Thunder – January 29, 1998

These will be posted on Saturday from now on.
Thunder
Date:
January 29, 1998
Location:
Mid-South Coliseum, Memphis, Tennessee
Commentators:
Tony Schiavone, Lee Marshall, Bobby Heenan
Reviewed by Tommy Hall
Back
to Thursday nights here with the fourth episode of the series. The
main story continues to be the destruction of the NWO as Nitro ended
with Hall and Hogan standing around while Sting beat up Savage. The
main event tonight is the Steiners challenging for the tag titles in
a match we haven’t seen before. That shouldn’t make sense so let’s
get to it.

The
intro has changed to a thunderstorm theme which doesn’t work as well.
The
set is now a traditional one with a regular entrance and the Thunder
logo on top of it.
US
Title: Diamond Dallas Page vs. Sick Boy
Page
takes it to the mat but gets caught in an armbar. Sick Boy bails to
the floor and the stalling begins. Back in and Page pulls him down
but Sick Boy nips up. The discus lariat misses so Page goes to a
tilt-a-whirl side slam for no cover. Sick Boy goes back to the apron
for a springboard missile dropkick to take over. A spinning belly to
belly suplex gets two on Page but Sick Boy misses a kick to the ribs.
The discus lariat looks to set up the Diamond Cutter but Sick Boy
takes out the knee. Not that it matters much as Page throws him up
for a flapjack but pulls him down into the Cutter for the pin.
Rating:
C+. This was much better than I
expected which is what I’ve said for both Sick Boy matches I’ve seen.
He looks good in the ring and can fly through the air for a guy of
his size. The Diamond Cutter to end it looked great as Sick Boy’s
head bounced off the mat to knock him out cold.
The
Flock decides not to jump Page.
Here’s
JJ Dillon with an announcement: Nash is being fined $50,000 for his
powerbomb on Monday and if he does it again, the fines will grow.
Meng
vs. Jim Duggan
Duggan
wins a quick slugout and takes it to the floor where he whips Meng
into the steps and beats on him with Jimmy Hart’s jacket. Back
inside and Meng does what he does best: hit Duggan in the head. It
has little effect on the thickheaded Duggan so Meng keeps pounding
away. They slug it out until Duggan misses a charge into the corner,
allowing Meng to put on a nerve hold. Back up and a double
clothesline puts both guys down, allowing Hart to get up on the apron
with the 2×4. Duggan intercepts the throw and cracks it over Meng’s
back but chases after Hart instead. Back in and the Tongan Death
Grip ends Jim.
Rating:
C. This was far better than I
was expecting it to be with Duggan looking much better than I would
have expected him to. Meng continues to get small pushes every now
and then, which is likely to build him up for a feeding to a bigger
name later on. Both guys were working hard here and it was better
than it should have been.
Raven
vs. Marty Jannetty
Anything
goes again and Marty’s music still doesn’t fit him at all. Jannetty
takes him into the corner to start and dropkicks Raven to the
outside. He pounds on Raven on the floor but gets sent hard into the
post to change momentum. Raven throws in a chair for the drop
toehold and Marty is in big trouble. Marty hits a quick bulldog and
slams Raven’s head into the mat a few times for two but Raven is
smiling. A superkick puts Raven down and the top rope fist gets two,
but Raven dropkicks the chair into Marty’s face to knock him silly.
The Evenflow DDT is good for the pin for Raven.
Rating:
C-. Another decent match here
with Marty looking decent in defeat. Raven smiling while he’s in
pain is still very creepy and fits his character perfectly. The
Raven’s Rules all the time stuff isn’t a problem because the weapons
and violence aren’t the focus of the matches. That DDT looked great
too.
Jerry
Lee Lewis is here.
Bill
Goldberg vs. Yuji Nagata
The
pops are getting louder and louder. Nagata goes straight at him but
Goldberg chokes him down. Goldberg takes him down with a quick
leglock but Nagata makes the ropes. Yuji’s slam is countered into a
spinning neckbreaker and it’s the spear and Jackhammer for another
fast pin.
Goldberg
vs. Meng is announced for Saturday Night. There’s the bigger name
Meng was being set up for.
We
recap Savage’s rant against Hogan, Bischoff and the rest of the NWO
from Nitro.
Here’s
Hall for the survey with the NWO taking the crowd tonight. Hall
wants to know when he gets his title shot from World War III but now
it’s time to bring out Dusty Rhodes. Dusty talks about corporate
America tearing down what he built in 1991 and taking away the
tradition of professional wrestling. He lived on the 12th
floor and got tired of dealing with the suits every day. Now he’s
tired of carrying Tony Schiavone for the last four years.
Then
Dusty started hearing from Eric Bischoff and realized that the NWO is
why you’re here tonight. Dusty says the NWO is the future and
they’ve gotten Dusty the biggest checks of his career. This time,
WCW isn’t going to make any comeback with anybody because the NWO is
going to crush them all. “You hear that marks on the internet?”
Also, the powerbomb should be reinstated because a 500lb man
shouldn’t be in the ring if he can’t protect himself. Dusty Rhodes
ladies and gentlemen.
Scott
Hall vs. Disco Inferno
Hall
slaps Disco around to start and does the Giant mocking bit. A quick
attempt at the Outsider’s Edge is countered and Disco hits the
Chartbuster out of nowhere. Dusty puts the foot on the ropes and
brings Hall out to the floor for a chat. Back in and Hall pounds
away on Disco before hitting the fallaway slam and the Edge for the
pin.
Here’s
Nick Patrick for the first time since he was suspended. Patrick
insists that the count at Starrcade was a normal count and that Bret
should be suspended, not him. He’s going to have his lawyers look
into this and wants to referee the rematch to prove how awesome he
is.
TV
Title: Booker T vs. Perry Saturn
Booker
is defending and is in blue Harlem Heat attire instead of his usual
singles tights. Saturn pounds him down in the corner to start but
Booker comes back with right hands of his own. Apparently Saturn is
getting this show because Martel has a concussion. A powerslam gets
two for the champion and they head to the outside with Saturn being
sent into the barricade. Back inside and Saturn gets two off a
brainbuster but crotches himself on the middle rope. Booker hits the
side kick and ax kick but has to fight off the Flock. Martel comes
out to help but Booker sends Saturn into him and rolls Saturn up to
retain.
