Let me start
off by saying that “Feliz Navidad” is one of the
greatest fucking songs ever written, and I am not
just discussing Christmas jingles, either. I mean,
there’s just something ethereal about hearing Jose
Feliciano’s dulcimer tones: When that five foot tall
hijo del bitch-a sings about wishing you a merry
Christmas, you KNOW that he really does mean it from
the bottom of his heart. I’ve never really been one
for Yuletide cheer, but man, I can hear that song in
June and feel all warm and cozy inside. So to
abridge, thank you, Mexico. Thank you for
So, uh, anyway,
all of this December nostalgia and opining for
south-of-the-border entertainment gets my neurons
spinning to a certain point in time: a point in time
in which the stock market was up, and the only
people committing acts of terror on US soil were
redneck militia men with vendettas against abortion
clinics. Oh, how I long for the reverie-like epoch
To the common
fan, 1996 was kind of an important year for the
industry, as in DEAR LORD MEGA JESUS ALMIGHTY THINGS
ARE A CHANGING levels of paradigm shifting going on.
Perhaps the most significant development in a year
pockmarked by a litany of radical alterations to the
rasslin’ world was the
transpiration of the
absolute unthinkable: for the first time, well,
ever, the WWF was getting its ass kicked by a NEW
number one promotion in the land. The name of that
company, you may ponder?
Well, say it
with me, wee ones that have never known the joy of
fake fisticuffing VARIETY: Double-YOU, SEE,
little wrestling fed was riding high on the hog at
this point, pretty much raping Vinny Mac’s buttocks
on a weekly basis due to the dual success of the
N.W.O. storyline and putting on ACTUAL IN-RING
product. Yeah, who would have thought THAT would be
such a draw in the wrestling world. Since the final
PPV of the year was often the biggest WCW card of
the year, and this was unquestionably the company’s
most successful year EVER, how exactly would the
newfangled kings of the ring conclude its most
eventful 365 day era?
Well, what do
you know: I just so happen to have an old VHS tape
lying around. The odds?
sans further ado, I present unto thee: Starrcade ’96!
We begin the
show with an opening package that hypes tonight’s
main event as the single most important moment in
the history of life ever. The discovery of the new
world, the advent of the printing press, the
dispersion of Christian philosophy throughout
Europe? FUCK ALL OF THESE, RODDY PIPER CHALLENGING
HOLLYWOOD HULK HOGAN TO A NON-TITLE FIGHT IS OF A
LEVEL OF SIGNIFICANCE SO GRAND THAT YOUR FEEBLE
MINDS CANNOT GRASP IT AS SUCH.
We are coming
to you LIVE from Nashville, Tennessee, the only NHL
city in the league where the players routinely have
more teeth than the aggregate fan. As always, our
hosts for the evening soiree are Schiavone, Rhodes,
and Heenan. Heenan drops a line about Piper being
the only man in the biz that Hogan has never
vanquished. Uh, I’m pretty sure Hogan never pinned
Super Calo, so that line is a big old fat plate of
the shit, Brain, AND YOU KNOW IT.
Mike S. throws
it to Dave Penzer, as he introduces Ultimo Dragon
and Dean Malenko for tonight’s curtain jerker. The
gimmick here is that 9 different titles are on the
line for the match-up; believe it or not, old Dean
gets a pretty sizeable pop from the crowd upon
arrival. One fan in the audience throws up the Four
Horsemen gang sign as Malenko strolls down the
aisle; but wait, this was a good THREE years before
Dean joined the Horsemen! That man MUST be
clairvoyant. . . And a real asshole for not warning
us about 9/11. So yeah, fuck that guy.
Hey, Mike TeNAy
is brought on for color commentary. You know,
because hell if Dusty Rhodes and Tony Schiavone know
how to properly call a tope or plancha. Yeah, we get
some EXCELLENT mat wrestling to begin this bout, as
Sonny Ono runs around the ring looking a lot
different than when he was married to Cher.
I’ve got to
admit, this is a pretty hot crowd; the place goes
MOLTEN as Malenko almost Christopher Reeves-Ultimo
with a heinous back body drop. It’s not long before
the USA chants get stirred up: you mean the Deep
South is a blindly jingoistic and nationalistic
composition? SURELY YOU JEST!
