Mike Reviews Shows Considered To Be Stinkers – WCW Starrcade 1999 (19th December 1999)
By Michael Fitzgerald on 25th December 2021
Happy Holidays Everyone!
For those not familiar with these reviews, I take a look at a show that has a reputation for being awful and decide whether that reputation is deserved or not. We’re back to reader requests for January, so get them in if you have any shows you’d like to see get the Stinker treatment.
We’ve got a special Holiday Stinker for you all today, where I’m going to watch Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara ruin WCW’s biggest show of the year. Well, they’d already ruined WrestleMania in 1999 so it’s only right that they ruin Starrcade too in order to complete the set I guess.
This was the last pay per view they would write together, as Russo was gone by Souled Out in January when he suggested putting the World Title on Tank Abbot. WCW had a pretty decent marquee level Main Event for this show with Bret Hart taking on Goldberg, but then they booked a month of nonsensical crap television and the end result was that, even though the ratings slithered up ever so slightly thanks to the car crash appeal of the TV show, the buy rate for this event was an absolute disaster.
Just to give an example of how horrific a job the RussAra team did of getting people to actually buy the pay per views, Starrcade did a pretty miserable 145,000 buys whilst Halloween Havoc (the first pay per view of their regime) did 230,000. So with more time to promote the show and a better Main Event with which to promote it with, the golden boy duo managed to scare off 85,000 potential pay per view buyers due to their atrocious Nitro and Thunder events.
The event is emanating from Washington, DC Comics on the 19th of December 1999
Calling the action are Tony Schiavone, Scott Hudson and Bobby Heenan
They run through the match card in the opening video, with the first problem rearing it’s head because there’s something like 13 matches booked and we’ve only got 2 hours and 40 minutes of show in which to cram all of those matches in, and it’s not even like they’ve got an excuse of having a tournament or something that would at least mean there was a longer story that was running through all of the shorter matches.
The Mamalukes (Big Vito and Johnny The Bull) w/ Tony Marinara Vs The Disco Inferno and Lash LeRoux
The story here is that Marinara is a Mafioso type fellow who Disco owes money, so he’s brought in Vito and Johnny in order to extract some revenge. Marinara wouldn’t stick around in WCW for too long into 2000 and would eventually jump to ECW, where he would take the name Tony Mamaluke and team with Guido Mariato. Vito was actually a long-time friend of Russo in real life, so it was only a matter of time for him to get booked once RussAra got the booking gig.
This is actually a decent opener, with them working the tag formula well and the crowd mostly enjoying it. Both Johnny and Lash are pretty green, but Vito and Disco had both worked for a decent amount of time by this stage in their careers, so they are able to hold things together and the match mostly goes off without a hitch. The Mamalukes work some heat on Disco and he does a decent job selling it whilst The Mamalukes hit a few nice looking double teams and mug to the crowd.
It never really feels like a Starrcade level match, but it fulfils it’s role as the opener and I’ll take what I can get on a show like this. Lash does a nice hot tag segment at one stage, with all four guys doing a good job working some misdirection spots when things breakdown. The only time things get a bit sloppy is when Johnny and Lash are asked to work with one another without a chaperone, but that’s kind of to be expected as both guys were lacking in experience.
We get some decent near falls, with the kick outs and saves being timed well. Eventually though the less polished team of Disco and Lash have some issues, with Disco accidentally catching Lash with a Chart Buster (Stunner) when he’s not looking and thinks it’s Vito. This allows Vito to spike Lash with an Implant DDT whilst Johnny keeps Disco busy and that’s enough for three.
WINNERS: THE MAMALUKES
Solid enough opener with a few sloppy moments due to some inexperience from the greener guys involved in the match. Considering WCW’s loaded roster at the time this felt kind of out of place on such a big event though
The Mamalukes beat up Disco and take him away in a body bag following that, which I believe led to Disco joining up with The Mamalukes as an unwilling accomplice for a bit. We do get to listen to Jimmy Hart’s entertaining Godfather inspired mafia styled entrance music whilst they do it though.
The announce team tells us that Scott Hall will not be defending the United States Title against Chris Benoit tonight as he’s injured his knee, meaning Benoit gets the belt by forfeit.
