Sunday, 16 September 2007

WCW Starrcade 90: Collision Course - Retro Review

So just who was the mysterious Black Scorpion, and why was he targeting World Champion Sting? This was what WCW were attempting to find out at their biggest show of 1990, Starrcade: Collision Course. Our hosts for the evening are none other than Jim Ross and Paul “E. Dangerously” Heyman.

After an opening ceremony which saw the playing of the American national anthem, the opening match saw “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton, in his first pay-per-view singles match, facing “Z-Man” Tom Zenk. Ross reminds everyone that Zenk is currently on a thirty-five match winning streak, making him WCW’s hottest property. I’d forgotten just how good these two were, as they put on a great opener, as they broke out the patented high-flying moves, and after Zenk missed one and came crashing down to the mat, Eaton ended the winning streak with a small package.

On to tag-team action, and the first round of The Pat O’Connor Memorial tournament, as South Africa’s Colonel Deklerk and Sergeant Krueger faced the all-American boys, the Steiner Brothers. Deklerk is actually future Public Enemy favourite Ted Petty. The brothers dominate the South Africans before Scott got the win after a Frankensteiner on Deklerk.

Next, Britain’s Norman Smiley and Chris Adams faced Mexico’s Rey Mysterio (the original one) and Konan. It’s an interesting contrast in styles, and thankfully better than the last time I saw Brits against Mexicans in TNA a couple of years ago. Adams and Smiley put in some great team work, but it wasn’t enough as Konan got the win with a bridging pin on Smiley.

Then, New Zealand’s Royal Family of Rip Morgan and Jacko Victory faced Japan’s Mr. Saito and the Great Muta. For some reason I never really took to Morgan and Victory, although they did okay in this one. Muta, as always, was highly impressive, and it was the face-painted one who got the pin with a bridging back suplex on Victory, after he accidentally got clobbered by Morgan.

The final first round match saw Canada’s Troy Montour and Bull Johnson against the Soviet Union’s Victor Zangiev and Salmon Hasimikov. A quick one here, with both Soviets impressing with their grappling skills, and Hasimikov getting the pin on Montour after a belly-to-belly suplex.

Moving away from the tournament, former chicken Terry Taylor takes on future tax collector Michael Wallstreet, complete with laptop toting Alexandra York in his corner, with Wallstreet predicting that he can beat Taylor in eight minutes and thirty-two seconds. Look past the awful gimmicks that these two have had to put up with and you’ve got two great wrestlers putting on a great, fast-paced match, with some excellent moves from both men, and Wallstreet getting the win after a Samoan drop.

More tag-team action follows, as Big Cat and the Motor City Madman face the one-night reunion of the Skyscrapers, Dan Spivey and Sid Vicious. It’s over quickly, as the Skyscrapers take out the Madman with their double power bomb.

We stick with tag action as Tommy Rich and Ricky Morton, who bring along the injured Robert Gibson, faced the Freebirds team of Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin, who themselves have company in the form of their roadie, Little Richard Marley. Rich was another of those guys I could never really take to for some reason. It’s another fast-paced and sometimes chaotic match, with Morton getting the roll-up on Garvin after Marley accidentally clobbered Garvin after Gibson clobbered him with a crutch. Frustrated at their loss, the Freebirds attacked their now former roadie, before attacking the injured Gibson as Rich and Morton saved their now former enemy.

We then go back to the tag-team tournament, as Konan and Mysterio face the Steiners. Another quick encounter, and another great example of just how good a team the Steiners were, with Rick pinning Mysterio after a power bomb.

The second semi-final follows, with Zangiev and Hasimikov against Muta and Saito. It’s a shame this one didn’t go longer, because it featured some great grappling exchanges, especially from the former Olympians on the two teams, with Saito getting the win after a back suplex on Zangiev.

Back to singles action next, as Stan Hansen defends his U.S. title against Lex Luger in a Texas bullrope match. If you’re looking for a classic bout, then this isn’t the match for you. This is a fight, and a good one at that, with Luger and Hansen beating the crap out of each other and using the rope to good effect, with a good ending. The referee took a hit as Luger touched the fourth corner, but was out of it, so it looked like Luger hadn’t won the match. A second referee came down and saw Hansen touch all four corners, and awarded the match to him, only for the first ref to wake up and reveal that he had seen Luger touch that final corner, meaning that the Total Package had won the title for the fourth time. So who said that Luger never had a decent match?

Street fight time. Earlier in the show it was announced that Ric Flair was injured, so he was replaced by fellow Horseman Barry Windham as he and Arn Anderson challenged the Doom team of Ron Simmons and Butch Reed for the tag-team titles. As always, Doom had future Smackdown general manager Teddy Long along for company. It’s the proverbial pier sixer here, with all four men beating the hell out of each other, and all four men bleeding for their art in an encounter that wouldn’t have been out of place in ECW five years later. Confusion reigned in the end as Windham pinned Reed and Simmons pinned Anderson at the same time, with Doom retaining the titles because of the double pin.

On to the final of the tag-team tournament, with Saito and Muta squaring off against the Steiners. Now this is what tag-team wrestling should be about, two teams that were evenly matched, with the Japanese dominating for the most part, until Rick got the blind tag, and as Saito applied a sleeper on Scott, the dog-faced gremlin came off the top rope and pinned Saito with a sunset flip, a good way to end the tournament, with the Steiners as worthy champions.

Time for the main event, as WCW tried to solve the mystery of the Black Scorpion, as the masked man challenged Sting for the World title in a steel cage match, with Dick the Bruiser as special referee, with the stipulation being that the Scorpion had to unmask if he lost. With four fake Scorpions at ringside, it’s a slow and methodical match as the real masked man dominates Sting for the most part in a match which, if I’m to be totally honest, is something of an anti-climax. Eventually things picked up when Sting made his comeback, and ripped the mask off to reveal a second mask underneath. Sting got the pin soon afterwards with a body block off the top rope. But then all hell broke loose, as the fake Scorpions stormed the ring and attacked Sting, closely followed by Horseman Anderson and Windham, and as the baby faces came from the locker room to even things up, the Scorpion was eventually unmasked, and was none other than Ric Flair.

In conclusion - nearly sixteen years after the event, Starrcade ‘90 still stands the test of time - apart from the main event, that is. But then again, that’s probably because of the ludicrous storyline that surround the whole Sting/Scorpion affair. On a whole though it’s a good example of how WCW was a viable alternative to the Hulk Hogan-driven WWF at the time.

I must make mention of the commentary team as well. Years before they teamed up on Raw, Jim Ross and Paul “E. Dangerously” Heyman did a great job calling the action. Without any references to government mules, barbecue sauce, or the mental stability of pet coons, Ross proved that he was the best in the business. A shame that he’s just a clich� machine now though.