WCW Thunder (January 8, 1998)

WCWThunderLogo

In 1997 the WCW had done gangbusters. Nitro was one of the highest rated shows on TV or maybe just on cable. They were so successful and making so much money that they decided to add a another show to their TV schedule in addition to Nitro and Saturday Night and Worldwide and Main Event and whatever else they already had. That show would air on Thursday nights and be known as Thunder. This is that show.

This is the premiere episode so we get a pretty stacked card with something like three different title matches signed plus the Larry Zbyszko vs. Eric Bischoff match from Starrcade ’97 in its entirety, which I sure the fans in the arena are going to love. So let’s take it away!

Our announce team are Tony “The Greatest Night In The History of Our Sport” Schiavone, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, and Lee “1-800-Collect Road Report” Marshall. The kick things off by giving us a run down of some of the matches to come and talking about how they are 904% certain that Sting is the rightful World Heavyweight Champion.

Highlights for Children!

Wow, something worse than beginning a wrestling show with a 20 minute promo. They are literally showing clips from the past Monday’s episode of Nitro as the first thing on their new program. They say it’s because Randy Savage is scheduled to be in the first match, but hasn’t arrived yet. Then toss Craig Pittman and Vilano IV out there until Savage arrives man! Jesus…

We get a clip of the nWo arriving in two different limos which honestly makes sense since there’s like 52 guys in the nWo at this point. Monday Nitro Version of Schiavone is making a big deal out of them arriving in two cars though like it’s surely a sign of division among their ranks.

It cuts then to Bischoff getting interviewed in the ring later that night and saying that there are no problems with the nWo.

Highlights for Children!

Tony tosses it from one highlight to another showing us footage from “last week” (aka three days ago) of an attorney from Turner Sports saying that anyone who appears at a WCW event and violates WCW policy be they WCW contracted wrestlers or nWo will be subject to fines or suspensions.

It then cuts to James J. Dillon suspending Nick Patrick for his shady officiating at Starrcade ’97 until “at least Thursday,” while the tape is reviewed and an official decision is made.

Highlights for Children!

Oh for fuck’s sake. We get footage of the nWo fighting amongst themselves after a Luger vs. Savage match that Luger won via inside cradle. Savage was going to brain Luger with a chair but Bischoff tried to stop him, so Savage decked Bischoff in the mouth with brought out Hogan to try to calm things down. Kevin Nash also showed up and just wrecked Macho Man’s shit with a forearm and headed back up the ramp as Hogan was like, “What’s wrong with you guys?!”

Match 1: Chris Adams vs. Randy Savage (w/ Miss Elizabeth)

Finally! Fifteen fuckin’ minutes in or something we’re finally heading to the ring. Chris Adams gets lasers and pyro. Macho Man comes out next with Miss Elizabeth. Though the SummerSlam ’88 Miss Elizabeth is pretty great, nWo Liz is probably the hottest she ever was.

Macho Man attacks before the bell. He hits a sweet gut wrench suplex before dumping Chris Adams out to the floor. Savage continues to dominate out the outside, dropping Adams on the barricade.

Adams comes back with an Irish whip that posts Savage. He heads back into the ring and starts jawing with the ref while Savage sells his arm. Lex Luger caves in Savage’s dome with a chair shot and rolls him back into the ring.

Chris Adams makes the pin. One! Two! Three! Chris Adams with the huge upset in the first match of WCW Thunder!

After the match, JJ Dillon comes out and talks with the ref as we go to commercial break.

Winner: Chris Adams

This was an alright match I guess as it did a decent job of further the Luger/Savage feud which is apparently a thing at this time.

Meanwhile With Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff…

We come back from commercial with Hogan and Bischoff coming to the ring. We get three separate theme songs before they make their way down the ramp: nWo, Bischoff, and “Voodoo Chile.” It takes them a million years to get to the ring.

Bischoff introduces Hogan as the real champion. Hogan’s like, “All the good looking bikini babes on the beach here in Dayton were like, ‘Hollywood, you’re the real champ and you beat that chump Stinger at Starrcade and on Thursday Thunder after everyone sees the footage, they’ll have no choice but to give you your belt back.”

