WCW Thunder

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WCW Thunder
The official Thunder logo
Created byTed Turner
Eric Bischoff
Directed byCraig Leathers
StarringWorld Championship Wrestling alumni
Opening theme
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes156
Camera setupMulti-camera setup
Running time120 minutes
Original release
NetworkTBS Superstation
ReleaseJanuary 8, 1998 (1998-01-08) –
March 21, 2001 (2001-03-21)
WCW Monday Nitro
WCW Saturday Night
WCW WorldWide
WCW Clash of the Champions

WCW Thunder, or simply Thunder, is an American professional wrestling show produced by World Championship Wrestling (WCW) which aired on TBS Superstation from January 8, 1998 to March 21, 2001.

The popularity of WCW in 1996 and 1997 allowed for the creation of a new show, which became WCW Thunder. Thunder was taped on Tuesday nights and then aired on Thursday, a change for WCW as producer Eric Bischoff was very keen on its primary show WCW Monday Nitro being aired live every week.

The rights to WCW Thunder now belong to WWE, who purchased WCW properties in 2001. The trademark for "WCW Thunder" was renewed by WWE in 2018.[2] As of June 30, 2023, all 156 episodes of Thunder are available to stream on the WWE Network and Peacock.[3]



The popularity of World Championship Wrestling (WCW)'s primary show, WCW Monday Nitro on TNT, led Ted Turner to create a new show, which would eventually be named Thunder, that would air Thursdays on TBS Superstation.[4] According to the Wrestling Observer, WCW originally named the program Thursday Thunder, but dropped "Thursday" from the title to distinguish it from a similarly named program on ESPN and to provide TBS more programming flexibility if they were to move the broadcast to a different day of the week.[5][6][7]

WCW executive vice-president Eric Bischoff was originally reluctant to produce another two-hour weekly television show for a variety of reasons. First, Time Warner (WCW's parent company) was under a hiring freeze which prevented Bischoff from bringing in additional production people to run the show.[8] Second, he felt WCW did not have enough talent to produce another show and risked overexposing them and making storylines less significant. Third, according to Bischoff, TBS refused to pay the cost of producing Thunder which was between $12 million and $15 million per year.[9]

Bischoff eventually decided that he could make the new show work and help pay for it by expanding revenue from increased house show business.[10] Bischoff was also given permission to sign Bret Hart, specifically as a high-profile talent to perform on Thunder.[11] WCW Thunder originally debuted as a live weekly show, but the schedule was changed by Bischoff in August 1998 due to complaints by wrestlers over travel demands. Tapings were expanded to four hours, with the first two hours being broadcast live and the last two hours taped to air the following week.[12]

WCW Thunder debuted on January 8, 1998 and drew a 4.02 Nielsen rating.[13] The first match to take place in Thunder featured Chris Adams against Randy Savage with Miss Elizabeth. Adams pinned Savage after a chairshot from Lex Luger. The match decision was reversed by WCW Commissioner/Chairman of Executive Committee J. J. Dillon.

WCW Thunder debuted for viewers in England on October 3, 1998 on broadcast cable network TNT Europe.[14]

In 1998, WCW Thunder consistently had one of the highest Nielsen ratings on cable, at one time rivaling the audience size of a Thursday night NFL broadcast on ESPN.[15][16][17][18] The Wrestling Observer reported the December 3, 1998 WCW Thunder show had a 3.7 rating head-to-head against the NFL game, which drew a 4.5 rating.[19] WCW Thunder's success in 1998 included ticket sales, as a number of live events sold out and grossed gates over $100,000.[20][21][22][23][24][25] The WCW Thunder at the Fargodome in Fargo, North Dakota on April 16, 1998 drew 15,362 people and grossed $274,393 in ticket sales, which were both records highs for that market.[26]


WCW Thunder switched from Thursday evenings to Wednesday evenings on January 12, 2000. Since WWF SmackDown! debuted on UPN (a broadcast television network) on August 26, 1999 in the same timeslot as Thunder, WCW had been losing to the WWF in the ratings on Thursdays including on Mondays, as this was the time WCW's ratings began to steadily decline that would eventually lead to the company's demise.[citation needed]

