The SmarK Rant for WCW Starrcade 93 – 12.27.93
Been a hot minute since I’ve reviewed this show. WCW was in a bit of a tumultuous state at this point, to say the least.
Live from Charlotte, NC, drawing 8000 for a legit sellout.
Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Jesse Ventura
Meanwhile, Vader shows up in the parking lot, already wearing his mask and gloves, with a nice Japanese steakhouse jacket to keep him warm. However, Ric Flair has not yet arrived, so Mean Gene shows up at his house and sees him off, as we meet young Ashley, Reid and David and they all wish him good luck before putting his career on the line. Ric is worried, but he knew what he was doing when he signed the contract.
2 Cold Scorpio & Marcus Bagwell v. Pretty Wonderful
Scorpio & Bagwell were coming off winning the tag team titles for a couple of days before dropping it back to the Nasty Boys, but they were actually really over with Teddy Long as manager and probably deserved to get a longer run. Meanwhile Roma & Orndorff were a drag as a team but somehow got the belts more than once despite boring arenas all over the country. Big brawl to start and the babyfaces clean house, with Bagwell flipping Scorpio into a Pele kick on Orndorff in a cool spot. Jesse wonders what happens if Flair is involved in a car accident on the way to the show? Yeah that would be par for the course for WCW in 1993, honestly. Roma puts the boots to Bagwell, but Bagwell gets a bodypress for two and goes to work on the arm. Over to Scorpio and he continues on that as they double-team Roma in their corner. Orndorff comes in and stomps Scorpio down to turn the tide, but Scorp takes him down with a flying headscissors, and Bagwell comes in with a splash for two. Back to Roma and Bagwell goes back to the arm and the faces do some more classic babyface double-teams and Scorpio gets two off a big splash. The double leapfrog spot is pretty great. Orndorff finally cuts off Bagwell with a cheapshot and Roma adds a flying forearm behind the ref’s back as they get the heat on Bagwell. You’d think that having Teddy Long as your manager would ensure that you could AVOID getting screwed over by refereeing errors. Orndorff with a side suplex for two and Roma gets a snap suplex for two. Powerslam and Roma goes up, but misses the flying splash, and it’s hot tag Scorpio. Scorp runs wild and hits Orndorff with a flying fist, but the Assassin gets involved and somehow loads up his mask despite his head being so huge that it’s already squeezing out of the sides, and the loaded headbutt finishes Scorpio at 12:00. A pretty hot opener that I think gets a bit overlooked, although sadly Bagwell and Scorpio were going nowhere. ***1/4
Meanwhile, back in the limo, Ric and Gene continue reminiscing about life and career and friendship.
Shockmaster v. Awesome Kong
Oh man I was just thinking that maybe I had misjudged this show in the past. The Kongs double-team Uncle Fred before the bell and Awesome gets a splash for two, but a blind charge hits boot. And Sheik Tugboat slams and pins him at 1:30. DUD
World TV title: Lord Steven Regal v. Ricky Steamboat
This was one of the numerous matches affected by injuries and/or scissor attacks, as originally Flair & Steamboat were to be teaming up to challenge the Nasty Boys, and I think it was either Sting or Arn Anderson was to be facing Regal for the TV title. Man, in retrospect using Bill Dundee as a butler for months was a complete waste. Meanwhile Tony explains the origins of Boxing Day, where apparently people engage in sports and fights after Christmas. Sounds like shopping on Boxing Day to me. Especially if you’re looking for AirTags. Regal hides in the corner to start, which Jesse points out is actually really good strategy in a 15 minute time limit. They fight over a lockup and Regal takes him down and goes to work on the arm, but Steamboat reverses out and we get a villainous sneer from Regal. Steamboat with a rollup for two and he follows with a hiptoss for two. Steamboat works a headlock and gets a slick sunset flip for two. Steamboat goes to the arm as this is going nowhere and the draw is obvious. And they start doing “5 minutes left” calls at 8:00 to expedite things. Steamboat hammerlocks him and gets two off that. Regal slugs out of that, but Steamboat fires back with chops and they head to the floor to use up some more time. Regal catches him with a dropkick and beats on him in the ring, but Steamboat goes back to the arm and they do some reversals with time running out. Regal runs away again, but Steamboat goes after Sir William and runs out of time at 13:00, for the “15:00” draw. They were just going through the armbar motions here. **
