Hello and welcome to another edition of Seanomaniac Wrestling Reviews, the only wrestling review series on the internet that is still wondering where is Elias? It’s time for WCW Starrcade 1988: True Gritt! What a PPV tagline right? Well we have all been talking about the big one, the night where WCW puts everything on the line. Headlined by Lex Luger challenging Ric Flair for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, we also have The Midnight Express taking on The Original Midnight Express, The Fantastics defend their tag team championships against The Varsity Club, Rick Steiner goes after Mike Rotunda and Ivan Koloff continues his feud with Paul Jones and his Russian Assassins.
(NWA United States Tag Team Championship Match) The Fantastics © vs Kevin Sullivan & Dr. Death Steve Williams
Turning Williams heel will never make sense to me but whatever WCW you do you. The Fantastics were going to face The Sheepherders to recapture that magic from their feud years earlier but The Sheepherders are now The Bushwhackers in the WWF so sucks for them. Sullivan’s feud with Precious seems to be long forgotten too, not too sure what happened there but disappointing for sure. Covering up Williams’ massive body with a singlet is just foolish but this should be decent if Williams throws around Rogers for five to ten minutes.
Sullivan and Fulton start, chops from Sullivan. Clubbing blows and an Irish whip, Fulton kicks off Sullivan and lands a diving Lou Thesz press for two. Lock-up and Sullivan sends Fulton to the corner but Fulton fights back, massive right to the head and in comes Rogers. Back body-drop, tag to Fulton. Right hand and side headlock from Fulton, Sullivan backs into Doc. Williams and Rogers trade arm-bars before Rogers lures in Williams. Fulton works the arm, Fulton sends Williams to the buckle. Williams reverses but misses the corner attack, double monkey flip from the champions. Williams dodges a monkey flip and military presses Fulton to the mat. Massive clothesline from Williams, Fulton takes a breather. The champions land a dropkick on Williams before Williams drops Fulton with a belly to back suplex.
Fulton tags Rogers, dropkick does not work on Williams. Double clothesline almost beheads Rogers, Sullivan misses a clothesline and ends up on the floor. Shoulder block from Rogers, dropkick too. Sullivan begs for mercy, they lock-up and Rogers is cornered. Noggin-knocker on Williams, double gut-shot to Sullivan. Williams eats a back body-drop, Williams shakes it off and wipes out Rogers. Sullivan lands a cheap-shot on Rogers, Williams stomps all over Rogers. Delayed vertical suplex from Williams for two, Sullivan attacks Fulton which allows Williams to drill Rogers. Small package from Rogers for two, flying crossbody for two. Sullivan can only watch as Rogers tags in Fulton who eats the knee of Williams who tags in officially.
Right hand from Williams staggers Fulton, bearhug from Williams. Williams has to break the hold as Fulton thumbs the eye, in comes Rogers against Sullivan. Rogers runs into the foot of Sullivan, Sullivan is knocked off the top rope by Rogers. Sullivan blocks the splash with two boots to the ribs, tag to Williams. Short-arm clothesline, Sullivan comes in and lands a clothesline on Rogers but Fulton breaks it up. Rear chin-lock from Sullivan, Rogers breaks free but eats a knee to the gut. In comes Williams and drops a leg on the neck of Rogers, drop onto the top rope from Williams. Headbutt for good measure, two for Williams. Rear chin-lock from Williams, Rogers comes up and battles back against Williams. Dropkick on Williams but Williams tags in Sullivan who double-stomps on Rogers.
Two for Sullivan, Rogers blocks the suplex and drills Sullivan. Fulton wants in bad, Fulton gets the tag and kicks Williams in the face. Back body-drop on Williams, the match is breaking down. Right hands stagger Williams, ten punches in the corner. Fulton dodges the inverted atomic drop, clothesline from Fulton. Rogers comes in for a sleeper, Williams counters a Thesz press for a hot-shot/stun-gun and this match is over as Williams pins Fulton.
Decent tag team match, I am an easy man to please and what I want is Steve Williams uses his size to slaughter people. For whatever reason, Williams is hardly dropping people like flies, no idea why they won’t let Williams kill people but certainly what I wanted to see in this match. Fantastics weren’t as over as you would think here, crowd was not as kind to them as before which they needed to carry this match. Sadly, it was alright at the end of the day.
