Wrestling fans welcome back to our trip down WCW memory lane with my fifth edition of WCW Sunday Night RetroView. Today we take a look back at the biggest event of WCW’s pay-per-view schedule, WCW Starrcade 1996. The final WCW pay-per-view of 1996 was a big one and it mainly centered around one match, Hogan versus Piper.
We open the show with our favorite WCW trio on commentary. Tony Schiavone, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, and Dusty Rhodes are all amped up for this show. Each mentions the big fight feel in the arena and all three are very confident that Roddy Piper is going to defeat Hollywood Hulk Hogan.
On to the first match of the show and boy is it a good one!
WCW Starrcade 1996
Unification Match for the J-Crown and WCW Cruiserweight Championship
Ultimate Dragon vs Dean Malenko
Ultimate Dragon with Sonny Onoo enters first and he is an impressive sight, holding eight championship belts. Malenko comes out second and as always is laser-focused.
Dragon controls the early portion of this contest. His vicious kicks are on full display. Mike Tenay, who joined the broadcast booth, drops some knowledge about the Ultimate Dragon. He lets everyone know that Ultimo Dragon means “last dragon” and that he is the final protege of Bruce Lee. Tenay always delivered the goods on commentary.
These two have such great chemistry together and the crowd is really into this match.
Late in the match, Malenko hits a fantastic power slam which Dragon responds with a picture-perfect powerbomb. The best false finish of the match comes when Malenko counters a tombstone pile driver into his own jumping pile driver.
Eventually, Malenko locks Dragon in the Texas Cloverleaf but a distraction from Onoo gets the man of 1,000 Holds to release the hold. This distraction allows for Dragon to pick up the victory with a double under hook bridge suplex for the win.
Winner – Ultimate Dragon
WCW Starrcade 1996
WCW Women’s Championship Tournament Finals
Akira Hokuto vs Madusa
Onoo leads his second wrestler out for this contest to crown the first-ever WCW Women’s Champion.
Hokuto attacks Madusa before the bell and flings the former WWF Women’s Champion around the ring by her hair. These two never seem to really get in a rhythm together as this match is plagued with awkward-looking maneuvers. Included in this is a powerbomb attempt by Madusa that sees Hokuto land on her chest and head.
In the end, Onoo strikes Madusa with the American flag allowing Hokuto to hit an awkward looking brainbuster for the win.
Medusa not winning is a total surprise especially with the grand entrance she is given.
Winner Akira Hokuto
From here we cut to the back where Diamond Dallas Page is bullying the WCW internet squad.
Then we find Mean Gene Okerlund in the locker room ready to interview Rowdy Roddy Piper. With a crazed look in his eyes, Piper gives a sub-par promo here. He rambles on about walking into the park, Jurassic Park. Lists off a bunch of other legends and talks about having to fight his whole life.
It really isn’t his best stuff before he hops away on one leg after being asked about his surgically repaired hip.
WCW Starrcade 1996
Jushin “Thunder” Liger vs Rey Mysterio Jr.
While the chemistry between Malenko and Ultimate Dragon was very apparent this one’s lack of chemistry was shown. But, it was the very first time these two met in the ring so that could have something to do with it.
Once again Mike Tenay drops some gems on commentary. He lets the audience know that Liger had surgery to remove a brain tumor in August and has worked his way back to competing at a high level.
Liger uses a slow methodical approach with quick bursts of offense to keep Mysterio from getting going. Mysterio’s moonsault from the top rope to the outside is a thing of beauty and a highlight of this match.
Liger gets the victory with his Liger Bomb and earns himself a shot at the Ultimate Dragon at New Japan Pro Wrestling’s super show in January.
Winner – Jushin “Thunder” Liger
After this, we get a pretty wild No Disqualification match between Chris Benoit and Jeff Jarrett. Their match mainly moves forward the growing dissension between the Horsemen with Flair absent and Benoit and Kevin Sullivan’s feud.
Next, we get a short but sweet video once again questioning where Sting’s allegiances are. It shows his attacks on WCW wrestlers along with his vague actions directed at Lex Luger.
WCW Tag Team Championship Match
The Outsiders (c) vs The Faces of Fear
Talk about chemistry, these four have it in spades. This is probably the funniest match of the show. Hall and Nash come out first with Syxx by their side. The two nWo founders come off as naturally cool. Syxx on the other hand, is that stereotypical loudmouth little guy who has big friends to protect him.
Meng and the Barbarian are not intimidated by the nWo and hold nothing back in their offense. All four men really lay into each other throughout this contest. One of the best spots is when Nash forces the Faces of Fear to head-butt each other. They react as they enjoy it before double head butting him to the mat.