Rating:
C. This was your usual fast
paced match between the two as the three way feud is starting to
develop. Booker is nailing the singles push now and has transitioned
from the tag team ranks with ease. I’m also surprised at how well
Martel has fit into this feud as I didn’t remember him being anything
at all in his return push.
We
see the end of Nitro with Hall and Hogan turning their backs on
Savage.
Eddie
Guerrero/Chris Jericho vs. Dean Malenko/Chris Benoit
This
should be awesome. Jericho and Malenko get things going but the fans
are all over Eddie. Dean quickly takes him down to start but it’s
off to Eddie to send Dean into the corner. A rollup gets two for
Eddie but he walks into a powerslam for two. Off to Benoit vs.
Jericho with Benoit hitting a hard clothesline to take over. Jericho
comes right back with a delayed vertical suplex and some chops in the
corner. You know Benoit is cool with that and takes over with chops
of his own.
Jericho
comes right back with a German suplex and the Lionsault for two
before Guerrero comes back in. Benoit tries the Crossface but
Jericho makes the save as everything breaks down. Dean throws
Guerrero into a northern lights suplex but Jericho breaks up the
Cloverleaf attempt. Jericho hits a missile dropkick on Dean but
Malenko reverses the Liontamer into a rollup for two. Dean hooks a
superplex on Jericho and Benoit adds the Swan Dive. Eddie tries a
Frog Splash on Malenko but only hits feet, allowing Benoit to hook
the Crossface on Jericho for the win.
Rating:
B. This was a six and a half
minute match with the action of a match twice that long. These guys
were arguably the most valuable guys in WCW for a long time as you
could just throw them out there in any combination and get a good
match. Benoit and Malenko looked very good together as a team.
Post
match Benoit says his chapter with Raven has come to an end. Tenay
asks Benoit why he’s never had a title shot but Benoit says he
doesn’t need one. DDP pops up in the crowd (Marshall: “is that
Scott Hall?”) and says that the promoters don’t see Benoit as a
main eventer. They didn’t see Page as a main eventer either, but
Page is interested in the idea. If Benoit wants a shot at the US
Title, all he has to do is ask. Benoit agrees to the title match a
week from tonight.
Tag
Titles: Steiner Brothers vs. Kevin Nash/Konnan
Konnan
gets to defend the belts because of Wolfpack Rules. Rick starts off
with Konnan with Steiner pounding him down into the mat and hooking
an STF of all things. Konnan makes the rope but gets caught in a
release German suplex to send him over to Nash. The Steiners knock
Nash to the floor and do their signature pose.
They
head back inside and Nash pounds on Rick in the corner with the knee
lifts and elbows to the head. Konnan comes in for a stump puller of
all things but Scott breaks it up. Kevin gets the tag and gets
caught by a Steiner Line but here’s Buff Bagwell to challenge Scott
to a posedown. Back in the ring, Nash hits Rick with the belt for a
DQ.
Rating:
D. This didn’t have time to go
anywhere and was mainly storyline stuff anyway. The Scott vs. Buff
posedown stuff is fine as a catalyst for the Steiner Brothers’ split
which had to happen at some point. I’m not wild on the Wolfpack
Rules idea as those usually only work when there are two members of a
team, but the NWO could pretty much make up whatever rules they
wanted around this time.
Post
match Nash powerbombs the referee and is taken away by security.
Nash: “Make sure Jack Ruby isn’t out there. That’s how Oswald got
it.”
Overall
Rating:
C+. This was the same
formula as last week and it still works quite well. They’re using
Thunder to focus on the midcard and it offers a nice contrast to the
storyline heavy Nitro. The lack of Hogan and Sting allows the show
to build on other stories which makes for a more interesting show.
Good stuff again this week.

Remember to follow me on Twitter @kbreviews and check out my website at kbwrestlingreviews.com

Thunder – January 22, 1998

Thunder
Date:
January 22, 1998
Location:
Von Braun Center, Huntsville, Alabama
Commentators:
Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, Lee Marshall
Reviewed by Tommy Hall
It’s
the go home show for Souled Out and things are actually cooking for
WCW. We still don’t know anything about the world title situation
other than Hall has to fight somebody for the title at SuperBrawl.
As for Saturday, it looks like the main event is going to be Hart vs.
Flair in a really well built showdown for respect. Tonight we have
Giant vs. Hall in the main event which brings two major matches for
Saturday together. Let’s get to it.

The
announcers tell us that we’ll get an announcement on the world title
situation on Saturday as well as an appearance from Roddy Piper.
Scott
Steiner vs. Konnan
Scott
overpowers him to start and shoves Konnan down to the floor with
ease. Back in and Vincent earns his paycheck by tripping Steiner up
to give Konnan control. Scott comes right back with a gorilla press
and a gorilla press as we’re in squash territory here. The top rope
Frankensteiner is loaded up but Buff and Norton hit the ring for the
quick DQ.
Rick
Steiner and Ray Traylor run out for the save but Scott walks out to
pose at Bagwell.
Here’s
Nash to say that in 90 minutes, he’s going to be $1.5 million richer.
Giant wants Nash more than a lap dance after being at sea for 20
years but Nash isn’t afraid of him at all. Saturday is about the
physical torture but tonight is all about the psychological. Good
promo here as Nash keeps it simple.
Super
Calo/Chavo Guerrero Jr. vs. Silver King/La Parka
This
is Lucha Libre rules, meaning you can change with your partner if you
go to the floor. Chavo starts out with Silver King and takes over
with a quick headscissors on Silver. Everything quickly breaks down
with Calo pounding on La Parka but getting caught in a powerslam.
Raven comes through the crowd sans Flock as La Parka dives over the
top to land on Calo’s stretched out back.
