Throwback Thursday: Looking back at WCW Starrcade 1993
Each and every Thursday I will look back at a different pay-per-view event from the past via the WWE Network. Want to see a certain event covered? Send your suggestions to @VaughnMJohnson on Twitter.
Last time, I covered the NWA Starrcade 1986: The Skywalkers.
WCW Starrcade 1993
Date: Dec. 27, 1993
Venue: Independence Arena (now Bojangles Coliseum), Charlotte, N.C.
Some random notes
This was the 11th annual Starrcade, but it was the 10th anniversary of the very first event, which took place not too far away in Greensboro, N.C.
On that night, Ric Flair defeated Harley Race inside of a steel cage to win his third world championship.
At the 1993 edition of Starrcade, Flair and Race were on opposite sides again, but in a much difference fashion.
This show was built around Flair and the fact that this could have been his last match, as he was challenging the dominant Vader for the WCW World Heavyweight title. Race, who had retired and transitioned into being a manager, was in Vader's corner.
If Flair won, he would become champion for the 11th time. If he lost, he would be forced to retire. Because of that, the opening video package featured childhood pictures of Flair and various moments throughout his career to that point.
Tony Schiavone and Jesse Ventura were on hand to call the action. They began the broadcast by going to a video of Vader arriving at the arena and working out in the ring with Race in preparation for his title defense against Flair.
They then went Flair's house before he left before the event. He was standing in his home with Gene Okerlund, who was participating in his very first Starrcade, and his family, which included a young Charlotte Flair.
It was shot in a very emotional way as Flair and his family were visibly worried about his safety and his career coming to an end.
We eventually got a glimpse of Flair and Okerlund talking in the limo and Flair arriving at the arena with a police escort.
With that said, let's get to the matches:
Paul Orndorff & Paul Roma def. 2 Cold Scorpio & Marcus Alexander Bagwell
Scorpio's theme song was so bad that it was almost good because it was so WCW.
Teddy Long managed Scorpio and Bagwell and was presented with the Manager of the Year award before the match, as was voted by the fans.
The teams didn't waste any time duking it out, as Scorpio and Bagwell showcased some of their athleticism, but things eventually settled down into a normal tag team match.
Bagwell and Scorpio worked over Roma until he was finally able to tag in Orndorff.
Scorpio went for a flying head scissors on Orndorff and followed it up with a pin attempt, but the referee didn't count for some reason.
Roma and Orndorff were finally able to isolate Bagwell thanks to some classic heel tactics.
After punishing Bagwell for multiple minutes, both Roma and Orndorff eventually missed big moves that allowed Bagwell to finally make his way over to Scorpio for the tag. Scorpio jumped into the ring and began cleaning house.
Roma and Bagwelll began fighting outside of the ring, which distracted the referee. Scorpio went for another flying head scissors, but the bad guys' manager, The Assassin, head butted him with a foreign object underneath his mask, knocking Scorpio out. Orndorff then pinned Scorpio for the win.
The Shockmaster def. Awesome Kong
No, this is not the female wrestler Awesome King. This was a man in a mask that was one-half of the Colossal Kongs in the WCW.
You may not remember the Colossal Kongs, but I'm sure you remember The Shockmaster, who had made his infamous debut in August of 1993.
The construction worker attire he donned on this night was in stark contrast to his debut, which featured the fantastic combination of a bedazzled storm trooper helmet from Star Wars and blue jeans.
After his horrific debut, WCW completely went away from what the character original's intent of being a tough guy to a construction worker that was prone to making mistakes.
He was essentially a putz, but a lovable one.
The Shockmaster didn't have time to mess anything up at the beginning of this match, as the Colossal Kongs jumped on him before the bell rang.
Although Awesome Kong was scheduled to participate in the match, Schiavone and Ventura pointed out that the masked man that participated in the match had "King" written on his tights, as in Awesome Kong's tag team partner King Kong, which means Shockmaster probably didn't even face the right guy.
It didn't matter, as Shockmaster picked up whoever it was, slammed him on the mat and won in quick fashion.
WCW World Television championship – Lord Steven Regal vs. Ricky Steamboat to a 15-minute time limit draw
WCW had some very cheesy theme music during its time, but Steamboat's was some of the best. It just fit him to a tee. The list of good theme music WCW produced during this time period was rather short.
We all know Regal, but his manager Sir William was not very known. You might know him better as "Superstar" Bill Dundee.
Because it was a TV title match, it automatically came with a 15-minute time limit.
As for the match, it began very slowly, as the two men engaged in a feeling-out process of a lot of holds with some strikes and high spots sprinkled in between.
