Starrcade 1997: The Real Thing That Killed WCW

Discussion in 'Old School Wrestling' started by SSJPhenom, Jun 29, 2017.

  1. SSJPhenom

    SSJPhenom The Phenom of WZ

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    I know that over the years the death of WCW and Starrcade 97 have been discussed around here ad nauseam. I don't see the two things ever being discussed together, however. So, with this thread, that's what I want to do because it is in my humble opinion that Starrcade 1997 is the first of many things that led to the destruction of WCW.

    Starrcade 97 should have been the event that put WCW so far ahead of WWF that it would have been impossible for WWF to come back. At this point in time WCW had already been more than a year undefeated in the ratings war between Nitro and Raw. Sure, Stone Cold Steve Austin, DX, and other things were starting to get some traction in WWF, however, nobody was paying any attention. Then we come to Starrcade on December 28, 1997. An event that was 18 months in the making. Everything leading up to this night had been done just about as well as anyone could've done it.

    In the fall of 96 WCW had the whole Sting controversy where he seemingly attacked Lex Luger in the parking lot a week before Fall Brawl. It was a fake Sting but all of the WCW guys didn't trust Sting anymore so this lead to Sting no longer wearing the bright loud colors and being the all American hero. Instead, he would take on a darker tone, hang out in the rafters during events, and wear nothing but black and white. For awhile after this transformation, it was a mystery as to who's side Sting was really on. Every once in awhile he would come down to the ring with his trademark bat and hand it to someone and then turn his back on that person (I never got that). It wasn't until Sting finally attacked the nWo did we know for sure that he was still one of the good guys. For months J.J. Dillion would offer Sting contracts to fight various wrestlers only for Sting to turn them down. Of course Sting would do things like hold up a fan's sign that said Sting wants Hogan and point to a crowd chanting Hogan while Dillion was asking Sting who he wanted to wrestler but of course Dillion just didn't know how to make Sting happy.

    Finally, though, the match is made and we get to Starrcade 1997. This is the night that WCW has been waiting for. Hell, this is the night that any wrestling fan worth their salt has been waiting for. Sting vs. Hogan; a match that we had never seen at this point and absolutely the biggest match that WCW still had on the table and it is a complete and utter clusterfuck failure. I'm not going to go over the rest of the show because the, to be honest, it wasn't much better than Sting vs. Hogan. I'm just going to talk about this one match. As I talked about above, the WCW had spent about 18 months building up to this match. By the time Starrcade 97 rolled around it's not a stretch to say that Sting was far and away the most popular babyface in all of wrestling and that Hogan was probably the heel with the most heat. So they had been doing something right going into the show.

    Let's talk about what they should've done and what the fans wanted to see. Sting finally get his hands on Hogan, beat the ever loving shit out of him, and win the WCW championship. That's all they had to do with this match and it would've been a success. Is that what they did? Well, obviously not because I wouldn't be making this thread if they did. No, instead we got a match of Hogan completely dominating Sting, dropping the leg on him, and pinning him for the three count. Of course, that was supposed to be a fast three count but it wasn't. It wasn't even kind of fast. It was a normal, run of the mill 3 count. So the fans in the arena and the ones watching at home are completely shocked because to everyone watching it appeared that Hogan had just beaten Sting and easily. So then we get Bret Hart coming in saying that he's not going to let it happen again and yet again, the fans are confused because what happened? He's not going to let people be pinned with a normal 3 count again? So he restarts the match, Sting hits a couple Stinger Splashes, and then he hooks in the Scorpion Death Lock. Then all of a sudden, Hart points to the time keeper to ring the bell and the match is over, Sting has won the title. What? When did Hogan tap out? Well, he never tapped out. Instead, I guess, he verbally gave up. Yet again, the fans are confused and at this point nobody knows what's going on.

    So what happened? Well, Hogan happened. He was originally supposed to go into the match and lose clean to Sting. Of course, though, that didn't work for him brother. So he used his creative control card and changed the finish. Now, I'm not sure whether he had played that card before that point in WCW, however, I am sure that this was the first major incident in which he did and it wasn't the last. Ultimately, instead of being the knockout blow to the WWF that it should've been, Starrcade 97 ended up being the first wound to WCW that allowed WWF to ultimately get back in the fight, mount a comeback, and win. Don't get me wrong, Starrcade was a financial success. It was the highest grossing PPV in wrestling history at the time, but the suck ass show and screwy finish turned a lot of fans off to WCW. I am one of those fans. I had probably been watching WCW over WWF for about 8 months at the time of Starrcade 97. When that clusterfuck went down, though, I started watching WWF again and they just kept getting better and better. So I never turned back to WCW. At least, not as religiously as I did in the past.

