We have finally reached the end of Mike Reviews Main Events, with NWA/WCW Starrcade being how I’m set to bow out. I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read these ever since I started doing them earlier in the year. It’s kind of amazing that we’ve reached the end, and I have to say I’m a little bit relieved as it looked like a daunting prospect at first.
Starrcade was traditionally WCW’s biggest event of the year (Although you wouldn’t think that considering how they booked it sometimes) and in the earlier days especially it produced some of the best matches in the company’s history.
Originally held in the Carolina’s and Georgia (Two strongholds for Jim Crockett Promotions) WCW eventually took Starrcade on the road starting in 1987, with the 87 event being the catalyst for Vince McMahon to create the Survivor Series out of pure spite. The latter events in places like Nashville and Washington never really lived up to the great ones in Greensboro and Atlanta, but Starrcade still remained a focal point of the WCW promotion, even into the nWo era of the company.
This week we’ll be covering 1995 to 2000
WCW Starrcade 1995
Champ: Randy Savage Vs Ric Flair w/ Jimmy Hart
WCW tried another concept show for Starrcade in 95, doing a WCW Vs New Japan Best of Seven tournament. Savage had wrestled Hiroyoshi Tenzan in that tournament, whilst Flair had defeated Lex Luger and Sting in a Triangle match to earn himself a match with Savage here.
Flair has a strange colour scheme going on here, sporting black trunks with red knee pads and yellow boots. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him wear those three colours together like that. These two had actually already feuded in 95 due to Flair attacking Savage’s dad, and they would feud into 96 also, with their feud doing well at house shows and playing a big role in WCW finally becoming profitable. Paul Orndorf comes down to watch in a neck brace, as The Horsemen had piledriven him on concrete recently. I don’t think they ended up paying that one off sadly. The crowd heat isn’t great for this, and it actually sounds like Savage is getting some boo’s despite being the babyface.
Savage tries an axe handle to the floor, but Flair catches him on the way down and starts working him over, targeting his heavily bandaged left arm. Hart even gets some cheap shots in too for good measure. Savage sells it all well and makes the odd sporadic comeback, as the lack of crowd reactions here is really distracting, as it’s not like they’re having a terrible match or anything. Granted, it’s hardly been super exciting, but I’ve seen worse. Hart throws Flair his megaphone and distracts the ref, but Savage gets it and hits Flair with it before dropping the elbow. Flair blades off that but the ref isn’t there to count, which allows The Horsemen of Arn Anderson, Brian Pillman and Chris Benoit to run down. Savage fends them off for the most part, but Arn hits him with an International Object and that allows a bloody Flair to pick up the Title.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: RIC FLAIR
Just a match and they didn’t seem to be on the same page for parts of it
WCW Starrcade 1996
WCW Champion: Hollywood Hogan w/ Ted Dibiase, Vincent and Elizabeth Vs Rowdy Roddy Piper
Hogan had gone heel in the summer of 96 and formed the New World Order faction with Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. They’d been booked super strong for the rest of 96, winning the War Games at Fall Brawl and then collecting a lot of the Titles. Hogan had defeated Savage at Halloween Havoc 96 and was having a good time celebrating, but it was cut short by the debuting Roddy Piper. In typical WCW fashion, they cut away before the conclusion of their duelling mics segment, but there was definitely interest in a Hogan/Piper match, with it eventually getting booked for Starrcade. Strangely Hogan’s belt wasn’t on the line, even though Piper was the one who wrote the contract in storyline!
This is one of those matches where the actual wrestling isn’t great due to the combined ages of both men, but the crowd reactions are good and both men have buckets of charisma, so it’s at least watchable when they’re not resting. They tell a good story with Piper shining on Hogan in the ring and Hogan bailing outside to stall with the idea of drawing Piper out of the ring for some heel chicanery, which the commentators pick up on and relay to the audience. Piper even fires of an enziguri of sorts at one stage, which leads to Hogan bailing once again and Piper following him for some brawling around ringside.
Piper starts whipping Hogan with the belt form his kilt, which the referee allows, but a distraction from Dibiase finally allows Hogan to cut Piper off and work some heat. It’s mostly just punching and heel tactics like choking, but it serves its purpose. Hogan kicks away at Piper’s surgically replaced hip at one stage and then locks in an abdominal stretch to work it over, which is actually a clever bit of psychology, but Piper fights out of it and then does the playground special of pulling at Hogan’s hair. Is he going to give him a donkey scrub next or something? Or will he make him start punching himself whilst asking him why he’s doing it?
