On This Day: December 13, 1989: This Here Is What We Call A (Bad) Concept Show

Starrcade 1989
Date: December 13, 1989
Location: The Omni, Atlanta, Georgia
Attendance: 6,000
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jim Cornette, Terry Funk


As mentioned, this is the culmination of a banner year for WCW. The year 1989 might have had the best in ring action that the company ever saw with the younger guys rising up the card while the older guys were being phased out. That’s why this card was such a strange idea: there are twelve matches and only twelve guys wrestling on the show. Let’s get to it.


The opening video is a bunch of shots of everyone in the tournament with a computer theme. This show is called Future Shock for no apparent reason.


The announcers go over the scoring system.


The lighting is bad again after showing some improvement last year.


Doom vs. Steiner Brothers


Again, ALL matches are tournament matches so there’s no point in listing them as such. Apparently the Samoans are replacing the injured Skyscrapers. Doom has Woman and her bodyguard Nitron with them here. Nitron is actually Tyler Mane, who you might know as Sabretooth from the X-Men movies. The Steiners are the World Tag Champions. Scott starts with Doom #2 (Reed) as there are A LOT of empty seats opposite the cameras. Scott hits a quick powerslam for two but charges into a boot in the corner.


A hard clothesline puts Reed down as Ross is already mixing up which Doom member is which. Off to Rick vs. Simmons with Rick hitting a quick suplex but barking instead of covering. Back to Reed who snapmares Rick down and pounds away before getting caught in a slam for a quick two count. Back to Scott for a headlock and an atomic drop as the announcers actually have to acknowledge the fact that the seats are so empty.


Scott takes Reed down and cranks on his leg before bringing Rick back inside. That goes nowhere so here’s Scott again for a backbreaker for a near fall. Scott misses a big clothesline and crashes out to the floor to give Doom their first advantage. Nitron gets in some shots of his own as Scott is in big trouble. Back in for a powerslam by Simmons for two before Reed comes in for some shots to the ribs.


Scott is sent back to the floor for another mugging as Rick keeps trying to make the save, only allowing Nitron and Reed to double team Scott. A double backdrop puts Scott down and there’s a whip spinebuster by Simmons for two. Doom hits a double back elbow and Scott is sent back to the floor again. Simmons suplexes Scott back inside but Scott falls on top for two.


A belly to belly suplex puts Simmons down and there’s the hot tag to Rick. Rick pounds away and hits a big old powerslam for two and Reed is knocked over the top and out to the floor. A HARD right hand puts Simmons down but Reed is back in for the save. Nitron trips up Rick but gets clotheslined down for his efforts. Everyone brawls to the floor and Rick dives in to beat the count for the win.


Rating: C. Not bad here but it was a pretty standard power vs. power match. I’m guessing the ending had to happen that way for the sake of the scoring but it’s, yet again, a pretty lame way to open up Starrcade. Doom would actually go on to beat the Steiners for the world tag team titles soon after this and hold them longer than any team in the history of WCW.


Steiners – 15 points (2 matches remaining)

Road Warriors – 0 points (3 matches remaining)

Samoan Swat Team – 0 points (3 matches remaining)

Doom – 0 points (2 matches remaining)


We get to meet the four people in the singles tournament.


Sting vs. Lex Luger


Luger is US Champion and bails to the floor to start. He tries to leave up the ramp but Sting catches him with a beating in the aisle. Back in and Sting immediately pounds away before being sent to the apron, only to take Luger down with a clothesline. A slingshot splash gets two and Luger falls to the floor. The fans are NUTS for Sting at this point. Luger gets in a kick to the ribs but Sting blocks a ram into the barricade. A clothesline puts Luger down again and Sting breaks the count back inside.


They go to the ring one more time and Sting hits a top rope cross body for two. This is all Sting so far. Sting pounds away in the corner and clotheslines Luger down again for another near fall. Off to a wristlock and armbar on Luger followed by a middle rope cross body for two. Back to the arm as it’s still been all Sting so far. A dropkick gets two on Luger but Sting dives into an atomic drop to give Lex his first advantage. Another atomic drop puts Sting down as the announcer continues to screw up the time, saying we’re ten minutes into the match. It’s more like seven but that’s WCW for you.