    So what killed WCW? It was a bunch of things, however, Starrcade 97 was the first and may have been the most important factor that led to the demise of WCW.
     
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  2. Deoxyribonucleic A.C.I.D.

    Deoxyribonucleic A.C.I.D. Kamehamehaaaaa!!

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    Add the fact that one month before WWE went so low as to screw a wrestling legend and fans were just pissed for that, it would have been a walk in the park. I never understood what Hogan had to gain by doing this. He was the freaking heel and had been dominant ever since Bash at the Beach 1996. I mean, what more did he want? Even if he wanted Goldberg to be the one to beat him clean, he should have at least made Sting look equal to all of the NWO, have Sting fall like a true hero.
     
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  3. neildittmar

    neildittmar Getting Noticed By Management

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    Sting going over Hogan and winning the championship is exactly how Starrcade 1997 should have closed. How it specifically went down, as you illustrated in your very detailed post, was ludicrous.

    The nWo had been running roughshod over nearly the entire roster for the better part of a year and a half. Hogan in particular had been booked (or perhaps booked himself) as an unstoppable heel despite playing the coward. Everyone knew that wherever Hogan was, the nWo was close behind and would be the deciding factor in any confrontation. Sting was the hero that could somehow miraculously even the odds. All the pieces were in play for WCW's biggest show of the year.

    As far as the match goes, I had no problem with Hogan beating on Sting for the majority of the bout. I also, generally speaking, had no trouble with Bret Hart ultimately being used the way he was as well. I can even buy a semi-screwy finish where Hogan has some type of claim that he never lost the title clean... for example, although cliché the old "ref bump" and knockout could've done the trick here. Sting scorpion death locks Hogan, Hart comes in and makes the call for the submission, bell is rung and Sting's the champ. That allows the Hogan/Sting angle to go on past Starrcade (if that was the intention) and still send the fans home happy.

    The problem was there were too many cooks in the kitchen or better yet, ingredients in the recipe. I'm a big proponent of wrestling being best when it's simple and straightforward. Hero Sting vs. Villain Hogan was perfect. Babyface beating the odds and winning against a seemingly insurmountable force in the nWo? Check! Hart's cameo? Fine. The ingredients that didn't belong were Hogan's creative clause (fast count) and the fact that Bischoff just had to invoke the Montreal Screw Job in the match. Those two events turned the bout into the mess that it became.

    Less than a year later, WCW found themselves with lightning in a bottle one more time with Goldberg / Hogan. In one respect, all involved likely learned from their previous mistake with Goldberg going over Hogan clean in a huge match. The problem? It wasn't built up nearly as well as Sting / Hogan in my opinion and the payoff occurred at a random Nitro in July as opposed to, oh say Starrcade 1998.

    Of course, we all know what happened at Starrcade '98... an event perhaps even more egregious than what took place a year prior and a story for another thread.
     
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  4. shooter_mcgavin

    shooter_mcgavin Mid-Card Championship Winner

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    Not sure if it killed WCW since the rise of Goldberg gave WCW a second change to set things right.

    But yes Starrcade 1997 did take a big hit on WCW and, add the fact the nWo was still the predominant storyline in WCW and Austin was slowly rising as huge superstar, it made the company very vulnerable.

    Also Bash at the Beach 1998 should have been Hogan, Hall, and Nash vs. Sting, Luger, and <Savage, Goldberg, The Giant, or DDP> for a "Winner Takes All Match" to end the NWO.
     
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  5. Jonyboyuk2

    Jonyboyuk2 Getting Noticed By Management

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    There were hundreds of incidents that led to WCW's demise. This was certainly a bad PPV ending. What should have happened is Bret Hart should have run in at the end instead of being an enforcer. NWO should have all been taking cheap shots on Sting through the match giving Hogan the huge advantage, and then WCW wrestlers should have come out and taken on NWO in the aisle whilst Bret ran through the middle and dropped Hogan leaving Sting to win the title and set up a Hogan V Bret feud. They could have gone to a double DQ at Souled Out 98, and then been kept apart for a year whilst they built the match up. Bret Hart could have played the Good Guy trying to get Heel Hogan to come back good. Such a shame WCW went the way it did.
     
