Welcome back to another classic WCW review and this time I will be covering WCW’s biggest show of the year, WCW Starrcade 1995. I have been reviewing every WCW Pay-Per-View during the “Monday Night Wars” era, and left off with World War 3 which was a month before this event, and have covered a slew of others which you can read here. This will finish out 1995 and bring us into what I consider the greatest time in wrestling history, and I am excited to dive into it.
The lasting Pay-Per-View image we were left with was “The Macho Man” Randy Savage winning the World War 3 Battle Royal and claiming the WCW Heavyweight Championship, although the win wasn’t without controversy. Hulk Hogan was pulled out of the ring under the bottom rope, but the referee didn’t see it, which caused Savage to be crowned champion with Hogan having a legitimate gripe. I wrote all about this in the World War 3 review so I won’t go over it again. Let’s get into it and see how WCW finished out the year!
December 27th, 1995
They start the show talking about the partnership between WCW and New Japan Pro Wrestling, and the tournament dubbed “The World Cup of Wrestling.” The majority of the matches will pit wrestlers from both companies against one another with the winner(s) being the team that wins the most matches on the night. A few of the wrestlers will be on double duty on the show since Savage will also be defending the WCW Heavyweight Title against the winner of a Triangle Match between Ric Flair, Sting, and Lex Luger later on in the night.
We are joined by the announce team for the night which is Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, Tony Schiavone, and “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. Schiavone puts over Starrcade being the biggest show on the WCW calendar and Rhodes chimes in talking about how important the show is and how excited he is for the tournament. He mentions the Triangle Match for later in the show before they go over to Heenan, who says that Savage is in trouble tonight, no matter who wins the Triangle Match. They go down to the ring for the opening match.
Chris Benoit (WCW) vs. Jushin Thunder Liger (NJPW) (w/Sonny Onoo)
This is the first match of the tournament and I have a sneaking suspicion this will not be the last time we see Mr. Onoo accompanying someone to ringside.
The match starts off quickly with Benoit pushing Liger down to the mat. Both men lock up and Benoit throws him down once again. Benoit hits a kick to the midsection and locks Liger in a headlock. Liger reverses out of it and the two men have a back and forth exchange in the ring that sends Benoit to the floor. Liger comes out with a baseball slide and a senton from the apron that wipes out both men. Liger gets back in the ring as Benoit is slow to get up. Back in the ring, they lock hands for a test of strength, in which Liger takes the advantage. Liger chops Benoit and whips him into the ropes, but Benoit counters it with a backbreaker and covers for a two count. Liger gets back to his feet and hits an arm drag and a belly to belly suplex before kicking Benoit to the outside again. Liger teases coming out but is just toying with him. Benoit jumps back in the ring and kicks Liger in the midsection and hits a snap suplex. He follows that up with a belly to back suplex and stomps on Liger for good measure. He sends him into the ropes and takes Liger down by the head. Benoit locks in a Boston Crab and really cranks on the neck before covering him for a two count. Both men exchange chops before Benoit hits a Bridging German Suplex for a two count. Liger fights out and puts Benoit in a surfboard submission hold before letting go and putting him in a Camel Clutch. Benoit gets back to his feet with Liger on his shoulders and sends him crashing to the mat. Benoit attempts another suplex but Liger reverses it and gets a two count. Benoit goes for a Tombstone but Liger reverses it and slams him down with a move of his own. Liger goes up top, but Benoit meets him up there and takes him down with a Superplex and a two count. Benoit goes back up for the Diving Headbutt but Liger rolls out of the way. He picks Benoit up and hits a sit-out powerbomb for a two count. Liger picks Benoit up and hits a Brainbuster for another two count. Liger argues with the referee and that gives Benoit an opening to hit a clothesline. He hits two German Suplexes and a powerbomb and goes up top for the Diving Headbutt, while Kevin Sullivan and Jimmy Hart make their way down to the ring and try to pull him off. Benoit argues with them on the outside and as he turns around Liger is waiting and hits an ugly hurricanrana to pick up the win to give NJPW the 1-0 lead. The match went 10:29.
