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OOLD SCHOOL   
The Hitman's Last Ride 

April 22, 2004

by Rick Scaia   
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

[NOTE FROM THE PRESENT DAY: With all the hullaballoo over Bret Hart this past week, it might be an interesting time to go back and remember his last PPV match.  At Starrcade 1999, Hart last competed on pay-per-view against Goldberg in about the 93rd documented "homage" to the Montreal Screwjob.  Within a week, he'd been kicked in the head by Goldberg and told to curtail his wrestling schedule.  Of course, we now know that this turned out to be a career-ending injury...

Actually, if there was a singular point where WCW became a terminal case, it may well have been Starrcade 1999.  WCW used the finish of Hart and Goldberg's match as the springboard to the return of the nWo, which was being clammored for by exactly no one.  Hart's injury not only weakened the attempted reformation of the group, but resulted in WCW losing their World Champion and top-level feud.  They stripped Hart of his title at the January PPV, and backstage turmoil over who should win it led to a massive shake-up, the dismissal of Vince Russo, and eventually to the Radicalz -- Benoit, Guerrero, Saturn, and Malenko -- jumping to the WWF.  Oh, and Goldberg?  Before he left, Russo booked him to punch his hand through a limo window, which caused a serious injury.  WCW also lost Goldberg for months in the aftermath of Starrcade '99.

The last wrestling PPV of the millennium was also the last time WCW really had all its troops amassed in one spot.  And it was also the last ride of Bret "the Hitman" Hart.  Enjoy my immediate post-show recap of the event....]

 
Starrcade 1999 PPV Recap 

Originally Published by WrestleLine.com on December 19, 1999

HART RETAINS THE TITLE, BUT HAS HE "SOULED OUT"?

In an homage to (or "rip off of" if you don't speak French) the infamous Montreal Doublecross, Bret Hart retained the WCW Title from Goldberg when crooked ref Roddy Piper called for the bell after Hart had Goldberg locked in the Sharpshooter for less than one second.  Hart acted upset, but accepted the strap from a less-than-enthused Piper.

The main event was a quality match up till that finish (which will largely have to be judged on where the angle goes from here), and was preceded by the hands-down match of the night as Chris Benoit overcame Jeff Jarrett (who was working his second match of the night) in a ladder match to retain his US Title.

Complete match-by-match results of the mixed-bag show follow.  Apologies for the sparse details of the first few matches; I missed bits and pieces of the opening hour of the show.

