Ring Crew Reviews: Starrcade: The Essential Collection - Disc Two
Posted by Jack Bramma on 07.26.2012
Ric Flair and Lex Luger one more time, Sting takes on Vader, and Dusty Rhodes vs. Flair in the second installment of the Starrcade Essential Collection
• Scheduled Card:
19. NWA World Tag Team Championship: The Road Warriors vs. Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard (c).
18. Jushin “Thunder” Liger vs. Rey Mysterio.
17. Scaffold Match: The Rock 'n Roll Express vs. The Midnight Express.
16. NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Lex Luger vs. Ric Flair (c).
15. Eddie Guerrero vs. Shinjiro Ohtani.
14. NWA World Tag Team Championship: Sting & Dusty Rhodes vs. The Road Warriors (c).
13. King of the Cable Tournament Final: Sting vs. Big Van Vader.
12. NWA World Tag Team Championship: Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood vs. The Brisco Brothers (c).
11. NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Dusty Rhodes vs. Ric Flair (c).
10. WCW Cruiserweight Championship: Dean Malenko vs. Eddie Guerrero (c).
• #19. NWA World Tag Team Championship: The Road Warriors vs. Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard (c). Starrcade 87. This is in Chicago, the hometown of the LOD, so they are big faces here. Arn and Hawk to start. Arn talks trash so Hawk goozles him. Arn gets the knee up in the corner but gets press slammed off the top and he takes a breather early. JJ wants a timeout to talk strategy. JR says it's the LOD's destiny to win the belts. Back in, Arn grabs a headlock but Hawk takes him down and Arn bails out again. Arn drifts toward the wrong corner and talks trash with Ellering. JJ: “Don't worry about him, I'LL handle him.” Paul now wants some of JJ and that brings Animal over which brings Tully over and the ref has to play peacemaker. Tully now tags in and gets easily overpowered by Hawk and clotheslined down. He tries to take a breather but Animal PRESS SLAMS HIM BACK IN! Tully bails again and the crowd is eating this up. Tully tries taking a walk and Hawk chases him down and throws him back in. Hawk with a big dropkick for 2. Animal now tags in and Tully tries a crossbody off the top but Animal catches him and slams him down. He covers but Arn breaks it up. Tully tags Arn in and Arn is none too anxious to step in. JR: “Nothing can slow down the Road Warrions on this Thanksgiving 1987!” Arn with an up and over but gets clotheslined down by Animal easily. Tully in and he's taken out as well. JR puts over how the LOD are big time pumped because they have never held the NWA tag belts. Arn whispers some strategy to Tully. Back in, Arn runs into a bearhug and Tully is quick to come in for the double team. Nice little payoff for the whispering. Hawk no sells and comes back with clotheslines. He covers Tully NOT the legal man for 2. Hawk now press slams Tully into a bearhug from Animal. The LOD work the hold over and Animal takes him down with an inverted atomic drop. Tully tries some chops to come back and Animal no sells and clubs him around. Arn says THAT'S IT! IT'S GO TIME! HORSEMEN STYLE!
• Arn avoids a backdrop and bails. Animal gives chase but Arn cuts him off at the pass. He wants a piledriver but Animal backdrops him over. Animal now press slams Arn for REPS! Hawk decides he wants to showboat too and comes in to do the same to Tully but Arn clips the knee! WOOO! Tully starts putting the boots to the leg and drags him over to the heel corner. Arn wraps the leg around the ringpost and Hawk SELLS IT BY FALLING TO THE FLOOR! TULLY'S GOT A CHAIR! The ref is distracted and Tully TAKES OUT THE KNEE! Arn hits the DDT. That's IT, it's over. Arn covers for the 1, 2, 2 ½! Hawk with the emphatic kickout to a pop. Tully tries a Figure Four but Hawk counters to an ugly small package for 2. The Horsemen stay on the leg as Arn goes to the spinning toe hold. Hawk kicks him into the turnbuckle but Arn grabs the leg and prevents the tag. Tully in and now sinks in the F4. Arn now in and works a few covers for 2. Hawk counters a roll up with a low blow and tags in Animal. Animal with a dropkick on Arn and gets a head of steam but Tully pulls him to the floor. Tully now bumps the ref to the floor as well. Animal backdrops Arn to the floor. Tully is taken down with an ugly double clothesline that he doesn't bump for or wasn't expecting and then the second ref is bumped as well. The LOD hit the Doomsday Device on Arn and the ref recovers to count the 3 at 13:25 to crown new champs. Of course, that's not the real ending as the first ref recovers and says the LOD are DQ'ed for throwing Tully over the top. About as good as you're going to get out of the LOD for their part. Hit their power stuff, have some quality heels sell like hell for them but still come up short despite falling back on every trick in their book, clean win and put the belts on them. Except minus the last part and instead do a Dusty finish which SUCKS. Also some uncharacteristically lazy no-tagging by the heels right in front of the ref at times prevent this from being a classic. ***1/2
