Starrcade 1998 (2014 Redo): It Makes 1997 Look Good

Starrcade 1998
Date: December 27, 1998
Location: MCI Center, Washington, D.C.
Attendance: 16,066
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay, Bobby Heenan

It’s the biggest show of the year and I don’t know how many people know about it. I don’t remember the same show feeling so different just a year later. Last year Starrcade felt like an event rather than just a wrestling show. This year it feels like it could be a Clash of the Champions TV special instead of the biggest show of the year. I have a very bad feeling about what could be coming here, especially now that I have a fresh memory of how the buildup went. Let’s get to it.

 

The opening video is all about Goldberg vs. Nash, even though it’s arguably not even the main event.

Tony and company tell us that the Horsemen have been banned from the building tonight as per Eric Bischoff’s orders. They talk about the rest of the card for a bit to kill some time.

First up tonight: a commercial for a QVC special later in the week.

Call the Hotline!

Cruiserweight Title: Billy Kidman vs. Juventud Guerrera vs. Rey Mysterio Jr.

Kidman is defending and has been trying to defend the title against Mysterio for weeks, only to have the LWO interfere. Juventud is there as the former champion wanting a rematch and LWO leader Eddie Guerrero’s hand picked challenger. Rey stomps on his LWO shirt on the way to the ring. Juvy gets double teamed to start, much to the fans’ delight. He tries to fight back against Kidman but gets caught in a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker from Mysterio. Kidman whips Rey into the Bronco Buster, even though Juvy was a foot in front of the buckle and had the back of his head driven hard into the corner.

The good guys start slugging it out before nailing Juvy at the same time, only to go at it again. Juvy misses a top rope cross body, allowing Kidman to slam Rey onto Juvy’s chest for two. Guerrera comes back with Mysterio’s sitout bulldog to both guys at the same time before telling the cameraman he’s got it. Mysterio can’t hook a German suplex on Juvy but Kidman clotheslines Guerrera down for two instead.

Kidman is sent to the floor and Juvy backdrops Rey on top of the champion, setting up a big dive to take out both guys. The fans didn’t seem interested for some reason. Back in and Juvy dives again, only to get double dropkicked out of the air. Heenan talks about Bill being here tonight. Tenay: “Clinton?” Heenan: “No Bill Schwartz, an old friend of mine from Cincinnati.” West Coast Pop gets two on Juvy but Kidman comes back with a headlock takeover out of the corner on Juvy with a dropkick to Rey at the same time.

Mysterio is still down as Kidman dives into Juvy’s boots to the face, allowing Rey to pop up and get two on the champion off a slingshot moonsault. Juvy is stood on the apron, allowing Rey to hit a hurricanrana off the top to put both guys down on the floor. Back in and Kidman gets two on Juvy with a layout powerbomb. Juvy hooks an over the shoulder backbreaker for the same on Mysterio before he seds Juvy and Kidman out to the floor. Rey hits a HUGE top rope Asai Moonsault to take both guys down but he can barely follow up.

Juvy gets taken down by a springboard hurricanrana from the masked man but walks into a bad looking Juvy Driver for two. Kidman makes a diving save before planing Juvy with the BK Bomb for two. Mysterio is the only one on his feet but he takes Juvy to the floor with another hurricanrana. Kidman has to keep up with the others, hitting a great looking Shooting Star to the floor, taking out both guys in the process. Eddie Guerrero comes out to the ring and pushes Juvy forward to counter a sunset flip. Rey comes in and dropkicks Juvy back into the sunset flip, giving Kidman the pin to retain the title.

Rating: B. Awesome opener here as all three guys were going nuts out there. That Shooting Star looked great and the other two were their usual awesome selves. Eddie getting involved makes me think a fourway would have been a better option, but there’s nothing wrong with three guys flying all over the place and firing up the crowd to open up a show.

Post match Eddie yells at Rey and Juvy, saying they’re not LWO material if they can’t beat a creampuff like Kidman. Eddie shoves Juvy down and keeps ripping into Kidman. The champion comes out and offers Eddie a title shot RIGHT NOW. Eddie says let him go get his gear on but Kidman doesn’t want to wait. The match is on, making me wonder what was going to get this spot originally.

