Saturday, December 10, 2016

Random Network Reviews: WCW Starrcade 1999

Starrcade 1999
December 19th, 1999 | MCI Center in Washington, D.C. | Attendance: 8,582

At this point, Vince Russo was in charge of WCW and his fingerprints were quickly all over WCW. Of note, this Pay-Per-View, which is WCW’s biggest of the year, ended up with an abysmal 0.32 buyrate. Yikes. WWF was in firm control of the Monday Night Wars, having taken a massive lead and not letting up. It was the 17th Starrcade in history.

The show opens with a video highlighting the entire card as Scott Hudson runs down the 13 match card. It is incredibly fast and kind of annoying.

Big Vito and Johnny the Bull w/ Tony Marinara vs. Disco Inferno and Lash LeRoux
The story here is that Disco Inferno owed money to the Mafia and Tony Marinara sent Vito and Johnny after him. They honestly couldn’t think of a better name for him than Marinara? It starts with a brawl but when it breaks down, the heels take control, working over LeRoux. Disco comes in rather hot but Johnny the Bull stops him in his tracks. The Italians try a big boot into a neckbreaker, but time it all wrong and it comes off looking ugly. They continue to work heat on Disco until LeRoux gets the mild tag. He comes in and does his thing. The heels turn things around and Johnny leaps to the top. He slips, causing the fans to give an actual reaction before missing a spinning leg drop. Disco hits a frog splash off the top and a slow count allowing Vito to break it up. The faces mess up when Disco hits the Chart Buster on LeRoux. He could break the pin up but instead backdrops Johnny the Bull over the top and LOOKS AT HIM. That allows the three count to finish.

Winners: Big Vito and Johnny the Bull in 9:39
This was actually better than I thought it would be. They worked tag formula and did pretty well with it. There were a few botches and the crowd not being very hot hurt things, but they went out and did a relatively fine job. **½

The Marinara Mafia take Disco Inferno out in a body bag. Maybe gimmick infringement was the real reason behind that short Undertaker/FBI feud in WWE a few years later. Anyway, Disco fights out only to end up in the trunk of a car for Heenan to steal the show with a line of “The Disco Inferno was 25”.

Now, commentary informs us of a knee injury that Scott Hall has, so he can’t defend his United States Title against Chris Benoit in a ladder match tonight. He was forced to forfeit the belt and Benoit was just given the belt. Benoit shows up and calls it stupid because you should have to win titles. He issues an open challenge to anyone who wants to replace Hall in the ladder match.

WCW Cruiserweight Championship
Evan Karagias (c) w/ Spice vs. Madusa

These two were dating on screen but Evan left Madusa for the younger Nitro girl. Man, remember when the Cruiserweight Title was a big deal? Madusa hits a cross boy off the apron during Evan’s entrance. Inside, she dares Evan to hit her and when he does, he absolutely nails her. He misses an Asai moonsault, but then slams her from the top and hits a decent powerbomb. Madusa struggles to bridge up from a pin and nearly MURDERS Evan on a powerbomb attempt. I legitimately gasped out of fear. Fans chant “boring” even after Evan leaps out onto her. Spice gets on the apron, distracting Evan. She then proceeds to hit the WORST low blow I’ve ever seen. Madusa nails a German suplex to capture the belt.

Winner and New WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Madusa in 3:32
The Cruiserweight Title matches used to be the highlight of WCW Pay-Per-Views but it has fallen greatly. This was pretty terrible throughout. ½*

Backstage, Mean BAH GAWD Gene goes to interview Norman Smiley about his match tonight. Smiley says that he isn’t scared of Meng, but then shrieks when a producer nearby makes a sudden move. I love Norman Smiley.

