Thunder – March 25, 1999: Lexington Deserves Better

Date: March 25, 1999
Location: Rupp Arena, Lexington, Kentucky
Commentators: Mike Tenay, Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan

We’re still in my hometown for the taped version. After last week I don’t even want to imagine how bad this one could be but it can’t be worse than some of the stuff they’ve done before. As expected, WCW is coming off a pretty lame show earlier this week as almost nothing happened on Nitro. We’re a few weeks away from Spring Stampede and a lot of the card has already been set. Let’s get to it.

Opening sequence.

The announcers welcome us to the show and promise us a World Title match tonight with Ric Flair defending against…….Barry Windham. Yes, in 1999 Barry Windham is getting a World Title shot. Ten years ago this would be must see TV, but why in the world are we seeing it now? Oh of course: it was awesome ten years ago and that means everyone today is going to love it. I’m sure the match will be decent at worst, but man alive it doesn’t make me want to sit through two hours to get there.

Scotty Riggs vs. Jerry Flynn

This is going to be a very long two hours. Scotty takes him down with an armdrag and does the Crane pose. Jerry comes back and Scotty bails to the floor as the stalling begins. Back in and Flynn scores with a chop followed by some of his martial arts stuff. Jerry misses a bicycle kick in the corner and Riggs goes after his legs. This goes on for a good while as he lays on Flynn’s leg before getting small packaged for two. More leg work eats up time as we hit an Indian deathlock on Jerry.

Flynn fights up with some punches, only to be dropkicked in the knee to get us right back where we were. Things stay slow with Riggs kicking at the knee and using his wide variety of clotheslines and punches. Flynn finally counters a clothesline into the cross armbreaker for the submission. Mike: “The winning streak lives on!” This would be a winning streak of zero, as he lost to Meng on Nitro in his last televised appearance.

Rating: D-. I know I sounded annoyed by Flair vs. Windham, but I at least get the thinking behind it. This was nine minutes where I could feel my brain melting away as I watched each boring moment. Riggs just isn’t any good and never has been, but Flynn is a guy whose employment I do not understand.

Video of Bagwell and Steiner splitting up.

Mike Enos vs. Wrath

Wrath feels like a relic of the past despite being on fire about three months ago. He takes Enos into the corner for some knees to the ribs but Enos grabs a quick armdrag. Wrath puts on a headlock before running Enos over with a shoulder block. Enos escapes a suplex and grabs a rollup for two before getting knocked out to the floor. We actually get something interesting as Wrath hits his cannonball off the apron and we take a break.

Back with Wrath scoring with a top rope clothesline for two before we hit the chinlock. Enos fights up and nails a superplex, giving him a target in Wrath’s back. He cannonballs down on it a few times and puts on a half crab. A rope grab forces the break before both guys try cross bodies. Enos scores with a neckbreaker but walks into a Rock Bottom followed by the Meltdown for the pin.

Rating: D+. Not a bad power match here but it was too long again. Wrath fell through the floor like few others you’ll ever seen and it’s kind of a shame. Enos on the other hand never went anywhere in WCW, but he wasn’t bad in the ring. He could wrestle a decent power match and didn’t screw up anything big. That’s more than you can say for a lot of jobbers.

Video on Lex Luger.

Fit Finlay vs. Chris Adams

Oh yeah we’re on a taped Thunder. Finlay hammers him down to start and drives in some elbows to the face. We hit an early chinlock but Adams avoids an elbow drop. Not that it matters as Finlay takes him down and cranks on the arms. Back up again and Adams scores with an armdrag to send Finlay out to the floor. An enziguri staggers Fit and we hit a sleeper from Adams.

Finlay escapes with a jawbreaker and we hit another chinlock. An elbow drop sets up a third chinlock as this show is putting everyone to sleep. Adams comes back with a belly to back suplex for two. He nails the superkick but it knocks Finlay out to the floor. Back in and Finlay backdrops him out to the floor before ducking a high cross body. Finlay plants him with the tombstone for the pin.

Rating: D+. It was a faster paced match but it’s the same problem with every match tonight: it’s so basic and slow paced that there’s nothing to get interested in. The superkick looked good but it was forgotten a few seconds later. This was the seconds glorified squash in a row, but it was slightly shorter to make things easier.

Video on Benoit/Malenko.

Blitzkreig vs. Kidman

Thank goodness for the cruiserweights. A dropkick puts Kidman down early but he comes back with a running clothesline. They fight over a wristlock until Blitzkreig is sent to the apron for a springboard missile dropkick. The fans are so bored that they don’t even respond. A corkscrew Asai moonsault takes Kidman down and finally gets a reaction, albeit a small one. Back in and Kidman hits a running layout powerbomb for two, followed by a slingshot legdrop.

We take a break and come back with a preview (Ringside Release) of a TBS original movie. Oh and make sure to get in the closing graphics before we see more of the match. Back with Kidman in control before Blitzkreig hits a very flippy kick to the back of the head. Off to a head scissors on the mat to keep Kidman in trouble. A standing twisting moonsault gets two for Blitzkreig but Kidman comes back with a sitout Pedigree.

