Heading into Starrcade 1993, Ric Flair’s career was on the line and WCW had sold more tickets for this show than any in quite some time. I was looking forward to this show more than any other from WCW in this year because it was effectively the end of a terrible period for them. That being said, it wasn’t the last terrible period by any stretch and another one was soon to come. With that all being said, the promotion for this and their use of athletes in putting over Ric Flair was really good. To the show!
– December 27th, 1993, from Independence Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina
Opening the show, they aired a montage of pictures from Ric Flair’s childhood leading up to his adult life and wrestling career. This was well done, it really felt like it was bound to be his last match on that night. After showing those things, they had a Vader montage.
Tony Schiavone and Jesse Ventura were on commentary once again. Jesse looked strange wearing a suit. Vader’s arrival and pre-match routine was funny to watch. Ric Flair was getting ready to leave at his house, and they showed him there with Mean Gene. They did this in a way where it looked like his kids thought he was going to die.
Pretty Wonderful (w/the Assassin) vs. 2 Cold Scorpio and Marcus Bagwell (w/Teddy Long)
Pre-Match Thoughts: Pretty Wonderful was a new thing, and I don’t much like their chances of having a good match with these two young men. Especially given the difference in style. Scorpio wasn’t much longer for WCW and that was unfortunate. Teddy Long’s intermittent appearaces are so strange. Teddy Long was presented an award for Manager of the Year. That’s absurd.
Match Review: It took no time for everyone to start brawling, and Pretty Wonderful gets thrown into each other. Roma gets double dropkicked out of the ring, then Scorpio kicks Orndorff in the head with a sloppy moonsault. Once everything settles down, Bagwell and Roma keep the match moving. Roma hits him with some punches, but Bagwell comes back with a cross body for 2. Bagwell takes Roma down with an arm drag, then brings in Scorpio for more arm work. Bagwell gets back in to do the same, until Roma slams him. Orndorff tags in and so does Scorpio, which leads to Orndorff leveling Scorpio with forearms and knocking him out to the ramp. Orndorff then goes for a suplex, but Scorpio goes out the back side and hip tosses Orndorff. Scorpio follows with a flying head-scissors, then tags in Bagwell for a splash that gets 2. Roma tags in as well, and Bagwell gives him an atomic drop. That’s followed with another arm drag. Scorpio tags in for a hip toss and knee drop combination, which gets 2. Back to the armbar, until Bagwell gets back in. Orndorff switches in too, and drops Bagwell with a facebuster. Orndorff drops Bagwell with a bodyslam, drops an elbow on him, and Bagwell then tries a sleeper. Roma attacks from behind to break it, then follows up with some backbreakers. Roma drops an elbow on Bagwell for 2, then Orndorff gets in there and drops Bagwell with a back suplex for 2. Roma tags in for a butterfly suplex that gets 2, then powerslams him. Roma heads up top, then comes down with a big splash that misses. Orndorff tags in and misses an elbow drop, then Scorpio gets in there. Scorpio clotheslines Orndorff, dropkicks Roma out of the ring, and suplexes Orndorff. Now Scorpio goes up top, and Roma grabs him. Bagwell attacks Roma from behind, then Scorpio lands a right hand from the top. Scorpio follows with a spinning wheel kick, then knocks the Assassin off the apron. Scorpio charges at Orndorff for a flying head-scissors, but the Assassin headbutts Scorpio with his loaded mask. Then Orndorff pins Scorpio for the victory after 11:47.
My Thoughts: This turned out exactly the way I expected to, which kind of sucked. I was hoping for a little something more, but it wasn’t to be. This match never really got out of first gear. Everything was acceptable, but never more than that. No important spots in it either. *3/4. Of course Pretty Wonderful had to win because they were going to be pushed, but the way the match went left a sour taste.
Hilariously, they showed Flair and Mean Gene in their limosuine on the way to the arena. Flair talked about the match and the occasion for quite some time.
King Kong (w/Awesome Kong) vs. The Shockmaster
Pre-Match Thoughts: Who cares?
