Written By: Matt Peddycord
WCW Starrcade 1992: Battlebowl – The Lethal Lottery
December 28, 1992
The current WCW & NWA Champs were as follows:
WCW World Champion: Ron Simmons (8/2/1992)
NWA World Champion: Masa Chono (8/12/1992)
WCW U.S. Champion: vacant (12/28/1992)
WCW/NWA World Tag Team Champions: Ricky Steamboat & Shane Douglas (11/18/1992)
WCW World Television Champion: vacant (11/1/1992)
Oh Turner Home Entertainment and your video editing ways.
Your hosts are Jim Ross and Jesse Ventura.
Cactus Jack & Johnny B. Badd vs. Van Hammer and Dan Spivey
Hardly any of this match was shown. Hammer and Spivey seemed to do fine as a team despite being a face/heel duo. Hammer went for a pin on Cactus and Johnny ran in to save with an elbow drop, but Hammer moved and Johnny hit Cactus. They got in each others’ faces and Hammer took advantage by rolling up Jack for the win. That would kick-start the Cactus/Badd feud which would end at the Clash in January.
Big Van Vader & Dustin Rhodes (w/Harley Race) vs. The Barbarian & Kensuke Sasaki
Vader and Rhodes were fairly familiar after squaring off with each other in the King of Cable semi-finals. Another double face/heel match. Barbarian collides with Sasaki on the apron, which allows Dustin to roll Barb up for the 1-2-3 to advance to Battlebowl. Vader still doesn’t care much for Rhodes despite the win and floors him with a clothesline. Just because.
Barry Windham & Great Muta vs. Brian Pillman & Too Cold Scorpio
What was interesting about this match was that Pillman and Windham had to team up against Steamboat and Douglas later on in the night to compete for the WCW/NWA tag belts. Good match from what I could tell. It’s definitely filled with four guys who could go. Pillman got to wrestle with Muta, which is one of those “what if” matches. He even squares off with Windham for a bit. Scorpio hit the high spot – the slingshot 450 splash from the apron. For the finish, Windham hits the DDT and Muta delivers the MOONSAULT.
Sting & “Dr. Death” Steve Williams vs. Erik Watts & Jushin Liger
At least in the little bit I saw, Doc seemed to wrestle a large portion of this match regardless of the fact that both he and Sting have two matches still to go tonight. Doc and Sting both overpower Liger and Watts kind of beats himself. He screws up a dropkick VERY badly and tries to STF Doc, but he’s not strong enough to make that hold even matter on someone like Steve Williams. Stun gun from Doc puts Watts away for the 1-2-3.
NWA World Champion Masahiro Chono vs. The Great Muta
Much like Race/Flair ten Starrcades ago, WCW makes a big deal out of getting this rematch signed for its own benefit – as if anybody enjoyed the boring mat-wrestling styles of Masa Chono in America at this point. The man was booked thanks to Bill Watts as a guy with zero charisma just so those Japs wouldn’t outshine the American boys. Chono wouldn’t start ruling in America until he joined the nWo in late ’96 for a mild push; at least not in my opinion. Muta gets his face repainted for every appearance he makes tonight. Anyways, the match starts out similar to Chono/Rude back at Halloween Havoc with a long feeling-out process. Almost like the whole match just never gets going. Crowd is solidly behind Muta. As in most of Chono’s matches, he spends most of his offense time weakening the leg for the STF. Muta still manages to hit all of his signature stuff (Muta lock, handspring elbow) and the crowd reacts to everything. He tries for the MOONSAULT, but Chono moves and he lands on his feet while jamming his knee in the process. Chono capitalizes and kicks at the knee before eventually grabbing the STF for the submission win. (12:49) It almost seems like they should’ve gave Muta the win here and put Barry over in Battlebowl to set up Muta/Windham for Superbrawl. Considering how Austin and Pillman would be teaming up soon instead of Barry, it just might’ve revamped another singles run for Barry earlier than it did. Who knows. Match was better than Chono/Rude, but still kind of a bore. **
Before the WCW world title match, Rick Rude (who was originally scheduled to meet Simmons) comes out to complain about how he’s being stabbed in the back (I bet it really does feel that way- his back was pretty messed up) by WCW and his doctors who tell him he can’t compete. Tonight was his night to win the gold (that’s actually true) and now if he doesn’t defend the US title belt by January 23rd, he’ll no longer be the US champion. He mentions how it’s funny that Sting was injured at the hands of Vader and sidelined for 30 days when he was world champion back in April-May and nobody said a word. It’s a CONSPIRACY I tells ya!
