Have you ever watched a wrestling show and thought to yourself “That makes no sense to me,” “The wrong guy went over,” or “Man, I can book better than that”? It’s okay, you can admit it. You’re in a safe place. Then again, you’re on the internet so maybe you’re not.
We all want to believe that wrestling promotions want to make money and please their paying customers. But sometimes companies put together clunkers that probably seemed perfectly reasonable (to them anyway) at the time but did not achieve those desired results. We as fans have the luxury of time and context to assess and evaluate shows in order to come up with ways to improve them – hindsight being 20/20 and all.
So if you haven’t guessed it by now, this is a fantasy booking article. In this series, I will choose a show and tweak it in order to make the results more interesting or, at the very least, more logical. All things will be equal – no backstage politics, legal maneuverings, creative control, or blown finishes. That being said, I can think of no better show to start with than one of the most potential-laden shows in wrestling history, WCW Starrcade 1997.
Like what you read? Think you can do better? Want to suggest a show for me to revise? Feel free to comment below.
WCW Starrcade 1997
MCI Center, Washington DC
Announce Team: Tony Schiavone, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, Mike Tenay
Opening video package builds up the main event of Sting/Hollywood Hogan. Hogan is portrayed as the conqueror of the WCW empire, ruling without mercy and conniving to remain in power. Sting is built up as the betrayed soldier turned conquering hero, ready to bring justice, take the throne and expel the enemy from his homeland.
Various camera shots show WCW wrestlers in attendance as fans, even though they aren’t booked for the show.
Opening Match: WCW Cruiserweight Title – Dean Malenko v. Eddie Guerrero (c)
Winner gets Ultimo Dragon on Nitro. Opening chain wrestling ends in a stalemate. Test of strength leads to an armdrag/headscissors sequence. Lockup countered into a waistlock by Malenko, countered into a spinning rana attempt by Guerrero, countered into a powerbomb by Malenko. Dean holds onto the powerbomb and picks Eddie up but Eddie flips out and drop toeholds Dean. Front facelock by Eddie countered into a hammerlock by Malenko into a modified Camel Clutch before double stomping the small of Eddie’s back. Guerrero ducks a Malenko clothesline, Malenko sidesteps an Eddie dropkick and grabs a headlock. Eddie sends Malenko in but Malenko hits a leg lariat. Guerrero begs off, extending a handshake to Dean. Dean takes Eddie’s hand, pulling him up into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Dean sends Eddie in, hitting a snap powerslam and a seated dropkick for two. Eddie rolls to the floor to get his bearings. Guerrero grabs the title belt and teases walking out. Malenko misses a baseball slide and Guerrero gets a kick to the midsection. Brainbuster attempt is countered with knees and a snap suplex by Dean. Malenko rolls back in to break the count before rolling back out, only to get caught with a European uppercut and a whip to the guard rail. Eddie’s turn to break the count, rolling back in before hitting Malenko with a pescado. Guerrero drags Malenko over to the steps. Tornado DDT attempt off the ring steps by Guerrero but Dean throws him off. Eddie lands on his feet and hits a back body drop on the charging Malenko. Guerrero rolls Dean back in and hits the slingshot hilo for two. Guerrero locks knuckles with Dean before hitting a pair of European uppercuts and the springboard rana for two. Brainbuster connects and Eddie goes up for the Frog Splash. Dean moves so Guerrero rolls through. Whip to the corner and Dean dumps Eddie over the top but he lands on the ring apron. Guerrero drives Malenko’s face into the top turnbuckle and hits a springboard tornado DDT for two. Gory Special by Eddie turned into a helicopter slam. Guerrero lays the boots to Dean and rakes his laces across Malenko’s face. Bow and arrow by Guerrero but Malenko breaks free into a lateral press for one. Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker attempt reversed to a headscissors by Malenko, followed by a running boot to the head. Eddie gets up groggy and falls through the ropes but his knee gets caught in the middle rope. Malenko dropkicks the knee and Eddie splats on the mat below. Dean rolls Eddie back in and goes to work on the leg – draping it on the second rope and cannonballing down. Dean puts on a kneebar but Guerrero makes the ropes. Dean pulls him off and puts on a half crab but Eddie makes the ropes again. Kneebreaker and a dragon screw leg whip look to set up the Texas Cloverleaf but Guerrero counters into a small package for two. Right hand countered into a backslide by Malenko for two into a reversal sequence that ends with northern lights suplex by Malenko for two. Surfboard attempt by Malenko but his shoulders are down for two. Malenko releases Guerrero’s arms and Eddie hits the mat face-first. Double underhook powerbomb countered into a rana by Eddie. Double clothesline into the double KO. Eddie makes it to the corner and dodges a blind charge from Malenko. Eddie sets Malenko up on the second rope for a super rana but Malenko counters to the super gutbuster. Both wrestlers struggle back to their feet, tired and frustrated. Ensuing slugfest leads to Malenko brainbuster attempt into a go-behind by Guerrero into a pinfall reversal sequence. Eddie grabs a handful of tights and puts his feet on the ropes to secure the pin. Winner by pinfall and still Cruiserweight Champion – Eddie Guerrero
Mean Gene plugs the WCW Hotline and the rumors of new stars from up North coming to where the big boys play. Gene brings in Ray Traylor and The Steiner Brothers to discuss their six man tag match tonight. Scott does most of the talking and flexes his bicep before walking off camera. Rick and Traylor shake their heads in disbelief and walk away.
