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Thunder - July 2, 1998

Date: July 2, 1998
Location: Columbus Civic Center, Columbus, Georgia
Commentators: Lee Marshall, Bobby Heenan, Tony Schiavone

Reviewed by Tommy Hall

We're getting closer to Bash at the Beach and the card is starting to fill out a bit more. The hype machine around the NBA match calmed down a bit on Nitro and hopefully that follows through tonight. On another note though, a major announcement is happening tonight which is going to change a lot of things in WCW very soon. Let's get to it.

The announcers welcome us to the show and talk about how amazing Bash at the Beach will be while recapping the ending to Monday's show.

Here's Jericho with a sign saying Conspiracy Victim. Jericho asks ring announcer Dave Penzer what town we're in and still gets it wrong anyway. He knows everyone is here tos ee their role model and their paragon of virtue and here he is. The WCW offices wanted to put him on last tonight but he couldn't make his fans wait that long.

Jericho has to face Dean Malenko at Bash at the Beach, but is he really someone you want to see with a belt around his waist? Dean Malenko isn't the man you think he is. Ultimo Dragon has a concussion due to Dean attacking him on Monday, so tonight Jericho is going to face someone we haven't seen in six months. It's going to be a five star classic that all the sheet readers can go crazy over (his words) in the vein of Moby Dick vs. Captain Ahab. If this guy wins he'll get a title shot at Bash at the Beach: Rey Mysterio Jr!

Chris Jericho vs. Rey Mysterio Jr.

If you're familiar with Jericho, you should know what's coming already. It's a guy that stands about 4'8 and must weigh 200lbs. Jericho easily shoves him down as the fans are all over Jericho for this. Mysterio comes back with a dropkick but gets suplexed down for a cover, only to have Jericho intentionally roll Mysterio on top of him for the pin and the title shot.

Jericho is stunned, yes STUNNED I say, that he lost and declares Mysterio Jr. the #1 contender. He continues to be the most entertaining thing in the entire company.

Here's Giant, now complete with Kane style pyro from the four corners of the ring, with something to say. He asks for a moment of silence while he delivers words from the almighty Hollywood Hogan. Hollywood asked Giant to come out here to let them know that he (Giant) is on the warpath. Goldberg and Kevin Greene need to get ready for the beating of their lives at Bash at the Beach. That brings him to the Red and Black, who are all cocky backstage. If they're that arrogant, why not send out Lex Luger to face Giant tonight? Very simple promo here but it did everything it needed to do.

Doc Dean vs. Stevie Ray

Dean is a small British guy who never did anything in America. Stevie pounds him into the corner and hits a World's Strongest Slam for two. Dean is sent to the floor for a few moments before Stevie hits the Slap Jack (lifting Pedigree) for the easy pin.

Post match here's Chavo on his horse to talk to Stevie about his family problems. Chavo: “Do you know how to play Monopoly?” Before Stevie can answer, Chavo talks about how similar they are but apologizes to grandma for all of Eddie's losses as of late. Chavo says Stevie is sorry to grandma for Booker as well but Stevie shoves Guerrero down. That's fine with him as long as Stevie doesn't take his horse. It's good to see Chavo branching out.

British Bulldog/Jim Neidhart vs. Public Enemy

Before either team comes out, Disco Inferno and Alex Wright dance down the aisle. Disco says everyone is here to see them dance but Public Enemy interrupts. Rocco says they're not here for a fight but thinks the people here might like to see a dance party. Am I watching Raw from 2012 or Thunder? The dance contest is on but Wright and Disco quickly bail and we take a break.

Back with Neidhart and Bulldog coming out for the actual match. Rocco and Neidhart get us going with Anvil hiptossing him down and quickly tagging in the Bulldog. Rock is sent to the floor for a breather and comes back in to take Neidhart into the Public Enemy corner. Off to Grunge As the scrapping style offense begins. A double elbow gets two on Neidhart but he fights over for the tag to Bulldog. Everything breaks down and here are Wright and Disco to beat down Grunge and Neidhart. They pick up the table in the ring as Bulldog is powerslamming Rocco, only to drive him through the raised table for the double DQ.