WCW World Champion Ron Simmons vs. “Dr. Death” Steve Williams
“Don’t Step To Ron!” Why that wasn’t playing 24/7 on the radio, I have no clue! That track was hot, yo! Obviously if you read the last paragraph or you followed WCW during this time, you’d know Rude was supposed to compete for the world title tonight, but was injured and now Dr. Death is taking his place. Feeling-out process to start with armbars and headlocks. Simmons misses a leap off the top and jars his knee on the mat, so Doc capitalizes by posting the leg and working it over with half-crabs. Doc looks ready to put Simmons away with three-point stances, but Simmons answers with a clothesline on a third one. Now Simmons comes back with a weak Spinebuster, but gets dumped out to the floor and they continue to brawl for the double-countout. (15:12) Williams keeps on fighting Simmons and gives him a Ricky Morton knee-drop. He covers, but apparently he didn’t hear the bell from several minutes ago. JR says Doc’s gone a little goofy. Goofy as a pet coon, hey JR? Come on, you know you want to say it. Because of Doc’s unnecessary attacks after the bell, ref Nick Patrick reverses his decision and awards the match to Simmons via DQ. I liked Doc and I’m a Simmons mark at heart, but this was much like the world title match we just saw with a terrible finish tagged onto the end of it. Off-night for both guys, I believe. Doc was headed back to Japan (probably already called shot gun in Chono’s car…wait) and Simmons would lose his strap to Vader in two days, so they’re probably both a tad apathetic at this point. *½
WCW/NWA World Tag Team Champions Ricky Steamboat & Shane Douglas vs. Barry Windham & Brian Pillman
Side note: “Slam Jam” just might be the most embarrassing album ever. Just hearing it makes me cringe with shame. This is another instance where Bill Watts remained loyal to his former UWF’ers like Shane Douglas and gave him a push and a title to boot. Of course, Steamboat and Douglas had nothing better to do at the time and Douglas made a pretty decent face-in-peril in my opinion to make for a very good tag team. This is all a result of Windham taking out his frustrations on Douglas and Steamboat’s skulls with a steel chair back at the Clash after they defeated him and Dustin Rhodes for the unified tag belts. Windham and Pillman were booked to be the Hollywood Blonds, but they switched out Windham for someone younger named Steve Austin and then that’s when the team really took off. Don’t know if you’ve heard of that Austin guy or not, but he was pretty good! Douglas and Pillman start the match. Back and forth stuff with Pillman attempting a crucifix rollup, but Douglas punches out. Pillman elbows out of a hammerlock and reverts to his newly-discovered cheating ways. Douglas ducks a clothesline and puts Pillman on the rampway with a dropkick, then Windham comes in and takes a double-dropkick and a double backdrop from the champs. Windham eventually tags in and he wants Steamboat. Well, he gets Steamboat and gets chopped down. Douglas tags in and grabs a chinlock. Windham stands up out of it and executes a back suplex for the break. It doesn’t stop Douglas though and he tags in Steamboat. He delivers a Hennig-style running neck snap and clotheslines Windham out to the floor for a slam. That’s not enough for Douglas though, so he slams Windham on the rampway as well. Back in, Steamboat delivers a swinging neckbreaker for two. Douglas tags back in for a chinlock, but Windham escapes with a jawbreaker and tags in Pillman. He gives another jawbreaker to Douglas and slams his face viciously into the mat. Pillman charges at Douglas in the corner, but he backdrops him out to the apron and dropkicks Pillman into the guardrail for his patented bump. Back in, Douglas heads up top, but he’s distracted by Windham and gets nailed with a dropkick from Pillman and takes a nasty bump from the top to the floor. With the ref’s attention turned away, Windham sneaks in a clothesline to add further punishment. Back in, Windham tags in and toys around with Douglas while arguing with the ref. He ties up the ref some more just so Pillman can fire away on Douglas. Good stuff. Pillman just tags on in and chops away. Douglas starts to comes back, so Pillman clips him and tags out. Windham throws Douglas out HARD