How should we celebrate both the major holiday and WCW Wednesday this week? Let’s discuss the biggest card in WCW history—Starrcade ’97!
Before we discuss the main event and its fallout, let’s set the table for this PPV:
Sting, who was ultimately the biggest babyface WCW ever had, was third, fourth, or possibly fifth banana behind ‘Hollywood” Hogan, Ric Flair, Randy Savage, and perhaps the Outsiders in 1996. He desperately needed to freshen up his character. Also, since the nWo began running roughshod over WCW in ’96, someone had to stand up to them.
On 9/9/96, a man dressed as Sting emerged from a limousine and attacked Lex Luger. All signs pointed to Sting joining the nWo. However, a keen eye would have detected that the real Sting was in Japan instead of Columbus, GA. Since Luger and Sting were not only business partners but also friends, you’d think he’d know that. But you’d be wrong according to WCW.
On the following Sunday (9/15), WCW held Fall Brawl ’96 on PPV. While a bogus Sting competed alongside the nWo during WarGames, the real Sting laid out the entire nWo but left feeling betrayed. On 10/21, Sting reappeared to take out the bogus Sting and leave his intentions up in the air.
From there, Sting spent the next fourteen months brooding in the rafters. Occasionally, he made appearances such as delivering the Scorpion death drop to Jarrett on 11/11, the following week confronting Luger, attacking Jarrett again at World War III, dropping Rick Steiner with the Scorpion death drop the following night, questioning Rick Steiner’s loyalty on 12/2, secretly revealing his intentions to Luger & Giant at Starrcade ’96, and annihilating “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan with the Scorpion death drop in the Superdome on 1/13/97.
Finally, on 3/16/97, Sting made his intentions known as he swooped down from the rafters at Uncensored ’97. From there, Sting occasionally would swoop down to aid WCW in their fight against the nWo such as in Las Vegas on 6/30.
During some rather dubious practices by WCW Executive committee member James J. Dillon, Sting tore up contracts against lesser opponents (e.g. Syxx) when everyone in the wrestling universe besides Dillon knew that Sting wanted a contract to face “Hollywood” Hogan for the WCW World title.
So here we are at the big event. Let’s see what took place.
- Eddie Guerrero successfully defended the WCW Cruiserweight title by defeating Dean Malenko.
- Scott Hall informed the audience that Kevin Nash was not available to lay down for compete against the Giant.
- nWo members Konnan “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Scott Norton, & Vincent (a.k.a. Virgil) defeated the Steiners & Ray Traylor.
- Goldberg beat Mongo in a match that didn’t belong on Starrcade.
- Raven Saturn made Chris Benoit submit.
- Buff Bagwell pinned former WCW World champion the “Total Package” Lex Luger.
- DDP defeated Curt Hennig to become the NEW US champion in the first babyface victory of the evening.
- WCW Executive Producer/President Eric Bischoff lost to commentator Larry Zbyszko giving Monday Nitro back to WCW after the nWo hijacked it the previous Monday.
- Sting made Hogan submit to the Scorpion death lock thanks to a restart of the match by WCW newcomer Bret “Hitman” Hart despite a normal three-count by referee Nick Patrick. By doing so, Sting became the WCW World champion.
So what happened? Yes, WCW sent the fans home happy albeit confused with the World title match. Sensing that Sting wasn’t in ring shape, Hogan controlled the match and monopolized most of the offense. The “fast count” wasn’t fast rendering the ending a farce. Additionally, Sting needed help to win the title whereas in the past he handled Hogan by himself.
As a fan, I would have preferred a more Sting-dominant match as the popular opinion was for Sting to decimate Hogan and remove him as the leader of the nWo. If Hogan had allowed Sting to work his type of match and not used his creative control to dictate it himself then the main event had potential to blow the roof off the then-MCI Center. Lastly, instead of repelling from the rafters, Sting simply walked to the ring. Seriously?
What was the fallout from the show? Hogan and Sting had a rematch the following night on Nitro basically telling people they wasted their money on the PPV. While the end of the match wasn’t shown on TNT live, the outcome (shown on the series première of Thunder on TBS) left more doubt than answers. Ultimately, the World title was declared vacant until SuperBrawl.
Starrcade ’97 should have CEMENTED WCW as the #1 promotion for years to come. Instead, history proved that, in spite of Starrcade’s huge buyrate (1.90), booking your #1 babyface to steamroll over the nWo was a bad move and keeping the “rival promotion” going into 1998 was the better scenario. Honestly, I think it helped to convolute the booking in 1998 despite the tremendous revenue WCW generated.
What do you think?
Happy Holidays to you and yours.
Also, please be sure to check out all of my reflections at rockstargary.com.