Thursday, 7 November 2019

PPV REVIEW: WCW Starrcade 1999

WCW Starrcade 1999 - Event poster
December 19, 1999
MCI Center in Washington, D.C.

For years, World Championship Wrestling had touted Starrcade as their flagship event. It was the place where feuds that had been raging throughout the calendar year would come to an end, where old grudges were settled and new stars were born.

Then the 1997 Sting/Hogan event happened and, well, Starrcade was never quite the same again.

Still, at least on this cold, December night a few days before New Year's Eve, World Championship Wrestling could rightly lay claim to promoting the last ever pro wrestling pay per view of the entire millennium.

While that may not be enough to give Starrcade 1999 the same gravitas and prestige of earlier events, it does at least go some way to making it a marginally important note in the turbulent history of WCW.

On that note, let's head to Washington, D.C for the last Starrcade before the turn of the century.





Strap yourself in for this one

WCW Starrcade 1999 - Scott Hudson, Tony Schiavone and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan called the action
Before the show got underway, Scott Hudson talked us through all of the matches on tonight's card.

To be honest with you, the first time I saw this opening video, I turned the show-off and couldn't face coming back to write this review for several weeks.

Honestly, it looks dreadful, but we've come this far in our journey through the Monday Night Wars that I'm determined to see this through, no matter how painful it might be.

After that video, we got a second video looking at the two biggest feuds going into the show - Kevin Nash vs. Sid Vicious and Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. Goldberg for the title.

Tony Schiavone then welcomed us to the 17th annual Starrcade and introduced his colleagues, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan and Scott Hudson. Quite why we had to have Hudson instead of the awesome Mike Tenay is anyone's guess, but there you go.

Thankfully, the new WCW bosses had done away with having the announcers spend ages talking about the show before we got any action. Instead, we got straight down to our first match of the evening.

Disco Inferno & Lash LeRoux vs. Johnny The Bull & Big Vito (w/ Tony Marinara)

WCW Starrcade 1999 - The Mamalukes faced Disco Inferno and Lash Leroux
Though the show may have looked terrible on paper, this opening contest proved to actually be not half bad.

Johnny The Bull and Big Vito hadn't yet been christened The Mamalukes yet, but still looked pretty impressive in their debut PPV match.

If you don't remember them, they were a couple of goons from a stereotypical New York Italian crime family.

They also had a manager who was only called Tony Marinara because apparently just flat-out calling him Tony Spaghetti Sauce would have been too obvious.

That aside, they worked well with Disco Inferno and Lash LeRoux to put on a reasonably entertaining contest with a somewhat silly finish.

Beaten into a daze, Disco didn't bother to look behind him when he felt another wrestler approach him and instinctively hit the Last Dance (Stone Cold Stunner) on them, only to reveal that he'd actually hit his own partner.

Big Vito planted LeRoux into the mat, and this one was over.
Your Winners: Big Vito & Johnny The Bull

Post-match, The Mamalukes did their best Undertaker impression by knocking Disco out with ethanol then stuffing him into a body bag, only to carry him backstage and immediately let him out of it again so that they could stuff him into the trunk of a limo and drive away.

Good old' WCW.

The Crippler Issues an Open Challenge

Cutting back to the announce team, Tony Schiavone told us that tonight's scheduled ladder match for the United States title between champion Scott Hall and challenger Chris Benoit would not be taking place due to Hall suffering a knee injury.

Not only would it not be taking place, but Hall had been stripped of the title and Benoit had been awarded it due to forfeit.

The Crippler's music then hit and he marched down to ringside.

"Chris Benoit is not scheduled to come out right now," said Tony, as if we were supposed to believe that it was an absolute total coincidence that he'd arrived at the same time they were talking about him.

Taking to the mic, the new US champion declared that titles should be earned, not given and that as far as he was concerned, the title was vacant.

However, he knew we'd all come to Washington to see a ladder match, and thus he issued an open challenge to anyone in the back to face him in one for the title later.

Credit where it's due, this was actually one of Benoit's better promos where he actually showcased some personality.

