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But things weren't all that rosy. In two months time they'd be launching a new weekly live television show – now christened "Thunder" - but they still didn't really have a plan for it. Then on again, off again idea of having an NWO show and a WCW show was back on again, at least for a while, even if nobody seemed to have any idea of the specifics. Their television product, you may be surprised to find out, was almost shockingly boring at this stage in time. They were lucky in the sense they had momentum, even if they weren't showing it. Oh, and they also had Bret Hart.
After Vince McMahon got cold feet over Hart's 20-year contract, he told Bret to resume contact with Eric Bischoff – who nearly signed him 12 months prior. WCW were absolutely game to sign him on both occasions – despite the fact Bret would completely annex WCW's pay hierarchy – he was too big a name to baulk at. And with a new television show coming along in a couple of months time. WCW made the deal, Bret got "screwed" at Survivor Series, and WCW did a bad job announcing his arrival – Eric Bischoff slipping Bret's name in during a horrible segment on the second week of Nitro. He, Hogan and others no-doubt enjoying Bischoff calling Bret a "knockout-kind of guy" too.
That really was about it on the build front. This show had very little in the way of anything going into it – Hogan, Sting and Piper were all off the card, Kevin Nash was injured (kiboshing a match with Giant that in theory would be rearranged for Starrcade) and everyone else of note was kind of bundled into the main event.
Glacier and Ernest Miller vs Meng and Barbarian (w/ Jimmy Hart)
Not for the last time tonight, a completely cold match going in. Glacier and Miller just haven't worked and, while the announcers insist on telling us how tough Meng is, he rarely gets to show it. Still, Meng and the Barbarian are two absolute powerhouses, and the best spot of this match is a backdrop from Meng where Barbarian catches the falling Glacier and lifts him into position for a powerbomb. The match kinda peaked there, Meng puts the Tongan death grip on Miller and ends up pinning him. Perfectly passable but entirely forgettable.
Disco Inferno vs Perry Saturn (w/ Raven) for the WCW Television Title
There was interesting side-bar to Saturn’s first WCW pay-per-view match, that was the accusation either directly or indirectly from Taz that Saturn was copying his style in WCW. How much of a case Taz might have had is an interesting one – Saturn certainly was wrestling a style different to that which he’d done in ECW, including a lot more suplexes. But Taz didn’t invent the suplex and, in fairness to Saturn, he’d been working with a pretty serious knee injury which may have grounded any thoughts of doing a more aerial based offense.
That little story aside, there was very little to this match. Disco is good in the right spots (see against Dean Malenko and his match with Jacquelyn last month), but here he was cold with another pretty cold act. Disco does at least whip out a “Chartbuster” (his version of the stunner) on Billy Kidman but an attempt to hit one on Van Hammer falls flat. Saturn gets him in the Rings of Saturn to win the WCW TV Title.
Yuji Nagata (w/ Sonny Ono) vs Ultimo Dragon
Maybe this was just a night where everyone was off – not for the last time tonight this was a match between two guys who we’d seen better of form before. Lots of kicks from both, particularly Nagata who’s going after Dragon’s arm that still isn’t 100% yet following surgery. After the kicks stop we reach the conclusion of the match: Nagata passes out in the Dragon sleeper, only for the ref to be distracted by Ono. Dragon then pins Nagata after a frankinsteiner from the top, but this time Ono puts his foot on the ropes. Dragon then uses Nagata to knock Ono off the apron, but as Dragon falls back Nagata falls into a pinning position. The referee counts four (because, at this point, fuck it) and Nagata wins. A bizarre finishing sequence, the wrong guy went over and their match last month was better. But apart from that…
The Blue Bloods (Steve Regal and Dave Taylor) vs The Steiner Brothers (Rick and Scott w/ Ted DiBiase) for the WCW Tag Team Titles
A televised squash match basically. Still we’ve complained before about tag matches with endless shitty finishes so I shouldn’t make too much of it. Scott plays the face in peril, briefly, then tags in Rick, they hit their tag team bulldog from the top and pick up the win.
Scotty Riggs vs Raven (w/ Saturn, Kidman etc…)
Riggs is wrestling an eye patch… I think many of the audience wished they were wearing two for most of this show. Riggs dominates much of the match, including bulldogging Raven onto a chair. Eventually Raven just stops selling, grabs a microphone and says “Why didn’t you listen to me? I feel your pain”, before putting Riggs out with a pair of DDTs and winning via a standing ten count.
