JC’s Top Rope Report: Ranking Every Starrcade

Yes, it is Wrestlemania season. But I was looking for something to do while being stuck at home. So instead of the traditional Wrestlemania rewatch, I decided to rewatch the original Grand Daddy of Them All, Starrcade! From start to finish I watched every single one of these shows. And I’m here to rank them from worst to first.

18. Starrcade 1994

Best Match: Johnny B Badd vs Arn Anderson

Worst Match: Mr. T vs Kevin Sullivan

The Skinny: It was really tough to find a good match on this show. I chose the Arn Anderson match by default. This show sucked and was the Hulk Hogan Political Power Play 101. Ed Leslie main evented this show. Ed Leslie should never main event anything in a singles match. Sting and Avalanche had a slow boring match. For some reason, Jim Duggan thought he was important enough not to sell for Vader. We saw a future star in Triple H lose to Alex Wright (which isn’t a problem because Alex Wright is awesome). The best part of this show is Vader coming in at the end of the show and confronting Hogan like a bad ass. An awful, awful show that is best forgotten by all and to me it is easily the worst of the bunch/

17. Starrcade 1999

Best Match: Chris Benoit vs Jeff Jarrett

Worst Match: Evan Karagis vs Madusa

The Skinny: Hell has frozen over. I am here to proclaim that Jeff Jarrett was in the best match of a show. Welcome to the one and only Vince Russo Starrcade. And boy is it evident all over the place. Very little wrestling. Screw job after screw job finish. Oh and the main event? Russo tries to recreate the Montreal Screwjob by having Roddy Piper come out and ring the bell as Bret Hart has Goldberg in the Sharpshooter. This is also the show where Goldberg kicks Bret Hart into retirement. Nash convinces a ref he won a powerbomb match even though the ref was down and never saw anything. The Cruiserweight Title is officially buried. The Varsity Club returns to help Jim Duggan and immediately screws him. The only reason this isn’t last is because of the Benoit/Jarrett match being better than anything on Starrcade 94.

16. Starrcade 1997

Best Match: Eddie Guerrero vs Dean Malenko

Worst Match: Larry Zybysko vs Eric Bischoff

The Skinny: This was WCW’s most bought PPV of all time. And it was a complete disaster. I could do a whole article just on this show. They built up Sting/Hogan for over a year. Everyone expected Sting to dominate and win. But Hogan pulled a power play. Now you can listen to Bischoff and Hogan talk about Sting showing up out of shape and without a tan. But who the fuck cares. This should have been Sting’s moment. It should have been the splintering of the nWo as WCW rose back to power. But instead the heels went 5 for 5 early on. The show is terrible. And I honestly thought about putting it last because of how big of a disaster it was. This show was the beginning of the downfall of WCW as a company.

15. Starracade 1991

Best Match: Lex Luger and Arn Anderson vs Terrance Taylor and Tom Zenk

Worst Match: Sting and Abdullah the Butcher vs Brian Pillman and Bobby Eaton

The Skinny: Welcome to WCW in shambles. Ric Flair left earlier in the year and the company is scrambling. So here we present Starrcade: Battlebowl. In theory I like the idea of the Battlebowl tournament. It just isn’t a good idea to do a whole show based around it. I don’t like the idea of a battle royal at the end, then a match between the last two competitors. I like the idea of a tournament, then a semifinals and finals at a PPV. Then the winners fight for a Title shot or something. But again, for your biggest show of the year, this is not a great idea. And there is nothing memorable at all about this show.

14. Starrcade 1998

Best Match: Rey Mysterio vs Juventua Guerrera vs Billy Kidman

Worst Match: Brian Adams/Scott Norton vs Jerry Flynn/Fit Finlay

The Skinny: This one doesn’t get a lower for a couple of reasons. To start, the opening 3 way cruiserweight match is a better match than anything listed below it. In back to back years, WCW fucked up the finish to the main event of this show. In my opinion, the ending to 97 was worse. That should have been a Sting squash. Here, even if you were against Goldberg losing, you could argue they at least had a plan in place. Goldberg was going to go through the reformed nWo until he got the Title back. But injuries killed that. This may have escalated the downfall of WCW but it didn’t do anything that the rest of 1998 already started.

13. Starrcade 1984

Best Match: Tully Blanchard vs Ricky Steamboat

Worst Match: Jimmy Valiant vs Paul Jones

The Skinny: Here is a show that has Dusty Rhodes fingerprints all over it. Dusty had taken over as booker by this point and it is fairly obvious on this show. Every finish has a trick, whether it is a ref bump, behind the back interference or mass confusion between the announcers and refs. This has it all. And the main event is a classic Dusty copout. Joe Frazier stops the match because Dusty can’t see because of a cut above his eye. When a Dusty/Flair match doesn’t go past 15 minutes it is a problem. Tully and Steamboat save this from being dead last.

