Torch Flashbacks WCW STARRCADE FLASHBACKS - 15 & 20 years ago today: Sting vs. Hogan mega-main event, Sting vs. Vader in '92, tons of stars
Dec 28, 2012 - 10:09:04 AM
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The following are flashbacks to WCW Starrcade PPV events held 15 and 20 years ago from the PWTorch Newsletter Archives. The first report is the Starrcade '92 event featuring the Battle Bowl tournament and Sting vs. Vader in the top headline match. The second report captures one of the most highly anticipated matches of the Monday Night Wars - Sting vs. Hulk Hogan at Starrcade '97. Included after the 1997 PPV report is PWTorch editor Wade Keller's expanded cover story on the Sting-Hogan finish that set in motion the end of WCW's run as the top wrestling promotion of that era.
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WCW Starrcade 20 years ago
December 28, 1992
Report by Wade Keller, PWTorch editor
Jim Ross and Jesse Ventura introduced the program. Eric Bischoff then announced that Rick Rude was injured and would be replaced by Steve Williams in the WCW World Title match.
(1) Van Hammer & Dan Spivey beat Cactus Jack (Mick Foley) & Johnny B. Badd at 7:56 when Hammer pinned Jack in the first of four straight Battle Bowl Lethal Lottery matches. Badd knocked out Jack before Jack was pinned. (1/2*)
(2) Dustin Rhodes & Big Van Vader beat Barbarian & Kensuk Sasaki at 6:53 when Rhodes pinned Barbarian. Barbarian had clotheslined Sasaki by mistake and as he pondered his mistake, Rhodes rolled him up from behind. After the match, Vader nailed Rhodes with an awesome clothesline to soften him up for Battle Bowl. (1/2*)
(3) Barry Windham & Great Muta beat Too Cold Scorpio & Brian Pillman at 6:57 when Muta pinned Scorpio after a Windham DDT and top-rope Muta moonsault. (**)
(4) Sting & Steve Williams defeated Erik Watts & Jushin Liger at 8:52 when Williams pinned Watts after escaping an STF attempt and clotheslining him over the top rope. Watts was given hot tags by Liger after Liger danced around and took bumps for Sting and Williams. (*1/2)
(5) Masahiro Chono beat Great Muta via STF submission at 14:31 to retain the NWA World Hvt. Title. This consisted predominately of matwork. The timing was off when Muta attempted highspots. (*3/4)
Rick Rude came to ringside and complained about the doctors ordering him not to compete in the WCW Title match.
(6) Ron Simmons beat Steve Williams via reverse decision at 15:14 to retain the WCW Title. Originally both wrestlers were counted out as they brawled ringside, but Williams was disqualified for attacking Simmons after the bell. (1/2*)
(7) Rick Steamboat & Shane Douglas beat Barry Windham & Brian Pillman at 20:01 when Douglas pinned Pillman after a belly-to-belly suplex. (***)
(8) Sting beat Big Van Vader at 17:08 to win the King of Cable tournament. After being on the defensive for ten minutes, Sting powerslammed Vader as Vader flew off the top rope. (****)
(9) Great Muta eliminated Barry Windham to win Battle Bowl. Order of elimination: Vader, Spivey, Sting, Rhodes, Williams, and Windham. (**1/2)
Ross and Ventura concluded the program.
WCW Starrcade 15 years ago - Sting vs. Hogan
December 28, 1997
Attendance: 16,052 ($543,000)
Report by Wade Keller, PWTorch editor
The event opened with the movie trailer style preview of the Hulk Hogan vs. Sting main event. They went to a wideshot of MCI Center and fireworks shot off. Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay, and Dusty Rhodes introduced the program. Tenay announced that all active referees's names had been thrown into a hat and the ref for the title match would be randomly drawn. They then went to ringside where they showed virtually every WCW wrestler watching from the stands, to give the event a feeling of importance. Dusty rambled a bit about "destiny" as Tenay nodded. Schiavone announced that the NWO sent a press release to WCW saying Kevin Nash would not be wrestling, but that they didn't know any more.