Steamboat slightly picked up the pace when it was announced that there were only five minutes remaining in the contest.
With only three minutes left, Regal hit a couple of forearm shots, but it only woke up Steamboat, who picked up the pace even more with some chops.
Steamboat then chased off Sir William before walking right into a drop kick from Regal.
The fans began to pick up with the action, as the time winded down. Regal eventually began to run away from Steamboat to milk the clock.
Steamboat eventually got him back in the ring and went for a cross body from the top rope, but missed it as time expired, which meant Regal retained the title in a draw.
The match was well worked, but lacked the drama I expected from a time-limit draw.
Cactus Jack & Maxx Payne def. Tex Slazenger & Shanghai Pierce
Slazenger and Pierce were a pedestrian tag team in WCW, but eventually became WWE Tag Team champions as The Godwinns. Slazenger was Phineas I. Godwin and eventually Mideon while Pierce was Henry O. Godwinn.
Maxx Payne went to WWE as well, where he became Man Mountain Rock.
Cactus Jack had a pretty good career in WWE, too. I think he became a Hall of Famer and a general manager or something. I'm not totally sure.
I am pretty sure that Payne's wrestling attire was pretty bad. If you squinted your eyes, you would have thought it was Sting circa 1998 or something.
The match itself was a whole lot of nothing. Cactus Jack certainly had more eventful nights in the ring. He eventually won the match for his team with a double arm DDT.
WCW United States Heavyweight championship (2 our of 3 falls) – Steve Austin def. Dustin Rhodes
Austin had recently struck out on his own again after the dissolution of the Hollywood Blondes with Brian Pillman.
Long before Goldust, Rhodes was known as "The Natural" and was a pretty over babyface following in his father's footsteps.
The match itself started slow with a lot of mat wrestling. Austin and Rhodes eventually made their way out of the ring and began slugging it out. Rhodes then whipped Austin over the guardrail, which caused Austin to call a timeout.
Austin finally made his way back into the ring and finally got some offensive momentum going.
At one point of the match, Schiavone said the match featured the two men that would dominate WCW for the next decade. Schiavone had no idea that they'd both become much bigger stars in WWE by the end of the 1990s with Austin becoming one of the biggest stars of all time.
You can't hold it against Schiavone for not forecasting all of that because who could? No one would have ever guessed in 1993 that Austin would go on to become the biggest star in WWE history with a shaved head, black trunks, some beer and some middle fingers.
No one could have ever guessed that "The Natural" would become a much bigger star by donning gold paint and portraying a androgynous character.
But on this night, Austin and Rhodes were just two run-of-the mill wrestlers slugging it out for the promotion's second-most prestigious title.
Rhodes was disqualified for tossing Austin out of the ring into Parker. In WCW, tossing your opponent out of the ring was an instant disqualification and it gave Austin a 1-0 advantage.
Despite having the advantage, Austin was bleeding everywhere. When the second fall began, the lights began flickering for some reason and Rhodes and Austin were essentially wrestling in a darkened arena.
Just when it looked like Rhodes was going to even up the falls, Austin upended him by grabbing his trunks and scored a quick pin to win the United States Heavyweight title.
WCW International World Heavyweight championship – Ruck Rude def. The Boss
You're probably wondering what in the world is the International World Heavyweight championship.
Firstly, the name was a little redundant, but things got muddied in WCW when Flair left the promotion for WWE while still in possession of its world title, which was at that time the "Big Gold Belt." On top of that, WCW's withdrew from the National Wrestling Alliance.
Both of those events forced WCW to commission a new title to be made that looked different than the big gold one. I'm not totally sure what to make of it, but just know that the title didn't last long enough for it to dwell on.
Eventually, WCW went back to using the "Big Gold Belt" as its world title and all was right with the world again.
But on this night, the world champion, as recognized by "WCW International" was Rude and it was oh so cool to see him walking around with the "Big Gold Belt." Unfortunately, this was Rude's last full year in wrestling before a severe back injury ended his in-ring career in 1994.
The Boss was WCW's knockoff name for the man better known as Big Boss Man.
WCW was not making a boat load of money at this point, but still found some money in the budget to pain for obscenely expensive ring announcer Michael Buffer for the final three matches.
The Boss was supposed to be the babyface, but started the match off by spitting on Rude. That wasn't very nice.
The Boss' first big move was a backdrop that sent Rude soaring into the sky. I thought his feet were going to hit the ceiling.
The Boss beat and battered Rude from one side of the ring to the next, but Rude got in a quick sunset flip and pinned The Boss to retain his title and put an end to a very brief world title match.
