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Ring Crew Reviews: Starrcade: The Essential Collection – Disc One

July 25, 2012 | Posted by Jack Bramma
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Ring Crew Reviews: Starrcade: The Essential Collection – Disc One  

• We start with a roughly hour long program and then proceed into the top 25 Starrcade matches of all time.

• Opening video package shows Harley Race saying this was the birth of PPV, Flair saying Greensboro was the logical place to hold Starrcade, and Magnum TA saying it took it (NWA/WCW) from a regional to a national promotion. JR says the dream matches were held there and it was the “forerunner to Wrestlemania.”

Crockett Promotions: David Crockett says his family tried a lot of different entertainment routes but wrestling was their best. We get some archival footage of Jim Crockett, Jr. talking about the history of JCP and then we get the obscenely awesome territory map showing where Mid-Atlantic was geographically. Everytime I see that map, I just wish WWE would release a 3 disc comp and a program for every territory whose tape libraries they own.

Thanksgiving Tradition: Dusty and Harley talk about how Thanksgiving night was THE night for wrestling in the old days. Flair then talks about how Greensboro was THE show that all of the boys had to make because fans would travels from hundreds of miles just for the Greensboro shows.

Starrcade is Born: Dusty and Barry Windham talk about the conversation where Dusty came up with the name for the show. Not much here. Everyone takes turns crediting Dusty with the idea of Starrcade (and Great American Bash and Halloween Havoc and… you get the idea) but more importantly with the idea of the supercard. Well, WCCW was running Star Wars before the first Starrcade and well before the first Wrestlemania. There were various “Final Conflict” shows and of course megacards at Shea and other places. I think more accurately you can just say the writing was on the wall and a lot of promotions starting equally trying to consolidate more and more talent for more “supershows” around the early to mid 1980s.

• Now, we see the NWA committee at a roundtable press conference where JCP wins the vote to hold the first Starrcade in 1983: Flare for the Gold – probably only after Flair was sold into indentured servitude to Sam Mushnick and forced to work the St. Louis and Kansas City area well into his 60s. For that matter, I’d lay odds that the entire table knows where Jimmy Hoffa is buried.

• We hear brief anecdotes about how they had an overflow of people so they put them into the annex next door and ran the show on closed circuit TV.

Dog Collar: Roddy Piper and Greg Valentine talk about the infamous dog collar match where Roddy loses part of his ear and his hearing. Piper says they had a mutual agreement to really work stiff and go for it that night.

A Flare for the Gold: Race-Flair footage next where Flair wins his second world championship.

Starrcade’s Success: The first Starrcade was a big success so obviously it lead to more hype and hoopla for the next year’s event with the main being Flair-Dusty for the belt and $1 million on the line. Then that lead to attendance records for the Greensboro coliseum in 1985 and 1986. In 85, the show is simulcast between Atlanta and Greensboro alternating between the 2 locations and having matches played on the big screen when at the other location.

I Quit: Magnum TA and Tully Blanchard had an all-time I Quit match at Starrcade 85: The Gathering.

• Magnum says he was told he was next in line for the NWA title and that it COULD have happened at Starrcade 86. Dusty more or less corroborates this and says that Crockett was getting pitched movies with Magnum in the starring role and that Magnum was to be their Hogan. Not sure how much I buy all that. Throw a brick and you’ll hit a guy who was promised such and such belt, especially the NWA title. Still though, the NWA belt was eminently more winnable for a guy like Magnum in 1986 than for a similar guy in a similar position in 1981 or 1976, but given that Luger, Windham, Dibiase and even Sting had a hard time getting their hands on it in the mid to late 80s, I find it unlikely.

• Unfortunately, Magnum has his tragic car accident in October 1986 that prematurely ends his in-ring career.

The Scaffold: Starrcade 86: Skywalkers features a scaffold match. It was still simulcast in ATL and Greensboro and not fully on closed-circuiting television. According to Jim Cornette in one of his rare WWE DVD appearances from the archives, he says it was the first NWA card to gross over $1 million. Cornette also says it was the first wrestling tape to sell 100,000 copies.

• The scaffold match is between the Road Warriors and The Midnight Express. As a rule, matches like this suck and only provide shock value, schadenfreude entertainment in the form of “how badly will someone get hurt?” The LOD win handily and then Ellering chases Cornette up the scaffold and that’s when things get interesting. Cornette gets on the underside on the scaffold to avoid the LOD and finally drops down and goes splat big time and tears his knee all to pieces. Ultimately though, Cornette, Ellering, and Animal all agree it was one of the biggest matches of their careers.