(1) Eddie Guerrero pinned Dean Malenko at 14:57 to retain the WCW Cruiserweight Title. The crowd really reacted to early offense by Malenko. At 3:15 Eddie bailed to ringside to regroup. When he returned he took over offense and got good crowd heat as he gloated over his moves. At 7:00 Eddie begged off and bailed to ringside again. Eddie worked over Malenko's leg at ringside at 11:00. Guerrero continued to work over the leg and finished off Malenko with a top rope dropkick to his leg and a top rope frog splash to his leg and scored the clean three count. Nothing wrong with the match outside of a slightly lower energy level and slower pacing than usual between these two. Execution was excellent. (***1/4)
Scott Hall came out alone. He polled the crowd on whether they were pro-WCW or pro-NWO. He talked about facing the winner of Sting vs. Hogan at SuperBrawl in February. Hall announced that Kevin Nash wouldn't be there. He said, "He says if you have a problem with that, you can meet him down there." Fans chanted, "Down where?" Hall said, "You know where." Hall told Giant to get a ref to award him the match because he wins by default. Hall began mocking The Giant. Giant walked to the ring. Giant grabbed the mic and told Hall to tell Nash that he is a patient man and he will be around for a long time. He said when Nash returns, he'll find out he's the one true real Giant. Hall threw his toothpick into Giant's face. Giant absorbed some Hall punches, but no-sold them and press slammed Hall. He then gave Hall a jackknife. Hall lay flat on his back selling it. Norton and Vincent helped him to the back. The announcers said they hoped to learn more from Hall about Nash's absence.
(2) Randy Savage (w/Elizabeth) & Scott Norton & Vincent beat Rick & Scott Steiner & Ray Traylor when Savage pinned Scott Steiner at 11:09. Savage took Konnan's place. When Konnan didn't come out, the announcers said the NWO appeared to be in disarray and they liked it. Then Savage and Liz walked out and the announcers said they were shocked. Savage taunted WCW wrestlers in the crowd on his way to the ring. Savage called for Scott Steiner to start the match against him. They built tension for two minutes before locking up. Cheating by Norton led to Savage gaining the early advantage. At 4:00 Scott made his first comeback with a released underhook suplex. A six-way brawl then broke out with WCW clearing the ring. At 10:00 the Steiners gave Vincent a top rope DDT. Norton stopped the three count. Savage then interfered. Norton slammed Scott off the top rope as Scott was punching away at Savage. Savage followed with a top rope elbow for the three count. Decent six-man tag. (**1/4)
Gene Okerlund interviewed J.J. Dillon, who announced that Nick Patrick was drawn to be the referee for the main event. Dillon said Patrick is an excellent ref and should be trusted.
(3) Bill Goldberg pinned Steve "Mongo" McMichael at 5:59. Goldberg and Mongo brawled in the aisleway at the start of the match. Goldberg picked up Mongo and carried him into the ring. At 2:30 Goldberg went to a UFC style leglock submission hold, but he spent most of the match just overpowering Mongo. Goldberg set up a table at ringside. Then he attempted to toss Mongo over the top rope onto the table. Mongo blocked it and fell onto Goldberg for a near fall. A minute later Goldberg knocked Mongo off the ring apron and through the table. A small "ECW" chant began. Mongo's back gave out due to the table bump when he went for the Mongo Spike piledriver. Goldberg then gave Mongo the jackhammer for the pin. Okay for what it was. (*3/4)
(4) Perry Saturn beat Chris Benoit via armlock submission at 10:49. Raven came to the ring first and said he would not conform to WCW's rules and corporate structure. He reiterated that his contract with WCW allows him to wrestle when and whom he wants and he has chosen not to wrestle. He said he would allow Saturn to finish off the destruction of Benoit. Benoit taunted Raven over the house mic before the match. Good intensity in the opening two minutes. They took it to the floor where Sick Boy and Kidman attacked Benoit. Saturn dominated offense until 7:00. Schiavone said that some of the WCW wrestlers present at the arena paid for plane tickets themselves. Benoit applied the Crippler Crossface at ringside at 9:00. Raven's flock then attacked Benoit. Saturn went for an Asai moonsault, but hit his own men instead when Benoit moved. Back in the ring Benoit hit a top rope headbutt, which prompted Raven's clan to interfere again. Benoit discarded them, but Raven finally entered the ring and DDT'd Benoit. The ref had no choice, because of Raven's special rules, but to watch the interference and call for the bell when Saturn applied Rings of Saturn. (**3/4)
