THE TWO SHEDS REVIEW by Julian Radbourne – now in it’s 10th year!
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It was the last wrestling pay-per-view of the 20th century, and the beginning of the end of a legendary wrestling career as Goldberg challenged Bret “Hitman” Hart at World Championship Wrestling’s Starrcade ‘99, with Tony Shiavone, Scott Hudson and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan handling commentary duties.
The show began with Disco Inferno and Lash LeRoux facing off against Big Vito and Johnny the Bull, accompanied by Tony Marinara, aka Tony Marmaluke. Of course, there’s plenty of stereotypical Italian stuff here, but that doesn’t stop Vito and Johnny displaying some great team work. Disco and LeRoux were okay, but I never really took to LeRoux for some reason. A bit of confusion at the end as Disco accidentally took LeRoux out with his version of the ace crusher before Vito took LeRoux out with a DDT for the pin. The Italians then took Disco out and put him in a body bag, before carting him off in the boot of their car. Nice match here, but I’m still not sure about Vito, Tony & Johnny’s gimmick. Thankfully, Marlon Brando never turned up.
The first title match of the evening followed, an inter-gender match with Madusa challenging Evan Karagias, accompanied here by Spice, for the Cruiserweight title. If you want an example of how good Madusa was, then watch this match. This was no weak woman versus strong guy match. Madusa more than held her own against Karagias, and although the match was rather short, it was also quite entertaining, with Spice turning on her man, distracting Karagias so Madusa could recover and get the pin with a bridging back suplex.
The title action continued with Meng challenging Normal Smiley for the Hardcore title. Smiley was dressed in the American football gear for this one, and came to the ring with a cart full of toys. This was one wild brawl. Smiley didn’t get much chance to use his weapons as Meng took him apart backstage. Smiley tried his best, but nothing worked. Then Fit Finlay and Brian Knobbs attacked eng. The Tongan took both of them on, and held his own until Knobbs clobbered him from behind with an iron bar. They then left Meng lying, and Smiley finally recovered enough to get the pin. Smiley then ran for cover, and Meng suddenly awoke, attacking the referee. If I’m truthful, then this just seemed like one big mess that didn’t seem to be going anywhere.
Then it was back to tag team action as the Revolution, Shane Douglas, Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn and Asya took on “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan and his mystery partners, who turned out to be the reformed Varsity Club, Mike Rotundo, Kevin Sullivan and Rick Steiner. This was back when Duggan was working as a janitor for WCW at their venues (surely each venue had their own cleaning staff!), wearing those grubby brown overalls. Douglas, with his arm in a brace, spent the majority of the match at the commentary table. As much as I love Duggan, he wasn’t actually that good here, and was reluctant to tag his new buddies, who ended up turning on him after they’d taken Asya out and sent Saturn and Malenko over the top rope. Douglas then left his commentary position and got the pin on Duggan, meaning that, as per stipulation, Duggan would have to renounce his citizenship the following night. Definitely a so-so match, nothing really special here.
Up next, Vampiro against “Dr. Death” Steve Williams. Vampiro’s buddies the Misfits had captured Williams’ manager, the piss-poor Jim Ross impersonator Oklahoma, and put him in a cage which they wheeled out to ringside. Now this could have been a great match. Williams and Vampiro put together some great sequences, but the poor performances of the Misfits as they tried to run interference, and Oklahoma’s really annoying commentary from within the cage ruined this one. Vampiro got the disqualification win after Williams attacked the referee, and as per stipulations, Vampiro earned five minutes in the ring with Oklahoma, which the fat guy wanted because Vampiro was still down. Oklahoma ended up getting his clock cleaned by Vampiro and his buddies, before the dark angel got the pin after the nail in the coffin. Could have been good, but was lacking in so many ways.
More tag team action followed, with Creative Control, aka the Harris Twins, aka Skull & 8 Ball, aka…..well, you get my drift, and Curt Hennig, against Harlem Heat and Midnight, with the winner getting a shot at the tag team titles held by Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. Well, it was meant to be Harlem Heat, but Stevie Ray no-showed because he didn’t like Midnight as his valet. The action in this one was okay, but it was nothing special. Midnight was more than a match against the Harris boys and Hennig, and Booker looked as solid as always. Stevie Ray turned up halfway through, but Booker basically told him where to go. A few moments later Stevie distracted the referee while Hennig clobbered Booker with a pair of brass knuckles to get the win. Okay match, but again, nothing special.
