"Ha! That's gonna put some butts in the seats!" -1999 and 2000 Wrestling Observer's Worst Announcer, Tony Schiavone
The year was 1999. The month – February. I was a mere 15 years old when I spent what I thought would be an exciting evening at the Providence Civic Center. And what exactly had this 15-year-old so excited? Why, WCW’s Thursday Night Thunder, of course! Not only the live Thunder broadcast, but also a TV taping for the following week as well. Four hours of WCW action? Count me in!
But not so fast...not so fast indeed. According to Wikipedia, on Feb. 4th, 1999, an unarmed West African immigrant was shot and killed by four plain clothes police officers in New York City, “inflaming race-relations in the city”. That was not the only injustice to occur in the northeast on that fateful day -- not by a long shot. I’m talking about the injustice of a small boy in the row in front of me having his “n.W.o Stinks” sign confiscated. I don’t believe Doug Dillinger was involved because I would have immediately started shouting “Doug Dellinger’s Down, Doug Dellinger’s Down!” – recreating one of my favorite WCW Saturday Night segments where Doug Dellinger was struck down (perhaps by Ric Flair and/or the Horsemen) and Dusty Rhodes’ golden pipes called the action (this was also the same episode of Saturday Night in which Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker provided the inspiration for Hornswoggle by running around dressed as a leprechaun as Dusty Rhodes yelled something to the effect of “Get that leprechaun...Giggit, Giggit!”).
But I digress. Actually, I’m stalling because what little of Thunder I recall made sense after checking out the match listings on profightdb.com. I clearly remembered Chris Jericho being awesome, a way-too-long Faces of Fear tag team match, and a dark match of Goldberg (who wasn’t even on the TV show) vs. Bam Bam Bigelow. What wonderful WCW action did I (thankfully) forget? Check out my retro diary below, as I have re-watched these “lost” episodes in an attempt to relive this partial memory of my youth.
On a side note, when looking for these Thunder shows to watch, I accidentally started watching May 6 (don’t ask why I thought 2/4 meant May 4th, and then started watching May 6th, which is not May 4th). This looked to be the greatest episode of TV ever. Seven minutes in and they hadn’t even gone to the arena yet. It was highlights of Charles “Lil Naitch” Robinson running WCW while getting orders and advice from Ric Flair, who was in a mental institution in his underwear, with crazies doing crazy things and being crazy around him. Keep in mind that in February, Ric Flair was head of WCW and feuding with Hulk Hoga and that Charles Robinson was just a lowly referee. What a change in only three months.
00:21 – Wolfpac Hollywood Hogan is in a limo mumbling incoherently to some tough-looking Italian guy. The tough Italian is commenting on how “Chicago guys can’t work a camera. It’s jiggly.” Hogan responds with “jiggly jiggly joo”.
01:00 – I can’t help but notice all of the stars featured in the opening credits for Thursday Night Thunder – none of which appear live in the arena.
02:00 – Tony Schiavone promises “Big time wrestling matches” coming up.
02:35 – The tough-looking Italian guy apparently is named Chuck Zito. YouTube tells me he is a Hell’s Angel…not to be confused with The Guardian Angel, Ray Traylor.
03:00 – It almost saddens me to see how good Mike Tenay was in 1999.
5:05 – Non-American Male, non-Flock member Scotty Riggs coming down to the ring.
5:35 – Skit airing with Brian Adams, Scott Norton and Stevie Ray in a limo bitching about Vince (Vincent, Virgil, Curly Bill).
6:03 – I just realized it’s not Scott Norton, but rather Horace Hogan. So much worse.
06:20 – Scotty Riggs' opponent is Chris Jericho! And he brought Ralphus!
07:30 – Jericho sends Ralphus to the back. Sadness.
08:00 – Jericho on the mic, uttering famous catch phrases like “Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla”, “Your role model, moi”, and “Full-fledged, card-carrying, loyal Jerichoholics.” (Back then, I used a tape recorder to tape Jericho promos/quotes off of WEBTV and play them back repeatedly. True story.)
10:38 – One of the announcers finally acknowledges that there is a match going on in the ring.
10:58 – Lame-ass catapult by Scotty Riggs. Jericho does a great job of launching himself over the top rope to compensate.
11:20 – Schiavone explains Riggs’ lack of an eye patch by describing how Riggs was wearing the eye patch, but Raven would not allow him to go see a doctor. Riggs left the Flock, and now he’s fine.
14:00 – The current TV champion is…SCOTT STEINER!!!
14:15 – Riggs dropkicks a chair into Jericho’s face…pillow seat first!
15:02 – Jericho gives a great “Come on, Baby!”
16:35 – Schiavone: “Nice forearm shot, or a clothesline if you will”.
18:58 – Riggs hits a picture perfect HHH flying knee.
