Starrcade 1990: Ric Flair and the Spaceship

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Starrcade 1990
Date: December 16, 1990
Location: Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, Missouri
Attendance: 7,200
Commentators: Jim Ross, Paul E. Dangerously

This is a double concept show and that’s not a good thing.  First of all, we have Sting vs. the Black Scorpion, a magician who claims to be Sting’s former partner and makes children disappear.  There’s also a major tag team tournament, which will dominate most of the show.  In addition to those things, this show has a very different look to it and I mean that literally. The arena is lit much better than the old arenas you would see in the 80s and it’s a massive improvement. The show looks much more modern as a result and it would stay that way for years to come. Let’s get to it.

The show is being sent to the troops in the Gulf War so we have a big presentation of the National Anthem.

Before I forget, the tag tournament is called the Pat O’Connor Memorial Tag Team Tournament. O’Connor was a former NWA Champion and a famous tag wrestler who had passed away about three months before this show. The tournament is being held in his honor.

Bobby Eaton vs. Z-Man

The Z-Man is somewhat more famous as Tom Zenk and is allegedly on a thirty five match winning streak. This is Eaton’s major solo debut after Cornette and Lane left to make their own company in Smoky Mountain Wrestling. Soon after the match begins we’re informed that Ric Flair is out of the world tag team title street fight against Doom and will be replaced by Barry Windham.

Feeling out process to start with both guys going for the arm until Z-Man jumps from the mat to the top rope and hits a spinning cross body for two. For 1990, that’s a HUGE spot. Z-Man takes him down into a hammerlock as Dangerously talks about Eaton breaking up the Midnight Express because Eaton’s partner was dating Yoko Ono. Point for a funny line if nothing else.

Eaton comes back with some hard right hands but he lets Z-Man get up instead of following in on him. A quick dropkick gets two for Z-Man and it’s back to the armbar. Eaton reverses into one of his own as they take a breather. Bobby puts him on the ramp (there’s now a ramp leading from the entrance down to the ring) but Z-Man suplexes Eaton out of the ring and onto the ramp. A BIG dive from the ring onto Bobby fires up the crowd again but Z-Man can’t pin him out there.

Back in and Ross says that Dangerously is a “psychoceramic. You know, a crackpot.” Eaton hits a quick bulldog to set up a top rope legdrop but doesn’t cover for some reason. Instead he misses a charge into the corner and gets caught by a dropkick for two. Eaton comes back with a neckbreaker but he jumps into a kick to the chest. Now Z-Man goes up, only to miss the missile dropkick, allowing Eaton to roll him up for the pin.

Rating: C+. See, THIS is the kind of match you should open things up with. It was fast paced, it was exciting, and the fans are into the show now. Eaton and Z-Man both looked good out there and the fans were way into it. St. Louis has always been a good wrestling town and they responded well to the opener which is always a good sign.

Pat O’Connor Memorial Tag Team Tournament Quarter-Finals: Steiner Brothers vs. Colonel DeKlerk/Sgt. Krueger

DeKlerk is much more famous as Rocco Rock from Public Enemy. Krueger may or may not be Matt Borne, who is more famous as the original Doink the Clown in the WWF. Their team has a military theme obviously. The Steiners are the US Tag Team Champions here and this is USA (#1 seed) vs. South Africa (#8 seed) with four Americans in there I believe. The Steiners come out to the Star Spangled Banner for good measure.

Krueger and Rick start things off with the Sergeant taking it down to the mat. Rick, a former collegiate champion, has no problem hanging with him down there and comes back with a HARD Steiner Line. Off to DeKlerk who hits a quick leg lariat to send Rick to the floor. The Colonel hits a HUGE flip dive over the top which again was unheard of in 1990. Off to Scott who by this point was a monster and was considered as a future world champion. After running over DeKlerk with a clothesline, the Frankensteiner ends DeKlerk with ease. This was barely two minutes long but the flips by DeKlerk were awesome.