Winner: Jushin Thunder Liger
Match Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Collective Thoughts: That was a great back and forth match that didn’t slow down for much of it. Liger was so quick and fluid here and I think their styles meshed well here. Benoit laid all of his offense in and it looked great, but it always seemed like Liger was one step ahead of him for the entire match. Sullivan coming down to ringside was a way to build the feud with Benoit, and these two would go at it a good bit over the course of their WCW runs. Overall, the match was as hell of a way to start the show and really showed off a lot of what both men can do.
Post-match, Benoit is upset in the ring and watches Sullivan and Hart make their way back up the aisle way as they go to replays for the match.
Mean Gene is backstage interviewing Eddie Guerrero before his match tonight. Gene said that Eddie can’t be happy with what just went on and Guerrero agrees and says that Sullivan had no business going down to the ring. Gene asks Guerrero about his match, and he says it’s an honor to be representing WCW in the tournament. Guerrero says he has to be on top of his game to win tonight and has put in the work to make that happen. Gene says it’s time to keep things going and sends it back to the ring for the next match.
Alex Wright (WCW) vs. Koji Kanemoto (NJPW) (w/Sonny Onoo)
Kanemoto is the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion coming into this match.
They lock up multiple times to start the match with neither man gaining the advantage. Wright locks in an armbar but Kanemoto reverses and puts in one of his own. Both men get back to their feet with Kanemoto taking him down with a leg sweep. Kanemoto works on the knee of Wright to keep him grounded. Wright gets back to his feet and hits an Enziguri but can’t follow up and Kanemoto keeps the advantage. Kanemoto comes off the ropes but Wright hits him with an arm drag and a couple of dropkicks. Wright continues working on him in the ropes and takes him over with a clothesline. Wright gets back in the ring and hits a baseball slide that knocks Kanemoto to the guardrail. Wright comes back out with a splash over the top rope and Kanemoto is frustrated. He gets back in the ring but Wright continues his momentum and locks in a chin lock. Kanemoto gets back to his feet and works Wright into the corner and hits an elbow and some chops. He snaps Wright over to the mat and kicks him in the back for good measure. Wright gets back to his feet but is taken out quickly with a Spinning Heel Kick. Kanemoto puts Wright on the top rope and hits a dropkick to the chest. Kanemoto dropkicks Wright again and knocks him to the outside. Kanemoto follows him out with a splash over the top and tried to throw Wright into the guardrail but he reverses it and throws Kanemoto into the steel. Wright gets back in the ring and waits for Kanemoto who is taking his time. Wright tries to suplex him back in but Kanemoto slips out and hits a Tiger Suplex but Wright gets to the ropes. Kanemoto goes to the top rope and hits a moonsault but doesn’t cover him. He works Wright into the corner and charges in but Wright leaps over and hits a German Suplex for a near fall. Wright hits a spin kick and an elbow in the corner. He slams Kanemoto down and hits a splash over the ropes but Kanemoto gets his foot on the ropes. Wright goes up top and attempts a missile dropkick but Kanemoto scouts it and hits Wright with one of his own. Kanemoto tosses him into the corner but Wright comes back with a crossbody for a two count. Kanamoto hits Wright with a shot and hits a senton for a two count. He climbs up top but Wright hits him with a dropkick on the way down. Wright goes up top and finally hits the Missile Dropkick but doesn’t cover him. He works Kanemoto into the opposite corner and lifts him up to hit a super plex and covers for a two count. Wright is thrown back into the corner and as he tries to leap over him again, he is caught and dropped face-first on the turnbuckle. Kanamoto rolls Wright up and picks up the win to give NJPW the 2-0 advantage. The match went 11:44.
