The SmarK Retro Repost – Starrcade 98


The SmarK Retro Rant for WCW Starrcade ’98.

– Well, this is another one of my famous re-rants, as the original review (which I don’t believe was ever posted to Wrestleline) is somewhat unfairly maligned due to the use of the Hot Poker Up The Ass rating system instead of star ratings. But I’m nothing if not accomodating, so here’s a completely redone version with a little more perspective on the show and more jokes about Kronik.

– For those of you who have blocked this portion of wrestling history out of your minds, Goldberg was 170-something-and-0 at this point (although even WCW couldn’t keep track properly anymore) and both he and Kevin Nash were babyfaces. Nash was just made head booker by way of divine right and was already working that magic that he did so well, squashing Wrath on Nitro to eliminate any possible competition for himself down the line. Because that might have drawn money, which would be counterproductive to what he was apparently trying to accomplish. The tag team titles were pretty much dead and buried, having last been around the waists of the Freebird-like triumverate of Rick Steiner, Kenny Kaos and Judy Bagwell. Eric Bischoff attempted to kill them once and for all, but WCW titles, much like VD, come back when you least want them and end up on the person that least deserves them. Bret Hart was a heel and was seriously injured, so of course they put the US title on him and sat him out for the next month before jobbing the title to Roddy Piper. Chris Jericho and the Giant were getting ready to become Y2J and the Big Show, and the nWo was staler than three-week old biscuits under the leadership of Scott Steiner. And of course, Hulk Hogan was “retired” and running for office and thus Ric Flair thought he was safe from being buried for a few weeks at least. Silly Ric.

– Live from Washington, DC.

– Your hosts are Tony, Mike and Bobby.

– Opening match, Cruiserweight title: Billy Kidman v. Juventud Guerrera v. Rey Mysterio, Jr. The thing that really frosts my preservatives nowadays is that the WWF could have this sort of **** opening match every damn SHOW if they really felt like it, and they could probably shut up a good portion of the workrate-intensive audience in the process. Instead we get X-Pac holding both titles and doing comedy matches with Big Show. This was during the end of the LWO angle, as Juvy was gleefully playing Stevie Richards to Eddy Guerrero’s Raven, and Rey Mysterio had been forced into joining the team due to a stipulation match that he lost. Rey & Kidman attack Juvy and double-team him. Kidman dropkicks him in the corner, into a broncobuster from Rey, but Rey & Kidman decide to slug it out. It turns into a three-way battle and Juvy goes up, but Kidman moves Rey out of the way and then powerbombs him for two. Juvy fights off both with a double-bulldog and covers both of them for two. He unloads with chops on both, and Rey gets whipped into Kidman, but comes back and allows Kidman to dropkick Juvy, and they then cover each other for two. That sequence was actually WAY more intricate than I can properly do justice to. Juvy dumps Kidman, then tosses Rey onto him, and follows with a springboard clothesline. Back in, he gets caught coming off the top, by a double-dropkick. Rey & Kidman go, and Juvy ranas Rey off of Kidman’s shoulders to prevent an electric chair drop. That’s insane. Kidman bulldog on Juvy gets two. Sideslam and Kidman goes up, but hits knee. Rey moonsaults him for two. Rey puts Juvy on the apron and ranas him to the floor, but Kidman suplexes him back in and a legdrop gets two. He powerbombs him for two. Everyone’s out. Rey bulldogs Kidman for two. Juvy backbreaker on Rey gets two. Juvy gets dumped, as does Kidman, and Rey splats both of them with a quebrada. Back in, Rey ranas Juvy, but gets hits with the Drunk Driver for two. Kidman goes up, but Rey jumps up and gets a rana for two. Kidman powerbombs Juvy for two. Rey and Juvy tumble out, and Kidman hits a shooting star press onto them, popping the crowd huge. Eddy Guerrero wanders out, popping the crowd in the opposite direction, as Juvy tries a sunset flip on Kidman, which Kidman reverses, which Eddy reverses by pushing them over, which Kidman reverses again for the pin at 14:56. Some slow spots, but that’s about it. ****1/2

– But wait! Eddy is pissed at Rey & Juvy for not being able to get the job done, so he berates them until poor Juvy is ready to cry, and then decides to take matters into his own hands by challenging Kidman to a match right there.