• #18. Jushin “Thunder” Liger vs. Rey Mysterio. Starrcade 96. Crowd chants USA for no one in particular, those xenophobic bastards. Rey is rocking some question mark tights which may be related to The Riddler given his comic book fandom. Liger overpowers to start. Rey decides to switch things up by shooting for a single and a takedown. He hooks Liger in an anchor hold only for Liger to counter to his own. Rey flips over and boots Liger down to escape. Liger blows over Rey with a shoulderblock and dropkicks him down. Liger with a slam to crickets. Liger with a hanging vertical suplex as Tenay mentions what a tough year he had including coming back from BRAIN TUMOR SURGERY ONLY TWO MONTHS LATER. Well, that settles it. Liger is one of the most badass dudes of all time. Liger with a chop and runs Rey into the turnbuckle. Liger with a headbutt and Rey is stumbling around like he's one of the Gulas boys. Liger with a flapjack to a mild applause. Liger with a BEAST WILDBOMB! Mysterio is FINISHED. Liger isn't satisfied with victory as he wants total global domination, because having brain surgery tends to make one reconsider life and one's goals. After coming back from that, you can't just settle for ordinary human achievements like pinning Rey Mysterio. Being no fan of inspirational stories, Rey comes back with a rana and the anti-Newtonian variation and takes himself and Liger out to the floor. Rey with the fakeout 619 to a pop. Rey now wants to suplex him back in but Liger has other ideas like living under a volcano on his own tropical island and suplexing Rey off the apron WITH AUTHORITY! Liger now with a WILD BOMB ON THE FLOOR! Tony showing his broadcasting chops wants to know if this kind of reckless disregard for human life is a sign that Liger is more “deliberate.” Dusty has to set him straight and tell him HELL NO, it means that Liger has clearly lost his mind after having brain surgeon and had his brain rewired into more of a megalomaniacal unstoppable fiend because he had those nerve endings in his brain related to sympathy and compassion REMOVED! Rey tries flying off the top but Liger swats him away and gives him a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Liger now hooks in the MEXICAN SURFBOARD!
• Dusty, Tony and crew speculate about whether Liger has gained any weight during the match as Liger, showing he's clearly more awesome than the entire planet throws Rey down into the mat with a pseudo monkey flip. Rey slides out of a suplex comes back with a German suplex and a standing moonsault for 1, 2, 2 ½. Dusty: “Rey reminds me of great teams, great---great games, and great athletes.” HULLY GULLY, TONY! Rey with a weak sauce DDT and an Arabian press for 2. Now, Dusty's ranting about the Dallas Cowboys and just generally being a dick to the rest of the crew. The broadcast team of Brain, Tony, and Dusty have the least chemistry of any commentators ever. Mysterio with a springboard dropkick that bowls over Liger. Rey now with a Camel Clutch. Rey releases the hold and heads up top but jumps off into a nice dropkick from Liger that sends Rey flying. Cover gets 1, 2, 2.7. Liger throws Rey overhead with a release German suplex. Liger now folds him up with a half crab. Rey grabs the ropes. Liger now with a DSLW and Rey's leg is toast. Liger manhandles him into the corner and follows with the ROLLING BOOT OF FEAR! Recy counters a whip and comes back with a monkey flip and a spinwheel kick. Liger avoids another rana but Rey comes off the top with a headscissors. Liger baseball slides out to the floor but Rey dropkicks him off the apron and follows out with a quebrada. Back in, Rey springboard guillotine legdrops Liger in from the apron. Cover gets nothing as Liger is in the ropes. Liger rolls under another legdrop attempt. Liger heads up top and heads the diving headbutt. He covers for the 1, 2, 2.9. Rey tries springboarding in from the apron and Liger knocks him to the floor. Rey tries a springboard rana off the top but Liger lands on his feet(!) showing that he does not even follow the laws, correction the theory of gravity. He forward roll kicks Rey down again. Liger now with the Ligerbomb to end it at 14:17. In terms of entertainment value, this was all Liger, with Rey just there, and the commentary crew actively stinking out the joint. At this point in my viewing as a fan, I just have little patience for a plethora of lucha moves and really gravitate more toward Liger's badass ownage of a smaller Rey much like Dragon did Rey back at WW3 96. ***1/2
• #17. Scaffold Match: The Rock 'n Roll Express vs. The Midnight Express. Starrcade 87. Cornette is rocking a SWEET red sequined jacket with matching pants and a tennis racket cover. Pre-match, Big Bubba takes out Morton with a Bossman slam. The others are already at the top so it becomes a 2-on-1 match basically. Stan sends Gibson into the handrail and goes to the BLATANTCHOKE. Bubba now tries climbing up to make it three on one but Morton no sells and steals the racket from Cornette and waffles him down as the place LOSES IT. Morton climbs up and gives Bobby a few racket shots. Gibson blades on whatever and hits a few boots to come back. Beautiful Bobby now throws a bag of flour into Morton's eyes and Gibson as well. The MX team up on Gibson but he fights them off. Eaton eats another racket shot from Morton. Morton is all “THAT WAS THE WRONG BAG OF WHITE STUFF, ASSHOLE!” Gibson tries a choke but Bobby pounds him down from behind. Bobby now steals the racket back and waffles Morton with it. Gibson comes back by tearing off part of the handrail and waffling him. Cornette throws the racket back up to Bobby for more pounding on Gibson. Morton and Lane tease a drop off the edge. Gibson now sends Bobby reeling with a racket shot, if by reeling you mean standing in one spot and falling down immediately so as not to fall 20 feet to your presumed death over the edge. Stan starts swinging back and forth and drops down to the ring. Morton now with a racket shot on Bobby. They all hold each other in place so no one makes a mistake. Eaton gets to the underside and hangs off before being kicked off to end it at 9:55. Best part of the match was the phantom blade job, the Bossman slam, the chalk powder, and Cornette's jacket if that tells you anything. It's just four guys trying to work sort of a brawl on a metal platform that's MAYBE two feet wide about 20 feet above the ring. Not a lot you can do other than try not to die and tease the sickos with attempted manslaughter for a few minutes before you take it home. Not my forte. * but the crowd was into it.