Winners: Steve Williams & Kevin Sullivan over The Fantastics via Hot-Shot!
Original Midnight Express W/ Paul E. Dangerously vs The Midnight Express W/ Jim Cornette
Randy Rose and Dennis Condrey came in from The AWA and battered The Midnight Express, Cornette was left bloody by the attacks of Paul E. The match starts hot with Lane & Eaton tearing apart Rose & Condrey. Lane and Condrey start officially, Condrey gets smacked to the floor and Cornette delivers the racket shot to the back. Paul E. is furious, Condrey backs Lane into the corner. Shoulder thrusts and a right hand before Lane answers with an inverted atomic drop. In comes Rose, Rose eats a drop toehold and an elbow drop. Eaton lands a back elbow, measured right hand sends Rose to the floor before Cornette lands another racket shot to the back. Rose is rocked on the ropes by Eaton who winds up for a massive boot. Lane sends Rose into the ring-post, Rose begs for mercy.
Tag to Lane, kicks and side headlock from Lane. Shoulder block from Lane, flying crossbody for two. Condrey goes for a handshake and is kicked hard in the ribs, tag to Eaton with Condrey clubbing Eaton. Condrey continues slugging away at Eaton, Eaton sends Condrey into the buckle. Elbow drop from Eaton, right hand to Rose. Lane smashes Condrey and is tagged in, spinning sole butt into a rear chin-lock from Lane. Lane tags in Eaton who lands a massive bulldog, Condrey tags in Rose. Rose fights back at Lane who tagged in, monkey flip is blocked by Lane. Throat thrust from Lane, right hands from Eaton. Tag to Lane, leapfrog crossbody from Lane for not even one as Rose puts his foot on the ropes. Elbow from Eaton, Eaton whips Rose to the corner but misses his attack. Eaton hits the buckle hard, Condrey stomps away on Eaton. Rose atomic drops Eaton on the floor, Condrey lands an elbow with Rose. Double team elbow into the face of Eaton, Rose gets in a cheap shot and a middle rope clothesline onto Eaton. Condrey lands a short-arm clothesline, knees to the ribs of Eaton with Dangerously landing a shot on Eaton.
Condrey tries a back body-drop but Eaton lands an amazing neck-breaker with Rose coming in and cleaning up the scraps. Front chancery from Rose, Condrey comes in to stop Eaton making the tag. Condrey displays great viciousness as he knees Eaton over and over, cheap-shot from Lane. Lane snaps and attacks Condrey, Rose comes in for a middle rope clothesline. Condrey chokes Eaton from the apron, Rose drops his weight on the neck of Eaton. Eaton is sent to the floor, stomps from Condrey who is tagged in by Rose. Condrey keeps working the ribs, powerslam into The Rocket Launcher but Rose misses the splash.
In comes Lane who kicks everyone in sight, noggin-knocker and Lane is feeling it now. Double kicks and an enzuigiri to the back of the head. Eaton and Condrey are brawling, Dangerously cracks Lane in the head with the phone. Cornette decks Dangerously, referee Teddy Long does not count the three as he sees the phone. High and low combination from Eaton & Lane, The Midnight Express win this match but The Original Express attack Stan Lane and Jim Cornette after the bell. Bobby Eaton saves the day but the damage is done!
Good tag team wrestling match here, night and day difference between this match and the first tag team match. Loved Condrey’s attacks on Eaton, you could feel the hatred and the attacks were so simple, repeated stomps and knees to the ribs. Condrey knew what he was doing in this match and it was great stuff, finish is a little wonky for my tastes but nonetheless, it leaves it open to rematches and I am all for that.
Winners: The Midnight Express over The Original Midnight Express via High & Low Combination!
Junkyard Dog & Ivan Koloff vs The Russian Assassins W/ Paul Jones
If Ivan Koloff & Junkyard Dog win, the Assassins must unmask and Paul Jones must retire so this is high stakes right here. Originally, we were meant to have The Koloffs reunite to take down The Russian Assassins but it was not meant to be, I have a few concerns about this one because I don’t think The Assassins are going to be able to hide the weaknesses of the two men in the ring across from them.