(5) Buff Bagwell (w/Vincent) pinned Lex Luger at 16:35. A dreadfully long match. The opening few minutes saw Buff working the crowd by stalling. The next few minutes were decent, but it slowed down from there into one of those matches where the director cuts to wide shots of the arena when the match came to a standstill. Lots of chinlocks and sleepers from 10:00 to 13:00. Luger began a comeback at 13:30 which prompted Vincent to interfere. Luger threw Vincent into Buff, then signaled for the rack. The ref went down when Luger applied the rack. Savage then attacked Luger from behind. Luger dropped Bagwell, pressed Savage, and racked Savage. Norton then ran to the ring, none too soon for the exhausted Luger, and punched Luger with Rick Steiner's dog collar. Norton put Buff on top of the KO'd Luger, grabbed the ref, and the groggy ref made the three count. The chaotic finish didn't make up for the slow spots during the middle 95 percent of the match. Buff tried, and considering he and Luger are friends outside the ring, it's amazing they didn't put together a better match, but Luger didn't have the stamina to put in a 16 minute match. (1/4*)
(6) Diamond Dallas Page pinned Curt Hennig at 10:49. Page worked over Hennig for the first few minutes, then Hennig took over and worked over Page's ribs and back. Hennig went to a long chinlock. They showed James Vandenberg talking to Alex Wright in the group of WCW wrestlers. The chinlock took the crowd out of the match. Page's comeback didn't elicit much of a reaction. Hennig cartwheeled out of the ring when Page punched him. Page yanked Hennig crotch first into the ring post. Dusty asked Tenay, "Is that one of those huracanranas?" Page went for a Diamond Cutter, but Hennig held onto the top rope and went for a pin with his feet on the ropes for leverage. They exchanged a few two counts. Page rebounded off the ropes and caught Hennig with a Diamond Cutter and scored a clean three count to win the belt. (**1/4)
(7) Larry Zbyszko pinned Eric Bischoff at 11:11. Bret Hart came to the ring as special referee and got a polite reaction. Dusty asked, "Is Bret a tweener?" Bischoff came out in a leather jacket, but fought the match without a top, with black karate pants, a black belt, and karate boots and gloves. Zbyszko came out to the Monday Nitro theme song. Bret carefully checked both men for foreign objects. When the bell rang, a very loud "Larry" chant rang out. Bischoff gloated hitting an open-handed backfist. Then he celebrated a backpunch to Zbyszko's head. Zbyszko just kind of looked on and let Bischoff do his thing. At 1:45 Bischoff went to ringside to discuss strategy with Hall. Hall suggested the crane kick (i.e. Karate Kid), which popped the crowd. Bischoff knocked Zbyszko down with a 360 roundhouse kick to the head. Zbyszko responded by going after Bischoff aggressively, rubbing his face into the mat. Bret yanked Zbyszko off because he had Bischoff's hair. Zbyszko applied the sleeper, and Bret made Zbyszko break because it may have been a choke. Same for Zbyszko's leg scissors. Zbyszko began working over Bischoff's legs, then at ringside threw him into the ringpost. Bischoff barely grazed the post. Zbyszko threw Bischoff into the ringside stairs. Back in the ring, Bret stopped Zbyszko from punching Bischoff with a punch. That gave Bischoff an open roundkick to Zbyszko's head. Bischoff continued to limp. Bischoff attacked Zbyszko with a series of kicks and punches against the ropes. Bischoff became winded. Zbyszko absorbed everything Bischoff could dish out, then went on offense with a suplex and neckbreaker. As Bret admonished Zbyszko for going after Bischoff in the ropes, Hall loaded Bischoff's karate boot with a steel plate. Bischoff roundkicked Zbyszko, but the object flew out of his boot before it hit Zbyszko. Zbyszko sold it like he was shot. Bret looked at Bischoff gloat, then punched him and called for the DQ. Fans popped. Hall went after Bret, but Bret easily got him into the sharpshooter and Hall tapped frantically. Zbyszko choked Bischoff with his black belt. Bret then got up and raised Zbyszko's arm in victory. Schiavone explained afterward that Bret must have seen Hall load the boot and that's why he DQ'd Bischoff. Entertaining and well executed, with latitude given for sloppiness since it was partially a comedy match.
