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The Furious Flashbacks – WCW Starrcade ’96

December 25, 2006 | Posted by Arnold Furious
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The Furious Flashbacks – WCW Starrcade ’96  

The Furious Flashbacks – WCW Starrcade ’96

Roddy Piper sure jobbed himself out to Father Time in 1996 didn’t he?

Starrcade has a rich history and was long established as WCW’s premier PPV event. The first Starrcade took place in 1983 and was an NWA event. The idea behind Starrcade was to wrap up the years big storylines in order to start a new year afresh. More often than not the babyface would go over and everyone went home happy. It was the same sort of thing as WWF’s Wrestlemania only NWA thought of it first. The first Starrcade was capped off by Ric Flair winning the NWA title from Harley Race. With a move off the top rope no less. It’s probably this match that is being referenced every time someone says “Flair hasn’t hit a move off the top since 1983” or something along those lines. The next two years saw Flair defend his title successfully against Dusty Rhodes. Winning in 1984 thanks to referee stoppage and then again in 1985 when he got himself disqualified. That doesn’t sit well with me but WCW did far more stupid stuff so we’ll skip it. The next year the NWA went one better having Flair v Nikita Koloff go to a double DQ. As you can see Flair is the main focus point of most of the early Starrcade’s. He was the man. And to be the man you have to beat the man. In 1987 they tried something slightly different jobbing Flair out to Ronnie Garvin before the PPV and having Flair win the title back at Starrcade. Starrcade ’88 saw Flair retain against Luger. I’m pretty sure the review of that is on 411 somewhere but I can’t find it. 1989 saw the first experimental format of Starrcade. I mention this because Starrcade ’96 was the first one to go back to not having an experimental format. At Starrcade ’89 they ran two tournaments. A singles tournament won by Sting when he beat Ric Flair (signalling the changing of the guard as WCW went into the 90’s) and a tag tournament won by, well, no one cares. If you really do care here’s the recap. If you read that you’ll realise that show didn’t go very well. So you’d think they’d jettison the experimental approach and just put a straightforward show on the following year right? Oh, you don’t know your WCW very well. Seeing as no one cared about their little tag team tournament deal, your starter for 10 would be – what was the focus of Starrcade ’90? A) A solid card capped off with a memorable main event. B) A largely forgettable but at least credible evening of sportz entertainment or C) A tag team tournament that no one cares about before hauling out Ric Flair under a hood in the main event. If you went for C, congratulations! You’re at least as retarded as Ole Anderson. 1991 saw the debut of the disastrously bad Battlebowl. The main event ended up being a battle royal basically with Sting going over. That at least allows Sting to say he’s won three straight Starrcade main events but Battlebowl? Jesus. 1992 was the end of the Bill Watts run and a demonstration of just how much he’d lost it. Muta went over in the second Battlebowl, sigh, and Ron Simmons barely squeaked by Steve Williams on DQ to retain his WCW title. When you mention Watts’ run like that it makes him sound like an idiot. I actually preferred his booking to pretty much everyone else until Eric Bischoff really got his shit together in 1996. 1993 saw Flair pin Vader to regain the WCW title. Although it sort feels like a backwards step all logical booking had to go out the window thanks to Captain Stabbing aka Sid Vicious. 1994 was the least experimental of the missing years of Starrcade’s but it did boast a triple main event. Oh yeah, one of those “main events” was Kevin Sullivan v Mr T. Did I mention Brutus Beefcake headlined that show? 1995 was the World Cup of Wrestling, which was a nice concept but didn’t really get over with the fans. Apart from Shinjiro Ohtani being a complete bastard in his match. I love that guy, how come he didn’t get a contract? On to 1996 and the nWo angle is in full flow. For this show they decided to go to the Hogan-Piper match that everyone was crying out for. And by “crying out for” I mean, “this shit sounded good on paper”. And probably wouldn’t have been bad if Piper hadn’t had a hip replacement earlier in the year. On with the show!

December 29th 1996. We’re in Nashville, Tennessee. Hosts are Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan and Dusty Rhodes. They’re behind the Nitro style desk for the first time, in my memory anyway. WW3, they were ringside. Dave Penzer is on ring announcing, they always used to pipe his announcements in too quietly though. Bugged me. Especially at World War III when I’m trying to find out who various guys are.

