Written by: Kevin Kildenberger
Really it doesn’t matter about the angles etc as this is it. The last true WCW show. Many say that Thunder was a mistake as WCW had 5 hours of programming each week and that doesn’t include Saturday Night. But in 1998 WCW was at its apex and so it made sense. But unfortunately Thunder became second tier. Not much happened on it for long stretches of time. Most of it was filler and while there were good matches here and there it didn’t really live up to its promise after the first few months. It should have been used as a breeding ground to use the Cruiserweights, build up the midcard and the Luchas. From time to time it did that, but more often than not it was just….there. They missed an opportunity and I believe by not making Thunder what it should have been it hurt the company. Things improved in 2000 when Russo attempted to make Thunder an extension of Nitro, but the product just wasn’t that good. But throughout the final year there were some really good Thunder shows. In fact there were many good Thunder shows but when a lot of your wrestlers only have to appear a certain amount of dates you are going to run into issues. While, Thunder would obviously never be the “A” show and it did advance the angles….It still should have been used far better than it was. Overall I would grade Thunder an average “C” as what could have been a great wrestling show turned into something that was barely average at best. Ultimately I don’t blame Turner and WCW for airing the show as it brought in more revenue and WCW was making money hand over fist at the time. Bischoff whines about wrestling burn out for viewers but had the product been good then they would have tuned in and there were times when Thunder did just fine in the ratings and in the end nearly equaled Nitro in the ratings but by then it was too late despite the improvements made.
Match 1: Air Raid v. Jung Dragons
Back and forth match so far for the first seven minutes. Yang and Styles are in Yang launches him straight up but Paris though comes in and dumps him face first and gets two. Now Yang spikes Paris but AJ makes the save. Styles hammers him but off the missilekick attempt he is dropkicked. They battle for the next minute or two hammering each other. But Dragons get the win.
*** Fun match.
Dustin Rhodes comes out and talks about Flair kissing a donkey’s ass. Basically he is rambling. He brings out Chapstick and Scope, and offers him a room at the Holiday Inn if he gets close to the animal. Flair is on the screen and pissed. He is CEO and 14 time champ. He will make life miserable for Rhodes and this isn’t funny. Flair is the Ruth of wrestling. He is serious and Rhodes will be in the main event against one of the best technicians in wrestling…JJ. Really? That’s funny. He is also going against one of the biggest guys who has hurt more people in the last year like Sting and that is Steiner and he is in a bad mood. Also, Rick Steiner. Flair is going to have a heart-a-stroke. Rhodes’ response is quite droll and he has not walked from a fight. Rhodes shows the Horsemen signal and for him it means “Kiss his Ass.” Flair is livid.
Match 2: Jason Jett v. Kash
Kid Kash! Looks completely different! Skinny. NO Roids yet.
They are tearing it up. Some ECW chants as Kash flips over the top rope into Jett. He rolls him back in and gets two. Kash chops him up but is sent into the ropes. Jett is sent to the apron but Jett flips back in and right into a clothesline. Standing moonsault and he gets two. Jett works him over. Kash goes up top and strikes with a big lariat. He is slow to cover and only gets two. They battle and continue to fly around the ring. Kash jumps up to the second rope and then crashes into Jett and he gets yet another near fall. Kash though rolls him up for two and now Kash returns the favor. Jett springs into the ropes striking with a back elbow. Kash hauls him up and spins him down into the mat with alacrity. But Jett gets the shoulder up. He jumps to the middle rope and off right into a boot and Jett finishes him off.
***1/2 Excellent spotfest but it was non-stop action.
Smooth, Cat and Jones are discussing Kanyon and calling Momma’s.
Match 3: Kanyon v. Cat
This was a tag match with Smooth and Animal. It was about 8 minutes. Nothing great. Smooth pins Kanyon.
Here comes Rick Steiner.
Match 4: Rick Steiner v. Hugh Morrus
Steiner wastes no time and attacks Morrus. He beats him in the ring, on the floor and back in the ring. He gets two and keeps after him, hammering away. He goes up and spikes him with his bulldog finisher. But he is slow to cover and Morrus gets his foot on the ropes. Steiner punches away, slams him for another near fall. Now Morrus takes command, runs him over a couple of times and then suplexes him for two. Steiner snaps and uses a chair. Ref lets it go as Morrus gets his brains bashed in. Steiner calls out Shane Douglas who obliges by coming down and he gets pummeled until he knocks Steiner back with his cast and right into a suplex courtesy of Hugh and he wins.
**1/2 Okay brawl.
Douglas has a promo shown where he takes an hour to challenge Rick Steiner on Nitro and knocks Flair in the process.
Match 5: Kid Romeo and Skipper and Chavo v. Filthy Animals and Shane Helms
Romeo is thrusting his hips a la Ricky Martin.
Everyone has gotten in and so far it has been pretty good with them flying around the ring. A few minutes in, Romeo is keeping Rey grounded and then flings him into the corner. Rey is whipped into the other corner but gets the boot up and then plants him with a spinning DDT. Both men are down. Match breaks down as all six go at it. They fly around, and Kidman is swung into Chavo and Rey lands on him with a Bronco Buster. Skipper sends Rey to the apron but then gets scissored over the top rope. Helms has Romeo tied up but Chavo saves him and then both he and Helms clothesline each other over the top rope. Kidman then finishes off Kid.
*** Fun back and forth match.
Match 6: Chuck Palumbo (c) v. Mike Awesome
A straight up brawl so far with both getting in blows. Awesome punches him to the floor and goes out after him. Awesome batters him with punch after punch and then flings him into the steps. Awesome keeps after him. They fight back into the ring where Palumbo takes charge. He knocks him around, goes up top and flies into him. After the two count he strikes with a running bulldog. Palumbo sandwiches him in the corner but off the whip to the other corner Awesome flies back into him with an elbow. Awesome whips him down by his legs and gets two. Palumbo fights off the Bomb and now Haire and Storm have come out and the ref lets it go as they get involved. Palumbo powerslams Awesome as he leaps from the top. Palumbo pulls off from the pin but then kicks him in the skull and finishes him off.
*** Odd ending. But a good brawl.
Match 7: Scott Steiner (c) and Jeff Jarrett v. Dustin Rhodes
Steiner is calling out Booker To for Nitro and it will be his last match in WCW (well, that part is true) and it may be his last match ever.
Steiner takes it to Rhodes. Push up time. Eventually Dustin fights back and gets in a few moves but he is overwhelmed. Steiner pins him.
Recliner is still applied and here comes Booker T and he kicks some ass.
***** Because I fucking can. It really was a good show and a damn shame they didn’t do this more often, focus on the wrestling and not the shitty angles and half-assed wrestlers like High Voltage or Lenny and Lodi. Better late than never but Thunder has been better than Nitro the past couple of weeks and it is bittersweet seeing it go.
They show the Thunder crew sitting on the stage with graphic saying: Thanks. They pretty much knew this wasn’t the season ender like they stated but truly the end.
34-year-old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Long-time fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls, and Minnesota Vikings. An avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on old-school wrestling.