– Cruiserweight title: Billy Kidman v. Eddy Guerrero. Eddy immediately tries to wuss out by saying that he meant AFTER he got his ring-gear on, but it’s on. Eddy attacks to start, and gets a clothesline. Powerbomb gets two, thus violating the First Rule of Kidman. Small package gets two. Chops lead to Eddy dropping Kidman on his face as Juvy cheerleads like one of the gays in Oz. Abdominal stretch is helped by Juvy, as Rey stirs the shit by then knocking Juvy on his ass for helping. Kidman gets a flying headscissor, but Eddy drops him. Kidman dropkicks him and stomps away, but gets clipped. Eddy hooks a weird deathlock variation that even Tenay is stymied by. They head out and brawl, and Eddy CHEATS TO WIN~! Back in, Kidman bulldog and sleeper, but Eddy counters with a jawbreaker. He smacks him around some more, but Kdiman clotheslines him in the corner. Eddy retaliates by pulling his boot off and clocking him with it, then makes my day by asking the ref for time so he can put his boot back on! Brainbuster and Eddy goes up, but wastes too much time and Kidman superplexes him for two. Eddy hits the knee again and goes into the indian deathlock, but Rey breaks it up, triggering another fight with Juvy. Eddy gets a rana and powerbomb attempt, but YOU CAN’T POWERBOMB KIDMAN. Slam and legdrop get two. Rana is blocked and Eddy tries a superplex, but gets shoved off. Juvy crotches Kidman, but Rey comes in and crotches Eddy, and apparently Kidman’s nuts are stronger than Eddy’s because he finishes with the Shooting Star Press at 10:47. Crowd wasn’t into it, but then the crowd also popped for Kevin Nash matches so f*ck ‘em. ****

– For those keeping track, the card blows from here on, so stop the tape now and go read a book or something. I recommend something from the Project Gutenberg website where you can read public domain books by all the greats from before the 20th century, like Arthur Conan Doyle, Alexandre Dumas, and Undertaker.

– Norman Smiley v. Prince Iaukea. Why, yes, they DID put this on the biggest PPV of the year, and this isn’t even the stupidest match-making choice for the show. Iaukea rollup gets one, but Norman slaps away. Iaukea dumps him as the crowd is already chanting “boring”. Most promotions would take a hint from this, but not WCW, no sirree. Back in, Iaukea gets two. They slug it out and Norman takes him down with a hammerlock and works the arm. Smiley dumps him on the top and teases a dance, but declines and slams Iaukea for two instead. Prince sunset flip gets two as the Washington crowd, Republican and Democrat, black and white, nWo and WCW fans alike, put aside their differences to chant “boring” in unison. John Lennon would be so proud. Norman gets a double-stomp and hooks a submission/rollup combo for two. Iaukea tries a suplex, but has it reversed and Norman gets a butterfly suplex for two. Back to a short-arm scissors, but the Prince fights back to continue the pain. Mine, not his. Norman dance, but gets suplexed for two. Into a bodyscissors and neck/arm submission that turns into a pinning situation for two. Prince comes back, and Smiley bails. Back in, they slug it out as Prince misses a blind charge, but gets a bodypress. Smiley rolls through for two. Backslide is reversed by Smiley to the Norman Conquest for the submission at 11:32. If it were 6 minutes shorter and on Nitro, I’d say “Bravo for trying something new”, but for $30 and 12 minutes, fuhgeddaboudit. ½*

– Scott Hall comes out to waste some airtime by telling us his life story for 1998. This might have been an effective way to build sympathetic babyface heat for him if they hadn’t then turned him HEEL two weeks later. So also: Bagwell, Buff.

