The SmarK Rant for WCW Starrcade 94 – 12.27.94
Well, in for a penny, in for a pound with these I guess. Here’s another one I haven’t watched in more than 20 years. And there’s good reason for that.
Live from Nashville, TN, drawing a sellout of 8200
I do like that they lay out the complete card in the introduction video so I can know what I’m getting into here.
Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Bobby Heenan
Meanwhile, on WCW Saturday Night, Randy Savage shows up and promises to confront Hulk Hogan tonight and either SHAKE HIS HAND or SLAP HIS FACE. I know which one I’m hoping to see. It’s a DATE WITH DESTINY, YEAH.
Meanwhile, Bill Apter awards Hulk Hogan the Wrestler of the Year award for 1994. Funny bit as Tony holds up the magazine to show it off, and Bobby grabs it and rips it up for the cheap heat. And that gives us a BONUS Hogan promo so he can talk about himself some more, so lucky us I guess.
WCW US title: Hacksaw Jim Duggan v. Vader
Vader attacks in the aisle and Duggan actually beats him down and runs him into the railing, and then beats up Harley Race in the ring for good measure. Guess he really wanted to get the last word for the Slammy Awards brawl. They continue brawling on the floor and Duggan runs him into the railing and then into the ring for a clothesline to put him back on the floor again. We don’t seem to have ever had an opening bell so we’ll just wing it. Back in the ring, Duggan slams him and drops an elbow for two. I don’t know where THIS Duggan was for most of his WCW run but I wish we would have seen it more. Duggan slugs away on the ropes and drops the knee for two. He goes to the chinlock as it slows down a bit, but Vader pokes him in the eye to escape and then boxes his ears to put him down. Duggan drops an elbow for two and goes up for a diving elbow (!), but that misses unsurprisingly and Vader clotheslines him to the floor. Duggan takes a bump into the railing, having found some crazy motivation that I don’t understand, and then Vader drops an elbow on him on the way back into the ring. Vader gives him a shot to the ribs and goes up for the pump splash, and that gets two. So Vader goes up again and Duggan kicks him in the nuts to block this time, but Vader clobbers him and Race gets some choking for good measure. They slug it out in the corner, but Vader claps the ears again and goes AIRBORNE with the moonsault, which misses. Duggan makes the comeback after absorbing a corner splash, hitting a clothesline out of the corner like some kind of All Japan delayed sell shit. Duggan fires back and hits the three point stance, but Race breaks up the pin this time. Vader goes up with a bodypress, but Duggan catches him with a powerslam as Race takes the ref again. Finally Duggan has had enough shenanigans and tomfoolery, but Vader runs him into his own board and hits the facebuster slam to win the title at 10:32. Hot damn what an opener from Duggan! Probably one of his best ever matches. ***1/2 The heel fans in the front row literally jumping for joy with excitement is also tremendous.
Meanwhile, The Three Faces of Fear (not to be confused with Barbarian & Meng, who weren’t in the promotion yet) have a tombstone ready for Hulk Hogan. Does that mean a secret alliance with the Undertaker? TUNE INTO NITRO TO FIND OUT! Also, remember that The Alliance to End Hulkamania is TAEH, or the opposite of “heat”.
Jean Paul Levesque v. Alex Wright
I heard WCW had high hopes for this Levesque kid and his very convincing French accent. Hope they’ve got him locked up in a good contract! Levesque takes him down with armdrags and gives him a formal bow, which used to be his best highspot. JPL works the arm, but Wright takes him down with a headscissors. Actually calling him by his initials is lame, hopefully no one does that moving forward. Levesque works a headlock and Wright escapes with a dropkick and goes to an armbar as they’re both very tentative here and probably had nerves. Wright works a hammerlock on the mat as they bore this unsuspecting crowd of Tennesseans, but Levesque finally has had enough and puts the boots to him to take over, before offering another formal bow and suplex for two. Wright tries a bodypress and misses, landing on the floor, and Levesque gives us ANOTHER formal bow! Man he’s gonna run that spot into the ground if he’s not careful. I don’t want him to tear a quad. Meanwhile Bobby Heenan makes references to “Hogan’s Heroes” because he’s hip to the culture of today’s youth, and Wright gets a sunset flip which is blocked by Jean Paul. Powerslam gets two. And then he goes to a dramatic chinlock while making sure to flip his hair at opportune moments. Obviously a student of the WWF champion at that time. We get more bowing from Levesque and he goes up, but misses a flying elbow and Wright comes back with a spinning elbow and a hiptoss for two. Really bringing the aerial moves here I see. They collide and Wright is up first with a rollup and that gets the pin at 14:10. Just kind of an average TV match. **1/4 And then Levesque went back to France, I guess, because we never heard from him again as far as I know.
