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NWA/WCW StarrCade 1990 Review (Scorpion No More)

Welcome everyone to my review of StarrCade 1990, the very final PPV of the NWA’s association of WCW. The NWA would part ways with Ted Turner’s company in January 1991, and from there it would be known simply as ‘World Championship Wrestling’ (WCW). This show features a title-for-mask cage match in the main-event between Sting and The Black Scorpion, a Texas Lariat (Bullrope) Match for the US title between Lex Luger and Stan Hansen, Doom and the Horsemen in a tag team street fight and much more.

Here is the list of champions in the NWA/WCW heading into this show:

  • NWA World Heavyweight Champion: Sting [champion since July 7th 1990 – previous champion: Ric Flair]
  • NWA United States Heavyweight Champion: Stan Hansen [champion since Oct. 27th 1990 – previous champion: Lex Luger]
  • NWA World TV Champion: ‘Z-Man’ Tom Zenk* [champion since Dec. 4th 1990 – previous champion: Arn Anderson]
  • NWA World Tag Team Champions: Doom (Ron Simmons & Butch Reed) [champions since May 19th 1990 – previous champions: The Steiners)
  • NWA United States Tag Team Champions: The Steiners (Rick & Scott Steiner) [champions since Aug. 24th 1990 – previous champions: The Midnight Express)

*Zenk’s title win was yet to air on TV

Enjoy the review!

IMG credit: WWE & culturecrossfire.com

The hosts are Jim Ross & Paul E. Dangerously
Live from St. Louis, MO

‘Beautiful’ Bobby Eaton vs. ‘Z-Man’ Tom Zenk
Classic Wrestling - Bobby Eaton vs Z-Man - Starrcade '90 - video Dailymotion
IMG credit: WWE

JR notes on commentary that Zenk was in the middle of a 35 match winning streak, and as you saw a moment ago he was even able to upset Horseman Arn Anderson to capture the TV belt. They feel each other out to start until Zenk lands on his feet as Eaton tries a monkey flip and Zenk starts running wild with a series of dropkicks. Eaton kills off that comeback and dumps Zenk. He tries a vertical suplex from the apron onto the ring, only for Zenk to reverse and suplex Eaton onto the ramp instead. Zenk then follows it up with a pescado to wake up the crowd. Eaton once again cuts off Zenk’s comeback and hits the Alabama Jam. He hits a neckbreaker and goes for yet another Alabama Jama, only to eat a superkick instead. Zenk follows it up with a missile dropkick but Eaton moves out of the way and steals the win at 8:45.

  • Rating: Well so much for the 35 match winning streak right before winning the TV title on television. Zenk would only hold the title for a cup of coffee before dropping it back to AA in January anyway. Good little opener here, as Eaton was trying to find his footing without fellow Midnight Expressers Lane and Cornette. **3/4
Pat O’Connor Memorial Tag Team Tournament Quarter Final Match – The Steiners (Rick & Scott, representing USA) vs. Colonel DeKlerk & Sgt. Krueger (representing South Africa)

The South African team consists of Rocco Rock and Matt Borne (the future Doink the Clown), two VERY proud South Africans from Philadelphia and Texas, respectively. A complete extended workout for the Steiners here, as we get all the signature moves. DeKlerk briefly tries a comeback and hits a pescado on Rick that he completely ignores and just drops DeKlerk on the floor like he’s an annoying mosquito. Hot tag Scott for a tilt-a-whirl slam right into the Frankensteiner for the easy win at 2:12.