A right hand to Sting’s ribs has him in trouble again and a kick to those ribs has him in even more trouble. Luger is setting up for the Torture Rack and sends Sting ribs first into the barricade for good measure. Back in and Luger hits a middle rope axhandle for two as he’s starting to crank it up. A powerslam plants Sting down but he backflips out of the Rack, only to get caught in the corner.


Lex pounds away in the corner but Sting is all fired up. He comes back with right hands of his own on Luger followed by a suplex for two. Luger bails to the floor, only to be rammed into the barricade for his efforts. They both literally fall over the top rope to get back in, but Luger lands on top and grabs the top rope for the evil pin to take the early lead.


Rating: C+. Much better and more exciting match here than the opener with the crowd being WAY into Sting. These two would go to war for years on end as they would be nearly eternally joined at the hip. The timing issues are already becoming annoying but as mentioned, that was something you would often see in wrestling.


Lex Luger – 20 points (2 matches remaining)

Great Muta – 0 points (3 matches remaining)

Ric Flair – 0 points (3 matches remaining)

Sting – 0 points (2 matches remaining)


Doom vs. Road Warriors


Animal and Reed start things off and it’s as slow and plodding as you would expect two guys of this size to be. After a dropkick to Reed’s chest it’s off to Hawk for a wristlock. They collide a few times in the middle of the ring with Hawk finally taking him down via a clothesline. Off to Simmons (keep in mind that they’re not named that but it’s obvious which is which if you’ve seen them wrestle enough) who collides with Hawk several times. Hawk takes over again and it’s off to Animal who gets taken down by an elbow to the face.


It’s back to Hawk almost immediately for a missed charge, sending his shoulder HARD into the post. Simmons catapults Hawk’s throat into the bottom rope and it’s back to Reed who gets two off a powerslam. We hit the chinlock for a bit until a double back elbow takes down Hawk.


A middle rope elbow gets two for Reed as Woman talks trash from the floor. Back to the chinlock on Hawk as the time speeds up again. I haven’t noticed any clipping here so I’m guessing they’re just speeding things up to get through the matches faster. Hawk fights back with right hands and gets the tag off to Animal. A powerslam puts Reed on the mat as everything breaks down. Simmons tries a piledriver but Hawk comes off the top rope with a clothesline to give Animal the pin.


Rating: D. Not much to see here as we’re already reaching the problem with a tournament like this: we’ve already seen Doom twice and we get to see them again later on. It’s not interesting to watch them fight at this point given that they’re pretty much already eliminated from a math standpoint. Also it’s a bad sign when you have to bring math into a wrestling show but maybe that’s just personal taste.


Road Warriors – 20 points (2 matches remaining)

Steiner Brothers – 15 points (2 matches remaining)

Samoan Swat Team – 0 points (3 matches remaining)

Doom – 0 points (1 match remaining)


Ric Flair vs. Great Muta


Muta is TV Champion and undefeated coming into this match. Flair is of course world champion and brings the Andersons with him. Muta has Gary Hart to counter, meaning advantage Horsemen, as usual. Muta speeds things WAY up to start as is his custom. He’s one of the most exciting guys you’ll ever see and he was at his best around this point.


Muta immediately pounds him down into the corner and hits his quick strike elbows on the mat. Flair comes back with chops and has the Figure Four on maybe 75 seconds in. Hart calls out Buzz Sawyer and Dragonmaster but they’re cut off by the Horsemen. Muta is out of the hold but his moonsault hits knees, allowing Flair to get a rollup for a pin in less than two minutes.


Ric Flair – 20 points (2 matches remaining)

Lex Luger – 20 points (2 matches remaining)

Sting – 0 points (2 matches remaining)

Great Muta – 0 points (2 matches remaining)


Steiner Brothers vs. Road Warriors


This is the ONLY meeting (that mattered) between two of the biggest tag teams of all time. Why it was wasted on a show like this in an inconsequential tag match is beyond me. These teams are friends at this point. Scott and Hawk get things going with Cornette considering this a battle of idiots. Ross says the fans are in awe as an excuse for them being bored so far. Both guys get big boots to the face in succession so it’s off to Rick for a chance at Hawk.