Match Review: The Shockmaster looks like such a clown. Anyway, the Kongs attack him and hit him with a double clothesline. Then the Kongs squash Shockmaster in the corner, and splash him. Awesome Kong gets out of the ring, then King Kong runs into a big boot. Shockmaster clotheslines him, then follows with a cross body. Shockmaster picks the fat boy up and slams him, then covers for the win at 1:35.
My Thoughts: That was mercifully short. I would prefer to never see these three again. DUD. Utterly pointless.
Ricky Steamboat vs. Lord Steven Regal (w/Sir William) for the WCW Television Championship
Pre-Match Thoughts: This is far more my speed than the last two matches. These two can have a hell of a match as we all know. It’s interesting they were paired so often and for so long, but I suppose they wanted Regal to get some seasoning. Maybe this should have opened the show. It’s not like they got the crowd hot with the first match.
Match Review: They lock up, but Regal doesn’t really want to. After a while, things pick up with Regal tripping Steamboat and going to a wristlock. They trade reversals for a bit, then Steamboat trips Regal for a jackknife pin that gets 2. A hip toss also gets 2, then Regal slows things down. Steamboat takes Regal down with a headlock, then they do a criss-cross that culminates in Steamboat doing an interesting roll up for 2. Regal then goes to a toe-hold until Steamboat hits him with an enzuigiri. Steamboat slams Regal, then goes up top for a flying chop that gets 2. Steamboat locks an armbar on Regal, until Regal kips up…only to be taken back down. Surprisingly there are only four minutes remaining in the time limit. Steamboat has a hammerlock on Regal, then a head-scissors. Regal eventually breaks both of those, and Steamboat wrecks him with chops. Regal bails to the outside, and William goes for an umbrella shot that doesn’t quite work out. Steamboat chases him, until for some reason Regal hits him with a dropkick. That’s utterly strange. Steamboat thinks he’s dodging a charge to the corner, but instead Regal pulls him down to the mat. Regal then pops Steamboat with a hard elbow, but Steamboat arm drags him a few times. Now Regal bridges up to a butterly suplex, or rather Steamboat counters with one of his own that gets 2. One minute left. Regal bails to the floor and Sir William tries to hold Steamboat in place, but instead Steamboat breaks free and gives them a noggin-knocker. Sir William then gets kicked into the rail, and Steamboat clotheslines Regal with the top rope. Now Steamboat goes up top, but he misses a cross body during the countdown. Steamboat goes for a German suplex, but the time runs out at 15:00 before he can even get Regal down.
My Thoughts: This was just not at all what it could have been. For whatever reason, they spent a long time not getting to the action, and they did a lot of things late in the match that could have should have done earlier. This wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t what I would have liked. Also, it seemed obvious they would go to a draw after how strongly Regal was stalling. **, sadly. Not the best start to the show, although the crowd was into this match and didn’t seem to be bothered by how it went.
Tex Slazenger and Shanghai Pierce vs. Cactus Jack and Maxx Payne
Pre-Match Thoughts: Cactus and Payne were a new tag team, and with that being the case they had the good fortune of facing a duo that were effectively jobbers. I’m surprised they were teaming together after what happened at Battlebowl. It’s like they pretended that didn’t happen. Cactus and Payne got the first real pops of the show.
Match Review: Payne and Pierce lock up, and do a collision spot where neither man goes down. Pierce comes back with a much bigger shoulderblock, then Payne hits him with one of his own. Payne easily slams Pierce, then Slazenger makes a tag in. Cactus tags in too, levels Slazenger with some right hands, and rams him into the buckle a lot. Slazenger misses a charge to the corner, so Cactus and Payne take turns working on his left arm. A single arm DDT from Cactus gets 2, then Payne gets in there for a double clothesline. Slazenger bails out to the floor, but Cactus pulls him back in the ring and tags in Payne for more turnbuckle shots. Payne misses a charge to the corner, so Slazenger bulldogs him. Pierce tags in, but Payne sunset flips him for 2. Payne then gives him a back suplex, then Cactus makes his way in again. Cactus gets attacked from behind, so now all four guys are in there. Cactus takes Pierce over the top with the CACTUS CLOTHESLINE, then he takes Slazenger and launches him over the top as well. Now Cactus flies over the top with an assisted tope con hilo! WTF. Pierce drops Payne while that’s going on, then he heads up top. Pierce gets hit on the way down, and Payne goes to the armbar finish until Slazenger kicks him in his head. Payne then nails them with a double clothesline, and Cactus makes the tag. The Texans double up on him, but Pierce clotheslines Slazenger over the top on accident. Cactus drops Pierce with the DOUBLE-ARM DDT, and that’s it after 7:49.
