Hosted by Tony Schiavone, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, & Lee Marshall
How will WCW straighten out the chaos surrounding the World title? Can the Steiners retain the World tag team titles? Who will win Mongo-Goldberg II? Will Ultimo Dragon retain against Guerrera? Let’s find out in the DEBUT episode of Thunder!
NITRO RECAP: The nWo arrives in separate limousines, and Bischoff declares there’s no dissension. Also, Nick Lambros lays down the law while Dillon suspends Patrick. Lastly, Luger beats Savage, and Savage takes issue with both Bischoff and Hogan.
Match 1: “Macho Man” Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth) versus “Gentleman” Chris Adams
Is anyone else experiencing a time warp?
Savage attacked Adams before the bell, clotheslined him, and got 2.
When he guillotined Adams with the top rope, Savage delivered a gutwrench suplex for another 2.
Mind you, he pulled Adams up both times.
Savage then took Adams outside the ring and rammed him shoulder-first into the steps.
As he guillotined Adams with the steel railing, Savage got reversed on an Irish whip and HIT THE POLE.
While Adams distracted referee Billy Silverman, Luger stormed to the ring and CLOCKED Savage with a steel chair.
Luger then tossed Savage back into the ring, and Adams made the cover.
Summary: More storyline than match as Luger caused Savage to lose.
"Hollywood” Hogan and Eric Bischoff head to the ring. As he refers to the show as “nWo Thunder,” Hogan claims to be “too darn tan.” Considering Hogan just renegotiated a new contract, he’s here “for life.”
Check out WCW Saturday Night. I mentioned the upcoming battles in my Nitro reflection.
At the entrance, “Iron” Mike Tenay interviews Chairman of the WCW Executive Committee JJ Dillon. Cementing Lambros’ declarations, Dillon reverses the decision of the first match and deems Savage the winner by DQ. Immediately, Luger joins to air his grievances in his fight against the nWo.
Match 2: Rick Martel versus Louie Spicolli
To take further potshots at Tommy Dreamer, Spicolli wore his “The Real Innovator” t-shirt during the match.
Martel reversed an Irish whip, leapfrogged Spicolli, and clotheslined him over the top rope to the floor.
As he hip-tossed Spicolli, Martel dropkicked him twice.
He then met Spicolli on the floor and returned him to the ring.
When the Flock arrived LATE to their seats, Martel scored with a cross body block for 2.
Spicolli rebounded with a shot to the midsection, mounted the second turnbuckle, but ate a shot to the midsection.
After Martel backdropped him, he missed a dropkick.
Martel then delivered a spinebuster and hooked a Quebec crab.
While Spicolli said “uncle,” referee Billy Silverman called for the bell.
Summary: Showcase match for Martel.
We then revisit Starrcade ‘97 when Giant PLANTED Hall deep in Arlington Cemetery. Well, almost.
Match 3: Hiroyoshi Tenzan versus Michiyoshi Ohara (w/ Sonny Onoo)
Tenay joined the broadcast team for this match while Tenzan emerged wearing nWo colors.
For those who may have forgotten, Tenzan wrestled against Savage at Starrcade ‘95.
Heenan joked that Ohara was heralded in Chicago because they named an airport after him. HA!
When Tenzan slammed him, he followed with a spinning heel kick.
Onoo then distracted Tenzan so that Ohara could clothesline him. SNEAKY!
As he powerbombed Tenzan, Ohara got 2.
He then gave Tenzan a cross corner whip but ate boot on his follow-through.
After Tenzan mounted the second turnbuckle, he delivered a double chop to Ohara.
He then landed a combination piledriver/slam, mounted the top turnbuckle, and scored with a diving head butt.
Summary: Showcase match for Tenzan.
NITRO RECAP: Flair and Bret exchange words.
Prior to the next match, Jericho is “embarrassed” by his behavior and apologizes again to ring announcer David Penzer.