An awesome spot
where Dean gets dumped to the outside and Ultimo
feigns a head and shoulders tope only to land a
sweet suicide dive on the rebound ensues. Back in
the ring, and Ultimo works the arms while Mikey T
tells an anecdote about Ultimo being one of Bruce
Lee’s final pupils. . . Which, yeah, is probably
bullshit, but it beats listening to Schiavone’s
HURTFUL HEENAN RACIAL GENERALIZATION OF THE NIGHT:
(in riposte to a statement about Ono’s scouting
techniques) “Yeah, these Japanese guys do their
Dean locks in a
lengthy heel hook as the commentary guys make it an
effort to pronounce the namesake as “DRAG-GONE”
after TeNAy admonished them for such
mispronunciation earlier in the telecast, and I
assure you that nothing beats hearing such a title
as expressed through the twangy, Texan slur of one
to work the leg, Ultimo breaks out the Gymkata shit,
and the place ASPLODES as Malenko crushes Dragon
with a power slam. Dean no sells the Dragon Bomb,
and the crowd goes positively SHIT (of the ape
variety) when Dean-o drills Ultimo with a Tombstone
Piledriver. Jesus, I can’t believe just how nuclear
this crowd is for this stuff; when Dragon kicked
out, the audience reacted as if evolution had just
been annexed to the Davidson County school
curriculum: OUTRAGED, they were.
off the Texas Cloverleaf (no relation to Mississippi
Shamrock, if you are so pondering), and survives a
fierce Tiger Bombing. ASAI MOONSAULT, ALL YOU MOTHER
FUCKERS. Back in the ring, and Dragon misses a
secondary moonsault, which allows Malenko to lock in
the Lone Star Three Lober, but wouldn’t you know it?
That sonofabitching Sonny Ono makes the distraction,
and Dean-o breaks the hold. Malenko MURDERS Dragon
with a brain buster, but only gets the dos. We get
about a million reversals, and Ultimo FINALLY sinks
Malenko with a tiger supplex.
Dragon, further propagation of the belief that all
Asian people are inherently sneaky in their ways
Well, make that
NINE belts for Ultimo now. A damned tremendous bout,
way, way, WAY better than all of those purported
classics Dean had with Rey-Rey earlier in the year.
You want to see this match.
Hey, what do
you know, Ono is back out for the finals of the WCW
Women’s championship tournament thingy and. . .holy
fuck, is that Kensuke Sasuke? SWEET JESUS IN A
BURNING BRICK CANOE, AKIRA HOKUTO WAS WRESTLING FOR
WCW IN 1996?!? Seriously folks, I had forgotten ALL
about the whole AJPW deal with Dubya See Dubya.
Well, color me tickled pink at this surprising turn
Oh great, Lee
Marshall is on guest commentary for the bout. Jeez,
you can almost taste the lung cancer emanating from
this guy’s Camel-coated esophagus. Akira’s opponent
for the evening is Madusa, which turns into “Mad
USA” when you break it up into chunks. Hmm…sly
social commentary at work? Huh, I never knew that
Sasuke and Hokuto were married. Lee Marshall drops
an even bigger line of bullshit than Tenay’s “Ultimo
Dragon is a student of Bruce Lee” steamer from
earlier when he claims that the wedding of Kensuke
and Akira was televised on live Japanese television
and that in their “home land”, they are treated as
royalty. Our ref for the gala is Nick Patrick, back
when he was working the whole “I’m on the N.W.O.
DUSTY’S turn to make borderline offensive racial
remarks: (after Madusa German supplexes Hokuto) “She
just dropped her right on her nappy head!”
Yeah, leave it
to the great polka dotted one to offend TWO
different ethnic groups in one verbal barb. Jeez, if
you’re going to lob racially tinged rhetoric, at
least make sure you get the RIGHT ethnicity to go
along with your crude stereotyping. Who’d thunk that
a Southern based conglomerate would be home to such
and spinal compression: my two favorite elements in
existence, and boy, are they firmly intertwined in
this bout. Basically, the match follows this
formula: German supplex, sexist commentary, German
supplex, sexist commentary, lather, rinse and
repeat. Anyway, Ono cracks Madusa over the back with
Old Glory, and that allows Akira to land a nasty
brain buster for the three count.
Hokuto, Diamond Studded Oxygen Mask Fetishists
Kensuke and Ono tease contention. Personally, I’m
kind of digging the MC Hammer crew cut on Sasaki.
Gene interviews Roddy Piper, whom manages to make
references to Jurassic Park, legendary midget
grappler Sky Low Low and Roseanne Bar’s bra size all
in the span of a three minute promo. No, really.
Liger and his big goofy ass mask are out next,
accompanied by the most generic sounding “Oriental”
music that has ever existed. His opponent for the
eve shall be Rey Mysterio, Jr., whom at this
juncture, looks and sounds an awful lot like PS1-era
icon PaRappa the Rapper.
Well, this is
another great match, worth tracking down if only to
hear just how damn clueless 3/4ths of the announce
desk truly is when it comes to in-ring play calling.