Back
in the ring Silver King powerbombs Calo down for two before La Parka
comes in for a double enziguri on Calo. La Parka and King allow Calo
to make the tag as everything breaks down again. Chavo dives to the
floor to take out La Parka as Super Calo hits a top rope hurricanrana
on King for the pin.
Rating:
C-. This was an entertaining
mess with the emphasis on mess. The match didn’t get anywhere near
the excitement that these matches are capable of reaching and none of
these guys did anything to set themselves apart from the others. La
Parka was the only guy in the match who was a big deal at this point
but he was barely in the match at all.
Post
match La Parka blasts everyone with the chair until Juventud and
Lizmark Jr. run out for the save. Psychosis and El Dandy run in as
well and it’s a big brawl. Nearly everyone gets to hit a big dive to
make up for the so-so match.
Nick
Patrick wants to talk about something but Rick Martel walks in behind
him. Kidman comes in to yell at Martel for the fight on Nitro.
Saturn runs in and throws Martel through a glass door. It’s as out
of nowhere as it sounds.
Dean
Malenko vs. Marty Jannetty
They
start with an armbar each with Marty actually taking over on the mat.
Dean escapes and goes after Marty’s knee, only to be put in a front
facelock. The technical exhibition continues with Dean going after
Jannetty’s knee again, only to be countered into a catapult into the
corner for two. We hit a chinlock on Dean for a few moments before
Malenko fights up with a belly to back suplex.
A
regular suplex gets two for Malenko but Marty comes back with a
clothesline for two of his own. Jannetty goes after the leg….and
now the arm a few seconds later. I guess all that cocaine made the
limbs look the same. Dean fights up again but gets caught in a
faceplant for two. In a rare botch in a Malenko match, Marty loads
up a snapmare but Dean falls like a neckbreaker, making it look more
like a Stunner. A few seconds later Marty tries the Rocker Dropper
but is countered into the tiger bomb and the Cloverleaf for the
submission.
Rating:
C-. This was slow paced and
methodical but it wasn’t bad at all. Jannetty didn’t look as good as
he did on Nitro but his WCW run isn’t going badly at all. Malenko
has been left out in the cold since Starrcade due to Mysterio and
Jericho taking the focus on the Cruiserweight Title.
Goldberg
vs. Kendall Windham
Goldberg
takes him to the mat with a leg lock but Kendall makes a rope. A
clothesline gets two for Windham but it’s spear/Jackhammer for the
pin. The reactions are getting louder and louder.
Here’s
Hall for his survey with WCW taking the night. Hall is looking
forward to Saturday so he can shut Zbyszko up once and for all. Cue
Louie Spicolli with Larry’s golf clubs which are rapidly bent and
broken. Larry comes out and is ready to fight Hall but Spicolli
wants a piece of him instead. Zbyszko immediately takes him down
with a guillotine choke but has to avoid an elbow drop from Hall.
Larry bails and says he’ll have backup at Souled Out.
We
get some clips of Piper on Walker Texas Ranger. When Chuck Norris is
the best actor ina scene, you know you’re in trouble.
Cruiserweight
Title: Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio Jr.
Rey
has a bad knee. Eddie is challenging and charges right at Rey, only
to be taken down by an armdrag. A hurricanrana sends Eddie most of
the way to the apron as his leg is caught in the apron on the way
down. Back in and a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker puts Rey down for two
as it’s all Eddie so far. A brainbuster looks to set up the frog
splash but Rey gets up top for a superplex to put both guys down.
Eddie is dropkicked out to the floor and Rey hits a dive over the
top, reinjuring his knee again in the process. With Eddie down on
the floor, Jericho runs to attack Rey for the DQ.
Rating:
D+. This didn’t have the time
to go anywhere but it was angle advancement anyway. Rey’s knee is
very banged up thanks to Jericho’s recent attacks and this match
didn’t do it any favors. Eddie is in the same spot that Malenko is
in at the moment: just floating around waiting on something to do.
Eddie
and Jericho stomp Mysterio down but Eddie is mad at Jericho costing
him a match. Benoit sneaks in behind Jericho for their upcoming
match as Eddie bails. The look on Jericho’s face when he sees Benoit
is priceless.
Chris
Benoit vs. Chris Jericho
Benoit
sends him into the corner as Dean Malenko and referee Mickie Jay
carry Mysterio to the back. Jericho bails to the floor as we take a
break. Back with Jericho continuing to run but getting caught by a
suicide dive. They head back inside and Jericho hits a quick
dropkick to take over. A spinebuster looks to set up the Liontamer
but Benoit chops his way out of it. Jericho runs some more but gets
caught in a dragon screw leg whip.
Benoit
is taken down by a back elbow for the ARROGANT COVER for two. The
Lionsault connects but Jericho waits for the fans to cheer him
instead of covering. Instead a superplex gets two on Benoit and it’s
off to a chinlock. Benoit fights up with a belly to back suplex
followed by a German and a whip to send Jericho into the Tree of Woe.
There’s the Crossface but Jericho taps out before the hold is even
on. That’s a smart move given his title shot in two days.
Rating:
C+. These two have a natural
chemistry that few other pairs can rival. The ending shows thinking
as well which isn’t something you often get in wrestling. It’s also
nice to see actual stories develop and intertwine with each other
with all people involved being elevated. It’s like the company is
planning for the future or something like that.
Here
are Hogan and Bischoff with something to say. Hogan says it’s going
to be a big party when he gets the title back on Saturday because he
never lost it in the first place. Bischoff and Hogan praise each
other and Hogan poses to end things.
Rick
Martel vs. Perry Saturn
Martel
charges at the ring and runs Saturn over as the bell rings. Saturn
is sent to the floor and into the steps for good measure. Back in
and Martel pounds on Saturn in the corner but the Flock comes out for
a distraction. Martel is crotched on the top rope before getting
suplexed down for two. The Flock leaves and Martel misses a charge
into the post. Saturn puts on an armbar and then a cross armbreaker
but Martel counters into a quickly broken STF.
We
take a break and come back with Martel pounding away in the corner
but getting caught with a swinging neckbreaker. Saturn gets some
quick rollups for two before going to the middle rope. A sunset flip
gets two on Rick but he rolls through into the Quebec Crab to make
Saturn submit in a hurry.