  • Rating: Complete squash. The Steiners are cool though, so it’s a slightly better squash than usual. *1/2
Pat O’Connor Memorial Tag Team Tournament Quarter Final Match – Rey Misterio & Konnan (representing Mexico) vs. Chris Adams & Norman Smiley (representing the UK)

So yes, we’re actually going to get SIX pointless tournament matches (four quarter finals + two semi finals) all in the same night until we get to the SHOCKING Steiners win that nobody could see coming a mile away. Should have saved at least these quarter finals for TV, it’s going to be a LONG show… This is not the Rey you’re probably thinking of, by the way. It’s the original Rey, the uncle of the future WWE World Champ Rey Mysterio. I’m sorry about my lack of excitement for this, but this is just pure filler on PPV. They do some visually choreographed lucha while the English side works a more ground based style, which gets the crowd on their feet… to go get some nachos or something. In the end Rey literally has to remind Adams to charge him so he can move out of the way, while Konnan puts Smiley away with a suplex at 5:29… and then Rey dives at Adams after the bell. Weird.

  • Rating: I didn’t care about this at all. Add in the fact that it was really sloppy at a few points and the crowd wasn’t into any of it. It wasn’t horrible, just extremely unnecessary. *
Pat O’Connor Memorial Tag Team Tournament Quarter Final Match – The Great Muta & Mr. Saito (representing Japan) vs. Jack Victory & Rip Morgan (representing New Zealand)
IMG credit: WWE & keijimutohcentral.com

Muta gets a hero’s welcome, with him being a familiar face to this audience. Muta had been in the NWA the prior year and was a former TV Champion, having a memorable undefeated run that culminated with a feud with Sting. Which actually draws the question, since he had history with Sting: considering he’s available at this show in the first place, why not have HIM be the Black Scorpion? The Japanese dominate for most of the match, with Saito showcasing his suplexes and Muta running going through all his signature moves, which the crowd remembers and reacts to. Muta finishes Victory with a bridging German suplex at 5:41.

  • Rating: Quite similar to all the other quarter final matches, only this one has a face that the people recognize and therefore was more entertaining. Still, not much more than an extended workout to showcase the team that would eventually advance. *1/2
Pat O’Connor Memorial Tag Team Tournament Quarter Final Match – Salman Hashimikov & Victor Zangiev (representing Soviet Union) vs. Danny Johnson & Troy Montour (representing Canada)
IMG credit: WWE & alchetron.com

Note: Hashimikov was a pro wrestler for five years, most notably having one IWGP Heavyweight title run in 1989 after defeating non other than Big Van Vader himself. Before that, he won four gold medals in four freestyle wrestling championships (100+ kg division) in 1979-1983, winning all four that he participated in! Zangiev was a little bit less accomplished compared to his partner, but he was still a two-time gold medalist in junior World (Vancouver, 1981) and European (Leipzig, 1982) competitions as well as a silver medalist in the 1985 World Cup of wrestling, held in Toledo. Quite the pair here!!

This ends up being a weird clash of styles, though, with the Canadian Johnson not taking a flip bump on an overhead suplex and thus taking a scary bump right on his face. They tie up and then Hashimikov drops Montour with a belly to belly and does not let him go to advance at 3:54.

  • Rating: The Russians are quite the interesting pair, and I would personally love to see them go up against the Steiners in a battle of the suplexes. However, this quarter final match was, as JR would put it, bowling shoe ugly. 1/4*
Michael Wallstreet(w/ Alexandra York) vs. Terry Taylor
IMG credit: WWE & culturecrossfire.com

Rotunda at this point was already killing it with this gimmick, with York bringing a computer that predicted how much time it would take for Michael to win his match. In this case, 8:32 to beat the former rooster. Rotunda would soon move to the WWF, where he’d have his most notable run under a similar gimmick to WCW’s Michael Wallstreet, known as IRS.

We get a clock on the screen to see if Michael can indeed win in less than 8:32. Wrestling sequence gets us started, with Taylor having an early advantage and working a side headlock on Michael. The soon-to-be IRS catches Taylor with a backbreaker to turn things around and works the illegal rope-assisted abdominal stretch. The ref eventually catches him and Taylor starts making a comeback with about three minutes to go. TT gets an atomic drop right into a backdrop suplex with the crowd getting invested in it. Taylor manages to hit the Five Arm for the surprise win… actually never mind because Michael has his foot on the ropes. Rotunda catches him with a cheap stungun and follows it up with the Stock Market Crash (Samoan drop) for the win at 6:52.