WCW Cruiserweight title – Dean Malenko (c) v Ultimo Dragon

Malenko is fucking OVER here. Dragon has Sonny Onoo in his corner and Mike Tenay joins the commentary team right away. They go to the mat from the off. Dragon is the J-Crown champion so all NINE title belts are up for grabs. Tenay suggests this will be far more cautious because there’s no challenger. No one wants to lose their gold. Ultimo throws some spinal taps while the crowd gets slightly behind Malenko. Tenay talks about the J Crown, which gives the match a nice bit of background. Although he doesn’t mention the WWF Light Heavyweight title. Was their a lawsuit blocking it being mentioned or something? Ultimo was a snap suplex for 2. Crowd brings the jingoism by chanting “USA”. Ultimo with a half crab and gives up on it to look for the STF, which he gets. I don’t get these “kind of” and “variation of” crap from the commentators. They ARE those holds. It’s not a Jim Ross “variation of” where someone just fucks something up. Malenko clubbers Ultimo to the floor but can’t follow up. Ultimo promptly slams him on the floor. Ultimo fakes out so he can hit a TOPE and FUCK he hits Malenko square between the eyes. FUCK! Malenko’s selling was so credible there he couldn’t get his hands up. Beautiful. And probably quite painful. Back inside Malenko gets a sunset flip for 2. Ultimo is constantly looking to dominate here leaving Malenko only scraps and “fluke” speedy roll up’s. Weird psychology from a smaller guy that’s not Jushin Liger being a complete dick. Hell, Malenko is the bigger guy here. Dusty fails to understand that Dragon’s real name is Asai. Mike Tenay whips off some more Ultimo facts leaving Tony speechless because research is something he stopped doing when WCW started getting big. Malenko busts out a back suplex and before Ultimo can recover pops off a German suplex for 2. Malenko decides it’s time to go to school and he hooks up a leglock. Ultimo gets into the ropes but Malenko just drags him back out into the middle of the ring and slaps on another leglock. Onoo looks worried for the first time in the match because his boy has been grounded. Shinbreaker and a dropkick to the knee. Malenko slams Ultimo while still holding the leg before dropping into the leglock again. Tony puts over the psychology of the match in that Malenko is trying to eliminate Ultimo’s high risk offence while at the same time set up his Texas Cloverleaf. Doy. Ultimo just ignores all that though by going for a handspring but he runs into a powerslam right afterwards. Malenko is selling the fatigue allowing Ultimo time to recover and hit a spinning heel kick. Sell the leg just a little bit! Ultimo with a powerbomb for 2. Ultimo goes for a Tombstone but Malenko counters into his own for 2. Crowd can’t believe that wasn’t the finish. Malenko says it’s over but Ultimo blocks the Cloverleaf. Malenko looks a little pissed off and he hits a powerbomb for 2. That’s one powerbomb for each for near falls. Crowd is getting REALLY into this now. Malenko tries to crossbody Ultimo outside but Dragon barely moves on it. He sells it anyway because Malenko just bounced off his face. Ultimo recovers quicker AGAIN and spin kicks Malenko off the apron. ASAI MOONSAULT! Ultimo heads up top coming back in but Malenko picks him off. Ultimo punches him off to stop the superplex but the moonsault misses. FINALLY Ultimo decides to sell his knee to set up the TEXAS CLOVERLEAF. Crowd goes NUTS. Sonny Onoo jumps onto the apron and Malenko breaks the hold. Are you kidding me? Ultimo rolls him up…for 2. Malenko still has more though and hits the BRAINBUSTER for 2. They run some standing counters and Malenko nearly gets the pin but gets caught in the Tiger Suplex for the pin at 18.28. Malenko did a great job of selling his attempts to kick out of that as well. Not just randomly kicking his legs in the air, Jerry Lawler. ***1/2. It started too slowly and Dragon’s selling was all over the shop. The knee is injured/isn’t injured storyline didn’t really work too well. Although the crowd bought on the Texas Cloverleaf anyway because it’s Malenko’s finisher. If he hadn’t broken the hold to stop Onoo entering the ring and Dragon had tapped the match would have gotten rave reviews and a huge pop. As it stands – no pop. Mike Tenay calls the finish “a variation of a tiger suplex”. How is it varied? How is it different to a Tiger Suplex? It’s not. It’s a Tiger Suplex, just call it that!

