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Kevin’s Random Reviews: WCW Starrcade 1997

October 24, 2017 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
WCW Starrcade 1997
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Kevin’s Random Reviews: WCW Starrcade 1997  

WCW Starrcade 1997
December 28th, 1997 | MCI Center in Washington, D.C. | Attendance: 17,500

It’s the biggest show in the history of WCW. Thanks to things like the nWo angle, WCW took a huge lead on the WWF in the ratings war and beat the tar off them for over a year. During that time, Sting didn’t wrestle and had completely changed his character. He’d finally return to the ring here, as a last chance for WCW to beat the nWo. Logically, Sting should beat Hogan decisively and ride into 1998 as the man. Of course, things don’t go logically and this show signals the beginning of the end for WCW. It’s the fifteenth Starrcade event.

We get a decent opening video package, focusing on Sting in an empty warehouse. To be fair, it’s decent by WCW standards and would be awful by WWE standards, even for 1997. Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay and Dusty Rhodes are in the booth. WHERE THE HELL IS BOBBY HEENAN? Tony lies instantly, saying there are over 24,000 in attendance. He’s off by about 7,000. Several WCW wrestlers are shown in the crowd too, trying to cement how important this show is.

WCW Cruiserweight Championship: Eddie Guerrero (c) vs. Dean Malenko
About two and a half years earlier, these two had a great series of matches in ECW. Heel Eddie and his LWO theme ruled. They jump right into the action and the crowd is surprisingly hot for Dean. He counters a rana with a STIFF powerbomb, followed by a STIFF spinebuster. Eddie takes a breather outside, which allows Schiavone to reach for an Outsiders reference. Malenko grounds the champ for a while. Tony knows nothing, saying Eddie has cut off Dean’s momentum, but he really hasn’t. When Eddie gets going, he targets the leg. Dean has to fight through it with every bit of offense he gets. He hits another STIFF powerbomb, while still selling the knee. His Texas Cloverleaf attempt fails because Eddie kicks the knee. Eddie also busts out a missile dropkick to the knee. That’s different. With Dean down, he follows with the Frog Splash onto the bad knee and retains at 14:56. I dug the psychology here. Though Dean’s specialty is the submission, Eddie turned it around on him and continually attacked it. The finish made a ton of sense too. Still though, not a patch on their best work. [***¼]

It’s time for something I typically dislike, which is an in-ring promo during a PPV. Scott Hall is out with a bogus WCW World Tag Team Title. He looks surprisingly sober here. He runs the survey and WCW gets overwhelming support. They are ready for Sting. Hall has a shot at the winner of Hogan/Sting by virtue of his World War 3 win. He mentions Kevin Nash not making it to the show for his match with the Giant. Apparently, Nash believed he had a heart attack and missed the show. Some say it was a legit heart issue, some say he didn’t want to job. The Giant comes out and says he’ll patiently wait for Nash before beating up Hall to send a message. He hits the Jackknife and again, the crowd is jacked. Decent segment to replace the match. They could’ve done Hall vs. Giant but neither guy was lighting the world on fire in the ring at the time.

Randy Savage, Scott Norton and Vincent w/ Elizabeth vs. Ray Traylor and WCW World Tag Team Champions The Steiner Brothers w/ Ted Dibiase
Konnan was scheduled for this but missed the show for the birth of his child. Savage is the replacement. How the hell did WCW book their biggest show of the year with no matches for Savage or Hall? Scott is massive here and the short, black hair was a terrible look. The nWo guys focus on Scott’s back but the Steiners send them regrouping outside. Rick shows off his power by tossing Norton around. Traylor looks super generic since leaving the nWo. Scott starts kicking Vincent’s ass and paintbrushes him. The faces continue to have control and Scott tries to murder Vincent with A DOOMSDAY DEVICE DDT! The pine is broken up though, keeping the nWo alive. Dibiase picks an odd time for a distraction, allowing Norton to get involved and hit an electric chair drop. Savage hits the elbow to win at 11:05. Such a strange match. It had no structure and was just guys doing things. The finish was dumb too, with lots of moving parts but nothing clicking. The crowd popped for the elbow though, despite Savage being heel. [*]

Mean Gene brings out JJ Dillon for an interview. He talks about the referee for tonight’s main event. Due to controversy, they pick a referee’s name from a hat. How innovative. The referee will be former nWo member Nick Patrick.

Bill Goldberg vs. Steve McMichael
No pyro yet for Goldberg. There’s a “bathroom break” sign in the crowd. Goldberg is livid, like they just made him watch an hour of Mongo matches in the back. He attacks during Mongo’s entrance and carries him to the ring. Goldberg works a knee bar but doesn’t know how to make the submission look convincing, so he just sits there. Mongo kicks out of the spear for some reason. Goldberg sets up a table outside and wants to dump Mongo out through it, but Mongo fights it off. He still ends up going through it. Inside, he rallies and tries the tombstone but his back gives out. It’s funny since he landed on his side when going through the table. A Jackhammer ends it at 5:58, even though Mongo nearly landed on his neck. It was mostly a glorified squash and an uninteresting one at that. [¼*]

Raven is out to say his contract states he chooses when he wrestles and tonight, he’s not. This is happening despite him dodging Chris Benoit for a while and the payoff logically being at the major event. Apparently, he, like Nash, was suffering from an injury. He brings out Saturn to face Benoit.

