Friday, December 17, 1999

The World's Greatest WCW Starrcade 1999 Preview

It's do or die time for the mysterious 'powers that be' behind WCW's recent programming, with their premiere pay per view event: Starrcade. In case you've missed out, Russo's tone during his time on WCW Live this past week was much more urgent, nearly to the point of desperation. It's no secret that the bigwigs behind Turner have tracked down rather heavily on the content, and this go-round it's time to put up or shut up. Russo and Ferrera came to WCW to make it competitive again, yes, but more importantly to give themselves a challenge. Nobody could've predicted a wrench of this size being thrown into the works, (the proverbial wrench being Turner's sudden reluctance to air anything that might be perceived as controversial) but you take the bad with the good. If Nitro comes out of this event shining, the two writers will have proven themselves beyond a shadow of a doubt. It's a hell of a burden, but one they bear willingly. Then again, with this card, a lot of that burden is up to the athletes to carry as well. If the big hitters come out to play, the fireworks could blast WCW right back into contention.

Dr. Death Steve Williams vs. Vampiro
If Vampiro Beats Dr. Death, Then Vampiro Gets Five Minutes Alone With Oklahoma

I've said it before, I'm sure I'll say it again... I was wrong. Vampiro should've jumped ship when he got the chance. I'm not sure what's sillier: the stipulation of this match or the fact that if Vampiro were to win, he'd probably have to job for 'Oklahomo'. In his prime, Dr. Death was easily one of the sport's top draws and rightfully so. His rough, believable style drew thousands eating up every bit of it all and Williams played the role to a 'T'. A matchup between the Williams of old and the Vampiro of about a year ago would be worth the price of admission on it's own. As is, I fear for Vampiro's safety.. with age has, apparently, come sloppiness for Dr. Death. Matchwise, this better not go longer than 10 minutes, since Vampiro's victory will tag an extra 5 on top of that. Williams' imminent departure for AJPW pretty much sealed the bet.
Winner: Vampiro

The Revolution (Douglas, Malenko, Saturn & Asya) vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Three Mystery Partners
If Hacksaw Jim Duggan Wins, The Revolution Must Perform His Janitorial Duties For 30 Days. If The Revolution Wins, Hacksaw Jim Duggan Must Denounce America

Why do I already taste an enormous letdown? This "Mystery Partner" deal never works. Just look at Roddy Piper's short-lived anti-nWo of about 3 years back... that's prime meat right there. Unless Duggan pulls some hardcore shit out of his bum, this will be a stinker. I'm also confused about the 4-on-4 aspect of this one. Is Douglas active again? If so, it's news to me. Like I've mentioned before, Duggan's as over as anyone.. he just needs to stay out of the ring. Not even Malenko or Saturn could carry his dead weight to a good match these days, which is why he'll likely go over. Besides, the Revolution's janitor sketches are a much more likely addition to Nitro than Duggan renouncing America with his 3 mystery men. Then again, what are Zbysko, Anderson and Orndorff doing Sunday night, anyway? Just a theory.
Winner: Jim Duggan & co.

Big Vito and Johnny "The Bull" vs. Disco Inferno and Lash LeRoux

If WCW had their own version of Sunday Night Heat, that's where this one would air.. and rightfully so. The mafia skits backstage have been among the weakest of the weak for Nitro, and remain consistent excuses for channel flipping. Turning organized crime into a fun and games-atmosphere romp around the arena is one thing. Turning it into a weekly soap-opera of wackiness nears stupidity, and including several otherwise promising workers is just insane. The gimmicked matches have been weak (a body bag match?!), the skits have been boring and predictable, and the acting has been even worse. I suppose I'm not here as a movie critic though, so let's look at the workers involved. Disco is reasonably good, while Lash is a bit green.. but shows quite a bit of promise. He was damn over this past week in New Orleans, but that goes with the gimmick. The "hitmen" are just methodical. I think that's all I can say about them while maintaining a positive light. They've been on the butt end of a lot of embarrassment of late, and I don't think there's a better place to see them finally put the hit on their targets here.
Winners: Big Vito and Johnny, killers for hire

David Flair vs. Diamond Dallas Page
Crowbar on a Pole Match

One of the evening's focal points. Has Lil' David learned a thing or two during his absence of several months, or will we be seeing the same old 3 moves of eternity? If his personality change is any hint, we may be in for quite a surprise here. If nothing else, his selling has come a long way; he made a diamond cutter look like an f'n death penalty a couple Nitros back. I could do without the gimmick, but at least it's not completely out of left field here (a body bag match?!), and will actually lead to a more technical style rather than the formulaic "flair comes in with a crowbar, swings.. runs..repeats.." formula that's nearing overuse anymore. Look for daddy's little boy to receive a beating here, leading to Ric's return on Nitro the next night.
Winner: DDP

Evan Karagias vs. Madusa

God, do I really have to go over the different levels of hell this one will drag us trough before mercifully ending it all? Madusa is, in no more words, old, fake, past her prime, and lucky to be working. On top of all that, she's married (then again, so is Spice, who was fighting with Madusa over Mr. Karagias..), so the whole angle is pretty silly. It's not the first though, I suppose.. so let's overlook that chapter in the book of anus. That leaves us with the performance in the ring. Looking back in the halls of matches past tells us that for the most part, man vs. woman matches don't work. Look at Chyna, and her entire career. Jericho had arguably the best match of his WWF run against her at the Survivor Series, yet she looked anything but good. As always, the bookers will play up the "wouldn't hit a woman" schtick here, ending with the two going all-out at some point, which is where I expect Madusa to hold her own and capture what was once WCW's most highly respected title.. Turner's answer to Chyna's recent run.
Winner: Madusa

