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Thunder - June 11, 1998

Date: June 11, 1998
Location: Marine Midland Arena, Buffalo, New York
Commentators: Bobby Heenan, Tony Schiavone, Lee Marshall

Reviewed by Tommy Hall.

We’re at the final show before the Great American Bash and to say WCW is going through some tough times is an understatement. Their solution to the sudden rise in popularity of the WWF seems to be focus more on the NWO war, because clearly the solution is to go back in time. Luckily for us though this is only a two hour show, so maybe Hogan will only make 5 appearances this time. Let’s get to it.

NWO Black and White are here with some rather good looking women.

Remember that major announcement that we were supposed to get tonight? Naturally it’s been postponed. At least they got it out of the way early.

We get a clip of Rodman and Hogan attacking Page to end Nitro.

The announcers talk about Page but Bischoff cuts them off via the house mic. There’s an NWO section next to the announcers’ desk where the Black and White are chilling and Giant and Bischoff have a candlelit table. Make your own jokes on that one. Anyway, Giant runs down Sting for a bit and vows to keep both belts on Sunday. Tonight though there’s an open challenge to any Wolfpack members to face Giant and Bru…..Giant stops himself from starting a copyright war and calls him the Disciple.

We see Hogan/Rodman complaining about all the money Nash cost him with the powerbombs from Monday.

Cruiserweight Title: Dean Malenko vs. Riggs

Dean takes him down into a front facelock before cranking on the arm with a variety of holds. A snapmare sets up a chinlock by the champion but Riggs sends him into the corner and stomps away as Heenan suggests Dean shifts the patch to the other eye so Riggs can’t see. That’s kind of brilliant actually. Off to an armbar on the champion before driving his knee into Dean’s back. Back up and Dean gets two off a sunset flip before leg lariating Riggs down. A belly to back suplex gets two for the champion and a vertical edition gets the same for Riggs. He goes up but gets shaken off, injuring his knee. Cloverleaf and we’re done.

Rating: D+. The match was fine from a technical standpoint, but Riggs is just limited in the ring. He doesn’t do anything past really basic offense and it’s not easy to build a match around that. The biggest move he used here was a vertical suplex, which is something almost anyone can do. Nothing to see here but it wasn’t awful.

Video on Goldberg.

Here’s Jericho with something to say. He wants Jo Jo Dillon out here right now to give him the title back but of course JJ doesn’t show up. Jericho gives him one more hour.

Kidman vs. Juventud Guerrera

The Black and White gets up and leaves at the bell. Kidman takes over with a headlock before things speed way up in a hurry. Both guys jump over each other until Juvy blocks an O’Connor Roll and dropkicks Kidman out to the floor. Kidman kicks Guerrera’s knee out and sends him into the barricade. The Seven Year Itch off the apron crushes Juvy and pops the crowd a bit before throwing Juvy back in for two.

We hit the chinlock from Kidman for a good while until Juvy fights up with some clotheslines for two. Kidman comes back with something resembling a German suplex and sends Juvy to the apron, only to have him come back with a top rope spinwheel kick for two. A powerslam gets the same for Billy and a short powerbomb gets another two. Back up and Juvy grabs his namesake driver, setting up the 450 for the pin.

Rating: B-. Take two guys, let them jump around and dive at each other for seven minutes, listen to the crowd cheer a lot. This is one of those ideas that even WCW couldn’t screw up and it worked very well here. Kidman and Juvy were two of the best in the division but I’m wondering when they’ll actually challenge for the title.

Luger comes out and says that the Black and White ran on Monday because they were scared of the Wolfpack. DDP still has an open invitation to join the team. As for tonight, it’s Luger/Savage vs. Giant/Disciple. Riveting indeed.

Bischoff and Hart have mics down and after Bischoff rambles about power, Bret offers Benoit a spot on the team. He talks about Benoit’s history with the Hart Family and thinks Chris would fit in perfectly. That’s a pretty big jump up the card for Benoit.

Chris Benoit vs. Booker T

This is the last match in the best of seven series for a TV Title shot on Sunday. Benoit stops and glares at Hart who is holding up a t-shirt. Stevie is with Booker for the entrance here. Benoit starts fast, pounding away on Booker and getting two off a back elbow to the jaw. Booker comes back with a kick to the ribs to send the Canadian to the floor but they head back inside so Chris can elbow him down again.