Moving Out: The 1987 version was in Chicago. Everyone starts talking about times changing, trying to compete with WWE, needing to add more glitz and glamour to the show, etc., so the show was moved to Chicago, one of the NWA’s other big markets.

Competition: Survivor Series comes on the scene in 1987 and JR says that WWE basically strong-armed the cable and PPV companies and told them that if they wanted to carry Wrestlemania, they had to carry other WWE PPVs as a package deal. And that effectively took Starrcade off a lot of PPV slates. Put another way though, the organized crime syndicate of the NWA was out-NWAed by Vince.

The Beginning of WCW: Suddenly with a quick flip of the switch, JR says JCP lost cash flow and had to sell to Ted Turner and that made WCW. Yeah, this is complicated stuff swept under the ring in 30 seconds but you get the picture.

• Everyone puts over the production upgrade from NWA to WCW including graphics, instant replay, ramps for entrances, pyro, etc.

Ric Flair IS Starrcade. He was always in the main event and always champion. Whether wrestling Vader, Luger, Garvin, Dusty, Nikita, or Race, he always put on a good show.

Reaching for New Concepts: Now, after saying WCW improved production value, everyone piles on and says what idiots they were. Names are not mentioned but a picture of Jim Herd is shown even though it isn’t labeled. The point system iron man tournament from Starrcade 89 doesn’t escape derision.

• Next up is mockery of the Battlebowl from Starrcade 91 and 92. Everyone says it’s a stupid idea and THEN JR says they should have stuck with it longer rather than abandon it after a few years. That’s one way of dealing with stupid ideas.

• Then, WCW tries some cross-promotion with Japan and JR says it didn’t have mass appeal. Dusty says it changed the meaning of Starrcade and undermined the event because it wasn’t the payoff to year-long face-heel feuds and then blames Bischoff.

Bischoff Revitalizes Starrcade: Over the years, the PPV drifts to December and then Bischoff says that December PPVs don’t draw so he didn’t put a lot of stock in Starrcade.

• Hogan signs with WCW. JR says that gave them instant credibility and then having Hogan main event Starrcade instantly gave the event credibility. Starrcade needs credibility? Have the guys talking on the backend of the DVD even watched the first half? I’m not saying this has to be a lie but it completely contradicts what they were saying for the first half hour.

• WCW acquired other talent including Jericho, Guerrero, other cruiserweights, the Outsiders, etc.

Goldberg’s Impact: Goldberg is next and a lot of people pay him compliments and some back-handed ones. Of course, Nash beats him at Starrcade and JR says opinion is “divided” on that whole thing. Arn says Goldberg should have lost sooner. JR says it was not a “strategically wise move.” JR says it would have been like Hogan losing at WM and that didn’t happen much.

• Magnum says they blew it when they starting running PPVs every month and some lost their importance, intensity. JR says they tried to be WWE 2.0 and failed.

The Legacy of Starrcade: A lot of talk about legacy follows and Starrcade’s lingering influence even to this day.

• Kind of a spastic mess in spots especially in the first half where it seems like they had a lot of footage of people saying “Greensboro,” “Starrcade,” “Jim Crockett,” and “Thanksgiving” and had no idea how to edit it together. Also at 45 minutes it’s thin and glosses a lot. You’ll get the gist of what Starrcade is and was but don’t expect anything too in-depth.

25. Match of the Decade: Hollywood Hogan vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper.
24. Iron Man Singles Tournament Match: The Great Muta vs. Sting.
23. Unified World Tag Team Championship: Barry Windham & Brian Pillman vs. Shane Douglas & Rick Steamboat (c).
22. No DQ Match for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship: Kevin Nash vs. Goldberg (c).
21. Battlebowl.
20. Two-out-of-Three Falls Match for the WCW United States Championship: Stunning Steve Austin vs. Dustin Rhodes (c).

#25. Match of the Decade: Hollywood Hogan vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper. Starrcade 96. I might add the DVD has obviously ranked these matches from 25 all the way down to 1 so that’s the order. This is ICON VERSUS ICON. Hogan’s belt is NOT on the line which I HATE. I hate when certain feuds are seen to be bigger than the belt. Nothing should be bigger than the world belt in a wrestling promotion. The build up for this feud consisted of two months worth of promos including two never-ending PPV segments, one where the PPV company cuts them off at Havoc 96 and another that goes on for half an hour at WW3 96. Big Roddy chant from the crowd. Randy Anderson repeats his spot of threatening to declare Roddy the winner if Hogan doesn’t tell his entourage to take it to the back.

