Classic Wrestling Review: Starrcade ’91

(All screen captures are the property of World Wrestling Entertainment)

Starrcade

December 29, 1991

The Scope

Norfolk, Virginia

It’s time again for what is supposed to be WCW’s biggest show of the year, but WCW decided to change the format a bit. The past two years, they’ve held special tournaments at Starrcade, but this year, they decided to turn it into a recurring gimmick. The 1991 and 1992 Starrcades would both be home to the Lethal Lottery. The idea is that wrestlers would randomly be paired into tag teams and face each other in matches to determine who will enter a battle royal at the end of the night. The Battlebowl Battle Royal, as it’s called, takes place in two rings. You first eliminate people into ring two until there is one person left. Then, the men in ring two eliminate each other until there is one final competitor. The winners of rings one and two then face each other to determine the ultimate winner. It’s a bit convoluted and WCW never stated that the winner would receive anything more than the title of Battlebowl Champion. There is no title shot on the line. In fact, Lex Luger (the champion) is involved in this tournament. WCW decided to base their biggest show around this concept, which means there are no title matches. However, there is a slight reason for that.

Lex Luger’s WCW contract is coming to an end. Instead of resigning with WCW, he opted to join Vince McMahon’s newest project, The World Bodybuilding Federation (WBF). Luger had already fulfilled most of his contractual obligations. He had barely been used in the closing months of 1991; hence the reason there was no world title feud for this event. WCW was building to one last match for Luger, and the events of this PPV will lead to that encounter, but it is unfortunate when your champion already has one foot out of the door. The opponent for Luger on his way out of the company is his former best friend, Sting, but Sting has his own set of problems.

Since Halloween Havoc, The Dangerous Alliance has grown in number. They added Stunning Steve Austin, The Enforcers (Arn Anderson & Larry Zbyszko), and Beautiful Bobby Eaton. They joined Paul E. Dangerously, Rick Rude, and Madusa to complete the group. The now complete Alliance would attack Sting, handcuff him to the guardrail, and injure his leg. Rick Rude would also win the U.S. Title from him. Now, Sting has to worry about attacks from both the Dangerous Alliance and Lex Luger, who is using Cactus Jack and Abdullah the Butcher as his personal hit-men. If you can’t tell, WCW is giving Sting another shot at the main event. Something tells me this run will be much better than the last one.

The show opens with a cartoon wrestling ring and then the names of the Lethal Lottery competitors flash across the screen over low-res, brightly colored, footage of wrestling. The voiceover talks about 40 of the top WCW wrestlers being picked at random to compete in a unique tag team format. I don’t know if I’d call all 40 top wrestlers. There are a lot of questionable choices in this tournament. Then, Jim Ross welcomes everyone to the show and says, “Happy holidays!” Tony Schiavone is with him. Thankfully, a better co-host is on his way, but he hasn’t arrived yet. Ross says that the wrestlers must win their tag team matches to advance to Battlebowl. I feel like that goes without saying. Next, Tony talks about the rules of Battlebowl and says that only one man will be the Battlebowl Champion. Ross then says that it will be something before throwing to Eric Bischoff, Missy Hyatt, and Magnum T.A., who is named as the commissioner for the Lethal Lottery. I’m not sure what that entails because it’s never stated.

The three of them are standing in front of a tumbler and Eric says it’s a thrill to be a part of Starrcade. He also says that the Lethal Lottery will determine the fate of these 40 WCW superstars. (Hold on. Does that mean this will literally be a Lethal Lottery? What kind of company is WCW!?) Then, Eric awkwardly stands there and smiles at Missy and Magnum because apparently someone missed their cue. Finally, fireworks explode and a curtain raises to reveal all 40 wrestlers standing on the stage. They cut back to Eric and company and Magnum says it’s going to be good before reaching into the tumbler for the first name. He hands it to Missy, who hands it to Eric, and Eric announces that the first competitor is Michael Hayes. His partner will be Tracy Smothers and they’re facing the team of the rookie, Marcus Alexander Bagwell (the future Buff Bagwell), and Jimmy Garvin. Did they really pay Missy and Magnum to hand Eric slips of paper? I hope they’re being paid well.

Marcus Alexander Bagwell & Jimmy Garvin vs. Michael Hayes & Tracy Smothers

WCW didn’t wait long to put tag team partners on opposite teams. It makes it a bit hard to suspend disbelief when the obvious thing happens in the first match of this new gimmick. That is one of the major problems with this. It rarely feels like the drawings are random. Most of the pairings either fit into the storylines or they pit tag team partners against each other.

Everyone idly makes their way to the ring. The sound guy seems to be scrambling to play theme music for whoever is on screen at the moment, but he gives up halfway through the night. I can’t help but notice that Bagwell looks like a young George Michael with his hairstyle. He’s not quite an American Male and not yet Buff, but at least he isn’t being obnoxious.

