Thunder – July 16, 1998: Arn Anderson At His Best

Date: July 16, 1998
Location: Oakland Arena, Oakland, California
Attendance: 13,393
Commentators: Mike Tenay, Lee Marshall, Bobby Heenan, Tony Schiavone

I can’t believe I’m saying this but Hogan is one of the best things about WCW right now. He was evil again on Monday instead of being the guy who takes nothing seriously. That being said, he really doesn’t seem to mind that he’s lost the world title. His reaction on Monday was basically “Eh, I’ll get back to that when I have time.” That doesn’t do anything for the title but that never seemed to be a priority in WCW. Let’s get to it.

Apparently this is a three hour show. Oh freaking joy.

Speaking of three hours, weren’t we supposed to see Hogan vs. Goldberg in its entirety again on Monday? I guess not being able to remember a promise you made five days earlier is a universal problem in wrestling.

We open with a Nash interview from after Nitro went off the air Monday. He says he isn’t pleased with what Hall did and calls it strike two. It’s all Hogan’s fault of course, but Nash is going to have to knock some sense into Hall. Tenay is conducting the interview and spends most of it sucking up to the Outsiders because WCW now supports the Wolfpack I guess.

Konnan vs. El Dandy

Konnan raps on the way to the ring and sucks up to the Oakland crowd. Dandy is quickly taken down and stomped on a bit before he comes back with a clothesline. An abdominal stretch has Konnan in trouble but he dares to doubt El Dandy. Konnan flapjacks him down and it’s the 187 into the Tequila Sunrise for the easy win.

Road Wild ad.

Ultimo Dragon vs. Lizmark Jr.

This is going to be a long three hours. Dragon fires off the kicks to start and does his headstand in the corner before kicking Lizmark in the chest. Lizmark chops him a bit and gets a nice belly to back suplex to set up an abdominal stretch on the mat. Back up and a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker gets two for Lizmark. The nitwit fans are booing this. A rollup and fallaway slam get two each on Dragon as this has almost been one sided. Lizmark’s Lionsault hits legs though and both guys are down. Back up and Lizmark tries a Samoan drop of all things, only to have Dragon land on his feet and hook the Dragon Sleeper for the win.

Rating: C. Better match than I expected here as Lizmark got to show off. Dragon is on his way out of the company at this point so maybe that’s why he was on defense so long out there. It wasn’t anything that was going to set the world on fire but I can think of worse ways to spend four and a half minutes.

The announcers talk about DDP and Hennig not happening last week but they’ll try to do it tonight instead.

Here’s Page to talk about how much he hates Hogan and his ego. He’s right here if Hogan wants to jump him, but tonight it’s Hennig that will feel the BANG. Short stuff from Page tonight.

The next Thunder isn’t for three weeks. I think that’s a Christmas miracle.

Public Enemy vs. Alex Wright/Disco Inferno

Rock cranks on Wright’s arm to start but gets backdropped out to the floor. He doesn’t seem all that hurt but Wright sends him back inside anyway. Rocco’s superplex attempt is countered into a front suplex off the top for two as Rocco still doesn’t seem that bothered. Off to Disco vs. Grunge with Inferno getting punched all over the ring. Wright walks into a tilt-a-whirl slam as Public Enemy throws in a table. Tokyo Magnum tries to come in for a save but gets crushed against the table. Alex uses the distraction to grab a neckbreaker on Grunge for the pin.

Rating: D+. Believe it or not this hasn’t been a horrible feud. There’s a nice idea with the goofy guys facing the brawlers and it’s actually working. The matches haven’t been anything of note but I haven’t been bored when watching them. That’s more than I can say about a lot of WCW matches and feuds.

Post match Meng comes out and destroys everyone in sight. Barbarian comes out to try and stop Meng but gets a Death Grip for his efforts. Meng destroys even more people.

Dean Malenko vows to get his hands on Jericho soon enough. Tony asks him about Arn Anderson helping him out at Bash at the Beach. Dean says he’ll talk to Arn before he leaves tonight.

Jim Duggan vs. Roadblock

A quick (work with me here) clothesline put the 400lb+ Roadblock on the floor but he elbows Duggan in the jaw back inside. The big man hits some forearms to the back like any good clubbing monster would before Duggan clotheslines him out again. Back in and the ten right hands in the corner have Roadblock in trouble but he grabs a bearhug to slow Duggan down. Jim breaks free, hits the Three Point Clothesline and drops Old Glory (knee drop) for the pin.

Rating: D. Shockingly watchable match but again, why did they need to have this match? Was there no one on the roster that needed a TV win? It’s like they just pick these names out of a hat like at Lethal Lottery. The match wasn’t even bad but it doesn’t need to exist given some of the people on this roster.