Hawk hits a BIG clothesline to take Rick down for two before Animal comes in for a double back elbow. Rick comes back with a Steiner Line to stagger Animal and we’re at a standoff. Animal tries a bearhug but gets caught in a belly to belly suplex for no cover. Back to Scott to meet Hawk with the bird enthusiast gorilla pressing him down to the mat with ease. Rick has to make the save this time and Hawk is annoyed at his actions. Animal comes back in and gets caught in a few belly to belly suplexes. This is pure power the entire way so far.


Animal comes out of the corner with a hard clothesline so Hawk comes in for an over the shoulder kneeling backbreaker. A release tilt-a-whirl slam gets two on Scott but he comes back with what was supposed to be a middle rope suplex. Instead it was more like Hawk fell flat on Scott’s chest and was driven face first into the mat. Back to Animal for a bearhug on Scott followed by a BIG powerslam from Hawk. Everything breaks down and Animal picks up Scott for a belly to back suplex with Hawk adding a top rope clothesline. Animal bridges Scott back but Scott raises his arm to get the pin as Animal’s shoulders were down.


Rating: D+. Most of that is for the star power alone. This was a lot of pounding on each other and a SCARY botch on that middle rope belly to belly superplex. The Steiners winning was probably the right move here as they shouldn’t have gotten pinned while still being the tag team champions. The Warriors should NOT be wrestling multiple matches in one night though as they already look spent.


Steiners – 35 points (1 match remaining)

Road Warriors – 20 points (1 match remaining)

Samoan Swat Team – 0 points (3 matches remaining)

Doom – 0 points (1 match remaining)


Sting vs. Great Muta


These two fought about a million times and it was Muta who took the TV Title from Sting. Sting dodges a quick spin kick but gets caught in a full nelson. He easily powers out of the hold and puts on one of his own. Muta takes it to the corner and rolls out of it before kicking Sting in the chest. A shot to the face has Sting in trouble as Funk wishes he could do the things Muta is doing. Muta hooks a headlock but Sting escapes again and flips Muta over before getting two off a suplex.


A quick attempt at the Scorpion Deathlock is escaped and Muta bails to the floor for a bit. This is a rather fast paced match which is different from what we’ve been seeing so far. Back in and Muta backdrops him down before hitting some of those quick strike elbows of his. Muta grabs both arms behind Sting’s back and flips forward, pulling them forward. Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan) would use this move in the indies and call it Cattle Mutilation.


Sting flips forward to escape and pounds away with AMERICAN right hands, because all foreigners are evil and must be destroyed by the powers of our American heroes. A big elbow drop gets two on Muta and it’s off to a chinlock. Back up and Muta takes him into the corner and out to the apron for only a few seconds. A backbreaker looks to set up the moonsault but Muta lands on his feet when Sting moves. Muta kicks Sting down and goes up, only to be crotched and superplexed down for the pin.


Rating: C. This wasn’t bad but again the time constraints are getting really annoying. These guys could easily have a twenty five or thirty minute match but they’re relegated to eight and a half minutes after already wrestling once tonight. It’s decent enough for the amount of time they had but these matches are begging for extra time.


Lex Luger – 20 points (2 matches remaining)

Ric Flair – 20 points (2 matches remaining)

Sting – 20 points (1 match remaining)

Great Muta – 0 points (1 match remaining)


Since we’re halfway done we take a breather and look at the scenarios and recap everything.


Samoan Swat Team vs. Doom


The Samoans are Fatu (more famous as Rikishi) and Samoan Savage (more famous as Tama of the Islanders) and they have Oliver Humperdink as the Big Kahuna in their corner. Before the match, the Samoans and Kahuna do their tribal ceremony or whatever you want to call it. Reed and Savage get things going and unfortunately it’s the Samoan and not Randy. They collide in the middle and we get SAMOAN YELLING.