Tex Slazenger & Shanghai Pierce v. Cactus Jack & Maxx Payne
Tex and Shanghai of course went on to be the Godwinns and somehow got much worse while winning multiple WWF tag team titles. Jesse: “Tony, did you check out the Hooter girl at ringside?” Tony: “Yes I did. Every chance I get.” And then they laugh it off and promise to be less creepy moving forward. Shanghai manages to overpower Maxx to start, but he comes back with a slam and it’s over to Tex. Jack slugs him down and chokes away in the corner. Jack and Maxx work the arm and Jack gets a neckbreaker for two, while Jesse compares Cactus Jack to the ugly mutt dog in the alley that eats your garbage and then eventually hangs around until he becomes your friend. That’s quite the backhanded compliment. Maxx misses a blind charge and Tex bulldogs him to take over. Maxx hits Shanghai with a suplex and it’s back to Jack as it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA, and Jack slingshots Tex over the top and to the floor in a surprising bump. And then Maxx backdrops Cactus over the top and onto Pierce. Back in the ring, Payne puts Pierce in the Fujiwara armbar, but Tex saves, so Maxx clotheslines both of them and makes a hot tag to Cactus. Pierce accidentally clotheslines Tex to the floor, and Cactus DDTs Shanghai for the pin at 7:51. If this was a street fight this could have taken off and been great, but it was mostly just a messy tag match with a couple of cool spots as it was. **1/2
KYLE PETTY joins Mean Gene. YES, THAT KYLE PETTY. Holy crap! You kids today who think it’s a big deal that Logan Paul is main eventing shows, that’s nothing compared to the star power of Kyle Petty.
US title, 2/3 falls: Dustin Rhodes v. Steve Austin
I’m still reeling over getting an appearance from famous NASCAR driver Kyle Petty. Hopefully I can concentrate on the match. I bet Bob Holly saw this show and decided to change his gimmick right then. “I’ll tell you one thing, you can’t call that Hooter girl a natural.” And then Tony CRACKS on live TV, nearly having to mute his microphone to keep from losing it. These two were so fun together. And then Jesse promises that absolutely, FOR SURE THIS TIME, they’ll lay off the pervy old man stuff. Dustin puts Steve down with an elbow for two, and Austin bails to think it over. Back in the ring, Austin slugs away, but Dustin takes him down and works a hammerlock on the mat. Dustin with a headlock while Jesse goes on this whole deal about giving cigarettes to kindergarten kids because Rush Limbaugh said so. Sounds about right. Dustin with a backslide for two and Austin bails again for some advice from Col. Parker. That advice? “Maybe you should change up your look, try shaving your head or something.” They slug it out on the floor and Dustin whips him right over the railing and into the crowd, which is quite the bump from Steve. Back in the ring, Austin offers a handshake and Dustin slugs him down. DON’T TRUST ANYONE, Steve. Hope he takes that lesson to heart. Austin finally gets a cheapshot in the corner and beats Dustin down to take over. Austin chokes him out on the ropes like Parker lays the badmouth on Dustin’s daddy, although to be fair it’s nothing worse than what Dustin said himself later on. Dustin slugs back, but Austin puts him down again for two as this is taking forever to get going. Dustin with a sunset flip for two, but Austin gets a back suplex. Dustin with a slam, but Austin grabs the ropes and falls on top for two. Dustin makes a comeback and puts him down with the elbow and a powerslam for two, but he tosses Austin over the top while going after Col Parker, and that’s a DQ at 13:43.