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  6. Greg4WWE

    Greg4WWE Pre-Show Stalwart

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    Oh how I remember all this like it was yesterday. Hard to believe it's been 20 freaking years.

    It started perfect. Sting being confused. But if you remember, he still talked a bit at the start of this transformation. Remember the whole, "The only thing that is sure about Sting is, nothing's for sure"? promo when NWO offered him to join them?

    Anyway, it was all fine and dandy, until the Nitro a couple weeks prior to Starccade they finally trapped Sting and beat him down. Right there, IMO, his year and a half run of seemingly not being able to be hurt came tumbling down. I know most wrestling storylines have the good guy getting beat up before a PPV, this particular story didn't need it though. It was already perfect. Sting and Hogan barely laying a finger on each other leading up to it.

    The match came, and yeah. Hogan dominated. Not even an early match flurry from Sting really, Hogan was in charge most of this match. Just dumb dumb dumb. Of course Hogan should have had some spots in the match where he looks in control, but not that dominate. I think it would have been better had Hogan used a foreign object to hit Sting then cover him. Fans think Hogan has won, then, OUT COMES BRET HART, match is restarted and Sting wins. THAT would have been ok too.

    To make matters worse, this 18 months of build up to a PPV, and we got a HOgan vs Sting rematch the next night on Nitro that didn't even end during TV time. And the following week, Sting was stripped of the title. WHY? None of it made no sense. It was at this point I realized WCW didn't care to finish storylines. One thing would lead into another with no pay off.

    Sting was still great after this, but the aura he built for 18 months was gone almost in an instant. WCW slow decline started that night. I agree. Russo came in soon after and put the final bullet in the brain.
     
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  7. rokuma

    rokuma The Legend

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    I've thought about Starrcade 1997 a lot and I've always thought that it should've went like this:

    First of all, this is important: Bret Hart DOES NOT show up at Starrcade at all.
    They make no mention of him joining WCW before this and he does not referee Bischoff/Zybsko. He's absent, PERIOD.

    Sting/Hogan have their normal match and Sting gets the upperhand and the NWO runs down (as always) to interfere and as Sting had done for months, he battles back and banishes the NWO from the ring. It's at this point, that the locker room just empties and WCW finally bands together to get rid of the NWO. There were a ton of WCW wrestlers in the crowd...they jump the rails too and just attacks the NWO and the NWO gets driven up the ramp. WCW just blocks the ramp and creates a wall keeping the NWO from getting involved again.

    In the meantime, someone slipped Hogan the WCW title belt and as Sting is distracted by all of this Hogan drills him and then hits the legdrop. Fans think Hogan's going to win and Sting kicks out at 2. Hogan can't believe it. Sting does his version of a "hulk up" pounding his chest and such. Goes crazy on Hogan. Stinger splash, Stinger splash, Scorpion Deathlock and Hogan GIVES UP in the middle of the ring. Sting's your champion, WCW hits the ring to celebrate, the crowd goes nuts, etc.

    The next night on Nitro to close the show you have two choices: A)The NWO is disbanded or option 2) This scenario: The NWO is in the ring. Nash is berating Hogan for dropping the ball, etc. The NWO turns on Hulk Hogan and then Bret Hart runs down to save Hogan with a chair and the NWO backs up. Then Bret blasts Hogan with the chair and pulls what he did to Vince McMahon at Wrestlemania 26 and just destroys Hogan with a chair. Nash hits the Jackknife. Maybe Hall hits the Outsider's Edge or whatever. Then Hart locks in the Sharpshooter and Hogan is basically written off until Halloween Havoc, returning with no NWO and WCW not trusting him. Eventually this leads to Hogan/Hart at Starrcade 1998.

    Obviously this is all fantasy booking and Hulk Hogan would've had to have agreed with all of these ideas and that wasn't a foregone conclusion at that point in WCW. The fascinating thing about scenario 2 is we never get Hogan/Goldberg on Nitro. If Goldberg had continued on and had his match against either Bret Hart as champion or Sting (7 months into his WCW reign and looking unstoppable) does it have the same effect on Bill Goldberg?

