WCW Starrcade 1991 Reaction
Posted by Nicholas Jason Lopez
By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Known as World Championship Wrestling’s proverbial “answer to WrestleMania” from the then-World Wrestling Federation, Starrcade was always about making history and was aptly placed where a “payoff” Pay-Per-View should be – the end of December.
It’s only fitting that all the big storylines would come to a halt here, naturally.
Oh wait – not in 1991. Ha. What were you thinking there?
In Ric Flair’s absence, WCW appeared to put a lot of faith in its biggest draw, the blonde-haired, face-painted babyface Sting, as he sought the World Heavyweight Championship.
As an obstacle, he had to go through not only Lex Luger, but as well as a group called The Dangerous Alliance, consistent of members like Rick Rude, “Stunning” Steve Austin (who had blonde hair of his own, that’s how old this show is) and were led by none other than Paul E. Dangerously, who we now know as Paul Heyman.
The melodrama was certainly there and all stages appeared to go towards a big showdown for the Title between Sting and Luger. Nope, you’re not going to get that match straight up at Starrcade. They’re going to “make history” and introduce a concept never heard before – the “Lethal Lottery.”
Come join us for this 1990’s-tastic journey.
– A constant theme of this show will be overcomplicated rules, so if you love that kind of thing – congratulations. You’re in full luck. How about that? Let’s go a little deeper into what the “Lethal Lottery” entails. Basically, 40 wrestlers off the WCW roster will be picked by random draw into 20 separate tag teams. Those 20 teams would battle it out and the 10 that win would move on to a 20-Man Battle Royale called the “Battle Bowl.” There are more complicated rules to follow, but we’ll save those juicy ones for later. Let’s focus in on the teams. For fun trivia that you may or may not win at your Uncle Jim’s contest next year, these teams actually were legitimately random. It did create some fun situations, but also probably a lot of “on the fly” match-calling that could be a problem later on. While we’re at it, it’s oh so 1990’s in this place. The mullets are practically flying at your face. For what it’s worth, the commentary team of Jim Ross/Tony Schiavone is a good one. Albeit, we’re two minutes into the show and they’re already cruising through all of the rules. Slow down a little there, partner.
– To make it feel more spectacular, they had the drawings take place in one of the arena’s luxury suites, as we saw Commissioner Magnum TA and Missy Hyatt stand with Eric Bischoff. Pyro went off as the 40 participants awkwardly stood onstage. It’s sure a fancy stage at that, with “Starrcade” in giant letters with a grey curtain and a big “WCW.” Time to see who drew first. Team #1 was Michael P.S. Hayes/Tracy Smothers and #2 was Marcus Alexander Bagwell/Jimmy Jam Garvin. This match did have a unique angle in that Hayes and his tag partner were on opposite ends. To add to the visual confusion, there were two rings. The hard camera was also kind of annoying, as it was diagonal to the action and not right on top of it. We’ll admit that the concept’s entertaining enough to work. Imagine WWE tries something like this on one of their “Big Four”? Not a lot of action early on, as Smothers mostly barked at the fans. He also struck Garvin from behind. For revenge, Garvin kicked Smothers off the apron and into the barricade. Smothers sold himself silly and even dropped an “S”-bomb on camera. How edgy. Hayes was certainly over with this crowd. Smothers wrestled the majority of the match early on. Smothers dived right to Hayes once Garvin was in the match. The crowd got loud for the “Battle of the Freebirds.” Since the DDT were both their signature moves, it garnered a “DDT” chant from the crowd. Bagwell put on a cheap shot on Hayes, who suckered both men. While the Freebirds argued, Bagwell won with a fisherman suplex. It was Bagwell/Garvin who’d move on. We guess that makes sense to have the tag team on opposite sides lead to the finish.