12. Starrcade 2000

Best Match: 3 Count vs The Jung Dragons vs Noble and Karagias

Worst Match: General Rection vs Shane Douglas

The Skinny: Everyone knows the shit WCW went through in 2000. But you know what? This show isn’t terrible. Guys for the most part are actually trying. The ladder match is six guys going out there and practically killing themselves. There is a 6 man tag with Jarrett and the Harris Twins vs the Filthy Animals and it is an entertaining brawl. Some stuff is still an overbooked mess, but there was a lot worse in WCW 2000 then this. Rumors of a sale were swirling at this time so guys were starting to bring their A game around here.

11. Starrcade 1989

Best Match: Ric Flair vs Sting

Worst Match: Ric Flair vs Great Muta

The Skinny: I have no idea why everyone involved thought this was a good idea. You basically have a round robin setup between tag teams and individual wrestlers. The winners get points and win, nothing. The problem with these shows is by the third match these guys are in the crowd pops dwindle. Every match is stuck to a time limit. It isn’t a good idea at all with nothing on the line. And it is an awful idea to do for your biggest card of the year. It feels like I am a broken record after just talking about Starrcade 91. This show gets a higher ranking than 91 because there are some decent matches on it, which is to be expected given the caliber of talent involved.

10. Starrcade 1990

Best Match: Doom vs Arn Anderson and Billy Windham

Worst Match: The Skyscrapers vs The Big Cat and Motor City Madman

The Skinny: The Black Scorpion. That is all you need to know about this show. I actually didn’t mind the idea of this angle in theory. Mystery angles are always fun in wrestling. The problem is all the Black Scorpion did was magic. He wasn’t exactly an evil person or anything. And they couldn’t find anyone worthwhile from Sting’s past to actually play the Black Scorpion. So they went to Ric Flair. You could tell it was Flair the second he came out. The rest of this show is very meh. The tag title match was easily the best match and a lot of fun for a No DQ match.

9. Starrcade 1993

Best Match: Vader vs Ric Flair

Worst Match: The Nasty Boys vs Hawk and Sting

The Skinny: There was actually a worse match on this show involving the Shockmaster. But that tag title match went almost 30 minutes, had a botched finish, and dragged on forever. The Nastys should never wrestle that long. This is a one match show. Vader/Flair was tremendous. From start to finish they build up the story of Flair’s career being on the line against the monster Vader. It is a great story told from start to finish. Nothing else really stands out on this show. It’s average to bad wrestling but the main event lifts it up.

8. Starrcade 1996

Best Match: Dean Malenko vs Ultimo Dragon

Worst Match: Lex Luger vs Giant

The Skinny: Basically break this show into two different parts. The first half of the show involves very good wrestling from the cruiserweights of WCW. Malenko/Dragon and Liger/Mysterio, as well as a decent Jarrett/Benoit match. Then the nWo stuff kicks in and it becomes an overbooked mess. Basically the definition of WCW since the nWo came in. Hogan/Piper drags. And it wasn’t even for the Title, which I think half of the crowd didn’t know. Luger/Giant is a mess. Eventually this would all come back to bit WCW in the ass. But here the nWo is still over enough that it isn’t a detriment yet.

7. Starrcade 1992

Best Match: Sting vs Vader

Worst Match: Ron Simmons vs Steve Williams

The Skinny: Rick Rude can’t catch a break. He was originally scheduled to fight Ron Simmons for the World Title this night. But an injury kept him out, and he was pretty much done as a wrestler after this. Most people believe Rude would have won the Title this night too. And given how quickly Simmons dropped the Title after it makes sense. We had Battlebowl here as well, but this time it wasn’t the main focus of the show. There were other matches including a great Sting/Vader match and a really fun Pillman/Windham vs Steamboat/Douglas tag title match. The biggest dud was the World Title match, as Dr. Death was just not good at all tonight. Speaking of, his Battlebowl tag match is the one where Erik Watts delivers a dreadful dropkick which is a staple of Botchamania.

6. Starrcade 1987

Best Match: Ronnie Garvin vs Ric Flair

Worst Match: Steve Williams vs Barry Windham

The Skinny: No your eyes do not deceive you. Ronnie Garvin was at one time the NWA World Champion and main evented a Starrcade. Not as baffling as Brutus Beefcake main eventing, but somewhat close. He was the babyface but you wouldn’t know it as the crowd was about 80/20 in favor of Flair, who won the Title back at the end of the show. There was some bad wrestling here, specifically Williams/Windham and Rhodes/Luger. There was a reversal of the Road Warriors winning the Tag Titles in front of their home crowd. The show was just a mess. And poor Nikita Koloff went from main event to TV Title match.