WCW Hardcore Championship
Norman Smiley (c) vs. Meng

Smiley shows up with a cart of weapons, which he throws at Meng. Meng shrugs it off and beats him up to the back. When they get backstage, Normal hits Meng with a trash can but he no sells it, causing Smiley to scream. Schiavone thinks that maybe the screaming is so the opponent will feel sorry for you. As they brawl some more, Brian Knobbs appears to attack Meng but gets beat up because Meng > Knobbs. Fit Finlay shows up to help and Meng continues to just no sell EVERYTHING. He finally goes down after a lead pipe shot. Smiley gets up from under a table and covers Meng with the most cautious one handed pin in history to retain.

Winner and Still WCW Hardcore Champion: Norman Smiley in 4:29
Was it a great match? No, but man I had a good time watching this. Norman Smiley is fun and Meng being a badass was great. **¼

Nick Patrick checks on Meng, who just grabs him in the Tongan Death Grip. Cutting away, someone delivers a gift to David Flair and it’s a golden crowbar. Cutting again, Dr. Death is getting ready with Oklahoma. They cut for a second and suddenly, the Misfits are abducting Oklahoma. Wait, what? How did they happen so quickly?

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
Jim Duggan had to pick mystery partners. Reuniting the Varsity Club for a night is cool but the crowd seemed clueless about who or what the Varsity Club was. If Duggan’s team wins, the Revolution must be janitors and if the Revolution win, Duggan must denounce the USA. Shane Douglas shows how much he cares about the match by going on commentary. Duggan plods through his offense on Malenko and Saturn. Malenko and Saturn seem so disinterested and Saturn puts in the minimal effort. When the heels come in, the Varsity Club rush in and a big brawl ensues. Duggan refused to tag them in throughout the match, so the Varsity Club turn on him. Douglas then runs in and covers Duggan for the three.

Winners: The Revolution in 4:53
Yea, this was horrible. Jim Duggan staying in the ring throughout makes for bad wrestling and the other team was so disinterested that it just had zero redeeming qualities. ¼*

Shane Douglas cuts a promo on Jim Duggan having to denounce his American citizenship. He uses the work “stinking” far too often, probably as a replacement for “fucking” since this isn’t ECW anymore.

Steve Williams vs. Vampiro
If Vampiro wins, he gets five minutes alone with Oklahoma. The Misfits wheel out the cage with Oklahoma in it. He has a headset so he can call the match. Oh joy. Vampiro leaps off the cage onto Williams in the aisle. Vampiro pounds on Williams right punches and kicks but Williams won’t go down. He busts out of the corner with a shoulder block. Oklahoma shouts “MISS! MISS!” when Williams misses a splash. They fight up top, where Williams hits a top rope belly to belly suplex, though Vampiro nearly lands on his head. The Misfits run in and Williams takes them all out. Williams throws mounted punches on Vampiro and shoves the official, who tries to pull him off, leading to a DQ.

Winner via disqualification: Vampiro in 5:02
This got the point across, but wasn’t very good. It was just Vampiro kicking Williams until he got into his offense. The belly to belly was nice but having to hear Oklahoma throughout the match sucked. 

Oklahoma vs. Vampiro
Since Dr. Death beat up Vampiro, Oklahoma is actually excited to get in the ring for his five minutes. Oklahoma hits a DDT and some stomps, calling his offense on his headset throughout. The time was cut short since the timer started before Oklahoma even exited the cage. Vampiro hits a big chop and uranage. The Misfits all get shots in on Oklahoma before the Nail in the Coffin ends it.

Winner: Vampiro in 2:52
It’s hard to really rate this. It wasn’t really a match, but then it kind of was. What I do know, is that it wasn’t entertaining. ½*

Curt Hennig, Creative Control, Vincent and LA PARKA are in the office of the Powers That Be. The Powers That Be kind of ignore Hennig because they are focused on something big happening tonight. Cutting away, Mike Tenay interviews Harlem Heat about their issues and tension in recent months. Stevie Ray blames Midnight and says that he won’t have Booker’s back in their match tonight.

