Retro Recap – Starrcade 1998

Starrcade 98 was a real crossroads moment of sorts for WCW.  After a year of losing ground in the TV ratings war to the WWF but still making good money otherwise, they had to decide what direction to take their biggest star of the moment, Goldberg, and what to do with the remnants of the NWO that were still around.  The show was very peculiar in that it was missing a plethora of WCWs big name players.  Just look at the names that were nowhere to be found on the show:

Hulk Hogan, Sting, Lex Luger, Booker T, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Rick Steiner, Scott Steiner, Randy Savage, Roddy Piper

And then you had others like Bret Hart, Scott Hall, Curt Hennig and Bam Bam Bigelow who appeared but didn’t have a match.  That’s just insane that on what’s supposed to be the biggest show of the year they went on minus all of those people.  Now some of them may have been nursing injuries at the time but no way were all of them unavailable.  Just weird.  Anyhow, a good show and a good followup wouldn’t have turned the tide in the ratings war but it might have kept WWE from pulling away like they would in 1999.  So could they at least get the first part of that right?

Cruiserweight Title Match: Kidman (c) vs Rey Mysterio, Jr vs Juventud Guerrera

Great opener here.  They got 15 minutes to work, and pulled off a lot of cool aerial spots without getting too flippy.  This match holds up 19 years later and I prefer this kind of thing to the Ospreay-Ricochet kind of stuff.  There’s a real need for control with these matches so they don’t get ridiculous, and they stayed within the lines while delivering an exciting, well done match. The finish saw Kidman pull out a win only to be confronted by Eddie Guerrero, who was there on behalf of Guerrera, which would lead us to an instant challenge and our next match…

Cruiserweight Title Match II: Kidman (c) vs Eddie Guerero

The premise here defies all logic.  Kidman wins a tough match, but then falls for Eddie’s schtick and says ‘let’s go right now, for the title!’   This match wasn’t as good as the opener but was still pretty good in it’s own right.  Guerrera stayed at ringside to help Eddie but Mysterio does the same for Kidman to keep things even.  That would factor in the finish, which saw Kidman win again.  This was shaping up like a real showcase to launch Kidman into something bigger, but of course WCW did what WCW does and doesn’t follow through.

And now the filler….

We get three matches that have no place on this show, especially with the talent on the WCW roster that was not being used here.  We start off with Norman Smiley vs Prince Iaukea.  Iaukea was WCW’s lame attempt to match a guy you may have heard of named Rocky Maivia, right down to his third generation wrestling heritage and too soon first title win.  Smiley was great technician who found a pathway to getting over by fully embracing his goofy side.  He would win here in what was inexplicably a longer match than all but two on this show.  Next up we get Perry Saturn vs Ernest Miller followed by Brian Adams & Scott Norton teaming up against Jeffy Flynn (not to be confused with Jerry Lynn) and Fit Finlay.  Combined that’s 16 minutes of your life you won’t get back if choose to sit and watch.  Not that the guys involved aren’t good workers but who wanted to see them instead of all of the guys who weren’t on the show?

Now back to the people you actually wanted to watch….

Television Title Match: Konnan (c) vs Chris Jericho

The signs that Jericho would be leaving soon were starting to show up.  The first was him losing the TV title after the run he’d been on that year, and this match would be the next indicator.  Konnan was a walking stereotype at this point, spouting hip hop catchphrases that were a few months out of style and dressing like a caricature of a Latin gang member.  It was bad then and it’s aged even worse.  As for the match here it was good for the time they got, seven minutes and some change.  They should have given this the eleven minutes that Smiley and Iaukea got.

Ric Flair vs Eric Bischoff

Ugh……..this match is another exhibit in the file a lot of us have on Bischoff.  For over a year Bischoff crapped on Flair and the Horsemen, both on TV and politically behind the scenes,  and this is supposed to be the big blowoff where Flair finally gets some revenge.  The only reason to put a match like this on the card is for Flair to beat the crap out of him and win.  So what does Bischoff do here?  Take the beating, and then get a win with help from Curt Hennig.  Boo.  Bischoff could not let go of his own ego and disdain for all things Flair and Horsemen and take the L like he was supposed to, and that flat out stinks 19 years later.  Screw you, Bischoff.

Diamond Dallas Page vs The Giant

Another match featuring a guy believed to be heading out, this time the Giant.  DDP was in his prime here, and was known for getting good matches out of everyone.  No exception here. The Giant was mailing it in quite often at this point, but he came to work this time.  Good back and forth with The Giant using his size and power to gain the advantage and DDP escaping to come back.  Really cool finsh that I won’t spoil for you.  Very good match.

Main Event: Goldberg (c) vs Kevin Nash

A whole lot of subplots at play here.  Nash was the booker at the time so putting himself in the main event, in the spot where Goldberg’s streak was set to end, looked highly suspect.  And there was the streak itself. Goldberg was the hottest thing in the company since the spring but his act was starting to show signs of wearing thin as people were starting to get tired of squash after squash; even the higher level talent like The Giant was going down in short matches to keep the streak alive.  So it was about time for a real match with a formidable opponent, which Nash was, and time to shake things up.  Goldberg had to lose eventually and the biggest show of the year was the right time for that.

So how did the match go?  Best match of the year for both men, easily.  Nash mostly worked tag matches while Goldberg was in squashes, so it was cool to see both guys get time to get all their stuff in and sell for each other.  They only went 11 minutes but for two big, power guys going at each other that’s all you need.  The finish of course involved a lot of shenanigans as The Disco Inferno, Bam Bam Bigelow, and Scott Hall would all get involved but it actually got executed pretty well.  Both guys came out of it looking ok.  Using a taser to stun Goldberg was a pretty clever wrinkle to add.

The winner of course is Nash after the dust clears. Even though it reeked of putting onself over at least he was a credible challenger and titleholder.

Nash really could and should have had a good run with the belt after this, but instead we would get the infamous finger poke of doom and a rehashing of the NWO a week later.  That sad aftermath would cast a shadow over what wasa pretty good night of action here even with all the absences.

Final verdict

Surprisingly better show than I remembered. The names that weren’t involved and the soft middle take away from it, but the first two matches and three of the last four are good, entertaining affairs.  Definitely worth a watch for more than historical purposes.

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