83 Weeks – Starrcade 95
Release Date: 12/30/18
Running time: 2:01
Recap by: Joe Aguinaldo
- The Show was held on December 27th 1995. It did a 0.36 buy rate, which was the second lowest in company history. The PPV did approximately 83k buys for just over a million for company gross.
- The concept for this Starrcade was the World Cup of Wrestling pitting 7 NJPW wrestlers against 7 WCW wrestlers in a best of 7 match series.
- Sonny Onoo was representing New Japan in the storyline.
- The World Cup was an interesting concept and Bischoff says a lot of this was probably his idea. His goal at the time was to create the perception that WCW was a larger more international company than WWF. It was another way for them to distinguish themselves.
- This was the culmination of the last year and a half where WCW was working closer with New Japan. This Starrcade was another step in strengthening and broadening that relationship.
Relationship Between WCW and NJPW
- Sonny Onoo was important to the relationship in that Eric spent a lot of time in Japan and Sonny was able to translate for Eric.
- When Eric took over WCW, the relationship with New Japan was rough and Eric had to overcome a bad working relationship and create a new one.
- The deal between WCW and NJPW was put together primarily with Eric and Brad Rheingans.
- Eric says communication was a reason why the relationship with New Japan had issues. This breakdown in communication was caused by cultural differences, language barriers and differences in business practice.
- Perception by New Japan was that Bill Watts stiffed them but Eric says it may not have been Bill.
Triple Threat Match
- Sting, Flair and Luger were going to work a triple threat match where the winner would get a shot at Savage. Flair did not have to work a New Japan match. Eric says there was no logical reason for that, however, Eric was not part of the creative in 95.
- Eric is not a fan of triple threat matches but he kind of liked this one because of the stipulations.
- Flair at the time had a rotator cuff injury but that wasn’t a factor on why Ric didn’t wrestle New Japan wrestling.
- Eric says the intent wasn’t to make the whole PPV WCW vs NJPW. The fact the card had the WCW title/Triple threat story didn’t mean they didn’t have confidence in NJPW vs WCW but that angle wasn’t intended to be the only thing on the ppv.
WCW Makes A Profit
- Meltzer reported WCW turned it’s first profit in 1995 but that a lot of WCW’s expenses such as Hogan’s salary were in dumped in other business units. Eric says this is not true, and if anything, other departments were dumping expenses into WCW.
- Eric predicted in late ’94 that WCW was going to turn a profit in ’95. He made a bet with the head of Turner Finance and won the bet (1 dollar).
- Meltzer reported TBS was paying WCW $4,000,000 per year for its TV show and if this was done during the Bill Watts or Jim Herd eras the WCW would have been profitable. Eric says this is also wrong and says this was not the first time WCW received money from TBS.
- Meltzer continued reporting that there was a major video game sale and that some PPV revenues from ’94 would count in ’95. Eric was not impressed with Meltzer’s reporting.
- Eric was pleased with the results for 95 but what he was really happy about was the difference he could see in WCW employees. 24 months prior they were treated as the red headed step child at Turner and now they were proud. That was the biggest rush for him.
- Ratings and live house gates were lower in ’95. The reason revenues went up was due to international TV rights which went from 0 in 1992 to 7 or 8 figures in ’95. This had a more dramatic impact on WCW than anything else in that period.
- The infamous meeting Eric had with Ted Turner to suggests going head to head with RAW was originally because Eric knew WCW was close to turning a profit and wanted to convince Ted to do a million dollar deal with Star TV in China. At the time Rupert Murdoch was the owner of Star TV and was one of Turner’s worse enemies at the time and this meeting was to try and convince Ted to do a deal with his worst enemy at the time. This deal would have made them profitable.
Quick Note on Michael Buffer
- Meltzer reporter WCW have Michael Buffer an ultimatum to choose either WCW or UFC. Eric says this never happened and had no issues with Buffer.
Nitro Dec 11
- Brian Pillman was making derogatory comments towards Paul Orndorff which lead to Orndorff getting hit with a spike piledriver and doing a stretcher job. This was the end of his in ring career.
- Eric and Paul had become friends and Paul knew he would have a job as an agent. But it was depressing to him that he would no longer be that character. It was hard for Paul but he knew it had to happen because physically he was having issues.
- Main event Hogan/Sting vs Flair/Anderson. The story was that there was some miscommunication with Hogan and Sting
- Meltzer reporter the first few rows had been given Hogan merchandise and planted. Eric says they would do this for TV.