Bagwell and Smothers start the match and Tracy immediately starts acting cocky. Bagwell catches him off guard with some basic arm drags and dropkicks, so Tracy demands Garvin instead. Jimmy keeps sending Tracy to the floor and to the guardrail, which draws some cursing from Smothers. Bagwell returns and works on Tracy’s arm until Smothers hits a knee-lift and tags Hayes, but Michael falls victim to Bagwell’s arm work too. Tracy returns and still can’t gain the advantage, but he spots Bagwell tagging Garvin and quickly tags Hayes to make the tag partners face each other. The Freebirds don’t mind. They shake hands and then trade arm drags before doing some stalling and posing. There’s a funny moment when they start making karate poses at each other, but eventually, they both tag out to their partners. Bagwell and Garvin then take control with a running forearm and a flying cross body, but Bagwell draws Hayes into the ring with a punch. Michael gives Bagwell his receipt before backing into Garvin. He turns and throws a punch without thinking and realizes too late that it’s Jimmy. The Freebirds begin arguing with each other, so Smothers and Bagwell keep fighting. Tracy gets Marcus down and goes for a flying—something, but Bagwell raises his knees. Marcus then follows up with a fisherman’s suplex for the win.

This match was very basic and kind of boring. Bagwell looked crisp, but his moveset is limited at this point. The section where the Freebirds faced each other was amusing, but it wasn’t enough to make this match interesting. The crowd agreed because they were kind of dead for most of the match.

Winners: Bagwell & Garvin (12:45)

After the match, the Freebirds immediately stop arguing and shake hands. It felt a bit odd that they would turn off the drama so quickly. It came off like they were going through the motions. I don’t think either man cared much for the Lethal Lottery gimmick. They didn’t seem very motivated on this show.

Next, Magnum draws some more names and hands them to Missy, who hands them to Eric. He could have done these segments by himself, but at least Magnum is getting a payday. It’s always nice to see him after how his career ended. Bischoff announces that the first team is Steve Austin and Rick Rude, who are both members of the Dangerous Alliance. That’s two matches in a row where they’re not trying to hide that this drawing isn’t really random. Even Jim Ross says that it’s good fortune for the Dangerous Alliance. You can practically hear the snark in his voice. They show inset footage from the two locker rooms of wrestlers, which are conveniently divided between babyfaces and heels. WCW is trying to completely kill kayfabe with this show, aren’t they? Then, Eric announces that the other team will be Van Hammer and Big Josh.

Stunning Steve Austin & Ravishing Rick Rude (w/ Paul E. Dangerously) vs. Van Hammer & Big Josh

Rick Rude blows a kiss at the camera while everyone makes their way to the ring. Tony tries to say that the Dangerous Alliance were confused when Rude’s name was called, despite there being no indication that was the case. I think Tony might be half paying attention. He says some things tonight that are laughably bad. I will point out a big one later. Then, Rude & Austin talk strategy with Paul E. before the match begins.

Austin and Hammer begin the match and Hammer keeps getting the advantage with a slam and a reversed suplex attempt. Austin tries to take him to the mat, but Van puts him in a hammerlock. (How was that not one of Van Hammer’s signature holds?) Austin then fights out and gives Van some rapid-fire snap mares. Hammer almost regains control, but he misses a corner charge and Austin makes a tag. Austin and Rude then take turns working over Hammer with forearms and knees before Austin hits a short-arm clothesline and a gut-wrench suplex. Hammer finally makes a tag and there’s a funny moment where Josh attempts a log-roll on Rude, but it doesn’t affect him because of Rude’s six-pack abs. Rude laughs at him and poses, but Josh hits a clothesline. He then takes out Rude and Austin with a double noggin’ knocker and Josh’s team take control with some arm work. However, Rude and Austin use double teaming and ref distractions to take over the match. They ram Josh into the guardrail and throw him inside before continuing their cheating ways until Josh pulls Paul E. into the way of a running knee attack by Austin. Hammer makes a lukewarm tag and hits a powerslam, back suplex, and shoulder tackle, but Rude breaks up the pin attempt. Van then hits a back drop on Austin, but Rude makes a blind tag and hits the Rude Awakening for the win.

This was better than the opener, but it still wasn’t thrilling. The tag work between Rude and Austin was good, but they didn’t have good opponents. I did laugh at the log-roll moment between Rude and Josh, but that wasn’t enough to make this a great match. I’m just glad that Van Hammer didn’t nearly kill anyone this time.

Winners: Austin & Rude (12:56)

Ross and Tony then talk about the Dangerous Alliance and Ross calls it poetic justice if the members of the Alliance have to face each other. Then, Magnum draws some more names, but he still barely says a word. Team one is Dustin Rhodes and Richard Morton. Team two is Larry Zbyszko and El Gigante. For some reason, Mike Graham runs out of the locker room when they announce Gigante. He either is convinced he’s a giant or he really needs to pee.

