It was the show that finished out the year 1998, but it is also looked back on as a show that really ended a lot of momentum for WCW. Parts of it, I admit, I'm not looking forward to viewing again, but then again, maybe my perception of this card is skewed. Maybe I'll see it in a better light, over a decade later. I guess the only way to tell for sure is to watch it and see.
WCW Starrcade '98 |
Posted by the Accelerator, May 24th, 2012
- The cover features Bill Goldberg and Kevin Nash, and references the outcome of their match by mentioning a certain item. *shaking head* Ok then.
- Interestingly, the opening video for Starrcade features... Goldberg. And that's it. No mention of Nash, it's just a complete video package showing Goldberg. Considering that he's been wrestling in every other PPV lately, it's good, in a way, to see so much dedicated to him.
- The announcers are Tony Schiavone, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, and "The Professor" Mike Tenay. They talk heavily about Goldberg's 173-0 record and how Nash, the leader of the nWo Wolfpack, could be the one to finally dethrone him. Both men were faces at this point.
- They also mention that the Horsemen (Anderson, Benoit, Malenko, & McMichael) were banned from the building by Eric Bischoff, before Bischoff would get into the ring tonight with Flair.
- Mean Gene Okerlund comes out, mentioning that Steve McMichael had to be escorted out of the building by police. Oh, those Horsemen. Okerlund promotes the WCW Hotline, talking about who might be backstage. Intrigue! Buy our product!
Kidman(c) vs. Juventud Guerrera vs. Rey Mysterio, WCW World Cruiserweight Title Triangle Match:
Backstory: A few months before, Eddy Guerrero formed the latin World order (lWo) to counter the nWo and promote the cruiserweights, as well as himself. Mysterio, at the time, refused to join, but then lost a match that forced him into the lWo. Mysterio later lost a chance at a #1 contenders match for the title, due to Guerrero taking his place. Later on, Juvy, who was the Cruiserweight Champion at the time, came out at World War III '98 with a lWo shirt on, showing the reason why Mysterio was denied a title shot. Mysterio got revenge by interfering in the Juvy/Kidman title match, helping Kidman to win the belt. Mysterio then dropped his lWo shirt, beginning a war with the lWo that led to this triangle match being signed. This involves Eddy Guerrero, who has been trying to injure Mysterio in order to give Juvy a better chance.
The Match: This one's almost guaranteed to be good. At the beginning, Kidman & Mysterio work together, double-teaming Juvy to the cheers of the crowd. A miscommunication hit, though, turns this back into a three-way match. Some amazing moves in this one from all of the wrestlers, as they put on a great clinic that has the fans cheering every shot. Annoyingly, the announcers keep talking about Goldberg/Nash and Bischoff/Flair, rather than focusing fully on the match, but that's the only negative I've got so far. They fight to the outside, with Guerrera almost going down on a springboard off the top rope, but thankfully, he got his balance in time to leap with a splash. Back in the ring, and Mysterio gets caught on Kidman's shoulders, only to have Guererra give him a frankensteiner! Incredible.
The announcers talk about how Kidman's got a groin injury and a sore rotator cuff. I'm not seeing it, but it's hard to tell with two other high-flyers in the ring. Pinfall attempts are everywhere, as all three wrestlers are looking exhausted from the battle. A Mysterio hurricanrana sends Juvy to the outside, with Guerrera's legs heavily hitting the guardrail! The fight continues, with some more great moves, and I'm fighting hard not describing a bunch of them. I'm not supposed to do that nowadays *lol*. They are giving these guys a ton of time to show off their skills. Spinning Juvi Driver on Mysterio gets 2, with Kidman barely making the save. Some more amazing moves follow, with Heenan telling people "Don't try this at home. You'll wreck some furniture!"
Near the end, Kidman hit a stunning Shooting Star Press to the outside, taking out both opponents, to the wild cheers of the crowd. It's immediately followed by boos, as Eddy Guerrero walks out to the ring. The ref (Charles "L'il Natch" Robinson) is distracted, telling Guerrero to leave, as Kidman gets a roll-up pin on Juvy. As the ref turns to check on Mysterio, Eddy dives into the ring and reverses the pin, putting Guerrera on top. He darts out of the ring, while the ref reenters for the count, only to have Mysterio dropkick Juvy and reverse the pin again, basically letting Kidman retain the championship!