Winner: Koji Kanemoto
Match Rating: 3/5 Stars
Collective Thoughts: From the opening bell these two went back and forth with no one gaining a distinct advantage throughout. Alex Wright showed a lot of high flying moves but also hits some power stuff which made the match a little bit more fun to watch. Kanemoto wasn’t slacking either and hits some stiff shots that had Wright reeling throughout the match. Both men hit some dives over the top rope and I must say that the first two matches on the show were relatively clean. NJPW has had a nice showing so far on a big stage.
After the match, Kanemoto celebrates in the ring with Onoo and the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title as they show replays from the match.
The announcers are back up and Heenan is holding both the United States and Japanese flag in his hand. Classic Heenan. Tony says that WCW will have to win 4 of the remaining 5 matches and Rhodes says it may be a hard road to go down. Heenan says that obviously he wants WCW to win, but you can never be too sure. They send it to the back with Mean Gene.
Gene talks about NJPW being up 2-0 and talks about the WCW Hotline. He brings in Sonny Onoo who says it will be 5-0 in favor of NJPW by the end of the night. Gene corrects him and says they only have to win four matches. Onoo says it doesn’t matter and that he might have paid someone in the WCW locker room to lose on purpose. Gene questions him before sending it back to ringside.
“The Total Package” Lex Luger (WCW) (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Masahiro Chono (NJPW) (w/Sonny Onoo)
Luger hits Chono quickly and puts him in a headlock. Shoulder block by Luger followed by a Gorilla Press Slam that takes Chono down. The crowd is super into Luger. Chono comes back with some forearms off the ropes and a Yakuza Kick that knocks Luger to the outside. Chono stalks him on the outside as Luger tells him to get back in the ring. Both men lock hands for a test of strength but Luger changes course and hits a knee to the midsection. Luger drives him into the corner and hits some shots to the head. He attempts a suplex, but Chono reverses into one of his own. He works Luger into the corner and stomps away while getting his knee into the throat. He snaps Luger over and starts ripping at his face. Luger comes back with some punches but Chono snuffs it out and puts him in a Sleeper Hold and slams him down to the mat. Chono puts Luger in a submission hold but Luger gets to the ropes. Chono stays on the offensive but Luger comes back with some kicks of his own. Chono hits an atomic drop and comes off the ropes with the Yakuza Kick again. Chono climbs up to the top but Luger hits him with an elbow on the way down. Luger puts him up in the Torture Rack and it doesn’t take like for Chono to give up as WCW cuts into the 2-1 lead. The match went 6:41.
Winner: Lex Luger
Match Rating: 2.25/5 Stars
Collective Thoughts: This was about standard for a Luger match in this time period. Both men used a lot of power moves with clotheslines and stiff punches. Chono used the Yakuza Kick to his advantage but it couldn’t keep Luger down. The ending came out of nowhere, but that isn’t a bad thing. The fans blew up when he put Chono in the rack and the one thing that could always be said about Luger’s second WCW run is that he was over with this particular fan base. Luger will always be involved in the Triangle Match later on in the night.
Sting is backstage with Mean Gene and says that WCW may be down 2-1 right now but they are coming on strong and will pull through in the end. Gene brings up that Sting lost the WCW United States Title to Kensuke Sasaki a few months back in Japan and that he will be facing him here tonight. Sting says that was a bad day when he lost the title, and the match tonight isn’t for the title, but he is still going to come out victorious and avenge the loss. He talks about the Triangle Match coming up and says it’s going to be interesting no matter what happens. Sting says tonight he is out for himself and they send it down to the ring for the next match of the night.
Johnny B. Badd (WCW) (w/Kimberly) vs. Masa Saito (NJPW) (w/Sonny Onoo)
Badd is the current WCW Television Champion and Kimberly recently changed her name from The Diamond Doll. Badd won her services last month at World War 3 when he defeated Kimberly’s real-life husband, Diamond Dallas Page, and she has stayed with Badd and been his valet ever since.
Onoo grabs the mic and says that Kimberly shouldn’t be allowed at ringside, and Kimberly just waves her finger saying that she won’t leave. She grabs the mic and says this isn’t a Japnese Bath House and that she isn’t some basic woman. She asks Onoo what he is going to do if she doesn’t leave the ring and they both just leave the ring. That was excruciatingly bad acting.