• Post-match, Bubba goes up for some mano-y-mano combat with Morton. Morton with a low blow and runs away and this makes him a face somehow, probably because Bubba looks like an idiot.
• #16. NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Lex Luger vs. Ric Flair (c). If Flair is DQ'ed, he loses the belt. All of the crew play this as a major feather in Luger's cap which will prevent a repeat of the GAB. Hmm, I mean yeah, except Luger lost due to a getting a nic on his forehead NOT due to interference and Flair wasn't DQ'ed. Luger is ultra babyface here but there's still an undercurrent of boos for him and cheers for Flair. Lex might be in the best shape of his life, at least aesthetically at this point. JR says Luger is down 13 lbs due to an improved diet and to match Flair's endurance.
• Flair avoids a backdrop and struts. WOOOOOOOOOOOO! Flair hits the kneeling front double bi and says he's smarter than Luger. HIGH FIVE TO JJ! WOOOO! Flair again avoid a backdrop. WOOOO! Luger decides ENOUGH IS ENOUGH AND IT'S TIME TO A CHANGE and clotheslines Flair to the floor. They trade hammerlocks but Flair gets the ropes. Flair talks trash some more but Luger isn't scared. Luger with a shoulderblock and Flair begs off to the corner again. Luger no sells some chops but now Flair with the shoulderblock. Luger with a leapfrog and a powerslam. He sends Flair off and hits a press slam. Flair is DONE! Luger covers but Flair is in the ropes and then hobbles around trying to avoid Luger. Luger works a wristlock and launches Flair into the turnbuckle. Flair tries a chop but Luger no sells and Flair takes a breather. Luger wants to chase but Tommy Young holds him off. Flair sells another whip but diving into the turnbuckle and then flops down. Luger jumps on him with a hammerlock and torques the hold. Flair elbows out but runs into a shoulderblock. Luger with another and hiptosses Flair. Flair with a thumb to the eye to come back.
• Flair uses the break to recover and then chops Luger some more. Luger no sells and is FIRED UP! Flair bails and runs Luger around the ring. Flair tries to talk a walk and now Luger hammerlocks him AROUND THE GUARDRAIL! Tommy Young showing a LOT of patience here. Luger sends Flair into the ringpost. Why not DQ the face? Because he's the face. Back in, Luger goes back to the arm. Flair gets the ropes but Luger is reluctant to break the hold. Flair with a shoulderblock and ducks a clothesline only to eat a LEFTY LARIATO from Luger. Cover gets 1, 2, 2 ½. Luger with a hanging vertical suplex for 1, 2, 2.7. Luger whiffs on the elbow drop and sells the arm a bit. Flair with a burrito and shitcans Luger. Flair bumps Young out of the way and sends Luger into the guardrail. Young is giving him an earful but NOT DQ'ing him. Flair does it again and Luger goes down in a heap. Flair gets into a shoving match with Young and Young talks trash back. Look, we all know Flair's going to retain somehow here, so rather than run with the identical Flair-Luger of every other one, why not have the stips actually bottle Flair up and allow him to show some range? Luger should be kicking Flair's ass even MORE than usual, because Flair shouldn't be touching Young or using the guardrail at all or his usual stand-bys because he should be terrified of getting disqualified. There should be an entire sequence of spots where Luger gets to shine because Flair CAN'T CHEAT! Instead, this is the same match as last time basically.
