Date: December 2, 1999
Location: Landon Arena, Topeka, Kansas
Commentators: Larry Zbyszko, Mike Tenay
Reviewed by Tommy Hall
After a week off due to Thanksgiving, we're back for one of the final live Thunders as the tapings would soon move to Tuesday nights. In other words, this might be the last “good” show in the series' run. We're less than three weeks away from Starrcade and the World Title scene is very slowly rounding into form. Unfortunately everything else is rounding into form and it's not a pretty sight. Let's get to it.
Hardcore Title: Norman Smiley vs. The Wall
Norman, the champion, is in karate attire and Berlyn comes out for commentary. There are weapons in the ring already but Norman relies on the power of the 80s with a Crane Kick pose, earning him a clothesline. Wall blasts Norman with some weapons shots as Berlyn is suddenly fine with speaking English and demanding an apology from the big guy.
Norman keeps screaming as the beating continues but eventually kicks the trashcan into Wall's face. The Big Wiggle is teased but Wall hot shots him instead. The chokeslam is loaded up but Berlyn hits Wall with the belt, knocking him out with his hand still around Norman's throat. Norman covers while still being choked to retain the title.
Rating: D+. I love Norman. Even when he's just getting beaten up he's fun to watch as he's clearly trying, unlike so many of the other wrestlers on this show. Wall is fine for a big man, but do you really want him jobbing in one of his first singles matches? Just have him maul some people, like maybe those worthless cruiserweights. Actually we can't because they're getting beaten up later to further the parody of Jim Ross. I guess we just have to make the new monster lose in a comedy match.
Luger isn't happy that he's fighting Sid tonight.
Silver King wants his check back from Dr. Death, as apparently Williams hasn't cashed it for some reason. Football insults are hurled and death will come soon for Silver King.
Kaz Hayashi doesn't like Maestro. Time for a transition!
Kaz Hayashi vs. Maestro
No Symphony here, meaning my interest quickly fades. They hit the mat for a faster sequence than you would expect with Maestro getting two off a rollup. Tenay is of course talking about Jeff Jarrett, because Russo likes getting announcers involved. Kaz comes back with a dropkick but gets sent face first into the buckle. Choking and stomping ensue to show that Maestro is a heel. It's actually not clear otherwise, even with David Flair kidnapping him on Monday.
We hit the chinlock on Kaz and here's David with the crowbar. Kaz flips out of a German suplex and hits a dropkick but the referee gets bumped, bringing David inside. His crowbar hits Kaz by mistake, sending Maestro running for the hills. The unconscious Kaz wins by countout and is shocked when he wakes up.
Rating: D. Another day, another match with a stupid finish designed to get a bad angle over instead of the wrestling. Maestro is a guy whose looks deceive you as he had a decent match despite looking out of shape. Kaz is solid in the ring as well and can give you a good performance when he isn't cannon fodder for a David Flair feud.
Disco and Lash Leroux arrive but have to run from the Mamalukes.
Lex Luger loses his bag, takes Jimmy Hart's by mistake, then gets his own bag back. He tries to leave but has flat tires because.....I have no idea actually.
Chavo Guerrero vs. Buzzkill
Buzzkill's entrance: “It's me, it's me, it's that B-U-Double Z!” Chavo tries to sell him some tyedye and a broken lava lamp, which Buzzkill tries to turn on despite a lack of electricity. The fans are ALL OVER this and Chavo only makes it worse by giving Buzzkill a Walkman to make him go down on the mat to the music, but it's only good for two. Chavo gives up on the sale but has a shirt for the referee, allowing Buzzkill to hit him with the briefcase for the pin.
Buzzkill is mad at himself for cheating, but borrows money from the referee to buy the tyedye and lamp from Chavo.
I'm pausing now and trying to compose myself. Normally I would write up some rant about how Russo doesn't get wrestling and what a waste of talent this is, but I can't bring myself to care. That was one of the stupidest segments I've ever seen I wrestling and it was painful to watch. There's nothing wrong with a comedy segment here and there, or even more than one a show. However, when your entire promotion is one comedy/stupid segment after another, you lose the benefit of the doubt. You lose your audience too but that's another story.
Chris Benoit is ready for his match with Liger, who he respects very much. For once, there's nothing else going on in a promo. The idea of Benoit vs. Liger is one of the only things that can bring me back after what I've sat through already.
Meng gets into his dressing room but Lash and Disco show up and swap his name plate for theirs.
Evan Karagias is in the back with Madusa and implies that he's rather, shall we say, antsy. Madusa promises him “everything” after Starrcade.
Long recap of Nitro. That doesn't help things, though at least it's shorter.
Luger is still worried, but he knows he's the best and has nothing to worry about. But doggone it, do people like him?
Sid is playing with a Luger action figure as Gene tells him that he has a powerbomb match vs. Nash at Starrcade. Gene doesn't have the match if that's not clear. Nash wouldn't take it after seeing Gene and Hogan team up against Steele and Fuji back in 84. Sid breaks the figure to show what's going to happen to Luger tonight.