Hogan rambles about some more bullshit before getting to the crux of his promo: “I’m the real champ. I’m too big. I’m too rich. And I’m just…too…darn…TAN!” Not really what I, or the hundreds of people who started to say, “SWEET,” in the audience expected there Hulk. Way to keep us on our toes.

Meanwhile With Mike Tenay…

Professor “Iron” Mike Tenay is with JJ Dillon. JJ’s like, “Because of the actions of Lex Luger earlier tonight, I have no choice but to reverse the decision of the match between Randy Savage and Chris Adams.”

Lex comes out and is like, “This is fucking bullshit. Where were these rules back in ’96? The nWo did whatever they wanted and ran roughshod on us for like a year and a half! Well, you can fine me if you want, but from now on me, Diamond Dallas Page, Sting, The Giant…all the WCW guys are going to do what we want!”

Match 2: Louie Spicolli vs. Rick Martel

Martel apparently debuted in WCW on the Nitro before this episode. He’s got weird music and too much leather. Louie Spicolli has a t-shirt that says, “The Real Innovator.” Way to bust Tommy Dreamer’s balls, Rad Radford.

Louie cranks Martel’s arm to start but quickly gets sent to the floor with a clothesline. Spicolli comes back in, only to get sent out again via a dropkick. Again Spicolli gets back in the ring as Raven & Co. are shown out in the crowd heading for their seats.

Martel hits a corss body to get a two count and then misses with a dropkick. Louie goes for the Death Valley Driver, but gets hit in the face by Martel. Martel hits a spinbuster and gets Spicolli in the Quebec Crab to pick up the win.

Post-Match Tony Schiavone yells, “WHO’S THAT MAN WITH A GREEN MUSTACHE!” as we are shown a middle aged dude with a green mustache in the audience.

Winner: Rick Martel

This same exact match probably happened on a 1995 episode of Monday Night Raw. It was a decent enough B-show wrestling match but nothing really to write home about. Martel looked really good in the ring and they seem to be building him up as he is currently undefeated in WCW.

Meanwhile at Starrcade ’97…

We get a clip of Scott Hall saying that the true giant: his big buddy, Kevin Nash wouldn’t be there for his match with the Giant, so the Giant comes down to the ring and says that he’s a forgiving man and a patient man.

Scott Hall is a moron and slaps the Giant in the face. The Giant headbutts Hall and toss Hall and then powerbombs the fuck out of him and mocks that Scott Hall stomping thing.

Match 3: Tenzan vs. Ohara (w/ Sonny Onoo)

Professor “Iron” Mike Tenay shows up in the commentary booth because it’s time for Japanese wrestlers. Tenzan comes out first up with a mullet and a weird mask and Zubaz capri pants. Ohara is dressed like a Buddhist monk. Brain says he must be popular in Chicago since they named an airport after him. This gets Professor “Iron” Mike Tenay all wound up apparently. He takes Japanese wrestlers very seriously.

Tenay claims Ohara’s like the Japanese version of Ray “Big Boss Man” Traylor in that he attempted to join the nWo but got turned down so they spray painted him. Only instead of a yellow stripe or nWo on his back they spray painted the Chinese character for “dog.” Ohara’s still got it on his back and apparently calls himself “The Freedom Dog” now.

Ohara pounds on Tenzan but Tenzen slams him down. Tenzen took off his goofy mask before the match began which is lame as fuck. Lots of chops from Tenzan. The crowd doesn’t really give a fuck about these two guys. Tenzan hits a spinwheel kick but foregoes making a pin attempt.

Ohara goes for a clothesline and then sets up Tenzan for a powerbomb. He prays to Buddha for the strength to pin the bemulleted Zubaz pants wearing, Tenzan. Desire is the cause of all suffering. Two count!

Tenzan hits a second rope Mongolian chop lays out Ohara. Tenzan goes up to the top and hits a diving headbutt, “similar to the one employed by Chris Benoit.” One! Two! Three!

