World Championship Wrestling in its various forms prior to 2001 had presented a number of ‘triple cage’ matches, using three triple-cage templates. The ‘Tower Of Doom’ in 1988 was a confusing mess, and the ‘Doomsday Cage’ at Uncensored 1996 was an impractical embarrassment. Years later, the three-tiered structure from the Ready To Rumble wrestling movie offered a far more impressive-looking take on the concept, but the Slamboree 2000 main event and ‘Russo’s Revenge’ WarGames bastardisation failed to take full advantage of the imposing multi-cage.
As fate would have it, Vince Russo himself ended up bringing the triple cage back three years later, handpicking ‘Russo’s Revenge’ as the stipulation for his sadistic client Sean O’Haire’s WCW World title rematch against the Icon, Sting. Mano a mano inside the bottom of the three cages with the big gold belt hanging above the top of the third, who will emerge victorious in this dangerous and dramatic race to the very top of the company?
Russo’s enlistment of longtime associates Triple X to assist O’Haire is unlikely to be of much use due to not only the cage, but the tag team champions’ defence on the card against Jeff Jarrett and Chris Harris. XXX put Wildcat’s AMW team-mate James Black on the shelf in what they claim is revenge for an accidental injury at the start of the year, but were shockingly pinned by the makeshift duo at the 9:59 mark of a 10-minute challenge on Saturday Nitro.
Russo’s on-off-on-off-on-off alliance with Father James Mitchell and the Disciples of the New Church may not be a factor in the main event, either. Mitchell’s new monster, Abyss, will face Mitchell nemesis Raven in a Raven’s Rules match. Can the masked giant force the enigmatic one into Mitchell’s servitude? And the chaos doesn’t stop there, with the United States title on the line in another Triple Jeopardy match while the Hardcore Revolution and the Extreme Horsemen do battle yet again, this time in a first-ever Guerrilla Gangfight Death Match.
JULY 20, 2003: WCW BASH AT THE BEACH 2003 – Miami, Florida
During the pre-show, it was confirmed that Rey Mysterio had been cleared to compete and that BG James had offered to step aside so Rey could replace him in the 10-man tag match.
Opening match, 10-man tag: Rey Mysterio, Konnan, Ron Killings, Juventud Guerrera & Psicosis vs. Billy Kidman, Sonny Siaki, Matt Bentley, Paul London and Brian Kendrick
And it was that bout kicking us off, with Gilbertti, Torrie, Trinity, Traci and Desire all flanking the heel squad while BG was out in the corner of his side. The faces took the fight to their tormentors early on, with Mysterio adding a springboard dive onto the entire crew as an exclamation mark and BG adding a second exclamation by drilling Gilbertti between the eyes when he tried to interfere.
GGE still had four dangerous valets on the case, however, and a joint distraction led to Trinity hitting an impressive huracanrana of her own to Rey which allowed the heels to take over. Now, with Rey vulnerable, Kidman tagged in at will and kept targeting the bad leg. Eventually, Mysterio escaped and tagged out to Konnan who brought the pent-up fury to all five men, with his colleagues providing backup when the numbers caught up to him.
When Konnan had Kidman trapped in Tequila Sunrise, however, Torrie sprayed something in his eyes amidst multi-man chaos and it led to the cheap Kidman win in a total time of 12:54.
WCW Cruiserweight Championship: Kid Kash (c) vs Guido Maritato
Kash put his cruiserweight title on the line next against the man he’d recommended for the Hardcore Revolution, the stable he helped found (albeit one his relationship with had been rocky for months). Looking to perhaps mend fences with his friends, he offered Guido a shot at the belt no questions asked in return for the chance to put down the treacherous Italian for what he and Johnny Stamboli did last month.
It came as no surprise that ‘The Bull’ got involved more than once in the bout but towards the end his interfering was caught by the ref, earning him an ejection to a positive response from the crowd. Forced to go the home stretch alone, Guido came close to becoming the new champ more than once but ultimately fell to the Money Maker after missing a Sicilian Slice off the middle turnbuckle, keeping the belt on Kash after 12:46.
WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team Championship: The Rejected (c) vs The Amazing Red & Jimmy Yang
Though Shannon Moore and Shane Helms had their fair share of trouble recently from the out-of-nowhere combination of Yang and Red, they retained their gradually-more-damaged cruiserweight tag titles at the PPV with a Helms roll-up on Yang and Moore providing leverage from the outside at the 10:37 mostly comprised of the challengers rocking the champs with an array of dazzling offense. By hook or by crook, The Rejected’s reign continued – and as the commentators noted during the match, they had also on this day overtaken Rey and Kidman’s record title reign of 153 days on this, day 154.
