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The History Of Starrcade

by Ervin Griffin Jr.

The event was created by Jim Crockett Promotions for the purpose of giving the wrestlers their own "Super Bowl." The first Starrcade (1983) took place in Greensboro, NC at the Greensboro Coliseum. Since then, Starrcade has been the only WCW event that has not ever been moved from the WCW "big-event" line-up.

This card has provided some classic and (in some cases) brutal matches.

In the '83 version, Ric Flair regained the WCW/NWA title from Harley Race in a cage match. It was also the first time that this title had ever been won in a cage. Starrcade '83 also produced the most legendary match in the career of "Rowdy" Roddy Piper as he defeated Greg "The Hammer" Valentine in a Dog-Collar Chain match and saw Rick Steamboat/Jay Youngblood defeat Jack and Jerry Brisco for the NWA/WCW Tag Team belts.

Other Starrcade's have featured their share of significant matches as well. Such as the Starrcade '84 match between Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes for the NWA title AND a purse of $1 million dollars.

Starrcade '85 featured the infamous "I-Quit" match between Tully Blanchard and Magnum TA for the US title. Starrcade '86 saw the Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton/Denis Condrey) and the Road Warriors in a scaffold match and the Rock-n-Roll Express retain their NWA Tag Team titles in a brutal cage match against Ole & Arn Anderson.

Starrcade '87 featured the unification of the NWA and UWF TV titles as Nikita Koloff (NWA) defeated Terry Taylor (UWF) and Ric Flair defeating Ron Garvin in a cage to gain the NWA title for the fifth time.

Starrcade '88 saw Jim Cornette's Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton/Stan Lane) defeat the Original Midnight Express (Denis Condrey/Randy Rose), a classic NWA TV title match between Rick Steiner and Mike Rotunda, a brutal US title match between Barry Windham and Bam Bam Bigelow and Ric Flair holding off the challenge of Lex Luger for the NWA title.

Starrcade '89 was the round-robin "Iron-Man" tournaments. In the single wrestler tournament, Sting rebounded from a loss to then-US Champ Lex Luger by defeating then-TV champ The Great Muta and NWA champ Ric Flair. In the tag-team tournament, the Road Warriors overcame an earlier loss to then-NWA Tag Team champs Rick & Scott Steiner by defeating Doom (Butch Reed/Ron Simmons) and The Wild Samoans (Fatu and Samoan Savage).

No disrespect to the other great matches, but these were some of the matches that made Starrcade a great event.

The '90's versions of Starrcade, while not as exciting as their 80's counterparts, have (nonetheless) been eventful. The first Starrcade of this decade took place in St. Louis, Missouri. This card was not only significant for its matches but it also signaled the changing of the guard as far as the company was concerned (WCW becoming independent from the NWA).

As for matches, this version featured Lex Luger winning his fourth US title from Stan "The Lariat" Hansen in a Texas Lariat Match. It also featured the Steiners (then-holders of the now defunct US Tag Team title) winning the "Pat O'Conner Tag Team Tournament" by defeating a team from South Africa (can't remember the names) in the first round, downing Rey Mysterio, Sr. and Konnan (yes, it was the Konnan that we now know from the Dungeon of Doom) in the semi's and defeating The Great Muta and Mr. Saito in the finals. This card also featured Barry Windham and Arn Anderson battling WCW/NWA World Tag Team champs Doom (Butch Reed/Ron Simmons) to a no-contest in a match with "street fight" rules. The "no-contest" ruling came because of a double-pin (Simmons pinned Anderson at the same time that Windham had Reed pinned). Personally, I thought that was terrible way to end wonderfully (?) beautiful match and thought that the referee (Nick Patrick) should have made the match continue.