Rating: D-. This was an angle instead of a match but it didn't work for the most part. It's the most interesting thing Neidhart and Bulldog have done in a long time but that doesn't make it anything special. Wright and Disco might be the best thing that could happen to these guys though as there's nothing interesting about the same styles fighting each other over and over.

It's time for the big announcement. JJ Dillon comes out and says he loves his job on days like this. After meeting with the executive committee all day, it has been determined that Hollywood Hogan will defend his title against GOLDBERG on Nitro in Goldberg's hometown of Atlanta.

To this day I do not understand why this wasn't on pay per view. Yes it was going to be in front of the biggest Nitro crowd ever, yes a lot of executives were going to be there, yes it was a huge match, but Goldberg vs. Hogan could have headlined Starrcade. The best guess I can come up with is they were that desperate to win a night in the ratings, but if they threw away millions and millions of dollars for a one night win, they deserve to go out of business.

If nothing else, hype the match up for a month or more instead of the four days they gave it. That might even be worse than putting it on Nitro. They can spend the better part of a month hyping up a one off tag match but the future of the company's passing of the torch moment gets four days? I know the NBA match made a ton of money, but I find it hard to believe it made as much as Goldberg's entire title run combined. It's a very questionable way of getting to the match and I still don't get it entirely.

Raven talks about making all of the Flock members feel worthwhile.

Kidman vs. Saturn

Fast start with Saturn flipping Kidman to the mat and taking him down with a spinwheel kick. The announcers ignore the match but it's understandable this soon after an actual major announcement. An overhead belly to belly suplex puts Kidman over the top and Saturn chases Lodi for fun. A clothesline puts Kidman down again but Saturn's suicide dive hits a chair instead of Kidman to change momentum.

After a quick chinlock Kidman gets two off a facebuster. Saturn comes back with a clothesline and a small package for two, only to be dropkicked right back down. Off to another chinlock by Kidman which is quickly let go so he can stomp on Saturn again. Saturn avoids a charge in the corner and the announcers speculate what a title change would mean for the PPV.

Kidman comes right back with a sitout spinebuster but gets crotched while going up for the Seven Year Itch. A superplex brings Kidman down again but Saturn has to superkick Lodi down. Kidman walks the corner for a bulldog but Saturn sweeps his legs out for another near fall. The Death Valley Driver is enough to pin Kidman a few seconds later.

Rating: C+. Nice match here as Saturn continues to look awesome in the ring. At this point it would have been easy to see him as someone with potential in the future for WCW. He's having consistently good matches and promos complete with a good look. What more can you ask for out of a guy? Kidman was quite good here as well, mixing up the high flying with some basic stuff to keep him from being one dimensional.

Saturn challenges Raven for a match.

We look back at Benoit and Anderson's talk last week with Anderson saying the Horsemen are done.

Mongo talks about wanting the Horsemen back. We get some clips from NFL Hall of Fame coach Mike Ditka talking about how awesome Mongo is. McMichael tells Anderson to put the team together again and watch what happens.

We see Giant chokeslamming Luger from last week.

Brian Adams vs. Bobby Blaze

Blaze tries a quick hiptoss but gets taken down by a big suplex instead. Naturally the announcers focus on this match but ignored the good Saturn vs. Kidman match. A knee to the head puts Blaze down for two but he comes back with a spinwheel kick. Not that it matters as Adams catches him in a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and an over the shoulder backbreaker gets the pin. Total squash.

Raven comes out almost immediately and accepts Saturn's challenge. He talks about giving Saturn a bloody nose in sixth grade and how he never thought Saturn would turn on him. Also, Kanyon is officially getting a break while Raven deals with Saturn.

TV Title: Fit Finlay vs. Booker T

Booker is defending. Finlay jumps him before the bell like any good heel would do by firing off a series of European uppercuts. They head outside with Booker being rammed into various objects as this has been one sided so far. Booker is dropped throat first across the barricade for a two count inside. Finlay keeps pounding away on him and sends Booker into the corner but the champion comes out with him spinning sunset flip for two.