They probably go too long after a certain point and they lose the crowd a bit as a result, but I can’t deny that they aren’t working hard as they are both drenched in sweat and struggling for air. Piper dodges the leg drop and does his weird hopping taunt that he did on Revenge for the N64. Giant runs down to Choke Slam Piper, in full view of the ref I should add, which leads to a fan running into the ring and Hogan needing to whomp him. Piper gets out of the Choke Slam though and sends Giant to the floor before locking a sleeper hold on Hogan for the improbable clean win and a monster pop from the crowd.
WINNER: ROWDY RODDY PIPER
The storytelling wasn’t bad but the work wasn’t great and they could have probably served to shave 5 minutes of it. Piper was one of the few guys to actually get to beat Hogan in a feud during this period, as he also beat him at Halloween Havoc 97
WCW Starrcade 1997
Champ: Hollywood Hogan Vs Sting
The nWo had debuted their own Sting in the autumn of 1996, which had led to WCW guys questioning whether the real Sting had joined the group also. This had led to Sting going all emo and stalking the rafters of the venues WCW ran, upset that people in WCW had questioned his loyalty to the promotion. Eventually Sting showed that he was indeed still on Team WCW by attacking Hogan at Uncensored 97, which led to a nearly yearlong build for the two finally clashing at Starrcade. The result was a monster buy rate, with fans chomping at the bit to see Sting defeat Hogan and claim the Title. Indeed, the fan base had been living through nearly 18 months of #LolNwoWins and the time was ripe to start winding the group down, with Sting’s decisive win over Hogan being the perfect way to start the ball rolling. Common sense dictated a strong Sting win, but this was WCW, where common sense went to die.
This match is deathly dull and mostly features Hogan working Sting over. It looks like it’s building to Sting finally making the big comeback to win the match, but instead Hogan drops the leg on Sting and pins him clean to win. Referee Nick Patrick was supposed to do a fast count following the leg drop, but he just did a normal one (With rumours abounding that Hogan slipped him some cheddar in order to “accidentally” count too slow). As a result, Sting has just lost after a year of build and looks like a chump as a result.
Guest Referee from a previous match Bret Hart comes down and demands that the match restart, which would have made sense if there had actually been a fast count, but as there wasn’t it just looks stupid and if anything makes Hogan look sympathetic that he won the match clean and is now getting forced into wrestling again. Sting quickly fires up and locks Hogan in the Scorpion Deathlock, which leads to Bret ringing the bell even though it doesn’t look like Hogan actually submitted, and thus Sting “wins” the WCW Title in the most uninspiring and lame way possible.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: STING
I don’t think I can accurately describe just how much of a disaster this match was, as they pretty much killed Sting in one night and then ended up pissing away further goodwill by not having the decision stand and making the two men face off again at SuperBrawl VIII for the held up belt. Hogan apparently thought Sting didn’t look impressive enough physically, which is why he demanded this limp-wristed booking, and then Patrick exacerbated the lameness of it all with his non-fast count. Honestly, I could have lived with Hogan battering Sting for 8 minutes or so with it all building to Sting making the superman comeback and winning clean, as it’s not like Sting needed to squash him or anything. But this match was the worst of all worlds, as Hogan not only dominated the match but Sting didn’t even get to look strong in the closing sections. Just a sickening and ferociously awful match
They try doing the big roster celebration after that, but COME ON!
WCW Starrcade 1998
Champ: Goldberg Vs Kevin Nash
Bill Goldberg had taken the wrestling business by storm, having a meteoric rise up the card in WCW based around an impressive winning streak gimmick. Every week he ploughed through another opponent, with the crowd loving him even more with each Spear and Jackhammer. Eventually he won the WCW Title from Hollywood Hogan in the summer of 98, at which point he strangely got pushed into the background whilst Hogan feuded with DDP and Ultimate Warrior. In autumn it looked like WCW finally had a hot feud for him, as Bam Bam Bigelow jumped from ECW and fans were into the idea of seeing the two go at it. It made perfect sense as the Main Event of Starrcade, with Bammer winning the 60 man World War III Battle Royal being an excellent way to establish him as an immediate heel threat.