Screamin' Norman Smiley vs. Meng
WCW Hardcore Title Match

Uhff.. I take back what I said earlier about this card holding some sort of promise. Where there was once a damn fine worker, now stands "screamin' Norman Smiley", as he takes on Meng and his living afro. Remember back when the Hardcore title (or the prospect therein) was something to look forward to, whispered between insiders across the net? Names like Raven, Saturn, Bigelow, Whipwreck, and the "King of Hardcore", Sandman were synonymous with the said division.. and it looked good. Damn good. Now that they've produced a belt, things will apparantly never be the same. More than half the division's proposed heart and soul have left for the tradition of ECW, while the others have moved on to other prospects within WCW. What we're left with is a watered down Hardcore Holly with a set of lungs, a tub auditioning for the role of Curly in a new Stooges flick, and a man whose hairstyle has more personality than his character. Egg. I just felt like saying egg, because it's probably more entertaining than a full-depth analysis of what this match will consist of. Smiley takes it by accidentally dropping the ring on Meng's hair.. or something equally as believable.
Winner: Norman "Egg" Smiley

Sting w/Elizabeth vs. The Total Package
If Sting Beats The Total Package, Elizabeth's Contract With Luger is Null And Void!

Let's repackage this one another time, boys. The fans haven't seen it before! Let me put it simply; with Luger mailing in his backstage skits, let alone his efforts between the ropes, he's pretty much a non-factor. Sting generally needs motivation to be good, and even then might need a little that Luger would have trouble delivering 10 years ago. This one goes 15 minutes, and will see Elizabeth making a turn on Sting that leads to a Luger victory. Generally, because a loss would permanently knock Luger out of the main event scene.. and god knows we can't live without that.
Winner: Lex Luger

Jeff Jarrett vs. Dustin Rhodes
Bunkhouse Brawl

The name of this game is "what kind of condition is Dustin in?" With Jarrett hitting an unbelievable stride of late, the only thing that can really hurt this one is an ailing Rhodes. The former double J really needs to pick up a victory sometime before his credibility plunges, and there's no better time than now. The fans aren't really behind Rhodes, and after jobbing this Sunday will need a serious overhaul before it's too late. If the son of the dream comes healthy and ready to play, we could be in for a real treat. If he doesn't, this will at the very least be watchable.
Winner: Jeff Jarrett

Kevin Nash vs. Sid Vicious
Master of the Powerbomb Match: First Man To Give The Other A Powerbomb Wins

What a silly stipulation.. it pretty much guarantees that the loser will get up and/or kick out following the delivery of a powerbomb, to show everybody how tough he is. Then again, don't think that wasn't the stipulation to begin with. I really don't want to say anything about these two working in between the ropes, except I wish Nash had stayed retired. Benoit may make an appearance, leading into his match up the card against the other half of the Outsiders and helping his new buddy, Sid. In the end, the "ruler of the world" (who looks absolutely hysterical trying to hype his new T-shit) takes it home, managing to deliver a more convincing powerbomb than Diesel Power.
Winner: Sid

Scott Hall vs. Chris Benoit
U.S. Heavyweight Title Match - Ladder Match

Hot damn, I'd like to see this match. The threat of a Scott Hall non-appearance looms overhead (so as not to further an injury.. which is understandable), yet Russo's appearance on WCW Live has piqued my interest about his possible replacement. Before I get to this one, I'll just say this; if it's Ernest Miller, I'll be very upset. Benoit's been teasing us with a diving headbutt from atop the ladder for a couple weeks now, and I fully expect him to deliver it here. He's been working quite extensively on air with the ladder and bumping from / with it, which makes me think he's done that much more work off air, and is really cooking up something special here. A breakthrough performance here could be compared to Mankind's dive from the Hell in a Cell.. not in the viciousness of the fall, but in the impact and immediate upward thrust it would bring to the man's career. Hate to say it, but Mick Foley was going nowhere fast a year and a half ago, before the Hell in a Cell. Now he's cemented his spot in wrestling history, as a multiple-time world champion. With that said, I think a strong performance from Benoit could bring about a real return to form for Scott Hall.. a ladder match against Bam Bam Bigelow nearly a year ago brought out shades of the former Razor I haven't seen in ages, and I'd be lying if I found Bigelow to be the superior worker of the two. This has the potential to be a instant classic.. check it out. The belt won't change hands, as Benoit's moving on to his promised world title shot after Starrcade.. (right?!)
Winner: Scott Hall

Bret Hart vs. Goldberg
World Heavyweight Title Match - No Disqualification

I must say I'm actually pretty impressed with the way they've handled this one.. except for the reinjury of Bret Hart's ankle. Doing that pretty much cheapens the potential this match had as the first true clash of these two main eventers, and short changes the fans. I've been waiting for a solid, clean matchup between these guys since Bret's famous "I Quit" speech in Toronto a ways back.. too bad we won't get either condition here. This match has �overbook me' written all over it, and don't look to Russo and Ferrera to let such an opportunity walk by unhindered. Hart could teach Goldberg so much in an extended feud.. how to build a match, work with psychology, SELL, etc. However, now isn't the right time by the big watch, and we'll just have to wait for a rematch. Even though I think an extended title reign by Hart is essential here, both to his credibility as a worker and champion, and to the belt itself, Goldberg goes over dirtier than the other side of the tracks.
Winner: Goldberg

Damned, what a long card. I long for the formula of an 8-match PPV again. These record-breakingly tall cards are wearing really thin on me. My hope is that the Benoit/Hall match gives me a reason to check this out when it's on home video, and that the strong upper card can balance out for the terrible lower and mid card. This preview's running too f'n long anyway, so that's my wrap up. John, I'm gonna kick your ass in the previews... or not. I like to feign a competitive atmosphere.

until next time, i remain

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