Happy Wednesday Everyone!
We’ve got another review of Thunder for you this week, as we take a look at Thunder #12. The reason I picked this episode was that it was apparently the most successful Thunder ever when it came to television ratings, with it drawing a 4.4 overall. Just imagine if a wrestling show got a rating that high today? It’d be front page news!
I think the big reason Thunder #12 drew such a good TV rating was because it had Hollywood Hogan in the Main Event, which I don’t think happened a lot around this time as Hogan was more a Nitro and pay per view guy, so him rocking up to work on a Thunder was actually kind of a big deal. Some of the undercard matches look like they might be fun as well, but that depends on how much time they get and how into the show the crowd are.
You can view the card for the event by clicking below;
The event was taped in Fairfax, Virginia on the 26th of March 1998 and was aired on the 27th of March
Calling the action are The Great Tony Schiavone, Lee “Tony The Tiger” Marshall and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, with The Iron Professor Mike Tenay, Sleazy E and Ravishing Rick Rude popping in at different points as well
Eric Bischoff is in the production truck before the show, hassling the poor staff about some footage they want to show. It wouldn’t shock me if such a situation wasn’t somewhat true to life at the time seeing as Bischoff could see that the WWF was starting to rebound and it led to him gradually losing his mind because he couldn’t be #1 anymore. Doug Dellinger, the head of WCW security, shows up and takes Bischoff away from the truck so that they can continue to do their job.
The footage that Bischoff apparently didn’t want the truck to show was Hollywood Hogan and Kevin Nash having an argument on Nitro because Nash refused to attack Randy Savage and instead wanted to attack Roddy Piper. Savage is actually in the Bloodline (err, wait, sorry no, its the nWo) with Hogan and Nash, whilst Piper is loosely associated with WCW, so Nash’s decision made sense, but Hogan hates Savage, hence the dispute between the two. Just your usual nWo angle from this timeframe really.
Chavo Guerrero Jr w/ Eddy Guerrero Vs The Crippler Chris Benoit
Chavo was being mentored by his uncle Eddy during this time period, and Eddy was being a real jerk about it. Case in point, Chavo was supposed to have a TV Title match with Booker T later on, but Eddy will be taking that shot instead and Chavo will have to fill in for Eddy in this match here with Benoit. Benoit shows Chavo little in the way of sympathy, as he tears into Chavito with little in the way of remorse or consideration, which Chavo sells well.
In typical WCW fashion, we can’t just enjoy a good wrestling match without something else going on, as Eric Bischoff and Rick Rude kick the commentators off the table and take over. Bischoff and Rude give a bit of lip service to calling the match but then move on to complaining about WCW, thus taking away from the action in the ring, because who really cares about that eh? I mean, Thunder was only supposed to be the more wrestling focused show whilst Nitro was more of the storyline one, so why would we need proper commentating for a good wrestling match?
Benoit continues to clobber poor Chavo, which the crowd approves of, but Chavo bravely keeps fighting and almost gets a flash roll up before getting caught in the Crippler Crossface and quickly tapping out. Bischoff and Rude briefly acknowledge the match result and then go back to whinging like 6 year olds who have had their favourite toy truck taken away from them because they’ve been throwing eggs at the neighbours’ house.
WINNER: CHRIS BENOIT
Thoughts: The wrestling was fine but the match wasn’t given a lot of time and the terrible commentary from Bischoff and Rude really took away from the action in the ring
Hollywood Hogan and Boytoy Bischoff join us for a promo segment. Thankfully Bischoff is able to control himself and only ends up verbally fellating his pal Terry instead of literally doing so. This is the usual Hogan promo, where he verbally skelps all of his enemies (Piper, Savage, Sting) whilst also trying to convince everyone that everything is just hunky dory with his buddy Kevin Nash. And as I type that, Big Sexy joins us for some promo time of his own, and he’s serious enough about it that he doesn’t lazily lean on the ropes whilst talking. That’s how you know that Kevin Nash is invested in his promo! Anyway, Nash says that Hogan may be the leader of their little club, but The Wolfpac is the heart and soul, leading to Nash asking why his buddies Sean Waltman (Bischoff fired him and he went to the WWF) and Scott Hall (rehab I’m guessing) aren’t on the show. Hogan makes fun of Waltman, which I believe led to Waltman getting some verbal payback the next week on Raw, and then tries to smooth things over with The Kevster ahead of Spring Stampede 98, where they are supposed to team up against Piper and Giant. Hogan suggests tagging with Nash tonight so that he can prove his trustworthiness, which Nash agrees to, although he did it in quite a sarcastic manner in order to highlight how things aren’t as okay as Hogan would like to think they are. This segment went on for too long, but it achieved the purpose of letting fans know that Hogan and Nash would be teaming up later, thus ensuring a strong television rating.
