Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?

Starrcade 1996
Date: December 29, 1996
Location: Nashville Municipal Auditorium, Nashville, Tennessee
Attendance: 9,030
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Dusty Rhodes, Bobby Heenan

We’re still in Nashville for the third straight year, which is kind of an odd choice. Nashville is a well known city, but there are far bigger cities that WCW could have drawn well in, but instead they stayed in the south for some reason. Other than Hogan vs. Piper, we also have the Outsiders defending the tag titles against the Faces of Fear (different version than from 1994) and Luger vs. the Giant. Let’s get to it.

The opening video is all about Hogan vs. Piper, which is likely the right choice. The idea here is that Piper is the one guy that Hogan has never been able to beat.

J-Crown/Cruiserweight Title: Ultimo Dragon vs. Dean Malenko

The J-Crown is a collection of 8 junior heavyweight titles from around the world collected into one title. Dragon currently holds the J-Crown but wants the Cruiserweight Title, held by Dean. Sonny Onoo, the evil Japanese representative from last year, is now a regular evil manager, representing Dragon. The Dragon is a very solid wrestler from Japan while Malenko is a smaller guy but known as the Man of 1000 Holds. Mike Tenay, international wrestling expert, joins commentary for this one.

Dean takes it to the mat to start but Dragon sits out. Now Dean sits out as both guys fight for control. Ultimo finally gets control with a leg lock but Dean rolls away to the ropes. Dragon takes him right back down to the mat and puts on a quickly broken chinlock. They’re moving very quickly so far. Dragon nips out of a headscissors and we have a standoff. Dean is taken down again and Dragon fires off some HARD kicks to the back.

Dean takes him down with a backbreaker and puts on a headscissors as this is a chess match so far with both guys trying to get an extended advantage. Dragon hooks another chinlock but Dean is out of it almost immediately. The fans all chant USA as Dragon hits a jumping kick to take Dean down and it’s off to a modified STF. Malenko fights up again and we head outside where the Dragon slams him down. A suicide dive takes Malenko down but there’s no Asai Moonsault (it’s named after Dragon, its inventor).

Back inside and Dragon suplexes him down for two and Malenko gets the same off a sunset flip. Dragon hooks on a bow and arrow hold before shifting over to an abdominal stretch. The match has slowed WAY down and not in a good way. Tenay talks about Dragon’s name meaning that he’s the final student of Bruce Lee. Dragon would have been about seven years old when Lee died, so I’m thinking that’s not true.

Malenko fights up and hooks a quick release German suplex for two and it’s off to a leg bar by Dean. In a smart move, Dean lets go of the hold for a second so he can pull Ultimo back to the middle of the ring. Dragon finally makes it to the rope so Dean dropkicks him in the side of the knee to keep the pressure on. A kind of spinebuster puts Dragon back down and we hit another leg lock to keep Dean in control. Dean catches a charging Dragon in a WICKED powerslam to pop the crowd but for some reason there’s no cover. Dragon comes back with a spinwheel kick and a powerbomb for two.

Dean picks him up for a tombstone and the fans go nuts again. The Texas Cloverleaf (Malenko’s leg lock finisher) is escaped but a tiger bomb gets two instead. Dean is kicked to the floor and there’s the Asai Moonsault to put both guys down again. Back in and Ultimo misses a moonsault, allowing Dean to put on the Cloverleaf, only to break it to go after Onoo. A brainbuster gets two on Dragon but Ultimo escapes a suplex, leading to a pretty awesome pinfall reversal sequence, culminating with Dragon hitting a tiger suplex for the pin and the title.

Rating: B-. Cut five minutes out of this and it’s a classic. The main flaw other than that is the leg work not going anywhere as Dean worked that thing over for a good five minutes and then it’s perfectly fine for all of Dragon’s high flying stuff. It’s a good match but there are a lot of things holding it back. That and Dean losing hurt the crowd a lot.

Gene Okerlund tells us to call the Hotline to find out who is joining the NWO.

Women’s Title: Akira Hokuto vs. Madusa

This is a tournament final for a title that no one wanted in the first place. WCW had a working relationship with a Japanese women’s promotion called GAEA and five of the seven women in the tournament were from that company. The “division” was so weak that one woman wrestled twice in the tournament under two different names. Madusa has been around in wrestling for years but is most famous for dropping the WWF Women’s Title in the trash live on Nitro, burning every bridge she could have in the WWF. Hokuto is with Sonny Onoo and her husband Kensuke Sasaki.

