians for the cruiser tag straps.
It was all Y&M from the start as their recent successes over the champs continued. However, it all came crashing down after just 4:02 when Marinera hit a low blow on Matthews right in front of the referee for the disqualification.
The FBI and their cornerman for the evening, Johnny Stamboli, fled the scene while Y&M recovered and attempted to get over what just happened to their one, guaranteed title opportunity.
Sean O’Haire vs Ron ‘The Truth’ Killings
Killings was attacked during his entrance, during which he badmouthed as many ringside fans as possible over the mic, by opponent O’Haire and the duo’s vendetta led to more of a fist right around the ring than a contest inside it.
When things did go between the ropes, Killings brought a steel chair with him only for O’Haire to duck a wild swing causing the weapon to hit the ropes and bounce back into Ron’s face, leading to a quick roll-up from Sean for three at 6:15.
O’Haire then picked up the chair and contemplated inflicting some hard justice on his tormentor, but instead used it to dispose of run-ins from Sonny Siaki and Matt Bentley only to then have it sidekicked into his face. The sit-out gourdbuster then followed onto the same chair as once again, Killings left O’Haire laid out.
Billy Kidman, Rey Mysterio, Juventud Guerrera & Tajiri vs The Disciples of the New Church (Tempest, Sinn, Slash & Malice)
Next was an eight-man continuation of the Church’s recent attempts to help SEX destroy the cruiserweight division. The babyfaces put forth a strong effort but the deciding factor was the monster Malice, who swayed things in his team’s favour every time he entered.
That said, towards the end all four were able to sweep him off his feet with a series of aerial attacks and hard kicks. This led to a panicked Father James Mitchell hopping onto the apron and being saved from Kidman’s right hand by Tempest, who took the shot for his leader. Juvi then came off the top and was caught by the throat into a chokeslam from Malice for the pin at 9:22.
WCW United States Championship: Shane Douglas (c) vs Chris Kanyon
Kanyon was noticeably limping during his big title match and self-titled chance at redemption, thanks to Ken Shamrock the previous night. However, Douglas himself was not at 100% after getting his backside handed to him by Jeff Jarrett.
The two men went back and forth in a bout which saw Kanyon resist all temptations to take shortcuts only to find himself fighting uphill against The Franchise’s willingness to do anything to keep his belt. Kanyon rallied from a Douglas beating to hit a Flatliner, only for Torrie Wilson to put her man’s foot on the bottom rope at two.
She then slipped Shane a chain, which Chris ducked and stole from the champion. Tempted to use it himself, he instead tossed it back to Douglas as the ref turned around. The official yanked it away from Douglas and Kanyon pounced with a second Flatliner for the pin after 9:09 and his second US title reign!
Backstage, Sting was ranting at Commissioner Keibler and accusing her of being up to something to ensure Flair could not fight in WarGames. Keibler pled innocence, saying that Flair’s knee is in a bad way and his lack of regular action since semi-retiring hasn’t helped. She says the main event should be fair and unless he can get legit clearance from the very legit doctors on site, Sting will be allowed to find a replacement fifth man. Sting snaps back that pretty much the entire roster is either in Russo’s pocket or already has a match and she knows that before storming out, unsure what to do.
The Jung Dragons vs The Rejected
The bad blood was clear during this tag team grudge match. Two duos synonymous with the 21st century cruiserweight renaissance in WCW, two teams on opposite sides of the wrestling vs SEX war and four men who have hated each other since they arrived in the company fought it out tornado-style for a few minutes before order could be restored and a tag bout occurred.
Just when it looked as though Kaz and Yang would Unleash The Dragon, Jamie Knoble and David Kash ran down and hopped onto the apron only to eat stereo dropkicks. This allowed Moore to equip brass knuckles and turn Yang’s lights out for the fall at 13:47.
Booker T vs Lance Storm
Storm came out to the ring and said over the mic that this match is so important that there’s no way even someone as blind and ignorant as Vince Russo can deny that the winner deserves to fight the winner of DDP vs Ken Shamrock. He asked for the Canadian national anthem only to hear “Don’t Hate The Player, Hate The Game” instead as Booker T’s music hit and the original WCW Grand Slam winner came out with Sharmell.
The two men fought a sporting contest early on, but it was only a matter of time before they started cheating and it became a game of one-upsmanship. Soon, the referee had enough of the deception, manipulation and attempts to physically accost him and threw out the match at 11:17, leading to both men chewing him out and then turning their attention back to each other as they brawled to the back.
WCW World Tag Team Championship: Simon Diamond and Johnny Swinger (c) vs Los Guerreros
Though Simon and Swinger were the ones defending the titles against Los Guerreros in the uncle/nephew duo’s long-awaited rematch for the belts they lost in June, it was Eddie and Chavo who came out wearing the straps after they gave Simon, Swinger and Glenn Gilbertti a taste of what happens when you cross a Guerrero on Saturday Nitro.
The champs came out without those belts and without their manager, who according to commentary hasn’t even been spotted at the arena after being tarred and feathered the previous night.
