We Watched An Episode Of WCW Thunder To See If Eric Bischoff Can Save SmackDown

THUNDER Vince Russo
WWE Network

On May 3, 2000, WCW presented Thunder from the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, Tennessee—a raucous crowd known for its love of authentic wrestling. It drew just 3,979 of them, eerily reflecting a typical WWE gate in 2019.

Tony Schiavone welcomed everybody to the show before the director cut away to a developing scene outside of the arena; there, the babyface Millionaire’s Club faction lay in wait for New Blood masterminds Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo. The Millionaire’s Club were comprised of the ageing, fading veterans synonymous with the decline of the stale promotion, and the audience was to get behind their war against fresher, emerging talent.

The Millionaire’s Club—Hulk Hogan, Sting, and several more decorated main event acts—set upon the New Blood management and personnel in a vicious beat-down. Russo was caught into the crossfire. Just moments later—the audience knew it to be moments later, because a graphic ran ‘MOMENTS AGO’—this scuffle was separated, for unexplained reasons, as Russo, not selling a thing, marched into the New Blood dressing room.

Laying waste to a potted plant with a baseball bat—Russo was one pissed-off hard-nut—he read the geeks under his charge the riot act. The message was clear: this un-athletic heel authority figure was large and in charge, and the pro wrestlers were subservient to him, the centre of the narrative universe. Bischoff, therefore, should have few difficulties maintaining the Shane McMahon push.

Russo stormed to the ring, and he was not happy. He demanded the presence of the Millionaire’s Club. “Flair,” he said, “I’ll come up there and smack that smile off your face,” attempting to radiate real tough guy vibes.

Hey, he’s from f*ckin’ Noo Yawk, ya piece of trash, ya think he ain’t a tough guy, ah? Get da f*ck outtahee.

Russo wasn’t hiding behind the New Blood, visually framing his cowardice. He was, as ever, in front of them. He then proceeded to set up a series of just unbelievably dumb and contrived matches between the individual members of the warring factions. No, not several Two out of Three Falls matches, but matches held under ‘New York Rules’. The rules were simple: there were no rules. And no referees! Russo had about as much need for recognised, qualified officials as…Baron Corbin. Hmmm. Curious.

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Former Power Slam Magazine scribe and author of Development Hell: The NXT Story - available NOW on shop.whatculture.com!