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Thunder - April 16, 1998

Date: April 16, 1998
Location: Fargodome, Fargo, North Dakota
Commentators: Lee Marshall, Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan

Reviewed by Tommy Hall

It's the final show before Spring Stampede and by now the news has broken that Nitro lost in the ratings on Monday for the first time in nearly two years. It should be interesting to see if things change up at all tonight to try to right the ship. Other than that tonight is going to be the final push for the PPV, meaning more NWO whether anyone likes it or not. Let's get to it.

We open with a recap of the main event from Nitro with Bret Hart cleaning house to save Sting.

NWO video on Buff Bagwell, showing him looking in a mirror.

Buff Bagwell vs. Rick Steiner

Rick throws his collar around to get Vincent off the apron before scaring Buff to the floor as well. Buff armdrags him down and poses so Rick punches him in the face. An atomic drop and a clothesline put Buff on the floor as Lee wonders who brought Scott Steiner to the NWO. Didn't we cover that like months ago? Back in and Buff pounds away at Rick's head, which actually has an effect. Buff's middle rope ax handle is caught in mid air and Rick throws him around a few times. Rick loads up the bulldog but here's Scott Steiner to shove him off the top for the DQ.

Rating: D+. Nothing to see here with the whole match existing tos et up something else at Spring Stampede. They've been pushing this battle of the Steiners for months now but there's no sign of the actual showdown coming. Then again why bother pursuing a match that could be a big deal and bring in some money when you can keep pushing Buff Bagwell?

Hogan is amused at Savage's injuries and is ready to take the title back from Sting soon.

Here's Nash with something to say. He's tired of hearing Hogan talking about how amazing he is because Hogan is afraid. Nash should be champion right now and would be if not for Hogan and then Hart interfering in his title shots. Bret made a huge mistake by messing with Nash on Monday and Hart will be dealt with. Back to Hogan: if he doesn't do what he's supposed to do on Sunday, Nash will drive a stake through his heart. He's ready for Giant and Piper and tonight he's ready for Sting and Bret with Savage as his partner. Just hyping up the big tag matches here.

We get the same video on Goldberg from Nitro.

Goldberg vs. Barry Darsow

Goldberg vs. Saturn is official for Sunday. Barry tries to match power with Goldberg and is easily run over and thrown into the corner. Heenan: “This could be a very hair raising experience for Barry Darsow.” Darsow is bald if that clears anything up. Barry sends him over the top and out to the floor but Goldberg comes right back in with the spear. The Jackhammer makes it 73 in a row.

We get the same video on Page vs. Raven from Nitro.

Here's JJ Dillon to say that the winner of Page vs. Raven has to defend the US Title against Goldberg on Monday night. I'm jumping the gun a bit here but that means that both of Goldberg's title shots this year have been announced four days in advance. You would think he'd get more hype than that.

TV Title: Booker T vs. Rick Fuller

Booker fires off kicks and forearms to start, only to run into a powerslam from the much bigger Fuller. Fuller slams him down again but misses a charge into the corner and walks into a spinebuster. The ax kick and side kick set up the missile dropkick to retain Booker's title. Squash for the most part.

Recap of Hogan vs. Nash, despite them not being opponents anytime soon.

Tony announces Scott Steiner/Buff Bagwell vs. Lex Luger/Rick Steiner at the PPV. Scott Steiner comes out to say he and Buff aren't showing up because his parents don't want to see him fight his brother.

Chris Benoit vs. Scott Norton

Benoit pulls Vincent to the floor for some chops before going in and being chopped down by Norton. A few elbow drops have Benoit in trouble and a slam puts him down again. Benoit comes back with some chops but Norton just punches him down with no selling at all. A splash in the corner crushes Benoit and a shoulder sends him all the way to the floor.

Benoit avoids a charge into the post but Norton is back inside first and still in control with a powerslam. Chris escapes a shoulder breaker and takes Norton down with two German suplexes. Norton charges into the post and gets caught in the Crossface, only to have Vincent come in for the DQ immediately.

Rating: D+. What's the point in Benoit even being out there if Norton won't sell a single bit of his offense? Norton went into the post twice, both off his own power, and still wouldn't stay down. Also for the thousandth time or so, WHY CAN SCOTT NORTON NEVER LOSE A CLEAN FALL??? Benoit is going into a PPV title match but can only get a DQ win over Norton because.....I'm thinking Scott Norton has photos of Eric Bischoff smoking crack while wearing women's lingerie and shoving an old lady down a flight of stairs.

Post match Booker comes in for the save but gets shoved down for his efforts.

Here's Giant with Piper on his shoulders and something to say. Giant steps over the top rope with Piper still on his shoulders. That's rather impressive. Piper rambles on and on as he is known to do. His odd line of this promo: “What's the opposite of Big Sexy? Pee Wee Herman?” Piper gets off Giant's shoulders and pretends he's a tiger that has to be tamed. He spends the next minute and a half or so saying he and Giant will win. Piper: “We'll bring the bat, you bring the balls.” Again, someone keep Piper away from live mics. Please?

