NOVEMBER 6, 2002: AIRTIME #44
Tensions are rising in WCW and the inner conflict is boiling over. There doesn’t seem to be much certainty that the company will even get through their traditional road to Starrcade without imploding from all the chaos being instigated by Vince Russo. Though the WCW loyalists are fighting back, the closing scenes from Nitro show that even the cruiserweights are perhaps facing insurmountable odds.
Taped on November 5, along with the following Nitro, in Nashville.
The AirTime set remains in tatters after the conclusion to last week’s show.
The Canadian national anthem kicks off the hour as Lance Storm leads out his recent recruits Eric Young, Johnny Devine and Teddy Hart. The trio of newcomers win their in-ring debut against The Amazing Red and The Maximos when Storm slips in while Devine distracts the ref and blasts Red with a superkick. Hart then locks on his infamous family submission hold, the Sharpshooter, for the tapout at 7:07.
Brian Kendrick is asked backstage whether he will accept Paul London’s challenge for another singles match. He says he has no reason to waste his time on London anymore, and that he has his sights set on challenging AJ Styles for the cruiserweight title. He adds, however, that London would need to make things interesting to get a rematch – such as putting American Dragon’s mask on the line if Kendrick won.
The grudge match between Jorge Estrada and Sonny Siaki was next, as Shane Douglas, Matt Bentley and Torrie Wilson accompanied their SEX compadre to the ring following the recent revelation that Douglas received carte blanche from Vince Russo to take the fight to the cruiserweight show. The outside forces ended up spoiling the bout when Siaki was in trouble, causing a DQ in 5:42. Jerry Lynn made the save with a steel chair and the heels retreated.
We cut to Eric Bischoff’s office where ‘Easy E’ sits at his desk with Super Crazy, Psicosis and Juventud Guerrera stood around him. Bischoff formally announces a change to the planned ‘AirTime showcase’ elimination tag for Victory Road. In light of SEX’s decision to return to AirTime and reignite their war with the cruiserweights of WCW, the elimination tag will now pit WCW vs SEX. And following the events of Nitro, one of the two men who earned captaincy last week, Low Ki, is out for 4-6 weeks. That leaves Jerry Lynn as captain of Team WCW. Not only that, but he has been discussing the situation with his top luchadores who have an interesting suggestion.
We then hear from Juvi, who says that the elimination showcase last year happened just before he returned to WCW but he watched it and it reminded him of the way they settle things in Mexico, with tag matches whittling down to the last man standing. So since SEX want to declare war on everything they hold sacred, how about they turn the 5vs5 into an 8vs8 and have a true Torneo Cibernetico? Psicosis says in this match, the teams can only tag in via a ‘batting order’ requiring strategy and heart to win. Crazy wraps it up by saying SEX’s anti-cruiser brigade will fall at Victory Road.
Our main event saw the Full Blooded Italians forced to defend their cruiserweight tag titles in a mandatory defence against the team who won the gauntlet at Halloween Havoc – last pinning the champs themselves – Kidman and Rey Mysterio.
The second ever holders of the belts started off fast and even hit a double dive onto the champions plus their seconds, Glenn Gilbertti and Johnny Stamboli. Maritato and Marinera eventually isolated Kidman until he got the hot tag to Mysterio. Rey ran wild on both Italians and dropkicked Gilbertti off the apron.
When he was tripped up by Stamboli, it brought out a wave of furious cruisers followed by other members of SEX as the battle kicked off once again around the ring. The FBI hit their double-team Rubik’s Cube on Rey but Kidman made the save at two. Just then, the brawling seeped into the ring and the referee is forced to throw it out after 19:27.
The WCW vs SEX war continues after the bell with no clear dominant side but plenty of fists, bumps and even a few dives around the set as time runs out and the show fades.
