Thunder – January 29, 1998: The Radicals And Jericho Steal The Show. Imagine That.
Location: Mid-South Coliseum, Memphis, Tennessee
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Lee Marshall, Bobby Heenan
Back to Thursday nights here with the fourth episode of the series. The main story continues to be the destruction of the NWO as Nitro ended with Hall and Hogan standing around while Sting beat up Savage. The main event tonight is the Steiners challenging for the tag titles in a match we haven’t seen before. That shouldn’t make sense so let’s get to it.
The intro has changed to a thunderstorm theme which doesn’t work as well.
The set is now a traditional one with a regular entrance and the Thunder logo on top of it.
US Title: Diamond Dallas Page vs. Sick Boy
Page takes it to the mat but gets caught in an armbar. Sick Boy bails to the floor and the stalling begins. Back in and Page pulls him down but Sick Boy nips up. The discus lariat misses so Page goes to a tilt-a-whirl side slam for no cover. Sick Boy goes back to the apron for a springboard missile dropkick to take over. A spinning belly to belly suplex gets two on Page but Sick Boy misses a kick to the ribs. The discus lariat looks to set up the Diamond Cutter but Sick Boy takes out the knee. Not that it matters much as Page throws him up for a flapjack but pulls him down into the Cutter for the pin.
Rating: C+. This was much better than I expected which is what I’ve said for both Sick Boy matches I’ve seen. He looks good in the ring and can fly through the air for a guy of his size. The Diamond Cutter to end it looked great as Sick Boy’s head bounced off the mat to knock him out cold.
The Flock decides not to jump Page.
Here’s JJ Dillon with an announcement: Nash is being fined $50,000 for his powerbomb on Monday and if he does it again, the fines will grow.
Meng vs. Jim Duggan
Duggan wins a quick slugout and takes it to the floor where he whips Meng into the steps and beats on him with Jimmy Hart’s jacket. Back inside and Meng does what he does best: hit Duggan in the head. It has little effect on the thickheaded Duggan so Meng keeps pounding away. They slug it out until Duggan misses a charge into the corner, allowing Meng to put on a nerve hold. Back up and a double clothesline puts both guys down, allowing Hart to get up on the apron with the 2×4. Duggan intercepts the throw and cracks it over Meng’s back but chases after Hart instead. Back in and the Tongan Death Grip ends Jim.
Rating: C. This was far better than I was expecting it to be with Duggan looking much better than I would have expected him to. Meng continues to get small pushes every now and then, which is likely to build him up for a feeding to a bigger name later on. Both guys were working hard here and it was better than it should have been.
Raven vs. Marty Jannetty
Anything goes again and Marty’s music still doesn’t fit him at all. Jannetty takes him into the corner to start and dropkicks Raven to the outside. He pounds on Raven on the floor but gets sent hard into the post to change momentum. Raven throws in a chair for the drop toehold and Marty is in big trouble. Marty hits a quick bulldog and slams Raven’s head into the mat a few times for two but Raven is smiling. A superkick puts Raven down and the top rope fist gets two, but Raven dropkicks the chair into Marty’s face to knock him silly. The Evenflow DDT is good for the pin for Raven.
Rating: C-. Another decent match here with Marty looking decent in defeat. Raven smiling while he’s in pain is still very creepy and fits his character perfectly. The Raven’s Rules all the time stuff isn’t a problem because the weapons and violence aren’t the focus of the matches. That DDT looked great too.
Jerry Lee Lewis is here.
Bill Goldberg vs. Yuji Nagata
The pops are getting louder and louder. Nagata goes straight at him but Goldberg chokes him down. Goldberg takes him down with a quick leglock but Nagata makes the ropes. Yuji’s slam is countered into a spinning neckbreaker and it’s the spear and Jackhammer for another fast pin.
Goldberg vs. Meng is announced for Saturday Night. There’s the bigger name Meng was being set up for.
We recap Savage’s rant against Hogan, Bischoff and the rest of the NWO from Nitro.
Here’s Hall for the survey with the NWO taking the crowd tonight. Hall wants to know when he gets his title shot from World War III but now it’s time to bring out Dusty Rhodes. Dusty talks about corporate America tearing down what he built in 1991 and taking away the tradition of professional wrestling. He lived on the 12th floor and got tired of dealing with the suits every day. Now he’s tired of carrying Tony Schiavone for the last four years.
Then Dusty started hearing from Eric Bischoff and realized that the NWO is why you’re here tonight. Dusty says the NWO is the future and they’ve gotten Dusty the biggest checks of his career. This time, WCW isn’t going to make any comeback with anybody because the NWO is going to crush them all. “You hear that marks on the internet?” Also, the powerbomb should be reinstated because a 500lb man shouldn’t be in the ring if he can’t protect himself. Dusty Rhodes ladies and gentlemen.
