In 2001, months after World Championship Wrestling survived almost certain extinction, they brought back an old classic event in Battlebowl – and with it, the Lethal Lottery. The Lottery itself was absent in 2002 due to the WCW vs SEX hostilities, but this year 40 wrestlers battled it out once more in random tag teams, leaving us 20 to fight it out for a shot at the WCW World title.
Speaking of the Big Gold Belt, number one contender Lance Storm challenges Sting in the main event with momentum on his side. Not only did he upset The Icon back in winter 2001, but he and Team Canada have been outnumbering and leaving the Stinger laying on recent editions of Nitro.
AUGUST 17, 2003: WCW BATTLEBOWL 2003 – Atlanta, Georgia
We learned during the usual non-match pre-show that new cruiserweight champ The Amazing Red had rallied some of the rookie cruiserweights to stand up to Glenn Gilbertti Enterprises later tonight, and Tajiri and Kid Kash would collide in a grudge match.
Opening match, No Holds Barred: Jerry Lynn vs Justin Credible
The opener, however, was the culmination of Jerry Lynn and Justin Credible’s sub-saga in the Hardcore Revolution vs Extreme Horsemen war. No Holds Barred with their entire factions banned from ringside at risk of indefinite suspension from Commissioner Flair, this was an old-school Extreme way to settle the score.
The two brawled around ringside and in the ring, where duelling chairs, a table and Credible’s trusty cane were used. Fans were shocked when Lynn kicked out of That’s Incredible, and also when Justin survived a Cradle Piledriver. Ultimately, Credible stopped a combination of pinning sequences with a cane shot to the skull, but when he went for That’s Incredible onto a steel chair, Lynn flipped it and Cradle Tombstoned his foe onto that chair for the win in 18:02.
True to Lynn’s word, someone would be helped out of the building. In this case, both men had to get on stretchers after a brutal and hate-fuelled war.
The Amazing Red, Chris Sabin, Frankie Kazarian and Jerrelle Clark vs Glenn Gilbertti Enterprises
Next, Red led out Sabin, Kazarian and Clark to face GGE reps Matt Bentley, Sonny Siaki, Paul London and Brian Kendrick. It was a noble effort by the new cruiserweight champion to encourage the new crop to stand up for themselves, but the heel quartet’s superior teamwork (and help from outside via Glenn Gilbertti and Traci) led to Bentley pinning Clark with a superkick in 8:30 after Kazarian and Sabin once again argued amongst themselves.
Gilbertti did also bring out Desire, only to stop her on the walkway during their entrance and send her backstage, seemingly just to publicly punish her. Post-match, a frustrated Sabin slapped Kazarian and shoved Red before storming off.
Tajiri vs Kid Kash
Kid Kash had a seething (yet surely not 100%) Tajiri coming for him next as the Hardcore Revolution’s traitor faced the man who saw through him right from the start. An exciting fast-paced cruiserweight encounter with an extra helping of bad blood, Kash re-established himself as the man who put Tajiri out to avoid a title defense when he targeted the Buzzsaw’s head and neck, precisely where he was injured.
Tajiri, no stranger to dirty tactics himself, even used green mist to neutralise Kash’s ongoing assault but when he locked Kash in the Tarantula and was scolded by the ref for holding onto the illegal move, KK saw his chance to plant a foot into Tajiri’s crown jewels and finish with the Money Maker in 12:12.
WCW World Tag Team Championship: Triple X vs The 3 Live Kru
Triple X defended the tag titles next against BG James and Ron Killings of the 3LK, with Konnan at ringside. The champs cleverly managed to get Konnan ejected right off the bat when Daniels faked being cheapshotted at ringside. He wanted a DQ, but settled for taking away a potential advantage the heels usually like to have for themselves.
Nonetheless, they really met their match in the form of the popular musicians, who scored several heart-stopping near falls that almost earned them the belts before XXX’s impressive reign continued when Skipper drilled Killings with the bell at ringside and helped set up a Power Plex on BG for the pin in 15:44.
