January 25, 2009
Bill Brown


Starrcade: The Essential Collection
Produced By: WWE Home Video
Written By: "Wild" Bill Brown

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Content: 9.0

Dream matches & everlasting moments are reflected upon in this three-disc-set of wrestling history. Starrcade began from the National Wrestling Alliance & was the beginnings of closed-circuit & Pay-Per-View world-wide wrestling extravaganza's. You will look at this events origins, the evolution, & now re-live the sometime forgotten legacy. Witness the NWA growing from a local Carolina’s territory to becoming World Championship Wrestling & all the moments in between. See the up's & down's, the innovations & the mistakes, & all the glorious moments. This latest presentation by World Wrestling Entertainment is a great review, and for the newer fan, a mandatory learning experience to see how the wrestling business has evolved.

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Video & Audio: 8.5

Documentary pieces are well put together, guiding you through the years in a sequential order. The old-school footage looks great, and the audio is crisp & clear. Dolby Surround sounds great, and the music back-ups mix well with the presentation. The matches mostly shot by Jackie Crockett, the NWA/WCW, & Turner Home Entertainment crews hold up very nicely through the re-mastering of WWE Video. No High-Definition showing in this set, as it was well before its time obviouslym but there is no complaint to the way all footage was preserved & used in this title.

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The Documentary: 8.0

It was nice to get a fifty-minute summary of the history of Starrcade & a review of the key moments in the events history. If you were a long-time fan, it is "true-view." Newer fans will get the historic educational view at the building of "The Grand-Daddy' Of Them All," as the event was called. See various clips from local television station managers, as well as clips from the NWA board as the event was created & came to fruition on Thanksgiving night in 1983. Wrestling back then in the Crockett territory was built on emotion, and there were some serious promos that drew the gates. "A Flair For The Gold," a vicious Dog Collar Match with major heat & intensity, an "I Quit" Match," & Scaffold Matches were all staples of the out of the box thinking to draw the fans. "Kayfabe" was also a must to keep storylines believable in the wrestling fans minds at that time. While some concepts were revolutionary, some were far reaching such as "Battle Bowl," The Iron Man 1989 Tournament that did not draw well or even the Pat O Conner Tag Team Cup, which was not even mentioned at all. Yeah, remember that one? But through this documentary, you will see the change of the company & the way business was presented. The comments from the panel are interesting to listen to, as the WWE did a decent job getting some cool names to talk about the event that were associated through much of its history. From the constant reminders seeing the legacy of "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair & how important he was, the tragic end of Magnum TA's in-ring career, the building of Sting beating the nWo or the streak of Goldberg coming to an end, this nice-but way-too-short documentary portion on the first disc was still enjoyable, but it only serves to wet your mouth for more, which leads into the matches being presented.

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The Matches: 9.0

"Mean" Gene Okerlund, Tully Blanchard, "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair, & David Crockett, Road Warrior Animal, "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes, Jim Ross, or Magnum TA are mainly the men who will guide you through the top 25 battles of Starrcade, as selected through online voting by the "WWE Universe" at WWE.com. The results show that many of the most-remembered bouts, especially the last six, drew on the huge unbelievable buildup based on grabbing the fans reality & making them want to see something special. Many of the matches unfortunately are so historic that they were previously released on many other video releases through the WWE, but this event had those classic matches and they are needed once again to show this magnitude of these events. When watching some of the finishes on some of these matches as well, you can see that Dusty as a booker was not a good move long-term for business through the 80’s, because there are a handful of these top 25 matches that ended in screw jobs, or as what was commonly known as "The Dusty Finish." You kind-of get insulted (even now) to know that by screwing the fans, the end result was NWA Crockett being sold, and if only it was realized before it was too late, then maybe history would not have unfolded the way it did.

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The Top 25 Matches:

Disc I

"Mean" Gene Okerlund: #25

"The Match Of The Decade"
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan
WCW Starrcade -- December 29, 1996: *Not a classic, but a major deal for WCW in 1996.*

Jim Ross: #24

"Iron Man" Singles Tournament
Sting vs. The Great Muta
NWA Starrcade -- December 13, 1989: *A blow off to one of the hottest feuds of the year.*

Jim Ross: #23

Unified World Tag Team Championship Match
Barry Windham & Brian Pillman vs. Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat & Shane Douglas
WCW Starrcade -- December 28, 1992: Stiff, solid, & awesome ring work.*

"Mean" Gene Okerlund: #22

WCW World Heavyweight Championship Match
Goldberg vs. Kevin Nash
WCW Starrcade -- December 27, 1998: *The "streak" comes to an end.*

"Mean" Gene Okerlund: #21

BattleBowl
WCW Starrcade -- December 29, 1991: "Nothing fancy...a Battle Royal of winners. Not a great match, but historic.*

Tully Blanchard: #20

WCW United States Championship Match: Best Two-Out-Of-Three Falls"
Dustin Rhodes vs. "Stunning" Steve Austin
WCW Starrcade -- December 27, 1993: *The lights go out, juice, & an interesting finish.*