Rating:
C-. Martel has only been back
for a few months but I’m starting to buy into him here in WCW. He
looks very smooth in the ring and has more than enough experience to
back it up. The window stuff from earlier added nothing to this so
the fans weren’t caring at all, but they got an ok match out of it.
Post
match the Flock runs in but Martel rolls away to let Kidman hit
Saturn.
Scott
Hall vs. The Giant
Hall
gets in Giant’s face and is launched across the ring as he should be.
A front chancery gets Hall placed on the top rope and he dives into
the bearhug. Giant headbutts Hall down but here are Hogan and Nash
to ringside. Nash gets in a cheap shot with some kind of a weapon as
Hogan gets in the ring for the DQ in less than two minutes.
Savage
tries to intervene but Luger runs out and Racks him. Nash looks at
Savage in the Rack down and does nothing about it. Instead Nash
comes in and pounds on Giant but Giant doesn’t touch him. Instead
Giant goes to the floor, grabs the post, and BREAKS THE RING to end
the show.
Overall
Rating:
C+. This was the kind
of show Thunder was designed to be: focus on the midcard feuds and
have the main event guys do some stuff to close the show. It built
up the Souled Out matches that we didn’t get to focus on Monday while
giving us some solid action tonight. Good show here and I want to
see Souled Out.

Remember to follow me on Twitter @kbreviews and check out my website at kbwrestlingreviews.com

Thunder – January 15, 1998

Thunder
Date:
January 15, 1998
Location:
Jenkins Center, Lakeland, Florida
Commentators:
Mike Tenay, Bobby Heenan, Lee Marshall
Reviewed by Tommy Hall
It’s
the second episode of the show and as of Nitro, the NWO is in
shambles again. The main problem seems to stem from Nash and Savage
over Savage accidentally hitting Bischoff two weeks ago on Nitro. As
luck would have it, the main event tonight is Nash/Savage vs. Diamond
Dallas Page/Lex Luger. Let’s get to it.

We
open with a video from Nitro of DDP hyping up the tag match tonight.
The
announcers talk about the NWO’s problems. It’s strange to not have
Schiavone doing commentary on a WCW show.
We
get video from Nitro about the $1.5 million bonds put up by WCW and
the NWO to ensure Nash vs. Giant actually happens at Souled Out.
Here’s
Giant in the ring for a chat with Schiavone. Giant says that he’s a
patient man and will be ready for Nash at Souled Out. He’ll be
bringing the chokeslam to the PPV but first he has to rip up one of
Lodi’s signs. Lodi is pulled into the ring via a chokeslam and the
Flock swarms the Giant. The big man swats them all away and
literally throws Kidman into the front row. This brings out Nash but
Giant isn’t allowed to touch him, even after Nash throws coffee in
his face.
Back
to Nitro again to look at the issues between Nash and Savage. We get
some exclusive footage from after Nitro went off the air of Savage
slapping Nash and running off.
Black
Cat/Ohara/Gedo vs. Steiner Brothers/Ray Traylor
Tenay
tells us that DDP has been mugged in a parking lot and has a knee
injury which might keep him out of the main event tonight. Traylor
and Ohara start with Ohara firing off kicks to the knee. Ray comes
back with some uppercuts before Black Cat comes in to be pounded down
by Rick. A series of elbows get two for Rick as the fans chant USA.
Back to Traylor as we take a break.
We
come back with Rick clotheslining Gedo and Ohara down before ripping
away at Gedo’s face. Scott finally tags himself in and explodes on
Black Cat with clotheslines and right hands. An overhead suplex
sends Ohara flying and Scott puts him in the Tree of Woe for some
choking. Rick and Ray have their arms out for tags but Scott isn’t
paying any attention to them. A move Tenay calls the Steiner
Screwdriver (this was more like a sitout powerslam) is good for the
pin on Gedo.
Rating:
D+. This was more storytelling
than a match which is a good idea. Scott’s slow burn heel turn is
going well here as you can see why Rick would get upset and why Scott
would think he doesn’t need to tag out. Traylor doesn’t need to be
here but what else are they going to do with him?
Post
match Rick, Ray and DiBiase leave Scott to celebrate by himself.
Ernest
Miller vs. Yuji Nagata
This
is a preview match for a proposed martial arts division held under
pro wrestling rules. Miller immediately kicks Yuji down for two but
Nagata’s manager kicks Ernest in the back to give Nagata control.
Yuji hits a quick suplex and cranks on the arm for a bit before
shifting over to a leg lock. Another kick to the chest gets two for
Yuji but Ernest hits a spin kick to the face to take over. Nagata
chokes in the corner and gets in an argument with the referee,
allowing Miller to pull himself to the top for a great looking spin
kick to the face for the pin.
Rating:
D. That finish looked great but
the rest of the match was pretty dull stuff. The idea of a martial
arts division under pro wrestling rules adds nothing at all as these
guys do little more than kick each other for three minutes anyway.
You can only be so interesting as that kind of a character and
putting the same kind of guys against each other isn’t going to do
them any favors.
JJ
is here to talk about Page’s injury but the mic goes out. Page comes
out on a crutch and says he’s going to do it. JJ says there are
liability issues and Page might sue him. Page says he’ll sign
whatever paper he has to and he’ll take WCW off the hook.
Louie
Spicolli vs. Scott Hall
Before
the match, Hall asks Spicolli who he is and how old he is. Spicolli
is 26 but will be 27 next month. This brings out Larry Zbyszko to
give Spicolli some advice. Hall challenges Larry to a fight so here
comes Zbyszko, but Spicolli jumps Larry from behind. Larry clears
the ring with ease.
We
recap Jericho snapping again on Nitro and beating up Mysterio before
Mysterio’s Cruiserweight Title shot.
Chris
Jericho vs. Eddie Guerrero
The
winner gets a Cruiserweight Title shot at Souled Out. Before the
match, Jericho claims that Mysterio was making disparaging remarks
about his family on Nitro to trigger the beatdown. Jericho offers a
handshake to start but Eddie clotheslines him down instead. A
jumping back elbow puts Chris down again but Jericho blocks an
O’Connor roll and throws Eddie throat first onto the top rope.