– Time for the next drawing. This will be a thing all night. First team is “Stunning” Steve Austin/Ravishing Rick Rude (Triple R?) against “Heavy Metal” Van Hammer/Big Josh. Well, looking back at this nowadays could be way more interesting given how we perceive Rude/Austin now. Paul E. Dangerously came down with Rude. We’re still kind of amazed at that trio. Austin’s hair was so blonde and luscious, plus he also has a hankering for snapmare takeovers. Josh has a hot tag and ran the log roller on Rude. In typical face offense, he also collided Rude/Austin together by the heads. Dangerously was on the phone at ringside during all this, the big 1990’s cell phone. Austin used clenched fists, as it was noted that the heels repeatedly snuck in cheap attacks while Dangerously distracted at ringside. We actually liked that they “peered in” to the locker rooms with a picture-in-picture of faces and heels. They can’t keep them together you know. #Kayfabe. Jushin Thunder Liger was on the right side of the screen, which confused us a little. Austin/Dangerously worked together, but it backfired when Austin caught Dangerously. This transitioned to a hot tag to Hammer, which drew a pop. Rude hit the Rude Awakening on Hammer to get the pin, as he tagged in behind Hammer’s back. Not too bad. The Dangerous Alliance had two men already in the Battle Bowl and we were hooked for that.
– The Third Round saw Dustin Rhodes/Richard Morton against “The Cruncher” Larry Zbyszko (worst last name ever to write out)/El Gigante (That’s Giant Gonzalez for anyone who doesn’t know bad WrestleMania matches) for a match that was sure… interesting? Gigante was tall as hell at seven foot seven, but that was about the extent of his wrestling abilities. Schiavone spoke about a language barrier between Zbyszko/Gigante, yet Zbyszko wanted him as his own partner. What? Who wants a partner they can’t communicate with? The story was that Zbsyzko shouted directions that probably went on dear ears. Rhodes/Larry shared a quick exchange. Gigante hit a horrid body slam on Rhodes. Zbyszko continued to yell at Gigante until he slapped him. Gigante dragged Zbyszko into the ring and a double dropkick saw Zbyszko get pinned as Rhodes/Morton advanced. For some reason, Gigante was denied a handshake from Rhodes. Nobody likes him. Tsk tsk.
– The Fourth Round saw Bill Kazmaier/Liger against Diamond Dallas Page/Mike Graham after a shot of Zybysko getting into it backstage in the locker room. We liked that. Liger hit a head scissors on Graham but that was bad. DDP was also a heel back then, which was obviously interesting to see compared to what he’d later become. Graham performed a drop toe hold and moved into a Boston crab, which was sweet. Liger went in with some kicks as he had some mystique to him even back then. He did a tope plancha onto Graham, which Ross called a “360 in mid-air.” Yes it was. Kazmaier tossed Liger onto DDP to score the pin. Not so bad.
– The Fifth Round saw World Champion Lex Luger/Arn Anderson against Terrence Taylor/The Zeeman, which was cool for the Luger/Double A team. The four men fought in the ring. Pretty sure Luger was the heel in this instance. Taylor was a half count away from pinning the Champ. Zeeman bounced between the ropes and landed into a DDT, but Taylor broke up the pin. After some time, Taylor controlled the action against both men after they isolated Zeeman as long as possible. Luger pinned Taylor with the Attitude Adjuster (what a name) piledriver after Taylor ran into an elbow from Anderson. Solid.
– The Sixth Round was Ricky Steamboat/Todd Champion against Cactus Jack/Buddy Lee Parker before Abdullah The Butcher went after Parker because he was angry that he didn’t get selected to be Jack’s partner himself. In true Abdullah fashion, he broke a broom over Parker’s back and rammed him into a locker. Butcher came down anyway with the broom in hand. Parker made his way out but continued to get beat down with broom shots to the head. Jack did some primal screams as he worked over Dragon. Jack was attacked by a Dragon suicide dive. Jack dropped the elbow from the second rope. Parker made it all the way back to the ring and got into the action briefly before he was pinned by a Dragon high crossbody. Well, that was at least something. This Jack/Butcher duo is entertaining.