They collide again with no one going anywhere so it’s Reed pounding away at the ample midsection instead. Savage comes back with some kicks to the ribs of his own and it’s off to Fatu. The match continues to go slowly but to be fair this is Doom’s third appearance tonight. Simmons comes in and it’s a brawl again as he pounds on Fatu. Back to Reed for more pounding on the back followed by something resembling a spinebuster. A double back elbow gets two on Fatu off a blind tag and Doom is looking good for the first time tonight.


Reed sends Savage out to the floor and Simmons rams him into the barricade. The Samoans are called both the New Wild Samoans and the Samoan Swat Team but the latter is the better known of the names. Simmons comes in off a tag and gets caught in a sunset flip for two. A bulldog is countered by Savage but Reed breaks up a tag attempt to Fatu. Simmons hits a middle rope right hand to the head for two followed by a sloppy body slam. Reed goes up top but misses a middle rope shoulder as everything breaks down. Fatu headbutts Reed down for two but after they collide again, Fatu falls on Reed for the pin.


Rating: D. This was terrible as it was clear that Doom was totally spent. As mentioned, they would move on soon after this and win the tag titles, albeit with a new manager. This was a BAD styles clash as the Samoans were trying to match power with Doom and power vs. power rarely works for the most part. This didn’t go that well and we get two more Samoan matches tonight.


Steiners – 35 points (1 match remaining)

Samoan Swat Team – 20 points (2 matches remaining)

Road Warriors – 20 points (1 match remaining)

Doom – 0 points (0 matches remaining)


Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger


Back at this point, champion vs. champion matches were very rare so this is a treat for the fans. Feeling out process to start with both guys seeming a bit tentative. You can’t think Flair is tired at this point after having about three minutes in the ring earlier. As is his custom, Flair can’t get much going in the early part of the match. The chops have little damage and Luger throws Ric around like he’s not even there. A hard clothesline puts Flair down and another puts him out on the floor.


Back in and Flair goes after the knee but Luger has too much experience against the Nature Boy to let him do that. Instead it’s an atomic drop for the world champion and some right hands for good measure. Flair is an American so those aren’t American right hands according to JR. Another attempt at the knee goes a bit better though and Luger is slowed down a bit.


The world champion stays on the leg and it’s so strange to hear the fans approve of him being on offense. Luger shoves him away and scores with another clothesline before posing like the arrogant jerk that he is at this point. The announcers keep pushing him as the champion of the future as he rams Flair’s head into the corner to put him back down.


Luger stomps away in the corner and poses some more followed by yet another clothesline. Some elbow drops get a near fall on Flair as we’re at five minutes left in the time limit. Flair comes back with another chop but Lex pounds him right back down. A big backdrop puts Flair down and Ric rolls out to the floor. Back in and Luger goes after the neck and back as we have four minutes left. Flair comes back with a suplex but he can’t follow up. Three minutes left now.


A backslide gets two for Flair and they slug it out until Flair is flipped over in the corner. He runs down the apron and goes up but jumps up into yet another clothesline. That gets two and Lex is very frustrated. A sunset flip gets two for Flair so Luger pounds him down with ease. Ric goes up top very slowly and gets slammed right back down like he’s nothing. Luger misses a jumping elbow and we have thirty seconds to go. Flair gets a belly to back suplex out of nowhere and throws on the Figure Four but the time limit runs out for a draw, giving each guy five points.


Rating: C+. The match was fine for the most part and the ending was the only thing they could do given the points structure and the fact that you don’t want either guy to go over the other at this point. It wasn’t bad for the most part but when you had these two going at it for thirty minutes last year, it was kind of hard to get into a match that only got half that much time. Not bad though.


Lex Luger – 25 points (1 match remaining)

Ric Flair – 25 points (1 match remaining)

Sting – 20 points (1 match remaining)

Great Muta – 0 points (1 match remaining)


Samoan Swat Team vs. Steiner Brothers


Rick and Fatu get things going and it’s time for more SAMOAN YELLING. Rick doesn’t take time to translate and punches Fatu in the face instead. The fans are WAY into the Steiners here. It’s off to Scott for the power of the team with a slam. The Savage comes in and walks into a slam as well as the Steiners take over. The Samoans run to the floor and we get the classic Steiners pose of Rick on all fours and Scott standing over him.