Winner: Tenzan

In hindsight, it’s kind of cool that WCW was showing us New Japan matches randomly on their TV shows, but no one in the audience cared about this match at all.

Highlights for Children!

We get more clips from Nitro. This time it’s Bret Hart and Ric Flair arguing about who’s the best of the best.

Match 4: Ric Flair vs. Chris Jericho

JERICHO!!! THOUGHTS ARRIVE LIKE BUTTERFLIES!

Jericho comes out with a suit jacket in a plastic bag and starts cutting a promo before his entrance music even stops. He apologizes for acting like a baby and promises it will, “Never ever happen again.” He says this without winding up on “ever,” which is super weird now. He gives Dave Penzer the jacket because apparently he ripped Dave’s jacket on Monday.

Ric Flair comes out and the announce team WOOs badly. This is the first time Flair and Jericho have faced each other in one on one competition apparently. Flair takes Jericho into the corner and delivers a proper WOO.

Jericho ground Flair with a headlock and then monkey flips him. Flair gets back to his feet and gets hit with a spin kick. Jericho’s getting his shit in and hits a BIG BACK BODY DROP! Flair sells a ankle injury.

Referee Charles Robinson is checking on Flair. Jericho approaches and gets poked in the eyes by Flair while the ref is distracted. Flair’s back in control. It doesn’t last long though as Jericho puts him down with a clothesline and then whips Flair into the corner. FLAIR FLIP!

Flair lands on his feet on the ring apron but gets springboard dropkicked on the ring apron by Jericho. Jericho suplexes Flair into the ring and goes for a Lionsault, but Flair rolls out of the way casually. Flair randomly blasts Jericho in the balls which the ref totally ignores for some reason.

Jericho somehow makes another comeback and hits another BIG BACK BODY DROP and then goes up to the top rope for a diving back elbow. He wiffs with a missile dropkick though and Flair capitalizes, locking on the Figure Four Leg Lock. Jericho taps mad quick.

Tony Schiavone declares the victory to be one of the biggest wins in Flair’s career. Whatever you say Tony. Jericho, meanwhile, has a tantrum and rips Dave Penzar’s jacket again.

Winner: Ric Flair

I was surprised this looked as good as it did. Late 90’s Jericho worked a way different style than Ric Flair and I was worried that even though both guys were good, their styles of wrestling wouldn’t really mesh that well, but both guys looked really good out there.

Match 5: Giant vs. Meng (w/ Jimmy Hart)

As Meng heads out to the ring Tony announces what, in his opinion, might very well be the biggest announcement in the history of our sport. “Snickers Presents Souled Out. Ric Flair…Bobby Heenan…and Bret Hart have  been signed to go one on one!”

Bobby Heenan’s like, “I haven’t signed to go one on one with anyone.”

Giant comes out to no entrance music which is weird. Meng attacks with a clothesline as Giant gets in the ring, but he gets hit with a power slam and a BIG BACK BODY DROP! None of this actually matters to the announcers though because in addition to Ric Flair vs. Bobby Heenan vs. Bret Hart a match between Giant and Kevin Nash has also been signed for Snickers Presents Souled Out. “This time Kevin Nash has to be there! Not like their last match!” Tony assures us.

Meng avoids a splash in the corner and chops and kicks the shit out of the Giant, taking him down to the mat. He kicks the Giant in the dome, but the Giant shrugs it off, gets a struggling Meng up and chokeslams the shit out of him for the win.

Winner: Giant

I kind of hate WCW announcing. The called maybe one move in this entire match. Yeah it was a short, glorified squash match, but still, you’ve got three hours of TV time. You’re spending 10 minutes at a time recapping another TV show during this show. Maybe use some of that time to instead have JJ Dillon come out with Mean Gene and be like, “I’m signing these matches for Snickers Presents Souled Out,” and then have Tony freak out on commentary.

Match 6: Goldberg vs. Steve McMichael

This is a rematch from Starrcade, but that doesn’t matter because as the saying goes…

Goldberg heads down to the ring. He’s still kind of a douche bag heel here, yelling at someone to get out of his way as he comes down the ramp. The announcers declare that Goldberg has demanded to just be called Goldberg now instead of Bill Goldberg.