Dustin Rhodes & Richard Morton vs. El Gigante & Larry Zbyszko (w/ Madusa)

Everyone makes their way to the ring while Ross informs us that Rhodes and Morton are not friends, but they are great tag team wrestlers. Madusa keeps giving fans the stink-eye as she walks the ramp, but then she notices Gigante behind them and warns Larry. He has to stand on the turnbuckles to look Gigante in the eye while he tries to give him instructions.

Dustin and Larry begin the match and fight into the corner. Zbyszko yells at the ref for not making a clean break quickly enough. Then, the two men trade shoulder blocks and hip tosses before Dustin shoves Larry away with his feet. This causes a fan to scream for some reason. I guess she’s really worried for Larry. She should be worried because the two men follow up with the dreaded criss-cross and Dustin hits Larry with a knee. Rhodes then tags Morton, but Larry tags Gigante and Morton decides he’s not being paid enough for that. Dustin returns and Gigante gives him an arm wringer, but Gigante struggles to lift Dustin’s arm over his head. Thankfully, this sequence doesn’t last long and Larry returns to hit a swinging neckbreaker. Larry eventually demands that Gigante raise his knee so he can slam Rhodes into it, but Gigante either doesn’t understand him or ignores him. Larry opts to choke Dustin instead while Madusa argues with Gigante. However, Rhodes takes over with a running clothesline and a hip toss. He tries a bulldog, but Larry shoves him away and tags Gigante. Zbyszko yells at Gigante to do something, so Gigante begins arguing with him. Larry is annoyed, so he slaps Gigante, which is a big mistake. Gigante pulls Larry into the ring and shoves him into double dropkick from Rhodes and Morton for the win.

I found the story they were telling amusing and Larry played his part well, but the match was largely forgettable. However, this is about the least offensive way they could have used Gigante. They found a way to make limited use of him slightly entertaining, so I’ll give them credit.

Winners: Rhodes & Morton (5:54)

Ross says there won’t be a clean sweep for the Dangerous Alliance, but they have advanced their two champions, Austin and Rude. Then, they go back to Eric, Missy, and Magnum while the fans boo about something in the crowd. Magnum says things are getting good now, but he sounds both sarcastic and disinterested if that’s possible. The first team is Bill Kazmaier and Jushin Thunder Liger. Now, that is a stark contrast in talent! They will face Diamond Dallas Page and Mike Graham. I hope that Graham has finished his business in the bathroom. The men leave the locker room, but Zbyszko enters and throws a small fit about his loss.

Bill Kazmaier & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Diamond Dallas Page & Mike Graham

DDP decided he wasn’t happy being a manager. He wanted to wrestle. So, despite everyone telling him he was too old, he began training. He was already in his 30s, so most people didn’t give him a chance, but he made the most of it. The primary reason he developed DDP Yoga was to extend what he knew would be a career with a short shelf-life. Also, if you’re wondering why Mike Graham is randomly back, he was hired as a trainer and part-time wrestler for WCW. He is in this match to help guide DDP, who is still incredibly green. Finally, this PPV gives us the American PPV debut of Jushin Thunder Liger. He’s a legend in Japan that looks like he walked straight out of an anime. It’s amazing to think that he still wrestles to this day, despite being in his 50s and overcoming a brain tumor at one point in his career.

Graham and Liger start the match and Liger keeps him at bay by threatening some spin kicks. Liger soon catches Graham with a head scissors takeover, but sadly there’s not a lot of room. Mike awkwardly falls out of the ring. He returns and Liger goes for a cartwheel into a Pele Kick, but Graham doesn’t understand what he’s going for and stands still. Liger hits nothing but air and then tags out in frustration. Kaz enters and throws Graham around until he tags DDP, who tries to take Kaz off his feet, but he can’t do it. Kaz then throws Page around until he misses a diving headbutt. DDP answers by focusing on the head and neck, but he ends up knocking Kaz into his corner for a tag to Liger. DDP manages to hit a Russian leg sweep, but Liger responds with a spinning wheel kick, so Page tags Graham. Liger takes Graham down with an enziguri and hits a slingshot splash, which finally wakes up the crowd. Kaz and Page fight some more, but it eventually comes back to Graham and Liger and Liger locks Mike in a surfboard stretch, which the crowd also likes. Mike fights back and tries a Boston Crab, but the two men end up reversing through some pin attempts. Mike eventually breaks free and Liger tags Kaz, so Graham tags DDP and says, “You take him!” That doesn’t work, so it comes back to Graham and Liger. They fight through a test of strength and Liger hits some rapid kicks to Graham. Later, Mike falls out of the ring after a missed running knee and Liger hits a somersault plancha, which gets the biggest reaction yet. Liger continues by suplexing Mike back inside and hitting a springboard moonsault, but DDP breaks up the pin. All four men end up brawling and Graham and DDP are whipped into each other. Then, Kaz press slams Liger onto DDP for the win.