WCW Women’s title – Madusa v Akira Hokuto w/Sonny Onoo/Kensuke Sasaki

Don’t remember the WCW Women’s title? It was primarily brought in so WCW could run various Madusa v Joshi competitors. Except they only bothered to hire Hokuto and the division died about six months after this tournament final. You might not get the Sasaki thing either. What’s he doing out there you might wonder? Seeing as he’s almost always booked as a babyface by WCW. Well, he’s married to Hokuto and she’s heel for the duration of her run because she’s Japanese and the fans seem to have a thing about Japanese workers that aren’t Muta. They should like her though because she’s absolutely badass and once finished a match with a broken neck Bert Trautman style! Lee Marshall joins the commentary team for some reason. Madusa plays the patriotism card by waving Old Glory on her way out here. Madusa is officially no longer hot by this point. Hokuto doesn’t fuck about and starts throwing Madusa around with hair mares. Madusa hair pulls her as a receipt. Onoo trips her up. Hokuto chokes away in the corner, a move Trish lifted when she went heel, and speaking of that Madusa takes her over with the Stratosphere. Easy to see where Trish learned her best stuff from. Hokuto slaps Madusa in the Sharpshooter but for some reason the crowd doesn’t give a fuck about that. So she switches into an STF, which they also don’t care about. “USA”. Yeah, there’s the level. Hokuto bites Madusa’s foot. I can’t see how that could possibly hurt. Madusa bridges out and hits a few Matrix style hair drivers. Trish lifted all of this; it’s weird to watch now. Hokuto argues with impartial referee Nick Patrick while choking Madusa. Northern Lights suplex and Hokuto switches into a cross armbreaker. Tony hasn’t been able to call ANY of this. They fuck up a counter and Madusa hits a sloppy DDT. They switch and Hokuto lifts the German suplex FOR ONE! KICKOUT OF DISRESPECT! Madusa hooks Hokuto up for a tornado DDT called a bulldog of all things by Tony. POWERBOMB! And how! That was from Madusa btw for 2. She goes for another one but Hokuto falls on top for 2. Big boot to the sternum and Madusa takes no shit as she counters into a German suplex for 2. That was her finish. Madusa goes up top but Hokuto picks her off for a SNAP SUPERPLEX. SWANK~! That gets 2. Hokuto mocks the crowd for their lack of cheers. She goes up top but spent too long pissing around so Madusa hits her with a dropkick. Onoo has the unmitigated gall to bash Madusa in the back WITH OLD GLORY. God, I hate WCW booking. Hokuto hits a nice missile dropkick and hits the DQ BOMB for the win at 7.05. **1/2. That was a whole lot of fun. Admittedly I’m a total mark for both ladies so I pretty much scored it ** before they even walked out here but it did deliver. The booking hurt it but there ya go.

POST MATCH Kensuke Sasaki takes exception to Sonny Onoo’s method of management. Logically that would lead to him turning Hokuto babyface and having some friendly rivalry matches against Madusa and even having some mixed tags for kicks.

BACKSTAGE Roddy Piper gets interview time. Piper rants and he’s either hammered or high. I hear him name drop Sky Low Low for some reason. He gets blown up talking about Strangler Lewis and Dusty Rhodes and such. Oh, ever see the rambling hobo that Police Chief Wiggum is trying to comfort in the Simpsons episode where Bart sells his soul to Millhouse? Just like that. I bet Bischoff was watching a monitor and absolutely shitting himself. What the hell was Piper on here anyway? Ritalin? Dexedrine? Cheap Scottish speed?