– The Seventh Round was Sting/Butcher against Flyin’ Bryan/Bobby Eaton as we saw Butcher come out with that broom and go after Sting. Bryan came out, tackled Butcher and stole the stick. Things were starting to liven up. Sting hit a flying clothesline over the top rope on Bobby on the ramp. We think that has been in highlight reels somewhere. Sting was the top draw at this point. Butcher pulled out a pencil of all things. Pillman bodyslammed Butcher for a cool pop. Bobby tried to tag in Butcher, but wasn’t allowed. Who needs rules? Jack hit Butcher with the stick by accident. Sting leaped onto Eaton from the top rope to have Sting advance. Why wouldn’t you? Post-match, Jack/Butcher fought at ringside. That’s about right. It was also funny to see the random cuts to kids who were legitimately scared of what they saw and ran to their parents for protection.
– The Eighth Round was Rick Steiner/Night Stalker against Big Van Vader/Mr. Hughes and we were ready. Vader fought without a mask. “The Diamond Studd” (aka Scott Hall) was injured, but was at ringside before being told to leave. Oh, the irony. There was some confusion in the action and things didn’t really click. Vader pinned Stalker with a big splash for him/Hughes to advance.
– The Ninth Round was Scott Steiner/Firebreaker Chip against Johnny B. Badd/Arachnoman. Badd/Chip had a nice exchange. It was just hard for us to taker Arachnoman seriously with that purple and gold Spider-Man getup. Steiner got the hot tag and it was set from there. Steiner got the pin on Arachnoman with the belly-to-belly suplex.
– The Tenth Round was Ron Simmons/Thomas Rich against Steve Armstrong/TN News was the last of them. There was perhaps some mental exhaustion could be a factor by now. Sit through 10 consecutive tag matches and let us know how you feel by the tenth. Simmons/Rich argued about who’d start and things were lull to a point. Rich was traded with “We want Ron” chants and tagged him in before he yelled at the fans to shut up. News hit a botched crossbody. More “Ron” chants. He finally got in some ring time after and the crowd erupted after a slam on News. A spinebuster/pin for the win. Simmons/Rich moved on to fill spots #19 and 20 in the “Battle Bowl.”
– “Battlebowl ’91” was set to go as it was back to Bischoff/TA/Hyatt for the rules announcements. The competitors would come out and the rules would obviously take some getting used to. To recap, they were Vader, Bagwell, Garvin, Rhodes, Kazmaier, Liger, Austin, Morton, Champion, Butcher, Chip, Rich, Simmons, Steamboat, Hughes, Steiner, Luger, Rude, Anderson and Sting. The story headed in was that Sting was a big target. Two guys already fought on the ramp. Weren’t they out of the match then? People were apparently eliminated by going over the top rope into the other ring and then over the top rope of that ring to the floor. Steamboat took a beating from Vader by way of a military press on the ramp. Why is nobody going for the other ring? Rich was thrown into ring two. Sting beating on Luger drew a pop. Bagwell was put into ring two. Hughes threw Chip over the top rope and that didn’t go over all too well. Liger was put into ring two. Liger did a springboard moonsault. Him/Morton were both eliminated. Hughes went into the second ring. Rich was also eliminated. Sting and Rude went crazy. Some of these moves to the other ring look really silly. Luger sent Vader to the other ring to “win” ring one and earned a break until ring two’s winner was decided. Our guess is Sting wins that. They had a moment where they showed the action from three angles. Technology. Vader was eliminated. It was Rude/Austin left with Sting/Steamboat. Dangerously was vibrant at ringside. Rude accidentally eliminated Austin. Steamboat skinned the cat and eliminated Rude, but got pulled out. Rude hit the Rude Awakening on Sting after he won ring two. It was down to Sting/Luger. Told you. It’d be no other way. It was to the point where Luger even paid guys like Jack to take Sting out for him. Did they really have to compare this to the NCAA Basketball Tournament? Not quite that dramatic. Sting bodyslammed Race on the ramp. Luger nearly eliminated Sting before the tables turned and he “Stung” up the premises. Sting finally put Luger over the top rope to win the first-ever Battle Bowl. Too bad it wasn’t for the Title. Does he win a Title shot? Hope it’s not a goofy trophy. Dramatic match thanks to the work involved to make the rules look worth fighting for, but it really should’ve been for a Title. It’s freaking Starrcade.
