WCW Starrcade 1991: Battlebowl — The Lethal Lottery Review

Starrcade 1991 Logo.png

Hello everyone and welcome to the Starrcade 1991 review! It’s been way too long since I’ve done one of these, but I’m back and better than ever. This show is not widely praised, but I don’t see it as widely hated as I expected. I am annoyed, though, that after two years of god-awful tournaments they haven’t learned their lesson. I guess it could be worse though. At least there is a Jushin Liger match. I’m just looking forward to Starrcade 1993’s main event and the great cruiserweight matches in my future. Anyhow, lets get this underway!

The show starts with a hideous video hyping the Lethal Lottery and the Battle Bowl. The weird filter they put over all the wrestling footage was neon and disgusting. Jim Ross welcomes us to the event and hypes the card with Tony Schiavone. Battle Bowl is explained, which is pretty convoluted and very TNA-esque. Then, Eric Bischoff, Magnum TA, and Missy Hyatt hype the random drawing of the tag teams for the Lethal Lottery. Essentially, random tag teams are chosen, who fight to be in Battle Bowl. Battle Bowl is a two-ring battle royal were, to get eliminated, you get thrown from one ring, to the other ring, and then to the floor. The last person in each ring face off to win the match. Got it? Neither do I, but lets get the Lethal Lottery started! The first two teams are chosen, and the match we get is…

Michael PS Hayes & Tracy Smothers vs. Marcus Alexander Bagwell & Jimmy Garvin .png

Michael PS Hayes & Tracy Smothers vs. Marcus Alexander Bagwell & Jimmy Garvin – Lethal Lottery Tag Match – Winners Qualify for Battle Bowl

            This was shit, plain and simple. Three out of four of these men put in next to no effort, Tracy Smothers put in one of the worst performances I have ever seen, and there was barely any wrestling. Lets start with Smothers, whose performance was so shit that I can’t believe it. It felt like he had no idea he was in a wrestling match, as he spent most of the first few minutes of this match jawing off and stalling. There would be an arm drag, stalling, jawing off, repeat for 75 years. It was so boring! Then, at some point both Hayes and Garvin enter, who are in the same faction, and they wrestle a little, then stop every move asking for applause. They act like they just cured malaria in the ring and beg the people to tell them how great they are. They would hit one move, and then beg the crowd for appreciation rinse and repeat. I could maybe look over this if the action that did happen was good, but it was always just rest holds, arm drags, basic running the ropes spots, and punches. This match was about as good as watching paint dry, and I would have been more entertained by trying to gouge my own eyes out. At least that would’ve been something happening!

Rating: -*

Post match, the Freebirds make up. Who gives a fuck? The next drawing occurs, and the match is…

Steve Austin & Rick Rude vs. Van Hammer & Big Josh .png

Steve Austin & Rick Rude vs. Van Hammer & Big Josh – Lethal Lottery Tag Match – Winners Qualify for Battle Bowl

            Big Josh? What kind of fucking name is that? He isn’t even big; he’s the shortest guy in the match! Gosh I hate this already and it hasn’t even started.

While this match was surprising and very decent, it definitely went twice the length it should have. The first half was a very nice, complete match, with the heels getting the heat and the faces getting a comeback. Both Austin and Rude kept the heat segment dynamic, using a variety of heel-ish tactics, while Van Hammer was allowed to get some hope spots and have some back and forth. After the hot tag, Josh made a very fun comeback, with both fire and comedy. He tried to punch Rude in the ribs, but since Rude had such a nice 6 pack, he just no sold it. However, soon after that spot, the faces get an extended sequence on Austin, which was boring and contained a very long rest hold. Once the heels regained control, I had checked out and was ready for the match to end. Their second heat segment was also dynamic, and had some nice cheating and action, but both the crowd and I had lost interest. Thankfully the finish came quickly after the heat, and the finish was very well done. Overall, even though the match dragged, it was decent, but it could have been much more.