Finlay will have none of this offense from Booker and stomps him down again, only to have Booker come up with the Harlem sidekick to get a breather. The running forearm and a side slam get two each for the champion but Finlay uppercuts him down again. After some choking from the floor, Finlay kicks him in the face, only to get caught in a belly to back suplex. The announcers are actually into the match surprisingly enough. Booker is tossed outside and Finlay calls for the tombstone, only to turn around and get caught by the missile dropkick for the pin.

Rating: C. Not bad but this is another match we've seen a few times already. Finlay deserved a rematch for the title though so it's understandable that we saw this again. The match wasn't bad at all and was what Booker needs to get back to: having solid matches and winning from behind to keep the title.

Post match Booker says he's coming for Bret until Stevie Ray says Booker needs to take care of business. triggering an argument between the brothers.

Here's Chavo with a cardboard box. He sets the box up in the ring on a stick with a piece of twine around the stick. The words Acme Eddie Trap are written on the side and Chavo puts what looks like a burrito under the box. Chavo: “Be very very quiet. I'm hunting Eddies.” He pulls out a toy bow and arrow and says “here Eddie Eddie Eddie.”

Eddie comes out and moves the stick before hiding. Chavo looks under the box but doesn't find Eddie. “I think I need a bigger box.” Eddie grabs Chavo and gives him a brainbuster on the floor before beating him with the burrito. For some reason there are scissors at ringside and Eddie cuts off some of his nephew's hair until security takes him away. This was uh.....interesting shall we say.

Konnan vs. Kanyon

Konnan pounds away to start but Kanyon shoves him back and sweeps Konnan's legs to get us to an early stalemate. Here's the Flock on the ramp to watch the match, even though Raven says he was giving Kanyon a break. Kanyon grabs the Moss Covered Three Handled Family Credenza and a fallaway slam for two each as the Flock watches from ringside. They trade rollups for a few two counts each until Konnan botches a headscissors attempt.

The Flock finally gets Konnan's attention, allowing Raven to sneak in for an Evenflow to Kanyon. Man, if you can't trust drugged out cult leaders who speak in nothing but poetry, who can you trust? Konnan doesn't see this and puts the unconscious Kanyon in the Tequila Sunrise for the win.

Rating: D+. This was a rather sloppy match with several botches throughout. It wasn't quite clear who was to blame for most of them but given how crisp Kanyon usually, putting the blame on Konnan would seem to be a safe bet. The Flock getting the better of Kanyon is something new for a change so at least they're moving forward a bit.

Post match the Flock goes after Kanyon and Konnan comes back to try for a save, only to get beaten down as well. Luger comes out for the real save and clears the Flock out before calling out the Giant for the main event.

Lex Luger vs. Giant

Luger pounds away with right hands but Giant shoves him away and clotheslines Luger down. A splash gets two on Luger and Giant slows things down with his big man offense. Maybe all the cigarettes are taking their toll? Giant hits a LOUD chop in the corner and pounds away on his back. We hit the chinlock for a bit but Luger comes back with a jawbreaker to stun the big man. Luger hits his clotheslines and the forearm to set up the Rack but the Black and White comes in for the DQ. Nothing match.

Konnan gets beaten down as well until the Flock comes back in to go after Luger, triggering a three way brawl to end the show.

Overall Rating: C-. This didn't work for me for the most part with the entertaining parts being overshadowed by the uninspired stuff later in the night. It was nice to have something new for the announcers to harp on for most of the show and it's even nicer that it's something that will matter after Bash at the Beach. This show was mostly about the midcard though, which is something that's been needed lately.

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  1. The funniest thing about this is that Goldberg said he found out about the title match the same way the rest of us did. He was on his couch watching Thunder and did a spit-take. He also had a pretty funny story about the match

    Goldberg: Hey man I'm pretty nervous about this. Want to go over a few things first?

    Hogan: Don't worry about it! We'll call it in the ring brother!