– The Cat v. Perry Saturn. This was right after Cat’s initial heel turn, and darned if I don’t kinda miss hearing the James Brown ripoff music when it’s not there. And not that I necessarily disagree with the WWF not picking up the contract of Ernest Miller, but the reason behind it (Miller being a close friend of Uncle Eric) is kinda silly and petty. Given the WWF’s tendancies towards moving away from wrestling matches, you’d think Miller would be perfect, since he’s never involved in an actual wrestling match in his whole career. Seriously though, he was over as a babyface, he can dance, and his valet is hot, so why not pick the poor guy up and see if he can make them a few bucks? Anyway, at this point, he was not over as a babyface or heel, he didn’t dance, and his valet was Sonny Onoo. Saturn attacks and Cat bails right away. Stalling results. Funny moment as Cat tries a dramatic Billy Gunn slide back into the ring, but stops a foot short of Saturn and gets pounded on. Cat runs again. Back in, a cheapshot turns the tide and Cat stomps away for two. Saturn works the mat and gets some near-falls, but it’s like trying to ski uphill in the middle of summer. Cat bails and stalls at the first sign of wrestling, and he gets a superkick back in. He then stalls again. They slug it out, Saturn wins. Backdrop suplex and T-Bone suplex get two. Neckbreaker and Saturn goes up, but gets superkicked again. Another superkick (nice to see Ernest’s awesome repretoire in full use) and he calls Onoo in to help finish things off, but of course that backfires, Death Valley Driver, goodbye at 7:07. This feud basically killed all of Saturn’s heat after the Raven feud in the fall of ’98. ¼*

– Ric Flair comes out to electrify the crowd and summarize everything he’s gonna do to Bischoff later tonight. I say just sign Flair and put him out there on PPV in a 20-minute interview segment with the Rock. Put a topic out of a hat beforehand and let them improvise an entire feud. Mick Foley can be the moderator.

– Eric Bischoff video package follows, as he remind us all that, yes, Eric Bischoff is indeed wrestling in the semi-main.

– Meanwhile, Scott Steiner and Buff Bagwell earn their keep by doing a 30-second segment where they talk some trash to Konnan.

– Brian Adams & Scott Norton v. Jerry Flynn & Fit Finlay. Why, yes, this IS Starrcade, why do you ask? Adams is looking quite fat and his hair is looking quite listless here. Adams & Norton were the last vestiges of nWo Hollywood before it became nWo elite or nWo purple or whatever the hell they tried next. Adams pounds on Finlay to start. No, seriously, this match really WAS booked for a Starrcade with no backstory or previous explanation, honest. Fit buttdrops him, but posts himself. Norton comes in and powerslams Fit, but Flynn gets a leg lariat, and then he manages to hold off Adams. Virgil cheapshots him, and Adams gets two. Fit comes and pounds away on Adams for two. Don’t worry, THE HAIR IS OKAY. Fit hits the chinlock. Adams comes back with a piledriver and Norton DDTs Finlay and wrenches the neck. Neckbreaker gets two. Avalanche and Finlay bails, but Adams tosses him back in. Norton keeps pounding away and gets a shoulderbreaker for two. Heels double-team Fit, but he comes back with a DDT on Adams for two. Adams no-sells (yes, I’m as shocked as you) and press-slams him to work the back. Fit makes the hot tag to Flynn, and I can’t call it “bonzo gonzo” in good conscience. Norton powerbombs Flynn for the pin at 8:52. Adams & Norton are possibly the only combination WORSE than Kronik, if that’s possible. On the bright side, Bryan Clarke can always get a job with a market research company if he needs money – there’s generally no selling required. DUD

– World TV title match: Konnan v. Chris Jericho. Jericho’s pre-match promo about how he’s not hip enough to understand Konnan’s spiel and how Konnan’s pants are about to fall down is roughly 100x funnier than anything he’s said in a WWF promo for months now. That’s one thing that the WWF doesn’t let the guys do anymore – cut a promo before the match. WCW used to give them basically however much time they wanted to do that. Jericho gets a shoulder tackle, but Konnan dropkicks him. Jericho dropkicks back and goes up, but misses and gets dumped. Konnan follows, but hits the railing. The stairs get set up in the middle of the floor to establish them there for later, like in a movie. They brawl and Konnan gets posted. Back in, suplex and arrogant cover get two for Jericho. That’s another thing he never gets to do as a dopey babyface – the arrogant cover. Jericho hits the chinlock. Kneelift and stomping follows. Jericho chokes him down and goes up, but he hits boot. Rolling lariat and rollup get two for Konnan. Jericho comes back and hits the Lionsault for two, and Konnan bails. Jericho springboards out, but hits those stairs. Back in, Konnan gets two. Liontamer is blocked, but Jericho catapults him into the corner. He grabs the belt and nails Konnan for two. Konnan comes back with the carpet muncher, and finishes with the SHITTY HALF-CRAB OF DOOM for the win at 7:28. Another yawner in a series of them tonight as neither guy looked motivated, albeit for totally different reasons. *