Curt Hennig vs. Super Calo

Rude is on commentary as usual. Curt easily takes Calo down and hits a quick Hennig Necksnap for no cover. Calo avoids a charge in the corner and gets one off a quick missile dropkick. Curt will have none of that and stomps Calo down before ending him with the Hennigplex. Squash.

Cruiserweight Title: Chavo Guerrero Jr. vs. Chris Jericho

During the entrances, Tony rants about how WCW delivers the matches they promise, in reference to Austin vs. McMahon not happening. I would say I remember Ric Flair talking about that last week, but he never showed up as advertised. Chavo pounds away to start, only to get kicked in the ribs and suplexed down for two. Jericho charges into a boot in the corner and gets clotheslined down for two as well as Chavo stays in it. An atomic drop sets up a rollup for two more on Jericho but he trips Guerrero up and hooks an early Liontamer. Chavo crawls over to the ropes but Eddie slaps his hand away twice, forcing Chavo to tap out.

After the quick match, Iaukea comes out with the scale from last week to knock Jericho off of Chavo. They fight to the back, leaving Eddie and Chavo alone in the ring. Uncle Eddie calms Chavo down and says that if Chavo beats Jericho on Sunday, he's free. Chavo is facing Ultimo Dragon on Sunday but at least there's a story to the match now.

Here are Hogan, Bischoff and Disciple with something to say. After Eric sucks up to Hogan for awhile, he talks about realizing what he had when Hogan came to WCW in 1994. Hogan runs down Savage and Nash and understands why they're both jealous of him. He brags about the 3 Ninjas movie and being on the Tonight Show before saying he should get the next world title shot because he's just that awesome. Nothing much to see here and he didn't even mention his opponents for Sunday.

Here's JJ with something to say. First of all, Goldberg will receive his first major title shot this Monday on Nitro. This confirms one of two things: either the TV Title, which Goldberg had a shot at last year, isn't a major title or WCW doesn't remember matches that happened five months ago. Also, due to Savage's injuries, there might have to be a replacement in the world title match. The options would be either DDP, Nash or Hogan. JJ says Savage can wrestle on Sunday if he has a doctor's clearance, but tonight he just can't be wearing a cast.

This brings out Savage to say that JJ should be outside watching for red and yellow Vipers that are running over people. JJ says there's no concrete evidence as to who attacked Savage so he needs a doctor's clearance and no cast on Savage's arm. Savage says he's getting the title shot on Sunday no matter what.

Giant vs. Bryan Adams

Nothing match as Giant shrugs off Adams' offense (including Adams going up top and just falling off) and kicks him in the face, only to have Vincent run in to break up the chokeslam and draw the DQ.

Post match the B team comes in but gets destroyed as well.

Video on Raven.

Silver King vs. Perry Saturn

Saturn side steps a fast dropkick and hits a running elbow in the corner, only to get caught in a tornado DDT. Saturn avoids a charge in the corner and superplexes King down before the Rings of Saturn gets the submission.

Video on Diamond Dallas Page.

Page says to say he's ready for Raven but thinking about fighting Goldberg gets him even more jacked up. Goldberg and his buddy Jack Hammer has been running through WCW and Page wants to know if Goldberg can be banged. He's getting his belt back on Sunday, but the fans are oddly silent during this entire speech.

Sting/Bret Hart vs. Randy Savage/Kevin Nash

Tony goes off about how they'll deliver what they promised no matter what. Savage has the cast on, despite JJ saying he couldn't wear one tonight. Bret and Savage get things going but Nash comes in before any contact is made. Nash and Bret pound each other into the corner with Nash hammering Bret in the back to take over. There's the foot choke in the corner but Nash charges into a boot in the opposite corner.

Bret clotheslines Nash down and fires off right hands before bringing in the world champion. Savage gets the tag and is put in the Scorpion about ten seconds later. Nash pulls Randy out to the floor for a long stall before it's Bret vs. Nash again. Bret escapes Snake Eyes by shoving Kevin into the corner, only to be punched in the face for his efforts. There's the side slam but Hart avoids the elbow, only to have Savage break up the Sharpshooter.

Nash puts on a sleeper of all things but Bret suplexes his way to freedom. A double tag brings in Savage and Sting but Nash breaks up the Stinger Splash as everything breaks down. Nash and Bret fight to the floor and the Stinger Splash hits Savage's cast. Savage goes up for the elbow and waits forever until Hogan and Disciple run in for the DQ because why would a world title match need story development?

Rating: D. This was the usual lazy main event match from all parties involved. Savage being injured excuses his lack of effort but the other three guys just looked bored out there. To be fair though Bret has nothing to do, Sting is the lamest of all lame duck champions and Nash is Nash so why bother trying at all?

Post match Hogan goes after Savage's bad arm but Nash makes the save to end the show.

Overall Rating: D+. This is a strange one to grade as the show did a good job of building up to Spring Stampede, but Spring Stampede is one of the least interesting shows in a long time. Why they don't just do Nash vs. Hogan is beyond me, but I'd guess neither guy was willing to do a job for whatever reason they always gave. The show had its moments but the NWO drags it down as usual.

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