Written By: Matt Peddycord
December 27, 1995
The current WCW champs were as follows:
WCW World Champion: Randy Savage (11/26/1995)
WCW U.S. Champion: Kensuke Sasaki (11/13/1995)
WCW World Tag Team Champions: Harlem Heat (10/28/1995)
WCW World Television Champion: Johnny B. Badd (10/29/1995)
To set this concept show up and it is pretty simple, a stereotypical Japanese guy named Sonny Oono (one of Bischoff’s real-life kickboxing buddies) entered WCW a few months back as an international consultant and told everybody that the athletes from Japan could beat American wrestlers any day of the week. WCW said, “Oh yeah? Then bring it on, son.” Both companies meet here at Starrcade to compete in a best-of-seven series to determine who wins the World Cup of Wrestling. And this is where we are at right now.
However, the promotion leading into the show was absolutely terrible as they let the New Japan guys squash guys on their Saturday morning show because Bobby Heenan had supposedly finagled some sort of business deal where Heenan sold airtime to Sonny Oono. How a “broadcast journalist” like Bobby Heenan is allowed to do this, I have no idea. Even though it SEEMS like a thing Heenan would do, it doesn’t mean that it makes sense. Only one match that I can think of between WCW and New Japan stars occurred on Nitro – the new flag ship show of WCW – and that was Chris Benoit vs. Kensuke Sasaki. Now in fairness to WCW, I’m sure they were thinking that it would be much easier to have the Japanese wrestlers fly out every so often that they do a month or two of tapings at Universal Studios so that the New Japan wrestlers wouldn’t have to keep coming back and forth for the live Nitros, but this didn’t really work for the long-term goal because nobody knew who these guys were that didn’t watch the Saturday morning shows. Not to mention there was little to ZERO build of the New Japan stars on Nitro made by Bischoff or Heenan. And nobody listens to Mongo. And so basically, this PPV gets a crappy buyrate (0.36!) because your average fan only bought it for two matches – the triangle match and then the winner facing Randy Savage.
Your hosts are Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, and Dusty Rhodes. Oh boy. The twosome becomes a threesome for the next two years. I love Dusty, but not this much.
The commentators make the World Cup of Wrestling series into a US vs. Japan thing, which it’s not if I do understand what the word WORLD means in WORLD Championship Wrestling. Let’s not forget that Alex Wright and Chris Benoit are indeed NOT Americans.
Chris Benoit vs. Jushin Liger (w/Sonny Oono)
What better way to start a WCW vs. New Japan war than with two guys who know each other very well and can put on a good match. Benoit’s a Horsemen now, but the Nashvillains cheer him over the Japanese – like he’s American or something. Benoit shoves Liger around to start. Liger uses his speed to overcome and baseball slides into Benoit to set up a CANNONBALLLLLLLL down on the floor. Back inside, Benoit reverts to his power moves by taking Liger down with a knucklelock. Liger fights out with a headscissors and a Rolling Koppou Kick! Nice. Benoit reverses a whip and delivers a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker to pop the crowd. Liger avoids the powerbomb with an armdrag and dropkicks Benoit to the floor again. He handsprings off the ropes to tease a dive to screw with Benoit a little bit. Back in again, Benoit hits a snap suplex and a back suplex. To work on the back some more, Benoit locks in the Liontamer. Bridging German Suplex gets two. Liger trips up Benoit and applies the Surfboard. You knew it couldn’t be a Liger match without it. Afterwards, Liger maneuvers over into a camel clutch. Benoit fights out into an electric chair drop. Liger reverses a tombstone into a DDP-style pancake slam to set up the Flying Headbutt. Benoit stop him up top for a superplex! Slow cover, 1-2-NO! Now Benoit wants *his* Flying Headbutt. Liger moves out of the way! “Horsemen” chant goes up as Liger whips Benoit into the corner for another Rolling Koppou Kick. LIGERBOMB! Benoit kicks out at two. Liger delivers the BRAINBUSTER for 1-2-NO! Benoit battles back with a clothesline and hits a pair of Rolling Germans. He gives Liger his SICK POWERBOMB and heads up again for the Flying Headbutt. He connects, but Kevin Sullivan is out to yell at Benoit. That gets him all distracted as he turns around into an ugly hurracanrana from Liger for the 1-2-3. (10:30) Solid match from these two, which is no surprise. Bad ending though. Sullivan is supposed to be pissed with Brian Pillman here, not Benoit. ***½ New Japan – 1 | WCW – 0
Gene Okerlund meets with Eddie Guerrero in the back. Eddie is not cool with what just happened. He’s got a match with Shinjiro Otani coming up. Ahh Eddie, you’re so meek and mild here.