• ANYWAY, Flair with a knee drop and a double foot stomp on Luger. Flair with more chops and forearms. Luger no sells and does the Bolo Yeung pec dance. Luger comes back with right hands and goes to the sleeper. Flair counters out with a back suplex. Flair wants the Figure Four but Luger counters with a small package for 1, 2, 2.7. Flair heads up top but Luger brings him back down with a superplex to a big pop. Cover gets 1, 2, 2.9! Luger now puts the F4 on Flair. Flair reaches for the ropes and gets them but Tommy Young kicks his hand free. What the hell is that all about? Must be some discretion the other way for Flair's cheating on the outside earlier. Now, Flair grabs the ropes with BOTH hands and Young calls for a break. Luger with rights in the corner but accidentally elbows Young in the process. Flair shitcans Luger out. Luger no sells and comes back with a crossbody for 1, 2, 2.9! Luger backslides Flair for 1, 2, still only 2. Luger mounts in the corner for the 10 and then Flair falls down flipping out of a whip in the corner. Luger with another suplex on Flair for 2.
• Luger Hulks up and no sells some chops. JR: “You can't measure someone's heart in the weightroom. You either got it or you don't.” Luger with a press slam and a powerslam. Luger now calls for the Rack. JJ's distraction allows Flair to take another breather. Flair trips up Luger and waffles his leg with a chair while Young is occupied still with JJ. Crowd is SHOCKED AND APPALLED at Flair's breaking of the rules. They point at Flair and try to tell Young what happened. Flair now drives down on the knee and Luger sells it like a shot deer. AWESOME! JR wants to know if the NWA has an orthopedic specialist on call. Flair WOOOOOs at Young while Luger writhes in pain. Flair boots the knee AGAIN and drops a knee on the knee. Back to the F4! MY GOD! THIS MAN HAS A FAMILY! WILL SOMEONE STOP THE DAMN MATCH! Crowd chants for Luger and the building is shaking at its foundation. Luger won't give up so Flair smacks him around. Luger no sells, Hulks up and turns it over! Flair manages to break it up as Luger can't even stand up. Flair goes back to the leg and targets the knee with another knee. Flair goes up top but Luger press slams Flair off the top WITH ONE LEG! Luger collapses after the slam and can't walk. JR: “HE'S CRAWLING TO COMPETE WITH THE WORLD'S CHAMPION!” Luger no sells a Stun Gun and press slams Flair again. Flair throws him back out but Luger comes back in with a sunset flip for 1, 2, 2.99! Flair with a burrito but Luger no sells and poses again. Luger mounts in the corner for another 10 punches. Luger with a clothesline for 1, 2, still only 2. Luger with a powerslam and calls for the Rack. Luger gets Flair up and RACKS HIM! BUT HIS LEG BUCKLES! FLAIR FALLS ON TOP AND GETS THE FEET ON THE ROPES FOR THE 1, 2, 3 TO RETAIN AT 30:59.
• Match finally shifts into a high gear, story and sympathy-wise once Flair takes out Luger's leg with a chair and Flair goes in for the kill like a maniac and JR sells Luger's heart and soul on commentary like no other. But there still isn't enough of Flair getting his ass kicked and showing him to be a trapped man that HAS to resort to the cheating to win. In fact, the first half of the match is pretty even with Luger's power stuff working some but Flair keeps up for the most part with chops, forearms, and stalling. Still, that's probably the best match of the series so far with the most satisfying ending. ****1/4
• #15. Eddie Guerrero vs. Shinjiro Ohtani. Starrcade 95. This is part of the World Cup of Wrestling. Dusty says this match is “pivotable” in the WCW/NJPW series. Crowd chants for Eddie and he soaks it in. What's pretty awesome about this encounter is that these two were used to working the complete opposite over in Japan where Eddie was heel as Black Tiger II against Ohtani at times and some guy named Wild Pegasus (that's Chris Benoit). Ohtani with a wristlock takedown and grabs the wristlock. Eddie tries getting up so Ohtani takes him down by the hair and grabs a rear chinlock with a FISHHOOK! A lock up takes them into the ropes where Ohtani rakes the eye like a sneaky bastard. Ohtani goes for a DSLW but Eddie comes back with an enzuigiri. Eddie with a snapmare and grinds the face. Ohtani shoots for a single leg and a crab. Eddie counters under with a hammerlock and into a rear chinlock. Slick. They both counter through some backdrop and monkey flip attempts but Eddie counters a flapjack with a rana and Ohtani takes a breather. Back in, Eddie with a dropkick and a slam. Eddie flies in with the awesome slingshot senton and now wants a Boston crab. Eddie locks it in and then switches to a half crab. Ohtani gets the ropes. Eddie folds him up with a WILDBOMB! Cover gets 1, 2, 2 ½. Eddie with a brainbuster and now Ohtani is trashed. Cover gets 1, 2, --foot on the ropes. Eddie with a Ho Train in the corner and sends Ohtani across as Dusty talks about how Ohtani has “bells in his head, HIS BELL!” Ohtani steals the Flair Flip to avoid a charge and springboards back in with a dropkick that sends Eddie to the floor. Ohtani follows out with a springboard plancha. Back in, Ohtani with a dropkick and now just chokes Eddie for a bit. Brain tries to improve the commentary by asking Dusty how he would feel in Eddie's shoes and Dusty quips, “I'd feel like I'd lost a lot of weight.”