NOVEMBER 9, 2002: SATURDAY NITRO #79
Even at 49% ownership and being beneath Vince Russo on the power chain these days, Eric Bischoff has been able to use all of his political savvy and business acumen to undermine Russo’s attempts to turn WCW into an R-Rated rollercoaster ride that would almost certainly crash as bad as it did in 1999-2000. The only problem is, the company continues to clash in a brutal civil war as a result, with things reaching breaking point at the end of each of the three shows since Halloween Havoc.
With Goldberg making his first Nitro appearance in over six months tonight after attacking Ken Shamrock at Havoc, things will likely be even wilder tonight. Also, Sting is back in Starrcade Series action tonight. Will the New Church deliver on their promise to torment the Icon all the way into retirement?
We again begin with Starrcade Series action as Lance Storm (3pts) takes on CW Anderson (2pts). Storm had his new edition of Team Canada out with him, while Anderson brought backup in the form of Johnny Stamboli and the FBI from SEX.
The two men had more of an exchange of dirty tactics and sly interference than a wrestling match, though the technical exchanges between the two were unsurprisingly very fluid. Things heated up at ringside after more dirty tricks and the two entourages squared off, requiring extra officials to rush down and cool things.
This served to keep the actual match referee distracted as Jeff Jarrett slid into the ring via the crowd and blasted his former friend CW over the head with a guitar. Storm got over his shock quickly enough to help kick shrapnel out of the ring before making an opportunistic cover for two points in 7:38.
It probably wasn’t lost on Jarrett that the defeat makes Anderson the first man eliminated from contention: CW has only two points with one of his five matches remaining, and cannot catch Block A leader DDP (6pts).
Jarrett was chased out of the building by the Italian trio during the fall as Team Canada celebrated with Storm. As the Canadians depart, a seething Vince Russo marches down to the ring with Stacy Keibler and Mark Jindrak following as fast as they can.
Russo screams into the mic that “this is BS”, that he’s forced to allow this “stupid wrestling tournament” to happen only for “scumbags like Jeff Jarrett” to cheat and screw the best guys out of the tournament.
He says he cannot swear because of suits at Turner and he’s even getting heat for putting dancing girls on the set and trying to liven up the show. He says Jamie Kellner had the right idea trying to boot WCW off Turner and he’s going to do everything in his power to make sure AOL Time Warner reconsider and do it anyway.
He says he’s going to ruin every show until they’re forced to find a new network, a “better network that understands good television”. At this point, even Keibler and Jindrak are trying to calm their boss down and convince him to stop talking but he continues to rant until Eric Bischoff arrives on the stage.
Eric says all of this was very, very interesting. He has been building a case against Russo as the decision maker and this is only helping his cause. He says now Russo is starting to realise his plan was always doomed to fail, he will make him a very generous offer for the 51%.
Bischoff says if Vince accepts, Russo’s investment will have made him and his backers a tidy profit, he gets five months of exposure and he even promises to keep all SEX members on the roster, though of course their alliance will be disbanded immediately. Russo tells Bischoff to “blow it out of his ass”, with the last word censored on seven-second delay, and that this isn’t over before storming off.
Sean O’Haire (2pts) has stopped the rot after a rough start to the Starrcade Series but next faces Curt Hennig (6pts) knowing that anything short of victory leaves him unable to catch the veteran up at the top of Block B.
Sean’s efforts to dazzle Curt with his high-impact offense are thwarted at every turn early on by a savvy ground game. O’Haire rallies and blitzes Hennig with his trademark moves but the Seanton misses. Curt goes for the Hennigplex only for O’Haire to counter with a tight small package for the points at 9:35! The block remains very much open.
We are told that Ken Shamrock plans to call Goldberg out later tonight.
Sean Waltman is with Jeremy Borash backstage and he says he saw “those stupid little Mexicans” drone on about heritage and tradition on AirTime. He says he’s won more matches in Mexico than all of those luchadores and he accepts the challenge on behalf of SEX. He warns “old pal” Jerry Lynn that he’ll be his opposing captain and he’ll do what he’s done all of their careers: out-smart, out-work and out-earn JL.