My Thoughts: There was just something about this match that, I dunno. I kind of liked it. It was basically a normal WCW TV match, but the crowd was into it and all four guys worked pretty hard. I don’t think there was any real cohesion to the match, everyone just wanted to get their stuff in. That’s okay for a showcase match with no existing feud, I think. **, and after looking it up, nobody rated this match that highly. Don’t care.
Mean Gene was there to interview…Kyle Petty. Now there’s a name from the past. He was there to talk about Ric Flair, of course.
Steve Austin (w/Col. Robert Parker) vs. Dustin Rhodes in a 2 OUT OF 3 FALLS MATCH for the WCW United States Championship
Pre-Match Thoughts: I’ve seen these two wrestle each other a lot, and it seems fitting for them to work each other at Starrcade. They also got a gimmick match, one that’s sure to have ample time. That’s what I like to see. Austin and Parker was still a major mismatch of talent. What they did with Parker in 1994 was a whole lot better. Dustin had an extreme case of jobber face.
Fall #1: Dustin trips Austin, who then gets up so they can lock up a few more times. Austin takes him down with a headlock, which Dustin reverses. Austin reaches the ropes, then runs Dustin over. Dustin comes back with a huge elbow, and it gets 2. Austin ducks to the outside, gets back in there and goes to the eyes. After Dustin works on a hammerlock, Austin leaves the ring again. When he gets in the ring, Dustin takes him down with a headlock. Once things get back to the feet, Austin boots him in the gut. He goes for a powerbomb, but instead Dustin backslides him for 2. Austin comes back with a trip of hos own, then pulls Dustin out to the apron for some elbows. He then brawls with him on the floor, until Austin gets thrown over the railing! Austin slowly gets back in the ring, and he wants to shake hands. That’s funny. Dustin slugs him, then goes back to the headlock. Austin breaks it with a big right hand, then hits him with an elbow smash for 2. Austin chokes Dustin with the ropes, then drops a knee on him for 2. Austin nails Dustin with a back elbow for 2, then ducks under a wild punch and throws him to the floor. Dustin comes back in with a sunset flip that gets 2, then hits Austin with a bad dropkick for 2. Dustin gets distracted by the Colonel, then Austin back suplexes him for 2. The two then collide with each other, and Dustin goes for a bodyslam when they get up. Austin falls on top for 2, and I thought something screwy was going to happen there for sure. Austin then goes to the second rope, but misses a knee drop. Dustin has a bloody nose. He nails Austin with a BIONIC ELBOW, then a big clothesline. Dustin powerslams him for 2, and Parker is on the apron now. Dustin throws Austin into him, but the referee calls that a DQ for throwing Austin over the top at 13:26.
Fall #2: They’re supposed to rest, but instead Dustin posts Austin and the camera stupidly zooms in to catch Austin blading. He’s bleeding a lot too. Dustin goes to the outside and pulls him back into the ring, as the lights start acting weird. IS STING GOING TO FLY DOWN FROM THE RAFTERS? Dustin hits Austin with a right hand from the top rope, then a spotlight shines on the ring during a suplex. This is like 1983. Dustin drops an elbow for 2, then clotheslines Austin in the corner. That’s a lot of blood. Now the lights are back on, as Dustin beats Austin up in the corner. Austin throws Dustin down to the canvas, grabs his tights, and gains the second straight fall for the win at 16:16!
My Thoughts: That was a really surprising finish, and the first fall’s ending was idiotic as well. Still a good match with good action. The finish was fast, and there was quite a bit of blood in this match. Knowing how WCW was, that’s surprising. I liked the slow build towards action, and thought the psychology was dead on. It’s funny that Austin won the title while gaining one fall from a disqualification, that should never happen. ***. Austin bled that hard for essentially nothing I would say.
The Boss vs. Rick Rude for the WCW International Championship
Pre-Match Thoughts: Their match on WCW Saturday Night was great, but that was largely because of how exactly it came to be. Those circumstances do not exist on this show and that may mean a bad thing for this match. Funny how the Boss hardly even changed his ring attire the first time, and now he has a black shirt. The sirens in his new theme were the same that Scott Steiner used in the future. Good memories associated with that.
Match Review: After the early trash talk, they lock up and tumble into the ropes for a while. The Boss spits in Rude’s face, then we get a long stall. After it’s over, Rude clocks the Boss and goes to work with right hands. Boss comes back with a huge backdrop, then hits Rude with a big boot. That’s followed up with a backbreaker, which gets 2. Boss takes Rude hard to the corner, then knocks him around. Apparently WCW needs a commissioner and will get one in January. Oh boy. Boss slams Rude for 2, then kicks Rude out of the ring. Boss slams him on the floor, then hangs Rude up on the ropes so he can hit him a lot. Boss then goes to a bear hug, until Rude bites him. Boss misses a charge to the corner, then Rude goes up top only to get hit on the way down. Boss drops him with an awful facebuster, then jumps and misses Rude. Rude goes for a sunset flip, and it somehow gets 3 after 9:06.
My Thoughts: Somehow this was also a whole lot worse than their WCW Saturday Night match, so I was bummed out by this whole thing. I don’t understand how that could happen, but they pretty much did nothing in this match. To pretend that this was a world title is more than a little silly. If it was, the matches would feel more important than that. *1/2.
Sting and Hawk vs. The Nasty Boys (w/Missy Hyatt) for the WCW Tag Team Championships
Pre-Match Thoughts: There’s well over an hour remaining in this show and only two matches. That’s a bad sign to me because I already know how long Flair/Vader is. The Nasty Boys weren’t a bad team by any stretch, but these opponents don’t fit with their style. Hawk hadn’t done anything interesting since his return either.
Match Review: Lots of stalling at the start. Knobbs and Sting lock up, but nothing comes of it. Sting then arm drags him, but Knobbs comes back with some rights and turnbuckle shots. Sting comes back with a clothesline, then drops an elbow on him. Another clothesline then clears the ring. Hawk picks Sting up in press slam position, then throws him onto the Nasties! That was not bad. Hawk and Sags make tags in, and they trade shots in the corner until Sags blocks a charge to the other side. Knobbs tags in for a double team, then they get hit with a double clothesline. The Nasties threaten to leave ringside, but eventually things normalize and Sags gets back in there. Hawk beats him up, then nails him with a dropkick. Hawk follows with a shoulderblock, then drops a fist so Sags has to roll to the outside again. Hawk gives chase, then winds back up in the ring for an enzuigiri that gets 2. Sting tags in for a double back elbow, then picks Sags up and suplexes him. Knobbs tags in and gets hip tossed, then Hawk gets back in there for some work on the left arm. Sting gets back in there for an armbar, then back out for Hawk to miss a charge to the corner and fly out of the ring. Sags follows with an elbow from the apron, then grabs a chair and whacks Hawk with it. That was hard. Missy gets in a hard slap on Hawk, then Knobbs hits Hawk with a double axehandle from the apron. Back inside, Sags makes a tag in and drops a knee on the arm Hawk charged into the post with. Knobbs switches back in for a single-arm DDT, then a leg drop gets 2. Knobbs goes to an armbar, then Sags gets in there to continue it. Knobbs tags in for a bodyslam that gets 2, then it’s back to the armbar. Hawk gets out with a clothesline, then Sting’s tag isn’t spotted by the referee. So, Hawk gets pulled back into the ring, but he takes both of the Nasties out anyway. Sting makes a legal tag in, and hits them with a double clothesline. After more clotheslines and bodyslams, Sting covers Knobbs for 2. Sting clotheslines him onto the ramp, and now the Nasties say they’re leaving. Sting and Hawk give chase, and drag them back to the ring to stop that. Crowd loved that.