Ace Thoughts: Amazing to see these guys get nearly 15 minutes to start the show, and they pulled off some amazing leaps. I admit, it was slow at times, possibly due to the injuries slowing them down, but I still enjoyed it. Whether there was an angle in place or not, these were the three guys who really sat at the heart of the famed WCW Cruiserweight Division. Let's face it, this was the golden time for the group, as the champions around the same time next year will be Evan Karagias, Madusa, and Oklahoma *shudders*.
- Postmatch, a furious Eddy Guerrero chews out Mysterio and Guerrera, calling both morons. He also calls Kidman a "cream puff" and a "sissy boy". He challenges Kidman to a title match, saying that he can get it done. Kidman, surprisingly, comes back out and says that if Guerrero wants a match, there's no time like the present. Eddy's immediately trying to say he's not 'mentally prepared', but Kidman goads him into it, and we have a SECOND Cruiserweight contest.
Billy Kidman(c) w/ Rey Mysterio vs. Eddy Guerrero w/ Juventud Guerrera, WCW World Cruiserweight Title Match:
Backstory: Erm... see previous match.
The Match: Guerrero stomps down Kidman at the beginning, as the announcers basically call Kidman an idiot for putting his title on the line after wrestling two men. Guerrero dominates for a while, including cheating in an abdominal stretch with Juvy. Mysterio's there to break it up, now back on Kidman's side once again. Guerrero is upset about it, going out of the ring. He pushes both Mysterio and Guerrera, then goes back into the ring, where a brief Kidman flurry fails to stop Eddy for long. Eddy's really using some great submission holds, which only inspires an "Eddy sucks" chant from the crowd. They clearly are missing the high-flying.
Later in the match, Kidman came back with a flurry, but Guerrero pulls off his 'steel-toed workboot' and nails him, getting a near 2-count. Guerrero's brainbuster lays out Kidman, and Guerrero heads to the top for the frogsplash, but Kidman stops him on the turnbuckle. Kidman gets a superplex for a near win. Guerrera and Mysterio keep getting involved from outside, as this match just continues to go. The crowd actually sounds a little tired at this point, but then, we're over 20 minutes in and only on the second match. You don't see that very often nowadays. Late in the match, Guerrero's bodyguard, Spyder, comes out to distract the referee, as Juvy manages to drop Kidman on the top turnbuckle. Eddy tries to capitalize, but Mysterio's there again, causing Eddy to rack himself on the ropes! Eddy topples into the ring, and Kidman is able to take advantage by landing the Shooting Star Press, retaining his championship once again!
Ace Thoughts: Maybe not as many exciting spots as the first match, but we got to have another 10-minute cruiserweight bout, and it was Kidman/Guerrero, so I have no complaints. Lots of interference, as you would expect. You would think the lWo angle would continue, but you'd be wrong, as a car accident only a few days later put Eddy Guerrero on the shelf. Later in January '99, a renewed nWo attacked lWo members and told them to quit. All did but (ironically) Rey Mysterio Jr, leading to a completely different group (The Filthy Animals).
- A video montage (complete with clouds and dramatic music) showcases Goldberg and Nash. No words are spoken. That almost looked like another possible intro video to this show, really, that they just wanted to get used.
Prince Iaukea vs. Norman Smiley:
Backstory: Hmmmm. I don't know if there's much for a story here between these two. At this point, Smiley (who wanted his name pronounced "Smi-lay") had become a low-card heel, starting to use the "Big Wiggle" dance to try and get himself over. Prince Iaukea is a former WCW Television Champion, and hasn't become "The Artist" yet, so, uh, he's kind of bland.
The Match: I think the announcers are with me. They talk a lot about Bischoff & Flair again for a long while, before finally noticing the match going on when Smiley does his Big Wiggle. The crowd starts a chant, and I'm not sure if it's "Boring" or "Norman". They sound about the same. This match seems to take forever, with the only funny moments being Norman interacting with the crowd. Smiley's technical maneuvers are pretty good, honestly, but the audience isn't into it. He dominates most of the match, and in the end, wins with his Norman Conquest chickenwing submission hold, forcing Iaukea to tap out. The announcers call this Norman's biggest victory in his career so far. Sadly, I have to agree.