Mongo is apparently of the mind that Goldberg is taking too long to get to the ring so he does a goddamn suicide dive through the middle ropes into Goldberg. He whips Goldberg into the steps hard and then rolls him into the ring. Mongo heads into the ring and just gets stomped. Goldberg puts him down with a gorilla press powerslam and then does some weird rolling leg lock thing. It is super weird.

Mongo makes a bit of a comeback, hitting a much of chop blocks and diving shoulder blocks because he played football! Mongo hits a middle rope clothesline and goes for a cover, but Goldberg is up in an instant. SPEAR! JACKHAMMER! WIN!

Heenan points out that Goldberg is undefeated.

Winner: Goldberg

Early Goldberg is weird. He’s kind of a heel. He does weird wrestling moves like rolling leg locks. He has trouble beating Mongo McMichael. Still as far as matches go, this was completely fine in a main event on WCW Worldwide sort of way.

Match 7: The Steiner Brothers (w/ Ted DiBiase) vs. Buff Bagwell & Konnan (w/ Vincent)

This match if for the tag team championship of the world. The Steiners are the champs here, a fact that Bobby Heenan accredits to the addition of Ted DiBiase as a manager since the Steiners are roughnecks but aren’t smart. Tony, thinking otherwise, declares, “I really think the Steiners are a lot more smarter than announcers give them credit for.”

Buff is posing in the ring. Scott Steiner, though not yet at Big Bad Booty Daddy levels of genetic freakishness is way more jacked. He points at his bicep and wrecks Buff’s stuff with a pair of Steinerlines.

After some stalling, Rick and Konnan come in. Rick rams Konnan dick first into the turnbuckle. He no sells this is takes down Rick with a clothesline. Buff gets tagged back in but runs right into a belly to belly suplex.

Double tags! Scott and Konnan come in and Rick goes up top for the bulldog, but Scott’s like, “Whatever mang,” and goes to the opposite turnbuckle to Frankensteiner Konnan and get the pinfall.

Winners: The Steiner Brothers

Another match that could have been the main event on an episode of WCW Saturday Night. Nothing much happens here, besides teasing tension between the Steiner Bros., which I guess is a reasonable thing to do with them since they’ve been together for like a decade at this point.

Meanwhile at the Announce Location…

Tony tells us that Scott Steiner has been fined for his actions during the last match. I have no idea what Tony’s talking about. I guess Scott Steiner pushed a referee during the match and that’s what the fine is being levied for. Yay! A hardline adherence to rules! That’s a fun thing to see in a wrestling show.

Tony then tells us we are going to get to see the match between Eric Bischoff and Larry Zbyszko from Starrcade ’97 in its entirety. ONE TIME ONLY! I’m sure the fans in attendance loved this.

Meanwhile at Starrcade ’97…

Bret Hart is out first. Less than one month removed from the Montreal Screwjob Bret Hart is making his debut in a rival company by acting as a “special referee” in a match between a retired wrestler and a non-wrestler. He gets no pyro or big elaborate entrance. There’s just some generic riff rock and Bret Hart casually walking down to the ring. In a lot of ways this entire entrance is a perfect encapsulation of Bret Hart’s WCW career.

Eric Bischoff (w/ Scott Hall) vs. Larry Zbyszko

Bischoff comes to ring in karate pants, a black belt, a backwards baseball cap, a leather jacket and sparring gloves and boots. He’s decided to go shirtless here. He’s accompanied by Scott Hall.

Larry comes out next. He’s got the Monday Nitro theme song as his entrance music and he’s wearing a sick sequin jacket. He’s in pretty good shape for a retired dude in his mid to late 40s.

Bret checks everyone for international objects and the match gets underway. The plot is if Zbyszko wins he gets to fight Scott Hall at the next PPV. If Bischoff somehow wins, the nWo gets control of Monday Nitro. Dusty is losing his shit to “HE’S GOT A BYE-THICKLE!” levels. Tenay plays up Eric Bischoff’s “martial arts background,” and claims that what we are watching is a mixed martial arts match, which I guess is a thing that could be claimed circa 1997 when “bar room brawling” was a suitable style for a competitor in UFC to be versed in.