“The Chairman of WCW” La Parka Vs Prince Iaukea
Parka was getting kind of over as a result of doing his wacky dance and hitting folks with chairs, but WCW didn’t really know how to capitalise on that, because WCW. Mike Tenay jumps on commentary for this one, as the match features a masked Mexican fellow and that sort of thing is Tenay’s speciality. This one is mostly just the two folks trading big moves until Iaukea gets a Northern Lights Suplex OUTTA NOWHERE for three.
WINNER: PRINCE IAUKEA
Thoughts: This was too short to rate, but it was fine and it achieved its goal of giving Iaukea a clean win, as they were building him for a match with Chris Jericho at Spring Stampede 1998
Lex Luger joins Tony Schiavone on the entrance ramp for a promo segment. Luger addresses the Hogan and Nash situation, volunteering himself and Sting as the opponents for the nWo boys later on. Oh yeah, in March 1998 that was a match people were going to tune into!
WCW World Cruiserweight Title
Champ: Lionheart Chris Jericho Vs The Disco Inferno
Jericho was in full on cocky self-deluded Heel mode here, whilst Disco was kind of a babyface but could be a Heel if required depending on who he was wrestling. Jericho had won the mask of Juventud Guerrera back in February at SuperBrawl VIII, so he’s wearing it during the match here, just to be even more of a jerk than he already is, which is already very much indeed. Disco gets a bit of a shine to start, but then Jericho cuts Disco off and works him over.
Disco sells all of that well enough and Jericho shows off his Heel persona, being cocky and playing to the crowd. Jericho’s offence looks good, but the heat segment is pretty brief, as Disco soon makes the comeback, getting a near fall from his trademark swinging Neck Breaker. Jericho quickly gets a back breaker and locks in the Lion Tamer though, and that’s the clean win.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: CHRIS JERICHO
Thoughts: Good wrestling, but the match was too short to be rated any higher, which has been a trend on this show thus far
Jericho continues his trait of stealing things from opponents, as he takes Disco’s entrance headband. Sadly he doesn’t bust a swanky disco move to play into it.
On Saturday Night, we’ve got Kevin Nash Vs Rick Steiner, which I’m willing to bet ended in a DQ.
Jerry Flynn Vs Bill Goldberg
Flynn was one of the first people to actually get a bit of offence in on Goldberg, as he was a big lad with a legitimate fighting background, so WCW allowed him to look a tad more competitive than the usual cannon fodder that Goldy was fighting at the time. Indeed, the storyline for this one is that Goldberg is annoyed that Flynn was so competitive against him in their previous bout, so he wanted another match to redeem himself somewhat. Good simple storytelling there, although they probably could have made a bigger deal out of it rather than just mentioning it offhand on commentary.
Flynn uses some MMA styled submission holds, as well as some kicks, in order to make Goldberg work for it here, but Goldberg always manages to find a counter of some kind. Goldberg even does some faux MMA styled work of his own, which the crowd doesn’t really understand but I bet Goldberg got a kick out of it because he enjoys MMA and even used to do some commentary for it between WWE runs. Goldberg eventually shrugs off a Flynn kick and it’s a Spear followed by the Jack Hammer for three.
Thoughts: This was good fun, as Flynn got just enough offence that it wasn’t a squash, but the result was never in doubt and the match continued the good job WCW was doing with Goldberg at the time. I’m always amazed they didn’t screw him up sooner than they did
Psicosis Vs Kidman w/ Sick Boy
I think both of these guys were technically Heels at this time, but it’s a WCW undercard match, so basically anything goes when it comes to throwing opponents together. Psi apparently broke Lodi’s ankle with a high flying move on Nitro, so Kidman is going for revenge here. They don’t appear to be on the same page to start, and I don’t think they ever had particularly good chemistry together. Kidman usually worked better with Juventud, whilst Psi worked better with Rey Mysterio Jr.