• Tony and Brain take turns declaring the stalling tactics of both “smart.” Dusty says it’s all about intimidation. Rather than give a clean break, Hogan smacks Piper to no reaction. Piper drives him back and Hogan does it again. Piper no sells and gives Hogan a steely gaze. Roddy blocks a punch and comes back with a flurry. Hogan bails and says he’s taking a walk. Back in, Hogan with some rights and boots and rakes Piper’s chest. Hogan calls him a piece of trash and tries a Hogan Line but whiffs. Piper gives him one instead and Hogan botches selling it, the bastard. Piper gives him the 3 Stooges poke to the eyes. Piper with another clothesline and Hogan takes a breather. Back in, Piper hangs on a headlock as Hogan tries to send him off. Normally, this is one of my all-time favorite spots but these guys are just so slow. Dusty: “HE DIDN’T LET ‘IM GO BOYS!” Hogan gives Piper a shoulder surge and a Stun Gun that sends Piper reeling. Hogan follows to the floor with some cheating. Back in, Piper ducks a clothesline and takes down Hogan with one and some kicks. Piper with a pitiful dropkick and Hogan bails again. Piper sends him into the guardrail with some of the weakest stuff this side of a Lance Storm chairshot. Piper whips Hogan with a belt and of course no DQ results from this. Piper now chokes him with the belt before Anderson steals it back. Piper with a slam but Dibiase distracts him. That allows Hogan to waffle him from behind. Hogan with his assortment of karate throat chops and choking. More “brawling” as Tony has decided it’s good reffing to let these guys do whatever the hell they want. Hogan now starts kicking Piper’s hip scar that he made such a big deal about at WW3.

• Hogan with an ab stretch and gouges the hip scar at the same time. Piper comes back with a ROWDY HAMMER! Dibiase trips him up again and now Hogan takes a dive and pulls Piper down WITH HIM or some shit as they botch whatever it is. Piper starts choking him and goes to a small package for 2. Hogan with an eye poke and more right hands. Piper no sells and exposes the business by talking to Hogan and then walking him over the ropes for the next sequence. Hogan bites him… or something? This sucks. Piper with a suplex for 2. Piper whiffs on a knee as both guys are blown up big time. Hogan tries the Leg Drop. Tony: “THE BIG LEG!” Piper no sells and comes back with rights. BUT WAIT! THE GIANT HAS COME OUT! He goes for a ChokeSlam on Piper. Hogan shoves the ref into the corner to “distract.” A fan jumps in the ring to completely screw up the works before he is thrown out. Now, Giant is just holding Piper in the air forever. Piper bites him to escape and dumps Giant out. Piper goes to the Sleeper and Hogan is OUT at 15:37. These guys don’t even have a first gear in this match. They are just in neutral for the whole thing kind of rolling from spot to spot. This is the epitome of two guys coasting on 20 years of reputation, career, and icon stature. Just boring, dull, and like watching paint dry. It’s not even terrifically bad like some other Hogan mains of 95 and 96. It’s just kind of there for 15 minutes and then ends with Hogan passing out. At least him doing the job is worth ½*.

