Thunder – February 28, 2001

Date: February 28, 2001
Location: Lakefront Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay

I know it’s a bit late to matter but WCW is on a roll at this point. The matches are entertaining, the stories make sense and you can tell the story they’re going with. Diamond Dallas Page is the best option as a challenger for Steiner’s title and Booker T. is clearly the next major threat to the champ. Let’s get to it.

Cruiserweight Tag Team Title Tournament First Round: Kwee Wee/Mike Sanders vs. Jung Dragons

Sanders and Kwee Wee aren’t happy to be teaming together but what would a tournament be without WACKY partners? Mike and Kaz start things off and quickly fall out to the floor, leaving their partners to come in instead. Sanders comes back in (great) and the Dragons are taken down by a double Thesz press, which actually aren’t presses because there aren’t any covers.

We settle down to Kwee Wee suplexing Kaz into the corner for two with Yang making the save. Sanders comes in and immediately loses control by walking into a neckbreaker. Some former boss. A quick pumphandle slam drops Yang allows a tag back to Kwee Wee, somehow the best option on the team. Yang quickly takes him down with a tornado DDT to put both guys. That means a double tag so Kaz takes Sanders down with an enziguri as everything breaks down.

An Iconoclasm into a sitout powerbomb gets two on Kwee Wee, even though I’m not sure how much extra impact Hayashi’s powerbomb had. Yang hits a great looking Asai Moonsault to take Sanders down, followed by Kaz kicking Kwee Wee in the face. Kaz and Sanders can’t do a bridge into a backslide so Kaz kicks him down to set up Yang Time for the pin.

Rating: C+. As usual it’s probably the best match on the show and as usual it’s a one off idea for the show. Sanders and Kwee Wee aren’t the most interesting wacky teammates in the world and it’s really not going to be all that great if they ever have a blowoff match because beating Sanders means nothing and Kwee Wee will still be goofy and someone no one takes seriously. At least the Dragons won here though and that’s the right call as the wacky partners are already out.

Shawn Stasiak gives Smooth the Limo Driver (Of all the people, they kept him?) an autographed picture, which Smooth crumples up as soon as Shawn leaves.

Here’s Booker T. with something to say. He’s missed the fans since he’s been gone but above all else he wants to get his hands on Scott Steiner. That means a challenge to a title match tonight, which brings out Steiner and Ric Flair, the latter of whom says no way. Booker insults Flair, who makes it a non-title match instead.

Chavo Guerrero tells Johnny Swinger and Jason Lee to hurt Shane Helms tonight.

Shawn Stasiak vs. Johnny the Bull

This is the textbook example of a match that has no reason for happening, isn’t interesting, and is only going to fill in some time on the show. It’s two midcard guys having a match for the sake of having a match and that’s really hard to care about. Johnny sends him outside to start and is quickly beaten down on the floor, just like a face probably should be. They go inside again where a backbreaker lets Shawn pose a bit. Since Shawn probably finds that move complicated, he does it again for two.

Johnny grabs a quick side slam and a DDT gets two of his own. An ax handle and spinning kick get the same and Stasiak bails to the floor. We’re only a few minutes in and Johnny has already shown far more offense, charisma (ok that’s a stretch) and overall ability than Stasiak but Shawn used to be in the WWF just like his daddy so he’s the important one.

Stasiak is sent into the barricade (kind of a heelish move) but as Johnny goes after him, Mark Jindrak leans over the barricade to knock Johnny down. We cut backstage to see Rick Steiner beating down Big Vito to explain why he’s not coming out and come back to see Shawn hitting a neckbreaker for the pin.

Rating: C. Not bad here but the story is such a mess. Am I really supposed to believe that the former World Tag Team Champions have to work together to beat Johnny the Bull? It’s nice that they’re giving Johnny an indirect rub that way but it really makes Stasiak look more inept than anything else. Stasiak continues to be just a step above a disaster and I have no idea why he’s in the spot he’s in, other than his lineage.

Stasiak pulls out a picture of himself and autographs it before laying the picture on Johnny.

Security breaks up Rick and Vito, who will be fighting later tonight.

Helms promises to win the title at Greed.

Palumbo comes up to Disco and a match is made for later.

We look at Konnan beating Mike Awesome down on Monday.

Lance Storm tells Awesome that there will be no interference in Awesome’s match against Konnan.

Johnny Swinger vs. Shane Helms

Swinger has Jason Lee who offers an early distraction but Helms shrugs it off because he’s fighting Johnny Swinger. A reverse powerbomb (always thought that should be a finisher) plants Johnny but Lee offers another distraction so Swinger can get in a powerbomb for two. Swinger throws him outside for a bit before grabbing a cobra clutch Russian legsweep back inside.

Lee gets in some choking before we hit the sleeper. Helms fights out of said sleeper and grabs a neckbreaker (Shouldn’t Swinger like a swinging neckbreaker? That sounds like a finisher to me.). A superkick drops Swinger but Lee gets on the apron AGAIN, finally earning himself a punch to the face and a dive off the top. Back in and the Vertebreaker finishes Johnny off.