Alex Wright vs. Koji Kanemoto (w/Sonny Oono)
Kanemoto brings his IWGP Jr. Heavyweight championship belt with him to the ring, but there’s no way it’s on the line. Feeling out process to start. Kanemoto spins around Wright from the headlock like he’s Tiger Mask (well, he was Tiger Mask III) into the leg takedown. Wright escapes with an enziguri and delivers a pair of headscissors takedowns. With Kanemoto backed up against the ropes, Wright charges at him and they both tumble to the floor. Wright had a little bit of trouble there trying to figure that out. He heads back in and flies down on Kanemoto with a plancha. Back in, Kanemoto elbows out of a chinlock and beats Wright down in the corner. He brings Wright out of the corner and unloads with some nice kicks. Weird spot where Kanemoto drapes Wright across the top rope and they just kind of stay there. Then Kanemoto explodes on him with a dropkick to put Wright back on the floor. Kanemoto hits a pescado, but gets his whip reversed into the guardrail. With Wright back in the ring, Kanemoto eats up a bunch of the ten-count. Wright tries to suplex Kanemoto from the apron, but Kanemoto flips out and delivers the Tiger Suplex for 1-2-NO! When that doesn’t get the win, Kanemoto follows up with the MOONSAULT! What. Kanemoto pulls him up off the mat. Off a corner charge, Wright floats over Kanemoto for a bridging German suplex for 1-2-NO! Slingshot splash connects, but Kanemoto is in the ropes. Kanemoto blocks a missile dropkick with a dropkick of his own. Wright hits a desperation crossbody out of the corner for 1-2-NO! Kanemoto avoids a German suplex with a jumping back kick and connects with a Flying Corkscrew Senton for 1-2-NO! He heads up again, but this time Wright stops his dive with a dropkick. That allows Wright to finally hit his MISSILE DROPKICK! No cover. Wright delivers a superplex for another nearfall. Crowd is dead silent for most of this match, by the way. Wright tries another float over in the corner, but Kanemoto catches him and drops his face on the top turnbuckle. Jackknife cover by Koji gets the 1-2-3. (11:44) Odd finish followed by a match that didn’t seem to work very well. Wright seemed to have a hard time knowing what to do in certain situations which hurt the flow of the match. Kanemoto worked hard under the circumstances though. **½ New Japan – 2 | WCW – 0
In the back, Gene Okerlund talks with a gloating Sonny Oono. After New Japan wins tonight, he wants to buy WCW AND the state of Iowa.
Lex Luger (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Masahiro Chono (w/Sonny Oono)
And now to something completely different! Luger starts off in total control. The crowd is behind him 100% because he’s American. Chono blasts Lex with a couple forearm smashes to send him out to the floor to stall for time. Back in, Luger corners Chono with kicks. Chono reverses a suplex to take over. Chono changes over out of a sleeper into a reverse DDT. STF! Luger quickly makes the ropes. Chono hits the Mafia Kick and heads upstairs only to meet a back elbow in the face on the way down. That leads right into the TORTURE RACK for the submission. (6:41) Easy night for Lex as he’s one of the triangle match contenders, which means they will be going LONG. * New Japan – 2 | WCW – 1
Gene Okerlund talks with Sting. He brings Sting losing the US title belt to Sasaki. Tonight, Sting will get a little bit of revenge on that guy. Sonny Oono can stick it. WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH LUGER, STING?