Liger’s work was great and it won over the crowd, but the match was awkward at times. Liger and Graham didn’t mix very well. You could tell that Mike didn’t know how to take a lot of Liger’s offense. However, I do have to give DDP credit. He looked good for being quite green. He held his own, for the most part.

Winners: Kazmaier & Liger (13:08)

Next, they show a commercial for Superbrawl, which has been moved to February to be closer to the Super Bowl. They moved WrestleWar back to its original slot in May. The commercial compares it to the World Series and the Super Bowl and then the voiceover says it’s an event of such magnitude, it could only be called Superbrawl II. It feels like WCW is trying to build Superbrawl as the new premiere event. Perhaps that’s why Starrcade has been turned into a concept show.

Then, Magnum draws another name and says, “Ooh!” He hands the name to Eric, who says a lot of people have been waiting for this one. He announces Lex Luger as the next participant and then announces Arn Anderson as his partner. Their opponents are Terrance Taylor and Z-Man. The four men leave their dressing rooms and you can hear Missy say, “That means I can run, right?” She sounds really excited to be there. I don’t think she realized anyone could hear her.

Lex Luger & Arn Anderson (w/ Harley Race) vs. Terrance Taylor & Z-Man

Everyone makes their way to the ring and Tony points out that three of the men came from the same dressing room. What does that mean? They never acknowledge how the wrestlers are divided, so pointing it out only draws attention to it. Ross must realize there’s no way to explain it because he ignores Tony’s comment. Speaking of Tony’s comments, I have to point out a doozy from this match. At one point, Tony says that Taylor didn’t give up, which has to be a bone—in his cap. Ross asks if he meant a feather in his cap, but Tony decides to double down on the mistake. He replies that he meant bone, as in a bonehead. Oh, Tony. That has to be the greatest call in the history of our sport!

Arn and Z-Man begin the match and Anderson whips Zenk into Taylor, knocking him to the floor. Terrance soon returns the favor by punching Arn when he falls out of the ring. The match turns into a brawl early and Zenk & Taylor clean house before celebrating. It’s odd to see Taylor playing a babyface. Ross even points out later that he’s behaving differently without Alexandra at ringside. Luger and Z-Man then face-off and apparently they didn’t coordinate before the match because they’re wearing the same color gear. Zenk & Taylor work Luger’s arm for a while. Lex tries to fight back, but Taylor hits a jawbreaker, snap mare, and a neck whip. He also hits a swinging neckbreaker. Luger eventually tags out after fighting through a sunset flip attempt. Arn takes over until Taylor hits a backslide and a clothesline for a pair of 2 counts. He then hits a Vader bomb. Does Taylor realize that Vader is on this show? He might not want to do that. Z-Man then enters the match and hits a flying cross body. He is in control until Race trips him and Arn hits a DDT. Taylor breaks up the pin, so Luger enters the match. He’s breathing heavy, despite having a long break. I see he’s already given up his conditioning for that WBF body. The two teams fight back and forth until Taylor comes alive with an atomic drop, cross body, and backslide for multiple 2 counts. He even hits a gut-wrench powerbomb, but Arn breaks up the pin and all four men brawl. The ref is distracted, so Arn knees Taylor in the back and sends him into a Luger piledriver for the win.

This was a solid tag team match. There was some good action in this one, but that’s to be expected with most of these guys. Tony calls it the best of the tag matches, so far. He’s correct about that. I’m a little confused as to why Taylor was wrestling like a babyface. He’s still in the York Foundation, but Alexandra wasn’t with him. Is he heading for a face-turn?

Winners: Luger & Anderson (10:25)

Ross then recaps who has qualified for Battlebowl. He and Tony talk about the remaining competitors and Tony says he’d like to see the Steiners face each other. Then, Magnum draws some more names, but Eric says he’s going to keep the first name secret for a second. They draw the other names before Eric announces that the first team is Ricky Steamboat, who has already returned from his brief stint in the WWF, and Todd Champion. Missy mutters, “I think that’s a shoot.” She still doesn’t realize anyone can hear her and I have no idea what she meant by that statement. Next, Eric announces the team of Cactus Jack and Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker. However, Abdullah the Butcher takes offense to not being Cactus’ partner and attacks Buddy. He rams him into the lockers and hits him with his staff.

Ricky Steamboat & Todd Champion vs. Cactus Jack & Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker

Cactus watches the carnage from the ring and laughs. He says, “Where’s my partner?” Abdullah makes his way to the ring, but the officials stop him and tell him he’s not in the match. They make him leave, so Cactus calls out his name. Abby then spots Buddy Lee in the entryway and attacks him again while squealing like a madman.

