The year 2000 was a special year for Wrestlecrap, a year that not only saw the site launch, but also provided material for it for years and decades to come, particularly in the form of WCW programming. That was the year that WCW passed the point of no return, hemorrhaging money, alienating viewers, and cramming segments with hot-shot angles and run-ins under the creative direction of Mr. Vince Russo.
Make no mistake: the topic of this week’s induction, an episode of WCW Thunder, is definitely from the year 2000. And I don’t say that because of the disposable cameras…
…these specific paper cups…
…or the fact that I once played in a kickball game with teams a fifth-grade classmate had named, “Millionaires Club” and “New Blood”.
The May 3rd, 2000 episode of Thunder (the last before Slamboree) started off with a sneak attack, where Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo’s faction were jumped by the Millionaires’ Club and their allies. I refer to Hugh Morrus , Horace, and Kronik as simply “allies” because that group had one simple but strict membership policy.
Incensed, Vince Russo announced that every match that night would pit a member of the New Blood against a member of the Millionaire’s Club drawn out of Vince Russo’s boot. (He wasn’t wearing a hat)
Moreover, they would all be contested under New York rules, meaning that there would be no rules. Normally, I hate the term, “no rules” because every match has at least one rule, e.g. if you get pinned, the match ends and you lose. But for once, these matches would legitimately have no rules, as there would be no referee; the wrestlers themselves would count their own pins and basically determine a winner by consensus.
What made these, “New York rules”, I have no idea. For one thing, they were clearly in Memphis.
Besides, I’ve seen hundreds of matches from Madison Square Garden and not one of them was self-refereed.
The first such match was Jeff Jarrett vs. Kanyon, which drew interference from both Kimberly and DDP. The match ended with about a ten second sequence that managed to cram in:
A domestic violence guitar shot…
…a low blow…
…a Diamond Cutter…
…and, of course, a self-counted pinfall.
Lex Luger faced The Wall in another New York rules match that the announcers assumed was also a tables match. Interference from Vince Russo himself caused Lex to drop The Wall, who kind-of cracked a table. Everyone, including Russo, agreed that this made Luger the winner.
Kidman wrestled Ric Flair in a New York rules, non-table match, despite the continued presence of tables at ringside. Ric Flair won when Kevin Nash powerbombed Mike Awesome after run-ins by Rey Misterio, Konnan, and Hulk Hogan.
Nash then took the mic and declared Mike Awesome the winner of the Kidman-Flair bout due to outside interference. I think he was joking.
DDP vs. Vampiro lasted just 37 seconds and still featured heavy interference from Sting and the New Blood’s own red liquid.
In yet another of what the announcers called “New York-style” (contested on a large, thin, hand-tossed canvas), Mike Awesome tapped out in 2 minutes to Sting’s scorpion death lock. He should have reversed his own decision when Sting refused to release the hold. I’m kidding, of course – there are no DQs or countouts in a no-rules match.
Next, Hulk Hogan beat Scott Steiner by countout.
It seems that Steiner was fed up with Hugh Morrus’s outside interference (which he briefly and heroically countered with a double nut-shot) and stormed off.
Hugh Morrus, who was not a referee, nor a participant in the match, nor even a WCW talent (having been fired that Monday), somehow declared Hogan the winner.
Pulling up to the arena was a black limo with the license plate “FUNB”. Tony Schiavone suggested that this stood for, “For Uniting the New Blood”.
Tag team champions Shane Douglas and Buff Bagwell faced Kronik, who happened to be the only tag team in Russo’s boot. At one point, Shane nearly counted a pin for his team before Brian Adams physically stopped Douglas’s hand from making the three-count. This is less stupid in context, but only slightly.
Bryan Clarke later counted the pin for Kronik, who celebrated with the tag belts. The announcers didn’t know whether this made them the champions.
Irate at the Millionaire’s Club having beaten their New Blood in every match, Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo went to the ring with his whole faction, all brandishing weapons.
The New Blood and Millionaires’ Club & Friends then had an impromptu 22-man battle royal for a title shot at the next pay-per-view. Not Slamboree, the event they were supposed to be promoting on this go-home show. I mean the next pay-per-view, Great American Bash.
Included in the battle royal were Jeff Jarrett and DDP, who were both challenging for David Arquette’s world title that Sunday. While I wouldn’t have put it past WCW to have Jeff Jarrett win and then wrestle himself for the title at GAB, it was not to be. You could be your own referee, but not your own opponent.
Despite the 16 x 16 ring being so crowded that viewers couldn’t tell what was even happening, there were no eliminations for the first four minutes. If this were the Gimmick Battle Royal, it would have ended by now. It also wouldn’t have had as many WWF wrestlers from the early 90s.