Benoit joins us after that in fact, the US belt in hand. He says he didn’t come to Starrcade to win a belt by forfeit and is laying down a challenge for someone to step up and face him later. Benoit was one of the rare instances of RussAra actually doing a good job with someone, as they made him into a likable babyface who regularly fought against the odds in a gutsy manner.
WCW Cruiserweight Title
Champ: Evan Karagias w/ Spice Vs Madusa
The story here was that Evan and Madusa had been dating in storyline, with Madusa helping Evan to win the Title at the November pay per view. However, they’ve since had a falling out, so now they are wrestling one another. I think we’re supposed to think that Madusa’s plan was always to eventually turn on Evan and she was just using him until the time was right, but I’ve never really been sure when it comes to this storyline as everyone involved in it was so outrageously unlikable that I can’t really think who we’re supposed to actually be cheering for here.
Evan even having the belt to begin with was a head scratcher, as he was probably one of the least talented guys in the whole division but Russo had no interest in actually pushing any of the Mexican or Japanese guys (something he wholeheartedly admitted on an episode of WCW Live saying he didn’t care about foreign wrestlers because he only wanted to see Americans) so the main guys feuding over the belt during this RussAra period were Disco, Lash and Evan, who were all white dudes who wrestled a generic American style. Can’t have any of that Lucha stuff bro!
This has some decent heat from the crowd actually, although a lot of the wrestling isn’t that great. They do their best to work it just like a normal match in order to make Madusa look like she’s on the level of the male wrestlers, but the timing is way off a lot of the time and it’s a mostly sloppy match that doesn’t flow very well. Madusa tries to power bomb Evan at one stage and it looks bad¸ with Evan clearly doing all of the work and barely getting over. Spice eventually turns on Evan though, giving him a terrible looking low blow, which leads to Madusa getting a German Suplex for three.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: MADUSA
A short sloppy match that did very little for the prestige of the belt
Madusa and Spice leave together following that.
We see one of RussAra’s other success stories, as Norman Smiley cuts a promo backstage with Mean Gene Okerlund. Smiley does his usual thing of being scared of everything.
WCW Hardcore Title
Champ: Norman Smiley Vs Meng
The idea with Smiley’s gimmick is that he’s an absolute wuss who doesn’t want to be in the hardcore division but he manages to keep contriving ways to win. It was a silly lower card gimmick but Smiley was very entertaining in the role and it got over as a result. To be honest, hardcore was always treated as more of a comedy break in WCW, so Smiley’s gimmick fit right in and it helped get the division off the ground. Unfortunately they never really worked out a way to turn the momentum Smiley gained here into a role elsewhere on the card and he was basically just the wacky comedy hardcore guy for the rest of his time in WCW.
This match follows the usual formula of this Smiley matches, as Meng destroys him throughout whilst Smiley yelps and screams in a mixture of pain and fear. Smiley gets the occasional attack in, but Meng usually no sells it and keeps dishing out the punishment. It’s entertaining for what it is, with them brawling their way through the backstage area and destroying anything that isn’t nailed down. There’s not much actual wrestling going on, but Smiley is very good in this role so the match is mostly fun. Eventually Brian Knobs and Fit Finlay show up to batter Meng as they don’t like him, which leads to Smiley climbing out of the wreckage to pick up the three count having missed it all.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: NORMAN SMILEY
This was harmless under card fun and the crowd did pop for Smiley pulling another rabbit out of the hat, so I’ll give it a break
Meng puts the Tongan Death Grip on the ref following that to get his heat back.
Crazy David Flair gets a new crowbar delivered to him. It’s golden.
Oklahoma is backstage hyping up Steve Williams for later. However, he then gets kidnapped by Rock and Roll band The Misfits.
If The Revolution wins then Duggan must denounce the American flag
If Duggan wins then The Revolution must become janitors for 30 days
The Revolution (Shane Douglas, Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn and Aysa) Vs Janitor Jim Duggan and The Varsity Club (Mike Rotunda, Rick Steiner and Kevin Sullivan) w/ Leia Meow
The Revolution had originally been a group of underappreciated mid-carders who were looking to gain better positions within WCW, but they were buried, squashed and turned Heel, with RussAra’s big idea to get them over being them declaring themselves to be a sovereign nation. This of course brought them into conflict with Duggan and his American loving ways, leading to this match. Duggan had been made a janitor by The Powers That Be, the resident evil authority figures at the time.
