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Starrcade 1996

Standard warning: this was written a few years ago so it's not quite as good.

Starrcade 1996
Date: December 29, 1996
Location: Nashville Municipal Auditorium, Nashville, Tennessee
Attendance: 9,030
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Dusty Rhodes, Bobby Heenan

Reviewed by Tommy Hall

Since I want to get my third straight year of WCW complete, here’s the final show of 1996. The main event here is Hogan vs. Piper which shouldn’t be too bad since they were in their primes a mere 11 years ago. I never quite got why this was supposed to be the biggest match in the world but it’s WCW so why am I looking for logic? Other than that there isn’t a ton here but it’s Starrcade so let’s get to it.

The opening video is all about Hogan vs. Piper of course. The announcers talk about it to no end as well.

J Crown/Cruiserweight Title: Dean Malenko vs. Ultimo Dragon

The J Crown is a collection of 8 light weight titles from around the world that Dragon held. This is 8 titles vs. 1, which does a good job of making the Cruiserweight Title seem important. The Dragon is covered in belts here. This is more or less a dream match as they’ve been built up as unbeatable the whole time. Also, one of those 8 belts is the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship, meaning that there is a WWF Title being defended on a WCW show.

As always, Heenan kisses Sonny Onoo’s ass which is one of his trademarks for some reason. Tenay joins them for commentary. How did he go from being the Professor to what he is now? We go to the mat almost immediately as it’s a feeling out process at the moment. Tenay makes an interesting observation and says there is no challenger here. That’s true to a degree and sounds cool for some reason.

Dragon taps but that doesn’t mean anything yet. Sonny suggests he can hold his pants up with the 9th belt. We hear about a match recently where Malenko tried to fight a heavyweight and, GASP, he did quite well. Why didn’t more guys do that? Loud USA chant as the xenophobia runs wild as always. Dragon uses the STF(U) which causes a bunch of jokes from the announcers that aren’t funny.

Dean’s speed really is underrated. He moves around very well for his size which definitely isn’t your traditional cruiserweight look. Dragon dives through the ropes after faking Malenko out of his shoes. Octopus Hold on Malenko which Dusty thinks is an abdominal stretch but whatever. Tenay says Dragon’s name actually means Final Dragon, meaning the final protégé of Bruce Lee. If that’s true, Dragon was his protégé when he was 6 and a half years old, which is assuming he was his protégé on the last day of Lee’s life.

Malenko finally gets a break as he takes Dragon down and works the knee. Handspring elbow misses and Dean DRILLS him with a powerslam. Powerbomb by Dragon gets two as the crowd is getting into this quickly. Jumping Tombstone gets two and a HUGE pop for Malenko. All Dean here as he gets another two count. Asai Moonsault gets us back to even.

Both guys are down on the floor for a bit. Back in and a top rope moonsault misses, injuring Dragon’s knee. Cloverleaf is hooked and of course Sonny interferes. They do a very nice pinfall reversal sequence and then Dragon hits a Tiger Suplex (the arms are hooked like Cattle Mutilation but he does a suplex) for the pin. HUH? That makes NO sense from a booking perspective. The crowd was WAY into this to put it mildly and the ending just sucked the life out of the place. Dragon would lose the J-Crown in less than a week in Tokyo.

Rating: B+. GREAT opener here but Dean desperately needed to win to make it work. He would get the Cruiserweight Title back in like three weeks so that didn’t matter either. This was a weird booking decision all around and it just didn’t do anyone any favors. We got a good match out of it though so I guess there’s that.

Someone else is coming to the NWO. If I remember right, it was Norton. Yeah this was mentioned on PPV.

WCW Women’s Title: Akira Hokuto vs. Madusa

Speaking of meaningless things, this was around for like 7 months with the winner here being one of two people to hold it ever. The other title match was in Japan after one of these two vacated it and then the title just disappeared. Lee Marshall is on commentary here for no apparent reason. Madusa is doing the whole patriot thing here and it gets as much of a reaction as you would expect it to.

