Starrcade ’90: Collision Course

After the remarkably bad Thanksgiving Thunder event…

Ole Anderson was fired as his six months in charge saw the “chosen one”, Sting, bomb at the box office. Couple that with a plethora of old guys being signed on the cheap at the expense of other younger, higher paid talent. Perhaps the coup de grace was making the top heel THE BLACK SCORPION, despite having no idea who was actually going to play the role for the pay-off.

WCW had to turn to Ric Flair in desperation and meet his demands to become World champion again in order to put on the cloak.

Tom Zenk pinned Arn Anderson to end his 11-month reign as TV champion. The title was largely on the backburner with Arn holding it anyway (he was in the middle of a tag team feud with DOOM). Zenk doing a number of high profile squash losses to Stan Hansen and Vader in recent months certainly makes his title win look auspicious in hindsight. The title win wouldn’t be acknowledged until it was shown on TV in late December.

Stampede Wrestling musclehead Larry Cameron made a number of appearances headlining house shows as a substitute for Ron Simmons in DOOM vs. Horsemen tag matches.

The Minotaur (Steve Disolvo) debuted to add another useless roid monkey to the mix.

Owen Hart was pursued to be on Team Canada at the PPV, but a deal couldn’t be made.

Pat O’Connor’s widow was upset that Sam Muchnick was being used at the same PPV that was holding a memorial for her husband. Pat had been upset that Sam didn’t help his wrestling group after Sam retired.

The Nasty Boys are done and heading to the WWF. The Iron Sheik will also be gone soon and inexplicably will be given a headline run in the WWF. AWA World Champion Larry Zbyszko has signed on with WCW.

Several house shows in the days before Starcade drew under 1,000 fans. The promotion was clearly on fire heading into its biggest show of the year.

Starrcade 90: Collision Course

Sam Muchnick opens the show and thanks a litany of WCW executives and puts over the fans. WCW paid him a tad under $10,000 for this. A nice nod to the past, but not a savvy business move for a company bleeding money. They could have paid a number of stars from Japan or a star from the past to work a match and maybe draw some money for the promotion.

Tom Zenk vs. “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton

They claim Zenk is on a 35 match win streak. Zenk looks freaky good physically. No wellness testing here. Z-man out wrestles Eaton and topples him with a pair of flying crossbody presses. They blow a spot as Zenk drops his head and preps for a leapfrog or backdrop and Eaton just runs into him and Tom falls over. They then stare at each other and Eaton actually says, “What was that?”

Eaton takes over with technical and roughhouse moves until Zenk manages to suplex him onto the ramp. Zenk then delivers a flying crossbody onto the ramp.

Eaton rallies with a bulldog and delivers an “Alabama Jam” top rope legdrop. He fails to attempt the pin for some reason and crotches himself during a charge instead. Eaton tries another highflying move and crash lands into a sketchy looking superkick. Zenk misses a flying dropkick and is small packaged for the pin. So much for that win streak. This was under whelming considering the participants.

Dick the Bruiser cuts a promo promising that he will make sure Sting has a fair chance in tonight’s main event.

Random models carry each country’s flag for the members of tonight’s international tag team tournament. It should be noted each woman is white, which is a small oversight since technically a woman from each country should have carried their own flag.

Tag Tournament Round 1: The Steiner Brothers vs. Col. Deklerk and Sgt. Kruger

The US tag champs are representing America, appropriately enough. The heels are Rocco Rock and Ray “Babyface Doink” Apollo. Rick eats a belly to belly to start but then delivers a series of Steinerlines on both heels. Rocco knocks Rick to the floor with a spin wheel kick and tries a plancha – Rick fails to catch him. Ouch. Scott nails a tilt a whirl slam and Frankensteiner to win it quickly thereafter. Rocco was definitely trying to earn a job here. Should have hit the roids based on other recent WCW signings.

Tag Tournament Round 1: Chris Adams and Norman Smiley vs. Rey Mistero Sr. and Konnan

Adams gets a nice pop from the knowledgeable St. Louis fanbase. WCW’s crack production staff misspell Rey’s name so for the sake of historical (in)accuracy I’ll do the same. Konnan looks like he’d fail a wellness test.

Smiley flips both Mexicans head over heels. Adams does some flips of his own and nails a superkick to a big pop. Konnan and Smiley grapple. Norman nails a fisherman suplex but Konnan is able to flip him across the ring. Rey charges Smiley and ends up flying through the ropes and landing on the steps.

Konnan is superkicked right into a bridging German suplex. Konnan hits Smiley with a reverse suplex. Norman had no idea what Konnan was going for, and that looked like a bit of an awkward spot. Konnan rolls him up for the win. Fun match – the Brits did enough to earn a contract that was not to be actually forthcoming.