Steamboat and Cactus begin the match. That’s a match-up I never thought I’d see. Ricky knocks Jack to the floor early, so Cactus returns and chokes him. He even bites Steamboat and squeals like a pig. Meanwhile, Buddy Lee slowly crawls down the ramp. Jack ends up throwing Steamboat out of the ring, but Ricky skins the cat back over the ropes. Cactus tries to hit the Cactus Clothesline, but Ricky moves and Jack lands on the floor. Then, Steamboat hits a suicide dive and rams Jack into the guardrail. The crowd is going crazy because these two are going all-out and it’s great. They head back into the ring and Todd enters the match. He slams Jack and hits a leg drop, while the fans chant, “Buddy!” Jack and Todd eventually fight to the floor and Jack hits a diving elbow off the turnbuckles before giving the camera a loud, “Bang bang!” Ross calls it a double bang banger, which Tony says is the most dangerous type. Jack wears down Champion, but he fights back and hits a powerslam. However, he misses a leg drop. The two men end up awkwardly colliding, so Jack tags Buddy Lee, who finally made it to the apron. Cactus hip tosses the poor sap into the ring, so Steamboat tags in and hits a powerslam. Ricky then climbs to the top and hits a flying cross body for the win.

This was a fun little match. The story they told with Cactus and Buddy was highly amusing. Also, the action between Jack and Steamboat made me want to see a one-on-one match between the two of them. I don’t think they ever feud, but they worked well together in this match.

Winners: Steamboat & Champion (7:48)

Next, Magnum draws some more names. The first name is Sting, which gets a great reaction from the crowd. However, his partner is Abdullah the Butcher. Johnny B. Badd makes a hilariously exaggerated shocked face at the camera when they announce Abby. Then, Eric announces Flyin’ Brian and Bobby Eaton as their opponents. Missy says, “That’s gonna be great!” I still don’t think she knows anyone can hear her because she didn’t say it into the mic.

Sting & Abdullah the Butcher vs. Flyin’ Brian & Beautiful Bobby Eaton

Abby makes his way to the ring and happily waves at Sting. He even points at himself as if to say, “I’m your partner!” Then, he extends a hand to Sting—before whacking him with his staff. He chokes Sting and hits him repeatedly until Pillman makes the save. Brian grabs the staff and starts hitting Abby, but Eaton arrives and stops him. No one seems to remember who their partner is. Everyone, except Sting and Pillman, is attacking each other.

Finally, Sting and Eaton enter the ring and Bobby attacks Sting’s leg. He then charges Sting, but Sting back drops him to the ramp and hits a flying clothesline over the ropes. Sting then throws him back inside, but Eaton rakes the eyes. It looks like Bobby is going to tag Pillman, but he slaps him instead. Then, Sting tries to make a comeback, but Abby attacks him again before retrieving a pencil from the announce table. Eaton knocks Sting to the apron and slingshots him inside before taking him to Abby’s corner. Eaton distracts the ref, so Abby can attack Sting with the pencil, but Pillman breaks up the attack with a dropkick. Sting and Eaton fight to the apron again, but this time, Sting slingshots Bobby to the floor and they brawl. Sting rams Eaton into the post, while Pillman and Abby fight in the ring. Brian slams Abby, but the camera misses it. He follows it up with a splash, but neither man is legal. Sting and Eaton return and Eaton refuses to tag Pillman. Bobby tries to tag Abby instead. I think he legitimately forgot who his partner is. Sting and Eaton then reverse through an abdominal stretch and Sting attempts a Tombstone, but he can’t get Bobby into position. He nearly drops Eaton on his head in a scary moment. Then, all four men brawl and the ref is distracted by the chaos, so Cactus Jack arrives. He tries to hit Sting with Abby’s staff, but he hits Abby by mistake. Sting capitalizes by hitting a flying cross body onto Eaton for the win.

This match had some amusing moments, but it was a mess. I liked the story they were trying to tell. However, no one could remember who their partner was and it affected the match. This was chaos and not necessarily in a good way.

Winners: Sting & Abdullah (5:55)

After the match, Abdullah attacks Cactus in anger. They brawl down the ramp and to the floor, where security tries to break up the fight. I’m pretty sure the security is enhancement talent because I think I saw Rip Rogers among them. Tony then jokes that next year they need to do mental tests so that psychotic people can’t enter Battlebowl.

Next, Magnum draws more names. Rick Steiner is the first name and the next one is the Diamond Studd. However, Eric says that the Studd is injured, so the Nightstalker (Bryan Clark) will sub for him. Why did they bother putting Studd’s name in the tumbler? Then, they draw the names of their opponents, Vader and Mr. Hughes.