(8) Sting beat Hulk Hogan via submission to capture the WCW Hvt. Title at 13:18. Michael Buffer handled ring announcements. Hogan came out alone. Hogan and ref Nick Patrick had a brief discussion in mid-ring. Then a Sting laser show played for a minute and Sting walked out through the entranceway and took a slow stroll to the ring. They had a staredown in mid-ring. They shoved each other and circled each other for two minutes. Hogan dedicated one of his first punches to "Nasty Nick" at ringside (presumably his young son). At 3:10 Sting dropkicked Hogan out of the ring. At 4:00 Sting hit another dropkick after a leapfrog, sending Hogan out of the ring again. Hogan circled the ring. At 5:30 Sting went to a side headlock. At 7:20 Hogan suplexed Sting, but Sting no-sold it. Sting stood and did a thigh chop to taunt Hogan. Hogan quickly took over with an eye rake before the fans could rally behind Sting. They brawled at ringside. Sting reversed Hogan into the railing and Hogan came to a near stop before bumping into it. Really bad looking. Hogan moved out of the way of a Stinger splash against the rail. Back in the ring Hogan gave Sting the big boot and the legdrop for the pin. Poorly booked and executed match that gave fans nothing to cheer. (See more details in expanded cover story below.) (*)
TORCH #473: COVER STORY
Sting captures title from Hogan at Starrcade
Re-match on Nitro ends with Sting retaining title, but not until after show went off the air; Is Hogan WWF-bound?
By Wade Keller, Torch editor
Dec. 28 in Washington, D.C. at MCI Center, Sting captured the WCW Title from Hulk Hogan in the main event of Starrcade. The finish of the match wasn't without controversy, both from a storyline standpoint and behind the scenes.
Just over ten minutes into the main event, Hogan gave Sting a big boot to the face, then cupped his ears for the crowd, and followed up with a legdrop. He covered Sting and ref Nick Patrick -- who became referee for the match after a "random drawing" backstage -- counted to three. Just at the three count, Sting barely lifted his right shoulder, but it wasn't an obvious kickout. Patrick signaled for the belt and awarded the match to Hogan. From there, the finish turned into a bizarre takeoff on the controversial Survivor Series title match finish.
The camera shifted from center ring to ringside where Bret Hart was standing. He had grabbed the bell ringer's hammer and said that he wouldn't let another injustice happen. Hogan tried to leave the ring with the belt, but Bret grabbed him in the aisle, threw Hogan back into the ring, and designated himself the referee for the match. Scott Norton and Buff Bagwell came to the ring to try to interfere, but Sting easily fended them off. Sting then applied the Scorpion Death Lock on Hogan. Hogan shook his head "No" a few times, then nodded and said, "Yes." Bret signaled for the bell to ring and awarded the match to Sting. Michael Buffer announced the title change as dozens of WCW wrestlers stormed the ring to celebrate with Sting. Sting looked into the camera and shouted something in Spanish. The event then went off the air, without any acknowledgment of the controversial nature of Sting's apparent title win.
The next night on Monday Nitro at Baltimore Arena, J.J. Dillon announced the decision would stand, but never even tried to justify how Bret Hart was able to designate himself the official referee, especially since the first pinfall seemed as legal as could be. On Nitro, the announcers claimed the original three count by Patrick was a fast count; it clearly wasn't, making the WCW announcers look dishonest and deceptive.