    Let me also add that Jericho was just killing it here. I don't think he ever came close to this in the WWF/E

  2. There was no way they could (or should) have waited for Starrcade to do that match. They kind of were in a bad spot. The big tag match was set in stone for Bash and the next PPV was Road Wild in front of all the Hogan loving biker fans. Goldberg was ready and I was fine with the decision to hot shot the title change.

    It's what happened AFTER that....that was the problem. Goldberg/Greene should've faced Hennig/Giant as planned instead of doing a title match before the main event. It made Goldberg look less than Hogan, even after beating him. Scrap the Leno thing for Road Wild and do the big nWo vs. nWo thing with Goldberg main eventing against Hogan at the August PPV of a different name and theme. Let's say WCW Night of Champions with a co-headline of Nash, Luger, K-Dogg and Sting vs. Hall, Giant, Hennig, and Hart and a main of Goldberg vs. Hogan for the title.

    Goldberg wins and moves on. Fall Brawl sees the blowoff to the nWo once and for all. Wolfpack beats Hogan, Hart, Hall, and Giant in the War Games match to send them away. The Wolfpack stays but drops the nWo name. Goldberg does his DDP match at Havoc, Bam Bam at WW3, and Nash at Starrcade with Hall returning but failing to help Nash win.

    Goldberg goes through 1999 undefeated before eventually losing at Starrcade to Benoit, Booker T, Steiner or someone else they could have built up. The Nash's, Sting's, Luger's, Flair's, etc. all start to take a backseat and/or become part time players with special attraction matches.

    14 years later, WCW would still exist.

  3. Jericho could have and should have become WCW's Shawn Michaels.

  4. You don't hotshot one of your dream matches with only three days notice. That's incredibly bad business.

    They left tons of money on the table on that decision. You could do months of Goldberg going through the nWo to get to Hogan and then finally beating him in a big match on a big stage.

  5. They could have easily waited until Starrcade to do Hogan vs Goldberg. They waited until Starrcade the previous year to do Hogan vs Sting, and unlike Goldberg and Hogan, they had started the hype for that almost a year prior. Could have just had Goldberg continue his US Title reign for the next few months and then around September, have an nWo member challenge him, lose, another nWo member follows suit etc. you do the Georgia Dome finish at Starrcade and the rest is history. 1999 could have been SO much different. And perhaps profitable.

  6. It still blows my mind how quickly Saturn flamed out in the business, not to mention how quickly online fans seemed to forget about him. He was once considered the "Radicalz" member MOST LIKELY to succeed in the WWF, and was having awesome matches in WCW all over the place. Then all of a sudden all the smarks turned on him and treated him like he was nothing (even Scott derides Saturn matches a lot in older reviews- a Scott Sez totally jokes about him over-rating Saturn/Goldberg, even though the match was legitimately very good- possibly Goldberg's best outside of DDP at Halloween Havoc).
    But WCW's shitty booking and his own demons did him in.

    Regarding Goldberg/Hogan, I think it might have something to do with politics- they rushed things through so that Hogan wouldn't have time to think about an "out" or finagle his way into a victory or something thanks to creative control.

  7. I remember one time Jericho blew up on internet fans for not caring about his WWF run (they under-rated a match with him & RVD, in Jericho's mind), and a fan defended him with "in his defense, apparently 90% of his e-mails are 'you were funnier in WCW'."

  8. That's funny. I think his WWE run would go over a lot better if there wasn't his WCW run to compare it to. 1998 Chris Jericho was just on another level.

  9. Goldberg didn't need to wait until Starrcade. The fans WOULD have lost interest. You guys are forgetting just how incredibly over he had become. Was doing it for free bad for business? Well, yeah. I think we all get that. However, as I said, they were kind of booked into a corner with what to do. If they would have booked a better AFTERMATH and a REMATCH on PPV, then things would have worked out a lot better for them.

  10. Hogan won't do the job for Goldberg at Starrcade. He was only doing it at this show because the corporate hot shots were all there, and he wanted to take credit for the crowd and the ratings to convince them he was still a huge draw. That's really the long and short of it: Hogan agreed to drop the belt to him that night, so WCW pretty much had no choice but to do it then.


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