Surprisingly there are no nWo shenanigans in the finish and Nash pins the Barbarian after a jackknife powerbomb.
Winners – The Outsiders
After the tag title match, we get an interview with Hollywood Hulk Hogan.
It’s your usual Hollywood stuff, how he’s better than Piper, and tonight he will finally shut everyone about who the bigger icon is.
WCW United States Championship Tournament Final
Diamond Dallas Page vs Eddie Guerrero
With Ric Flair on the shelf due to injury, the United States Championship was vacated. The actual championship was in the hands of the nWo but there was no champion.
This is another match where the chemistry between the two wrestlers is on point. Page and Guerrero just play off each other so well.
We get the old school abdominal stretch spot, where DDP uses the ropes to apply more pressure. Both continuously hit great counters to each other’s moves and both men look like a million bucks by the conclusion.
A pair of great false finishes come back to back. Guerrero counters a Diamond Cutter attempt with a backslide before DDP hits a great tilt-a-whirl powerbomb for a close two count.
Hall, Nash, and Syxx eventually make their way out and Hall hits an Outsider’s Edge on Page. This is a retaliation for Page not joining the group. Not aware of what just happened, Guerrero gets the win with a frog splash.
After the match, the nWo returns to the ring and despite a valiant effort to fight them off, Guerrero succumbs to the numbers game. Syxx steals the championship, giving the nWo possession of both United States Titles.
Winner – Eddie Guerrero
WCW Starrcade 1996
The Giant vs Lex Luger
The big question heading into this match is whether Luger can torture rack The Giant for the third time. I know he gets a lot of flack nowadays, but man Lex Luger was over in 1996. The crowd greets him with a huge response as he enters the match.
This is what you would expect from these two, a slow-paced match with lots of power moves and punches.
The real highlight comes at the end. With the referee inadvertently taken out, the nWo’s referee Nick Patrick comes out. Patrick isn’t the only person to make their way ringside, none other than Sting makes his presence felt.
Luger gets The Giant in the torture rack, but Patrick kicks his leg out from under him. This brings in Sting who shoves Patrick out of the ring with his bat. The silent Sting then lays his bat in the middle of the ring before whispering something in Luger than the Giant’s ear. He then calmly makes his exit.
Luger gets to the bat first, but the Giant steps on it, to which Luger responds with a low blow. Three baseball bat shots later and Lex Luger provides the nWo their first loss since forming in July.
Winner – Lex Luger
WCW Starrcade 1996
Rowdy Roddy Piper vs Hollywood Hulk Hogan
Michael Buffer rings in the main event as only he can, proclaiming this as quite possibly the “Match of the Century”.
Hogan enters first with Ted DiBiase, Vincent, and Elizabeth by his side. Piper comes out and is met with a thunderous “Piper” chant by everyone in the building. This includes about 95% of the people wearing nWo t-shirts.
Hogan starts this match out like all his matches as a heel, outside the ring stalling. Eventually, he hits Piper with two slaps in the face and receives a flurry of punches in response. Like the Luger-Giant match, this is full of power moves and lots of punches.
Unlike their previous match though, these two keep the crowd invested the whole time. The highlight of the match is when Piper whips Hogan with his belt.
WCW Starrcade 1996
DiBiase gets involved allowing Hogan to take advantage but it isn’t for long. With their leader reeling, the nWo start to get more involved beginning with The Giant. The group’s biggest member comes out and gets Piper up for a chokeslam, but has to stall and just hold him in the air when a fan gets in the ring. Hogan has to chase off the fan, before turning back to Piper and the Giant.
Piper fights out of the ultra delayed choke slam by biting the Giant. After sending the big man to the outside, Piper locks Hogan in the sleeper hold. The referee raises Hogan’s hand three times and each time it falls to his side.
Roddy Piper defeats Hollywood Hulk Hogan by choking him out. For some reason that is never really explained this was a non-title match, so Hollywood is still the WCW World Heavyweight Champion. The title not changing hands makes Piper’s victory a little anticlimactic.
Hall, Nash, and Syxx come out and Piper fights them off before leaving with two of his sons who join him at the entrance.
The show ends with the Giant bickering with Hogan, Hall, and Nash about who dropped the ball. And for the first time, the nWo is starting to show some cracks.
Alright WCW fans, there is my RetroView on WCW Starrcade 1996. Join me for my next RetroView when I look back at nWo Souled Out 1997.
Oh man, is that going to be a rough one…