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Starrcade Countdown: 1996

The Netcop Retro Rant for WCW Starrcade 1996

(2011 Scott sez:  This was a bitch to reformat due to 1999 Scott saving it in a text file instead of a Word document.  Although I find it funny that I was going back and doing “retro” stuff of shows from three years earlier.  If I was to go back today and do, say, Summerslam 2008, it’s not like the roster or booking is particularly different.) 

  • Live from Nashville, TN
  • Your hosts are Tony, Bobby and Dusty, with help from Mike and Lee.

  • Opening match: J-Crown v. WCW Cruiserweight title: Ultimo Dragon (w/ Sonny Onoo) v. Dean Malenko.

    El Dragon is still playing El Evil Jap at this point, as evidenced by Sonny's presense. Malenko gets a surprisingly good pop coming in. Good mat wrestling to start, which the crowd doesn't appreciate at this point in WCW's history. Crowd starts numerous xenophobic "USA" chants to rally Dean. They never really seem to click at the level they need to make it work. But then I'm not a big Asai fan to begin with. Too slow and too many legholds for my liking. Crowd is bored out their skulls until Malenko snaps off a powerslam and starts reeling off the setup moves for the Cloverleaf. Now the place is rocking, especially when he actually gets it on. Sonny jumps onto the apron and Dean goes out of character by chasing him off -- The Shooter would *never* release a hold to chase off a manager. (2011 Scott sez: Unless he was on RAW today, in which case he’d release the hold, run out of the ring after the manager, stop to throw his opponent back in, and then act all shocked when he lost the match by countout.) A hot series of reversals builds to a Tiger (reverse double underhook) suplex on Dragon's part for the pin and all 9 championships. Malenko really should have gone over. A good match otherwise, although I can't give it higher than ***1/2 in good conscience.
  • Gene Okerlund hypes another major superstar joining the nWo. I believe this turned out to be Scott Norton. (2011 Scott sez:  As exciting an announcement today as it was back then.) 
  • WCW Women's title tournament final: Akira Hokuto v. Madusa.

    Lee Marshall is brought in as an "expert" on women's wrestling. Lee Marshall can't even be called an "expert" on writing his own name. Kensuke Sasaki is at ringside for Akira, just to bring the talent level down *that* much further. Look, I appreciate a change of style as much as anyone, but both feds have been trying to "acclimate" us to women's wrestling for years now, and it usually involves a maximum of *three* people in the women's division. (2011 Scott says:  Hey now!  There’s FOUR people currently in the Women’s division, sometimes more depending on whether they need bodies for a battle royale.)  And it usually sucks. Like this match. So here's a hint for WCW and the WWF: WE DON'T GIVE A FUCK. They like it in Japan because a) There's more than 3 people and b) They already appreciate that style as it is. North America just doesn't get it and never will. So stop trying to shove it down our throats. (2011 Scott sez:  This was before Lita and Trish Stratus, obviously.)  As for this match, Hokuto is slumming it here, which is saying something because I usually like her Japanese stuff. Lots of sloppy, poorly executed moves that kill the crowd heat. Hokuto with a sloppy brainbuster for the pin and the title. *1/2
  • Gene again, interviewing Roddy Piper. Piper gives the most drugged-out sounding interview I've ever heard, saying absolutely NOTHING that made sense. (2011 Scott sez:  I think he was rambling on about Vince starting his own football league and movie division and spending $20 million of his own money on his wife’s political campaign, and people were like “This guy’s speaking in tongues!  No one could be that stupid” and we just assumed he was doing some crazy promo.  HOW WRONG WE WERE.) 
  • Rey Mysterio Jr. v. Jushin Liger.

    Again, a match ahead of it's time. Liger goes MEDIEVAL~! on Rey's ass, beating him like a dog here with SWANK~! kicks and just general miserable dickness. Guess what -- the crowd doesn't give a fuck. It took until late 1997 for WCW crowds to really buy into this style. Rey is never really into it aside from a few token highspots to satiate the crowd. Liger dismantles him, finally blocking a top rope rana and finishing it with the Ligerbomb. From a technical standpoint, it was ****, but from an overall excitement standpoint, it was only about **1/2. I'll split the difference and give it ***1/4 (2011 Scott sez:  I do an actual non-shitty recap of this match in the Essential Starrcade series, which of course we’ll get to later.) 
  • Chris Benoit v. Jeff Jarrett (No DQ).

    Times, they change. Let's go back to 1996, as Kevin Sullivan comes up with one of the most horribly convoluted feuds in wrestling history: The Four Horsemen v. The Dungeon of Doom. Between the time Jarrett came into WCW and his eventual punking from the Horsemen, I and many others had *NO* idea what the FUCK was going on with this angle. (2011 Scott sez:  I have totally and completely blanked on the entire feud outside of the Bookerman angle and Benoit stealing Nancy in Germany.  Luckily Tommy Hall is getting into this point in his Nitro recaps so I can try to catch up again.)  At this point in our little soap opera, Chris Benoit has returned from Germany and is involved with Woman, while feuding with Kevin Sullivan and being "on the bubble" with the Horsemen. Jeff Jarrett has come into WCW and been endorsed by Ric Flair and who the hell knows what Arn Anderson thinks. Seriously, nothing about the whole mess made any real sense. For some reason, Benoit is a heel here and Jarrett is a face, which is stupid because Benoit is getting massive face heat and Jarrett is getting massive heel heat. Pretty bad match, too. Benoit wrestles like a mofo, stomping the hell out of Jarrett but not doing much else. Stuff happens for a while until Arn Anderson wanders out, followed by Kevin Sullivan, Konnan, and Hugh Morrus. The Dungeon members mess with Woman, while Anderson DDTs Jarrett and Sullivan breaks the only balsa wood chair in the building over Benoit's head. (2011 Scott sez:  Boy, if I had a time machine, I’d go back and tell Benoit to only take balsa wood chairshots for the rest of his career, no matter silly it looked.  Or better yet, no chairshots, and no diving headbutts.)  End result: Jarrett is laying on top of Benoit and gets the win. Ugh. This feud was *so* bad... **
  • Mean Gene interviews Mongo and Debra, back in the heel days.
  • WCW World tag team title: The Outsiders v. The Faces of Fear.