Johnny B. Badd (w/Kimberly) vs. Masa Saito (w/Sonny Oono)
Badd’s still the TV champ here, but it’s not on the line. Well look at Kimberly. She’s all cartwheeling her way to the ring AND she gets a Badd Blaster to shoot off at the crowd. Oono gets on the mic and tells her to get in the kitchen. Kimberly responds by questioning Oono’s manhood. Alright, onto the match. The commentators push Saito as the captain of the New Japan team since he has the most experience. Early on, they get into a slapping contest. When that seems like it will never end, Saito grabs Badd with a headlock and jabs him in the throat. After Saito chokes, Oono gets a chance to do the same. SAITO SUPLEX! Odd cover by Saito gets two. Saito stays in control with nothing offense until Badd hits a knee-lift. A flying double ax handle sets up the Flying Sunset Flip for 1-2-NO! Badd punches Saito down and grabs Oono on the apron. Saito nails Badd from behind and tosses him over the top rope for the DQ. (5:42) For a captain with thirty years of wrestling experience and an AWA world title reign to his claim, Saito sure is stupid. Afterwards, Badd wipes out Saito and Oono with a somersault plancha. ½* WCW – 2 | New Japan – 2
Gene Okerlund meets with Lex Luger and Jimmy Hart. Luger says he OWNS Randy Savage. He then requests that Jimmy Hart didn’t join him at ringside for the triangle match. All that Jimmy asks is that Luger brings back the gold.
Eddie Guerrero vs. Shinjiro Otani (w/Sonny Oono)
The WCW graphics people label him Ootani. Tony tells a story about Otani showing up at the shows with a Jushin Liger mask to get noticed by the promoters to get him his start in the business. Hammerlock exchange on the mat to start. Guerrero catches Otani with an enziguri to create some momentary distance. Otani delivers a monkey flip, but has to take a breather on the floor after a headscissors takedown. Otani has this great heelish attitude. He doesn’t need to speak English to piss off the crowd – he just has that feel about him. Back in, Eddie hits a Hilo and applies a Boston crab. Otani makes the ropes, but gets punished much worse with a Powerbomb for 1-2-NO! Guerrero delivers a Brainbuster, but misses a corner charge allowing Otani to flip out to the apron to drill Eddie with a Springboard Dropkick. That sends Eddie out to the floor, so Otani follows up with a springboard plancha to the floor! To show how superior he feels, Otani stands over Eddie and places his foot on his chest. AWESOME! Back in, Otani delivers a dropkick and chokes Eddie in the ropes. Eddie escapes a sleeper with a back suplex for two. Otani flips out of another Brainbuster into a bridging German suplex for 1-2-NO! Springboard Spinning Heel Kick connects! Otani gets crotched for a Hurracanrana. Slow cover gets two. Splash Mountain gets 1-2-NO! Eddie can’t believe it. Otani takes Eddie down into an anklelock into a grapevine, but Eddie’s in the ropes. HE’S GOT UNTIL THE COUNT OF FIVE! They go to the floor where Eddie gives Otani the receipt with a springboard plancha of his own. Otani brings Eddie back in the ring with a suplex and hits a Springboard Dropkick to the back of the head. He signals for the end with his DRAGON SUPLEX, but Eddie elbows out. Eddie charges at Otani for a rana and Otani rolls through into a pinning combination for 1-2-NO! Eddie rolls back on top of Otani, but gets rolled over into the same pinning spot for 1-2-3! OTANI WINS! (13:43) Good to see Otani on US PPV with a great match under his belt. ***¾ New Japan – 3 | WCW – 2
In the back, Gene Okerlund gets a word from Randy Savage. Just when you thought the man couldn’t get any crazier on the mic, he goes and uses a line from the movie Toy Story. TO INFINITY AND BEYOND! At least it was still new then.