- “Lethal Lottery” Tag Team Match – Marcus Alexander Bagwell/Jimmy “Jam” Garvin def. Michael P.S. Hayes/Tracy Smothers via pinfall to advance to Battle Bowl
- “Lethal Lottery” Tag Team Match – Stunning Steve Austin/Rick Rude (w/Paul E. Dangerously) def. “Heavy Metal” Van Hammer/Big Josh via pinfall to advance to Battle Bowl
- “Lethal Lottery” Tag Team Match – Dustin Rhodes/Richard Morton def. El Gigante/”The Crusher” Larry Zybysko (w/Madusa) via pinfall to advance to Battle Bowl
- “Lethal Lottery” Tag Team Match – Bill Kazmaier/Jushin Thunder Liger def. Diamond Dallas Page/Mike Graham via pinfall to advance to Battle Bowl
- “Lethal Lottery” Tag Team Match – Lex Luger/Arn Anderson (w/Harley Race) def. Terrance Taylor/The Z-Man via pinfall to advance to Battle Bowl
- “Lethal Lottery” Tag Team Match – Ricky Steamboat/Todd Champion def. Cactus Jack/Buddy Lee Parker via pinfall to advance to Battle Bowl
- “Lethal Lottery” Tag Team Match – Sting/Abdullah The Butcher def. Brian Pillman/Bobby Eaton via pinfall to advance to Battle Bowl
- “Lethal Lottery” Tag Team Match – Big Van Vader/Mr. Hughes def. Rick Steiner/The Nightstalker via pinfall to advance to Battle Bowl
- “Lethal Lottery” Tag Team Match – Scott Steiner/Firebreaker Chip def. Johnny B. Badd/Arachnoman via pinfall
- “Lethal Lottery” Tag Team Match – Ron Simmons/Thomas Rich def. PN News/Steve Armstrong via pinfall to advance to Battle Bowl
- Inaugural 20-Man “Battle Bowl” Battle Royale – Sting def. Ron Simmons, Thomas Rich, Scott Steiner, Firebreaker Chip, Big Van Vader, Mr. Hughes, Abdullah The Butcher, Ricky Steamboat, Todd Champion, Lex Luger (w/Harley Race), Arn Anderson, Bill Kazmaier, Jushin Thunder Liger, Dustin Rhodes, Richard Morton, Stunning Steve Austin, Rick Rude (w/Paul E. Dangerously), Marcus Alexander Bagwell and Jimmy Garvin
About Nicholas Jason LopezJust a 29-year-old Brooklynite. Nothing more, nothing less. Currently a freelance journalist with two websites - Pro Wrestling Opinion and The Music Bugle - he has also been published on sites such as The Bensonhurst Bean, Sheepshead Bites, Review Fix, College University of New York Athletic Conference, Dying Scene, Brooklyn News Service, All Media NY, BrooklynFans.com and Yahoo Voices. He has also interned for The Home Reporter/Brooklyn Spectator based out of Brooklyn, NY.
Posted on September 23, 2017, in Throwback PPVs and tagged 1991, Abdullah The Butcher, Arachnoman, Arn Anderson, Big Josh, Big Van Vader, Bill Kazmaier, Bobby Eaton, Buddy Lee Parker, Cactus Jack, Diamond Dallas Page, Dustin Rhodes, El Gigante, Eric Bischoff, Firebreaker Chip, Flyin' Bryan, Jim Ross, Jimmy Garvin, Johnny B. Badd, Jushin Thunder Liger, Larry Zbyszko, Lethal Lottery, Lex Luger, Magnum TA, Marcus Alexander Bagwell, Michael Hayes, Mike Graham, Missy Hyatt, Mr. Hughes, Night Stalker, Paul E. Dangerously, Richard Morton, Rick Rude, Rick Steiner, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, Ron Simmons, Scott Steiner, Starrcade, Steve Armstrong, Steve Austin, Sting, Terrence Taylor, The Diamond Studd, The Zeeman, Thomas Rich, TN News, Todd Champion, Tony Schiavone, Tracy Smothers, Van Hammer, WCW. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.