If anyone questions that WCW no longer saw Starrcade as the biggest show of the year, look no further than this year as the show is once again basically a gimmick card with WCW facing New Japan in a “World Cup”. With next to no build on Nitro, they couldn’t have expected this concept to draw. At least the workrate should be far above average.
Live from Nashville
Dusty Rhodes, Bobby Heenan and Tony Schiavone call the action
Jushin “Thunder” Liger vs. Chris Benoit
Dusty calls Sonny Oono Sonny Bono…unintentionally I think… Benoit is hip tossed out of his boots several times, then sent to the floor and launched into. Benoit hits a tilt a whirl back breaker but a follow up power bomb attempt is flipped out of and Chris ends up catapulted thru the air yet again. Dusty: “He was tittered and tottered”. Benoit drills him with a suplex and a back drop. Heenan and Dusty have some great back and forth verbal bits here. German suplex is endured by Liger and he traps Chris in a bow and arrow. Liger morphs that into a dragon sleeper. Benoit hits a superplex but misses a diving headbutt. Liger drills him with a Tiger Bomb and a brainbuster. The Crippler nails rolling German suplexes and power bombs Liger. Diving headbutt hits but Kevin Sullivan wanders down to distract Benoit and Liger is able to get a roll up pin. Good stiff action – not a fan of the Sports Entertainment finish.
Eddy Guerrero cuts the whitest of white meat babyface promos. I’m shocked he didn’t have any actual babies with him to kiss.
Alex Wright vs. Koji Kantemoto
Koji is the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight champion, and Alex Wright….isn’t, so Wright’s chances are slim. Crowd starts a brief “USA” chant before they realize Wright is a German. Koji and Wright start with mat work and Koji delivers some ultra vicious looking leg snapping knee drops. Wright hits an enziguiri and a pair of gorgeous head scissors. Both men spill over the top rope and Wright takes advantage and planchas him. Koji works some rest holds and then tries to kick Alex into pieces. Wright is dropkicked to the floor and Koji pays him back from earlier and planchas him. Koji dumps Wright on his neck and moonsaults him. Wright (appropriately) nails a German suplex. Koji and Wright miss dual drop kick attempts. Koji nails a senton splash but Wright catches him coming off the top rope with a drop kick. Wright nails a flying dropkick and a superplex. Alex is rocked with a Snake Eyes and rolled up for the pin. Some obvious communication issues aside, this was another solid back and forth encounter.
Lex Luger vs. Masa Chono
Lex gorilla press slams Chono but Masa comes right back with elbows and a Mafia kick that drives Luger to the floor to recoup. Lex uses brute force to take over by tossing Chono from turnbuckle to turnbuckle. They struggle over a suplex and Chono uses technique to overcome Lex’s power. Luger is trapped in the infamous STF move that Lou Thesz taught Chono. Lex struggles to the ropes. Chono hits another Mafia kick but Lex catches him with a shot to the jaw. Luger locks on the Torture Rack and Chono submits. Match was fairly quick since Lex has another match tonight. The rushed pace didn’t allow this to hit the second level.
Johnny B. Badd vs. Masa Saito
Kimberly Page makes a bunch of semi-racist comments towards Oono before the match. (And with that a lawsuit is born…) Saito grinds Badd into the mat. They trade hard chops because they are MEN. Saito aims for the throat to win that exchange. Saito rips at Badd’s face and Saito and Oono take turns choking Johnny. Belly to back suplex and stiff clothesline hurt the Badd man. Saito gets the short end of another stiff blow exchange and Badd catches him with a flying double axe handle. Badd downs him with more punches and a suplex. Johnny is distracted by Oono and Saito dumps him over the top rope for the lame DQ. So we had to protect the near 50 year old legend, but New Japan headliner Chono loses clean and by submission no less? Huh. Badd sends Saito to the floor after Mr. Torture tried to go after Kimberly. Badd whiffs on his flip over the top rope on Saito because Saito was out of position. Masa takes the bump anyway. Good solid stiff fun before the ending.
Eddy Guerrero vs. Shinji Otani
Otani works Eddy into the mat and goes to the eyes like a good heel should. Eddy takes him down and rubs his boot across Otani’s face. Otani leg sweeps Guerrero and locks him in a half crab. Eddy grounds Otani to let him know that he too can grapple. Eddy hits a hurricarana, which sends Otani to the floor for a strategy session. Eddy drives him into the mat with a power bomb and a brain buster. Otani dropkicks Eddy to the floor and springs onto him on the pavement.
Eddy is being choked as the announcers have this awesome exchange: Heenan: “Dusty, if you were Eddy Guerrero what would you be thinking right now?” Dusty: “I’d be thinking I lost a’lotta weight!”
Otani locks Eddy in a headlock but Guerrero back suplexes him on his neck. Otani returns the favor. Eddy plays possum and catches Otani on the top rope – he helpfully sends Otani to the mat with a hurricanrana. Eddy kills him with a high altitude power bomb but ends up trapped in an ankle lock. Eddy escapes and springs on Otani on the cement floor. Otani suplexes Eddy and dropkicks the back of his head. Another hurricanrana attempt is reversed into a roll up and they go back and forth until Eddy’s shoulders lay trapped for 3 seconds to end the encounter. Tremendous fun.