Big Van Vader & Mr. Hughes vs. Rick Steiner & The Nightstalker (w/ The Diamond Studd)

Vader makes his way to the ring. He appears to have lost his mask because he didn’t bother wearing it tonight. Hughes follows behind him, but Rick Steiner and the future Adam Bomb are already in the ring. The Diamond Studd is at ringside with his arm in a sling and he gives the Nightstalker some instructions. He might also have been asking Nightstalker if he has the hook-up because we know Bryan Clark loves his weed.

Vader and Rick Steiner start the match and they go straight to throwing potatoes. Vader hits a nasty clothesline and an avalanche attack, but Rick answers with a Steinerline. Rick then clotheslines Vader out of the ring and dives onto him, but Vader answers with another clothesline. Rick simply smiles at him, so Vader rams him into the post. Then, they fight at the apron and Rick reverses a suplex. He manages to power Vader into the ring, so Vader tags Hughes. He slams Rick and hits a sloppy elbow, but Rick answers with a back drop. They fight back and forth until Hughes misses a corner charge and Steiner hits a German suplex. Then, both men collide and Hughes slowly falls to the mat. Nightstalker seizes the opportunity to tag himself into the match and hits Hughes with a flying clothesline, but he knocks Hughes into the corner and Vader makes a blind tag. Rick tries to help by hitting a flying bulldog on Hughes, but he doesn’t realize Hughes isn’t legal. Vader takes advantage of the confusion and hits a splash on the Nightstalker for the win. Rick Steiner is confused by the outcome.

The stuff between Vader and Steiner was great, but the rest of the match was sloppy and awkward. The crowd was just as confused by the finish as Rick, so it killed the crowd heat for the match. Also, the Nightstalker didn’t remember the finish, so he started to get up and took the splash on his head and shoulder. It looked nasty.

Winners: Vader & Hughes (5:05)

Next, they show the Superbrawl II commercial again before Magnum draws some more names. Scott Steiner will team with Firebreaker Chip to take on Johnny B. Badd and Arachnaman! Terrance Taylor makes a dismissive gesture at the screen when they announce Arachnaman. Taylor has already wrestled, so I’m guessing his gesture was directed at Arachnaman himself. I’m sure Taylor got an earful for that.

Scott Steiner & Firebreaker Chip vs. Arachnaman & Johnny B. Badd

I know what you’re asking. Who the heck is Arachnaman!? He’s WCW’s attempt to capitalize on Spiderman, but in a totally not copyright infringing way. He’s different, so Marvel Comics can’t sue! They dressed him in a purple and yellow suit that vaguely looks like Spiderman. It was an attempt to bring in the younger audience that the WWF monopolized. Jim Herd thought it was the only way to compete. Arachnaman is billed as being from Web City and he would shoot silly-string from his hands to represent webs. He’s played by poor Brad Armstrong in yet another mask. Also, on a side note, Johnny B. Badd has ditched Teddy Long as his manager. The announcers treat it like a face turn, but he still seems heelish in this match.

Badd and Chip start the match and Chip hits some quick arm drags, but Badd answers with body punches. Chip responds with a springboard cross body, so Badd tags the friendly neighborhood web-slinger. Chip responds to this by tagging Scott and the crowd pop at the idea of Steiner killing this fool. Steiner hits a powerslam and a back drop and then clotheslines Arachnaman out of the ring. He stumbles around on the floor and slides back inside before tagging Badd. He punches Steiner, which only makes him mad, so Scott hits a hard spinebuster and a sloppy pump-handle slam. Tony responds that he’s not a bad man. He’s a badly hurting man. Ross mocks him by asking if that’s like a bone in his cap. Chip tries his hand against Badd, but soon it’s back to Scott and Arachnaman again. Scott doesn’t feel like wrestling this idiot, so he snap mares him into his corner for a tag to Badd. Steiner hits Badd with a Steinerline and a Tiger Driver before tagging Chip again. Soon, Arachnaman returns and takes control of the match until Chip grabs a Boston Crab. However, Arachnaman reverses it into some pin attempts and then tags Badd, who can’t decide what move to do. He settles on a snap mare and a reverse chinlock. Eventually, Chip and Arachnaman face-off again and do a criss-cross until Steiner makes a blind tag and hits Arachnaman with a tilt-a-whirl slam. Steiner then makes the mistake of ducking, so Arachnaman kicks him and goes to the top. He dives, but Steiner catches him and hits a belly-to-belly suplex for the win.

This wasn’t a very good match. Scott’s work was good, but even that was a little sloppy at times. When Badd and Arachnaman controlled the match, it ground to a halt. The finishing sequence was nice, but it wasn’t enough to save this from mediocrity. However, it was fun hearing the crowd pop for the idea of Arachnaman getting his butt kicked.