Jushin Liger v Rey Mysterio Jr

This is the first time they’ve ever met. Liger controls and hits a vertical suplex. Tenay gives us the history of Liger including the brain tumour story. Hard to believe this match is so soon after his surgery but here’s the proof. Liger with a HUGE ASS POWERBOMB. Good GOD that was brutal. Rey comes back with a rana and a 2nd one takes Liger over the ropes. 619 fakes and Liger looks frustrated outside. That doesn’t last as Rey tries to suplex him back in LIGER SUPLEXES HIM TO THE FLOOR! While that’s going on Dusty Rhodes is talking about…guess what? Is it the great move he just saw? The brutal fall Rey Jr took? Or is it Roddy Piper and Hulk Hogan? If you guessed the last of those 3 you’d be correct. Hang on one moment – SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU SACK OF CRAP. It’s the same with him talking about how cruiserweights can’t measure up to heavyweights. Just shut up, shut your fat bulbous mouth you utter waste of space. Dusty Rhodes one of the genuine contenders for WORST WRESTLER TO EVER HOLD A WORLD TITLE – what the fuck do you know about it. Bet you didn’t think Rey Mysterio Jr could hold a world title, eh? Well he did. So SHUT THE FUCK UP. Outside and LIGER POWERBOMBS HIM ON THE FREAKIN’ FLOOR. GOOD GOD. Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker from Liger. Rhodes continues with his opinions stating Liger looks a little heavier (i.e. fatter) than last time he saw him. Heenan mocks him to my delight when being asked if he thinks Liger looks heavier. “Yeah, yeah, he looks heavier than a minute ago. How’s that”. Mexican Surfboard from Liger but Rey won’t quit. German suplex from Rey and Liger gets backflip splashed for 2. DDT from Rey while Rhodes rambles on about the Dallas Cowboys. WATCH THE MATCH. Springboard missile dropkick from Rey into a camel clutch. Rey goes for a springboard again and Liger dropkicks him down for 2. Liger with a release German for 2. Half crab with a pretty good degree of Liger crank. Rey gets the ropes. Dragon screw from Liger while Rhodes is now talking about Dick Murdoch and putting himself over. Give him a listen sometime or just release a fart. They’re both loaded with hot gas and smell much alike. KOPPO KIIIIIICK from Liger. Rey comes back with a spin kick but we go to the ropes and Rey dives over Ligers head with a headscissors. Liger to the floor – REY WITH A MOONSAULT OFF THE MIDDLE OF THE ROPES TO THE FLOOR. Liger barely caught him there. Rey drops the dime as Liger comes back in for 2. Spinebuster from Rey but the slingshot senton misses. Liger climbs – FLYING WOVERINE…for 2. Rey gets back up and Liger bumps him to the floor. To the ropes again and Rey looks for the springboard rana. No dice and they fumble with something. Liger is quick to improvise with another Koppo Kick and the LIGERBOMB and it’s over at 14.14. I wonder if the original finish was a Ligerbomb off the top? ***1/2. Commentary aside this was really good. Liger looked a little out of sorts after his time off and they’d never met before so it was rough at times. Mysterio kicked out of the finish as well thinking they’d go up and do the top rope business again. I love watching Liger any time I get the chance. I really should watch more New Japan just so I can see Liger more often. He did a great job of controlling the pace of this one and keeping Rey’s spottiness in check. I actually think Malenko did a better job of that but Liger was close. Eddie would be an even better match for Rey as demonstrated at Halloween Havoc ’97.

Sidenote – big night for Japan. Ultimo Dragon wins the Cruiserweight title, Akira Hokuto wins the Women’s title and Jushin Liger goes over a North American talent too. First three matches on an American PPV and three Japanese wrestlers go over three North American wrestlers, ever seen that before? The closest I think we’ve come before was Japanese talent winning the opening two matches at Starrcade in 1995.

