MATCH #1: The Match of the Decade – “Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan, 12.29.96
We’re in Nashville, Tennessee for this non-title match. Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, and Dusty Rhodes are on commentary. Hogan isn’t even in the ring when the bell rings to start the match, which seems incorrect to me. He then spends most of the opening minutes on the floor avoiding Piper. They brawl back and forth, with the crowd popping periodically. Eventually Piper joins him on the floor and whips Hogan with a belt. He uses the belt in the ring too, but doesn’t get disqualified. They even fight in the crowd and Hogan uses lots of back rakes. Holy wow this match is boring. Hogan misses the Legdrop and Piper is sort of on fire. The Giant comes out and goes to Chokeslam Piper while a fan jumps into the ring and gets stomped on by Hogan and referee Randy Anderson. He holds up Piper forever waiting for Hogan to come back around. Piper then avoids the Chokeslam and dumps Giant over the ropes to the floor. He locks on the sleeper and Hogan is out at 15:36. The Outsiders come out and Piper takes both of them out, of course. What’s funny is that WCW never really said if this match was for the title or not, so the fans were assuming a title change here. The match was brutally boring, with a stupid finish and an ultimately pointless match.
MATCH #2: Iron Man Singles Tournament Match – Sting vs. The Great Muta, 12.13.89
Jim Ross says that some people consider Starrcade ’89 as one of the greatest of all-time. I’ve never heard that before in my life. We’re in Atlanta, Georgia, with Jim Ross and Terry Funk on commentary. Neither man has any points in the Iron Man Tournament yet. Muta was defeated earlier by Flair and Sting was beaten by Luger. Muta takes the first advantage but it stays pretty slow going early on. Muta has Gary Hart at ringside. Sting comes back with a flurry of offense and then goes to work on the arm. He abandons the arm and tries the Scorpion Deathlock but Muta reaches the ropes and takes a powder. Back in the ring Muta pokes the eyes to take an advantage. He then puts on Cattle Mutilation! I’ve never seen anyone besides Bryan Danielson do that. Sting escapes and hits a military press slam for two. He then goes to a chinlock. Sting is still green here. Muta comes back and drives his shoulder into Sting’s midsection in the corner. He goes up for the Moonsault but Sting moves and Muta lands on his feet! He hits a spin kick and goes back to the top. This time Sting dropkicks him down and hits a superplex for the pin at 8:40. It’s strange to see that move as a finisher given how they use it today. The match was short and decent, but there was no real story going on anything. The crowd sure loved Sting though.
MATCH #3: Unified World Tag Team Championship Match – Barry Windham & Brian Pillman vs. Ricky Steamboat & Shane Douglas, 12.28.92
We’re in Atlanta, Georgia, with Jesse Ventura and Jim Ross on commentary. Douglas and Steamboat are the champions here. Ventura mentions that Douglas’s idol is Rush Limbaugh. Ross says that he also likes Rush, and Ventura says “you would!” No one ever really mentions it, but these two were good together. Douglas and Pillman start it off with some fast paced back and forth action. Windham tries to come in illegally but he gets double teamed by the champions. The challengers take a break and regroup, and Windham is in now, so Douglas tags Steamboat. The champions are able to ground the larger Windham and wear him down. They even abuse him outside the ring and Windham sells like a champ. Douglas goes to the top but Windham distracts him and Pillman dropkicks Douglas all the way to the floor. Windham hits him with a clothesline. Back in the ring the challengers work Douglas over. Pillman has the referee distracted while Windham beats on Douglas outside the ring. Lifetime babyface Ricky Steamboat breaks it up by hitting Windham with a chair! That’s awesome. Douglas still can’t make the tag though, so he keeps getting beaten up in the challengers half of the ring. He finally makes the tag and Steamboat is on fire. Windham cuts him off with a big powerslam. Did these two ever have a big singles match? I bet it would be great. Douglas inadvertently distracts the referee, so Pillman tosses Steamboat over the top rope and Windham rams him into the ring post. Steamboat makes the second hot tag of the match and the crowd loves it. A big brawl breaks out with all four men in the ring. Windham and Steamboat tumble over the ropes to the entrance ramp. Douglas hits Pillman with the belly-to-belly suplex and the champs retain at 20:02. That was an awesome tag team match, with great chicanery by the heels and awesome fire from the babyfaces. Steamboat sells like no other.
