Written By: Matt Peddycord
WCW Starrcade 1996
December 29, 1996
The current WCW champs were as follows:
WCW World Champion: Hollywood Hogan (8/10/1996)
WCW U.S. Champion: Vacant (11/25/1996)
WCW World Tag Team Champions: The Outsiders (10/27/1996)
WCW World Television Champion: Lord Steven Regal (8/20/1996)
WCW World Cruiserweight Champion: Dean Malenko (10/27/1996)
Your hosts are Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, and Dusty Rhodes.
WCW World Cruiserweight Champion Dean Malenko vs. NJPW J-Crown Champion Ultimo Dragon (w/Sonny Oono)
For those unaware, the J-Crown consisted of eight lightweight championships (including the WWF’s own light heavyweight strap that had been completely forgotten) from Great Britain, Mexico, and Japan. Instead of combining all the belts into one stand alone title, the original recipient Ultimo Dragon carried around all eight belts which was kind of cool but had to suck when you’re traveling all the time and you have to keep up with them all. Nevertheless, Dragon needs another championship like Dusty Rhodes needs another trip to an all-you-can-eat buffet, but he wants NINE titles so he’s going after Malenko to become absolute ruler of the cruiserweight world. Mike Tenay joins us to carry the other three through the commentary. Standard great feeling out process to start. Dragon stops that with some kicks, but Malenko takes him over with a back suplex. They trade chinlocks with Dragon putting the boots to Malenko any chance he gets. Dragon wants to do the headstand on the top turnbuckle, but Malenko shoves him away and forearms him to the floor. Baseball slide is avoided and Dragon wants to fly with the suicide dive. He does it all lucha-like too as he quebradas onto his feet and then blasts Malenko. Back in, that gets two. Malenko tries to get a quick pin on Dragon so he stretched Malenko out a bit. Another back suplex stuns Dragon. Malenko works the leg for a while – including a cool spot where he hits a shinbreaker and then dropkicks the knee. Handspring Elbow misses and Dragon runs into a powerslam. This crowd is SO into Malenko here. Dragon comes back with a powerbomb for two. Tombstone reversal and the point goes to Malenko with a JUMPING TOMBSTONE for 1-2-NO! Malenko calls for the Texas Cloverleaf, but Dragon slides back into the ropes. Butterfly Powerbomb with a Jackknife cover gets 1-2-NO! They go to the floor as Dragon busts out the ASAI MOONSAULT! Back inside, Dragon elbows away a back superplex, but misses a Moonsault! He lands on his knee which leads into the TEXAS CLOVERLEAF. Dean’s got him dead center in the ring too. Sonny Oono gets desperate and hops up on the apron. That actually brings Malenko off the hold. Many nerds called that the end of the ‘Shooter’ character because he would have never done that before. That causes Malenko to lose his concentration as they dance around with a full nelson until Dragon delivers the Tiger Suplex for the 1-2-3. (18:31) So there you have it: Ultimo Dragon now holds NINE titles. At least going into 1997, Ultimo Dragon was the most decorated wrestler in the world. Of course he would lose the J-Crown on January 4 in the Tokyo Dome to Jushin Liger – a venue where Dragon could never seem to defeat Liger. Not sure that this holds up with time as well as the great matches Dragon was having with Rey Mysterio at the time, but even so they had already stole the show here in the opening bout. The only other match on the card that could give this a run for their money was Mysterio-Liger. I’m looking forward to the rematch at the upcoming Clash show though. ***¾
Gene Okerlund hypes the WCW Hotline. It’s the same stuff we’ve been hearing for six months – somebody else will be joining the new World order. I’m guessing it’s somebody like Nick Patrick finally unveiling himself as the official nWo ref. Just a guess.