Rating: **½

The announcers recap the wrestlers currently in Battle Bowl and talk about the Dangerous Alliance. Then, a drawing of names leads us to…

Dustin Rhodes & Richard Morton vs. Larry Zbyszko & El Gigante .png

Dustin Rhodes & Richard Morton vs. Larry Zbyszko & El Gigante – Lethal Lottery Tag Match – Winners Qualify for Battle Bowl

            This match was mercifully short, but that doesn’t mean it was any good. The only real story in this match, other than the obvious Gigante is big story, is Larry attempting to manipulate the foreign face to cheat in order to gain the advantage. Multiple times Zbyszko would yell commands at the giant, but, either out of a kayfabe lack of understanding of the English language or the kindness of his soul, Gigante ignores the commands and irks Larry. Larry by the end slaps him, and Gigante attacks Larry like an idiot, leading to their defeat. I guess Gigante is noble for standing up to Larry, but this is a competition and Gigante should be focused on winning. His attack on Larry was stupid and made him look like a total dipshit for throwing away his opportunity for Battle Bowl. Other than this boring, dumb story, the action was nothing to write home about. Gigante could do very little and was in the ring for the minimal amount of time, while when Zbyszko was in the ring, the action never passed generic. There was the generic running the ropes spot, followed by the generic crisscross, followed by generic heelwork, with the only wrinkle being the aforementioned poor story. Thankfully, this match was short and averted being truly atrocious, but that does not mean this match wasn’t bad.

Rating: *

The commentators put over how the Dangerous Alliance will not have all their stars in the Battle Bowl. Then, yet another drawing leads us to…

Bill Kazmaier & Jushin “Thunder” Liger vs. Diamond Dallas Page & Mike Graham .png

Bill Kazmaier & Jushin “Thunder” Liger vs. Diamond Dallas Page & Mike Graham – Lethal Lottery Tag Match – Winners Qualify for Battle Bowl

            There was a lot of good in this match, but one man’s awful performance keeps this match from being entirely good. There was a lot of good here as I mentioned, mostly involving the team of Liger and Kazmaier. Not only did these two have good tandem offense, but also when they took control on their own, their moves were dynamic and fun. Kazmaier, for example, looked very stiff and impactful with both his lariats and a great powerbomb midway through, but everything looked very safe. Liger also stole the show with flashy offense, like the plancha, and great, quick chain wrestling. He did everything he could to carry the bulk of this match. Even to his credit, when Dallas got a quick heat segment, he did well for himself and everything he did made a lot of sense. That leaves us with Graham. Now, he had some beautiful chain wrestling transitions, but he was overall god-awful in this match. His botches made Liger look like a total tool when Liger didn’t make a mistake, his no selling after a move just to get up straight away was both obnoxious and totally unrealistic, and he got his arms ready to kick out as soon as the pin began. I’m not sure how good he was a few years ago, but in this match, Mike Graham was shit. On top of that, there was never an overarching story with the match and the whole match felt choppy. There was the subplot of Liger showing Graham respect, the subplot of Kazmaier’s size being intimidating, the subplot of Dallas being a sleazy heel, the subplot of Graham being a fucking awful wrestler, but nothing ever felt unified. Each tag felt like a restart where all that was just done was erased for this new sequence. An overarching plot, match structure, fluent action, or Graham not being an awful wrestler could have made the match be a lot less disjointed. Overall, some of the action was solid and the match was enjoyable, but too many flaws exist for this to be a good match.

Rating: **¾

An ad plays for Superbrawl 1992, which isn’t all that shocking. Then, the commentators hype both the PPV and recap the previous match and what it means for Battle Bowl. Then, another Lethal Lottery drawing leads us into…

Lex Luger & Arn Anderson vs. Terrence Taylor & The Z-Man .png

Lex Luger & Arn Anderson vs. Terrence Taylor & The Z-Man – Lethal Lottery Tag Match – Winners Qualify for Battle Bowl

            While no one will ever confuse this with a classic, this match was a load of fun and well executed, if basic, tag team action. This is the standard tag team structure done with little variations, but everyone got themselves over through this structure. Z-Man showed some fire and athleticism, Luger displayed power, Arn brought his brain, and Taylor got to be in the ring with 3 superior workers. Arn is just so perfect in these types of matches its unbelievable, and he shows great, logical work throughout. The most prominent example to me is when Z-Man hits a sunset flip on Luger too close to the heels’ corner, Arn tags himself in, and knees Z-Man in the back. That sounds basic, but multiple little things raise matches like that far above action. Also, Taylor and Z-Man were in the biggest match of their life and wrestled like it. Z-Man showed solid fire and Taylor hit some very cool moves, like a gut wrench powerbomb. While these two did not put in world class performances that will be remembered for ages, they succeeded in looking very competent and decent. Part of this was to the match structure, as both got to get offense on and shine against the current WCW Champion in Luger and an acclaimed wrestling legend in Arn. The only real flaw is that Luger never impressed too much and it felt like he was going through the motions. I wanted to chalk it up to him being uncomfortable since he recently turned heel, but he had been heel for 5 months at this point, so I guess he just didn’t give his all. Overall, very good, if unspectacular, match that is a huge asset to a currently poor card.

