Thunder – September 17, 1998: As Bad As This Show Has Been
Location: Rupp Arena, Lexington, Kentucky
Commentators: Mike Tenay, Bobby Heenan, Lee Marshall, Tony Schiavone
This was the second taping of the night and the interesting thing is how many people left. I’m not sure if the second taping wasn’t clear or what but probably half of the audience left before the second episode started. The main story coming into tonight is the return of Flair, whose in ring career rides on Arn Anderson beating Eric Bischoff in an arm wrestling match. Let’s get to it.
The announcers talk about the arm wrestling match tonight and of course don’t say a word about Flair returning as it hasn’t happened yet.
Wrath vs. Bobby Eaton
I think you can figure this one out. Wrath pounds away in the corner and hits a hard running clothesline as the announcers now talk about Nitro, meaning the commentary was done later. So do the commentators just leave during the second taping? Wrath kicks him to the floor and rams Eaton’s back into the post before taking it back inside. A top rope fist and a shoulder block set up the Meltdown to complete the squash as expected.
The announcers talk about Hogan vs. Warrior at Halloween Havoc and how amazing it will be. Man it must be hard to keep a straight face at times.
Mike Enos vs. Lenny Lane
Lane slaps him to start and is LAUNCHED across the ring for his efforts. A nice gorilla press and some elbows have Enos in control but Lane dropkicks him down to the floor. Lane dives down onto Mike to try and wake the crowd up before getting two off a bulldog. Enos powerslams him to counter a leap frog as the announcers talk about ANYTHING but this match. A neckbreaker and stun gun get two for Enos and he finally ends Lane with a spinning fireman’s carry slam (think an airplane spin with Lane facing up).
Rating: D+. There were some nice spots in there but who in the world thought this match needed to happen? I still want to know what the thinking process is to have this match. Is is just picking two names out of a hat full of names that haven’t been on TV in awhile? I can understand why most of the fans left at this point.
Buff and Scott Steiner come to the ring with Gene yelling at the two of them for what they did at Fall Brawl. Both guys laugh at Okerlund and Buff brags about the size of his arms. They fight again at Halloween Havoc and Buff will be barred from ringside. Buff has another idea.
We look at Jericho bringing out the fake Goldberg and beating him at Fall Brawl.
We get some classic Flair clips with him beating up some jobbers. This is the most entertaining part of ths show.
Vincent vs. Steve Armstrong
Oh they’re not even trying now. Steve starts with a quick dropkick and some right hands before running into a boot in the corner. Vincent goes after the arm over and over again and finally makes Armstrong tap to a Fujiwara Armbar.
Post match we get the evil laughter again. This is going to be a mess whenever it happens. I don’t know what’s coming, but it’s going to be a disaster.
Rick Fuller vs. Ernest Miller
Miller doesn’t mention being arrested on Monday, making the segment all the less interesting. He offers Fuller three seconds to leave but Rick doesn’t move. Miller knocks him to the floor and chokes with a camera cable but can’t get in a chair shot. Back in and Fuller slugs him down before showing off the power with a big slam. Miller avoids a cross body and the Feliner is good for the pin.
Rating: D-. This show is testing my sanity very severely. Fuller’s potential is being wasted for the sake of a guy who talks about how great he is at karate. The match was barely long enough to rate and the brawling on the floor went nowhere at all. Miller continues to be a waste of space that isn’t doing anything interesting.
More Flair clips, including him talking in the 80s and returning in 1993.
Curt Hennig vs. Norman Smiley
Feeling out process to start as they trade standing switches. Smiley takes over and outwrestles Curt to start as the fans chant Magic, which is half of Norman’s nickname of Black Magic. I remember standing in front of those guys and not getting the reference at all. Norman takes him down to the mat but Curt grabs his leg to take over. He stomps on the leg and Crunches it before taking Smiley into the corner for some kicks the bad leg. Smiley fights back with some right hands but ducks his head on an Irish whip attempt, setting up the PerfectPlex for the pin.
Rating: D+. Match of the night here which should tell you everything you need to know about this episode. Smiley at least got in some offense to start which is more than I was expecting. I feel like I’m watching an episode of Superstars from mid 1988 with all these worthless matches.
Hall and Stevie Ray come out for the main event and the survey with the NWO dominating the response.
Konnan/Kevin Nash vs. Stevie Ray/Scott Hall
Stevie and Konnan get things going as Hall can’t stand still on the apron. Big Kev talks trash from the apron which only seems to fire Ray up as he pounds away on Konnan in the corner. Hall still can’t stand still. Konnan comes back with a clothesline and the low dropkick but walks into another big right hand. The announcers ignore the match to talk about Hogan vs. Warrior, even mentioning that they’ve met before.
Off to Hall who is easily taken down by a drop toehold. It’s not that big of an accomplishment as he was almost down when he came through the ropes. No mention on Hall improving at all since the mess on Monday. Off to Stevie but Hall doesn’t leave the ring, further ticking off the sober Black and White member.
Hall stays in for some reason as the announcers talk about Disciple being kidnapped. Apparently he got time off for good behavior though as he worked a dark match before this taping. Again, you have a stable with like ten members and you send Disciple out a jobber. That’s poor thinking at least and incompetence at worst.
Anyway back to the angle disguised as a match. Konnan trips Hall down again and puts on a camel clutch which only seems to make Hall look ill. A few rollups get two each on Scott and it’s time for a drink. Konnan isn’t sure what to think but apparently the booze makes Hall a better wrestler as he takes over. We even get an Outsider’s Edge attempt but Konnan easily backdrops him down and rubs Scott’s face in the mat. Hall falls through the ropes and can’t stand up, which is too much for Stevie who walks out. Hall never makes it back in and it’s a countout.
Rating: F. Like I said, this was an angle disguised as a match. I’m not a fan of the story here when it’s this based on real life either. This wasn’t even a match as it was about two minutes of Stevie vs. Konnan then the Scott Hall Show. Also, nice to see Nash earning his paycheck out there tonight. He never even tagged in.
We look back at Flair returning on Monday. My goodness that was amazing.
It’s time for the arm wrestling between Bischoff and Anderson. Bagwell and Malenko are here as seconds. Anderson gets his right arm ready (naturally left handed) but Bischoff says make it left handed. Remember that Anderson had surgery a year or so prior to this and his arm isn’t what it used to be. Bischoff of course is up to his old tricks and swaps out for Buff because Bischoff was never specified. Buff says it’s fair because they both had neck injuries. Anderson threatens Bischoff and gets beaten in a second to end the show.
Overall Rating: F-. Three days. It took them three days after the best moment Nitro has ever had to make sure the NWO went over the Horsemen by outsmarting them. You want to get excited about something in this company? Well it better not be the Horsemen because we don’t care how many times the WE WANT FLAIR chants come up. This is the NWO company and screw you if you think anyone is going to get one up on them.
Also let’s look at this card. Who is the most entertaining guy on this show? Wrath? Miller maybe? I guess it’s Konnan but the fact that those two guys are as close to second and third as they are tells you everything you need to know about this show. Tonight took everything that was good on Monday and just wasted it on a boring episode.
Yeah this was taped in advance and they didn’t know how good Nitro was going to be, but how could anyone look at this card and think it would be an entertaining two hours? What here makes me want to watch the next show? This was as bad as Thunder has been, and that covers A LOT of ground.
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