Thunder – April 1, 1999

Thunder
Date:
April 1, 1999
Location:
Richmond Coliseum, Richmond, Virginia
Commentators:
Bobby Heenan, Mike Tenay, Tony Schiavone
Reviewed by Tommy Hall
We’re
closing in on Spring Stampede and the card is starting to come into
focus. It’s pretty clear that Hogan will be involved in the title
match but nothing has been made official yet. This is a live episode
of Thunder, meaning the levels of suck shouldn’t be as high. Granted
they’ve surprised me before. Let’s get to it.

Opening
video.
The
annoucers do their welcome and tell us that Sting has a message for
us this coming Monday.
Gene
brings out Raven and Saturn who will face Benoit/Malenko at the PPV.
Raven questions Gene for saying he and Saturn broke up. Apparently
they fought with each other for years, even back at summer camp over
a girl named Beaulah. Saturn: “THAT WAS TOMMY!” Saturn thinks
they deserve a title shot for helping Mysterio/Kidman win the titles.
Nothing was said here.
We
recap Disco vs. Konnan’s battle of the music videos.
Erik
Watts vs. Norman Smiley
Norman
is a good guy now. The announcers talk about how controversial the
Big Wiggle has been and go into their usual pronunciation argument in
a Smiley match. Watts does a dance of his own and gets nailed by a
clothesline. They trade headlocks until Erik drop toeholds Norman
into the ropes. Back up and Norman hits the swinging slam but gets
shoved out of the corner for two. A nice belly to belly plants
Norman and a buckle bomb has him in big trouble. Erik doesn’t cover
though and gets pulled into the Norman’s Conquest for the submission.
Rating:
D. I’ve always felt sorry for
Watts. He was laughed at back in 1992 for being in a position he
didn’t ask for and only held because of his dad. He was ok here but
nothing more than a generic tall villain. At the end of the day, the
guy just wasn’t very good and shouldn’t have been on national TV.
Bad match but not laughably bad.
Chris
Jericho cites the Silent Brian McNee (a deaf mute Canadian wrestler
from the early 80s) clause, which states that he should be able to
replace an injured Curt Hennig in the US Title tournament. JJ Dillon
wants to see the rule book.
Mike
Enos/Bobby Duncum Jr. vs. Raven/Perry
Saturn
Saturn
quickly takes Bobby down to start so it’s off to Enos. Mike takes a
beating as well and the bizarre combo starts some fast tagging.
Raven kicks Enos into a superkick from Saturn but Enos pops back up
and nails Raven again. Duncum comes back in but Saturn punches him
into a sunset flip for two. A big boot knocks Raven down and Enos
chokes him with a bullrope.
Saturn
has to break up a superplex attempt, allowing Raven to make the hot
tag. Belly to belly suplexes abound and everything breaks down.
Saturn uses a very nice takedown to hook the Rings of Saturn on Bobby
but Enos makes a save. Mike nails Saturn with a chair on the floor
but it doesn’t have much of
an effect. Back in and the hot tag brings in Raven to clean house as
everything breaks down again. Duncum accidentally knocks Enos into
the Evenflow for the pin out of nowhere.
Rating:
C+. This was shockingly good
for a six minute match on Thunder. They barely stopped moving the
entire time with everyone getting to show off a bit. Raven and
Saturn work well together and this was the best Duncum has looked
since he debuted. This was a very nice surprise.
Benoit
and Malenko come in to destroy Raven and Saturn post match. The bell
keeps ringing even after they’ve left the ring.
JJ
and Flair are in the back when Jericho comes in and asks about the
tournament again. Jericho gets his request after a lot of sucking
up. He leaves and Flair thinks Jericho wanted to be like him.
Chris
Adams vs. Chris Jericho
Tony:
“Still to come, Bobby Heenan will read the movie copy. That’ll be
in segment 10 and then, later on, Mike Tenay will plug the Hotline
again.” Feeling out process to start with Jericho running him over
off a shoulder block. The Canadian wins a top wristlock and stuns
Adams with a hot shot.
We
hit the chinlock for a bit before Adams comes back with a swinging
neckbreaker. The announcers argue over a point system as Adams spins
out of a Liontamer and enziguris Jericho to the floor. There’s the
superkick on the floor and Adams gets two off a high cross body. A
catapult sends Jericho into the corner and a belly to back gives
Adams another near fall. Jericho quickly takes him down into the
Liontamer for the submission.
Rating:
C-. This took awhile to get
going but Adams’ comeback had some energy to it and the match wasn’t
bad after it started rolling. Jericho wasn’t long for WCW but it was
nice to see him having some effort here. Adams continues to have a
nice role as a jobber making people look good.
Ed
Leslie comes in to talk to Flair about a new contract. He
doesn’t have much of a plan after wrestling is over. Flair brings up
his friendship with Hogan and Ed says they’re very close. The boss
makes a match tonight between Hogan and Leslie and if Ed wins, he
gets a three more extension for double the pay. If
he loses, he’s gone.
Meng/Jerry
Flynn vs. Barbarian/Hugh Morrus
Flynn
gets double teamed in the back and laid out with a piledriver on the
concrete. Meng goes back to help his partner before coming to the
ring to start a handicap match. Barbarian and Morrus are easily
knocked to the floor but they get their act together and pound Meng
down. The announcers get a note about the Hogan vs. Leslie match
tonight. Again, would letting them see the videos in the back be
such a problem? I never got Bischoff’s fascination with keeping them
in the dark.