  • Rating: This was quite fun. The bout was decent and the added foolishness of Rotunda’s gimmick made it fun and gave the match some extra drama that wouldn’t have been there without the computer thing. Good undercard bout. **1/2
THE EPIC REUNION OF THE SKYSCRAPERS! – The Skyscrapers (Sid Vicious & Danny Spivey) vs. Big Cat & The Motor City Madman
IMG credit: WWE & culturecrossfire.com

Sid is technically still a Horseman, but we get a one-off reunion of the former Skyscrapers for reasons. The Skyscrapers get a huge babyface reaction (by the Skyscrapers I mean Sid). Big Cat was originally supposed to team with The Nightstalker, but he got taken out because he was absolutely awful got injured by the big dudes in storyline.

We get a slugfest to start as Spivey dumps Madman. The Skyscrapers go to work on Cat and Spivey sends him into Sid for a kick to the gut, but Cat falls on his face instead and nearly eats a knee right in the nose. Oh good lord almight. Okay, end this already before someone gets hurt here. Madman comes in and eats corner shoulderblocks from both Skyscrapers, and then Sid finishes with a weird assisted Powerbomb (he couldn’t get Cat up, so Spivey pretty much put him on Sid’s shoulders) for the win at 1:01. After the match they are interviewed by Heyman, and they say maybe this is a one-off… and maybe it isn’t. Okay then. Them picking up Heyman by his throat was cool, though!

  • Rating: Very sloppy. Like really really sloppy. At least it was short and the crowd popped for everything Sid did, but apart from that I don’t get why he’s getting booked with fellow inexperienced workers instead of learning in matches with the Horsemen guiding him. 1/4*
The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes & Jimmy Garvin)(w/ Little Richard) vs. Ricky Morton & Tommy Rich(w/ Robert Gibson)
IMG credit: WWE & myjourneythroughwrestling.wordpress.com

The story here is that the Freebirds injured Gibson a few months earlier, and the babyfaces want revenge. Thankfully, St. Louis doesn’t cheer for the Freebirds like most crowds do, which makes the story much better. The babyfaces clear the ring to start, with even Richards taking his shot. Hayes takes Morton to the floor and gets all cocky, but Morton reverses a whip into the post and then Gibson gets his own shot which gets a huge pop. Back inside the Freebirds eat stereo figure fours but they make the ropes and get the hell out of there. Hayes gets a bulldog on Morton as the Freebirds try to break Morton’s leg, asking Richards to go up and splash it. Richards goes for the kill… but Gibson hits him with his crutch for the save! Richards goes flying into Garvin, who gets pissed and grabs Richards by the throat. This allows Morton to come in from behind with a roll-up for the win at 6:13. Garvin punishes Richards with the DDT after the match, which draws Rich and Morton back in to save the poor guy. This leaves the vulnerable Morton alone on the ramp with a broken leg, though, as the Freebirds run away, and you can pretty much feel the panic in the crowd. Morton limps and tries to defend himself, but the Freebirds get in a cheap double clothesline and run away before Morton and Gibson can get to them.

  • Rating: As a match it was really short and the finish was a bit lame according to the story they had, but the post-match angle made up for it and left money to be made on the table. The Freebirds play the chickenshit roles like few, and they know exactly how to make people want to see Gibson finally get his hands on them. **1/2
Pat O’Connor Memorial Tag Team Tournament Semi Final Match – The Steiners (Rick & Scott, representing USA) vs. Rey Misterio & Konnan (representing Mexico)
IMG credit: WWE & myjourneythroughwrestling.wordpress.com

Rick and Konnan feel each other out to start but then Scott tags in and shit gets real! Konnan eats a powerslam followed by the Steiners’ Doomsday Bulldog. He tags Rey in, who walks right into a Scott fallaway slam. Rick gets in and Rey makes a small comeback. He actually has the cojones to try a Frankensteiner on Rick, who completely no-sells and just drops Rey with a powerbomb to reach the final at 2:51.