MATCH #4: WCW World Heavyweight Championship Match – Goldberg vs. Kevin Nash, 12.27.98
We’re in Washington, DC, with Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, and Mike Tenay on commentary. Both men are very popular in our nation’s capital. Goldberg’s undefeated streak is on the line along with is WCW Title. Nash tries a headlock, but Goldberg hits a suplex out of it and Nash powders. Back in the ring Nash goes back on offense, until Goldberg gets tired of it and takes Nash down into a chokehold. Nash tries a cross-armbreaker, which Goldberg slips out of and locks on a leglock. Is that really the match these two should be having? Nash tries a big boot but Goldberg ducks and hits the Spear! He signals for the Jackhammer, but Nash avoids it with a low blow. Oh and the match is no-disqualification. Nash hits a side suplex for two. The challenger stays on offense and gets a couple of near falls. Goldberg comes back and hits some power moves of his own for some near falls. Disco Inferno runs out and Goldberg dispatches of him. Ditto for Bam Bam Bigelow. Goldberg sets up for the Spear, but Scott Hall appears out of nowhere with a stun gun of some kind. Nash follows up with the Jackknife to win his first WCW World Title at 11:20.The match was all kinds of boring and the main event of the biggest show of the year doesn’t really need any Glenn Gilberti.
MATCH #5: Battle Bowl Match, 12.29.91
We’re in Norfolk, VA, and Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone are on commentary. The participants are: Big Van Vader, Marcus Alexander Bagwell, Jimmy Garvin, Dustin Rhodes, Bill Kazmaier, Jushin Liger, Steve Austin, Richard Morton, Todd Champion, Abdullah the Butcher, Firebreaker Chip, Thomas Rich, Ron Simmons, Ricky Steamboat, Mr. Hughes, Scott Steiner, Lex Luger, Rick Rude, Arn Anderson, and Sting. It’s the usual battle royal to start, just lots of close brawling. Rich is the first man thrown into ring two. Sting and Luger start fighting it out and the crowd pops for that. Bagwell soon joins him. Chip is the third man to enter ring number two, and then for some reason Liger and Morton walk over there. They pay for it because they go over the ropes and to the floor, so they’re eliminated. Hughes gets dumped into ring two, and Rich is eliminated. Steamboat and Anderson have migrated into ring two. The Patriots make it to ring two. Austin is in ring two now, and Garvin gets eliminated. I didn’t even know he was in ring two. Why does this have to be so confusing? A one-ring battle royal would do just fine. Rhodes goes over, and looks like Steiner and Simmons are in ring two as well. Sting and Rude brawl over the top rope and into ring two. Kazmaier and Abdullah are in ring two also. It’s just Vader and Luger in ring one. Chip gets eliminated. Luger clotheslines Vader into ring two, so Luger will get to rest until everyone has been eliminated from ring two. Rhodes, Hughes, and Simmons all get eliminated. I might have missed a few. Austin tosses Bagwell out, and Vader and Steiner are out too. Austin gets eliminated, and Rude soon follows. Rude pulls Steamboat out with him, and we’re down to Sting versus Luger. But before Rude goes back to the locker room he comes in the ring delivers the Rude Awakening to Sting. The arrogant champion is simply dominant here. Luger throws Sting through the ropes and Race tries to take a cheap shot but Sting bodyslams him. The champ comes out and throws Sting off the ramp into the guardrail. Sting makes the comeback and throws Luger around ringside. Back in the ring Sting is stomping away on Luger. Race distracts Sting again, so that when Sting goes for the Sting Splash Luger has time to move out of the way. Luger thinks he’s eliminated Sting, but he didn’t and Sting has Luger on the ropes now and the crowd is going nuts. Sting finally throws Luger over the ropes to win the first-ever Battle Bowl at 25:08. That was needlessly complicated and not all that interesting. The crowd came alive in the last few minutes for Sting but that’s about it.
MATCH #6: 2 out of 3 Falls Match for the WCW United States Championship – Dustin Rhodes vs. Stunning Steve Austin, 12.27.93
We’re in Charlotte, North Carolina. Tony Schiavone and Jesse Ventura are handling the commentary. Austin looks funny with hair. Rhodes takes the first advantage and Austin takes the first powder. Back in the ring Rhodes pretty much controls the early going with headlocks and stuff. Austin finally drags the match to the floor but ends up getting whipped into the crowd. That looked cool. Back in the ring Austin regains control and the crowd loses interest. Rhodes gets a brief comeback and a couple of near falls, but Austin cuts him off with a back suplex for two. He makes another comeback and hits a powerslam for two. Col. Robert Parker gets up on the apron, and Rhodes tosses Austin at him, but he also tosses him over the top rope and he gets disqualified at 13:27 to give the first fall to Austin. Rhodes goes out to the floor and throws Austin into the ring post, which busts him open. Ventura oddly thinks it’s from Parker’s head and not the ring post. Rhodes starts the second fall by going to the floor and bringing Austin back in. He comes off the top rope with a double axe handle as the lights go out and the match is taking place under a spotlight now. Austin seems to have bad luck with that doesn’t he? Rhodes whips Austin into the corner and the lights come back on. He hits five mounted punches in the corner but Austin drops him down and hooks the tights to pin the champion and win the title at 1:27 of the second fall. Total match time – 14:54. These two didn’t really click and the crowd certainly didn’t help matters.