World Championship Wrestling World Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Evan Karagious (w/ Spice) vs. Madusa

WCW Starrcade 1999 - Madusa beat Evan Karagious for the Cruiserweight title
Last month at Mayhem 1999, Madusa and Evan Karagious were a hot couple, but they had apparently split up after Karagious won the cruiserweight title and started shacking up with former Nitro Girl Spice.

Here, they went at it for the cruiserweight championship in what was a sloppy horror show of a match.

I mean, honestly, it was atrocious.

The worst pro wrestling matches are always those that look fake, and this one looked as fake as Madusa's breasts.

After a few minutes of terrible garbage, Spice turned on Evan by hitting him with the weakest low-blow in history, allowing Madusa to hit a bridging German and pick up the win.
Your Winner and NEW WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Madusa

WCW Starrcade 1999 - Mean Gene Okerlund interviewed Screamin' Norman Smiley
Out in the back, WCW Hardcore Champion Norman Smiley refuted Mean Gene Okerlund's accusation that he was afraid of upcoming challenger Meng.

Screamin' Norman then screamed like a startled little girl at something off camera which Mean Gene told us was the TV producer counting him down.

It sounds dumb, but it was at least kinda funny.

"I think I soiled myself. Did I?" asked Smiley as he turned around. Ever the sport, Gene checked out Norman's rump and confirmed that yes, he had.

World Championship Wrestling Hardcore Championship
WCW Hardcore Champion Screamin' Norman Smiley vs. Meng

Late 90s hardcore matches were always fun, but here you had the added comedy value of Screamin' Norman running around and screaming his head off, desperately trying to get away from Meng.

It wasn't 'good' in the traditional sense of a pro wrestling match, but it sure did make this writer laugh.

Towards the finish, the champion screamed as he dived over a table and hid while Fit Finlay and Brian Knobs beat up on Meng for seemingly no reason.

After Finlay laid out Meng with a lead pipe, Smiley returned and pinned him to retain the title.
Your Winner and Still WCW Hardcore Champion: Norman Smiley

WCW Starrcade 1999 - David Flair received a new crowbarPost-match, Meng slapped the Tongan Death Grip on referee Nick Patrick.

Elsewhere in the arena, David Flair had a shiny new crowbar delivered to him in a gift-wrapped box.

Meanwhile, that dumb Oklahoma gimmick got his boy, Dr Death Steve Williams all fired up, only to be kidnapped by The Misfits.

Prior to the next match, we got a video package looking back at the time Hacksaw Jim Duggan returned from legitimately beating cancer, only to be saddled with a dumb gimmick where he was WCW's janitor. That somehow led to a feud with The Revolution and to tonight's contest:

The Revolution vs. Duggan and three mystery opponents. If Duggan won, the Revolution had to do Duggan's janitorial work, but if The Revolution won, Duggan had to denounce the USA...even though I'm pretty sure all of The Revolution were Americans too.

Prior to the bell, Duggan gave a brief interview to Mike "I should be on commentary" Tenay but said nothing of note.

The Revolution (Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn, Shane Douglas and Asya) vs. Jim Duggan and The Varsity Club (Mike Rotunda, Kevin Sullivan and Rick Steiner) w/ Leia Meow

WCW Starrcade 1999 - Jim Duggan teamed w/ The Varsity Club to face The Revolution
If you like terrible wrestling, Starrcade 1999 is the show for you.

Duggan announced The Varsity Club as his partners to the delight and excitement of absolutely no one (not even The Varsity Club). He then proceeded to trade the slowest fists in the universe with Saturn and Dean Malenko while Shane Douglas -who was supposed to be a participant in the match- did commentary.

Duggan wouldn't tag in Mike Rotunda. He wouldn't tag in Rick Steiner and he wouldn't tag in Kevin Sullivan, who hadn't competed on a WCW PPV since his retirement match with Chris Benoit at Bash at the Beach 1997.

This apparently pissed off The Varsity Club, who eventually stormed the ring and beat up all of The Revolution and Duggan himself.

Eventually, they left, and Aysa pinned Duggan to pick up the win.

This was garbage.
Your Winners: The Revolution

Post-match, Douglas got on the microphone and berated a fallen Hacksaw, reminding him that he'd have to denounce the USA on the following evening's Nitro.

