Thunder – October 1, 1998: Absence Of Hogan Makes The Show Grow Stronger

Thunder
Date: October 1, 1998
Location: The Scope, Norfolk, Virginia
Attendance: 8,858
Commentators: Lee Marshall, Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, Mike Tenay

Back to the weather show with the big story being Bret Hart turning on Sting after their long friendship of two weeks. The Black and White is reunited again as we very slowly make our way towards Halloween Havoc and the EPIC rematch between Hogan and Warrior. Hopefully Thunder continues its tradition of focusing on everything except that match. Let’s get to it.

The announcers run down the main events, including Raven vs. Goldberg for the World Title.

Diamond Dallas Page vs. Lodi

Lodi gets to talk before the match, saying that Page brought Saturn into WCW and Saturn ruined Lodi’s life, so Lodi is going to ruin Page’s life. “YOU’RE NEXT!” Page is fine with the threat and dives over the top to take Lodi out as we get going. Back in and Lodi gets a few cheap shots on Page followed by some choking, only to walk into right hands and a discus lariat. Page calls for the Diamond Cutter and we’re done quick.

The announcers tell us to stay tuned for Jerry Flynn and Mike Enos. Seriously.

Jerry Flynn vs. Mike Enos

Feeling out process to start until Flynn gets in some of his kicks in the corner to take over. The announcers talk about Hogan vs. Warrior in one of the rare occasions where that’s far more interesting. Enos takes over with an enziguri and a hot shot sends Flynn to the floor. We get a quick chase ending with Jerry dropping knees back inside as this just keeps going. Enos catches a leapfrog in a powerslam in the only nice move of the match and here’s a drunk Scott Hall to interrupt things. The match stops and I’ll call it a no contest.

Rating: D-. I really don’t think this needs an explanation.

Hall beats up both guys and does the survey. He talks about all of the bosses he has but Kevin Nash isn’t one of them. They’ll fight but it’s going to be on his terms.

Kanyon vs. Scotty Riggs

Before the match Kanyon says that he’s the Innovator of Offense and no one is going to prove him wrong, especially not Riggs. He calls Riggs a pirate and wants to know where’s his peg leg. Tony can be heard covering a laugh. Kanyon tries to get Riggs to rejoin Raven but gets punched in the face to get things going. Riggs hits his nice dropkick for two and throws Kanyon out to the floor before ramming his shoulder into the post.

Back in and the arm goes around the post again but Riggs misses a charge and hits the buckle. Kanyon comes back with a middle rope Fameasser and a swinging neckbreaker for two of his own. The fireman’s carry into a pancake gets another near fall on Riggs but he counters another Fameasser attempt into a powerbomb. Riggs drives him into the corner but is sent face first into the buckle, setting up the Flatliner to give Kanyon the pin.

Rating: C. The same problems that plagued Riggs over the years plagued him here: he has no character to speak of and his offense looked like he’s been in the ring six months. He had a nice dropkick but there are a dozen people that can make that move look good. There was never a reason to care about him and this match didn’t change things. Kanyon was his usual awesome self.

Raven talks about how there’s no reason to get attached to anything because everything goes away. Those are good words for Goldberg, because tonight his world title is going away.

Wrath vs. Ciclope

Heenan thinks Riggs and Ciclope are the same person in a funny bit. Total dominance to start with Ciclope being thrown into the post and then the corner, followed by kicks to the ribs and a belly to back suplex. They head outside with Ciclope being thrown around like he’s a rag doll. Back in and Ciclope gets in a few headbutts but slips while trying a missile dropkick. A running shoulder block sets up the Meltdown to end the dominance.

Rating: D+. Wrath is good in this role and would make a nice one night challenger for Goldberg on a Nitro with another big main event. It’s also nice to see WCW mixing up their jobbers like they do. That drives me crazy in WWE where they have a huge roster but have the same handful of guys do all their squash jobs.

The creepy laughter is heard again.

Cruiserweight Title: Billy Kidman vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr.

The bell rings and Chavo goes straight to the corner to pick up Pepe. Back up and Chavo grabs a headlock followed by a shoulder but we need more horse. The champion comes back with a nice flying headscissors to send Chavo outside, setting up a pescado to the floor. The announcers are actually into this and thankfully haven’t mentioned Hall squashing Kidman on Nitro. Back in and Chavo throws Kidman right back to the floor before diving off the top with a cross body for two inside.

Billy elbows him in the face gets two off a dropkick but gets kicked away and taken down by a top rope bulldog for two. We hit the chinlock for a bit but Billy suplexes out of it and heads up, only to get crotched as we go to a break. Back with everyone in the same place (the joys of taped shows) and it’s Chavo dancing around with Pepe before we hit the chinlock again.