Creative Control and Curt Hennig vs. Harlem Heat and Midnight
Midnight’s entrance involves the lights going out and a bell tolling, and then she appears. So she’s basically a ripped, black, female version of the Undertaker. Booker and Midnight start rather hot but then the heels begin to work a heat on Midnight. Curt Hennig chops her incredibly hard at one point. They do the faux hot tag spot where Nick Patrick misses it. Stevie Ray shows up but Booker shoos him to the back. Booker gets the hot tag and the crowd LOVES him. Hennig stops him with some sort of weapon that he awkwardly hides after pinning Booker.

Winners: Curt Hennig and Creative Control in 7:53
This was flat out bad. The story of the Harlem Heat split was fine, but the match itself wasn’t. I understood working the heat on Midnight, but she wasn’t really capable of selling it well and it just came off wrong. *

Bunkhouse Brawl
Dustin Rhodes vs. Jeff Jarrett

This starts during a backstage Dustin Rhodes interview as Jeff Jarrett attacks. I appreciate them wearing street clothes for this. They kind of just beat on each other all the way to the ring, while commentary talks about Jarrett getting pushed and Dustin being upset about the Seven gimmick. This was during that time where WCW wanted to use all of those insider terms. The referee tries to stop Dustin from using his belt at one point, so Dustin whips him and duct tapes him to the ropes. Curt Hennig casually strolls to the ring to free the official, while Jarrett works over Dustin. After all of the brawling, Jarrett applies a sleeper. The crowd hates it so it’s easier brilliant heel work, plain lazy or a bit of both. Dustin fights out and nearly wins but Hennig pulls the official out. Dustin nails Shattered Dreams in the corner but Hennig again pulls the referee out. Hennig eats Shattered Dreams before the fight goes to the stage. Jarrett leaps off a ladder with a guitar shot to win.

Winner: Jeff Jarrett in 11:21
Decent brawl here. I liked it early on but the Jarrett sleeper and Hennig interference was all stuff that I didn’t like and I feel like it hurt the match. Outside of that, you had a good brawl. **¼

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

DDP comes out first and David Flair appears from out of nowhere behind him and lays him out with the gold crowbar. They go to announce that DDP can’t compete but he stops them and decides to fight. They talk about DDP’s weak ribs, which makes me laugh because I remember how long he had them tape up. I mean, his in game character in WCW Revenge even had them. DDP tries to fight but is too hurt. They do a near fall, which confuses me since the crowbar is still on the pole. Flair has a chance to get it but decides to try a figure four. DDP survives and wins with a Diamond Cutter.

Winner: DDP in 3:26
Wait, what was the point of the crowbar on the pole? This was about as good as you’d expect from David Flair, which means it wasn’t good at all. 

DDP hits a top rope Diamond Cutter for good measure. He goes to use the crowbar but Daffney runs out to protect David. Bobby Heenan steals the show with “Is that the girl from Peoria? I never forget a pretty face, it kind of looks like her.” Classic.

Lex Luger vs. Sting
If Sting wins, Miss Elizabeth’s contract with Luger, who has been treating her badly, is void. Before the match, Sting gives Miss Elizabeth a “super high octane” version of mace. I kid you not. Luger jumps Sting at the bell and beats him up around the ring. He taunts Elizabeth while doing this. Sting no sells a suplex after all of this as he nails right hands and Elizabeth gets in slaps. There isn’t a DQ called for this for some reason. She gets the big mace and you can see this coming from a mile away. Elizabeth tries to mace Sting, but he finally wised up to getting swerved for years and sets her up as the mace he gave her had silly string. Sting still kicks Luger’s ass. Liz gets in with the bat and absolutely CLOCKS Sting in the face with it for the DQ.

Winner via disqualification: Sting in 5:25
You could see the Liz turn coming from a mile away, though Sting being ready for it was cool. There was too much reliance on Liz and it was far too short to have anything good happen. 

