WCW Thunder review (1.15.98)

WCW Thunder review (1.15.98)

WCW Thunder

1Thunder

January 15 1998

 

Fortunately the three hour run-time was only a one off for the first show and we settle into a two hour slot in week two. We’re in Lakeland, Florida. Hosts are Mike Tenay, Bobby Heenan and Lee Marshall. I appreciate Thunder having a different lead announcer. I was worried about having to listen to Schiavone for two years. They rectify an issue from last week by showing Nitro recaps before the show goes live. So far, so good. Way shorter show, get the recaps out of the way, no Tony.

 

Promo Time: The Giant

2Giant

He’s quite an affable promo. I much prefer him just talking in sinister fashion rather than yelling. Lodi, who as a character is clearly a dipshit, comes out and gets chokeslammed. The Flock follow and Giant clears them all out because they’re all jobbers bar Saturn and Raven. Nash then strolls out to throw coffee in Giant’s face but, as per a stip, Giant isn’t allowed to touch Nash so Big Kev follows him around berating him. Nash was always way more entertaining when he wasn’t wrestling.

2Nash

 

Black Cat, Ohara & Gedo vs. The Steiner Brothers & Ray Traylor

Ohara I talked about on the first show. Black Cat is a New Japan lifer. Debuted there in 1981 and wrestled there until 2001 when he retired. He has a lot of lucha training and occasionally returned to Mexico for the odd match. He lost his mask to Mascara Sagrada four years before this, when he was at the peak of his powers. Gedo is a strange one.

2Gedo

He’s with FMW at this point and still a pudgy nobody with terrible gear. WCW brought him over in 1997 to job to Chris Jericho. Presumably because he was with Jericho in the 1995 Super J Cup in WAR. Actually made the final of that show before losing to Jushin Liger. Anyway, nobody in Florida gives a fuck. They’re here for the Steinerline! While modern wrestling has a tonne of good Japanese wrestlers none of these boys are at all. Scott Steiner is a much better wrestler. Scott ignores Rick Steiner and kills Gedo with the Steiner Screwdriver for the pin. Rick looks upset at Scott’s hotdogging.

The Steiners are magnificent at killing inferior opposition. Their consistent mangling of jobbers was a highlight of early RAW shows.

Final Rating: **1/4

 

Yuji Nagata vs. Ernest Miller

2Nagata

Nagata’s facial hair game is strong here. Ernest Miller is about a year into his career and stinks. Nagata spent most of 1997 in WCW and this may be a ‘hot take’ but he wasn’t very good. But at least the basics are there, which puts him above say Ohara. He tries to Americanise his work and his punches suck. It’s Miller who lands the better looking strikes and when you’re getting out-done by The Cat that can’t be good. I can only assume Nagata was getting terrible advice because this is not him at all. Feliner puts Nagata away and Sonny Onoo tries to jump him. That goes badly for Onoo and there are more missed kicks in the post match than during an East Sterling vs. Clyde Scottish second division clash.

Final Rating: ½*

 

Promo Time: JJ Dillon

Tony is on interviews and the microphone craps out in spectacular fashion so I have no idea what he said. We’re live, pal! DDP hobbles out to say he’s wrestling tonight whether Dillon likes it or not. So presumably JJ was talking about his leg injury.

 

Louie Spicolli vs. Scott Hall

Hall is wearing both the tag belts and is significantly cooler than Spicolli. “You look like an intelligent young man”.

2ScottHall

This was during the Scott Hall “survey time” where he asked the fans if they were here to see WCW, or the nWo. Spicolli sucks up to Razor until Larry Zbyszko strolls out to tell him off. Spicolli cheap shots Larry and both of them get punked out by old man Zbyszko. An advertised match not happening in WCW? I am *shocked* sirs.

Final Rating: NR

 

Chris Jericho vs. Eddie Guerrero

Jericho is a few weeks into his heel gimmick of being a total bitch (or Paragon of Virtue depending on your perspective).

