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For what was WCW's biggest show of the year, Starrcade 1995 looked positively bizarre going in. A "World Cup" between itself and New Japan Pro Wrestling would form the bulk of the card, facing off a series of WCW wrestlers against a series of near-unknown Japanese wrestlers to a US audience. Couple that with the fact the show had no main event – Savage's opponent would be decided in a triangle match immediately prior. Oh, and despite the fact that they used seven New Japan wrestlers – Lex Luger, Sting, Ric Flair and Savage all wrestled twice. Hogan had a night off.
The partnership came about as Eric Bischoff was extending ties across the pacific. The show actually looked good going in, but if you were solely watching Nitro you'd be forgiven for not even realising the show was taking place. Most of the promotion took place on WCW's other programming (particularly WCW Pro), given that these shows were pre-taped logistically it was far easier to fly in a bunch of guys for a few days of taping than the weekly live Nitros.
There wasn't even any "selection" of wrestlers for Team WCW. Chris Benoit was selected because of his extensive experience in Japan, but nobody bothered to work out what Benoit's motives (as a heel and member of the four Horseman) would be for trying to help WCW win. He and Luger would make odd appearances during the trophy celebration (at least Benoit was smart enough to wear his Horseman shirt, not the "Team WCW" one).
The title story going in was particularly odd. The entire month was dedicated to Luger being a heel, but still being best friends with number two babyface Sting. Savage and Hogan questioned Sting's motives and that was essentially the storyline going in. Sting, Luger and Flair would wrestle a "triangle" match, the winner of which would face Savage for the final match of the show.
Chris Benoit vs Jushin Thunder Liger (w/ Sonny Ono). WCW 0-1 NJPW
WCW have had a problem in the past of having North American heels wrestling unknown Japanese babyfaces and the faces getting no reactions. The crowd, given what was to come, decided they'd just cheer the heel. Benoit got a really good reaction the entire match, including breaking out an early version of the WCW-era Walls of Jericho submission. After a pair of German suplexes and a diving headbutt, The Dungeon of Doom come out, distract Benoit and Liger barely pulls of a hurricanrana for the three. Good stuff before the Dungeon Of Doom thing happened.
Koji Kanemoto (w/ Sonny Ono) vs "Das Wunderkind" Alex Wright. WCW 0-2 NJPW
Ah - remember Alex Wright? Having vanished from TV he was a very odd selection for this match (well, it could've been worse). The crowd bust out a USA chant, presumably for referee Nick Patrick. A decent match, but not much on the opener. Both worked hard but Wright would need to mean something for the crowd to be invested, and he didn't. Kanemoto bridges a pin and puts New Japan two up.
Masahiro Chono (w/ Sonny Ono) vs Lex Luger (w/ Jimmy Hart). WCW 1-2 NJPW
When Luger is getting cheered – you know something is up. Chono at one stage locks in a lovely looking STF, then hits a "Mafia Kick" - as Tony Schiavone calls it – he's done his research. How do Bobby Heenan and Dusty Rhodes praise Schiavone for his research? They mock him, relentlessly, for the rest of the evening. Luger picks up Chono in the Torture Rack and the place becomes absolutely unglued. Insane reaction for a heel submission.
Johnny B Badd (w/ Kimberley) vs Masa Saito (w/ Sonny Ono). WCW 2-2 NJPW
The Diamond Doll has undergone quite the transformation, now resembling a rough around the edges Sunny-knockoff cheerleader. After some sexist comments from Ono, and a nice-if-playground response from Kimberly, we're underway. Badd can be a great performer, but him and Saito (who has the top half of a bodybuilder, and the bottom half of a marathon runner) just didn't click - Saito didn't want to work. The match, and ended with an over the top rope disqualification.
Sinjiro Otani (w/ Sonny Ono) vs Eddie Guerrero. WCW 2-3 NJPW
You may be noticing a pattern here, every non-American WCW wrestler is losing... anyhow, this was terrific. Excellent action, but a surprisingly flat crowd. Maybe they gave Benoit more leverage given it was the opener, but it really took a while for the crowd to latch behind Guerrero. That being said, this is a very good match from an in ring stand point. After a hurricanrana, and a few countered roll throughts, Otani wins it.
Tensan (w/ Sonny Ono) vs “Macho Man” Randy Savage. WCW 3-3 NJPW.
The crowd come alive for Savage, but this is a nothing match (Beyond Tensan's astonisihing mullet). Tensan dominates the early going, Savage tries to recover but keeps getting cut off. Savage eventually evades a moonsault then hits a top rope elbow drop for the win. Quite the demotion for your World Champion to be wresting in the mid card was this.
Kensuke Sasaki (w/ Sonny Ono) vs Sting – in a match not for the WCW United States Title. WCW 4-3 NJPW
Sting lost the US Title to Sasaki in Japan a couple of months back, this match wasn't for the title as Sasaki didn't want to lose it on TV/PPV (which, of course, explains the logic in him losing it to One Man Gang in the post-show dark match here). Sting throws Sasaki over the top but doesn't get disqualified. Sting gets put in a scorpion deathlock by Sasaki – an amazing lack of crowd reaction for the babyface being put in his own hold. Sting manages to return the favour later on and the crowd go nuts – Sasaki holds on for a while but eventually submits. Team WCW win!
We get a celebration with the trophy and all seven WCW wrestlers. Okerlund asks Sting for comments, "I have one thing left to say, Gene... USA!" Quite what Canadian Benoit and German Wright were supposed to do here I'm not sure. Benoit looked incredibly awkward here – as you'd expect given that he was a bad guy, Luger didn't fare much better but the friendship with Sting at least covers that.
Lex Luger vs Sting vs Ric Flair
The winner will face Randy Savage in the main event
A triangle match, with two men in the ring and one on the outside. At 28 minutes this was long, and it basically split into thirds – starting with Flair and Sting, then Flair and Luger, and the final 5-10 minutes Sting and Luger. This was really good, the crowd finally had some star power, and even though they’d seen Sting and Luger, their reactions said they were anything but tired. Flattened out a bit once Flair tagged out, and ran a little long. Not to mention the finish (Flair dumping both Sting and Luger to the outside and winning by count out), but a very good match.
Randy Savage vs Ric Flair (w/ Jimmy Hart) for the WCW World Heavyweight Title
OK, you’ll find out in a bit why Hart randomly appeared with Flair. This was… ok, going into a main event with two guys we’d already seen didn’t quite work, nor was the match long enough or, frankly, good enough to be the headliner of Starrcade. Flair worked his usual heel antics, Savage finally drops the elbow only for Pillman to intereference. Flair blades, Hart distracts the referee (for an absolutely preposterous amount of time), Anderson levels Savage, Flair pins him and wins the WCW World title.
Scoring Rating: 7/10
Go Back And Watch: A very weird show… possibly the best “wrestling” show of 1995, but a lot of it felt inconsequential due to the lack of build and how unknown the Japanese guys were. Flair, Sting and Luger was good, but the mainly event felt insignificant and the ending not befitting of WCW’s biggest show of the year. I’d advise watching this one, though, easily WCW’s best PPV offering of 1995.