Triple Jeopardy for the WCW United States Championship: D’Lo Brown (c) vs AJ Styles vs Eddie Guerrero
Next was Triple Jeopardy III for the United States belt, as D’Lo Brown defended his title against the man he dethroned, AJ Styles, and a former US titlist from WCW’s previous life who had lost his nephew and tag partner to injury but gained his old ruthless mean streak to an extent, Eddie Guerrero. And in the face of Commissioner Flair’s decree at the top of the year that multi-man title matches would be elimination to avoid a champion being dethroned without being beat, the ‘anything goes’ nature of Triple Jeopardy meant it was a rare one-fall scenario here.
With tensions high between all three men especially after the insertion of the embittered Guerrero into the title mix, it didn’t take long for the fight to leave the ring in Triple Jeopardy tradition. The three fought around the BATB set, with Eddie managing to convince both men to team with him and punish the other at separate early moments, until AJ disappeared from view, only to have found an elevated platform to dive from onto both opponents.
Back in the ring, the bout eased into more of a traditional triangle match until Guerrero stopped a Styles Clash setup with a belt shot to AJ’s head. Three verticals to Brown later, Eddie was ready to hit his frog splash only for the champ to move and follow up with his own version, the Lo Down, for 2.9 before Styles broke it up at the last possible moment.
Sick of Eddie’s antics, the other two teamed together to set up a Styles Clash from the walkway, through a table on the floor in a brutal spot. That left the two men who’d torn the house down over this very championship at the last pair of PPVs to go at it. And that they did, though a steel chair this time found its way into their exchange of big moves and AJ hit a springboard flying forearm out to the walkway before throwing D’Lo back in and looking for the springboard 450. Brown dodged but AJ rolled through and threw the chair into the champ’s face.
He then went for Spiral Tap, only for Brown to raise his knees. AJ staggered into Sky High and another Lo Down followed, only for Eddie to return from the dead and drill the pin attempt with his own frog splash, cradling a stunned D’Lo with his feet on the ropes for the pin and the US title in 15:30!
WCW World Tag Team Championship: Triple X (c) vs Jeff Jarrett & Chris Harris
Jeff Jarrett actually made his entrance at the same time as Chris Harris and wearing similarly-coloured gear, showing unity with his makeshift take partner in their quest for the WCW tag titles and a little revenge on the men who’d been helping out Vince Russo and Sean O’Haire – not to mention the men who put James Black on the shelf – Triple X.
Despite the animosity between the two sides, the importance of victory and ownership of the world championships was paramount and an old-fashioned contest broke out between the four. It didn’t take long for XXX’s tactics to rear their ugly head, of course, and it allowed them to isolate Wildcat for a while until he escaped the Powerplex and tagged in Jarrett.
JJ took down the champs by himself for a while and nearly won the titles with a Stroke to Skipper and a big DDT to Daniels, but when the referee looked to remove a returning Harris and fellow illegal man Daniels from the ring, it allowed Elix to low blow his way out of a Jarrett piledriver attempt and Daniels followed up by bringing Jeff’s own guitar across his bad knee.
Triple X worked over the leg in search of a submission and used dirty tricks to cut off the tag to Harris more than once until their antics backfired one time and Chris got back in. He took the fight to both tiring titlists and almost had it won with a Catatonic to Daniels only for Skipper to break it up late on.
Jarrett limped back in to back up his partner and things were going the challengers way until Vince Russo ran out to drill JJ across the back with a baseball bat as he regained his composure on the walkway. The ref didn’t see the attack and though Harris kept fighting, the numbers took over and the Powerplex kept the titles on XXX after 17:11.
Raven’s Rules: Raven vs Abyss
Raven brought a trolley full of weapons out with him and started by ramming the trolley itself into the monster’s midsection when he rushed out to the walkway to head him off. A game of stick-and-move using weapons followed, with a run-in by Tempest leading to Abyss taking over with some brutal weapon-based offense of his own.
All the while, Mitchell screamed at Raven to give in and join him, with Abyss giving him plenty of opportunities to do just that with weapon-assisted weardown holds. But when Mitchell set a table up at ringside for more Raven abuse, his arch nemesis was able to avoid an Abyss chokeslam over the ropes and instead muscle the monster over the ropes and through the wood. This led to Sinn and Slash also running out and being fought off by Raven and a STOP sign, before he hit not one, not two but three drop toe holds onto an unfolded steel chair to each of the interlopers.
This led to a desperate Mitchell himself hopping onto the apron to distract Raven, earning a right hand in the process. But as he set up the Evenflow on his tormentor, Abyss returned with a stiff chair shot followed by a short-arm Black Hole Slam – the name for his spinning sidewalk slam – for the tainted (but legal) win in 8:59.
At a groggy Mitchell’s command, the New Church continued to put the boots to Raven after the decision before Abyss pulled out two more tables and put them one on top of another. Just as the Church prepared a nasty fate for Raven, Julio Dinero and CM Punk of all people – lower-card performers found mostly on AirTime until they scored their maiden win as a team together on Nitro – ran out with chairs and forced a Church retreat after connecting with shots to Sinn and Slash as well as a couple that merely fazed Abyss.