  • In the night's opener, The Goon Squad (Johnny the Bull and Vito the Skull) beat Disco Inferno and Lash LeRoux...  after the match, Tony Marinara had his boys KO Disco with ether and stuff him into a bodybag (as per the match stipulation) and then into the trunk of a car.  Not the hottest way to start a PPV...
  • Madusa won the WCW Cruiserweight Title from Evan Karagias when Nitro Girl Spice turned on Evan, distracting him so that Madusa could get the win.  I have a hard time believing this is the same title that was once the subject of mind-numbing **** battles between the likes of Rey Misterio and Ultimo Dragon....
  • Norman Smiley once again found a way to retain the Hardcore Title... despite being beaten all over the building by Meng, Smiley got the win after a little help from Fit Finlay and Brian Knobbs...  that duo managed to put Meng down long enough for Smiley to emerge from hiding to make a cover and get the win.
  • Jim Duggan was joined by mystery partners Kevin Sullivan, Mike Rotundo, and Rick Steiner (reprising the old Varsity Club gimmick) to take on the Revolution.  Shane Douglas was so confident in his side's ability to win that he decided to do commentary.  The Varsity Club turned on Duggan after clearing the ring of the other three members of the Revolution.  Douglas sensed the opportunity and entered the ring to cover Duggan and get the win. Not all that thrilling a segment.
  • Steve Williams was disqualified for manhandling the ref in his match against Vampiro.  Vamp, as per the match's stipulations, got five minutes with Oklahoma afterwards.  Along with four members of the Misfits, Vamp decimated the faux announcer.  Some stiff shots here, but this whole storyline is just silly, which negates the realism and brutality that Williams and Vamp might be capable of.
  • Pre-match friction between Booker T and Stevie Ray meant that Booker and Midnight had to take on Creative Control and Curt Hennig in a 2-on-3 situation.  Stevie did come out part way through the match, but was not invited to join the match.  Instead, the bad guys used their 3-on-2 advantage to get a pinfall win over Booker T.  In doing so, Creative Control become #1 contenders to the tag titles.  "Eh" best describes this segment.
  • Jeff Jarrett and Dustin Rhodes had a lengthy brawl.  About mid-way through the match, Curt Hennig made his way out to assist Jarrett in any way he could.  The two wound up brawling to the entrance set, where Hennig was able to distract Rhodes long enough so that Jarrett could set up a big guitar shot off the fourth rung of a ladder (which was on display teasing the ladder match later in the night), and follow up with the pinfall. Decent stuff, best action of the night so far.
  • The David Flair vs. Dallas Page "Crowbar on a Pole" match turned out better than I might have anticipated.  With a pre-match crowbar attack, Flair was given a plausible advantage over DDP for an early part of the contest, showing more offense than we've previously seen from him.  It came off pretty well; certainly better than expected.  Finally, David was able to get the crowbar, but as he wound up for the big KO, DDP ducked and reversed it into the Diamond Cutter to get the three count.  DDP was going to finish David off after the match, but the woman who sent in a "Nitro Party" tape a few weeks back ran in from nowhere to save Flair.
  • As most people seemed to expect, Liz wasn't exactly totally honest with Sting leading into his match against Lex Luger.  Mid-match, Liz tried to turn against Sting and rejoin Luger, but fortunately, Sting was one of the many who seemed to sense her deceit:  he replaced her can of mace with silly string, embarrassing Liz when she tried to help Luger.  Sting was going to finish strong and take the submission win from Luger when Liz decided to get even further involved, whacking Sting in the face with a baseball bat.  The ref called for the immediate DQ, giving the win to Sting.  Luger and Liz Pillmanized Sting's wrist before officials finally broke up the attack.  Not much of a match at all, but the little angle was pretty cool.
  • Sid and Kevin Nash wrestled in a Powerbomb Match (winner is the first to hit a powerbomb)...  best described as "plodding," the combatants didn't even stick to the match stipulation, as the ref counted at least one near fall, despite the powerbomb only rule.  After a ref bump, Sid hit the powerbomb; Jeff Jarrett made a run-in, pasting Sid with a guitar.  When the ref revived, Nash lied and told him that he'd hit a powerbomb.  The ref gave Nash the bogus decision.  Sid was supposed to be the babyface and Nash the heel, but reaction was pretty much lukewarm and mixed to both men.  This one failed to work on many levels.
  • Chris Benoit was awarded the US Title via forfeit due to injury to Scotty Hall.  And Jeff Jarrett, who'd already wrestled a lengthy match against Dustin Rhodes, was the man to step in to challenge Benoit for the strap in a Ladder Match.  High expectations for this match were met, as Jarrett and Benoit hit a number of familiar ladder match favorite spots, and had a few all new ones up their sleeve.  The live crowd was popping more for the individual spots and effort than for either man.  Finally, Benoit was able to hit the swandive headbutt off the top of the ladder, and then re-ascended the ladder to grab the US Title belt and win the match.  Easily the match of the night.
  • Bret Hart and Goldberg tore into each other almost as voraciously as they tore into referees in their World Title match.  In the midst of  pummeling each other, Hart and Goldberg took out three separate officials in the contest.  Finally, Roddy Piper made his way down to ringside to take over officiating duties, just as Bret Hart had reversed Goldberg into the Sharpshooter.  Without even checking Goldberg, Piper called for the bell less than a second after Hart secured the hold, in a direct nodding of the head to the Montreal Double Cross.  Hart acted upset, but accepted the title belt from Piper (a la Shawn Michaels in the Montreal incident), as the announcers acted confused and Goldberg acted outraged.  Key word:  acted. Nothing here was even remotely as interesting or engaging as the actual Montreal screwjob.  Actually, this was a very solid match leading up to the derivative finish.  What will make or break the angle is what direction they take it on Nitro and in coming weeks...  will it be revealed that Bret Hart has sold out before January's Souled Out PPV?

Definitely a mixed bag of a PPV.  Some really good, some actively bad.  A good pair of matches on top certainly helps matters out a bunch.  Call it a solid Thumbs in the Middle, a notch below last week's Armageddon.

E-MAIL RICK SCAIA   BROWSE THE OO ARCHIVES

Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.


  
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