Hulk Hogan & Eric Bischoff Try To Explain WCW Starrcade 1997 Finish
Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff had to come up with some sort of justification for the debacle that was WCW Starrcade 1997
Starrcade 1997 was supposed to be the pinnacle of WCW’s long-term booking. Eric Bischoff wanted to do something special by creating the longest storyline build ever. He knew the ending he wanted: Sting beating Hulk Hogan after Hogan and the NWO had run through everyone else.
The build and the story were executed perfectly. However, something changed at the last moment, on the eve of the title match itself.
The New World Order (NWO) was chronicled extensively on an episode of WWE Legends on A&E. According to interviews by both Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff, there were concerns over where the story would go after this match concluded.
“I had a problem with it because if you’re gonna beat me when I’ve got this type of momentum, this is about making money.
“If you beat somebody, you beat them in a way that they’re better off after they’re beat than they were before, and Eric really wasn’t sure where we were going with this thing.”
Because of this lack of vision in the post-Starrcade ’97 direction, Hulk Hogan invoked the creative control clause in his contract. According to Bischoff, this clause had long existed in Hogan’s contract, but he never used it before. There was a threat that he would, but he never did…until Starrcade.
“Despite the fact that Hulk Hogan did have creative control, and he never exercised it, he never threatened to use it, he had never implied that he might, it was like, ‘Yeah, it’s there, but it’s not,’ except for that night. And because Hulk wasn’t feeling it, he called an audible and it was a mad scramble.”
The “mad scramble” mentioned above came in the form of a convoluted finish. Not only was there interference from Bret Hart (which Hogan admitted he doesn’t remember) but there was also the problem with the referee.
The original plan was for Hulk Hogan to pin Sting after shenanigans and for the referee chosen for the match – Nick Patrick, who was biased towards the NWO – to make a fast three-count.
However, during the actual match, Patrick did a normal count. he still counted three, but did so at a normal pace. Yet the plan was still for Hart to reverse the count (because it was allegedly fast) and to restart the match.
This plan still went through and the match was restarted with Sting then getting the three-count (despite, again, Hogan having won the match moments earlier with a decisive three-count).
To this day, this botched ending is widely considered one of the biggest moments that began WCW’s long downfall and eventual closure.
h/t Inside The Ropes for the transcription