Ringside Shadows #156: The World's Greatest Starrcade Preview
I've returned once more for another trek into the world of modern wrestling. This month, WCW trots out what should be regarded as the best they've got to offer, in the self-proclaimed "granddaddy of them all," Starrcade. Like many of the ongoing PPVs that remain from the NWA days, this event is hip-deep in tradition, and that's what makes the card this time around that much more disappointing. Though they've taken great strides in the last year and have more than a couple matchups that could draw a fair share on their own, none of those face-offs are going on here. Where the company's top two superstars, Bill Goldberg and Scott Steiner, should no doubt be facing off for the World Title in the match fans obviously want to see, each instead finds himself in another encounter elsewhere on the card. Several of the promotion's top rising stars aren't even represented on paper this Sunday night, (Chavo Guerrero Jr and Mike Sanders spring to mind) and those that are in action have their work cut out for them with opponents that won't be taking their match to the heights it could reach. WCW as a whole is in a holding pattern right now, and while that's admirably ballsy with their income so low, even I have to question their motives going into the PPV blowoff event of the year. This is the event bookers should have been planning for over the last full year, the culmination of dozens of storylines. Yet it feels like this lineup was scribbled onto a rest stop napkin not one month ago. Not the best way to play catchup, and a step back from the promise the last few months have shown on WCW TV.
The Cat Vs. Lance Storm
The only real proof I need that WCW isn't as interested in promoting their future as they'd have us believe. In Lance Storm they've got a solid future main eventer, no question. He's strong in the ring, works the mic decently enough and has credibility written all over him. Instead of taking the natural progression up the card after his lengthy run with the US title, the bookers have here sent him a step or two backwards, trying to use his hard earned reputation to springboard the Cat back into the mix of things. The obvious next step in the booking would have given this feud to Elix Skipper while Storm made some sort of presence near the main event or just laid low while his ribs took time to heal. "Prime Time" and the Cat have had a small program of their own going for some time, and each occupies the same position on the card. At the very most, I'd have given Storm a small bit of involvement in the match on PPV, perhaps making a surprise return to give Skipper the victory nobody expected. Instead, we'll see an injured Lance Storm taking on a worthless Ernest Miller. Perhaps "The Cat" will justify his position with a strong performance this Sunday night... but I'm not counting on any miracles. Lance needs the win to bounce back from a loss last month in the US title hunt. He's my choice here.
Winner: Lance Storm
Triple Ladder Match For #1 Contender To The WCW Cruiserweight Title
3 Count vs. Knoble & Karagias Vs. Jung Dragons
Here's one to ponder; why isn't this match for the #1 contendership to the tag team titles, rather than the Cruiserweight belt? With the tag scene almost begging to be set free and rock the free world as a strong division, it's somewhat telling that Nash and Page have taken the title shot, while these three teams tough it out near the bottom of the card. Though none of the combinations here have refined their skills enough to be considered tag team champions, I'm betting the only thing they need is motivation. Despite the lack thereof, they'll still keep plugging out nice little face-offs month after month here, until the WWF finally picks up on what WCW has missed and makes them stars. Action packed, intense-yet-spotty goodness is what you'll get in this one. Chances are it'll be the best match on the card.
Winners: Knoble and Karagias
Mike Awesome Vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
I'll maintain what I said last month: these guys could really cut loose and give the crowd something to remember if they were only permitted the time to do so. Both Awesome and Bigelow have a firm grasp of what it takes to make a good match into a great one, but have found themselves wasted with silly gimmicks, aborted angles and crash tv attention spans. As super heavyweights that need no gimmicks, these two would skyrocket. As sports entertainers, they'll likely fall flat on their faces. Still, I'm giving this one the nod as underdog of the evening, and I'll keep hoping Bigelow will go over with a monster spot that knocks Awesome right out of his horrid, horrid gimmick.
Winner: Mike Awesome
Hardcore Title Match
Crowbar Vs. Terry Funk
It was nice to see Terry Funk back again this past Tuesday night, but I quickly found myself wondering just how many more times they can wheel out the old war horse before fans start to turn on him. It's the same thing they've been doing with Ric Flair (in Charlotte, no less.) He always seems to be off the airwaves just in time to make a royal return to his home state of NC, and though the roar is still monstrous every time, the crowd noise is slowly dying with each new return. WCW is oversaturating and overusing the things that worked for them at one time, and it's gonna bite them in the ass sooner rather than later. Still, this Sunday should be an interesting Hardcore match. Crowbar's got one of the best defined characters in WCW right now, and the little side story of a champion facing off against his idol is just enough to make this one worthwhile. I still wish they'd have given it another couple weeks to develop before throwing it onto PPV, though. I'll go with the Funker, since he's running with the momentum of his return.
Winner: Terry Funk
KroniK Vs. Reno and Big Vito
I'm completely in the dark here. I don't remember any sort of angle leading up to the matchup, so I'll just completely skip that part of the analysis. In the ring, Vito's without question the most redeemable one here, with Reno still a little green to make any sort of definite decision about. Kronik... well, I'm no fan of Kronik. This should be a little slow-paced, a little boring and something of a squash for the green machines. I'll go with the big K, as Reno and Vito get into some sort of little family squabble and screw each other in the end.