    Either way, the way WCW played it was poor and it remains a huge "what-if" in wrestling today.
     
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  8. shooter_mcgavin

    shooter_mcgavin Mid-Card Championship Winner

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    Anyways the best analogy I can use with WCW and the Starrcade 97 finish is Rocky IV in the fight with Rocky and Drago.

    Drago was seen as unstoppable but after Rocky cut Drago they found that Drago was beatable and is human. Which eventually led Rocky knocking out Drago.

    The Starrcade 97 finish is the the cut Rocky delivered to Drago in Rocky IV.
     
    #8
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  9. enviousdominous

    enviousdominous Behold my diction

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    I think that the message that WCW was trying to send with having Sting hand a bat to Rick Steiner and then turn his back only to have Scott stop Rick from attacking Sting, was that Sting was testing their ability to strike him down in an homage to the whole "let he who is without sin" parable. I thought it was brilliant storytelling at the time (I was only 15 though).

    I was always a casual WCW fan, so I didn't buy the PPV. I remember Nitro being a very confusing show the next night. There was minimal talk of a fast count, and Hogan was all "I BEAT STING IN THE MIDDLE OF THAT RING! ONE! TWO! THREE!" and he kept on motioning with his arm as if he was the ref counting the fall.

    So, they had a rematch at SuperBrawl. Randy Savage hit Hogan with a spraypaint can, and Sting therefore won without being allowed a clean pin.

    I think that WCW hit a creative dead end at that point and were desperately trying to make what they had work again. Sting would get lost in the mess that was the NWO Wolfpac vs NWO Hollywood angle, and the fingerpoke of doom would come not long after that.
     
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  10. sikkbones

    sikkbones the root of all evil

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    This would have been a great way to revitalise a saggy nwo instead of another year or two of hogan.

    Bret hart would have actually worked as nwo 2.0s leader in early 1998.
     
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  11. MWRedskins

    MWRedskins Mid-Card Championship Winner

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    firstly, no that wasnt the thing that killed WCW (i'll get into what killed them later)....but i do agree that it was a BAD decision that started the bleeding on WCW going downhill. i wont just blame Hogan, i blame Eric here too. i get that he and Hogan were buds, but he should've told him, "Hulk, listen, youre a heel and while you are a "cool" type of heel, a heel losing clean never harms them." and they clean finish should've happened, Hogan should've then taken time off after the ppv and then return eventually after Sting's run was over and chase the championship again.

    if Sting wasnt in the right shape or mind, then he should've never been given a shot, the problem here though was the ending was bad and the followup was bad and it all led to Hart looking stupid, a poor title run for Sting and Hogan looking good. if they didnt want to put Sting over, then they should've waited and then put Hart over (who should've came into WCW claiming that he's the WCW Champion since he never lost his previous championship).

    As for what didnt kill WCW, it wasnt Hogan, Bischoff, Russo, Nash, Ted Turner or even Vince McMahon.....it was Time Warner/AOL and specifically Jamie Kellner who cancelled WCW and left it without a network show and made WCW worthless. so the death of WCW is blamed on AOL/Time Warner, if they wanted WCW to stay in business, it would've been in business.
     
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  12. Spencesc11

    Spencesc11 Getting Noticed By Management

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    Bad Writing killed WCW.

    WWE was surging with the DX thing but there was so much opportunity in WCW. What could've been an epic feud NWO Black & White vs. NWO Wolfpack became nothing when all the top stars switched to Wolfpack. Bret Hart's injuries didn't help either. But imagine a pro-longed faction feud between (Hogan, Big Show, Hennig, Steiner, Bagwell & Norton) vs. (Savage, Sting, Hall, Nash, & Luger). This could've lead to an epic war games style match for sure!!!

    * Bret Hart should've stayed solo and had a big match vs. Goldberg for the title that didn't involve tazers.
     
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  13. Weems2k

    Weems2k Getting Noticed By Management

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    What should have been the start of the much anticipated Hogan v Hart feud ended up being a big clusterf..... Starcade 98 could have been even bigger than 97 with a double main event of Goldberg v Nash, and Hogan v Hart. That's what happens though when so many egos have creative control clauses in their contracts.
     
