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WWE NETWORK REVIEW: WCW THUNDER
JUNE 28, 2000 (Taped June 27, 2000)
LINCOLN, NEBRASKA AT PERSHING AUDITORIUM
BY SAM MCCOY, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
If you say “2000 WCW” to even the most hardcore of wrestling fan, it’s cringe- and terror-inducing. I’ve always had a real soft spot in my heart for this era not just because it’s so bad it is good quality, but also because this show right here is the first-ever live wrestling show I ever attended. Growing up in small-town Nebraska with parents that weren’t wrestling fans I never got to go to any shows.
Despite being home to the University of Nebraska, Lincoln never got many big shows, partially due to it being an hour away from Omaha but also just not having a very good venue for such a thing. This show was at the Pershing Auditorium which had hosted a few WCW house shows throughout the previous few years but it had been almost a decade since the WWF had visited Lincoln. But I was 14 and my parents decided since a bunch of my friends loved wrestling that they would drive us to Lincoln to see the show.
There was a taping of Worldwide before the show and I missed most of it except a Shane Douglas vs The Wall match that was occurring as I was walking into the venue. This will sound like the most stereotypical Nebraskan thing to say, but I was late to the show because I was working in the cornfields.
This show was in the lead up to the reviled Bash at the Beach 2000 so we are in full-on Vince Russo-era WCW. And with Russo-era WCW, there is entirely too much Jeff Jarrett. He is in a brief segment before the credits with M.I. Smooth, and then is the first person to come out and do an opening in-ring promo. Jarrett tries to get over “hippo hips” and a variety of fat jokes to get the crowd riled, which is an old way to get heat on house shows which I feel comes off poorly on TV. Horace Hogan comes out to defend the honor of his uncle the Hulkster and attacks Jeff Jarrett before security breaks them out. Ernest “The Cat” Miller then comes out as Double J is exiting to make Horace vs Jarett for the show. Yep, this is WCW 2000 alright.
The announce team of Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay, Bobby Heenan then rundown what we are going to see tonight and I do miss shows doing this. They generally give a little snippet on what is going on with each segment which is something I would prefer over a video package before every segment. And if we do see a bit of the previous video it may only be 20 seconds that is just setting up what we are about to see.
One thing that is so indicative of this era of WCW, and really just Russo philosophy, is the sheer volume of pre-tape segments. When going to and returning from commercial there is almost always something backstage, be it some Misfits in Action segment, Terry Funk training Johnny Stamboli, or a Positively Kanyon interview with Mean Gene. It’s a bad impersonation but I get a kick out of the Positively Kanyon character. Kanyon was always an entertaining and often innovative guy to watch for me.
The first match of the show is 14 minutes into the show and is a battle of the Misfits in Action as Lt. Loco faces off against Corporal Cajun for the cruiserweight title. The announcers have no idea why they are facing and General Rection does a horrible job addressing it as he steps in on guest commentary. Cajun does a serviceable job but you can tell Lt. Loco, Chavo Guerrero Jr., is just a higher-level talent. Chavo gets busted open on one of the strangest hard-ways I’ve seen as Chavo flips over ropes, pretty much misses Cajun and lands on his feet before falling, but to try to make up for not catching him Cajun dives and just obliterates Chavo’s head with his shoulder. Chavo wins with a nice swinging DDT. An ok match but nothing spectacular.
Scott Steiner appears to be wearing a Bash at the Beach baseball cap that he cut the bill off of and if this was a look I do not remember it.
Three Count is out next, and it is no shock to me that Shane Helms is the one that found bigger success over the other two, as in this segment he appears to be trying as opposed to the other two. Mark Jindrak and Sean O’Haire interrupt the lipsync segment leading to a tag match against Shannon Moore and Evan Karagias. It is shown Tank Abbot is finally getting to the building a half-hour late and he is upset about missing Three Count’s performance and match. The highlight of this match is O’Hare did a body slam on Evan Karagias where Karagias was thrown over referee Charlies Robinson. Tank Abbot enters the ring after 3 Count takes the loss and demands they restart their singing routine. Kronik then comes out and attacks Tank as he dances. This segment alone has 2 run-ins, 3 if you count Tank demanding Three Count needed to dance.
Positively Kanyon then gives a diamond cutter to a caterer because they ran out of Au Jus, which is a line so absurd that my friends I went to the show with still joke about it 20 years later, and I’m the sole person of that group that regularly watches wrestling modern day. Kanyon often pops into random backstage segments and Kanyon cuts some random bystander throughout the show. He is the highlight of this episode, and he’s all over it.