And then in a very WCW moment, the house lights go out before the second fall starts while Dustin continues his comeback with a spotlight. But then Austin quickly rolls him up in the corner and uses the tights for the pin and the title at 16:22, one of the very few times a title match ends in straight falls. Also Austin manages to gig himself and taps an artery in the process for no reason. This was a major bore, dull and meandering, and the finish came out of nowhere in the bad way. **1/4
WCW International World Gold Belt Championship: Rick Rude v. The Boss
Hopefully Rude didn’t say anything about the Boss’s mother or else he might get fired and end up back in the WWF again. Tony once again confirms that the Boss is Big. How the hell did they manage not to get sued into the stone age with this gimmick? A competent promotion would have at least TRIED to be subtle about ripping off WWF’s intellectual property. Honestly they should have just had him come in as Big Bubba Rogers and cut out the multiple middle-man gimmicks. At least they owned that one. Anyway, this was advertised as Rude against British Bulldog, but as usual for this show, plans changed due to various stuff, in this case Bulldog getting into legal trouble for a bar fight which ended his WCW career. I think this show managed to set a record for changes to the advertised card, and yet still ended up a success. They fight for the lockup in the corner and Rude beats him down with elbows while Jesse gleefully takes the prompt from Tony to talk about Rick Rude’s backstory in Minnesota. Boss comes back with a backdrop and follows with a big boot and backbreaker for two. Boss takes him to the floor and slams him out there, and back in for a bearhug before Rude bites the nose to escape. Rude goes up and Boss slugs him down to counter, but Rude gets a sunset flip off a blind charge and retains at 9:10. Boss looked really rusty and this was BAD, like a WWF house show match or something. *
SUPERBRAWL IV! For whatever reason that show never made it to a widespread home video release, so until the WWE Network came along it actually stood as a sort of “lost media” for WCW and was a popular choice for tape traders. Now of course you can just watch it whenever you want. It’s a pretty good show, I’d recommend checking it out if you never have.
WCW World tag team title: The Nasty Boys v. Sting & Road Warrior Hawk
So after all the comments about the Hooter girls at ringside, Missy Hyatt comes out in a sheer dress that hides NOTHING and the announcers are absolutely dumbfounded. Well I can’t blame them, she brought the goods there. After leaving the subject alone throughout the ring announcements, for as long as he can possibly stand, Jesse finally comments “Nice dress she’s got there, huh Tony?” and Tony nearly cracks again. Sting gets a couple of armdrags on Knobbs after 3:00 of stalling and puts him down with a clothesline, and the faces pinball him in their corner to chase him to the floor. So Hawk tosses Sting onto the Nasties outside, with Missy escaping at the last second. Over to Sags, and he mouths off to Hawk to bring him into the match, which gives us more stalling. They trade shots in the corner and the Nasties try to double-team him, but Hawk clotheslines them out of the corner and they bail to talk it over again. Back in, the Road Runners work on Knobbs’ arm for a while, but Hawk misses a charge and lands on the floor, allowing Knobbs to hit him with a chair and take over. Back in the ring, the Nasties go to work on Hawk’s arm now and oh god I forget how long this match is. Sags with a cross armbreaker, applied like he’s gently cradling a ming vase, but Hawk somehow rolls out of that, so the Nasties work him over in the corner instead. Knobbs with another armbar, but Hawk fights out and makes a false tag to Sting. Hawk fights them off again and makes the real tag, and Sting runs wild with a double clothesline where they both down before he ever makes contact. That gets two on Knobbs. Nasties retreat to the ramp and decide to take a walk, but Sting hauls them back in. But then Knobbs immediately hits Sting with a flying legdrop for two and we go right back to the heat segment again, 18:00 into the match, and the Nasties take turns putting Sting in the abdominal stretch. Sting fights back with a sunset flip on Knobbs for two, but Sags cuts him off with an elbow for two. Sags with a pumphandle slam and Knobs goes to the rear chinlock, and a suplex gets two. Back to the chinlock, and Sags switches in and gets two before Knobbs goes back to the abdominal stretch. Apparently Sags suffered a pretty bad injury during the match at one point and you can tell, because every time he comes in he’s moving like me after slipping on the ice in