Lee Marshall is brought in as an expert on women’s wrestling, which is downright laughable as Marshall is one of the biggest schnooks in the history of wrestling commentary. He mispronounces Hokuto’s name as she comes to the ring in case you needed some proof. Hokuto jumps Madusa in the corner to start and throws her down by the hair a few times. Madusa comes back with some forearms but Sonny trips her up to keep Akira in control.

Madusa snapmares Akira down but is almost immediately choked on the ropes as Tony starts talking about the NWO for no apparent reason. Hokuto puts on something like a Scorpion Deathlock before transitioning into an STF. Back up and Madusa fights back with a slam for two but Akira takes her right back down for some choking on the mat. A northern lights suplex puts Madusa down and it’s off to a cross armbreaker by Hokuto. Madusa tries a spinning DDT but Akira partially blocks it.

A bridging German suplex gets two on Madusa (her own finisher) but Madusa comes back with a bulldog, her first significant move of the match. Madusa gets another two off a powerbomb but an attempt at a second is blocked by Akira. Now Madusa gets her own German suplex for two but as she goes to the middle rope, Hokuto brings her down with a superplex for two. Akira goes up again but gets dropkicked off to the floor, but Sonny uses the distraction to hit Madusa in the back with an American flag. Back in and Akira hits a brainbuster for the pin and the title.

Rating: D. This was pretty awful as Hokuto pretty much squashed Madusa here, not giving her ANYTHING at all to work with. Also, well done WCW at making sure the crowd stays dead by having two popular Americans lose in a row. This was pretty much it for the title too as it would be vacated in June, won in September, and then retired before 1998. Like I said, no one wanted this title and no one cared about the match.

Roddy Piper says….something. He rambles on for like three minutes, presumably about his match with Hogan tonight, while also talking about Sky Low Low, a famous midget wrestler. He talks about how neither of them are the only icons before talking about how he plays the bagpipes and wears a dress because a piano doesn’t fit in a beret. Now he talks about it being better to give than to receive before talking about how if you put Roseanne Barr’s bra on your head, it’s a yamaka. Gene asks him about his bad hip and Piper hops out on one foot without saying anything. To call this bizarre is an understatement.

Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Rey Mysterio Jr.

Mysterio is a rather small guy but he’s one of the best high fliers of all time. Two years later or so, this would be a dream match. Here it’s just really promising. I’m not sure what the obsession is here with Japanese wrestlers here as this is the third straight match with a Japanese person in it. Mysterio also isn’t the son of the Rey Mysterio we saw back in 1990 but rather his nephew.

Liger cranks on both arms to start but Mysterio rolls through and puts two feet in Liger’s chest to escape. A dropkick puts Liger down but he comes right back with a slam to put him down. We hear about Liger having a brain tumor and making a comeback in just two months. That’s pretty remarkable when you think about it. Liger drops Mysterio onto the top rope before launching him into the air and crashing down onto the mat.

A powerbomb puts Rey down again as this is completely one sided so far. Rey finally snaps off a standing rana before hitting a second to send Liger to the outside. They head back inside but Liger suplexes him right back out to the floor. Another big powerbomb lays Mysterio out on the floor with a great thud.

Back in and Mysterio misses a dropkick and it’s time for the surfboard hold. Mysterio escapes and finally hits a dropkick and DDT for two followed by a springboard dropkick for no cover. Instead it’s off to a camel clutch but Liger quickly makes the ropes. Rey tries another springboard but dives into a dropkick to the ribs, giving Liger control again. A German suplex gets two for Jushin and it’s off to a half crab.

Back up and Liger hits a dragon screw leg whip which sends Dusty into a frenzy. It wakes the crowd up a bit and a spinwheel kick from Mysterio does the same. A headscissors out of the corner sends Liger to the mat and then the floor, allowing Rey to hit a BIG moonsault off the top to the floor. Back in and Mysterio drops a leg on the back of Liger’s head for two, only to have Liger comeback with a headbutt for two. Liger knocks him off the top and out to the floor before bringing him back in for a rolling Liger kick. The sitout Liger Bomb is enough for the pin.

Rating: B. It’s a good match, dead crowd aside. The problem here though is that Mysterio wasn’t ready to fight Liger on this stage yet, so it really brought the match down a bit. Mysterio would get far better very soon though and would have arguably the best match WCW ever produced the following year.

