Tuesday 20 December 2016

WCW Starrcade 1996 Review

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Good evening loyal followers to another satisfying edition of the only wrestling review series on the internet that Barry Horowitz slaps on the back: Seanomaniac Wrestling Reviews! And when we are not busy thinking of awesome introductions for you to read, we are reviewing old pay per views in chronological order. Tonight is no different as I will be diving in deep to WCW’s Starrcade of 1996, The NWO were running wild because they were too sweet brother and there was not a thing anybody could do about it! The problem with The NWO killing everyone was nobody was really getting over on the WCW side of things. Flair and The Horsemen were off feuding with The Dungeon of Doom, Savage was MIA and Sting was continuing to stalk the entire roster from the rafters. As 1996 drew to a close, it seems WCW had another hero ready to battle Hogan and his band of villainous outlaws, up steps Roddy Piper. Starrcade is WCW’s Wrestlemania so they have pulled out all the stops as it will be Piper vs Hogan, we will have the cruiserweight division firing on all cylinders as Ultimo Dragon faces Dean Malenko and Jushin Liger takes on Mysterio. We also have The Outsiders vs The Faces of Fear and much, much more. Could there be a big victory on the horizon for WCW or would be another night to remember for The NWO? Read on…

Opening Promo

It is all about Piper vs Hogan, Hogan promises to break Piper in half and Piper says bring it on as the granddaddy of them all for WCW begins, we are in Nashville, Schiavone, Heenan and Dusty Rhodes welcome us to the action. Rhodes is beginning to get on my nerves as a commentator, Dusty is not suited for commentating, too much personality and has not a clue of most of the move names. I love you Dusty, just not on commentary!

(WCW Crusierweight Unification Match) Ultimo Dragon © vs Dean Malenko ©

The Iceman Malenko battling the J-Crown Champion Ultimo Dragon. Nine championships are on the line in this match, Mike Tenay joins the commentary table to help the other announcers or are way out of their depth when it comes to this style of wrestling. Malenko and Dragon feel one another out with some nice mat wrestling, Dragon grabs a leg grapevine. Malenko battles to a vertical base and takes down Malenko with a kimura lock. Reset and stiff kicks to the spine by Dragon, Malenko counters with a massive back suplex. Dragon fires back with a snap suplex, Dragon slaps on a sleeper while the crowd chants USA in support of Malenko. STF by Dragon, shoulder block by Dragon and hard chops in the corner. Irish whip is reversed by Malenko, Malenko peppers Dragon with a forearm to the floor. Malenko misses a baseball slide and Dragon scores with a scoop slam. Fake into a suicide dive by Dragon!

Big elbow by Dragon gives us a two count, Malenko blocks a suplex and nails a suplex of his own. Sunset flip by Malenko gets a two and Dragon is back on top in this match. Hangman’s neckbreaker by Dragon for a two count, abdominal stretch is in deep. More kicks to the back of Malenko by Dragon, Malenko fires back after countering a sleeper into a back suplex. German suplex by Malenko, two count for the champion. Heel hook by Malenko, Dragon reaches the ropes after a prolonged time in the hold. Shin breaker and dropkick to the knee by Malenko, Malenko transitions from an inverted atomic drop into a leg lock. Malenko tees off on Dragon in the corner, stomps before Dragon blocks with the boot. Malenko comes back with a powerslam, spinning heel kick by Dragon. Powerbomb by Dragon for a two count, both men are spent at this point in the match.

Malenko counters Dragon for a tombstone, two count for Malenko. Dragon crawls to the ropes to block The Texas Cloverleaf, Tigerbomb by Malenko. Jacknife cover brings Malenko a two count, crossbody by Malenko puts both men on the floor. Malenko throws Dragon into the ring, Dragon knocks down Malenko and nails his signature Asai Moonsault. Malenko catches Dragon on the top rope, Dragon fights off Malenko but misses a moonsault. Texas Cloverleaf by Malenko, Onoo is on the apron which stops Malenko. Small package by Dragon for a two count, clothesline by Malenko. Brainbuster by Malenko, Dragon kicks out at two. Standing switches until Dragon pins Malenko with a tiger suplex.

