December 28th, 1992
Live from Atlanta, GA (The Omni)
Announced attendance: 8 000 (capacity: ca. 16 378)
PPV buys: 95 000 (down 60 000 from Starrcade 1991; down 70 000 from Halloween Havoc 1992)
Hey there everyone. Welcome to my review of the final show of 1992, WCW Starrcade, featuring the return of the lethal lottery/battlebowl concept (won by Sting the previous year), Masahiro Chono vs. The Great Muta for the NWA World Title, Dr. Death Steve Williams replacing the injured Rick Rude to challenge Ron Simmons for the WCW World Title, Big Van Vader vs. Sting in the final of the King of Cable tournament, and more!
Here is the list of champions in WCW heading into Starrcade 92:
- WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Ron Simmons [148th day of his reign] – previous champion: Big Van Vader
- NWA World Heavyweight Champion: Masahiro Chono [138th day of his reign] – previous champion: Ric Flair, before it was vacated/deactivated
- WCW United States Heavyweight Champion: vacated [for 27 days] – previous champion: Rick Rude
- WCW World Television Champion: Scott Steiner [90th day of his reign] – previous champion: Ricky Steamboat
- WCW/NWA Unified World Tag Team Champions: Ricky Steamboat & Shane Douglas [40th day of their reign] – previous champions: Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes
Note: in title matches, the defending champions are underlined
Enjoy the review!
Your hosts are Jim Ross & Jesse Ventura
They air a cool pre-show video package on the history of Starrcade, with this being the 10th edition. The video still promotes Ron Simmons vs. Rick Rude, even though that won’t be happening, which JR addresses.
Special Report w/ Eric Bischoff: It’s officially announced that Rick Rude suffered a neck injury and will be out for a couple of months. Dr. Death is his replacement to challenge Ron tonight.
Sting receives the ring for winning the inaugural battlebowl the previous year, and he promises to win it again this year.
We cut to Larry Zbyszko & Missy Hyatt for our first lethal lottery draw. They talk for a bit and… introduce the match that had already been announced at Clash. Hm, okay then.
Lethal Lottery Tag Team Match #1 – Van Hammer & Danny Spivey vs. Cactus Jack & Johnny B. Badd
Van Hammer overpowers Cactus to start. Cactus gets in Van Hammer’s face, who slaps him twice and explodes with a corner clothesline. Powerslam sets up a legdrop for one. Cactus brings in Johnny, who eats an elbowdrop to give Hammer two. Badd finally gets something in for his team with a pair of armdrags, before pulling a hurricanra from out of nowhere for two. It’s off to Cactus v. Spivey, with both men dodging corner clotheslines from each other, until Spivey catches Cactus with a clothesline out of the corner. Spivey cheapshots Badd from the apron on a criss cross, tagging himself in and hitting a slam. Van Hammer follows up with a slam of his own and gets two. Backdrop suplex for two. Badd finally catches a break by raising his boot to a charging Spivey, and Cactus comes in with a bulldog off the tag. Clothesline and Cactus looks for the tag, but Badd is still knocked out on the floor. This allows Spivey to ram Cactus into the buckle, and a russian legsweep gets two. Van Hammer comes in with a Warrior-esque running shoulderblock, and Badd errantly elbowdrops on Cactus while trying to break up the pin. Cactus shoves him for it, and Badd responds with the KO punch. Van Hammer simply cradles him to advance at 6:51.