Ace Thoughts: Sad that this match got put right after 25 minutes of cruiserweight action. Smiley did all he could, but it was way too long for a squash, and Iaukea had no chance. Smiley would disappear from view after a few months, due to the 'controversy' of his Big Wiggle. He'd return near the end of '99 as a hardcore wrestler (although his trademark was screaming). Iaukea's run as "The Artist Formerly Known As Prince Iaukea" would come in the next year, leading to a few Cruiserweight Title reigns.
- As the announcers talk about the other matches to come, Scott Hall surprisingly comes out without any music, wearing an "Outsiders" t-shirt. That gets him some cheers. Hall is apparently without wrestling music, stables, and is on his own now, after being kicked out of nWo Hollywood at World War III '98. Hall talks about how 1998 hasn't been a good year for him, both in and out of the ring, and how he blames no one but himself. He then talks about Kevin Nash having the opportunity of a lifetime. Nash says he needs to prove himself, but Hall says he doesn't have to do it for Nash or the fans. He's only got to prove something to himself. He guarantees them that 1999 is his year. Well, he'll at least have a bunch of title reigns at the end of the year, so he kind of makes up for that guarantee.
- We see clips of Bam Bam Bigelow coming to WCW unannounced and attacking Scott Hall. We see Goldberg, Nash, and Bigelow having a three-way battle on Monday Nitro, mostly with Goldberg dominating, until Hall came in to attack Goldberg (causing the DQ).
Ernest "The Cat" Miller w/ Sonny Onoo vs. Perry Saturn:
Backstory: Ernest Miller has been on a streak since he came to WCW and started calling himself "The Greatest". A month or two earlier, Miller defeated Kaz Hayashi, which brought him a manager in Sonny Onoo. Miller and Hayashi's battles later brought Saturn into the mix, as Miller & Onoo faced Hayashi & Saturn at World War III '98. Due to Miller nailing Saturn with the Feliner, Onoo pinned Saturn and gave him a humiliating defeat. Miller and Saturn continued to feud afterwards, with Saturn looking for some revenge. Hayashi, meanwhile, isn't on the card, as the feud has been taken away from him.
The Match: Miller talks before the match about the fans seeing the Greatest in action. He's going to show the people that he's the best, so he calls his opponent out. Saturn, of course, quickly comes out, wearing a chain vest and an almost feminine-looking bandana. Miller does his usual shtick of giving his opponent 5 seconds to leave (it's the law!). Also as usual, Saturn nails him as soon as Miller finishes the 5 count.
Saturn dominates early, almost making Miller leave. We then get a funny moment of Miller sliding back into the ring and 'coming up short', ending up at Saturn's feet. Saturn stares at him for a minute as the crowd roars, before he starts stomping. Miller finally gets in some moves after an eye rake, and we have a proper match. At one point, Miller gets knocked to the outside, and Onoo tells him "You can't wrestle him! You have to use martial arts!" Of course, he says it with a great access that I can't duplicate here. Miller follows the advice and the kicks come out. Near the end, Miller manages to kick Saturn down, then calls in Onoo. The manager comes in (sans coat) and tries to kick Saturn, only to kick Miller instead. Miller angrily kicks Onoo back, leaving him open to Saturn, who lands the Death Valley Driver to win the match. The announcers call this one of Saturn's biggest wins, and I'm sorry, but NO WAY. Ridiculous comment, that beating Miller ranks up there with his match with Raven, or his WCW Television Title reign.
Ace Thoughts: For Miller, it wasn't that bad a match, but that's not a huge compliment. Saturn was bracing for a horrible year in 1999, starting by losing a "Loser Wears A Dress" Match in January that would follow him for a while. Eventually, he'd turn things around by teaming with Raven and Chris Benoit and getting some tag-team title reigns. Miller, meanwhile, would purchase the snow machine off of Glacier and use it as his entrance, becoming a joke for a while... a good long while, really.
- Mean Gene wishes everyone a very happy 1999. He brings out Ric Flair, as the crowd gets excited. Flair gives a Flair interview, inspiring the crowd and talking about what he's going to do to Eric Bischoff later in the night.