19:30 – Thirty-two seconds later, Riggs is tapping to the Lion Tamer. Very fun match and Riggs did not suck hardly at all. By far the best match of the night.
22:40 – WCW BRUISE CRUISE!!! Nitro Girls! Buff Bagwell! Other WCW Talent!
24:05 – Highlights of a Rey Mysterio promo where he says that K-Dogg “gave me that knowledge to me”.
25:30 – Disorderly Conduct coming out to the ring. Who the fuck?
26:05 – Their opponents are Rey Mysterio (clad in an LWO t-shirt) and Konnan.
26:53 – Konnan does his usual speech, which I totally used to mark out for. Now, it’s just kind of OK.
29:24 – Schiavone finally names one of the opponents of Mysterio and Konnan. His name? Tough Tom. I’d rather have not known.
30:02 – Schiavone calls Mean Mike (the other half of Disorderly Conduct) Tough Tom. I don’t blame him.
30:55 – Schiavone calls Tough Tom Mean Mike. Still don’t blame him.
32:00 – Schiavone calls Tough Tom Mean Mike again. I’m starting to blame him.
32:15 – Tequila Sunrise ends this bout.
32:54 – Mike Tenay, calling the replay, gets Disorderly Conduct’s individual names correct. Of course he does. Mike Tenay cares about his job.
34:00 – Stevie Ray describes the troubles within the n.W.o. Black and White as a “sad sack situation.” I love Stevie Ray.
36:27 – Stevie Ray to Brian Adams and Horace Hogan on their match with The Faces of Fear in the Double Elimination tag team title tournament: “Take care of these two fish-eatin’ chumps from Gilligan’s Island.” I LOVE Stevie Ray.
37:15 – Brian Adam’s response to Vince claiming that Hulk Hogan put him in charge of “this whole thing” (this whole thing being Brian Adams, Horace, Stevie Ray and Vincent)? “You know what? Your mom’s in charge.” Great comeback, Brian.
37:30 – Norman Smiley!
37:43 – Big Wiggle!
38:30 – The Disciple. Sadness.
40:14 – Awful forearm shivers from The Disciple. He should know how to do that by now. He’s been wrestling for like 15 years at this point.
40:25 – Rest spot chinlock already from The Disciple. He’s been wrestling for like 15 years at this point. He shouldn’t need to rest a minute and a half into a match.
41:10 – The Disciple gives an elbow to the crotch of Smiley and appeared to legit elbow him right in the balls. Norman did not look to be in good spirits at this point. What will come of the Big Wiggle?!
41:33 – Smiley botched a roll-up attempt. I’m sure it was 80% Disciple’s fault and 20% lack of energy due to being elbow dropped right on the balls.
42:34 – Norman teases the Big Wiggle!
43:13 – It has just occurred to me that Norman Smiley is a great wrestler.
43:57 – The Disciple just dead weighted Smiley on a butterfly suplex. Norman got him up and over anyway. That’s just how Norman Smiley rolls.
45:05 – Big Wiggle!!!
45:44 – The Disciple taps out to a cross face chicken wing!
46:01 – Big Wiggle!!!
48:10 – Brian Adams and Horace Hogan vs. The Faces of Fear.
49:02 – Fan near the front row has a sign that reads “Schiavone Fan Club.”
52:10 – Faces of Fear no-sell having their heads rammed together. Will people never learn that Islanders are impervious to head trauma? Except for later in this match. But we’ll get to that.
53:50 – Horace Hogan breaks a nerve hold from Meng by poking him in the eyes FOUR times. Apparently Islanders have extremely hard eyes as well as heads.
55:10 – Horace used his legs perfectly to power his body up for a kick out, but his shoulders absolutely did not move. Ref stopped at two anyway.
57:30 – Boring chant starts in the crowd. I’d say this is about five minutes late.
1:01:08 – Vince runs out and hits Jimmy Hart with a Slap Jack. Not to be confused with Vince for Slap Chop.
1:02:02 – Horace kicks out of a Pearl River Plunge by the Barbarian.
1:02:55 – Horace pins The Barbarian after an elbow drop following a Vince Slap Jack shot to The Barbarian. Schiavone made sure to say Barbarian took it to the base of the neck, I guess to avoid the obvious logic flaw about Islanders and hard heads. But to be fair, John Cena’s one weak spot is the base of his neck as well.
1:05:20 – Apparently Vince stole Stevie Ray’s Slap Jack. What a great storyline: Vince and Stevie fighting over a Slap Jack and who gets to lead Brian Adams and Horace Hogan.
1:08:44 – Highlights of Scott Hall pinning [name removed] after The Outsider’s Edge. Tony Schiavone – “He hit him with his move.”
1:10:45 – “Lightning Foot” Jerry Flynn vs. Bam Bam Bigelow. I found Jerry Flynn to be very underrated, and horribly underutilized.