• Ohtani goes back to the Steiner Recliner with the fishhook. Ohtani now goes to the Sleeper. Eddie counters out with a Backdrop Driver. Delayed cover gets 2. Ohtani slides out of another and counters to the PERFECT GERMAN SUPLEX! Bridge gets 1, 2, 2.9. Ohtani with a springboard spinwheel kick and heads up top to mild boos. Eddie fights back by crotching him and hitting a rana off the top. Eddie celebrates first and the delayed cover gets only 2. Eddie with a sitout Razor's Edge (Splash Mountain)! Cover gets 1, 2, 2.9. Ohtani rolls under into a kneebar which Dusty calls an “Uncler” in one of the great Dusty-isms ever even if this commentary sucks and almost kills the DVD. Eddie gets the ropes but Ohtani won't release it. Ref threatens him a few times before Ohtani finally releases after a 14 count or some shit. Brain now pleads Ohtani's case – “this poor gentleman who probably doesn't speak English” – and says he needs a grace period and a count of at least 30 to 35 seconds to break holds. Awesome. Eddie no sells and throws Ohtani to the floor and into the guardrail. Eddie with a springboard crossbody to the floor. Back in, Ohtani suplexes Eddie down. Ohtani with a springboard dropkick RIGHT to Eddie's head. That looked SICK. Ohtani wanting to be clear and not get lost in translation uses the throat slash to EACH OF THE FOUR SIDES OF THE ARENA to tell them it's over. Ohtani wants the Dragon Suplex but Eddie shoves him away and comes back with a rana. Ohtani rolls through and covers for 1, 2, 2.9! Eddie now rolls him up for 1, 2, 2.99! Ohtani with another for 1, 2, 3 to win it at 13:44. Awesome finishing sequence. One of the only times I can ever think of someone actually getting a 3 count off a series of roll ups and reversals even though it is completely logical for a match to end that way. Good for them. This was kind of slow in-between some nice suplexes with the crowd exercising their right to sit on their hands, but some crafty matwrestling early and Ohtani heeling it make this work for me. ***1/4
• #14. NWA World Tag Team Championship: Sting & Dusty Rhodes vs. The Road Warriors (c). Starrcade 88. LOD are heel here. Animal and Sting to start. Sting uses his quickness to avoid a shot in the corner. Animal with a shoulderblock but Sting leap frogs over him and dropkicks him out. Animal takes a breather. Sting works the arm and tags in Dusty. Dusty with some rights and goes to the Mandible Claw and Animal takes another breather to avoid. Hawk in now and eats some Dusty elbows. Sting in and he goes to the biting wristlock just to be a dick. Hawk gouges the eye and comes back with rights and stomps a mudhole in the corner. Sting comes back with a right hand and Hulks up. Sting with a powerslam and an elbow drop. Animal tags in and hits a press slam on Sting to a mixed reaction. Animal with another press slam into a hotshot but Sting no sells and comes back with clotheslines. Animal tries taking another breather but Sting follows out with a splash. Sting is fired up and the crowd is too for Stinger. Dusty in and wraps Animal's knee a few times around the ringpost. Hawk in and he wants a test of strength but Dusty, the face, avoids it with a boot to the gut and an UGLY Figure Four. Thankfully, Animal comes in to end that trash and then he flips off Sting which ignites the powder keg. Hawk dumps Dusty out to the floor for some BLATANTCHOKING. Back in, Hawk with a dropkick as Dusty “sells” by just lying there and putting his hand on his head like the sun is in his eyes. Dusty now sells some right hands by no selling and actually using the punches to rhythmically sway his body into some dancing. Dusty completely ignores some more punches to hit a dropkick and THEN Dusty just falls down comically. Animal rolls in to bite his forehead and wrench the neck. Hawk tags in with more rights and a Sleeper. Dusty contemplates selling but instead switches to a jawbreaker. NECESSITY IS THE MOTOR OF INVENTION, sayeth JR. Apparently, it's also the motor of giving your opponents shit. Hot tag to Sting and he cleans house with a bulldog on Animal. Sting avoids a blind charge and dropkicks Animal into the corner and hits a Stinger Splash. Crowd wants the Deathlock and Sting hooks it in but Hawk quickly breaks it up and shitcans Sting. They try double-teaming Dusty but he hits a low blow and Sting comes off the top with a crossbody for 1, 2,--Paul Ellering takes out the ref who promptly DQ's the LOD at 11:19. Well to hell with that finish on a blowoff match at your seminal PPV. Only Dusty could get away with that hosejob on the Road Warriors. Match was nothing special and I much prefer the LOD as faces as their aura lends them too much magnitude to really work as heels and part of the crowd was cheering them anyway. **1/4