- We get a whole video package, starting from when Hall & Nash first appeared in WCW, Bischoff getting powerbombed through the stage, Bischoff's 'lies' that later revealed him as the leader of the new World order, and Bischoff abusing his power (including firing a referee in front of his family). It's basically a clip about how much of a rebel Bischoff is, glorifying himself. At the end, we finally get a little bit of the Bischoff/Flair storyline, including Flair's 'heart attack' and Bischoff attacking Flair's kids and kissing Flair's wife. Ugh. I had blocked a lot of those storylines out of my mind, dangit.
- Buff Bagwell & Scott Steiner find Konnan sitting in his locker room and insult him, with Luger having to come in to break them apart, keeping Konnan from going after the nWo Hollywood members.
* Ok, a little mini-rant here before I get to the next match... so this is Starrcade, WCW's version of Wrestlemania. This is where the HUGE matches are supposed to be. So, uh, where are they? I mean, half the guys competing tonight are the low-to-mid-carders of WCW and the nWo! Quick list of top WCW or nWo wrestlers who aren't competing tonight: Hollywood Hogan, Scott Steiner, Buff Bagwell, Lex Luger, Sting, Randy Savage, Bret Hart, Scott Hall, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Raven, Wrath, Booker T, Stevie Ray, Rick Steiner, and, just because I liked his wrestling style, Kanyon. Meanwhile, wrestling tonight? Norman Smiley, Prince Iaukea, Ernest Miller, Bryan Adams, Fit Finlay, Jerry Flynn, and, of course, Eric Bischoff. Man, injuries and storylines really screwed over this Starrcade, didn't it? Ok, moving on.... *
- While the wrestlers are coming down, the announcers off-handedly mention that the Goldberg/Nash match is going to be No Disqualification.
nWo Hollywood (Brian Adams & Scott Norton) w/ Vincent vs. Fit Finlay & Jerry Flynn:
Backstory: Once again, I don't believe there's any back-story here. It's just a time filler (and a rough one, at that). Adams & Norton are low-level members of the nWo Black 'n' White at this point. Norton's always been strongly-booked overseas, but his style never worked as well in American, unfortunately. The announcers mention as I type this that Finlay & Flynn had teamed together recently in NJPW's tag-team tournament, so maybe that's why this match was put together.
The Match: A lot of physicality in this one, especially from Norton. Schiavone expresses the very problem I was talking about, when he says that Norton doesn't really wrestle, he just hits people. Norton's a lot more than that, and he shows it off tonight. The crowd is pretty dead for a lot of this match, not even cheering for the WCW wrestlers when they get in charge. Although I have to admit, I think both Finlay and Norton are trying their hardest to put on a good match. Adams is so-so, and Flynn is, well, Flynn. This is a match that would work great overseas, but this crowd wants big moves, not strikes and elbow drops. At the end, the usual tag-team fighting broke out for a few seconds, with Finlay and Adams going to the outside, while Flynn stopped to kick Vincent off the apron. Norton capitalized with his powerbomb (actually quite impressive on a man as big as Flynn) to get the victory for nWo Hollywood.
Ace Thoughts: The crowd wasn't into it, and it's nowhere near a classic, but I don't know... maybe it was my low opinion coming into it, but I actually didn't think this match was that bad. Adams was clearly not in the shape he used to be, but Norton was a monster, and it still hurts me that he never did much in US wrestling. Adams would stay around the nWo "B" Team for a while, but he actually wouldn't be in another PPV until 2000, when he joined up with Bryan Clark to form Kronik. Norton wouldn't appear at another WCW PPV event, going NJPW full-time. Finlay would start to pick up steam in 1999 before a horrible injury nearly ended his wrestling career (thankfully, he would come back and do well in both WCW and, later, WWE). As for Flynn, he would have his moments over the next couple of years, but for the most part, he never got out of the low mid-card range.
- We go to Mean Gene Okerlund, who brings out Eric Bischoff (whose music was playing beforehand, and had to be stopped, then started again. Fire that guy who controls that, Eric!). Bischoff pretends to apologize to Flair and his family. He's sorry that Flair has decided to participate in the match tonight, because Flair's pushing himself too far. Bischoff then talks about how Flair's risking both his own life and his family's future to wrestle tonight, due to Flair being completely broke. This is really a shoot, as Flair really did (and still does) have money issues.