Bret Hart says he doesn’t mind if the fans don’t like him. They don’t matter and he’s already taken care of Flair, Benoit and Booker (complete with making fun of the way Booker speaks). No one is safe around here and he’ll take out anyone he wants.

Saturn vs. Kanyon

This should be good. Kanyon grabs two quick rollups for two each but Saturn grabs a quick belly to back suplex. Schiavone of course brags about the basketball match instead of talking about ANYTHING going on during the match. Lee Marshall of all people gets him back on track. Saturn fires off some kicks in the corner but gets caught in a neckbreaker to put both guys down.

We hit the chinlock from Kanyon followed by a hotshot for two more. A PerfectPlex gets two for Kanyon as does a slingshot elbow drop from the apron. Kanyon drives shoulders into Saturn’s ribs in the corner but misses a charging shoulder and gets rolled up for two. The fans want Arn and go WOO a lot. Saturn scores with a great looking superkick for two but walks into the Flatliner for the same result. The Moss Covered Three Handled Family Credenza gets yet another two for Kanyon but Saturn pops up and hits the Death Valley Driver for the pin.

Rating: C. This was more of a spot fest with both guys hitting one big move after another. As usual the story hasn’t gone anywhere yet but it was still entertaining stuff which is what this dull show has needed. Why couldn’t these guys get another five minutes and Roadblock’s match been cut?

Eddie Guerrero vs. Psychosis

The Chavo chants before the match already get on Eddie’s nerves and Psychosis uses the distraction to get a quick rollup for two. They trade rollups and counters to start until Eddie grabs a quick suplex to take over. Psychosis pops back up and kicks Guerrero in the head to send him outside. A nice plancha from the top takes Eddie out again and he’s kind enough to just stand there and wait on Psychosis to go up. Back in and Eddie grabs a quick shoulder breaker and starts in on the arm.

We get an actual hammerlock in a cruiserweight match. I don’t remember the last time I saw that. Eddie stays on the arm but misses a charge in the corner. Psychosis goes up and here’s Chavo, dressed like the Lone Ranger. Psychosis dives on him for no apparent reason before Eddie dives on both of them for a slightly more adequately explored reason. Back in and Psychosis hits a top rope hurricanrana and a gordbuster, only to have Chavo hit him with the stick horse. Eddie’s frog splash is good for the pin.

Rating: C. Chavo continues to entertain but I’m not sure where they’re going with the story at this point. They’ve kind of hit a wall as Eddie has taken his hair but Chavo doesn’t seem to mind. At least it’s fun stuff though which is more than Chavo had been doing before this whole thing started. Eddie is getting a nice push out of it too.

We get the Nash interview from earlier which leads us into Scott Hall with something to say. No survey since California is clearly Black and White country, so on to Nash. Apparently Nash is a big goof who wouldn’t help Hall when he had money troubles, so Hall turned to Hogan and Bischoff. Hall declares himself Medium Sexy the Nash Killer and that he’s sexier than ten movie stars. Again, not much here.

Scott Norton vs. Ciclope

Norton, officially in black and white, powerbombs him for the pin in 15 seconds.

Stevie Ray is here to explain why he has the TV Title. Apparently Booker was in his hospital bed and looked up at Stevie (“With those big brown eyes”) and told Stevie how great of a champion he was. Booker gave Stevie power of attorney and Ray has a hand written note to prove it. Booker even picked the opponent tonight.

TV Title: Stevie Ray vs. Damien

Another total squash with Ray just mauling him. A powerslam gets no cover and Damien makes the jobber comeback with chops and a dropkick. Stevie clotheslines him down and the Slap Jack retains the title.

Here are Hennig, Rude and Hall with something to say. Rude thinks Page is nothing more than a flash in the pan. Hennig things DDP stands for Dirtball Dallas Punk and complains that his bird is too sick to relieve himself on a picture of DDP. Konnan comes out for Wolfpack reasons, calls Hall a mark, slaps Hennig, and runs.

Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Juventud Guerrera

In a funny bit, Tenay talks about some Oakland A’s being here. Heenan: “Gehrig is here.” Tony: “Lou?” Heenan: “Al. He parks cars.” Feeling out process to start with Rey taking control of the arm and ducking an enziguri. Juvy chops away until Rey goes for a springboard dropkick but gets dropkicked out of the air. A suplex gets two for Guerrera and we hit the chinlock.

Back up and Mysterio gets two off a rollup before kicking Juvy in the back to take over. Now it’s Juvy heading to the apron and connecting with his springboard missile dropkick for two. They head up top with Juvy being punched out to the floor, setting up a BIG dive from Mysterio. Back in and Rey hits the ropes, only to get caught in the Juvy Driver for a very close two. The 450 is broken up and Rey sets for the West Coast Pop, only to have Bret Hart of all people come out with a chair for the DQ.