Kidman nails a middle rope legdrop and we hit the chinlock. Back up and Blitzkreig nails a quick dropkick but tries a powerbomb. The obvious faceplant from Kidman gets two but Blitzkreig gets two off a spinning victory roll. Kidman gets crotched on the top and Blitzkreig slips a bit while trying a top rope huricanrana. A corkscrew moonsault misses and Kidman hits the Shooting Star for the pin.

Rating: C. It’s the best match of the night by about 500 miles but it’s nothing special. I can see why Blitzkreig was so revered at this point, but his stuff just doesn’t hold up. He’s the stereotypical flippy 90s cruiserweight who adds flips instead of doing good moves. For a comparison, look at someone like Kidman who does one flip move but consistently has better matches and gets bigger pushes. He may not be as flashy, but he’s a far more complete wrestler.

This Week In WCW Motorsports.

Horace vs. Kaz Hayashi

Hayashi is still doing the Glacier entrance and it still changes nothing about him. Horace takes him into the corner to start but can’t throw Kaz across the ring. Some dropkicks and a spinwheel kick get one on Horace but he nails Kaz with an elbow to the jaw. Hayashi is thrown outside and into the barricade a few times.

Back in and Horace tosses Kaz around a bit until he comes back with a bulldog. Kaz goes up but dives into a clothesline to put him back down. Horace loads up a powerbomb but gets hurricanranaed out to the floor. A suicide dive hits Horace’s knees but he’s able to hit a missile dropkick for two back inside. Horace comes back with an electric chair and the H Bomb (Samoan drop) for the pin.

Rating: D+. This wasn’t terrible actually, but as usual the stakes are just so low that it’s hard to get into the match. They did a decent enough power vs. speed formula and Kaz’s dropkicks were nice, but at the end of the day it’s a glorified Horace Hogan squash. That’s not the easiest thing in the world to get behind.

Recap of the US Title tournament so far.

US Title Tournament First Round: Saturn vs. Booker T.

This has to be more interesting. We stall to start with Saturn slowly taking off the top of his dress and then walking around for awhile. Booker takes him down for a nice sequence on the mat before a flying forearm puts Saturn down. A hook kick to the jaw does the same and of course we have to take a break. Back with Booker getting lowbridged to the floor and having to avoid some flying stairs. They head inside again with Saturn putting on a bearhug of all things.

A big superkick drops Booker and we hit the seated abdominal stretch. Back up and a t-bone suplex gets two on Mr. T. and Saturn puts on a sleeper. He lets go of the hold for no apparent reason and charges into Booker’s boot in the corner. Booker does the same thing to Saturn’s boot and gets taken over by a German suplex. Saturn misses a top rope splash and Booker hits all of his usual stuff, finishing Saturn with a rollup and a pretty fast count.

Rating: C-. Not bad again but the lack of energy was really glaring. Booker winning was of course the right choice, but it still doesn’t make for a good match. Neither guy looked all that interested in being out there and the finish made things look even worse. Saturn’s dress continues to make me scratch my head, even after hearing his explanation for it.

60 seconds with Goldberg.

WCW World Title: Barry Windham vs. Ric Flair

Tenay briefly mentions the history between the two but doesn’t mention their classics from ten years earlier. The announcers aren’t sure why Hennig didn’t get a shot but Barry does. Barry quickly takes him down with a headlock but Flair asks for a mic. He says he’s going to take five women home and make women out of them tonight. Also there’s a fat boy yelling at him from the front row.

Back in and we hit another headlock before a basic sequence results in Flair getting knocked down by a shoulder. Windham cranks on an armbar before Flair chops him in the corner. We take a break and come back with Barry holding Flair in the Figure Four. Tony: “You can see the Figure Four on but I think Windham has Flair in the hold.” Good to know that Tony goes for popcorn during the breaks. Barry hits a running lariat and a backslide gets two. Flair breaks up a sunset flip with a right hand and they slug it out.

A clothesline puts Flair down for two and Ric gets in Charles Robinson’s face for some reason. The champ suplexes Windham down but Barry comes back with one of his own. Robinson counts very slowly and then does the same after the superplex. Windham gets up to yell some more despite Flair not moving. Robinson trips Barry up in the confusion and gets put in the Figure Four, only to have Arn Anderson pull Barry into the ropes. Arn whispers to Barry and Windham walks out to end the show.

Rating: C. It wasn’t bad but it was mainly kicking and punching until the ending picked up a bit. The angle at the end is somewhat interesting as you have Flair’s closest friend having enough of Ric’s cheating, despite doing about a hundred times worse back in his day. The match was nothing great but it could have been far worse. The audience didn’t get interested though.

Overall Rating: D. Believe it or not there were some things that were far better about this episode than the previous editions. Above all else, they cut WAY down on the video packages. It was common to have nearly half an hour spent on those packages so having them cut down to maybe five minutes was a very nice change of pace.

It spent a lot more time on the wrestling, but that brings us to the biggest problem: there was a lot of wrestling, and the majority of it was really boring. The key word there is boring, because most of it wasn’t bad. It’s just clear that this show doesn’t mean anything to WCW and it’s very dull to sit through.

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