Thursday, 27 December 2018

PPV REVIEW: WCW Starrcade 1998

WCW Starrcade 1998 Review - Event poster
December 27, 1998 
MCI Center in Washington, D.C

Here's something that I don't think has ever happened before in the history of Retro Pro Wrestling: This Starrcade 1998 review is being published exactly 20 years to the day that the actual event took place.

That's pretty cool, right?

At least a lot cooler than the state of World Championship Wrestling at the tail end of 1998.

Indeed, after tearing the World Wrestling Federation a new one and dominating the competition throughout the middle part of the 1990s, 1998 had seen the company slowly but steadily beginning to spin out of control as one bad decision after another saw them losing any momentum they'd once gained.

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of pro wrestling's biggest war, the WWF had spent most of the year mounting an unprecedented comeback, clawing their way to the top of the mountain on the back of white-hot main event superstars The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin and, of course, on the back of a whole new Attitude.

With the year now coming to a close, would WCW show that they weren't out of the fight just yet?

Would the company put their best foot forward and give its fans hope for a better  1999?

Or would Starrcade 1998 be just the latest in a long line of bad decisions?






With the company's own white-hot star, Goldberg, putting his streak and the WCW title on the line against Kevin Nash, we all know the answer to that one.

But hey, we're here anyway, so we might as well jump into the show, right?

The Streak is On The Line

WCW Starrcade 1998 Review - Mike Tenay, Tony Schiavone, and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan
After a brief video introduction highlighting what a powerhouse Goldberg was, we cut to the usual dramatic introduction from Tony Schiavone.

Along with Iron Mike Tenay and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan, Schiavone told us that Goldberg was currently 173-0, defending a title that had been in existence since 1905.

The trio also informed us that, as per Eric Bischoff's demands, none of the Four Horsemen besides Ric Flair were allowed in the building, giving Easy E a distinct advantage in his match with the Nature Boy later on in the show.

We then cut to Mean Gene Okerlund for a bit of 1-900-909-9900 action before the bell sounded, Dave Penzer spoke up, and it was on with the action.

World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship Triangle Match
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Kidman vs. Juventud Guerrera vs. Rey Mysterio Jr.

WCW Starrcade 1998 Review - Rey Mysterio faced Kidman and Juventud Guerrera
Kicking off the show with what Mike Tenay promised us could be a "show-stealer," Rey Mysterio Jr. came to the ring with a random hip-hop theme that I don't recognise at all.

That aside, this was a fun opening match.

OK, so it wasn't the all-out show-stealer Tenay had predicted, and there were certainly times when you could tell the three combatants were merely shuffling from one spot to the next, but hey, some of those spots were a blast to watch.

After a good back-and-forth battle, Latino World Order leader Eddie Guerrero got involved, trying to assist his boy Juventud Guerrera in picking up the win.

Unfortunately for the LWO, Mysterio gave Kidman the assist in reversing a pin attempt, and the former Flock member retained the gold.
Your Winner and Still WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Kidman

Post-match, an irate Eddie Guerrero berated Rey and Juvi for being "morons" and not LWO material. This is despite the fact that, during his entrance, Rey dropped his LWO t-shirt to the ground and trod on it, effectively disassociating himself from the Latino faction.

This is also despite the fact that Rey had already left the group at the previous month's World War 3 event.

WCW Starrcade 1998 Review - Eddie Guerrero with Juventud Guerrera
This whole, boring segment lasted almost as long as the previous match had, and culminated in Eddie calling out Kidman with the words "I challenge you to a cruiserweight champion!"

Fortunately, Kidman knew Eddie had meant a championship match and came down to accept the challenge.

In perfect heel mode, Eddie then claimed he wasn't ready (he was still wearing street clothes), but then relented and took the match to stop Kidman calling him a sissy.

World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Kidman vs. Eddie Guerrero

Lacking the flash and panache of the previous encounter, this was still nonetheless a good match, albeit one that told a different story.