Hogan Losing Steam
- Eric and Hogan recognizes he was misfiring. The red and yellow thing wasn’t working. However Hogan was helping them from a business perspective including big money deals with international networks and sponsors were talking to them. This all happened not because of any match star ratings but due to the perception within the business community that WCW was growing.
- Hogan and Eric recognized he wasn’t getting the reaction he used to. This is why a year prior to Bash at the Beach ’96, Eric was trying to convince Hogan to turn heel. All this kind of stuff was happening behind the scenes during this period of time.
Various Rumor and Innuendo
- Meltzer reporter Eric watched RAW at the desk and was distracted when he was on commentary. Eric says the only people who watched RAW were the people in the truck and the reason they did was because they wanted to be in action when WWF was in a commercial break. They wanted to maximize their programming and retain as much of their audience as they could and not lose them to RAW. Eric did not watch the monitors on the desk.
- Eric respects Paul Heyman but also says he is creative with the truth.
- There was rumour that Eric was going to make Nitro a bi-weekly live show but Eric says this wasn’t true and was also silly.
December 18 Nitro
- Madusa returns and throws the WWE title in the trash.
- Many people say Madusa throwing the title in the trash was the first shot in the Monday Night Wars bit Eric says the first shot was going head to head against Monday Night RAW
- Madusa called Eric as they had been friends since 87 and told him she wasn’t going to continue with WWE. According to Eric she told him she had the WWE belt and Eric admits he asked her to bring the belt. Eric loved that segment and still does
- A lot of guys who were more traditional were probably put off by that segment
- At times like when Eric gave away finishes, other talent might shy away or keep their mouths shut because they didn’t want to piss off Vince in case they had a chance to go to WWE
- The main event.of that show was Savage vs the Giant. Hogan comes out and gets involved. Savage and Hogan’s relationship was pretty good in 95. Eric says there was a generally a lot of drama between Hogan and Savage.
- Meltzer reported Eric fired Mark Madden for a few hours because he had reported Hogan got booed in Charlotte.
- Eric says it wasn’t so much about Hulk but it was because Mark was talking about UFC. Mark was a colourful personality which is why Eric hired him. However, he was hard to control at times. He had his own agenda and many of the publications had an anti- Hogan vibe. Mark went into business for himself a lot.
- Mean Gene also went into business for himself. He once reported the WCW was going to host a Ricky Steamboat at a retirement ceremony which was totally untrue. Eric doesn’t know where that came from.
- In early ’96 Meltzer reporter Missy Hyatt’s lawsuit against Eric and WCW was concluded.
- Hyatt filed a suit citing unequal pay, sexual harassment and wrongful termination for her dismissal in 1994
- When WCW brought Sherri Martel in, Missy was the only female manager and she liked that. When Sherri showed up, Missy looked like she had seen a ghost and Eric could tell Missy wasn’t happy. She pitched a fit and Eric sent her away from the MGM studios because she was being unprofessional.
- Later that evening Missy confronted Eric in front of his family and some of the production staff and Eric told her she needed to walk away. Next thing Eric knew she filed a lawsuit.
- Missy alleged people touched her inappropriately. The person she accused was Eric and she claimed that when she was confronting Sherri Martel (in front of his family and most of the staff) that Eric touched her breast
- After the new year, Hogan was being sued by a woman in Minneapolis that many people believed this was an extortion plot. Hogan sued her back claiming extortion. There were allegations of inappropriate behaviour from the first Nitro.
- Eric can confirm the lawsuit but can’t confirm if the allegations were true or not true but he doesn’t believe they were true.
- The woman is believed to have worked in public relations with Hogan’s Pastamania which was in the Mall of America.
- The story was covered on USA today and Tabloid TV. Eric says there was no concern from WCW and had no impact on them.
- Show sold out an hour before show start
- 6,018 fans attended for a gate of $83k
- In the pre-show, DDP beats Dave Sullivan and The American Males beat the American Blue Bloods
- Hogan is not on the show. Starrcade used to be the big show for WCW but Eric and others in the company felt Halloween Havoc was their big show
- Eric said it used to be their spectacle show but in ’91, ’92 or ’93 it wasn’t doing well. It was just another PPV. Eric didn’t have the legacy relationship with Sstarrcade that a lot of fans did. He saw it as an important ppv but it was just a ppv. Halloween Havoc and Bash at The Beach we’re bigger events to Eric
- Jushin beats Benoit. Kevin Sullivan distracts Benoit who then takes one of the worst hurricanranas and loses. Eric and Conrad say the match was great but the finish sucked. Eric never considered signing Liger.