But they couldn’t have 22 guys in a tiny ring forever. What they needed was more guys. Among the reinforcements that Russo and Bischoff bused in were the Mamalukes, Bam Bam Bigelow, the Harris twins, Norman Smiley, Harlem Heat 2000, and Tank Abbott. Also joining in were the Misfits in Action, who had been fired two nights prior but still wanted that title shot.
With about 30 men now in the ring, WCW didn’t dare add any more men to the match. But they did add two women – Madusa and Asya.
Madusa and Shane Douglas exchanged shots to the groin before Mona joined the battle royal, too.
Some time during all this chaos, the eliminations started picking up a bit. Van Hammer, for instance, was seen landing on the floor and showing his disappointment in losing a match he wasn’t in, in a company he didn’t work for. Even though he jumped the rail to enter the match in the first place, rules were rules, and he’d have to return backstage.
Still, many of the other eliminations weren’t seen on screen. In fact, not only did the cameras miss almost all of the key spots in the match, but they also picked up a lot of things they shouldn’t have.
For example, Buff Bagwell completely missing the steps, which distracted the cameraman so much that he missed the elimination of Sting, who was then about to eliminate Vampiro before the production truck cut away.
What this match clearly needed was more guys, which WCW delivered in the form of janitor Jim Duggan, sort-of returning here after being relegated to mostly WCW Saturday Night for months. Duggan eliminated a bunch of New Blood members before seemingly eliminating himself. Schiavone and Tenay explained that Duggan hadn’t really eliminated himself, because he wasn’t an official participant. Unlike those other 20 guys who joined the match in progress.
Of course, the announcers had explicitly given up on logic early on in the match.
What would really give this match a shot in the arm was another shocking return, which it delivered in the form of limo passenger Randy Savage, making his first WCW appearance all year. And he wasn’t in the mood For Uniting the New Blood!
Savage helped out his pals in the Millionaires’ Club but nearly made a critical error by launching himself over the top rope. Shane Douglas, who really could have come in handy at the 1992 Rumble, made the “save”, and Macho left through the ropes.
Once the 40+ participants were whittled down to four, it was time to get down to business, which in WCW meant more shocking run-ins.
This time, the big surprise was the long-injured Bret Hart, who walked into the match, hit Hulk Hogan with a chair, and then left. He didn’t go over the top rope, but he did raise his hands like this…
…which meant that he wasn’t wrestling any more that night (or for the rest of WCW’s existence, it turned out).
Hulk Hogan was somehow eliminated by rolling under the ropes to the outside, where he helped eliminate Kidman by pulling down the top rope.
With just Shane Douglas and Ric Flair remaining in the match, Vince Russo ran in with a bat. No, he wasn’t entering the battle royal, unlike those 20 or so other people who had already run in; he was going to cheap shot Ric Flair.
Naturally, the cameras cut away at that precise moment, and when they returned a second later, it was apparent that Russo had missed and hit Douglas instead.
Ric Flair eliminated Shane Douglas to win the ridiculous battle royal and the title shot. Somehow, this didn’t feel as monumental as his victory at the 1992 Royal Rumble. Speaking of which, Randy Savage, who was never eliminated, joined in the celebration, meaning he never did figure out how battle royals worked.
But if you thought the end of the match mean the end of the carnage and production gaffes, think again! As Flair chopped his crotch at Vince Russo, the cameras missed Eric Bischoff blindsiding Hulk Hogan, sending Hogan and Billy Kidman through the announcer’s table.
Bischoff counted the one-two-three and raised Kidman’s hand in victory.
Meanwhile at the entrance way, Jeff Jarrett and Dallas Page brawled up the scaffolding.
David Arquette, their opponent that Sunday, arrived with one of Jarrett’s guitars, seemingly to help out his buddy DDP. Instead, he fell through a section of the stage rigged to collapse when either Jarrett or DDP fell off the big scaffold.
Cameras cut away two seconds after Arquette fell in the hole, and the announcers pretended he was never there.
Instead, cameras showed Randy Savage helping Hogan to his feet. Did this mean the Mega Powers were back together? No, as Randy Savage never appeared in WCW again. This was it.
Jeff Jarrett then appeared triumphant on the stage, apparently having knocked DDP into the abyss with David Arquette, off camera. What a way to hype a pay-per-view main event!
If there was one redeeming quality of this show, it was that Norman Smiley could forever brag about wrestling in both Randy Savage and Bret Hart’s last match in WCW.