2Jericho

Jericho blames Rey Mysterio Jr for Jericho attacking him. This is Jericho at his best in WCW. When he had nothing to lose and embracing his cowardly heel persona. Eddie is also heel but he’s a vicious heel. It amazes me that WCW had Eddie for so many years and for most of them he was a humourless bad guy. Sadly this is a short midcard match. It’s actually a #1 contender’s match for the cruiserweight title and logically Jericho should win as he just attacked Rey on Monday.

They recover admirably with Jericho pulling a counter out of his ass and getting the Liontamer for the submission. It’s not in line with Jericho’s recent run of failure but he’s in line for a fun time in 1998.

Final Rating: **1/2

 

Video Control gives us clips of Jim Neidhart debuting on Nitro to slag off Ric Flair and tease the reunification of the Hart Foundation.

 

Chavo Guerrero Jr vs. Bill Goldberg

Disco Inferno shows up between participants for reasons best known to himself to get into a spot of verbal with Chavo. Goldberg is announced as “undefeated” this week. Disco lays out Chavo with the Chartbuster so Goldberg destroys him instead.

2Goldberg

Hey, another advertised match that never happened. This one retconned by WCW into a Goldberg win!

 

Promo Time: Hollywood Hogan & Eric Bischoff

Hogan apparently went to court to complain about not being handed the title last week. They probably told him to stop wasting the judge’s time. Anyway they ramble a bit and I don’t really pay attention because fuck Hogan.

 

WCW Cruiserweight Championship

Juventud Guerrera (c) vs. Rey Mysterio Jr

Juvi only won the belt last week so they could do an ‘anything can happen on Thunder’ belt switch.

2Rey

Spoiler: Another one incoming! This match only exists to set up Rey/Jericho at Souled Out and the start of Jericho’s incredible 1998 run as Cruiser champ.

Juvi is a nutcase. He lives on that raw edge. One of the benefits of having crazy luchadores is they think nothing of going out there and hurling themselves into dives that could cripple themselves. They want to prove their worth. So we get a whole bunch of wacky shit here. It wouldn’t look out of place in 2018. The near falls sequences are beautiful and the match is loaded with high spots. Only two shows in and we have a contender for the best match in Thunder history. Juvi does a 450 Splash, misses, lands on his feet and eats a rana right into the pin. Holy smokes. Wooo!

Final Rating: ****1/4

 

Diamond Dallas Page & Lex Luger vs. Kevin Nash & Randy Savage

2Savage

Hollywood Hogan is out here to play peacekeeper between Nash and Savage who basically hate each other despite all being in the nWo. The main storyline is DDP though. He’s got a bum wheel and therefore Luger is left alone for the most part. Which is a shit because Page is the only guy worth watching in 1998. Hogan takes DDP out before the match to turn it into an actual handicap match. Or it would be if Nash didn’t treat Savage like crap and ‘tag’ him with a slap. Hogan spends a chunk of the match in the ring. It’s an absolute shambles.

2Hogan

Giant walks down here, chokeslams Hogan and the nWo run in. “The nWo run in” was the finish of 90% of main events during this era.

Final Rating: DUD

 

Summary:

This was a very WCW 1998 show. The cruiserweights were head and shoulders above everything else, two matches never even happened (including a Goldberg squash, how hard is that to book?), there were several horrific botches and a massive technical issue with the microphone. Plus the nWo dominated proceedings, getting a lengthy promo spot and then dogging a tag main event. Well, ‘tag’ is generous. DDP was injured, Luger worked the whole (6 minute) match and several people ran in. On the, definite, upside is the cruiser title match, which is legitimately great.

 

Recommended:

Jericho/Guerrero. At least for the huge botch.

JJ Dillon’s microphone not working at all.

Guerrera/Mysterio. Match of the month in WCW for January 1998.

 

 

 

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