Raven’s Rules: Chris Benoit vs. Saturn w/ Raven
Schiavone adds another fib to his list tonight, saying Benoit gets a rousing ovation. In the early goings, the only part of the match even remotely hardcore is interference from the Flock. Saturn decides to slap on a chinlock in this No DQ match. Saturn’s one high impact move is a double jump moonsault for two. WCW guys are shown in the crowd, including Mortis, casually sitting in street clothes and his mask. Benoit catches a Saturn clothesline into the Crippler Crossface but the Flock jumps him to break things up. Saturn tries an Asai moonsault but Benoit moves, so he hits the Flock. Well, he was supposed to but the Flock drop him. Benoit hits the diving headbutt, but again the Flock get involved. Raven hits the Even Flow and Saturn uses the Rings of Saturn to beat the unconscious Benoit at 10:49. Massive disappointment. They barely used the stipulation, yet it was still overbooked. The worst part of it all was that it was just flat out dull. [*½]

Buff Bagwell vs. Lex Luger
Buff is so original, calling his opponent “Lex Loser.” In the build to this, Luger kept losing to Buff via countout. Logically, considering Luger was just World Champion a few months ago, he should run through this mid-carder here. Instead, these two trudge along with boring back and forth. It’s a lot of punch-kick stuff. Luger’s selling is, as always, dreadful. Buff slaps on a chinlock to kill some time. Luger starts coming back, while the crowd sits on their hands. SCREAMING CLOTHESLINES! That’s always the main sign of a Luger rally. He hits a shitty suplex that ends up looking like a brainbuster. Vincent jumps in, so Luger sends him into Bagwell. We get a ref bump and Luger applies the Torture Rack. Randy Savage runs in but gets slammed for his troubles. Savage goes in the rack too, but here comes Scott Norton. He lays out Luger with a chain and Buff covers to take it in a LONG 16:36. This was trash. The match sucked and felt twice as long as it went. Who thought they should get nearly 20 minutes? Also, this show is 5-for-5 in heels going over. ON THE BIGGEST SHOW OF THE YEAR! [-***]

WCW United States Championship: Curt Hennig (c) vs. Diamond Dallas Page
According to commentary, DDP is replacing Ric Flair here. DDP is far more over than any other babyface so far, including Luger. DDP’s early Diamond Cutter attempt fails. His ribs are taped (seemingly forever), so Hennig targets them. Dusty claims DDP’s ribs won’t heal while he’s in “mortal combat” each night. Now I want this match to end via fatality. FINISH HIM. He exposes the ribs like a true veteran heel. After a short chinlock, Hennig is game to bump for DDP. Hennig blocks the Diamond Cutter again, before DDP does a floatover into one. It gets a huge pop and the win at 10:52. Solid enough match, though a disappointment. They should’ve shaved time off Buff/Luger and added it here. The right guy went over and the finish was cool. [**¼]

Eric Bischoff w/ Scott Hall vs. Larry Zbyszko
Bret Hart, hot off the HUGE Montreal screw job, is the referee here. As usual in matches like this, the heel does a lot of stalling. Larry gets Bischoff down and works a submission but Bret makes him break it because it’s choking. Commentary and Larry get mad at Bret for that. Bischoff, the cowardly heel, gets Larry reeling in the corner with kicks and punches. Larry allows it so Bischoff can get winded. The heels fail at cheating because Hall puts a metal object in Bischoff’s boot, only for it to fly out on his kick attempt. Bischoff tries celebrating with Bret, so Bret knocks him out. He also slaps Hall in the Sharpshooter and poses for the crowd. Biggest pop of the night. Larry chokes Bischoff with a belt and Bret just raises his hand with no legitimate finish at 11:24. They executed nearly everything poorly and this went on for far too long. People wanted to see Bischoff get his ass kicked, but this wasn’t quite that. Plus, they wasted Bret’s debut and did anon-finish for some reason. [-**½]

WCW World Heavyweight Championship: Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Sting
This is it. The big match, over a year in the making. It’s Sting’s first match since Fall Brawl 1996. It’s typical Hogan BS to start. He jaws with the fans, stalls and only tries actual offense here or there. Anytime Sting hits him, the crowd comes unglued. There’s way too much stalling for a match that should be a big deal. Hogan goes on offense and the crowd is apathetic. They don’t want to see this. Hogan hits a body slam and covers for the three count at 11:18. The count is quick, so Bret Hart is outside and stops the bell from ringing. Well, the count is supposed to be quick but it really isn’t. Hogan tries leaving, so Bret brings him back. A series of Stinger Splashes hit and the Scorpion Death Lock ends this in ho-hum fashion at 12:53. This was an absolute shit show. They booked the match completely wrong. Hogan feared Sting, yet they had him dominate. Then, they fucked up a screw job, which was a bad idea in the first place. Sting, the supposed savior of WCW, comes across like a loser and Hogan looks like he got screwed. There are worse matches out there, but this gets to be one of the worst ever due to the sheer importance of the match and how badly it was fumbled. [-****½]

Sting gets a big celebration with all the babyfaces. Did they not see how this ended?

The final score: review Very Bad
The 411
It was WCW’s biggest show ever and they bombed. Hard. The only match worth seeing is Malenko/Guerrero and you can see better versions of it elsewhere. There are a whopping THREE matches they get negative stars, including the main event being an all-time screw up. They gave Luger/Bagwell the most time of any match, which is a travesty. Savage was a last minute replacement. Hall had no match. Vincent, Traylor, Zbyszko, Bischoff and Mongo were booked, while Rey Mysterio, Harlem Heat and several others sat in the crowd.

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WCW, WCW Starrcade 1997, Kevin Pantoja