The Varsity Club had last been seen in WCW nearly a decade prior to this and it seemed strange to try and reintroduce the gimmick again in 1999. Douglas has an arm injury here and can’t even wrestle, so he instead sits in on commentary. This essentially leaves the Heels at a 3 on 4 disadvantage, although it ends up not really mattering as they tell a baffling story of Duggan refusing to tag his partners in, which leads to them walking out on him.
That’s supposed to be a Heel move from The Varsity Club, and I guess it kind of is, but it’s not like Duggan came across as much of a babyface there by bringing these three guys down as his partners only to then stick them on the apron and refuse to tag them. He pretty much got what he deserved there. The match itself isn’t really up to much from a wrestling perspective either, with it mostly being punching and choking. It’s kind of a waste of Malenko and Saturn, who could have been put in there with different guys and actually had the potential of having a good match.
The Varsity Club gets to do a little bit on The Revolution at one stage when they come in without a tag, which at least wakes the crowd up a bit, but then they batter Duggan and walk out, which allows Douglas to sneak in from commentary to pick up the three count on the downed Duggan.
WINNERS: THE REVOLUTION
A pretty boring match with a nonsensical story that just made Duggan look like an idiot. If you didn’t want any partners then just sign on for a handicap match. Kevin Sullivan showed why he was one of wrestling’s smarter men there too, as his group technically “lost” the match, but not before battering everyone in it and then voluntarily leaving, thus looking tougher and smarter than everyone else, including the winners
Douglas taunts Duggan on the mic following the match, saying Duggan will denounce the USA on Nitro tomorrow night. I’m not sure if that actually happened or not as RussAra weren’t exactly renowned for being air tight when it came to stipulations.
Mean Gene is backstage with The Misfits, who now have Oklahoma locked in a shark cage so that he can’t interfere in the next match.
Vampiro gets five minutes with Oklahoma if he wins
Steve Williams Vs Vampiro
Oklahoma was Ed Ferrara doing a Jim Ross impression, all the way to including mocking his bells palsy by scrunching up his face and teaming up with real life Ross friend Steve Williams. Thankfully Ferrara stopped doing the stuff with his face after a certain point and just did the voice whilst dressing as Ross. It still felt like a very mean spirited character though and it long outlived its usefulness. As a one or two shot character without the bells palsy stuff it might have been an entertaining little parody, but the face scrunching left a bad taste in the mouth and the gimmick ran out of steam pretty quickly.
Oklahoma is doing his own commentary from the shark cage here; yelling like Ross would over on Raw. This was back when Tony didn’t really like Ross, so he’s happy to egg him on and get in sly jabs such as “talk about his football career” whilst the match goes on. They seem to have thankfully buried the hatchet in AEW today. Williams and Vampiro had very little in the way of chemistry with one another as opponents and Williams wasn’t entirely on board with selling for Vampiro either, which made their matches difficult viewing sometimes.
They have a pretty snug battle with one another, with Vamp mostly throwing chops and kicks whilst Williams mostly does power stuff and punches. If Williams would actually sell that any of Vamp’s offence was actually hurting him then the match wouldn’t be that bad, but he basically shrugs off everything and gives Vamp very little outside of a back suplex at one point. The Misfits try to help Vamp out by coming into the ring to attack Williams, but he fends them off easily. Not only does this make Williams look like the babyface, but it also makes no sense that none of it is an instant DQ, so we can add that to the litany of issues this match has.
The crowd seem actively confused by the Heel bravely fighting off something like 6 guys all by himself, and it whiffs of it being a concession to Williams for the fact that he’s not going over in this one. And indeed, they take it home pretty quickly after that as Williams clobbers Vamp and shoves down the ref, leading to him getting DQ’ed for KICKING TOO MUCH ASS. So he takes most of the match, gives Vamp basically nothing, no sells pretty much all of Vamp’s offence, beats up an entire group of lackeys all by himself and then doesn’t even do a pin fall job to cap it off. I can kind of see why Williams didn’t really stick around into 2000 to be honest.
WINNER BY DQ: VAMPIRO
A lousy match made worse by Williams’ attitude problems
Williams batters Vampiro following the match, leading to Oklahoma being happy to get in to the ring and fight him. It then takes forever for them to get Oklahoma out of the cage though, meaning most of his advantage is lost and it just makes Vampiro look all the worse for then selling for Oklahoma.