Steve McMichael vs Goldberg
Well, more the shame it wasn’t really. Goldberg was carry a minor injury so they wrote him off via an unaired pre-match attack. Debra drags Alex Wright out for a match which is… not good. Mongo takes down Wright when a couple of shoulder tackles then hits a tombstone piledriver and wins the match. Meh.
Rey Mysterio Jr vs Eddie Guerrero for the WCW Cruiserweight Title
Again, another match where we’ve seen better. I mean, sure, this was the best match of the night and still undoubtedly really good just not… that good. The action is there, and the crowd are for the most part too as Mysterio hits a running senton splash to the floor and a spinning moonsault from the top. After some more serious action Guerrero hits a frog splash from the top for a three count.
Curt Hennig vs Ric Flair in a No DQ match for the WCW United States Title
The third match of the evening you feel we may have seen a better version of previously, except this one was underscored by the realisation that both guys may simply have lost it. They brawl into the crowd and around the trio of rings, but the crowd aren’t really invested. Both men begin to tire but still little of note is happening as they do some ECW-style guardrail work. The biggest pop of the match is probably Flair wrapping a chair around Hennig’s leg and bouncing it up and down. Flair locks in a figure four, Hennig knocks him silly with the title belt and wins the match.
Scott Hall, The Giant, Chris Adams, Brad Armstrong, Buff Bagwell, The Barbarian, Chris Benoit, Bobby Blaze, Booker T, Ciclope, Damien, El Dandy, Barry Darsow, Disco Inferno, Jim Duggan, Fit Finlay, Héctor Garza, Glacier, Johnny Grunge, Juventud Guerrera, Chavo Guerrero Jr., Eddie Guerrero, Curt Hennig, Prince Iaukea, Chris Jericho, Lizmark Jr., Lex Luger, Dean Malenko, Steve McMichael, Meng, Ernest Miller, Rey Misterio Jr., Hugh Morrus, Mortis, Yuji Nagata, John Nord, Diamond Dallas Page, La Parka, Lord Steven Regal, The Renegade, Rocco Rock, Randy Savage, Silver King, Norman Smiley, Louie Spicolli, Rick Steiner, Scott Steiner, Stevie Ray, Super Caló, Squire David Taylor, Ray Traylor, Último Dragón, Greg Valentine, Villano IV, Villano V, Kendall Windham, Wrath, Alex Wright and Hollywood Hogan in a 60-man, three-ring battle royal for a WCW title shot
There was less of the three-way split screen nonsense that traditionally renders this match a non-event, so WCW did it a different way just with 20 minutes of almost no action. We get down to the final ten and, unlike the preposterous situation last yearwhere WCW attacked themselves before going after the NWO, at least this time it feels like a somewhat fair fight.
We get down a final seven of Bagwell, Hall, Savage and Hennig against Giant Page and Luger. After Giant deals with Bagwell and Hennig and Luger take each other out it’s left to Giant and Page against Hall and Savage. Page smashes Savage with a Diamond cutter for a huge pop, only for Giant to stop Page eliminating him – waiting for a chokeslam to do the job himself.
Hall gestures to the aisleway, presumably to unveil the 60th man (who should be Kevin Nash) but it’s actually Hulk Hogan, inserting himself into a match where the winner would go on to face the WCW Champion in February 1998. The WCW Champion at the time, of course, was also Hogan – leaving us the tantalising prospect of Hogan having to decide who’d go over in a match between himself… and himself.
Still, that’s not the plan. Hogan bodyslam’s Giant, and then eliminates Page. A suspiciously tall and long haired Sting rappels down from the rafters – Hogan eliminates himself out of fear then Sting hits Giant with the baseball bat, eliminating Giant and leaving the winner to be Scott Hall. Sting takes his mask off and (shock-horror) it’s Kevin Nash. All that’s left is for Hogan to hit a shockingly-decent Diamond Cutter on Dallas Page as we go off the air.
Score Rating: 2/10
Go Back and Watch: The final 5-10 minutes of the main event are interesting… but you can skip this entire show if you want. There’s nothing here on the “I really need to get the down-low in the lead up to Starrcade” territory at all.