Pat O’Connor Memorial Tag Team Tournament Quarter-Finals: Chris Adams/Norman Smiley vs. Konnan/Rey Mysterio

Adams and Smiley are British and the #5 seed while Konnan and Mysterio are from Mexico and the #4 seed. There’s a lot to talk about here. First of all, Adams is most famous as a trainer, having taught Steve Austin to wrestle, as well as popularizing the superkick as a finishing move in North America. Smiley would be much more famous as a comedy character later on in WCW. Konnan was nothing of note at this point but soon would become the biggest star in Mexico. Mysterio isn’t the famous version but rather the original here and the uncle of the more famous one.

Mysterio and Smiley start things off but Konnan comes in as well, only to get caught in a double armdrag. Adams comes in as well and things get very fast paced in a hurry with the Mexican team being dropkicked out to the floor. Mysterio comes back in to pop Adams in the face with a right hand, only to be superkicked HARD out to the floor. Rey tries to remember what planet he’s on so he brings in Konnan instead. Konnan climbs the top rope with a wristlock on Smiley to send him flying, only to get caught in a rolling cradle for two.

This is going too fast to be able to keep up with. Konnan gets caught in the British corner and jumped by Adams who puts on a chinlock. Mysterio comes in sans tag for an attempted double team but Smiley dropkicks both of them down. A superkick sends Konnan into a German suplex by Smiley but it’s Mysterio making the save again.

Adams comes back in to crank on Konnan’s arm some more before clotheslining him down for no cover. Back to Smiley but Mysterio comes in again without a tag to elbow Chris down. Konnan takes Adams into the corner and sits him on the top rope facing the crowd before hitting a kind of reverse suplex down for the pin to advance.

Rating: B-. This was a very fast paced and exciting match with all four guys moving faster than anyone else would have at this point. Konnan would go on to become a huge star in Mexico while Mysterio’s nephew would become one of the biggest stars in the world. Good match here though which would have had the crowds going nuts six years later or so.

Mysterio dives over the top to take down Adams post match for no apparent reason.

Pat O’Connor Memorial Tag Team Tournament Quarter-Finals: Royal Family vs. Mr. Saito/Great Muta

Muta and Saito are the #2 team and obviously are from Japan. The Royal Family are the #7 seed, from New Zealand, and comprised of Rip Morgan and Jack Victory. Morgan actually is from New Zealand while Victory is most famous for his time in Texas and ECW. Muta and Victory start things off with no one being able to get an advantage. Victory gets a shoulder block to take Muta down, only to be sent to the ramp and hit with a big dive over the top by Muta.

We head back inside and it’s off to Saito vs. Morgan with Saito taking over with a clothesline and snap suplex. Back to Victory as the fans are silent for this yet again, other than when Muta is in there. Saito cranks on the arm until it’s back to Muta vs. Morgan with Muta hitting a big spin kick to take Rip down before working on the leg. Saito comes back in and loads up a Scorpion Deathlock of all things before Victory makes the save.

Jack kicks Saito in the back and the New Zealanders take over. Once on the floor, Saito is sent into the post but doesn’t seem to mind it too bad. Back inside and Morgan misses a middle rope legdrop and here’s Muta again for the handspring elbow. Everything breaks down and Morgan accidentally knocks Victory into a German suplex by Muta to send the Japanese team to the next round.

Rating: C-. The crowd reaction here explains the problem with the entire tournament: other than the Americans and Muta, the fans have almost no idea who these people are, and therefore they don’t care. Look at the match before this. The fans have no reason to care about any of these guys so they sit on their hands for five minutes while the guys have their matches. It makes for an odd show with decent to pretty good matches, which again isn’t what you want to see at Starrcade.

Pat O’Connor Memorial Tag Team Tournament Quarter-Finals: Victor Zanigev/Salman Hashimikov vs. Troy Montour/Danny Johnson

Montour and Johnson are the #6 seeded Canadians. I’ve never heard of either of them outside of this match, which makes me think that the rankings are even more bogus than I initially thought. The Soviets are the #3 seed and neither of them ever did anything of note in the United States. Hashimikov was the IWGP (New Japan’s top title) Heavyweight Champion earlier on in his career but that’s about it. Johnson is nicknamed Bull and is dressed like an American Indian. The Soviets are both very hairy men.

