Intro/What the Heck?!
Ahhh, Thunder. There was a time, circa March 1998, when I absolutely loved this show. Nitro on Mondays, then Thunder on Thursdays. Can't tell you how often that would get me through the work week. No secret that I was a huge WWF fanboy from 1987 to 1992, but from 1996 to 2000, I had done a 180 and became a huge WCW fan. I thought of their weekly shows as "mini PPVs" and I remember thinking to myself: "I should tape these, I may miss them someday". That day apparently arrvived in December, 2013, as I began thinking about the "good ol' days" of the late 90's, with wrestling on TBS and TNT. Fortunately, I never actually taped anything, but we've got the Youtubing to help us.
This episode is fresh on the tails of Starrcade 1999, when Bret Hart beat (Bill) Goldberg for the WCW Title in a match of mutual respect. "The Powers That Be" were also running wild in WCW, making it look like a watered-down version of WWF "Attitude" silliness. Or maybe it was their own little inside joke to make WCW a WWF satire? But with so much going on in World Championship Wrestling, let's get down to ringside for..
A video recap! It's all about WCW Commissioner Roddy Piper's issues with "The Powers That Be" and how he felt he "sold out" and unintentionally hindered the best interests of Goldberg and Bret "the Hitman" Hart. But then the whole thing turns out to be a BIG SWERVE, as Hart was really in cahoots with Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and even Jeff Jarret... who all pulled together and formed the NEW nWo on Nitro, just three days earlier. Officially garbed in silver and black, they were known as "nWo 200", after rallying to the cry of "Getting the Band Back Together". We open the show at ...ummm, some arena, in Salisbury, Maryland for our LIVE action. Out comes the nWo, consisting of WCW World Champion Bret Hart, WCW United States Champion Jeff Jarrett and WCW World Tag Team Champions, the Outsiders (Hall and Nash). Holy Horsemen '88! 'Dey got all da' gold!
Hart leads them to the ring, then takes the mic to run down the fans. He narrates video highlights of the past 2 months and how the nWo put one over on everybody. We get clips of Hart winning the World Title from "Bill Goldberg" and the short-lived alliance (and tag title reign) they had. Also some clips of how Hart pretended to be Chris Benoit's buddy, bonding over their Canadian/Stampede heritage. I'd say there's about 15 different segments to this nWo compilation tape, so spare me for not detailing EVERY little tidbit. As they get to Hart beating Goldberg for the strap, Hart says: "this was better than Shawn Michaels". Ooooh! It's a shoot! Hall and Nash get the stick and call the fans "gullible and stupid" for following them. Hall takes over...and we get about 30 seconds of crowd shots and noise, so I'm guessing he was censored. The crowd seems to really despise these guys, but it could be the long-winded interview and how the return of the nWo was sorta' "here we go again, just when we thought it was dead and buried". Jeff Jarret finally gets his turn, calling the fans "Slapnuts" then re-iterating that he's the "chosen one".
But wait, what's this?! On the entry ramp, it's Goldberg! He warns the nWo that he'll hunt them down, one-by-one, rip their hearts out shove them down their damn throats! It won't be "who's next", it'll be "who's left". You can tell he's mad because he drops the mic and storms off (while his music plays)!
Cut to the announcing table where we have our host Mike Tenay, along with Scott Hudson and; filling in for Juventud Guerrara; it's Tony Schiavone. They run down tonight's card and highlight our Main Event-- Bret Hart defending the WCW title against "The Crippler" Chris Benoit! But hey, backstage, the Varsity's Club Leia Meow is stretching...and almost falling out of her top. She's next on Thunder!
Back from the break, Tenay accurately tells us that "a couple of big guys on motorcycles" have entered the bowels of the arena... in case we couldn't see what was on the screen. Plus, "Mean" Gene Okerlund is backstage with Chris Benoit, who's sporting a big gash across the bridge of his nose. Benoit earned tonight's World Title shot by winning a 3-way bout at the Mayhem PPV in November. Benoit says that he believes in being true to himself, and is angry that Bret Hart hasn't done that. He even mentions his lineage of "growing up very close to the Hart family" and how Bret has "ripped his heart out"...so tonight, he's going to rip Hart's out.
Another clip of those mysterious bikers, walking around backstage.
Time for some more clips! David Flair and Daffney freak out at a fast food drive-through. Over to the ruined office of the "Powers That Be" and the still un-seen "Boss" (Vince Russo), hanging out with Curt Hennig. "Boss" brags about how he had to use La Parka, Shane (Virgil/Vince) and those "two other big goofs" to set-up this nWo thing. Hennig agrees, but then gets knocked off the set by those two bikers---they remove their helmets and it's Don and Ron Harris, aka Creative Control. They threaten Russo and walk out. Umm, I guess it's a face turn?
The Filthy Animals (Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, Billy Kidman & Konnan) hit the ring with "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan in tow. We often forget, but Rey is unmasked and on crutches at this point. Eddie (in a FUBU jersey) gets the mic and says the Filthy Animals are all Americans. I'm sure that irks Hacksaw on some level. Each Animal gets the mic to run-down the Revolution. In what many consider the nadir of Rey Mysterio's career, he says "we'll f*ck you like the dogs you are" and begins thursting. Hacksaw has some fun with it, saying he won't use the "salty language" the Animals used, but he promises to make the Revolution his personal... comical pause... "hoooooooo" as he winks to the camera. That brings the Revolution out on the entrance ramp (Shane Doulgas, Perry Saturn, Dean Malenko ans Asya). They were supposed to be militant separatists of some sort, so Malenko demands that everyone salute the flag of the Revolution. Saturn does some free-assocation, asking "how many times will Fred Flintstone flip his car before he realizes that rack of ribs is just too big?" Tony works it into a plug for Cartoon Network. Doulgas says he'll get Hacksaw to denounce the USA and that the Animals are a buncha' low-lifes. He gets a shot at paying taxes and welfare programs...then rambles on some more.