Hokuto was actually in the tournament twice, once under a mask and once not. That should go to show you how deep in talent this division, which is a stretch in its own right, really was. Madusa gets stuck in a Sharpshooter for all of 3 seconds. Hokuto bits Madusa’s foot. Yeah this is pretty weak. Madusa/Alundra Blayze more or less was American women’s wrestling until Sable started getting in the ring.

There is almost nothing to talk about regarding the match here in case that didn’t come off clearly. Dusty says Akira’s hair is nappy, which would likely get him fired today and here it’s glazed over. Madusa hits a DDT which Tony of course thingks is a DDT. It’s amazing how many moves he snapped off that I’ve never even heard of at last year’s Starrcade and now he doesn’t even know basic stuff. That’s Bischoff for you.

This is boring as hell as the announcers try very hard to not talk about T&A which is really what Madusa was known for since she was huge in both areas. Sonny blasts Madusa with the American flag behind the referee’s back and a brainbuster ends this bad match.

Rating: D. Is there a reason for the whole Japanese push here? I don’t really get that but whatever. This would have been bad no matter what the ending was, as this was just not interesting in the slightest. I know Bischoff was obsessed with Japanese wrestling, but dang dude not everything, such as joshi, needs to come over.

Piper, probably high as a freaking kite, goes on a huge rant about how they’re both icons and how there are other icons. This is less coherent than a Warrior interview. He can’t carry a piano in a parade and has six kids. Piper thinks Gene is Roseanne and makes a Jewish joke before hopping away on one foot. To say this was out there is a drastic understatement.

Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Rey Mysterio

Was there a sale on Japanese workers tonight or something? This should be a great match but three of them in a row? Really man? We hear about Liger having brain surgery of all things earlier in the year. Rey is in WAY over his head here as he’s only been in WCW for a few months while Liger has been here on and off for years. Total beatdown to more or less zero reaction.

Dusty talks about the Figure Four for some reason despite it having no bearing on this match at all. Liger hits a powerbomb on the floor as this has been more or less one sided the entire time. He hooks a surfboard which is one of my all time favorite submission holds. Rey shakes his head all over and you can’t tell which way his head is going.

Crowd is DEAD here by the way. This is rather odd as this has been a rather hard hitting match but I guess it’s the lack of caring of the whole international guys and their style but still this is weird. Granted the one sided thing isn’t helping anything. Dusty talks about his old partner Dick Murdoch who must be watching this tonight. Dusty is such a great friend that he didn’t realize Murdoch died six months before this.

They crank it up again and Rey hits a HUGE moonsault to the floor to wake up this hick crowd. These Tennessee crowds hate anything that isn’t on the mat and doesn’t have a wacky finish like Lawler would book. This high flying stuff is totally pointless to them and you can tell by their reactions. Rey tries to drop a dime and misses to NO change in reaction. Liger Bomb ends it to nothing of course. As Heenan puts it: Japan 3, US 0.

Rating: B-. Solid match here but the booking of Rey getting destroyed was weird. The crowd really brings this down which isn’t something I complain about too often but it’s the problem of having the good old boys crowd like this and it just did not work at all. They decide what they like and if it’s not the same thing they’ve seen for 50 years they will sit on their hands and give the guys nothing.

Jeff Jarrett vs. Chris Benoit

This is No DQ and is somehow part of the eternally awful Horsemen vs. Dungeon of Doom feud which never got any resolution. Not because of the NWO or anything but rather people just didn’t care and it died. Benoit is the heel here because he stole the wife of Kevin Sullivan (Woman, which happened both in real life and in storyline. The line that sums it up is that Kevin Sullivan booked his own divorce) and might be thrown out of the Horsemen for it. Yeah, Benoit stole a single woman while Flair came out at Wrestle War 89 to fight Steamboat with over 20 of them and Benoit is about to be thrown out for Jarrett, who Flair has given a seal of approval to.

