It's undoubtedly going to be a slow Saturday night, so instead of sitting around and twiddling our thumbs how about we make use of that certain over-the-top service so many of us pay $9.99 a month for and go retro with a live blog?
Our latest retro live blog will cover Starrcade 1997, which took place on Sun., Dec. 28, 1997, at the MCI Center in Washington D.C. and featured Sting, in his first match in over a year, challenging the leader of the nWo, Hollywood Hulk Hogan, for the world heavyweight championship.
We'll treat this live blog like we would any show airing live. It will kick off at 8 p.m. ET tonight, so if you want to follow along and chat with your fellow fans and friends here on the site, make sure you click "play" on the WWE Network at 8 p.m. ET and come back here for all the fun.
Coverage will roll below.
STARRCADE 1997 LIVE BLOG
Geno here. Let us do this.
"He watches from the shadows."
An opening promo leads into some awesome theme music before Tony Schiavone welcomes us to Washington D.C. for an event with a WCW vs. nWo theme (like so many throughout 1997).
Your broadcast team: Schiavone, Dusty Rhodes, Mike Tenay
Schiavone tells us there is great controversy surrounding who will be the referee for the Hogan vs. Sting match tonight. JJ Dillon, President of WCW, will draw out of a hat to ensure it's a random selection and is fair. We'll find out who is chosen later on in the evening.
Many WCW wrestlers are shown having come to the arena to watch the event. That's how big it is.
Schiavone tells us that there is another controversy with the nWo, that they received a press release and Kevin Nash won't be at the event to take on The Giant as originally planned.
Dean Malenko vs. Eddie Guerrero (c)
This was for the cruiserweight championship.
Malenko worked a series of big power slams early on, countering a hurricanrana with a powerbomb and hitting an Alabama Slam. Guerrero survived it all and taunted Malenko before bailing out of the ring to regroup. When he got back in, he dove at Dean's legs and took control off that. It didn't last long, as Malenko hit a front suplex on the ropes and Eddie went right back to selling.
Tenay took the opportunity to tell us his wife gave birth to their child and that was added incentive for Malenko.
It should be noted that the announcers have spent more time talking about the nWo and everything else scheduled for the card than calling the action in the ring.
Once Guerrero got back on offense, he continued to attack Malenko's leg with a focus on the left knee. Even when Dean came back, they pushed hard that he wasn't going for the Cloverleaf submission because his knee wasn't sturdy enough for it. Each pinfall attempt failed, and there were many.
Finally, after a powerbomb, Malenko was getting ready to go for the Cloverleaf but Guerrero countered with a kick. Eddie went up top for a dropkick to the knee, which put Malenko down. He followed that up with a Frog Splash, and that was enough to get the pin.
Eddie Guerrero def. Dean Malenko
"It was a one dimensional game plan on the part of Eddie Guerrero but it paid off," remarked Mike Tenay.
Scott Hall made his way to the ring while the commentary team told us this is an unplanned appearance.
Whatever could he want?!?
"You gotta admit that being in D.C. for the holidays is just too sweet. And nWo is glad to be here. You might have heard by now that we're taking a little survey. It's real, real simple. We want to know if you're with us or if you're against us. So how many people here in D.C. came to see WCW?"
Loud cheers all around mixed with a small bit of booing.
"Now, how many people here in D.C. came to see the nWo?"
He let the crowd say "nWo" and they went wild for that too.
"One more for the good guys."
He said he's interested in who wins in the Hogan vs. Sting match tonight because he gets the winner at SuperBrawl.
"Good for me."
Then he moved on to the bad news. The true giant, Big Kevin Nash, is not going to be here tonight. If anyone has a problem with it, they can meet him "down there." Meanwhile, he asked for a referee and said "Frankengoof" can be announced the winner and that's that.
Naturally, this brought out The Giant, who took his sweet time walking to the ring.
Giant grabbed a mic and said he's a forgiving man and he can understand why Nash wouldn't want to show up because if he was facing himself, he wouldn't want to show up either. Then he said he's a patient man and he'll be around long enough to meet Nash when he comes back. Before he could tell Hall what his message for Nash was, The Outsider threw a toothpick in his face.
That led to a brief beat down punctuated by a Jackknife powerbomb.
Hall sold like crazy for The Giant throughout this entire segment, including the death sell on the powerbomb. Scott Norton and Vincent came out to carry Hall to the back before coming right back out for the next match.
Scott Norton & Vincent & Randy Savage vs. The Steiner Brothers & Ray Traylor
Konnan was supposed to be with Team nWo but he wasn't out there with them. Instead, just before the bell rang Norton pointed to the back and out walked Macho Man and Elizabeth.