- Rating: Alright match, althought I can’t for the life of me understand why Van Hammer and Dan Spivey advanced to the main event over Cactus Jack and Johnny B Badd. But who gives a f-ck. *3/4
Onto Larry and Missy for the first (actual) draw of the night…
Lethal Lottery Tag Team Match #2 – Dustin Rhodes & Big Van Vader (w/ Harley Race) vs. Kensuke Sasaki & The Barbarian
We start off with a showdown between Vader and Barbarian, with both men shaking hands before the match. Should be a fun hoss fight. Vader no-sells a clothesline from Barb, and then Barb no-sells one either. Barbarian explodes with a gigantic powerslam, but Vader pops right back up. Oh, sh-t. Vader pounds away for a while and hits a powerslam of his own, which Barbarian no-sells either. Barb tries a couple of running shoulderblocks but that goes nowhere either, until Vader catches a charging Barbarian and finally drops him down. Vader manhandles Barb in the corner, but he fights back and finally manages to take Vader down with a series of clotheslines. However, Vader fights back with a brutal short-clothesline. Vader tags in Dustin, and a Hart Attack of sorts gets two. Barbarian catches him with a backdrop suplex for two, but Dustin hits a backdrop suplex of his own. Now it’s off to Sasaki v. Dustin. Rhodes chops away in the corner, but gets caught with a clothesline out of the corner by Sasaki. The latter goes up, but Dustin catches him with a dropkick in mid-air. He brings in Vader, who goes up and just SQUASHES poor Sasaki. Vader follows it up with a running clothesline and busts Sasaki’s nose. Ventura: Sasaki is gonna feel like he’s in Okinawa! Sasaki actually has the balls to kickout of a powerslam by Vader, and then suplexes him. I don’t think that’s a good idea, personally. Dustin comes in with a running clothesline on Barb, but Sasaki breaks up the pin. Dustin goes at it with Sasaki in the corner, and Barbarian hits Sasaki by mistake, allowing Dustin to cradle Barb at 6:56. And then, with the stupid “strange bedfellows” crap out of the way, Vader murders Rhodes as well. Smart man.
- Rating: Good little match here, for what it was. The Vader/Barbarian showdown at the start was great stuff. **3/4
Meanwhile, JR & Jesse hype SuperBrawl III. It’s funny seeing Jim Ross hype up a 1993 WCW PPV, given he’d start with WWF at WrestleMania in just a few short months.
Back to the draw we go…
Lethal Lottery Tag Team Match #3 – Barry Windham & The Great Muta vs. 2 Cold Scorpio & Flyin’ Brian Pillman
This one doesn’t look too shabby on paper either. Apparently we’re halfway through the lethal lottery tag matches already, which should make this show a lot better than 91, which had countless of them. Windham suplexes Scorpio right off the bell. Scorpio fights back with an armdrag followed by a dropkick, and yet another armdrag. Scorpio holds on to the arm while Barry tries to escape, but he can’t so he brings in Muta. Pillman eventually gets tagged in as well, hitting a dropkick for two. They get into a quick series of reversals and Muta returns the dropkick for two of his own. It’s now off to Windham v. Pillman, who will challenge Steamboat & Douglas for the tag titles as partners later that night. They get into a chopfest in the corner, but the veteran Windham stops and reminds him to save it for later. Pillman shoulderblocks Muta but then runs into a spinning wheel kick from Muta. Scorpio hits a running clothesline on Muta for two. A powerslam sets up a splash, but Muta raises his knees. Windham tags himself in and quickly follows it up with a lariat. Suplex on Scorpio gets two. Muta gets an elbowdrop and he goes to work on Scorpio’s leg. Scorpio fights back with a running shoulderblock in the corner, and a springboard legdrop gets two. However, Muta spinkicks Scorpio to the outside, but Scorpio comes back with a springboard somersault splash. Windham breaks up the pin, though, and it quickly turns into a big melee. Barry smartly picks his spot and knocks out Scorpio with the Implant DDT, leaving him easy pickings for the Mutasault at 6:59.