After a conference with the Big Kahuna (that’s so fun to say), it’s back to Savage vs. Scott. Since nothing else has worked, the Samoan goes with the ancient tribal custom of poking him in the eye to take over. A headbutt staggers Scott and it’s off to Fatu for more brawling. The basics of the Samoan offense is as follows: kick, scream, forearm to the back, scream, headbutt, scream. Just picture that combination for about five minutes and you have the majority of this match.


The Savage comes in again and sends Scott into the corner before clotheslining him down for another near fall. The fans are trying to get behind the Steiners but they’re so tired after a show this long and uninteresting. Scott gets choked in the corner by Fatu as the Kahuna distracts the referee. A double headbutt puts Scott down for two but Rick comes in and bites the Savage. It doesn’t seem to have much of an effect as Scott is knocked out to the floor.


Back in and Scott’s sunset flip attempt is broken up before Fatu puts him in a bearhug. We’re under four minutes now as Scott is beginning to fade. The hold takes Scott down to the mat so Rick comes in to break it up, only to cause Scott to be double teamed. Back to the bearhug as the match continues to waste time until we can have extra drama.


A powerslam gets two on Scott with two minutes left. Scott grabs the Frankensteiner out of absolutely nowhere but Fatu tags out before Scott can bring in Rick. Savage misses a splash and there’s the tag, even though the referee didn’t see it. Rick cleans house but Scott throws Fatu over the top rope which is a DQ in WCW.


Rating: D+. Very basic tag match here and nothing all that special. At the end of the day, the Samoans are little more than a gimmick tag team and not much more. The Steiners were still new as a tag team so they weren’t able to carry a team like Fatu and Savage, especially in their fourth match of the night.


Steiners – 35 points (0 matches remaining)

Samoan Swat Team – 30 points (1 match remaining)

Road Warriors – 20 points (1 match remaining)

Doom – 0 points (0 matches remaining)


Great Muta vs. Lex Luger


Luger comes to the ring very gingerly because of the leg work from earlier by Flair. Lex is very tentative to start as Muta tries some sweeping kicks to the leg. A clothesline finally staggers Muta a bit but Luger can’t hit it will all of the force that he usually has behind one of them. Some right hands stagger Muta as the fans aren’t sure who to cheer for in this one. The paint is almost entirely off of Muta’s face by this point.


Muta finally connects with a kick to Luger’s leg and the entire match changes almost instantly. Luger limps around the ring and Muta fires off kick after kick. An Irish whip sends Luger limping into the corner for Muta’s handspring elbow. Off to a leg lock on the mat by Muta until Lex finally rakes the eyes to escape. Muta goes right back to the leg and both guys are down again. A quick half crab has Luger in even more trouble but Muta turns it into an inverted Indian deathlock with a chinlock to crank on the leg even more.


Muta stays on the leg as we continue in the same cycle of this match. We only have four minutes left which should be almost twice that long. A superkick puts Luger down and a dropkick does the same. Luger comes back with a hard clothesline to put Muta down and they slug it out with two minutes to go. A bad looking hiptoss puts Muta down and Lex throws him to the outside. Back in and a sunset flip gets two for Muta but he walks into a powerslam with a minute to go. Luger loads up the Rack but Muta sprays hit green mist in Luger’s face (with Luger looking like he was hit by a bus) for the lame DQ.


Rating: C. This is a match that could have been excellent if it had another ten minutes and a good finish. The problem here is that they had to do the stupid finish here or the ending to the tournament would have far less drama to it. Muta was far better than he was allowed to be here, but he would lose the TV Title in a few weeks to Arn Anderson.


Lex Luger – 35 points (0 matches remaining)

Ric Flair – 25 points (1 match remaining)

Sting – 20 points (1 match remaining)

Great Muta – 0 points (0 matches remaining)


Road Warriors vs. Samoan Swat Team


If the Samoans win at all they win the tournament, if the Warriors win by pin or submission they win the tournament, and if the Warriors win by DQ, the Steiners win. I have no idea what happens in the case of two teams tying so we’ll assume that isn’t going to happen. Animal and Fatu start things off with Fatu not being able to piledrive him down. Hawk comes in to chop it out with the Savage but it’s clear that neither team has anything left.