Sting goes up top, then flies down with a splash that lands on Knobbs’ knees. Knobbs slams Sting, then goes to the second rope for a botched leg drop. That was strange. Knobbs drops another leg on Sting for 2, then Sting winds up on the outside. Missy whips Sting with a belt, then Sags nails him with a clothesline. This match has way more heat than it deserves. Knobbs drops Sting with a suplex, then covers for 2. Sags tags in for an abdominal stretch, then Knobbs makes an illegal switch in. Sting then blocks a charge to the corner, and sunset flips Knobbs for 2. Sags tags in for a big elbow drop, which also gets 2. Sags goes for a pumphandle slam, then has to tag out. Looks like he hurt his back. Knobbs tags in with an elbow drop for 2, then applies a camel clutch. Knobbs breaks it, then rams Hawk into the buckle as he’s now wrestling the match by himself. Knobbs suplexes Sting again for 2, then goes back to the chinlock. Hawk breaks it with a big boot, then Sags slowly lumbers into the ring for an elbow smash that gets 2. Knobbs gets back in for another abdominal stretch, which Sting gets out of with a hip toss. Sags slowly tags in again, hits Sting with an elbow, and gets right back out. He can’t work anymore. Knobbs slams Sting, then heads up to the second rope for a sloppy big splash. One more time he says, and he drops an elbow on Sting. Now the second big splash misses, and Sags has to stop Hawk from making the tag. Knobbs splashes Sting in the corner, then drops him with a powerslam. Hawk runs in there and clotheslines Knobbs onto the ramp, then crotches Sags on the top rope. Sting finally tags out, and Hawk cleans house. He hits Knobbs with a shoulderblock, a clothesline, and a bodyslam that gets 2. Sting and Knobbs remain in the ring, and Sting hits Knobbs with a STINGER SPLASH. Over for the SCORPION DEATHLOCK, but then Sting kisses Missy instead. Knobbs runs into Missy, then Sting rolls Knobbs up for 2. The fans bought that as the finish. Now it’s time for the DOOMSDAY DEVICE, which Knobbs takes ON HIS HEAD. Sting covers him, but because Sags can’t work, Missy runs in to stop it and the match gets thrown out as a disqualification at 29:08.
My Thoughts: This match was painful, but I found it intriguing how into it the fans were. Shows what happens when people really want to see someone lose. Also what happens when people really want to see someone win. Match quality becomes a non-factor in that instance. However, it was really difficult for me to sit through because I’ve seen these guys have so many matches. Repetition set in with some of the spots, but the finishing sequence was really good. Apparently Sags had to go to the hospital, so he really was hurt. Knobbs basically worked the end of the match alone. *1/2.
Ric Flair vs. Vader (WCW Champion, w/Harley Race) in a CAREER VS. TITLE MATCH
Pre-Match Thoughts: The crowd was looking forward to this match so much, and it sounded like everyone was for that matter. This show did better business than anything WCW had done in a while, and the arena was more full than they’d had in a while. Flair’s pop was enormous and befitting of the build they had done for this match. For once, good booking! It’s easy to see on Flair’s face that he felt appreciated. Could say he’s selling the possibility of retirement but I don’t see it that way.