Bischoff hits a quick shot to Larry’s head and then bails to celebrate. Bischoff and Zbyszki circle one another. Bischoff scores a couple more glancing blows and celebrates each one. He bails to the floor to consult with Hall. Someone in the audience bellows, “IT’S NOT BASED ON POINTS! IT’S A WRESTLING MATCH!” at Bischoff.

Hall tries to get Bischoff to do the crane kick. He doesn’t go for it, but he does blast Zbyszko with a kick to the head that drops him, though ultimately all it does is piss the Living Legend off. Zbyszko charges Bischoff and takes him down to the mat. He grabs Bischoff by the hair and rubs his face into the canvas.

Bret Hart is like, “Hey man, watch the hair!” and pulls Zbyszko off. Larry’s like, “Meh, whatever…SLEEPER HOLD!” He locks a sleeper on Bischoff, but Bret Hart breaks the hold claiming it’s a choke. Zbyszko is like, “Fine whatever…HEAD SCISSORS!” but Bret Hart again is like, “Sorry man, that’s a chokehold.”

Zbyszko goes for a standing figure four leg lock, but Bischoff manages to get to the ropes so Hart breaks the hold. Zbyszko attacks the leg some more but gets pulled off by Hart and Bischoff bails to the floor. The damage has already been done though and Bischoff hops around on a gimpy leg outside the ring.

Larry goes to the floor and sends Bischoff into the steps and then heads back into the ring. Bischoff heads back in as well and Zbyszko tries to punch him but Hart blocks the punch letting Bischoff get in a kick to the head. Bischoff lays in some more kicks. Zbyszko is in the ropes, but Hart’s just like “Meh whatever mang,” much to the dismay of the announcers.

“I guess he’s not a tweener after all!” declares Tony Schiavone as Bret ignores Bischoff’s rule breaking.

Eric is kicking himself out so he starts firing off lefts and rights in the corner. Zbyszko is covering up. Bischoff stops punching and kind of staggers backwards. Zbyszko stands up and shakes off Bischoff’s shitty punches. ROPE A DOPE!

Zbyszko suplexes Bischoff and then gets him in the Tree of Woe. Bret starts jawing with Zbyszko again. Meanwhile Hall stuffs a metal plate into Bischoff’s sparring boot and gets him out of the Tree of Woe.

Bischoff kicks Zbyszko and the metal chuck goes flying and probably brained someone in the third row. Bret watches this thing sail through the air. Zbyszko’s down and Bischoff celebrates. Bret has no reaction at all and then randomly punches Bischoff. This brings in Hall, but Hart puts him down as well. Hart locks on the Sharpshooter and the crowd goes fucking apeshit.

Larry Zbyszko chokes out Eric Bischoff with his own black belt and then a moment later Bret Hart raises his hand and declares him the winner of the match, I assume via DQ.

Winner: Larry Zbyszko

The crowd was kind of hot for this match in the same way that they were hot for the referee vs. referee match during WWF Invasion. That doesn’t make it good. I mean Zbyszko did a pretty decent job all things considered, but the fact that this match took place at all was ridiculous.

Zbyszko had been feuding with Hall in the lead up and Hall literally did nothing on this PPV besides serve as a corner man for Bischoff and get powerbombed by the Giant when Nash no-showed. Why not have those two face each other at Starrcade instead of delaying it until Snickers Presents Souled Out?

But worse than that was the fact that this is how they chose to debut Bret Hart in a WCW ring. Of all the things they could have done with him they decided to have him referee a match in which he favored the nWo for the bulk of the match and then SWERVE! What a waste.

Back In The Present…

Larry Zbyszko comes out to talk to Professor “Iron” Mike Tenay about his upcoming match with Scott Hall at Snickers Presents Souled Out. Zbyszko gets on the mic and talks about being champ in AWA and facing Scott Hall back in the day because promoters thought Hall had a good look, but Hall could never beat him. He says that instead of working hard, Hall took the easy way out and now he’s on the ship of fools heading towards Larry Land.