Eddie
backdrops out of a belly to back suplex and dropkicks Jericho’s knee
out to keep control. Off to an abdominal stretch with Eddie grabbing
the middle rope to cheat. Would you expect anything less of him?
Jericho comes back by launching Eddie into the air and letting him
crash to the mat.
Eddie
rolls through a powerbomb for two before clotheslining Jericho down
for two. Off to a chinlock with two knees in Jericho’s back with
Jericho bent backwards. Eddie tries an upside down Gory Stretch but
drops Jericho on the top of his head in a scary landing. Jericho
sends him into the corner with Eddie jumping up to try a
hurricanrana, only to have Jericho counter into the Liontamer for the
win.
Rating:
C+. This could have been
something special with another five minutes. The lack of time and
Jericho being dropped on his head hurt things though as the match
never had the chance to really get going. Jericho is starting to
look like a future star though instead of just a talented smiling
good guy.
We
get the Ric Flair/Jim Neidhart segment from Nitro which led to Flair
and Bret brawling.
Somehow
that causes the announcers to talk about the world title situation
for a bit.
Chavo
Guerrero Jr. vs. Bill Goldberg
Before
Goldberg’s entrance, here’s the Disco Inferno to interrupt. I don’t
know if it’s my video or something from the broadcast but the audio
is way off as it sounds like the announcers are shouting into
megaphones. Disco says people are here to see him dance instead of
seeing Chavo wrestle. Chavo says Disco can’t dance and that this
isn’t even his time. They keep arguing and the video feed cuts out,
going to a still shot of the arena with “Lakeland, Florida”
written on the bottom. Based on the audio, Disco hits the
Chartbuster on Chavo before Goldberg comes out for the spear and
Jackhammer on Inferno.
Back
from a break with Tenay apologizing for the technical issues. The
audio and video are fixed now.
We
look at a clip from last week of JJ stripping Sting of the title.
Here
are Hogan and Bischoff with something to say….and there go the
video and audio again. It’s back to the graphic this time with the
audio cutting in and out as well. Bischoff thanks Hogan for putting
up the $1.5 million which Hogan says was no big deal. What is
however a big deal is the NWO having problems. Hogan talks about
taking a palm tree and a hippie in each hand and talking to the big
NWOite in the sky.
Apparently
they’ve gone to federal court where a judge said Hogan is the world
champion. JJ can either give him the belt tonight or on Nitro
because Hogan is getting it back one way or another. Hogan brags
about being the man that wrestling revolves around and says the NWO
is intact. The audio and video kept cutting up every thirty seconds
or so during this.
Cruiserweight
Title: Rey Mysterio vs. Juventud Guerrera
This
is a rematch from Nitro where Guerrera successfully defended the
title thanks to a prematch beatdown by Jericho. Mysterio fires off
some forearms to start but Juvy backflips out of a German suplex. A
headscissors sends the champion to the floor and Rey hits a flip dive
to take him down again, possibly injuring his knee in the process.
Back in and Juvy rolls through a springboard sunset flip and
slingshots Rey back to the floor. A BIG dive….might have hit as
the video cut out again.
Juvy
is up first and chops away before hitting a slingshot legdrop back
inside. Guerrera loads up something similar to a Muscle Buster but
drops down onto his knees to drive Rey’s neck into Juvy’s shoulder.
A brainbuster gets two for the champion before they head to the
apron, only to have Rey launch Juvy over his head and face first into
the post. It has next to no effect though as Juvy rams him into the
apron and drops a slingshot legdrop to the floor. Back in and a
springboard dropkick gets two but Rey sidesteps a regular version a
second later. Juvy sends him face first into the middle buckle and
flicks his tongue a lot.
They
slug it out and Rey hits a Killswitch (called a modified DDT by
Tenay) for two. A pinfall reversal sequence gets a pair of two
counts each before Rey has to pound his way out of a powerbomb
attempt. Juvy counters a top rope rana attempt into a powerbomb and
Rey is in trouble. Mysterio avoids the 450 though and hooks a quick
rana for the pin and the title.
Rating:
B-. This was pretty solid stuff
but Juvy didn’t sell much of anything throughout the match. There
was a good story of Rey hanging on and trying to hit one quick move
to win the title while Juvy was hitting him with everything he had.
This is the third title change in about two and a half weeks, which
makes me wonder why they didn’t just put the title on Rey the night
after Starrcade in the first place and cut out Dragon and Guerrera.
Buy
the NWO shirt!
We
see the end of Nitro with Liz distracting Luger so Savage could jump
him. Page made the save to set up the tag match tonight.
Diamond
Dallas Page/Lex Luger vs. Kevin Nash/Randy Savage
The
audio and video go out again before the entrances are done. Back
from a break and it’s the Lakeland graphic again as Luger’s music is
playing. Page is limping on the bad knee during his entrance so
Luger volunteers to go it alone. Hogan sneaks up on Page and breaks
Page’s crutch over the bad knee. Savage jumps off the top with an ax
handle to Luger and beats up the trainer looking at Page’s knee.
Nash wants a tag but Savage doesn’t seem all that interested.
Hogan
yells at Savage to make him tag, but once Nash comes in he throws
Savage to the floor. For some reason this earns Savage more yelling
from Hogan as the video cuts out yet again. Nash hits a knee to
Luger’s ribs in the corner before going back to Savage and slapping
him in the face. Savage goes up top to dive on Nash but Hogan gets
in the way. Luger gets back up and hits the forearm on Nash as Hogan
comes in for the DQ.
Rating:
N/A. The match was only about
three and a half minutes long and about a minute of that was spent
looking at a graphic of the arena so it’s not fair to rate the little
I saw. This was all about drama as Page was on the floor for the
entire match and a lot of the “action” was spent on Nash and
Savage’s problems.