Victor and Johnson start things off with Victor (like I’m going to try to type their last names over and over again) easily taking him to the mat and putting him in a bow and arrow hold. Troy breaks it up and Danny tries a headscissors, only to have Victor spin around like a madman to escape. A belly to belly suplex gets two on Bull as it’s clear the Canadians have no chance in this. Off to Troy vs. Salman with the latter easily suplexing him down and putting on an armbar, to which Troy has no idea how to react. The match ends in a submission win for the Soviets but Troy doesn’t seem to get that.

Rating: D. Blame this one entirely on the Canadians. The Soviets needed to be in there with guys like the Steiners instead of two fat schmucks that are glorified jobbers. The Soviets were fun to watch out there, but they might as well have been wrestling cardboard boxes, which is a shame.

Here are the brackets after the first round:

Steiner Brothers

Konnan/Rey Mysterio

Great Muta/Mr. Saito

Victor Zanigev/Salman Hashimikov

Terry Taylor vs. Michael Wallstreet

Wallstreet is Mike Rotundo in a gimmick where he was managed by Alexandra York. The idea was she would use a computer to figure out the perfect strategy for Wallstreet to use and figure out how much time it should take Wallstreet to win. York has said that Wallstreet should need 8:32 or less to win the match so we have a clock counting down on the screen. Taylor starts out fast and knocks Wallstreet out to the floor, causing York to bring over papers for him to look at.

Back in and Taylor puts on a headlock to slow things down as we have seven minutes left on the clock. They get up again but Taylor hits a quick clothesline for a two count. Wallstreet puts on an armbar to slow things down again before catching a charging Taylor in a backbreaker for no cover. A vertical suplex gets no cover again but a legdrop does get two. Wallstreet puts on an abdominal stretch with an illegal grab of the ropes with four minutes to go.

The referee finally catches him and breaks the hold, followed by Wallstreet missing a dropkick. A backdrop puts Michael down again and there’s a knee drop to the face for two. Taylor gets another two off a belly to back suplex before hitting his Five Arm (get it?) but York puts Wallstreet’s feet in the ropes to break up the pin. Back up and Wallstreet hits a stun gun (flapjack into a clothesline on the top rope) and the Stock Market Crash (Samoan Drop) for the pin with 1:40 remaining on the clock.

Rating: D+. Again not much to see here, but Wallstreet’s gimmick was at least original. Fortunately for him it would only be around for a few more months as he would bail to the WWF and become IRS, a tax agent. Interestingly enough, it would be Taylor who would take his place in the York Foundation which would eventually add more members.

Motor City Madman/Big Cat vs. Skyscrapers

The Skyscrapers are Sid Vicious, a Horseman at the moment, and Dan Spivey, who are two monsters who liked to destroy people. The Madman and Big Cat went after Sid on a recent Clash of the Champions, so tonight it’s a reunion with Spivey to hurt the annoying guys. It’s a big brawl to start with the Madman being sent to the apron. A double backdrop puts Cat down and a double powerbomb ends the Madman after about a minute. Total and complete domination here.

The Skyscrapers don’t want to talk to Dangerously.

Sting says he’s ready for the Black Scorpion to be unmasked.

Ricky Morton/Tommy Rich vs. Fabulous Freebirds

The Birds are Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin and claim to be the greatest rock and roll band in the world, meaning they come complete with a roadie named Little Richard Marley. Morton is tagging with Rich here because Gibson has a bad knee injury. Morton and Garvin get things going and it’s Morton hitting dropkicks all around, knocking both Freebirds and Marley to the floor.

Off to Hayes as the fans are all over the Birds. Michael is immediately caught in an atomic drop and we go to the floor where Gibson hits Hayes in the back, allowing Morton to ram him into the post. Back in and Hayes misses a knee drop, allowing Morton to put on a Figure Four. The Birds break up the hold and bail to the floor as the stalling continues. Garvin wants to fight Rich, but Jimmy is quickly taken down.

Marley is brought in as the Birds get beaten up again. Back in and Hayes hits his great left hand on Rich, only to have his DDT blocked. Back to Morton vs. Garvin and Ricky starts cleaning house. Everything breaks down and Marley tries to come in off the top to break Morton’s leg, only to have Gibson shove him into Garvin instead. Jimmy goes after Marley, allowing Ricky to roll up Garvin for the pin.