Winners: Steiner & Chip (11:16)

Then, Magnum draws the names for the final tag team match. The first name is Ron Simmons, but Eric decides to pause dramatically before announcing his partner. It’s Thomas Rich, so I’m not sure why the announcement needed the suspense. He then announces their opponents, Steve Armstrong and P.N. News, who acts surprised, despite being the only man left. Tony points out that he shouldn’t be surprised, so Ross replies, “Duh!” It sounds like Ross is getting quite tired of Tony.

Ron Simmons & Thomas Rich vs. Steve Armstrong & P.N. News

Tommy Rich is the newest member of the York Foundation. He changed his name to the more sophisticated, Thomas Rich, but his look has taken a distinct downgrade. He grew a rough-looking beard and started wearing awful looking chaps. Also, where is Alexandra York tonight? She hasn’t accompanied any of her men.

Simmons and Armstrong begin the match, despite Rich asking to start. Armstrong keeps turning his back to Ron, so Simmons walks over and taps him on the shoulder. He turns and comically reacts to Simmons being behind him before Simmons hits a press slam. Ron also hits a shoulder tackle, but he jumps too soon and nearly comes up short. Rich then enters the match, but he quickly misses an elbow and Steve tags P.N. News. He holds Rich for an attack, but News says he doesn’t want to take cheap shots. He makes Steve let him go. News then slams Rich and throws him around until the fans chant, “We want Ron!” Rich gives them what they want, but he also tells them to be quiet. Ron and News fight into the corner a couple of times. They make a clean break on the first one, but News hits a cheap shot on the second. What happened to his morals? Now, he wants to take cheap shots? Simmons answers with a back elbow, facebuster, and a shoulder block for some 2 counts, but News fires back with a clothesline and a cross body that lands on Ron’s head! Rich eventually enters the match and faces Armstrong. He starts choking him with his wrist tape until Steve removes it and returns the favor. Rich doesn’t like getting his own medicine, so he tags Simmons, who looks disgusted by Rich’s cowardice. They argue, so Armstrong jumps Ron. However, Simmons reverses a whip and tags Rich back into the match. Armstrong and News take control again, so the fans chant for Simmons. They don’t get him because Rich remains in trouble. Armstrong attempts some more double teaming, but News remembered he has a conscience, so Steve continues attacking Rich on his own. Rich eventually hits a jawbreaker and finally tags Simmons, who powerslams Steve and slams News. Then, he hits Armstrong with the spinebuster for the win.

There was some decent action in this match, but it dragged a little in the middle. Also, it was nice to see Simmons is over with the crowd. The only downside to this match was P.N. News. He couldn’t seem to figure out what story he was trying to tell in this match. Plus, he’s not a great wrestler. I hope Simmons gave him crap for splashing Ron on his head.

Winners: Simmons & Rich (12:01)

Ross then recaps the night and talks about Abdullah’s behavior. He speculates that Luger might still be paying him. Then, Tony explains the rules of the Battlebowl Battle Royal. Ross looks through the list of competitors and says that the biggest men will have the advantage. Tony says that bigger men usually prevail. That might have been true when Andre the Giant was around, but it seems like that’s never the case nowadays. Bischoff then thanks Missy and Magnum for their help before introducing Gary Cappetta to introduce Battlebowl.

Battlebowl Battle Royal

Participants: Vader, Marcus Bagwell, Jimmy Garvin, Dustin Rhodes, Bill Kazmaier, Jushin Thunder Liger, Stunning Steve Austin, Richard Morton, Todd Champion, Abdullah the Butcher, Firebreaker Chip, Thomas Rich, Ron Simmons, Ricky Steamboat, Mr. Hughes, Scott Steiner, Lex Luger, Ravishing Rick Rude, Arn Anderson, and Sting.

Everyone makes their way to the ring and a cameraman trips and falls. He nearly rolls off the ramp, so Steamboat looks concerned. However, Ricky doesn’t stop to help him to his feet.

A brawl immediately breaks out and it quickly becomes clear that the wrestlers don’t understand the rules. They keep trying to eliminate people to the floor instead of into ring two. Vader and Steamboat keep fighting to the ramp. Eventually, Thomas Rich is thrown into ring two. Tony is quick to point out that you only have to clear the first set of ropes. You don’t have to be thrown clean over both sets. Then, the fans pop because Sting and Luger start fighting, but other wrestlers quickly stop it. Bagwell is sent into ring two next and Rich attacks him. Soon, Hughes tosses Chip into the ring and Bagwell nearly catches him. Next, Liger and Morton voluntarily enter ring two because they want more room to do spots. However, Liger hits a cross body that sends both men out of the ring for an elimination. Hughes is the next person sent into the second ring while Rich is eliminated from the match. The camera starts missing eliminations, so Tony is surprised to see Steamboat and Anderson in the second ring. Simmons misses a shoulder tackle and falls between rings, so he has to enter ring two. Then, Sting and Rude begin brawling and tumble over the ropes, so they enter the second ring. This leaves only Luger and Vader in ring one. Vader hits a splash and a short-arm clothesline before splashing Luger in the corner. However, Luger gets a boot up on a charge and clotheslines Vader into ring two. Luger wins ring one, which means he can rest.