Larry claims he can still bench press 405 pounds, shoot a 73 at the golf course and still have enough strength to beat Scott Hall from one end of the ring to the other. He then talks about how he was wrestling in front of the President of the United States and the King of Samoa and the Emperor of Japan and “under the Southern Cross,” while Scott Hall was picking his nose in some elementary school classroom. “I changed the wrestling world in August 1980,” says Larry, “and at Souled Out, I’ll change the nWo for life!”

This promo is fucking awesome. This is the one thing I remember from this episode of Thunder from when I saw it live back in the day, though to be honest I did not recall it happening at this show. I would have guess the surprisingly awesome promo by a volcano shirt wearing Larry Zbyszko to have taken place on Nitro. Either way, it rocked. I’m stoked for a Scott Hall vs. Larry Zbyszko match that took place 19 years ago.

Highlights for Children!

We get footage from September of Ray Traylor/Big Bubba/Big Boss Man getting thrown out of the nWo and beaten down by the trio of Hogan, Hall, and Vincent. This is maybe the first highlight tonight that didn’t feel completely unnecessary since it was an event that took place months earlier and provided context for the next match.

Match 8: Ray Traylor vs. Scott Hall

Scott Hall comes out with some kind of belt. I have no idea what belt this is. I kind of looks like one of the tag team belts. I don’t know why he has it. Boss Man comes out in leather pants and a tank top.

Boss Man shoves Hall down at the start of the match. Hall comes back with shoulder blocks and then he slaps Boss Man in the back of the head. Boss Man fires up and muscles Hall into the corner and pounds on him. Boss Man sends him to the opposite corner and hits a big splash and crushes Hall. BEAR HUG!

The ref gets an eyepoke and then Hall and Boss Man head to the floor. Boss Man gets waffled with the mystery championship belt and sent back into the ring. Hall hits a diving bulldog off the second rope for a two count. Scott goes back to the floor and goes for a chair but Zbyszko comes out in his lava shirt to prevent the chairshot.

Hall is distracted and Boss Man gets back to his feet and lays out Hall with a Boss Man Slam for the three count.

Winner: “Big Boss Man” Ray Traylor

Not much of a match, but it existed more to forward the Zbyszko/Hall feud than anything else so I won’t fault it much for that.

Match 9: Ultimo Dragon vs. Juventud Guerrera

This is for the Cruiserweight Championship. Bobby Heenan talks about how Ultimo Dragon had nine championships simultaneously at one point. The other announcers meanwhile talk about how Scott Steiner got fine $5,000 for a push or slap that they didn’t even notice when it took place. I don’t even know…

The match begins with Juvi and Dragon feeling each other out with some quick strikes. Juvi hits a springboard spinwheel kick to score a near fall. He then goes for a splash in the corner but misses and gets kicked in the face by Ultimo Dragon twice. This is enough to cause the announcers to pay attention and actually start talking about the match that’s happening…for about two seconds until it’s back to rapping about Starrcade and the “near riot in Baltimore.”

Ultimo Dragon misses a handspring elbow in the corner and Juventud goes for a super rana but gets crotched and falls out of the ring to the floor instead. Ultimo Dragon goes for a moonsault that barely connects and looks like he fucked up one or both of his knees, possibly for real.

They head back in where after a series of reversals Ultimo Dragon hits a release German suplex and gets a two count. Ultimo goes for a top rope rana but Juventud knocks him off and goes up top himself. He goes for some manner of high risk maneuver but ends up diving into a drop kick from Ultimo Dragon.

Ultimo Dragon goes for a powerbomb, but Juvi counters into a DDT. He lays Dragon out with a Juvi Driver and then goes up top. 450! One! Two! Three! “We got a new champion!”

Winner: Juventud Guerrera

This was a pretty mediocre match from two guys who can do a lot better when they want to. For starters it was too short; probably less than five minutes from bell to bell, so even if they’d wanted to do more, they did’t really have the time. Second, the announcers are goddamn awful. Talk about the actual match for more than 5 seconds…JESUS!