1:11:50 – Cross Arm Breaker by Flynn! Announcers are hyping up Goldberg vs. Bam Bam Bigelow at Superbrawl IX. On the very night of this Thunder broadcast, I saw Goldberg beat Bigelow in the dark match main event in approximately four to five minutes. Good booking, WCW.
1:12:48 – Jerry Flynn follows up a spin heel kick in the corner by yelling “Huh!” at the camera and then subsequently getting crotched on the top rope.
1:14:00 – Schiavone is babbling on about how Goldberg wrestles through injuries and even hides injuries from promoters and announcers…but especially promoters.
1:15:55 – Bigelow pins Flynn after the Steiner Screwdriver. Flynn is a pretty good damn wrestler, even in this losing effort.
1:17:20 – Video of Scott Steiner interrupting Nitro Girls rehearsals. He’s hitting on Kimberly Page, who ends up falling down and hitting her head on the ramp. Scott Steiner’s reaction? Throwing his hands up in the air saying, “She slipped. I never touched her.” Scott Steiner is awesome.
1:19:30 – Glacier hits the ring. Makes me pine for Mortis...and James VandenBerg...but not for Wrath.
1:20:37 – Self High Five! DDP making his way to the ring via the crowd. True story, my first ever Internet username was in fact ddp13. Yes, I was a DDP mark.
1:21:35 – In discussing the earlier Steiner/Kim Page incident, Bobby Heenan makes the point that Steiner did not push her, but that she in fact tripped and fell (which was true, but Steiner was terrorizing her, which led her to back away and fall). Schiavone told Heenan that he had “no right to comment on that”. Heenan insisted he did. Schiavone insisted that he did not, and “You won’t comment on it again”. Heenan said “Yes, I will”. Schiavone said “No, you won’t”. Weird exchange here.
1:23:30 – Glacier low-blows DDP. I guess he’s a heel.
1:24:12 – Botched spot where DDP slid under the bottom rope and grabbed Glacier’s foot to pull him down and crotch him on the ring post. Glacier just stood there as DDP held his foot. I swear I heard DDP say, “Get the hell down.”
1:25:00 – Another top rope crotching. This time for Glacier.
1:25:15 – DDP gets the duke with a Diamond Cutter off the top.
1:28:00 – Main event time! Mike Enos and Bobby Duncum, Jr. vs. Barry Windham and Curt Hennig. Mike Enos and Bobby Duncum, Jr.? What the fuck? This is pre-West Texas Rednecks, but we have three future members here in this match. Mike Enos has jet black hair. I don’t remember this phase of his career at all.
1:29:52 – Barry Windham looks like a fat, homeless Kiefer Sutherland. He’s wearing a snazzy denim vest and blue jeans. He’s either a redneck male stripper or those are some comfy jammies.
1:32:00 – Tony Schiavone contemplated on why Curt Hennig is no longer in the n.W.o. He explains that maybe it’s because he never wore an n.W.o. t-shirt, or because he “always went that extra step” to say he was the greatest athlete in the n.W.o. “I guess we’ll never know, we’ll never really ask…"
1:32:39 – Windham looks like a blond, less chubby Husky Harris.
1:34:45 – Windham doesn’t know how to apply the figure four, so Mike Enos kicks him away to cover it up.
1:35:30 – Tony Schiavone on Goldberg’s one-loss record – “In our minds, Goldberg is still undefeated, but he does have that one loss at the hands of the taser.” Sounds hilarious without having the proper context.
1:36:45 – Mike Enos is the babyface in peril. Hot tag coming. Headbutt and tag to Duncum. That’s it. He has been beaten on for four to five minutes and one headbutt fixes everything.
1:37:54 – Duncum hits what appears to be a Skull Crushing Finale on Hennig – a very badly botched Skull Crushing Finale.
1:38:21 – In continuing with the theme of one man hitting a big move and being pinned approximately 30 seconds later, Hennig pins Duncum after he takes a lariat to the back of the head from Husky Windham. Tony Schiavone on the tag main event: “Big win on Thunder. Winning and Hendham, Hennig and Windham continue their winning ways.”
Final Thoughts: Stevie Ray is awesome. Chris Jericho is awesome. Norman Smiley is awesome. Tony Schiavone says whatever runs through his head without thinking about it. So, all in all, an OK edition of Thunder with some entertaining botches and one-liners. Best match – Jericho vs. Riggs. Worst match – all the others.
Hopefully you enjoyed my retro diary of the live WCW Thunder broadcast from Feb. 4th, 1999, that I attended live (and subsequently forgot 98% of). Stay tuned for my retro diary of the Feb. 11th, 1999 WCW Thunder broadcast, which was taped immediately after Thunder went off the air (or before the live broadcast, I don’t even remember).
You can follow me on Twitter @Milldog311