Saito takes Badd into the ropes but let’s off and bows to him. Badd grabs a hammerlock but Saito fights out and throws him to the mat. Saito takes Badd down to the mat again and locks in a chin lock. Badd fights his way back to his feet but Saito tosses him back down. Both men exchange chops with Saito hitting the final one and it knocks Badd back down to the mat. He drives his head into the corner and hits some more shots. Saito chokes Badd on the bottom rope as Onoo cheers him on from ringside. Saito hits a side suplex and covers him for a two count. He continues stomping on Badd and hits him with a clothesline for a near fall. Saito chokes Badd on the middle rope this time and Onoo gets in on the action as the referee is distracted. Saito with a Russian Leg Sweep but only gets a two count. They exchange punches in the middle until Badd hits a kick and a high knee. He goes up top and hits a Double Ax and follows that up with a sunset flip from the other corner for a two count. Badd with a suplex and covers but only gets a one count. Onoo gets up on the apron and Badd grabs him by the shirt. He wants to hit Onoo but doesn’t and that allows Saito to hit him from behind. He picks Badd up and tosses him over the top rope, which in 1995 WCW, is a disqualification and allows WCW to tie it up at 2-2. The match went 5:52.
Winner: Johnny B. Badd
Match Rating: DUD
Collective Thoughts: That was a near 6-minute match where nothing really happened. Saito hit Badd with some power spots and Badd showed some good athleticism but other than that, the match just kind of fell flat. There was more emphasis on Kimberly and Onoo on the outside than what was going on in the ring at spots. Badd did have a beautiful Sunset Flip off the top, but overall the match wasn’t very good. The over-the-top disqualification rule WCW at the time might be the most ridiculous thing in the history of wrestling. The acting in the beginning really set the tone.
After the match, Kimberly is in the ring with Saito but Badd makes the save and knocks him out of the ring. He follows Saito out with a flipping senton and he celebrates in the ring with Kimberly and the WCW Television Title.
They go back to the announce team who talk about the next Pay-Per-View event, and the next show I will be covering, Superbrawl VI. That show took place in February rather than January because WCW wasn’t quite running one Pay-Per-View a month at this point.
Mean Gene is backstage with Lex Luger and Jimmy Hart. Gene asks what the deal with Kevin Sullivan is and Hart says that Sullivan has a short fuse and that he can’t control what he does. Gene looks to Luger and talks about the Triangle Match and how he is going into it. Luger says he already took care of business once tonight and he plans to do it again. Luger says he is coming right at Flair and Sting and will beat Savage right after. Luger tells Hart that he is going to prove that he is the best and wants to come to the ring by himself. Hart says he believes in him and respects his wishes. Luger said it’s his time to shine and that The Total Package will reign supreme. Gene sends it back down to the ring.