Cruiserweight Title: Eddie Guerrero vs. Billy Kidman

Eddie, in street clothes, decks Kidman to get things going and hammers away. A powerbomb gets two on the champion and we hit the abdominal stretch with Juvy helping from the floor. Mysterio breaks that up twice in a row, drawing Eddie to the floor for a jawing session with Rey. Kidman comes back with a slingshot ankle scissors for two before dropkicking Guerrero down.

Eddie nails a chopblock to take over again and puts on a modified leg lock while pulling on Kidman’s arm at the same time. Kidman makes a rope and Rey tries to give him a pep talk. It works well enough as Eddie is sent into the barricade to give the champion a breather. Back in and Kidman hits a quick bulldog before hammering away in the corner. Kidman is on instinct and fumes here, allowing Eddie to counter a weak sleeper with a jawbreaker.

The referee goes to talk to Rey for some reason, allowing Eddie to take off his boot and blast Kidman in the head for a delayed two. The brainbuster looks to set up the Frog Splash but Kidman pops back up with a superplex. Guerrero is up first and dropkicks the knee out again, setting up a leg lock which doesn’t put much torque on the knee. Mysterio and Juvy get in a fight on the floor over Eddie’s shoe and the distraction makes Billy break the hold.

Kidman fights out of a powerbomb and stomps Eddie as hard as he can. A slingshot legdrop gets two but Eddie counters a top rope hurricanrana. Now it’s Eddie putting Kidman on top, only to get shoved down. Eddie’s bodyguard distract the referee, allowing Juvy to crotch Kidman down. Rey does the same to Eddie though, setting up the Shooting Star to retain the title.

Rating: B. Another awesome match here with the story coming through much stronger than in the opening match. Kidman fighting out of desperation was an awesome story with Eddie not being able to back up his months of talk making it even better. All four guys looked good in their matches, but it’s eaten up a lot of time.

Nash vs. Goldberg video. This brings us to one of the biggest problems of the evening: time. We’re at forty minutes into the show, leaving us with about two hours to go and only three announced matches left. Keep that in mind as this show is about to start its downward spiral.

Norman Smiley vs. Prince Iaukea

Yes on Starrcade, in a rematch of something we just saw on Nitro twice this month already. Norman was getting a push around this time but that doesn’t mean you give him a match against the same guy he’s beaten twice in less than three weeks on PPV. Iaukea takes over to start and sends Norman to the floor for a dive off the apon. The announcers ignore most of the match to talk about Flair vs. Bischoff, making this match seem all the more pointless.

Back in and Norman takes control with his amateur stuff and works on something resembling a Kimura. Off to a short arm scissors as Tony talks about Flair’s promos (his word) and the recent heart attack. Smiley drops him ribs first over the top rope but stops for the Big Wiggle. There’s the swinging slam for two before he dances too long, allowing Prince to get a sunset flip for two.

The fans think this is boring so Norman double stomps Iaukea and puts on a seated abdominal stretch. That goes nowhere so Norman dances on the mat a bit. A delayed butterfly suplex gets two on Iaukea and it’s back to the arm. More dancing follows and Prince suplexes the distracted Smiley down for two. Norman puts on a series of freaky looking arm holds before hitting another double stomp.

Prince comes back with what might have been a low blow but Norman rakes the eyes. More dancing ensues and Prince springboards in with a cross body, only to have Smiley roll through for two. Neither guy can get a backslide so Norman slips behind him and puts on the chicken wing, now dubbed Norman’s Conquest, for the submission.

Rating: D-. Smiley was his usual fun self but this belongs on Thunder or Saturday Night. It got nearly TWELVE MINUTES, or more than Eddie’s match got. Norman is a rising star but what good does it do him to have a boring match that he’s won twice already this month? Somehow, this isn’t the oddest choice of a match so far.

Here’s Hall with something to say. I’ve heard he was scheduled to face Bigelow on this show. That makes sense given what happened recently on Nitro, but I never heard it announced on television. Unless it was announced on Saturday Night, that might have been a rumor or dirtsheet announcement. Either way, Hall comes out with an Outsiders shirt on and the fans seem very pleased with the idea.

Scott talks about how 1998 has been a bad year for him in and out of the ring. Tonight his old buddy Kevin Nash has a shot at the biggest title in wrestling. The two of them used to ride the roads together and talk about what that would mean. A little while back, Nash told him to prove himself to Big Kev. Hall doesn’t think he should have to do that, but he does have to prove something to himself. 1999 is going to be his year.