MATCH #7: NWA World Tag Team Championship Match – Road Warriors vs. Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard, 11.26.87
You can watch it with the original commentary or alternate commentary by Todd Grisham and Road Warrior Animal. We’re in the Warriors’ hometown here. Tony Schiavone and Jim Ross are handling the commentary. Anderson and Blanchard have been the champions since 9.29.87. Hawk and Arn start the match, and that of course doesn’t go well for Double A. The challengers absolutely dominate during the opening minutes. We move past the opening minutes and the Warriors are still in control. The champions finally take over on Hawk and start working on his knee. That goes on for a few minutes until Animal gets the hot tag. The match breaks down to a brawl and the Warriors hit Anderson with the Doomsday Device and get the pin to apparently win the titles at 13:24. However, another referee declares Anderson and Blanchard the winner via disqualification, since Animal had earlier thrown Anderson over the top rope. Wow, what a terrible finish to a decent at best match. This seemed like a no-brainer for the Warriors to go over.
MATCH #8: Rey Mysterio vs. Jushin Thunder Liger, 12.29.96
We go back to Nashville, with Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, Dusty Rhodes, and Mike Tenay on commentary. Liger takes the early advantage and wears Mysterio down using his power. Rey gets a second wind and uses a head scissors to send Liger to the floor. He fakes a dive and Liger is frustrated on the floor. Ever resourceful though, Liger drops Rey to the floor with a suplex from the apron to the floor. Liger follows him out and hits a powerbomb. Back in the ring Liger remains in control. This match has been a lot slower paced than I was anticipating. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen it before. Liger locks on the surfboard but Rey won’t give up. Rey comes back with a German Suplex and gets a near-fall. A springboard moonsault also gets two. Rey follows up with a springboard dropkick and then a camel clutch. He comes off the top rope but Liger catches him with a dropkick. Liger goes back on offense and continues going after the knee. The pace finally picks up, with both men hitting some high impact maneuvers. Mysterio sends Liger to the floor and hits an Asai Moonsault. Back in the ring Mysterio hits a springboard legdrop to the back of the head for two. Liger comes back and hits a headbutt off the top rope for two. He stays on Mysterio, and eventually hits the Liger Bomb to get the three-count at 14:16. That was a solid match but not the amazing dream match it could have been.
MATCH #9: Scaffold Match – Rock ‘n Roll Express vs. The Midnight Express, 11.26.87
We’re back in Chicago and Tony Schiavone and Jim Ross are on commentary. Big Bubba assaults Ricky Morton before he can climb up to the scaffold, so the MXE have an early advantage. Morton recovers and assaults Bubba with Jim Cornette’s tennis racket, and then makes it up to the scaffold with it. The crowd is super hot for all of this. Morton is busted open. The brawl continues and the tennis racket gets involved again. Lane is the first one to fall off the scaffold. Moments later Eaton falls off to end the match at 9:53. I don’t really get the appeal of scaffold matches. Cornette orders Bubba to climb up the scaffold, and Morton hits him in the nuts and runs away. What a badass.
MATCH #10: NWA World Heavyweight Championship Match – Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger, 12.26.88
We’re in Norfolk, Virginia, and Jim Ross and Bob Caudle are on commentary. Flair has been the champion since 11.26.87. Everything Flair can do, Luger can do better in the opening minutes. The crowd is super hot. Flair takes an early powder and comes back in the ring in no hurry. Luger continues to use his power advantage in the early going. Flair employs his usual cheating tactics to make the comeback and start wearing Luger down. Luger comes back with more power moves, and the crowd is with them the whole way. The challenger misses a big elbow drop and Flair resumes control. The battle spills to the floor and Flair unleashes chops and kicks. Back in the ring Flair stays in control. Luger fights back and hooks on a sleeper. Flair halts his momentum, only briefly getting trapped in an inside cradle for a two-count. The champ tries to jump off the top rope but Luger stops him and hits a superplex for two. Luger then locks on the Figure-Four Leglock. Flair escapes that, but Luger is able to hit a cross body block off the top rope for two. Luger gets a backslide for another two. He’s on fire, hitting more strikes and suplexes on the champion. Luger hits a press slam and the crowd is feeling title change. He hits a powerslam but doesn’t go for the cover. He knocks JJ Dillon off the apron as Flair rolls to the outside. Flair trips Luger up and then bashes his knee with a chair, all behind the referee’s back. He then zeroes in on Luger’s weak point. The champion locks on the Figure-Four and the crowd is chanting Luger’s name. Luger powers up and turns the hold over! Flair breaks the hold and heads up top, but Luger is able to slam him down. Luger comes back with a sunset flip for two. He gets all fired up now and delivers mounted punches in the corner and a clothesline for two. He hits a powerslam and then hoists Flair up in the Torture Rack. Luger’s leg gives out and Flair falls on top, and puts his feet on the ropes to get the pin at 30:56. That’s probably Luger’s best match ever. The crowd was with them the whole way and Luger’s comebacks were well timed, and everything about the match just worked.
