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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Alan Wojcik Review Of The Essential Starrcade DVD Set

From 1983-2000 fans who watched NWA/WCW had one PPV to look forward to each year that was the culmination of the big feuds and the beginning of new ones. The event was called Starrcade and thanks to WWE Home Video young wrestling fans get to find out the history of the event with the STARRCADE ESSENTIAL COLLECTION DVD.

Back in 1983 wrestling was still in the territory system. World Wrestling Federation was still northeast based as Hulk Hogan had yet to arrive on the scene. Jim Crockett Promotions ran the Mid-Atlantic territory under the National Wrestling Alliance banner. A conversation between Dusty Rhodes and Barry Windham led them to approach promoter Jim Crockett Jr. and Thanksgiving night fans witnessed the inaugural event that saw "Nature Boy" Ric Flair take on the legendary Harley Race and other legendary battles listed below. The rest is history at the cliché goes. The documentary feature is great with interviews from Flair, Race, Rhodes, Windham, Road Warrior Animal, David Crockett, Arn Anderson, Roddy Piper, Greg Valentine, Eric Bischoff, Tully Blanchard, Paul Ellering, Jim Cornette (archival footage), Magnum TA, Jim Ross and the Brisco Brothers. Notably absent Ricky Steamboat, Steve Austin, Dustin Rhodes, Bob Caudle, Tony Schiavone and Hulk Hogan, all of whom contributed to the event over the years in some form or fashion. Understandable if the WWE couldn’t get them to talk on camera. Also absent is Vince McMahon who nearly bankrupted the Crockett’s by running his inaugural Survivor Series opposite Starrcade 1987. I found two Easter eggs; on Disc 1 double click on Thanksgiving Tradition to see Dusty Rhodes talk about Starrcade 1983. On Disc 1 double click on Flare for the Gold to see Ric Flair talking about a signature wall of fame at the Greensboro Coliseum. Almost all of the Starrcade events are mentioned except for the 1990 Pat O’Connor Tag Team Tournament or the Sting/Black Scorpion cage match.

The 25 matches featured in the collection are introduced by Hall of Fame announcers Jim Ross & Gene Okerlund, Four Horsemen members Nature Boy" Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson plus Road Warrior Animal, Dusty Rhodes and David Crockett. Like the History of the Intercontinental Championship DVD, the wrestling fans voted for the content of this DVD on www.wwe.com. Mr. Okerlund says in the opening they are in order of importance in wrestling history & pure excitement whatever that means. Unless they are really well hidden, there were no Easter eggs with the matches. Here is the list of matches in order from #25 to #1:

WCW World Heavyweight champion "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan vs. Roddy Piper (1996)
Sting vs. Great Muta (1989 Night of the Ironman)
Barry Windham/Brian Pillman vs. NWA World Tag Team champions Ricky Steamboat/Shane Douglas (1992)
Kevin Nash vs. WCW World Heavyweight champion Bill Goldberg (1998)
The 1991 Battlebowl Battle Royal
Dustin Rhodes vs. "Stunning" Steve Austin (1993 2 of 3 falls for US Heavyweight championship)
Road Warriors vs. NWA World Tag Team champions Arn Anderson/Tully Blanchard (1987 w/alternate commentary by Todd Grisham/Animal)
Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Jushin "Thunder" Liger (1996)
Rock N’ Roll Express vs. Midnight Express (Stan Lane/Bobby Eaton) (1987 Scaffold Match)
NWA World Heavyweight champion "Nature Boy" Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger (1988)
Eddie Guerrero vs. Shinjiro Otani (1995 WCW vs. New Japan)
"American Dream" Dusty Rhodes/Sting vs. NWA World Tag Team champions Road Warriors (1988)
Sting vs. Big Van Vader (1992)
NWA World Tag Team champions Jack & Gerry Brisco vs. Ricky Steamboat/Jay Youngblood (1983)
"American Dream" Dusty Rhodes vs. NWA World Heavyweight champion "Nature Boy" Ric Flair (1985)
WCW World Cruiserweight champion Eddie Guerrero vs. Dean Malenko (1997)
Road Warriors vs. Steiner Brothers (1989 Night of the Ironman)
3 Count members Shannon Moore/Shane Helms vs. Jung Dragons members Jimmy Yang/Kaz Hiashi vs. Evan Karagias/Jamie Knoble (2000 Ladder Match)
Sting vs. "Nature Boy" Ric Flair (1989 Night of the Ironman)
US Heavyweight champion Greg "the Hammer" Valentine vs. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (1983 Dog Collar Match)
Road Warriors vs. Midnight Express (Dennis Condrey/Bobby Eaton) (1986 Scaffold match w/alternate commentary by Todd Grisham/Animal)
Sting vs. WCW World Heavyweight champion "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan (1997 w/special referee Bret "Hitman" Hart))
NWA World Heavyweight champion Harley Race vs. "Nature Boy" Ric Flair (1983 Steel Cage Match)
Magnum TA vs. US Heavyweight champion Tully Blanchard (1985 I Quit Steel Cage Match)
WCW World Heavyweight champion Vader vs. "Nature Boy" Ric Flair (1993)

I probably shouldn’t inject personal opinion in this review but since its mine, I have major problems with the fans that voted Sting vs. Muta as #24 or even listed Hogan/Piper on the list. If you own the Steel Cage DVD or the Ric Flair DVD’s or the even the Ladder Match DVD you have some of these matches already in your collection. I think the WWE should have also added in the judging process does the match stand up today as the best of the best. I doubt Sting/Hogan from 1997 would top Sting’s personal best in my career list even though it had historical significance in WCW. All of Flair’s matches stand up as great and so do the Road Warriors tag matches. It’s great to see so many of these matches once again since some haven’t seen the light of day since an NWA Best of Starrcade VHS release in the previous decades. You can buy this DVD in major retailers or through www.wwe.com