Eddie Guerrero (WCW) vs. Shinjiro Otani (NJPW) (w/Sonny Onoo)
They show the scoreboard on the screen, which is tied 2-2, and the bell sounds. Guerrero works him into the corner before locking up and getting him in a headlock. Otani escapes and locks him in an armbar, which has Guerrero flustered. Both men get back to their feet and Guerrero hits an Enziguri and snaps him over to the mat. Otani shoots the legs and gets Guerrero locked in a single leg crab. Guerrero wrestles his way out and puts Otani in a chin lock. Both men get to their feet and Guerrero hits a hurricanrana that sends Otani out to the floor. Guerrero hits a dropkick as he comes back hit and hits a senton over the top. He locks Otani in a Boston Crab and sits down all the way. Otani gets to the ropes and Guerrero is forced to break the hold but he stomps down on him for good measure. He hits Otani with a big powerbomb and covers him for a two count. Brainbuster by Guerrero and he covers him but Otani gets the foot on the ropes. He throws Otani in the corner and comes after him with a clothesline. Otani leaps over him after being sent to the corner again and hits a dropkick that sends Guerrero to the outside. Otani follows that up with a splash over the top to the outside. He rolls Guerrero back in the ring and starts to lay the boots to him. Dropkick by Otani and he pulls on the hair of Guerrero and chokes him with his boot. He continues working on Guerrero in the ropes and uses all of the referee’s five count. He puts Guerrero in a chin lock but he fights out and hits a side suplex on Otani. Guerrero tries a Vertical Suplex but Otani slips out and hits a Bridging German Suplex for a two count. Otani comes off the ropes with a Spinning Heel Kick but Guerrero gets his foot on the ropes at two. He goes up top but Guerrero meets him up there and hits the Frankensteiner from the top for a two count. Guerrero follows that up with a Crucifix Bomb for another near fall. Otani slips out of a waist lock and wraps around the leg of Guerrero again but he gets to the ropes. Otani charges in but Guerrero pulls the middle rope down and sends him to the outside. He sends Otani into the guardrail and slams him down on the floor. He comes off the middle ropes with a big splash and it wipes Ootani out. Both men climb back in but Otani is one step ahead and suplexes Guerrero to the inside of the ring. He comes off the top with a Missle Dropkick and signals for the end. Guerrero wiggles out of a suplex attempt and rolls him up for a two. Both men exchange pinfalls before Otani gets Guerrero pinned down and beats him to give NJPW the 3-2 advantage. The match went 13:43.
Winner: Shinjiro Otani
Match Rating: 4/5 Stars
Collective Thoughts: This was the match of the night thus far. It was nonstop from the start and this was just the beginning for Eddie Guerrero. I wouldn’t say that this is his prime because he was just starting to scratch the surface of how good he would become, but he was so good even at a young age here. Otani gave him a lot to work with and both men really busted their asses. There was a ton of high flying moves that looked great and although the ending fell a little flat, I can look past it because the quality of the match was great.
After the match, Guerrero can’t believe he got beat and Otani celebrates in the ring.
Gene is backstage with WCW Heavyweight Champion “Macho Man” Randy Savage. I am sensing a theme for this show. Gene says that he has his plate full tonight with a match in the tournament, followed by a championship match directly following the Triangle Match. Savage cuts him off and says to forget about the Triangle Match, and that he is focused on one thing at a time. He says that he will win his tournament match tonight and then he will retain his title, even if it means going through his friend Sting. Savage puts over how deadly The Torture Rack is and how quickly Chono submitted when he got put in it earlier. Savage says he likes the unpredictability of it all. Gene says he just got off the phone with Hogan and he wanted to know where Savage’s head is at. Savage says Hogan shouldn’t worry and his head is exactly where it needs to be and is going to even the score with NJPW. Savage says he is done talking and they send it back down to the ring.
“Macho Man” Randy Savage (WCW) vs. Tenzan (NJPW) (w/Sonny Onoo)
This is obviously not for the WCW Heavyweight Title.
Savage starts the match by working him into the corner but Tenzan fights out with a kick to the midsection and stomps down on Savage. He works Savage into the corner and slams his head into the turnbuckle. Tenzan throws him into the ropes and takes Savage down with a clothesline. Savage fights his way back to his feet and tries to get some offense in but Tenzan takes him out with a punch and chops him in the corner. He sticks his boot into the throat of Savage but Savage fights back up and hits a flurry of shots. Tenzan regains the advantage with an eye gouge and hits a blow to the back. Savage comes back with an eye rake but is snuffed out quickly with an elbow. Big headbutt by Tenzan and he takes Savage down to the mat again. Savage rolls out of the ring but Tenzan follows him out and tosses him into the ring post. He rolls Savage back in the ring and hits a back body drop. Tenzan climbs up top and hits a diving headbutt for a near fall. Scoop slam by Tenzan and he climbs up top but misses on a moonsault. Savage clotheslines him over the top rope but he lands on the apron, so no disqualification. Savage tries to suplex him into the ring but just drops him stomach first on the top rope. He goes up top and hits the Diving Elbow Drop to pick up the win and tie the score 3-3. The match lasted 6:55.