Video on Bam Bam Bigelow, who isn’t wrestling tonight either. This transitions into a video on the threeway betweeo Bigelow, Nash and Goldberg. We’re over an hour into this show now and this is the third video on the main event.

Perry Saturn vs. The Cat

This one isn’t so much strange as they’ve been feuding for awhile now, but who in the world wants to see this match? Miller of course has to give his usual speech and Saturn of course jumps him. Cat runs to the floor for some stalling before teasint walking to the back. He tries to slide back in to go after Saturn but falls at Saturn’s feet instead. Now the beating is on but Miller bails to the floor to stall again. Back in and Cat sweeps the leg and chokes a bit as the fans are dying in a hurry.

Saturn can’t hook the Rings so he wrestles Miller down to the mat. That also goes nowhere so Miller kicks him in the face and walks around a lot. Saturn comes back with a pair of suplexes for two and a swinging neckbreaker for the same. A top rope ax handle misses and Saturn gets kicked in the face for no cover. Back up and Miller kicks him again but asks Sonny Onoo to come in. Sonny kicks Miller by mistake, allowing Saturn to hit the Death Valley Driver for the pin.

Rating: D-. I’ve watched a lot of wrestling in my day but I will never understand some things about WCW. For one, why in the world did Sonny Onoo keep a job for so long? Miller could at least talk and got decent later on, but why is he getting this spot on this show? At least Saturn won, finally.

Gene brings out Flair to talk because we haven’t wasted enough time yet. Flair says he’s going to beat up Bischoff and lists off what he’s going to do to every body part.

This sets up a LONG video on Bischoff’s history in WCW since the NWO arrived, his abuses of power and his feud with Flair. Again, we’ve already paid for the show so why do we need to get fired up for the matches? This eats up over three minutes and I believe is the exact same video we saw on Nitro.

Scott Steiner and Buff Bagwell come in and threaten Konnan but Lex Luger makes the save. Luger vs. Steiner was another rumored match for this show like Hall vs. Bigelow.

And now, perhaps the most random wrestling match in the history of pay per view.

Brian Adams/Scott Norton vs. Jerry Flynn/Fit Finlay

During the video, Tony has been given word that the main event will be No DQ. Adams throws Finlay around to start but Fit nails him in the ribs. Off to Norton who snaps off a powerslam on Finlay and a double clothesline to both opponents. Flynn kicks him in the chin and it’s back to Adams to slow things down. Adams kicks him down and stomps away but gets kicked right back, allowing Finlay to come back in and hammer on Brian.

Adams pops back up with a piledriver as the fans are just SILENT. Norton comes back in and cranks on the neck before hitting a splash in the corner. The NWO takes turns on Finlay with the only interesting move being a gorilla press gutbuster from Adams. Fit makes the ice cold tag to Flynn and everything breaks down. Flynn is distracted by Vincent, allowing Norton to powerbomb him in half for the pin.

Rating: S. For Starrcade, not Saturday Night. Get your shows right for your nine minute squashes.

Here’s Bischoff for ANOTHER FREAKING INTERVIEW. Eric says hi to the Clintons and imitates a Bill Clinton speech by saying how profoundly sorry he is for the pain he’s caused the Flair family. He feels sorry for Flair’s heart attack but the reality is Ric has to fight tonight because he can’t save a dime. Flair paid for all those jets and limos but Bischoff got his boss to pay for his limos and jets.

TV Title: Konnan vs. Chris Jericho

Konnan took the title from Jericho in November but Jericho stole the belt itself on Monday. Jericho gets in a few decent jokes about Konnan not keeping his pants up. He also calls himself the man’s regret, every woman’s pet, the man with the voice and the Jericholics’ choice. We’re treated to part of Konnan’s rap video before we’re ready to go.

Feeling out process to start with a shoulder putting the champion down. Konnan comes right back with a seated dropkick but walks into a regular dropkick from Jericho. Chris goes up top but Konnan grabs his own crotch for a distraction. They head outside with Jericho sending Konnan into the barricade to take over. Back in and Chris poses a lot before getting two off a suplex and the Arrogant Cover.

We hit the chinlock on the champion for a bit before Jericho goes up top and dives into the boot. The rolling lariat and a jackknife cover get two on Jericho before Konnan throws him out to the floor. Jericho is sent ribs first into the steps for two but Jericho counters the X Factor into a Liontamer attempt. The referee gets bumped and Jericho hits Konnan with the belt for two. That goes nowhere so Konnan hooks the Tequila Sunrise for the submission to retain.