JYD and Assassin 1 fight it out, JYD sends Assassin 1 into the buckle. Clothesline by JYD for two, JYD drills Assassin 1 with a big right hand to the floor. Two for JYD as Paul Jones continues to save his team, headbutt from JYD. Koloff is tagged in, elbows and stomps. Choking from Koloff, Russian Hammer from Koloff. Clubbing blows, eye-rake from Assassin 2. Koloff comes back with a middle rope clothesline, Assassin 1 comes back into the match. Clubbing blows by Koloff, elbow too. Assassin 1 is caught with a sunset flip, Assassin 2 distracts the referee to stop the pin-fall. JYD comes in, double clothesline. Snap-mare but JYD misses the falling headbutt.
Assassin 1 rakes the eyes and goes to work, side headlock and tag to Assassin 2 who decks JYD with a right hand. Koloff is distracted, Assassin 2 axe handles Assassin 1 by mistake. Assassin 2 comes in and drills JYD with big right hands in the corner. Russian Missile misses with JYD dodges, JYD tags in Koloff who hammers everyone. The Assassins collide in the middle of the ring, brawling in the ring now. Russian Sickle wipes out Assassin 2, Assassin 1 has something put in his mask by Paul Jones, Assassin 1 cracks Koloff with a headbutt and they steal the win.
Well that was as bad as I thought it was, nothing redeeming about this match. I don’t see the benefit of Ivan Koloff at this stage in his career, I think its time to call it a day. The Assassins winning is surprising as I have no idea where this feud/gimmick goes from here but I guess time will tell but yeah, this match is as bad as it looks on paper.
Winners: The Russian Assassins over Ivan Koloff & JYD via Headbutt!
(NWA Television Championship Match) Mike Rotunda © vs Rick Steiner
The Varsity Club was Sullivan, Rotunda and Steiner before Steiner grew disgusted by the tactics of Sullivan and Rotunda and was replaced with Steve Williams. Steiner looks to capture the championship that Rotunda has carried for almost a year, I have no idea how but they were fond of Rotunda or something. Kevin Sullivan is in a cage above the ring, Steiner out-powers Rotunda to begin the match. Rotunda claims Steiner used the singlet which Steiner denies. Side headlock from Steiner, shoulder block from Steiner and Steiner lands a massive clothesline for two. Rotunda powders to the floor, we are back in the ring.
Side headlock from Steiner, Rotunda drop toeholds Steiner but Steiner counters into a hammerlock. Rotunda counters for a side headlock, Steiner pulls the hair into a leg-scissors. Belly to belly suplex from Rotunda, Steiner dodges the elbow drop. Steiner tries a headlock but Rotunda holds onto the hair for a leg-scissors, we reset with the fans chanting things at Rotunda which leads to Rotunda stalling. Incredible as if the man could not bother me anymore, lock-up with a side headlock from Steiner. Clothesline from Steiner but Rotunda hurls Steiner to the floor, Steiner is elbowed upon re-entering the ring. Vicious kicks from Rotunda who is wearing down Steiner, Steiner is battling back but Rotunda clamps on a reverse chin-lock.
Rotunda and Steiner brawl with one another, massive elbow from Rotunda. Rear chin-lock, Steiner fights his way out of the hold but The Write-Off almost destroys Steiner. Irish whip by Rotunda, Steiner counters with a sunset flip. Rotunda kicks the head of Steiner, Rotunda misses a dropkick. Rotunda gets caught in a small package for two, Rotunda whips Steiner but Steiner reverses for a Steiner-line! Rotunda is begging for mercy, ten punches in the corner as Dr. Death comes to ringside. Back body-drop, powerslam for two. Belly to belly suplex with Steiner celebrating but it was Williams who rang the bell, Sullivan is being lowered with the referee believing that this was a time-limit draw. Referee Tommy Young comes down and tells original referee Teddy Long what has happened.
This match is going to continue which sickens Sullivan, Steiner is locked in a side headlock and Steiner shoves off Rotunda who cracks into Kevin Sullivan with Sullivan falling to the floor and Steiner climbing on top of Rotunda for the win, Rick Steiner is your NWA Television Champion!
Please stop Rotunda matches going over 8 minutes, I can tolerate him for 8 minutes I feel but I am not watching another match with that man going anywhere near 15 minutes or 20 minutes. Rotunda might be the most boring wrestler in the world for me, he is a total bore in there and makes me sleepy every time. However, big moment for Steiner who has a lot of potential if they protect him and let him be an explosive mad man who clotheslines the shit out of people.