MATCH #11: Eddie Guerrero vs. Shinjiro Otani, 12.27.95
We’re in Nashville, with Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, and Dusty Rhodes on commentary. Otani wears no knee pads, which just looks awkward. It doesn’t matter, as he’s still able to outwrestle Eddie in the early going, attacking the arm. The winner of this match gives his promotion a 3-2 advantage. Eddie comes back and rakes his boot across Otani’s face. Otani comes back and locks a submission hold on Eddie’s leg. They trade control and Eddie is able to hit a rana and Otani powders. Back in the ring Eddie stays in control. He puts on a Boston Crab. Otani reaches the ropes, so Eddie pulls him out and powerbombs him for a close near fall. Eddie hits a brainbuster for two when Otani gets his foot on the ropes. Otani comes back with a springboard missile dropkick, and then hits a dive to the floor. Back in the ring he goes to work on Eddie now. He hits him with a German Suplex for two, and Dusty and Bobby want Tony to just call it a suplex. What? Otani continues to unleash awesome offense as Dusty rambles. Shut up Dusty. Otani goes up top and Eddie is able to hit him with a rana. That gets two. Eddie follows up with Splash Mountain for two. Otani comes back with a leg submission and Eddie gets to the ropes. The fight goes to the floor and Eddie bodyslams Otani on the floor and hits a springboard twisting body press. Otani is able to suplex Eddie back into the ring and he tries to clear the cobwebs. He ties a springboard missile dropkick to the back. They trade pinning combinations and Otani is able to hold Eddie down in a sunset flip to get the win at 13:43. Eddie was just flying all over the place and Otani has all kinds of cool offense and they just clicked together and the crowd got into it.
MATCH #12: NWA World Tag Team Championship Match – Dusty Rhodes & Sting vs. Road Warriors, 12.26.88
Back to Norfolk we go, with Jim Ross and Bob Caudle on commentary. The Road Warriors have been champions since 10.29.88. Who will be the first one to sell a move? My money’s on Sting. He and Animal start the match, and Animal actually sells first, when Sting hits a dropkick that sends him to the floor. Back in the ring Sting tags Dusty and they’re all over Animal. Hawk gets tagged in and Dusty goes to work on him too. It’s so weird to see the LOD working heel. Sting comes back in and he takes advantage on Hawk. He hits a powerslam and a big elbow drop. Animal comes back in and military presses Sting down to the mat. Sting fires back with a couple of clotheslines and Animal bails again. Sting follows him out with a flying body press to the floor. Man, Sting was over. The challengers go to work on Animal’s leg, but Dusty lets him make the tag to Hawk for some reason. The battle spills to the floor, and the champs take over on Dusty. They beat on Dusty for a little while until Sting gets the hot tag and cleans house. Sting locks Animal in the Scorpion Deathlock but Hawk breaks it up and the match breaks down into a brawl. Hawk throws Sting over the top rope and Dusty gets double-teamed. Sting comes back in with a flying body press on Animal, but Paul Ellering breaks up the pin and the referee calls for the bell at 11:17. Aside from the lazy finish, that was actually a really fun match.
MATCH #13: King of Cable Tournament Final Match – Sting vs. Big Van Vader, 12.28.92
Welcome to Atlanta! Jim Ross and Jesse Ventura are on commentary. Sting beat Brian Pillman and Rick Rude to get to the finals; Vader bested Tony Atlas and Dustin Rhodes. Vader is accompanied by his manager Harley Race. The smaller Sting tries throwing some punches but Vader shrugs them off. Vader uses his weight and power advantage to dominate Sting in the early going. Sting scores a takedown with a sweet somersault kick. Another kick to the face takes Vader down, and Sting follows up with a release German Suplex! Sting is on fire, clotheslining Vader all the way to the floor, and Vader loses his head gear! Sting catapults over the top with a cross body and takes out both Vader and Race. Back in the ring Vader starts throwing hands and resumes control. He tries a charge in the corner but Sting avoids it and hits an armdrag. Sting tries to hit the Stinger Splash but Vader gets his boot up right into Sting’s face. Moments later Sting hits a big DDT and the crowd loves him. He puts Vader up on the top turnbuckle and hits a DDT/suplex kind of move for a two-count. Race looks worried. Sting locks on the Scorpion Deathlock but Vader makes it to the ropes. Vader takes a powder and Sting follows him out. Sting tries a Stinger Splash but Vader moves and Sting hits the guardrail. Back in the ring Vader is in firm control. He hits a big splash for two. Vader stays in control, wearing Sting down by working on his neck. Sting gets a backslide out of nowhere for a close near-fall. Moments later he hits a belly-to-back suplex, but Vader actually gets a cover off it for two. That’s a cool spot. Every time Sting gets a little bit of offense in Vader is able to recover faster. These two have such a cool dynamic. Sting finally makes the comeback and knocks Vader down with a series of right hands. He hits a fall-away slam but Vader is too close to the ropes for a cover. Sting goes up top and hits a big splash but Vader kicks out at two. Race distracts Sting, allowing Vader to come back and hit a choke slam. Vader follows up with a big splash off the second rope. He then goes up to the top rope but Sting catches him with a powerslam and scores the pin at 17:24! I don’t think these two ever had a bad match, and this was a pretty great one.