Meanwhile With Mike Tenay…

We come back from commercials and go to Professor “Iron” Mike Tenay who brings Bret Hart down to the ring for an interview. Bret comes out and gets startled by his pyro and actually smirks about it. This is the most human Bret Hart has ever seemed. He’s wearing jeans and cowboy boots. The boots are denim color so it looks like he’s wearing one of those toddler pajama suit things with built in booties.

Bret talks about how he calls himself the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be and how he means it each and every time he says it and steps into the ring. He talks about how he’s accomplished at lot in his career, but now that he’s in the WCW he has to prove himself again.

Ric Flair comes out with a rebuttal. He wants Bret Hart to say his catchphrase to his face. Bret’s like, “Okay whatever. I’m the best there is, was, and ever will be…and I’m going to prove it.”

Flair goes fucking ape shit and starts yelling about how Bret used to sit in the front row of the wrestling matches with a box of popcorn and want to be Ric Flair and while Bret was becoming the five time WWF World Heavyweight Champion, he was wrestling Brody in Singapore for an hour….AND THE NATIVES WERE RESTLESS!

Bret’s like, “I guess I’ll just have to beat the man to be the man then.”

Flair grabs him by the arm and is like, “IT’S NOT JUST BEATING THE MAN, BUT STAYING THE MAN! WOOO!!!!”

This was a pretty decent segment, but it seemed to more or less be a rehash of their exchange earlier in the week on Nitro.

Match 10: Lex Luger vs. Scott Norton

Lex gets knock to the floor straight away. Norton is going OVER THE TOP! He rolls Lex back into the ring and clotheslines him. Norton wrecks Lex’s shit with a back breaker and then chops the shit out of him, but misses with a corner splash.

Lex makes a comeback and hits some clotheslines. Buff Bagwell shows up and distracts Luger so Norton can nail Luger with a shoulder breaker. Norton goes for a pin, but Luger kicks out at two. Luger lays out Norton with the Loaded Forearm and gets him up in the torture rack for the win.

Bagwell’s back in the ring, so Luger puts him up in the torture rack as well. Macho Man shows up, so Luger just chucks Buff Bagwell into Savage’s head.

Winner: Lex Luger

Another short match that the announcers didn’t pay attention to. At least this time though they were talking about the fact that a match involving one of the competitors in this match had been signed for Snickers Presents Souled Out. That’s right kids, Luger vs. Savage has been signed!

Meanwhile at Starrcade ’97…

We get a recap of the Sting vs. Hogan match from Starrcade. Nick Patrick’s “fast” three count is slow as fuck…way to screw up the finish to one of the best built matches in the history of wrestling you goon. Anyway we get the “fast” three count, Bret Hart coming out and being like, “NEVER AGAIN!” Montreal Screwjob reference…YAY!

Hart restarts the match, Sting gets Hogan in the Scorpion Deathlock and wins. WCW guys come out to the ring to celebrate. It’s weird to see guys like the Public Enemy and Mortis rubbing shoulders with Luger and DDP. They wisely end the recap before Sting bellows random Spanish at the camera.

Highlights for Children!

We then throw to Nitro to see the near riot in Baltimore. Sting and Hogan are having a rematch. Things are going swimmingly until there’s a Randy Anderson ref bump and Nick Patrick comes out.

Hogan gets Sting in a rollup and grabs a handful of tights as Nick Patrick makes the three count. Sting beats up Nick Patrick and he and Hogan keep fighting, because that’s just how they roll. Randy Anderson recovers from his ref bump just in time to see Sting get Hogan in the Deathlock. Again Hogan taps. Sting wins…or does he?

JJ Dillon and Eric Bischoff both come out. Eric kicks JJ. It’s the worst looking kick ever but JJ goes down so Sting does the Scorpion Death Drop on Bischoff. The nWo runs out and starts beating the Stinger down.

Out comes Bret Hart to help Sting, followed by a bunch of WCW guys. There’s a big brawl and the WCW guys clear the ring. Hardly a riot. Hell, it wasn’t even as out of control as a lot of the circa 1997 Nitro “WE’RE OUTTA TIME! WE GOTTA GO!” brawls that I’ve seen.