Chris Benoit vs. Jeff Jarrett

This is a No DQ match as Jarrett wants to be a Horsemen but has to fight his way through some of the other Horsemen first. Jarrett was a guy from Tennessee who was good in the ring, good on the mic and very safe. In other words he had every tool you needed, but no one cared about him at all. It never clicked until he went back to the WWF and completely changed his character that he got over in WCW. Benoit has his future real life wife Woman with him here.

Benoit shoves him down with ease and says bring it on. They trade control on the mat until Jarrett slaps him in the face to make Benoit mad. Benoit takes his head off with an elbow to the face before slapping Jeff in the back of his head. Jeff comes back with right hands to take him down before walking over Benoit’s back for good measure. Benoit gets mad all over again and stomps Jeff down in the corner before holding up the Four Horsemen sign.

It turns into a brawl with the guys rolling around on the mat and brawling before heading to the floor. Chris takes over on the outside before heading back inside to catapult Jarrett into the buckle. Benoit loads up a superplex, only to be shoved off the top to give Jarrett control. Not that it matters much though as Chris comes right back with a clothesline to send Jarrett out to the floor again. Jarrett is rammed into the barricade a few times, only to come back by dropping Benoit ribs first onto the barricade.

Back inside again but Benoit pounds away on him even more and hooking a sleeper. Jeff is taken down to the floor, allowing Benoit to throw his feet on the ropes for additional language. That’s something a true Horseman would do, meaning Benoit is fitting in perfectly. Off to a chinlock now but Jeff comes back with a small package for two. Jarrett goes to the middle rope but jumps into Benoit’s boot for two. Jeff can’t get anything going for more than a few seconds here.

They get up again and Jeff goes nuts on Benoit, pounding on him in the corner and hitting a quick dropkick for two. Benoit is dropped on the top rope again but Woman breaks up the Figure Four. Cue Arn Anderson who walks by his Horseman mate to stand on the other side of the ring.

Benoit and Jarrett head back to the floor but here are Konnan and Hugh Morrus (members of the Dungeon of Doom, Kevin Sullivan’s team which is feuding with the Horsemen) to go after Woman. That’s fine with her as she kicks Morrus low while the guys in the match are on the floor. Kevin Sullivan comes in and breaks a wooden chair over Benoit’s head as Anderson DDTs Jeff on the floor. Arn doesn’t look and throws Jeff back in, right on top of Benoit for the pin.

Rating: C+. This was decent but Benoit losing didn’t do much for the show. To be fair though Jeff is a Tennessee mainstay so him winning is going to do more for the fans than anything else would. The Horsemen vs. the Dungeon of Doom would go on for months beyond what people cared to see.

The Horsemen argue post match over Benoit and Woman’s affair breaking up the team. This feud would also go on forever and would drag the Horsemen through the floor. Steve McMichael, former NFL player and a Horseman here for no apparent reason, and his wife Debra reach unreal levels of annoying, whining about how Benoit and Woman aren’t worth it.

Video on Sting not deciding which side to be on.

Tag Titles: Outsiders vs. Faces of Fear

The Outsiders, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, are defending here. The Faces of Fear are the Barbarian (I told you he stuck around for a long time) and Meng, Robert Parker’s old bodyguard, managed by Jimmy Hart. Hall and Meng start things off with the Tongan monster putting on a wristlock. Hall cranks on the arm but gets caught with a stiff clothesline. Meng charges into a boot in the corner, followed by a bulldog by Hall. The bulldog merely seems to tick Meng off though so he pounds Hall down and brings in Barbarian.

Off to Nash who pounds Barbarian into the corner and fires off some big slow knees to the ribs. An elbow to the face staggers Barbarian but he shoves the 7’0 Nash into the corner and pounds away with chops. Meng comes in and the challengers pound Nash down to a big reaction from the crowd. Nash tries to ram their heads together, but Wrestling Law #3 says anyone described as a savage has a VERY hard head, meaning it has no effect.

Nash is kicked down again for a two count for Barbarian but he misses a middle rope elbow. Barbarian is dropped face first on the top turnbuckle in a move called Snake Eyes (a move named by Nash when he portrayed Vinnie Vegas) and it’s back to Hall to pound on Barbarian a bit more. Meng comes down the apron and pulls Hall to the challengers’ corner for a double team with Barbarian. A BIG boot to the face puts Hall down but referee Nick Patrick, who may or may not be in the NWO’s pocket, takes his sweet time in counting two.

Back to Meng for a very delayed piledriver for another near fall. Barbarian tries his luck again with a bunch of chops and a good looking powerbomb. Patrick again takes forever to count, allowing Nash to come in for a save. Barbarian stays on Hall as Tony says he’s confused by who is legal. To be fair though, tying his shoes confuses Tony. NWO member Syxx goes after Jimmy Hart and the pair head to the back.