JR introduces Missy Hyatt: “I hope she isn’t wearing an atom bomb dress – you know, 50% fall-out.” Michael Wallstreet promises to beat Terry Taylor in under 9 minutes. Yawn.

Tag Tournament Round 1: Jack Victory and Rip Morgan vs. Masa Saito and The Great Muta

The fans pop for Muta. Muta kicks Victory to the ramp and flies into him. Saito tosses Morgan around and tries to break Victory’s arm with a kimura of sorts. Muta flies into Morgan and then tags Saito in for the kill.

The New Zealanders cheat to fend him off ultimately sending him into the ringpost. Victory misses an elbow and all four men scramble in the ring. Muta hits a bridging suplex for the win. The Japan squad clearly out classed their foes here.

Tag Tournament Round 1: Bull Johnson and Troy Montour vs. Victor Zangiev & Salman Hashimikov

I’m shocked to see Danny “Bullwhip” Johnson etched out a solid little career for himself and isn’t just some jobber WCW gimmicked up for this show. He was a 15-year vet by this point. Troy Montour has an Indian gimmick here but seems to have absolutely no real info on his career online. Even has no profile on him and they are as complete as it gets. Huh. Zangiev and Hashimikov are legit Greco-Roman wrestlers who were pushed hard in a New Japan a few months earlier.

The announcers try and push the Russians as nice fellows but the crowd is still in a “Cold War” mentality. Zangiev looks like an insurance salesman. He quickly ties up the Indian into a knot to shut me up. Victor shows off his dexterity by bridging out of a head scissors and then belly to belly suplexes Montour on his face. Salman stalks Johnson and delivers a belly-to-belly suplex and barely holds Johnson down for the 3 count. Team Canada argues about the finish. Brief, and not very pretty.

Terry Taylor vs. Michael Wallstreet

The “York Foundation” theme – a “Dallas” rip-off- is great. Taylor out wrestles Wallstreet, so Mike takes a break to check his spreadsheets. The computer apparently tells Wallstreet to try “extended arm locks” based on his follow up offense. The usual Rotunda offense follows as we get elbows, a suplex and an abdominal stretch.

Taylor rooster’s up and unloads on Mike. A flying forearm gets a near fall. Wallstreet manages to nail a stun gun and a fall-away slam for the pin. Technically sound but vanilla as possible.

The Motor City Madman and “The Big Cat” Curtis Hughes vs. Sid Vicious and Dan Spivey

This is a one night only reunion of the Skyscrapers. Sid and Spivey blitz through both heels and deliver a spike power bomb on the Madman to win in under a minute. The crowd goes bonkers, so of course they never team up again. WCW everyone.

The Skyscrapers cut a babyface promo afterwards, even roughing up Paul E. Dangerously a bit. With DOOM about to drop the titles…

Tommy Rich and Ricky Morton vs. Jimmy “Jam” Garvin and Michael “P.S.” Hayes

Robert Gibson joins the faces at ringside on crutches. Morton whips both heels by himself and the ‘Birds hibernate for a bit. Morton delivers a low blow to Hayes and tries to post him. Hayes blocks it, turns around and laughs in Morton’s face over his cunning avoidance. Awesome. Gibson smacks Hayes, which allows Morton to then properly post him.

The faces lock on dual figure four leglocks onto both ‘Birds back in the ring. Richard Marley tries to interfere, so Rich spanks him. Hayes eats some big blows and bails into Garvin’s warm embrace. Hayes is flipped out of a DDT attempt and both heels noggins are knocked together.

Hayes cheats to gain control and orders Marley to jump off the top and onto Morton’s leg – but Gibson uses his crutch to put an end to that plan. Garvin chokes Marley for blowing the scheme and Rich rolls Garvin up for the pin. The ‘Birds beat down Marley after the match and then knock Gibson down when Rich and Morton are distracted with checking on Marley. With nothing settled here, I expect more southern justice laid out in this feud.

Tag Tournament Round 2: The Steiner Brothers vs. Rey Mistero Sr. and Konnan

Rick toys with Konnan, being too friendly to his fellow babyface and it costs him as Konnan leg picks him and locks his knee up. Scott tags in and Konnan takes a hard power slam and a top rope bulldog. That is somehow not the finish. Mistero tags in and is power bombed by Rick for the pin. Almost a squash.

Tag Tournament Round 2: Victor Zangiev & Salman Hashimikov vs. Masa Saito and The Great Muta

Muta out wrestles Zangiev on the mat to start, and that seems fairly absurd given Muta is not a “grappler” and Zangiev is a legit 3 time World champion. Saito tries his luck but Zangiev entraps his arm. Salman tags in and scores a takedown and tries a Moscow Crab, but Muta saves the day. Zangiev is back in and Saito locks on a Sasori-gatame (Scorpion Death Lock) on him. Both men tag out and that leads to the much larger Hashimikov sending Muta flying overhead with a belly-to-belly suplex. Salman delivers another wicked back suplex and both men tag off.