Kidman fights up but misses a dropkick and gets caught in a camel clutch. That goes nowhere as Kidman fights up and avoids a splash in the corner, only to go up top and hit knees with a splash. Chavo puts him back up top for a superplex for two but Kidman grabs a quick short powerbomb and goes up for the Shooting Star to retain.

Rating: C+. This was really good while the action was going but they stopped for chinlocks and camel clutches. Kidman is back on track after that annoying loss on Monday where it was made clear that the cruiserweights are secondary to the heavyweights. Chavo continues to show that he can wrestle well instead of just being insane all the time.

Lenny Lane vs. Van Hammer

Hammer is a hippie now. Lane shoves him away and celebrates like he just won the world title but Hammer shoves him down much harder. Another shove puts Lenny down and it’s off to a powerful armbar. Hammer runs into a charge and gets rammed into the buckle for Lane’s period of false hope. Lenny spends too much time posing and gets taken up top for a superplex, followed by an Alabama Slam to give Hammer the pin.

Rating: D. The match was nothing to see but I was a big Van Hammer fan when I was a kid so it’s always cool to see him. Lane was a funny guy but the fact that he looked so much like Jericho didn’t help him. Just a squash here but Van Hammer as a hippie was only going to take him so far.

Raven talks about crying looking like laughing and about how no one has ever taken it to Goldberg like he or Saturn have.

Damien vs. Disco Inferno

Disco bails to the corner to start before getting caught in a headlock. They run the ropes a bit before a crossbody sends Disco running again. Disco charges into a boot but still rolls away from a top rope splash. The neckbreaker and a bunch of stomps in the corner have Damien in trouble and a middle rope ax handle gets two. Damien makes a very quick comeback but charges into a boot as well, setting up the piledriver to give Disco the pin.

Rating: D+. Disco is likeable even as a heel and that piledriver has looked great in the last few weeks. Again, it’s nice to see them mix up the jobbers and build up someone like Disco so that a bigger midcarder can beat him later. The good thing here though was they kept the match at about three and a half minutes so he didn’t wear out his welcome. Simple yet effective.

Konnan vs. Stevie Ray

After his LONG schtick, Konnan scores with an early rolling lariat and the seated dropkick. Unfortunately the match doesn’t end ten seconds later as Stevie comes back with his heavy forearms and punches in the corner. A clothesline puts Konnan down and we hit a quickly broken chinlock. Ray hits a nice high knee and gets two off a slam as we’re just waiting on the screwy finish. Vincent gets in some choking but Konnan is able to stop a charging Stevie with a boot (popular move tonight). The X-Factor sets up the Sunrise but Vincent gets on the apron, allowing Stevie to hit Konnan with the slapjack (object, not move) for the DQ.

Rating: D. Nothing to this one but again they kept it short to take away some of the pain. It seems like these guys have been fighting for months and as always the question is where is this leading? There’s no end game for the NWO war and the matches just keep going and going without anything really changing.

The beatdown ensues until Nash makes the save. Hall comes out to the stage but doesn’t get past the aisle.

Video on Hogan vs. Warrior. I’m fine with it being limited to one segment per show.

WCW World Title: Raven vs. Goldberg

DDP comes out to do commentary. We get the long Buffer entrances to fill in some time. The match is under Raven’s Rules, which Buffer describes as “No time limit, pinfalls or submissions, no DQ or countouts.” Goldberg shoves him down to start as Page says he’d rather face Goldbeg at Halloween Havoc. A powerslam puts Raven down but Goldberg misses a running knee in the corner and falls out to the floor.

Raven rams him into the steps and puts Goldberg on a table, only to miss a dive over the top and go through a table. Page: “He’s like a big cat. Like Ernest Ladd. Er Miller. What the heck was his name?” Back in and the spear connects but it takes out the referee as well. Kanyon comes in with a chair to knock Goldberg into the Even Flow but Page will have none of that. He runs down and lays out Kanyon with the Diamond Cutter as Goldberg gets up and Jackhammers Raven for the win.

Rating: C+. I liked this more than I was expecting to. They actually made Goldberg seem a little bit vulnerable here and Page saving him helped even more. Raven had no chance of course but it was nice to see Goldberg have to break a sweat to win for a change. For a Thunder main event that’s more than you would expect to get.

Goldberg and Page growl at each other to end the show, I believe in their first face to face encounter.

Overall Rating: C+. This is a tough one to grade as most of the matches weren’t very good but they were almost all short so the pain wasn’t that bad. The two title matches were both solid though and seeing Goldberg vs. Page get some focus was a very nice change of pace. It never ceases to amaze me how much easier WCW is to sit through when there’s no Hogan involved. Best Thunder in awhile.

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