Psi tries something off the top rope early on, but Kidman knocks him to the floor and then follows with a Shooting Star Press off the apron for the cut off, as Psi appears to be playing the babyface role tonight. Things continue to be sloppy, as they don’t seem to be working well together at all here. Kidman takes too long taunting at one stage, leaving him tied up in the ropes and the Guillotine Leg Drop gets two.
Kidman looked like such a chump just lying in the ropes and waiting politely for Psi to leg drop him there, only to then kick out and kill Psi’s finish. This match has just been a bad idea all round to be honest. Kidman tries to get Sick Boy involved to help out, but Sick Boy ends up attacking Kidman by mistake (which the ref allows for some reason) and another leg drop ends it for Psi.
Thoughts: This was a sloppy mess, as they worked really poorly together and the match had no real flow. The stuff with Sick Boy made the ref look dumb as well, as he clobbered Kidman in full view of the referee and the ref just had to just shrug and let it go. I mean, couldn’t another Flock member have distracted the ref before they did that spot? There’s loads of them!
Tony Schiavone invites Diamond Dallas Page down to the ring. DDP was the US Champ at the time, but Raven has stolen his belt ahead of a match between the two at Spring Stampede 1998. This feud started when both DDP and The Flock were in a Stuck Mojo video, where DDP ended up beating up The Flock “for real” in the video. DDP tells WCW official James J. Dillon that he doesn’t need Dillon to get the belt back for him, as it’ll be more fun for DDP to take it back on his own. Well, that’s certainly something a fighting babyface would say, so I approve! DDP mentions that Jake Roberts helped him out when he was breaking in, so he doesn’t like Raven taking the credit for it instead. DDP states that Raven is next in line to feel the BANG and then heads into the crowd. This was a solid promo segment, as DDP said what he needed to say to advance the storyline and then got out of there. That’s what you like to see!
nWo Vs WCW
Mr. Spiffy Curt Hennig and Brian Adams w/ Ravishing Rick Rude Vs British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith and Jim The Anvil Neidhart
This was all part of the build to Hennig and Davey Boy having a terrible match at the Spring Stampede 1998 pay per view. The crowd doesn’t really care about this one, and the wrestling isn’t really up to much either. Rude joins up with the commentary team, as they tell the story in the match of Hennig constantly trying to avoid locking up with Davey until he’s already in a weakened state, which makes sense if that’s the match you were eventually going to charge people to pay to watch.
Eventually Hennig delivers a cheap shot to Anvil, which sets him up for the trademark worst piledriver in the business from Adams. However, the heat doesn’t really go on for long, as the nWo boys stop to taunt and Davey gets the tag in, leading to things breaking downs whilst the crowd continues to watch on nonplussed until the ref just throws the match out, drawing a murmur of boos and little else.
Thoughts: This was dull, heatless and featured rubbish wrestling
The two teams brawl to the back following that, although it looks like Hennig can barely walk and the “brawling” is sorely lacking.
Saturn Vs WCW United States Champ Diamond Dallas Page
DDP was feuding with Raven at the time, so here he’s wrestling one of Raven’s allies in the form of Saturn. Rather than just being a lackey like the rest of Raven’s Flock, Saturn was always presented as more of an equal to Raven and someone that the fans could take seriously, so this will be a more dangerous outing for DDP than if he was wrestling someone like Kidman or Sick Boy. Saturn attacks DDP early doors and works him over, with his stuff looking decent and DDP doing a solid job of selling it all.
It’s not the most exciting bout ever, but it’s a solid enough television match and they do a good job of presenting Saturn as an actual threat to one of the bigger stars in the promotion, thus elevating him regardless of the eventual finish to the match, which is what you want. DDP eventually makes the comeback, but he can’t apply the Diamond Cutter and that allows Raven to provide a distraction by taunting DDP with his belt. DDP manages to catch Saturn with the Diamond Cutter OUTTA NOWHERE and then chases Raven to the back, leading to Saturn winning by count out.
