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Monday, June 29, 2015

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WIRTB Review: Sting versus Hogan at Starrcade 1997

WIRTB: WCW Starrcade 1997 Sting vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan

By Nathan Neumann

Hello, It’s Spee... no wait. That’s not right. It’s Truuuuuuu….wait, no that’s not it either. Well I can’t seem to remember my own name, even though I just typed it in my byline, and we are already off to a great start for an article that I just decided to write out of the blue. Normally, this is Speed’s gimmick, but True has done a few and I figured I would jump in on the fun, pending the approval of Speed himself--which I recently got via Twitter.

So, lets get to this terribleness, shall we?

Starrcade 1997 took place on December 27, 1997--at least according to the WWE Network. That, however, is wrong; it did, in fact, happen on December 28, 1997. I shouldn’t be at all surprised at the fact that WWE Network has the date of this show wrong; all of the WWE WCW and ECW PPV dates are wrong by a day. They are all listed as taking place on a Saturday except for the PPVs beginning at WrestleMania 30 going forward, which was the first PPV shown live on the Network. How do I know this you may ask? Because I’m an odd human being--that’s why. Deal with it.

Anyway, let’s get down to the actual point of this article and that is a discussion on a match that was so big it was dubbed the “Match Of The Century” and with a billing like that, it has to be good, right?  Well, not exactly--especially since the match I am talking about is Sting challenging Hollywood Hulk Hogan in the main event of WCW’s version of WrestleMania in Starrcade 1997 for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.

The way we got to this match was through Sting--who, at the time, was supposed to be a surfer. Or something, because according to his theme song, he was quick as a cat and he was cool and other stuff.  After the emergence of the New World Order and Hulk Hogan’s subsequent heel turn to join them, Sting suddenly turned evil and while everyone thought he would join the New World Order because of the colors he decided to wear around the time, it didn’t go down like that.

Instead, he was WCW’s hero and knight and shining armor and whatever other phrases you can think of to describe a hero of a generation.  So, Sting went from a cool blonde-haired, painted-up dude to a guy who wore a trench coat, white face paint, had black hair and never spoke a word but instead pointed at people (mainly Hogan), sometimes with a bat, while Hogan would freak out accordingly.

This kind of thing would go on from the reemergence of Sting as Crow Sting up until December 28th 1997 and their main event match at Starrcade 1997.  Everything up until this point I don’t actually have a problem with because it was actually built up quite properly.

But then, the match actually happened.

And despite it being built up for a year--and despite the fact that every WCW contracted wrestler that wasn’t used on this night got paid to basically sit and watch the show like a normal person (and you wonder why this company is no longer around?), it wasn’t very good. In fact, Hulk Hogan, in my opinion, never had an effective match as a heel in WCW. They were all the same and they all were quite bland and nothing special.  This match doesn’t differ from that equation at all but instead became a Botchamania classic IMO.

Plus most people forget about this but this very match also featured the WCW debut of Bret The Hitman Hart, which I will touch on a bit later.

This match, like I said, wasn’t very special. But, what sticks out to me was the fact that they made a big deal about Nick Patrick being “selected” as the referee for this particular match--given his past history with the New World Order. The finish was supposed to go as follows: Hogan whips Sting into the ropes and hits him with the big boot. Sting proceeds to fall over like a dead body (go watch it). Hogan taunts the crowd and then hits his patented Leg Drop and covers Sting for the 1-2-3. Sounds like a normal finish, right?

Well, after these shenanigans ensue, Bret Hart--who refereed a match earlier in the night (so that made him an official referee for the night)--gets on the microphone and calls out Nick Patrick for making a fast count allowing Hogan to win the match and retain his title. Which, up until this point, still sounds normal and might look normal to some fans.

However, this move actually made Bret Hart look like a complete moron because he was complaining about a fast count that never happened. Why? The idiot referee Nick Patrick actually forgot that he was SUPPOSED TO MAKE A FAST COUNT. Bret Hart gets the match restarted, Sting puts the Scorpion Death Lock (A version of Hart’s own Sharpshooter) on Hogan and Hogan taps out immediately, which gives Sting the win and the title.  

This should have been a big moment because Sting finally got the World Title way from the clutches of the New World Order. So, Sting should have gotten a proper World Title  run. However, that didn’t happen because they had a rematch the next night on Nitro. You think Starrcade 1997’s finish was bad? Look at the rematch. It led to the dumbest finish I’ve ever seen in a wrestling match. Because of this fuckery, the title ended up being vacated.

...So, Sting’s entire rise ended up being completely and utterly shit on by the idiots that were running the company at the time. Seriously, if you have the time go back and watch that match I’m talking about on Nitro--if you can find it since it’s not on Youtube or on the Network so have fun trying to find it.

So in closing to answer the question that we always answer here with “Was It Really That Bad?”  The answer to the question is a resounding YES, this match is complete garbage and while it was supposed to be the payoff to the Sting vs. New World Order angle it ultimately meant nothing when they stripped Sting of the title due to Shenanigans during their Nitro match.  Great angle, but terrible execution of the payoff and that’s why this deserved an entry to our famed “Was It Really That Bad” series.

Until next time, when I present a Lucha Underground review or an ROH Review, I am Nathan saying so long and hats off to Speed On The Beat for doing this article all the time because this was my first time and my brain feels like it’s going to explode out of my head.


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