The bunkhouse brawl featuring Dustin Rhodes and Jeff Jarrett was next. Rhodes was annoyed here because of the face painted weirdo gimmick that the powers that be had given him on his return to WCW. Ironic really when you consider that’s how he’s made his living in the wrestling business for the past fifteen years or so. I hope Meng and Normal Smiley were watching this one backstage, because this brawl was far better than their effort earlier in the evening. Plenty of great action with good performances from both men, mixed in with some nice interference from Curt Hennig. Jarrett and Rhodes went all out in this one, and it was Hennig’s interference, in a way, that cost Rhodes the match. After he’d taken Hennig out with a bulldog on the floor, Rhodes kept his attention on the former Mr. Perfect. This gave Jarrett the chance to grab his trusty guitar, which ended up being smashed over Rhodes’ head after Jarrett jumped off a ladder. A three count later and Jarrett had the win. Good work from all concerned.
The gimmick match action continued with David Flair facing Diamond Dallas Page in a crowbar on a pole match. Earlier in the show Flair had been given a mystery package, which contained a gold crowbar, which Flair used on Page at the beginning of the match after he ran in through the crowd. The referee nearly called the match early, but Page managed to crawl back into the ring. As for the action, the acorn really did fall far from the tree as far as young David’s wrestling ability is concerned. DDP was obviously carrying him here. Also, the crowbar wasn’t actually used after Flair got it from the pole. Page got the pin after taking Flair down with a diamond cutter. He then put Flair on the top turnbuckle and took him down with a second cutter. Page was then about to attack Flair with the crowbar until a mystery woman, known to us as Daffney, came down to the ring and placed herself between Flair and Page. A frustrated Page then walked off. So can someone tell me this – what’s the point of a crowbar on a pole match when the crowbar on the pole isn’t actually used?
An old rivalry was then renewed with Lex Luger, in his “Total Package” phase, taking on Sting, accompanied here by Elizabeth, with Liz’s contract on the line. This proved to be an interesting encounter. The exchanges between Luger and Sting were good, and the moment when Sting revealed that he knew Liz had been working him all long was well played out. Sting had given Liz a can of mace before the match, but when she tried to use it on Sting it turned out to be silly string. Humiliated, Liz went back to ringside, but came back into the ring with Sting’s baseball bat as the scorpion death lock was about to be applied to Luger. Sting talked Liz out of using the bat, and she put it down, but ended up clobbering Sting with it anyway as he applied the death lock, giving Sting the immediate disqualification win. Luger wasn’t finished here though as he placed Sting’s wrist in a steel chair and stomped down on it twice. Probably the best executed match on the show so far.
The big boys came out to play next, as Sid Vicious took on Kevin Nash in a power bomb match. It’s basically two big guys beating the hell out of each other, hitting each other with big blows. Sid took Nash down with the power bomb, but didn’t get the win because the referee was taking a snooze. Jeff Jarrett then made his second appearance of the evening with his second guitar shot of the evening, taking out big Sid. Jarrett then ran for cover so Nash could finish the match, but Big Sexy couldn’t power bomb Sid because of his injured back. So he walked over to the recovering ref, told him he’d power bombed Sid, and was declared the winner. Well, the action wasn’t bad, but the end was kind of screwy.
Then it was on to the United States title ladder match. Earlier in the evening the powers that be awarded the title to Chris Benoit because his original opponent, Scott Hall, had to pull out through injury. Benoit didn’t want to win the title in that way, so put out an open challenge, which was answered by Jeff Jarrett, making his third appearance of the evening. Now I know I’m going to take a bit of criticism for what I’m about to say, but this was a hell of a match. Both Benoit and Jarrett put on tremendous performances with some great use of the ladder. The big bump came with Benoit’s diving head butt from the top of the ladder, Seconds later, Benoit scaled the ladder to claim the title belt. It may have been a great performance by Benoit, but I couldn’t help but think of what he did a few years later.
The main event saw Goldberg challenging Bret Hart for the WCW World title in a no disqualification match. This was another of those matches I’m going to label interesting. The action between Hart and Goldberg ventured between okay and good at times, and Goldberg certainly looked good when pulling off his trademark power moves. But sadly, we got the ending that’s been done to death over the past few years. With three referees having been taken out during the action, Roddy Piper, who if I recall was some sort of authority figure back then, came down the aisle, and as the Hitman was applying the sharpshooter, Piper called for the bell, giving Hart the win. Piper then grabbed the title belt and walked off back down the aisle. Neither Goldberg or Hart were too happy about the situation, as Hart soon got his title belt back.
In conclusion – long time wrestling fans will be able to tell instantly that this was a Vince Russo era WCW show. The matches ranged from the poor to the pretty good, and the abundance of gimmick and stipulation matches seems like a forerunner to Russo’s time in TNA a few years later. So even though Starrcade ‘99 was meant to be WCW’s biggest show of that year, it certainly wasn’t their best.