However, WCW instead had Kevin Nash win the match to earn himself a Title match. This had very little to do with Kevin Nash having a hand in the booking at this time I’m sure. Nash Vs Goldberg was still a big singles match that they hadn’t done before at least, and it would be another good name for Goldy to have a tick against in his win column. Common sense dictated that Goldberg would defeat Nash in a tough contest in order to make him look good whilst also keeping Nash strong by having the big man give Goldberg all he could handle before finally succumbing. However, this was WCW, where common sense went to die.
The action isn’t bad here to be honest, with both men having moments of control as they look to be going for a Hogan/Warrior Face Vs Face vibe, where both wrestlers look like they are on the others level without making the other look weak at the same time. In a funny moment Nash actually does some MMA styled counters at one stage. I buy that Kevin Nash is a tough dude who could batter you in a street fight, but I doubt that he would have the technical acumen required to beat someone in sporting contest like an MMA fight. Him punching guys and doing power moves I buy. Him doing cross arm breakers and double legs I don’t.
Still, it’s a fun match for the most part, and they had a decent one at Spring Stampede 99 from memory too. Eventually they start going to the overbooking, with Disco Inferno and Bam Bam Bigelow all running in at various moments. Disco tries to help Nash as he wanted to join The Wolfpac at the time, and that goes about as well for him as you’d expect. However, Scott Hall ends up being the difference maker as he zaps Goldberg with a cattle-prod and that allows Nash to drop Goldy with a Jack Knife to end the streak and basically relegate WCW to second place forevermore.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: KEVIN NASH
Terrible booking aside, as a match this was actually a fun power match when they were both slugging each other and throwing each other around. The overbooking at the end got a little bit silly, but I guess they wanted to try and at least protect Goldberg to a certain degree if he was going to be doing the job. Goldberg actually did a decent job hanging in a longer match than normal and Nash took plenty of bumps to make him look good
WCW Starrcade 1999
Champ: Bret Hart Vs Goldberg
Losing to Nash the previous year had definitely taken some steam off Goldberg, but he remained a very over act and there was every chance that he could be rehabbed with another strong Title reign. Goldberg had actually defeated Sting in the Main Event of Halloween Havoc 99 to seemingly win the WCW Title once again, but as it wasn’t a properly sanctioned match the Title ended up getting vacated and a tournament set up. Bret Hart ended up winning the tournament after knocking Goldberg out in the first round due to The Outsiders. Seeing as the first match between them had had a screwy ending and both Bret and Goldberg were ostensibly babyfaces, the two were matched up for the Title at Starrcade with the idea being that this time we’d get a fair result.
Bret’s win had been a nice feel good moment as he’d won the Title in Canada and it had come quite soon after he’d had a very nice tribute match to his sadly deceased brother Owen on an episode of Nitro with Chris Benoit. His pretty miserable personal life over the previous couple of years prior to this event had made him a genuinely sympathetic babyface. Despite this, Goldberg was the guy WCW really needed to build around, so common sense dictated that he would defeat Bret after a hard fought battle to claim the Title at the biggest event of the year, whilst not taking anything away from Bret as he would have given Goldberg a darn good fight before eventually losing. However, this was WCW and you know the rest.
We actually get a handshake to start, as both are still supposed to be faces, and that leads to some spots where Goldberg powers Bret into the corner and shoves him down in order to show that the challenger has the strength advantage. Bret has experience of working Face/Face matches with bigger opponents such as Kevin Nash and Undertaker, and in those bouts he would normally end up doing some subtle heel stuff, and that’s kind of what he’s doing here as Goldberg essentially gets a long shine in the opening section until they start fighting outside the ring.
The ref takes a bump out there, which I think is to sell the wild nature of this match due to it also having a No DQ stip, and we head back into the ring where Goldberg kicks Bret in the head to get the clock ticking on the end of Bret’s career, which then leads to a second ref taking a bump. Okay, we got the point with the first ref bump guys, no need to go overboard. A third ref joins us as Bret goes to the ring post Figure Four that he likes to do on bigger opponents, which leads to Bret staying on the leg back inside the ring for his first proper period of control in the bout itself.