Winner: Rick Steiner over Mike Rotunda via Clashing of Heads!
(NWA United States Heavyweight Championship Match) Barry Windham © W/ JJ Dillon vs Bam Bam Bigelow W/ Oliver Humperdink
They lock-up, clean break. Bigelow shoves down Windham, Windham is not happy with this development. Windham backs Bigelow to the corner, three massive rights before Bigelow picks up Windham for a gut-buster variation. Windham powders, Dillon looks on concerned as Windham slowly re-enters the ring. Bigelow is dropped on his head with a belly to back suplex by Bigelow no-sells that weak-ass shit. Dillon talks more strategy with Windham, shoulder block from Bigelow. Windham continues looking for mercy, looking for a test of strength here which may not be too wise before Windham rakes the eyes and mouth of Bigelow. The right hands are not staggering Bigelow, Windham is begging for mercy. Military press slam to the mat, Bigelow is begging Windham to get to his feet.
Windham stalls again, Bigelow backs Windham to the corner. Ten punches in the corner, Windham is rocked. Dropkick to the floor, big kick from Bigelow and Bigelow lands a massive suplex for two. Reverse chin-lock, Windham escapes and fights back. Bigelow is sent to the floor and clutches his knee, JR talks about the knee surgery that Bigelow has had in the past. Great stuff from JR telling us why this could be a bad omen for Bigelow, Bigelow knocks down Windham for a slingshot splash. Two for Bigelow, military press slam and Bigelow climbs high. Bigelow misses his atomic splash as JR calls it, Windham is up to his feet. Windham calls for the end, right hands from Windham. Flying Lariat from Windham who is all sorts of fired up, belly to back suplex from Windham.
Windham could be thinking Claw, Bigelow is dragged to his feet as Windham lands ten punches in the corner. Dropkick from Windham and Bigelow spills to the floor, Windham gives chase. Bigelow meets the ring-post, Windham calls for The Claw. Irish whip and The Claw is applied to the head of Bigelow, Bigelow fades but makes it to the corner. Dillon calls for The Claw again, scoop slam from Windham. Windham climbs high, the elbow drop misses as Bigelow comes back to life. Right hands from Bigelow, Irish whip and both men spill to the floor as Windham crossbodies Bigelow to the floor. Bigelow atomic drops Windham, Bigelow tries a clothesline but misses Windham and hits the ring-post and gets counted out.
Lame finish, really lame finish. You cannot do much worse than this, I thought it would be interesting but I think Windham got the short end of the stick here, would have liked to see Windham vs Sting too. Nothing impressive about this one and that sucks that they didn’t have something special for Windham’s match at Starrcade.
Winner: Barry Windham over Bam Bam Bigelow via Coount-Out!
(NWA World Tag Team Championship Match) The Road Warriors © W/ Paul Ellering vs Sting & Dusty Rhodes
The Road Warriors turned heel and won the championships from The Midnight Express to set up this match with starts hot with brawling, the babyfaces get the upper hand though as Sting dropkicks Hawk and Rhodes clubs down Animal. Do the fans want to boo the champions? Not really, Animal and Sting to start. Lock-up, Animal punches Sting and lands a shoulder block before Sting dropkicks Animal to the floor. Sting works the arm and tags in Rhodes who chokes Animal. Animal’s eye remains in tact but they need to talk strategy, Hawk decides to come into the match. Hawk walks Rhodes to the corner, right hand from Hawk but Rhodes comes back with elbows. Arm-wrench from Rhodes who tags in Sting.
Sting bites the hand of Hawk, eye-rake from Hawk. Right hands from Hawk, stomps in the corner. Rights and lefts from Hawk, Sting fires back with a massive right. Rights and lefts by Sting, powerslam from Sting. Sting is in with Animal now, military press slam from Animal. Sting is dropped onto the rope but no-sells it, clothesline after clothesline by Sting. Sting dives onto Animal at ringside, tag to Rhodes. Chops and elbows by Rhodes, Rhodes goes after the leg of Animal. Hawk tags in to save his partner, Rhodes knocks down Hawk looking for a figure four but Animal elbows Rhodes who goes down hard. Hawk attacks Rhodes on the floor. Dropkick from Hawk for two, Hawk claws at the eye of Rhodes.