Rating: D. This felt like they were painting by numbers, going through the motions or whatever other term you prefer for a match that was as basic as you could ask for. Konnan was all talk at this point and the matches just weren’t backing it up at all. Jericho knew he was leaving in 1999 at this point and really didn’t care at all.

Giant is ready for Page tonight and threatens Lee Marshall with violence.

Ric Flair vs. Eric Bischoff

Bischoff immediately heads to the floor but Flair gets his hands on him against the barricade. The beating is on quickly and they head inside for some choking in the corner. There’s the knee drop to the head and a right hand, which Flair says is for his wife. Ric goes after the knee in the corner but Bischoff gets in a kick to the head that knocks Flair all the way to the floor. He sends Flair into the barricade as Tony gets in the semi-infamous line about how anyone that follows tournament karate knows that Bischoff is a force in that sport.

Flair is busted open as Eric hammers away in the corner. Ric Hulks Up but another kick to the head puts him right back down. It’s nothing that a low blow won’t stop though as Flair takes over. Two more low blows put Eric in the corner and Ric chops away before shoving the referee down. Shattered Dreams has Bischoff screaming and a pair of suplexes make it even worse. The Figure Four goes on but here’s Curt Hennig to nail Flair with an object, giving Bischoff the pin, thereby killing the audience deader than dead. I mean they go SILENT.

Rating: F. For failure. That’s what this match was: a complete failure. This match went against the basic idea of wrestling: the villain runs his mouth and then gets beaten down by the hero at the end of the day. How does this help anyone other than Eric Bischoff? It ticks the fans off, doesn’t make the villain look right, and makes Flair look stupid. That’s fine once in awhile, but it’s the problem for WCW: the hero almost never got his day. It was always a screwjob of some form and the hero was supposed to fight another day. Eventually the fans got tired of waiting though and these moments stopped meaning anything.

As for the match itself, there’s really no logic to it either. Bischoff had WAY too much offense here as a single kick was enough to knock Flair all the way out to the floor. Last year Larry Zbyszko was staggered by some of his kicks but didn’t go out to the floor as a result. The heart attack angle was mentioned in passing by Tony and nothing more, making that almost entirely pointless. But hey, people think Eric Bischoff is a tough guy so everybody is happy right?

We recap Giant vs. Diamond Dallas Page, which is really just an offshoot of Page vs. Hart. Page of course has bad ribs coming in, due to a chokeslam off the stage a few weeks back.

Diamond Dallas Page vs. Giant

They spit at each other to start before Page drives in some shoulders. An early Diamond Cutter attempt goes nowhere but Page does clothesline him out to the floor. The offense is short lived though as Giant clotheslines DDP down with ease. A headbutt puts Page into the crowd but he finds a trashcan to blast Giant in the head. Again the advantage is short lived though as Giant whips him into the steps and then the post.

Giant throws him back inside and Page bangs his knee up on the landing. The big man lays on the leg to slow things down as the fans just do not care after the result of the previous match. Page rakes the eyes to escape but gets crushed in the corner to stop his comeback cold. We hit the bearhug as this match is dying right in front of my eyes. Giant plants him with a powerslam but pulls Page up twice in a row. Back to the bearhug for a bit before Giant picks him up for a double choke backbreaker.

Giant still won’t cover though and gets caught in a running DDT to put both guys down. The referee gets bumped as well, drawing out Bret Hart who hits Giant with a chair by mistake. That’s only good for two as Giant easily kicks out. Page scores with a pair of top rope clotheslines, only to dive into a choke. Giant takes him to the corner for the super chokeslam, but Page dives at him into a swinging Diamond Cutter for the pin out of nowhere. Page’s shocked look when he hit it is great.

Rating: C-. The match was boring but the ending helped it a lot. That jumping Diamond Cutter is one of my favorite endings ever in WCW and it still holds up really well. I’m not sure why this wasn’t Page vs. Bret for the title, but to be fair we had seen that match several times before so it was kind of nice to see something new.

Yet another Goldberg vs. Nash video.

