Thunder – February 5, 1998: Benoit’s First Chance

Thunder
Date: February 5, 1998
Location: Beaumont Civic Center, Beaumont, Texas
Attendance: 4,900
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, Lee Marshall

Tonight the main event is the kind of match that Thunder needs to focus on: the US Title match between Benoit and Diamond Dallas Page with Benoit FINALLY getting the recognition he deserves. Other than that we have the NWO in shambles with Savage and Hogan on the verge of coming to blows. Let’s get to it.

We open with a recap of the Steiners arguing on Monday.

Hugh Morrus vs. La Parka

Morrus slugs him down but gets caught by a dropkick followed by the LA PARKA DANCE! The fans are into it but Morrus comes back with a hard clothesline to take over. Hugh charges into a pair of boots in the corner but La Parka runs into a powerslam for two. Morrus chops him down in the corner and hits a quick splash but La Parka comes back with a spin kick Not that it matters as Morrus elbows him down and hits No Laughing Matter to complete the squash.

Post match La Parka hits Morrus with the chair and does the dance on top of it. So why squash him?

Video on Goldberg’s dominance.

Jim Powers vs. Bill Goldberg

Goldberg takes him down with something like an STO followed by a quickly broken leg lock. Powers’ knee lift is no sold and it’s the spear and Jackhammer for the win.

Juventud Guerrera vs. Kidman

Juvy takes over with a quick headscissors but an attempt at a second is countered into a reverse sitout powerbomb. The fans yell at Lodi as Kidman stops Juvy’s speed with shots to the back. Kidman reverse supelxes Guerrera onto the apron but Juvy comes back with a springboard missile dropkick to put Kidman on the floor. A rana takes Kidman off the apron and back to the floor but Juvy might have hurt his knee in the process.

The knee is fine enough to try a springboard legdrop but Juvy only hits canvas. Kidman goes to the middle rope but gets caught by a Frankensteiner for two. A nothern light suplex gets the same for Guerrera and the Juvy Driver looks to set up the 450. Juvy has to dropkick Lodi down instead though and Kidman hits a quick bulldog and the Shooting Star for the pin.

Rating: B-. That’s probably high but given how fast paced this was in the short amount of time it’s impossible to not be impressed. Kidman was great in the ring when he had someone who could go move for move with him and Juvy certainly fits that bill. For five minutes this was some high level stuff.

DDP is ready for Benoit and knows the fans are too.

Silver King/Villano IV/Villano V vs. Super Calo/Lizmark Jr./Chavo Guerrero Jr.

We start with Lizmark vs. Villano IV in a nice technical sequence until Lizmark hits a springboard missile dropkick to take over. The Villanos switch but Calo gets a blind tag and comes in with a kind of top rope Hart Attack for two. Back to IV but Calo sends him straight to the outside so it’s off to Chavo vs. Silver King. Chavo lands on his feet out of a monkey flip and dropkicks King down for two.

V comes back in with a DDT on Chavo but Guerrero rolls outside, allowing Calo to walk into a superkick from King. Everything breaks down and Lizmark hits a great dive to take out IV. Chavo hits the tornado DDT on Silver but Psychosis sneaks in and hits the guillotine legdrop on Chavo to give King the pin.

Rating: C. This was a slower version of the six man lucha formula and with far less time to develop. That being said, the dives were very good and Lizmark looked good out there. It’s also nice to see Chavo have his first feud start up as he’s too talented to be stuck in these random six man tags.

Video on Savage having problems with the NWO over the last few weeks.

Dusty comes to the announcers’ desk and throws out Lee Marshall. He yells at Tony and Bobby about how he’ll speak the truth. Heenan immediately starts sucking up to him.

Buff Bagwell/Konnan vs. Steiner Brothers

The NWO jumps the Brothers as they come in but get caught in belly to belly suplexes for their efforts. After a breather on the floor we start with Rick vs. Konnan but Konnan tags out before there’s any contact. Buff tags right back out and we have Konnan vs. Rick for real this time. Rick pounds away before we can get another tag and a powerslam gets two on Konnan. Buff breaks up the pin and Rick is in trouble.

Bagwell comes in legally for a DDT, drawing in Scott which allows the NWO to double team Rick. Buff sends him to the floor for a beating from Konnan and Vincent. I’ll give Vincent this: he was able to keep a job for a long time despite being nothing more than a low level enforcer. Back in and Buff’s splash hits Rick’s knees and it’s finally the hot tag to Scott. House is cleaned but Vincent and DiBiase get in a fight on the floor as Hall comes in, drawing a DQ win for the Steiners.

Rating: D+. Not much to see here but that’s becoming the norm for Steiner Brothers matches. At least Hall is getting involved in the story again though, meaning we could get the Steiners back to the title scene very soon. Seeing DiBiase and Vincent brawl always brings a nostalgic smile to my face as well.

Post match Scott Steiner doesn’t realize the match is over and loads up the Steiner Bulldog. Hall shoves Rick off the top into Scott and the Steiners are about to come to blows. Scott Steiner never saw Hall get involved and thinks Rick either screwed up or jumped him.

Raven vs. Marty Jannetty

Lee Marshall is back on commentary as Heenan explains that he was sucking up to Dusty to protect Tony and Lee. Raven comes through the entrance and sits down on the set instead of walking to the ring. Now he gets up and looks at his video as he walks towards the ring. Jannetty is tired of waiting and jumps Raven in the aisle with forearms to the back and a superkick. Lodi gets a superkick as well, pops back up so he can raise the sign and gets superkicked again.