WINNER BY COUNT OUT: SATURN
Thoughts: I think Saturn might have gained more from losing clean than getting the lame count out win actually, as going out on your shield after an intense fight is going to make you look better than being handed a win you don’t deserve because your opponent is more interested in fighting someone else. It hampered the good job they did elevating Saturn in match itself somewhat
WCW World Television Title
Champ: Booker T Vs Eddy Guerrero w/ Chavo Guerrero Jr
Booker tells Chavo to stand up for himself prior to this one starting, but that allows Eddy to get a cheap shot on Booker from behind for a two count via an international object. Chavo reveals the object to the referee though, and that’s a DQ win for Booker. Aw man, I was actually looking forward to seeing a good match there and they took it away from us in order to do an angle.
WINNER BY DQ AND STILL CHAMPION: BOOKER T
Thoughts: This was an angle rather than a match
Chavo agrees to punch Booker following the match at Eddy’s behest, which leads to Chris Benoit to make the save for Booker in order to set up their issues down the line. The angle advancement was okay here, but I would have liked to have seen Eddy and Booker get time to wrestle a proper match first before the storyline advancement kicked in.
nWo Vs WCW
Scott Flash Norton w/ Buff The Stuff Bagwell Vs The Dog Faced Gremlin Rick Steiner w/ Ted Dibiase
Rick’s brother Scott had joined the nWo, and that’s caused Rick to fight against other members of the group in an effort to get to his brother. Norton doesn’t really have much interest in selling here, which was par for the course for him sometimes. Steiner would be similar in 1999 when he was TV Champ of course. I’ve never really understood it to be honest. Yes, Norton is a big dude, but I don’t see him being SO big that a massive psychotic bloke like Rick Steiner couldn’t hurt him. Rick eventually makes a bit of a comeback, leading to Scott Steiner showing up to try and throw Norton a studded dog collar to use as a weapon. Rick gets it instead though and hits Norton with it a couple of times for the win.
WINNER: RICK STEINER
Thoughts: Some of the power moves were cool, but aside from that this was a whole lot of nothing and Norton barely sold anything outside of the weapon shot at the end.
Rick Steiner chases Scott Steiner to the back following that.
nWo Vs WCW
Hollywood Hogan and Big Sexy Kevin Nash Vs WCW World Champ Crow Sting and The Total Package Lex Luger
Sting was set to defend the belt against Randy Savage at Spring Stampede 1998. Nash is wrestling in jeans and a t-shirt tonight, which is either an artistic choice on his part or because he didn’t know he was wrestling until he got to the arena and didn’t have his gear. It’s WCW, so either option is on the table. Hogan had done an S Class job in burying Sting by this stage following two horrible matches at Starrcade 97 and SuperBrawl VIII respectively, and that’s reflected somewhat in Sting’s pop when he enters, as he arguably wasn’t drawing Main Event babyface heat at this stage.
Sting and Luger bump Hogan around a bit to start, although the crowd isn’t as hot for it as you’d expect them to be, whilst Nash doesn’t seem too eager to tag in. Nash does eventually tag in, once Hogan has already knocked Luger down with the Axe Bomber. Hogan and Nash work okay as a team briefly, but Nash ends up attacking Hogan by mistake, leading to the Sting hot tag. That looks to wake up the crowd, but then Randy Savage runs in for the lame DQ finish, because WCW.
WINNERS BY DQ: STING & LUGER
Thoughts: This didn’t really have a chance to get going until the DQ. It was very much a WCW TV Main Event, and finishes like this were a good example of why fans eventually stopped tuning in and the WWF started winning
Hogan wants a piece of Savage following that, which leads to the nWo squabbling and this giving an opening for Sting and Luger to clear the ring. Hogan and Nash argue outside the ring to close us out.
Not much you need to see from an in-ring perspective on this one, but I found it to be a breezy watch and they did a good job of advancing most of the storylines, even though the stuff with Eddy and Booker annoyed me because it robbed us of what would have been a good match, and the show really felt like it needed one at that stage too.
I’d struggle to recommend this one, especially due to the lack of any good in-ring wrestling, but I didn’t hate it whilst I watched it if that makes any sense?