- Rating: Another fun little match from the lethal lottery phase. Windham was the pro holding all the pieces together, smartly thinking of his tag title match later to stop the fight with Pillman, and also playing a huge part in the finish. Muta looked good ahead of his NWA World Title match later, and Scorpio got a good showing in his first PPV appearance. I wish we’d seen more of Pillman, as he wasn’t featured that much in this match and he was on a roll at the time. **3/4
Back to the drawing we go for the final time, with the guaranteed participation of the defending “champion”, Sting…
Lethal Lottery Tag Team Match #4: Sting & ‘Dr. Death’ Steve Williams vs. Erik Watts & Justin Thunder Liger
Haha, of course it had to be Erik Watts. WCW, you silly f-ckers! Sting and Liger kick us off. They exchange reversals back and forth and reach a stalemate. Dr. Death comes in and puts the boots to Liger, until the latter sidesteps a blind charge and… sigh… tags in Watts. He comes in with a pair of armdrags on Williams, who finally has enough and just shoves Erik down on a third attempt. Doc pounds away on Watts, but misses a clothesline and Watts gets a bodypress for two. Williams chops away, but Liger makes the blind tag and takes over. Doc shrugs off a monkey flip attempt though, and clotheslines Liger inside out. It gets two. Sting comes in and rams Liger into the turnbuckle for two. We get some double-teaming by Sting and Doc, and Doc hits a powerslam for two. The Stinger Splash only finds turnbuckle, but Williams immediately gets tagged in to continue the beating on Liger. I can’t believe I’m seeing an Erik Watts hot tag being cooked. The roof is gonna come off, folks. Sting works a half crab on Liger, and it’s back to Williams for more punishment. Liger tries to fight back with a sleeper, but gets thwarted rather quickly with a backdrop suplex from Doc. Vertical suplex by Sting gets two. Liger finally gets something in with a bulldog and it’s HOT TAG ERIK WATTS BY GAWD… and the crowd goes mild. Watts “slugs away” as poor Williams actually has to sell for this schlub. No wonder he left after this show. Erik hits the most laughable “dropkick” I have ever seen, before going for an STF. Doc thankfully makes it to the ropes, otherwise he would’ve had no option but to give up to this master technician. Doc, having finally had enough of this bullsh-t, ends the idiotic superman comeback and stunguns the idiot for the win at 9:08.
- Rating: This had moments where it was good. It also had moments where Erik Watts was in the ring. The double-teaming by Sting and Doc was surprising, and the heat spot on Liger was decent. Sadly, it was a set-up for the hot tag to Watts, which no one bought and made the whole thing kinda pointless. Still, quite the solid effort. **
Meanwhile, we see clips of NWA Champion Masahiro Chono in action over in Japan.
NWA World Heavyweight Championship – Masahiro Chono vs. The Great Muta
Chono snapmares Muta to start and kicks him in the mouth. They take it to the mat for some mat-work, but the crowd isn’t invested one bit. Muta goes to work on the leg and Chono escapes with an enziguiri. Chono wins a battle over a wristlock and follows it up with a shoulderblock, and Muta bails. Jesse mentions that Muta already had one match tonight. He’ll also be in the battlebowl in the main event, having won his lethal lottery match earlier. Back in, they get into a test of strength that is won by Muta, who locks in a full nelson. He switches into an abdominal stretch, which Chono blocks and turns into his own. Muta reverses that into an armbar, with Chono reversing into his own armbar. Muta manages to get on his feet though, and stomps away on Chono to escape the hold. And Muta goes to work with a headscissors. Masa Chono reverses and goes after the leg to try the STF, but Muta’s in the ropes. Chono dumps Great Muta a couple of times, with the crowd sadly not reacting to anything. Back in, Chono wrestles Great Muta down into a hammerlock. Muta tries to counter with an armdrag, but Chono holds onto the arm and maintains the hold. Chono goes up top, only to get caught and brought down by Muta with a superplex. Indian deathlock by Muta, with Chono eventually making the ropes. Chono tries to fight back with a clothesline, but Muta sidesteps it and spinkicks Chono all the way to the floor. Back in, Muta gets the handspring elbow in the corner, which FINALLY wakes up the crowd. Just call an audible and have Muta go over with the Mutasault. He goes up for it indeed, but Chono moves out of the way and Muta hurts his knee. And the crowd goes back to being dead. Chono puts the boots to Muta, who catches Chono with a small package and nearly steals it. They each try a dropkick at the same time, but Chono gets a backdrop suplex. He goes for a second one, but Muta bodypresses him in mid-air and gets two. Dropkick by Muta, but Chono holds onto the ropes and applies the STF on the mat to retain at 12:49. How to kill a crowd 101.
- Rating: I feel bad for these guys. Their work was really solid and their reversals were alright, but the fact that the crowd didn’t care at all hurt it a lot. Muta losing via submission was an eff-you to the crowd. Overall, a fine yet largely soulless match. *3/4
Meanwhile, a furious Rick Rude comes down to ringside and addresses how a stupid doctor took away his chance to become World Heavyweight Champion. Furthermore, they’re taking away his US title due to the injury, whilst Sting got to keep his WCW World title when Vader broke his ribs earlier in the year. Very fair point.