Oklahoma is Locked Up

Out in the back, Mean Gene Okerlund stood by with The Misfits, who had Oklahoma locked in a cage. Jerry Only told Okerlund that this was to ensure Oklahoma didn't run away if Vampiro beat Steve Williams because if Williams lost, Vampiro would get five minutes alone with the Jim Ross impersonator.

Vampiro (w/ The Misfits) vs. Dr Death Steve Williams (w/ Oklahoma)

WCW Starrcade 1999 - Vampiro faced Dr Death Steve Williams
I have a feeling that by the end of this review, the letters on my keyboard that spell the word GARBAGE will have worn down because that's exactly what this was.

The Misfits wheeled out Oklahoma in his cage and Vampiro lept off the top of it onto Dr Death on the outside. That was just about the most exciting thing that happened in the whole match, and even calling it exciting is something of a stretch.

In the ring, Vampiro and Dr Death went back and forth in an uninspired contest before Williams put his hands on referee Charles Robison, leading to the DQ.
Your Winner via disqualification: Vampiro

This meant that Vamp got five minutes alone with Oklahoma, but half of those five minutes were spent with Williams beating up Vampiro some more and then being escorted out of the ring by a million security men, all of whom forgot to let Oki out of the cage.

Eventually, Doug Dillinger set him free and he attacked Vampiro, only for Vamp and The Misfits to eventually gain the upper hand.

Eventually, Vamp drilled Oki with Nail in the Coffin and ordered Lil Naitch to make the three count. Looking confused as if to say "but this isn't actually a match," Robinson acquiesced anyway and counted the fall.
Your Winner: Vampiro

Honestly, I'm bored just writing that.

The tension in the Air

WCW Starrcade 1999 - Curt Hennig, La Parka, Vincent and Creative Control
Remember back at Mayhem when Curt Hennig lost a retirement match? Well, this was pro wrestling, so obviously he was back competing again tonight, just a few weeks later.

Backstage, he was shown standing by with Creative Control, Vincent, and La Parka, wanting to know if The Powers That Be had any instructions for them.

Off-camera, Vince Russo's voice was heard telling Hennig that his mind wasn't in it tonight because he was pre-occupied with something big that was about to go down.

Elsewhere in the arena, Stevie Ray blamed the recent tensions between him and Booker T on the addition of Midnight to the Harlem Heat camp and swore that he wouldn't have his brother's back tonight.

Apparently, the Heat would face Creative Control to determine the number one contenders to the WCW tag team titles.

Creative Control (Ron & Don Harris) & Curt Hennig vs. Harlem Heat (Booker T, Stevie Ray, and Midnight)

Curt Hennig and Creative Control beat Harlem Heat
Stevie Ray no-showed, effectively making this a Booker T & Midnight vs. Creative Control & Curt Hennig handicap match.

The resulting action wasn't bad but, like almost everything else on this show, it wasn't very good either.

Midnight played face-in-peril for what felt like forever. When she finally got the hot tag to a super-over Booker T, Stevie Ray (who had arrived moments earlier) got up on the apron to distract Nick Patrick.

This didn't seem to have much impact, as Patrick still counted Booker's pin attempt, so it wasn't as if they were doing the whole "referee didn't see the tag" schtick.

At that point, Curt Hennig came in and hit Booker with a random International Object and got the win for his team.
Your Winners: Curt Hennig & Harlem Heat

I should point that yes, the number one contenders to the tag team titles were decided in what was -on paper at least- a six-man match.

I'm Gonna Be Your Fat Daddy

WCW Starrcade 1999 - Dustin Rhodes promised to be Jeff Jarrett's fat daddy
Up next, we were reminded of the time that Dustin Rhodes returned to WCW as 'Seven,' immediately denounced the gimmick and entered into a feud with Jeff Jarrett.

This led to Jarrett challenging Rhodes to a Bunkhouse Brawl match, asking "didn't his fat daddy invent the damn thing?"

Rhodes accepted the challenge, beating up on Double J and insisting "I'm gonna be your fat daddy."

It's been five minutes since I watched this video and I still can't stop laughing at that.

Having regained my composure, I continued with the show as Mike Tenay interviewed Dustin. The former (and future) Goldust claimed that WCW firing Dusty was a mistake but that tonight, he would do this for his father's honour.