Tremendous technical match between Dragon and Malenko. Both have wrestled in NJPW so Malenko is able to work the type of match that Dragon can excel in and this leads to some fantastic reversals, good psychology and interesting manoeuvres that you do not see every day. Dragon was also put over like a boss in this match, Malenko nailed Dragon with every big move and the false finishes were entertaining and sucked me in, good stuff from the cruiserweight division which has been a highlight since I have begun covering WCW!

Winner: Dragon over Malenko via Tiger Suplex!

(Finals of WCW Women’s Championship Match) Akira Hokuto W/ Kensuke Sasaki vs Madusa

No Mike Tenay for this match but we have Lee Marshal who I hope is commentating due to some extensive Joshi knowledge but I think I am going to sadly mistaken. Hokuto is a legend in Japanese wrestling while Madusa is no slouch. Hokuto decides to hairpull Madusa all around the ring, Onoo trips Madusa for Hokuto to stay in control. Corner choke by Hokuto, Madusa nails Hokuto with a handstand hurricanrana (Think of Trish Stratus). Onoo distracts Madusa and Hokuto applies a number of holds. Sharpshooter into an STF by Hokuto, Madusa bridges out of a pin with two forearm smashes. Scoop slam by Madusa but Hokuto lifts up Madusa with a throat toss. Knee across the throat by Hokuto, northern lights suplex by Hokuto. Cross armbreaker by Hokuto before Madusa nails a floatover DDT.

German suplex by Hokuto for a two count, tornado DDT by Madusa. Madusa nails a powerbomb for a two count, Madusa tries a second powerbomb but Madusa’s back gives out on her. Hokuto is dropped on her head by a German suplex, Madusa climbs to the top rope but Hokuto crotches Madusa and nails a superplex. Onoo intereferes and slams Madusa with an American flag, missile dropkick by Hokuto and a Northern Lights Bomb for the win by the toughest housewife in all of Japan!

It was a solid match, the crowd were dead quiet for the match which is disappointing. Both women worked hard and I wish they were given more time. I hope there is more to come for women while I continue to cover WCW pay per views.

Winner: Hokuto over Madusa via Northern Lights Bomb!

Piper Promo

Piper goes insane, I am not sure of a whole lot about what he says but he puts over Hogan, puts over the match and puts over the fact that he is going to take the fight to Hogan.

Rey Mysterio vs Jushin Liger

Is it Christmas? It seems like it as we have another great cruiserweight match on the card (Christmas has come early). Mysterio sweeps the legs of Liger, Liger wrenches the arms but Mysterio mule kicks out of the hold. Shoulder block by Liger and a big scoop slam. Vertical suplex by Liger, vicious headbutt by Liger. Flapjack by Liger who is toying with Mysterio, powerbomb spikes Mysterio. Huge chop by Liger, Mysterio comes back with a nice hurricanrana, make it two with the second sending Liger to the floor. 619 fake angers Liger who does not appreciate being made to look stupid. Liger suplexes Mysterio from the apron to the floor which looks very painful for Mysterio. Powerbomb on the floor by Liger. Liger swats away a Mysterio dropkick, tilt-a-whirl backbreaker by Liger. Romero special by Liger, Mysterio is in deep trouble.

Release German suplex by Mysterio, standing moonsault. Mysterio looks for  his West Coast Pop, nope it is a springboard dropkick. Mysterio tries a second springboard but Liger annihilates Mysterio with a dropkick. Release German suplex for a two count, Liger applies the half-crab. Dragon screw legwhip and rolling Koppu Kick by Jushin Liger. Moneky flip by Mysterio, spinning wheel kick and a headscissors by Mysterio. Basement dropkick by Mysterio and a beautiful asai moonsault by Mysterio. Rope-hung guillotine leg drop by Mysterio, Liger puts his foot on the ropes to survive. Slam by Mysterio, Mysterio misses a springboard senton. Liger nails a diving headbutt for two, Mysterio is elevated to the apron. Liger trips Mysterio to the floor, Mysterio tries a hurricanrana from the top rope. Liger blocks and delivers a Ligerbomb for the win.

Good match, Liger is one of the all-time greats. Liger is more power based by this time in his career after his brain tumour but Liger can still work with the best of them and Mysterio held his own there with the best cruiserweight in the world. I am guessing Liger went over to have Liger ready for his match against Dragon for what would have been NJPW’s precursor to Wrestle Kingdom.

Winner: Jushin Liger over Mysterio via Ligerbomb!

