Starrcade was envisioned by Dusty Rhodes to be the ultimate supercard for the calendar year. Rhodes’ influence was now a full year removed and the new booking committee transformed Starrcade from the biggest event of the year to a gimmick event loosely fashioned off the All-Japan Champion’s Carnival model.
With Terry Funk now in retirement once again after losing the “I Quit” match at the Clash, Ric Flair turned his attention to the rest of the J-Tex Corporation –primarily Muta. The Dragon Master and Buzz Sawyer (Dick Slater is AWOL) continued to harass Flair, so he called in his “cousins” Ole Anderson and the returning Arn Anderson who staged a surprise counter attack on the J-Tex during a one of their assaults on Flair that was captured on TV.
The Freebirds would lose the World tag titles to the Steiner brothers on TV right after the Clash (taped a few weeks before). The ‘Birds became immediate after thoughts as DOOM continued their rivalry with the Steiners.
US Champion Lex Luger gloated over taking out Pillman, Sting and Flair all in one night at the Clash. He defended the title against Pillman twice more leading up to Starrcade.
The Dynamic Dudes continued to be booed by fans (even in squash matches) and The Midnight Express were beating them regularly at house shows around the circuit.
Tommy Rich and Mike Rotunda had a rivalry going on as they wrestled on TV several times – this is only notable as Rich tossed the NWA’s most famous ref Tommy Young aside during one of these matches and ended his career by causing a freak injury.
Tommy Young would later explain the injury in an interview:
“What happened was that when Rich shoved me he also raised his foot, which was about as big as this table, and he tripped me. I lost my balance, and when I lunged to grab the ropes to protect myself I missed, and went through the ropes. The middle rope hit me right between the eyes and my neck just snapped. Everything jammed together.
I heard this God-awful sound when I fell. Then I heard this humming noise. I knew I was in real trouble no pain but I couldn’t feel anything from my neck down. And I thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m in big trouble.”
The only notable debut in the weeks between The Clash and Starrcade was some nobody by the name of Cactus Jack. Yeah that’ll put butts in the seats.
Starrcade 89: Future Shock
Before I start, I’m going to try and re-book this as a real card and not the gimmick line up that is offered instead:
The Dynamic Dudes vs. Midnight Express (7 min. opener to end the Dudes run)
Tommy Rich vs. Mike Rotunda (Solid 7 min match, Mike loses on a fluke roll up.)
US Champ Luger beats Pillman in 14 mins. (No rematches on TV prior to the PPV)
Tom Zenk pins Norman via Teddy Long (accidental distraction in 5 minutes)
The Road Warriors vs. Doom (double DQ – Dan Spivey interferes after 6 minutes)
The Steiners hold off winning the belts from the Freebirds until here (11 minutes)
Arn/Ole/Sting vs. Cactus Jack/Buzz Sawyer/Dragon Master (Jack’s the unstable hired gun – 12 min brawl with the faces going over – then a brawl to the back with all 6 men)
World Champion Ric Flair vs. TV Champion The Great Muta (Flair wins a best 2 out of 3 falls at the 34 minute mark) J-Tex and Horsemen are barred from ringside. Terry Funk is handcuffed to Gary Hart at ringside to arouse suspicion that Funk may screw Flair.
The Sky Scrapers are still in the opening video despite Sid Vicious being injured and the team being replaced by The Samoans.
The matches are all worth points based on how you win – Pinfall or submission is 20 points, 15 points for a count out, 10 for a DQ and 5 for a draw.
DOOOOOOOOOOOOOM (per Gary Michael Cappetta’s intro) vs. The Steiner Brothers
TONS of empty seats. Scotty and Simmons start. They test each other’s mettle with back and forth shots. Simmons wins that with an eye rake but Scott powerslams and Steinerlines him. Rick’s outfit looks like the 90’s puked on a bright lime green wrestling uniform. Rick belly to belly suplexes Butch Reed almost out of his pants. Scotty locks in a bear hug and dumps Reed on his knee testicles first. Scott misses a charge and splats on the floor. Nitron and Reed double team him there. Simmons works him over in the ring and sends him back to the floor to be double teamed again. Simmons drives Scott into the mat with a spinebuster. Reed drops Scott over the top rope and to the floor. Scott powers out of a piledriver and hits a belly to belly suplex. Rick tags in and nails a Steinerline on both members of DOOM. Nitron trips up Rick so he Steinerlines Nitron to a big pop. All 4 men brawl on the floor but Rick sneaks in right in time to win the match via count out. Hard hitting with a good ending sequence.
