The Netcop Retro Rant for Starrcade 91
• Live from Norfolk, Virginia.
• Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Jim Ross.
The Lethal Lottery:
• Opening match: Michael Hayes & Tracy Smothers v. Marcus Bagwell & Jimmy Garvin.
The first inherent flaw with this idea comes out right away: Bagwell was a raw rookie at this point and not ready to start improvising tag matches. (2011 Scott sez: The Freebirds were on opposing sides of the opening tag match and I thought this wasn’t a worked draw? What the FUCK, 1999 Scott?) Smothers manages to hold it together well enough with Jimmy Garvin until the inevitable Freebird v. Freebird bit. That turns into a strutting contest until the other partners get tagged in again. The Birds end up arguing, allowing Bagwell to hook the fisherman’s suplex on Smothers for the pin. Passable. *1/2
• Stunning Steve Austin & Ravishing Rick Rude v. Van Hamster & Big Josh.
This is like a Worldwide nightmare. Luckily Austin and Van Hamhock wrestled each other about a million times for the TV title, so they’re able to do their usual match to keep it reasonably cohesive. They opt for the WWF formula, with Van Hamburger playing Ricky Morton for a few minutes before making a hot tag to Josh. Cute bit as Rude’s abs are MADE OF STEEL and can’t be affected by Josh’s punches. Josh takes over the Morton role as the Dangerous Alliance goes like clockwork. Big, long, chinlock. Van Hamlet gets the hot tag but chaos reigns and Rude gives the Rude Awakening to Van Hammock for the pin. ½* (2011 Scott sez: You can’t say I didn’t commit to the bit.)
• Dustin Rhodes & Richard Morton v. El Gigante & Larry Zbyszko.
Larry goes for his dreaded finisher, the SEVEN MINUTE STALL OF DOOM, right away. I’m betting Gigante doesn’t get too involved here. Nope, Larry tags him in right away, go fig. Dustin tries a dropkick and drop toehold, neither of which work. Larry keeps shouting words of “encouragement” from the apron, which makes you think he’s just asking for a beating. Larry tags in and does a nice little sequence with Dustin, which makes sense because they just did a ***** match at the Clash previous to this. Sure enough, Larry offers one piece of advice too many and the Giant Idiot tosses him across the ring, into a double-dropkick for a Rhodes pin. Morton wasn’t even in the match. **
• Bill Kazmaier & Jushin Liger v. Diamond Dallas Page & Mike Graham.
Graham and Liger start, thankfully. Graham looks to have no idea how to sell Liger’s stuff. So we get DDP against Kazmaier, keeping in mind that Page was utterly and completely horrible at this point in his career. They trade some stuff and then we get DDP against Liger. Oh, this should be fun. Doesn’t last long, like everything else in this match. This thing is not going anywhere, which is the basic problem—there’s no flow to the match. It’s not a bad series of spots, but that’s all it is. Liger and Graham try to build an actual match, but DDP and Kazmaier aren’t up to the challenge. Liger with a somersault plancha and moonsault on Graham, and a pier-six erupts. Kazmaier presses Liger onto DDP for the pin. Not bad. **1/4 (2011 Scott sez: Mike Graham was a major drain on the fledgling light heavyweight division at that time, because the dipshits running WCW basically demoted him from road agent back to wrestler again and stuck him in there with guys like Pillman, assuming that anyone under 250 pounds could do all that high-flying stuff. Not so.)
• Lex Luger & Arn Anderson v. Tom Zenk & Terry Taylor.
Zenk and Taylor play the de facto babyfaces. Taylor and Luger start out with a really nice sequence of stuff, with Taylor back in full face mode. Zenk comes in and gets tripped up by Race, then hammered by the heels. Everyone is ON here. Anderson runs through his usual stuff to great effect, until Zenk hot tags Taylor. Taylor is a house of fire on Luger for a two count, then a bodypress for two. Backslide for two. Hot crowd for this. Doctorbomb for two, but Anderson saves. Taylor goes for the five-arm, but Arn hits him from behind and Luger gets the piledriver for the pin. Best match of the night. ****
• Ricky Steamboat & Todd Champion v. Cactus Jack & Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker.