Goldberg just looks like an awkward guy to move around here, almost like he’s actually kind of fighting Bret off for real at points. Dude, you’re in there with Bret Hart, just let him guide you and you’re pretty much guaranteed to at least have a decent match due to his grasp of psychology and storytelling. Goldberg gets another kick to Bret’s head, which I think might actually have been the one that put Bret’s lights out. It looks like he’s caught Bret with two really rough ones at any rate. Roddy Piper joins us after yet ANOTHER ref bump, as they’ve overbooked this to crap, and we even get a rubbish Montreal finish where Piper calls for the bell when Bret has Goldberg in The Sharpshooter.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: BRET HART
They overbooked this way too much and Goldberg just didn’t look happy at all for most of it, seeming to not want to let Bret carry things and throwing some live rounds. I think, bad as the kick was, Bret would have likely been alright if he’d taken some time off following this one, but he kept wrestling for a few more weeks and it only made his condition worse, thus leading to him retiring. I really hated the finish too, as Montreal parodies were already passé by 99 and having Bret do the screwing on this occasion just seemed sleazy
Bret argues with Piper following the match, selling that he didn’t want to win that way, and the show fades to black. Awful.
WCW Starrcade 2000
Champ: Scott Steiner w/ Midajah Vs Sid Vicious
Steiner had been an absolute nightmare backstage for large chunks of 2000, cutting unscripted and unsanctioned promos live on the air, as well as beating up DDP for real. Despite this he was rewarded with the WCW Title, on account of him being one of the few genuine stars the company had left who could actually come across as a big Main Event level guy. Sid had previously been forced to vacate the Title earlier in the year due to the whole “reboot” the company had done when Bischoff and Russo had come back as heel authority figures, so he had a legitimate claim to the belt as he’d never actually lost it in the ring. For 2000 WCW this was a shocking case of them actually having some continuity that made sense for once.
Despite his claim to the Title, Sid was not the guy who should have been beating Steiner, as his previous reign had been pretty disastrous from both a match quality and business perspective, whilst Steiner was genuinely over like a top guy to the point that his eventual loss of the Title could actually really elevate someone when the time was right. Common sense dictated that Steiner would defeat Sid and eventually drop it to someone like Goldberg or Booker T down the line. However, this was WCW where…oh, hang on, wait a second, I might be jumping the gun there…
The music they dub in for Sid really doesn’t fit him at all, it sounds like something you’d hear on a 90’s hospital drama or something. Why not just dub in the Sycho Sid WWF theme? As usual, Sid’s offence is horrendous business exposing crap, but Steiner is nice enough to sell it all at least. They do a test of strength spot and Steiner actually wins that battle, as Mark Madden is already insufferable on commentary. I don’t think he lasted much longer after this actually and they went with Tony Schiavone and Scott Hudson as a commentary team, who were a good tandem and worked well together.
Sid survives the dreaded knuckle lock and sends Steiner outside, but Midajah hits him with a lead pipe when he follows Steiner out, which allows Steiner to add some shots with a chair. This was during the period in WCW where they weren’t doing DQ’s, unless they decided they wanted to do a DQ (WCW everyone!) so the match continues with Steiner working some heat back inside. Steiner heaving up Sid with ease is pretty darn impressive and you can see why WCW was pushing him despite his attitude issues at the time. Sometimes a guy is just the guy and you can’t afford to be picky, especially when you were in the condition WCW was in.
Steiner goes to the Steiner Recliner, but Sid makes the ropes. I was kind of expecting they’d have Sid power out of that, but they protected the move by having him grab the rope, so kudos to them on that. Steiner goes back to it again though, but this time Midajah accidentally takes Steiner out when it looks like Sid is going to get out of the move, protecting it again, and a choke slam from Sid follows for two in a good near fall. Sid goes to a Cobra Clutch following that and turns it into a slam, bumping the ref in the process meaning that there is no one to count.
Steiner works Sid over with a pipe, with Sid selling it atrociously, and that gets two from the new ref. Steiner ally Jeff Jarrett runs down but accidentally guitars his buddy, which allows Sid to make the cover, causing Jarrett to drag the ref out at two. Powerbomb looks to be next, but Steiner hits Sid right in the softballs to put a stop to that and The Recliner goes on again, which is enough for the win this time.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: SCOTT STEINER
This was probably as good as it could have been, with Steiner being on a hot streak and Sid being his usual rotten self
Never let it be said that WCW didn’t die for a reason