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WCW Thunder - March 21, 2001
by Erick Von Erich
Intro/What the Heck?!
Inspired by my esteemed colleague and longtime close personal friend, Scrooge, recapping the FINAL Nitro, I decided to check out the final Thunder. I had fond memories of the final Nitro, live, and after reading up on and re-visiting the footage, I have to say that my memories of that show did NOT hold up well. I had never seen the final Thunder installment; live or in flashback; until now, so I'm curious how it'll shake out.
At this point, Thunder had moved from its original Thursday spot to Wednesdays. Probably due to Smackdown airing on Thursdays. We get a video recap of the shenanigans on Nitro, where Dusty and Dustin Rhodes got Ric and Jeff Jarrett to "kiss Dusty's Ass", an actual jackass with those words printed on its backside. Booker T also attacked Scott Steiner at a contract signing and everybody's psyched up due to a PHONE CALL from Eric Bischoff, which sent out an open invite to all former WCW champions for next Monday night! Tony Schiavone and Mike Tenay are our hosts, amid a show-opening load of pyro for the "season finale" of Thunder! But with so much going on in World Championship Wrestling, let's get down to ringside for..
Air Raid vs. Jung Dragons
Air Styles & Air Paris vs. Kaz Hayashi & Yang
Tenay launches into information overload mode by telling us all about the Crusierweight Tag Division. Yeah, that's TNA legend AJ Styles along with Air Paris who, umm, err... tagged with AJ at this time. Schiavone throws a bone to Paris and Styles, complimenting their impressive performances on the independent circuit. Styles back-flips out of an arm-bar from Yang and gets a waistlock takedown. Yang does some pretty cool roll-ups for a series of two counts. Somewhat awkward move as Styles tries to flip over on Yang and delivers a flying head-scissors. Styles charges into the corner, but Yang kills him with a snap belly-to-belly overhead suplex! Things get a litte choreographed as both Paris and Styles double-up on Yang, then conveniently fall down, side-by-side, so Kaz can land a springboard moonsault. Kaz goes for a Frankensteiner, but Styles counters into the as-yet-unnamed Styles Clash for 2. Paris hits a reverse body-press from the top, but Kaz counters into a head-scissors. Yang taks over with some basic offense, then walks into a cheapshot kick from Styles and a DDT from Paris. Doubel-team drop toehold from Paris and somersault senton from Styles score 2. They hit their double-team "Crash and Burn" manuever (a double face-first flapjack), but Kaz makes the save. Yang gets clubbered with 10 elevated punches, but turns it into a powerbomb on Paris. Both guys are down, yet Paris makes one of the more "intelligent" moves around, by using the ropes to pull himself to his partner's corner. Kaz tries to do his Tajiri impression by kicking both guys, then wanders into a face-first death valley driver from Paris. Yang with a cradle brain-buster suplex on Paris, but Styles makes the save. Raiders try some sort of double-team suplex/powerbomb top-rope move, but the cameras cut away to the audience. Double-team powerbomb on Kaz, then Yang drags Paris out to the floor for a seated tombstone piledriver/"Nail in the Coffin". In the ring, Kaz finally pins Styles after a flying reverse bulldog. Decent match, but Yang was defintely the star.
Back from commercials, Dustin Rhodes heads to the ring with a mic and duffle bag. He narrates a clip of the "ass kissing", again, then runs down Ric Flair and Jeff Jarrett. He reaches into his bag to bring out a small sign done up as "Pin the Naitch on the Jackass", along with chapstick, mouthwash and a hotel room key. Before we can do anymore of this lame juvenile prop comedy, Ric Flair appears on the jumbotron to talk some Fightin' Words. As CEO, he switches up Dustin's upcoming match, booking him in a handicap match against Jeff Jarrett and Scott Steiner. Dustin accepts and holds up four fingers... but instead of the Four Horsmen, he clarifies it as "Kiss. My. Daddy's. Ass". Very "WWE Attitude"-ish promo, as it was just Dustin giggling over saying "ass" and beating a dead...err, jackass.
Jason Jett vs. Cash
Two recently-arrived former ECW guys and the crowd picks up on it. Non-stop flips, armdrags and counters to start, until Cash simply chucks Jett over the top rope. Cash jumps over with a hurracanrana, sending Jett under the safety rail. Teny and Schiavone talk about Cash being trained by Ricky Morton. Back inside, Cash tries a springboard move, but gets blasted with a drop-kick from Jett. Jett hooks his "pendulum" move, sort of a cross between a Boston Crab and a surfboard. Jett gets tossed outside, again, and this time Cash lands a somersault plancha from the top turnbuckle to some "E-C-Dub" chants. Cash rolls him in for 2.9 count. To the arpon, allowing Jett to flip-in and deliver a clothesline. Standing moonsault from Jett for 2. Cash comes off the top with a clothesline, while Jett somersaults across the ring. Cash hooks a more traditional "octopus" version of the abdominal stretch, then a somersault from the top for 2. Cash tries a sunset flip, but it gets turned into an upside-down piledriver from Jett (with Cash foolishly wrapping his arms around Jett's legs). Cash is quickly off the top with another hurracanrana for 2. Handstand springboard back elbow from Jett and a double-underhook powerbomb from Cash. Jett finally gets his "Crash Landing" front-release suplex to score the pin. He's now 4-0! I'll say this was slightly less-than-average, simply because Jett's flippy moves didn't seem organic and had to be set-up by his opponent. The fan consensus was that, had WCW continued, Jett's push would've continued to at least a Cruiserweight Championship match.