WCW United States Championship: Eddie Guerrero (c) vs Billy Kidman
Eddie Guerrero’s first PPV defense of the US title came against his former friend Billy Kidman, who had Glenn Gilbertti and Torrie Wilson in his corner. A mat classic followed, but it was only a matter of time before this new, ruthless Kidman attempted whatever he could to take the title that has eluded him for the last four years of his WCW career.
Unfortunately for him, Eddie is the master of underhanded tactics and even with two seconds at ringside, Kidman was outfoxed. Guerrero used the distractions to his own advantage and laid out Kidman with the US title before following with a Frog Splash in 16:18.
It was then time for the 2003 edition of Battlebowl. Previously won in the new WCW era by Sean O’Haire and Ken Shamrock, the omens suggested that not only was a title shot a guarantee for the winner, but a title reign was also likely.
Out first was Jimmy Yang, and second was Shannon Moore. The two brawled and traded aerials until #3 Shane Helms emerged two minutes later and put Yang in immediate trouble. Jimmy survived the 120-second double-team… but #4 was Jamie Knoble. The cruiser tag champs held Yang outstretched for Jamie to attack, but after a pause Knoble actually went after The Rejected!
Knoble even sent Helms over the top for the first elimination, seconds before Yang did the same to Moore. Knoble and Yang then immediately went at it, with Knoble unsurprisingly coming out on top due to freshness. #5 was Chris Harris, who fought with Knoble while Yang recovered. #6 was Bobby Roode, who had a bone to pick with Harris.
The Rejected then returned and attacked both Yang and Knoble while Harris and Roode tussled in a corner. They were dragged out of there by security but shortly after, Bobby pulled Yang up and tossed him. Harris shrugged his shoulders, did the same to Knoble and then went back to his US/Canada fight.
#7 was AJ Styles, leading to a decent three-way fight between some of WCW’s bright young stars. #8 was Tempest, and he brought his crowbar as well as Father James Mitchell, hitting all three opponents once each before it was snatched from him by a referee. While there are no DQ’s in Battlebowl, it was reiterated by the commentary team that the officials had carte blanche to keep things orderly and in the ring. #9 was Juventud Guerrera who tempered Tempest with a series of kicks and bodyblocks, before Styles low bridged Roode for the fifth elimination.
#10 was CW Anderson, who worked over several people before getting Harris onto the apron and following with a stiff right hand for elimination six. #11 was D’Lo Brown, who again worked with on-off friend AJ to flatten everyone else in the ring. No further eliminations, but a lot of big-time trademark moves. #12 was Joe Legend, who was more than a match for both AJ and D’Lo as the contest slipped back into an all-vs-all melee.
#13 was Raven to a huge reaction and his first order of business was to chase James Mitchell around the ring for laps until Tempest slid out and jumped him, while Mitchell ran to the back. Raven overcame the ambush and Evenflowed Tempest on the arena floor before rolling him back in and dumping him out for elimination seven. #14 was Psicosis, who teamed with Juvi to drop everyone in the match including Raven, before they paired off with AJ and D’Lo in what’d make an interesting tag match.
#15 was RVD, who ran through his best quick moves on several people before zoning in on CW, unsurprisingly. #16 was Jeff Jarrett who had dropkicks for everyone except Van Dam and Anderson, as the spinebuster was countered into a terrific monkey flip that sent CW all the way to the floor in our eighth elimination. RVD and JJ then exchanged blows in an exciting encounter between two of the favourites.
#17 was Mike Awesome and he went straight for RVD, but while Van Dam got the edge over perhaps his least favourite Extreme Horsemen, Steve Corino entered the ring to prevent an elimination which earned him a kick to the head. Then, out ran Kid Kash to eat a right hand that then allowed Awesome to clothesline Van Dam out to the shock of the crowd.
