Thursday, December 21, 2023

The History of NWA/WCW Starrcade (2000)

Mercifully the Starrcade PPV series comes to an end after long since becoming a shell of its once-magnificent self.....

Starrcade 2000 - MCI Center - 12.17.00

2000 would be the last full calendar year in WCW's existence, and watching that year's Starrcade now is like watching anything from TNA.  The tagline should've been "It's just a matter of 'when.'"  The roster was much more youthful than in most years of the Bischoff era, but sadly the young talent never had the chance to catch on, thanks to the company's total lack of effort in building them up in the first place.  By late 2000 it was clear WCW was not long for this world, and the years of bad decisions had doomed the promotion.

Considering it was their biggest show of the year (and they were featured on the poster) I'm not sure why Sting and Booker T were omitted from the show, or why Jindrak & O'Haire, the company's best tag team, didn't get a match.

The announce team consisted of Tony Schiavone, Scott Hudson, and the intolerable Mark Madden.  How anyone thought swapping Bobby Heenan for Madden was a sound move is beyond me.  Madden ranks right below Don West on the Annoying Commentator Scale, and he's a verrrrry close second.

The opener here was WCW's attempt to recreate the magic of the WWF's TLC matches, except that three teams were competing for a shot at the singles Cruiserweight Title (held by Chavo Guerrero).  That meant that even though these guys were teaming up during the match, only one guy could actually win.  Ummm, ok.  The participants were Shane Helms & Shannon Moore vs. The Jung Dragons vs. Jaime Noble & Evan Karagias.  Aside from some repeated sloppy spots early on this was a fun watch.  Obviously nowhere near the level of the Dudleyz/Hardyz/E&C matches, but still entertaining.  Shane Helms and Shannon Moore defied the rules and pulled the contract down simultaneously.  I'm not sure how that played out but I know Helms got a match against Guerrero the following month at Sin.

I know TLC.  I've watched TLC.  This match is no TLC.

Next up was Lance Storm vs. Ernest Miller.  This actually featured some decent mat wrestling until the outside-the-ring tomfoolery took over, with Major Gunns, Elix Skipper, Ms. Jones, and even Jim Duggan getting involved.  Had they resisted the urge to make this yet another Russo-esque clusterfuck this would've been pretty good.  I will say it's sad WWE couldn't ever figure out what to do with Lance Storm, given that the cosmically inept WCW team actually used him well.

Crowbar next defended the Hardcore Title against Terry Funk, in a match that began in the backstage area and eventually worked its way to the ring.  This featured some fairly alright hardcore action until Funk handcuffed Crowbar and went to town on him with a chair, in an obvious callback to the Rock-Mankind I Quit match.  Only problem was Crowbar's hands were cuffed in front of him, so he could've blocked the chair shots at any time.  Dolts.  Eventually Funk piledrove Crowbar on a car door (not sure what that was doing there) for the win.  Aside from the logic-defying handcuffs bit this was perfectly watchable.

Fourth was Kronik vs. Big Vito and Reno, and the story involved something about Vito's sister Marie allegedly paying Kronik to beat up her brother, which she denied.  Adams & Clark actually looked pretty motivated here, in contrast to their horrifyingly bad WWF match against Taker & Kane.  Unfortunately the insipid booking got in the way, and Reno turned against Vito, hitting his neckbreaker finisher on him.  Kronik then forced the referee to make the count despite Reno pinning his own partner.  Turned out everyone except Vito and Marie were in cahoots with Mike Sanders' Natural Born Thrillers stable.  Whatever....

Mike Awesome vs. Bam Bam Bigelow was next in what was apparently the first-ever Ambulance Match.  I didn't realize that was a WCW creation.  The brawling here was pretty generic, and this show overall was a little disturbing in terms of how badly WCW was attempting to emulate the WWF Attitude style.  The finish was idiotic - both guys were on top of the ambulance and Awesome bashed Bigelow with the flashing lights, causing Bam Bam to fall THROUGH the roof of the vehicle.  I'm not expert on emergency vehicles but I'm pretty sure those roofs are designed to withstand a 350-pound guy gently falling on them.

Speaking of generic, a totally phoned-in US Title match broke out between General Rection (Hugh G. Rection - get it?) and Shane Douglas.  Douglas got DQd when Rection ally Chavo Guerrero seemed to betray Rection by throwing Douglas a chain, which he had dropped, but then Chavo alerted the referee to the chain, drawing the disqualification.  Wait, I thought Chavo was a heel going into this show.  Jeezus, this stuff is confusing.