WCW Starrcade 1998 Review - Billy Kidman defended his cruiserweight title twice
Here, we had the fresh challenger, Eddie Guerrero dominating his battle-weary opponent for the bulk of the contest, with Kidman barely keeping himself in the match.

Rey Mysterio stood guard as the champion's second, with Mike Tenay telling us that he was only in the LWO because he'd been forced to (probably by losing a match).

Ah, so that makes sense now.

Meanwhile, despite being berated by Eddie earlier, Juventud Guerrera continued to run interference for the LWO leader.

He wasn't the only one.

Towards the finish, another LWO member who the announcers told us was Eddie's bodyguard came down to distract the referee. This backfired, as Rey gave Kidman the assist, allowing the champ to hit another shooting star press to retain the gold.
Your Winner and Still WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Kidman

A bizarre video package followed which saw clips of the Goldberg/Kevin Nash rivalry mixed with floating clouds and choral music.

It was odd.

WCW Starrcade 1998 Review - Norman Smiley vs. Prince IukeaNorman Smiley vs. Prince Iaukea

Yes, Norman Smiley vs. Prince Iaukea on one of the biggest pay per views of the year.

Welcome to the WCW, folks.

Look, I'm not saying it was a bad match. The two actually put on a pretty solid wrestling clinic, but it went on forever and absolutely nobody cared.

After almost 14 minutes of body scissors and assorted submissions, Smiley slapped on the Norman Conquest chicken wing to win the match.
Your Winner: Norman Smiley

Afterwards, a tired-looking Scott Hall turned up "unannounced" to cut a tedious promo about how 1998 had not been his year but 1999 would be.

WCW Starrcade 1998 Review - Scott Hall promised to have a better 1999
Distancing himself from former teammate Kevin Nash, Hall claimed that he had nothing to prove to Nash or to the fans, but only to himself.

Though hindsight would prove that this would indeed serve a purpose, it was neither very interesting nor entertaining.

We then got a clip of Bam Bam Bigelow arriving at a WCW show and beating up Hall, which somehow led to a pull-apart between Nash and Goldberg and, finally, a three-way between Nash, Bigelow and Goldberg.

Maybe Bam Bam was still upset about something from the time he and Nash teamed up at King of the Ring 1995.

The Cat (w/ Sonny Onoo) vs. Perry Saturn

Now known simply as The Cat, Ernest Miller began tonight by taking to the mic to tell the crowd that they were lucky to see him compete and "whoop this guy."

He then did his usual schtick in which he gave his opponent five seconds to leave the ring to avoid said whooping. Naturally, Perry Saturn declined the invitation.

WCW Starrcade 1998 Review - Ernest 'The Cat' Miller faced Perry Saturn
Though Miller was never the greatest (despite that being his whole gimmick), this was at least an effective way of getting heat before he and Saturn locked up.

The actual match was kept short and played for laughs in the early going, with the cowardly Cat doing all he could to try and stay away from Saturn.

Alas, he failed, got his ass kicked, and lost the match after Sonny Onoo tried to kick Saturn, missed, and smashed Cat in the mush.

Cat kicked his manager back but got a Death Valley Driver from Saturn and was pinned.
Your Winner: Perry Saturn

Post-match, Miller shoved Onoo, apparently ending their relationship.


"Meeeeeeeeean...WHOOO! Gene!"

WCW Starrcade 1998 Review - Ric Flair interviewed by Mean Gene Okerlund
Up next, Okerlund interviewed a returning Ric Flair about his upcoming match with Eric Bischoff.

Styling and profiling like no other before or since, Nature Boy vowed to tear Bischoff limb from limb in a highly entertaining promo, reminding us all that he was indeed a jet-flying, limousine-riding, kiss-stealing, wheeling-dealing son of a gun.

WHOO!

In case you were wondering what caused this match, we next saw a video package which traced the Bischoff/Flair rivalry all the way back to the Outsiders invasion of 1996.

