Torch Flashbacks WCW FLASHBACK - Launch of Thursday Thunder 15 yrs. ago (01-08-98): Flair vs. Jericho, Nash vs. DDP, Sting stripped of WCW Title, Hart-Flair announced, more
Jan 10, 2013 - 3:32:01 PM
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Fifteen years ago this week, WCW expanded its TV offerings to include "WCW Thunder" TBS. This proved to be one of the first signs of WCW's eventual downfall in the Monday Night Wars.
The first show premiered on January 8, 1998 with the WCW Title held up after the controversial finish to Hulk Hogan vs. Sting at Starrcade '97. The following is PWTorch editor Wade Keller's full report on the very first Thunder published in the PWTorch Newsletter, which is available for VIP members in the 1998 Torch Archives. Not a VIP member? Find out how to subscribe right now by clicking here - PWTorch.com/GoVIP .
WCW Thunder Live
January 8, 1998
Live from Daytona Beach, Fla.
Report by Wade Keller, PWTorch editor
[Q1: 3.2]... The Thunder opening montage begins with a shot of Hulk Hogan posing, followed by brief clips of Sting, Scott Hall, Giant, and Randy Savage, Syxx, and Dallas Page. Always interesting to see who they choose to include on their openings... A Nitro-style fireworks barrage opened the show. The set looked much cheaper than Nitro's... Tony Schiavone, Lee Marshall, and Bobby Heenan introduced the show. Schiavone said Savage was scheduled for the first match, but that he hadn't arrived yet... Five minutes of highlights aired from Nitro regarding the NWO dissension and Nick Lambross's statement. Schiavone said they aired those highlights waiting for Savage to show up. Savage finally did.
(1) Chris Adams pinned Randy Savage (w/Elizabeth) at 2:30. In the end Lex Luger ran to the ring and nailed Savage in the head with a chair. Adams pinned the KO'd Savage...
[Q2: 3.6]... Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff came to the ring together. On his way to the ring Hogan said, "I'm getting my belt back, brother, for life." Upon entering the ring Bischoff said Hogan was still the champion. Hogan said he beat Sting and called the show NWO Thunder. Hogan concluded the interview, "I am here for life"... Mike Tenay interviewed J.J. Dillon, who announced that WCW was attempting to restore order by holding people accountable for their actions, and therefore was reversing the decision of the previous match, making Savage the winner by DQ. Luger said he is sick to his stomach because all of a sudden Dillon is taking action with him, yet hadn't taken action with the NWO's antics for the last year or so. Dillon said he is just doing his job. Really good interview by Luger...
[Q3: 3.9]... (2) Rick Martel beat Louie Spicolli at 3:17 with the Quebec Crab. During the match Raven's Nest walked through the crowd to seats at ringside... Starrcade highlights aired of Giant beating up Scott Hall...
[Q4: 4.3]... (3) Hiroyoshi Tenzan beat Ohara (w/Sonny Onoo) at 2:54. Tenay gave background on the match on commentary...Highlights of the Ric Flair-Bret Hart segment from Nitro aired... The camera caught Lodi holding up a sign: "(Jeff) Katz fears (Mark) Madden," who both work on the WCW hotline and website...
[Q5: 4.1]... (4) Ric Flair beat Chris Jericho via submission at 4:47. Before the match Jericho apologized for being a sniveling, whining baby lately. "The real Chris Jericho is the role model who has influenced each of your lives in a positive way." Excellent delivery by Jericho. Flair feigned a knee injury in order to lull Jericho into being prone for an eye poke. After Flair won with the figure-four, Schiavone called it one of the biggest wins of his career. What? Jericho freaked out afterward, again ripping off Dave Penzer's jacket.
Schiavone said he was about to make the biggest announcement they could ever make. "What would happen if the two biggest stars in the history of our sport locked up -- we're talking about two of the greatest champions of all time locked up?" He then announced the Flair vs. Bret match for Souled Out, acknowledging Bret was a former five-time WWF Champion...
(5) Giant beat Meng (w/Jimmy Hart) at 2:00. Schiavone also announced Giant would face Kevin Nash at Souled Out. Meng got a two count in on Giant, but Giant came back and won with a chokeslam...