Chris Benoit W/ Woman vs Jeff Jarrett

Ric Flair’s endorsement Jeff Jarrett battles Chris Benoit, collar and elbow tie-up with Jarrett pushing back Benoit. Benoit shoves Jarrett to the mat, side headlock by Benoit with Jarrett escaping the hold. Benoit slaps Jarrett, kicks and chops by The Rabid Wolverine. Back elbow by Benoit, drop toe hold and slaps to the head by Benoit. Benoit steps all over Jarrett, Jarrett unloads on Benoit, drop toehold and strut by Jarrett. Series of standing switches, monkey flip by Jarrett but Benoit kicks Jarrett in the ribs and tees off on Jarrett. Spear and punches by Jarrett, Woman distracts Jarrett and Benoit clubs all over Jarrett. Chops and headbutts by Benoit, Benoit prepares for a superplex. Jarrett holds onto the turnbuckle to block the move, Jarrett chokes Benoit using the rope. Jarrett lands groin first on the ropes after Woman saves Benoit. Jarrett is tossed to the floor like a jabroni.

Both men trade turns smacking one another onto the guard rail, sleeper in the ring by Benoit. Jarrett survives the sleeper, back suplex by Jarrett. Small package by Jarrett for two, Jarrett eats a boot from Benoit. Hard chops by Benoit, Jarrett turns the tide and nails a dropkick. Overhead belly to belly suplex, Jarrett suplexes Benoit onto the top rope. Woman pulls Jarrett’s hair to stop The Figure Four, Arn Anderson is at ringside. Jarrett battles back against Benoit, back body drop by Jarrett. The Dungeon of Doom are here to attack Woman, Kevin Sullivan is in the ring and Sullivan cracks Benoit with a chair. However, Jarrett is the victim of a DDT by Arn Anderson. Jarrett is rolled into the ring and pins Benoit by pure fluke.

I liked the match, the finish not too much. From what I can gather, Jarrett was endorsed by Flair but nobody likes Jarrett. Anderson clearly does not want Jarrett nor does Mongo. Jarrett was supposed to be the babyface but not one person was giving a damn about Jarrett. The finish does Jarrett no favours either because Jarrett won by a fluke. Jarrett does not look better because of the finish and it seems The Dungeon of Doom is still a thing and are feuding with The Four Horseman.

Winner: Jeff Jarrett over Benoit thanks to Kevin Sullivan chair shot!

(WCW Tag Team Championship Match) The Outsiders W/ Syxx vs The Faces of Fear W/ Jimmy Hart

I must say that Hall and Nash’s run as champions has been largely boring and unforgettable, the fun segments and good matches must have been on Nitro because working with the likes of The Nasty Boys had done nobody any favours. What does not help The Outsiders’ run as champions? They face heels like The Faces of Fear, we are not in NWO country, these guys are heels (It seems Vince Russo was not the only fan of this crap). Meng grabs Hall’s arm and begins wrenching before Hall wrenches the arm before meeting a huge clothesline from Meng. Meng chops Hall hard, diving bulldog by Hall to cut-off Meng. Meng is back on his feet, tag to Barbarian. Hall spits at Barbarian and tags in Big Sexy, Nash knees and cracks Barbarian with elbows and knees in the corner. Barbarian had Nash reeling but Nick Patrick put his hands all over Barbarian which leads to a big war in the ring. Nash is knocked around the ring by the two hard-headed monsters. Backbreaker for a two by Barbarian, Barbarian misses a second rope elbow.

Snake Eyes by Nash and cheap shot by Hall, tag to Hall who runs wild before Meng decides to involve himself in this match. Big boot by Barbarian, Meng scores with a huge piledriver. Cover and a two for Meng, chops by Barbarian. Powerbomb by Barbarian, Nash makes the save. Tag to Meng, inverted atomic drop and big boot combination by The Faces of Fear. Nash cheap shots Barbarian and Hall nails a clothesline, Syxx chases Jimmy Hart out of the match. Barbarian continues to choke Hall, Hall fights up to his feet and drops Barbarian with a back suplex. Tag to Nash, right hands by Nash, big boot to Barbarian, Meng makes the save. Hall and Meng slug it out, Hall is dumped on the floor. Hall drags out Meng, Nash drills Barbarian with The Jacknife Powerbomb for the win.