Barbarian puts on a nerve hold as Hall gets to lay on the mat. Maybe he needs a nap after all the hard work he’s done in this match so far. After not moving for a good 20 seconds and not being checked by Patrick, Hall fights up and suplexes Barbarian down to escape. Tag off to Nash who gets two off a big boot of his own. Everything breaks down and Nash powerbombs Barbarian down to retain.

Rating: C-. This one went longer than it needed to and even when I was eight years old I knew the Faces of Fear had no chance here. The Outsiders held those belts for the better part of a year and a half with no one being able to take them from them (and keep them that is). The match was a watchable power match but the belts never felt like they were in danger at all.

Hogan and the NWO promise to keep the title and mention brand names like Campbell’s Soup and Coke, presumably in a product placement deal. At least he’s coherent though.

US Title Tournament Final: Eddie Guerrero vs. Diamond Dallas Page

Ric Flair had been champion but had to vacate the title due to a shoulder injury. The idea of this feud (they had fought over the summer too) was to have Page get better by working with a guy as talented as Guerrero. This is after Page lost his $6 to the Diamond Doll (now named Kimberly) and the TV Title due to a bingo card that she won $13 million on which he bought for her. This era of WCW was weird if I didn’t mention that already.

The title is vacant coming in if that wasn’t clear, although the belt isn’t here. It was stolen by the Giant who claimed that he was champion because he wanted to be, so this is for just the name at this point. Feeling out process to start until Eddie takes him into the corner for some chops. Instead of following up Eddie backs off though and lets Page fire off some right hands. A dropkick puts Page on the floor and Eddie rams him into the barricade for good measure.

Like a good heel, Page goes to the eyes to take over and sends Eddie into the steps. Back in and Eddie takes him down with a drop toehold and into an armbar. Eddie stays on the arm with a wristlock as Tony implies that he was scalping tickets before the show. Page takes him down by the hair a few times but Eddie nips right back up. Guerrero low bridges Page to the floor and hits a good looking dive to take him down again. Back in and Eddie is dropped chin first on the top turnbuckle and Page takes over for the first time.

A Pancake (piledriver position but dropping forward instead of down) puts Guerrero down again and it’s off to a chinlock. A suplex gets two on Eddie and Page yells at the referee a bit. Off to an abdominal stretch by Page and he grabs the ropes for extra leverage. Eddie escapes, only to get caught in a swinging neckbreaker for two. Back to the abdominal stretch but Page finally gets caught and has his hold broken by the referee.

Eddie gets another two count off a small package but Page takes his head off with a discus lariat for no cover. Page misses a charge and goes shoulder first into the post, allowing Eddie to take him down with a leg trip. Eddie pounds away and hits a solid European uppercut before ramming Page into the buckle. A suplex gets two on DDP but Eddie’s frog splash (mostly) misses.

Page gets two of his own off a belly to belly suplex, only to go up and get crotched down by Guerrero. Eddie is shoved off the top but Page dives into an atomic drop for two. A pair of backslides gets two each for Eddie but Page’s helicopter bomb gets the same. Eddie is sent to the floor, allowing the NWO to come in and lay out DDP. Guerrero didn’t see a thing so he hits the frog splash for the pin and no belt.

Rating: C+. This took awhile to get going but it was clear that Page wasn’t ready to be a heel at this level yet. Thankfully he turned face soon after this and became the hottest thing in the company as he fought the NWO. Eddie would slip down to the cruiserweight division and dominate there for awhile, meaning that better days were ahead for both guys.

Post match the NWO lays out Eddie as well, which makes little sense but it’s the NWO so that shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Ad for Souled Out, the NWO PPV.

Lex Luger vs. The Giant

Giant is in the NWO and Luger is standing up for WCW to fight for him. Feeling out process to start with both guys fighting for control off a lockup. Giant shoves him into the corner but Luger powers out without breaking up the lock. Luger pounds away with some big right hands in the corner but Giant shoves him right back across the ring. After that same sequence happening three times, Giant runs him over with a clothesline and drops a big elbow for no cover.

Luger is kicked out to the floor and then suplexed back inside so Giant can walk around very slowly. Giant steps on Luger’s chest and then drives a forearm into the back. More stepping on the ribs follows as the match continues to drag. To be fair though, Giant’s offense doesn’t need to be anything more than slow paced and his size carries it. Luger tries a slam but Giant falls on top of him for two. Giant drops an elbow and a headbutt to stay on the ribs, only to miss a charge into the corner and get stuck on the top rope.

