WCW Starrcade 1988 | WCW Sunday Night RetroView

RetroView fans we’re taking it back old school for this trip down WCW memory lane. Tonight we’re watching WCW Starrcade 1988. This is a historic show, as it was the very first Starrcade to be held under the WCW banner. 

WCW Starrcade 1988
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All the big shows before this one were part of the NWA. The show begins with an amazingly 80’s highlight video complete with voiceovers from the likes of Ric Flair, Barry Windham, and Dusty Rhodes.

Tony Schiavone welcomes us to the Norfolk Scope in Norfolk, Virginia. Schiavone lets us know that five NWA Championships will be on the line tonight.  

Sidenote: Schiavone is rocking a fabulous mustache.

Joining Schiavone on commentary is Magnum TA. Ringside commentary is going to be provided by Jim Ross and Bob Caudle. 

WCW Starrcade 1988
NWA United States Tag Team Championship Match
Kevin Sullivan & Steve Williams vs The Fantastics (Bobby Fulton & Tommy Rogers)

NWA Starrcade 1988
Photo @ClassicWrestlingReview

Williams and Sullivan make for a unique pairing in this one. The crowd in this one is fully behind the Fantastics. The funny thing about this is the announcers continuously hype up the speed and aerial abilities of the Fantastic.

For 1988, they were some high flyers, but it’s nothing like what fans see wrestlers do in current wrestling.

The early highlight of the match is the Fantastics doing a double monkey toss to Williams. His response with a military press on Fulton is just as impressive. 

Eventually, the power and intensity of Williams overcomes the Fantastics, and Dr. Death and Sullivan take control of the match.

Sidenote: Teddy Long is the referee for this match. YES!!

Jim Ross proclaims that Steve Williams was the most recruited athlete coming out of high school in the nation. 

The arena announcer letting the crowd know how much time has passed in the match is such a great old-school thing that used to happen. 

Some indie promotions still employ this strategy today, and that is awesome. The Fantastics find their way into a comeback, but they ultimately fall short. 

Williams gets the win after dropping Fulton on the top rope before pinning him. New champs were crowned to start the show. 

Winners – Steve Williams and Kevin Sullivan 

Schiavone and TA have great back and forth in between the first and second match. They really hype up the rest of the matches yet to come. 

WCW Starrcade 1988
Tag Match
The Midnight Express w/ Jim Cornette vs The Original Midnight Express (Dennis Condrey & Randy Rose) w/ Paul E. Dangerously

Starrcade 1988 Battle of The Midnight Expresses | By Mx-Legacy -Midnight Express | Facebook
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Two of the all-time great managers leading their teams to the ring in this one. Dangerously and his Midnight Express enter first followed immediately by Cornette and crew. 

This one starts fast with double-back body drops by the original Midnight Express. Cornette calls out Paul E, complete with removing his jacket. 

Dangerously has to be restrained, and Cornette calls him out on the mic. It was a fantastic start to this match; the crowd is into it big time.

After the teams are officially announced, this one begins. The Midnight Express are on fire to start this one as they send their foes reeling ringside once again. 

Cornette gets a big pop when he uses the tennis racket for the first time, and finally, the bell rings. Tag team wrestling shining in this one. 

The action in the ring finally begins, and once again, the original Midnight Express gets the advantage with an inverted atomic drop by Stan Lane.

Cornette’s second time using the tennis racket gets another loud reaction, and Paul E loses his mind. Randy Rose gives a great cowardly call timeout attempt. 

The Midnight Express are so good with how they control the match, but an eventual mistake by Eaton leads to a change in momentum. 

Dangerously gets involved physically, and he is then chased around the ring by Cornette, and the crowd eats it up.

Rose and Condrey show they are just as dangerous as a duo with various double team and cheap shot maneuvers. 

A missed Rocket Launcher by Dangerously’s team swings the action back into Cornette’s crew’s favor. 