A fine tag team match but what are WCW trying to do with Hall and Nash? Why have Nash and Hall face other heels? Why have Nash and Hall come off as the good guys? Why have Nash and Hall as babyfaces when they are terrorizing your company and trying to destroy it? That is the thing about WCW, it seems they were determined to bury their own talent by having Nash and Hall bury them on the mic or have Hall do his surveys where he asks the crowd if they want to see WCW and the crowd boos. I do not understand this company.

Winners: The Outsiders over The Faces of Fear via Jacknife Powerbomb!

Hogan Promo

Trillonaire Ted Dibiase and Miss Elizabeth stand around as Hogan promise to beat up Piper, it was nothing special.

(Finals of United States Championship Tournament) DDP vs Eddie Guerrero

DDP and Eddie Guerrero have been feuding on and off for the past number of months with DDP decisively beating Guerrero at a prior pay per view. With Flair’s injury, the United States Championship was vacated and these two battle it out for the championship. Collar and elbow tie-up with DDP pushing back Guerrero, side headlock by DDP. Guerrero outwrestles DDP which leads to a third lock-up. Hard slap by DDP, Guerrero slaps DDP back in the chest. Guerrero nails a dropkick and hurls DDP into the guard rail. DDP returns the favour by slamming Guerrero into the steel steps. Guerrero hotshots DDP and lands a tope, armbar by Guerrero. Guerrero goes for the ten punch in the corner and DDP drops Eddie on the top turnbuckle. Reverse tombstone by DDP, DDP stomps all over Eddie Guerrero.

DDP clubs the arm of Guerrero, reverse chinlock by DDP. Abdominal stretch by DDP who uses the ropes for leverage, sunset flip by Guerrero but DDP drops Guerrero with a swinging neckbreaker. More abdominal stretching, the referre catches DDP and DDP breaks the hold. Abdominal stretch by Guerrero but DDP plants Guerrero with a clothesline. Shoulder thrust by DDP, Guerrero dodges the second and DDP runs into the ringpost. Guerrero uppercuts and slams DDP into the turnbuckle, suplex and floatover by Guerrero for a two count. Back suplex by Guerrero, Guerrero misses The Frog Splash. DDP covers for a two count, suplex by DDP for another two. Gutbuster by DDP, DDP is climbing to the top rope and Guerrero crotches DDP. Inverted atomic drop and small package by Eddie for a two count, backslide wields the same result. Diamond Cutter is turned into a backslide, slugfest and Irish whip by DDP into a Spiral Bomb. Two count for DDP, both wrestlers bang heads and Eddie falls to the floor. The Wolfpac are here, Hall plants DDP with The Outsider’s Edge. FrogSplash by Guerrero and we have a new champion in Eddie Guerrero.

Good match, Eddie is smooth in the ring but his personality is non-existent, I feel like Eddie Guerrero will be a transitional champion due to awkward persona. DDP was good, a popular heel that could only stay that way for so long similar to The Rock in the WWF in 1998. The future looks bright for both these men in WCW.

Winner: Eddie Guerrero over DDP via FrogSplash!

The Giant vs Lex Luger

Two men known for great matches.. Ah who am I kidding? This is going to be bowling shoe ugly but maybe, just maybe, this match could be ok. The lock-up, Giant is pushed back by Luger, big punches by Luger. Big clothesline by Giant, huge elbow. Kick to the ribs which sends Luger to the floor. Luger takes huge shots to the lower back, Giant steps on Luger. Luger attempts a comeback but cannot lift The Giant, Giant elbows Luger once again. Giant misses a stinger splash, Luger smashes Giant as much as he can before Giant boots Luger to the canvas. Giant misses a dropkick and it gets no reaction, elbows and right hands by Luger. Series of clotheslines and right hands but Giant will not fall, neckbreaker by Luger for a two count. Giant presses Luger onto the referee, Luger scoop slams Giant.

Luger goes for the Rack but Nick Patrick kicks the leg of Luger, Sting is here. Torture Rack but Syxx makes the save, Sting is in the ring. Sting shoves Patrick and drops the bat in the middle of the ring. Sting leaves and Luger crawls towards the bat. Giant steps on the bat but Luger low blows Giant and beats Giant with bat. Cover by Luger and Luger pins The Giant to win the match.