Simon Diamond and Johnny Swinger defeated Christian York and Joey Matthews in non-title action. Commentary noted that this is peculiar matchmaking from Commissioner Keibler, as a win here would surely entitle Y&M to one more tag title match before their vow to quit the company if they weren’t champs in 2002 could be enforced.
It looked as though Y&M would get the fall on the champs, but Glenn Gilbertti distracted the ref after Full Effect which allowed Swinger to blast both men with a tag title belt and drape Diamond on top of York for the win at 12:04. York and Matthews regained their bearings after the champions made a victorious exit and looked extremely dejected, with time fast running out for them to save their jobs.
In Keibler’s office, Stacy is arguing with Eric Bischoff. She says she makes the matches and Eric doesn’t have the power to do “that”, ownership stake or not. Bischoff says the rulebook clearly states that a title shot earned remains intact until the challengers are beaten, and that didn’t happen between the FBI and Rey/Kidman on Wednesday, nor did it happen at Fall Brawl when they ran away from York and Matthews.
Keibler says fine: Rey and Kidman can have a rematch at Victory Road. But Y&M are at the back of the line because they were handed a title shot as part of their vow to win gold in 2002 or leave WCW. “We’ll see,” says a confident Bischoff as he exits.
Next up was the Nitro debut of Brian ‘BG’ James as he won an extended squash over a former NFL star by the name of Monty Brown. James worked in all of his popular showmanlike moves before finishing Brown off with the Pumphandle Slam in 4:51. After the victory, BJ took the mic, ran through a couple of altered catchphrases and said he is here on Nitro to make an impact.
Jerry Lynn, Jorge Estrada and Tajiri defeated Matt Bentley and Triple X by DQ when Siaki attacked Estrada at the 5:00 mark. This led to the Jung Dragons rushing down, followed by The Rejected and Sean Waltman, then the lucha contingent of Crazy, Psicosis and Juvi.
As Team WCW looked to be getting the upper hand, Tempest came out with a crowbar and began to pick off babyfaces one at a time, only to be stopped about three attacks in by a springboard flying forearm from AJ Styles! SEX were eventually sent into retreat mode before AJ went over to Lynn and told him, off-mic, that he wants in. The two shook hands to seal the deal.
Suddenly, the music of one ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair hit as the cruisers recovered in the ring. Flair struts to the squared circle and greets a few of the athletes before taking a mic and stating that the cruiserweights are the lifeblood of WCW. He says Vince Russo is on the ropes and these guys, the AMWs, the Rhodes, the Stingers and the DDP and Kanyons need to keep fighting until his garbage is gone for good. He says he will be at Victory Road in person to watch the action and hopefully, the end of SEX.
Our next contest was, in fact, an all-SEX encounter in the Starrcade Series between Shane Douglas (2pts) and Chuck Palumbo (2pts). Unfortunately, that led to a bit of a farce as Palumbo immediately laid down and allowed a Douglas pin in 0:06. With SEX still holding office, there was no Cat to stop anything like this happening this year and Eric Bischoff is seemingly picking his battles in his efforts to wrestle power back from Russo.
We see the Goldberg monster truck pulling up in the parking lot. And out steps the man himself!
Backstage, we see a number of SEX members finishing dressing into their regular clothes and talking about hitting the town tonight. Gilbertti leads them out of the SEX locker room and it’s Simon, Swinger, Stamboli, Palumbo, Jindrak, Maritato and Marinera.
Their path is blocked by America’s Most Wanted, which leads to a silent pause followed by laughter from the heels, as they ask Harris and black if they seriously think they’re gonna take out all eight of them? AMW shrug before they’re joined by Rey and Kidman.