Chris Benoit w/Woman v Jeff Jarrett

Jarrett’s music is terrible. The idea here is that Benoit doesn’t like Jarrett because he thinks he’s after his spot in the Four Horsemen. As a result there’s a problem within the Horsemen because Flair endorses Jarrett. So we end up with Benoit v Jarrett making both of them look like idiots for not focusing on the nWo instead. The match here is ok with Benoit treating Jarrett like a bitch occasionally stepping on his head or paint brushing him. But he’s overconfident so Jarrett is able to get some sneak attacks in. Both guys have face & heel tendencies as a result so the crowd really isn’t sure who to cheer for. Tony decides to remind me it’s a No DQ match. Woman is able to factor into the match by distracting Jarrett on the floor. Benoit has been decidedly stiff in this match possibly because he’s not happy with Jarrett’s selling but that does factor into the whole “you’re not good enough for the Horsemen” storyline if you look beyond the staight out ‘mark’ approach to this match. Woman moves Benoit, which she can do in a No DQ match, and Jarrett crotches himself on the ropes. Benoit uses the No DQ rule in his favour by hurling Jarrett clean over the top rope. Jarrett with a sloppy Hot Shot onto the rail. All the commentators have their say on why that is. Back inside Benoit decides it’s time to focus on the back with a suplex of that variety for 2. Announcers tune out and start talking about the main event again. Benoit, for some reason, uses the ropes for leverage on a sleeper behind the ref’s back. It’s No DQ. The ref is looking for it as well and Woman is covering for him but this makes no sense. NO DQ! They clearly didn’t think that through. Referee included. Jarrett fires himself up but the crowd are gone. Jarrett gets a nice inside cradle for 2. He walks into Benoit’s boot though. Jarrett is looking fairly sloppy here and the only reason the match isn’t sucking is because Benoit is supposed to be the heel, in theory regardless of reactions, so he can carry the match. Pretty unfair of me to bring up Jarrett’s sloppiness when I ignored Hokuto’s but there you go. Reviewers perspective and all that. Jarrett goes for the Figure Four but Woman grabs his eyes/hair to break it up. This brings out Arn Anderson. He doesn’t look happy with Benoit probably for the cheating but what the fuck? The fucking Horsemen aren’t happy about cheating? The Dungeon of Doom runs out here to grab Woman. She kicks Hugh Morrus in the balls. Arn is ignoring that because he’s only interested in the match. Kevin Sullivan is in with a WOODEN CHAIR SHOT while Arn simultaneously DDT’s Jarrett on the floor. Arn throws Jarrett back in but he lands on top of Benoit who’s unconscious at 13.46. Great reaction shot from Arn there. *3/4 for the match, which never really hit a higher gear and was merely waiting for the interference and booking to kick in. Overbooking some might say. There was also some screwy psychology where everyone involved alternated between the match being No DQ and not. In their actions and whatnot. Distracting for cheating one minute then doing it in front of the referee the next. Sort it out.

POST MATCH Woman and Arn argue. Trouble a brewin’. The idea being the Horsemen are divided. Arn refuses to speak to Gene and so does Jarrett and Benoit. The crowd boo as out comes Mongo who does want to talk. Mongo blames Benoit for not being able to beat Jarrett even when he was served up on his plate. Mongo & Debra blame Woman for it and claim that only winners are Horsemen. Mongo cracks me up by doing the L on the forehead thing (“L for Love”) but does the L backwards because he’s an idiot. If that was on DVD I’d be capping that.

Tag titles – Outsiders (c) w/Syxx v Faces of Fear w/Jimmy Hart

Who thought this match would be a good idea? If anything the nWo are the faces here. With the sheer number of babyface and WCW representatives in the tag ranks you’d think they could find challengers the crowd would care about. Referee is Nick Patrick, who is naturally impartial and has no bias towards the nWo. Tony rambles at Bobby Heenan for not siding against the nWo. Meng takes Hall apart to start but Hall comes back with a fluke bulldog for 2. Meng takes him apart again. Barbarian in and he calls for Nash and gets him. Nash with those knees & elbows in the corner. That’s approximately one third of his offence right there. The Faces double up and clubber Nash down. Nash tries to crack the heads together but these guys are Islanders so in wrestling terms that means you can’t damage their heads at all. They double headbutt Nash down for 2. Barbarian misses with an elbow drop off the middle rope. Nash chokes away with his boot and Hall interferes. Tony blames that on impartial referee Nick Patrick. How dare he! Hall gets a clubberin’ but fights his way out of the heel corner. Erm, I think they’re the heels. Sort of. Barbarian hits a big boot and Patrick’s count is slow. Heenan even calls it and he’s suddenly totally opposed to the nWo. Meng with a piledriver for 2. Meng is too slow to cover and Patrick is slow to count. Heenan calls him on it again. Powerbomb from Barbarian and there’s another slow cover and a slow count. What the fuck is wrong with the Faces of Fear? Barbarian with another big boot but Patrick, being impartial, notices that Barbarian isn’t legal. Barbarian, because he’s an idiot, doesn’t understand so Patrick tells Jimmy Hart to sort his team out. Syxx steals Hart’s megaphone and runs him off to the back. Barbarian with a long nerve hold until Hall back suplexes out. Nash gets a tag and boots Barbarian for 2. Meng breaks the pin up with a nice elbow drop so in comes Hall for a brawl. Barbarian goes for the big boot again but Nash ducks it and powerbombs him for the pin at 11.51. ½*. Match was pretty much nothing as anticipated beforehand. The Outsiders are over and the Faces aren’t but both teams are meant to be heel anyway.