Winner: “Macho Man” Randy Savage
Match Rating: 2.5/5 Stars
Collective Thoughts: Obviously, Savage wasn’t losing this match, and it wasn’t a terrible match overall. Tenzan was on the offensive for most of it and really did a number to Savage with some power and shots to the head. Savage did a great job selling throughout, and the crowd popped big when he went up for the elbow drop. He will be pulling double duty when he defends the title later on, but this was a good warmup match.
They go back to the announce table where Heenan is turned towards the ring. He has a hard time getting turned back around as they send it to the back with Mean Gene.
Mean Gene is laughing at Heenan as they go to him and he is joined by Ric Flair but not before shilling the hotline once again. Flair says that tonight it’s Japan vs. The USA, but tonight he is also talking about the WCW Heavyweight Title. He says that Sting and Luger have to remember that to be the man, you have to beat the man. Flair says they will know without a shadow of a doubt who is the true king after tonight. Flair says it’s time to Style and Profile before he leaves and they head back down to the ring.
Sting (WCW) vs. Kensuke Sasaki (NJPW) (w/Sonny Onoo)
This is the final match to decide the winner of The World Cup of Wrestling with everything tied at three-a-piece. Sasaki is the current WCW United States Champion but it isn’t on the line in this match. Also, Onoo has been out to the ring in every single match so far. Bravo.
Sasaki starts the match off quickly and attacks Sting from behind. He throws him into the corner and follows it up throwing him to the other side. Sting fights out with some elbows and rights and hits a Stinger Splash in the corner. Sasaki reverses a whip into the corner and hits a bulldog followed by a clothesline. Sting no-sells another clothesline and hits one of his own and tosses Sasaki to the outside. Sting brings him back in and charges in but Sasaki hits a Powerslam. He picks him up and hits a Brainbuster but doesn’t cover him. Sasaki continues to stomp away on Sting and puts him in an armbar. Sting gets back to his feet but is taken down again quickly. Sasaki throws him into the ropes and takes him to the mat with an arm drag. Sasaki has Sting hooked and puts him in the Scorpion Death Lock. Sting fights up and powers out of the move. He gets back to his feet but Sasaki takes him down again with a leg whip. Sting hits an Enziguri but Sasaki maintains control and puts him on the top rope. Sting fights out and hits a few shots and a clothesline. He puts Sasaki in the Scorpion Death Lock and he taps out to give WCW the 4-3 win. Match went 6:52.
Match Rating: 2.5/5 Stars
Collective Thoughts: This match was right on par with the Savage match before it. Sasaki was on the offensive for a lot of it but Sting came out on top in the end. The crowd was a little dead throughout the night but came up big for both Sting and Savage here and it shows they were hot at the time. Sasaki putting Sting in the Death Lock was a cool visual but Sting ultimately won the match with that same move.
After the match, the other members of WCW involved in the tournament come out to congratulate Sting and celebrate the victory. Mean Gene goes to the ring to present the trophy to WCW. Sting says it’s good to win this for the USA and Gene puts him over as they continue to celebrate in the ring. They go to a package showcasing the Triangle Match which is up next.
WCW Heavyweight Title #1 Contender Triangle Match
Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger vs. Sting
Flair is the only one in the match that hasn’t wrestled on the show already. They also had Sting go to the dressing room just to walk back out here, which was weird. The rules for this match aren’t like a Triple Threat Match because there are only two men in the match at a time and the third man is on the apron waiting to be tagged in.