SEX fake being scared, but start to take it a little more seriously when Los Guerreros come into view from the side holding baseball bats. Palumbo says the odds are still in their favour, and to bring it. Suddenly, he and Swinger are pelted with trash cans from out of nowhere by DDP and Kanyon, and at eight on eight with a few weapons, the WCW forces united by a common enemy turn the tables on their months-long tormentors and leave them laying.
They then drag them all back into the locker room and Eddie barricades the door with a forklift. “Sorry boys, party’s been cancelled”, says Chavo.
Sting (1pt) and Dustin Rhodes (0pts) badly need their first win in the Starrcade Series before they find themselves mathematically out of contention. Unfortunately, the nature of things so far meant that the two longtime friends were battling in a straight-up eliminator.
A classic slow-burn babyface battle unfolded until the pace picked up when Sting missed a Stinger Splash and hit the post, falling all the way over the top and onto the walkway. Rhodes was initially concerned for his buddy, but realised the stakes and threw him back into the ring for an opportunistic two-count.
Rhodes worked over Sting for a while until the Icon made a comeback. This brought out Malice, Sinn and Slash of the New Church but Rhodes helped Sting take the fight to the intruders. The official ‘played advantage’ since neither combatant was attacked and allowed the match to continue after they double suplexed Malice on the walkway.
Rhodes then went for what looked like his old finisher in a previous life, The Curtain Call, only for Sting to flip over and reverse the inverted facelock and nail the Scorpion Deathdrop for three in 12:48.
Sting tended to Rhodes, who is now out of the running with a disappointing four defeats from four, after the match. Dustin wasn’t pleased, but accepted the embrace anyway – however the Church members had recovered and laid out both. Malice hit a chokeslam to each for the exclamation point.
We cut to Ron Killings stood by the monitor at the ‘go’ position, laughing at what just happened. When a producer asks him what he’s doing here, Killings aggressively said he’d been shut out of the SEX locker room by a truck with no keys, then pie-faced the “old man” and told him to mind his own business.
Dustin was then helped to the back and Killings mocked the “cowboy” and called him a “loser”. A fuming Rhodes lunged at Killings and took him down, but the hurt and exhausted Texan came out second best versus the fresh and dangerous US champ.
Finally, we were joined by Ken Shamrock. The WCW champ said he saw Goldberg arrive and wants to see how he does against the world’s most dangerous man when he hasn’t had a “20-minute title match”.
Goldberg’s music hits and out he comes through the pyro. Once the fireworks die down, an agitated Shamrock appears to be looking for/signalling for something. Out comes only Shane Douglas, who doesn’t seem to be expecting being on his own.
The confusion allows Goldberg to quickly turn around and drill The Franchise with a Spear! Shamrock exits the ring and attacks his next challenger and the two engage in a furious fist-fight which requires a sea of referees and security to separate as the show concludes.
WCW Victory Road 2002 card so far:
- WCW World title: Ken Shamrock (c) vs Goldberg
- WCW Cruiserweight tag titles: FBI (c) vs Billy Kidman and Rey Mysterio
- Starrcade Series finals: Block A winner vs Block B winner
- Torneo Cibernetico: Jerry Lynn (capt), AJ Styles, Super Crazy, Psicosis, Juventud Guerrera and three more vs Sean Waltman (capt) and seven more
Starrcade Series standings after week five:
Block A: DDP 6pts (3 matches out of 5), Storm 5pts (3/5), Hall 4pts (3/5), Sting 3pts (3/5), CW 2pts (4/5), Rhodes 0pts (4/5) – CW Anderson and Dustin Rhodes are eliminated
Block B: Hennig 6pts (4 matches out of 5), Douglas 4pts (3/5), O’Haire 4pts (4/5), Booker 2pts (3/5), Kanyon 2pts (3/5), Palumbo 2pts (3/5).
Next time: Will the increasingly-deranged Vince Russo follow through on his threats to try and get WCW kicked off Turner networks for real?