BACKSTAGE Ted DiBiase interviews Hollywood Hogan. He says he told his fans out in California that he already won this match tonight. Hogan’s promo is slightly more coherent than Piper’s one. Liz is standing in the background and looks bored. Hogan keeps talking about Piper’s skirt and his kids. At least it’s not as bad as Piper’s promo. That’s about all the good from that segment.

US title – Diamond Dallas Page v Eddie Guerrero

The title is vacant so these guys continue their feud with a belt on the line. Previous US champ was Flair but he’s injured. There’s no title belt out here because Giant stole it while Flair held the belt. They trade chops while Dusty rambles about squashed frogs. This would be the feud where Eddie made DDP into a star because he made him look SO good. They brawl around ringside and the crowd is actually chanting “DDP” now. Eddie breaks out the slingshot hilo for 2 before working at a long armbar. They trade hair pulls and the crowd isn’t interested. Eddie busts out the pescado and the crowd still isn’t interested. DDP hits a Snake Eyes while Eddie is going for the 10 count punches. DDP beats Eddie down for a while. Crowd is totally out of this. DDP’s offence is too plodding while Eddie doesn’t have the crowd’s support as a babyface. DDP with a suplex for 2. DDP with the Shades of Wilbur Snyder and he uses the ropes like a good heel but the crowd isn’t into the dynamic of the match. It’s weird at World War III the previous month the crowd was buying into this feud. Eddie rolls DDP up for 2 but DDP puts him back down with a swinging neckbreaker for 2. Back to the Shades of Wilbur Snyder and DDP uses the ropes once again. Ref spots the ropes moving and eventually catches DDP cheating. DDP doesn’t get reversed though he just beats Eddie down some more. That is until Eddie goes for the Shades but can’t get it on the bigger man so he rolls him up instead for 2. DDP lariats him. So much for Eddie’s comeback. DDP misses in the corner and posts his shoulder. This feels REALLY pre-planned. Even more so than usual from DDP because I’m used to Eddie working a more improvised match. Eddie with a suplex for 2. Crowd doesn’t care. Back suplex and Eddie calls for the Frogsplash. Crowd doesn’t care. Pigfuckers. DDP moves while Dusty talks about Hogan & Piper. Eddie lands both on his face and his knees so DDP pins him for 2. Gutbuster from DDP and he calls for the top rope to a bigger reaction so Eddie crotches him. Eddie looks for the super rana but when he’s shoved off he catches DDP with an atomic drop for 2. Backslide gets 2. DDP goes for the Diamond Cutter but gets caught in the backslide again for 2. Whirl sit out powerbomb from DDP gets 2. That move always garners a tasty pop. DDP had all the tools for a face run so his turn shortly after this was no shock. Out comes the nWo for some reason. Nash, Hall and Syxx. Hall pops into the ring and gives DDP the Outsiders Edge because he turned the nWo down. Eddie misses all this because he’s face down on the floor but he takes it anyway with the Frogsplash finishing this at 15.19. **1/4. Match was solid but flat and the crowd didn’t care for it as a result. The booking on the finish is pretty convoluted as you’d think the referee would notice someone else being in the ring. The nWo still has the title belt so Eddie doesn’t even have anything to hold up.

POST MATCH Eddie fights off the nWo to HUGE pops proving it the crowd just didn’t want to see DDP as a heel in the last match. Eddie does really well but ends up getting the beatdown from the three heels. Syxx kicks him in the face and walks off with the US title belt.