and follows him out, but while Pillman has the ref distracted, Steamboat takes advantage and nails Windham with a steel chair! YES! Pillman tags in and cuts off the tag to Steamboat. Suplex gets a bunch of twos. Windham and Pillman continue to control Douglas, but just can’t seem to put him away. Pillman delivers a snap suplex and a splash gets 1-2-NO! All the while, Steamboat is cheering Douglas on as loud as he can. Pillman draws Steamboat in so he and Windham can do a little bit of choking. That gets two. Windham tags in for a suplex, but Douglas blocks and delivers one of his own. CAN HE MAKE THE TAG? YES HE CAN! Steamboat goes DROPKICK-CRAZY! Just as Steamboat starts cookin’ on the heels, Windham catches him for a powerslam. Windham gives him a back suplex and tags Pillman. Douglas gets drawn in, so Pillman tosses Steamboat over the top rope. That should’ve been a DQ! While Pillman has the ref’s attention, Windham posts Steamboat, which would’ve been a DQ too! Steamboat comes back in with a Flying Judo Chop on Pillman for 1-2-NO! Steamboat wins a chop battle, but Pillman comes back with a tilt-a-whirl headscissors for 1-2-NO! Windham wins a slugfest and comes off the top for a Lariat, but Steamboat ducks and delivers a face slam. Both men are down! HOT TAG TO DOUGLAS! Pillman begs off, but that’s not going to stop Douglas! It turns into a pier-six brawl with Windham and Steamboat punching each other on the rampway. Meanwhile in the ring, Douglas catches Pillman coming off the ropes in the BELLY-TO-BELLY SUPLEX! Cover, 1-2-3! (20:02) Just a spectacular old-school tag match with Windham and Pillman cheating at every opportunity. Random or not, Steamboat and Douglas were a fine team in my opinion and matches like this proves that. An underrated match, I believe, that gets overlooked on this card because of the whole Battlebowl nonsense. ****¼
Sting vs. Big Van Vader (w/Harley Race) – “King of Cable” Tournament Finals
I’ve had a few people ask what the heck is the point of the “King of Cable” tournament. As far as I know, the winner gets a big heavy trophy similar to the one Bret Hart broke at WrestleMania IV. If that’s not the whole concept or goal behind it, then I don’t have a clue, so if anybody knows anything else about it and would like to share, I will be more than happy to spread the word in later show recaps. Anyways, this is definitely my favorite Bill Watts feud while he held the reins of WCW. Sting/Vader is one of the best WCW rivalries ever, but I don’t think the rivalry ever peaked better at least from a storyline standpoint than in 1992. I mean, come on, “White Castle of Fear”? Vader blows up his speedboat? Terrible. By 1994, they seemed like they were just putting them together for a good match with very little story behind it if any at all. The way it was booked by Mr. Watts was just tremendous and one of the few things he got right during his WCW tenure. Unlike Muta, Sting doesn’t repaint his face! Just thought maybe someone would want to know. Vader punks Sting around and then NO-SELLS a flurry of punches. NO PAIN! Vader looks to insult Sting with a pair of slams. Then like an idiot, Sting charges at Vader full-steam and goes down like he ran into a brick wall. Vader presses Sting up and then drops him throat-first on the top rope. Not once, but twice. Sting has to roll out after that. Vader meets Sting coming back in, but Sting ducks a short-arm clothesline and does that forward flip kick that worked at the Bash and works here just as well. Enziguri puts Vader down and Sting follows up with a German suplex. Again, Sting uses the same offense that stunned Vader at the Bash. Clothesline sends Vader out and off comes the mask. The crowd is going nuts! Race tries to walk Vader around to help him regain his senses, but Sting stops all that with a pescado that takes both Race and Vader out! Vader corners Sting when he gets back in, but misses a charge. Sting goes for the STINGER SPLASH, but he jumps into a boot instead. Ouch! Vader whips Sting across, but he kicks Vader back for a DDT. He places Vader into the corner and wants a superplex and delivers a DDT instead for 1-2-NO! SCORPION DEATHLOCK! Will Vader tap? Psst, no. Vader makes the ropes and then takes a walk to slow this thing down. He walks over to the guardrail and Sting