#18 was Guido Maritato who stuck and moved on most of the field, earning a few laughs. He was soon grabbed by Awesome but he slipped out and let Mike and Raven exchange big-time strikes. #19 was Dustin Rhodes, who targeted Joe Legend from the get-go and sent him out for elimination number ten. Half the field had gone and half would remain when #20 emerged, whom the announcers nervously calculated was the new odds-on favourite Abyss. He had Mitchell back out with him, too.
Abyss targeted a hurt Raven at Mitchell’s behest until Jarrett came over to try and get him off his feet, only to eat a chokeslam. Guido beat on D’Lo and posed, which cost him as Brown muscled him over for elimination eleven. Juvi and Psicosis tried to team up on the unstoppable Abyss, but Guerrera and then Psi were sent clean out of the ring and onto the walkway for two more eliminations. CM Punk and Julio Dinero ran out with chairs and stunned Abyss until Sinn and Slash also joined us to brawl with ‘The Gathering’. Nonetheless, this was the opening Raven needed as he took one of the chairs left behind and brutalised Abyss before clotheslining the monster and himself out of the contest.
All six men fought out of sight as we were left with five: D’Lo Brown, AJ Styles, Jeff Jarrett, Mike Awesome and Dustin Rhodes. Jarrett was the most hurt of them all from Abyss’s might, leaving AJ and D’Lo to finally reopen old rivalries as Dustin and Awesome revisited their blood feud from two years ago. Suddenly Raven, The Gathering and The New Church all came back into view with security trying to stop the madness.
Jarrett staggered over and tossed both Rhodes and Awesome as they fought on the ropes, but with the officials caught in the extra-curricular Awesome snuck in while Rhodes laid hurt long enough to eventually be seen as eliminated. Awesome then snuck up on Jarrett and tossed him, surely illegally, with Jeff absolutely raging when he realised what happened. Mike then beat on AJ and D’Lo in turn with power moves before a top rope splash to both missed when each man moved away. They teamed up and sent Awesome out for real this time, and the officials formally announced it would be AJ vs D’Lo, one more time, with pinfalls or submissions only to determine the Battlebowl winner.
Awesome trudged off and the ringside brawling was diffused but Jarrett continued to rage at ringside, somewhat understandably so. Nonetheless, AJ and D’Lo had a sterling six-minute match at the end of Battlebowl after lasting so long in the battle royal portion. Officials tried to remove Jarrett physically at one stage but it took some effort, which unfortunately led to the in-ring ref missing a visible three count for D’Lo after a Lo Down. AJ fought back with a Pele Kick, springboard forearm and Spiral Tap to win Battlebowl under very dubious circumstances at a grand total of 45:17.
WCW World Championship: Sting (c) vs Lance Storm
Lastly, Lance Storm brought all of Team Canada to the ring with him for his big shot at regaining the WCW title. Commissioner Flair and Arn Anderson were soon out to tell the other four to get to the back. And as TC started to threaten and intimidate the boss and his right-hand man, the lights went out. When they returned, Sting was with them in the ring, bat in hand. Four shots took out four flunkies as Storm bailed. Sting then added a shot each to all four as officials hauled them out with Flair and Arn directing traffic. Storm then jumped the champ and the bout started!
Sting remained strong early on but it wasn’t long before Lance targeted those ribs – and he worked on them throughout. Sting fought back but a Stinger Splash hurt him more than his opponent and a long vertical suplex was followed by the Maple Leaf. The Icon fought and reached the ropes before fighting back a second time, this time hitting a big time superplex for a double KO spot. Both up at nine, they fought neck and neck before Storm went for the superkick that finished Sting eight days prior. The champ caught it, spun his challenger around and hit the Deathdrop for the pin in 17:25.
Sting celebrated with the belt as the show ended, but the commentators could not agree on if it really will be Sting vs AJ Styles at Fall Brawl, with Jeff Jarrett and D’Lo Brown having serious cases for a review.