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  14. FlairFan2003

    FlairFan2003 Mid-Card Championship Winner

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    SC 97 itself didnt really hurt WCW. They still dominated in the TV ratings, The Jan 98 Souled Out PPV (usually one of their weakest shows, a throw away since Jan was dominated by The Royal Rumble, one of WWE's biggest annual events) did it's best numbers ever, equaling the R-Rumble and nearly equaled WCW Feb 98 SuperBrawl (one of WCW biggest annual shows) which was more impressive considering Souled Out had no Hogan, Sting, DDP, & virtually no NwO.

    SC 97 is emblamatic, a great example of the long term structural problems in the company, the issues that did doom the company....

    A) Hogan's Creative Control: Supposedly it wasnt an official decission sanctioned by Bischoff that lead to the Nick Patrick improper count, rumor always was Hogan worked that out with Patrick on his own to give him a more face saving excuse in the loss. If Patrick, already well established as the "NwO Ref" had properly fast counted then Bischoff's use of Hart (a clear, direct shot at WWE) would have been better recieved, a clean loss for Hogan, a needed switch in the NwO-WCW storyline, and a defining insult to Vince & WWE. Hogan was welk known for changing planned finishes and forcing re writes in storylines. In 1994 he originally agreed to a 3 Match Trilogy with Ric Flair where Flair would regain the title in Match #2, setting up Hogan winning the feud by regaining the title in the finale, but shortly before the match Hogan balked, complaining a title loss might "hurt merchandise" sales, forget what it might have done for interest in the finale with both men tied 1-1 and Hogan the challenger, business interests were trumped by Hogan's interests. Similar to the way Hogan was booked with the biggest storylines and all the Main Events during almost all of Goldberg's title reign, devaluing Goldberg as champ with him having virtually no major storylines/title threats, while Hogan's stories got the most air time and best positioning. Goldberg was wredtling mostly mid card matches with little storyline from his July 98 win through Sept 98 while Hogan main evented every PPV, then they shared "co main event" status in the Oct 98 Halloween Havoc PPV. By the time Hogan took a vacation (billed as his Prrsidential Campaign in storylines) and Goldberg finally got the biggest match and best storyline for a PPV it was when he was booked to lose (vs Kevin Nash at SC 98). Hogan almost immediately got the title back afterwards and was supposedly asked by new Head Booker Kevin Nash to drop the belt at SuperBrawl 99 vs Flair and refused, stating he wanted at least more win over Flair before putting him over. Then, with WCW twice drawing TV ratings in the 5.0 range while airing against RAW and the reformed, lean, aggressive NwO storyline red hot, Hogan decided to end the story and inexplicably turn face (because he wanted his youngest son to get to watch him play a good guy like his older kids had). Hogan would only put over Flair if he was allowed to turn hero and return to the "Red & Yellow", which killed the company's best storyline, killed the momentum of Flair's return, and in the libg run killed interest in a re match with Goldberg (WCW's hottest talent not over 40 who went from World Champion to the bottom of the card almost immediately).

    B) Health Issues: WCW had a real hard time keeping their most recognized and bankable stars in the ring for long stretches. Luger missed large portions of 98-99 with injuries, Sting & Brett Hart were MIA in late 98-early 99 with injuries compounded by Hart's career ending injury in late 99, Flair missed significant time in 96-97 with a torn rotator cuff (surgery & rehab) then broke his ankle in a match vs Curt Henning (forcing him to miss Starrcade, the 2nd straight year he was on injured reserve for the company's biggest show), Scott Hall's substance abuse issues severely limited him to barely anything sustained in 98 & 99, even Hogan (who already was granted significant time off annually like in his WWE days) missed time with knee surgery in 99, and of course Randy Savage missed several months in 98 & 99 recovering from knee surgery. All of these MIA's overlapped at various times, sometimes in almost disastrous fashion (Sting, Luger, & Hart were all on IR & missed Starrcade 98). Even if WCW had a strong creative vision & story telling having so many big money makers all N/A for months at a time would ruin things.