winter. Knobbs comes in again and drops an elbow on Sting, but goes up and misses a splash. Sags gingerly knocks Hawk off the apron to cut off the tag, but then tries to go up and Hawk yanks him down and then gets the hot tag from Sting. He runs wild on Knobbs because Sags is DONE and can barely stand up now, leaving poor Knobbs to work the match by himself. Sting goes after Missy after hitting the Stinger Splash on Knobbs, then rolls him up for two. They hit Knobbs with a Doomsday Device, but Misys runs in for the DQ at 29:01 in a terrible finish for a match that went so long. I know Sags was in need of immediate medical attention but you’d think they could just let it run for another minute and do the draw. Match wasn’t bad or anything, but it was way too long for a DQ finish. **1/4
WCW World title: Vader v. Ric Flair
And of course, the entire undercard was just backdrop to this, as Flair puts his career on the line against Vader’s World title to save the show. I mean, which other promotion could spend months building up someone as the challenger on the biggest show of the year, only to lose the match when their new anointed one gets fired for trying to murder someone with scissors? Well maybe AEW, but to be fair no one got stabbed with scissors, only bitten. Vader overpowers him to start and Race quips “You wanted him, Flair, there he is!” in some quality snark. Flair tries to sucker Vader into a chase outside, but Vader calmly declines and waits for Flair in the ring. Vader beats on a little bit and hits him with a short clothesline. But Flair fires back with chops in the corner, and Vader just shrugs him off and Flair has to bail and regroup. Back in the ring, Vader boxes his ears in the corner and hits a press slam, and Flair has to retreat again. So Vader presses him on the floor and drops him on the railing, but he misses a charge out there and Flair makes a comeback and beats on him with chops. But after running Vader into the post, Race attacks Flair from behind to cut him off again. Back in the ring with a suplex, muscling him back in twice. Flair takes a Flair Flip out to the ramp, as Vader calmly beats on him and doesn’t charge in blindly or take chances. Back in, Vader just levels him with a clothesline and then slugs away in the corner, totally in control. Powerslam gets two. He goes up and hits Flair with a clothesline, but finally misses a move with a splash and Flair desperately fights back.
Flair goes up with a flying elbow three times and chops him down between each one, and then drops a knee, but Vader casually cuts him off again with a clothesline. They head to the top and Vader brings him down with a superplex, but misses a splash. Flair tries to fight back and Vader just clobbers him again. This is a master class in working as an underdog babyface while keeping the crowd in the match. Race gets some shots on the floor and Vader hauls Flair back in again for more punishment, but he finally gets sloppy and misses a charge and Flair gets some chops. But then Vader hits the corner splash on the second try and Flair is in trouble again. Flair refuses to go down and puts Vader down, then goes to work on the knee and smashes a chair into it outside to even the odds. Vader bails to escape and Flair beats the hell out of him with awesomely stiff shots, then hits him with another chair behind the ref’s back for good measure. Funny how there’s such a fine line between heel Flair cheating and babyface Flair evening the odds. Back in the ring, Flair continues punching the monster in the face until he goes down, and then it’s time to start taking out the knee again. Vader fights off the figure-four, but misses the pump splash and Flair keeps coming with the figure-four on the second try. Vader makes the ropes, but Flair gets all excited and Vader boots him down again to cut him off, and then goes to work again. Vader goes up and misses the moonsault, and Flair gets two off that. Race tries to interfere and hits Vader by mistake, and Flair gets two off that and makes the comeback, beating on Vader with chops until Vader clobbers him, and then Flair clips the knee and rolls him up for the pin and the title at 21:07 after taking a shellacking for the whole match. I’m actually shocked that Flair didn’t get busted open and bleed all over the ring to cap it off. ****1/2 Flair of course was so great as a babyface and they drew so much money off this show that they almost immediately turned him heel again and had him become a cartoon clown bumping for Hulk Hogan. Well that’s Flair for ya.
The main event is of course a classic but there’s nothing really on the undercard in particular that warrants a recommendation, so you’re better off just checking it out as a standalone match and leaving the rest.