If you recall, this led to Bischoff being revealed as part of the New World Order and becoming an egomaniacal dictator.

The video package recounted many of Bischoff's most dastardly power-mad moves, including trying to rid WCW of Ric Flair, beating up David Flair, and generally being a massive D.

After all that hype, you'd assume the big showdown between the two was next, but let's not forget that this was WCW, so of course, it wasn't.

Buff and Scott Threaten Konnan

Out in the back, Buff Bagwell and Scott Norton busted into Konnan's dressing room to tell him that the nWo Black & White was now under Steiner's control.

The two then said that even though they'd promised not to beat up Lex Luger, they couldn't say the same about K-Dogg.

This brought in Luger himself. The Total Package sent Bugg and Scott packing before having his loyalties questioned by Konnan.

Brian Adams & Scott Norton (w/ Vincent) vs. Fit Finlay & Jerry Flynn

WCW Starrcade 1998 Review - Brian Adams & Scott Norton faced Jerry Flynn & Fit Finlay
Biggest pay per view of the year, folks!

OK, so this wasn't terrible, but if that's about the best you can say about a wrestling match then that's not exactly a good sign, is it?

After a whole bunch of kicking, slamming and chin-locking, Scott Norton powerbombed Jerry Flynn to get the fall for the nWo Job Squad.

The most interesting thing to happen here was that Tony Schiavone told us the main event was now a No-DQ match.
Your Winners: Brian Adams & Scott Norton

Out in the entrance way, Mean Gene gave Eric Bischoff a chance to respond to Flair's earlier promo.

A cocky heel in the best possible sense, Sleazy E put Flair over for "putting his life on the line" in a wrestling match despite having heart problems.

Flair, according to Bischoff, really had no choice though because, and I quote "In the hundred and four years that Flair's been wrestling, he never saved a nickel" and now needed the money.

Say what you want about Eric Bischoff, this was very good stuff.

World Championship Wrestling World Television Championship
WCW TV Champion Konnan vs. Chris Jericho (w/ Ralphus)

WCW Starrcade 1998 Review - Chris Jericho & Ralphus
Prior to the match, we were shown a clip from Nitro of Chris Jericho putting the Lion Tamer on a skinny little dude dressed as Konnan.

Jericho then came out doing the thing where he wore the TV title after having stolen it, pretending to be the champion.

This would have been interesting if WCW didn't do the exact same gimmick every few months with different wrestlers.

Hitting the ring with Ralphus by his side, the future Y2J wished us all a Happy Jericholiday before mocking his opponent's slang and baggy pants.

Konnan then came down and had one of his best matches in a long time, a solid seesaw battle that was hugely enjoyable from start to finish.

Rivalled only by the opening triple threat in terms of quality, this very fun match ended with Konnan locking in Tequila Sunrise to keep his title.
Your Winner and Still WCW TV Champion: Konnan

Out in the "Internet Location" The Giant got mad at Lee Marshall because he believed Marshall had insinuated The Giant couldn't beat DDP.

Moving on...

Eric Bischoff vs. Ric Flair

WCW Starrcade 1998 Review - Ric Flair dominates Eric Bischoff
Much better than this writer imagined, Bischoff vs. Flair was exactly what it needed to be:

Several minutes of Nature Boy beating the ever-loving snot out of the WCW President to the delight of the live audience.

At once point, Bischoff did mount a comeback, using a few karate kicks and driving Flair's head into the guardrail.

It was at this point that Flair bladed probably just for the sake of blading. The match really didn't need it and it looked stupid, but otherwise, Flair had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand as he battered Easy E from pillar to post.

The end came sometime after Little Naitch took a nap.

Flair slapped on the Figure Four but an unshaven Curt Hennig came down, gave Bischoff an International Object, and helped him win the match.
Your Winner: Eric Bischoff

Post-match, Hennig dragged a battered, lifeless, yet victorious Bischoff backstage.

Coming up...DDP Takes on The Giant! 

