Sunday, October 01, 2017

No Thanks. That's Not Starrcade.

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

When Bruce Mitchell of recently tweeted that the WWE should consider bringing Tony Schiavone back to do some old-school retro promos for their upcoming "WWE Starrcade" Thanksgiving weekend show in Greensboro, he received an interesting reply from a twitter follower suggesting it would also be cool if Mean Gene Okerlund could do some backstage interviews, too.

Mitchell replied perfectly: "No thanks. That's not Starrcade."

This Okerlund response to Mitchell's Schiavone tweet was well meaning and well intended. But it registered like an off-key note. What that person didn't realize was Bruce wasn't talking about the 1990s Tony Schaivone/Gene Okerlund battlebowl WCW Starrcades of the 1990s. He was talking about the Tony Schiavone/Bob Caudle JCP Starrcades of the 1980s.

It dawned on me that so many younger fans, especially those that didn't grow up in the Mid-Atlantic area, have no idea of what Starrcade really meant to the fans in this area, no idea what Starrcade was in its purest form.

For guys like Bruce Mitchell, David Chappell, and me - - and for that matter Tony Schiavone, too - - Starrcade in its purist form were the 1983-1987 events that ended when the Crockett family sold the family business to Ted Turner in 1988.  Starrcade continued in name for well over the next decade, but it was just a WCW brand and one of a series of cookie-cutter, look-alike pay-per-views at that point. It never had that same Mid-Atlantic stardust on it that the first several years of events had.

So when Bruce made the suggestion that Tony Schiavone be brought back to do retro-Starrcade promos, he was hinting at those simple, memorable 1980s magic promos for those early events in Greensboro, and later shared with Atlanta. Those same promos that had that rockin' Frank Stallone music behind them, that familiar melody that would become synonymous with Starrcade for the first five years of its existence.

The familiar edited instrumental version of Frank Stallone's "Far From Over"

The theme music for the first 5 Starrcade events (1983 - 1987)

Some want to include Starrcade '88 alongside the Crockett-era Starrcades. Not me. That was a decent enough event, and sure enough it was largely built during the final months of the Crockett regime. But it was also the first Starrcade to be moved off of Thanksgiving (a second slap in the face following 1987's move out of Greensboro), not to mention the first to ditch the Frank Stallone soundtrack which always ticked me off. (I value and treasure the little things.) It was also the first pay-per-view for Ted Turner's new WCW, and was not a JCP production. The ink had barely dried on the Crockett/Turner contracts when Starrcade '88 took place in December of that year.

Starrcade just didn't seem the same after that. And by the time Gene Okerlund was doing backstage interviews at a Starrcade event years later, the memories of the real Starrcades were all but lost to the sands of time.

So count me among those that are less-than-enthusiastic about the return of the Starrcade name in the WWE. I will admit I had a twinge of nostalgia when it was announced. And it taking place in Greensboro at the Greensboro Coliseum on Thanksgiving weekend was a nice touch. But let's not kid ourselves; it's nothing more than a glorified house show with a legendary name from a bygone era slapped on it, morphed into a B-level special on the WWE Network. Without the Starrcade name tagged to it, it's just another WWE house show that no one would have paid much attention to otherwise, at least not more than usual anyway.

Charlotte Flair is wrestling inside of a steel cage that night. I had a good friend tell me he thought I would be happy to see Starrcade back in Greensboro. After all, one of its top matches features a Flair in a cage in Greensboro on Thanksgiving weekend. That's about as Starrcade as it gets, right?

No thanks. That's not Starrcade.

Now, get off of my lawn.