Oklahoma Vs Vampiro
Oklahoma decides to continue doing commentary whilst working the match, which is pretty funny in all honesty. Ferrara did actually work a little bit on the indies prior to joining the WWF, so he can kind of wrestle just enough that he can do a quick little match like this. The problem is that he’s given way too much on Vampiro and Vamp just looks like a goof for taking it. Even with the beat down from Williams excuse, it took ages for Oklahoma to finally get in there and it’s just not believable that Vamp would be beaten down enough for Oklahoma to get this much offence in.
This should have been a quick squash win for Vamp, and not only does he have to sell a bunch for the fat manager but he needs the help of The Misfits in order to win, as they all come in and beat Oklahoma up (which doesn’t draw a DQ for whatever reason) and that leads to Vamp picking up the win. The crowd actively boos this because it’s clearly unfair and Oklahoma was actually doing okay whilst it was a fair fight.
What a bizarre match that was, with the babyface needing an army of guys just to beat the fat Heel manager
Curt Hennig, The Harris Brothers, Vincent and La Parka want to talk to Vince Russo backstage, but he’s distracted by something.
Mike Tenay is backstage with Harlem Heat and Midnight. Stevie Ray doesn’t seem happy to be teaming up with Midnight.
Creative Control (Patrick, Gerald and Curt Hennig) w/ Shane Vs Harlem Heat (Booker T and Stevie Ray) and Midnight
Patrick and Gerald are The Harris’ with names designed to specifically mock two guys in the WWF, because Vince Russo was pretty obsessed with getting back at that company during this run for not appreciating his genius. This whole era of WCW just has a really unpleasant and negative feel to it, to the point that you almost feel like you need a shower after watching it because it makes you feel dirty. Midnight is a buff female wrestler who started helping out Booker, leading to Stevie getting jealous and eventually breaking off to form a team with Ahmed Johnson.
Booker and Midnight start out at a 2 on 3 disadvantage here due to Stevie sulking backstage, and they have a very meh match that the crowd doesn’t really care about. Again, Starrcade is supposed to be WCW’s WrestleMania and this card has so many bland Nitro-level matches on it. Booker wrestles the majority of the match for his team and he looks good for the most part, but he hasn’t really got much to work with here due to the whole Creative Control gimmick being ice cold and the crowd not really caring about the storyline.
Midnight is not afraid to get in there and mix it up, including taking a very impressive bump over the top to the floor from a Hennig clothesline at one stage. If she were around today she could probably be a fixture in one of the major companies’ women’s divisions, but WCW didn’t have one and she probably wasn’t conventionally attractive enough for the WWF to take a look at her back then, even though she was a good athlete in great physical shape. Stevie does come down to the ring eventually, but Booker is annoyed at him for not being here earlier.
See, this actually makes sense, with Stevie clearly being the Heel who left his partners high and dry only to saunter out when he felt like it. It might not be a story that the crowd particularly cares about, but it’s an actual story that you can follow and easily understand who you’re supposed to cheer for. Midnight takes a bit of heat and that leads to a Booker hot tag, only for Hennig to hit Booker with an international object. That was mostly in view of the ref but Hennig at least made an effort to hide it. Stevie and Midnight argue outside the ring, which allows a Harris Brother to get the pin for three on the knocked out Booker.
WINNER: CREATIVE CONTROL
They were actually trying to have a match here and the story actually made sense for once, but it was pretty bland and the crowd really didn’t care that much. It certainly had no place on a pay per view that was supposed to be the “granddaddy of them all”
Midnight checks on Booker post-match whilst Stevie walks off.
Jeff Jarrett Vs Dustin Rhodes
Jarrett was working for The Powers That Be, who Dustin hated in storyline, which led to a natural feud between the two. The Bunkhouse was Dusty Rhodes’ match of course, so Dustin using it for a feud ending bout makes sense. They try to work this like a hate filled brawl, which becomes a bit difficult when you’ve already positioned hardcore matches as an excuse for comedy earlier in the night.
Despite having that handicap weighing them down though, they have a mostly good match here, although the crowd doesn’t really get that into it. It’s a shame because it’s a decent brawl and both men do a good job of getting across the idea that they don’t like one another and that this isn’t just a brawl for a brawl’s sake. They also do some neat spots as well, such as Dustin having weaponry in his jeans like powder and duct tape because he understands how one of these matches work and he’s come prepared for it.