Prior to our next match, we were shown a video that told us how we got to Giant/DDP.

Basically, it began with Giant aligning himself with Bret Hart and helping The Hitman regain the US title from Page.

Giant then attacked DDP, even destroying the old WCW logo set-piece as an excuse to eventually reveal the new logo and set-piece that nobody liked.

The Giant vs. Diamond Dallas Page

WCW Starrcade 1998 Review - The Giant faced DDP
I wanted to like this match. I really did.

Diamond Dallas Page had become one of WCW's hottest acts in 1998 and had been involved in some genuinely enjoyable matches (as well some not-so-enjoyable ones involving Dennis Rodman), but this?

This was mostly slow, tedious, and not very interesting.

Towards the finish, Bret Hart ran in swinging a chair, but missed Page and got The Giant instead.

Not that it mattered, the two competitors continued to battle in a finish that was more exciting than anything else in the entire match.

To finish, Page hit the Diamond Cutter off the top for the three count.
Your Winner: Diamond Dallas Page

Afterwards, Page and Hart trash-talked one another.

We then got the weird Goldberg and Kevin Nash in the clouds video, and with that, it was time for our main event.

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Goldberg vs. Kevin Nash

WCW Starrcade 1998 Review - Kevin Nash beat Goldberg for the WCW title
This is one of those occasions when rewatching wrestling shows twenty years after the fact can seriously spoil your enjoyment.

Sure, Nash and Goldberg both worked to their strengths to give us a main event calibre big man match, but the ending to this one is so well known that I just couldn't buy into anything that was happening.

Instead, I found myself sitting here waiting...waiting for the inevitable.

Then, it happened.

Disco Inferno ran in wearing a Wolfpac T-shirt and got speared to hell and back. Bam Bam Bigelow ran in and got battered too.

Then, Scott Hall, disguised as a member of security, clambered up onto the apron and tasered the champion.

Nash then recovered from having been beaten up by Goldberg and -not knowing Hall had been involved- powerbombed his way to infamy.
Your Winner and NEW WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Kevin Nash

Ladies and gentlemen, one of the worst decisions in WCW history had just been made, and knowing WCW history, that's saying something.

The Finger Poke of Doom was imminent, the eventual demise of World Championship Wrestling not far behind.






After two really enjoyable cruiserweight matches, Starrcade 1998 quickly devolved into a bizarre show which, for the most part, played out like a random episode of WCW Saturday Night rather than the company's flagship Pay Per View. 

Whilst the likes of Smiley/Iaukea and nWo vs. Flynnlay weren't exactly awful, they weren't PPV quality either. 

Meanwhile, the main event, whilst certainly befitting a show like Starrcade in terms of its stature, really was the beginning of the end of WCW as we know it. 

It's sad really because at times World Championship Wrestling really had been the best pro wrestling show on the planet. 



1998 events reviewed so far
  1. WWF - Royal Rumble 1998 
  2. WCW - Souled Out 1998
  3. WWF - In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas 
  4. WCW - Superbrawl 1998
  5. WCW - Uncensored 1998 
  6. WWF - Wrestlemania 14 
  7. WCW Spring Stampede 1998
  8. WWF - In Your House 21: Unforgiven
  9. WCW Slamboree 1998
  10. WWF - In Your House 22: Over The Edge
  11. WCW Great American Bash 1998 
  12. WWF - King of the Ring 1998
  13. WCW - Bash at the Beach 1998 
  14. WWF - In Your House 23: Fully Loaded 
  15. WCW - Road Wild 1998
  16. WWF - Summerslam 1998
  17. WCW - Fall Brawl 1998
  18. WWF - In Your House 24: Breakdown
  19. WWF - In Your House 25: Judgement Day 
  20. WCW - Halloween Havoc 1998
  21. WWF - Survivor Series 1998
  22. WWF - Capital Carnage 1998
  23. WCW - World War 3 1998
  24. WWF - In Your House 26: Rock Bottom
Other WCW Starrcade reviews:
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