WCW World Television Title – Buff Bagwell v. Disco Inferno (c)
Bagwell asks for a mic and dedicates tonight’s title victory to Lex Luger, promising him a title shot in a couple months when his record is as good as Buff’s. Strut-off to start and the crowd seems firmly behind Disco, causing Buff to cover his ears and shake his head. Lockup into a full arm drag and twist by Bagwell into a headlock. Disco backs Buff into the ropes and shoots him off, only to be met with a Buff shoulderblock. Buff skips away and plays to the camera as Disco gets back to his feet. Disco grabs a headlock and Buff sends him in, setting up a leapfrog sequence. Kick to the gut and a swinging neckbreaker by Disco send Bagwell to the floor. Disco taunts Buff by dancing and Buff angrily jumps back on the apron but drops back down to the floor when Disco advances. The referee backs Disco up and Buff comes back in. They circle each other and lock up but Buff rakes the eyes to gain the advantage. Right hands and a Flip, Flop and Fly by Buff stagger Disco to the corner. Cross-corner whip and Bagwell follows in with a clothesline. Bagwell sends him back the other way but stops to mock Luger’s poses. Blind charge by Bagwell but this time Disco gets his boot up and crotches Bagwell on the top rope, shaking the rope for added effect. Bagwell stumbles off the rope into a clothesline from Disco, sending Buff to the floor again. Disco gets too close to the ropes and Buff snaps Disco’s neck across the top rope. Buff slides back in and puts the boots to Disco who makes his way into the corner. Snapmare out of the corner and kneedrop gets one. Scoop slam by Buff. Buff drops two quick elbows but Disco moves when he tries a jumping elbow. Kick to the gut by Disco and he goes for a piledriver, but Bagwell backdrops out. Bagwell walks into a facebuster and a running clothesline for two. Piledriver by Disco and he goes to the second rope. Axehandle by Disco gets two. Disco tries it again but takes too long and Buff moves out of the way. Delayed vertical suplex by Bagwell and he puts on a chinlock. Disco makes his way up and shoots Bagwell off. Inverted atomic drop by Disco and he goes for the Chartbuster but Buff pushes him off and nails a running forearm for two. A pair of running clotheslines drops Disco and Bagwell goes up. Disco crotches Bagwell again and tries to follow up with a superplex. Bagwell hooks the ropes, sending Disco crashing down hard to the mat. Buff Blockbuster gets three and the title. Winner by pinfall and NEW World Television Champion – Buff Bagwell
Ray Traylor, and The Steiner Brothers v. Scott Norton, Vincent, and “The Macho Man” Randy Savage (w/ Miss Elizabeth)
Vincent and Ray Traylor start. Traylor and Vincent circle each other and Scott gets a blind tag. Vincent tries to stall and run but Scott stalks him. Every time he advances, Vincent stops and backs off when Scott flexes. Vincent finally takes a swing at Scott, but Scott blocks and fires back with a pair of right hands that stagger Vincent to the ropes. Scott shoots him in and shoulderblocks him down before doing a bicep kiss elbow for one. Scott lays the trash talk on while he casually picks Vincent up and t-bone suplexes him. Scott does pushups to taunt Vincent as he struggles to his feet. However, Vincent goes to the wrong corner for a tag and gets tagged with right hands by Rick and Traylor before turning into a belly-to-belly suplex. Traylor calls for a tag but Scott blows him off. Scott shoots Vincent into the ropes. Kick to the gut and a butterfly powerbomb get two as Savage and Norton enter the ring. Rick and Traylor come in to cut them off as Vincent rolls out of the ring. Rick pairs off with Savage as Norton and Traylor brawl into the corner. Scott hits Rick from behind with a low blow and sends Savage to the top to deliver the big elbow. Norton powerbombs Traylor and the newest member of the nWo locks the unconscious Rick in the Steiner Recliner. Savage drops the elbow on Traylor. Norton rips Traylor’s shirt off as Vincent makes his way back into the ring with a can of spray paint. Scott brands Traylor with nWo and they pose before leaving the ring.