Simon and Swinger had a hard time keeping up with the wily veterans but were able to isolate Chavo for a while until Eddie tagged in and cleaned house. After hitting three suplexes in a row on Swinger and climbing up for a frog splash, Eddie saw Johnny Stamboli running down the walkway and instead hit him with a crossbody.
Gilbertti then snuck in through the crowd and sprayed something into Chavo’s eyes, leaving Eddie victim to a 2-on-1 when he re-entered the ring before a Problem Solver finished him off at the 8:36 mark. Gilbertti recovered the title belts for his men and they, along with Stamboli, made their getaway.
WCW World Championship: Ken Shamrock (c) vs Diamond Dallas Page
The narrative was clear heading into this title bout: Shamrock has been almost unstoppable since debuting at the last PPV and winning the big gold belt in his very first match. However, even he cannot survive the Diamond Cutter that has won three WCW titles before.
Indeed, Shamrock controlled most of the match but Page remained resilient and determined, making occasional comebacks only to be thwarted. When Shamrock attempted the ankle lock, DDP managed the same roll-through reversal as on Nitro only for Shamrock to block the Cutter and hit a German suplex for two.
A frustrated champ tried to bully the ref after not getting the three on that suplex, but ended up turning around into a Diamond Cutter for real! Page slowly made the cover but Shamrock got his foot on the rope at 2.75.
Looking for another way to finish off the champion, Page went for an old favourite, the Pancake, but found his leg picked off and put into the Anklelock. The tenacious challenger fought it off three times only to finally find no alternative but to tap at 12:44.
Main event, WarGames 2002: Team WCW (Sting, Dustin Rhodes, America’s Most Wanted and ???) vs Team SEX (Scott Hall, Sean Waltman, Curt Hennig, Chuck Palumbo and Mark Jindrak)
Finally, it was time for WarGames. Vince Russo accompanied his SEX team of Jindrak, Palumbo, Hennig, Waltman and Hall to the double cage and it was Waltman who entered first for his team. Sting then led his team of Rhodes, Harris, Black and Flair to the other side of the cage. However, Stacy Keibler and a doctor followed them and it became clear that they weren’t going to allow Flair to compete. It didn’t look like Sting had a replacement and a 5-on-4 beckoned, with Team SEX already having the advantage going in.
Rhodes entered the cage first and dominated Waltman for most of the opening five minutes until Jindrak made it two-on-one. Harris swung things back in his side’s favour for two minutes before Palumbo arrived on the scene, followed by Black at the next interval. AMW hit the Death Sentence on Jindrak while Rhodes hit a pair of Dustbusters in opposite corners to the nads of Waltman and Palumbo before Hall entered with powder, blinding Black and Harris before a second low blow to Rhodes in as many days brought the team down.
Palumbo and Hall nailed AMW with stereo Outsiders Edges before Sting came in and cleaned house with Stinger Splashes for four. Last in for SEX was Hennig, who laid out the fresh man Sting and helped his side pummel the four. The final two minute period ended but there was no fifth man to enter for Sting’s side, and despite Flair’s efforts to make a lunge for the door he was restrained by referees on Keibler’s orders.
Hennig, in the ultimate insult/injury, then attempted to do to Sting what he did to Flair five years prior as he set the Stinger’s head in the open door frame of the babyface side, right in front of Flair. This led to Ric decking several refs and grabbing Hennig by the hair, only for Russo to sneak around and chop block the bad knee!
He then helped Curt set Sting back up, but at that moment Jeff Jarrett’s music hit and Russo immediately hopped the rail and fled the building. Jarrett came down with a cart full of weapons as Sting fought Hennig off. Jarrett slid a bunch into the ring and drilled every SEX member moving in the cage with trash can and cowbell shots. It appears we have a fifth man!
Jarrett then distributed ammo to his four newfound team-mates, none of whom appeared particularly comfortable with Jarrett on their side – and understandably so. Nonetheless, with the threat of Team SEX apparent, Team WCW went to town on the heels with the weapons.
Hall was able to get his hands on a barbed wire baseball bat and took aim at Sting, only for Jarrett to make the save with a well-timed guitar shot to the head of his former team-mate. Palumbo and Jindrak were able to turn the tables on AMW and then set their sights on Rhodes, but as Jindrak held Rhodes in place for Chuck’s trash can shot, Jarrett pushed both men away and ended up eating the weapon shot himself.
Rhodes then back-kicked Jindrak low and wrapped barbed wire from the bat around his elbow for a brutal bionic elbow to Palumbo, laying him out for Sting’s Scorpion Deathlock and the submission after 25:25 of war that had Rhodes, Harris, Black, Palumbo, Waltman and Jindrak all wearing crimson masks by the end of it.
More importantly, WCW had notched another important win in their battle against SEX and Russo’s oppression. Of course, the nightmare is far from over, but Fall Brawl 2002 was proof positive that WCW would not be forced back into their 1999-2000 hell easily.