#24. Iron Man Singles Tournament Match: The Great Muta vs. Sting. Starrcade 89. On the lead-in, JR says that going in to this match Muta had only ONE loss in the NWA ever. To give you an idea of how long ago this is, neither Nick Patrick nor Doug Dellinger even have MUSTACHES! Muta taunts and blows some mist to the heavens and gives Sting the throat slash gesture. Muta grabs a MasterLock and Sting counters to his own after a bit. Muta drives Sting back into the corner and mule kicks him rather than give a clean break. Muta with a couple kicks and grabs a headlock as Terry Funk on commentary is AMAZED at these basic kicks. Sting sends him off but Muta with a shoulderblock only to run into a monkey flip. Sting with a clothesline and a vertical suplex for 2. Sting with an atomic drop and a few boots. The pace here is rather leisurely for these guys because this is in a one night tournament. Sting wants the Scorpion Deathlock but Muta grabs the ropes and then takes a breather. Gary Hart massages Muta’s abs to provide support. That looked less than masculine. Muta gouges the eyes a couple times as a very young Nick Patrick demeans him. Muta with a backdrop and drops an elbow. Muta rolls Sting into the Cattle Mutilation. Sting FLIPS OUT OF IT! Coolest part of the match so far. Sting with a few right hands and sends Muta into the turnbuckle. Sting with a press slam for 2. Sting drops an elbow for 2 and goes to a chinlock. Muta gets a break in the corner and gives Sting some shoulder surges. Nick threatens to DQ Muta for working over Sting in the corner. The second best part of the match so far is Gary Hart demanding that Nick Patrick give instructions to Muta using his hands for sign language because Muta doesn’t speak English. Awesome attention to detail. Muta with more BLATANTCHOKING and a ribbreaker. Muta heads up for the moonsault. Sting rolls under but Muta lands on his feet and hits him with a roundhouse. Sting no sells and crotches Muta with a dropkick on the top rope. Sting with a superplex and covers for the 1, 2, 3(?) to win it at 9:42. Not a lot to see here. A pale iteration of what both guys are capable of. Decent work but nothing worth going out of your way for. **

#23. Unified World Tag Team Championship: Barry Windham & Brian Pillman vs. Shane Douglas & Rick Steamboat (c). Starrcade 92. This was set up by Windham blasting Douglas and Steamboat with a chair back at the Clash. Pillman and Douglas to start. Jesse on commentary says that Rush Limbaugh is Douglas’s idol and JR says he’s a fan as well. Of Limbaugh, not Douglas. No one is really a “fan” of Shane Douglas. Douglas avoids a waistlock but gets driven into the corner by Pillman. Pillman with an up and over to avoid a blind charge and hiptosses Douglas down. Douglas comes back with a right hand. Pillman tries a roll up but Douglas avoids and it’s the ECW STANDOFF! Pillman with a chop and chokes Douglas some. Douglas tries an O’Connor roll but it’s blocked. He leapfrogs over and dropkicks Pillman out of the ring even though it barely connects. Windham in and Douglas disposes of him as well. Steamboat in as well and Windham eats some double-teaming. Pillman just kind of watches Windham get his ass kicked from the apron even though he’s the legal man. Windham and Steamboat now tag in. Steamboat comes at him with a DRAGON HAMMER and a double chop and a suplex. Steamboat grabs him in a front facelock for the blind cutoff spot but he’s the face and it’s in his OWN corner..? Odd. Douglas in with a FRANCHISE HAMMER and locks in a chinlock. Windham counters out with a back suplex. Steamboat in with a neck snap and he goes for Pillman who’s an innocent bystander on the apron. Jesse: “It’s not above Steamboat to throw a cheap shot now and then.” Steamboat then shitcans Windham to the floor. Steamboat now slams Windham on the floor. Windham tries taking a walk down the elevated walkway but Douglas slams him on the ramp instead. The faces are working pretty heel here and yet JR isn’t really dialing it up on commentary to talk about how “vicious” and “driven” they are because of the chair attack at the Clash. Back in, Steamboat with a neckbreaker for 2. Douglas in and BACKTOTHECHINLOCK! Windham counters with a jawbreaker and makes the HEEL HOT TAG TO PILLMAN! Pillman comes in and goes to more BLATANTCHOKERY!