Rating: C+. Surprising ending aside, what else were you expecting from Guerrera vs. Mysterio? It’s good to see Rey getting to test his knee out against someone who can give him a run for his money. Juvy continues to be awesome but never seems to go anywhere as a result. Some things never change around here.

Both small guys are beaten down with the chair. Juvy gets a Sharpshooter and Mysterio is put in the figure four around the post. This is really the best thing they can come up with for Bret Hart?

Hugh Morrus/Barbarian vs. Marty Jannetty/Chris Adams

Oh you have got to be kidding me. Adams pounds on Morrus to start before bringing Marty in for a superkick. The crowd is clearly heading to the concourse during this. Everything quickly breaks down and Adams is sent to the floor, allowing Morrus to moonsault Jannetty for the pin. Another nothing match.

Post match Meng comes out and destroys people. They’re so strapped for ideas that they did the same low level angle twice in one night.

Here’s Dean Malenko who demands to see Arn Anderson face to face. Here’s Arn to the awesome Horsemen music but Mongo comes out before Dean can say anything. A LOUD We Want Flair starts up as Dean talks about Benoit being a close friend. Malenko talks about being in New Japan and getting to talk to Arn while he was on a tour. They got to know each other pretty well back then and they have a common work ethic. Anderson got Dean a job in WCW and Malenko never got a chance to thank him.

Dean says Benoit and Mongo believe in Anderson and Dean thinks Arn’s guidance could be what they all need. Malenko holds up the four fingers and that’s enough for Arn. He’s told them this once before and now he’s going to do it with some bass in his voice. You don’t just join the Horsemen. It’s a team you’re chosen for. Being a Horseman means wrestling all the time even when you don’t want to. It means wrestling when you bury your grandmother in the morning and when your son has burned a hole in his foot that you can fit your thumb in.

Dean hasn’t earned the right to hold up four fingers because he doesn’t understand it. Nobody has the fire in them like Arn does and he takes off his shirt. He wants to be out here but his neck won’t let him do it anymore. The Horsemen are over, so let them be over. Amazing stuff here from Anderson, even by his standards.

Curt Hennig vs. Diamond Dallas Page

Hall, Rude and Vincent come out with Hennig. Page goes into the crowd as usual but here’s Konnan before Page gets to the ring. We take a break and indeed it’s a tag match.

Diamond Dallas Page/Konnan vs. Curt Hennig/Scott Hall

Hennig starts with Konnan but it’s off to Page before any contact. They lock up and fight to the floor where Hennig slaps him in the back of the head. Back in and Page grabs a swinging neckbreaker. A second attempt sends Hennig running to the floor and it’s off to Hall vs. Konnan. Hall grabs the arm for the driving shoulders before slapping Konnan in the back of the head. That must be an AWA move.

Konnan fights up and shoves Hall down to slow the pace. Back up and Konnan grabs a quick X Factor before Hall gets punched back and forth like a pinball. Page comes in but can’t hit the Diamond Cutter but clotheslines Hall down to set up a Konnan chinlock. They get up again and Hall can’t catch a cross body. Instead he lifts Konnan up for a fallaway slam to take over. Off to Hennig for a knee lift before he suckers Page in.

Hall breaks up a hot tag attempt with an elbow to the back and puts on a reverse chinlock. Scott lets go of the hold and lets Konnan up before a double clothesline puts both guys down. Now it’s the hot tag to Page who punches both Hall and Hennig from corner to corner. Hall gets in a cheap shot though and Hennig drops Page with a right hand for two. A great dropkick and right hand both get the same and we take a break.

Back with Page pounding on Hennig in the corner before Hall sneaks in behind him for the fall away slam. Off to the abdominal stretch on Page’s bad ribs before it’s back to Hennig for more stomping. Hall comes back in for a clothesline and sleeper but Page counters into one of his own. Scott suplexes his way to freedom and both guys are down again. The double tag brings in Konnan vs. Hennig as everything breaks down. Rude gets in a cheap shot on Konnan and it’s a PerfectPlex for the pin as Page Diamond Cuts Hall on the floor.

Rating: C+. The match was fine but it was at the end of a very long show. They did the formula stuff here and that’s a good idea for old school guys like Hall and Hennig. It doesn’t really advance anything but it’s nice to see the factions at war actually in a match for a change. Decent enough stuff.

Overall Rating: D. This had its moments but it’s just WAY too long. Like I said, they had two Meng vs. Barbarian segments in the same show. Let that sink in for a minute. The show wasn’t completely horrible but there was no reason for this to be a three hour episode. It would have been much better had they given some of the matches more time, but for some reason they flew through everything instead of letting anything other than the main event develop.

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