MATCH #14: NWA World Tag Team Championship Match – Brisco Brothers vs. Jay Youngblood & Ricky Steamboat, 11.24.83
Jack & Jerry Brisco have been champions since 10.21.83. That’s after trading the titles with Steamboat & Youngblood twice already. We’re in Greensboro, North Carolina, with Gordon Solie and Bob Caudle on commentary. Steamboat and Jack start the match, with Steamboat gaining the early advantage using his agility. Angelo Mosca is the special guest referee. Jack and Jerry make fast tags in and out, and start going after Steamboat’s arm. Steamboat counters and takes Jack down. Jerry tags in but Steamboat is staying in. Moments later Steamboat tags Youngblood in and he grounds Jerry with a headlock. Youngblood stays in control, effectively keeping Jerry on the mat. Steamboat tags back in and the champions appear to be in trouble. Just as I type that, the Briscos take control on Steamboat. Steamboat powers his way out of an arm scissors and makes the hot tag to Youngblood. The champions put out that fire and go to work on him now. Youngblood makes the comeback and tags Steamboat, who takes out both champions. Steamboat drops Youngblood on Jerry to get the pin and regain the titles at 12:21. That was an excellent tag team match that could have gone longer. They were feeling it out there.
MATCH #15: NWA World Heavyweight Championship Match – Dusty Rhodes vs. Ric Flair, 11.28.85
Flair has been the champion since 5.24.84. We’re in Atlanta, with Tony Schiavone and Bob Caudle handling the commentary. This is a rematch from the previous year’s Starrcade. They waste little time in letting the punches and chops fly. Dusty gets the better of that exchange and Flair powders. Back in the ring the champion starts throwing chops, but the challenger responds with elbows and shoulderblocks. Dusty is in total control, so Flair powders once again. Back in the ring Dusty goes after Flair’s arm. Flair counters and goes after Dusty’s knee. Dusty takes an immediate powder. He gets back to the ring apron and attacks Flair with elbows. Back in the ring he starts going to work on Flair’s leg. This match has the most annoying audience member in the history of wrestling, as he literally is “wooing” through the entire match, usually in short, irritating bursts. Flair comes back and tries a suplex but he can’t lift the challenger with his injured leg. Dusty counters to a suplex of his own and goes right back to work on the leg. Flair comes back with a sleeper. Dusty escapes that and rams Flair’s leg into the ring post. He tries the figure-four but Flair kicks off. Flair tries the figure-four and the same thing happens to him, twice. They trade the momentum back and forth several more times. Dusty hits a cross body block off the top rope but the referee is out of position so it only gets a two-count. Flair has of course been busted open. The challenger is on fire, knocking Flair all over the ring. Flair tries the Flair flip but gets slammed off the top rope. Dusty comes charging into the corner with a boot but Flair moves and Dusty injures his foot even further. Flair zeroes in on the leg now, and finally locks in the Figure-Four. Dusty turns it over and Flair reaches the ropes. Flair tries some chops but they just fire Dusty up. The challenger hits a clothesline for two. Dusty pulls Flair into Tommy Young, who goes crashing to the floor. In the ring Dusty goes for his version of the Figure-Four and locks it on. Arn Anderson comes out, followed by Ole Anderson. They take Dusty down and another referee comes in just in time to see Dusty get an inside cradle to apparently win the title at 22:06. The title was later returned to Flair on some kind of technicality. The match was pretty good, but there was no real extended heat on either guy, so the crowd was kind of in and out in an odd fashion.
MATCH #16: WCW Cruiserweight Championship Match – Eddie Guerrero vs. Dean Malenko, 12.28.97
We’re in Washington DC, and Tony Schiavone, Dusty Rhodes, and Mike Tenay are on commentary. Eddie has been champion since 11.10.97. The champion uses dirty tactics to take the first advantage but it doesn’t last long and Dean makes him pay with a series of right hands. It’s all Dean for the next several minutes, and the crowd is certainly behind him as they chant “Eddie sucks.” Eddie tries a rana off of a wrist lock but Dean powerbombs him and follows with an Alabama slam. A jackknife pin gets two, and Eddie escapes the predicament. Dean hits a powerslam for two. Eddie gets frustrated and powders. He comes back and takes a brief advantage until Dean suplexes him right onto the top rope. Eddie soon regains control and starts viciously working on Dean’s knee. Ultimo Dragon, Chris Adams, and Greg Valentine, Barry Darsow, Bobby Eaton, and more are in the crowd for some reason. Eddie hits a powerbomb for two. I guess they’re showing their WCW unity or something. They go back and forth, and Dean tries but can’t lock on the Texas Cloverleaf. Eddie goes back to the knee, and hits a nice Frog Splash right onto the knee and that’s enough to pin Dean at 14:57. The match was technically solid but the crowd wasn’t into it, the commentators ignored it, and the guys seemed not that excited to be opening WCW’s biggest show ever. Something was just off here.