Akira Hokuto (w/Sonny Oono & Kensuke Sasaki) vs. Madusa – WCW Women’s Title Tournament Finals
And the tournament finally comes to an end. Even though for us Nitro-only watchers, we had long forgot about this tournament since we hadn’t seen or heard anything about it since the opening matches about a month ago. The self-proclaimed expert of women’s wrestling Lee Marshall joins the commentary threesome. Also, Sasaki is Hokuto’s husband in real life. They had a TV wedding and everything! Wonder if it ended in a huge brawl? Nick Patrick is the ref here. Typical start with some hair slings. Oono trips up Madusa to give Hokuto the unfair advantage. Sasaki’s not cool with that, but his wife seems fine with it. Hokuto busts out a HIROSHI HASE northern lights suplex into a cross armbreaker. Marshall makes the comment that Sasaki and Hokuto share holds on each other. Dusty takes advantage with a *wink wink nudge nudge* response just as Madusa comes back with a tornado DDT. OH THE HILARITY! Powerbomb gets two. Hokuto falls back on another powerbomb for two. At least she had a soft landing with Madusa’s huge fakies. The BRIDGING GERMAN SUPLEX only gets two! Oh my. Top-rope superplex from Hokuto only gets two as well. What the F. Hokuto gets shoved off the top to the floor. Meanwhile, Oono runs in and whacks Madusa in the back with Madusa’s own American flagpole. OH THE IRONY! Missile dropkick from Hokuto sets up the NORTHERN LIGHTS BOMB for the win. (7:07) And thus begins the *white hot* run of the WCW Women’s championship! It lasted all of six months before it was completely abandoned because absolutely nobody cared. How could they with only these two women in the whole promotion? ¾*
In the back, Gene Okerlund talks with Roddy Piper. He does what he does best – talks crazy while he puts his opponent over.
Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Jushin Liger
This was Liger’s first match in the US since his recovery from the brain tumor. It definitely affected his pace and exactly just how high he would set the bar for the rest of his career. Mike Tenay is back out to help with the commentary. Liger controls early with a stalling suplex. THUNDER FIRE POWERBOMB! Mysterio picks up the momentum with a rana and takes Liger to the floor, but fake dives to screw with him. Liger gets some revenge by bringing Mysterio to the floor with a suplex and then gives Rey another THUNDER FIRE POWERBOMB! OUCH. Back inside, Liger sidesteps a missile dropkick and delivers a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Surfboard by Liger and since Rey’s so light, he flips Rey forward onto his face. Pretty cool. Rey flips out of a suplex and hits a German suplex for two. Split-legged moonsault gets two. Mysterio hits a springboard dropkick and weakens Liger with a reverse chinlock, but then springboards into a Liger dropkick. He follows up with a dragon screw legwhip, which Dusty thinks is a funny name. Koppou Kick in the corner nails Mysterio, but he quickly fights back with a monkey flip. Liger goes for the Palm Strike in the corner, but once again Rey kicks him back for a headscissors. To the floor we go, Mysterio drills Liger with an Asai Moonsault of his own! Back in, Mysterio catches Liger in between the ropes with a springboard legdrop for 1-2-NO! He misses a second springboard legdrop to set himself up for the Flying Headbutt from Liger for 1-2-NO! They fight over in the corner which ends with Rey trying to bring Liger off the top with a springboard hurracanrana. Liger avoids that and nails Rey with another Koppou Kick. And from there, Liger gives Rey a LIGERBOMB to get the win. (14:17) Out of all of Liger’s four appearances (‘91, ‘92, ‘95 and ‘96), he was never pinned at Starrcade. Not to mention this is Rey’s third straight loss on PPV. As mentioned during the match, Jushin Liger challenged the Ultimo Dragon for a shot at the J-Crown at the upcoming New Japan Tokyo Dome show on January 4, which Liger would win. While this would be considered a dream match, it might have been much better had it been wrestled about a year earlier. You could tell Rey wanted to go and make a classic. There were moments like that for Liger as well, but it just didn’t happen that way. Still a very good match from these two. Check this match out on either Rey’s Biggest Little Man DVD collection or the Starrcade DVD. ***½
Chris Benoit (w/Woman) vs. Jeff Jarrett – No DQ Match