SHILL – nWo’s Souled Out PPV. Interesting concept but sadly I don’t have a copy.

The Giant v Lex Luger

Luger’s position of the main opponent, bar Piper, to the nWo puts him as the company’s top babyface so he gets a huge reaction. I never got Lex Luger. He doesn’t have Hogan’s personality, Dusty Rhodes’ charisma or Flair’s ring skills. All he really has going for him is big muscles and an over finisher. I just don’t get him. I’m even more surprised that Luger was this over way up in 1996 years after he mattered as a worker. They do a lock up with Luger backing Giant up so Giant shoves him off. He’s clearly not happy with Luger matching power with him. They’re not really doing anything here but it’s over so more power to them. Giant shoves Luger over and elbow drops him. Giant hits a suplex and he’s totally in charge here. Giant clubs away at the back to try and eliminate Luger’s ability to Rack him. Luger eventually battles back but goes for a slam and Giant falls on top for 2. Giant didn’t want the pin there. Giant misses in the corner though leaving him sprawled across the buckles. Luger opts not to go for the Rack, which gets him worked over again. Giant misses another charge, which makes you wonder why he bothers with them because if he keeps a methodical pace he’s virtually unbeatable. Inexperience, I guess. Luger dazes Giant with some jabs. Neckbreaker takes Giant over for 2 and the kick out is HUGE. So much so that Luger lands on the ref knocking him out. Luger slams Giant. OVER MY HEAD, BROTHER. Nick Patrick is out here but doesn’t want to come in when Luger is up. Luger goes for the Rack but Patrick kicks him in the knee. Now there’s a HEEL referee. Now STING is out here. RACK! Syxx runs in and spin kicks Luger down. Sting gets so close to the ring that Syxx runs away. Sting into the ring and Patrick smiles thinking that Sting is nWo but he punks Patrick out. He has a baseball bat and he leaves it in the ring and talks to both guys before leaving. No one has any idea what he says and that’s the end of Sting’s involvement. Um, yeah. Crowd is thrown but fortunately Luger grabs the bat and bashes Giant with it for the pin at 13.22. 1/4*. Horribly overbooked although it did confirm that Patrick wasn’t impartial anymore. Luger becomes the first man to beat Giant who’s not called Hogan. Crowd pops big as a result. It’s also the first time the nWo has lost a big match.

POST MATCH Heenan points out that the nWo doesn’t care about Giant and hung him out to dry as we set for Giant’s defection back to the WCW ranks setting up a title match with Hogan.

Hollywood Hulk Hogan v Roddy Piper

Hogan has his usual hangers on with him: Liz, Vincent and DiBiase. Crowd is LOUD for this. It isn’t announced as a WCW title match because it isn’t but that isn’t actually specifically mentioned. DiBiase is the only flunky to stay out here. Hogan does his usual stalling business. Even for WCW booking this as a main event seemed ridiculous. Two old guys who were really over but could no longer do anything entertaining in the ring. It was a match made by the past. Piper starts fast and throws enough punches that Hogan feels the need to bail out and run away. Piper dumps the ref on the buckle and calls for Hogan to come back in. He doesn’t want a count out. Hogan goes to the eyes and beats Piper down. CHEST RAKE! Hogan misses a corner clothesline. Who’d have thought SPEED would be an issue in this match? Piper pokes Hogan in both eyes and hits a clothesline. Hogan takes another powder. Piper goes to a lengthy headlock, which Hogan tries to suplex out of. No dice. Hogan shoulderblocks Piper out of the ring. BACK RAKE! Hogan really is the master of the rake. Piper with a dropkick. Oh lordy. Hogan takes another powder to escape from the horribleness of that move. Piper follows this time triggering a brawl around the aisle area. Piper gets the weight lifting belt and wails on Hogan with it. He even chokes him with it, which strikes me as a DQ. Tony points this out but says this match is “too important to the sport” to end on a DQ. DiBiase interferes so Piper bails to follow him around the ring slowly thus allowing Hogan to jump him. Piper gets punched into the front row. Hogan brings the psychology and remembers that Piper has a bad hip. Hogan slaps on the Shades of Wilbur Snyder and to my shock doesn’t use the ropes. Piper runs into the ropes for NO REASON WHATSOEVER other than for DiBiase to trip him. I HATE spots like that. Hogan was in a parallel corner for fucks sake. Piper gets an ugly inside cradle for 2. Piper is SO blown up here. He’s got nothing left. He’s like a boxer in round 12 hanging on for dear life. Hogan isn’t much better but he’s still able to do what little he usually does do. Piper hits a suplex for 2. They both lie around taking a breather. Piper misses with a kneedrop but Hogan also misses the legdrop. Piper starts hopping to demonstrate how his leg is still fine. The Giant walks into the ring nonchalantly and goozles Piper. In one of the most convoluted spots ever Randy Anderson manages to miss all this and while holding him up there Giant knocks Hogan over with one of Piper’s legs. Christ knows what Piper’s leg is made of after the surgery but it must he heavy because Hogan sells it like death. The ref finally spots Giant who Piper manages to throw out of the ring after biting his nose. Sleeper for Hogan and he can’t get out of it thus losing the match at 15.25. I like Randy Anderson’s shocked reaction at Hogan’s arm not coming back up at the third time of dropping it like it has so many times before. DUD. Terrible match. It would have meant something if it was a TITLE match, which it wasn’t.

