Parts Unknown #98: Thunder

I didn't want to sit through yet another match between Hunico and Ted DiBiase, so I'm taking a break from Smackdown (until next week, that is). This is a review of Thunder, WCW's topsy-turvy b-show. To be more specific, this episode aired on February 11, 1999. Woah, that was exactly thirteen years ago...my brain just imploded.

Thunder was wildly inconsistent. Some episodes seemed as if they were booked by Vince Russo on crack. Luckily, I chanced upon one of the "normal" episodes, though I use that word loosely. Since I'm dealing with vintage wrestling, I'll eschew the pros/cons format. And yes, that's a picture of Glacier. I couldn't find a suitable Thunder logo.

~ We're in the thick of a double-elimination tag team tournament? This could be interesting. By the time '99 rolled around, WCW's tag division was a bit of a mess. Most of the teams in this tournament were makeshift dyads comprised of singles stars. Our first bout pits Mike Enos and Bobby Duncum Jr. against Faces of Fear. Wait, Faces of Fear had a brief run in '99? With Jimmy Hart as their manager? The action is solid. Fuck, Meng is a bad, bad man. I love how he shakes off a piledriver like he was slapped in the face by Lord Littlebrook. If only the finish made sense. The Barbarian turns on Meng at the behest of Jimmy Hart. Why??? I assume that a push was in the cards, but guess what? This was the last time that The Barbarian was remotely relevant. There goes that idea!

~ Chris Kanyon (formerly known as Mortis) visits Raven at his sumptuous home. Raven has bamboozled his mother into believing that he is riding out a deep depression. Naturally, she is worried about him, so she asks Chris to watch him while she's gone. Raven proceeds to withdrawal funds from his bank account, and he treats Chris to an exorbitant shopping spree. We watch them shop for clothes. I swear to God. Maybe it's supposed to be an in-joke since Kanyon was gay in real life. I don't know. This is WCW's Thunder, kids.

~ Cruiserweights! We get an up-and-coming Lash LeRoux opposite Super Calo. This was a lively, kinetic match. They were given plenty of time, and I appreciate the clean pinfall.

~ In the funniest backstage segment that I've seen in quite awhile, we see Glacier trying to sell his gimmick to Ernest "The Cat" Miller. I mean, he pawns off the entrance music, the mood lighting, the ridiculous outfit...everything. Kaz Hayashi ends up buying the whole lot. Priceless.

~ Another tag match, this time involving Fit Finlay/Dave Taylor and Billy Kidman/Chavo Guerrero. A nice blend of styles, but it leads to the second partner betrayal of the night. This was WCW's biggest problem in the late 90's/early 00's (well, apart from short, meaningless title reigns). There were way too many turns, both heel and face. Every man and woman on the roster played the part of a backstabber at least once, and if they didn't, they were the ones being stabbed in the back.

~ Holy shit. That was an amazing video package. It built up the tag team tournament, it reviewed the paragon history of the WCW Tag Team Championship and it made the titles look prestigious. Why can't the WWE stitch a similar video package together to aid their dying tag division?

~ A Disco Inferno match. Next!

~ Wow. The main event could be featured as a Match That Time Forgot. Here we have Chris Benoit/Dean Malenko versus Kaz Hayashi/Van Hammer. Of course, Hayashi approaches the ring in full Glacier regalia. Surprisingly, this is a tight match. The fans go home happy.

I need to review Thunder more often.

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