To show you how much people can’t stand Jarrett, he’s the face in the storyline, has RIC FLAIR saying how great he is and is the home state boy. He promptly gets booed out of the building in favor of Benoit. Jarrett is in his old school semi-male stripper outfit which is gray on the back and white on the front. This is a far more technical and ground based match so the people seem to be alive for this one. Benoit yells at him and holds up four fingers to a face pop which the company doesn’t want but whatever.

It breaks down into a fight and we hit the floor. Woman gets involved and Jarrett gets crotched, giving Benoit the advantage. This is one of those matches where you shouldn’t try to factor in the storyline but you have to and it cripples it. The match isn’t bad I guess but at the same time it’s really nothing special given the parties involved.

Jarrett goes off but Woman stops him with her fingers into the eyes and Arn Anderson is here. He walks by Benoit which is supposed to be an insult to Benoit I guess. Cue the Dungeon of Doom and they go after Woman. Taskmaster is here and blasts Benoit with a wooden chair. I think Anderson knocked Jarrett out because when everything is clear Jarrett is on Benoit for the pin.

Rating: D+. Decent little match but the angle was just completely awful. Why are they fighting? Aren’t they kind of both Horsemen? Ah wait: Jarrett just hangs out with them and their leader has endorsed him forever but he isn’t a Horseman. Benoit is bad for stealing Woman from his heel husband which was the whole idea of Hogan vs. Savage in 88/89 but whatever. This feud SUCKED and of course went on for like a year since Konnan and Hugh Morrus are such huge issues for guys like Anderson and Flair right? See what I mean by it’s annoying?

Anderson won’t talk to Gene to explain anything because that would be nice. Neither will Jarrett. Benoit and Woman won’t either and here’s Mongo to HUGE booing. He’s a heel here so at least they got that right. He runs down Benoit to an extent and then the extent is gone. Debra gets the loudest heat of the night which is a bad sign. I think the idea is that Benoit’s affair is breaking up the Horsemen….somehow…..and the Dungeon is happy. Flair wants to replace Benoit with Benoit but Arn is remaining loyal to Benoit, even though he doesn’t want to. They managed to screw up the HORSEMEN. Are you getting how bad this regime really was?

Video on Sting as we’re not sure where he’s going. I still can’t believe that this thing lasted a year before his next match.

Tag Titles: Outsiders vs. Faces of Fear

I remember when this was announced and I was 8 years old. Even then I thought it was some kind of a joke. Nash gets a big pop because he’s Nash and this is Nashville. It was on a sign. Even I’m not that corny. That NWO music really is sweet. I thought of that and then remembered the line so there must be something to the catchphrases. The champions come out first which is odd.

Faces of Fear are Meng and Barbarian and part of the Dungeon of Doom. Meng and Hall start us off as I continue to marvel at Barbarian’s ability to get work. The fans chant Razor to be funny and then Nash, the big man comes in. I say big even though Hall is taller than both of the Faces but whatever. Clubbering commences on Nash and this isn’t very interesting since there is NO chance the titles are changing here.

Racial stereotypes are enforced as a double noggin knocker does nothing. More or less dominance by the challengers so far but Nick Patrick is the referee so expect a screwy ending. Barbarian hits a Jackknife on Hall and takes about a week to cover him so Nash won’t have to run. Syxx steals the Megaphone from Hart and runs him off.

Barbarian knocks Hall out with a nerve hold and Patrick won’t do anything about it. Naturally more of the hold makes him Hulk Up to a face pop. Nash comes in to another face pop and kicks Barbarian in the face, proving that his foot is harder than Meng’s head. Jackknife ends Barbarian.

Rating: D+. No drama at all and the dynamic was all screwed up since WCW refused to accept that these guys were faces at this point. I mean really though, the Faces of Fear? They’re the best challengers you could find? That’s what killed this match: no drama. When I was 8 I knew this wasn’t happening and I know it even more now. Not horrible though.

DiBiase and Hogan say they’ll beat Piper. Seriously is this 1987? Hogan does a huge rant about Piper’s kids and drops in brand names like Campbell’s Soup and Coke. Holy product placement Batman! This is like two and a half minutes long.