A mildly entertaining garbage match was next - Jeff Jarrett and the Harris Twins vs. Rey Mysterio, Billy Kidman and Konnan.  Oddly they started out using all kinds of weapons (with the announcers throwing out insider terms like "props" and "gimmicks," and calling a big move a "spot."  Fuck off, jerks.), and once all those were broken the match settled into a traditional six-man.  Very strange.  On a better show this would've been considered pretty bad, but on a late-2000 WCW PPV this was a highlight.

The WCW Tag Titles were on the line in the eighth slot, as Chuck Palumbo and Shawn Stasiak defended against Kevin Nash and Diamond Dallas Page.  DDP did his best to pull a decent match out of the other three but could only do so much.  This would've been a lot stronger had Jindrak & O'Haire been the Champs.

This could've been good if either guy cared.

In what should've been a pretty engaging Battle of the Bulls semi-main, Goldberg and Lex Luger just sorta went through the motions for about seven minutes.  Goldberg dominated a rather puffy-looking Luger until Luger rammed him into the ring post.  Almost immediately after Luger took over, "The Sarge" from the WCW Power Plant (whom Luger had attacked earlier that night) walked down to ringside with Buff Bagwell trying to talk him down.  I'm not sure why WCW felt the need to have a run-in or the threat of a run-in during literally every match.  Bagwell "accidentally" hit Goldie with the Blockbuster for a near-fall in a spot that looked totally mistimed, but Goldie eventually came back anyway to win.  Then Bagwell attacked him with a chair.  So I guess Bagwell's earlier interference wasn't accidental.  Why the ruse then?

'Twas a sad state of affairs that the final match of this once-great PPV series pitted the immobile WCW Champion Scott Steiner vs. the equally immobile Sid Vicious.  Picture the Royal Rumble 2003 Triple H-Steiner match.  Remember how bad that was?  Now take away Triple H's natural ability and mind for putting together wrestling matches, add more pointless run-ins and ref bumps, and you have this.  Ten minutes of some of the most ponderously dull offense you'll ever see.  How far the Starrcade brand had fallen; we went from Flair vs. Race to Steiner vs. Sid.  Yeesh.  Steiner eventually got the win with the Steiner Recliner (One of the worst finishers of all time - how do you screw up a Camel Clutch?) when Sid passed out.

What an embarrassing finisher.  And main event.

And thus ended the original series of wrestling supercards.  The Starrcade brand went out with a whimper, on the back of a quickly-sinking ship.  While this wasn't train-wreck bad like Starrcade '99, it was far from a good show.  The product was still a jumbled, overbooked mess, Mark Madden's constant yelling was grating beyond belief, and anyone on the roster over the age of 35 clearly just didn't care anymore.  It's actually depressing to watch the end of WCW now, like looking at a crippled old animal just begging to be put down.  This show and the pre-Turner Starrcades seem like they took place on different planets.  So strange.  And sad.

Best Match: 3 Count vs. Jung Dragons vs. Noble/Karagias
Worst Match: General Rection vs. Shane Douglas
What I'd Change: I certainly wouldn't have put Steiner or Sid in any main events.  I would've used Jindrak and O'Haire, and Sting, and Booker T.
Most Disappointing Match: Goldberg vs. Lex Luger
Most Pleasant Surprise: Crowbar vs. Terry Funk
Overall Rating: 3/10

And there's the history of Starrcade in a nutshell.  Before I go though, my list of Top Ten Starrcade events, followed by my Top 20 Starrcade matches of all time.

Top Ten Starrcades

10. 1986
9. 1993
8. 1995
7. 1996
6. 1985
5. 1992
4. 1989
3. 1983
2. 1987
1. 1988

Top 20 Starrcade Matches

20. Koloffs vs. Rock n' Roll Express - SC85
19. Road Warriors vs. Steiners - SC89
18. Eddy Guerrero vs. Dean Malenko - SC97
17. Nikita Koloff vs. Terry Taylor - SC87
16. Barry Windham vs. Bam Bam Bigelow - SC88
15. Ric Flair vs. Nikita Koloff - SC86
14. Rey Mysterio vs. Jushin Thunder Liger - SC96
13. Eddy Guerrero vs. Shinjiro Otani - SC95
12. Vader vs. Ric Flair - SC93
11. Sting vs. Great Muta - SC89
10. Roddy Piper vs. Greg Valentine - SC83
9. Tully Blanchard vs. Magnum T.A. - SC85
8. Ricky Steamboat/Shane Douglas vs. Barry Windham/Brian Pillman - SC92
7. Ric Flair vs. Sting - SC89
6. Midnight Express vs. Original Midnight Express - SC88
5. Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger - SC88
4. Harley Race vs. Ric Flair - SC83
3. Anderson/Blanchard vs. Road Warriors - SC87
2. Ron Garvin vs. Ric Flair - SC87
1. Sting vs. Vader - SC92

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