Rating: D. This was a glorified comedy match and not much more. Apparently the Birds were the guys that injured Gibson’s leg in the first place so there was a story behind it. The problem is that the Freebirds are almost all talk and little substance, so their matches tended to be absolutely terrible. Not much to see here but it gave the fans a breather.

Post match the Freebirds beat up Marley until Morton and Rich make the save. The problem is that allows the Freebirds to clothesline Gibson down on the ramp.

Pat O’Connor Memorial Tag Team Tournament Semi-Finals: Steiner Brothers vs. Konnan/Rey Mysterio

Everyone here is a good guy. Rick and Konnan start with Konnan trying to take it to the mat for some reason. He manages to hook a modified Indian Deathlock but Rick easily escapes and brings in Scott. The younger Steiner (Scott) wants nothing to do with this wrestling stuff and powerslams Konnan half to death. Scott puts Konnan on his shoulders so Rick can bulldog him off the top for two, bringing in Mysterio while Konnan tries to remember what his name is. Scott easily takes Mysterio down as well before it’s back to Rick, who easily counters a rana into a powerbomb to pin Mysterio. Short and dominant.

Pat O’Connor Memorial Tag Team Tournament Semi-Finals: Victor Zanigev/Salman Hashimikov vs. Great Muta/Mr. Saito

Victor and Muta start things off and they do a fast paced technical sequence with neither being able to get an advantage. Victor grabs a quick German suplex for two and it’s off to the much larger Saito. The Russian immediately takes him down in an armbar but Saito pulls him up and brings in Salman for a power vs. power match.

Salman takes Saito down and puts on a Boston Crab but Muta kicks him in the back to break it up. Back to Victor and Saito immediately puts him in a Scorpion Deathlock but he lets it go very quickly. Salman suplexes Muta down a few times so it’s back to Saito vs. Victor with the former hitting a quick belly to back suplex to eliminate the Russians and go on to the finals.

Rating: D+. This show is filled with very short matches and it’s almost impossible to care about the majority of them since there’s almost no time for the matches to develop. This is another good example as the fans don’t care about most of the people in there (because the wrestlers are total strangers) and the match is only three minutes long, so why should the fans care at all?

Doom is ready for the Horsemen.

US Title: Lex Luger vs. Stan Hansen

Hansen is a crazy Texan who took the title from Luger in October in a big upset, ending Luger year and a half reign. This is a Texas lariat match, meaning you’re attached to your opponent by the wrist and you have to touch all four buckles. Hansen jumps Luger to start and hiptosses him down but Luger comes back with right hands of his own. Stan is fine with that and beats on Luger with the rope before choking away in the corner. Lex fires off more right hands and we head to the floor for choking with the rope.

Stan gets in a chair to Luger’s back before they head back inside to slug it out even more. This is much more of a fight than a match. A clothesline puts Hansen down and Luger goes for a cover out of instinct. Instead Luger goes to two straight corners but gets suplexed down before he can get to a third. Hansen wraps the rope around Luger’s neck and drags him around to touch some buckles before Lex breaks the momentum, ending the streak.

Tired of wrestling, Hansen throws the rope around Luger’s neck and tosses him over the top rope to hang him. Well when nothing else works, go for the murder I guess. Back in and Hansen drops an elbow before touching three buckles, only to have Luger pop up with a clothesline. Stan chokes away but they go back outside with Hansen being clotheslined down and sent into the post.

Back in and Luger starts dragging Hansen around but Stan holds back after the third buckle. Lex finally pulls away and gets the fourth buckle but the referee goes down at the same time. Another referee comes out as Hansen starts touching buckles with Luger tied around the throat again. Hansen gets a third buckle as the original referee is waking up. Stan knocks Luger out and touches the fourth buckle to retain the title.

Rating: D+. As usual, these matches become the same thing over and over again: one guy gets close and then momentum is stopped, meaning we have to keep going. Hansen being completely insane helped the match a lot and Luger was still insanely popular, so the crowd was into it. That didn’t stop the match from being rather dull though.

Scratch that result actually as the original referee says Luger got the fourth buckle and is the new champion.