Meanwhile With Mike Tenay…

We’re back on Thunder. Professor “Iron” Mike Tenay is with JJ Dillon to talk about the championship situation. JJ’s says that the Championship Committee has reached a decision. He then calls Hogan out. Hogan comes out to no music with a posse of like five guys.

JJ Dillon then calls out “the current WCW World Heavyweight Champion, Sting,” and tells him to bring the belt with him. Sting comes down with the belt while Schiavone channels his inner Han Solo and declares that he has a very bad feeling about this.

JJ Dillon announces that they’ve reviewed the tape, looked at still images, gotten out stopwatches, and still couldn’t determine exactly what happened, so it has been decided that the title was to be vacated, effective immediately.

Hogan’s like, “What?! My belt!” and Sting just throws the title on the ground cuz he’s an adult and then points at JJ Dillon with a bat and declares, “You’ve got no guts,” before turning towards Hogan and saying, “And you’re a dead man!”

Schiavone and Co. choose to ignore Sting’s random Spanish from Starrcade and claim this is the first time he’s talked in 18 months.

Match 11: Diamond Dallas Page vs. Kevin Nash

DDP bucks tradition and comes out first in spite being the champion. Nash and Hogan are out second even though they’d both been in the ring during the last segment. Schiavone’s like, “We’re rapidly running out of time, but we’ll stay with this until it ends because that’s what we do!” This would be a bit more believable if they hadn’t just showed us footage from “after the show went off the air because we ran out of time,” prior to the commercial break.

This is apparently Nash’s first match back after getting knee surgery or something. He’s slow as fuck, but Schiavone’s like, “Nash hasn’t lost a step.”

Page works Nash’s arm to start but Nash elbows him down. Page hits a swinging neckbreaker for a two count. Nash starts working the ribs. They’re not taped up, but Lee Marshall makes reference to them being injured.

Nash clotheslines Page in the corner and the hits a side slam to get a two count. Nash is clubbering. Page gets sent to the outside and Nash follows to continue the clubbering. DDP gets whipped into the steps. Hogan tells Page to just give up.

Nash sends Page back into the ring. SNAKE EYES! Nash with an elbow drop for another two count. He’s going for another SNAKE EYES, but DDP gets him in position for a Diamond Cutter OUTTA NOWHERE, but Hogan punches him in the gut to prevent him from Diamond Cuttering Nash.

The bell is rung and Page is awarded the victory via DQ. Nash and Hogan put the boots to DDP as the Giant comes out. “WE GOTTA GO!” screams Tony Schiavone. The Giant strolls down to the ring. “WE’RE OUTTA TIME!” shouts Schiavone. They haven’t gone off the air yet.

The Giant gets in the ring and he and Nash have a stare down and then start brawling as the show ends.

Winner: DDP

Another five minute match another lame finish. I hope that Hogan gets fined for punching DDP just so the plot is at least consistent.

Final Thoughts

There’s not a lot to like about Thunder, and it’s only going to get worse. On the wrestling side of things we get a bunch of short WCW Saturday Night quality matches that just pit random dudes against one another with little rhyme or reason. I mean, I’m cool with wrestling for wrestling’s sake, but at least give the dudes some time so they can put on decent matches. Almost every match here was five minutes or less. They had time…this show was three hours. They had a lot of time, but they used probably about an hour of it on previously on Nitro segments and showing a match from Starrcade in its entirety.

It’s also not helped by the fact that the announcing is more or less goddamn awful except for Mike Tenay who only called one match here and spent the rest of the night playing the part of Mean Gene and interviewing dudes.

On the storyline side of things the World Heavyweight Championship situation is a goddamn mess that got even stupider than it needed to be, the “anyone who breaks a rule gets fined,” thing is stupid, and they have seemingly forgotten all about the nWo is fighting amongst themselves plot beat that they took like 10 minutes to show video packages about at the start of this show.

This is basically a mess. You’d be better off just watching random episodes of Saturday Night if you want to see Luger vs. Scott Norton or Chris Adams in action.

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