WCW World Tag Team championship – Sting & Road Warrior Hawk def. The Nasty Boys by disqualification
You're probably wondering why Road Warrior Hawk was on this card, but not Road Warrior Animal. That is because Animal was not in WCW at the time. In fact, Animal wasn't wrestling anywhere due to a severe back injury.
Hawk was in WCW after leaving WWE for a variety of reasons in 1992, but somehow began teaming up with Sting.
Sting and Hawk gained the early advantage, which culminated in Hawk press slamming Sting outside of the ring onto The Nasty Boys.
The good guys maintained the advantage thanks to frequent tags until Hawk inadvertently crashed into the ring post, which allowed The Nasty Boys to gain the upper hand by working Hawk's arm.
Hawk finally fended off The Nasty Boys before tagging in Sting, who mounted a big comeback for the good guys.
The Nasty Boys attempted to leave with the titles, but Sting chased them down and brought them back into the ring.
Once back in the ring, Sting attempted to hit a splash from the top rope, but Brian Knobbs got his knees up, which swung the momentum back to the champions.
After taking a beating for a long time, Sting was finally able to crawl to his corner to tag in Hawk, who went to town.
After an onslaught of offense, Sting and Hawk went for the doomsday device with Sting playing the role of Animal. Unfortunately for Knobbs, he landed right on the back of his head after being clotheslined off Hawk's shoulders.
Sting went to cover Knobbs, but The Nasty Boys' manager Missy Hyatt jumped into the ring to break it up, causing a disqualification.
WCW World Heavyweight championship – Ric Flair def. Vader
Because of the circumstances, Flair was in a position he was rarely in as the sympathetic babyface facing seemingly insurmountable odds.
Flair could be in that position because Vader was such a dominant force in WCW for more than a year. He broke Sting's ribs, almost squashed Cactus Jack and destroyed many others along the way to Starrcade 1993.
Vader used his strength advantage to push Flair around the ring in the early portion of the match. Flair tried to counter Vader's strategy by quickening the pace, but it was to no avail.
Flair was able to get some licks in after Vader missed a splash that landed him chest first into the steel guardrail. Flair saw that as an opportunity to deliver some chops and tossed Vader into the ring post, but the champion rolled back into the ring to recover.
As Flair was attempting to get back into the ring, Race attacked him while the referee's back was turned, which allowed Vader to regain control.
Flair attempted to fight back with chops, but they didn't faze Vader.
Vader then went for a move from the top rope, but missed, which would be a running theme throughout the match. Vader's miss gave Flair an opening to land a flurry of moves that actually managed to take the champion off his feet.
Vader cut Flair's run of momentum short by hitting him with a suplex from the top rope. When Flair shouted in pain, fans could see that he was bleeding from the mouth.
Flair used one of his dirty tricks to get back into the match, as he poked Vader in the eye and put the big man down with a series of punches. Flair then dragged Vader to the ring post and slammed his leg into it.
He then hit Vader's leg with a chair while the referee was preoccupied with Race. Flair proceeded to beat on Vader to the point that his mask came off.
He then grabbed another chair and hit Vader with it while the referee wasn't looking, living up to his reputation as the dirtiest player in the game.
Vader made his way back into the ring and was met by more punches from Flair, who then took a bite out of the champ.
With the champion reeling, Flair began working on his legs to set up for the figure four. Flair attempted to lock in the figure four, but Vader shoved him away.
Vader then climbed to the top rope for the Vader bomb, but missed again. Flair took advantage by running over and locking in the figure four.
Race, now with his sport coat off, jumped onto the ring apron, which distracted Flair long enough for Vader to make it to the ropes to break the hold. Vader quickly regained the upper hand.
Vader then went for a moonsault, but missed yet again. While Flair crawled over for the cover, Race climbed to the top rope and attempted a diving head butt to break up the pin.
However, Flair moved out of the way and Race went crashing into Vader instead.
The referee then shoved Race out of the ring, which gave way for Flair to wrestle Vader to the ground and pin him to win his 11th world championship.
Fireworks shot off and confetti rained down, as the referee put the title around Flair's waste. Flair, with a mouth full of blood, expressed his gratitude to the Charlotte fans before heading to the locker room.
Meanwhile in Vader's locker room, all hell was breaking loose, as the now former champion was highly upset about losing his title.
The mood was much for jovial in Flair's locker room, as he celebrated with his wife and children. Flair seemed genuinely emotionally while being interviewed by Okerlund, as it was a moment he and his family could share.
Sting eventually made his way into the room to congratulate the new champion, as did Steamboat, just like he did when Flair won at the very first Starrcade in 1983.