Tag Titles: Doom vs. Arn Anderson/Barry Windham

Doom is defending (the WCW tag titles, which are newly formed as the NWA Tag Titles are a thing of the past) and this is a street fight, meaning anything goes. The champions have unmasked since last year and now have former referee Teddy Long as their manager. It’s a big brawl to start with Simmons slamming Windham on the ramp. Arn makes the save and whips Ron with a belt as I’m barely going to be able to keep track of what’s going on here. Windham suplexes Reed in the ring for two as Simmons whips Anderson with a belt.

Reed hits Barry in the face as Anderson hits Simmons in the knee with a chair. Now Barry goes face first into the post and is busted open. Windham comes back with a belly to back suplex on the floor as Anderson is whipping Ron back near the ring. At least they’re all near each other now. Everyone but Reed gets in the ring now with Windham pounding on Simmons with a belt around his fist. Now Barry gets a chair to blast Simmons in the shoulder as Ron is taking a beating.

On the floor, Reed sends Arn into the barricade as Simmons hits a BIG spinebuster on Windham for two. Reed is back in now to pound on Windham as everyone is finally in the ring at the same time. Simmons gorilla presses Anderson down but Barry hits Ron low as he goes up top. There’s Barry’s superplex finisher but Simmons kicks out at two. Now Butch goes up top for a shoulder block on Anderson, only to get caught in a DDT by Windham.

Anderson brings the chair back in but gets it shoved down onto his own head by Simmons for two. Reed chokes on Barry with the chair but Anderson makes the save and sends Reed to the floor. Anderson goes to the middle rope but Reed saves Simmons, allowing Ron to clothesline him out of the air. Windham blasts Reed and it’s a double pin as Barry pins Butch and Ron pins Anderson at the same time, which means Doom retains the belts.

Rating: A-. Great brawl here with a bad ending. This would lead to another rematch between the two teams with Doom retaining the titles once and for all. Still though, after everything else we’ve sat through tonight, this was a big breath of fresh air and a great fight. Doom would drop the titles in a few months and split up in March.

Both teams brawl up the ramp as the fight still isn’t over.

Pat O’Connor Memorial Tag Team Tournament Finals: Great Muta/Mr. Saito vs. Steiner Brothers

There’s a special guest Japanese referee. Dangerously picks the Japanese guys because they make better cars. Scott and Muta get things going with Muta firing off the kicks to take Scotty down. Scott comes right back with a rolling leg lock into a half crab which I didn’t think he was capable of doing. Off to Rick and the fans bark (I believe I’ve neglected to mention that his nickname was the Dog Faced Gremlin) on cue. Rick Steiner Lines Muta down and it’s off to Saito for a brawl.

Rick gets pounded down so he busts out a dropkick of all things followed by a HARD Steiner Line. Muta goes up top and gets crotched as he tries to come in, keeping the advantage in America. Saito bows in respect to Rick so he kicks Saito in the face. A BIG USA chant breaks out as Scotty gets the tag to face Muta. The Great one knocks Scott back into the corner and hits the handspring elbow but an attempt at a second one results in Muta’s face hitting Scott’s boot.

A belly to belly suplex gets two on Muta so it’s back to Saito. Scott fires off some hard right hands and a back elbow to the face before it’s off to Rick, who walks into a suplex. Saito and Rick collide to put both guys down (Ross: “That was like a Ford hitting a Honda.”) but it’s Muta in off the tag. Rick is sent to the floor where Saito can ram him into the post before Muta blasts Rick in the head with a bell.

Saito whips Rick into a hard clothesline from Rick as the Japanese are playing full on heels in this match, despite being gentlemen all night. Back in and Saito comes in off the middle rope with a shot to the ribs before it’s off to a choke. Saito keeps choking long enough for Muta to come in off the top with an elbow to Rick’s back. It’s back to Muta who walks into a Steiner Line and there’s the hot tag to Scott.

A tiger driver gets two on Muta as everything breaks down. Saito hits the Saito Suplex (modified belly to back) on Scott for two and the Japanese guys hit a spike piledriver for good measure. Rick breaks up the count but Muta is already posing. A blind tag brings in Rick, who comes in off the top with a sunset flip on Saito for the pin and the tournament championship.