Savage's entrance took an absurd amount of time, seemingly to make up for the absence of Nash and one less match taking up time on the card. The match itself also took forever to get underway, with Scott Steiner asking for Savage to start and Macho taking his time getting in, then taking even longer engaging.
Tenay covered for this by saying "can't you sense the tension? No one wants to make a mistake first."
Once they finally got to wrestling, both teams were tagging in and out frequently. Poor Vincent took a beating, though, taking all of The Steiner's primary offense, including a DDT off Rick's shoulders and a Frankensteiner. When Scott moved to hit that on Savage, however, Norton came up from behind, put Scott on his shoulders, and dropped him down to put him in perfect position for Macho to stand up and hit the Flying Elbow to get the pin.
nWo def. Steiners & Traylor
Mean Gene Okerlund was in front of the entrance bringing in JJ Dillon to say that everyone is super interested in this event. He got the goods and said this was really about revealing who won the draw to be the referee for the Hogan vs. Sting match.
Okerlund rightfully points out that Patrick would raise a lot of eyebrows seeing as he was formerly an nWo referee. Dillon ensures us he's been fair in all the matches he's officiated since he was reinstated from suspension, so they have confidence in his being chosen for this match.
Goldberg vs. Steve McMichael
Mongo almost tripped and fell as he was walking out.
These two were in the midst of a bitter rivalry, so much so that Goldberg didn't wait for McMichael to get down to the ring to meet him to get to brawling. They made it to the ring to get started soon enough and proceeded to get sloppy with it like only Goldberg and Mongo could.
Okay, that might be a little unfair. They were fine. Like Goldberg rolling through to work a ... uh ... kneebar? He just sort of had a hold of McMichael's leg while acting like he was torquing it. Dusty told us he was attacking the kneecap.
He got up fairly quick, sent Mongo into the ropes, and just sort of bumped into him. They called it a tackle. He followed up with a spear that Mongo took horribly. Goldberg went for a pin right after but Mongo kicked out at two. Not that it mattered because Goldberg was already in the process of standing up.
Talk about a classic.
Goldberg went out to set up a table on the outside. He picked Mongo up and attempted to throw him over the top rope onto it but the referee stopped him, damn near pushing Mongo down onto Goldberg then counting a pin that only got two.
Goldberg got up and promptly hit a dropkick that sent McMichael to the outside. Like a complete idiot, he walked around and climbed up on the apron right in front of the table Goldberg had set up. Naturally, this led to Goldberg knocking him off and putting him through it, injuring his back.
He recovered, though, enough to attempt a piledriver. He failed, however, because his back was hurt from going through the table. Goldberg took advantage with the Jackhammer to get the pin.
Goldberg def. Steve McMichael
"This is only, let's say, chapter four, in a long drawn out story," says Schiavone.
Raven walked out to the ring sans music. The announcers mention he hasn't been seen for over a month, carefully avoiding a match with Chris Benoit.
We're told it's time for that very match.
Raven grabbed a mic and sat in the corner. He said when he signed a contract with WCW it said he wouldn't have to conform to the rules and he could wrestle where he wants, when he wants, and who he wants. Tonight, he's decided not to wrestle. Instead, he's allowing Saturn to finish off Benoit.
Saturn vs. Chris Benoit
Raven hung out ringside.
Before the match happened, Benoit grabbed the mic and started talking about resting in reason, moving in passion, and inflicting pain on Raven. This led to Raven attempting to distract him so Saturn could get an edge but Benoit was ready for it and he absolutely went after Saturn early on.
It didn't take long for The Flock to show up to interfere in the match. This included Billy Kidman and Sick Boy hitting spots off the guardrail and the apron. Kidman almost missed a shooting star press. Tenay was still impressed that he even went for it.
Saturn had his way with Benoit for some time. That is until Benoit got him on the outside and went for the Crippler Crossface, a legit attempt at ending the match considering it's Raven's rules. The Flock showed up just in time to break it up but Benoit used Saturn to take them out when he went for a dive.
Back in the ring, Benoit hit the diving headbutt, which brought The Flock back in. He fought most of them off but eventually Raven came in and hit the Evenflow, putting Benoit down long enough for Saturn to lock on the Rings of Saturn to get the submission win.
Saturn def. Chris Benoit
Buff Bagwell vs. Lex Luger
Schiavone tells us that Bagwell has won three straight matches against Luger but they've all come by way of count out. During his entrance, Buff told the camera he gave his opponent a new name: Lex Loser.
Good one, Buff.
Tenay gives us more background: "Luger wants to be known as 'The Total Package' of professional wrestling. Bagwell calls himself 'The New Total Package.'"
Two meatheads fighting over who gets to say they have the best body in a "sport" full of hard bodies.