Jarrett is under the impression he’s a Horsemen while Flair is away, but Benoit thinks otherwise. This was originally scheduled to be Benoit vs. Bubba weeks ago before Big Bubba left the Dungeon of Doom to turn on the group and join up with the nWo. No special commentators for this one. I know what you’re thinking. No, there’s not three completely new and capable commentators calling this match, I just mean that there’s no Tenay or Marshall talking. Jarrett tries to be all fancy to start and Benoit hates fancy boys. He gets a little rough with Jarrett, who fires back and walks over Benoit for a nice little strut. Once again, Benoit gets angry. Jarrett tries to keep up and we go to the floor where Woman distracts Jarrett while Benoit decks him from behind. Back in, Jarrett shoves off a superplex and tries the Bossman straddle, but Woman moves her man out of the way just in time. Back to the floor, Benoit takes advantage of the lack of rules and dumps Jarrett in the front row. After some more guardrail action, Benoit gets a two count in the ring. Benoit cheats a little bit off a chinlock, but Jarrett escapes with a back suplex. Benoit lights Jarrett up with some chops, which just serves to fire him up to nail Benoit with a dropkick for two. They tease a suplex to the floor, but Jarrett hangs Benoit out to dry. FIGURE-FOUR is attempted, but Woman prevents by using her claws across Jarrett’s face! Arn Anderson walks out and passes right by Benoit to stand over in Jarrett’s corner. What? Jarrett and Benoit brawl around ringside. Meanwhile, Dungeon of Doom members Konnan and Hugh Morrus attack Woman, but she goes low on the two of them. That ain’t bowdy bowdy, Nancy. While Kevin Sullivan has no choice but to interject himself in the match and break a wooden chair over Benoit’s head, Arn drops Jarrett with a DDT on the floor! With Benoit completely wiped out, Arn rolls Jarrett inside the ring. Too bad Jarrett’s arm just so happens to drape across Benoit’s chest for the 1-2-3. (13:49) Afterwards, AA points the finger and blames Woman for the Horsemen loss. Clearly they made the special stipulation just for the finish because they didn’t really do anything that couldn’t have been done under regular match rules. Decent for what it was, but Jarrett couldn’t possibly hang with Benoit doing this lame babyface act. **½
Nobody in the Horsemen want to talk to Gene, but Mongo and Debra will. Oh boy. When Debra starts talking, she gets the biggest heel reaction of the night outside of Hollywood Hogan.
WCW World Tag Team Champions The Outsiders (w/Syxx) vs. The Faces of Fear (w/Jimmy Hart)
And what a surprise. Nick Patrick is the referee. Hall mans up and takes some shots from Meng to start, but then hits him a flying bulldog. Much like he did Stevie Ray at Halloween Havoc, Hall spits on Barbarian and tags in Nash. Nick Patrick tries to pull Barbarian off Nash in the corner to allow a cheapshot. Meng comes in for payback as the Faces of Fear get to CLUBBERIN. Nash tries to block a double backdrop with a DOUBLE NOGGIN KNOCKER. Big mistake. He gets a double headbutt. Side slam from Barbarian gets two. I don’t care what you say. I’m a Faces of Fear mark. Nash comes back with a Snake Eyes as the Outsiders keep Barbarian down in a corner. Meng grabs at Hall, allowing a KICK OF FEAR from Barbarian out of nowhere. YES. Too bad Barbarian’s not smart enough to cover him quickly. Slow count gets two. Meng drops Hall with a piledriver for two. Back to Barbarian, he gives Hall a powerbomb. I mean, why not. Slow count from Patrick gets two. Inverted atomic drop-KICK OF FEAR gets 1-2-NO! Hall fights out of a nerve hold. Nash nails Barbarian from the apron into a clothesline from Hall. Jimmy Hart gets up on the apron to complain when Syxx comes over and chases him to the back. Back to the nerve hold. Hall escapes with a back suplex and makes the tag to Nash. Big boot to Barbarian gets two. Hall and Meng fight to the floor while Nash puts Barbarian away with the JACKKNIFE POWERBOMB for the win. (11:52) Glad to at least see Scott Hall was willing to take a bunch of punishment from the Faces of Fear. Love those guys. However, this was just a basic tag formula that went straight to the finish. **
The WCW world champ Hollywood Hogan, Ted DiBiase, Vincent, and Elizabeth get some interview time. Since Piper’s family is on Pacific time, Hogan’s already told them that he’s won the match as if they were on some sort of time delay.