• #13. King of the Cable Tournament Final: Sting vs. Big Van Vader. Starrcade 92. Vader lets Sting know that he aint shit at the bell and that it's VADER TIME! Vader piefaces Sting away like he's nothing. Vader no sells some rights. NO PAIN! Jesse: “Right now, if this were football, you'd consider punting.” Vader with a bodyslam and he poses. Vader with another easy bodyslam and he talks trash. Sting tries a charge because he's pissed and runs into a standing Ho Train. Vader now with a press slam and just THROWS STING INTO THE TOP ROPE! Vader now with ANOTHER throw to the other side of the ring and even Sting is bailing now. Jesse: “If Sting were smart, he'd take the countout and come back later for the Battlebowl.” JR: “Sting is NOT a quitter.” Jesse: “But sometimes, it's SMART to be a quitter... to win the ultimate championship at the end.” Back in, Sting ducks a few rights and hits a Capo kick or a “martial arts maneuver” if you're JR. Sting with a dropkick and he gets Vader off his feet. Sting now with a BEAAAAAAAAAAAST German Suplex and he Cactus Clotheslines Vader TO THE FLOOR! Crowd is RUMBLING. Vader takes off his headgear to talk strategy with Harley Race as he can't believe it. Sting senses an opportunity and flies out with a plancha on both. This is awesome so far. Just incredible. Back in, Vader with some crossfaces but misses a charge in the corner and Sting armdrags him down. Sting goes for a Stinger Splash but eats boot in the corner. Sting comes back with a DDT to a big reaction. Sting now picks Vader up(!) and puts him on the top rope and gives him a hybrid DDT/superplex off the top. Sting covers for 2. He hooks Vader in the Scorpion Deathlock but Vader makes the ropes. Vader rolls to the floor to regroup and Sting tries to sneak up on him with a Stinger Splash but Vader moves and Sting eats rail and the crowd audibly GASPS in fear for his safety. Jesse: “He should have kept him in the ring, Ross. He let his ego get in the way!” Back in, Sting barely beats the count and is basically out of it. JR starts talking about the ref ending the match to save Sting's career as Vader hits a short arm clothesline. Vader with a Ho Train and a BIG VADERLINE!
• Vader goes to the BLATANTCHOKE just to be a dick before covering for 1, 2, 2 ½. Vader with hard right hands and a back suplex. Vader with a splash for 1, 2, 2.7. Vader with a chinlock into an ab stretch and then just clotheslines the hell out of Sting. Cover gets 1, 2, 2.7. Sting blocks another and gets a desperation backslide for 1, 2,--only 2. Sting now with a sunset flip but Vader tries to drop down only for Sting to slide out of the way. Vader just unleashes on Sting with some rights and boots. Sting counters a headlock with a back suplex as it's nip and tuck all the way here. Vader recovers first because Sting is out of it and Vader covers for a 2 count. Jesse: “That's got to be depressing as hell when you do the move, and the other guy gets up first.” YES! Sting wants no part of Vader and actually HIDES in the corner and just covers up to avoid getting his ass kicked further. Sting stumbles out of the corner and collapses in a heap. Vader with more brutal forearms and puts Sting up top. Sting gets a third wind and knocks Vader off the top but because he's taken such a beating, he just falls of the top himself and can barely get to his feet. Vader with just a flurry of CLUBBINGBLOWS and unlike usual, these really are clubbing as I'm surprised Sting isn't partially deaf from all the damage to his ears. JR talks about the possibility that Vader will punch himself out. Vader sends Sting off and Sting comes back with a few discus punches that take down the big man. Sting with a Samoan drop on Vader and now he heads up top hits a big splash for 1, 2, 2.9! Harley Race distracts and that allows Vader to DESTROY Sting with a crossface from behind. Vader with a ChokeSlam and says it's over. Vader with a BIG splash but isn't satisfied and wants another. Vader leaps off the top into a powerslam from Sting for 1, 2, 3 to end it at 17:24. I'm a sucker for David-Goliath stories especially when executed as near perfectly as this way. I wasn't a huge fan of how Sting seemed to just decide it was time to come back with discus punches rather than their being some underlying logic to a comeback that deep in the match like there was with the finish of using Vader's momentum off the top against him. Still really awesome with Vader being one of the most realistic guys at looking like he can kick your ass (even if he really was a teddy bear at heart). ****1/2
