Date: January 8, 1998
Location: Ocean Center, Daytona Beach,
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Lee Marshall, Bobby Heenan
Reviewed by Tommy Hall
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.
announcers talk about how they’re sure Sting is the world champion.
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.
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.
we see the end of Nitro with the NWO getting in a fight to end the
Adams vs. Randy Savage
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.
Dillon comes out but we go to a break before anything can happen.
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
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
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.
Spicolli vs. Rick Martel
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
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.
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.
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.
get another clip from Nitro of the very good Bret and Flair segment
where they argue over who is better and say each others’
Flair vs. Chris Jericho
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
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.
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.
freaks out again post match.
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.
vs. Steve McMichael
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.
Titles: Steiner Brothers vs. Buff Bagwell/Konnan
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
recap Ray Traylor being thrown out of the NWO and beaten down by
Traylor vs. Scott Hall
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.
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?
Title: Juventud Guerrera vs. Ultimo 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
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.
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
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.
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
Luger vs. Scott 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.
gets Racked too as Savage comes in, only to be chased off by Luger as
get the video from Starrcade of the “fast count” and it’s just
not fast no matter how they look at it.
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.
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.
Title: Diamond Dallas Page vs. Kevin Nash
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
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.
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?
match Giant comes out to break up a Jackknife and brawls with Nash to
end the show.
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.
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