WCW World Heavyweight Championship – Ron Simmons vs. Dr. Death Steve Williams
They shake hands beforehand. Ron manages to overpower Doc with a headlock to start. Williams breaks free and they no-sell a pair of shoulderblocks. Ron outsmarts Doc by ducking a shoulderblock with a leapfrog and hitting a clothesline for two. Doc starts cheating with some hair-pulling, prompting a good ol’ slugfest. Williams eats Ron’s elbow on a blind charge in the corner though, and Simmons bulldogs him out of the corner for two. Ron goes to work on the arm and he climbs up for a flying shoulderblock, but finds no water in the pool. Doc rams Simmons’ leg into the apron, going after the leg back inside the ring. Another match that might look alright on paper, but is quite dull in execution. Ron tries to fight back only to get kicked in the knee. Williams hits a backbreaker for two. Clothesline gets two. Doc twists the ankle some more and powerslams him. Doc hits a pair of three point stances, but eats a Simmons clothesline on a third attempt. Spinebuster by Ron and now he runs wild with the three point stances. This is basically Jim Ross’ dream match with all the American football analogies. They take the fight to the floor, where Doc ducks a clothesline and Simmons hitting the post. The ref calls for a double count-out at 15:12. However, Williams continues the beating on Simmons afterward, prompting the ref to reverse the decision into a DQ win for Ron. Thrilling stuff. Simmons’ reign would end two nights later, losing to Vader at a house show.
- Rating: The first and last few minutes were alright with the power battles, but the middle portion was really dull and didn’t exactly take us anywhere. Ron Simmons winning the title was a great moment, but boy did the reign suck. Between this and the Halloween Havoc defense against The Barbarian, I don’t know which one was more eh. *1/2
SuperBrawl ’93 ad.
WCW/NWA Unified World Tag Team Championship – Ricky Steamboat & Shane Douglas vs. Barry Windham & Flyin’ Brian Pillman
The story here is that the faces want to murder Barry for brutally assaulting them and Dusin Rhodes ever since his heel turn at the previous Clash. Pillman and Douglas lockup to start. Brian drives him into the corner for some chops and an armdrag. Douglas dodges a chop and blocks a sunset flip, and we reach a stalemate. Pillman chokes him for a bit as the two get into a criss-cross sequence, won by Shane with a dropkick onto the outside. Windham takes a double dropkick from the champs followed by a double backdrop, and the heels bail. And now Windham wants some, and begs for Steamboat to come in as well. Ricky obliges and unloads with the karate chops. Vertical suplex and Windham wants out already, but Steamboat puts his body in the way with a front facelock. Douglas follows with a headlock, which Windham powers out of with a backdrop suplex. However, Steamboat comes in and continues the beating, even taking him outside for a slam to the floor. Windham has had enough and considers taking a walk, but Shane prevents him from leaving and slams him on the floor. And Ricky sends him FLYING back into the ring! Barry is taking a good ol’ beating out there. Swinging neckbreaker from Dragon gets two. Douglas wears him down some more, but Windham finally gets a break and brings in Brian, who goes to work with a jawbreaker. Douglas responds by dropkick Brian off the apron and onto the railing, knocking Pillman’s lights out.
Douglas puts him back inside and goes up, but a small distraction from Barry allows Pillman to dropkick Shane off the top rope to the floor. There, Windham follows it up with a clothesline on the concrete. Barry takes over with a headbutt back inside, and hammers Douglas while getting in Steamboat’s face. This is great! Obviously, this allows Pillman to sneak attack Douglas over on the other side. Douglas tries to fight back briefly, but that goes nowhere and Windham sh-tcans Douglas onto the railing. The beeting continues over there, prompting Steamboat to come in with a chairshot to the back while the ref’s distracted with Pillman. Douglas reaches for the tag, but Pillman’s there to stop him with a backdrop suplex as the heels remain in control. Flying fistdrop followed by a backdrop suplex gets two. Pillman comes in with a snap suplex into a splash for two. The heels cheat some more while the ref’s tied up with Steamboat, but Douglas blocks a Windham suplex into one of his own. Windham tries to stop him but it’s HOT TAG STEAMBOAT! He’s a house of fire with dropkicks and karate chops abound for both heels. He sends Pillman packing with a slam, but ends up charging into a scoop powerslam from Barry. Backdrop suplex follows, and a whip into the post while Pillman distracts the ref. Ricky comes back with a springboard karate chop, but Windham stops the count. Headscissors by Brian gets two. Barry keeps hammering Steamboat, who keeps holding onto the ropes to stay in it and fight back with the chops. Windham goes up but misses, and Steamboat faceplants him and makes the hot tag to Douglas. He runs wild for a bit and it quickly turns into a big melee. Steamboat sacrifices himself to get rid of Windham, leaving Shane alone in the ring with Pillman. Steamboat and Windham keep fighting out on the ramp, while in the ring Douglas finishes Pillman with the belly-to-belly at 20:02 to retain.