The broadcast team shocked by Scott Steiner’s betrayal, highlighting how long they’ve known him and how close he and Rick were. Only Heenan says he could see this coming. Tony wonders how this newest addition to the nWo will impact both tonight and the long-term landscape of WCW.
Steve “Mongo” McMichael (w/ Debra) v. Goldberg
Mongo and Goldberg get in each other’s faces and talk trash, leading to a slugfest, which ends in a judo takedown from Goldberg. Mongo gets up and comes off the ropes with a shoulderblock that doesn’t budge Goldberg. Goldberg dares Mongo to do it again, which Mongo does, yielding the same result. Mongo does it a third time only to eat a superkick. Mongo gets back up and demands a three point stance battle. Goldberg obliges and it ends in a stalemate. Mongo demands another which ends in a Spear. Jackhammer gets three. Winner by pinfall – Goldberg
Scott Hall comes out for a survey. The crowd is firmly behind WCW. Hall lets the crowd down gently, telling them that Kevin Nash will not be here to face The Giant tonight. But it’s good news for The Giant, who just escaped the beating of his life. The Giant makes his way down to the ring and chokeslams Hall.
Raven’s Rules: Chris Benoit v. Raven (w/ Lodi)
Lodi’s sign: “Benoit: All balls, no brains.” Bell rings and Raven sits down in the corner. No match, as The Flock runs through the crowd and blitzes Benoit. He fights off most of them at first, but eventually the numbers overwhelm Benoit. As Raven sets up the chair for the drop toe hold, Bret “The Hitman” Hart, The British Bulldog, and Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, make their way to ringside, lead pipes in hand, to clear the ring and save Benoit. Hart grabs a mic and demands that Raven man up, pick partners, and face The Hart Alliance in an eight man tag match right now. Raven retorts that since Hart’s new in WCW, he hasn’t heard how things work. Raven dictates the rules and that he wrestles who, where, when, and how he wants. If The Hart Alliance wants to fight, they’ll get a fight, but with Riggs, Saturn, Hammer, and Sick Boy.