• #12. NWA World Tag Team Championship: Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood vs. The Brisco Brothers (c). Starrcade 83. Rick and Jack to start. Jack poses for the crowd off a clean break which pisses off Steamboat. Steamboat with a few leapfrogs and goes for a chop but Jack grabs the ropes to avoid. Jerry tags in and goes to work on the arm of Steamboat. Steamboat with a drop toe hold and Jack quickly tags in to avoid the beatdown on his brother. Jack grabs a hammerlock but Ricky flips over and armdrags him down. Jerry now tags back in. Jerry gives a few lefts rather than give a clean break. Special guest ref Angelo Mosca tears him away from Steamboat to a pop for the break. Jerry tells Steamboat to bring it on. Jerry with a shot to the gut and sends Steamboat into the turnbuckle. Steamboat counters another attempt and comes back with a couple of emphatic chops. Youngblood in and goes to a lying headlock on Jerry. Jerry gets a break in the corner and wants Youngblood to come on. Youngblood grabs a wristlock and Jerry tries bodyslamming his way out but Youngblood stays on the arm and rolls through. Awesome. Steamboat tags back in and hits a DRAGON HAMMER off the top. Youngblood now with a shot off the top and knocks Jack off the apron so that Jerry can't tag out. This is all a bit theatrically oversold by The Briscoes. Jack tags in with some rights and a hotshot on the top rope. Jerry drops a knee and goes to a headlock. Steamboat elbows out and shoulderblocks Jerry down. Jerry comes back with a backdrop and a butterfly suplex for 2. Jerry goes into a high bridge to work some covers. Steamboat escapes but runs into a hiptoss and Jerry goes back to an armlock. Steamboat stands up out of it nicely and suplexes Jerry down. Jerry tries to cut off the hot tag but RICKY STEAMBOAT WILL NOT BE DENIED! Youngblood in and throws Jack into the turnbuckle and chops him down. Jack blocks a vertical suplex and hits one of his own. The Briscoes blow through Youngblood with a double shoulderblock for 2. Jerry with a suplex for 2. Jerry now goes to into an ab stretch and bridges it into a 2 count. Jerry wants to protest a fast count and Mosca waffles him allowing Youngblood to tag in Steamboat. Ricky cleans house with a double chop on Jerry and a burrito. The faces with a double chop and an assisted dropkick. Steamboat press slams Youngblood down on Jerry to win it at 12:22. Jack, however, won't take that lying down and shitcans Youngblood and throws Mosca into the ringpost like a boss. They put Steamboat in the Figure Four and go to work but Mosca recovers and catches Jack flying off the top rope but loses his balance and they both wipe out. Youngblood back in and now the faces clear the ring much to the crowd's enjoyment. Another average formula match but nothing I'd go out of my way for unless you've never seen The Briscoes work before. Crowd as usual for an 80s NWA crowd was into everything. **1/2
• #11. NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Dusty Rhodes vs. Ric Flair (c). Starrcade 85. This is a return match of sorts from the previous year where the match was stopped by Smokin' Joe Frazier due to a cut on Dusty. Dusty struts and shakes his ass to a pop. Rather than break clean, they slug it out in the corner and Dusty smacks Flair around like a bitch to HUGE pops. Flair bails to take a breather. Dusty no sells some chops and elbows Flair down. Flair tries a leap frog to avoid and Dusty elbows him again and we take another breather. Back in, Dusty slides under with a hammerlock. SUPER REVERSAL BY THE DREAM! Dusty works the hold for a bit but Flair gets the ropes and ALMOST gets a piece of Dusty's leg and he quickly backs off from that wanting no part as Dusty had earlier been attacked by Tully and Arn and needed surgery on that very leg. Flair with some rights and chops in the corner and I have to comment on the camerawork here as JCP must have got some production upgrades but no producer worth his salt because they seem to think everything has to be a close-up. Flair with a snapmare and drops a knee for 1. Flair gives Dusty one kick to the leg and Dusty sells it like death and rolls out of the ring and over the guardrail to REALLY lay it on thick. Back in, Dusty with some elbows and then boots the hell out of Flair's leg across the apron. Dusty gestures to the crowd that he's going to break it and they pop like he's Elvis. Dusty drops an elbow on the knee and grapevines it. Dusty postures for the crowd and drops another elbow on it but Flair gouges the eye. WOOOOO! Flair tries a suplex but his leg buckles. Dusty instead suplexes Flair over and drops another elbow on the knee. Flair gets to his feet and sends Dusty off but eats a shoulderblock. Dusty tries another but Flair goes to the chinlock. Dusty dumps him into the turnbuckle and now pulls Flair over to the ringpost to wrap it around and then elbow it some more. Solid knee work from Dusty here and it's a nice inversion of the usual plan. Dusty with some chops on Flair and tries an elbow drop but whiffs. Flair heads up top but Dusty slams him off and wants a Figure Four but Flair boots him away and Dusty on the kickaway SELLS THE LEG! NICE!