This is probably the first match on the show where it feels like it deserves to be on the company’s biggest event of the year. In a funny spot, Dustin decides he wants the ref to stay out of the way so he can really put the boots to Jarrett, so he tapes him to the ropes and then puts some tape over his mouth for good measure when he won’t stop complaining about it. That succeeded in getting a big pop from the crowd at the very least and the ref sold it fantastically.
Curt Hennig eventually comes down to free the ref, just as Jarrett starts making a comeback with some weapon shots and a sleeper. Dustin ends up surviving the sleeper though and the crowd gets behind him when he starts making a comeback, leading to a double down. Hennig passes Jarrett a studded belt following that, but Dustin fights that off and gets a Boss Man Slam. Dustin makes a pair of covers, but Hennig keeps breaking up the pin attempts, which is legal under these rules.
Dustin kicks Jarrett right in the Impact Zone and that looks to be all, but Hennig breaks the pin up again, leading to him getting kicked right in his Mr. Spiffy’s for good measure. However, that buys Jarrett some time and allows him to drag the fight to the outside, where Dustin continues to control things as they brawl over to the stage area. Dustin tries climbing up the stage, but Hennig distracts him again and that allows Jarrett to him with a guitar off a nearby ladder for three.
WINNER: JEFF JARRETT
It got a bit silly at the end, but it was a mostly good intense fight between two guys with a built up issue, so I’ll take it
David Flair admires his crowbar, and a cuddly toy that I think was a gift given to him by Daffney.
Crowbar On A Pole
Diamond Dallas Page Vs David Flair
This is another feud where I have no idea who the babyface is supposed to be because neither of them are particularly likeable. I’m guessing that we’re maybe supposed to like David Flair because he’s trying to get revenge for his Dad after DDP laid a whupping on him, but he’s also an insane psychopath who tries to bash people’s heads in with crowbars, including women, so who even knows?
Flair did commit to the role at least, but he just didn’t have the wrestling ability to back it up. Had Flair been able to actually wrestle to any decent degree then this would have been another RussAra character/gimmick that I’d class as being in the “good” column, because Flair hadn’t really gotten over to any real degree prior to this but this did give him a bit of steam.
Flair attacks DDP during his entrance, which leads to the referee trying to award the match to Flair because DDP can’t continue. DDP isn’t having that though and bravely decides to fight on, which I guess means he’s supposed to be the babyface here? This does give Flair an excuse to work DDP over for a bit though, targeting the ribs for the most part. DDP sells that well and does as good a job as possible in carrying Flair to something watchable.
Flair is basically wrestling as a complete Heel here and DDP is mostly wrestling as a babyface, so it makes the match easier to follow at least. For a 4 minute long pay per view match where one guy had less than a year of wrestling experience, it’s far better than it has any right to be, which probably has a lot to do with DDP’s meticulous attention to detail when putting matches together. I know some don’t like that, but when you’re in there with a guy whose greener than broccoli it’s prudent to plan it out as much as possible. The finish is pretty good too, as Flair tries to hit DDP with the crowbar, but DDP dodges it and hits a Diamond Cutter OUTTA NOWHERE for three.
WINNER: DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE
Better than it had any real right to be
DDP continues to beat Flair up post-match, which leads to Daffney running down to rescue Flair by lying atop of him so that DDP won’t beat him up anymore. She’s instantly great in the role.
Elizabeth gets out of her contract with Lex Luger if Sting wins
The Total Package Vs Sting w/ Elizabeth
Package was treating Liz badly on TV, putting her in compromising and unflattering situations such as mud matches, leading to Sting coming to her aid. Package was pretty entertaining in the role, seemingly because he decided to stop really caring and just started goofing off to amuse himself. Before the match can begin, Sting gives Liz an especially potent can of mace for her to use later on, which becomes important later.
This is a match that actually feels like it belongs on a Starrcade level event, although they aren’t given a lot of time to work with due to all the other matches on the card, with just 5 minutes attributed to them. Package actually controls in the early going by working Sting over, with the work being okay. Sting and Liz start pinballing Package between one another at one stage after Sting no sells a suplex, which for some reason isn’t a DQ.
We get a double down following that, which leads to Liz coming in to reveal she’s been aligned with Package all along. Thankfully Sting actually has seen this betrayal coming (well, he’s been betrayed A LOT in his career, it’s about time he finally was on the ball about something like this) and when Liz tries firing the mace at him, it turns out to just be silly string. Okay, that was a clever subversion, I liked it.