WCW TV title: Johnny B. Badd v. Arn Anderson
This was advertised as Honky Tonk Man challenging, but here’s a shocker: Honky was difficult to get along with and got fired by Bischoff before the show. Bobby notes that they should have bombed Nashville instead of Hiroshima, which would have been a hell of an unexpected military strategy if nothing else. Badd tries a headlock and Arn takes him down with hairpulls to counter. But then Arn gets taken down and claims that his own hair was pulled, which is his tell that he’s phoning the match in. Badd comes back with an armdrag and dropkicks Arn out to the floor. Back in, Arn catches him with a spinebuster and then works him over with some choking on the ropes. Arn with the abdominal stretch, but Badd escapes that and gets a sunset flip, which Arn blocks and gets two. And then he does the knucklelock spot where he lands on the other guy’s knees, recycling all his greatest hits tonight. To the chinlock, which he turns into a sleeper, but Badd reverses and Arn escapes with a jawbreaker. This match is so cliché that it’s like watching a hacky comedian making jokes about airline food. EVER NOTICE THAT WHEN SOMEONE DOES A SLEEPER, THE OTHER GUY REVERSES IT? WHAT’S UP WITH THAT? Badd with a sunset flip for two, but Arn rolls him up in the corner for two with his feet on the ropes, and then Arn gets caught and Badd finishes with his own rollup at 12:20 to retain. Come on people, we deserve better than this. **
Meanwhile, Bill Apter awards the Nasty Boys the Tag Team of the Year award for 1994. To be fair the competition wasn’t really tough that year.
The Nasty Boys v. Harlem Heat
For some reason the Heat aren’t found of the southern states. Not sure why. Might be worth investigating. They slug it out to start and chase the Heat to the floor as I’m blanking on who the tag team champions were at this point if not these two. Patriot and Bagwell? Parker’s geeks? Anyway Stevie Ray gets double-teamed and chased to the floor and they fight into the aisle, before Knobbs goes after Sherri and gets clobbered from behind. The Heat takes over as the announcers clarify that in fact it is Stars & Stripes who are the tag team champions, although given it’s Bagwell they can’t have been champions for long. Nasties double-team Booker as I’m not clear on who the babyfaces are supposed to be here and it’s not really going anywhere anyway. Sags goes after Stevie Ray and Booker sends him to the floor and more stuff happens. Back in, we get a lengthy bearhug from one guy on another guy and I’m gonna be honest with you, this is being written as Twitter is going down in flames in real time on Thursday night and you’re probably reading this on Wednesday morning but my attention is sharply divided at the moment. Twitter might even be dead by the time this goes live on the site, I dunno. Sags comes back with a double DDT on the Heat, but Sherri gets involved somehow and it’s a DQ at 17:50. Was that even like a finish? I’m not even clear on what was happening there. Anyway, this was a match. It happened. **
Meanwhile, Sting accepts the Most Popular Wrestler award for 1994.
Mr. T v. Kevin Sullivan
Well this definitely falls under things I had blocked out of my memory. T is dressed in referee gear for this and hits Kevin with gutshots in the corner, but Sullivan sends him to the floor for what we’ll call a bump. Back in the ring, Kevin beats on him, but Santa Claus hits the ring and reveals himself to be Evad Sullivan, and hits Kevin with a megaphone for the pin at 4:00. This was a stark reminder that 1985 was a LONG time ago and T managed to blow himself up doing punches in the first minute. -** This was right up there with some of the worst celebrity matches of all time, although it was forgettable more than terrible.
Meanwhile, Hulk Hogan is shocked that someone named “The Butcher” would turn on him.