Match 4: “Nature Boy” Ric Flair versus “Lionheart” Chris Jericho
Jericho leapfrogged Flair and followed with a monkey flip.
As he launched a spin kick, Jericho dropkicked Flair.
He then gave Flair a cross corner whip followed by a back drop.
When Flair grabbed his previously injured left ankle, he suckered Jericho into an eye poke. Clever!
Jericho then escaped a belly-to-back suplex attempt and clotheslined Flair.
After he gave Flair another cross corner whip, both a Flair flip and a Jericho springboard dropkick occurred.
With Flair on the apron, Jericho suplexed him back into the ring.
Jericho then missed a Lionsault, so Flair conned referee Charles Robinson into checking the time.
In the meantime, Flair scored with an uppercut down near Key West.
Jericho rebounded with a third cross corner whip followed by another back drop.
As he dropkicked Flair, Jericho mounted the top turnbuckle and landed a flying back elbow for 2.
He then gave Flair a fourth cross corner whip and got vaulted to the apron.
When he mounted the top turnbuckle, Jericho missed a missile dropkick.
Flair then delivered an elbow drop and hooked a figure-four leg lock.
Without hesitation, Jericho submitted.
Summary: Jericho got a few chances to shine but succumbed to the sheer will of the “Nature Boy.”
After the match, Jericho rips Penzer’s jacket and throws a temper tantrum.
Prior to the next match, Schiavone shilled a dream match between Bret and Flair at Souled Out on 1/24.
Match 5: Giant versus Meng (w/ Jimmy Hart)
For those unaware, Giant had NO entrance music.
Giant powerslammed Meng, gave him a cross corner whip, and backdropped him.
When Hart got up on the apron, Giant gorilla-pressed and tossed him at Meng.
Meanwhile, Schiavone dropped another bomb by announcing Giant versus Nash at the PPV. I wonder if Nash’s jobberitis will flare up again.
Giant then gave Meng a cross corner whip but came up empty on his follow-through.
As Meng rebounded by dropkicking him, he followed with a thrust kick for 2.
Giant then no-sold Meng’s offense and hit a CHOKESLAM.
Summary: Showcase match for Giant.
Match 6: Steve “Mongo” McMichael versus Bill Goldberg
Before Goldberg could enter the ring, Mongo delivered a shoulder block from the apron. Flying bears?
Goldberg then blocked a shot to the apron and supplied Mongo with one instead.
As Mongo reversed an Irish whip, he sent Goldberg shoulder-first into the steps.
In the ring, Goldberg gorilla-pressed Mongo yet converted to a powerslam. Nifty!
He then clotheslined Mongo and hooked a leg scissors.
When Mongo rebounded with a chop block, he mounted the second turnbuckle and launched a flying clothesline for 1. Flying bears, indeed!
Mongo then hit him with a pair of three-point stance tackles, but Goldberg no-sold them.
After Goldberg speared Mongo, he landed a Jackhammer.
Summary: Much better effort than the Starrcade match.
Match 7 for the WCW World tag team titles: Steiners (w/ Ted DiBiase) versus Konnan & Buff Bagwell (w/ Vincent)
Bagwell hip-tossed Scott, posed, and got ANNIHILATED with a clothesline to the back of the head. OUCH!
When Scott clotheslined him again, he hooked a double underhook powerbomb.
Konnan came in, but Scott clotheslined him.
As tags were exchanged on both sides, Rick sandwiched Konnan stomach-first in the corner. That’ll ruin your appetite.
While Vincent distracted referee Jimmy Jett, Konnan sent Rick into a forearm by Bagwell. SNEAKY!
Scott then continued the distraction of Jett, the nWo illegally switched, and Rick escaped a hangman’s neckbreaker.
Wait a minute! Despite “escaping” the move, Rick sold it and kicked out at 2.
Bagwell slammed Rick, mounted the second turnbuckle, leaped, but got caught with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex by Rick.
After tags were exchanged on both sides again, Scott Steinerlined both members of the nWo.