So how did they start? A collar and elbow tie up that neither of the two would break, even when the referee got to the count of four. He never went to five because that would have meant calling the match, so he just tried to separate the two. He failed at first, then succeeded, so Luger spit on Bagwell.
What a hot start!
Lex hit a slam and a lariat to send Buff out of the ring. That led to Bagwell walking up the entrance aisle while screaming for Vincent, who came out wearing the gear he wrestled in earlier in the night. Wait, nope, he put an nWo hoodie on over the t-shirt.
Way to switch it up, Vincent.
After Luger showed that he could take 'em both on, at least briefly, Bagwell took control back in the ring and distracted the referee so Vincent could chat and help him out.
Luger teased a comeback getting a boot up after an Irish Whip in the corner but Buff went right back on the attack, this time with a sleeper.
I'm not kidding at all, I got up to go pee and put my dinner dishes away and when I came back Bagwell had Luger in roughly the same position. That's this match, I guess.
Luger started making a comeback but Bagwell AGAIN put him in a sleeper.
The ref raises the arm once.
The ref raises the arm twice.
The ref raises the arm a third time.
Luger catches it!
The crowd cheers on Lex to pick Buff up and drop him on his back. Once back on his feet, he hit a back body drop, then a couple lariats, before an atomic drop, then another. Vincent climbed up but got knocked off the apron. Luger signaled for the Torture Rack and then didn't do it, instead hitting a suplex to give Vincent time to get in the ring only to be sent back out again.
Another signal for the Torture Rack and yet again Luger doesn't do it, instead kicking and punching. The referee was really upset about this, telling Lex to get off of him or he would call for the bell. Luger moved the referee out of the way but while he was doing so, Buff ran into him and the ref took a bump.
Naturally, Luger FINALLY picked Bagwell up in the Torture Rack. Nope, the ref was out. Randy Savage ran in and he got put in the Torture Rack, all the way up until Scott Norton ran out and kicked him in the gut before laying him out with a dog collar. Then he put Bagwell on top of Luger and woke up the referee to count it.
Sure enough, three slaps of the mat.
Buff Bagwell def. Lex Luger
Curt Hennig (c) vs. Diamond Dallas Page
This match was for the United States championship.
Tenay put DDP over as a real team player for stepping in to take Ric Flair's place in this match after the nWo injured "The Nature Boy."
Page was super aggressive early on, going after Hennig with reckless abandon. The assault didn't stop until Hennig found himself in position to rack DDP's neck on the top rope while he was on the apron and Page was trying to bring him back into the ring. Turnabout is fair play, so Hennig attacked just as hard as DDP had been, including throwing him into the steel steps on the outside.
Hennig started working the back, ripping up DDP's tape.
Page's first comeback attempt was cut off and Hennig worked a chinlock. When he did get his comeback after working out of it, he attempted a Diamond Cutter that Hennig blocked by hanging on to the ropes. They traded near falls after, all of them super disjointed and the crowd entirely uninterested.
Hennig set up for the Perfectplex but DDP blocked it with an armbar. They stood up and knocked each other back down with simultaneous punches to the head.
Once back up, Page ran the ropes, went around Hennig's back, and hit the Diamond Cutter to a big pop. That was enough to get the pin to give DDP the title.
Diamond Dallas Page def. Cut Hennig
"This is a win for the hard working men and women around the world," said Schiavone. "There is no harder worker than DDP."
Eric Bischoff vs. Larry Zbyszko
Bret Hart, just one month after the Montreal Screwjob, was in as the special guest referee was this match. If Bischoff won, the nWo would assume control of Monday Nitro. If Larry won, it would stay with WCW.
Bischoff was put over as a black belt in karate. He was dressed as such.
The crowd chanted for Zbyszko just as the bell rang to get the match started. Scott Hall was out in Eric's corner providing support. Bischoff landed a jab, the first strike of the match, and played to the crowd like he just did something special.
Tenay told us in mixed martial arts match ups like this the wrestler typically thrives because Bischoff is one dimensional in his attack. He went out to Hall for some instruction and motivation. When he got back in the ring, Larry hit him with a couple open palm strikes.
Hart gave him a warning.
When they restarted, Bischoff landed a kick that actually knocked Larry down. That set him off and he got up and started beating on Eric with a mixed offense, both standing and on the mat. Each time, Hart would admonish him for whatever move he was working and Zbyszko would complain about it.
They really played up Hart and Zbyszko arguing with each other.
When Bischoff got control, he threw some laughable kicks that seemingly had Larry on the ropes. Bischoff worked the head, the body, the legs; the announcers were sure to note that Hart did not break any of this.