  • Rating: Squash City, Population Lucha. 3/4*
Pat O’Connor Memorial Tag Team Tournament Semi Final Match – Salman Hashimikov & Victor Zangiev (representing Soviet Union) vs. The Great Muta & Mr. Saito (representing Japan)
Classic Wrestling Review: Starrcade '90 | CXF | Culture Crossfire |  culturecrossfire.com
IMG credit: WWE & culturecrossfire.com

Zangiev immediately drops Muta with a bridging backdrop suplex, with Saito saving the pin only to be put in a Boston Crab by Hashimikov. Saito then puts Zangiev in the Scorpion Deathlock/Sharpshooter (or as he calls it, sasurigatame) and we’re not wasting any time here! Muta gets tagged in and gets absolutely KILLED by the Russians, being thrown around from pillar to post with overhead suplexes. He even eats a back-to-belly piledriver. The heavier Saito gets the tag and he kills the party with a LARIATO. He then wrestles Zangiev down with the Saito Suplex, getting him down on his shoulders long enough to get the spot in the final at 3:08.

  • Rating: Easily the best match in the whole tournament thus far. The Russians dominated the light-heavyweight Muta, setting their own pace and not letting him get flashy. Once Saito came in it was a different story, as the Japanese managed to get the win. The decision is understandable, considering Muta was a familiar name to the WCW audiences, but I would’ve loved to see more of the Russians. Very solid work in just three minutes. **1/2
Texas Lariat Bullrope Match – NWA United States Heavyweight Championship: Stan Hansen(c) vs. Lex Luger
IMG credit: WWE

This is basically a “touch the four corners” bullrope match with the wrestlers tied to each other. To the younger folks, think of Eddie/JBL in 2004. I can’t think of more recent ones, shame on me. Luger is over like crazy as usual. He takes control to start but Hansen uses the rope to dump Luger. Hansen sends Luger into the rail and hits him with a chair. Back inside, Hansen hits a backdrop suplex and goes for the turnbuckles while Luger tries to kick him down. Hansen responds by wrapping the bullrope around Luger’s neck and literally hanging him on the apron. Luger eats some post on the floor and an elbowdrop back inside, as Hansen touches two turnbuckles this time around. Luger pushes the rope to prevent the third one, with Hansen still getting there only for Luger to explode with a clothesline as he pounds away. Hansen chokes him to stay in control, though, with Luger fighting back with knees to the skull. This is an absolute brawl and it’s awesome.

Luger returns the favor by sending Hansen shoulder-first into the post on the floor. Luger with three legdrops back inside before going for the buckles. He touches two and the crowd starts getting loud. Hansen tries to prevent him but goes nowhere, with Luger touching the third and the crowd getting REALLY loud! Luger literally tries to pull Hansen with him to reach the final buckle as the whole front row is standing up. Luger finally wins that test of strength and makes it to the final turnbuckle to a huge pop… but he takes out the ref as well in the process. Meanwhile out comes another referee in Nick Patrick, who apparently wasn’t watching the match and just starts the count all over again for Hansen after he cheapshots Luger, which the crowd boos heavily. Hansen literally drags Luger’s deadweight as he makes it to three. Luger with one last effort to pull and get back to his feet… only to immediately eat the Lariat. And Hansen touches the fourth buckle to retain at 10:13.

Actually never mind, as the original referee (Randy Anderson) comes back to life and says he saw Luger touching the buckle just before going down, giving Luger the win and the title with the crowd nearly exploding!