POST MATCH the nWo comes out here and Piper fights them off before quickly leaving. Dusty calls Piper the WCW champion and obviously gets corrected on his head set. Piper celebrates with his kids and the Giant refuses to go and join the nWo in the ring. He’s still stewing over having to help Hogan when Hogan never helps him. This would set up the title match in early 1997. Giant rants loudly enough to be heard saying he always has all their backs but they don’t give a crap about him. Hogan tries to blame him for the loss telling him he “dropped the ball”. Crowd bites on it chanting “Giant”. Hogan goes back to the ring to celebrate with the Outsiders. Hogan rants about how the match was non-title. Shame they didn’t mention that DURING OR BEFORE THE MATCH. As for Piper he’d get his title shot at Superbrawl. That said the show ends up leaving a bitter taste in the mouth because WCW did bait and switch at the biggest show of the year thus frustrating its fanbase once again. This would become such a regular occurrence that the fans turned on it. Although they didn’t right away because WCW was hot. In terms of ratings for example they were now thrashing the WWF in the Monday Night Wars and would go into 1997 in pole position despite starting 1996 behind their rivals. The nWo had turned things around. Here’s a quote from RD Reynolds “Death of WCW” book:

”Bischoff had the formula, he had the stars and, perhaps most importantly, he had the one match up [Hogan-Sting] everyone was dying to see. And he was going to make them wait to see it for an entire year”

Seeing as the nWo had been so successful Bischoff based his first PPV of 1997 entirely around them: Souled Out. I don’t have the show but basically the nWo ran the entire thing with commentary from Bischoff and DiBiase. They turned a few more guys into nWo guys before the show in order to have a full card of nWo v WCW. Including Marcus Bagwell who was now Buff. The Outsiders lost to the Steiners on that show but Bischoff reversed the decision on Nitro for some technicality. DDP officially turned babyface after rejecting another chance to join the nWo. Eddie retains the US title against Syxx in a ladder match. The main event was Giant’s title shot at Hogan, which didn’t work out too well for him. Nick Patrick was the totally unbiased official you see. Even though Giant pretty much won the match the nWo weren’t losing their title on their PPV so it ended with a no finish. Next from me is Clash 34 and after that Superbrawl VII to see Piper’s actual title match.

The 411: This is a great show until the nWo stuff kicks in. While a few months beforehand it was fresh and different now it was getting irritating. While it was nice that they let some of the cruisers go and have fun in the early going (Malenko-Dragon & Liger-Mysterio) you have to think that was because they weren’t deemed important enough for the nWo to care about them. Once the show got into the more important matches the nWo was everywhere and had their fingers in every pie including DDP-Guerrero, which had nothing to do with them at all. A couple of good cruiserweight matches doesn’t make a show great as anyone who watches TNA will testify but it makes the show passable enough to get a mild thumbs up. I’d watch most of the last two matches on fast forward though because they suck.
Final Score:  6.5   [ Average ]  legend

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