Rey Rey is rocking tights that are fairly
reminiscent of the old 70s era Atlanta Braves duds,
while Jushin, as always, is dressed as the
amalgamation of Lord Zed of Power Rangers fame, Peg
Bundy and Howie Mandel’s character from “Little
Monsters”. Those aesthetic missteps aside, this is a
damned spiffy little technical showcase, featuring
both guys working the arms, locking in submissions
galore and generally looking like all around kickers
of the ass. Liger snare Mysterio in a surfboard and.
. .WHAT THE FUCK! The tape buzzes, and next thing
you know, Jeff Jarrett is sneaking up on Chris
Benoit. God damn it, I get all eleven and a half
minutes of that shitty throwaway women’s match, but
the second best bout on the card gets electronically
diced. Mother of ten fuckers. Oh well, let’s make
due with what we have and press forward, no matter
how inertly reluctant we may TRULY be.
All right, so
this is a no disqualifications match, centered
around something that I forgot about nearly a decade
and a half ago. Woman is at ringside, which means. .
.you know, even I am starting to grow weary of all
of the triple murder-suicide jokes, to be honest
with you. Insert your own tastelessness here folks.
Well, this was
a pretty competitive little match-up, until the end
where things got all clusterfucky with everybody
from Arn Anderson to Hugh Morris making run-ins.
Jarrett eventually pins Benoit, after Sullivan
clocks The Crippler over the noggin with a wooden
Jarrett, oak furniture that is in no way, shape or
form rigged to explode, nope, not whatsoever
Ugh, that’s WCW
for you: we cut out the ending to a great match and
supplant it with the shitty ending to another one.
Story of the promotion, really. Post-bout, Stone
Cold’s future wife/punching bag says things while
Steve “Mongo” McMichael verbally stumbles his way to
cashing another million dollar paycheck despite
contributing nary a goddamn thing to the company.
Once again, story of the promotion.
Up next, it’s
Hall and Nash taking on Meng and The Barbarian.
Sounds Hoss-irifiic to me!
Believe it or
not, this is actually a hell of a match from back
when tag team wrestling, you know, meant stuff.
Pretty basic storyline here; Hall and Nash are big,
tall ass stompers and Meng and The Barbarian are the
tanner big, tall ass stompers. Their respective
missions? That’s right: the stomping of sundry
This is just a
flat out expertly paced brawl, with Hall getting the
machismo knocked out of him by the Faces of Fear for
a good three quarters of the bout. Since Nick
Patrick is the referee, everybody in the announce
book is mighty suspicious of his officiating. We
have some tremendous spots in the bout, aided
handsomely by the retardedly hot crowd at the
Nashville Municipal Auditorium. When Meng spikes
Hall with a pile driver, you can literally FEEL the
collective antipathy of the audience. It’s some cool
shit, no doubt.
Anyway, we get
the typical free-for-all ending, as Nash ends the
bout by Jack Knifing Meng to retain the WCW tag
Hall and Kevin Nash, memories of when Scott Hall and
Kevin Nash could actually do stuff
Time! Hogan says Piper lives in Oregon and is
something of an unfit father. Of course, he doesn’t
use those exact words because he’s kind of a carnie,
but still, that is what he implies.
Teen Spirit as DDP makes his way ringside. His
adversary this evening is Eddie Guerrero, who comes
out to what sounds like a Whitesnake cover band.
This is the finals for the US title. Enthused is
what we all are. Heenan calls Guerrero’s finisher
the “Jack knife off the top rope” and Dusty labels
it as “The Froggy Splash”. Dear God, there must be
enough vodka around the announce desk to start a
four alarm blaze.
Well, here are
some highlights from this bout:
Tony S. talking
about tickets for the show being scalped in the
parking lot, only to be told to STFU by Dusty
because it’s an illegal practice.
Guerrero with something of a proto-Styles Clash.
“Diamond Cutter!” right before Page hits Eddie with
a neck breaker.
this was another really good match. For what it’s
worth, this may very well be one of the best
wrestled, match-by-match cards of the decade. Finish
comes (eww!) when Hall power bombs DDP while the ref
is distracted, allowing Guerrero to land the
Jackknife Froggy Splash of the top rope for the
Guerrero, literacy (you know, because DDP says he
didn’t learn how to read until he was like 30. Come
on, I can’t be the only one that say that episode of
WWE Confidential, am I?)
Post bout, the
N.W.O. beat down Guerrero, and we’re thrown to a
promo for the first ever Souled Out PPV. According
to the teaser, “it’ll be on on videocassette”. Yes,
it really did say “on” twice, if you are wondering.
