WCW Thunder | November 15th 2000 | Manchester Arena, England | TV Rating 2.3
Twenty-one years ago WCW crossed the pond to the UK for what would be their last tour over here EVER. As well as the usual house shows, Nitro and Thunder were taped for a worldwide television audience. Matthew Roberts was in the Manchester Arena that night so takes control of the TWM Time Machine to see if it was all as he remembered. Welcome, to Manchester Thunder!
You can say what you want about 2000 WCW being in a mess but it’s clear there is still an audience for it. Save for a few obvious empty seats in direct view of the hard-cam (WWE would never let you see this!) the Manchester Arena is packed for this one and there is a very enthusiastic crowd filling those seats.
We get a recap of Nitro, which I think was shown in the arena at the time which was a good idea as we’d not seen Nitro on our tape delay yet so needed to know what was going on. Strictly speaking I don’t think we got much idea what was going on, but that’s WCW for you. Meanwhile, Scott Steiner arrives, is angry, and beats up some security. It’s going to be one of those nights.
Big Vito Vs Reno
Case in point with an enthusiastic crowd. Neither can really be described as legendary figure in the history of wrestling but this was the opening match of the TV show and so fans were up for it. And it wasn’t very good either. Or should I say it was fine and quite entertaining but then Sean O’Haire and Mark Jindrak turned up and a superkick to Vito’s visage lead to Reno hitting his “Roll of the Dice” finisher for the win. I’ve seen worse.
Backstage Ric Flair is doing his authority thing in a way that makes you feel he isn’t in Manchester and this has been taped somewhere else. Even though he is here. He wants answers from Cruiserweight Champion Mike Sanders, sets up a Hardcore Title match between Crowbar and Bam Bam Bigelow for tonight and says that Lance Storm and General Rection will meet for one last time at the upcoming Mayhem PPV. It’s something and nothing but in an era where the WWE took fifteen minutes of in-ring opening promo to set up one match for a show it’s refreshing that all this can come across in a couple of minutes or so.
Elsewhere Lance Storm once again turns the US title into the Canadian title and declares that he wants a match with Booker T for the world title tonight. Which doesn’t sound like a bad thing. But kind of makes the London Lethal Lottery tournament (which was illogical anyway as I pointed out in the Nitro Retro Review) even more pointless if someone can just bypass that and make a challenge for the World Title anyway.
Crowbar Vs Bam Bam Bigelow – Hardcore Title
Well if you’ve seen one WCW Hardcore match from the year 2000 you’ve seen them all. Trashcans, tables (that don’t always break) and some big chair shots about sum this one up. Bigelow looks to have things wrapped up when he puts Crowbar UNDER a table and goes up for the headbutt (which is stupid, but there you go) but Mike Awesome runs out and shoves Bam Bam off enabling Crowbar to pick up the win. In 2000 if you were in the arena and hadn’t seen this kind of stuff live it was fine. 21 years on it’s all a bit too passé.
Booker T is backstage and is sick of being disrespected so of course he will accept Lance Storm’s challenge. Elsewhere Bigelow attacks Awesome. Elsewhere again the Misfits are sitting around devastated by losing Major Gunns…sorry by losing the US Title on Nitro and as such they are all looking glum and contemplate whether this means they should call it a day. Rection does a big power speech so they don’t.
Kwee Wee Vs Rey Mysterio Vs Kidman Vs Corporal Cajun Vs Lieutenant Loco Vs Elix Slipper
#1 Contendership for Cruiserweight Title – Elimination Rules
It’s weird to see Rey here as “just another guy” in this match although to be fair he is the most over . There’s a lot of women at ringside but once they have a mini-brawl at ringside the referee sends them all to the back. Cajun and Loco are DQ’d early on for constant double teaming, before Kwee eliminates Kidman, and Skipper eliminates Rey meaning that anyone over has now gone. Worse still here’s World Famous Canadian Jim Duggan to help his Team Canada buddy Skipper. But then Meng saves the day, nails Skipper and Kwee Wee gets the win. For what it was it was fine, even if cutting down the participants would have made for a better match in all probability.
The Boogie Knights are backstage and don’t seem worried about who Konnan might have as his mystery partner tonight.