Competitors start dropping like flies. The cameraman can’t even keep track of the eliminations. Jim Ross praises Bagwell for lasting a long time, but Anderson, Hughes, Rhodes, and Simmons are all eliminated in rapid succession. Then, Vader is eliminated by a double clothesline from Sting and Steamboat. This leaves only Sting, Rude, Austin, and Steamboat in ring two. Sting whips Rude into Austin and hits a Stinger Splash, but Austin and Rude start double teaming him. Steamboat breaks it up with a double noggin’ knocker. Then, Rude tries to clothesline Steamboat, but Ricky ducks and Rude accidentally eliminates Austin. Rude tries to make up for the mistake by throwing Steamboat over the top, but Ricky skins the cat and eliminates Rude with a head scissors. However, Rude pulls Steamboat down, which gives Sting the win in ring two.

Rude is angry, so he returns and gives Sting the Rude Awakening. Sting recovers and enters ring one, but Luger hits him with a running clothesline and mocks him. Harley Race tells Lex to eliminate him, but Luger says he wants to punish Sting first. Luger is somehow winded, despite having a long break. Then, Lex throws Sting to the ramp and distracts the ref so Race can attack, but Sting slams Harley. Luger follows them to the ramp and knocks Sting into the guardrail. The fans boo because they don’t realize it’s not an elimination. Once they realize the match is continuing, they stop booing. Next, Sting reverses Luger into the guardrail and they fight all the way around both rings before heading back inside. Sting gains the advantage and places Lex on the top rope. He kicks him, but Race enters the ring. Sting suplexes Race and goes back to Luger, but he misses a Stinger Splash and lands on the top turnbuckle. Luger tries to capitalize, but Sting falls into the ring before he can. Luger does manage to throw Sting over the ropes, but he celebrates before seeing where Sting landed. Sting catches himself on the apron and enters the ring before hitting Luger with a flurry of punches. He then hits a facebuster and clotheslines Luger over the ropes. Luger doesn’t quite go out, so Sting backs up and shoves him to the floor for the win.

It didn’t become interesting until it was down to Luger and Sting. The final few minutes were good, but everything before that was a convoluted mess. Neither the wrestlers nor the fans seemed to understand the rules. I can see why they ditched the two-ring setup in future installments. The storyline work between Sting and Luger and even Sting and the Dangerous Alliance was good, but it wasn’t enough to save this match.

Winner: Sting (25:10)

Fireworks explode while Sting celebrates his win. He starts to leave, but Harley Race stares a hole through him. Sting gets in his face, so Race backs down and Sting finally heads to the back. Jim Ross then talks about how the fans will demand Sting vs. Luger for the WCW Title, but he also talks about the unfinished business between Sting and the Dangerous Alliance. Then, Ross and Tony thank everyone and say goodnight.

The Good:

– There was good storyline work with Sting, Luger, and the Dangerous Alliance.

– Cactus Jack and Abdullah the Butcher were entertaining.

– The Luger/Anderson vs. Taylor/Zenk match was good.

– The work between Vader/Rick Steiner and between Steamboat/Cactus was good.

The Bad:

– The Lethal Lottery isn’t a great concept.

– There were too many jobbers involved.

– Some of the matches were either boring or bad.

– The Battlebowl Battle Royal was a mess.

– Nothing on this show felt important.

Performer of the Night:

I’m going to give it to Cactus Jack. He was highly entertaining and I enjoyed his work with Steamboat in their match.

Final thoughts:

If WCW wanted to do the Lethal Lottery, they should have done it on a Clash of the Champions instead of their biggest show. Starrcade should involve big matches and big feuds. Also, there didn’t need to be 40 men involved. They could have cut that in half and removed some of the lesser talents. The Battlebowl should have been for a WCW Title shot. Then, they could still have Sting win it and it would have felt important. Luger didn’t need to be involved. He could have had a title defense on this show instead. It’s unfortunate that the WCW champion already has one foot out the door. It didn’t help matters.

Thank you for reading. You can follow the Facebook page for this blog by clicking here and the Twitter page by clicking here. I look forward to your feedback.

My next review will be Royal Rumble ‘92. Look for it next Saturday!

 

Written by Paul Matthews

I chronologically review NWA/WCW and WWF/WWE PPVs on the WWE Network. I put out a new review every Saturday. Like and Follow the Facebook page for this blog here: https://www.facebook.com/ClassicWrestlingReview. Also, follow me on twitter @PaulDMatthews78

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