Disc II

Tully Blanchard: #19

NWA World Tag Team Championship Match
The Road Warriors vs. Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard
Alternate Commentary: Todd Grisham & Road Warrior Animal
NWA Starrcade -- November 26, 1987: *The first "screwjob" & a bad one to watch as a Warriors fan.*

Tully Blanchard: #18

Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Jushin "Thunder" Liger
WCW Starrcade -- December 29, 1996: *Ring work at a top level...a great match to enjoy.*

Tully Blanchard: #17

Scaffold Match
The Rock ‘N' Roll Express vs. The Midnight Express
NWA Starrcade -- November 26, 1987: *Not as historic as the first Scaffold Match in '86, but still very grasping.*

"The Nature Boy" Ric Flair: #16

NWA World Heavyweight Championship Match
"The Nature Boy" Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger
NWA Starrcade -- December 26, 1988: *The rematch from the controversial Great American Bash in which Luger lost over a trickle of blood.*

Jim Ross: #15

Eddie Guerrero vs. Shinjiro Otani
WCW Starrcade -- December 27, 1995: Previously-released a few titles ago, but a great bout to remember.

Road Warrior Animal: #14

NWA World Tag Team Championship Match
"The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes & Sting vs. The Road Warriors
NWA Starrcade -- December 26, 1988: *The Road Warriors work as heels for a rare time.*

"The Nature Boy" Ric Flair & David Crockett: #13

"King Of Cable" Tournament Final
Sting vs. Big Van Vader
WCW Starrcade -- December 28, 1992: *A great story of the "little man" fighting the "big man"...A well laid-out bout.*

"The Nature Boy" Ric Flair & David Crockett: #12

NWA World Tag Team Championship Match
The Brisco Brothers vs. Jay Youngblood & Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat
NWA Starrcade -- November 24, 1983: *See how tag team wrestling can capture the fans "heels vs. babyface" style.*

"The Nature Boy" Ric Flair & David Crockett: #11

NWA World Heavyweight Championship Match
"The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes vs. "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair
NWA Starrcade -- November 28, 1985: *A rematch from the previous year's Starrcade, with the booker main-eventing.*

"The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes: #10

WCW Cruiserweight Championship Match
Eddie Guerrero vs. Dean Malenko
WCW Starrcade -- December 28, 1997: *Nice to see this make the list...Crisp, clean wrestling.*

Disc III

Road Warrior Animal: #9

"Iron Man" Tag Team Tournament
The Road Warriors vs. The Steiner Brothers
NWA Starrcade -- December 13, 1989: *First meeting between these two legendary tag teams in the "Iron Man" Tournament.*

"The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes: #8

Ladder Match for a Contract For The WCW World Cruiserweight Championship
3 Count vs. Jamie Knoble & Evan Karagias vs. The Jung Dragons
WCW Starrcade -- December 17, 2000: *Perhaps one of the most-innovative athletic displays ever shown in WCW.*

"The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes: #7

"Iron Man" Singles Tournament
Sting vs. "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair
NWA Starrcade -- December 13, 1989: *Sting was being groomed & built to take over the company.*

"The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes: #6

Dog Collar Match
Greg Valentine vs. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper
NWA Starrcade -- November 24, 1983: *A brutal match, as Piper & Valentine worked very stiff.*

Road Warrior Animal: #5

Scaffold Match
The Road Warriors vs. The Midnight Express
Alternate Commentary: Todd Grisham & Road Warrior Animal
NWA Starrcade -- November 27, 1986: *The "pumpkin" was the demo, and both The Midnights & Cornette felt the impact.*

Jim Ross: #4

WCW World Heavyweight Championship Match
Sting vs. "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan
WCW Starrcade -- December 28, 1997: *Over a year of building, but Hogan still did not put Sting over like he should have.*

"The Nature Boy" Ric Flair: #3

NWA World Heavyweight Championship Steel Cage Match
"The Nature Boy" Ric Flair vs. Harley Race
WCW Starrcade -- November 24, 1983: *This set the groundwork that Starrcade was build from in 1983.*

Tully Blanchard: #2

NWA United States Championship “I Quit" Steel Cage Match
Magnum T.A. vs. Tully Blanchard
NWA Starrcade -- November 28, 1985: *There may never be a match like this one that gets the fan attached ever again.*

"The Nature Boy" Ric Flair: #1

WCW World Heavyweight Championship Match: Ric Flair’s Career Is On The Line
"The Nature Boy" Ric Flair vs. Vader
WCW Starrcade -- December 27, 1993: *Yet another reminder to any fan about the true legacy of Ric Flair...A great choice for the #1 match in Starrcade History & a match that was not even going to happen had Sid Vicious could have kept it together back then.

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The Verdict:

A "must-have" for any fan to put in their wrestling library. A well put-together piece of wrestling history through the rise in popularity. Other than alternative commentary on a couple of matches, there are no video extras, but it goes without saying that the 25 matches selected can be a substitute this time to those wonderful "bonus features."

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Overall Recommendation:

Highly-recommended to any fan.

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Final Thoughts:

Harley Race quoted it best. "Starrcade was the start of what we now know as Pay-Per-View." If you do not know how this all started, you owe yourself & need this in your home-video wrestling library.

Overall Rating: 8.6

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