- Rating: Absolutely tremendous stuff all around here. Ricky Steamboat’s selling truly is a work of art. The story was simple, the faces (Steamboat particularly) wanted to destroy Barry Windham. They got that across up until the very end, including in the finish itself, while the heels kept cheating and rubbing it in the faces’ face. A nearly dead Ricky Steamboat pointing at Barry Windham as if to say “you just wait, motherf-cker” while taking a beating is priceless. I loved the finish, with Ricky just wanting to take it to Barry regardless, while Douglas put Pillman away in the ring. This is a WCW MOTY contender. ****
King of Cable Tournament Final – Sting vs. Big Van Vader (w/ Harley Race)
The King of Cable tournament was held to celebrate 20 years of wrestling on TBS. This is a rematch from the World title match at Great American Bash 92, which saw Vader win the belt. Vader no-sells everything that Sting throws at him and slams him. Vader slams him twice just because he can and stops to pose in the corner. Sting tries to surprise him with a quick Stinger Splash, but Vader’s like “nope” and Sting goes down like a ton of bricks. Vader proceeds to gorilla press slam Sting onto the top rope a few times for fun, forcing Sting to bail. Back in, Sting explodes with a rolling koppo kick and takes him down with a dropkick. German suplex by Sting. Clothesline. A second clothesline dumps Vader and rips Vader’s mask off! Vader’s “oh no you didn’t” facial expression is brilliant! However, Sting dives and takes both Vader and Harley Race down. Vader overpowers Sting back inside but misses a blind charge in the corner, and Sting armdrags him out of the corner. Sting is thinking Stinger Splash again, but just eats boot. However, Sting fights back with a kick to the jaw and hits a DDT. Sting actually powers Vader onto the top rope and superplexes him for two! He locks in the Scorpion Deathlock, but Vader’s on the ropes and leaves the ring. Sting attempts a third Stinger Splash, this one on the outside, but Vader dodges and Sting knocks himself out on the railing.
Sting breaks the count back to the ring, where he’s met with a brutal short-clothesline. Vader hits his version of the Stinger Splash/avalanche just to rub it in Sting’s face, and follows it up with another nasty clothesline for two. Vader whacks Sting a couple of times before hitting a backdrop suplex. He adds a splash for two and puts him in a chinlock. Vader literally tries to rip Sting’s head off his shoulders during the chinlock, and then has enough of this chinlock thing and WHAMS him for two. Holy sh-t! Sting fights back with a backslide for a great nearfall. Sunset flip attempt by Sting is blocked by Vader, who tries an assdrop but it misses. Sting manages to hit a backdrop suplex, but Vader is actually the first to get up and HE gets a nearfall. What a monster! Vader clubbers Sting like there’s no tomorrow and takes him up for what would be a superplex, but Sting pokes him in the eyes to survive that predicament. And then both guys fall off the top rope!! AND VADER GETS UP FIRST. Give it up Sting, it’s alright. Vader continues to destroy Sting in the corner, who takes all the shots and even asks for more! Vader eventually gets fatigued and stops throwing punches, which allows Sting to make his big comeback. AWESOME! Sting somehow hits a Samoan drop, but the rope break saves Vader. Sting goes up and immediately follows it up with a flying splash for a nearfall. Race gets up on the apron to cause the distraction, knowing his man is being taken to the limit, allowing Vader to take control. Chokeslam by Vader sets up his own flying splash. Vader goes up again but this time Sting manages to slam him in mid-air and catches the big man to make it 1-1 at 16:50!