• Douglas avoids a charge in the corner and dropkicks Pillman off the apron and into the guardrail and Pillman takes it like a champ. Back in, Douglas heads up top but Windham distracts and now Pillman dropkicks him off the top and Douglas cuts a flip bump TO THE FLOOR! Sweet! Douglas sells the knee on impact and gets bumrushed by Windham with a clothesline. NOW WE’RE TALKING! They are working in a hockey arena so there is particle board covering the ice and on every bump on the floor, part of it disintegrates onto the backs of the wrestlers. Windham in with a headbutt and like a pro, he sells it as well for some dizziness. Windham smacks him around and tells ref Randy Anderson that he’s going to do what he wants and to SHADDUP. While Anderon jaws with Windham, Pillman chokes Douglas from behind with some BRUTAL crossfaces. Windham now slingshots Douglas into the ropes and while Anderson chastises Windham, Pillman waffles him again. AWESOME heel stuff here. Jesse: “Got to sink one in while the ref isn’t looking. That’s what it’s all about.” Unfortunately, JR doesn’t call him on his heel hypocrisy for earlier calling out Steamboat for his cheap shots. Douglas tries fighting back but Pillman locks the legs and tags in Windham. Windham just heaves Douglas without remorse to the floor and Douglas lands ON THE FUCKING GUARDRAIL! Douglas is DONE! Windham follows out like an assassin to finish the job up close but Steamboat has had ENOUGH and follows Windham around the ring and waffles him with a chairshot! The house explodes for that! JR: “This time their subterfuge MAY HAVE BACKFIRED!” Jesse: “THIS STINKS! STEAMBOAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DISQUALIFIED! Steamboat knew either way he was a winner: if he didn’t get caught, this is what would happen and if he did get caught, he would get DQ’ed but not lose.” Incredible stuff since the heels took over. Back in, Douglas tries to make the hot tag but Pillman cuts him off with a back suplex for a few 2 counts. Douglas is just completely trashed and can’t even stand up. Awesome selling of being completely beat to hell by Douglas. Windham in with another back suplex for 2. Douglas almost falls out of the damn ring selling as Windham has to pull him back in by the tights. Pillman in with a splash for 2. Pillman taunts Steamboat and STEAMBOAT WANTS IT! But his exuberance for the tag costs Douglas more punishment and choking in the corner behind the ref’s back. Douglas counters a suplex with a desperation vertical suplex but is too out of it to make the tag. Windham tries to waffle him but Douglas fights him off and MAKES THE TAG! Steamboat in with his assortment of chops and dropkicks. Steamboat though runs into a powerslam from Windham to cut him off. Windham with ANOTHER back suplex and now Pillman is in to distract the ref and shitcan Steamboat. Windham sends Steamboat into the ringpost and the place is OOOOing and AHHHing with each bump. It’s wild and crazy in there. Steamboat comes back in with a double ax handle and covers for 1, 2—broken up by Windham. Steamboat and Pillman now chop it out. Pillman with a flying headscissors and covers for 1, 2, 2.7. Windham in and Steamboat starts talking trash. Windham flips him off and starts pounding him down. Steamboat won’t go down though as they slug it out. Windham heads up top and goes for a double ax handle but Steamboat avoids and gives him a superkick and a face smash! Pillman and Douglas both tag in and now we’re cooking. Douglas with rights and body slams to both. Douglas with a backdrop on Pillman. Steamboat crossbodys Windham over the top and to the ramp. Douglas with a belly to belly suplex! THEY ARE STANDING IN ATLANTA, GA! Douglas covers for the 1, 2, 3 to retain at 20:01! Just spectacular stuff all the way around. Douglas was game tonight to get his ass kicked for your entertainment. Pillman and Windham were in top form tonight. Best match I’ve ever seen involving Shane Douglas. ****1/4

#22. No DQ Match for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship: Kevin Nash vs. Goldberg (c). CnPed from my original review. Starrcade 98. Streak: 173. Goldberg stops to sign a fan’s autograph on the way to the ring. So much for security doing their job. Nash does the Wolfpack taunt and Goldberg troll yells and Goldberg wins that gimmick exchange. Lock out goes nowhere so Mickey Jay demands a break. Nash grabs a headlock and Goldberg tries to send him off but Nash refuses so Goldberg back suplexes him. Nash rolls to the floor. Crowd sounds split as Nash goes for rights and elbows. Nash with the hip checks and rights in the corner. Nash with the Director’s Cut elbow and goes to the BLATANTCHOKE. Goldberg runs him out of the corner and goes to GnP and a choke of his own. Nash counters to a TRIANGLE CHOKE! AND THEN AN ARMBAR! Goldberg drops down with the anklelock! When the hell did Nash become a Gracie? Nash grabs the ropes to break. Goldberg with a few rights and Nash goes down and the crowd pops for that. Nash suckers Goldberg into the corner and pulls him into the turnbuckle. Nash goes back to the choke from before. Nash sends him off but Goldberg ducks a big boot and Spears him. Goldberg calls for the Jackhammer. Nash low blows him to counter. That might be the only time that someone has used an offensive move to break up the Spear/Jackhammer combo. Nash with the sideslam for 2. Nash with an elbow drop for 2. Nash now with a Bossman attack to a pop and covers for 2. Nash now with a forearm to the back a couple times and Goldberg is selling these pretty emphatically for him. Goldberg comes back with a kick but Nash cuts him off with a clothesline for 2. Nash wants a suplex and Goldberg counters to the Roll the Dice. Goldberg suplexes Nash over for 2. Goldberg with the Career Killer and the Bulldog powerslam for 2. Goldberg with a spinning dropkick or some shit. BUT DISCO INFERNO HAS COME OUT! Goldberg Spears him. BAM BAM BIGELOW HAS COME OUT! Goldberg clotheslines him out. SCOTT HALL HAS COME OUT! HE TASERS GOLDBERG! Nash with the Jackknife to a pop and Goldberg’s done at 11:19. That’s actually not a bad match. If you grade on the Goldberg curve, it’s of course disappointing because ya know, he LOST and everything and it lasted longer than 3 minutes and involved him not being on the offensive the whole match. However, it’s probably the closest thing to a regular match and main event that Goldberg had ever had to that point. In fact, if you had the exact same match but somehow Goldberg was still able to pull out the victory, a lot of the negativity toward this match probably subsides. But because Nash booked himself to win, and because it ended the streak, and because the Fingerpoke of Doom was right around the corner, everyone laments this as the death of WCW. Even as a Goldberg fan, I’m OK with the match and how it played out as an end of the streak. **1/2