On October 9, 2000, WCW moved the Thunder tapings to Monday nights, the same night as Nitro. After the live Nitro broadcast ended, the Thunder taping would commence. This practice continued until March 19, 2001, when Thunder taped its last episode. Bryan Alvarez and R. D. Reynolds wrote in their book, The Death of WCW, the reasoning behind the tapings was attendance at Thunder events had dropped considerably over the previous twenty-one months.[27]

Towards the end of the show's run, WCW Thunder was the anchor of a TBS programming block known as iWatch Wednesdays (later renamed Enhanced TBS), which was tied to the website TBS Interactive. After installing a web browser plugin, users had access to forums, games and contests related to the TBS programs, including Thunder.[28]

Final broadcast[edit]

In an attempt to save WCW, Bischoff attempted to purchase the company with Fusient Media Ventures. However, although Bischoff's offer had been accepted, recently appointed Turner Broadcasting executive Jamie Kellner announced shortly after his arrival that Thunder and all WCW programming was immediately canceled on TBS. Bischoff's group then withdrew their offer, as it was contingent on keeping WCW programming on some outlet. WCW's trademarks and certain assets (such as its video library and the contracts of 24 wrestlers), though not the company itself (which continued to exist as a Time Warner-owned subsidiary under the name Universal Wrestling Corporation), were bought by the WWF, its long-time competitor.[29][30][31]

Thunder was the antepenultimate WCW broadcast before the final episode of WCW WorldWide on March 31, 2001. WCW Thunder was the final wrestling broadcast to air on TBS until AEW Dynamite moved to TBS on January 5, 2022.


Veteran industry journalist Wade Keller said that the introduction of Thunder could be called "the beginning of the end" for the now-defunct WCW, adding that the program's debut "is probably as good of a turning point as you could pick out".[32]

Wrestling Observer subscribers voted WCW Thunder the worst weekly television show in 1999 and 2000.[33][34]

On-air personalities[edit]

Commentary teams[edit]

Commentators Dates
Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan and Lee Marshall January 8, 1998
January 22, 1998 – April 9, 1998
May 21, 1998 – November 12, 1998
December 17, 1998
Mike Tenay, Bobby Heenan and Lee Marshall January 15, 1998
Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, Mike Tenay and Lee Marshall April 16, 1998 – May 14, 1998
Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay and Larry Zbyszko November 19, 1998
Mike Tenay and Larry Zbyszko April 7, 1999 – October 7, 1999
Mike Tenay, Larry Zbyszko and Kevin Nash October 14, 1999
Scott Hudson and Larry Zbyszko October 21, 1999 – December 2, 1999
Mike Tenay and Juventud Guerrera December 9, 1999
Mike Tenay, Scott Hudson and Juventud Guerrera December 16, 1999
Tony Schiavone, Scott Hudson and Mike Tenay December 23, 1999 – February 2, 2000
Mike Tenay and Bobby Heenan February 9, 2000 – March 29, 2000
Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan and Mike Tenay December 3, 1998 – December 10, 1998
January 7, 1999 – April 1, 1999
April 12, 2000 – July 19, 2000
Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay and Mark Madden July 26, 2000
November 1, 2000
November 29, 2000 – December 6, 2000
Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay and Jeremy Borash September 20, 2000
Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay and Konnan December 13, 2000
Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay and Stevie Ray August 2, 2000 – September 13, 2000
September 27, 2000 – October 25, 2000
November 8, 2000 – November 22, 2000
December 6, 2000
December 20, 2000 – January 10, 2001
Tony Schiavone and Mike Tenay January 17, 2001 – March 21, 2001

Ring announcers[edit]