Rating: B-. This wasn’t terrible but at the same time it didn’t work all that well. They were going with pure American patriotism to carry the match which worked well enough given the crowd reaction, but the wrestling was only decent. The Steiners winning was the right move, unless you wanted to have the Japanese guys cheat like nuts to win and set up a future title match between the teams. Still though, not bad.

The Steiners are presented with a very tall trophy and the O’Connor family is recognized. Rick and Scott dedicate the win to the troops in Saudi Arabia. This speech allows the cage to be constructed.

NWA World Title: Sting vs. Black Scorpion

Dick the Bruiser, a famously tough guy is guest referee. The Scorpion is just a guy in black pants, a black shirt and a black mask. Behind him are two more Black Scorpions in identical attire. There’s a fourth one is in a singlet instead of a black shirt. Now what looks like a spaceship/big pod lowers from the ceiling and the Scorpion’s voice comes over the speakers, saying this is the REAL Black Scorpion. The pod opens up and we see another Scorpion in the same attire with a silver cape. He’s average size and is a white man. If he loses tonight, the Scorpion must unmask.

Both guys are in the cage now and the Scorpion is a rather spry one. There’s the bell and we’re ready to go. They lock up with the four other Scorpions at ringside watching. Sting grabs a headlock but gets suplexed out of it with ease. An elbow drop misses and the fans start chanting the name of the man who is under the mask. I’ll save it for later in case you don’t know who it actually is. The Scorpion gets in a right hand to the ribs and pounds Sting down but Sting comes back with a hip toss. Pedestrian stuff so far.

A clothesline puts Sting down and a gutwrench suplex gets two. Fans are shouting the Scorpion’s name now. Off to a triangle choke by the Scorpion followed by some choking but the Bruiser won’t allow it. Back up and a hard whip into the corner has Sting in big trouble. An atomic drop sets up a clothesline in the corner on Sting and we hit a chinlock. The Scorpion has to wrestle a very basic style to hide his identity and it makes for a very boring match as a result.

Back up again and the Scorpion pounds on Sting’s face with lefts and rights but the champion fires back. The comeback is short lived though as Sting misses a cross body and hits the cage (first time it’s been a factor) to give the Scorpion two. They get back up and the Scorpion rakes Sting’s eyes to slow him down before ramming the champion into the cage. Sting is rammed into the cage a few more times before a piledriver gets two for the challenger.

Sting starts his comeback and pounds the Scorpion down, only to be rammed into the cage one more time. A bulldog out of nowhere puts the Scorpion down and the fans pop very loudly for their hero. There’s the Stinger Splash in the corner and the Scorpion goes down. The Scorpion Deathlock goes on but the Scorpion goes into the cage.

Sting rams him into the cage and rips the mask off to reveal….a silver mask. Sting pounds away even more and whips the Scorpion into the cage a few times before gorilla pressing him into the wall yet again. A jumping clothesline puts the Scorpion down and a top rope cross body retains the title.

Rating: D. This just did not work. As mentioned, the Scorpion had to wrestle a very generic style and it’s hard to buy a generic masked guy as having a real chance against the world champion. It was nearly fifteen minutes of choking and a few shots to Sting’s back before Sting’s comeback and win. The feud sucked leading up to the match though so why should I be surprised that the match sucked too?

Post match the other Scorpions come in but Sting and the Bruiser fight them off. They rip the Scorpions’ masks off (revealing various wrestlers from the international tag teams) but the real Scorpion is trying to escape. Arn Anderson and Barry Windham run out to beat up Sting as well while the other Scorpions hold the Bruiser back. The Scorpion beats on Sting with a chair but here are Z-Man and Ricky Morton to try to make the save. The Steiners come out with bolt cutters to cut the lock on the cage and make the save for Sting. Sting comes back and rips the mask off to reveal….Ric Flair of course. Who else could it have been?

Overall Rating: D. This show comes off like an engine that has a short in it. It keeps trying to start but then sputters and dies without ever getting going. The tournament matches just cripple everything here, as they last like five minutes at most until you get to the finals and then it’s nothing special. This was a terrible year for WCW and the booker (Ole Anderson) was fired literally about five minutes after the show went off the air. Nothing to see here other than the street fight, which unfortunately is rather short.


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