- We see a clip from Money Nitro, of Jericho attacking his Konnan imposter and putting him in the Lion Tamer. The crowd noise is extremely quiet in the clip.
- Jericho (wearing the stolen TV Title) talks before the match, insulting Konnan and getting some heat with his many slogans for himself. It's a Flair-esque interview. Konnan's entrance comes complete with his music video running for a while, followed by the Wolfpack theme. Weird.
Konnan(c) vs. Chris Jericho w/Ralphus, WCW World Television Title Match:
Backstory: This feud all started with Konnan getting a Television Title match against Jericho on a Monday Nitro after World War III. Konnan got the big victory over Jericho to win the title, causing Jericho to pursue getting his belt back, going as far as to attack Konnan at one point and steal the gold.
The Match: Thanks to Jericho's pre-match interview, the fans are into this one, which is the first time in a while. Konnan's strong at first, but Jericho soon makes it even with some shots on the outside. Jericho got in some good shots, while Konnan landed his normal ones (including his rolling clothesline). Jericho almost got his Liontamer, but Konnan blocked it by grabbing the ankles, so Jericho turns it into a catapult. During the next sequence, the ref gets knocked down, so Jericho uses the TV Title to knock out Konnan, only to have Konnan kick out at 2. Konnan then comes back with the facebuster and his Tequila Sunrise submission hold, forcing Jericho to tap out. Konnan retains the belt.
Ace Thoughts: Hard to say how I feel about this one. I've seen better matches from both guys, as neither seemed to be putting everything into this one. At this point, as I recall, Jericho had been unsuccessfully lobbying for a chance to fight Goldberg, a match that the fans wanted to see, so his heart may not have been that much into a Konnan feud. Jericho would soon be involved in the "dress" feud with Perry Saturn for the next few months, before finally 'escaping' to the WWF. Konnan, after getting betrayed by his former allies, would join other cruiserweights in the Filthy Animals, staying with WCW until the end.
- We see a shot from WCW.com, with Lee Marshall pissing off The Giant by saying he can't stop the Diamond Cutter. The Giant, obviously, doesn't take it well, and storms away. Very short bit for a match that they've barely talked about tonight.
Eric Bischoff vs. Ric Flair, Grudge Match:
Backstory: There's a lot of history here, both kayfabe and not, and I've already mentioned several of the events that have taken place lately. To be concise, Flair hates Bischoff, and Bischoff has made Flair's life a living hell, involving his family in the action. Flair, of course, suffered a kayfabe heart attack earlier, which has led to more jokes from Bischoff. Now, supposedly, is the payback.
The Match: Flair charges the ring as fast as he can, and Bischoff immediately bails, trying to run away. Flair soon catches him and the beat-down is on. Bischoff tries to show that his knee is hurt, but that just makes Flair target it. Referee Charles Robinson, though, pulls Flair away, allowing Bischoff to nail Flair with a kick to the head, taking control. Dumb ref. Bischoff bangs Flair into the guardrail, which cuts Flair open. Bischoff stays in control (basically no-selling the beating he took earlier), but Flair can't be kept down. He gets a series of low blows, then takes off Bischoff's shirt and tags him, knocking down Robinson at one point before giving Bischoff a "Curtain Call". After more of a beating, Flair puts on the Figure Four, but Curt Hennig runs out and gives Bischoff brass knuckles to knock Flair out. The ref finally comes to (after a really long time for a small hit) and Bischoff gets the pin.
Ace Thoughts: This one reminded me of the recent match between John Cena and John Laurinitis... and it's just as unsatisfying. The fans wanted Bischoff to suffer, and he had to get the PPV win. Sigh. Not much wrestling in this one, really, but Flair at least put some blood on the canvas for it. The very next night, Flair beat Bischoff to become the new WCW President, leading to a very strange time in Flair's wrestling career.
- We get a video of an injured Bret Hart fighting Diamond Dallas Page for the WCW United States Title. Since it was made a No Disqualification Match, The Giant came down and took out DDP, allowing Hart to win the title. Yep, the guy who's too injured to wrestle? Let's put some gold on him! That ought to work! *ahem* The rest of the video is about DDP attacking The Giant with a chair, and The Giant later ambushing DDP and chokeslamming him through the stage.