Post
match Luger puts Hogan and Nash in the Rack but Savage makes the save
(it’s not clear if he was aiming for Luger or Nash). Savage holds
Luger for a shot from Hogan but Hollywood kicks savage in the ribs
instead. They go nose to nose as Giant comes out to chokeslam Hogan
(in theory as the video went out again) before getting in Nash’s
face. The NWO comes out for the beatdown but Sting and Luger clean
house to end the show.
Overall
Rating:
C+. Really annoying
technical difficulties aside, this did a good job of advancing the
NWO stories leading up to Souled Out. Also unlike last week, this
show actually built on what we saw on Nitro rather than starting
something new. There’s decent wrestling and good angle advancement
here so there isn’t much to complain about on the second episode.
Remember to follow me on Twitter @kbreviews and check out my website at kbwrestlingreviews.com

Thunder – January 8, 1998 (Debut Episode)

Thunder

Date: January 8, 1998
Location: Ocean Center, Daytona Beach,
Florida
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Lee Marshall, Bobby Heenan 
Reviewed by Tommy Hall 
Due
to the success of 1997, WCW decided to add another show to it’s TV
schedule so here’s their new idea. Tonight is a souped up show as
debuts often are, as we have a Cruiserweight Title match, an update
on the world title situation after the debacle at Starrcade, and the
Larry Zbyszko vs. Eric Bischoff match from Starrcade in full, which
I’m sure wouldn’t get on the nerves of the fans who paid for the
show. Let’s get to it.

The
announcers talk about how they’re sure Sting is the world champion.
Randy
Savage is supposed to be in the opening match but he isn’t here yet.
Instead, here’s a clip from Nitro of the NWO arriving in two
different limos. We also get Bischoff saying there are no problems.
Tony
shows us a clip of the attorney from Nitro (a week ago according to
him, which is Tony speak for three days ago) saying that anyone,
either WCW or NWO, who violates a WCW policy will be fined and/or
suspended. Nick Patrick was suspended at least until tonight to show
us that WCW was serious.
Now
we see the end of Nitro with the NWO getting in a fight to end the
show.
Chris
Adams vs. Randy Savage
Adams
is a British guy who trained Steve Austin and brought the superkick
to America. That’s more or less the extent of his major
accomplishments but he’s in the first match ever on Thunder for some
reason. Savage jumps him from behind as we hear about WCW never
losing Nitro in the first place. Adams is sent to the outside so
Savage can drop him on the barricade. Chris comes back with a whip
into the post and gets back in which distracts the referee, allowing
Luger to come out and cave in Savage’s head with a chair. Adams gets
the pin to open the show with a huge upset.
JJ
Dillon comes out but we go to a break before anything can happen.
Here
are Hogan and Bischoff with something to say. Something I forgot to
mention earlier: the set is a big stone wall that had an opening
broken into it by some lightning earlier. Shouldn’t the show be
called WCW Lightning then? Actually Thunder is perfect: it’s a bunch
of noise with nothing of substance. It’s perfect for WCW at this
point.
Hogan
and Bischoff take forever to get to the ring where Bischoff
introduces Hogan as the world champion. Apparently every good
looking woman on the beach said that Hogan was the real world
champion and tonight we’ll see the tape proving it. Hollywood is the
only heavyweight champion in the world and he’s just too big and too
tanned.
Here’s
JJ again to say that Randy Savage wins the match because of Luger’s
interference. Luger comes out and rants against JJ because only now
is WCW doing anything after a year and a half of the NWO doing
whatever they want. He says that WCW is going to band together and
do whatever they want. Point for keeping continuity at least.
Louis
Spicolli vs. Rick Martel
Louis
cranks on the arm to start but is quickly sent to the floor with a
clothesline. Back in and a few dropkicks send Spicolli right back to
the floor. They get back in again and Spicolli pounds him down as
the Flock heads to their seats. Martel fires off a cross body for
two and a left hand to the ribs to stagger Louis. Another dropkick
misses but Martel punches Spicolli down and hooks the Quebec Crab for
the win.
Rating:
D+. For a guy who hasn’t been
around in years, Martel really does look smooth out there. At first
I wasn’t wild on him coming back as he was just Rick Martel: guy in
leather jacket, but they’re pushing him as someone with ring
experience who can beat guys with relative ease, which is actually
working for him.
We
get a clip from Starrcade of Hall saying Nash wouldn’t be there,
earning a beating from Giant in the process. I still don’t get why
they didn’t just have Hall be a replacement as he would be more than
adequate to fill in.
Tenzan
vs. Ohara
Tenzan
is a guy from Japan who is apparently part of the NWO. Tenay talks
about how Ohara is like Ray Traylor as he was thrown out of the
Japanese NWO and is now a freedom fighter. He pounds away on Tenzan
to start but gets slammed down. The fans don’t seem pleased as
Tenzan hits a spinwheel kick for no cover. Ohara comes back with a
clothesline and powerbomb for two but gets caught in a middle rope
chop. Tenzan hits a swan dive to end a quick match.
We
get another clip from Nitro of the very good Bret and Flair segment
where they argue over who is better and say each others’
catchphrases.
Ric
Flair vs. Chris Jericho
Before
the match, Jericho apologizes for his recent behavior and to present
Penzer with another new suit jacket. Flair takes him into the corner
to start and there’s our first WOO. Jericho takes it to the mat with
a headlock and a monkey flip sends Flair down. Chris takes too much
time though and gets poked in the eye by the master, giving Flair
control.
A
clothesline puts Flair back down though and there’s the Flair Flip in
the corner. Jericho dropkicks him off the apron before Flair can run
to the top but the Lionsault misses as Flair gets back in. Flair
asks for the time and hits a low blow before stomping away a bit.
Jericho hits a quick backdrop and a top rope elbow for two but a
missile dropkick misses. Figure Four ends Jericho quick.
Rating:
C-. This was a glorified squash
for Flair but he looked very smooth out there which is a good thing
for Jericho. At this point, Jericho was nowhere near what he would
become so a match with Flair was one of the best things that could
happen to him. That’s what veterans are supposed to do and Flair did
it more than almost anyone.
Jericho
freaks out again post match.