[Q6: 3.9]... (6) Goldberg beat Steve McMichael at 2:20 clean with his Jackhammer finisher. Strange to see WCW discard Mongo in a virtual squash.
(7) Scott & Rick Steiner beat Konnan & Buff Bagwell when Scott pinned Konnan at 3:38. Scott used a top rope frankensteiner instead of using a double-team move with Rick to score the win. Rick again didn't look pleased...
[Q7: 4.2]... They aired the entire Larry Zbyszko vs. Bischoff match from Starrcade...
[Q8: 4.8]... Tenay interviewed Zbyszko, who promo'd his Souled Out match against Hall. Zbyszko said he humiliated Hall when he was World Champion (AWA) and Hall was a kid. "I've retired men who make you look like Mother Theresa," he said in his hyperbole filled interview...
[Q9: 4.1]... (8) Ray Traylor pinned Scott Hall at 4:20. Zbyszko came to ringside to stop Hall from using a chair at 4:00 leading to Taylor slamming and pinning Hall...
[Q10: 4.3]... (9) Juventud Guerrero pinned Ultimo Dragon at 4:18 after a 450 splash to capture the WCW Cruiserweight Title. In a discussion about fines, Schiavone said WCW shouldn't be fined and should be able to do anything they want to the NWO based on what the NWO has done to them for the past 18 months.
Tenay interviewed Bret Hart. WCW's camera angle filming wrestlers on their way to the ring is anything but flattering, especially apparent with Bret. Bret said he believes he is the best, but now that he is in WCW he has to prove himself all over again. He said he respects Flair, but won't stop until he proves he is the best. Flair came to the ring. Flair asked Bret to tell him the phrase one more time about being the best. He challenged Bret to say it in a really funny way. Bret said it, while poking Flair in the chest. Flair said it was the damnedest thing he's ever heard. He gave a great comeback, talking about being around the world 13 times and how he resents him saying he is better. Bret said, "To be the man, I guess I'm gonna have to beat the man." Another great Flair performance. Bret was good, too...
[Q11: 4.1]... (10) Lex Luger beat Scott Norton with the torture rack at 2:03. Luger racked Bagwell and Savage after the match also... They aired the last two minutes and the aftermath from the Sting-Hogan match at Starrcade...
[Q12: 4.3]... They aired the ending of the Sting vs. Hogan rematch from the Dec. 29 Nitro, including what happened after the show went off the air. Sting applied the Scorpion Death Lock. Nick Patrick came to the ring and called for Sting to break the hold for no apparent reason. Sting began to beat on Patrick. Hogan punched Sting and schoolboyed him for a three count, but again Patrick's count wasn't fast, although Hogan did have a handful of tights. Sting continued to beat on Hogan and the original ref Randy Anderson came to and called for the bell. Dillon came out and awarded Sting the belt. Bischoff grabbed the belt and kicked Dillon. Sting then gave Bischoff the Steiner Death Drop. The NWO charged the ring and a brawl broke out, with WCW wrestlers making the save.
Tenay interviewed Dillon in mid-ring. Dillon called for the NWO to come to the ring. Hogan declared that he was about to be awarded the WCW Title. Hogan kept counting to three, pointing out he pinned Sting. Dillon called for Sting to come out and bring the belt. Dillon then announced that the belt would be held up. Hogan went from gloating to distraught. Sting threw the belt at Dillon's feet and told him, "You have no guts." (What does that mean?) He told Hogan, "You are a dead man." Sting's delivery was pretty mundane and "unmystical"...
[Q13: 3.4]... (11) Dallas Page beat Kevin Nash (w/Hulk Hogan) via DQ at 6:36 when Hogan interfered. Schiavone pointed out they ran out of time, but they would run over to bring them the main event just as the Braves and Hawks do when they go to overtime. He failed to realize the irony of pointing that out given the ending to the Dec. 29 Nitro. Schiavone pointed out all of the signs of unity within the NWO throughout the show. Hogan hit Page to stop him from giving Nash the Diamond Cutter. Giant came to the ring and faced off with Nash as the show ended.
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