Luger calls a cab. Can't he just walk to a bar or something and wait until the show is over?
The Mamalukes beat up some production guy and lock him in a freezer so he can give Disco and Lash a message.
Steve Williams vs. Villano IV/Villano V/Silver King
This should be short. Larry leaves the booth because Oklahoma disgusts him so much. For once, I can't say I disagree. The trio gets destroyed to start until Silver King nails a dropkick. A triple headbutt is shrugged off though and King gets press slammed. I'm missing a good chunk of the match, though as a consolation I do get a lot of shots of Oklahoma talking. Vampiro comes out to go after Oklahoma, which allows Silver King to sneak down and take his check. Williams pins a Villano off the Stampede in a quick match.
Luger is trying to get into his cab but the Mamalukes stop him to ask for Disco and Lash. In one of the smartest things Luger has ever said, he recommends the dressing room with their name on it. As this is going on, Silver King dives into the cab and leaves. Luger is completely thwarted, because that was the only cab (or form of transportation it seems) in all of Topeka.
After a break, the Mamalukes are outside the dressing room door. Thankfully they're nice enough to not go in or do anything else until after the next match.
Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Chris Benoit
Please let it go long. Please let it go long. Please let it go long. Larry is back on commentary and annoyed at all the guest announcers screwing up. We can't start just yet though as Juventud Guerrera comes out for commentary with his arm in a sling and flanked by Psychosis and La Parka (rocking the red skeleton attire). Juvy sits in on commentary and he's going to be the focus of the match isn't he?
Liger rolls out of an early suplex attempt and they hit the mat for a technical sequence into a backslide attempt from Benoit but Liger powers into a sunset flip. A stalemate gets some polite applause from the crowd as Juvy says IT DOESN'T MATTER what the wrestlers are doing. Benoit is taken down in a test of strength but Liger can't break his bridge. The Liger Kick connects as Juvy takes credit for building the Cruiserweight division. He doesn't mention his current reign as the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title but why should he do that?
Tenay announces Benoit vs. Nash on Nitro and a US Title shot in a ladder match at Starrcade. That's quite the schedule. Liger hooks his feet under Benoit's arms and takes him to the floor in a crash before putting on the Surfboard back inside. The brainbuster gets two and Liger wins a chop off. Benoit breaks up a tornado DDT attempt and it's a double clothesline to put both guys down. There's the snap suplex and a belly to back for two on Liger and Benoit nails him with a clothesline to the back of the head. Liger is able to crotch him down and nail a superplex, but the other cruiserweights come in for the double DQ.
Rating: B-. I want to complain about the ending destroying what could have been a great match, but this is such a rare treat these days that I can't bring myself to do it. Instead, I'll go on about what a shame it is that they bring in Jushin Thunder Liger and use him as a way to get over Juvy's (albeit funny) Rock imitation, which could have been done with almost anyone on the roster. At least we got about seven minutes of Benoit vs. Liger though, which is better than anything else we were going to get.
Benoit and Liger clean house.
Buff promises to beat Meng tonight.
Speaking of Meng, the Mamalukes find him in the dressing room and get beaten up as you would expect.
Luger disguises his voice and calls the WCW offices to say he has a family emergency and needs to leave. Terry Taylor pops in to say....I'm assuming nice try as Buff's music was drowning him out. I don't know if that kind of thing is a Russo joke or if the WCW production guys all just stopped caring at once, because it's been a thing for months now and it's really annoying.
Buff Bagwell vs. Meng
Well it would have to be this match after that last segment wouldn't it? Meng throws him around like a Tongan monster throws around a pretty boy to start. Buff's right hands and clotheslines have no effect but some dropkicks stagger Meng. Apparently Buff has an easily built ego as Buff tries ten right hands in the corner, only to get dropped on the top rope before he gets to nine. Meng comes back with strikes in the corner as Larry thinks there's something up with the Outsiders and Russo. Gee Larry, YOU REALLY THINK SO???
A lot of choking ensues before Buff gets bent over Meng's knee in a backbreaker. Buff comes back with his swinging neckbreaker and a cross body for two as we have Mamalukes. Say it with me: the ref gets bumped, allowing the mobsters to beat up both guys for reasons not exactly clear. Meng fights them off and Buff goes up, only to miss Meng and hit the Blockbuster on Vito. The Tongan Death Grip gives Meng the win.
Rating: D. Can we get some tougher referees? Or some wrestlers that aren't quite as careless and don't hit a referee on half the matches every show? I like that they're keeping Meng strong, even if it doesn't seem likely to lead anywhere. You can always find a way to use someone like him, but in Russo's case he'll probably wind up as a bus driver with an unhealthy fear of parrots.
Meng beats up the mobsters for fun.
Gene is in the back with Mona and Jarrett and can't stop looking at her chest. Mona: “Do you see something you like Gene?” Jeff yells at her for taking half his interview time and calls her Miss Slappy. This Monday, Goldberg and Dustin Rhodes are on his hit list.