Giant
vs. Meng
As
Meng comes out, Tony announces Flair vs. Bret for Souled Out and yes,
he says it might be the biggest announcement in the history of our
sport. Meng hits a clothesline but gets caught in a powerslam to put
him down. A backdrop puts Meng down and Giant vs. Nash is announced
for the PPV as well. Tony basically says that it’ll actually happen
this time, which is a pretty pathetic way to push a match. “Remember
last time when we said it would happen and it didn’t? Well this is
nothing like that and we’ll actually do what we say!” Meng avoids
a splash and fires off some strikes, only to be chokeslammed down for
the fast pin.
Goldberg
vs. Steve McMichael
It’s
just Goldberg now. Mongo goes after him on the floor to start and
whips Goldberg into the steps before heading in to be stomped. A
gorilla press powerslam puts Mongo down and there’s a rolling leg
lock for good measure. Mongo gets to the rope and goes after the leg
as well before hitting a middle rope clothesline for two. McMichael
calls for the tombstone but gets caught in the spear and Jackhammer
for the pin. Heenan points out that Goldberg is undefeated.
Tag
Titles: Steiner Brothers vs. Buff Bagwell/Konnan
Scott
and Buff start things off and it’s time to pose. Buff takes him down
with a hiptoss but Scott drills him with some clothesline and a tiger
bomb. Konnan is knocked to the floor as well and it’s time to stall.
Off to Konnan vs. Rick with Konnan being rammed stomach first into
the buckle, only to take Rick down with a clothesline. Back to Buff
who jumps right into a belly to belly and it’s a double tag to bring
Scott back in. Everything breaks down and Rick loads up the bulldog,
but Scott goes to the other corner for the Frankensteiner for the pin
to retain.
Rating:
D+. Nothing to see here but the
main idea is the Steiners having issues. That’s probably the best
move as the Steiners had been a big deal for about nine years at this
point, so there wasn’t much else that could be done with the team.
Scott had been the one WCW wanted to push for years anyway so it
really isn’t surprising when you think about it.
Here’s
Larry Zbyszko vs. Eric Bischoff from Starrcade to tick off the fans
and fill in time, because if there’s one thing WCW doesn’t have, it’s
a roster big enough to fill in a full show.
Bret Hart comes out to
be guest referee. There’s no pyro, there’s no big entrance, there’s
nothing but generic music and Bret casually walking to the ring. The
theory is that he’s in the NWO but that’s never been confirmed yet.
Eric
Bischoff vs. Larry Zbyszko
This should have been
Hall vs. Larry, as those two had been talking trash to each other for
months. However, Larry only gets Hall if he beats Eric here tonight.
If Eric wins, the NWO controls Nitro. Larry is in good shape here
considering he’s 46 and hasn’t wrestled regularly in about five
years. Bret checks them for weapons and we’re ready to go. Bischoff
has the body of a 15 year old girl. He is however a black belt in
karate so you can expect a lot of striking.
Bischoff hits a quick
shot to Larry’s head and immediately celebrates. More strikes follow
and Eric heads out to the floor for consultation with Hall. Back in
and Larry hits some shots of his own and Eric is scared. Larry goes
after him again and Eric hits a spin kick to the side of the head
that knocks Larry down. That’s enough for Zbyszko and he charges at
Eric and takes him down to the mat. Bret admonishes him for pulling
Eric’s hair, so Larry puts on a sleeper and a headscissors, both of
which are broken up for being chokes.
Off to a standing
figure four but Eric quickly makes a rope. The damage is done though
and Larry goes after the leg. Makes sense against a karate guy.
Bret keeps Larry away from Eric and the announcers PANIC. Imagine
that: a referee following the rules. Eric is sent into the steps and
takes a brief walk around the ring. Back in and Bret blocks a right
hand from Larry, allowing Eric to get in a kick to the head.
Bischoff fires more kicks with Larry on the ropes, although Bret is
fine with them.
Eric is starting to
kick himself out though as the kicks are getting weaker and weaker
each time. Now he fires rights and lefts in the corner as Larry is
just covering up. Eric can barely move now and Larry shakes
everything off. A suplex puts Bischoff down and Larry ties him in
the Tree of Woe. Hall pulls something out of his pocket and loads it
into Eric’s shoe, WITH BRET LOOKING RIGHT AT THEM. I mean, he knows
what’s going on so why not LOOK THE OTHER WAY???
Anyway, Eric kicks him
in the head with the loaded foot and the piece of metal goes flying.
Bret isn’t supposed to see it, despite watching it fly through the
air. Eric celebrates, so Bret hits both Bischoff and Hall before
putting Hall in the Sharpshooter, which is Bret’s version of the
Scorpion Deathlock. Larry chokes Eric for a bit and is declared the
winner, presumably by DQ.
Rating:
F. This was in the second to
last spot on the biggest show of the year and featured the boss of
the company who has no skill whatsoever in the ring. Larry did fine
all things considered, but to waste this spot on this match and to
waste BRET HART’s in ring debut on this match is absolutely
ridiculous in every sense of the word.
Back
on Thunder now here’s Larry to talk about his match with Hall at
Souled Out. Larry talks about how he understands why Hall hates his
guts after Larry took Hall so far ten years ago. Now instead of
being a world champion, Hall is on the ship of fools heading towards
Larry Land. Larry can still bench press 405lbs, drive to the golf
course and shoot a 73 and then beat Hall from one side of the ring to
the other. He’s wrestled in front of royalty around the world and
just like he did in 1980, he’ll change the NWO at Souled Out. This
was actually a pretty decent promo and I remembered it from when I
watched this live.
We
recap Ray Traylor being thrown out of the NWO and beaten down by
Hogan.
Ray
Traylor vs. Scott Hall
Traylor
shoves him down to start but Hall comes back with the driving
shoulder blocks. He slaps Ray in the back of the head and gets sent
into the corner and pounding away for his efforts. A corner splash
crushes Hall and it’s off to a bearhug to waste some time. The
referee takes a shot to the eye so we head to the floor for a bit
with Hall hitting Traylor in the face with his NWO tag title belt.
