The Netcop Retro Rant for WCW Starrcade 1995.
· Live from Nashville, TN
· Your hosts are Tony, Dusty and Bobby.
· Okay, this is what we call a “Concept Show.” The concept in this case is that Sonny Onoo and his group of baddies from New Japan Pro Wrestling are “invading” WCW and the result is a 7 match series to determine the “World Cup of Wrestling.” Neat idea in theory, stupid idea in practice, especially on the biggest show of the year. This predated the nWo by 7 months, it should be noted.
· Opening match: Chris Benoit v. Jushin Liger.
Benoit is a freshly named Horsemen at this point (along with Pillman, Flair and Anderson) and is wrestling like Wild Pegasus instead of Ass-Kicking Mofo Pegasus. Liger rocks here, adjusting nicely to the North American style, which unfortunately means “dumbing it down” for the Tennessee audience. Good to start, slow in the middle, hot to finish. Tony is already spewing the “#1 wrestling organization” crap months before they ever won a decisive ratings victory, but his knowledge of the move names and history of the wrestlers is in-fucking-credible. He is definitely being an ignoramus today as part of the character, because 1995 Tony was Mike Tenay on steroids. (2011 Scott sez: Really, hindsight says that, like most people in WCW, it was because Tony stopped giving a shit sometime in 1997) This is America, so the Ligerbomb has minimal effect on Benoit. Benoit actually debuts the rollthrough german suplexes here and then doesn’t do it again for two years. And of course a screwy ending-Kevin Sullivan distracts Benoit, allowing Liger a cheap win. New Japan 1, WCW 0. ***1/4
· Alex Wright v. Koji Kanemoto.
I was hoping for Alex to walk out with three broken bones and a mouthful of tooth fragments, but no such luck. Lots of legbars and armbars that look really good but don’t do much damage. Still, I credit Alex for effort here. Koji with a couple of SWANK~! spinning kicks, but the rest is way too loosey-goosey for someone who works as stiff as Koji does overseas. Koji wrestles a dead-on Muta impersonation for some reason here. This is spot-rest-spot Sabu type of match, which keeps the crowd alternately bored and excited. Kanemoto with Snake-Eyes and then a double-leg rollover for the pin. **1/2 New Japan 2, WCW 0. (2011 Scott sez: Alex Wright was WAAAAAAY out of his league here.)
· Lex Luger (w/ Jimmy Hart) v. Masa Chono.
This is just after Luger’s heel turn at Havoc 95. And it’s as bad as you’d think it would be, given the talent involved, although Chono makes a go of it. Luger with the inevitable torture rack (hey, he’s in the main event later tonight, he has to win) for the submission. * New Japan 2, WCW 1.
· Johnny B. Badd (w/ Kimberly) v. Masa Saito.
Kim looks eminently do-able here, much more so than today’s Nitro Girl look. (2011 Scott sez: She fell hard, FAST. By the time she did The 40 Year Old Virgin you could barely recognize her.) And who thought this match up? A graphic on the bottom of the screen helpfully points out the score. Choke, slap, stall, rest. Goofy ending as Badd goes for Onoo on the apron, and Saito dumps him over the top rope to show how stupid the Japanese are for not knowing that’s a DQ here in the GOOD OL’ US OF A! HOOOOO! Oh, wait, that’s just Kimberly... DUD. (2011 Fuad sez: IS FUNNY BECAUSE KIMBERLY IS LOOSE WOMAN, HO HO!) New Japan 2, WCW 2.
· Shinjiro Ohtani v. Eddy Guerrero.
YES! YES! YES! And Ohtani is full “Screw you, I’ll be an asshole and you’ll like it.” mode, to make it even better. Lots and lots of great mat wrestling, and Eddy rules it with a foldover powerbomb. Ohtani says, “Fuck you, no way you’re gonna rule the world more than me” (Okay, so I actually said that, but still...) and pulls out a Taka top-rope springboard. I love this guy. Eddy’s not wearing a mask but Ohtani tries to rip it off anyway. Ohtani even manages to DRAW HEAT. On his own. Eddy does Splash Mountain, just to see who can be more SWANK in one match. Eddy beats on Ohtani some more, but My Lord and Savior comes back with his VICIOUS springboard dropkick to the back of Eddy’s head that looks like it nearly gave him whiplash. Then into a killer series of pinfall reversals, on the third of which Ohtani holds him down for the win. Awesome. ****1/4 (2011 Scott sez: They played this match on either 24/7 or Vintage Collection, I forget which, and it was still pretty fucking awesome.) New Japan 3, WCW 2.
· Randy Savage v. Tenzan.