- Rating: Just amazing. What an intense physical battle between two badasses, with Sting just barely surviving the beating before outsmarting Vader and running him out of gas. This felt like a real struggle and I loved it. The finish was brilliantly structured and executed as well, with the exhausted monster going up top and ultimately causing his own defeat. Two awesome matches in a row! ****1/2
Jesse then presents the King of Cable trophy to Sting. He says he still wants to win the battlebowl for the second year in a row up next.
Before the main event, Tony Schiavone discusses with Paul Hornung the importance of rings to athletes. It just turns into NFL talk, which this Portuguese fella can totally relate to!
Battlebowl Battle Royal
Once again, your participants are (in order of entrance): Danny Spivey, Dustin Rhodes, The Great Muta, Barry Windham, Dr. Death Steve Williams, Van Hammer, Big Van Vader and Sting (the defending “champion”). Vader and Sting of course go at it before they make it to the ring, to continue their battle from the pior match. Typical kicky punchy battle royal action to start. I can’t believe I’m seeing Van Hammer in the main event of Starrcade while the likes of Arn Anderson, Bobby Eaton or Stunning Steve Austin can’t even get booked on the card. Some puzzles just aren’t meant to be solved. Vader and Sting just keep going at it against each other regardless of everything else, in an wesome touch. Van Hammer stops that battle to attack Vader, just to get dropped on his ass rather quickly. Vader tries to put Muta out but Van Hammer stops him and picks a fight with him again. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?? Sting nearly gets thrown by Windham but he hangs in there and goes right after Vader. Can’t we just have that rematch right now instead of this? Williams thankfully gets rid of Van Hammer first. Meanwhile, Dustin and Windham take their fight to the ramp, where Rhodes drops him with a bulldog. Sting backdrops Spivey over the top for the second elimination. A huge running clothesline by Vader puts both Sting and himself out. We get a shot of Windham bleeding, possibly from the bulldog on the floor. Or maybe a shot with Dustin’s cast. Windham drops Rhodes with a DDT, as they continue having a mini-match while Muta and Williams keep doing whatever on the other side. Windham goes up for some crazy reason, but Dustin slams him off into the middle of the ring for some even dumber reason. Jesse: “Why did he bring him in? Why did he bring him in?” Good point, Jesse. Dustin fights back with a DDT, but Williams ruins the fun by clotheslining Rhodes out. The clothesline takes Doc out as well though, ending his WCW run. And it’s down to Windham and Muta. Superplex by Windham. Standing dropkick follows and he dumps Muta, but he skins the cat back in and dropkicks Windham out to win battlebowl at 14:01.
- Rating: I really, really could live without this battlebowl concept. With that said, there were enough heated feuds here to keep this moderately entertaining. The choice of the winner was fine, I do like The Great Muta. However, given all the other feuds going on and especially the fact that Vader would win the World title two nights later, or even Barry Windham who was just beginning his amazing heel run, I personally would prefer another winner. It just feels strange as this was literally Muta’s first appearance in WCW in more than half a year. Overall, a fine battle royal that has no business being in the main event of Starrcade. **1/2
END OF THE SHOW
Final thoughts: Both World title matches are dull and disappointing. A battle royal main evented Starrcade again. The lethal lottery tag matches were the lethal lottery tag matches, multiple random thrown-together “strange bedfellows” tag matches to advance to the dumb battle royal. Well, at least there weren’t dozens of them like in 1991 here. This sounds like a horrible PPV on paper. And then you have Sting vs Vader and Steamboat & Douglas vs Windham & Pillman, two of the very best matches of the whole year! Long story short, watch the two show-savers and skip the rest. 5/10 for those two fabulous matches.
Find out more about our point system here. Small tweak given this show features a unique match (battlebowl): the winner gets 3 points, while all the other participants lose 1 point.
That’s all for today’s article. That’s also all for 1992, a pretty underrated year for wrestling, in both WCW and the WWF. Make sure you don’t miss the year-end article, covering the year’s best matches and wrestlers. Here’s the 1991 piece for a preview. See you soon and have the best summer ever!
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