WCW World Title: Goldberg vs. Kevin Nash

Goldberg is defending and it’s No DQ. Nash won the shot by winning World War 3. They’re treating this like it’s a big showdown ala Hogan vs. Warrior in 1990 but it just doesn’t work with these guys. They pose at each other to start with the fans pretty split. A lockup takes both guys into the corner and the referee splits them up. They circle each other some more until Goldberg ducks a right hand and suplexes Nash, sending him out to the floor.

Back in and Nash takes him into the corner for all of his usual stuff but Goldberg just shoves him down. The champion chokes away but Nash tries a freaking cross armbreaker of all things. Goldberg laughs his way out of that and tries his ankle hold, sending Nash to the ropes for another reset. Goldberg knocks Nash to the mat with right hands but gets pulled face first into the middle buckle.

The spear connects out of nowhere but Goldberg can’t pick him up for the Jackhammer. The delay allows Nash to hit him low and both guys are down again. A bad looking side slam gets two for Nash and he hammers in forearms to the back. The swinging neckbreaker puts Nash down again and there’s the superkick for good measure. Goldberg muscles him up into a powerslam for two but here’s Disco Inferno to distract the champion. That goes as well as you would expect so here’s Bigelow to get beaten down as well. Scott Hall of course sneaks in with a tazer to Goldberg’s chest, setting up the Jackknife to give Nash the title.

Rating: D+. The match wasn’t the worst thing in the world but it feels like such an anti-climactic way to end the Streak. After all that, it’s an ending that doesn’t make a ton of sense and almost makes Nash look like a heel, even though the fans popped for the ending. I’d assume it’s because it’s a big moment but they still liked Nash no matter what. It felt like a pro-Nash pop rather than an anti-Goldberg one as the fans weren’t booing Goldberg throughout the rest of the match.

Nash isn’t sure what happened. He didn’t see Hall do what he did and Hall was out of there immediately after.

Overall Rating: D-. Where do I even start? While last year’s show was decent with a bad ending, this one was just bad for the last two hours. This show ranged from bad to downright stupid at times, with some of the most random matches I can ever remember seeing on a major pay per view. Consider the following list of people who either didn’t wrestle or appear on the show.

Bret Hart, Scott Steiner, Booker T., Scott Hall, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Lex Luger, Wrath, Bam Bam Bigelow, Kanyon, Raven, Buff Bagwell

All of those guys have gotten significant television time in the weeks leading up to the show, but none of them could get on the card. Instead we had guys like Jerry Flynn, Scott Norton and Prince Iaukea wrestling instead. The opening two matches are good, but there’s really no reason for one midcard story to eat up forty minutes of an under three hour card. That leaves you two hours for six matches, but then they wasted even more time on the constant videos and interviews.

That’s all before the booking of the show. I can understand the Nash move as the streak had to end somewhere. I don’t care for it for the most part, but there could have been far worse ideas for them to go with. Nash winning the title isn’t a stretch as he’s been one of the biggest starts in the company since the day he debuted. Yeah he booked himself to be champion, but at the end of the day it’s not like Glacier just broke Goldberg’s streak.

Then there’s the white elephant in the room. I really don’t know how you can argue that Bischoff should have gone over Flair no matter how you look at it. That should have been the biggest layup of the year but instead it’s the exact opposite of what it should have been. Yeah things would change in the near future, but the idea of getting the win later doesn’t matter. It should have been at Starrcade with the two having been built up for months. Instead it made Bischoff look good with Flair coming off like a raging lunatic that can’t get the easiest win in the world anymore.

Overall the show was only a step above a disaster. The worst part is that it wasn’t even all that bad, but it was painfully dull. Most of these matches just don’t line up with the stories they’ve been showing on television and it feels like we’re supposed to get to the big show later on. It’s not even that the show is bad, but it just doesn’t work at all, save for two pretty meaningless matches to open the show.

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2 comments

  1. Heyo says:

    Wow, worse than 97? I know you absolutely hate 97 with a passion and even listed it as a possible candiate for what killed WCW.

    Granted, BISCHOFF WENT OVER FLAIR and your comment about the hero never getting his day was spot on and a HUGE reason why WCW died, but at the same time…is 98 really that bad?

    klunderbunker Reply:

    Yeah I think so. 97 was bad booking with passable matches. This was bad booking with mostly bad matches. At least give me something to watch. Also 97 was all about one match and as that match went, so went the rest of the show. 98 didn’t have that luxury.