Sting vs. Lex Luger
I’d have to think this is their first TV match. They would have a rematch on TV soon after Starrcade. Terry Funk is doing commentary after spending months trying to cripple and maim Ric Flair. Lex takes a walk to start and Sting chases him down. Sting pounds Luger into the ropes but misses a splash attempt and goes flying over them. Sting skins the cat back in and drops Luger with a clothesline and get a near fall off a splash. A series of clotheslines sends Luger to the floor. Sting continues the assault on the floor. Sting works over Lex’s arm back in the squared circle.
Honestly this match should be the headliner for this event – but Lex should have been the World champion for the past year, and this should have been Sting’s big title win. Lex hits a gutbuster and smacks and kicks at Sting’s abdominal wall. Luger drops the double axehandle and wounds Sting with a powerslam. Luger tries a Torture Rack but Sting slips off. Sting starts to no sell and he suplexes Lex. Luger tries to take a walk and Sting chases him down. Both men flip into the ring (with Nick Patrick’s help) and Luger lands on top and uses the ropes to gain the pin. Pretty decent match.
The Road Warriors vs. DOOM
Wait – The Samoans don’t have to face the other fresh team? Seems like DOOM is getting screwed here. Animal dropkicks Simmons. Hawk and Reed square off with shoulderblocks. Then Simmons tries. Hawk powerslams him and hits a flying tackle. Hawk misses a dropkick that Reed sold anyway and then Hawk misses a charge in the corner and falls to the floor. Doom try and wear him out after that miscue. Reed hits a big clothesline and they start the rest holds. Animal tags in and hits a tackle and powerslam. A four way breaks out and Hawk hits a flying clothesline behind the refs back to steal the win. Doom’s heat segment was dull – the need for rest is part of the bad thing about expecting guys to work 3 times in one night.
Ric Flair vs. The Great Muta
Muta is all over Flair to start and he hits his handspring elbow. The men trade chops and Flair hits a knee breaker and locks on the figure four less then 2 minutes in. This draws out The Dragon Master and Buzz Sawyer and they brawl with the Andersons. Flair frees Muta to avoid being ambushed. Muta hits a back breaker and tries for a moonsault but ends up crashing on Flair’s knees. Ric cradles him for the pin. So the potential match of the night gets 3 minutes and is overbooked. Sigh. That’s Muta’s first TV pinfall loss since he debuted 11 months earlier.
The Road Warriors vs. The Steiner Brothers
They all act buddy buddy before the match. Hawk hits an enziguiri on Scott. Scott flips out of having his foot caught and tries an ankle pick on Hawk. Rick tags in and gets his head taken off with a clothesline. Animal tags in and Rick Steinerlines him. They fight over a belly to belly and Rick sends Animal crashing to the mat. Hawk and Scott tag in and Scott is press slammed. Animal tags in and is belly to belly suplexed again. Animal responds with a hard clothesline. Hawk traps Scott in a back breaker and hits a tilt a whirl suplex. Scott tries a top rope belly to belly and Hawk looks like he crashed right on his shoulder as the move was semi-botched. Animal locks in a bear hug. Hawk hits a power slam. All four men go at it and The Warriors hit a modified Doomsday Device that ends with both Animal and Scott’s shoulders being down and Scott achieves a skive victory.
Sting vs. The Great Muta
Muta locks in a full nelson and Sting reverses it. Muta flips out of it and catches Sting with a kick as he does so. Sting helps ascend Muta through the air and tries to lock on the Scorpion Death Lock. Muta tries to blind Sting by rubbing the residue of his mist into his eyes. Sting has some crisp elbows dropped on him and Muta locks in a modified bridging full nelson. Sting powers out. Muta tries a moonsault but Sting avoids it. Muta lands on his feet and Sting is blasted with a karate kick. Sting catches Muta on the top rope and hits a superplex for the pin. Another solid back and forth match. This didn’t have the feel of two guys who spent the last five months as heated rivals though.
The Samoans vs. DOOM
Fatu and Reed start off. They take turns no selling each other. Both men are loopy after a series of headbutts and they tag out. Tama and Simmons do their own no selling competition until Reed tags in and he’s able to slow Tama down. A chokehold only fires Tama up and he chops away until Simmons is forced to tag back in. Tama is chucked to the floor and abused, Doom makes quick tags to keep Tama winded and hurt. Reed misses a flying tackle and Fatu comes in like a house of fire. A four way breaks out and 2 of the men collide heads and the Samoan lands on top for the pin. Sort of plodding.
Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger
They are just racing through the matches, not leaving any breathing room between matches, which feels detrimental to the viewer. Jim Ross confuses me greatly by putting over Terry Funk. “No man has made me more proud to be a part of wrestling in 1989 than the man sitting next to me.” JR sure forgives quick.