Meineke Discount Mufflers (and George Foreman) are our sponsors! Backstage, Ric Flair is talking to Rick Steiner, about the history of WCW and the Steiners. Over to another backstage area, where Ernest "The Cat" Miller and Ms. Jones are pumping up M.I. Smooth.
Kanyon & Road Warrior Animal vs. M.I. Smooth & Ernest "The Cat" Miller (w/ Ms. Jones)
So, umm, these sides have basically been beating each other up for awhile. There's your plot recap. I never really cared for The Cat in the ring, but his James Brown wannabe entrance music absolutely rules. Oh, and Animal has a variation of his traditional "Iron Man" entrance music, which is always awesome. Kanyon and Cat go into some opening criss-cross (JUMP! JUMP) action, with a very choreographed spot for Cat to do a reverse spin kick. Kanyon keeps playing punching bag for Cat, getting a foot to the mush for 2. Tag-off to Animal and Smooth. Smooth no-sells Animal's offense, until a shoulderblock sends him to the mat. They try to double-team Animal's arm, but he shrugs off the Cat and powerslams him. Cat comes back with about 37 kicks, but Kanyon makes a save. Animal catches Cat on the top corner and plants him, tagging in Kanyon for a series of elbowdrops. Spinning neckbreaker into a cradle from Kanyon gets 2. Big boot from Animal for another 2. Kanyimal tag in and out, trying to put Cat away. Kanyon sets up for a top rope leg-drop on Cat's neck, but it's countered into a feline powerbomb. Instead of tagging, Cat dances and kicks again. Smooth comes in to clothesline and slam Kanyon for 2. Cat and Animal fight on the outside. Cat grabs the camera cord and uses it to reach in and trip Kanyon. Smooth with a splash off the ropes and that scores the 3.
Hugh Morrus (w/Konan)vs. Rick Steiner
Huh, here's a crew I didn't know about: Konan & Morrus were buddies. They were the unofficial captains of "Team WCW" against Ric Flair and his "Magnificent Seven", of which Steiner is a member. Basic power-guy brawl that quickly spills outside where Morrus hits a post. Steiner rolls him back in for a modified Samoan drop and a legdrop for 2. Bulldog off the top! Morrus gets his leg on the bottom rope to stop the cover. Morrus makes his big comeback with... a clothesline. Spinning heelkick (or thigh kick) gets 2 for Morrus. Avalanche into the corner, then Steiner pulls referee Mickey Jay in front of him to prevent another. Low-blow from Steiner, then he's outside to bring a chair in. He smacks Morrus in the back, right in front of the ref, but things continue. He traps Morrus' arm in the chair, then gets the house mic to call out Shane Douglas. Douglas wanders down to ringside, where Steiner attacks him and throws him into the ring. Douglas smacks Steiner with his cast, then Morrus follows up with a belly-to-back suplex to score the pin. Kind of a mess and completely forgettable. Douglas hands a Mysterious Video Tape to ring announcer Dave Penzer before leaving.
Commercial-of-note has "Macho Man" Randy Savage in a padded cell, ripping out of his straightjacket to "Snap into a Slim Jim"! Pretty sure we hadn't seen Savage on WCW TV, proper, in almost a year.
The Mysterious Video Tape airs. It's just Shane Douglas challenging Rick Steiner at the final Nitro in Panama City. Well, that didn't happen.
"Primetime" Elix Skipper, Kid Romeo & Chavo Guerrero, Jr. vs. Rey Mysterio, Jr., Billy Kidman & "Sugar" Shane Helms
Separate entrances for all, as Helms is danced to the ring with his "Sugarbabies" dance troupe. Rey has a decorative half-mask for his entrance, which he quickly removes. I forget: didn't Rey get into some hot water with CMLL and AAA for suddenly re-appearing down there, later in the year, with his mask intact as if had never lost it? Match begins as Chavo ducks n' dodges Kidman, delivering a head-scissors takedown. Helms comes in for a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, but gets distracted by Skipper. Romeo lands on his feet after a Helms monkeyflip, but stops to dance and gets a "Sugar Smack" to his mush. Romeo comes back with his wheelbarrow into a bulldog for 2. Samoan drop from Helms, then tag to Rey who springs in from the top rope with a legdrop. Skipper does his own springboard move from the top rope, catching Rey with a flying clothesline. Skipper gets sent outside, which allows Rey to hit his signature flaying somersault Thesz-press up into the aisle. Chavo then sneaks in with a flying shoulderblock, through the ropes, onto Rey. Next up is Hemls with a crossbody press from the top turnbuckle onto Chavo. Kidman's last, hitting the heels with a bodypress. So nice of the heels to catch him like that. Rey returns to the ring with a springboard from the top rope onto Skipper for 2. Skipper puts him down with a full-nelson suplex, then all three stomp away. Gory Guerrero special from Chavo, but Kidman saves. Romeo's in to deliver a double under-hook face-first suplex. 6-way-fisticuffs ensue, with Rey getting the best spots. It ends up with Romeo trying to apply his "Last Kiss" finisher on Kidman. Kidman counters it into his own finisher, the "Kid Krusher" and scores the 3. This felt like watching an episode of (NWA) TNA, circa 2003-2005.