Macho Man cuts an amazing cocaine induced promo.
Randy Savage vs. Tenzan
Both men are wearing a rainbow full of colors on their tights. Tenzan stomps and clubs away on Macho Man. Savage’s face is ripped at and then Tenzan tries to chop a piece of Randy’s chest off so he can ship it back to the homeland. Savage tries some punches but Tenzan no sells them. Tenzan hits a spin heel kick and continues to hack into the World champion. Savage is dumped with a fall away slam and a diving headbutt hits the mark as well. Tenzan misses a moonsault and Savage weakly drops Tenzan onto the top rope and that’s enough to drop the big elbow from the top rope for the pin. Typical Savage match for this period. I didn’t buy that ending sequence AT ALL.
Bobby Heenan does some physical comedy to show his frustrations over Japan’s losses. Tony, Dusty, Mean Gene and I all break out in laughter.
Ric Flair proclaims that he is going to win the World title and then bang Dolly Parton to celebrate.
Sting vs. Kensuke Sensaki
Sensaki Pearl Harbor’s Sting and slugs away at WCW’s last hope. Sting hits a Stinger Splash, a dropkick and then knocks him to the floor. Kensuke powerslams and dumps Sting on his head with a brain buster. Sting has his arm wrung and then the evil foreigner entraps Sting into the Scorpion Death lock. Sting powers out but gets leg whipped. Sting escapes a powerslam and locks on the Scorpion Death Lock himself. Sensaki fights it but ultimately has to submit. Another match that felt like it was on fast forward and skipped a lot of the meat of the match. WCW wins the cup.
Lex Luger vs. Sting vs. Ric Flair
Both guys shove Flair around before the bell. Flair and Sting start. Per the rules, Luger has to be tagged in. Flair is press slammed and nearly locked in the Scorpion Death Lock. Flair starts to chop away and work on Sting’s arm. Flair stops to strut and Sting pursues him. Flair is press slammed again and then Sting chews on his forehead. Flair lures Sting outside and chucks him into the railing – Sting no sells that. Twice. Sting misses a dropkick in the ring and Flair starts to chop and punch away. Flair stops to strut again and Sting stalks him. Flair is press slammed and superplexed. Lex breaks up his friend’s pin and tags himself in.
Flair takes a walk and Lex drags him back into the ring. Lex no sells Flair’s impotent offense and press slams him. Flair pokes the eyes to buy himself some time. Lex’s leg is taken out from under him. Ric smacks Lex’s knee with a chair. Flair goads Sting in the ring to distract the ref and he drops a knee to Lex’s package. Luger is locked in the figure-four leglock. Lex powers out and both men are down after a vertical suplex. Flair is slammed off the top rope and that compels him to tag in Sting.
They exchange a half hearted handshake. They have a few lock ups but both men are hesitant to go for the kill. Lex finally kicks Sting to set both men off. Lex clubs away and drops Sting with a hard clothesline. Sting is dumped onto the top rope throat first and he chokes away. Sting hits a flying crossbody but a follow up splash finds Luger’s knees awaiting. Both men are exhausted and Lex buys himself more time with a low bow and then a reverse atomic drop. Sting misses a Stinger splash and is locked in the torture rack – the ref is bumped. Flair sneaks in and hits Luger with a knee. The Nature Boy then chucks both men to the floor. The ref counts both men out – at the count of 9 Lex grabs onto Sting and prevents him from entering the ring. Flair wins via the double count out. Luger asks Sting to help him and Sting looks on unimpressed. These guys have wrestled 2000 times so this was their usual good stuff, even if it was paint by numbers. Mad props to whoever booked the finish.
Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair
Savage opens up with punches. Paul Orndorff comes down to glare at Flair. Ric is sent head over heels over the turnbuckle and to the floor. Flair catches Savage during his follow up pursuit and chops away at Savage’s chest. Jimmy Hart kicks Savage in the ribs for good measure. Flair cranks on Savage’s already injured arm. Savage tries to defend himself with his one good arm but ends up trapped in a sleeper. Savage escapes and hits a series of clotheslines. Macho Man gets caught coming from the top rope again.
Flair tries to use the megaphone but Randy snags it away and bonks Flair instead. Flair blades and is hit with the big elbow. Brian Pillman and Chris Benoit run in and are chucked together. Arn Anderson sneaks in and KO’s Savage with a foreign object. Ric gets the pin. Fire the ref!!! Pillman whips Savage with the title belt. Flair might have the goriest blade job ever done that served no purpose in the match or finish. Maybe he just wanted to have his hair covered in blood for the dramatic imagery it would invoke as he celebrated.
Bonus: After the PPV went off the air One Man Gang of all people defeated Sensaki for the US title.
The Japan matches were largely very good, although the WCW main eventers all were disappointing in their efforts since they had to conserve energy for later on. The 3 way was a LONG match and watching Nitro and old NWA PPVs at the same time has me becoming a bit lethargic at the sight of Sting, Flair and Luger locked in battle since they don’t change up a great deal.
We are now entering a very good period for Nitro leading to the nWo exploding the business in 6 months, so many good times ahead. I’ll be covering the first RAW and Nitro’s of 1996 next week.