US Title: Diamond Dallas Page vs. Eddie Guerrero

This is a tournament final for the title Flair had to vacate due to his shoulder injury. Page was on the brink of the push of a lifetime, but is still a heel here. That would change in less than a month as he would begin the monster face push that had it not been for Sting, could have made him the dark horse to take the title off Hogan at Starrcade the next year. That’s how hot he was in 1997. Eddie is still the nice guy and has about as much personality as Todd Grisham at this point.

Page has fans here and for once WCW got the idea. These two feuded earlier in the year over the Battlebowl Ring which went nowhere. Page had gotten help from Hall and Nash which he hadn’t asked for as they try to get him to join. Get what he was about to do to become the huge face? There’s no belt or anything as Giant still has it. The three commentators really are too much. Dusty can’t believe the fans are yelling for DDP.

This is a pretty basic match and the crowd is silent AGAIN. Nice pescado to put DDP down. Heenan has mic issues or something and is gone. We get more confusing commentary as Dusty raves about how the Diamond Cutter could be hit from anywhere but then says you have to soften the guy up for it. Yeah that makes sense. Heenan is back and this is a pretty decent back and forth match.

I like Heenan’s jokes about Mrs. Guerrero’s chili. That stuff must be awesome. Frog Splash misses and Eddie might have hurt his knee. Page uses something like a Jackhammer for two. It was more like a powerslam and in one motion though which made it fairly cool looking. Very good back and forth match so far here and the crowd simply does not care for the most part which is really depressing.

Page says Diamond Cutter time but Eddie gets knocked to the floor and Page is down in the ring. Cue Outsiders and a Razor’s Edge for DDP. Frog Splash ends it as he didn’t see anything since he was down on the floor. Eddie has the belt even though we were told it was stolen by Giant earlier. The NWO runs in again and beats him down, stealing the belt AGAIN, setting up Syxx vs. Eddie next month in a ladder match.

Rating: B. The match was good, but I would have liked it a lot more if DDP had lost clean. The NWO was the focal point of the company, but like Nexus there needs to be some stuff they’re not involved in that actually matters. This was more overkill by them as they were the only thing that mattered at all and it would start to wear on people. This was a rather good match though as both guys were working hard with some near falls that almost got people caring. Good match.

Ad for Souled Out which was very different to say the least. We’ll get to that later.

Lex Luger vs. The Giant

This is the next to last match and the second biggest on the card. Tony declares that 1996 will be the year that Luger arrives. You know, other than the rookie of the year or the world title reigns he had. This has been building up for a long time so this is a legit showdown and it really does wake the crowd up for the first time since the opener. A long lockup results in punching and shoving.

Luger punches him then gets shoved across the ring. Giant ENDS him with a running clothesline and it’s heel (the popular kind) dominance. Giant kicks him in the ribs and launches him through the ropes in a cool looking spot. He works on Luger’s back and it’s one sided for the most part. Can someone give Dusty something to play with so he’ll BE QUIET?

Luger makes a short comeback with a double axehandle but the slam of course doesn’t work. They tease the Rack but it goes nowhere. Giant goes for a running dropkick and misses, drawing no reaction at all. They say this match has been brutal. I wouldn’t got that far but it certainly hasn’t been very good. Luger finally puts him down with a neckbreaker but gets launched onto the referee who of course lays there to take it.

There’s the slam and Nick Patrick comes down. Luger gets him up but Patrick kicks him in the leg. Sting walks through the crowd and the Rack is on again. SYXX comes down to kick Luger now. Sting comes in and throws the bat down before talking to both Luger and Giant and leaving again. Low blow and about four bat shots end Giant to a HUGE pop. This is the first official loss for the NWO and it only took Luger, Sting and a ball bat to do it.

Rating: D. This was just bad. Luger didn’t do anything here other than the Rack which lasted all of a second. Giant didn’t do anything of note and even with the crowd being all poppish over this, the whole thing never went anywhere. This is supposed to start Giant’s face turn because Hogan and the Outsiders wouldn’t come out to help him but no one wound up caring since Hogan beat him at the next show.
Tony saying this is the turning point of Luger’s career really is funny.