They spell Tenzan as “Tensan” just to piss me off. (2011 Scott sez: This coming from the guy who can’t decide if it’s “Eddy” or “Eddie” Guerrero) Macho is the World champion at this point, and has exactly one offensive move of any note: The flying elbow. Man, he went into a deep funk before making a comeback via DDP in 1997. Nothing match-Savage gets the shit kicked out of him, has one quick move to stun Tenzan, then elbow and it’s over. DUD. New Japan 3, WCW 3. (2011 Scott sez: They had a fucking Savage v. Hiroyoshi Tenzan match and wasted it with this crappy Savage formula? Holy cow that could have been a show-stealing slugfest for the ages! But then I didn’t really get into Tenzan and Kojima until about three years after I wrote this rant anyway, so who knows if he was any good in 95.)
· Mean Gene interviews Ric Flair, who is the only participant in the main event not wrestling a previous match tonight. That should have given it away right there...
· World Cup final: Sting v. US champ Kensuke Sasake. Yes, Sasake (2011 Scott sez: Wasn’t 1999 Scott just bitching earlier about them misspelling “Tenzan”? It’s SASAKI, 1999 Scott.) was actually US champion in 1995, continuing that proud lineage that went on to produce US champ One Man Gang, US Champ Konnan, US Champ Jeff Jarrett and US champ Steve McMichael. (2011 Scott sez: Don’t forget US Champ Orlando Jordan!) Major yawn. See Savage match, substitute “Scorpion Deathlock” for “Flying Elbow”. DUD. WCW wins the World Cup. (2011 Scott sez: And no one smashed the trophy? WTF?)
· Triangle match: Lex Luger v. Sting v. Ric Flair.
Now this is the really interesting part of the show. This is a one-on-one match with the third guy on the apron, able to tag in. Winner of the pinfall gets a shot at Randy Savage’s World title immediately following. Basic story is this: Flair turned on Sting for the millionth time at Havoc 95 so they hate each other. Sting and Luger are best friends, despite the fact that Luger’s a ratfuck who turns on Sting regularly behind his back. And Luger and Flair just plain hate other from past history. This basically three separate matches: Sting-Flair, Flair-Luger and Luger-Sting. The Flair v. Sting segment is their typically excellent encounter, with neither man really dominating and Flair taking a shitkicking because Sting’s REALLY PISSED. Then we get Luger-Flair, with Luger playing the same babyface he played in 1988 and Flair playing the snivelling coward who takes out the knee and then works on that non-stop, all the while throwing sneering remarks at Sting just to annoy him. Flair finally tags out, just to be a shit disturber, and Tony effortlessly reels off the last date and event when Sting met Luger (Superbrawl II in Milwaukee). He never does that stuff anymore. You know, continuity. (2011 Scott sez: Could be worse, could be Michael Cole just making stuff up based on what Vince is yelling in his earpiece that day.) Then some weird shit happens: Luger instantly morphs into heel mode, effectively doing a mid-match turn. Spooky... Luger beats the hell out of Sting, completely controlling that portion while Flair gleefully watches. Finally, the ref gets bumped as Luger puts Sting into the rack, and Flair pounces. He clips Luger and tosses him out of the ring, then nails Sting and tosses him too, then wakes up the referee, who counts out both guys. Flair is your winner and challenger for the World title. **** (2011 Scott sez: That…doesn’t really sound like a **** match to me. Sounds like a clusterfuck that I overrated because the rest of the show was really good wrestling-wise.)
· WCW World title match: Randy Savage v. Ric Flair.
Paul Orndorff wanders down to remind us what bad people the Horsemen are (he’s in a neck brace at this point, courtesy Pillman). Jimmy Hart is managing Flair for some reason. This is your basic Flair-Savage match, minus the excitement and drama. Savage nails Flair with the megaphone at one point and then blades Flair himself for some reason, opening a HUGE gusher. Pillman and Benoit run in (the ref is talking to Jimmy Hart) and cause mayhem to smoke-screen Arn Anderson, who nails Savage with brass knucks, allowing Flair to get the pin and World title #12. **1/2 Pillman snaps and beats on Savage with the World title as the Horsemen celebration takes us out.
The Bottom Line:
Hogan took a sort-of hiatus between World War III and Bash at the Beach (where he turned nWo 4 life) and the quality of WCW shows dramatically improved in that timespan. The NJ v. WCW idea was a cool idea that wasn’t suited for 1995 (it’d damn sure work today, though) and the Sting v. Luger v. Flair v. Savage trainwreck was a brilliant bit of characterization on everyone’s part that ended up going absolutely nowhere because Hulk Hogan came back and put the spotlight on the nWo.
Still, this is a great slice of something different from WCW and a great show to look back on and wonder “What if...” about. (2011 Scott sez: That may have been the case in 99, but I barely even remember this show today.)