Savage tries what was supposed to be a suplex but basically drops Hawk on his head. A clothesline gets two for Hawk and it’s back to Animal. Fatu gets slammed down and Animal starts beating on him all over again. Savage comes in with a superkick to take Animal down as the boredom continues here. We hit a chinlock for a bit but the Savage misses a middle rope splash. Off to Hawk and everything breaks down. Savage goes up and gets crotched, allowing Hawk to hit his top rope clothesline on Fatu for the pin and the tournament.


Rating: D. I have to give them a break here as they were totally spent at this point. You can’t ask a team like the Warriors to go for twenty minutes in three shifts on the same night. It wasn’t a good match for the most part, but again it’s hard to criticize them given how much they had done already tonight.


Road Warriors – 40 points

Steiners – 35 points

Samoan Swat Team – 30 points

Doom – 0 points


The Steiners come out to celebrate with the Warriors for their tournament win.


Sting vs. Ric Flair


Sting has to win by pin or submission, Flair can win by pinfall, submission or countout. Any other combination results in either a tie or Luger winning. Sting grabs a headlock to start and hiptosses him down. Flair bails to the floor to run off some of the clock. Back in and we get some chain wrestling, resulting with Sting in control on the mat. They get up again and Flair places Sting on the top rope to play some mind games.


Flair puts on a top wristlock but Sting overpowers him to take Flair to the mat. Very technical match so far. They run the ropes a few times with Sting dropping down a few times before hitting a gorilla press slam. Flair bails to the outside again as Sting is all fired up. Back in and Sting blocks a hiptoss into a backslide as we hit five minutes in. Flair hits a HARD chop and Sting is in trouble in a hurry.


A quick shoulder block puts Flair down for two and Sting is starting to worry about the clock. We head to the floor with Sting being sent ribs first into the barricade as the world champion takes over. Flair suplexes him back inside for two and there’s the knee drop for good measure. Ric gets a few near falls off some rollups and a double underhook suplex for the same. They head to the floor again and Flair’s chops wake Sting up again.


We have five minutes left and Sting comes back in with a sunset flip but Flair punches him in the head to break it up. Sting hits a quick suplex of his own for two and it’s time to get fired up again. He pounds away on Flair in the corner and there’s the Stinger’s Splash. The Scorpion Deathlock goes on but Flair is immediately in the ropes.


Off to the Figure Four on Sting but he makes the ropes very quickly. Flair goes back to the knee with two minutes to go. A knee onto the leg has Sting in trouble as Flair is pacing himself. Sting grabs a backslide for two and we have a minute to go. Flair crushes the leg again and cannonballs down onto it for good measure. Now it’s time for the Figure Four but Sting rolls Flair up for the pin and the tournament title.


Rating: B+. By far and away the best match of the night here as you would expect from these two anytime they work together. This match was designed to set up some future stuff and Flair working as the heel here (mostly) was foreshadowing for those events. At least they let the fans have something good to go out on.


Sting – 40 points

Lex Luger – 35 points

Ric Flair – 25 points

Great Muta – 0 points


The Horsemen come out and after teasing beating Sting down for pinning Flair, they all congratulate him.


The Road Warriors say they’re awesome and Hawk talks about coming out to Iron Man by Black Sabbath and how appropriate it is.


Flair praises Sting to end the show. Literally the credits are rolling as Flair is still talking.


Overall Rating: D. This is still one of the dumbest ideas I’ve ever heard of in wrestling. At the end of the day, nothing was accomplished here and the fans were bored out of their minds by the end. There were only twelve wrestlers on the entire show (side note: The two African Americans and the Japanese man were all shut out. WCW had a history of racial discrimination complaints so this wasn’t a good idea) and the guys were all tired by the end of the night.


The fact that only one of the twelve matches was more than just ok and it’s really hard to care about this show at all. This show felt like it was a television Christmas special instead of the biggest show of the year. As I mentioned earlier, these concept shows would continue for years, but it would never be this bad again. Well, arguably almost never I guess but we’ll get to that in two years.


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