#21. Battlebowl: Starrcade 91. Let’s make this as quick and painful as possible. Throughout the course of the show, drawings (THE LETHAL LOTTERY!) were done to determine random tag partners and if you win your match, then your team was put in the battle royal at the end of the night. We’re not done yet. The battle royal has 2 rings and in order to be eliminated from the first, you must be throw into the second ring and then in order to be eliminated from the second you must be thrown to the floor. The last remaining wrestlers in ring 1 and ring 2 then have a mini-battle royal to determine the winner. What happens if you are thrown over the top rope but not into the second ring while in the first ring, you say? I’m glad you asked because we’ll get to that.

• Here’s the 20 guys in the match: Vader, Buff, Jimmy Garvin, Dustin Rhodes, Bill Kazmeier, Liger, Austin, Ricky Morton, Todd Champion, Abby, Firebreaker Chip, Tommy Rich, Farooq, Steamboat, Curtis Hughes, Scott Steiner, Luger, Rude, Arn Anderson, and Sting.

• Tony asks JR for his prediction and JR picks THREE people: Vader, Hughes, and The Butcher because no one can get them over the top rope. Has a big guy ever won a battle royal just because he was big? Studd? Giant won WW3 but I don’t think it’s because he was big. Tony says Sting is fan favorite. Goldust starts choking Abby as Arn and Steamboat have already bailed to the entrance ramp. Steamboat gives Arn an atomic drop as Tony and JR keep calling Buff “Marcus Alexander Bagwell.” I have no doubt that’s his real name and how he was billed at the time but it’s such a clunky, long name to say all the time. Plus it’s more fitting of a golf pro or a third generation oil tycoon than of an American Male. Buff tries choking Tommy Rich but gets nowhere. Vader and Hughes dump out Kaz but not into the other ring so I’m not sure what the point is. A lot of indiscriminate punching, kicking, and eye gouging going on because with 20 guys in there, there’s no room to do anything. Vader clubs Steamboat to the ramp and slams him down. JR: “The punishment is there but it doesn’t count.” Sounds about like recapping this battle royal. Luger and Kaz stand awkwardly next to each other and decide not to engage and I’m disappointed not to see the armdrags those 2 would break out. Sting puts a sleeper on Austin and this is shit already. It’s 5 minutes in and no can be bothered to take a dive into the second ring yet. Vader and Steamboat continue eliminating each other back and forth onto the ramp. Rhodes and Arn have worked their way to the floor as the ring apparently cannot contain the greatness that is Battlebowl. Former NWA champ Tommy Rich is FINALLY the first to take the plunge into ring 2. The crowd perks up for Sting and Luger brawling a bit. Buff is second into the next ring and Wild Fire jumps on him. Nice foreshadowing as Paul E. saunters over to the announce table to patronize JR like he would some 9 years later. Tony: “Vader is wrestling a VERY SMART battle royal so far… a two ring battle royal.”