Rating: ***½

The commentators tell us that we are mercifully halfway through the tag team tournament. Also, all the current wrestlers in Battle Bowl are run down. Another Lethal Lottery drawing gives us our next match…

Ricky Steamboat & Todd Champion vs. Cactus Jack & Buddy Lee Parker .png

Ricky Steamboat & Todd Champion vs. Cactus Jack & Buddy Lee Parker Lethal Lottery Tag Match – Winners Qualify for Battle Bowl

Before the match starts, Abdullah the Butcher assaults Buddy Lee Parker. This means that Cactus Jack has no partner. Abdullah tries to take Buddy’s place, but the referees prevent this from happening.

While the psychology seemed kind of ass backwards to me, this match turned out to be passable. I found it absurd that the faces had the numbers advantage early on in this match, and the heel had to fight from underneath with heart and what not. Cactus Jack should have came off as a huge face considering solely the structure. However, the fact that, in order to fight off two people, Cactus cheated makes him heel-ish. Other than the Cactus using nefarious means to maintain control and stay in the match, the only story is the question of whether Buddy get to the apron for the tag. Spoiler, he did and got squashed and beat immediately. What a jobber! Cactus looked strong for fighting off the two faces, and Steamboat looked good with his crisp execution and fun maneuvers, but Champion was sluggish and awkward and Parker was squashed like a jobber. Also, there were a few too many rest hold for such a short match, but who really cares. This match isn’t worth analyzing rest holds. This is the embodiment of the word meh, and I will forget it very soon.

Rating: **

Again, the announcers recap the match and the Lethal Lottery is drawn from again. This show is so routine and bland I can’t stand it. The next match is…

Sting & Abdullah The Butcher vs. Flyin’ Brian & Bobby Eaton  .png

Sting & Abdullah The Butcher vs. Flyin’ Brian & Bobby Eaton Lethal Lottery Tag Match – Winners Qualify for Battle Bowl

            Pre-match, Abdullah attacks Sting, and Eaton attacks Brian. Yes, you read that right. Even though they are teams, the heels attack their face partners. Soon, the heels trade people to fight with so they are actually fighting their opponents.

This was a total catastrophe. While this wasn’t the worst match on the card, it did nothing well and felt extremely messy. The story was an odd case of partner dissention, as Abdullah wanted to attack his partner Sting, Eaton was taking advantage of Abdullah’s attacks, and Brian attempted to even the odds for Sting by taking out Abdullah. This odd story caused Sting and Eaton to be in the ring for the entire match, which was for the better. However, overall, the match fell to pieces, as Eaton and Sting were just going through the motions from Abdullah spot to Abdullah spot. There wasn’t much action at all, and what there was largely mundane. The only really good moments in this match were a cool dive from Sting onto the ramp, and a good splash from Brian. Other than that, this story and the odd teams only confused the audience and the wrestlers, to the point where Eaton tried to tag in Abdullah, his opponent. On top of all this, add a bad finish where Eaton nearly gives himself a stinger when he botches selling a tombstone and Cactus Jack interferes, and you have yourself a colossal mess. Avoid this match.

Rating: DUD

Post match, Cactus Jack brawls with Abdullah the Butcher for some reason. This may be part of some feud I don’t understand, but I’m so confused. This whole segment was just a mess. Then, the commentators recap he previous match and who is in Battle Bowl. Then, there is ANOTHER Lethal Lottery drawing. I would be remiss if I didn’t say that these segments are boring as hell and Eric Bischoff is fake, smug, and comes off like a total prick. This sucks. Our next match is…

Rick Steiner & The Nightstalker vs. Big Van Vader & Mr. Hughes  .png

Rick Steiner & The Nightstalker vs. Big Van Vader & Mr. Hughes Lethal Lottery Tag Match – Winners Qualify for Battle Bowl