Diamond Dallas Page vs. Eddie Guerrero – WCW U.S. Title Tournament Finals
The feeling out stuff sends both guys to the floor where Eddie tastes the steps. Whoa. Huge DDP chant goes up. Back in, Eddie hits the Hilo for two. After some arm twisting, Guerrero tosses DDP out for a pescado. Back in the ring, Page stops a ten-count corner punch and hotshots Eddie. Pancake Slam connects. Page grabs the ropes during an ab stretch to remind you that he’s still a bad dude. DDP gets in an argument with the ref, but clotheslines Eddie down. DDP runs shoulder-first into the ringpost to allow a comeback by Guerrero. Brainbuster gets two. Back suplex sets up the FROG SPLASH, but Page moves out of the way. That gets two for DDP. Eddie crotches Page up top for a hurracanrana, but DDP shoves him off. Eddie lands on his feet and catches a diving DDP with an inverted atomic drop. Backslides from Eddie score a couple nearfalls. Eddie tries a headscissors, but DDP sees it coming and drops him with a sitout powerbomb for 1-2-NO! Double KO ensues and Guerrero falls to the floor. Meanwhile, we have the Outsiders and Syxx heading down to ringside. While the ref tries to get Syxx to leave, Scott Hall drills DDP with the OUTSIDERS EDGE! As they leave, Eddie crawls to the top rope and delivers the FROG SPLASH for the 1-2-3. (15:22) So Eddie Guerrero wins the rubber match and he’s rewarded with the highest honor he would receive during his four years in WCW. Honestly, these matches are pretty interchangeable. It’s mostly Guerrero making Page look really good. To prove that the nWo have no interest in seeing Eddie Guerrero succeed, they do a 3-on-1 attack while Syxx gets in the most licks and takes the US title away from Eddie – leading to the Guerrero-Syxx ladder match at Souled Out. **½
nWo Souled Out ad airs. This has got to be the first time the F word was used in a promo vid in either of the WWF or WCW. Of course it’s bleeped, but still. Amazing how that would never fly today thirteen years later.
Lex Luger vs. The Giant
Giant looks like he hasn’t slept – ever. Right now, Lex Luger is EXTREMELY over. He isn’t even really doing anything but beating scrubs week after week. He isn’t really involved in any angles except siding with WCW against the new World order. He just kind of finds himself in a match with the Giant. It’s funny because that’s exactly the way they built up Bill Goldberg a year later. Big tie-up battle to start. Giant shrugs off Luger’s barrage of blows in the corner and eventually has enough as he runs him down with a clothesline. Giant works over the back and just generally hurts Luger pretty badly. Luger tries a slam, but Giant falls on top. Bossman straddle from the Giant connects. Giant misses a corner charge and lands on the top turnbuckle to get himself in position for the Torture Rack. Luger makes the mistake of knocking him back down to the mat. Now Giant misses a running dropkick up against the ropes. Luger gets Giant all wobbly with clotheslines and punches. He finally takes Giant off his feet with a reverse neckbreaker! Well that works. Cover, 1-2-NO! Giant presses Luger off the cover onto the ref. While Nick Patrick walks to the ring, Luger SLAMS the Giant. As he goes for the TORTURE RACK, Nick Patrick kicks Luger in the back of the knee! JERK. Luger lets go of the Giant and shoves Nick Patrick all the way to the floor. Wait a minute. STING IS HERE! Luger actually gets Giant up in the Torture Rack when Syxx comes into the ring as the backup plan and kicks Luger down. Now Sting gets in the ring and shoves Nick Patrick away with the bat. He drops the bat, whispers something to both Luger and the Giant, and then leaves. WHAT. The two left in the ring fight over the bat. Since there’s no ref, Luger low blows the Giant and beats him down with the baseball bat! Wake up, ref. Count em 1-2-3! (13:24) Biggest pop of the night, ladies and gentlemen. In the context of the storyline, this was the first time WCW had gotten a win over the new World order since the beginning of the feud, so it was pretty big until the next night when everything changed. As far as the match goes, it was the same story with these two – can Luger actually rack the Giant? *½