Raven’s Rules: The Hart Alliance v. Riggs, Saturn, Hammer, and Sick Boy (w/ Kidman and Lodi)
The Flock charges the ring and the brawl is on as casually Raven walks to the back. They pair off (Benoit/Saturn, Neidhart/Hammer, Bulldog/Riggs, and Hart/Sick Boy) with Benoit and Saturn showcased in the ring. Neidhart levels Hammer with a pipe shot to the gut. Bulldog suplexes Riggs on the floor while Hart locks Sick Boy in the ringpost figure four. Lodi tries to attack Bret, but Bulldog cuts him off with a clothesline. In the ring, Benoit backs Saturn into the corner and lays into him with chops and stomps. Kidman sneaks in and charges Benoit, but hits Saturn instead when Benoit moves. German suplex to Kidman but Saturn sneaks up from behind with a superkick. Springboard legdrop gets two for Saturn as the other members of the Hart Alliance surround Saturn. Running shoulderblock by Neidhart into the running powerslam by Bulldog. Diving headbutt by Benoit. Hart puts Saturn in the Sharpshooter but he’s already out cold. Ref calls for the bell. Winners by ref stoppage – The Hart Alliance
Battle for Nitro – “The Living Legend” Larry Zbyszko (w/ “The Enforcer” Arn Anderson) v. Eric Bischoff (w/ Vincent)
Larry demands that referee Mark Curtis search Bischoff’s boots and gloves for foreign objects. Curtis finds brass knuckles in each glove, steel bars in Bischoff’s boots, and a steel plate inside Bischoff’s gi. Bischoff cries conspiracy – that Curtis planted the objects. He demands that (corrupt) referee Nick Patrick be made the official or he will walk out. J.J. Dillon comes out with the contract stipulating that if Bischoff walks out, he will forfeit the match and WCW keeps Monday Nitro. Bischoff turns around walks into a spin kick to the midsection from Zbyszko. Vincent tries to hop on the apron to interfere, but Anderson pulls him down and nails Vincent with a left hand. Larry applies the abdominal stretch for the submission. Winner by submission – Larry Zbyszko
Post-match, the nWo runs in but Zbyszko and Anderson escape through the crowd. Bischoff demands a restart since he wasn’t ready. As the nWo walks to the back, Bischoff keeps repeating that J.J.’s going to pay as he clutches his ribs.
Backstage, Hollywood Hogan is watching on a monitor with Ted Dibiase. Dibiase is visibly concerned by the outcome of the Bischoff match, but Hogan talks him back up, saying how proud he is of Buff for winning the TV title and the addition of Scott Steiner. Nick Patrick was named the referee for the main event so it’s in the bag. The private jet to Huntington Beach has been booked, gassed up, and ready to go. Hogan proclaims that all the titles and the power are staying with the nWo.
Video package highlights Curt Hennig’s entrance into WCW as DDP’s tag team partner and the path both men have taken to get to the US title match this evening.
WCW United States Heavyweight Title – Diamond Dallas Page v. Curt Hennig (c)
Page’s ribs are heavily taped. They circle each other and lock up to start, jockeying for position. DDP sends Hennig into the ropes and goes for a quick Diamond Cutter, but Hennig slithers out into the corner. They lock up again. Page backs Hennig into the corner but doesn’t release the lockup. Hennig spins out of the corner to reverse but they continue to roll to the next corner. They jockey through the ropes and spill onto the floor, finally breaking the tieup. They get up and slug it out, which Page wins, sending Hennig scurrying. Page charges but Hennig uses the momentum to send Page rib-first into the guard rail. Hennig rams Page back-first into the ringpost before tossing DDP back in. Page kicks the middle rope to crotch Hennig on his way into the ring. Page sends Hennig into the ropes, leading to a pair of hiptoss counters before DDP counters to a clothesline for one. DDP sends Hennig into the ropes but gets caught in an abdominal stretch. DDP quickly hiptosses out. DDP muscles Hennig up for the pancake (Styles Clash), but his back gives way. Running kneelift and scoop slam by Hennig puts DDP down for one. Backbreaker gets two. Hennig drapes DDP on the middle rope and cannonballs down on his back before stomping away. DDP struggles to sit up and Hennig hits the neck snap for two. Hennig gets frustrated and rips off the tape on Page’s ribs and hits a running punt to the ribs. Hennig drops a knee and puts on a body scissors. Page gets into a chop fight with Hennig on the ground as he struggles to make the ropes. Hennig tries the running punt again but Page sweeps the leg, sending Hennig down. Back to their feet, DDP fires back with rights and lefts and a discus clothesline puts Hennig down. Hennig pops right back up and charges with a running knee to the solar plexus but Page counters with a rollup for two. Hennig gets a short knee and picks DDP up for the Hennigplex but DDP counters into a DDT. Hennig makes it to his feet first as DDP crawls to the ropes. Running cannonball misses followed by an inverted atomic drop by DDP. DDP hits the pancake but can’t cover, leading to the double KO. Hennig pulls a chain out of his singlet and loads up his right hand. Both wrestlers back up to their feet and DDP ducks a wild right from Hennig, countering with a Russian legsweep for two. Hennig charges into a Stun Gun and a double leg takedown. Catapult into the corner and Hennig hits the post. Hennig stumbles out of the corner into the Diamond Cutter for three and the title. Winner by pinfall and NEW United States Heavyweight Champion – Diamond Dallas Page
Backstage, Hollywood Hogan is still watching with Dibiase and Bischoff, still holding his ribs. Dibiase is even more concerned than before, but Hogan and Bischoff berate him for being negative. Bischoff kicks Dibiase out of the locker room and talks Hogan up for the main event.
