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Monday, July 10, 2000

Booker new champ at the Bash

By JOHN POWELL -- SLAM! Wrestling

Sometimes real life is better than any angle even the most creative booker can ever dream up. Such was the case with WCW's Bash At Beach 2000, the best pay-per-view outing by the beleaguered wrestling promotion in ages. Borrowing directly from behind the scenes happenings, WCW gave its viewers solid wrestling and more twists and turns than Agatha Christie mystery. It was one of the rare circumstances where the storyline happenings made up for the sub-par matches. The event was capped it off with an truly emotional, unforgettable world title win by Booker T. A victory that Booker earned the old fashioned way. By working his guts out for years and years.

Leading up to Sunday's card, fans came to learn about the trouble brewing between Hulk Hogan, Jeff Jarrett and WCW scripter, Vince Russo. According to reports, Hogan began exercising the "creative control" in his contract...yet again. A practice Hogan is famous for to those who've followed his career since his rise to fame in the WWF. He refused to lose to Jarrett in what could be his last match in WCW. Not a fan of Hogan's in the first place, Russo seemed to come up with a plan that would incorporate their dispute into an angle. An angle that would play out like a shoot and have people questioning the authenticity of what they were seeing.

Originally booked as the main event, the Hogan - Jarrett WCW World Title match was dropped into the background. Hogan did not appear on WCW television to hype the pay-per-view. Booker T was given a title match on Thunder to foreshadow his involvement. On Bash At The Beach, Hogan didn't cut a promo on Jarrett to build interest and Jarrett interfered in Booker's match against Kanyon. Hogan was shown walking around the back once as Jarrett mouthed off throughout the night.

A bizarre series of events began when Jarrett lied down for Hogan as soon as the bell rung. Hogan looked surprised. Russo took the belt and threw it to Hogan in the ring. Russo left. Stepping on Jarrett, Hogan pinned him to win the WCW World Heavyweight Title. Hogan grabbed the house mike and shouted at a departing Russo, "That's why this company is in the damn shape it's in. Because of bulls--t like this!". Hogan was shown in the backstage area carrying the belt and walking past Vampiro.

Following Vampiro's encounter with Sting, Russo again entered the ring to speak. He looked tired and despondent draping his head over the ropes with the microphone in his hand.

Russo spoke about walking out on WCW three weeks ago due to creative differences he had with WCW's management about the content of what he was writing and the refusal of certain members of WCW's talent pool (Lex Luger, Elizabeth) to go along with his angles.

"From Day One that I've been in WCW, I have done nothing - NOTHING, but deal with the bulls--t of the politics behind THAT curtain. The fact of the matter is, I've got a wife. I've got three kids at home and I really don't need this s--t! But, let me tell you the reason why I did come back. I came back for everyone of the guys in that locker room that week in, week out, bust their ass for WCW. I came back for the Booker Ts. I came back for every single guy in MIA. I came back for the (Filthy) Animals. I came back for Jarrett. I came back for the guys behind THAT curtain that give a s--t about this company!," said an impassioned Russo cutting a most memorable promo.

"And let me tell you who doesn't give a s--t about this company," he continued taking direct aim at Hulk Hogan. "That God damn politician, Hulk Hogan! But let me tell you people what happened out there in this ring tonight. All day long I am playing politics with Hulk Hogan because Hulk Hogan tonight, wants to play his 'creative control' card and to Hulk Hogan that meant that tonight in the middle of this ring -- when he knew it was bulls--t -- he'd beat Jeff Jarrett. Well, guess what? Hogan got his wish. Hogan got his belt and he went the hell home. And, I promise everybody, or else I go in the God damn grave, you will never see that piece of s--t again!," spoke a furious Russo.

Some fans cheered. Some booed. Commentator Mark Madden said "Amen".

Russo declared the belt that Hogan left with to be the 'Hulk Hogan Memorial Belt". "From here on in, that belt don't mean s--t!," Russo said announcing that a new belt would be made to replace it and that Jeff Jarrett was still the champ as he "busts his ass in the ring" and "doesn't screw anyone in the back."

To make up for the travesty of a title match put on by Jarrett and Hogan, Russo decided that Booker T, who "couldn't get a break because of the Hulk Hogans" in WCW, would challenge Jarrett for the new WCW World Heavyweight Title in the main event.

"Booker T and Jeff Jarrett are the two reasons why I am in this damn, stinking business to begin with. So, tonight in this ring for the WCW World Title, two deserving guys -- Jarrett and Booker -- will compete for WCW and they will tear this God damn house down!," he exclaimed.

Before departing, Russo took one last parting shot at Hogan. "And, Hogan. You big, bald, son of a bitch. Kiss my ass!" he shouted.

Jarrett and Booker went on to wrestle what has to be considered a definite Match Of The Year candidate. Employing a well-rounded mix of in-ring grappling and brawling in the crowd, Booker and Jarrett proved what many have known all along, that they were main event calibre material. At 11 minutes and 32 seconds in, Jarrett resorted to illegal tactics. With the ref knocked out, he swung the WCW World Title at Booker. Booker took it from Jarrett and nailed him. Jarrett raised his shoulder off the mat in the nick of time to avoid the pinfall. Jarrett low-blowed Booker so he could set up a chair in a corner. Booker reversed the Irish Whip plowing Jarrett's head into the chair for another agonizing two count.

Jarrett delivered The Stroke to the official then retrieved his guitar from outside the ring. He climbed to the top rope for a flying guitar shot. As he jumped off, Booker caught him in his Book End slam for the 1-2-3. As the fans stood and cheered, Booker posed with the title. Close to tears, Booker helped up the injured official to his feet.

Editor's Note: Booker T is the second African American to hold the WCW World Heavyweight Title. Ron Simmons, (Faarooq), was the first.