He then scored with his own overhead belly-to-belly suplex to Konnan for 2.
When Rick demolished Bagwell to send him out of the ring, he mounted the top turnbuckle.
Scott then hoisted Konnan atop the opposite top turnbuckle, joined, and unleashed a Frankensteiner.
Summary: The nWo was mere fodder for the champs, but I smell a disturbance between them.
Promotional consideration paid for by the following: Slim Jim.
According to Schiavone, Scott Steiner was fined. More on this later.
We then revisit Starrcade ‘97 and the match between Bischoff and Larry Zbyszko. Check out my reflection to get my $.02.
Back in Daytona Beach, Tenay interviews Zbyszko who will face Scott Hall at the PPV. In his own unique fashion, Zbyszko cuts a promo on Hall.
Prior to the next match, we revisit the 9/8/97 episode of Nitro when the nWo humiliated Traylor.
Match 8: Scott Hall versus Ray Traylor
Traylor opened up on Hall with a ten-punch count-along.
As he gave Hall a cross corner whip, Traylor followed with an avalanche.
He then chased after Hall on the floor and rammed him face-first into the apron.
Back in the ring, Traylor hooked a bear hug, but referee Billy Silverman got poked in the eye.
On the floor, Hall grabbed his bogus tag title belt and CREAMED Traylor with it. How dastardly!
He then tossed Traylor into the ring but only got 2.
When he gave Traylor a cross corner whip, Hall followed with a corner clothesline.
Traylor then reversed a cross corner whip but ate boot on his follow-through.
After Hall mounted the second turnbuckle, he delivered a bulldog for 2.
He then left the ring to grab a steel chair, but Zbyszko came to ringside to stop him.
As Zbyszko got up on the apron to distract Hall, Traylor hit a Traylor Trash.
Summary: More storyline than match as the distraction finish indicates.
Prior to the next match, we revisit Nitro from this past Monday when Guerrera defeated Psicosis to earn the upcoming title shot.
Schiavone elaborates about Scott Steiner’s fine stemming from Nitro when Scott allegedly slapped the referee. Although that never happened, I’m certain that the fine was for the expletive that made air. Schiavone mentioned that the fine is $5000. Wow!
Match 9 for the WCW Cruiserweight title: Ultimo Dragon (champion) versus Juventud Guerrera
Guerrera hooked a flying headscissors, went to the apron, and launched a spinning heel kick for 2.
When he gave Dragon a cross corner whip, Guerrera came up empty on his follow-through.
Dragon then unleashed a series of kicks, gave Guerrera a cross corner whip, but missed a handspring elbow.
As Guerrera placed Dragon atop the top turnbuckle, he joined, but Dragon crotched him on the top rope.
With Guerrera on the floor, Dragon landed an Asai moonsault from the second turnbuckle. Woohoo!
Back in the ring, Guerrera reversed an Irish whip and backdropped Dragon.
Speaking of Dragon, he rebounded with a release German suplex for 2.
After he hoisted Guerrera atop the top turnbuckle, Dragon joined, but Guerera shoved him to the floor.
Guerrera then mounted the top turnbuckle, leaped, but Dragon dropkicked him in mid-air. Amazing!
When Dragon attempted a powerbomb, Guerrera countered with a DDT.
He then hit a Juvi Driver, mounted the top turnbuckle, and scored with a 450° splash.
WE HAVE A NEW CHAMPION!
Summary: HUGE upset victory for Guerrera.
1-800-COLLECT sponsors the replay.
In the ring, Tenay interviews Bret who respects Flair and his accomplishments. Flair approaches the ring and requests Bret use his catchphrase again. While Bret complies, he says he’ll “prove it.” Flair doesn’t believe him and takes exception. Not too swiftly, Bret uses Flair’s catchphrase against him. Ultimately, Flair gets the last word while Bret leaves.
Match 10: The “Total Package” Lex Luger versus Scott “Flash” Norton
Upon Luger’s entrance, Norton clotheslined and followed him to the floor.