tries to capitalize with the Stinger Splash, but Vader moves and Sting hits the steel. Man, he never hits that move. Vader gets back in the ring to win by countout, but Sting makes it back in at nine. Vader drills Sting with a short-arm clothesline, whips him into the corner for a splash, and then clotheslines Sting again. Holy crap. Cover, 1-2-NO! Vader delivers some open shots and then a back suplex followed by a splash gets 1-2-NO! He follows that up with a modified ab stretch on the mat and twists on Sting’s neck. That gets two. Vader wants another short-arm clothesline, but Sting blocks and gets a backslide for 1-2-NO! Sting attempts a sunset flip and Vader won’t go down. Vader tries to squash him, but Sting moves at the last second. Vader is right back on top of Sting though with those stiff punches. He continues to kick Sting around and then he grabs a headlock, but Sting counters with a back suplex. Sting is DOWN. Vader’s up first and covers for 1-2-NO! He corners Sting again for those sick blows to the head. Sting does all he can to cover up and eventually ends up collapsing on the other side of the ring. Once he’s back on his feet, he attempts the ROPE-A-DOPE! Vader sets up for a superplex, but Sting punches him off to the mat. Sting can’t capitalize just yet either because he’s so freakin’ tired! Now Vader’s on his feet and goes back to pounding Sting in the corner. Sting’s actually daring Vader to keep punching at him. The more he punches, the more Sting seems to be reviving himself. Sting fires back with discus punches and finally puts Vader on his backside! Samoan drop, but Vader’s in the ropes. Sting heads up top and hits a Flying Splash for 1-2-NO! Race gets up on the apron and distracts Sting, allowing Vader to deck him from behind. Vader hits a chokeslam and delivers a splash from the middle rope! Vader comes off the TOP this time, but Sting catches him on the way down for a powerslam for 1-2-3! (16:50) Sting wins the trophy and looks to win his second consecutive Battlebowl too. Just another phenomenal match from these two. I liked how Sting and Vader both used some of the same stuff that worked from the Bash and yet still pulled off a different, better match than before. It’s just amazing the amount of chemistry these two had together. ****½
Oh yeah, almost forgot about this. The participants are Van Hammer, Dan Spivey, Big Van Vader, Dustin Rhodes, Barry Windham, Great Muta, Sting and “Dr. Death” Steve Williams. Battle royal rules apply. Vader and Sting battle on the rampway before they even enter the ring. They actually fight into the ring while Rhodes and Windham go at it. Nothing really of note happens. It’s just an average battle royal. You can probably guess who gets eliminated first. Here’s a hint: his first name starts with v and it’s not Vader. I’m sorry, did you say Van Hammer? Very good! Sorry, no prizes. You can thank Doc for that. Spivey goes out next, courtesy of Sting. Vader winds up dumping himself and Sting out because of a clothesline. The final four is Rhodes, Muta, Windham and Doc. Rhodes controls Windham on the mat, but Windham comes back and tries to dump out Dustin. Doc sees an opportunity to send them both out, but winds up taking himself out and Rhodes as well. That leaves Windham and Muta. Windham brutalizes Muta with suplex after suplex, followed by a SUPERPLEX. He tosses Muta over the top rope, but Muta skins-the-cat back in the ring and a pair of dropkicks puts Windham over the top rope and out to the floor! Muta has won Battlebowl! (14:01) Not nearly as fun as the year before. Luckily, the granddaddy PPV of them all would never be subjected to a Battlebowl ever again. Next year, Bischoff gave Battlebowl its own PPV in November, which drew one of the WORST buyrates in the history of PPV wrestling. I’m talking WCW 2000 buyrates, folks. Even after all that, they STILL brought it back in ’96! Of course, WCW never did know when to stop. *
Final Thoughts: Two great matches and nothing else. The Windham/Muta vs. Pillman/Scorpio is pretty cool, but I wouldn’t call it must-see. I’m going to go with “thumbs in the middle that tend to lean slightly upward” because those world title matches are just not worth your time. I’m sorry! I just can’t bring myself to give this show a thumbs up in good conscience.