Sting demands that Liz leave the ring and then makes the big comeback on Package, leading to a splash off the top rope for two in a good near fall. This has been a very abbreviated match, but for the run time they’ve been given they’ve mostly had a decent outing. 5 minutes is just not enough for a major match on the biggest show of the year though. Sting continues to put the beat down on Package, which leads to Liz hitting him with a baseball bat for the DQ.
WINNER BY DQ: STING
Ooof, that baseball bat shot was right to face and Sting sold it like death. This was a decent match given the time limitations
Package beats up Sting following the match, Pillmanising his arm in a chair to set up his “arm breaker” gimmick that he’d have for the early months of 2000.
Master of the Powerbomb Match
Kevin Nash Vs Sid Vicious
You have to give your opponent a powerbomb to win here. In a nice surprise WWE Network actually leaves Sid’s music in here, which they don’t always do. Nash has one of the tag belts with him here, which makes me think he was a double Champ with Scott Hall at the time. Nash does seem kind of motivated here at least, but he’s wrestling Sid so that’s only going to get him so far. This is mostly a slug fest with some powerbomb teases mixed in, and it’s pretty rubbish for the most part owing to just how awful Sid is.
If it had some crowd heat or Sid actually knew how to sell, well, anything, then it might have at least been bordering on watchable, but the crowd doesn’t really care and Sid is, well, Sid, so we get a mostly dull heatless match with terrible wrestling to boot. The crowd actually turns on Sid, even though he’s supposed to be the Heel here, which doesn’t help things either.
We also get one of the all-time crappy finishes, as the ref gets bumped and misses Sid giving Nash one of the worst powerbombs to ever be bore witness. Jeff Jarrett then runs down to blast Sid with a guitar and Nash tells the revived ref that it was from a powerbomb, so the ref just awards him the match! Since when were match finishes based on the honour system?!
WINNER: KEVIN NASH
If it hadn’t had one of most offensively bad finishes in recorded history I might have stretched to giving it a solitary star, but that finish was so horrific that this one gets a DUD and likes it. It just didn’t make any sense that the referee would just take a wrestlers word like that. At least in a first blood match where the ref misses the first guy bleeding and catches the second one they can at least see that the wrestler is actually bleeding before calling for the bell. Just a stupid, stupid, STUPID finish where WCW tried to be far too cute for their own good
Mike Tenay is backstage with Chris Benoit, who says that no one has answered the challenge yet, so the slot is still open.
Ladder Match for the vacant WCW United States Title
Jeff Jarrett Vs Chris Benoit
Jarrett is working double duty tonight (Or triple duty if you count his involvement in the previous match). Sadly they only get 10 minutes to work with here due to the ridiculous amount of filler matches this show has had, but they have probably the best ladder match they can within that timescale. Jarrett cuts a promo on Benoit before the match starts and we’re off to the races.
They work this at a really quick clip due to the need to rush through it a bit, with the usual ladder weapon shots and whatnot leading to Benoit bleeding from the face. That could have been a bladejob or could easily have just been a hardway knowing how Benoit liked to go at it 100 miles an hour every time he was out there. They’ve been blowing through all these matches with little in the way of a buffer now, so the crowd is pretty burned out and doesn’t really react to the ladder spots that big at first, but both guys work very hard and eventually manage to get them into it.
It’s a very entertaining car crash match, but compared to some of the really classic ladder matches it’s a long way off because they just don’t have the time to tell a really satisfying story. The diminished time allowance also leads to guys getting up way too quickly from big moves in order to be able to stop their opponent getting to the belt, which takes away from the drama somewhat. Some of the big bumps are very impressive though, such as Jarrett dropkicking the ladder whilst Benoit is reaching for the belt, leading to Benoit flying down to the mat.
It just annoys me that they couldn’t have just cut one of the lame under card bouts and allotted an extra 5-10 minutes to this one, as they could have potentally had a real classic. The finish is great, as Benoit climbs up and could easily grab the belt, but he instead drops the head butt from up there first before climbing back up to claim the belt. This display of bad-assery earns Benoit a hearty pop from the crowd when he wins.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: CHRIS BENOIT
Oh well, at least this show had one match that was genuinely really good. It probably isn’t going to save it overall, but I enjoyed it anyway.
