Back in the day, WCW was known for it’s flagship show – Monday Nitro – hence, the Monday Night Wars. At the peak of their popularity, WCW then created a second major weekly in January 1998, called Thunder – beating out WWE’s SmackDown by around eighteen months. This week on Random Reviews, we take a look at some of the action that graced our screens in WCW’s “B-show that tried to be an A-show”.

Juventud Guerrera vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. (WCW Thunder, taped December 3, 1998; aired December 10, 1998)
One of the staples of WCW back in its heyday was the cruiserweight division – and this match between two of the division’s stars promises to be a good one, especially with the winner getting a Cruiserweight title shot down the road. They start off with basic lucha stuff, a knuckle-lock going into a monkey-flip and finally an armdrag.

Juventud took the advantage by blocking a wheelbarrow bulldog attempt from Rey, and turned it into a reverse suplex, dumping Mysterio onto the ropes. However, Juvi didn’t capitalise, and ended up going to the mat with a hurricanrana from Mysterio, leading to Guerrera powdering to the floor as they went to commercial.

We return from break to see Mysterio kicking Guerrera in the corner, following up with a Bronco Buster for good measure. Juvi regained the advantage with an atomic drop and spinning wheel kick, before grounding Rey with an armbar. Both guys go for a tiltawhirl backbreaker, with Mysterio eventually winning out that battle, before scoring a near-fall from a quebrada.

Juvi grabbed a two-count from something that looked like a beta version of Kevin Owens’ pop-up powerbomb, before things went a little screwy as a move that should have been Juventud seeing a powerbomb attempt countered into a ‘rana flip was nowhere near as smooth as these guys were capable of.

Rey proceeded to miss a Stinger splash in the corner, and crumpled to the mat in a heap, before being able to grab Juvi’s leg as he tried to go up for a 450 Splash. Rey was able to fight back and dropkick Guerrera to the outside, and faked out a dive with what would become the 619 as Juvi tried to leave the ringside area.

Back in the ring, Juvi takes over with a brainbuster that scores a near-fall, and all of a sudden the bell starts ringing. Okay, Charles Robinson is the referee – is this WCW aping Montreal again? Apparently, the TV time limit expired (which wasn’t even hinted at any point in the contest), but Robinson restarts the match so it can have a definite end.

Rey and Juvi start trading punches, but Juvi misses a leg lariat in the corner as he crashes and burns into the turnbuckles. It’s then Rey’s turn to crash and burn with a senton off the top rope, as Juvi just about rolled out of the way in time, in a spot that got Rey a two-count (?!). Juvi connects with a flying body press as he sent Rey to the floor, and eventually scores a sunset flip powerbomb out of the corner for another near fall.

Out of nowhere, Juvi drills Mysterio with the Juvi Driver, then goes up for a 450 Splash, but Rey popped up and crotched him across the top rope, before going up for a super hurricanrana on Juvi to get the win. Great match, although I could have done without the secret probation that was the TV time limit, but it didn’t hurt the match too much. ***¾

Lash LeRoux vs. Super Calo (WCW Thunder, taped February 4, 1999; aired February 11, 1999)
Staying with the cruiserweights, and we’re treated to Lash LeRoux – looking like a ginger Chris Jericho – and Mexican luchador Super Calo. They start by trading waistlocks, along with early near-falls, before LeRoux drops Calo with a clothesline. Calo responds with a back body drop on the Alabama native, who then rolls out to the ring, and gets caught with a dropkick through the ropes.

LeRoux almost overshoots a springboard cross body onto Calo, but manages to get a two-count from it, before an attempt at a roll-up ended with LeRoux somehow keeping his opponent’s shoulders away from the mat.

LeRoux continued to pound on Calo, before catching a twisting Northern Lights suplex for a near-fall, with a more orthodox suplex getting a similar result. Calo rolled out of the way of a top rope splash, and grabbed a two-count after going for a cover from that error. It didn’t take long for LeRoux to get back on offence, but he found a monkey flip attempt countered by Calo, who switched places and delivered a flip of his own, only for LeRoux to land on his feet.

Calo then ducked a clothesline, and connected with a missile dropkick for a two-count, before going for a Fireman’s carry; however, LeRoux slipped out and hoisted Calo up for a Fireman’s carry of his own, before delivering the Whiplash (TKO) for the win to cap off a pretty decent TV match **¾

Chris Adams, Dave Taylor & Steven Regal vs. The Revolution (Chris Benoit, Perry Saturn & Shane Douglas) (WCW Thunder, taped September 2, 1999; aired September 9, 1999)
Well, this is rareity – a true “Blue Bloods” team featuring three Englishmen in Steven (William) Regal, Dave Taylor, and “Gentleman” Chris Adams; taking on the Revolution trio of Perry Saturn, Shane Douglas and Chris Benoit.

Regal and Benoit start us off, and as you’d expect, the crowd aren’t huge fans of the Blue Bloods trio. Unfortunately, chanting “USA” at the only Canadian in the match comes across as dumb, especially when Benoit was a good four years or so away from being billed from the US… Anyway, once they get going, Regal works a knuckle-lock, but quickly gets chopped down by Benoit, before tagging in Dave Taylor, who immediately fells Benoit with some headscissors and dropkicks. Chris Adams comes in quickly after that, and Benoit’s response is… to tag in Perry Saturn.

The pair work some simple exchanges at first, before Saturn takes down Adams with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex, then a springboard flying forearm as he brings in Shane Douglas, who dumps Adams with a bodyslam off the ropes for a near-fall. The heels then do a spot of double and triple teaming after Adams had fooled Benoit into coming into the ring illegally, continuing with Taylor whipping Douglas with the Union Jack flag (and more precisely, the flagpole it’s on).

Taylor continues to work on Douglas in the ring with a neck crank, before bringing in Adams to drop an elbow on Douglas, who was quickly getting cut off. That being said, Douglas caught Adams as he came off the top, nailing an inverted atomic drop, before making the hot tag to Benoit. All hell broke loose as all six men were in the ring, and it wasn’t long before Steven Regal threw himself out of the ring, leaving us with Benoit and Adams, with Benoit connecting with a swandive headbutt of the top, then locking in the Cripper Crossface for the victory by submission. A fun six-man tag – I’d have liked this to go longer, but this was great for what it was ***½

Lex Luger vs. Dewayne Bruce (WCW Thunder, taped December 11, 2000; aired December 13, 2000)
Just months before WCW’s closure, this is what we had on Thunder: Lex Luger against Power Plant trainer “Sarge” Dewayne Bruce, oh, and Hacksaw Jim Duggan (as part of Team Canada… don’t ask) teaching Lance Storm how to sing the American anthem.

Before the match even starts, Sid Vicious gatecrashes via telephone, but the action starts when Luger drops to his knees and offers a test of strength to the 5’8” Bruce, who responses with kicks to the midsection. Bruce then chokes Luger in the corner, who rolls to the floor for safety. And by “safety”, I mean “to pick up a baseball bat and smash Bruce on the head with it as the referee is distracted”, before lifting him up in the Torture Rack for the win via submission.

A real nothing match, but hey, it was building towards a conclusion the following month – the retirement of Bill Goldberg. But that’s another review for another time! *½

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