Benoit goes after the knee and cannonballs down onto it as we take a break, a rarity in WCW for the most part. Back with Benoit chopping away in the corner before Booker’s knee goes out on a whip across the ring. A dragon screw legwhip takes Booker down and he puts on a standing leg lock. Booker fights up and escapes with an enziguri but Benoit pops up with another chop. Benoit hooks a bridging Indian Deathlock while grabbing the face before pulling back on Booker’s arms like a reverse backslide. Naturally, we take a break.

Back with Booker kicking Benoit in the face and hitting the flapjack before spinning up. The knee is too banged up though and Benoit slaps on the rolling Germans for two. The fans are getting WAY into this. Benoit’s Swan Dive gets two and he stomps away on Booker in the corner but the referee pulls him away. Bret sneaks in and blasts Booker with a chair but Benoit won’t cover. The referee starts a ten count on the unconscious Booker but Benoit stops it at nine and tells the referee what happened, so that’s a DQ, giving Booker the series and the title shot.

Rating: B. That’s an interesting ending and a quick way to turn Benoit face again. I’m glad that they didn’t put him in the NWO here as it’s what everyone does and maybe we’ll even get Bret vs. Benoit as a result. The match itself was really good stuff with both guys getting to let it all hang out in a twenty minute match to close out the series. Best match of the series by far, which is saying a good deal.

Heenan goes NUTS about Benoit giving up the series like that.

Here are JJ Dillon and Dean to address the Jericho situation. Dean says that Jericho demanded the title be vacated….and that’s ok with him if it means getting his hands on Jericho again. Malenko hands the belt over and here’s a thrilled Jericho to sing I Am The Champion. JJ says not so fast my friend, because the title will be on the line on Sunday. Jericho freaks out but his DAD, former NHL player here in Buffalo, comes out to call Jericho a whining bellyacher. Chris claims a conspiracy and is promptly told to shut up so his dad can talk about being a real athlete. Until Jericho beats Dean in the ring, he’ll never be a champion.

Konnan vs. Scott Putski

Konnan pounds away to start but Scott actually kicks him out to the floor. Back in and Konnan snapmares him down before hitting a seated dropkick for two. Off to an armbar for a bit before Scott fires back with a suplex, only to go up and jump into Konnan’s boot. The 187 and Tequila Sunrise end Putski quick.

Saturn vs. Glacier

Since this feud hasn’t gone on long enough. Glacier jumps Saturn during the entrance like Saturn did to him a few weeks ago. After a few kicks from Glacier, Saturn takes him down with a quick judo throw. Raven and the riot squad are in the aisle as Glacier hits a snap suplex but Saturn hits a release northern lights suplex. There’s an STF of all things on Glacier but Saturn quickly lets go. Back up and another kick to the face puts Saturn down and more kicks do the same. Lodi has to be kicked off the apron but Saturn low blows Glacier down as the referee is distracted. Death Valley Driver hits and we’re done.

Rating: D. Now never let them fight again. This “feud” is so boring and it’s mainly because of Glacier. His complaint is stupid, his matches SUCK and his character is more of a joke than anything else. Why they’re wasting Saturn on this guy when he could be working with ANYONE else is beyond me.

Post match Raven cuts off Saturn’s music and wants Kanyon to come face him right now. He promises to set Kanyon free but no one shows up. Raven finally does the smart thing and fires his inept riot squad for letting him get beaten up so often. Saturn and Raven clean house but naturally, Kanyon is a member of the squad and lays out Raven before running into the crowd.

JJ calls out Booker because he’s looked at the tape from earlier. Dillon doesn’t want the series to end like this and neither does Booker, as the series had the best matches of his career. He wants Benoit one more time at the Bash with the winner getting the title match later in the night. Stevie Ray calls his brother an idiot.

Here are Eric and Liz to make jokes about Savage’s sexual prowess. Liz doesn’t think Savage is over her because she left him. The only good thing about Savage was his checkbook but Eric has an even bigger one.

We see Savage and Piper hitting each other on Nitro.

Disciple/Giant vs. Randy Savage/Lex Luger

We have about four minutes of TV time left. The brawl is on quickly with no tagging at all of course. Giant clotheslines Disciple down by mistake but Eric pops up and says come get Liz if you want her. Savage goes after him but Bret and Hogan pop out of the limo for the big beatdown. 

Nash comes in but Giant takes him out, allowing Hart and Hogan to destroy Randy as the show ends.

Overall Rating: B. This might have been the best show in the entire series so far. We had an awesome twenty minute match with Benoit vs. Booker and another solid one in Juvy vs. Kidman, meaning this was about 400% better than Nitro in the wrestling department. On top of that they toned the NWO stuff WAY down and actually advanced stories other than the tag match on Sunday. Good show here and something WCW was really needing.

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