    This is during the "Nick Patrick Is A Bad Person" era. Decent tag match for the first few minutes, surprisingly enough, then the Patrick angle starts to overwhelm the wrestling, as he refuses to count FOF pinfalls. And the inherent laziness of 3 of the 4 wrestlers involved doesn't help, either. (2011 Scott sez:  Not sure if I was counting Meng in that one, because Meng is actually pretty great a lot of the time in his own way.)  Nash powerbombs Barbarian for the win, which the announcers made to sound screwy but the ending was never in doubt. Good pop for Nash, too. **
  • The following bullet has been paid for by the New World Order.
  • The nWo yaks.
  • The preceding bullet has been paid for by the New World Order.
  • US Title tournament finals: Diamond Dallas Page v. EDDY~! Guerrero.

    Times, they change, part 2. Believe it or not, DDP was a cigar-smoking heel pig and Eddy was a virtuous babyface. (2011 Scott sez:  WHAT?  You mean people change from one personality to ANOTHER one in wrestling?  And this happens ALL THE TIME?)  I can't watch this match without shaking my head at least once at how perfect both guys are at their currently reversed roles. (2011 Scott sez:  The irony of course being that Eddie then went on to become an even BIGGER star as an underdog cheating babyface after this was written) DDP was only a couple of weeks away from his monster face turn, but Eddy had a few months yet before he became a god. Good match, but it never really clicks in EDDY~!'s usual territory, much like the other two members of the Trinity on this night. Back and forth match, crowd doesn't give a shit. They want big talentless shmoes and they want 'em now. Finally things get going as Eddy blocks the Diamond Cutter on several occasions, before the nWo runs in and DESTROYS Page as Eddy is out on the floor. Somehow the referee misses 5 guys in the ring on one. Eddy doesn't see any of this (he's the babyface, remember) and hits the froggy splash for the pin and the US title. The nWo then wipes the mat with Eddy, too, and steals the US title. Oh, sure, it's not enough to just ruin matches that they're involved in, they have to fuck up other people's matches as well. *** for the wrestling, minus several million for the booking.
  • The first Souled Out promo. How little did they know...
  • The Giant v. Lex Luger.

    Oh, sure, NOW the crowd is into it. Giant, of course, is nWo 4 life at this point. Two minute lockup to start, and it goes downhill from there. Kick, punch, kick, punch. Ref gets bumped on a freakin' kickout. Nick Patrick runs in as Lex puts his future Big Buddy in the rack, and kicks him in the leg. Syxx runs in and beats on Lex too. Then Sting comes in (could this BE anymore overbooked?) (2011 Scott sez:  Yes.  This is downright subdued compared to some TNA main events)  and whispers the Colonel's secret chicken recipe to Luger, then goes to the Giant and tells him the secret password for WCW's online hotline option (2011 Scott sez:  That password was probably “1234” knowing the brains behind the company). He drops his bat on the way out. Luger gets it first, makes use of it in dramatic fashion and knocks the Giant out cold. The pin is academic and draws the biggest pop of the evening. 1/2*
  • Battle of the ICONs: Hulk Hogan v. Roddy Piper.

    Hogan brings Dibiase, Vincent and Liz with him. So....much....stalling. Hogan sells 10x more for Piper than he does for Sting a year later. Sigh. They end up on the floor and "brawl" for a bit. The, uh, excitement keeps building with more devastating kicks and punches. Hogan misses the Legdrop of Death and the FUCKING NWO COMES INTO THE BOOKING AGAIN as Giant runs in and tries a chokeslam on Piper, but Piper fights out of it and puts Hogan in a sleeper for the win. This was even more painful to watch the second time around. The status of the title and the fact that it was a NON-TITLE match is only glossed over in the closing moments of the show. DUD
  • Giant and Hogan yell at each other after the match as the announcers pronounce the nWo "in disarray" for the first time, to be followed by the same pronouncement every week for the next year and a half. (2011 Scott sez:  Maybe they should have staged a walkout…#OccupyTBS)
  • The Bottom Line: This show had a big black and white line drawn right through the middle, as the mid-card and cruiserweights got the first few matches, then everything after that was dominated by nWo booking. And I mean *dominated*. This was Screwy Finishes R Us as everyone who could run in did so. They still hadn't decided what to do with Sting and the entire midcard in general, and it shows. I think time period was the major problem with this show: Eric was still working the kinks out of the nWo storyline and trying to get North America used to Japanese style wrestling, so not much really clicked with the fans here. I think were this show presented today (with a different main event, I'd hope) it would be better received than it was in 1996. It's an interesting glimpse into the formative months of the nWo, but I wouldn't recommend it as a "good show". (2011 Scott sez:  It was actually the start of a pattern in the nWo years, with a fantastic undercard followed by crap main events.  It’s a strong thumbs up for the wrestling alone, though.)