MATCH #17: Iron Man Tag Team Tournament Match – Road Warriors vs. The Steiner Brothers, 12.13.89
We’re back in Atlanta with Jim Ross and Jim Cornette on commentary. Hawk and Scott start the match, and I wonder who will sell first. Scott gets a single leg takedown, and Hawk comes back with an enziguiri. Rick gets tagged in, and Hawk levels him with a clothesline for a two-count. This is a first-time ever match I’m told. Animal gets tagged in and Rick hits a Steiner-line. Rick counters Animal’s attacks and hits a belly-to-belly suplex. Hawk breaks up the pin. Scott and Hawk get tagged back in. Hawk hits a gorilla press slam and a fist drop for two. Rick breaks up that pin. Scott comes back and hits Hawk with a belly-to-belly suplex for two. Animal gets tagged in, and he hits Scott with a big clothesline. Hawk is tagged back in and hits a nice backbreaker. Scott recovers and hits a nasty looking belly-to-belly suplex off the middle rope. Hawk tags Animal, who locks Scott in a bearhug. The Road Warriors continue to beat on Scott. Hawk hits a huge powerslam and tags Animal, who hits a big elbow drop for two. The match breaks down to a pier-six brawl. The Road Warriors hit a modified Doomsday Device with Animal holding Scott in more of a back suplex, and they do that “guy lifts his shoulder at the last second” finish to give the Steiners the win at 7:27. I hate that finish, and the match was a decent power team versus power team, but hardly felt like the first ever meeting between two of the greatest tag teams of all-time.
MATCH #18: Ladder Match for a Contract for a World Cruiserweight Championship Match – 3 Count vs. Jamie Noble & Evan Karagias vs. Jung Dragons, 12.17.00
This is from the last-ever Starrcade, held in Washington, DC. Tony Schiavone, Chavo Guerrero, Jr., Scott Hudson, and Mark Madden are on commentary. With a few slight pushes aside, none of these six ever really amounted to much. They do some spots and 3 Count outsmarts the other two teams and almost ends the match early, but the Jung Dragons come back and knock them off the ladder. Noble and Karagias do likewise. Eventually the two of them argue over who gets to climb the ladder, which is why it’s inherently stupid to book a tag team match for a shot at a singles title. It doesn’t add intrigue, it adds stupid. I totally forgot about Leia Meow in WCW, but there she is. A bunch of dives leaves Noble alone in the ring climbing the ladder, but Yang comes in and throws him to the floor. Yang then sets up the ladder in a peculiar way before heading up, and Karagias knocks him down. In fact, Yang set the ladder up that way so Karagias could powerslam Hayashi out of mid-air. Helms and Noble battle on the ladder-bridge and Helms hits the World’s Highest Neckbreaker and everyone is down. Moore, Helms, Yang, and Noble climb two ladders and fight up there. Noble hits a Sunset Bomb on Helms, and then Moore and Yang gingerly set up their next spot. Leia tries to interfere, but Karagias chases her away. They do some more spots, spots, and spots. Helms and Moore wind up on top of the ladder together and they decide to both grab the contract to jointly win the match at 13:46. You know, since they built up throughout the match that only one man could win, they book two guys to win. That’s WCW for you. I can’t fault the effort in this one, but it’s totally a product of its time and looks tame and contrived by today’s standards.
MATCH #19: Iron Man Singles Tournament Match – Sting vs. Ric Flair, 12.13.89
Let’s go to Atlanta with Jim Ross and Terry Funk on commentary. This is the finals of the Iron Man Tournament, which I don’t think is all that bad of an idea, and I’ve never seen the whole show so I don’t know how it all worked out. Sting has a Lance Storm rattail at this point. Flair stalls and Sting tries to take it to the mat; both have some degree of success. They start having the match you would expect them to, and the crowd of course is into it. Flair takes a powder, and when he comes back to the ring Sting grabs him in a headlock. Sting gets a backslide for two and Flair gets up and lands a solid chop. They soon take it to the floor and Flair unleashes more chops. Back in the ring Flair starts searing Sting down. They go back to the floor again and this time Sting is absorbing Flair’s chops. We’ve got less than five minutes to go. Back in the ring Sting is on fire, hitting the Stinger Splash. Sting then locks on the Scorpion Deathlock but Flair gets under the ropes. Flair puts on the Figure-Four Leglock but Sting reaches the ropes this time. They’re down to one minute left, and Flair goes after the leg. Flair tries the Figure-Four but Sting gets an inside cradle for the pin and tournament victory at 15:53. So I guess the match had a 16-minute time limit? After the match Flair, Arn and Ole Anderson congratulate Sting on his big victory. The match was solid but not spectacular.