When they helped Raven up, however, the loner shoved them away and even hit Evenflows to the pair of them when they insisted on trying to help. The wounded, defeated Raven hobbled out of the arena alone.
Guerrilla Gangfight Death Match: Hardcore Revolution vs Extreme Horsemen
A unique eight-man tag followed in the chief support slot, as Rob Van Dam led Jerry Lynn, Super Crazy and Tajiri into another battle against the Extreme Horsemen, this time represented by Mike Awesome, CW Anderson, Simon Diamond and Justin Credible with Steve Corino in their corner as ever. Though it marked the fourth straight PPV the two sides had battled, this was the first ever Guerrilla Gangfight Death Match, devised by Commissioner Flair and team warfare veteran Arn Anderson to reflect the gang attacks that had littered the entire feud.
Pinfall, submission, DQ or countout would allow the winner of the fall to handpick one opponent to face them, 4-on-1, for 60 seconds. When such a handicap hammering cannot be shaken off at the count of 10, the match is over. Also noted by commentary was another rule added by Flair that once a wrestler has been selected for singling out, they cannot be picked again unless all four team members have survived once each.
Fired up by the Horsemen’s sneaky wins over the last few months, the opening stages were all Revolution – which made it all the more surprising when Diamond surprised RVD with a roll-up and a handful of tights after 3:44. The Horsemen, with Corino calling the shots, selected Super Crazy for the 4-on-1. And after 10 seconds of evasion, Crazy succumbed to the beatdown, punctuated by Diamond’s Simon Series suplexes and a top rope splash from Awesome.
With his team-mates cheering him on, Crazy answered the count at 8. However, he started the next fall as the legal man and was quickly DDTd by CW Anderson for the second fall in 5:58. This time, they elected to single out Tajiri. The Japanese Buzzsaw entered the ring carefully in the face of four opponents, but as the 60 seconds started he immediately took out Diamond with green mist! His barrage of kicks bought him some time against the other three, but he too inevitably succumbed to the numbers and a serious beating.
As the ref attempted to usher them back to the apron for the 10 count, Awesome slipped away and added a vicious powerbomb to Tajiri for good measure. But despite the illegal extra attack, Tajiri was able to make his feet at 9! This time, the Horsemen were unable to follow up with another quick fall but worked over the former cruiser champ for several minutes until a hot tag to RVD led to a flurry of Van Dam offense and a Five Star Frog Splash on Diamond for the third fall at 11:15.
RVD wasted no time canvassing his team and getting a unanimous vote to keep Simon in there, and the 60 seconds began immediately with the Revolution putting the boots to Diamond. A barrage of corner dropkicks from all four was next, but as Lynn readied a Cradle Piledriver the Horsemen ran in and a huge brawl kicked off in the final 10 seconds. The referee attempted to keep things rolling, restored order and began the count but the interference seemed to save Diamond, who got up at 8.
At the tail end of the melee, Credible kicked Lynn low and Simon fell into a tag to Awesome, who quickly added an Awesome Bomb to take the fourth fall in 13:03. Credible was beside himself in demanding Lynn be singled out, and for Corino it was an obvious decision anyway. This time, the beatdown was interrupted by the Revolution as turnabout was fair play. However, Credible was able to stay out of it, grab his Singapore cane and drill Lynn before adding That’s Incredible at the end of the 60 seconds. Nonetheless, Lynn used the ropes to pull himself up at 9.
CW worked over Lynn with a variety of submission holds in the next fall but Jerry escaped and tagged Super Crazy, who cleaned house and hit a moonsault to the outside on the entire Horsemen posse. Credible blind tagged in and attacked Crazy, but as he came into the ropes Lynn brought the same cane over his back while the ref dealt with Corino’s whining. Crazy then planted Credible with a German suplex and bridge for the fifth fall in 16:27.
Again, the Revolution quickly nominated the man pinned but this time they stayed on top of the other team-mates while taking turns hitting big moves on Credible. Justin ate a straitjacket powerbomb from Crazy, endured the Tarantula from Tajiri for a while, took a split-legged moonsault from RVD and finally a Cradle Piledriver from Lynn while the Horsemen were prevented from halting the beatdown.
At the end of 60 seconds, Credible was out and the ref’s count to 10 was academic as the Revolution and Horsemen including Corino continued to brawl. After a total of 17:49, RVD’s Extremists had finally beaten their antagonists. And they fought off the Horsemen until they retreated and took a badly beaten Credible with them.