Roddy Piper vs. Hulk Hogan

This is the Match of the Decade. No wait….make that of the CENTURY. What did they expect here anyway? Hogan hadn’t had a good match in years and Piper was crippled for the most part. Hogan has Liz, DiBiase and Vincent with him. The belt, which is about 13 years old, is billed as being 95 at this point. Ok for those of you that have heard the whole 1905 thing, there’s an explanation for that since it’s bullshit.

The original championship (not the belt but the title itself if that makes sense) was made in like 1947 in Iowa. That was the NWA Title, as in National Wrestling Alliance. It became the only world title when the National Wrestling ASSOCIATION Title, which hardly anyone has heard of but was from 1905, was unified with it when Thesz beat someone that means nothing.

Eventually the NWA World Title belt was made (as in the one Kane currently holds. Well not really but that design) for Flair in the mid 1980s because he was supposed to be a larger than life character so he had a larger than life belt. That was still the NWA Title but eventually was used as the WCW Title due to a way too complicated sequence of events and lawsuits.

Eventually it became the WCW Title and had nothing to do with the NWA Title anymore as it is now the old style that you can see at shows before 86 in what became WCW. The title that Hogan holds here (the WCW World Title) has been in existence for about six years at this point and the belt itself (Big Gold Belt, as in the design Kane has although not that belt in particular since that is the World Heavyweight Championship and was invented in 2002 as the original Raw World Title) a little over ten, but hey, saying it’s 91 years old sounds better right? Welcome to the wonderful world of title lineages.

Anyway back to the match. Hogan heads to the floor as the bell rings. Vince and Liz leave and it’s just DiBiase. Hogan slaps Piper on a break in the corner as that is the only offense in about two minutes so far. The bald one runs to waste more time. Lots of punching and kicking here and Hogan stalls again. DO SOMETHING! Hey look it’s a headlock!

It’s pretty much all Hogan here, much like he would do the next year against Sting. Neither guy can do much more than a Tough Enough rookie could do here and it’s just bad. Hogan runs AGAIN for like the third time so far. Piper finds a belt somewhere and whips Hogan with it. He goes after DiBiase to let Hogan take over again. Baldie goes after the hip as this is just horribly boring.

DiBiase interferes again and both guys just fall down. This is just bad. Both guys are far too old and neither can do anything at all other than punch. Piper throws in a suplex to officially classify this as a wrestling match. We get it: Piper has heart and a FIRE inside. Legdrop misses and here comes the NWO. Giant picks Piper up for a Chokeslam and just holds him there for like 10 seconds. A fan comes in and everyone beats him down.

Piper gets out of the chokeslam I guess just because Giant forgot what he was doing. Sleeper goes on to NO reaction again and Hogan goes out clean. It takes forever but the fans finally get that Hogan just lost. The Outsiders run out before Piper can get his belt. Ah never mind: this was non-title. See, the interesting thing is that WCW NEVER mentioned that the title wasn’t on the line. Imagine if Cena vs. Batista at Mania had been non title. To say there would have been an uproar is an understatement.

Rating: F. This was AWFUL as both guys are old as hell and can’t move so of course they get the equivalent of Wrestlemania. The non-title thing is bait and switch to the core and it pissed off a LOT of people. They had a rematch at Superbrawl where Savage turned NWO and kept the title on Hogan. This was just flat out bad and everyone knew it would be.

Hogan chases down Giant and he and the Outsiders yell at the big man. Giant says where were you when I needed you. We throw in a line about Hogan still being champion even though he lost.

Overall Rating
: D-. For a regular show, this isn’t bad at all. For the biggest show of the year, this is a disaster. There are 8 matches on this card. The first three mean dick. Truly, they meant nothing. Just over three weeks later the title was back on Malenko and the other two mean even less. I had already forgotten Jarrett vs. Benoit by the time I got to this point.