• Flair with a chop and IMMEDIATELY wants the F4 but Dusty boots him away now. Flair tries again with the same result. Flair wants it again but Dusty smacks him away and hits a headbutt. Dusty whips Flair across and he flips out of the ring and down to the floor. Dusty sends him into the ringpost and the guardrail. Back in, Flair shitcans him to buy some time. Back in, Dusty heads up top and hits a crossbody for 1, 2, 2 ½. Ref was distracted hence the robbery. Dusty goes to the GnP and Flair has bladed probably from the work outside. Dusty with more elbows on the cut and mounts in the corner for the 10. Flair Flop follows to a pop. Dusty with the flip, flop, and fly. Flair flips on another whip and runs down the apron this time and tries coming off the top but Dusty counters with a shot to the gut. Dusty goes for a punt but Flair moves and Dusty kicks the turnbuckle. NO! NOT THE KNEE! Flair drops down on the knee and now he's doing the trashtalking. C'MON WOOOOOO! Flair drops a knee down on the injured leg and Dusty is in pain. Flair hooks in the Figure Four. Dusty essentially no sells the F4 to dance and roll it over. Well that's a shitty time for a no sell just to put over your gimmick. Flair with chops and forearms and Dusty no sells again and goes back to the elbows. Flair avoids a slam but Dusty comes back with a clothesline for 1, 2, 2.7. Dusty pulls Flair into the turnbuckle but they bump Tommy Young in the process. Dusty and Flair fight over a Figure Four. Dusty elbows him down and locks it in. BUT WAIT! THE HORSEMEN HAVE COME OUT! Dusty boots down Arn but Ole knees him from behind to turn the tide. Flair drapes the arm as another ref comes out for the for the 1, 2, 2.9! Flair goes for a slam but Dusty counters with a small package for 1, 2, 3 to crown a new champ at 22:06. Perfect knee psychology both ways, if you can get past Dusty's tendency to work in his gimmick at inopportune times even at the expense of the match's drama at times or just, ya know, cheat. It was nice to see Flair work a bit more face within the context match as he took a quiet a bit from Dusty before taking over at the 11th hour and then it was business as usual. Of course, the decision would be reversed on the inaugural Dusty finish due to the Horsemen interference. ****
• #10. WCW Cruiserweight Championship: Dean Malenko vs. Eddie Guerrero (c). Starrcade 97. Eddie hides behind the ref to start and taunts the pissed off Malenko as Tony rambles on about Hogan and Sting in the main event. Eddie attacks from behind and gets a waistlock TD. Dean escapes out and goes to the GnP. Eddie avoids and complains that he was having his hair pulled. Malenko gets Eddie again and sends him into the turnbuckle but Eddie counters by raking the eye down the ropes. Dean with a leg lariat for 2. Dean with a hanging vertical suplex and more GnP. They go through a couple of waistlock reversals and tie up in the knuckle lock as Eddie tries to springboard into a rana but Dean sends him down with a counter Low Down powerbomb. Nice. Eddie kicks him at 2 so Dean SPIKES HIM DOWN WITH AN ALABAMA SLAM! Cover gets 2 again. After some more covers, Eddie comes off the ropes into a powerslam for 2. Eddie tells Dean to bring it on and that he ain't shit. Dean tries to run him down so Eddie takes a breather to boos. Holy Hell, Tony manages to segue “outside the ring” to an Outsiders press release earlier in the day. JUST CALL THE MATCH! Back in, Eddie with a chop block and some chops. Eddie pokes the eye and grinds the boot on the face. Eddie gestures to the front row for BIG heel heat. Dean blocks some stuff and hangs Eddie out to dry on the ropes. Dean with a right hand for 2. Dean goes to the headscissors resthold. Eddie gets the ropes but Dean sends him sky high with the flapjack. Eddie begs off and actually kisses Dean's boot(!) to show he's genuine. Awesome. EDDIE! EDDIE! That's me, not the crowd.
• Dean ignores and dropkicks him down. Eddie takes another breather. Back in, Dean wins a test of strength and hits another dropkick. Eddie tries a tornado DDT but Dean again avoids and hotshots him into the turnbuckle and hits a back suplex for 2. Sorta odd how slow they are moving and Dean is actively pausing at moments like he's blown up. Eddie slides out of a suplex and hangs him over the top rope. Eddie elbows the leg some more and slingshots to the floor by pounding the leg nicely. Eddie wraps the knee around the ringpost a couple times. Eddie then dropkicks the ringstairs into the leg into the ringpost! NIIIIIIIIIIIICE. Dusty: “I'd say Eddie right now has got the advantage as far as the Texas Cloverleaf goes, but the Man of 1000 Holds probably got some more he can put on him.” Back in, Eddie with a WILD BOMB for 1, 2, 2.7. We get shots of Ultimo Dragon and Greg Valentine in the audience and Tony explains it as a show of WCW unity for other wrestlers wanting to see Sting beat Hogan. That's pretty awesome if WCW actually booked it that way. Eddie goes for the spinning rana but Dean counters to a Wheelbarrow suplex. Dean gets Eddie into the fireman's carry and spins him around for the backbreaker for 2. Dean avoids a charge in the corner. They jockey for position up top and Dean headbutts Eddie off the top but lands on his bad leg on the way down and the leg buckles. Dean still manages a roll for 2 but Eddie gets the ropes. Dean with a powerbomb and wants the Cloverleaf but Eddie boots the knee. Eddie goes for a dropkick but eats it to the floor. Eddie comes off the top with a dropkick TO THE KNEE! Eddie heads up top for a Frog Splash ON THE KNEE AS WELL! YES! Cover gets 1, 2, 3 to end it at 14:57. While this is a good match with high impact moves galore and some nice psychology with the knee, something seemed up with Dean. Ordinarily I'd file it under good selling (which maybe it was), but he just seemed kind of lethargic during Eddie's stuff and not really selling the knee, more like just going through the motions unenthusiastically. Can't put my finger on it, but I suspect we didn't get Dean's best match that night even if it was still pretty damn good. ***3/4
The 411: Any series that includes at least one Sting-Vader match is good by me.