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WWE Starrcade 2017
by Scrooge McSuck
- Originally presented LIVE on November 25th, 2017, from the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, NC. No, this wasn't featured on television or exclusively on the WWE Network, despite a decent amount of publicity and the promise of former NWA Legends making appearances (including the ridiculous idea of a scrapped match between Gallows and Anderson and the Rock ‘n' Roll Express). What I'm watching is a cobbled together collection of fan recordings, ranging from excellent quality to barely watchable. Why am I doing this? Why not.
- We open the show with a lengthy hype video running down the top matches on the card, including TWO Steel Cage Matches and a Fatal-Four Way for the Tag Team Championship. This is a Smackdown Live card, but there's a few notable exceptions we'll cover for those who need a scorecard.
Bobby Roode vs. Dolph Ziggler:
is introduced as the special ENFORCER for the match, and Charles Robinson
is our inside-the-ring ref. The Horsemen theme is one of very few WCW pieces of music I liked. Dolph snubs a handshake to remind us he's the bad guy. Ziggler quickly works a side headlock and comes off the ropes with a shoulder tackle. Roode comes back with an elbow and taunts. Ziggler counters an early attempt at the Glorious DDT, ramming Roode into the corner. Whip reversed and Roode comes out with a clothesline. Roode with a long, delayed suplex for two. Ziggler with a dropkick out of nowhere for two. Roode with a sunset flip, but Ziggler quickly regains control and tries to use the ropes to his advantage, unsuccessfully. Another comeback is cut short, this time with a hard whip to the corner. Roode fights out of a headlock and sends Dolph into the corner with a slingshot. Roode with a series of rights. Dolph sets up for the Fame-asser, but Roode counters and plants him with a modified uranage for a near fall. Ziggler meets boots in the corner and Roode comes off the middle turnbuckle with a Block Buster for another two-count. Ziggler sits down on a sunset flip for two. Fame-asser gets two. Zig-Zag for two. Roode avoids the Super-Kick and we get a series of roll-ups for two. Dolph counters the DDT with a Super-Kick for two. Dolph goes for a chair, but Arn intervenes and pays for it. Back inside, the referee confiscates the chair and Anderson pops in to plant Dolph with his signature spine-buster. Roode wakes up from his coma and finishes with the Glorious DDT at 14:22. Paint-by-numbers until a hot few minutes at the end.
Breezango, Tye Dillinger, The Ascension, and Sin Cara vs. Rusev (w/ Aiden English), The Colons, Mike Kanellis, and The Bludgeon Brothers:
12-Man Tag Team Action featuring the leftovers of the Smackdown roster! Only at a WWE Live Event will you see Tyler Breeze and Fandango wrestle! Only could the Ascension turn baby-face via spoof vignettes starring Breezango. Introductions will likely run longer than the bell-to-bell action. English poops on Starrcade, and somehow the singer gimmick has gotten over, despite the booking. Rusev teases starting, but defers the honor to Kanellis. He starts with Fandango and they do literally the longest blocked sunset flip spot in history, ending with Fandango dropping the leg. Primo tags in and runs into a dropkick from Breeze. Rusev chooses to tag in and gets rocked with chops from Viktor. They get into a chopping contest. Crisscross and Viktor connects with a diving back elbow. Sin Cara with a flying body press for two. Dillinger connects with a dropkick and we get three corners of mounted punches from Dillinger, Viktor, and Fandango. Harper and Rowan decide to start running wild, cleaning house of everything that moves. Breeze's body press is countered with a boss-man slam, and Dillinger gets planted with the double-team Crucifix Bomb for three at 7:08. Post-match, Harper and Rowan clean house of some of their partners, too. This was geeks rushing through spots until the finish.
Naomi vs. Tamina (w/ Lana):
They're really throwing the fans some top-quality stuff for such a special occasion, aren't they? It doesn't help the talent depth is still not the deepest on Smackdown, compared to Raw. Lockup and Tamina throws Naomi to the canvas. Tamina wants a test-of-strength, but Naomi escapes with a series of leg strikes. Whip to the corner and Naomi boots Tamina charging in. Lana with a distraction from the apron, allowing Tamina to knock her to the floor. Lana with a cheap shot from the floor. Naomi fights out of a side headlock, catches Tamina with an elbow, and sends her to the floor. Naomi follows and hits a running kick on the apron, and even the poor-quality video can't mask the blatant leg slapping. Tamina comes back with a suplex for two. Naomi escapes another chin-lock, this time with a jaw breaker. Tamina misses a splash into the corner. Naomi with a series of kicks, including the goofy jumping in place crap that desperately needs to go. Lana with a distraction, causing the referee to miss a flying body press, so Naomi lays her out with a roundhouse kick. Tamina with a Super-Kick for two. Tamina's climb to the top rope takes too long, and Naomi finishes with the split-leg moonsault at 7:15. Perfectly fine, although the crowd piling out for the restrooms is a telltale sign of how important this was to watch.
- Video montage of Dusty Rhodes, with the usual soundbites.
