The SmarK Rant for WCW Starrcade 1995 – 12.27.95
Live from Nashville, TN, drawing a sellout of 6000 paid and an abysmal buyrate of 0.36, or only about 70,000 buys.
Your hosts are Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan & Dusty Rhodes
Chris Benoit v. Jushin Liger
So this WCW v. New Japan as a concept, which might have been one of the worst-promoted PPV concepts ever, as none of the Japanese guys got any screen time leading up to the show and they barely even announced the lineup out of the triangle main event. Also, why didn’t they bring in Muta for this? He was always good to pop the crowd and probably could have had a cool match with Johnny B. Badd or something. Tony notes that Liger and Benoit know each quite well, which is a massive understatement. Benoit takes him down a couple of times to start, but Liger sends him running with armdrags and follows with a baseball slide and somersault off the apron. Back in, Liger hits him with a koppo kick, but walks into a backbreaker that gets two. Liger reverses out of a powerbomb and dropkicks Benoit out again, but can’t get his dive this time. Benoit with a snap suplex and a backdrop suplex to take over, and he follows with a Liontamer. Dusty goes on an epic soliloquy about whether the current Horsemen are better than the 80s Horsemen and even Tony gives up trying to translate Dusty into English after that. Benoit with a german suplex for two, but Liger takes him down for a bow and arrow and Dusty is INTO IT. It’s an unclin’ situation, Tony! Liger with a rear chinlock but Benoit escapes with an electric chair and they fight over a tombstone. Liger gets that one and goes up, but Benoit brings him down with a superplex for two. Diving headbutt misses and Liger hits him with the rolling kick in the corner and follows with a Ligerbomb for two. Brainbuster gets two. Liger gets cocky and Benoit comes back with the rolling germans, but only two. Powerbomb and he goes up with the diving headbutt, but Kevin Sullivan comes out to cause trouble, leading to Liger getting a sloppy rana for the pin at 10:30. Japan 1, WCW 0. So this was quite the opener. ****1/4 Would have been higher with a better finish, but as it was, the suplex-crazy offense was tremendous stuff.
Koji Kanemoto v. Alex Wright
Koji is an awesome dick heel so this should be an easy transition for him. Koji goes to work on the knee, but Wright gets an enzuigiri and they trade wristlocks. Wright with a headscissor takedown and they fight to the floor, where Wright hits him with a dive. Back in, Wright goes to the chinlock, but Koji throws chops in the corner and then LEVELS him with a spinkick. Wrights gets hung in the corner and Koji dropkicks him there, putting Wright on the floor. Kanemoto follows with a dive, but Wright fights back on the floor like a MAN. Back in, Koji wraps him up in a tiger suplex for two and follows with a moonsault, but he doesn’t want the pin. Wright comes back with a german suplex for two and fights back with a leg lariat and goes up with a slingshot splash for two, but a missile dropkick goes badly for him and both guys are out. Wright with a crossbody for two, but Koji escapes the german suplex and kicks him down into a moonsault for two. Back up and this time Wright blocks the missile dropkick, then pops up and hits his own. They fight to the top and Wright gets a superplex for two, but Koji drops him with Snake Eyes and rolls him up for the pin at 11:44. Another great match! Wright was the plucky kid way out of his league who decided to man up and keep fighting, but just couldn’t finish. Koji was on another level as a worker at this point, doing all these vicious kicks perfectly. Japan 2, WCW 0. ****
Lex Luger v. Masa Chono
I don’t sense this will be very good. Luger overpowers Chono, but gets put down with forearms and a big boot. Chono chokes him out in the corner and goes to a chinlock, then puts Luger down with a Scorpion deathdrop and into the STF. Luger makes the ropes and they slug it out, but Chono puts him down with a Yazuka kick. Chono goes up and lands on Luger’s elbow, and the Torture Rack finishes at 6:40. Japan 2, WCW 1. *1/2 Total style clash here.
Johnny B. Badd v. Masa Saito
Saito is looking particularly old and grizzled at this point. So someone had the brilliant idea of giving Kimberly promo time before the match and talking is not her strong suit. To say the least. It’s like the world’s worst “yo mama” battle or something, which probably explains why she almost never talked again. Saito takes Badd down and goes to a chinlock, and then they slug it out with chops because Saito is 53 (!!) and obviously isn’t taking any bumps here. Saito with a side suplex for two and a clothesline gets two. Sonny Onoo gets some choking in and Saito gets a Russian legsweep for two, but Badd comes back with a double axehandle and a sunset flip for two. Saito no-sells the knockout punches and Badd stands around waiting for Onoo to hit his cue, and Saito throws Badd over the top for the DQ at 6:00. Why did they drag Saito out of mothballs for this embarrassment? DUD Japan 2, WCW 2.
Eddie Guerrero v. Shinjiro Ohtani
This would be the “pivotable” match in the tournament, according to Dusty. Ohtani takes him down with an armdrag and immediately acts like a dick, clawing at the face just because. Eddie hits him with a low dropkick, but Ohtani goes to the leg and controls on the mat again. Eddie fights out with a rana to put him on the floor and Ohtani gets some advice from Sonny Onoo. That advice? Fuck if I know, I don’t speak Japanese. Back in, Eddie with a slingshot senton and a Boston crab, but Ohtani makes the ropes. Eddie with a powerbomb for two. Brainbuster gets two. Eddie charges and Ohtani slickly ducks out of the way, then dumps Eddie and follows with a springboard dive to the floor. Back in, dropkick and Ohtani chokes him down on the mat and follows with a sleeper, but Eddie escapes with a backdrop suplex for two. Ohtani snaps off a german suplex for two and it’s pretty badass. Springboard leg lariat and Ohtani goes up, but Eddie follows him up with a rana for two. Eddie with Splash Mountain for two. Ohtani suddenly wraps him up with a heel hook, but Eddie makes the ropes. They fight to the floor and Eddie follows with some insane hangtime on a springboard dive. Ohtani manages to suplex him back in and follows with a springboard dropkick. That’s usually his setup, but Eddie escapes the suplex and they trade sunset flip reversals until Ohtani ends up on top for the pin at 13:30. They were letting it all hang out here. **** Japan 3, WCW 2.