Hogan complained about losing the title unfairly and demanded WCW make good on their mistake. Dillon came out and said that Sting agreed to defend the title against anyone from the NWO -- including Hogan -- later in the show. Eric Bischoff came out and accepted the challenge.
The rematch aired live on Nitro, beginning at the end of the second hour of Nitro. Tony Schiavone said they would stay with the match as long as they could. The match went six minutes before going off the air. Just as they went off the air, ref Randy Anderson was knocked down. WCW left viewers hanging on whether Sting would retain the title or Hogan would regain it. Most viewers won't find out until the weekend at the earliest. WCW, at this point, doesn't plan to air the finish of the match in its entirety until Thursday, Jan. 8 on the debut of WCW Thunder.
After the show went off the air, Nick Patrick came out to replace the fallen Anderson. He made Sting break a Scorpion Death Lock on Hogan for no reason. He ended up shoving Sting into Hogan, who rolled him up with a hand full of tights. Patrick made a rapid-fire three count, ignoring that Sting kicked out. Sting knocked out Patrick, then went after Hogan again. He put Hogan in the scorpion. Anderson got up and signaled for the bell as Hogan tapped out. The NWO attacked Sting. Bret Hart led a group of WCW wrestlers who made the save. J.J. Dillon awarded the title to Sting.
There was a lot more going on behind the scenes in WCW than met the eye on Sunday and Monday nights. In fact, the level of disarray extended to a number of levels, including key no-shows of Kevin Nash and Konnan.
The most significant source of strife behind the scenes, though, centered around Hulk Hogan. At first it appeared Hogan and Patrick double-crossed Sting and Bret Hart in the finish at Starrcade. The finish that took place the next night on Nitro was supposed to have been how the finish to Starrcade played out. Initially everyone believed Patrick ignored orders to make a rapid fire three count on Sting and instead made a standard three count, making it appear that Hogan cleanly pinned Sting. That made Bret's protest of Hogan's win seem like delusional sour grapes. The finish was originally conceived with Earl Hebner in mind. The story circulating is that WCW attempted to sign Hebner to be the referee for the match and he was to make the fast three count, with Patrick being the back-up plan. Despite accusations of being part of yet another double-cross on Bret, Patrick has told people he thought he was making a faster-than-normal three count when he hit the mat at Starrcade, but in retrospect realizes it should have been faster. Others still believe Hogan put him up to it. The apparent miscue by Patrick muddled the storyline the next night and made the announcers and Dillon out to be liars by claiming the three count was too fast to be considered official.
In any case, the fact that Hogan dropped the title and didn't regain it the next night plays into the industry talk that Hogan may be headed to the WWF later this month. The fact that Hogan was so willing to drop the title -- and that he came up with the scenario on his own of him submitting to the scorpion -- actually made some in WCW fear that indeed he might be planning to leave. The plan at one point Monday was for Hogan to pin Sting to regain the title, but ultimately that didn't happen. When TNT, due to a budgeting dispute, turned down Hogan's TV series which was based on the "Assault on Devil's Island" movie (that did so well in the ratings), that gave Hogan the rights to shop it around to other cable networks and syndicators. If USA Network has shown interest in the show, he might return to the WWF later this month as part of a package deal with the television show.
Bischoff as recently as the day after Starrcade, has denied that Hogan has the opportunity to leave WCW, insisting that he is locked up through 1998. Several other key sources indicate Hogan does have the chance to leave, and that the "no-compete" element of his contract with WCW expires in early January. At that point, he could conceivably go to work for the WWF and USA Network. However, Hogan has definitely agreed to work four PPV dates with WCW in '98, which may be why Bischoff claims to have Hogan locked up. Hogan, though, could volunteer to work those PPV dates for WCW while otherwise working full-time for the WWF. Since Hogan has 100 percent creative control over his finishes, he could call Bischoff from Titan Towers in February and ask him which WCW wrestlers he wants him to beat cleanly at the next four WCW pay-per-views. Bischoff would then have little choice but to decline to use Hogan at all.