U.S. Heavyweight Title Match
General Rection Vs. Shane Douglas
I'll admit it: though I still don't like the guy, WCW's actually built High Morrus to the point where I'll accept him as US Champion. I'm not sure if that says something about the building of Morrus himself or the de-elevation of the US title, but I'm accepting him with the gold either way. In Shane Douglas, they've got a decent enough star that's working through something of a slump lately. They haven't given the match any sort of feud here, which leads me to believe it'll be an introduction of sorts to an ongoing series that should last over the next couple months. If the glimpse of gold is enough to shake the Franchise from his current mindset, I've no problem with it. This Sunday, the two will likely be feeling each other out more than anything else, which is why I expect the match itself won't be breaking any sort of records. The feud's young still, as I said, and Rection should leave Sunday night with his belt firmly in hand, though I wouldn't completely rule out the opposite.
Winner: General Rection
Jeff Jarrett and The Harris Brothers Vs. Konnan, Kidman, and Rey Mysterio Jr.
Though he ended up jobbing in the end, I'll be the first to admit the handicap match of sorts that went down on Nitro this week went quite a ways toward establishing Jarrett as a formidable competitor. Though Kidman and Rey haven't done anything notable lately, the fact that Jarrett could handle both for an extended amount of time on his own proved more than his multiple title reigns ever did. That's why I think it's silly to team him with proven failures like the Harris brothers this Sunday on PPV. The association alone can't do much to help his reputation, and will kill any hope for the match in terms of quality almost instantaneously. If Jeff takes the lion's share of his team's offense and Konnan bides his time on the apron for a while, we could still see some fireworks here... but that's asking quite a bit. I'll go with JJ and the Harris boys in the end here, since six people are far too many for one ref to keep an eye on, and Jarrett's got quite a few guitars.
Winners: Jeff Jarrett and the Harris Brothers
World Tag Team Title Match
The Perfect Event Vs. The InSiders
Though I didn't have too much problem with it one month ago, the Page / Nash team is already wearing a little thin on me. Their matches have become formulaic in record time, and not even DDP's usual enthusiasm and ingenuity is enough to keep me interested. Likewise, their opponents aren't breaking down any walls lately, though they have made a good deal of progress since their intial teaming this past summer. Stasiak may make a decent heel after all. Though I know it's not much of a possibility, I'll still hope this is kept to a minimum. The tag titles could be so much more...
Winners: The InSiders
Goldberg Vs. Lex Luger
One of the sillier choices on the card. Goldberg is without question the fan favorite, and though I'll give WCW credit for sticking by their guns on this second streak, they're taking quite a risk by keeping him out of the World Title scene at the biggest PPV of the year. I wasn't looking forward to their match last month, and the feeling holds true here. Luger's been playing a worthwhile heel for a change, and though the angles here have been a little silly, I can see how the bookers have been logically advancing the feud. Barring any ref spears or other outside interference, I'll stay the course and keep my choice from last month.
World Heavyweight Title Match
Scott Steiner Vs. Sid Vicious
Not the best choice they could've made. Sure, half the roster's injured and the other half hasn't quite worked up to the point of main event just yet. Still, I wouldn't have opted to bring the scissor man back just to save a couple buys. But hey, I already pretty much stated my opinion in the last match, so let's just run with what we've got and take a look at what to expect this Sunday. Steiner's been established as the hard ass heel we all knew he was over the last couple months, eliminating Sting and Booker T and capturing his first World Title along the way. Right now he's a heel machine, and seems to be filling the role to perfection. Sid, on the other hand, well... if anybody knows what the hell he's doing, please raise your hand. His overselling on the car roof this past Nitro was laughable, as are his ridiculous plays to the crowd. This man's without question a product of the early 90s, Hulk Hogan's lost heir. Audiences have accepted him, based solely on the fact that it's been a while since we've seen him. Give it two months, that won't last. If not Goldberg, I don't know who they could've found to fill the shoes of the challenger, but I certainly wouldn't have gone with Sid. In the ring, these two aren't even half their former selves. In his prime, Steiner was one of the best and Sid was almost carryable. Nowadays, it would take Christ himself to make Scotty sell and the Psycho one hasn't progressed any from the old days. Just like the Rection / Franchise match further down the card, this could surprise me and end up halfway watchable, but I wouldn't count on that by any means. In the end, I'm taking Steiner to retain with the reverse chinlock of death. His title reign's still got several months left to go.
Winner: Scott Steiner
And that's all she wrote. Like I said, Starrcade is a card that should be built towards all year, and the fact that 2000 was yet another disappointing twelve months for WCW is painfully obvious here. Much of the talent is in the wrong place and those that aren't haven't even made an appearance. Disappointing as it sounds, my advise is to keep your $30. Christmas is upon us, and you'd do much better for yourself by spending it elsewhere.
Before I head out, I want to make a couple notes. Fiveja, a loyal reader, will be attending Raw this Monday night and has asked me if I've got any suggestions for a unique sign or two for the trip. Being the uninventive little bast that I am, burnt out from finals and all, I've pretty much hit the bottom of the barrel personally, so I've left it up to you guys. Wanna see your words on TV? This is your chance. Toss him a line at email@example.com with your proposals. I'm sure he won't mind the help one bit.
Also, Max Power put up a great little piece about the greatest men of the sport's past and present about a week ago on the Oratory, which is a nice little read, and one well worth checking out.
Finally, my posting may be a bit sporadic over the remainder of December, but don't fret! It's been quite a while since I took a break from posting, and I think I'm most certainly due for another. That, and I'll be visiting my girlfriend's folks in Virginia, who recently cancelled their internet connection. I should be back on track before New Year's, but until then don't look for much out of me. I've got plenty on tap for 2001, so if I don't see you guys until then, thanks for reading and for making 2000 the best year of Ringside Shadows ever! Happy holidays, and all the best.
until next time, i remain