Lex Luger puts a chair on Sting’s hand and stomps on it. That’s an odd body part to target. Sting doesn’t even flinch as he’s selling a potential concussion.

Powerbomb Match
Kevin Nash vs. Sid Vicious

First man to hit a powerbomb wins. No pinfalls or DQ or anything like that. They plod through their offense, as neither guy was really motivated to do any good at this point in their careers. Sid hits Nash in the back with a chair outside. Since this is WCW, we get a ref bump. Sid then hits a hideous powerbomb on Nash. Jeff Jarrett runs out to break a guitar over Sid’s head. He gets rid of the evidence like the match isn’t no DQ or something. Nash goes for a powerbomb but his back hurts too much so he literally just tells the referee that he hit the powerbomb and the official believes him.

Winner: Kevin Nash in 6:58
Wow. That was horrendously bad. They did all of their usual sluggish offense before we got the screwy finish. Who thought this was a good ending? I can’t put into words how dumb this entire thing was. DUD

WCW United States Championship Ladder Match
Chris Benoit (c) vs. Jeff Jarrett

As if we didn’t have enough Double J so far tonight, he accepts the challenge. Schiavone’s reaction to hearing Jarrett’s music was “AGAIN?” which I thought was great. They fight in the ring early, with the highlight being a superplex. The ladder comes into play and Jarrett takes some bumps into it. Benoit’s nose get busted open after the ladder is driven into his face with a baseball slide. In a cool spot, Benoit’s leg gets caught in the ladder on the top and Jarrett pulls him back, sending the ladder crashing onto him. Jarrett gets his leg stuck in the ladder next, hanging upside down. He swings back and forth to knock Benoit off and it looked really dangerous. Both guys tease the win but neither grab the belt. Benoit gets close but Jarrett leaps from the top and dropkicks the ladder. Benoit’s fall also looked very dangerous. Benoit rolls under the ladder shortly after and dropkicks it into Jarrett’s face. He again comes close, touching the belt, but does the throat slash sign and nails a massive headbutt from the top. Benoit snatches the title, earning the belt.

Winner and Still WCW United States Champion: Chris Benoit in 10:15
Maybe it’s because it was WCW in 1999 or maybe it was because of the level of ladder matches happening in the WWF around this era, but this is a forgotten match. It is really good as they fit a fair amount of innovative stuff into ten minutes and the match never lulled at any point. ***½

WCW World Heavyweight Championship No Disqualification Match
Bret Hart (c) vs. Goldberg

One year prior, Goldberg lost his first match and the World Title. They treat this match like a big deal but the fans aren’t as into it as one would hope. Bret works the mat, while Goldberg uses his power, which is how I’d expect things to go here. Bret counters a move into the Sharpshooter but Goldberg just kicks him off. The fight moves outside where Goldberg runs over the referee. Charles Robinson quickly runs out as the replacement. He goes down too and Goldberg misses a spear, hitting the ring post. Bret busts out the ring post figure four because it’s awesome. Bret now systematically picks apart the leg. As Goldberg rallies another referee goes down. Goldberg hits the kick that would end Bret’s career before he pretty much murders Bret on a spear. Roddy Piper comes out in a referee shirt. He walks very slowly, giving Bret time to chop block Goldberg. He locks in the Sharpshooter and Rody instantly calls for the bell, giving us the screwjob finish.

Winner and Still WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Bret Hart in 12:10
I thought this was a good match. Goldberg played the powerhouse well and Bret played the role of the technician who picked him apart just as good, if not better. The only serious issue I had with the match was ending your biggest show of the year on a screwy finish. ***

Overall: 4/10; Weak. The show ended with two strong matches and started with a decent one. Most of the other things on the card are either not very good, or flat out dire. You could tell Vince Russo was around just by looking at some of the overbooked, screwy finishes. The Powerbomb Match is especially atrocious and kind of epitomizes how dumb WCW was at the time. Next time on “Random Network Reviews”, I take a long look at Battleground 2013!