Hollywood Hogan (w/Ted DiBiase) vs. Roddy Piper
HUGE ‘Roddy’ chant to start. Just to recap, Piper came back at Halloween Havoc to scold Hollywood Hogan for his actions. Hogan then called Piper’s kilt a skirt and everything snowballed from there to where we have the REMATCH OF THE CENTURY! Piper punches Hogan around to start until he falls to the floor to regroup. That happens a few times. Hogan fights out of a headlock, but Piper beats him back outside. This time Piper follows him out and whips Hollywood around ringside. Back in, Piper uses the belt some more. DiBiase tries to trip up Piper, which just gets him all distracted. Out comes Hogan to nail Piper. After some ringside brawling, Hogan brings Piper back inside and starts kicking at Piper’s fake hip. Piper escapes an ab stretch and pokes Hogan in the eyes. Suplex by Piper gets two. Boy this is revolutionary stuff, I tell ya! Piper misses a knee drop, but moves away from the LEGDROP. Here comes the Giant out to CHOKESLAM Piper. Giant has to just hold him up in the air for a bit while Hogan tries to keep a fan from getting into the ring. Idiot. Security takes him out. Piper bites the Giant on the nose and shoves him over the top to the floor. That leaves Hogan all alone for a SLEEPER HOLD. Down goes Hogan. His arm drops once, twice, three times! It’s over. Piper wins. (15:38) It takes the crowd a second to realize that somebody could actually win with a sleeper hold. Nevertheless, they are glad he did. Piper wins, but there’s no title in sight. As the fireworks go off and Piper puts his foot on top of Hogan, Hall and Nash hit the ring. Piper sticks and moves all over the Outsiders and then ducks out before they gain a second wind. The effort was there, but these two were ten years gone from having a good match with each other. If you really want to, you can check this match out on the Roddy Piper DVD and the Starrcade DVD. ½*
Meanwhile, the Giant is standing in the aisleway. He just glares at the new World order before eventually walking out on them. They run out after him when Giant gets in their faces asking why they didn’t watch his back when he’s always watching their backs. The crowd begins to chant ‘Giant’ hoping he would destroy the nWo for real, but it never happens. Hogan’s convinced that Giant dropped the ball, not him. Anyways, the PPV continues with the original new World order celebrating in the ring with the WCW world title belt.
Final Thoughts: Another PPV that’s not filled with asterisks, but still manages to be quite entertaining. It’s also an important show as it’s the first true turning point in the nWo storyline in that they had always been so close-knit and unbeatable until this show. Plus, Hulk Hogan loses! And there’s no Yetis (YETAYS~!) around this time. Lots of wrestling fans give the main event a hard time with the argument that it was booked to be a world title match. I never heard Roddy Piper say anything about wanting to beat Hogan for the WCW world title or any mention of the belt – he just wanted to simply beat Hogan. He specifically said he wasn’t fighting for WCW, but for himself. I never even heard the commentary team mention it being a world title match. You can say that it should have been a title match and it probably should have been, but it wasn’t built up as such. That’s what the real argument is here. All the same, let’s go with a very mild thumbs up for Starrcade 1996.