- Koji Kanemoto beat Alex Wright. Match was pretty good and the fans chanted U-S-A even though there wasn’t an American in the match. Eric says Alex should not go to the top rope because he’s got long legs. Koji used to be Tiger Mask 3.
- Lex Luger beats Masahiro Chono. Chono worked an American style match. Eric felt match told a good story. Fans were cheering for Luger who was heel at the time because fans were cheering for the home team.
- Johnny B Badd beat Masa Saito by DQ. Eric says it wasn’t bad for what it was. Johnny didn’t know the Japanese style and Saito was limited by his age. Eric is still confused by the finish and said it was a cluster.
- Otani best Eddie Guerrero. Eric was blown away and that match would stand up to any match today. This is an example of believable, super athletic and stiff action with great storytelling.
- Randy Savage beats Tenzan with the elbow off the top rope. Eric didn’t hate the match but it isn’t something he’s proud of. Savage was limited by injuries but also couldn’t work Japanese style while Tenzan couldn’t work American style. The match felt forced.
- Sting beat Kensuki Sasake. Eric really liked this match and calls this one of his favourite Sting matches during this period. Sting’s victory gives WCW the World Cup
- The World Cup trophy presentation wasn’t done very well and Eric was embarrassed. The plan was to establish this World Cup event as an annual event but it was poorly executed which Eric takes the blame for.
Triple Threat Match
- Flair beats Sting and Luger in a triple threat by double count out. Eric felt the match was too long. He says many talent ask for more time because they feel they can tell a better story. Looking back at this everything they did back then took too long. Eric wasn’t sure what he felt about the finish. He also didn’t like the Jimmy Hart piece because Hart would always try to force himself on TV.
- Eric felt the ending was unique and could have been really good if they had produced it better.
- Flair beats Savage. Inexplicably Hart was in Flair’s corner even though he was feuding with the Horsemen.
- If Eric had a chance to re-do the show, Jimmy Hart and Sonny Oono would not have been out there for every match.
- Eric has never been a fan of blood, especially copious amounts. The megaphone shot Flair took was weak and non believable and when Flair came up looking like someone cut the top of his head off it was too much.
- Meltzer reported Flair winning the title was Hogan’s decision. Flair didn’t know he was winning until the show started, however, Eric knew by the Wednesday or Thursday the week before the PPV.
- Sasaki defends US title against One Man Gang. Gang pins Sasaki who kicks out before the three count. Gang raises the belt but the ref takes the belt, restarts the match and Sasaki winds up with the pin and is announced as the winner. However, people are told One Man Gang won the match and is new champion which may have to do with Japanese politics.
- Eric doesn’t remember the match and says this wasn’t as big a deal as Meltzer May have reported.
- Overall, Eric wishes they did a better job executing, promoting and building stories up to the event. As a concept, the idea could have worked and could have been a long term deal.
- The show was on Wednesday but Eric doesn’t know why. He acknowledges it is as weird but his guess is that there was a conflict on that Sunday.
- Hogan wasn’t on the show because he was only scheduled to be on 4 PPVs.
- Next Nitro is when the Billionaire Ted skits started. Eric thought they were funny and didn’t really irritate him. He saw it as WWE putting them over. They showed the skits to Ted Turner who thought they were funny.
Rating – 7.5/10
This was a solid podcast. Admittedly, I’m a fan of Japanese wrestling so I might have liked this more than the average bear. From a business perspective, there was a bunch of interesting stuff going on in the background that Eric talks about. The card itself had some Japanese wrestlers who may not be well known in North America but are popular in Japan such as Kensuke Sasaki and Shinjiro Ohtani (who I still think has the best German and Dragon Suplexes). Overall, definite recommend on the podcast if not the PPV.
Joe is a long time wrestling fan from Toronto. He is a co-host on the Pull Apart Podcast with Jeff Rush and Caitlin Lavelle as well as a contributor to www.pwpodcasts.com. One of his life goals is to be a guest host on one of Wade Keller’s post-show podcasts. He doesn’t consider himself any sort of expert, he just likes wrestling. Check him out on Twitter and Instagram @ja113.