The Mamalukes drink Surge to make themselves feel better, though Johnny could go for a cheese sandwich.
Jeff Jarrett/Mona vs. Evan Karagias/Madusa
Is there a reason why Jarrett and Mona got together and I just missed it? Larry: “If he's so chosen, why is he in a match he doesn't want to be in?” Tenay wants Jeff fined and suspended for his actions on Monday. Evan and Mona get things started as Jarrett walks around ringside. He takes her down with ease to start but the camera goes to see Jarrett and Tenay yelling at each other. I wonder if that's what the TNA meetings were like.
Mona armdrags Madusa down but gets caught in a double backdrop. Now Jeff sits on the steps (which is nothing like when Mankind did the same to the Rock, appropriately enough against the Hollys) while Madusa cranks on an armbar. Back up and Mona slams her off the middle rope and crotches Evan, followed by a top rope hurricanrana. Madusa gets back with a German suplex though, allowing Evan to hit a corkscrew plancha for the pin.
Rating: D. So to recap we have a woman who is using sex to get a title shot at Starrcade, another woman who wrestles hard but gets beaten up at the end, but the whole thing is about Jeff Jarrett arguing with an announcer. They really thought this was the answer to women like Chyna?
Mona dropkicks Jarrett post match and eats a guitar to the head. Serves her right for trying in her match.
Long recap of Bret's WCW career. No real context or reason for this but it's there.
The Revolution talks about having their own country. Saturn: “And our own continent! Asya!” Get out while you can boys.
Luger is on the phone with Russo and is told that the winner of the match with Sid gets a World Title match this Monday.
Gene is with Lash and Disco and recaps the Mafia angle. Wouldn't it have been better to do this EARLIER? They agree that they need each other to survive and Disco asks Lash not to do the splits tonight because dancing is his gimmick. I can't even roll my eyes at these terms being dropped anymore.
Disco Inferno/Lash Leroux vs. Perry Saturn/Dean Malenko
Shane makes fun of Disco and Lash's accents before the match. Cue the Mamalukes to go after Disco and Lash but the Revolution mocks them as well, triggering another brawl. Disco and Lash are smart enough to stand outside and watch as Asya hits the Italians low, allowing the Revolution to clean house. Security gets them out of here so Disco and Lash jump Saturn from behind and get two off a Russian legsweep.
Tenay announces Evan vs. Mona vs. Madusa on Monday with the Cruiserweight Title shot on the line. Logic would say Mona vs. Madusa in a singles match, but why do that when it can be men vs. women? Lash beats Saturn up even more and does the split into a punch spot, prompting Disco to angrily tag himself in. This time it's Disco knocking Saturn around but stopping to dance, allowing Dean to come in and kick Disco's head off (yet the hair still doesn't move). Disco fights back with a sunset flip but Saturn kicks him again to break it up.
The Last Dance is broken up and Disco gets sat on top, allowing Saturn to bulldog him out to the floor in a nice spot. Lash and Dean get tags and the Cajun cleans house on Malenko but Whiplash is broken up by Saturn. A superkick drops Lash to the floor where he almost gets into it with Asya, allowing Shane to get in a cast shot. The Cloverleaf on the unconscious Lash gets the win as Saturn holds Disco.
Rating: D+. Disco and Lash are prime examples of guys that were doing nothing but were given a unique story by Russo. Unfortunately, Russo's intelligence ends as soon as the matches start as they were cannon fodder for the Revolution in their first match as a team. It doesn't help that they've gotten into a buddy comedy instead of a tag team, but Russo thinks he's writing B movies instead of a wrestling show anyway.
Total Package vs. Sid Vicious
Winner gets Hart on Monday for the title. Bret comes out to do commentary and doesn't seem interested in talking about facing Sid. Luger does a quick easy way/hard way promo but gets caught holding pepper spray. Sid stomps him down with ease but gets hit low, allowing Luger to go into his offensive arsenal. Cue Liz as we get a double clothesline to put both guys down.
That's some clothesline as neither can get up after LESS THAN A MINUTE of action. Liz gets the pepper spray and goes for Luger but he takes the bottle away and sprays Sid, who powerbombs the referee, because pepper spray takes away your abilitiy to feel a shirt. Luger grabs a rollup (with Sid's feet in the ropes) for the pin from a second referee and the title shot.
Post match Sid can suddenly see and powerbombs Luger to end the show.
Overall Rating: D-. Let's recap quickly: interference – belt shot, interference – crowbar, briefcase shot, interference (didn't change ending), interference – double DQ, interference – sets up pin, double teaming, cast shot, pepper spray. The closest thing we had to a clean finish in nine matches was double teaming in a glorified handicap match. All night long we couldn't a rollup for a pin or just someone hitting their finisher to win without someone cheating or interfering? I know there are a lot of common criticisms against Russo, but with shows like these, they're not exactly unfounded.
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