Starrcade '91 was called "The Lethal Lottery." It was the first time that the "Battlebowl" concept was used and, in my opinion, it was the best "Battlebowl." The concept of tag-teams being picked by random draw on that night with the winners going on to an over-the-top battle royale (in this case, a TWO ring over-the-top battle royale) was unique. I will name then give the results of this card to give you an idea of how crazy this was:

  • 1. Jim Garvin/Marcus A. Bagwell def. Michael "Dok" Hayes/Tracey Smothers.
  • 2. "Ravishing" Rick Rude/"Stunning" Steve Austin def. Van Hammer/Big Josh (yes, this is the same Steve Austin that is now known as "Stone Cold.")
  • 3. Dustin "Goldust" Rhodes/Ricky Morton def. Larry Zybsco/El Gigante.
  • 4. Bill Kazmire/Jushin "Thunder" Liger def. Diamond Dallas Page/Mike Graham.
  • 5. Lex Luger/Arn Anderson def. Terry Taylor/Tom "Z-Man" Zenk
  • 6. Rick Steamboat/Todd Champion def. Cactus Jack/Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker.
  • 7. Sting/Abdullha The Butcher def. Brian Pillman/Bobby Eaton.
  • 8. Vader/Mr. Hughes def. Rick Steiner/Nightstalker.
  • 9. Scott Steiner/Chip The Firebreacker def. Johnny B. Badd (Marc Mero)/Arachnaman (Brad Armstrong).
  • 10. Ron Simmons/Tommy Rich def. PN News/Steve Armstrong.

    In the Battle Royale itself, Lex Luger was the winner in ring #1 while Sting won in ring #2. They battled until Sting was finally able to put Luger over the top rope to the floor, becoming the winner of "BattleBowl." This is easily my favorite Starrcade of the '90's.

    Starrcade '92 took place in Atlanta, Ga in the Omni. BattleBowl was done again that year and the winner was The Great Muta. Muta also wrestled in a losing effort against then-NWA champ Masa Chono. Rick Steamboat and Shane Douglas retained the NWA/WCW Tag Team belts against Barry Windham and Brian Pillman. Steve Williams lost a close match to then -WCW World Champion Ron Simmons and Sting won the finals of the "King Of Cable" tournament by defeating Vader.

    Starrcade '93 was held in Charolette, NC. While is was not the greatest card, it did have some significant matches and held one of my favorite matches (Ric Flair VS. Vader). Steve Austin won the US title in a two out of three fall match against Dustin Rhodes. It was also to be (unexpectedly) the last national appearance of Missy (Melissa) Hyatt as she led then-WCW Tag Team champs The Nasty Boys to a disqualification loss against Sting and Road Warrior Hawk. Hyatt later left WCW and filed a sexual discrimination suit against them (it is not known if this was ever settled). Of course, Ric Flair defeated Vader to become WCW champion for the first time and a world champion for the ELEVENTH time (He had held the NWA title eight times and the WWF title two times previously)!!!! It was a brutal match (in which the majority of the action was controlled by Vader) and, even though Flair did use some underhanded tactics that he is famous for, it was a miracle that he won at all or walked out in one piece!!!

    Starrcade '94 and '95 were both held in Nashville, TN. Personally, I thought the 1994 version was probably the worst of all time. The only signigicant event came after the card was over when Vader challenged Hulk Hogan to match for the WCW belt (which took place in February of the next year). It started a feud that, in my opinion, still hasn't been settled. I know, Hogan holds two victories over Vader but neither were by pinfall or submission. But that's another subject for another editorial.

    The 1995 version was a little bit better as it featured WCW against the wrestlers from New Japan Pro Wrestling. My favorite match was Eddie Gurerro against Otani, in which Gurerro lost a closely contested match-up. It also featured Ric Flair becoming WCW champ for the second time and becoming a world champion for the 12th occasion as he defeated Randy Savage (thanks to Arn Anderson and "international" object).

    The Starrcade's of the 90's are not as good as their 80's counterparts, but then again none of the WCW big-events are as good as their early versions (the exception being WCW Uncensored which they should have flushed down the damn toliet after the first time because of Eric Bischoff's reluctance to let this wrestling card be violent and back-up his hype about this card being the one night that wrestlers can settle their grudges, but that (again) is for another column).

    Well, gotta run. If you like to debate me or comment on anything that I have said, please e-mail me at

    Ervin Griffin, Jr. is a regular contributer to Solie's Newsletter as well as the Ringside Insider and other publications. He has helped liven up the Solie's Readers' Forum since it's inception.

    Copyright 1996 - Jump City Productions