Abdullah wants to be Cactus Jack’s partner, so he beats the snot out of Parker in the dressing room. Poor Buddy starts crawling to the ring while the Butcher waddles out to the ring. He gets sent back, and makes sure to hammer Buddy Lee with the kendo stick on the way by. Meanwhile, Cactus is busy taking on Steamboat and Champion by himself. They do a pretty nice few minutes, including a plancha from Steamboat, and an enzuigiri. Our designated victim, Buddy Lee Parker, is still crawling on hands and knees towards the ring. Pretty funny. Jack tosses Champion and gives him the elbow. It’s a double bang-banger, the most dangerous type. Parker has made it to the empty ring and is almost to his own corner. Jack fights off Champion, and makes the tag to Parker! Parker gets in...and gets pinned by Steamboat about three seconds later. Oh, well, give him an “E” for effort. ** (2011 Scott sez: I bet Mick Foley came up with that stuff himself. If not, kudos to whoever did.)
• Sting & Abdullah the Butcher v. Brian Pillman & Bobby Eaton.
Abdullah goes berserk on his own partner before the other team even gets to the ring. Pillman makes the save and the Butcher tosses him around the ringside area like a ragdoll. We finally get into the ring and a chinlock results. Sting and Eaton are not working well together. Cactus Jack eventually comes in and accidentally hits the Butcher with his own kendo stick, allowing Sting the chance to hit Bobby with a flying bodypress for the pin. A total mess. DUD
• Abdullah and the WWF World champion brawl back to the dressing room. (2011 Scott sez: Well there you go, this was written late-1998, then.)
• Rick Steiner & The Nightstalker v. Big Van Vader & Mr. Hughes.
Nightstalker is better known as Wrath. (2011 Scott sez: Not anymore. Now he’s just known as Bryan Clark, if anyone remembers at all.) Jim Ross notes that all four men played collegiate football. I was waiting for the “Nightstalker got kicked out of FSU for carrying that huge axe around” story, but nothing comes. Steiner tosses both of the big men around with various suplexes until Nightstalker tags himself in and fucks up a couple of moves. He was really bad at this point. Steiner comes in with a bulldog on Hughes, but he’s not the legal man, and Vader splashes Nightstalker for the pin. ¼*
• Superbrawl II promo.
• Scott Steiner & Firebreaker Chip v. Johnny B. Badd & Arachnaman.
The Badd Fag-O-Meter is at 6 tonight, because of the lack of boa, kisses and Badd Blaster. (2011 Scott sez: Not one of my more tasteful running jokes, to be sure.) Arachnaman is Brad Armstrong, in failed gimmick #91938. (2011 Scott sez: And 8 years before the first Spider-Man movie might have gotten him over, too.) Badd dominates Chip to start, but it’s not long before Steiner comes in to a big pop. He beats on Archnaman like his bee-otch. Then it’s Badd’s turn to get beat on. Someone’s getting the spotlight here, that’s for sure. Chip (who looks like a roided Ken Shamrock) (2011 Scott sez: That’s a bit redundant, isn’t it?) slows it down with a chinlock. Thankfully Scott is in quickly again to wallop on Badd some more. Badd exists merely to sell Steiner’s offense in this match. Does Arachnaman use WebTV? (2011 Scott sez: That shaking you hear was that joke landing with a “thud”. See, kids, there used to be this computer system where you plugged it into your TV and could check your e-mail and surf a few websites. It died a worse death than that joke did. I should have just went with the “World Wide Web” line, in retrospect.) More chinlocks when Chip is in. Chip plays Ricky Morton before making a blind tag to Steiner, who finishes Arachnaman with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex for the pin. Good stuff mixed in there. **1/2
• Ron Simmons & Thomas Rich v. Steve Armstrong & PN News.