            I cannot safely call this average, but I also cannot call this match offensive or bad. I mean, Vader is amazing with his stellar striking and speed, while Steiner was pretty decent with a couple cool moves. Other than that, this was entirely forgettable. There was nothing here to really sink my teeth into, as Hughes is bad and the finish was a convoluted mess, making everyone but Vader look bad. Hughes was bad and can’t even bump, Steiner and Nightstalker did very little, and Vader tried to carry this match through the bad booking and lack of any structure. THERE IS LITERALLY NOTHING TO ANALYZE! The finish was analogous to the match, as the whole thing was just another mess. While this wasn’t the worst match ever, I’m sad to have wasted 5 minutes of my life on it.

Rating: *¼

An ad plays for Superbrawl 1992. Then, the commentators do the same thing they have done after every match, and the Lethal Lottery sucks like usual. Now its time for our next match, which will probably be shit. Its…

Scott Steiner & Firebreaker Chip vs. Johnny B. Badd & Arachnaman  .png

Scott Steiner & Firebreaker Chip vs. Johnny B. Badd & Arachnaman Lethal Lottery Tag Match – Winners Qualify for Battle Bowl

            I am happy to say this match was not shit like I predicted; it was actually quite decent. The story was simple, Chip was on equal level with Arachnaman and Badd, so those three men always had good, back and forth sequences, while Steiner would just kill people. Easy, simple, and effective story. The action to support this story was solid as well executed, as Chip had chemistry with both Badd and Arachnaman. The sequences with Chip were based on solid mat and chain wrestling, with some of Badd’s punches sprinkled in when he was in the ring. Since the majority of the match was on the mat and was actually good, it felt fresh and satisfying compared to the recent shit brawls on the card. While the back and forth sequences were good, it was also fun to see everyone die at the hands of Steiner, metaphorically speaking. His suplexes and power moves were mostly crisp and he threw around people like they were nothing. They made sure to use the destruction sparingly too, as Chip was in ring most of the time. On top of the great action, the match actually had structure, with Badd and Arachnaman getting the heat on Chip. While it was mostly rest holds, an actual structure on this card is a novelty. This was a surprisingly fun match, even if it won’t be confused for a classic.

Rating: **¾

Might as well copy paste every other thing between the matches. Commentators do thing and Lethal Lottery and such. FUCKING ERIC BISCHOFF STALLS AND REFUSES TO SAY WHO HE DREW! WHAT A DICK! Our next match is…

 Ron Simmons & Tommy Rich vs. Steve Armstrong & PN News  .png

Ron Simmons & Tommy Rich vs. Steve Armstrong & PN News Lethal Lottery Tag Match – Winners Qualify for Battle Bowl

            I expected nothing, and in return got a very solid match. The early going got the story established, as, since both teams were a combination of face and heel, the heels would be willing to double team and cheat while the faces were sportsmanly. This contrast on teams lead to cool moments where they would hesitate to make the tag or, for example, when PN News refused to double team because it’s unsportsmanlike. However, News was the face that was willing to work with his partner and use double teams first, so they got the heat. This was smart, as Simmons was the most over face in the match and a hot tag to him would be molten. Also, the heat worked brilliantly, as Rich’s stubborn refusal to tag Simmons cost him the offensive multiple times. This match was not only smart, it had fun action too! The two best parts were when Simmons and News had a sportsmanly fight of strength vs. girth, and then when Rich and Armstrong had a battle of who can cheat most. The only real issue is the comeback and finishing stretch, which barely happened. It was essentially Simmons coming in, hitting two scoop slams, a spinebuster, and then a pin on Armstrong. Not only was it a total anticlimax structurally, but also the spinebuster was ugly as sin. However, even with the rather large flaw, this match was both smart and fun to watch; what a novelty on this show!

Rating: ***¼

The commentators then recap who has made it into Battle Bowl, as the Lethal Lottery is FINALLY over. They also get over the story of Luger paying Abdullah to take out Sting, and some other storylines. Also, they explain the rules of the match. FUCKING CHRIST WE CUT TO THE LETHAL LOTTERY AGAIN! NO! NO! Actually, they just quickly bid farewell. Then, the ring announcer explains the surprisingly simple rules of our MAIN EVENT (thank god)!