Luger kicks him off the top rope but charges into a boot in the corner to give Giant control right back. Giant misses a dropkick of all things and Luger has a breather to get back into it. Luger pounds away with fists and clotheslines but he can’t drop the big man. The forearm filled with steel is enough to drop Giant but it’s only good for two. The kickout sends Luger onto the referee as well so here’s Nick Patrick to replace him. Luger slams the Giant and puts him in the Torture Rack, only to have Patrick kick him in the leg.

Patrick gets laid out by Luger and there’s another Torture Rack but here’s Syxx to break it up. Sting walks to the ring with his trademark ball bat in hand. He shoves Patrick down and whispers something in Luger’s ear. Sting whispers something to Giant as well and leaves the bat in the ring before walking out. Luger gets to the bat but Giant steps on it, so Luger hits him low and then with the bat. A shot to the head is enough for the original referee to count the pin. The place comes unglued for Luger winning.

Rating: D. The match was a mess but this is the first big win for WCW over the NWO in five months. Luger was one of WCW’s top soldiers in the war so him getting that first win was a good idea. The overbooking hurt it a lot and Giant’s very slow offense didn’t help it either. Giant would be out of the NWO in less than a month.

Post match Giant is mad and stares at the ramp because the big guns of the NWO didn’t come out to help him.

Hollywood Hogan vs. Roddy Piper

The whole idea is that Hogan has never definitively beating Piper one on one. Hogan has a fleet of people with him here but he still wants time out before we get going. He’s already on the floor before the bell rings and it’s time to stall. After a minute of waiting on the floor he heads back inside for a lockup and takes Piper into the corner. Piper shoves him into the other corner and finally fires off some right hands, sending Hogan out to the floor and up the aisle. Back in and Hogan pounds away as this is very dull stuff so far.

Hogan throws a lot of punches but Piper comes back with a thumb to the eye and a clothesline. Hollywood heads to the floor and it’s time for more stalling. Back in for a main event headlock which Piper uses to drag Hogan down to the mat. Hogan finally knocks him out to the floor for more brawling, which means single right hands knocking Piper three feet backwards.

They head back in with Piper punching him down again as we head to the floor for the fifth time or so. Piper rams him into the barricade over and over before whipping Hogan in the back with a belt. Back in and Piper slams him down, only to be tripped by Ted DiBiase, meaning WE GO OUTSIDE AGAIN. Hogan knocks Piper into the crowd for a second as this is REALLY boring so far. Back in yet again and Hogan kicks away at Piper’s recently replaced hip before putting on an abdominal stretch.

Piper fights out of it and pounds him in the head before getting two off a small package. They slug it out a bit and Tony is thrilled by this for some reason. Piper hooks a suplex and you would think he had just reinvented sliced bread. Time for more laying around but Hogan misses his legdrop.

Piper gets up and hops on one foot (what was with that???) and here’s Giant for the save. He picks up Piper for the chokeslam but after holding him in the air for seventeen seconds (including Hogan having to stop a fan from running in), Piper kicks Hogan down and bites Giant to escape the hold. Piper shoves Giant to the floor and puts Hogan in the sleeper for the win.

Rating: F. For the main event of the biggest show of the year, this was awful. For a match in general, this was a disaster. The fans didn’t react at all until the end and even then it was NOTHING compared to the pop when Luger beat Giant. It was clear that neither guy was capable of working a match this long with no one to help them and it made for a terrible ending to the show.

WCW goes nuts for Piper and the NWO runs in to beat down Piper. He fights them off and bails before Giant and Hogan are furious with each other. Giant asks Hogan where he was when he needed Hogan. Oh by the way: this wasn’t for the title. WCW never said it was but never said that it wasn’t either, correctly assuming that fans would think the main event of the biggest show of the year was a title match.

Overall Rating: C+. This is a very tough one to grade as the wrestling isn’t bad until the ending but the booking of the show didn’t work at all. The main event is a disaster but other than that and the Luger vs. Giant match, none of this felt important at all. The first three matches were entertaining but ultimately meaningless while the rest of the matches were parts of very uninteresting and flat out bad storylines. The fans were so into the NWO that it didn’t matter though and wouldn’t matter for the better part of a year.

Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. Get the latest and greatest in professional wrestling news by signing up for our daily email newsletter. Just look below for “GET EXCLUSIVE UPDATES” to sign up. Thank you for reading!


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