Elsewhere Ric Flair has a mystery opponent lined up for Mike Sanders tonight.
We then get a pre-taped interview with Buff Bagwell. The Stuff believes he’s never been given a fair chance in WCW and can’t understand why he’s never been given the ball and allowed to run with it. I can think of one very good reason. He’s a bit crap. Anyway, he wants a match with Jeff Jarrett at Mayhem.
After the ad-break Mike Sanders is on the phone to “Jeff” as the discuss a taped promo that’s aired on a tape-delay show so is something they can have zero knowledge of. Unless we’re being kind and saying that as Sanders is some form of authority figure he’s already seen the pre-tape of the pre-tape.
Manchester Thunder: Booker T Vs Lance Storm – WCW World Title
You would think a World Title match would headline rather than a match to decide the number one contender to that World Title. But this is WCW. As you’d expect this is a good wrestling match. There’s never any real jeopardy or threat as there is no way in hell that Storm is winning this but it’s still a great effort and you could almost think that Booker’s knee injury might prove a decisive factor when Storm has him in the Mapleleaf. A Bookend wins it. A great TV match.
Post-match Team Canada run in but Booker sees them all off, including a Bookend to Major Gunns. Credit to non-wrestler Gunns for taking that move. Stevie Ray on commentary seems to enjoy that one too.
We’re back with Boogie Knights and this time they are looking to pay someone off so you strongly suspect they will be seeking the services of the APA tonight. Sorry, I mean Kronik.
Here’s Mike Sanders and then here’s Ric Flair. Flair says there is some good news and bad news for the Cruiserweight Champion. His match tonight will be non-title. The bad news is that it has to be so because the challenger weighed in just over the weight limit by about 100 pounds.
Manchester Thunder: Mike Sanders Vs Kevin Nash
Yes, “Big Sexy” wanders out to a huge pop and takes his sweet time getting to the ring and then starts punching in slow motion almost. Nash dominates until the Thrillers run down to the ring for the DQ. As it was more an angle than a match I’ll not be too cruel about it all. Post-Advert break Nash is having his knee checked out by doctors.
Boogie Knights Vs Konnan & The Cat
Earnest Miller must have some fans somewhere. I’m not one of them. This is pretty awful stuff that is actually livened up by Kronik making their way to the ring. They attack Konnan enabling the Knights to pick up the win.
We get a promo for Goldberg’s new book next and then reaction from Lex Luger who is very upset that he’s not mentioned in it.
Manchester Thunder: Goldberg Vs Buff Bagwell
Buff is apparently a babyface but no-one cares anyway. It was great being there in the arena for this as even though the Goldberg thing had been worn down by the general malaise that effected WCW in general by now he was still a superstar, and was still over. And watching Bagwell get squashed is always fun. They shake hands afterwards as if Bagwell has put in some herculean effort that has pushed Bill to his limits.
Manchester Thunder: Scott Steiner Vs Sting – Lethal Lottery Final
As we have seen, the winner of this tournament gets a World Title shot on Nitro the night after Mayhem. The World Champion Booker T was in this tournament. And Scott Steiner has a shot at that title at Mayhem. And amongst all this Lance Storm just asked for a Title shot tonight and got one. At various times the commentators pushed the idea that Steiner was looking for insurance should he not win at Mayhem so at least they tried. But it was all too illogical.
The match is not very good. And to make it all the more maddening Steiner, who is headlining the next PPV don’t forget, get pinned clean. Which is fine if this is Japan and sets up the Sting Vs Steiner match but it’s WCW so I doubt that much thought went into this at all. Post-match Steiner gets his heat back by beating Sting with a pipe and then putting him in a straightjacket. If I recall correctly, Sting isn’t seen again until the final Nitro.
Perhaps because I was there at the time this felt like a better show than the London Nitro that preceded it. Maybe it’s because we at least got one good match and Goldberg smashing Bagwell still makes me chuckle. So it’s not the worst show but it’s far from being any good. Still, I enjoyed re-watching. And the logic gaps in the show may prove eye-opener’s for people who complain about some of the things we see on our TV screens twenty one years on.