Sting and Flair start off the match with Luger on the apron. Sting works him into the corner as Flair stands there stunned. Sting throws him into the ropes and picks him up for a Gorilla Press Slam and follows that up with a clothesline. Flair rolls out of the ring and when he comes back in, he locks Sting in a hammerlock while using the ropes for leverage. He stomps down on Sting and works his arm on the top rope. He takes Sting back down to the mat as Luger watches on from the apron. He throws Sting into the corner and hits a chop and struts around the ring. Sting recovers and takes Flair down with a slam and the corner punches. Sting hits the bulldog but Flair rolls out of the ring before he can capitalize. He throws Sting into guard rail but Sting no-sells it and sends Flair into it instead. He rolls Flair back in the ring and tried a dropkick but Flair stops himself and Sting misses. Luger tried to get in the match but is cut off by the referee. Flair comes off the ropes and kicks Sting in the knee and it takes him down to the mat. He brings Sting back to his feet and takes him down with a punch to the head. Sting gets back to his feet and Flair hits a chop. Luger tries to get in again but is cut off again and Flair uses the distraction to toss Sting over the top rope. He throws Sting into the guard rail again and sizes him up for a knee drop. He hooks the leg and won’t let go and gets multiple near falls but Sting kicks out. Flair continues the assault with some kicks to the ribs and picks Sting up for a vertical suplex but Sting no-sells it and slams Flair down again. He picks him up to the top rope and hits a super plex and he goes to cover Flair but Luger comes in and would have broken it up if Sting didn’t let up. That causes some dysfunction among friends. Flair takes advantage of the distraction and hits Sting from behind which allows Luger to tag into the match. Luger gets in Flair’s face but he dumps out of the ring and starts to walk up the aisle way. Luger chases him out and brings him back in the ring. Luger picks Flair up and slams him down to the mat. He works Flair into the corner and this the ten punches of his own. Flair does his flop to the mat and Luger covers him but he kicks out at two. Both men get to their feet and tears into the eyes of Luger. Flair takes out Luger’s knees and puts his boot to his throat and stomps down. Flair goes outside and pulls Luger’s legs out and he hits Luger in the knees with a chair. Flair gets back in the ring and chops Luger in the corner. He takes his leg over to the bottom rope and comes down hard on it. Flair locks Luger in the Figure Four and grabs the ropes for leverage. Luger sits up and Flair slaps him in the face but that only fires him up. Luger rolls the move over and Flair is forced to break it. Flair attempts to suplex Luger out to the floor but he reverses it and suplexes Flair into the ring and covers him for a two count. Flair gets back to his feet and climbs to the top and you guessed it, gets thrown off. Flair hits Luger with a chop but Luger isn’t fazed and hits some of his own. He takes Flair down with a shoulder block and Flair tags Sting into the match.
Luger and Sting hesitate to face-off and shake hands in the ring before finally locking up. Both men work each other into the corner, but no one wants to take the first shot. Luger kicks Sting in the midsection and sends him into the corner headfirst. Sting fights out and tries the corner punches but Luger brings him out and hits an atomic drop but Sting no-sells it. He hits Luger with a series of clotheslines and Luger retreats to the corner. He comes out and hits Sting with an elbow and slams him into the corner with some shoulder blocks. He throws Sting to the other side and charges in but Sting gets his boot up. Luger takes away the momentum and takes Sting down with a clothesline. He kicks Sting to the outside and follows him out. Sting hits him in the stomach and rolls him back in the ring. Sting hits a crossbody off the top and covers Luger for a two count. Sting goes for a Vader Bomb but Luger gets the knees up. Luger hits some elbows and covers but only gets a two count. He comes back with a kick but Sting catches his leg and takes him out with some punches to the head. Sting tries to put Luger in the Scorpion Death Lock but Luger grabs the ropes. Luger hits a low blow right in front of the referee and picks Sting up to hit the Atomic Drop. Sting rolls him up for a near fall. Sting comes back with a sunset flip for another two count. He hits Luger with a suplex and both men are slow to get to their feet. Sting hits a bulldog and throws Luger into the corner and hits a Stinger Splash but misses a second one. Luger picks Sting up in the Torture Rack but he kicks the referee on the way up. Flair tosses both men to the outside of the ring and Nick Patrick counts both men out which gives Flair the win and the shot at the title. The match went for 28:03.