Champ: Bret Hart Vs Goldberg
Losing to Kevin Nash at the previous year’s Starrcade had definitely taken some steam off Goldberg, but he remained a very over act and there was every chance that he could be rehabbed with another strong Title reign. Goldberg had actually defeated Sting in the Main Event of Halloween Havoc 99 to seemingly win the WCW Title once again, but as it wasn’t a properly sanctioned match the Title ended up getting vacated and a tournament set up. Bret Hart ended up winning the tournament after knocking Goldberg out in the first round due to The Outsiders. Seeing as the first match between them had had a screwy ending and both Bret and Goldberg were ostensibly babyfaces, the two were matched up for the Title at Starrcade with the idea being that this time we’d get a fair result.
Bret’s win had been a nice feel good moment as he’d won the Title in Canada and it had come quite soon after he’d had a very nice tribute match to his sadly deceased brother Owen on an episode of Nitro with Chris Benoit. His pretty miserable personal life over the previous couple of years prior to this event had made him a genuinely sympathetic babyface. Despite this, Goldberg was the guy WCW really needed to build around, so common sense dictated that he would defeat Bret after a hard fought battle to claim the Title at the biggest event of the year, whilst not taking anything away from Bret as he would have given Goldberg a darn good fight before eventually losing. However, this was WCW and you know the rest.
We actually get a handshake to start, as both are still supposed to be faces, and that leads to some spots where Goldberg powers Bret into the corner and shoves him down in order to show that the challenger has the strength advantage. Bret has experience of working Face/Face matches with bigger opponents such as Kevin Nash and Undertaker, and in those bouts he would normally end up doing some subtle heel stuff, and that’s kind of what he’s doing here as Goldberg essentially gets a long shine in the opening section until they start fighting outside the ring.
The ref takes a bump out there, which I think is to sell the wild nature of this match due to it also having a No DQ stip, and we head back into the ring where Goldberg kicks Bret in the head to get the clock ticking on the end of Bret’s career, which then leads to a second ref taking a bump. Okay, we got the point with the first ref bump guys, no need to go overboard. A third ref joins us as Bret goes to the ring post Figure Four that he likes to do on bigger opponents, which leads to Bret staying on the leg back inside the ring for his first proper period of control in the bout.
Goldberg just looks like an awkward guy to move around here, almost like he’s actually kind of fighting Bret off for real at points. Dude, you’re in there with Bret Hart, just let him guide you and you’re pretty much guaranteed to at least have a decent match due to his grasp of psychology and storytelling. Goldberg gets another kick to Bret’s head, which I think might actually have been the one that put Bret’s lights out. It looks like he’s caught Bret with two really rough ones at any rate. Roddy Piper joins us after yet ANOTHER ref bump, as they’ve overbooked this to crap, and we even get a rubbish Montreal finish where Piper calls for the bell when Bret has Goldberg in The Sharpshooter.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: BRET HART
They overbooked this way too much and Goldberg just didn’t look happy at all for most of it, seeming to not want to let Bret carry things and throwing some live rounds. I think, bad as the kick was, Bret would have likely been alright if he’d taken some time off following this one, but he kept wrestling for a few more weeks and it only made his condition worse, thus leading to him retiring. I really hated the finish too, as Montreal parodies were already passé by 99 and having Bret do the screwing on this occasion just seemed sleazy
Bret argues with Piper following the match, selling that he didn’t want to win that way, and the show fades to black. Awful.
Is It Really A Stinker?
It not only features the match where Bret Hart’s career was all but ended, but the under card is full of mostly superfluous junk that only ended up eating into the time of the matches that might have been good if given more time to actually tell a story. Jeff Jarrett ended up being a surprising MVP of the event, as his match with Dustin Rhodes on the under card was one of the few matches that was genuinely bordering on being good and he then came out again later on to have the match of the night with Benoit.
Aside from a few bright spots this show was mostly awful though, with nonsensical booking being combined with some really turgid wrestling. Outside of a couple of moments the show never really felt like the biggest event of the year either. Bret Hart and Goldberg had the “big match feel” to it, but aside from that most of the show felt like something you’d see on Nitro most weeks. You could see why RussAra were absolutely tanking the pay per view buys around this time because very little about this show felt special or worth shelling out your money to see.
Final Rating – Stinker