Anyway,
Meng fights both of them off again until we get down to Morrus
starting the regular tagging portion. Meng
kicks his head off with ease and it’s off to Barbarian for the big
showdown. We take a break and come back with Meng being sent into
the barricade. They head
back inside with the team in control and Morrus dropping an elbow for
two.
A
side slam gets the same for Barbarian and it’s back to Morrus as this
slows WAY down. Meng finally nails a cross body for two on Barbarian
but Morrus makes a save. Morrus backdrops Meng into a nice powerbomb
from Barbarian as Flynn makes his big heroic return. He breaks up No
Laughing Matter and Meng’s Tongan Deathgrip gets the pin on
Barbarian.
Rating:
D. I for one feel much better
about the health and safety of our lord and master Jerry Flynn.
Thankfully they keep this stuff on Thunder instead of PPV or Nitro
but it doesn’t make Thunder any easier to sit through. The match
wasn’t terrible, but it was a very long thirteen minutes to sit
through.
Post
match Morrus gets the Deathgrip as well.
Now
we get a video on Meng. That’s some interesting timing.
Gene
brings out Hollywood Hogan for a chat. Hogan
is fine with jumping through every hoop Flair sets up for him because
Flair is the prize at the end of the tunnel. Gene thinks Flair is
scared of Hogan but the title match is official. Cue
Ric to tell a fat boy to shut up. Flair
calls himself the leader, the boss, and the World Champion. Tonight
it’s going to be Hogan vs. Ed Leslie. This would be the third time
this match has been announced and the fans are SILENT for Leslie
coming out and promising to take Hogan down. Flair
yells at some more fans and
Hogan says tonight is strictly business.
Chavo
Guerrero Jr./Kaz Hayashi vs. Dean Malenko/Chris Benoit
Dean
cranks on Kaz’s arm to start but gets caught in a tilt-a-whirl
backbreaker. Tony goes into a bizarre heel style speech, threatening
to throw Tenay off Nitro if he keeps disagreeing with Flair’s
decisions. Off to Benoit
vs. Chavo as Tenay threatens to get friends of his own to save his
job. Chavo spins out of a powerbomb from Benoit and takes him down
with a headscissors. Back
to Malenko who gets suplexed as Tony makes fun of Zbyszko. Kaz comes
back in and gets caught in a tiger bomb, setting up the Cloverleaf
for the submission.
Rating:
C-. The match wasn’t terrible
but what in the world was with the commentary? Tony just started
going insane and then they spent the second half of the match ripping
on Larry Zbyszko for whatever reason. The wrestling wasn’t terrible
but it was little more than a squash, albeit a short one.
Raven
and Saturn come out and destroy the Horsemen post match, including
putting Benoit through a table.
Hogan
talks to the NWO and tells Steiner to take care of Booker T. Stevie
says his brother is off limits and the audio is pretty bad here. The
Black and White gets in an argument over who is the leader so Hogan
makes a battle royal for Monday for the leadership spot. Again.
This takes way longer than
it should have.
Horace
vs. Diamond Dallas Page
Page
quickly sends him into the corner and scores with a belly to back
suplex. We hit the wristlock on Horace but he nails Page with a
right hand to take over. He misses the splash and walks into a
clothesline to send him outside. Page nails a plancha and they fight
by the barricade as we take a break. Back with them slugging it out
in the aisle. Horace sends him into the barricade to take over and
chokes on the ropes back inside. A
backbreaker gets two on Page but he sends Horace face first into the
buckle. Page crotches him against the post and floats around
Horace’s shoulders into the Diamond Cutter for the pin.
Rating:
D+. Pretty dull match here as
Page seems to have forgotten his heel turn. Horace was fine for a
punching bag to put Page over and the Diamond Cutter looked fine, but
Page wrestling like he always has was strange after what happened on
Monday. Not much to see here but that’s to be expected in a
glorified squash.
Ed
Leslie vs. Hollywood Hogan
Leslie
takes him into the corner to start but gets clotheslined for his
efforts. Hogan hammers away
and loads up the weightlifting belt but gets poked in the eyes. Now
it’s Leslie whipping him until they head to the floor where Hogan
takes over with right hands. They slug it out on the floor followed
by a slugout in the ring with Leslie choking away. A clothesline
gets two for Hogan but Leslie suplexes him down for the same. Hogan
comes back with the big boot but Flair comes out and trips him up.
The Apocalypse doesn’t even put Hogan on the mat so Flair comes in
for the DQ.
Rating:
D-. As dull as this was, it was
still light years better than their messes in 1994. Granted it could
be because that match was the main event of the biggest show of the
year and this was a six minute Thunder main event. That
being said, six minutes of punching and really basic wrestling isn’t
enough to get me interested.
Post
match Hogan beats up Flair and drops the leg before counting three.
The Horsemen run in but Hogan beats up all four of them with ease.
There wasn’t even miscommunication or anything where one Horsemen
accidentally hit another. Hogan just punched them all down.
The
announcers talk about Sting’s announcement to end the show.
Overall
Rating:
D+. This was one of the
easier episodes to sit through but it follows the PPV formula of
falling apart near the end of the show. The Sting announcement is
somewhat intriguing, even though WCW has a pretty horrible track
record on stuff like that. The wrestling wasn’t too bad and it made
the show much easier to sit through, though almost nothing here meant
anything.
Remember to check out my website at kbwrestlingreviews.com and head over to my Amazon author page with wrestling books for under $4 at:
http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Hall/e/B00E6282W6