Sting v. Avalanche
Wait, Mt. Everest is in Washington? I’m assuming they meant “Mt. Everett” there? This was a reasonably high profile match, although Tenta was already kind of playing third banana in the heel group so that didn’t bode well for his future prospects in the Hogan regime. Also, much like the Boss the year before, I have to wonder whose bright idea it was to name him after a natural disaster and dress him in basically the same gear that he wore in the WWF. How many lawsuits do these brain surgeons have to go through before they figure it out? They do a test of strength and Sting fights out of that, but Avalanche works him over in the corner, looking super unmotivated. Sting tries for a slam and that fails, so Avalanche drops an elbow for two. Sting slowly chases him to the floor and Avalanche hangs out there and stalls for a while, and then back in for a headlock as we’re 10:00 into this thing with fuck all happening. Kevin Sullivan yells at Avalanche to “finish him!” from the floor. After a headlock? Slam gets two. Avalanche just kind of throws Sting down a few times, not really doing anything, and goes to a bearhug, but Sting escapes somehow and goes to a sleeper. Avalanche falls on top of him to escape and that gets two. Jesus, Tenta was just in the WWF doing passable matches SIX MONTHS before this, it’s not like he retired for a decade or anything. He’s moving like he’s 60 years old out there. Finally Sting makes a comeback with dropkicks and Avalanche just stands there and takes it, resulting in the ref getting bumped in the corner on the Stinger splash. So Kevin Sullivan runs in and they double-him Sting until Hogan makes the save and it’s a DQ at 15:15. One of the worst Sting matches ever, pre-Crow. *
Meanwhile, Jimmy Hart accepts the PWI award for Best Manager. That was a dying award category even by 1994. Also Jimmy would like to stress that he’ll never turn on Hogan like Butcher did. For reals.
WCW World title: Hulk Hogan v. The Butcher
I love how the pre-match promo doesn’t even pretend to make any kind of sense of the Butcher storyline. “Well there was one guy who attacked Hogan while Beefcake was standing there so I guess there were two guys who were the masked man but one of them was the Butcher and we won’t bother mentioning who the other one was.” Later on I believe we learned that Butcher didn’t actually turn on him but was in fact infiltrating the enemy team. Tony clarifies that it’s more than a fight, it’s a battle of two men “who loved each other”. Well I mean sometimes it gets cold in Venice Beach, brother, totally fine. I don’t wanna body shame anyone but Butcher looks like Mongo’s older, less toned, brother here and maybe if he had committed to looking like he did as the Disciple here it might not have been so lame to watch him challenging for the title on the supposed biggest show of the year. YES I KNOW WHAT ERIC BISCHOFF SAYS ABOUT STARRCADE. Anyway they fight on the floor and Hulk hits him with a chair and chokes him out while Bobby talks about all the screws in Butcher’s face. I’m pretty sure those facial screws were the intellectual property of the WWF and he had to replace them with drywall anchors when he left the company. Also any references to a parasailing accident had to be digitally altered to a home renovation project gone bad as a part of the WWE Network’s move to Peacock. Back in the ring, Butcher comes back with the dreaded back rake in the ring and slams Hulk for two. Hulk pops up and slugs Butcher down before using his own back rake, so touché. Tony notes that Hulk is so frustrated that he might take a swing at the ref, which would be “uncharacteristic”. Has he MET Hulk Hogan? Hulk slugs away in the corner, but Butcher catches him with his head down, surprisingly not blinded by the house lights reflecting off the bald spot, and goes to the dreaded nerve pinch. Tony suggests that Butcher should be nominated for the Backstabber of the Year award by PWI, but I think they discontinued that one in 1983. Hulk fights out of the nerve pinch, but Butcher gets the sleeper, and then releases it and covers for two. Hulk up and legdrop finishes at 12:02 while The Other Two Faces of Fear run in and do a beatdown. It could have been worse, I guess? * But then Randy Savage comes out and we learn that in fact he’s here to SHAKE HIS HAND and they clear the ring together. Well at least we know that Hulk can trust Randy Savage! Not like that no good Beefcake. Oh and then Tony says that “The Megapowers are back again!” and Jerry McDevitt is like “OH NO YOU DIDN’T!” and probably had a C&D faxed to Bischoff before the show went off the air. You know what they should have done? Played up the managerial connection of Jimmy Hart and called themselves THE MEGAPHONE POWERS. They can have that one for free.
Afterwards, Hulk and Savage head back into the dressing room to celebrate vanquishing the third-string midcarder in the main event (after pausing so they can hit the time cue) but then Vader dares to interrupt Hulk’s victory and declares himself the #1 contender. Taking Hulk’s TV time hurts him worse than any powerbomb ever could, brother.
So yeah, this was easily one of the worst PPVs of all time. We all agree with that, right? Good talk.