Before the interview could properly conclude, Jeff Jarrett attacked and this one was on.

Bunkhouse Brawl
Dustin Rhodes vs. Jeff Jarrett

WCW Starrcade 1999 - Dustin Rhodes is Jeff Jarrett's big fat daddy
Finally, we got something we could enjoy here; an entertaining brawl between two pros who knew what they were doing.

After beating each other with wheelbarrows, planks of wood and bull ropes, the two took to the ring where referee Billy Silverman tried to stop Dustin from giving Jarrett a good whipping.

Not to be stopped, Rhodes simply duct taped Silverman to the ropes and slapped an extra piece of tape over his mouth for good measure.

Not long after, Curt Hennig came down and set Silverman free as Double J slapped a sleeper hold on his opponent.

From there, we basically got an unadvertised handicap match as Rhodes tried his best to fight off the attack of both Jarrett and Hennig.

He almost managed it too until the fight went back out to the entrance way. There, Jarrett lept off the ladder intended for our upcoming US title match and smashed Dustin with a guitar shot for the three count.
Your Winner: Jeff Jarrett

WCW Starrcade 1999 - Mean Gene Okerlund interviews Diamond Dallas Pae
Up next, we got a look at the rivalry between Diamond Dallas Page and David Flair before going backstage where Mean Gene was standing by with DDP.

Page promised Mean Gene that he couldn't wait to get his hands on Flair and, more importantly, that the couldn't wait to get his hands on Flair's crowbar that he could then beat up Nature Boy Jr. with.

This was, as you might expect, pretty compelling stuff from Page.

Crowbar on a Pole Match
Diamond Dallas Page vs. David Flair

WCW Starrcade 1999 - Daffney debuted to help David Flair
You can insert your own obvious joke about Vince Russo loving 'Things on Poles' matches here.

Surprisingly, this wasn't actually that bad. I mean, it wasn't good either but it was relatively OK for a David Flair match.

That is if you ignore the fact that the crowbar never actually came into the actual match.

Sure, Flair hit Page with it before the bell, and sure that had Lil Naitch declare that Page couldn't compete, only for the former world champion to bravely climb into the ring and start the match, but once the bell rung, the crowbar was a non-factor.

Flair reached for it and grabbed it about three minutes in, but then he was immediately hit with a Diamond Cutter and this one was over.
Your Winner: Diamond Dallas Page

Afterwards, Page hit Flair with another Diamond Cutter, this one from the top rope. Just when he looked set to continue his attack, however, a young woman unknown to the announce team ran in to protect young David.

Annoyed, Dallas threatened to hit Charles Robinson with the Cutter as the woman we'd later come to call Daffney held onto Flair and laughed like a crazy person.

A short video package highlighting the Sting/Lex Luger feud followed. That match was next.

The Total Package Lex Luger vs. Sting
If Sting wins, Elizabeth's contract with Luger is null and void

WCW Starrcade 1999 - Sting was on to Elizabeth trying to swerve him
Sting and Lex Luger had been feuding for a while now, with their story taking an interesting turn at the previous month's Mayhem.

Then, Elizabeth had attempted to blind Sting with Mace, only to "miss" Sting and hit Luger instead (she did such a poor job that she actually pointed the can right at Lex). That had led to Liz and Lex breaking up and Sting apparently protecting the beauty from The Total Package's misogynistic abuse.

Prior to the bell, we saw Sting encourage Elizabeth not to carry her own can of Mace for her role as his valet, but to use a special 'super strength' one that he gave her.

The gullible girl went along with it, and down we went to the ring for what was probably the best match you were going to get out of Sting and Luger at this stage in their careers.

After a decent enough outing, the two clobbered each other with double clotheslines, after which Liz grabbed her Mace then ran in to check on Luger..revealing that she'd been on his side the whole time.

Realising the Stinger was behind her, she slowly stood up and attempted to spray him with Super Strength Mace, only to reveal that Sting had given her silly string all along.

The Icon looked to have the match all sewn up, even hitting The Total Package with a wicked looking Stinger Splash from the top rope.