This is the last tag match. News and Armstrong play heels. This is, I believe, the last appearance of PN News. Ron controls things, Rich begs to be tagged in and gets beat on, so begs to tag out again. Nothing of note going on wrestling-wise. Fans chant “We want Ron” when Rich is in. I don’t blame them. Rich keeps refusing to tag Simmons. Finally he tags Simmons after 10 minutes of punishment. Simmons comes in and finishes Armstrong about 10 seconds later with the spinebuster. ¼*
• So to review, we’ve got Jimmy Garvin, Marcus Bagwell, Dustin Rhodes, Richard Morton, Steve Austin, Rick Rude, Lex Luger, Arn Anderson, Ricky Steamboat, Todd Champion, Big Van Vader, Mr. Hughes, Scott Steiner, Firebreaker Chip, Ron Simmons, Thomas Rich, Sting, Abdullah the Butcher, Bill Kazmaier and Jushin Liger. This is a two-ring battle royale: When you’re knocked out of the first ring, you move to the second. Winner of the first ring meets the winner of the second for the Battlebowl ring. The usual battle royale chaos, with the caveat that you have to throw your opponent into the second ring to eliminate them, which allows lots of fighting on the ramp. Steamboat is getting the beats put on him in a big way. It goes quite a while before Rich has the honor of being the first guy tossed into the other ring. Bagwell joins him shortly. Now we go quicker, with Morton, Liger and Chip ending up in ring 2. Liger and Morton put on a show in the other ring to the delight of the fans. They eliminate each other in short order, however. Steamboat and Anderson fight all over the place, ending up in ring 2. Rich is gone. Garvin and Champion move to ring 2. The heavy hitters are left in ring 1. Steiner and Austin move to ring 2, and Garvin is knocked out of it. Kazmaier and the Butcher knock themselves into ring 2. Luger dumps Rhodes into ring 2, leaving Luger, Sting and Rude in ring 1. Sting and Rude fight right into ring 2, leaving Luger against Vader for ring 1. Vader purees Luger as Chip is eliminated. Luger suddenly comes back and clothesline Vader into ring 2, to win the first segment of Battlebowl. Todd Champion and Bill Kazmaier are both bounced. Rhodes dropkicks Anderson out. Austin backdrops Rhodes out. Mr Hughes and Ron Simmons knock each other out. Steamboat sends Vader packing, as well as Scott Steiner. That leaves Sting, Steamboat, Rude and Austin. The faces clean up on the heels, with Austin being the sacrificial lamb for Rude’s inevitable mistake, knocking Austin out. Steamboat pulls Rude out, who proceeds to pull Steamboat out, giving the win to Sting. Rude lays out Sting before he leaves.
• Battlebowl final: Sting v. Lex Luger.
Sting is dead and Luger hammers him. Race wants Lex to end it quickly, but Lex is Evil so he wants to punish Sting. He tosses Sting to the rampway and then dumps him down to the STEEL railing. Sting comes back and rams Lex to the railing around the ring several times, then tosses him back in. Superman comeback. Luger won’t go out, however. Race comes in to interfere and gets punted. Stinger splash misses, and Sting is almost out. Luger tosses Sting, but he holds on and comes back with his Sting stuff. Sting clotheslines Luger over the top to win Battlebowl. I don’t rate battle royales, but this was pretty good. It set up the title match between Sting and Luger at Superbrawl II pretty nicely, too.
• The Bottom Line. Like many Dusty Rhodes idea, this was a neat idea in theory, but not so much in practice. With more improv-friendly wrestlers (like today’s WCW midcard), this could have worked, but as it was, it ranks more as a curiosity than a good show. Still, check it out if you’ve never seen it before.
Not recommended otherwise, however.