• Hughes tries to press slam Firebreaker Chip into the other ring but has to wait for Buff’s mom to call him and then tell him how much he’ll get paid and what kind of limo he’ll get to ride in if he runs over and catches poor Chip . Morton decides to enact some American Justice and throws Liger into the second ring and then eliminates himself as well. Morton’s all “THAT’S FOR PEARL HARBOR, JACKASS!” I’m guessing on the suggestion there. Morton offers him a shake and then turns on him again to no reaction. Liger gets a run going and almost kills himself and Morton with a HORRIFIC knees-first delayed Victory Roll that doesn’t get over all the way. Morton now wants to telegraph his elimination as a crossbody from Liger takes both of them out. Insert your own kamikaze joke here. Farooq backdrops a MOVING Mr. Hughes who wants to make the dive all the way between both rings but comes up short and eats it on the ropes of the second ring. Pretty brutal. Vader and Rhodes fight on the floor as Wild Fire is thrown out. Steamboat and Arn decide to take their brawl from the floor to the second ring even though they weren’t eliminated. This is chaos and it’s not even that many people considering WW3 had 60 and that at times was easier to keep straight. Champion and Jim Garvin just walk over to the next ring. WHY ARE SO MANY DAMN GUYS JUST ELIMINATING THEMSELVES?! Scotty and Austin are also backdropped over and both almost get seriously folded up trying that LONG catapult back bump. Jimmy Garvin is thrown out. Abby is too damn fat so he has to bring himself over to the second ring because BILL FUCKIN’ KAZMEIER COULDN’T DO IT! When inarguably one of the strongest men to ever live can’t lift your ass even when you’re cooperating, it’s time to hit the treadmill and cut out the gravy boat. Sting and Rude are now brawling and tumble both over to ring 2 as the crowd is into their interaction mostly because they were feuding over the International title. Luger and Vader are the last 2 left in ring 1. Vader with a splash on Luger and a Ho Train as Steamboat gets thrown out to the floor but just walks back in. Chip is gone and Luger clotheslines Vader out and is the sole survivor in the first ring.

• Hughes chokes Steiner as Rude tries to toss out Sting but fails. Now, we move to the innovative THREE CAMERA SPLIT to maximize footage and coverage. This must be one of those incredible production upgrades that everyone credited Turner with over NWA, however this match is ass no matter how many camera angles you view it from. Rhodes whiffs on an elbow and Austin throws him out. Hughes and Farooq eliminate each other. Anderson is tossed. Vader is taken out by Sting and Steamboat. Buff is not the stuff tonight and calls it a night.

Final Four (in Ring Two): Sting, Rude, Austin, Steamboat. Sting clotheslines Rude down. Steamboat chops Austin. They stack the heels up in the corner but Rude counters and sends Sting into Austin with a Stinger Splash. Steamboat hits a burrito on both heels and sidesteps Rude clotheslining Austin out accidentally. Rude shitcans Steamboat but he skins the cat and headscissors Rude to the floor. He tries again but Rude being a poor sport pulls him to the floor too. Awesome. Rude slides back in and gives Sting the Rude Awakening and then hits the FRONT DOUBLE BI! Rude is my hero. Give him the ring and let Luger hit the showers.

• Unfortunately, Rude is out and the last 2 are Luger and Sting. Luger with a clothesline and he’s clearly heel here if you didn’t know. The crowd boos him as he hits an inverted atomic drop. Luger rakes the eyes down the ropes and then shouts a bunch. He then throws Sting THROUGH the ropes and to the ramp so Harley Race, his manager, can work over Sting. Even if that’s completely nonsensical in a battle royal, I can appreciate some unnecessary cheating. What I can’t appreciate follows: Sting counters Race with a bodyslam and then Luger ELIMINATES HIMSELF!!!!! Tony tries covering by saying you have to “go to the floor” rather than the ramp which is a relevant point, until Luger throws Sting into the guardrail and then walks to the floor. Yes, you know what follows, one of my favorite wrestling oddities of all time: the street fight brawl during a battle royal. Sting sends him into the guardrail a few times and they finally go back into the ring. JR notes that it’s too bad the championship isn’t on the line in this match. Sting kicks Luger around and then disposes of Race again with a snap suplex. Sting goes for the Stinger Splash but eats turnbuckle instead. He teeters on the top rope. Luger recovers and says it’s over. He throws Sting into the ropes and prematurely celebrates. Sting Hulks up and hits a flurry and a Rocker Dropper. Sting ignores some cheating from Race and then clotheslines Luger over the top to win it at 25:08.