By the way, the
most complete, encompassing database in existence
(Wikipedia) said that Liger beat Mysterio in that
one match from earlier. Well, that’s one less
mystery in the world, I guess.
Up next, it’s
The Giant taking on Lex Luger. . .and may God have
mercy on all our souls.
Wait. . . Did
Heenan just say that Luger was one of the most
flexible athletes on the planet? Now, I’ll give him
the benefit of the doubt and CHOOSE TO BELIEVE that
he meant to say “Liger”. Can’t besmirch the Brain,
no way, no how, but with shit like that emanating
from his maw, I don’t know.
For the first
seven minutes of the match, the Giant simply tosses
Luger around like a rag doll. Yeah, there are some
feigned hope spots early, but they never really go
anywhere. Luger makes a withdrawal from the sperm
bank (in other words, he get his comeback) and tries
to body slam the future Big Show. Apparently, Lex
Luger never say WrestleMania III, or else he
would’ve known what happens to muscley blonde dudes
that try to pick up really fat guys in black
no doubt as to whom is the night’s most valuable
player: seriously folks, the crowd absolutely MAKES
this PPV. In any other venue, this match would come
off as a shit-exchange between two hosses, but the
fire behind the crowd really turns this into
something that is dangerously close to being
respectable. By the end of this bout, the audience
is glowing like Chernobyl as Nick Patrick
interferes, saving The Giant from the Torture Rack,
until motherfucking STING runs out of the crowd and
drops the great equalizer (huh, who’d thunk that
would be nothing more than a spray painted plastic
bat?) for Luger to take full advantage of. Sting
exits the fray, Luger pummels the Giant’s nutsack
with a few fist grenades, and pins the Great Wight
Hope after whacking him in the ass with a Louisville
Slugger. Huh, I guess that must have been his weak
Luger, easily impressed Southern throngs
Giant grimaces. . . And that probably makes him
think of McDonalds. You know, because he’s fat.
We cut to
Michael Buffer in the ring. Hogan is out first,
accompanied down the aisle by more WWF wash-ups than
the flotsam of Stamford after a monumental tsunami
hits the Titan headquarters. . . And fuck you if you
think that analogy is overtly worded. Piper is out
second, rocking the baby blue trunks. Well, at least
he didn’t elect to perform that evening in humdrum,
generic attire, no?
the bout by throwing his forehead sweat at Piper.
No, really. Lots of clinching to begin, and Piper
ripostes with some fine fisticuffing. Well, there’s
nothing pretty about this one: just a whole shit
load of sloppy striking. Piper sinks in a headlock
of Randy Orton-esque proportions, and then we have
us some outside brawling. . . And then the video
tape jumps to The Giant and Hogan jawing one
another. Sonofabitch, ANOTHER excised finish. Well,
uh, Piper actually won the match, which is kind of
an important thing to note, and then The Giant came
out and wanted to fight Hogan for the belt and. .
.well, yeah, you really had to have been there WHEN
IT HAPPENED to truly grasp all of this, but all of
this was captivating shit way back when. Come on
kids, just take my word for it.
Well, I learned
a very valuable lesson this evening: when you pay
$0.99 cents for a VHS cassette off eBay, rest assure
that you get EVERY nickel’s worth of the purchase.
All in all, I really don’t feel gypped, per se; with
the COMPLETE bouts dissected, this has to be
considered one of the better PPVS of the decade,
with nary an out and out horrible bout on the card.
When a good 75 percent of the show is of THE RUNNING
MAN caliber (note: The Rocktagon equivalent of a
three * * * bout), you know that you just witnessed
something very, very pertinent.
I’ve made this
utterance multiple times throughout the broadcast,
but seriously, the crowd fucking MADE this show. If
you want to see just how much influence an audience
can have on a card, take a gander at this PPV; there
are about three or four matches on here that
would’ve been sub par afterthoughts on most nights,
but the Creationist-loving, wife-beating, no
MLB-team having Tennesseans brought it in full force
this eve, and for that, I say but one thing to the
Nashville audience: thank you. And please, shower.
all I have for this week. Hey, TWF viewers, before I
depart for the year, I have a very specific inquiry
for you: have you read any good books lately?
that? Why do I ask?
Oh, no reason.
No reason at all . . . ; )
James Swift is a 23 year old fledgling
author from the metro Atlanta area. When he isn’t
watching guys pretend to beat one another up during
the Clinton Administration, he occasionally posts
whimsical nostalgic reflections on Retro Junk and is
an MMA correspondent for F4WONLINE. HEY! Do yourself
a favor and log onto to his Tube page @:
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