After the ref goes down we get our moment. Paul E interferes with his patented cellular phone, and Cornette finally gets his hands on him. 

Referee Teddy Long finds the phone mid-three counts, and he almost disqualifies Rose and Condrey. This quick distraction allows the Midnight Express to get the victory with the Double Goozle. 

Winners – The Midnight Express

After the match, the losers beat down the winners until Eaton sends them scattering with Cornette’s tennis racket. 

Before the next match, Magnum TA interviews Steve Williams, Kevin Sullivan, and Mike Rotundo. 

The Varsity Club will always be top in the main gist of this promo of three championship-clad athletes. 

WCW Starrcade 1988
Tag Match
The Russian Assassins vs Junkyard Dog & Ivan Koloff

NWA Starrcade 1988
Photo @ClassicWrestlingReview

First off, awesome seeing JYD in action. Secondly, Assassins 1 and 2 are not very intimidating assassins. Koloff gets a nice ovation before the crowd erupts for J-Y-D. 

Jim Ross expertly calls them “pro wrestling’s odd couple.” The stipulation in this one is if the Assassins lose, they have to remove their masks, and their manager, Paul Jones, has to retire.

This one works at a much slower pace than the previous match, and the crowd settles quite a bit. In the end a foreign object used by the assassins gets them the victory, something metal put inside one of the assassins mask used in a head butt. 

Winners – The Russian Assassins

WCW Starrcade 1988
NWA Television Championship Match
Rick Steiner vs Mike Rotunda

Rick Steiner vs. Mike Rotunda - TV Title Match: Starrcade 1988 | WWE
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Steiner entering with his University of Michigan letterman jacket is fantastic. GO BLUE! National Champs!

The stipulation in this match is that Kevin Sullivan will be locked inside a small cage hoisted above the entranceway. 

This one starts with some amateur wrestling between the singlet-clad competitors. Rick showcases some power early on, sending Rotunda flying numerous times. 

Sidenote: Young Rick Steiner and Bron Breaker talk about similarities. 

After three consecutive tag matches, this grappling grudge match is a nice change of pace. Young Mike Rotunda showing some high-level grappling throughout this one, too.

Ross does a great job hyping up their collegiate successes. The fantastic moment comes late in the match when the crowd begins chanting, “Syracuse Sucks,” knowing full well Rotunda proudly claims Syracuse as his school.

Rotunda continuously riles up the crowd with underhanded tactics throughout the match. This is just a great, hard-hitting contest between two guys in their athletic primes. 

Near the end of the match, Steiner really begins to get the momentum which brings Steve Williams ringside. Williams rings the bell to distract Steiner and referee Teddy Long. 

The senior referee comes out to explain to Long what has just happened. Meanwhile, Sullivan has been lowered and escaped the cage. 

Ultimately, Sullivan’s distraction backfires, and Rick Steiner becomes the new Television Champion. And I have to tell you, the crowd absolutely loses their collective minds. Talk about a pop. 

Winner – Rick Steiner 

Schiavone and TA talk about the champions being 0-2 on the night, and we roll right into the next match.

WCW Starrcade 1988
NWA United States Championship Match
Barry Windham w/ JJ Dillon vs Bam Bam Bigelow w/ Oliver Humperdink

No photo description available.
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Bigelow in WCW, whether it’s 1988 or his run near the end of the 90’s just never looked right to me. This is the definition of a hoss fight. Two big bad hombres doing battle. 

Neither man gives an inch early on both, countering the others’ power with power of their own. Windham hits an impressive side suplex, but Bigelow shocks him with his immediate recovery. 

Bigelow plays his part perfectly, firing up after numerous Barry Windham offensive attempts. Late in the match, Windham gets Bigelow locked in the claw, and the excitement in the crowd rises.

This is sixteen minutes of these two beating the crap out of each other Windham retains via a Bigelow countout.