  • Rating: As far as a bullrope match goes, you’re not going to get much better than this. It was a violent and nasty fight on Hansen’s side, while Luger’s strategy was to use his power to try and stay alive. They also got a number of believable false finishes in and had the crowd on the palm of their hands for the whole bout. Really good stuff. ***1/4
Street Fight – NWA World Tag Team Championship: Doom (Ron Simmons & Butch Reed)(c)(w/ Theodore Long) vs. The Horsemen (Arn Anderson & Barry Windham)
IMG credit: WWE & culturecrossfire.com

This was supposed to be Ric Flair teaming with Arn, but Teddy Long set him up to be attacked by Doom and took him out. They already start beating each other up with their belts and chairs, cutting each other up. Simmons sends Windham into the post, but fights back with a backdrop suplex on the floor while AA goes to work on Reed with a chair. Simmons hits a powerful spinebuster on Windham for a nearfall. Simmons press slams Windham and goes up only for Windham to… punch him right in the balls. This was extremely rare at the time, and gets a big reaction. Windham follows it up with the superplex while Reed nails Arn with a flying shoulderblock. Anderson charges at Simmons for a chair shot, with Ron blocking it and hitting Arn instead for two as Reed gives Windham a piledriver. Anderson goes up only to jump right into a violent Simmons clothesline. Reed surprises Windham with an inside cradle. Simmons puts his arm on top of Anderson. One. Two. Three? The bell rings at 7:19 with the bloodied wrestlers completely ignoring it and fighting all the way to the back. The official decision was a double pinfall, a draw, so Doom retains.

  • Rating: A street fight from the beginning until the very end. The draw sets up another rematch, but they had already done a non-finish at Halloween Havoc. The match was obviously good, but I would’ve liked a more decisive finish here. ***1/2
Pat O’Connor Memorial Tag Team Tournament Final Match – The Steiners (Rick & Scott, representing USA) vs. The Great Muta & Mr. Saito (representing Japan)
IMG credit: WWE & myjourneythroughwrestling.wordpress.com

The Japanese take over to start as they obviously play heels-in-peril in this one. Muta gets crotched and then shakes off the pain on the apron in a hilarious bit. The Japanese get their revenge by attacking the Steiners with the bell on the outside followed by Muta’s handspring elbow on Scott. He goes for a second one… but Scott just launches him off with a belly to belly. Sweet Mary mother of Jesus! Muta went flying all the way to the other corner of the ring. Saito hits a backdrop suplex on Rick but eventually walks into the Steinerline before Scott gets the hot tag. Scott follows it up with a double underhook powerbomb, but Muta chokes away to turn the tables. The Japanese hit a double aided piledriver on Scott. Saito works a sleeper on Scott, but Rick makes the blind tag and jumps in with a flying sunset flip on Saito to get the win and the trophy at 10:52.

  • Rating: Decent match. Keep in mind it was the third time watching these four wrestlers, so it was a bit repetitive. Decent, but not more than that. **3/4
Main Event Title For Mask Steel Cage Match – NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Sting(c) vs. The Black Scorpion – special referee: Dick the Bruiser
IMG credit: WWE

I call the Black Scorpion ‘BS’ because that’s what this whole angle was. Four Black Scorpions make their way down to the ring until the real one appears from a “spaceship”. JR and Paul immediately start apologizing for the lame reveal by saying that the Black Scorpion might have been lying the whole thing and has no association with Sting from his days in California. By the way BS walks around the ring and gives little slaps to his arms before the bell, you can tell exactly WOOOO it is already! Very slow start to this one, as the person under the mask has to work a completely different (shittier) style to fit this stupid gimmick. BS hits a gutwrench suplex and works a rope-assisted headscissors while the crowd starts a loud “NATURE BOY” chant. Oops.