Saito nearly beheads Zangiev with a clothesline, then disappointed in his failure to maim Soda Popinski, Saito executes him with a nasty back suplex and holds him down long enough to earn the pin. This was more stiff goodness. I want a 20-minute Steiners vs. Zangiev/Hashimikov match NOW. JR and Paul E mocking Pro Wrasslin’ Russian gimmicks of the past was a fun bonus here.

Bullrope United States Title match: Stan “The Lariat” Hansen vs. Lex Luger

Hansen spews tobacco on the audience on his way down to the ring. Hansen is the reigning All-Japan Triple Crown champion as well. I find it a bit surprising that Giant Baba would let his top guy come to America to do a high profile job.

Hansen takes over where he left off at Halloween Havoc and starts to maul Lex. Luger unloads with a plethora of punches, which Hansen gleefully responds to with his own clubbing blows. Hansen throttles Lex on the floor and whacks him with a chair.

Lex catches Hansen with a big clothesline and unloads with more punches. He tries to drag the “Bad man from Borger, Texas” around to each turnbuckle but Hansen manages to back suplex him and then kicks The Total Package in the face. Hansen wraps Luger’s neck with the rope and hangs him over the top rope.
Hansen starts to drag Luger to each turnbuckle, and that allows Lex time to recover and he pounces on Stan. Luger takes it to the floor, where Hansen is tossed into the ring edge and the steel post.

Luger hog ties Hansen’s wrists and drags him to all four corners – he accidentally knocks the ref out while lunging at the fourth corner. The crowd is pissed. A second ref runs down. Hansen wraps Luger’s neck and body with the rope and drags Luger around to the turnbuckles. Stan delivers a lariat and wins the match…BUT the first ref wakes up and awards the match to Luger. Good stuff as one would expect from Hansen.

World tag team title match – held under street fight rules: DOOM vs. Barry Windham and Arn Anderson

Windham is replacing Flair, who was mauled by DOOM earlier in the week:

Four-way slugfest to start. All the men are wearing jeans and T-shirts. Arn and Simmons trade shots with a weight belt. Windham is posted by Reed and is bleeding very early on. Butch uses the buckle to open Barry’s wound further. Simmons is battered with a chair by Anderson on his knee and head. Reed whacks Windham with a chair and that sends him right into a Simmons spinebuster for a very convincing near fall. Windham rallies as he manages to superplex Reed. Simmons drives a flying shoulderblock into The Enforcer from the top rope.

Anderson is busted open by a chair shot. Windham drills Reed with a big DDT but Reed guts through the pain and brutalizes Barry with a piledriver. Chaos ensues as all four men go at it in the ring Simmons pins Arn at the same time Windham pins Reed. Ref Nick Patrick looks confused and the men just keep brawling all the way to the back. Fast paced and wild affair that easily stole the show so far. I’m not a fan of the fuck finish.

Finals for the Pat O’ Connor Memorial International Tag Team Tournament, Winner is to be awarded a trophy and will be known as the “Tag team champions of the Universe.”: The Steiner Brothers vs. The Great Muta and Masa Saito

Muta and Scott start. Muta catches him with an enziguiri, so Scott grabs his ankle and rolls through into a half-crab. Rick tries his luck and eats a spin kick from Muta. He shakes that off and Steinerlines Muta. Masa Saito eats one too and Muta tries to sneak in and Rick low blows him on the ropes.

Team Japan regroups and Muta manages to choke Scott and hit his patented handspring elbow. Scott delivers a belly to belly as JR makes light of Saito’s prison time.

Rick delivers his best shots to Saito but Masa manages to dump him with a side suplex. The men then collide mid-ring and Muta is tagged in. Muta sends Rick to the floor so Saito can drive him into the corner post. Muta furthers the trauma by nailing a stiff clothesline on the floor. Rick absorbs abuse for several minutes until he manages to Steinerline Muta and tag in Scott.

The future Big Bad Booty Daddy Tiger Bombs Muta, but Muta manages to tag Saito in the ring. Masa dumps Scott with a back suplex and then has Muta help him deliver a spike pikedriver. Saito locks on a sleeper, but Scott makes a blind tag to Rick and he sunset flips Saito from the top rope for the win! Good, solid match.

Pat O’ Conner’s widow is given a shout out. Then Evil Jim Herd comes out to put over the workers and the fans. Scott gives a pro-troops promo.