He then sent Luger back-first into the steel railing and made him HIT THE POLE.
As he rammed Luger into the apron, he tossed Luger into the ring and clotheslined him again.
Norton then delivered a backbreaker, charged at Luger in the corner, but came up empty.
When Luger provided Norton with a pair of clotheslines, Bagwell hit the ring, jumped on the apron, but got nailed.
Norton then scored with a shoulder breaker but only got 2.
After Luger rebounded with a flying forearm, he applied a Torture Rack.
Summary: Short match that exposed Norton’s finisher.
Afterward, Bagwell tries to attack Luger but gets Racked too. Savage attempts to hammer Luger with a chair, but Luger drops Bagwell atop him.
We then revisit Starrcade ‘97 when Sting “defeated” Hogan and became World champion. Click the link above to get my view of this debacle.
Following a commercial break, we revisit the 12/29/97 episode of Nitro for the rematch for the World title. After Sting hits Stinger splash #2 that knocked referee Randy Anderson silly, he applies a Scorpion death lock. Despite being suspended earlier in the show, referee Nick Patrick returns, makes Sting break the hold, and tries to escape. Sting’s none too pleased with Patrick and brings him back the hard way.
Allegedly, Hogan loads his fist with a foreign object and nails Sting with it. While hooking the tights, he rolls up Sting, and Patrick counts 3. As Patrick retrieves the World title belt, Sting dropkicks Hogan and clotheslines Patrick. With Anderson back in charge, Sting reapplies a Scorpion death lock. Hogan submits, and Sting retains. In my eyes, this is yet another convoluted mess.
After the match, Dillon comes to the ring and offers Sting the World title belt. Not to be outdone, Bischoff interjects with a tug-o-war against Dillon for the belt. When Bischoff kicks Dillon, Sting grabs and supplies him with a Scorpion death drop. The nWo storms the ring and beats down Sting until Bret comes to Sting’s rescue. More reinforcements from WCW hit the ring to even the battle. At that point, the show ends.
Back in Daytona Beach, Tenay interviews Dillon again. Dillon requests Hogan approach the ring, and the nWo answers. Next, he requests Sting join the mix, and Sting appears while wearing the gold. Dillon declares the title is vacant until further notice. Upon Dillon’s request for the belt, Sting reluctantly tosses it at Dillon’s feet while the Daytona Beach faithful vehemently object. Sting tells Dillon that he has “no guts” and Hogan that he’s “a dead man.”
HOT TAKE: WCW backed itself into a corner, and this was the only way to clean up the mess.
Match 11 for the WCW US title: Diamond Dallas Page (champion) versus Kevin Nash (w/ “Hollywood” Hogan)
Nash clotheslined DDP but fell victim to a swinging neckbreaker for 2.
When Nash reversed a cross corner whip, he landed a corner clothesline.
He then delivered a sidewalk slam and got 2.
As he dumped DDP out of the ring, Nash rammed him shoulder-first into the steps.
Back in the ring, Nash hit a running guillotine and followed with Snake Eyes.
He then scored with an elbow drop for another 2.
After DDP escaped a guillotine, he attempted a Diamond Cutter.
However, Hogan got up on the apron and nailed DDP.
As a result, referee Randy Anderson called for the bell to disqualify Nash.
Summary: Despite the clean victory on Nitro, Thunder opens with a main event schmozz.
After the match, Nash lands a big boot, and Giant saunters toward him. When Giant enters the ring, he battles with Nash while Thunder leaves the air.
Conclusion: Although I understand the multiple-step process to fix the mess from Starrcade ’97, holding up the World title belt creates more questions than answers. Perhaps Nitro will fill in some blanks. Also, Guerrera wins his first Cruiserweight title as Savage and Luger are at each other’s throats. In addition, the Steiners remain World tag team champions, but how long will they continue to be a team?
Finally, two matches have been announced for Souled Out ’98. Let’s hope WCW doesn’t disappoint us again.