Big Vito starts to cut a promo and refers to the Jung Dragons as “The Fortune Cookie Guys” and says it repeatedly. Oh boy, times have changed from 2000. Vito challenges the trio to a gauntlet match. Jimmy Yang starts out in the gauntlet match and is finished up pretty quickly with an elbow from the top rope. Kaz Hayashi is in the match next, and Vito beats him with a Vader-bomb off the top rope which it looked like he was going to fall off the turnbuckle before he hit the move. “Jamie-San” is the last to join the match and flies around hitting Vito with both a top rope splash and top rope leg drop. Vito is distracted hitting Kaz and Yang with kendo sticks when a Johnny the Bull wearing a “Jamie-San” mask does a top rope dropkick and pins Vito. Johnny the Bull pulls off the mask while towering next to the real “Jamie-San”.
Daffney attacks Stacy Kiebler as Stacy is getting her hair done. Now while this is a pretty throwaway segment, the one thing I liked is that both were very defined characters and were able to convey said characters by saying very little.
Chuck Palumbo and Sean Stasiak take on General Rection and Van Hammer next in a match. Is there a good Van Hammer match? This match isn’t very good and goes on way too long. Rection wins after a moonsault but the match was non-title. Kronik comes out after the match to attack Stasiak and Palumbo. Bryan Adams uses a move that is very similar to the F-5 which I don’t remember.
Jeff Jarrett defends the World Heavyweight title against Horace Hogan next. You read that right. Horace freaking Hogan. It’s a world title match on Thunder and it isn’t even the main event. This match is terrible. First off Horace was just awful, he made Hulk look Steamboat by comparison. Second, there is a ref bump that is used to allow Double J to use a chair, which makes absolutely zero sense because he’s been using the chair in the match earlier right in front of the ref and it didn’t matter. Jarrett hits the stroke as Horace and the referee are wrestling with the chair so that Horace doesn’t cheat. The logic here is maddening.
Vampiro comes out to cut a promo on Dale Torborg. You can barely see Vampiro as the lights go out a few times as the crowd chants for Sting. After the lights go off and a loud boom Asya in a cloak spits “The Red” into the face, before Torborg also in a cloak attacks Vampiro with a baseball bat. Lights go off again and “Sting” is on top of the screen pointing at Vampiro. The crowd reacts great to this and I remember being in the building that night as a 14 year old I in no way thought it was Sting due to how he was cloaked and there was never a shot of his face without the hood.
Lance Storm and Billy Kidman team up to take on the Filthy Animals of Rey Mysterio and Juventud Guerrera. Storm had just debuted with the company the week before and I was very excited as I was big fan of his at the time. On paper, this match sounds like it could be amazing. And while the action is good, something is missing with a mask-less Mysterio and Guerrera. It is weird to see Rey in this heel showboating persona which is just not something Rey has done since. Storm and Kidman win after Storm gives a gut-wrench powerbomb and Kidman follows up with a splash.
Paisley and Tygress have an awful match next. You can tell both were never properly trained. The straps on Tygress’s top snaps early and the rest of the match is Tygress is making sure her top doesn’t come off. Paisley wins with a bodyslam. Thankfully this was short.
Buff Bagwell and Kanyon have a match as ordered by The Cat. Ernest Miller is all over this show as this is during his time as commissioner. He’s fine in the role but we see him almost every 15 minutes. Kanyon does a great reversal when Bagwell bends over to give a back body drop and pivots to give a great Russian leg sweep. Kanyon is disqualified after giving the ref a Kanyon Cutter. The bell starts ringing and despite this, the two keep wrestling and Buff covers Kanyon several times for a pin, and the crowd counts but the bell just keeps getting rung. Kanyon finally gets the upper hand and reads from his book before Booker T comes out for the save. The crowd erupts for Booker as he is one of the few highlights of WCW in 2000. I often wonder would if Booker would have been bigger if he were in WWF at the time. I just don’t know as the WWF roster was incredibly stacked at the time.
Mike Awesome in his career killer gimmick comes out to face off Scott Steiner in our main event. They brawl into the crowd making a quick loop. At one point a kid pats Mike Awesome on his derriere and that was a classmate of mine. This isn’t a bad brawl but it is a short match. These two with more time probably could have been fun, although in no way would Steiner have taken the powerbombs that made Awesome famous. Steiner delivers a great top rope over the head belly to belly that was impressive. After a T-Bone suplex, Steiner applies the Steiner Recliner. The Cat starts yelling on the mic for the ref to break the hold. When the ref doesn’t, The Cat sidekicks the ref. The Cat then grabs the US title and his Steiner with the belt. The Cat rips off his shirt to reveal a ref shirt, Awesome covers, and the Cat counts for Mike Awesome to beat Scott Steiner.
This is a bad show, a really bad show. There is no question why WCW went out of business less than a year later. But even in all of its manic 2000 WCW-ness, there is a certain charm to the badness, but that may also just be the nostalgia of this being my first live wrestling show.