• If I can be serious for a moment, there is a certain appeal to this match. The Sting-Rude, Sting-Vader, Sting-Luger interactions get BIG reactions from the crowd. But the concept is just completely absurd and even if not, even IF it would be possible for this to be a great match, the execution of the eliminations from ring 1 to ring 2 is atrocious and kills the concept dead with guys eliminating themselves or just walking over there and showing no concern for the illusion of the rules. This of course looks even worse by comparison when you consider Flair left and had arguably the greatest battle royal performance in the best battle royal ever at the 92 Rumble where the championship WAS on the line just a month later. *1/4

#20. Two-out-of-Three Falls Match for the WCW United States Championship: Stunning Steve Austin vs. Dustin Rhodes (c). Starrcade 93. Dustin is “The Natural” and has a shitty country song to prove it. He’s basically a good ol’ boy and his character is being Dusty’s son. Austin is heel and in Col. Parker’s stable after WCW decided they didn’t want the Hollywood Blondes getting over. Austin avoids a single leg to start. They trade waistlocks and we’re still square. They go through the headlock/headscissors sequence and Austin gets the ropes. Austin with a shoulderblock but runs into a back elbow from Dustin for 2. Austin takes a breather to regroup. Back in, Austin tries to grab a headlock and Rhodes slides under and grabs a hammerlock instead. Austin rolls through and gets the ropes and takes another breather. A year later and Ventura is still talking about Rush Limbaugh and now the topic of conversation is smoking ordinances. Back in, Rhodes grabs the headlock. He runs over Austin with a shoulderblock but runs into a boot. Rhodes slides out of a powerbomb and backslides Austin for 2. Austin takes an unprecedented THIRD BREATHER IN LESS THAN FIVE MINUTES! Take THAT, Zbyzscko! Back in, Austin with another boot and drags Rhodes to the floor for a brawl. Rhodes counters a whip and Austin sells it by diving OVER THE GUARDRAIL AND INTO THE FRONT ROW! AWESOME! Austin now wants a timeout. The last 20 seconds have been better than the rest of the match put together. Back in, Austin offers a handshake for a truce and Rhodes instead lays him out with a haymaker. We’re back to the fucking headlock for like the eighth time as we slow things down yet again. Austin gets a break and goes to work on Dustin with closed fists. Austin drops an elbow. Austin with a facesmash for 2 as the crowd reacts by sitting there quietly like at a science lecture. Austin chokes a bit and Colonel shouts some insults. Austin drops another elbow for 2. Dustin with some throat thrusts but Austin comes back with a back elbow.

• Tony: “Many people believe you are looking at two men that will dominate WCW for the upcoming decade.” My brain just exploded with that comment on so many levels. Austin shitcans Dustin for nothing so he comes back with a sunset flip for 2. They blow a dropkick spot as Rhodes covers for 2 anyway. Austin with a back suplex and he’s too out of it to take advantage. Delayed cover gets 2. They throw some more weak punches as they seem to have no idea what they want to do and they collide on a shoulderblock. This is trash. More lethargic punching. Dustin tries a slam but the leg buckles and Austin covers for 1, 2, just 2. Austin whiffs on a knee drop and sells the knee. Dustin Hulks up: “AHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHH!” Ultimate Warrior, Dustin Rhodes is NOT. Dustin steals the Bionic Elbow from his dad and now hits a clothesline as the crowd kind of gets behind him. Dustin with a powerslam and covers for 2. Colonel on the apron and Dustin shitcans Austin into him sending both to the floor. The bell rings at 13:26 for the first fall. That is the sound of millions of people realizing Jim Herd instituted that fucking no over the top rule in WCW and thus Austin wins the first fall by DQ. I didn’t think this snoozefest could be more generic but now it’s become actively bad after that finish. Tony says we have a 30 second rest period coming but Dustin wants none of that and tosses Austin into the ringpost. The ref finally breaks them up and Austin blades. The lights start flickering for technical difficulties as the second fall begins. Dustin drags Austin back to the ring and hits a NATURAL HAMMER OFF THE TOP! Dustin with a vertical suplex and drops a knee for 2. Austin’s blade job is pretty awesome at least. Dustin mounts in the corner for the 10 but Austin interrupts him and rolls Dustin up with a handful of tights to take the match and the belt 2-0 at 16:15. I have zero love for this 15 minute waste of punch, kick, rinse, repeat. * for Austin’s blade job and taking a whip by pole vaulting himself into the crowd.

The 411: As usual the matches leave a bit to be desired (especially on the first disc) and the program is a bit thin, but another solid set from WWE. The best way to view all or any of their comps is as a start rather than as an exhaustive history.
Final Score:  8.0   [ Very Good ]  legend

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Jack Bramma

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