Bischoff spent a good chunk of the Dec. 22 Nitro kissing up to Hogan, giving him gifts, and calling him the greatest wrestler ever, which insiders at the time interpreted as Bischoff's attempt to get Hogan to agree to job to Sting. Perhaps it was also Bischoff, in a strange way, trying to get Hogan to sign an extension. Sources say Bischoff has approached Hogan in recent weeks trying to get him to agree to a more detailed and locked-in contract with WCW in 1998, but as of last word, Hogan hasn't accepted.
WWF officials, though, have told people that they had discussions with Hogan representatives last week regarding him returning to the WWF in January. The speculation about Hogan's future hit a fever pitch on Sunday when various reports surfaced that WWF employees were talking about getting a major acquisition in January who would shift the balance of power in wrestling back to the WWF. It may have been the WWF was just talking about Mike Tyson (whom they want to sign to fight Ken Shamrock at Wrestlemania), but that situation is in such preliminary stages, it seems unlikely the WWF would brag about Tyson as an "acquisition" when negotiations had yet to even begin. It's also unlikely that Tyson would be able to do anything approaching "shifting the balance of power" in the wrestling industry, unless he became a full-time wrestler -- which isn't going to happen. Instead, Tyson would provide a short term boost in publicity (good and bad) for the WWF.
The WWF has to be careful about acknowledging they've had any official talks with Hogan since he is under some form of a WCW contract through the first week of January, However, some WWF officials have indicated to others that any talks they had with Hogan's representatives (perhaps his agent, Henry Holmes) were seen by them as Hogan merely trying to gain leverage with WCW for a new deal with WCW in 1998 and they didn't take him seriously. It's also entirely possible Hogan has struck an under-the-table deal with the WWF already, and that's why he insisted on pinning Sting before agreeing to submit -- so he could leave WCW with a pinfall victory over WCW's "top wrestler." Perhaps the only way to get Sting to agree to get pinned was to convince him the plan was for it to be a fast count. The way the finish played out made Bret Hart, Dillon, and WCW in general look bad and made Hogan look as if he was cheated.
For the record, there isn't much of a buzz among the wrestlers in either the WCW or WWF locker rooms about Hogan. The assumption among wrestlers is that he is staying put where he is. In fact, this weekend he was talking with some wrestlers about how he hoped to have some great matches with Bret in the next few months.
The sentiment in WCW and from most observers is that Sting turned out to be a tremendous disappointment at Starrcade. His full body outfit based on the Crow theme covered everything but his head and arms. His shoulders and chest seemed more like those of an aerobics instructor than a champion wrestler. He looked pale and listless in the ring, making it appear that he didn't train for the match. In fact, some fans in attendance at the arena say that much of the crowd didn't think it was the real Sting until several minutes into the match, especially since Sting just walked to the ring, rather than descend from the ceiling. Hogan had expressed concern dating back more than two months that Sting wouldn't be able to carry the ball if he won the title at Starrcade. The match itself was a disappointment also, complicated by the confusing, convoluted finish.
Hogan has more potential money matches in WCW with the title than Sting does, especially since Sting appears to be a major disappointment in his first two matches back (less so in his second match). The slated plan now is for Sting to defend the title against Hogan in the main event of the Souled Out pay-per-view on Jan. 24 -- assuming Hogan is still around. If Hogan regained the belt then, it would set up Hogan vs. Scott Hall at SuperBrawl, which could begin the break-up of the NWO. If Sting retained the title, he would face Hall.
If Hogan were to leave, it's possible Randy Savage could follow him to the WWF just a few weeks later. Savage's contract, worth more than $1 million per year, extends through 1998, but sources indicate he does have an escape clause, perhaps as early as late-January, that would allow him to jump. Besides Savage, other Hogan-allies might follow Hogan to the WWF, including Giant and Konnan, contracts permitting. The first date Hogan could appear on Raw would be Jan. 12, the next live edition.