Right hands from Hawk, Rhodes is shaking it off. Rhodes dropkicks Hawk but Animal is in seconds later biting the head of Rhodes. Neck-crank from Animal, Hawk comes in and chops Rhodes too. Irish whip and a sleeper from Hawk, Rhodes escapes and tags in Stinger. Bulldog to Animal, Animal sends Sting to the buckle but Sting leaps over and lands a dropkick, Stinger Splash on Animal. Scorpion Death-Lock, Hawk comes in and kicks Sting before tossing Sting over the top rope. The Road Warriors attack Rhodes, Rhodes low-blows Animal while Sting lands a diving crossbody on Animal! 1…2… Ellering attacks the referee and our babyfaces win by DQ!
How many times am I going to have to watch Sting come close to winning a championship, Sting needs a big win soon because I don’t know how many times I can watch The Stinger come close to the gold. As for the match itself, it was ok nothing special as I watched the action unfold. Hawk and Animal can be a lot of fun to watch but that Rhodes face-in-peril segment was very tame for the biggest show of the year. DQ finish in a big championship match and a count-out finish in the other big championship match, really not a good night for WCW so far.
Winners: Sting & Dusty Rhodes over The Road Warriors via DQ!
(NWA World Heavyweight Championship Match) Ric Flair © W/ JJ Dillon vs Lex Luger
Luger had come close at The Clash of The Champions but the athletic commission had stopped Luger’s dream due to excessive blood loss which in a promotion like this is absolutely ridiculous but that was this company during this era. Anyways, Sting is the chosen one for WCW but we have Luger vs Flair in the main event so how will Luger do in his second chance against Flair. We start off with a whole lot of talking from The Nature Boy, Luger remains calm and keeps charging forward. Luger and Flair trade headlocks, Luger clotheslines Flair to the floor and poses for all the fans in attendance. Flair takes a breather, Dillon talks strategy with the champion who takes a long walk as Luger wants to get it on. Lock-up with Luger countering the hammerlock before Flair hugs the ropes, Luger shoves off Flair. Flair talks more trash, Luger says bring it on. Side headlock from Luger, shoulder block from the challenger.
Flair lures in Luger, chops and a shoulder block before Luger catches Flair for a powerslam. Luger poses with Flair going to the apron, Irish whip and a military press slam from Luger. Flair places a foot on the ropes, Flair screams Oh God as he writhes in pain. Flair begs for mercy, arm-wrench from Luger. Flair escapes and chops, Luger shakes it off with Flair powdering to the floor. Flair continues begging, boots from Flair. Chop-time, Flair shakes it off and Flair hits the ring-post shoulder-first. Hammerlock with knees from the challenger, shoulder blocks from Luger. Hip-toss from Luger, Flair is begging off in the corner again. Eye-poke from Flair, Luger has been stopped for the first time in this match. Right hand to the nose, chops from Flair that fire up Luger. Luger marches down Flair with Flair powdering again.
Hammerlock on the outside, Flair meets the ring-post shoulder-first. Flair continues to beg for mercy while Luger continues marching forward. Arm-wrench from Luger, Flair walks Luger to the ropes. Clean break from Luger, Flair works the liver. Side headlock from Flair, shoulder block from Flair. Drop-down and leapfrogs before Luger lands a clothesline for a close two. Vertical suplex for two, the challenger is pressing hard. Luger misses an elbow drop, Flair kicks the ribs of Luger. Forearm to the head, Luger is on the defensive now. Luger is hurled to the floor by Flair, Flair bounces the face of Luger off the guardrail. Chops and a right hand to the nose, Flair lands a massive boot to the ribs.
Knee-drop from Flair, chops from The Nature Boy. Snap-mare and double stomp from The Nature Boy. Flair chops and chops, Luger marches forward. Flair tries chopping again, Luger tees off with right hands from his good arm. Side headlock from Flair, shoulder block but Luger fights back with a sleeper. Flair counters for a belly to back suplex, both men are down. Luger counters the figure four for a small package, two for Luger. Flair chops and snap-mares Luger, Flair goes high but of course, Luger is too fast for Flair. Luger wants a superplex, absolutely devastating for a close two. Luger decides it is time for the figure four, Flair is screaming out in pain. Diving crossbody from Luger but Dillon had the referee distracted, Flair fights back on his knees. Hip-toss is blocked, Luger counters for the backslide. Another close two for Luger, Luger is irate. Ten punches from Luger, Luger is on fire. Irish whip with a Flair Flip, Flair is on the apron.