– Ric Flair v. Eric Bischoff. Bischoff runs right away. Flair catches him outside and just starts pounding away. Into the ring, Flair works the knee and chokes away. Kneedrop and Flair keeps stomping the shit out of him. The idea here was to duplicate the Austin v. McMahon dynamic, but Bischoff is no McMahon. Flair goes after the knee, but Bischoff hits a devastating BIG KICK TO THE HEAD OF DEATH and Flair bails and blades. Back in, Bischoff unleashes his awesome offensive flurry of kicks, kicks and kicks. Funny thing is that in WCW Revenge, Bischoff was a playable character, but all you could do was kick. AND THAT’S A SHOOT, BRUTHA! Flair decides he’s had enough and goes low, then even more blatantly low again, and finally he’s like “what the hell” and nails Bischoff in the groin a third glorious time. I could watch Eric Bischoff getting hit in the nuts ALL DAY. They should make a sitcom on the WB called “Eric Bischoff Getting Canned In the Family Jewels By Ric Flair” and god knows I’d watch every week, even repeats. The ref gets bumped to end the fun, as Flair goes for the kill with the figure-four, but Curt Hennig runs in and gives Bischoff an international object, with which he knocks Flair out and gets the pin at 7:09. Finish was a joke, but Eric Bischoff got groinally abused by Flair three times, so it’s not a total write-off. ½* The next night on Nitro, Flair beat Bischoff to win the Presidency and begin a non-sensical heel turn that finally fulfilled Bischoff’s wish of killing Flair’s drawing power.

– DDP v. The Giant. Spitfest to start, and they slug it out. Page dumps him, but gets dragged out. Giant wins a brawl and tosses him into the stairs, then posts Page’s arm to prevent any Diamond Cutters. Back in, Giant works the knee. Page comes back, but gets tossed around. Page crawls back up, but gets bearhugged. Powerslam, but Giant picks up DDP to continue toying with him. Back to the bearhug. Page tries a sunset flip, but gets caught and creamed. He comes back with a floatover DDT out of nowhere, for two. Ref bumped, and the crowd immediately looks to the aisleway, and indeed Bret Hart runs out with a chair. He hits the Giant by mistake, DDP gets two. Page gets two flying clotheslines, but gets caught trying a third one. Giant puts him on top, but a chokeslam is reversed to the Diamond Cutter for the pin at 12:45. Good sympathy heat for Page here, but the psychology was all over the place and the Bret Hart run-in was just stupid. **

– WCW World title: Goldberg v. Kevin Nash. Long lockup to start, and trashtalk results. Nash works a headlock, but gets suplexed. Nash pounds away, and frames the elbow. I wonder if they teach that move on Tough Enough? Goldberg counters the foot to the throat by pushing Nash over. You’d think someone else would have thought of doing that in the previous 5 years or so, but such is life. They trade ridiculously lame submission stuff on the mat, but Goldberg hammers him. Spear, but Nash goes low to stop the Jackhammer. Sideslam gets two. Big elbow gets two. Nice to see Nash keeping the moveset simple so as not to confuse the audience, instead waiting for those Japan tours to really bust out the complex stuff. Nash works the back, but Goldberg doesn’t sell. Clothesline gets two for Nash. Goldberg counters a suplex with a neckbreaker for two. Superkick, but unfortunately Nash doesn’t end up with a concussion and immediate retirement like Bret Hart did. Whatupwitdat? Powerslam gets two, but Disco Inferno runs in to get murdered. Bam Bam Bigelow follows, and he also gets murdered. Scott Hall finishes off the run-ins, zaps Goldberg with a cattle prod (resulting in an overblown selljob, complete with convulsions) and Nash finishes with the Poochiebomb to win the title, end the winning streak, and generally show what a terrific company man he really is. I think they should cancel math in school and study Nash instead. *

The Bottom Line: Making Kevin Nash booker is generally regarded as the turning point on the way down for WCW, as his win led to the Fingerpoke of Doom, multiple nWo identities, Bischoff being replaced by Russo, and from there the eventual death and sale to the WWF. Certainly jobbing out the biggest draw they ever had couldn’t have been a good thing under any circumstances, but by the time they realized that, it was too late.

The show itself starts with two great Cruiserweight matches that meant jackshit in the grand scheme of things, and the rest of the show is worthless nonsense that set the tone for the entire horrible 1999.

Strong recommendation to avoid.