Scott Hall vs. Disco Inferno
Hall slaps Disco around to start and does the Giant mocking bit. A quick attempt at the Outsider’s Edge is countered and Disco hits the Chartbuster out of nowhere. Dusty puts the foot on the ropes and brings Hall out to the floor for a chat. Back in and Hall pounds away on Disco before hitting the fallaway slam and the Edge for the pin.
Here’s Nick Patrick for the first time since he was suspended. Patrick insists that the count at Starrcade was a normal count and that Bret should be suspended, not him. He’s going to have his lawyers look into this and wants to referee the rematch to prove how awesome he is.
TV Title: Booker T vs. Perry Saturn
Booker is defending and is in blue Harlem Heat attire instead of his usual singles tights. Saturn pounds him down in the corner to start but Booker comes back with right hands of his own. Apparently Saturn is getting this show because Martel has a concussion. A powerslam gets two for the champion and they head to the outside with Saturn being sent into the barricade. Back inside and Saturn gets two off a brainbuster but crotches himself on the middle rope. Booker hits the side kick and ax kick but has to fight off the Flock. Martel comes out to help but Booker sends Saturn into him and rolls Saturn up to retain.
Rating: C. This was your usual fast paced match between the two as the three way feud is starting to develop. Booker is nailing the singles push now and has transitioned from the tag team ranks with ease. I’m also surprised at how well Martel has fit into this feud as I didn’t remember him being anything at all in his return push.
We see the end of Nitro with Hall and Hogan turning their backs on Savage.
Eddie Guerrero/Chris Jericho vs. Dean Malenko/Chris Benoit
This should be awesome. Jericho and Malenko get things going but the fans are all over Eddie. Dean quickly takes him down to start but it’s off to Eddie to send Dean into the corner. A rollup gets two for Eddie but he walks into a powerslam for two. Off to Benoit vs. Jericho with Benoit hitting a hard clothesline to take over. Jericho comes right back with a delayed vertical suplex and some chops in the corner. You know Benoit is cool with that and takes over with chops of his own.
Jericho comes right back with a German suplex and the Lionsault for two before Guerrero comes back in. Benoit tries the Crossface but Jericho makes the save as everything breaks down. Dean throws Guerrero into a northern lights suplex but Jericho breaks up the Cloverleaf attempt. Jericho hits a missile dropkick on Dean but Malenko reverses the Liontamer into a rollup for two. Dean hooks a superplex on Jericho and Benoit adds the Swan Dive. Eddie tries a Frog Splash on Malenko but only hits feet, allowing Benoit to hook the Crossface on Jericho for the win.
Rating: B. This was a six and a half minute match with the action of a match twice that long. These guys were arguably the most valuable guys in WCW for a long time as you could just throw them out there in any combination and get a good match. Benoit and Malenko looked very good together as a team.
Post match Benoit says his chapter with Raven has come to an end. Tenay asks Benoit why he’s never had a title shot but Benoit says he doesn’t need one. DDP pops up in the crowd (Marshall: “is that Scott Hall?”) and says that the promoters don’t see Benoit as a main eventer. They didn’t see Page as a main eventer either, but Page is interested in the idea. If Benoit wants a shot at the US Title, all he has to do is ask. Benoit agrees to the title match a week from tonight.
Tag Titles: Steiner Brothers vs. Kevin Nash/Konnan
Konnan gets to defend the belts because of Wolfpack Rules. Rick starts off with Konnan with Steiner pounding him down into the mat and hooking an STF of all things. Konnan makes the rope but gets caught in a release German suplex to send him over to Nash. The Steiners knock Nash to the floor and do their signature pose.
They head back inside and Nash pounds on Rick in the corner with the knee lifts and elbows to the head. Konnan comes in for a stump puller of all things but Scott breaks it up. Kevin gets the tag and gets caught by a Steiner Line but here’s Buff Bagwell to challenge Scott to a posedown. Back in the ring, Nash hits Rick with the belt for a DQ.
Rating: D. This didn’t have time to go anywhere and was mainly storyline stuff anyway. The Scott vs. Buff posedown stuff is fine as a catalyst for the Steiner Brothers’ split which had to happen at some point. I’m not wild on the Wolfpack Rules idea as those usually only work when there are two members of a team, but the NWO could pretty much make up whatever rules they wanted around this time.
Post match Nash powerbombs the referee and is taken away by security. Nash: “Make sure Jack Ruby isn’t out there. That’s how Oswald got it.”
Overall Rating: C+. This was the same formula as last week and it still works quite well. They’re using Thunder to focus on the midcard and it offers a nice contrast to the storyline heavy Nitro. The lack of Hogan and Sting allows the show to build on other stories which makes for a more interesting show. Good stuff again this week.
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