Steel Cage World title match: Sting vs. The Black Scorpion

Dick the Bruiser waddles out to be the ref. Four Black Scorpions come down to ringside. A strange chamber drops from the ceiling and another Scorpion emerges from that.

Sting and The Real Scorpion have a long staredown. They go through a feeling out process of lock ups and headlocks, and this is not really emitting “blood feud”. Scorpion nails a big clothesline and a side suplex. Scorpion tries to use the ropes to steal the pin but Bruiser catches the ruse.

Scorpion whips Sting back and forth across the ring and locks on a headlock. Very lethargic match so far. Bruiser and Scorpion have more issues with blatant cheating from the demon incarnate. Sting fires up and press slams the Scorpion. Sting then makes a flying charge and crashes into the unforgiving steel. Scorpion and Bruiser have more words as Scorpion chokes away on the champ right in front of the elderly ref.

Sting starts to choke his nemesis, so Scorpion rakes at his eyes and whips him into the steel several times. They go through an awkward bit where they seem to not know what they want to do but it ends up with Sting flying into the steel in a contrived fashion.

Sting fires up and nails a Stinger Splash. He locks on a Scorpion Death Lock to a stunningly tepid response from the audience. The Black Scorpion fights his way to the ropes.

Sting smashes him into the cage and unmasks him to reveal…another mask. They brawl on top of the cage and Sting is sent crashing to the mat. The Scorpion then falls on his balls in another contrived looking spot. Scorpion is sent into the cage several times and the masked man blades. Sting tries an Irish whip and the Scorpion won’t go for it for some reason, so Sting uses a hip toss in what ends up as another sloppy/blown spot. Sting connects on a flying crossbody to end this mess.

The Scorpions who came out earlier all charge the ring and Dick and Sting fight them off and start to unmask them – revealing a parade of jobbers. Arn and Windham charge the cage and batter Sting. Dick is whacked with a chair and then Sting is DDT’d on that same chair.

The jobber Scorpions hold on to the Bruiser as Arn, Windham and The Real Scorpion assault Sting with a chair. Ricky Morton and The Z-man run down and attempt to scale the cage to save the day but the Horsemen fight them off. Terry Taylor tries to no avail as well. Crowd chants for “Luger” as The Steiners run down with bolt cutters and break into the cage. Sting takes advantage of the Horsemen being distracted and unmasks the Real Scorpion as Ric Flair (now with his long locks cut off). The heels run away as the PPV comes to a close.

Final thoughts:

Only a few months earlier JYD, El Gigante and Lex Luger were on Sting’s side in a war with the Horsemen, and all 3 managed to not be there when he needed them the most.

This PPV was actually pretty decent but it could have been tweaked to have been great. WCW had a pretty massive roster at this point and yet much of it went unused in order to bring in unknown talents and other one off guys for a tournament that probably netted little interest for the promotion in the long run. Where was Pillman, Vader, Gigante, JYD etc etc?? Even Barry Windham was off the card until the PPV kicked off!

WCW had seemingly 15 teams on their roster at this point and almost none of them managed to make it on this show. Perhaps the horrid Clash before this should have been home to Round 1 of an 8 team WCW based tournament, with all 8 teams qualifying in TV matches leading up to that event. Then Starrcade could show the semis and finals of this tourney and the winners awarded a shot at the World tag titles at the next Clash or PPV. If nothing else you can bring in the Russians and Team Japan to try and show the title shot has sparked international interest. DOOM can still war with the Horsemen as this all unfolds.

As far as why the main event was such a stinker: For one, Flair tried to not do all his usual spots, so he worked a slow, disjointed style. Two, the fans had crapped on this goofiness already for the most part, and the big Scorpion finale saw a “monster” heel who was quite smaller than the valiant champion. That killed the illusion of danger. Three, poor Sting just can’t beat a major heel with his finisher. Hulk Hogan made EVERYBODY lose to his legdrop, meanwhile Flair and Sid both were pinned in very fluky manners in Sting’s prior PPV matches and here again the heel escapes the dreaded Scorpion Death Lock.

Can you imagine had the ending been tweaked a bit, and as the Horsemen laid a beating down to Sting, The Skyscrapers come down as JR melodramatically declares the end of Sting is upon us, and then instead Sid and Spivey wipe out the Horsemen? With the pops they were getting as heels the prior year and tonight again, there was hot iron to strike there. The Horsemen can add Eaton, Zbyszko or whoever else to become four again and go after Taylor, Zenk, Morton, etc. for their meddling here, until Sid, Sting, Spivey and…Pillman(?) step up and challenge them to WAR GAMES at the Wrestle War PPV coming in February.

So anyway, an interesting card, some good wrestling and a lot of missed chances. Next time is the January 1991 Clash!!!


Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of, lover of wrasslin' and true crimes.

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