MATCH #20: Dog Collar Match – Greg Valentine vs. Roddy Piper, 11.24.83
Greg Valentine admitted that he gave Mickey Rourke a copy of this match to watch. What a sad old mark. This is from the first Starrcade in Greensboro, North Carolina. Gordon Solie and Bob Caudle are on commentary. They start off cautiously, pulling each other closer with the chain, and Piper gets the first hit. Valentine tries to use the chain but Piper manages to avoid it. Piper has an ear injury coming in. They walk to the center of the ring and start throwing punches. Piper once again gets the advantage and uses the chain as a weapon. Valentine comes back and targets Piper’s ear. He wraps the chain around his eyes and throat. Piper comes back and wraps the chain around Valentine’s mouth. He ties Valentine up in the corner, which is pretty cool. Valentine is busted open. They take it to the floor and Piper remains in control. Valentine comes back and attacks the ear again. Back in the ring Valentine continues to abuse Piper’s bloody ear. This goes on for several minutes until Piper blocks an Irish whip by pulling on the chain, sending Valentine crashing to the canvas. Piper takes him down and hammers away and the crowd is going banana. Valentine quickly cuts him off and goes back to work. He puts Piper in a sleeper. Piper blasts Valentine in the face with the chain to break the hold. Valentine actually recovers first and hits Piper with an elbow off the second rope. He goes up for another one but Piper yanks the chain and Valentine crashes to the mat. Piper climbs on top and whips Valentine in the face with the chain a bunch of times and scores the pin at 16:08. That was pretty good and brutal but it lags a bit in the middle. It’s still a pretty violent match for its day.
MATCH #21: Scaffold Match – Road Warriors vs. The Midnight Express, 11.27.86
You can watch it with the original commentary or alternate commentary by Todd Grisham and Road Warrior Animal. I choose Tony Schiavone and Rick Stewart. We’re in Atlanta for this one. Condrey and Lane are not eager to get up there. They finally get up there and Hawk and they start some slow brawling. This goes on for a while and Eaton is busted open. Condrey is also bleeding. A few minutes later the match turns into a chicken fight the Midnights get knocked down and the Road Warriors win the match at 7:08. I never understood the appeal of scaffold matches – they’re dangerous and dull. The post-match is actually more famous than the actual match, as Jim Cornette gets treed up on the scaffold and winds up severely blowing out his knees on his fall down to the canvas when Big Bubba doesn’t catch him at all. Ouch.
MATCH #22: WCW World Heavyweight Championship Match – Sting vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan, 12.28.97
Hogan has been the champion since 8.9.97. This is Sting’s first match since 9.15.96. To say the buildup to this one was huge would be an understatement. We’re in Our Nation’s Capital, with the commentating team of Tony Schiavone, Dusty Rhodes, and Mike Tenay on duty. They start with some stalling. Way to go, guys. Sting is so fired up from that year and a half of pent-up frustration that he engages Hogan in a test of strength and takes a boot to the stomach. Now Hogan goes on offense. Sting comes back with a dropkick and stands looking blankly. Hogan powders and when he gets back in Sting hits more dropkicks, sending Hogan to the floor once again. They fight out there for a while, and Hogan dominates. Sting tries a Stinger Splash but Hogan moves and Sting’s ribs crash into the guardrail. Back in the ring Hogan continues to control the match, and hits the Leg Drop for an obviously clean pin with a perfectly legitimate count. For some reason, Bret Hart stops the timekeeper from ringing the bell. Hogan rightfully takes exception, and Bret punches out referee Nick Patrick and drags Hogan back to the right to restart the match. Sting FINALLY fires up and hits the Stinger Splash. Buff Bagwell and Scott Norton interfere and Sting disposes of them before hitting another Stinger Splash. Sting then locks on the Scorpion Deathlock and Hogan taps out at 12:52. I’d have to call that just about the worst match of all-time. Everything about the match was wrong from the get-go, and would there be a more pointless way to introduce Bret Hart, who was one of the hottest commodities in wrestling at that point. How hard would it have been for them to work the Hogan versus Iron Sheik formula? That would have been the right match to do given the buildup, but they found all sorts of ways to screw this up.