Both men toppled over the top rope together, taking out the cameraman, but strangely enough, Bigelow doesn’t re-enter the ring before the count of ten.

Winner – Barry Windham

Back in the locker room, Magnum TA is joined by the new Television Champion, Rick Steiner.

You can definitely tell that talking wasn’t Rick Steiner’s strong point. 

WCW Starrcade 1988
NWA World Tag Team Championship Match
Sting & Dusty Rhodes vs The Road Warriors w/ Paul Ellering

NWA Starrcade 1988: True Gritt Review | My Journey Through Wrestling
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Rhodes and Sting enter first, both rocking blue entrance attire. The Road Warriors enter in their vintage black spiked shoulder pads, and once those are removed, the fight is on.

Sting and Rhodes send the champs reeling right out the gate, and the crowd loves it. We get some great tag team wrestling from Rhodes and Sting as they make numerous quick tags early on. 

Sting matching the power of the Road Warriors is a sight to see. Jim Ross plays up Sting’s youth and his ability, and how impressive he’s been in three years. 

We get an old school test of strength when Rhodes and Hawk enter the fray, the craft veteran gets the edge with a kick to the gut of Hawk. 

Rhodes soon finds himself at the mercy of the Road Warriors. The champs begin to work over the American Dream, and Rhodes gains more and more sympathy from the crowd every minute he’s in peril. 

When Rhodes finally makes the hot tag to Sting, the Stinger picks up the pace. Drop kicks, face smashes, and Stinger splashes ensue. The second Sting goes for the Scorpion Deathlock; Hawk interferes. 

Chaos begins, and Sting eventually hits a splash from the top rope, but before the ref can count to three, Paul Ellering jumps in to stop the count.

His actions lead to a disqualification meaning the Road Warriors are still the champions. 

Winners – Sting and Dusty Rhodes via disqualification

Schiavone and TA give their thoughts on what just went down and even give us a replay. 

They then turn their focus to the main event, and Schiavone lets us know that if Flair gets disqualified, he will lose the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

WCW Starrcade 1988
NWA World Heavyweight Championship Match
Ric Flair w/ JJ Dillon vs Lex Luger

Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger, NWA (12/26/1988) – More Songs About Bill Ding(s) & Rude
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Luger enters first to some awesome, generic 80’s pop music. Then it’s time for peak Ric Flair. 

Out he comes in a bright green and gold robe, looking like a star. Jim Ross calls him the man and talks up the Nature Boy. 

Everyone in the crowd is standing in anticipation. Luger receives a strong ovation when he’s officially announced. 

Flair on the other hand receives a rousing chorus of boos mixed with a strong amount of cheers. This match has that big fight feel you want in a main event. 

Flair is so good as the devious veteran taking the young star to school early on. Each time Luger gains the advantage, Flair cuts him off by slowing things down and outthinking his opponent.

Luger hits an awesome power slam followed by a military press, eliciting quite a reaction from the crowd. Per usual, with these two, the chemistry is always high. 

Their styles mesh really well each time they’re in the ring together. Announcers do a great job playing up how much this opportunity means to Lex Luger after he came so close to winning the championship in his last attempt. 

A standing vertical suplex by Luger leads to a close two-count. The turning point comes midway through the match when Flair hits Luger in the leg with a steel chair while JJ Dillon has the referee distracted. 

This leads to the inevitable Figure Four from Flair. Unwilling to surrender, Luger fires up and powers his way into reversing the hold, forcing Flair to unlock it. 

Luger’s now injured knee leads to his downfall. During his attempt to Torture Rack Flair, Luger’s knee buckles. 

This allows Flair to utilize the ropes to leverage a pin for the win. 

Winner: AND STILL NWA World Heavyweight Champion, Ric Flair. 

This was a really fun show to watch. Well put together, each match had its own unique touch. Three straight tag matches was a questionable way to start, but overall Starrcade 1988 is a bona fide classic.