Alas, Elizabeth returned to the ring with a baseball bat, Sting got taken out with it, and the referee called for the bell.
Your Winner via Disqualification: Sting

Post-match, we found out about WCW's weird cost-cutting measures. The company could afford to bring in punk band The Misfits for a throw-away mid-card feud, but they couldn't afford a stretcher for one of their top stars to sell an injury, so Sting had to be literally carried out as if he were Julian Assange being dragged into a police van.

Next, a look at why Sid Vicious and Kevin Nash were about to lock horns in a powerbomb match, their first one-on-one PPV encounter since In Your House 2: The Lumberjacks back in 1995.

Powerbomb Match
Sid Vicious vs. Kevin Nash

WCW Starrcade 1999 - Kevin Nash tells Sid Vicious to suck it
(Only way to win is to powerbomb your opponent)

When they wrestled in the WWF, Sid and Nash did at least try to do something. A few years later, however, the two did as little as possible, moving at snail's pace until the horrible, horrible finish.

The ref got bumped then Sid hit Nash with a powerbomb. Naturally, the referee didn't see it so things continued with a Jeff Jarrett run-in. The Chosen One blasted Sid with a guitar, after which Nash tried -twice- to powerbomb Big Sid, only for his back to give out on him.

Rather than try a third time, Big Sex simply revived the referee and told him that he'd powerbombed Sid.

The official, still groggy, took Nash at his word and called for the bell.

In the words of Randy Orton...STUPID.
Your Winner: Kevin Nash

Out in the back, Chris Benoit told Mike Tenay that nobody had answered his open challenge yet but when they did, they'd find out what silent-but-violent is all about.

I love that his slogan was 'silent-but-violent' yet The Crippler talked more on this show than he had in probably the past two years.

Ladder Match for the World Championship Wrestling United States Championship
WCW United States Champion Chris Benoit vs. Jeff Jarrett

WCW Starrcade 1999 - Jeff Jarrett answered Chris Benoit's challenge
As you can probably imagine, this was the best match on the show by a long shot, at least up to this point.

In fact, it was so good that your reviewer watched it twice, just to make up for having sat through all the horrible wrestling on the rest of the show.

Though it wasn't the greatest ladder match of all time, both men gave a tremendous effort to deliver a well-paced, bloody and dramatic match that was totally compelling to watch.

After a captivating performance, Benoit delivered an awesome diving headbutt to Jarrett from the top of the ladder, then climbed up again and retrieved the title.
Your Winner and Still US Champion: Chris Benoit

Out in the back, Bret 'The Hitman' Hart gave one his better on-mic performances when he told Mike Tenay that tonight was about proving his doubters wrong and being true to his word by beating Bill Goldberg.

Finally, it was time for our main event

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. Goldberg

WCW Starrcade 1999 - Bret 'The Hitman' Hart defended the WCW title against Goldberg
Never has a match been so tremendously good and yet at the same time so frustratingly terrible all at the same time.

After an initial handshake to establish we had a face vs. face encounter on our hands, both champ and challenger waged war on each other in a thrilling battle that -along with the earlier ladder match- more than made up for all the terrible garbage that went before it.

Then the finish happened, and it was bad in the kind of way that still has you shouting at your TV, even 20 years after the event.

All of the referees got knocked out, so Rowdy Roddy Piper came out, walking very slowly and wearing a referee's shirt.

Bret began to put Goldberg in the Sharpshooter, yet he barely had it synched in before Hot Rod sauntered over to the ropes and lazily rang the bell because even though it was two years later, Hitman Equals Screwjob.
Your Winner via Screwjob and still WCW Champion: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart.

Piper then took the belt and left the ring, seemingly hurting his hip as he did so. He walked slowly and apathetically towards the back but was caught up by Hart. Piper handed Bret the belt back and the show..well, the show just kind of ended.





My recommendation for watching Starrcade 1999? Watch the Meng/Norman Smiley match as your undercard, then skip straight to the ladder match and watch all the way through to the point that the final referee gets knocked out in the main event.

That should trim the show down from three hours of garbage with about half an hour of good stuff to just half an hour of pretty good stuff.

Otherwise, avoid this one at all costs. For saying it was the last PPV of the millennium, World Championship Wrestling really didn't do anything to make this feel like mattered.

You know the worst part of all this?

There's still another 15 WCW PPVs left to review. God help us all.

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