Winner: Ric Flair
Match Rating: 2/5 Stars
Collective Thoughts: That was a weak ending to a match that I felt like went on WAY too long. For what it was the match was fine, but there was a lot of stalling and you could tell that Sting and Luger were spent by the end. You can’t go wrong when these guys are involved in a match, but this one just didn’t click. All three men had ample time to get their stuff in and all three put their finishers on at least once. Flair coming out on top was sort of predictable because he was the only one who didn’t wrestle another match before this one but I don’t hate that he won. I don’t like the countout ending although I can see them trying to protect all three guys though.
After the match, Jimmy Hart comes out to the ring and starts talking to Flair as he waits for Savage to come out to the ring. The announcers are shown putting over the match before they send it back to the ring with Michael Buffer.
WCW Heavyweight Title Match
“Macho Man” Randy Savage (c) vs. Ric Flair
Savage starts the match with a backslide for a two count. Both men lock up and Flair works Savage into the corner and hits a chop. Flair comes back with a punch but Savage blocks hit and takes Flair down with some shots of his own. Paul Orndorff comes down to ringside and stares at Flair who injured his neck a few weeks back. Back in the ring, Savage is continuing to hit Flair with combination blows and sends him to the outside. Savage comes off the top rope but Flair catches him with a punch to the midsection. Flair throws Savage into the guard rail and into the ring post. He chops Savage and continues to work him over on the rail. Flair gets back in the ring and Jimmy Hart kicks Savage as the referee’s back is turned. Flair puts Savage in a hammerlock and uses the rope as leverage again. He comes down on his arm with some knee drops and uses the ropes again. Savage gets back to his feet and Flair works on the bad arm some more. Savage fights out with some punches to the head and takes Flair down to the mat. He comes off the ropes but Flair is waiting and gets him in a Sleeper Hold. Savage comes back and hits Flair in the head and covers him for a two count. He throws Flair into the corner and hits a back body drop. Savage climbs to the top and comes off but Flair is there and hits him in the midsection. Jimmy Hart throws his megaphone in the ring, but Savage catches it and hits Flair instead. Flair is bleeding and Savage comes off the rope and hits The Flying Elbow from what feels like 3/4 of the way across the ring. He covers him, but Hart has the referee distracted and Brian Pillman and Chris Benoit hit the ring to assist Flair. Savage takes both of them out, but Arn Anderson makes his way to the ring and hits Savage in the head with an object. Flair crawls over to cover Savage and pins him to win the WCW Heavyweight Title. The match went for 8:41.
Winner and NEW WCW Heavyweight Champion: Ric Flair
Match Rating: 2.5/5 Stars
Collective Thoughts: That was probably the best match two legends could give us after Flair just worked a long match before. Both men had already wrestled an additional match and the pace of this match slowed towards the end. Flair really pulled all of the tricks out here and it was a classic Flair outing with the bumps and the using of the ropes to gain the advantage. He was truly the “dirtiest player in the game”. Flair bleeding was a big-time no-no in WCW at the time, but he’s Ric Flair and he can do what he wants. Savage was solid here too, but didn’t have a long reign as champion after winning it the month before. I always felt like Savage never got a fair shake in WCW although for this match here, I couldn’t complain about much.
After the match, The Horseman is celebrating the win in the ring as Savage is still laid out on the mat. The announcers put over Flair as the new champion and say their final goodbyes and the show comes to an end.
Overall Show Grade: 6.75/10
I thought this was a really well put together show that showcased a lot of WCW talent at the time. The Benoit and Guerrero matches were top-notch and it was cool to see them beginning their ascent through the business. Most of the other tournament matches were solid as well with Luger, Savage, Sting, and Flair being super over on the night and really had their moments where the crowd was into all of them. The Triangle Match could have been way shorter and while I didn’t like taking the title off Savage so quickly, losing it to Flair isn’t a bad thing. Hogan being off the show was a bit odd too, but he was kayfabe suspended because he was probably shooting a movie or something. I thought the show was a definite step up from the last couple of outings, and it will be fun to dive into the next year.
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