The Way We Was: 1996 Week 52 plus 1

Jamie Lithgow

We have reached the end of the road in our 1996 wrestling retrospective. Today we catch up on significant events from WCW’s biggest show of the year; Starrcade, along with the subsequent Nitro and also WWF Monday Night Raw. If you want to continue following the WWF side of things then Craig has already covered every Raw from 1997 here. If you are more interested in the WCW side of things then watch this space! Anyway, let’s see what happened at Starrcade and the 53rd episodes of Nitro and Raw of the year in this week’s The Way We Was


Hogan's punch, kick, rest hold offence did not exactly test Piper's surgically repaired hip

Hogan’s punch, kick, rest hold offence did not exactly test Piper’s surgically repaired hip

The wait is over. Starrcade, WCW’s answer to Wrestlemania, was finally held on December 29th 1996. On WCW’s biggest show of the year the main event featured the leader of an invading faction and wrestler synonymous with the company’s biggest rival against another man synonymous with the WWF who has repeatedly stated that he does not represent WCW. I know what you’re thinking, it’s hardly a fitting match for WCW’s biggest ever show, or is it? This is WCW we’re talking about, the less sense something makes the more I find it appropriate in this organisation. As the cherry on top of the cake, Hollywood Hogan’s WCW Title – which he hasn’t defended since October – was not on the line either. No explanation was given for this but in kayfabe I guess the title can only be held by WCW or nWo guys, and Piper isn’t either. In the real world your explanation isn’t hard to figure out; his name begins with Hulk and ends with Hogan…

So who won ‘The Match of The Decade’ the ‘Icon vs. Icon’ match? For the first time since its formation in July, the New World Order tasted defeat. Rowdy Roddy Piper defeated Hogan fair and square with a Sleeper Hold. He accomplished this feet when, predictably, The Giant tried to interfere on Hogan’s behalf but on this occasion he dropped the ball and Piper wriggled free of the Chokeslam. Despite the groups’ numbers swelling to double figures, The Giant was Hogan’s only back-up. Post-match The Outsiders made an appearance and Hogan was heard blaming The Giant for his defeat. Sticking up for himself, the big man asked where Hogan, Hall and Nash were during his match earlier in the show. Bizarrely the show ended as most WCW pay per views end, with Hogan posing in the ring. That’s right; he lost but still closed the show in typical Hogan fashion.

In Other News From Starrcade –

Our Lex is a strong boy

Our Lex is a strong boy

  • Like London buses, you wait ages for one nWo defeat and two come along at once. The Giant was defeated by Lex Luger directly before Hogan’s match. This bout also featured plenty of shenanigans, with Nick Patrick – who is now a fully recognised and unashamed nWo referee – and Syxx provided unsuccessful outside interference
  • On the bright side for the group, The Outsiders bested The Faces of Fear in a surprisingly good match to retain their Tag Team Titles. They did benefit from favourable refereeing from Nick Patrick, but Hall and Nash’s victory was as clean as they’ve managed so far in their WCW careers
  • Rumours surrounding Sting’s potential membership in the nWo will continue after his interference in the Luger/Giant match. He had a quiet word in each man’s ear before leaving his baseball bat in the middle of the ring for both men to scramble for. Luger got their first, obviously
  • Rumours surrounding Diamond Dallas Page’s potential membership in the nWo were well and truly killed. Scott Hall nailed DDP with the Outsiders Edge during the final of the United States Title Tournament. As a result Eddie Guerrero – who was oblivious to Hall’s interference – is the new US Champion. Eddie copped a beating after the match too. Looks like you don’t say ‘no’ to the New World Order…
  • Ultimo Dragon added the WCW Cruiserweight Championship to his collection. The J Crown holder and Dean Malenko constructed a fantastic show opener in which Dragon’s J Crown was also on the line
  • Akira Hokuto defeated Madusa to become the company’s first woman’s champion. Sonny Onoo provided interference in a very good women’s match by standards of the time. New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Kensuke Sasaki – who is Hokuto’s husband – was also at ringside for the match
  • The third match was also a cracker. Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger got the best of Rey Mysterio Jr. in a fine contest to make it a clean sweep for the Japanese trio. As a result Liger is now the number one contender to Dragon’s J Crown – and I assume the WCW Cruiserweight Title too
  • Horseman Chris Benoit and Horseman wannabe Jeff Jarrett contested a solid match until a liberal helping of outside interference muddied the waters. The heat between Benoit and Jarrett seems like old news compared to Benoit’s current feud with Kevin Sullivan, but hey ho. Okay, so after Woman started to show signs of interference Arn Anderson controversially made his way to Jeff Jarrett’s corner to even the sides. We then had Hugh Morrus and Konnan try to kidnap Woman, they were unsuccessful. As this was happening Kevin Sullivan entered the ring and blasted Benoit with a wooden chair. Meanwhile, at the exact same time, Anderson hit Jarrett with a DDT on the outside and rolled Double J back into the ring. With both men out for the count it was Jarrett who got a hand over Benoit to constitute a pinfall