5. Starrcade 1995

Best Match: Eddie Guerrero vs Shinjiro Otani

Worst Match: Randy Savage vs Tenzan

The Skinny: If you know anything about WCW, it is filled with peak Hulk Hogan crap. The early part of 95 was dominated by Hulk Hogan going up against Vader in matches that were booked with crap finishes because neither guy wanted to do a job. Then the Dungeon of Doom stuff crept in and it got even worse. But at the end of 95, Hogan took a hiatus and WCW switched to this World Cup of Wrestling with New Japan Pro Wrestling. So this Starrcade was more wrestling based then most. And you know what? It was a fun show. The Guerrero/Otani as well as the Benoit/Liger match were both good. Flair did a typical Flair blade job in the main event. It was good wrestling show devoid of the Hogan BS that dominated 1995.

4. Starrcade 1985

Best Match: Tully Blanchard vs Magnum TA “I Quit” Steel Cage Match

Worst Match: Black Bart vs Ron Bass Bullrope Match

The Skinny: This show took place from two different arenas. And both places got great shows. The Magnum/Tully match is one of my favorite matches ever to go back and watch. It looks and has the feel of a fight between two guys that hate each other. The show was filled with matches that had a backstory. The Russians were booed out of the building in both of their matches. Dusty won the Title, but it was given back to Flair a week later. A classic Dusty finish. Watch this whole show from start to finish if you want to see what a hot crowd looks like.

3. Starrcade 1983

Best Match: Roddy Piper vs Greg Valentine in a Dog Collar Match

Worst Match: Assassin 1 and 2 vs Bugsy McGraw and Rufus R. Jones

The Skinny: This was the NWA’s first dive into PPV. Jim Crockett Promotions was the top performing brand in the NWA. Flair defeating Harley Race in the main event was seen as a passing of the torch moment in the NWA and officially made Flair the man in the NWA. If you get through the first half of the show, the last three matches are very good. Of course everyone remembers the Dog Collar Match between Greg Valentine and Roddy Piper. But the tag title match between the Briscoes and the Youngbloods is good as well. I know it was 1983 and a different time, but Gene Kiniski getting so heavily involved pulling the guys apart in the main event really took away from that match for me. Still good, but that took away from the match.

2. Starrcade 1986

Best Match: The Rock n Roll Express vs Arn and Ole Anderson

Worst Match: Rick Rude vs Wahoo McDaniel

The Skinny: Here is a show that changed because of real life. This was going to be Magnum TA’s crowning moment. He would beat Ric Flair for the Title and be the NWA’s next big star. But Magnum was in a car accident leading up to this show. That put everything in disarray. The NWA made Nikita Koloff face, going with the story that he gained respect for Magnum after their series of matches. The main event between Koloff and Flair worked, but the double DQ ending hurt it. The tag team steel cage match was great. If you want to know how over the Rock n Roll Express was during this time, watch this match. We also have the famous Road Warriors/Midnight Express Scaffold Match, with Big Bubba misjudging Jim Cornette falling and Cornette blowing out both his knees. This show is long (almost 4 hours) but the wrestling is at worst average throughout it.

1. Starrcade 1988

Best Match: Ric Flair vs Lex Luger

Worst Match: The Russian Assassins vs Junkyard Dog and Ivan Koloff

The Skinny: The behind the scenes stuff in regards to this show is almost as good as the actual show. Dusty Rhodes was the booker. And to get over the heel turn of the Road Warriors, Dusty had them spike his eye. Dusty did a pretty bad blade job on TV. Then Dusty, as booker, was going to have Luger get taken out before the show. Rick Steiner would replace Luger in the main event, and beat Flair in five minutes. Flair almost quit on the spot. Instead Dusty was fired and left for WWF. And even with all of that, this show was great. Probably the best match of Luger’s career. Barry Windham improved leaps and bounds from the prior year. The Midnights/Midnights match had a ton of heat. The only dud on the show was the worst match. Everything else was average to great. A fun show with a great crowd throughout and that is why it gets to the top of the list.

The Five Best Matches

  1. 1985- Tully Blanchard vs Magnum TA in a Steel Cage I Quit Match for the US Title
  2. 1993- Vader vs Ric Flair for the WCW Championship
  3. 1983- Roddy Piper vs Greg Valentine- Dog Collar Match
  4. 1988- Ric Flair (c) vs Lex Luger for the NWA Championship
  5. 1986- Arn and Ole Anderson (c) vs The Rock N Roll Express for the NWA Tag Team Championship

Agree or disagree with my rankings? Let me know!

Until Next Time,

Justin C

Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka