wrestling / Video Reviews

Going Old School: Starrcade ’92

March 4, 2008 | Posted by Matt Adamson
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Going Old School: Starrcade ’92  

1992 was a strange year for WCW. This was the first year since Ric Flair started his career in the NWA that he didn’t wrestle for the promotion, and while at first the quality wasn’t effected as much as it would originally have been though, by the time summer came around, the gaps in talent were glaring, but that wasn’t the big problem. 1992 was the year of Bill Watts, and while the in-ring product was top notch most of the year, besides the tremendous Dangerous Alliance story, everything else fell flat. People started losing interesting starting at Clash of the Champions XIX, where the entire show was dedicated to a tournament for a title that didn’t need to exist. It was from this point that things started to fall apart organization wise. There was very little to care about as far as storylines were concerned. By the time Starrcade rolled around, there was exactly 1 storyline going that was causing a buzz in WCW. That was between Dustin Rhodes and Barry Windham, who’s time as a tag team was over when Windham turned on him at Clash of the Champions XXI. So, with so little to work with, what did WCW decide to do? Well, go with the gimmick event of course, and we were served up our second course of Battlebowl: The Lethal Lottery.

December 28th 1992 from the Omni in Atlanta, Georgia in front of a crowd of 8,000 fans.

Starrcade ‘92 – Battlebowl

Hosts: Jim Ross and Jesse Ventura
Lottery Drawer Folk: Missy Hyatt, Larry Zbyszko & Tony Schiavone

The first four matches of the show are Battlebowl qualifiers where teams are drawn at random. However, this time they decided to be smart about things and not have the drawing be legit. It made for MUCH better quality, as you will soon see.

Van Hammer & Dan Spivey vs. Cactus Jack & Johnny B. Badd

Aside from Spivey, none of these guys have quite hit their peak, especially Jack, who was still a novelty act who had exactly 2 main events under his belt. The match is decent enough, and Van Hammer, who was on the previous Starrcade has visibly matured in the ring, but it’s not enough to make him actually good. Sick Frankensteiner by Badd on Hammer. Cactus and Badd has some great stuff going together and both teams had decent chemistry, but Jack and Badd came to blows and Badd his Cactus with a Left Hook which allowed Hammer to roll him up for the win. Good dynamic between Cactus and Badd made this an interesting match, but nothing special. Hammer & Spivey advance to Battlebowl.

Winners: Van Hammer
Match Rating: *¾

Vader & Dustin Rhodes vs. Barbarian & Kensuke Sasaki

This match looked promising from the drawing. I knew it would be interesting to see how Vader and Rhodes worked as a team. Sasaki was still far from the solid wrestler he would later become, but he is still quite good. The match is particularly interesting when Vader and Sasaki were in there as we get to see some great Strong Style stiffness from those two. Very smooth and crisp execution throughout, and Barbarian saw very little of the match, which is for the best, but he does get rolled up by Rhodes for 3. Nice little match that exceeded my expectations a great deal. The cooperation between Rhodes and Vader doesn’t last as Vader attacks him afterward. There is no time to waste on this show, they had to build some rivalries for goodness sake.

Winners: Vader & Dustin Rhodes
Match Rating: **¾

Brian Pillman & 2 Cold Scorpio vs. Barry Windham & Great Muta

See, this is what I’m talking about. The rigged Lethal Lottery brings us gems like this little match. Cool little bit to add to the drama is that Windham and Pillman would tag as a team later in the night. Fast paced and very fun little match with lots of action. Muta and Pillman work extremely well together and are all over the place. When Windham and Pillman are in together things heat up and get stiff. Great chops between the two. Scorpio brings the high flying and fits in quite well. DDT by Windham followed by a Moonsault by Muta on Scorpio gets 3. Fantastic match. These 4 really had something special and it was only limited by time. I wish I could have seen more of this.

Winners: Barry Windham & Great Muta
Match Rating ***¼

Steve Williams & Sting vs. Erik Watts & Jushin Liger

Well, which we had that last bit of brilliance we get a match that went down in history for all the wrong reasons. This is that match with the greatest dropkick of all time (meaning the worst, often compared to that awful dropkick by Jackie Gayda). Aside from that moment in wrestling history, it’s a good little entertaining match. There is lots of action and it showcases power vs. speed. The historical (hysterical) moment occurs when Watts hit’s the famed dropkick on Williams, who sold it about as good as the dropkick was bad. That’s not so good considering he had just gotten done no-selling Ligers offense. Liger turned up the bump machine and took the bumps for the 4 of them. Williams pinned Watts to advance to Battlebowl. Not exactly good, but very entertaining. If you haven’t seen this one, check it out and see why Verne Gagne made far better decisions in putting his son in the spotlight than Bill Watts did.

Winners: Steve Williams & Sting
Match Rating: *¾

So, we now have the main event of the show set. See, this is why this was a bad idea, going into this show, nobody knew who would be in the main event. As a result, the buyrate tanked. So, going to Battlebowl are: Van Hammer, Dan Spivey, Vader, Dustin Rhodes, Barry Windham, Great Muta, Steve Williams & Sting.

NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Masahiro Chono © vs. The Great Muta

There is not a single match on this show that doesn’t feature a wrestler who has to wrestle twice or more. In this case it’s Muta who had teamed with Windham in the Lethal Lottery. This is the post-Ric Flair version of the NWA title as it had been stripped from him when he left for the WWF. Chono had won the title by winning a tournament in Japan over the summer. He had spent the previous few months feuding with Rick Rude over the title, but every time they showed up in the states, Chono phoned it in. The rumor has always been that Watts didn’t want his guys to look bad when the Japanese wrestlers came over, so he asked them to half-ass it. Needless to say, they listened and this match, which could have been good, is well… you’ll see.

This match is not what I would call technically poor, or sloppy, but it is boring as all hell. Lots of submissions and restholds early on. It looks exactly like they are dogging it on purpose. The match looks like two guys doing wrestling moves but not actually wrestling. Lots of stalling by both just kills whatever hope I had in this match. After what seem like an hour, Muta misses a moonsault and the match shifts gears, thank goodness. It still isn’t great, but instead of restholds, we have some impact moves. The last 2 minutes is actually decent, but it’s not enough to save this huge mistake. STF on Muta and he submits. I believe that’s the first submission victory at a Starrcade, somebody correct me if I’m mistaken. Terrible, dull beast of a match. Damn you Bill Watts, damn you!

Winner: Masahiro Chono
Match Rating: *

Rick Rude comes down to the commentary table. He’s pissed off because his doctor has said he can’t wrestle tonight for the World Title. He’s currently the U.S. Champion and ion addition to losing this big title shot, he also has to defend his U.S. title withing 30 days (which is actually 27 as apparently WCW is full of dip shits).

World Heavyweight Championship: Ron Simmons © vs. Steve Williams

So, because Rude is injured we have this. Well if there was ever a Starrcade World Title match that should never have been, this is it. What the hell is Steve Williams doing in the World Title scene at all. When this show was originally airing, I was a huge Rick Rude fan. I ordered this show in anticipation of what I believed was a sure thing that he’d win the World Title at this show. I was so pissed that I had my folks call the cable company to complain. What did the cable company say? “Card Subject to Change.” Yep, that’s it, I called them up myself and still nothing. Two years later the same building where I picked up my PPV box burned to the ground. I smiled that day. That refund was deserved. Oh yeah, Simmons had won the title from Vader in August in one of the most emotional matches I’ve ever seen, and it was on free TV. If you can hunt that down, I highly recommend it.

Williams already wrestled once, and we know how that usually goes, so I’m not expecting much here. Simmons looks good, he’s very crisp and looks fresh. He works Williams left arm, but Williams no-sells like he was born to. So, in turn Williams works Simmons leg and he sells it so well. He modifies everything he does to sell the leg, just like it should be done. Williams should be embarrassed, he is completely showed up by Simmons. Williams dominates much of the match and Bill Watts gets turned on. They do the whole Florida State vs. Oklahoma football tackles thing and I stop caring. If the football isn’t round, it’s not a football. They do that for about 5 minutes and while the crowd loves it, I grow apathetic. For some strange reason the crowd turns on Simmons by the end of the match which ends in a double count out. What a waste of time. Oh wait, a ref comes down and DQ’s Williams for coming off the top rope. Wha? Didn’t they ditch that rule back in September? Terrible match, boring and confusing. Thanks Bill Watts.

Winner: Ron Simmons by DQ
Match Rating: *

Unified Tag Team Championship: Ricky Steamboat & Shane Douglas © vs. Barry Windham & Brian Pillman

Steamboat and Douglas had been champions since the Clash of the Champions XXI when Windham turned on his partner Dustin Rhodes. So there is a little history here, but the wrong combination. If I were booking this show I would have had Pillman tag with somebody else, I’m thinking Steve Austin (if he wasn’t injured) and had Windham and Rhodes wrestle one on one to settle their feud which was never settled one on one. Hell, even a cage match would have been perfect and Windham was awesome in 1992 and Rhodes was capable and they could have put on something truly special. However, Bill Watts thought this would be the best option. We all know how this went, within a month Watts would be history, Vader would be champion, Windham would be starting a big singles push and Pillman would be teaming with Steve Austin to form the Hollywood Blondes. This would have been a great place for that to start.

As much as I just complained, I have to say, I’m glad this match happened because it was damn good. Lots of good fast paced action. Good tag psychology throughout by Steamboat and Douglas, and fantastic chemistry between Pillman and Windham who do a fabulous job of cutting the ring in half. Douglas spends most of the match getting manhandled. Lots of variety here as they don’t stick to one style, but shake things up, even having the faces do a little cheating. Everything in the match is so well timed. Steamboat sells Windham’s offense so well. If you want storytelling in a match, this one is for you. It’s a great story of newbie determination. Belly to Belly by Douglas gets the pin on Pillman. Awesome match that did a lot more than I expected. If every match were like this one, I’d be a happy man.

Winners: Ricky Steamboat & Shane Douglas
Match Rating: ****½

King of Cable Tournament Final: Vader vs. Sting

The idea of this tournament was so Sting and Vader could once again put on an awesome show at Starrcade. It was an 8 man tournament that took place on TV. Sting had defeated Rude in an awesome match to reach the finals and Vader had defeated Dustin Rhodes. Knowing what these two are capable of, I’ll excuse the lousy tournament idea in order for there to be one more out there between them. It’s a shame they weren’t involved in the World Title scene, though Vader would beat Simmons for the World Title a few days after this.

Vader dominates most of this tremendous match and his offense is stiff as hell. Sting sells everything to perfection and they both put everything into making this match entertaining. The action was non-stop from bell to bell. It’s amazing watching Vader to see how agile he is for a man that big. Vader nearly takes Sting’s head off with a forearm to the side of his head. This is one of those matches where you are on the edge of your seat. In an awesome moment, Vader comes off the top rope (DQ right? CONSISTENCY WCW!) but Sting catches him with a slam for three. This is one of the best matches around and if you like power wrestling, but with a lot of variety and non-stop action, this is a treat you will love.

Winner: Sting
Match Rating: ****½

Ventura is out with Sting and the trophy. Sting talks about getting his ass kicked and winning Battlebowl.


The participants are: Dan Spivey, Dustin Rhodes, Great Muta, Barry Windham, Steve Williams, Van Hammer, Vader & Sting.

While many Battle Royals are confusing and limited due to space considering the large amount of people in the match. This one is very cozy with only 8 guys in there. That helped make this one of the best Battle Royals I’ve ever seen. There is a lot more variety than most Battle Royals, because they aren’t limited to the punch/kick offense that generally rules these things. The participants themselves make for the possibility of some interesting storytelling as well. Windham and Rhodes immediately prove my point by brawling to the outside, but not being eliminated. The emotion is there and the crowd eats this up. It’s entirely different than the 1991 Battlebowl which saw a crowd practically die of boredom before our eyes. Van Hammer is out first, followed by Spivey which is the wise move, leaving on the big guns. Vader eliminates Sting and himself with a vicious clothesline. The two brawl to the back. Windham and Rhodes finally get their stage as they just pour out the drama. See, why not have this as a singles match on this show? I never got that. Williams and Rhodes are out from a clothesline by Williams leaving Muta and Windham who were partners in the Lethal Lottery. Good drama with the final two and the crowd is firmly behind Muta, going as far as chanting his name. Dropkick sends Windham out and The Great Muta is the winner of Battlebowl. Great Battle Royal with lots of drama and while the choice of winner seems a little odd, it gave a little variety to thing.

Winner: The Great Muta
Match Rating: ***¼

The 411: This show is far better than it had any right to be. There is something to see in 6 of the 9 matches which is impressive, even if one of them is just for a laugh. I’d recommend hunting this down if you didn’t see it on 24/7 in December. While they missed some grand opportunities booking wise with this show, the in-ring product shined no less than 5 times in this one. One of the best Starrcade’s up to this point and who knows how good this might have been if Rick Rude and Austin had been involved.
Final Score:  7.5   [ Good ]  legend

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Matt Adamson

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