Full Results

  • The Ultimate Dragon (w/ Sonny Onoo) defeated Dean Malenko to unify the J-Crown and the WCW Cruiserweight Championships
  • Akira Hokuto (w/ Sonny Onoo and Kensuke Sasaki) defeated Madusa for the WCW Women’s Championship
  • Jushin Liger defeated Rey Mysterio, Jr.
  • Jeff Jarrett defeated Chris Benoit (w/ Woman) in a no No Disqualification match
  • The Outsiders (c) (w/ Syxx) defeated The Faces of Fear (w/ Jimmy Hart) to retain the WCW Tag Team Championship
  • Eddie Guerrero defeated Diamond Dallas Page to win the vacant WCW United States Championship
  • Lex Luger defeated The Giant
  • Roddy Piper defeated Hollywood Hogan (w/ Ted DiBiase)

Nitro Logo

Ask and you shall receive...

Ask and you shall receive…

What could have been a slow-burning angle played out over weeks, or even months, was turned around in just 24 hours. Starrcade provided the first signs of dissension within the New World Order wile Nitro closed with The Giant being kicked out of the group. “NWO 4 Life” you say…?

The show opened with the nWo arriving at the arena in high spirits, despite Hogan and Giant’s losses the previous evening. Hollywood reiterated that The Giant dropped the ball in his match with Piper. A justifiably upset Giant begrudgingly accepted responsibility for Hogan’s defeat, but did finally play his World War 3 card. As winner of the 60 man, 3 ring battle royal, The Giant is entitled to a WCW Title shot, and he clearly fancies his chances against Hogan. Hollywood brushed this demand off by calling it an nWo “bye”, to which the other members agreed before reminding The Giant of his “fumble” the previous evening. Everyone except The Giant appeared to agree that only Hogan should “run with the ball”. Skipping to the end of the show and The Giant – although present – was the only member of the group who did not actively participate in a beat down of Roddy Piper. Hogan tossed Piper’s limp body to the big man who refused to chokeslam Hot Rod. An irritated Hogan then slapped The Giant for not following orders, but then found himself in the clutches of the big guy’s big hands. Taking Hogan hostage, The Giant demanded his title shot; who cried like a wimp before agreeing and apologising. After being released from harm, Hogan ordered the rest of the nWo to attack The Giant, who briefly weathered the storm. Succumbing to the gang attack, The Giant’s nWo shirt was ripped from his back. Presumably this indicates his expulsion from the group…

In Other News From Nitro –

  • During the nWo’s beat down of Piper, Roddy was dropped shoulder first onto Scott Norton’s knee. Piper legitimately appeared to be in a lot of pain afterwards. The move looked like a badly botched double team stomach buster
  • Woman has returned to work for The Four Horsemen. Ironically, Arn Anderson – who has been demanding her return for weeks – was no present. This did not go unnoticed by Woman and Chris Benoit. Debra’s tongue was noticeably blunter with Woman present but there was still plenty of arguing and infighting. Wannabe Horseman Jeff Jarrett was present with the group this week. Providing an excellent back-handed compliment, Chris Benoit said that Double J “could be anything… but a Horseman”. Ouch
  • The nWo have gained another, alternate, entrance theme. It was used by Big Bubba, who no-showed, thus fellow nWo jobber Michael Wallstreet entered to the tune. This was the tune that will become known as the nWo B-Team music
  • Hogan was completely delusional during his customary promo. He completely brushed aside the fact that Roddy Piper cleanly defeated him the previous evening. To maintain the consistency of the nWo’s propaganda, Eric Bischoff confiscated the Starrcade tape from the production truck so that Tony Schiavone could not show replays of it. We did get still photos though
  • Diamond Dallas Page was quite cryptic regarding what he will do next after Scott Hall and Kevin Nash cost him the US Title at Starrcade
  • Ultimo Dragon scored a clean win over Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger in a tremendous match which featured a lot of suplexes. Oddly, Mike Tenay was not brought out to call the action, despite being present on the show
  • Tenay did call a minis match however, and did a miles better job in five minutes than the WWF did in the whole of 1997 to get the small in stature wrestlers over
  • Rey Mysterio Jr. took Dean Malenko to a time limit draw. That’s the second time limit draw in so many weeks