    C) No or almost no investment in the undercard. WCW had a huge roster and a lot of talented performers but other than Hogan/Top NwO storylines few performers recieved any sustained TV time or character investment. When WCW first started overtaking WWE in late 95/early 96, they relied heavily on their "SuperStars of the 80s" main event roster (Flair, Hogan, Savage, Sting, Luger) but they also put significant effort into developing secondary storylines for their cruiserweights while pushing new talents like Big Show & DDP & Benoit, trying to elevate them. By 1997 virtually all of the secondary talent was used as "Throw aways" and very few of them recieved any sustained pushes outside of some very rare exceptions (like Raven). A large part of WWE's revival in this time frame came from investing in mid card talent (GodFather, Val Venus, NOD, etc) and some of these eventually made it to the main event stage (like Edge, HHH pushing past his secondary role in DX, etc). Look at Starrcade 98, a great main event storyline wise (Goldberg vs Nash), a huge #2 match (Flair's return), and does anyone even remember one other storyline ?? I attended that show live and cant remember anything outside the top 2 matches. I have a vague memory of a hastily thrown together with little momentum match between DDP & Big Show and nothing else. This was the company's signature show and hardly anyone got a major push outside 3 guys (not counting Bischoff, a non wrestler booked vs Flair).

    Starrcade 97 features all of these moments, Hogan tinkering with the ending of his match to benefit him in spite of the overall benefits to the company (Not too mention Nash famously No Showing to avoid losing to Big Show, which eventually he was rewarded, not punished for, granted a pinfall win over him at Souled Out the next month, a prime example of those in Bischoff's ear being the inmates running the asylum), a thrown together bottom card where few wrestlers had any major storyline involvement, and a significant injury impacting matches (Flair's broken ankle forcing him out of the US Title Match vs Henning). Plus, in terms of inconsistent storylines, did Savage & Luger even have matches on this show, they werent injured at this time, where they even used ?

    Did SC 97 kill WCW ? Absolutely not, but the issues that hurt that show existed consistently in WCW from at least late 97 on & that is what killed WCW.
     
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  15. FromGlasgow

    FromGlasgow Championship Contender

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    In all my life as a wrestling fan I don't remember any build up to any match as good as the Hogan vs Sting match, All for it to end in such a disapointing and confusing finish, At this point WCW had it all, The biggest name stars and most talented wrestlers in the world it seems difficult to have screwed up at this point but they somehow managed to do it.
    I don't understand the reasoning of Hogan dominating and winning theres no positive that ever came out of it.
    Starcade 97 should have been one of those great events people still talk about today but not in a negative way.
     
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  16. TDFG

    TDFG Championship Contender

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    A lot of nonsense (shall we say) happened in WCW regarding storylines, booking etc. after Starrcade 1997, but this is probably known as the start of the downward spiral, and the blame lands squarely at the feet of Hulk Hogan.

    The main-event should have been a match for the ages, but it was anything but, Hogan's ego was obviously in overdrive, but that's what you get when give guys creative control.

    The ideal scenario should have been either:-

    a) Hogan dominates (give the dog a bone and all that, make him look good) hits the leg-drop only for Sting to kick-out at 2, and 'Sting' up, hitting his splash & death drop/death lock for the victory.

    or

    b) Throughout the match we see Nick Patrick showing very much his NWO colours, quick counting, not seeing Hogan cheating, warning Sting, shoulder locking when Sting has Hogan pinned etc. Hitman comes out and takes Patrick out, aligning with Sting and there you have a team willing to take on the NWO.
     
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  17. thebarber

    thebarber Mid-Card Championship Winner

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    Amazing so many of WCW behind the scenes people are posting on a random wrestlezone discussion board. Believing so much internet scuttlebutt fries ones brains.
    Nick Patrick ballsed up the three count, he counted three when he wasnt supposed to. Patrick came out recently and spoke for the first time and actually intimated that Sting asked for a fast count so he had an out as he knew Hogan would try something with creative control. At the end of the day, WCW stuffed the angle up royally, and having the stench of Montreal brought in with Hart just made it worse.
     
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  18. V/CV/

    V/CV/ Dark Match Jobber

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    It's an absurd thing to State yes WCW could have done better with starrcade 97 yes more momentum could have been picked up but that did not depict what they continued to do what they had not to do in some areas.
    ****ADVERTISEMENT REMOVED****
    World championship wrestling did not have some kind of recipe gone wrong things worked out wrong with AOL Time Warner plain and simple everybody wants it back.
     
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