Randy Savage vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan (w/Sonny Oono)
Maybe I’m giving WCW too much credit, but there must be some New Japan copyright issues or something that prevents WCW from mentioning certain talent on their shows because Tenzan’s name is spelled ‘Tensan’ on his entrance graphic. No Hiroyoshi either. That could explain the Ootani ‘flub’ in the last match though. Nothing match where Tenzan dishes out the beatdown for the first five minutes. He hits his Flying Headbutt for a nearfall. Savage moves away from a Moonsault and clotheslines Tenzan to the apron. They mess up on a suplex as Savage drops him on the top rope. It was supposed to put Tenzan in position for the MACHO ELBOW, but he ends up just rolling over for it. Okay, now Savage hits the MACHO ELBOW! (6:45) Goodbye Tenzan. Hope it was worth the trip. ½* WCW – 3 | New Japan – 4
Now Gene Okerlund meets with the totally fresh Ric Flair. To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man. The usual stuff.
Sting vs. Kensuke Sasaki (w/Sonny Oono)
Evidently they don’t job Sasaki out to One Man Gang for the US strap until after the PPV is over because Sasaki still has the strap with him here. This is the final match for the “World Cup of Wrestling”. Sting brings the American flag with him to make this into something it isn’t. Unlike any of the other matches, this one does have a story behind it since Sasaki was the one to beat Sting for the US belt in early November. Sasaki beats Sting from corner to corner to start. Sting quickly fights back and hits a Stinger Splash. Sasaki reverses the cross-corner whip and face slams Sting for a change. Sting dropkicks and clotheslines Sasaki out to the floor. Back in, Sasaki flips out of a suplex and hits a powerslam. NORTHERN LIGHTS BOMB! No cover though. Instead, Sasaki taunts the crowd. Now he locks in Strangle Hold Gamma! Sting REFUSES to quit though. Now Sasaki tries to insult Sting and applies the SCORPION DEATHLOCK! Oh no he didn’t. Oh yes he did. Sting POWERS OUT because this is America, darnit! Sasaki tries a running powerslam, but Sting slips out and clotheslines Sasaki hard. Sting grabs the SCORPION DEATHLOCK! Sasaki fights it and almost makes the ropes, but Sting drags him to the center of the ring. Sasaki gives up! (6:43) This was the only heavyweight match from this best-of-seven series that didn’t totally suck balls. WCW wins. Hooray. And this was never mentioned again. **½ WCW – 4 | New Japan – 3
They have a short ceremony for Team WCW to give them the cup. Sting embraces Benoit? Hey kayfabe! Where you at?
Sting vs. Lex Luger vs. Ric Flair – Triangle Match
I really like this idea of a triangle match with these three. The rules for this match is that one man stands on the apron and waits for a tag while two fight it out in the ring. It’s also elimination rules. They do a good job of allowing all three possible combinations to go in and do their thing with plenty of time. Although Sting just wrestled, Luger is the one who stands on the apron to begin the match. Sting is all press slams and clotheslines on Flair before quickly going for the SCORPION DEATHLOCK. Flair grabs the ropes to stop that nonsense. Flair goes after Sting’s arm with a hammerlock and grounds him for a while. Sting fights back with a press slam and corners Flair for the ten-count punch. To the floor, Flair baits Sting and whips him into the guardrail. Sting NO-SELLS and runs down Flair. Back in, Flair begs off and avoids a dropkick from the Stinger. This is classic Sting/Flair. Flair continues to beat down Sting as Tony actually mentions the Black Scorpion angle. He draws Luger in so he can throw Sting over the top rope and beat him up some more on the floor. Back in again, Flair hits the Rolling Knee Drop for a series of two-counts. Sting finally has enough of this and NO-SELLS a suplex. Sting hits another press slam and delivers a top-rope superplex! Slow cover, 1-2-NO! Luger makes the save! Sting is pissed about that. That allows Flair to run up behind Sting with a knee and knock him into Luger for a tag. Luger’s muscles cause Flair to take a powder up the aisle, but then it’s Luger’s muscles that brings him back into the ring. Flair buries a knee, but takes himself down when he tries a shoulderblock. Luger nails a press slam and goes to the corner for his turn with the ten-count punch. Flair pokes Luger in the eyes right in front of the ref to get a break and then goes after Luger’s leg. Flair brings a chair into the action which brings Sting in to protest and allows Flair to smash the chair albeit weakly across Luger’s leg. TIME TO GO TO