  • David Penzer (January 16, 1998 – March 21, 2001)
  • Pamela Paulshock


  1. ^ WCW Thunder 1st Theme
  2. ^ "WCW THUNDER - Trademark Details". trademarks.justia.com/. Justia. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  3. ^ "November's Classic Content Officially Added To Archives – WCW Thunder Series Now Completely Available On Demand | WWE Network News". www.wwenetworknews.com. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  4. ^ Bischoff, Eric (2006). Controversy Creates Cash. Pocket Books. pp. 255–256. ISBN 978-1-4165-2729-9.
  5. ^ Meltzer, Dave, ed. (November 24, 1997). "The new Thursday TBS show is going to be called 'Thunder,'..." Wrestling Observer. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  6. ^ Meltzer, Dave, ed. (December 8, 1997). "The plan as things stand at press time is..." Wrestling Observer. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  7. ^ Meltzer, Dave, ed. (December 15, 1997). "The Thursday TV show will definitely..." Wrestling Observer. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  8. ^ Bischoff, p. 255
  9. ^ Bischoff, p. 257
  10. ^ Bischoff, p. 258
  11. ^ Bischoff, pp. 261, 271
  12. ^ Meltzer, Dave, ed. (June 15, 1998). "Eric Bischoff had a meeting with the wrestlers..." Wrestling Observer. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  13. ^ Meltzer, Dave, ed. (January 19, 1998). "There is more jockeying for position..." Wrestling Observer. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  14. ^ Meltzer, Dave, ed. (September 24, 1998). "WCW Thunder will start on TNT Europe..." Wrestling Observer. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  15. ^ "Basic Cable Programs Ranked by Household for the Week of 4/20-4/26 by Nielsen Media Research". Zap2It.com. Archived from the original on December 1, 2001. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  16. ^ "Basic Cable Programs Ranked by Household for the Week of 9/14/98 - 9/20/98 by Nielsen Media Research". Zap2It.com. Archived from the original on November 24, 2001. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  17. ^ "Basic Cable Programs Ranked by Household for the Week of 9/21/98 - 9/27/98 by Nielsen Media Research". Zap2It.com. Archived from the original on November 24, 2001. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  18. ^ "Top 20 Basic Cable Programs Ranked for the". Zap2It.com. Archived from the original on November 24, 2001. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  19. ^ Meltzer, Dave, ed. (December 21, 1998). "The 12/14 Sports Illustrated noted..." Wrestling Observer. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  20. ^ Meltzer, Dave, ed. (February 2, 1998). "Thunder on 1/22 in Huntsville, AL drew a sellout..." Wrestling Observer. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  21. ^ Meltzer, Dave, ed. (March 16, 1998). "Thunder on 3/5 in Columbus, OH drew a sellout..." Wrestling Observer. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  22. ^ Meltzer, Dave, ed. (June 1, 1999). "Thunder on 5/21 in Cleveland drew a sellout..." Wrestling Observer. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  23. ^ Meltzer, Dave, ed. (August 10, 1998). "8/3 Denver (WCW Thunder - 7,697 sellout)". Wrestling Observer. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  24. ^ Meltzer, Dave, ed. (October 5, 1998). "Thunder on 9/24 in Norfolk drew a sellout..." Wrestling Observer. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  25. ^ Meltzer, Dave, ed. (November 30, 1998). "Thunder on 11/19 in Fort Wayne, IN drew a sellout..." Wrestling Observer. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  26. ^ Meltzer, Dave, ed. (April 27, 1998). "Thunder on 4/16 at the Fargo Dome destroyed every record". Wrestling Observer. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  27. ^ Reynolds, R.D.; Alvarez, Bryan. "The Death of WCW", ECW Press 2004.
  28. ^ "iWatch Wednesday gives you a chance to win!". TBS. Turner Broadcasting. Archived from the original on November 10, 2000. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  29. ^ Callis, Don (March 25, 2001). "Deal leaves wrestlers out in cold". Slam! Sports. Archived from the original on July 20, 2012.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  30. ^ "Business Entity". Archived from the original on July 3, 2013. Retrieved June 26, 2014.
  31. ^ "FindLaw's Court of Appeals of Georgia case and opinions". Findlaw. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
  32. ^ Wade Keller (August 24, 2017). "Ask the Editor". Wade Keller Hotline. 21 minutes in. Pro Wrestling Torch.
  33. ^ Meltzer, Dave, ed. (January 17, 2000). "Worst Television Show". Wrestling Observer. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  34. ^ Meltzer, Dave, ed. (November 26, 2001). "'Category B' Awards". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved May 1, 2020.

External links[edit]