Quote of The Night

“That was my last fight; I’m getting too old for this”
Rowdy Roddy Piper

Full Results

  • The Amazing French Canadians defeated Public Enemy
  • J Crown Champion The Ultimo Dragon (w/ Sonny Onoo) pinned Jushin Liger
  • Konnan defeated Michael Wallstreet in a four corners strap match
  • Hugh Morrus defeated Kensuki Sasaki via disqualification
  • Harlem Heat defeated Meng & The Barbarian
  • Glacier defeated Disco Inferno
  • Chris Benoit defeated Chris Jericho
  • Octagoncito & Mascarita Sagrada defeated Jerrito Estrada & Piratita Morgan
  • Dean Malenko fought Rey Mysterio Jr. to a time-limit draw
  • Lex Luger defeated Greg Valentine

90s Raw Logo

who says the 'dab' is so 2016?!

who says the ‘dab’ is so 2016?!

Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels were given face to face promo time so they could insult each other. Shawn sarcastically allowed Bret to speak first, an invitation which The Hitman was not shy in accepting. Bret said his problem with Shawn was his attitude, that he degraded the WWF Title during his run with the belt, made fun of his appearance in Playgirl and called The Heartbreak Kid a sissy and a poor role model. Shawn had no time to retaliate because current WWF Champion, Sycho Sid, interjected himself into proceedings by looking for some decent competition. The cheeky champ was making reference to the fact that he has defeated both Shawn and Bret at the last two pay per views. Cue The Undertaker, who Vader jumped from behind, for some reason. As a brawl broke out, Michaels took the opportunity to low blow The Hitman.

In Other News From Raw –

  • Before allowing Bret to insult him, Shawn did promise not to get involved The Hitman’s match with Vader next week…
  • Bret saw a little bit of action earlier in the show when Jesse James got injured during his tag match with Savio Vega against the odd pairing of Steve Austin and Faarooq. Bret jumped at the chance to sub for the Real Double J and looked on course for victory when he locked The Sharpshooter on Faarooq. However, Crush ran in to cause a DQ and the Nation of Domination (aided by Austin) laid into Savio and Bret. A 2×4 wielding Ahmed Johnson made the save
  • There were numerous bWo signs visible in the crowd. For those unaware, the bWo is the Blue World Order, ECW’s parody of WCW’s nWo. So, nothing to do with the WWF whatsoever
  • Another sign in the crowd read “Sincere Rules”. So Sal Sincere has one fan, at least
  • Goldust again watched Hunter Hearst Helmsley from the crowd. Hunter used his Intercontinental Title to deck Flash Funk for the pin. Having regained his bearings, Funk dragged Hunter back to the ring and hit him with his spectacular 450 splash
  • Raw ended when Helmsley tried to kidnap Marlena during Goldust’s match with Jerry Lawler. Marc Mero prevented this and caught Marlena in his arms when Hunter threw her at him. As this was unfolding, Goldust – who would not have seen that Marlena was involved – ploughed into the back of Helmsley sending him crashing into Mero and Marlena. This caused quite a panic around Marlena’s wellbeing

Full Results

  • Bret Hart & Savio Vega defeated Faarooq & Steve Austin by DQ
  • Hunter Hearst Helmsley (c) defeated Flash Funk to retain the WWF Intercontinental Championship
  • Jerry Lawler defeated Goldust by Count Out


The final score in the ratings for 1996 was –
Nitro 39 – 14 Raw
This result includes a run of 29 victories in a row for WCW. I wonder if this run will continue in 1997?

You can read all previous ‘The Way We Was’ pieces here.

3 thoughts on “The Way We Was: 1996 Week 52 plus 1

  1. Pingback: This Week in Wrestling 2017 week 1 | Ring the Damn Bell

  2. Pingback: Meanwhile, in WCW: 1997 Week 5 | Ring the Damn Bell

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