Diamond Dallas Page vs. The Giant:
Backstory: I think the previous video covers everything, so let me just say this again: why did Hart have to get the US Title, when he couldn't wrestle? Why not have this one be for the title, since, y'know, it's Starrcade? That being said, I need to put that aside, because this match has the potential to be pretty good. Page has been on a hot streak, after all.
The Match: The two spit at each other to start, then fight it out, first in the ring and then outside. The Giant smartly focuses on DDP's shoulder, to try and take out access to the Diamond Cutter. As you would expect, The Giant is mostly in control, throwing around DDP and smashing him. The Giant also does a typical heel-like maneuver, pulling up DDP on pin attempts. The announcers speculate he just wants to finish things with his chokeslam. When DDP finally gets a big move, a float-over DDT (The Diamond Dream, a move I don't remember ever hearing before), the ref gets squashed under Page, which means Bret Hart can come down to the ring with a chair. But DDP tricks Hart into hitting The Giant instead, then gives Hart a low blow. DDP gets momentum with top-rope clotheslines, but The Giant then catches him by the throat. DDP does a low blow, but The Giant still lifts him onto the turnbuckle, preparing for a Super Chokeslam. But DDP reverses it on the way down into a super Diamond Cutter, knocking the big man cold for the pin.
Ace Thoughts: Probably the best match since the Cruiserweight Title fights early on, but I still wouldn't call it a must-see match. The timing was great on the Hart chair shot to the Giant, and DDP pulled off some good moves, even as The Giant did what he does best: throw a man around like he weighs nothing. I honestly think this one was just a little too long, as the fans had trouble staying involved. But otherwise, a worthwhile contest.
- We get another (or possibly the same one, I'm too lazy to compare) video featuring clouds, Goldberg, and Nash. Their match is going to be so intense, they need no words to describe it.
- Michael Buffer is out there for the special "main event" announcing.
Bill Goldberg(c) vs. Kevin Nash, WCW World Heavyweight Title No Disqualification Match:
Backstory: Goldberg has gone 173-0 (supposedly) since coming to WCW, leading him to the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Recently, Goldberg has been feuding with multiple people, including Nash, Bam Bam Bigelow, and Scott Hall. Nash earned this title opportunity by winning the World War III 60-man Battle Royal. He's the leader of the nWo Red 'n' Black Wolfpack, and to this point, has never held the WCW World Heavyweight Title, being mainly a tag-team event with Hall in the Outsiders. Both wrestlers are fan favorites coming into the contest.
The Match: This is a bruising match, with lots of hard strikes and hits as you would expect from these two. Goldberg surprisingly gets the Spear early on, but Nash is able to block the Jackhammer attempt. Nash has control after this, but he can't keep Goldberg completely down, as "Da Man" catches Nash with a superkick. He powerslams Nash, and suddenly The Disco Inferno (who had been trying desperately to join the nWo Wolfpack) runs in, only to get destroyed. Bam Bam Bigelow then appears, and he doesn't fare much better. Finally, Scott Hall comes out with a stun gun, catching Goldberg from behind and zapping him. Goldberg is easy pickings for the Jackknife Powerbomb and gets pinned for the first time, losing the title to Nash.
Final Thoughts: Ugh, that match was painful. It's worth noting that right around this time, Nash was appointed the Head Booker of WCW. While there's no conclusive proof he abused the power, he wrote himself as the winner of World War III, won the World Title, and ended Goldberg's undefeated streak in horrible fashion. This, in my mind, is the turning point of WCW and why it crashed and burned in only the next two years. A short time after this, the Fingerpoke of Doom takes place, and WCW went in a downward spiral. Let me put it this way: if the Undertaker's Streak at Wrestlemania ended with a ton of interference and a cattle prod, there'd be a riot.
Ugly pay-per-view, really, with only a few bright spots to save it. It's amazing, again, to think of this as WCW's big show of the year. What a travesty. If you want my advice on this one, watch the cruiserweight matches at the beginning, and then feel free to stop there. If you need another match, fast-forward to DDP/Giant. Or watch Halloween Havoc '98. I'm tempted to go back and watch that one, to restore my faith in reviewing WCW again.