Scott Hall comes out again – this time in his ring gear. He calls out The Giant, saying nobody embarrasses Scott Hall. He’ll start the beating and leave just enough for Big Kev to finish the big goof off. The Giant happily obliges Hall.
Scott Hall v. The Giant
Toothpick from Hall is countered by Giant spitting in his face. Hall slugs away to start with no effect. The Giant shrugs him off but Hall keeps coming. Hall alternates high and low shots, eventually doubling Giant over, but can’t budge him on a whip attempt. Hall switches to a headlock but Giant hits a backdrop suplex. Giant sends Hall into the ropes and Hall tries a crossbody, but Giant casually catches him, puts him down, and chops Hall’s chest. Hall staggers to the corner. Giant charges in but Hall pulls the ref in the way of the oncoming Giant. Kevin Nash comes down to ringside with a baseball bat. Hall holds Giant up for Nash but Giant wiggles free as Nash nails Hall in the ribs. Big boot to Nash. Chokeslam to Hall. Ref revives to ring the bell. Winner by disqualification – The Giant
Post-match, Nash attacks with the bat. Hall finally joins in as The Outsiders double team The Giant. Lex Luger charges down the aisle, his own baseball bat in hand. Hall takes a shot on the other side of his ribs and The Outsiders bail and backtrack. Luger challenges The Outsiders to a tag match – anytime, anyplace.
Mean Gene interviews The Hart Alliance backstage. Bret guarantees that The Hart Alliance will quickly establish themselves in WCW as champions, the standard for tradition, and the true symbol of excellence, making Benoit do a double take. Saturn comes in and claims to have no beef with The Hart Alliance. He’s sick and tired of taking Raven’s medicine for him and it’s about time Raven acts like a man.
The broadcast team discusses The Outsider’s blatant bait and switch, as well as Benoit’s reaction to Hart’s statement before setting the stage for the main event.
WCW World Heavyweight Title – Sting v. “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan
Nick Patrick is the referee for the main event. Hollywood makes his way to the ring first, playing the title belt like a guitar. Michael Buffer introduces Sting as his music plays. Sting does not come out. They repeat the introduction, but still nothing. Hogan grabs the microphone and verbally berates Sting and WCW, claiming that their hero is nothing but a coward when the moment of truth arrives. Hollywood declares himself the winner by forfeit and that he will hold the title for as long as he wants. As he makes his way to leave the ring, the lights go out in the arena. Sting’s music and new entrance video play, complete with a personal message for Hogan: “Hogan, this is the beginning of your end.” The video cuts to a live shot of every nWo member laid out in the back. A close up shot of Hogan shows his lips quivering in fear. When the house lights come back on, Sting is standing opposite Hogan in the ring and the WCW wrestlers in attendance have surrounded the ring, blocking Hogan’s exit. The bell rings and Hogan tries begging off as Sting advances. Hogan puts up the clique sign and offers Sting his nWo t-shirt but Sting kicks him in the gut. Irish whip to the corner, followed by a Stinger Splash. Sting repeats the process to the opposite corner followed by a press slam and running splash. Hogan crawls to the ropes to escape but pulls back when he realizes that his path is blocked. Hogan gets up only to eat a standing dropkick. Sting stalks Hogan into the corner but Hogan throws his bandana into Sting’s face and crawls through his legs to try and get away. Sting recovers quickly and grabs Hogan by the hair, pulling him into the Scorpion Death Drop. Sting covers and stares a hole through Nick Patrick to make sure he makes the three count. Winner by pinfall and NEW WCW World Heavyweight Champion – Sting
The WCW wrestlers flood the ring to congratulate Sting but he simply takes the belt and walks away. Once he gets to the top of the entrance way, he raises the title belt in victory, his back still to WCW.
Fade to Black.
Tags: Revisionist History, Starrcade 1997