They both stall at the start. Then stall some more. Lex uses power to reverse a side headlock and trap Flair on the mat. Flair gets a series of chops and Lex bails. Luger catches him on the way back in but more chops keep Lex at bay. Flair grabs a hammerlock and grinds away on Lex’s arm on the mat. Flair hits a double underhook suplex. More arm work by Flair. Flair tries a few cradles for a fluke pin. Lex drops Flair throat first over the top rope and stomps away. Lex press slams Flair. Flair reverses a follow up suplex. Flair is flipped over the top rope and he tries a top rope leap off of it and is nailed with a clothesline. They go move for move the last several minutes until Flair locks on the figure four until the 15 minute time limit expired. They worked this like it was the first 10 minutes of a 40 minute match – they picked it up the last few minutes and had the crowd rabid. Rather slow though; they have to sell exhaustion from the multiple matches.
The Steiner Bros. vs. The Samoans
All four men go on all fours as they play mind games with each other. Rick bugs the Samoans as they try to do their pre-match ceremony. Tama beats Rick down but misses a flying elbow. Rick Steinerlines Tama and some how rips out one of Tama’s braids, so he puts it in his wrestling helmet. The Samoans take a walk and are greeted with another Steinerline when they return to the ring. Fatu tries to play dog with Steiner and Rick elects to tag out instead. Scott locks Tama in a front facelock. Rick is back in and the Samoans accidentally hit each other. The Samoans tease tension, then hug. Scott ends up on the floor and he is dropped on the railing crotch first. The Samoans make a wish and Fatu drops a headbutt on Scott’s jewels. Scott is blasted with a big double clothesline. The Samoans trap Scott and use his exhaustion against him as they take turns beating him down. Scott nails a Frankensteiner out of nowhere but doesn’t have enough to make a tag or a cover, A four way breaks out and both Samoans are Steinerlined. Both Samoans are dumped. The ref catches Scott sending Fatu over the top and the Steiners are DQ’d with seconds remaining. Lots of hard hitting goodness mixed with early comedy.
The Great Muta vs. Lex Luger
Luger limps to ringside to sell the damage from the figure four. Lex tries a leap frog and his knee gives out. Muta starts to kick away at the leg and locks on a knee bar until Lex goes for the eyes. Luger is taken down again and Muta works over Lex’s leg further. Lex catches him with a knee but collapses on a suplex attempt. Muta has enough left to hit a handspring elbow. Muta locks on a half crab. Muta locks on a modified Indian Death lock. Muta keeps wearing at Lex’s leg. Luger gets an adrenal burst but Muta ends any rally by kicking him in the mush. Luger rocks Muta with a big clothesline as time is running out. Muta is powerslammed but Lex can’t use the rack due to his knee. Muta says fuck it and blows mist in Lex’s eyes for the DQ and then storms off. Not a bad match – psychologically sound if nothing else.
The Road Warriors vs. The Samoans
Animal no sells a Fatu piledriver and drops the Samoan with a clothesline. Hawk and Fatu have a stiff chop competition. Hawk no sells a headbutt. A headbutt from a minority no less! Animal powerslams Fatu. Both men are hurt as they collide on what appears to be a blown spot. Tama misses a Vader bomb and a four way brawl breaks out. Hawk catches Tama with a flying clothesline for the win. The Steiners come out to congratulate the Warriors.
Sting vs. Ric Flair
Sting one ups Flair early, so Flair takes a break. Sting takes Flair down via grappling. Flair scoops Sting off his feet and dumps him on the top rope and walks away –letting Sting know he too can play the one up game. Flair gets press slammed and that embarrasses him enough that he shoves Sting and takes another walk. Sting blocks a hip toss and Flair drops him with a chop. Flair sends him to the floor and into the railing. Sting is suplexed into the ring and drops the knee across Sting’s chest. Flair fails on a few roll ups and Ric starts to ride the ref. Double underhook suplex on Sting. Sting explodes with a clothesline so Flair takes a walk. Sting chases after him and no sells Flair’s chops. Flair tries to suplex Sting onto the concrete but Sting reverses. Sting gets fired up and nails the Stinger splash. He locks on the Scorpion Death Lock but Flair is in the ropes. Flair catches Sting with a knee breaker and locks in the figure four. Sting makes it to the ropes. Flair drops his knee onto Sting’s. Another knee breaker is followed by pouncing on Sting’s knee. Flair goes for the figure four again with 20 seconds left and Sting rolls him up for the pin. Flair, Arn and Ole all get in Sting’s face and after a tense moment they all celebrate with him.
We are almost out of time and we get the closing promos in audio only as the credits roll over them.
A solid night of wrestling but the round robin tournament didn’t allow for the matches to mean anything. Then because everyone was conserving energy we also didn’t really get any matches that saw the men go full tilt. All in all a novel idea that needed tweaking.