MATCH #23: Steel Cage Match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship – Ric Flair vs. Harley Race, 11.24.83
This is from the first Starrcade in Greensboro, North Carolina. Gordon Solie and Bob Caudle are on commentary. Flair starts it off with a grinding headlock. He controls early on, avoiding a headbutt attempt by the champion and hitting a hard chop and then going back to the headlock. The champ powers out of the headlock with a suplex. Race goes to work on the head, even hitting a piledriver. He follows up with an elbow drop before going for the cover. Flair kicks out at two. Race continues working Flair over, and the challenger has been busted open. Flair makes the comeback by reversing an Irish whip into the buckles, and then throws Race into the cage. He hits a piledriver and gets a two-count. Race is busted open now as well. A double underhook suplex gets another near-fall for the challenger. Flair uses the cage as a weapon, which referee Gene Kiniski seems to take offense to for some reason. Race comes back with a headbutt to the midsection, and then rakes Flair’s face against the cage. Flair comes back with chops and the crowd is fired up. He locks Race in the Figure-Four Leglock and Race rolls into the ropes to break the hold. The champion takes Flair down and climbs up to the second rope to deliver a diving headbutt for two. He hits a suplex for another near-fall. The referee goes down and Race hits a knee. Flair fights out and leaps to the top rope to sort of hit a high cross body block to get the pin and win his second NWA Title at 23:47. That was a great match, and the real proof that Flair was going to be The Man.
MATCH #24: Steel Cage “I Quit” Match for the NWA United States Championship – Magnum TA vs. Tully Blanchard, 11.28.85
We’re once again in Atlanta, with Tony Schiavone and Bob Caudle at the commentary table. Blanchard has been the champion since 7.21.85. Magnum is announced as “The Vastly Popular Magnum TA.” As you might expect for a Steel Cage I Quit Match, there isn’t a lot of wrestling going on, mostly brawling. Blanchard gets a majority of the offense early on. Magnum makes brief comebacks but the crafty champion is able to withstand them. Blanchard hits a knee lift but Magnum fights back and slams Blanchard’s arm into the cage. The bloodied Magnum attacks the champion’s arm, which begins to bleed. Blanchard recovers and abuses Magnum with the microphone. He throws Magnum into the cage and hits an elbow off the top rope, but Magnum won’t say it. Both men get desperate, and Blanchard goes for the eyes. Magnum comes back and tries to force the champion to Quit but Blanchard refuses. He goes for mounted punches in the corner but Blanchard delivers an inverted atomic drop. Blanchard once again abuses Magnum with the microphone, but can’t force him to quit. Frustrated, Blanchard throws the referee down, and someone (Baby Doll?) throws a wooden chair into the ring. Blanchard breaks the chair and goes after Magnum with a sharp piece of the chair. Magnum fights it off and takes the stake. He digs it into Blanchard’s forehead and Tully Blanchard says “I Quit” at 14:42! That was an awesomely brutal match with an awesome finish and a hot crowd all the way through. This to me is Starrcade’s best match.
MATCH #25: WCW World Heavyweight Championship Match; Ric Flair’s Career is on the Line – Ric Flair vs. Vader, 12.27.93
We’re in Charlotte, North Carolina. Tony Schiavone and Jesse Ventura are handling the commentary. Vader has been the champion since 3.17.93. This was supposed to be Vader facing Sid, but a fight with Arn Anderson changed those plans and we get Flair putting his career on the line instead. Vader uses his power early on, so Flair baits him into chasing him on the floor, wearing the big man down. Take that, Bret Hart. Back in the ring Vader goes to work on the challenger. The battle spills to the floor, where Flair is able to take an advantage. Vader’s manager Harley Race, who lost to Flair in the main event of the first Starrcade, attacks Flair behind the referee’s back. Back in the ring Vader continues to pound Flair for several minutes. Flair makes a comeback and hits a series of fists off the top rope and knocks Vader down for the first time. He hits a knee drop and Vader simply gets back to his feet and takes Flair down with a clothesline. He must have caught Flair across the mouth because it’s bleeding. Vader hits a superplex and even he is stunned by it. Schiavone says that once Race lost the belt to Flair in ’83 he never regained it, but that’s a lie: he held it for two days in March of ’84, and then lost it right back to Flair. I guess that’s one of Flair’s “questionable” reigns (I count him as having 20). Flair powers up and slugs Vader down! I didn’t see that coming. He drags Vader to the corner and slams his knee into the post, as 15 minutes have gone by. Race protests to the referee, thus giving Flair the chance to use a chair on Vader’s knee! Flair is on fire back in the ring, slugging away at the champion and even biting him. He starts going after the knee, which is a pretty ambitious strategy. Vader powers out and tries the Vader Bomb but Flair moves and locks on the Figure Four! The champion reaches the ropes but Flair will not be denied tonight! Well he will when he runs into Vader’s boot I guess. Vader throws some elbows to the face and goes up for the moonsault! Flair moves out of the way and goes for the cover and Race goes to the top rope. Flair moves and Race this Vader with the headbutt! The referee gets rid of Race, and Flair hits a series of chops. Vader knocks Flair down, but Flair rolls him up from behind to get the pin and win his second WCW Championship, fourteenth overall, at 21:09. That match was an awesome David versus Goliath match, with great work by both guys and a hot, hometown crowd to match.