SCHOOL! Flair locks in the FIGURE-FOUR, but it’s not too long until Luger turns it over on him. Flair tries to suplex Luger from the apron to the floor, but Luger reverses that and brings Flair back into the ring for a nearfall. Luger slams Flair off the top just like old times. Luger starts to NO-SELL Flair’s chops, so Flair tags in Sting to face Luger. Oh snap. They shake hands, but it’s about to get nasty. They’re real tentative with each other to start. That is until Luger corners Sting and stomps the daylights out of him. They go to the floor where Sting catches Luger in the gut as he comes off the apron. Back in, Sting hits the Flying Bodypress that beat Luger the last time they faced each other at Superbrawl II for 1-2-NO! This goes unnoticed by even Tony Schiavone. Pump splash by Sting hits knees. Sting tries to come back with the SCORPION DEATHLOCK, but Luger grabs the bottom rope to block it and gets in a cheap low blow. Sting connects with the Stinger Splash, but misses a second one and backs up into the TORTURE RACK! Whoops, Luger turns Sting’s foot around into ref Nick Patrick’s face to clean his clock. In comes Flair, he breaks up the Torture Rack with a chopblock. As Luger falls out to the floor, Flair tosses Sting over the top rope on top of Luger and heads back to the apron like he had nothing to do with it. As the ref wakes up, Flair waits for the ref to count them both out to give Ric Flair the win without ever having to pin anybody. (27:39) Flair showed up tonight and delivered, but Sting vs. Luger took a little bit of fun out of this one with their lack of chemistry. ***½
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair (w/Jimmy Hart)
Jimmy Hart comes down and congratulates Flair for his win. Since Luger won’t be bringing home the gold, Jimmy hangs out with the man who at least has a chance of winning the title tonight. Savage goes for the quick win to start with a backslide. He starts peppering Flair with left jabs. Wait a sec, Paul Orndorff (complete with neck brace) is out in the aisleway with his hands on his hips. If you’ll recall, he took a spike piledriver on the concrete courtesy of the Four Horsemen a few weeks back to end his career. In the ring, Savage kicks off the Figure-Four. Flair Flip puts him on the floor. Savage comes off the top for the Flying Double Ax Handle, but Flair nails him in the gut on the way down. “Head of Security” Doug Dellinger pushes Orndorff to the back. Flair smashes Savage on the guardrail and then drives the injured and heavily taped arm into the ringpost. Flair heads into the ring to allow Jimmy to get in a swift kick on Savage. Back in, Flair applies a keylock on the bad arm and uses the rope for leverage. Once Savage starts to rebound, Flair catches him in a sleeper. Savage battles back with clotheslines for two. Just when things are going his way, Savage flies down into a gut shot while Jimmy has the ref distracted. He tosses in his megaphone. Savage kicks Flair away and hits Flair with the megaphone instead. That busts Flair open from ear to ear. MACHO ELBOW! Jimmy is practically trying to climb over the ref to help Flair. Brian Pillman and Chris Benoit run in to help, but Savage disposes of them fairly easily. Here comes Arn Anderson! He nails Savage with a foreign object and puts Flair on top for 1-2-3! (8:29) Flair wins his 12th world title, and holy crap he is bloody. Perhaps to one-up Bret/Bulldog? Just like in the previous match, Flair really showed up and put on a great match. On the other hand, you have to remember that Savage’s arm was in pretty shape in real life, so him wrestling at all means something when the egos-that-be of the time did not work very often through injuries. **¼
Final Thoughts: This one is for the cruiserweight fans and the Flair fans. At this point, everything was about Flair, Savage, Luger, and Sting. Hogan had been suspended for always interfering in matches and beating up refs, but he makes his in-ring return on the following Monday Nitro to face the new champ. By itself though, the show is pretty good and an above average show compared to the last few WCW efforts. Like I mentioned in a whole paragraph at the beginning of this recap, the build surrounding the show was truly disappointing as far as the WCW/New Japan deal goes while on the other hand, the build for the main event was really convoluted and predictable. Nevertheless, the action that is HERE (which is what is important) was fairly solid and what sucked is short enough so that it’s still somewhat enjoyable and never offensive. At the end of the day, I’ll go with a thumbs up for Starrcade 1995.