Rating: C-. Swinger is fine enough for a warm body who only exists to put Shane over on what should be his path the Cruiserweight Title. Shane on the other hand is looking more and more like an unstoppable force every time he gets in the ring. The fun part though is Chavo is on fire as well, meaning that not only will the match be good but the win will also seem like an accomplishment instead of just another title change. It’s what happens when you put effort into a champion rather than hot shotting the belt all over the place.

Post match Chavo comes out to attack Shane but gets knocked to the floor. Chavo beats up Lee and Swinger to let off some steam.

Sean O’Haire and Chuck Palumbo have been banned from ringside and can’t watch Konnan’s back. Oh no. A face that has to fend for himself?

Konnan vs. Mike Awesome

We get the usual babbling nonsense from Konnan before things get started. Awesome is offended at this butchering of the English language and I can’t say I blame him. A clothesline puts Konnan outside and Awesome throws him back in for a slingshot shoulder. Awesome gets two off a German suplex and then stomps away in the corner. This is a squash so far and while it’s too late for Awesome to mean anything, it’s nice to see him getting to show off a bit more. The Awesome Splash misses so Konnan gets in a clothesline, only to have Awesome powerbomb the heck out of him for the easy pin.

Rating: D+. This was a squash and that’s a good sign for Awesome. He’s someone who could have and should have meant something in WCW but they managed to screw him up at a level you just don’t often see. Be it That 70s Guy or the Fat Chick Thriller or the power on a team that doesn’t have much of a purpose anymore. Imagine Awesome going on a rampage and challenging Steiner for the title. Nah let’s have him beat up Konnan in this nothing match with no story going forward.

Disco tries to get Totally Buff to help him against Palumbo tonight.

Video on Booker T. for a little refresher course.

Disco Inferno vs. Chuck Palumbo

Disco gives a quick talk about how awesome he is. Palumbo gets knocked backwards with a shoulder but knocks Disco silly with a dropkick. Disco starts in on the leg but stops to dance before dropping down onto Palumbo’s back. We hit the chinlock for a bit before Palumbo comes back up with a right hand. Cue Totally Buff to watch as Palumbo Jungle Kicks Disco for the pin.

Rating: D. Disco got in way too much offense here in what should have been a Palumbo squash. Disco isn’t exactly the best option for a match like this but for some reason WCW just doesn’t let anyone get a squash win. Well unless they’re Animal and the victims are Rey Mysterio and Kidman of course.

Post match Totally Buff comes in for the beating, only to have Sean O’Haire run out for the save. This brings out Rick Steiner, which draws in Big Vito (in bright, long green tights for some reason) for the save as we take a break.

Rick Steiner vs. Big Vito

Non-title and we’re joined in progress after a break with Steiner sending Vito outside and into the barricade. Vito’s offense has as much effect as you would expect on Rick so they head back inside with Rick in full control. We hit a reverse chinlock with Vito slapping the mat to get the crowd cheering. Since that’s not the finish though, it doesn’t count as a submission and Vito fights up with a superkick and the top rope elbow for two. Not that it matters as the Steinerline and Steiner Bulldog set up the Steiner Driver (what a narcissist) for the pin.

Video on Cat vs. Kanyon with Miss Jones being the main casualty.

Booker T. vs. Scott Steiner

Non-title. Steiner yells at some fans before getting in the ring because he knows how to be a good heel. Some knees to the ribs against the ropes have Booker in trouble but a kick to the face sends the champ outside. Back in and Booker’s side slam gets two before he hammers away in the corner.

Steiner takes over with a good crotching and it’s time for an elbow and pushups. A kick to the ribs sends Booker outside and a whip sends him into the barricade. Booker is fast enough to snap Steiner’s throat across the top rope but a second crotching slows him down again. That’s not enough to keep him in trouble though as he comes back with a running forearm and the ax kick, only to have Rick Steiner come in for the DQ.

Rating: D+. There’s not much you can do with a fairly short TV main event on Thunder but this could have been worse. Booker was still getting some rid of some ring rust and Scott isn’t the best choice of an opponent to help clean it off. They did however do a good job of keeping Booker looking strong here instead of having him go down to the horrible chinlock. That’s where you need to use a DQ finish and it worked fine here.

DDP comes in for some Diamond Cutters on the Steiners before he has to run from the rest of the Magnificent Seven to end the show.

Overall Rating: C-. And so much for the hot streak. This show certainly wasn’t horrible but there’s just way too much nothing filing time before a weak main event that felt like any given NWO match. It also doesn’t help that most of the show was dedicated to something associated with the big story wide stable battle. We can’t have another tournament match to freshen things up? Or a good midcard match? Of course not, because almost all of the midcard is tied into that one big story which sums up the problem of having the majority of the roster dedicated to one idea: if you don’t like it, the show gets old in a hurry.

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