That’s only good for two and the middle rope bulldog gets the same
for Hall. Scott heads to the floor to grab a chair but Larry comes
out to stop him. The distraction lets Traylor hit the Boss Man Slam
for the upset pin.
Rating:
D+. The match was barely
anything but it did advance the Larry vs. Hall feud so I can’t
complain all that much. I’m not sure how many people wanted to see
Zbyszko vs. Hall but at least it was a feud that had the time to
build up for a few months. Speaking of having the time, can we get a
match to last five minutes tonight?
Cruiserweight
Title: Juventud Guerrera vs. Ultimo Dragon
Dragon
is defending. Apparently Scott Steiner has been fined $5000 for
hitting the referee during the tag match. The announcers didn’t even
notice it so it’s likely a bit extreme. Feeling out process to start
with both guys hitting some quick strikes until Juvy hits a
springboard spinwheel kick for two. Guerrera misses a splash in the
corner and gets stomped down as we actually talk about the match for
a bit. Actually scratch that as it’s time to talk about Starrcade a
bit more.
Dragon
misses a handspring elbow in the corner as the fans think this is
boring. Juvy loads up a top rope rana but gets crotched to the floor
instead. Dragon hits a moonsault to the floor but injures his knee
in the process. They head back in and Dragon hits a release German
suplex for two but the top rope rana is countered again. Juvy knocks
him to the mat but dives into a dropkick fro Dragon, only to come
back with a quick DDT. The Juvy Driver sets up the 450 for the pin
and a new champion.
Rating:
C. Pretty slow paced stuff here
as their high spots weren’t connecting all that well. Dragon only
held the belt for about eight days here so it’s kind of hard to care
about the title changing this fast. It’s not a bad match but again
at just under five minutes we didn’t have time to get invested in it
at all.
Here’s
Bret Hart for a chat. Bret says that he’s called himself the best
there is, was and ever will be and he means it and he’s meant it
every time. He’s accomplished a lot over his career but now he has
to prove himself all over again. Bret isn’t going to stop calling
himself the best ever….and here’s Flair with a rebuttal. Ric talks
about how he’s heard from a thousand people since last week (what’s
with that? It was three days ago, not last week but people have been
saying it all show long) that they want to hear Bret say his
catchphrase to Flair’s face.
Bret
does just that, sending Flair into a rant about how Bret used to sit
in the front row with a box of popcorn wanting to be like Ric Flair.
Bret has been a five time WWF Champion, but while he was doing that,
Flair was wrestling Brody in Singapore for an hour. Not exactly but
Flair is on a roll so I can forgive him. Flair yells about how he’s
been around the world but Bret says he’ll have to beat the man to
prove that he’s the man. Ric says it’s not just beating the man, but
it’s staying the man. More good stuff here, questionable history
aside.
Lex
Luger vs. Scott Norton
Norton
jumps him on the floor to start before heading inside for a
clothesline. A backbreaker puts Luger down but a splash misses in
the corner. Luger vs. Savage is announced for the PPV and here’s
Buff for a distraction. Norton hits the shoulder breaker for two but
Luger comes back with the forearm. The Rack ends Norton quick in a
rare loss for him.
Bagwell
gets Racked too as Savage comes in, only to be chased off by Luger as
well.
We
get the video from Starrcade of the “fast count” and it’s just
not fast no matter how they look at it.
We
get the long awaited footage from Nitro, which shows the referee
going down and being replaced by Nick Patrick (who was suspended
earlier on Nitro), who counts three on Sting as Hogan rolls him up
with a handful of tights. Hogan and Sting keep fighting because
that’s just what they do, so Sting makes Hogan give up in the
Scorpion, which counts now because the original referee never called
for the bell, which is the exact same thing that happened at
Starrcade but this is almost over so I’m not going to think about it
that hard. JJ comes out and gets decked by Bischoff, causing a huge
brawl between WCW and the NWO.
Back
live again with JJ in the ring for his decision. Before the decision
is announced we need Hogan in the ring. Naturally he brings out
about five guys (to no music for some reason) for the big meeting.
JJ also asks Sting to come to the ring and bring the belt. The
official decision is that the title is vacant until they can make an
official decision. Sting says JJ has no guts and that Hogan is a
dead man, which is the first thing he’s said in a year (ignoring what
he said at Starrcade of course). Heenan swears this is a victory for
the NWO because that’s what you do when anything happens in WCW.
US
Title: Diamond Dallas Page vs. Kevin Nash
Hogan
comes out with Nash (despite both guys being in the ring for the
previous segment) as Tony swears that we’ll stay with the show no
matter what, a mere ten minutes after we saw footage from a match
that ended after Nitro went off the air. Page cranks on the arm to
start but Nash elbows him down. The champ gets two off a swinging
neckbreaker but Nash goes to Page’s eternally injured ribs to take
over.
A
clothesline in the corner has Page down again and the side slam gets
two. Nash pounds on him in the corner and sends Page outside for
more very slow pounding. Page is sent into the steps as Hogan tells
him to give up. Back in and Nash hits Snake Eyes and an elbow drop
for two. Page fights out of another Snake Eyes attempt and loads up
the Diamond Cutter but Hogan hits him in the ribs for the DQ.
Rating:
D+. We were clearly just
killing time until the DQ here which is the case in almost all WCW
main events anymore. Hogan being out there was kind of surprising as
it could have been any WCW goon for the same ending. Also any bets
on there being no mention of a fine to Hogan for doing the same thing
Luger did earlier?
Post
match Giant comes out to break up a Jackknife and brawls with Nash to
end the show.
Overall
Rating:
D+. Take everything
that was good about Nitro from this week and throw it out the window.
Let’s see: short and mostly meaningless matches, the title situation
is a mess (and will get messier) and the NWO’s problems aren’t even
mentioned. In other words, the focus is all back on the NWO being
some kind of a threat and WCW needing to pull together, which is
exactly what it’s been since like March. This show wasn’t terrible,
but man was it frustrating.
Remember to follow me on Twitter @kbreviews and pick up my new book o the History of Starrcade from Amazon at:
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