Monday, November 27, 2017

A Second Look at "WWE Starrcade"

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

When I first heard about the WWE calling their November 25 house show in Greensboro "WWE Starrcade" I was pretty down on the whole concept. (See "No Thanks. That's Not Starrcade" published 10/1/17.)

Now that the show is over, I've taken a second look and will admit that I see it in a little different light.

But just a little.

If I'm true to the normal way I feel about such things, I should celebrate what took place in Greensboro last Saturday night, right? After all, I celebrate the indies when they do something special to recognize wrestling's traditions and legends from the past. (The CWF's "Johnny Weaver Cup Tournament" and George South's sporadic "Anderson Brothers Classic" events are two examples.)

But what kept creeping into my mind was that it was the WWE that helped kill Starrcade. In 1987 they effectively blocked 99% of the cable systems from carrying Jim Crockett Promotions' first pay-per-view event which was one of what would be several fatal blows to Jim Crockett Promotions that forced the sale of the company, and an end to an era to go along with it.

If WWE had put this thing on their network, that at least would have given it more of a big-show feel, something a show with the name Starrcade deserved. In the end, it was just as I originally framed it - - a glorified house show.

Not that there is anything wrong with glorified house shows. It beats the heck out of "same-old" house shows. And there is no more special house to host one of those than the fabled Greensboro Coliseum.

Here are a few of the touches WWE put on this house show to make it a little more special:

  1. Ric Flair appeared and introduced his daughter Charlotte (née, Ashley) who was defending her Women's championship that night in a steel cage. Flair was Starrcade, headlining all five Crockett events from 1983-1987. And I guess if you are going to have Starrcade in Greensboro again, you might as well have a Flair in a steel cage.
  2. Ricky Steamboat appeared as well, and was was greeted respectfully by Shinsuke Nakamura in the ring. Steamboat was a big part of the first two Crockett Starrcades in 1983 and 1984.
  3. The Rock and Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson) participated in a skit with the New Day and a four-way tag match. The Rock and Roll Express were a big part of three Crockett Starrcades in 1985, 1986, and 1987.
  4. Dustin Rhodes wrestled in his "Natural" persona from the Turner WCW days. Dustin represented his father Dusty Rhodes well in a match against Dash Wilder. The American Dream was a part of all five Crockett Starrcades, headlining two of them, and is credited with coming up with the name of the event.
  5. And speaking of Dash Wilder, I couldn't help but think of the Andersons seeing video clips of Wilder wrestling Rhodes on the event. Dash and his partner Scott Dawson make up our favorite WWE tag team, The Revival. Wilder wears those classic horizontal-striped boots (a style I dubbed "Anderson boots" years ago) that were synonymous with the Anderson tag teams (comprised at different times of Gene, Lars, Ole, and Arn Anderson) of the 1960s-1980s. Ole and Arn Anderson were a big part of the Crockett Starrcades, as was Gene Anderson behind the scenes. Wilder is a North Carolina native who grew up during the Crockett Starrcade era.
  6. It was fitting that Charles Robinson was the main referee on this show, having been a part of so many WCW Starrcades in the 1990s and being such a huge fan of Jim Crockett Promotions and Mid-Atlantic Wrestling growing up in the 1970s and 1980s. That, and he's the best referee in the business.
  7. And finally, maybe the best moment of them all from the whole night - - Arn Anderson executing a picture perfect spine-buster on Dolph Ziggler in the center of that Greensboro ring, and then reminding Dolph he was in Horsemen country. Arn was a big part of the final three Crockett Starrcades from 1985-1987.

It isn't clear what percentage of the fans in attendance last Saturday truly understood the history of Starrcade, and the history of the event in that building. Some fans surely did, like Front Row Section D who made their own return to Starrcade, even if from the 5th row in 2017. But I guess in the end what's important is that the name Starrcade continues to be relevant and that those memories are kept alive. After all, that's our sole purpose here at the Gateway.

I guess I should give thanks for WWE Starrcade after all.