 Battlebowl 1991.png

Abdullah The Butcher vs. Arn Anderson vs. Big Van Vader vs. Bill Kazmaier vs. Dustin Rhodes vs. Firebreaker Chip vs. Jimmy Garvin vs. Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Lex Luger vs. Marcus Alexander Bagwell vs. Mr. Hughes vs. Richard Morton vs. Rick Rude vs. Ricky Steamboat vs. Ron Simmons vs. Scott Steiner vs. Steve Austin vs. Sting vs. Thomas Rich vs. Todd Champion – Battle Bowl Match

            For the first portion this was a basic battle royal, not good, not bad. Since I assume everyone has seen a battle royal, I’m going to mention the best parts. First, Jushin Liger is awesome, even though Ricky Morton has no idea how to bump for him. Its a real shame that both times Liger got to shine, he was put with two people who made him look really bad. Second, Sting vs. all the heels was a great story for the match that popped the crowd huge. It was a great, smart way to further the story of the night, and give the match some structure. The sequence between him and Rude was especially heated and fun, as they just had the most wild brawl you could imagine. Other than that, not much happened until the final four of the second ring. The match of Steamboat, Sting, Rude, and Austin was very good, as it furthered the story of the dangerous Alliance vs. Sting. Both Steamboat and Sting got to shine as faces, while Austin and Rude were booked as well as possible, even if they looked a tad stupid. While the action wasn’t incredible, as it was mostly punch kick based, story wise, this was very good. Then the final two…

Battlebowl 1991 Sting vs. Lex Luger.png

This match was solid, with Luger being the fresh, cocky heel, and Sting being the spirited underdog face. It started off right, with Rude cheating to hurt Sting early and then Luger saying he wanted to punish Sting. The action, again, wasn’t anything to write home about, with mostly punches and kicks, but Sting fighting through everything, from Rude cheating, to Harley Race, to Luger himself was very good. Luger was decent on offense, and Sting made some solid comebacks. He even hit some pretty nasty moves on Harley Race. His comebacks were very spirited, and the finish sets up a match down the line. The last segment of the match definitely brings this up above average, as the solid action and very good story are assets. Overall, this was an above average battle royal, with good moments, and a great overarching story.

Rating: **¾    

Post match, Sting celebrates in the ring, and leaves the ring. There is a stare down between Harley Race and Sting, and then the commentators hype feuds and bid us farewell. Close Curtain.

Overall:

            This show SUCKED. By far, this is the worst Starrcade yet. While 1989 had only one match over 3* and this had two, only seven matches out of eleven here broke 2*, or average. Most of these matches were messy, chaotic in the worst way possible, and downright boring. The whole card was so formulaic, to the point were advertisements felt refreshing since it wasn’t the same thing over and over and over. I hate this show so much. There are a couple pretty solid matches and a decent battle royal main event, but it is not worth sitting through this show to get there. Oh my god, this was bad. NEVER WATCH THIS.

Rating: ½*

            So that was the WCW Starrcade 1991 review! If you enjoyed, like, comment, and maybe even follow my blog. If you want to keep up with this site, my contacts and social media are here or in the sidebar to the left. Also, check out my work at Free Pro Wrestling, which is a great site where I and people more talented than I write about great, legal, free matches. The next thing I have to work on is the second part of the prologue of the AJPW 1990s series. Also, the Wrestlemania review will be out shortly after the show airs. On top of all that, I have a HUGE stockpile of RMR reviews with some really interesting matches Other than that, thank you for reading and see you next time.

Top Ten Matches in Starrcade History:

  1. Tully Blanchard vs. Magnum TA – ’85 – *****
  2. Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger – ’88 – ****½
  3. Doom vs. The Horsemen – ’90 – ****½
  4. Tully Blanchard vs. Ricky Steamboat – ’84 – ****¼
  5. The Minnesota Wrecking Crew vs. The Rock & Roll Express – ’86 – ****
  6. Greg Valentine vs. Roddy Piper – ’83 – ****
  7. The Original Midnight Express vs. The Midnight Express – ’88 – ****
  8. Ronnie Garvin vs. Ric Flair – ’87 – ****
  9. Harley Race vs. Ric Flair – ’83 – ***¾
  10. The Road Warriors vs. Sting & Dusty Rhodes – ’88 – ***¾

-Terrance Smith

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s