It was a decent match, I was expecting a terrible match but it was not that bad. Another loss for Giant who is the number one contender for the world heavyweight championship, I know it was the bat that laid out The Giant but if The Giant is meant to be a main event player, do not have him lose before his championship match and don’t have him play second fiddle to so many babyfaces and heels. That being said, the crowd is super into Luger which is good for him considering how it did not work out in the WWF.

Winner: Luger over The Giant via Bat Beatdown!

Rowdy Roddy Piper vs Hollywood Hulk Hogan

Here we go, the main event that had been brewing for two months, Piper came in at Halloween Havoc and called out Hogan for never beating him. Hogan thinking that he is the bee’s knees, laughs at Piper and decides to accept Piper’s challenge for the match. Piper had been laid out and assaulted by The NWO on a few occasions, there is a focus on Piper’s hip as there was a scar on The Hot Rod’s upper thigh. Hogan begins the match by slapping Piper, make it two slaps as piper stares a whole through Hogan.

Piper rocks Hogan with a series of rights and lefts, Hogan comically bails to the floor and half way up the rampway. Piper eats a kick by Hogan who unloads on Hot Rod, Piper is rammed into the top turnbuckle. Piper dodges a corner clothesline and nails a clothesline of his own, rake to the eyes by Piper. Big clothesline by Piper, side headlock by Piper. Hogan nails a back suplex but Piper does not release the side headlock. Piper is backed into the ropes and Hogan hotshots Piper, double axe handle by Hogan. In the ring, Piper knocks down Hogan, stiff kicks and a dropkick by Piper. Hogan is on the floor again and tries to leave the arena. Piper whips Hogan all over and chokes Hogan for the exclamation point. Scoop slam by Piper but Dibiase grabs the foot of Piper. Dibiase distracts Piper and Hogan takes control, Hogan puts the boots to Piper. Hogan begins working the hip of Piper, abdominal stretch by Hogan. Piper survives the hold but Dibiase grabs Piper for the second time. Small package by Piper for a two count.

Piper pokes Hogan in the eyes, suplex by Piper. Cover and a two count, Hogan misses the Leg Drop. Piper kicks the legs of Hogan and Hogan is begging on his knees, Giant is in the ring. Giant looks for A Chokeslam but Piper fights off Giant and Hogan and Hogan has found himself in the sleeper. Piper chokes out Hogan and Piper has beaten Hogan clean in the middle of the ring. The Giant and Hogan are having problems which looks like The NWO is imploding. Big Giant chants, everyone wants to see Giant kill Hogan.

As a match, mostly garbage. You’d think Hogan as a heel would be tremendous considering how many great heels he had faced and the fact that he was no slouch when he was a heel but it seems so comical and it does not work. The facials and the trash talk seem so forced like Hogan is trying too hard. Hogan powders at least three times in the match, once is enough. When you do it three times, you are either stalling or just trying to make me hate you. Piper does his best, the eyepokes, the cheating, the punches, they are all there and Piper brings life to an otherwise dead match. The ending was hampered by fan run-in, Giant hoists Piper in the air and walks in a circle waiting for Hogan to get into position, Giant takes a big bump to the floor and Piper slaps on the sleeper to no reaction. The whole turning on The Giant thing seems so half-assed too with the explanation being that Hall and Nash were not there for Giant in his match yet Syxx and Nick Patrick were out there helping Giant so his whole “Nobody helps me” does not really work. The main events in WCW have been consistently poor since I began reviewing them, I just hope I get a change of pace sooner rather than later.

Winner: Roddy Piper over Hogan via Sleeper!

Starrcade is WCW’s answer to Wrestlemania and this show felt like a lot of the Wrestlemanias from this time-period: a disappointment and not worth the price. You had your good matches, the cruiserweight matches were good. Everything else, not so much, there were just so many questionable booking decisions and finishes that made me want to stop watching the show. If Jarrett is to being taken seriously, why have him win by fluke? If The Outsiders are the true heels of the company, why are we booking them against other heels? If Eddie Guerrero is a babyface who we want to get over, why is all the focus on DDP and his eventual turn? If Giant is challenging for the championship and turning face, why are we having him face a top face in Luger and why is he losing? I am left scratching my head, trying to figure out the reason how WCW managed to not screw everything up before 1998. This show was not a good show, the cruiserweight matches were good but you could see them on any pay per view, the rest of a show was a mess so my call is giving this show a miss. I shall see you for the next review and remember: There is always another night!

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