Finally, the triple cage lowered after spending the evening suspended above the ring compressed like a Russian doll. As stage hands performed last minute checks that everything was in place, the music of Team Canada hit as the entire crew came onto the stage. Lance Storm told the crowd that their plot to have him injured or defeated before he could cash in his title shot failed, just like they fail every day of their lives. He says his squad and himself will be watching Sting and Sean O’Haire destroy each other in three different steel cages before he picks clean what’s left of the winner and becomes a two-time WCW champion.
‘Russo’s Revenge’ triple steel cage match for the WCW World Championship: Sting (c) vs Sean O’Haire
And with that, it was main event time. The WCW championship belt hung from the rafters at the very top of the arena with the only feasible route to it via climbing three steel cages. As with its appearance at Slamboree 2000, the bottom cage was Caged Heat size with a ladder in each corner and a trap door up to the second cage found above the ring itself, requiring a ladder to reach. Inside the second cage was a variety of ‘hardcore plunder’ weapons such as trash cans and baking trays, plus a rope ladder to the trap door which brought you inside the third and final cage, which contained two baseball bats and a regular door to walk out and scale that third cage with the title reachable from its roof.
Sean O’Haire made his entrance alongside Vince Russo before the champion, Sting, arrived next. Once both inside, the bottom cage door was chained shut – leaving the only way to escape at the very top of the building. The fight began with the two exchanging harsh words and then fists. Sting took control with body slams and Stinger Splashes, until a third Splash was dodged and sent Sting tumbling outside.
O’Haire rammed him into the Caged Heat wall a few times before putting a ladder in the ring. The champion recovered enough to stop his initial climb and the two traded ladder-based offense until Sting reversed an F5 attempt into a Tombstone hoist which was flipped by Sean, and then flipped back by Sting once more, who connected.
He placed a ladder directly under the trap door and was almost through, only for O’Haire to recover enough to ram the tip of the ladder into Sting’s groin as he pulled himself up before bringing him down into a powerbomb. Sean then climbed up and slowly got up into cage two, but a hurt Sting wasn’t far behind. O’Haire saw this and quickly abandoned his initial attempt to climb the rope ladder, grabbing a trash can and going to town on the champ.
Sting fought back out of desperation with whatever he could get his hands on before hitting a Scorpion Deathdrop on the cage floor. Both men were down, but Sting recovered first and climbed up the rope ladder into cage three, this time with O’Haire in hot pursuit. As Sting slowly got to his feet inside the ‘bat cage’, he felt O’Haire’s hands clasp his right foot. The two traded punches until they got separation inside the smallest of the three cages, at which point they each grabbed a bat in an opposite corner.
Sean swung fastest, but Sting ducked before blocking a second attempt with his own bat. The two wrestled via the bats until they both tumbled through the unlocked door and landed precariously near the edge of the second cage’s roof. Each man kept hold of a bat… but as they stood up, each fighter landed a shot to the head of the other and they both went back down again. On the arena floor, we saw a panicked Russo hop onto the walkway and frantically call for someone to come from the back.
That someone was Elix Skipper and Christopher Daniels, and Russo sent them to climb the outside of the triple structure now the two men were no longer enclosed. Triple X climbed up the side of the largest cage, but the camera cut back to Russo who didn’t see Jeff Jarrett sneak down the walkway and right behind him with a guitar. He milked the moment for the live crowd before tapping Russo’s shoulder, making sure he realised what was happening and then smashed the six-stringer over his skull, finally enjoying some revenge on the man who made his life difficult for most of the last year.
Jarrett then began to scale up the cage himself and caught the trailing leg of the slowest of the two, Daniels. He dragged the Fallen Angel down and the two brawled through the crowd and out of sight, while Skipper continued to zone in on Sting and O’Haire. He reached the roof of the second cage and pounded on Sting before throwing him back into the third cage and producing a pair of handcuffs.
He then looked to use the cuffs to lock the door, keeping the champ out of reach of his belt. However, someone had wired down from the rafters onto the second roof in a Sting trenchcoat and mask. Skipper noticed this after he had attached one cuff to the door, turned around and took a right hand from the mystery man. He then unmasked to reveal… Dustin Rhodes!
Rhodes locked the other cuff around Skipper’s wrist, rendering him unable to interfere, but turned around into a bat shot to the ribs from O’Haire. Sting took that moment to dropkick the door into Sean’s face, sending him flying off the second roof and down onto the top of the first cage! Sting then checked on Rhodes who urged him to climb, and that the Stinger did.
He got on top of the third cage and reclaimed his championship belt to retain in 22:26. Lightning and light shows played through the arena as Sting held his belt aloft on top of the behemoth structure, very close to the rafters he called home for so long.
O’Haire actually came into the PPV with what was feared to be a serious injury, and a scan the following Tuesday confirmed that an injury to his arm was quite bad and would require at least several months off. His quite impressive bump at the end of the Triple Cage match will be written as being the reason for his disappearance.