BS with an inverted atomic drop and a corner clothesline as he works a chinlock. Sting fights back with a press slam before sending BS into the cage. BS rakes the eyes though, and now Sting gets to eat some cage. Sting fights back with a bulldog into the Stinger Splash. He goes for the Scorpion Deathlock and does it, with BS making the ropes. And? They get into a slugfest with STING REMOVING THE MASK TO REVEAL… another mask. I can see some blonde hair. Now I REALLY wonder WOOO this might be. They take the fight to the top of the cage, with BS winning but eventually crotching himself. Sting proceeds to ram BS into the cage a number of times to bust him open, and the high crossbody retains the title at 18:31.

However, after the match all the other four “messengers” get in and jump Sting to prevent the unmasking, with Bruiser helping him out and unmasking everyone (some local workers) while the Horsemen climb up and beat them up. The Steiners and Ricky Morton open the cage door and clear the ring, FINALLY allowing Sting to unmask the Black Scorpion as…

IMG credit: WWE & f4wonline.com

Ric Flair. They obviously had other things in mind, but none of them worked out and they ultimately turned to Flair. Lame.

  • Rating: I will admit, I had to watch this at least three times because I kept falling asleep. Granted, I watch most of the shows at night just before going to sleep after a day of work, but still this was pretty rubbish. A stupid angle, a stupid reveal and a really boring match. Sting won the belt (from Flair) back in July and this storyline started ALL THE WAY BACK IN AUGUST, really killing Sting’s momentum even more after his title win had been delayed due to injury. Sting dropped the belt at a house show (back to Flair) in early January 1991, which would eventually be the first ever WCW Championship reign. *

END OF THE SHOW

Final thoughts: So yeah, this was the very last main-event PPV match of the ‘NWA era’. The show has some good stuff such as the bullrope match and the street fight, and a few okay matches like the opener, the angle with the Freebirds/Rock ‘n’ Roll Express or Rotunda’s bout, but otherwise it was not fun to watch. The fact that we had EIGHT tournament matches didn’t help, making the show feel twice as longer. It has a few recommended matches, but overall I can’t recommend this show. Low 4/10

For comments and/or feedback, e-mail me at cunhatomas2001@hotmail.com

POINT SYSTEM

For more information about my point system, click here

WrestlerStar ratingsResultMain-eventingExtrasTotal
Rick Steiner53+1 for winning two falls9
Scott Steiner53+0.5 for winning a fall 8.5
The Great Muta6.751+0.5 for winning a fall8.25
Mr. Saito 6.751+0.5 for winning a fall
-0.5 for losing a fall
7.75
Lex Luger3.251+2 for winning a title6.25
Ron Simmons
Butch Reed
3.5+1 for retaining a title4.5
Sting111+1 for retaining a title4
Ricky Morton2.51+0.5 for winning the fall4
Bobby Eaton2.7513.75
Arn Anderson
Barry Windham
3.53.5
Tommy Rich
Michael Wallstreet
2.513.5
Salman Hashimikov2.750+0.5 for winning a fall3.25
Victor Zangiev2.750-0.5 for losing a fall2.25
Konnan 1.750+0.5 for winning a fall2.25
Tom Zenk2.75-11.75
Sid Vicious0.251+0.5 for winning the fall1.75
Michael Hayes
Terry Taylor
2.5-11.5
Danny Spivey0.2511.25
Rey Misterio1.750-0.5 for losing a fall1.25
Ric Flair1-111
Jimmy Garvin2.5-1-0.5 for losing the fall1
Sgt. Krueger
Rip Morgan
1.5-10.5
Stan Hansen3.25-1-2 for losing a title0.25
Jack Victory
Colonel DeKlerk
1.5-1-0.5 for losing the fall0
Chris Adams1-10
Norman Smiley1-1-0.5 for losing the fall-0.5
Danny Johnson
Motor City Madman
0.25-1-0.75
Big Cat
Troy Montour
0.25-1-0.5 for losing the fall-1.25

That’s all for 1990, thank you so much for following my work! Don’t miss the next piece, where I’ll be looking back at the top matches & wrestlers from both the WWF and the NWA/WCW. Stay tuned as we then move on to 1991. Stay safe!