Match Review: Huge pro-Flair chants to start. They lock up, and Vader throws him across the ring a few times. Flair bails to the outside, then Vader gives chase. Flair’s trying to tire him out. Vader stops chasing and slowly gets back in the ring, where he beats Flair up for a while. After a Vader clothesline, Flair tries some chops only for Vader to push him down and stomp on him. Vader follows that up with a press slam, then with Flair on the floor, he picks Flair up and drops him on the rail. WHO’S THE MAN. Vader then misses a splash and falls into the rail, where Flair beats the tar out of him and follows by ramming him into the post. Race then pops Flair before he gains too much momentum, and Vader suplexes Flair into the ring. Vader does that one more time when Flair winds up on the apron, then throws Flair into the corners and clotheslines him. Flair flips onto the ramp, but falls off it and walks into the railing. Back on the inside, Vader starts trying to break Flair’s nose. He mixes a clothesline in there, then no-sells some chops and gives Flair a huge powerslam for 2. Vader goes to the seocnd rope and clotheslines Flair on the way down, and Flair’s selling here is ON POINT. Vader goes up there again, and this time he misses a big splash. Flair goes up top for a Steamboat-like chop from up there, then a second. Flair goes up a third time, and there’s another chop to finally knock Vader down. Flair looks busted and bruised up. He drops a knee on Vader, but Vader comes back with a clothesline. Vader decides it’s time for a superplex, and that’s what he does. He drops an elbow down low on Flair, whose mouth is busted up. Vader misses a splash, but Flair runs straight into him. Vader throws Flair to the outside, and Race gets in a stomp or two on the battered veteran. The Flair chants pick up again, as he gets back in the ring. Now Vader misses a charge to the corner, and Flair’s chops have some effect. Vader crushes him on the other side though, but Flair is able to fight back. He knocks Vader down with punches to the face, getting huge cheers! Vader rips his mask off, then Flair wraps his knee around the post. Flair whacks Vader’s knee with a chair too, then they keep brawling on the floor for a while. Flair goes back to the chair, and hits Vader HARD on the top of the head with it. Back on the inside, Flair continues the punishment! He bites Vader as well, then decides to go to work on Vader’s big left leg. Flair then goes for the FIGURE-FOUR, and Vader kicks him away. The crowd was buying that. Now Vader goes for the VADER BOMB, but Flair rolls out of the way! Flair goes for the FIGURE-FOUR again, and this time it’s locked on! Race gets on the apron for a distraction, and Vader makes the ropes just in time. Flair takes a charge at Vader, but runs straight into a big boot. Now Vader drops an elbow on Flair’s gut, and decides to go up top. THE VERY TOP. Vader’s MOONSAULT MISSES, so Flair goes for a cover. Now Race dives off the top and accidentally headbutts Vader, and the referee pushes Race out of the ring! Flair hits Vader with a flying forearm, then runs into a brick wall again. Vader makes the mistake of turning his back, so Flair clips him from behind and rolls him up for the win out of nowhere at 21:08! If you want to see a bunch of people simultaneously mark out, watch this!
Even shitty WCW gave Flair the full fireworks treatment. Vader destroys the locker room rather than let Flair celebrate with the title there, then very smartly Flair walked out for a curtain call. Flair winds up in the locker room anyway with his family after that, and they have some things to say. So does Sting.
My Thoughts: This match is still one of the greatest from my perspective. It holds up in every way and was treated with the importance that it deserved. They got people to buy into the stipulation, and nobody was sure Flair was actually going to win the match. Both men certainly did their share but I think in some ways this match had long standing consequences. I haven’t seen the Thundercage match but my impression of what happened here and what happened to Vader’s career after this match is that he was perceived as damaged because of the manager in which he lost and because of who he lost to. I really think it’s a great match even though some of the stuff in it didn’t look great. They built towards this match so well and this match was technically a one match show. ****1/4. I can see why people don’t like this match though because the believability of Flair beating up Vader with punches is a lot to handle. Also, the finish was out of nowhere.
This was very much a one match show, with the build to it being placed all over the whole thing. Even after watching bad matches, the constant reminder of the main event was there. In some ways I liked that, but in others it wasn’t so good. Especially in the way where I watched a lot of bad matches. I only liked one of the others, and thought there were a lot of poor efforts turned in. Harley Race’s effort was fantastic though and won’t be forgotten by me anytime soon. Next up, I’m going to watch WCW matches leading up to Clash of the Champions 26.
Wrestling Time: 1:49:57. That’s a lot, and it’s surprising because they had some decent entrances, long vignettes, and decent down time.
Best: Ric Flair vs. Vader. Nothing comes close.
Worst: Shockmaster vs. King Kong. Nothing is really competition for this, but on an ordinary show there would be lots to choose from.
Card Rating: 6/10. I just cannot go higher. Too many bad matches and only two worth watching.