The tag title match was a token defense. The US Title was ok but it meant nothing since it led to the far more important DDP face turn. The final two matches are ok at best but again are just table setting for Souled Out. The wrestling is ok in a huge stretch and other than that this was horrible. Didn’t like it when I was a kid and can’t stand it now.

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  1. I still can't believe Hogan/Piper wasn't for the title.  Did Hogan really want to keep it so bad when he just could have won it back in January or February?  Even though he was old Piper deserved a World title and the fact that he never got one is bullshit.

    Hell, I would have given him a brief WWF title run back in 94.  Had to be better than the Lawler shit.

  2. What's even stupider is that a few weeks earlier on Nitro, it was specifically stated that Piper got to write up most of the contract, so it was him that didn't make it for the title.

  3. It was never pushed as non-title on TV, either. Piper wins and the crowd pops, and afterwards Hogan says it's not for the title. Such utter bullshit. I get why they didn't want to change the title here. They were holding it off to blow-off the title change as part of the Sting/nWo storyline. But advertise this as non-tile up front. People not on the Internet didn't know the real deal. 

    This is a pretty good show though, but definitely a some stinkers. I kinda feel like the tag title match is getting ripped off, as the Faces of Fear had worked pretty hard to become a good team. Luger/Giant and Hogan/Piper were utter crap though. 

  4. WCW: If you let us, we can screw up a wet dream!

  5. Also, they just dropped the whole thing after the PPV...I don't remember them even mentioning the contract thing after the show. You'd think they could bring Piper out at least once to explain why we should care that he won the match but not the have him say all he wanted to do was to prove to Hogan that he (Piper) is the true icon of wrestling. Yeah that's stupid, but it'd be something at least. Instead we get the Robin Hood Match.

  6. Jesus fucking Christ!!!  I thought Wrestlmania 27 last year was bad, but this, this takes the cake for shitty bigest show of the year's

  7. Oh that's nothing.  Just wait until next year when it's somehow even worse.  That very well may be the worst major show ever.

  8.  97 is the year with the dusty finish to the Sting Hogan match right? biggest Show WCW ever does and almost all the Heels go over and Sting wins in a dusty finish.  are the actual MATCHES that bad though, booking aside? cause if they are, i think I'm gonna need a drink

  9. It's pretty crappy, but not downright horrible up until the last 2 matches, although I can't offer up a comparison to this show (never seen it).  Bischoff/Zybisko is actually worth seeing because it's fucking hilarious, especially when Scott Hall loads up Bischoff's goofy karate shoe with a hunk of metal and it goes flying into the 20th row. Sting/Hogan is the worst-booked match in wrestling history, and pretty terrible workrate-wise to boot.  

  10.  I have seen the clip of his shoe flying and it is hilarious.  It may be the worst booked finish in long term, but as a stand alone match, that summerslam match between Orton and Cena that got restarted like 3 times could give it a run for it's money lol

  11. Also known as TNA's current slogan next to "The only wrestling company on the planet where Scott Steiner has more brains than the people running it.".

  12. The problem with this show is that I don't even know if Starrcade was supposed to be the "WrestleMania" of WCW by this point- they tend to switch it out and make it a generic show sometimes. What's funny about the Hogan/Piper thing is that I know NOBODY who gave a shit about it (even PWI mostly ignored it), yet WCW was still winning the Monday Night Wars handily. I think people underestimate the ratings value of the nWo angle as a whole.

    The focus on Japanese guys was odd here, as Bischoff seemed to REALLY want to get this stuff over. Problem was, Madusa sucked in her match (Hokuto is legit one of the best ever), Liger hadn't been seen in years, and Dean COULDN'T win in his match because the J-Crown was a Japanese set of belts. Funny how WCW would often let it's own guys lose to outsiders, though.

  13. The Japanese stuff is something that gets on my nerves.  You can't just throw these people out there and expect us to care.  Yeah they're great and people that have followed the sport know that, but a casual fan has no idea who these people are and there's no connection to them.  That doesn't work.

  14. So DDP over Hennig for US title??????????


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