Backstage the Russo-Hands pump up Curt Hennig to take on Creative Control. Russo says he'll be vacting the "office" and doing things from his private limo. Okay, this is another of those Logic in Wrestling things, but they played up that the "office" was the same location...no matter WHERE the show took place from. Don't roll your eyes, as the WWF pulled this same kind of junk with their various "offices". Remember William Regal getting teary-eyed because he had to pack up his "office"? The same junk he had been packig and moving around the country for the past six months?!!
"Screamin'" Norman Smiley is cowering, backsatge, when Goldberg walks by.
A clip of The Artists and Paisley in the studio. The producers say this doesn't make sense. They've got a point.
Jeff Jarrett finds a note to meet in the office of the "Powers That Be". He shows up, but it's all a set-up from Goldberg. He chokes Jarrett and asks him to deliver a message to Bret Hart: he'll rip his heart out, then eat it. Sheesh...nice continuity. Half an hour ago you want to shove their hearts down their "damn throats", but now you've reconsidered and want to simply eat it? No throat shoving? Get your threats right! Either way, it's very Mike Tyson-ish.
Back from break, as the Harris Boys are being stretchered out into an ambulance.
"Mean" Gene is backstage with "Diamond" Dallas Page and asks him about the rumors of his wife Kimberly hanging around with Buff Bagwell. DDP annoyingly points out some FACTS and says he won't wrestle until he gets a match against Bagwell. But...but... you're scheduled to face The Wall tonight! DPP/Bagwell was another angle that I don't think went very far.
Video recap of Evan Karagias and his Wimmen Trubbles; involving Madusa, Spice (!), and the Cruiserweight title. Also features an appearance by "AMWAY Salesman" Chavo Guerrero, Jr. That's a gimmick I had completely forgotten about.
Back to the arena, where Karagias introduces his new buddies, Shannon Moore and Shane Helms. "Don't call us The Backstreet Boys. Don't call us N-SYNCH. Call us Three Count. And fellas, we're gonna charm the pants off your girlfriends...and drop them like the skannks they are. Hit the music!" As they dance in the ring, we also get their music video for "I Can't Get You Out of My Heart". It's actually kinda' funny. It all ends when Chavo Guerrero hits the ring and takes them out with some sweet drop-kicks.
More with David Flair and Daffney. They arrive at a gas station, where they meet an attendant named...dun-dun-dun... Crowbar! Weird, because a full service gas station attendant was a rarity, even in 1999. Vampiro and the Misfits show up to attack Flair. Crowbar makes the save with his ...lead pipe. But I guess "Lead Pipe" doesn't sound as menacing as "Crowbar".
We come back from commercials, as The Wall is refusing to be loaded into an ambulance. He hops off the gurney, overtunrs and starts throwing shit around. Meanwhile, Hall and Nash are in the shower. Hall wanders off into another room and accidentally bumps into Goldberg. Cut back to Nash, getting all lathered up in the shower. Thankfully, we only see from the waist up, but it once agains brings up the overal stupidity of the backstage camera. Goldberg wanders in to watch. Right as Nash turns around to see Goldberg, the production crew tries to go for a Hitchcock "Psycho" effect: we get jump-cuts of Hall laying atop a broken table, then Nash's arm laying across the shower drain as soapy water runs off.
Goldberg chases Hart to the back, but he escapes in a limo. The limo of the "Powers That Be" is still there, so Goldberg starts punching out windows with his hands. On about the fifth smash, we've got a bleeder, as Goldberg cuts open his right arm. He's visibly shaken by it, but keeps thumping away. He thumps the hood and can see a big ol' puddle of blood as the show closes. This exact moment is when things went south (even more) for WCW. Goldberg came dangerously close to cutting open an artery and was sidelined for a lengthy spell. Hart had received a concussion from Goldberg at their Starrcade match and his symptoms persisted, sending him to the sidelines (and eventual retirement) as well. What was supposed to be a rematch for the WCW Championship at January's Souled Out PPV never took place. Sometimes you can save a main event fued when one guy is unavaiable, but when BOTH guys go out?! Add to the pile: both Jarrett and Hall sustained injuries in the next week or so, forcing them to vacate their respective championships. In less than 2 weeks, the nWo was down to one person: Kevin Nash. They added the returning Scott Steiner to the mix, but it was too late. This version of the nWo ended up being little more than a footnote in the careers of everyone involved.
Why'd You Watch This?
Having the nWo reform AGAIN was tired, yet strip away the wrapping and it's pretty decent. A stable of top-level bad guys (all former WWF guys, once again), who schemed their way to all the gold. I remember rolling my eyes when this nWo was formed a few days earlier on Nitro, but the underlying plot seemed intriguing, considering who was involved. Goldberg and Chris Benoit, plus don't count out Roddy Piper. You could even throw in The Wall and the Harris Boys as canon fodder opponents. This was the "big push" for Benoit that fans had been clamoring for. Say what you want about him, but Goldberg was still massively over at this time. It really was too bad the angle fizzled out. This completely messed up WCW's plans and led to all sorts of backstage bickering and re-alignments in January 2000. That month is probably what really killed WCW.
Yes, the nWo angle dominated this show, but the actual matches are terrible. The only matches that were longer than two minutes were Filthy Animals/Revolution and Hart/Benoit. Those two each lasted less than five minutes, though. Add in the silly Magic Camera always knowing when and where to be, the non-stop clips, "The Powers That Be", over 20 minutes of in-ring promos... watching this show is akin to passing a kidney stone. Truly a December event to Not Remember.