Hogan may ultimately be planning to stay in WCW, but figures he can get the best deal possible by playing the WWF against WCW. Other sources say Hogan has been unhappy enough with WCW in recent month that returning to the WWF is a definite possibility. Given the impact Hogan's departure could have on WCW, it seems unlikely in the 11th hour that WCW, with Time-Warner's incredible resources, won't come up with whatever it takes to make Hogan happy. For Hogan to be happy, he will need a series on TNT with the budget he wants and he'll need to make substantially more than Bret Hart. Hogan has made it clear to friends he isn't pleased that Bret's salary, around $3 million a year, is just a tad shy of his annual guarantee.
The set of problems WCW experienced at Starrcade extended well beyond Hulk Hogan and Sting. Kevin Nash no-showed the event. He called WCW over the weekend and told them he wouldn't be able to make it to the event. He claimed to have had a heart attack and needed to take it easy. WCW officials were skeptical, and in fact Sunday before Starrcade discussed potential reasons Nash decided not to show up, such as Nash hearing that they wanted him to job to Giant. Nash, in fact, has been under tremendous stress since his step-father who raised him has been hospitalized the last three weeks after major internal complications. The stress of that situation led to Nash experiencing chest pains. Nash was worried he may have had a mild heart attack since he has a family history of heart problems. His biological father died at age 38 when Nash was very young and other family members have also had heart problems at young ages. Nash says he saw a cardiologist and test results indicated he didn't suffer a heart attack, but that he did suffer heart trauma.
In any case, WCW strongly believes that Nash would have been there had he not been unhappy with the way his match against the Giant had been pushed. The belief is Nash overplayed his situation at home as an excuse because he was upset that Bischoff spent much more television time hyping his match against Zbyszko than Nash's match against Giant. WCW officials contend it was tough to properly hype the match since Nash was at home every Monday tending to family matters. Nash, though, many weeks before Starrcade, had asked WCW to delay the match until it could be properly hyped, but WCW chose to keep it on the Starrcade line-up. There could be more to the story. Nash is definitely in WCW's dog house right now, ironically just a matter of days after he and Scott Hall signed contract extensions with WCW for $1 million-plus per year through 2003.
Konnan also no-showed his six-man tag match at Starrcade. He cited a medical emergency with his girlfriend as the reason for his no-show. Randy Savage took his place in the six-man tag match, although that change in the card wasn't without controversy, either. In order to get Savage to agree to be a late substitute in a relatively meaningless tag match in the second slot on the card, he insisted that he get the pinfall victory and it be over the biggest name in the match. Otherwise he felt it would diminish his name value. He got his wish. The original finish was for Vincent to do the job, but instead Savage scored a clean pinfall on Scott Steiner after a top rope elbow drop.
Dean Malenko was also upset. His wife gave birth a few days before Starrcade. Malenko knew it would be touch and go whether he would be able to even be at Starrcade, not knowing exactly when his wife would give birth. Rather than put Rey Misterio Jr. in the match instead, WCW continued to plan for Malenko to face Eddie Guerrero. WCW, knowing Nash and Konnan weren't there and Raven was unable to wrestle as scheduled, believed that a substitution in the opening match would make the other substitutions and no-shows later in the card harder to swallow.
It wasn't a smooth night all around for Bret Hart, who had to improvise in the semi-final match pitting Eric Bischoff against Larry Zbyszko. When Bischoff gave Zbyszko the knock out kick to end the match, the foreign object in his boot flew out just before he hit Zbyszko in the side of the head. The plan was for Bret to find the foreign object in the boot, but since it sailed out of the ring, he had to ad lib and disqualify Bischoff based on seeing the object fly out of his boot.
Bischoff and company have quite a mess of sorts to clean up following Starrcade. Beside definite uncertainty over Hogan's future, problems with Nash, and the disappointment of Sting's performance, they have a new weekly show to plan for starting Thursday, Jan. 8, and having abandoned an NWO format, they have to somehow figure a way to differentiate it from Nitro.
Yet, among all of the disarray are two important positives. The ratings for Nitro likely rose again with the presentation of Sting vs. Hogan on Monday night and Starrcade set a new revenue record for a live WCW event -- drawing a sellout of 16,052 paying fans for $543,000 (with $164,000 in merchandising).
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