Randy Savage v. Hiroyoshi Tenzan (spelled “Tensan” here)
Tenzan, who today is 44 and totally broken down, is still kicking around New Japan as a kind-of top guy still. He had not yet met hetero life partner Satoshi Kojima yet, sadly. They fight for the lockup and Tenzan chops him down and pounds away for two. Tenzan chokes him down in the corner and it’s punch punch punch as Savage has little interest in doing anything but selling tonight. More punching and Savage bails to the floor, but Tenzan beats on him out there as well. Back in, Tenzan with the flying headbutt for two, but Savage comes back, drops him on the top, and finishes with the miracle elbow at 6:50. This was pretty embarrassing even by Savage’s low standards at this point. Japan 3, WCW 3. ¼*
World Cup Final: Sting v. Kensuke Sasaki
Just to troll the Sting truthers a bit more, Sasaki was voted into the WON Hall of Fame last year, and Sting still isn’t in. Sting, it should be noted, has his face painted like a Reese’s Pieces. Could this signify a secret alliance with ET? TUNE INTO NITRO TO FIND OUT! Sasaki attacks and chokes him out, but Sting fights back with a dropkick and clotheslines him to the floor. Back in, Sasaki gets a powerslam and Northern Lights Bomb and grabs an armbar on Sting. Armdrag into a slam gets two. Sasaki gets his own Scorpion deathlock, but Sting makes the ropes and comes back with an enzuigiri before finishing with his own Scorpion at 6:51 to win the World Cup. That’s it, put him in the Hall of Fame right now! This was OK. ** Oddly, Sasaki dropped the US title to One Man Gang in a dark match at the end of the night while working as a babyface, in a match where Gang got the win and then the match was restarted and Sasaki got the win. But apparently they only used the Gang portion. Because WCW.
Triangle match: Ric Flair v. Sting v. Lex Luger
Winner gets Randy Savage for the title immediately after. We actually have an hour left in the show so there’s some time to burn here. This is slightly different than current three-way rules, as one guy has to be on the apron and tag in. Sting starts with Flair and gets the press slam and clothesline for two, but Flair immediately bails. Back in, he works on the hammerlock and slugs away on Sting, but Sting no-sells and starts beating on him again. Bulldog sends Flair out of the ring again and this time Sting follows and keeps up the beating. Back in, he misses a dropkick and Flair takes over. Dusty goes on a crazy old man rant about playing possum while Flair trolls Luger and tosses Sting for some abuse on the floor. Back in, kneedrop gets two. Suplex, but Sting pops up again and we get another press slam to set up a superplex for two. Neat moment as Luger comes in to save and the crowd goes “ooooooo” but the buddies smooth things over. Luger finally tags in against Flair, but quickly gets hit with a cheapshot and no-sells that. Poor Flair gets pressed again and we get a Flair Flop for two. Flair goes to the knee, however, and goes to work on that. Flair goes low (“He must have lost his balance…” notes Heenan) and gets the figure-four, but Luger uses the power of his pecs to reverse the move. Suplex gets two. Flair goes up and gets slammed off, and Luger no-sells his chops and decides to tag out to Sting. So we get the long-awaited Sting v. Luger showdown. They fight over a lockup and exchange shots in the corner, as Luger suddenly goes heel again and begs off. Lex pounds him in the corner and gets a clothesline, but Sting comes back with a bodypress for two. Man, this segment is just DYING. Pretty shocking lack of heat for something that was supposed to be the top program. Sting misses a pump splash and Luger drops an elbow for two. Sting slugs back and gets the Scorpion, but Luger goes low about as blatantly as possible. Sting gets a small package for two and a sunset flip for two, and makes the comeback with a bulldog and Stinger splash. A second one misses and Luger gets the Rack, but the ref is bumped and Flair sneaks in with a chop block to break it up. Both Sting and Luger land on the floor, and the ref revives and counts them out at 28:00. What a shit finish that was. Sting-Flair was entertaining, Luger-Flair was entertaining, and Sting-Luger was shit and killed the crowd. Man, what a terrible finish, though. **1/2
WCW World title: Randy Savage v. Ric Flair
Savage beats on Flair to start as Paul Orndorff joins us at ringside in a neck brace for an angle that ended up going nowhere. Flair with an atomic drop on Savage, but he can’t get the figure-four, and Savage dumps him and follows with the double axehandle. Flair nails him on the way down, however, and takes over in the ring by working on the giant bandaged arm. You’d think people would take that low-hanging fruit more often in 1995. Savage fights back, but walks into a sleeper before slugging Flair down for two. Clothesline gets two. Savage goes up and gets caught coming down again, and Jimmy Hart’s megaphone gets involved, resulting in Savage nailing Flair with it and tapping a gusher. Big elbow, but the ref is still with Jimmy Hart, and the Horsemen run in behind the idiot ref’s back, leaving Arn to nail Savage with brass knuckles six inches from the ref’s head, and Flair wins the title again at 8:40. *1/2 This would kick off the era of women’s shoes as deadly weapons, but we’ll get to that later on Nitro.
Although the main event didn’t deliver, the World Cup gave us an astonishing 3 **** matches, so you can’t complain very loudly about that. I still think World War III was an overall better show from an entertainment standpoint, but this was a better wrestling show.