Suplex into the ring, two for Luger. Flair chops back and asks for more, Luger whips Flair and lands a massive military press slam. Powerslam from Luger who calls for The Rack, Dillon is choked on the apron. Flair rolls away from danger, Luger is tripped and while Dillon is with the referee, Luger is waffled with the steel chair on his knees. Referee Tommy Young has no idea, Flair limps around the ring and goes for the kill. Flair works the leg, dropping all his weight on the left leg of Luger. Chop-block from Flair, Flair continues working that leg of Luger. Knee drop on the leg, Figure Four Leg-Lock in the middle of the ring. Luger powers up and turns Flair on the other side. Luger reverses the pressure with Flair relinquishing the hold, who will capitalize?
Luger cannot stand, Dillon cheers on Flair. Another stomp to the challenger’s leg, snap-mare with another knee drop to the leg. Flair climbs high to the top rope, Luger hobbles over and yanks Flair into the middle of the ring. Flair is shocked as Luger comes forward again, Irish whip and military press slam. Flair throws Luger to the outside, shoulder block from the apron by Luger and Luger tries a sunset flip for two. Flair tries a forearm, Luger shakes it off. Ten punches from Luger, Irish whip to the opposite buckle and clothesline for two. Powerslam by Luger and Luger calls for The Rack, Torture Rack in the middle of the ring. Luger’s leg buckle and collapses with Flair falling on top and uses the ropes for the leverage to survive.
Luger and Flair have a great match on this night, similar to their match at The Clash without the flat finish, Luger’s selling was great here when the leg was attacked, really put over how dangerous things were for The Total Package, Flair leads Luger through his classic match formula making Luger look amazing at every turn. Enjoyed the use of the chair, the crowd really bought into this more than the usual Flair working of the knee story, really good stuff there. I like the finish, I thought it was tough to beat Luger here. I understand that Sting is their boy but their booking is so atrocious for Sting in my opinion at this stage that putting the title on Luger for a few months would not have been the worst thing in the world. Especially when you know that a certain Dragon will be returning to WCW very shortly and that championship will be changing hands but the last 2 matches I have seen between these two might be the best two of Luger’s career and say what you want about Lex Luger but with the right opponent, The Total Package can be a lot of fun to watch.
Winner: Ric Flair over Lex Luger via Feet On The Ropes!
That was WCW’s Starrcade 1988, a largely disappointing show from WCW. Booking has been questionable at best and the exodus of talent has greatly hurt the company, losing half of The Horsemen but also mid-card acts and tag teams have left the company in a difficult situation heading into 1989. Luger is clearly not the man to dethrone Ric Flair, why we bypassed a possible Luger vs Windham confrontation considering their history as tag team partners and champions is a little strange to me, we also have Sting who has challenged for every major championship in the company and has failed to capture any due to nefarious methods used by his opponents. I am a fan of Sting and it’s easy to see why Sting could be the next big thing in the company but Sting has to beat someone and has to do it quickly because I can’t sit through another match with Sting not capturing the gold. Some matches are delivering, Flair is delivering and Windham with the right opponent can deliver but not a whole lot else to be excited for, Steve Williams is doing nothing that made me love him in AJPW, he’s not throwing around the lighter Fantastics, he’s not crushing people so that opening tag match was a bit of a tough watch. The Midnight Express match delivers, great tag team wrestling and that’s why I love The Midnight Express. The Paul Jones vs Ivan Koloff stuff is awful, worse than The Jimmy Valiant stuff and that’s saying something, I never want to see Mike Rotunda again that man has robbed me of so many minutes of my life that I cannot get back, I am begging for someone to explain to me what was the upside of Rotunda because he bores me inside of the ring. Another DQ for Sting in a championship match, I am over it and I just want them to strap the rocket to Sting now, I have suffered enough thanks very much while the main event is arguably Luger’s finest hour but it confirms that Luger will not be world champion so where does Luger go from here? A two match show for me with The Midnight Express and Flair being the stars, thanks for reading and remember: there’s always another night!