They get in the ring as Tony rants about Dusty. Marty hits a dropkick for three straight two counts but Raven comes back with a clothesline to take over. Jannetty is sent back to the floor and Raven drops an elbow off the apron to keep Marty down. Raven throws Marty and a chair into the ring for the bulldog onto said chair.

Raven puts Marty in the Crippler Crossface while shouting BEWARE OF THE DDT. He lets the hold go and drives a knee into Marty’s face but a Vader Bomb onto a chair only hits steel. Raven gets crotched on the top rope and dropkicked out to the floor as Lodi is still out cold in the aisle. Marty sends Raven into the steps but back inside the Rocker Dropper is countered into the Even Flow for the pin.

Rating: C. Marty has been solid looking in his few matches in WCW which is all you can expect from him at this point. Raven continues to be bizarre in the ring and Heenan freaking out over the odd things that he does is always good for a laugh. This match was a way to set up Benoit vs. Raven II on Saturday Night which is a setup for a later match in its own right.

Video on Giant being injured at Souled Out.

Disco Inferno vs. Perry Saturn

These guys fought an awful lot. The announcers ignore the match to talk about Hogan paying Nash’s fines in the hopes that Nash will have his back at Super Brawl. They trade basic holds for control to start but Saturn takes it to the mat, sending Disco running to the floor. Back in and Disco takes over with an armbar before they seem to screw up a running the ropes sequence.

We take a break and come back with Saturn pounding on Disco in the corner. Saturn whips him across the ring and Disco seems ready to jump over Perry but there’s no one there. Saturn pounds him down some more and whips him into the corner again so Disco can try to jump over him, only to get crotched. Inferno comes back with a knee lift and swinging neckbreaker for two but he dives into a Tazplex for two. A Falcon’s Arrow puts Disco down but a guillotine legdrop misses.

Disco hits the Chartbuster (Stunner) but can’t immediately cover. After the referee counts both guys to eight, Disco puts an arm over but Kidman puts Saturn’s foot on the rope. Saturn superkicks him down for two but Disco counters a belly to back superplex into a cross body for two. Kidman shoves Saturn into Disco, knocking both guys out. Saturn is on Disco’s back though and puts on the Rings of Saturn for the submission.

Rating: C+. I’m liking this serious Disco Inferno. He’s like a lower level Terry Taylor: a guy who is only remembered for his gimmick, instead of how good he was in the ring. Saturn was in a fight here and it made for an entertaining match to continue a good trend tonight. Now can we please move these two apart for a very long time?

Post match Saturn won’t let go until Booker T makes the save.

Here’s Nick Patrick who says he’s ready for his second chance. He wants the fans to look at the tape from Starrcade and see that he did nothing wrong. He’ll be back on Nitro because JJ Dillon has no leg to stand on.

Raven rants about Benoit, Woman and TBS being too corporate.

Scott Hall vs. Jim Neidhart

Hall and Spicolli come out out for the Survey with WCW winning by a mile. He complains about not having the title shot at the PPV because of Piper and says that the Steiners can have a title shot on Nitro. As for Spicolli, tonight he gets to face Neidhart instead.

Jim Neidhart vs. Louie Spicolli

Neidhart destroys Louie as you would expect and knocks him out to the floor. Louie is catapulted back into the ring and Hall gets blasted in the face as well. Anvil puts the nerve hold on Spicolli but Hall comes in for the DQ. This barely lasted a minute.

Davey Boy Smith runs out for the save but Mongo comes out to go after him. Due to Mongo’s high levels of suck, Smith easily knocks him back to the floor.

US Title: Chris Benoit vs. Diamond Dallas Page

We take a break before the bell and come back with Tony saying the bell has sounded but no one has moved from the corners. The arena is full of smoke from Page’s entrance. They circle each other and have a very rough tieup before falling to the floor for another staredown. Back in and the champion takes Benoit down with a tilt-a-whirl side slam for no cover. A gutbuster puts Benoit down again and Page stomps away. Back up and Benoit snaps on the Crossface but Page is next to the ropes.

A belly to belly gets two on Benoit but he bails away from a Diamond Cutter attempt. They stare each other down for the third time before going face to face and slugging it out. Benoit gets in some forearms to the kidneys and Page is in trouble. Lee Marshall takes the time to tell us that the Crossface is a submission hold while the Cutter is a move to knock you out. Benoit hits a snap suplex for two and stomps on Page in the corner, only to have Page come back with right hands. Page hits a running tornado DDT out of nowhere to put both guys down but here’s the Flock to jump both guys for the double DQ.

Rating: C. This is one of those matches that had a big fight feel but they only had six minutes. The Raven run in sets up another match down the road between these two, likely at Super Brawl where they’ll have more time. It was nice to see Benoit treated as an equal with a big name and hopefully he gets to do this kind of thing more often.

Raven hits the Even Flow on Benoit but Page Diamond Cuts every other member of the Flock. Raven bails as Benoit and Page stare each other down to end the show.

Overall Rating: C+. Thunder continues its roll with a solid string of matches tonight. The lack of big stars is very refreshing as the show can breathe for a minute and not subject us to a bunch of two minute nothing matches to fill time. Good show this week as Super Brawl is taking shape and should be a well built show.

Remember to follow me on Twitter @kbreviews and pick up my new book on the History of Starrcade from Amazon for just $4 at:

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