WCW Mastercard commercial with Buff Bagwell. Call now and apply! Wonder how much longer that lasted? Back from the break, we get a promo from the WCW Tag Team Champions, Chuck Palumbo and Sean O' Haire, targetting Team Canada: Lance Storm and Mike Awesome. Palumbo and O'Haire had kinda' settled into a no frills/bad dudes team. I was kinda' bummed when they were the victims of a massive beatdown from the ENTIRE WWF locker in the Invasion storyline.
Chuck Palumbo vs. Mike Awesome
The usual "roadblock match", splitting up the tag team feud into a singles match. They trade forearm shots, then hit the ropes and Palumbo delivers a gut-wrench suplex. We can quickly hear mild chants of "U-S-A". Awesome targets the lowerback, then sends Palumbo over the top with a clothesline. Awesome with a springboard flying clothesline into the aisle. Awesome dominates, back in the ring, until a lack of concentration allows a quick roll-up for 2. More Awesome pounding, even a seated Camel Clutch. Time to plug Nitro, as Tenay begins speculating over which former champions will show up. I can imagine a backstage scene where former champs like Prince Iaukea, Evan Karagias, Stevie Ray, Mongo McMichael and Public Enemy are all trying to get into Nitro. Such potential, there. Palumbo reverses a whip into the corner and comes up with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex and a big drop-kick. Flying shoulderblock from the top gets 2 for Palumbo. Awesome with a flying reverse elbow, clothesline and a flapjack slam for 2. Awesome wobbles around on the top turnbuckle and misses a splash. Lance Storm runs down to pull Palumbo out and send him into the guard rail. That brings Sean O'Haire down to brawl with Storm in the aisle. Back and forth in the ring with Palumbo and Awesome. Palumbo catches him off the top with a slam, then his "Jungle Kick" to score the 3. Ehh... acceptable midcard stuff, but I would've preferred a higher impact move to score the pin. I get that the "Jungle Kick" was his finisher, but it didn't work well here.
Dustin Rhodes vs. Jeff Jarrett & Scott Steiner (w/Midajah)
The two top dogs of the "Magnificent Seven", out to get revenge for Ric Flair. Jarrett runs down Rhodes on the house mic, then Steiner gets it to threaten Booker T. Quick cut to backstage where Animal enters Flair's dressing room to find that the Nature Boy's been knocked out. Basic tag rules for the heels, as Dustin and Jarrett go at it as the bell rings. Dustin's the agressor, setting up Jarrett for Shattered Dreams, err, The Dust Buster. Steiner blindsides him then whips him in for a --yes--- Steiner-line. Steiner decides to do some push-ups and begins arguing with ref Nick Patrick. T-bone suplex gets 2 for Steiner. They double-team Dusitn in the corner, but miss a doulble clothesline. Crap, even the Bolsheviks could usually hit that. Dustin fights 'em off and begins taking over. Big bulldog on Jarret, but his foot's on the ropes. Midajah slips a lead pipe to Steiner ...and you know what's gonna' happen. Lead pipe smack and then the Steiner Recliner is applied for the submission win. They beat away on Dustin until Booker T runs in to clean house. Hmm...well, I guess that kinda' blew off the Jarrett/Dustin thing and set up Nitro.
Schiavone signs off, one final time, saying "it's been a great ride on Thunder". We get a quick shot of the production crew with "Thanks" across the bottom. The storm has dissipated on the SuperStation. I guess this was the FINAL time pro wrestling was ever shown on WTBS/TBS. Time to start the sitcom re-runs.
Why'd You Watch This?
This was the last "day at the office" for WCW. You can see all their feuds and programs still playing out. Goldberg, Sting, Luger and the other big names had been off TV for awhile, so this was what WCW had to play with. Sure, it all reeks of midcard stuff, but this is the lemonade they were trying to make. Nitro was still a few days away and obviously some stuff changed in that time. The final Nitro worked as a standalone show, which is probably why Flair didn't mention his "Magnificent Seven", while they were frequently brought up on this Thunder broadcast. Of what's presented, the cruiserweights were the most exciting and intriguing, while the rest was the same ol' WCW stuff that was just...there...with nothing new to add. Probably why guys like Steiner, Dustin and Smooth weren't seen for awhile.
This show is slightly better than the average Thunder telecast, but that's not saying much. Unlike the subsequent Nitro, this doesn't really have a hint of finalization to it. It's like the plug was suddenly pulled on a fairly forgettable TV series.
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