Finally, Bischoff started to stagger around. It became clear that Zbyszko's plan was the old rope-a-dope strategy. He let Bischoff gas himself out throwing so many ineffective punches and kicks. Then he came out fresh to hit a suplex, then a swinging neckbreaker. He set Bischoff up in the corner but before he could do anything, Hart grabbed him and pulled him away. During this time, Hall put a foreign object in Bischoff's boot. When Zbyszko turned around, Bischoff kicked him and the foreign object went flying. Hart saw it and responded by punching Bischoff in the head.
Hall came in the ring and Hart hit an atomic drop before a clothesline. Then he put Hall in the Sharpshooter.
While that was going on, Zbyszko choked Bischoff with his own belt. Then he stopped, Hart let go of the submission he had on Hall, and casually strolled over to raise Zbyszko's hand.
That was the finish.
Larry Zbyszko def. Bret Hart
Hollywood Hogan (c) vs. Sting
This match was for the WCW world heavyweight championship.
Michael Buffer was the ring announcer for what he called "the most anticipated match in the history of professional wrestling." Not true, but it was a damn big deal.
Hogan was out first. He put the belt on Patrick's shoulder, did his posing, then went over and had a brief conversation with the referee.
They killed the lights and created a strobe effect. They played a recording of a poem while lighting effects created a picture of Sting's face along with a scorpion up in the rafters. Instead of coming from above as he had throughout the past year or so, Sting simply walked out from backstage carrying his trademark black baseball bat.
Once in the ring they stared each other down.
Hogan pushed him as the bell rang. Then he took his bandana off and threw it in Sting's face. The Stinger responded by slapping Hollywood in the face.
The fans chanted "Hogan sucks" and he stalled by acting like he was going to charge them. Back in, he pushed Sting to the corner on a collar and elbow tie up before attempting a cheap shot that Sting blocked and returned in kind. Hogan pleaded to Patrick while Sting simply stared him down with dead eyes and dogged determination.
Hogan asked for a test of strength while pointing to his finger and saying "this is where the power lies." When Sting took his hand, accepting the challenge, Hogan kicked him in the gut and punched him in the face.
Hollywood went on the attack and got the edge while screaming "come on, hero!" The Stinger turned it around by rolling away from a few quick elbow drops and hitting a dropkick that sent Hulk out of the ring to regroup.
Back in the ring, Hogan ran the ropes and ran into two more dropkicks, the second of which sent him right back to the outside.
Nick Patrick, for whatever reason, wouldn't let Sting go out after Hogan, who spent his time playing to the crowd.
When Hogan got back in the ring, Sting grabbed a side headlock. Hulk tried to send him running the ropes but Sting wouldn't let go. Schiavone took the opportunity to say Sting had never looked better, which is such complete bullshit you almost have to respect Tony being willing to say it.
When Sting did let go of the headlock to run the ropes he got a tackle but ran again and ended up running right into a clothesline. Hollywood followed up with a vertical suplex and Sting no sold it. He pushed Hogan into the corner and attacked with punches and kicks, ending with an eye poke.
Hollywood found his way out of the corner using an eye poke of his own.
He sent Sting to the outside. Once there, he found Sting's baseball bat and cracked him over the back with it. That's the same bat the Stinger used to fight the nWo throughout 1997, Tenay notes.
Sting staged a brief comeback but when he went for a Stinger Splash on the guardrail, Hollywood moved. That kept Hogan in control. He rolled the challenger back into the ring. An atomic drop was followed by a boot to the chin in the corner.
He sent Sting running the ropes and hit the Big Boot. He followed with the Leg Drop.
Patrick counted it.
They cut to Bret Hart, who said on the mic that he saw this happen before and he's not going to let it happen again. Patrick asked what the issue was and Hart said it was a fast count.
It definitely was not a fast count.
Hart laid out Patrick before rushing over to Hogan, who was trying to run away. He threw Hollywood back in the ring and Sting hit him with a Stinger Splash. The nWo showed up but Sting sent them all out before hitting another Splash.
Then he started to put Hogan in the Scorpion Death Lock, pointed at Hart, and turned him over. Hart went to Hogan to ask if he wanted to submit. Hogan did not tap. He seemed to nod his head a bit. Hart called for the bell.
Now that's it.
The bell rings.
Sting def. Hollywood Hulk Hogan
The ring suddenly fills with members of the WCW roster, all the folks who had attended the event and were littered throughout the arena. The announcers put this over like WCW finally gets its night.
Except Hogan beat Sting clean in the middle of the ring and Hart restarted a match that never should have been restarted.
What a mess.
Sting spoke into the camera. It sounded like Spanish. This after not speaking on camera for over a year.
They just screwed this up in every way they could, didn't they?
The biggest WCW pay-per-view event of all time was an abomination all the way around.