Dustin Rhodes vs. Dash Wilder:
Yup, Dustin comes out in the Goldust robe, but reveals he's going to be working tonight as THE NATURAL. Both men are members of the Raw Roster, but good move to get Dustin on the card in some form. Wilder attacks from behind after snubbing a handshake offer and puts the boots to Dustin. Rhodes with a snap mare, but runs into a stun gun for a near fall. Dustin escapes a chin-lock and follows up with a pair of clotheslines. He comes off the ropes with a pair of boots to the head and hits the mounted corner punches, complete with bionic elbow. Snap power-slam for two. Running bulldog finishes at 3:31. Short and sweet. Not much of a match, but a cool moment.
- Post-match, one of the random female interviewers jumps in the ring for an interview, who puts over his heritage and the legacy of his father.
- Video montage highlighting the career of Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, followed by a brief in-ring interview, putting over the fans and the city of Greensboro.
WWE United States Championship Match:
Baron Corbin © vs. Shinsuke Nakamura:
This could either be surprisingly decent or bowling shoe ugly. How do you like fresh takes like that? I keep forgetting Corbin is the reigning Champion, despite holding the belt for nearly two months at this point. Lockup to the corner and Corbin with a non-gentlemanly act of aggression. Nakamura cartwheels out of a wrist-lock and taunts Corbin against the ropes ("what is he doing?", says one female fan). Corbin mocks Nakamura's "come on" taunt and gets caught with a step-up enzuigiri. Shinsuke with Good Vibrations in the corner. Shinsuke with a knee, snap mare, and jumping knee drop. Corbin with a cheap shot in the corner before sending Nakamura into the post. Corbin takes it to the floor, ramming Nakamura into the security rail. Corbin does his in-and-out slide and levels Nakamura with a lariat for a near fall. Nakamura rallies with a variety of strikes. Corbin tries the lariat again, but Nakamura counters with a jumping heel kick. Corbin catches a boot, but gets rocked with another enzuigiri. Nakamura with the running knee lift in the corner for two. Corbin counters the reverse Exploder, but gets caught in a triangle choke. Nakamura turns it into a guillotine, but Corbin counters with a suplex. Nakamura with a roundhouse heel kick and knee to the head. He gears up for the Kinshasa, but Corbin counters with Deep Six for a near fall. Corbin blocks an attack from the top, sending Nakamura to the floor. Corbin brings a chair into the ring, but Nakamura fights it out of his hands and hits a sliding knee. Corbin avoids another Kinshasa and nails Nakamura with the chair for a cheap DQ at 10:35. Post-match, Nakamura avoids End of Days and nails a seated Corbin with the Kinshasa. Good match that was thankfully kept at a reasonable length.
- North Carolina's own, Matt and Jeff Hardy, along with the Rock ‘n' Roll Express (WWE Hall of Famers, Robert Gibson and Ricky Morton), come out to celebrate the legacy of Starrcade, leading us into the Tag Team Title Match...
WWE Tag Team Championship Match:
Jimmy & Jey Uso © vs. The New Day (w/ Big E) vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn vs. Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin:
Fatal-Four Way Match, one fall to a finish. I noticed they haven't stopped Greg Hamilton from his "one fall!" routine... yet. New Day gets the Hardy Boyz and RNR Express to dance with them before the match. Gable and Woods start after what feels like an exceptionally long time. Gable with a side headlock, followed by a shoulder tackle. Crisscross and counter sequence with quick pin attempts, culminating in Woods decking him with a forearm. Benjamin comes in to work the arm. Kofi's body press is caught and Shelton runs him over with a shoulder tackle. Kofi lands on his feet on a monkey flip and twerks to agitate the former Gold Standard. Kofi with a dropkick for two. Jimmy Uso blind tags and rolls up Benjamin for two. Zayn tags himself in, much to the dismay of Benjamin, and works Jimmy over in the corner. Whip and a double elbow from Zayn and KO. Everyone decides they hate the newly reformed friendship and beats the piss out of them. Gable and Benjamin clear the ring, leaving Jey Uso alone to get pummeled. Double knee strike gets two. Zayn forces another tag and works the arm. Gable returns the favor and the two brawl while Jey sneaks around and does a slingshot that ends up with Zayn "singing soprano." Woods with the tag, cleaning house and hitting a running dropkick to the back of Gable. Jimmy with a flying body press for two. Gable avoids the hip attack, but runs into a Samoan drop. Heck breaks loose with the Usos knocking people silly in what could best be described as a Super-Kick Party. Jey hits a tope, tags to Jimmy, and he finishes with a splash on Gable at 12:30. Perfectly fine action, although having so many people involved again reduces how much we see of anyone.
- Montage celebrating the career of Ric Flair, and the Nature Boy himself comes out to once again put over Starrcade and Greensboro, which leads us to...
WWE Women's Championship; Steel Cage Match:
Charlotte Flair © vs. Natalya:
What is the all-time series at, a 35-0 lead for Charlotte, not counting cheap DQ's or Count-Out victories? There definitely isn't a long list of Women in cage matches, at least not in WWE history. Pin-fall, submission, and escape rules for this one. Lockup to the corner and Natalya with a forearm. Charlotte escapes a headlock and drops Nattie with an elbow for two. Charlotte with chops (woo!), but Nattie goes back to the side headlock. Charlotte with another escape and a running knee drop for two. Natalya rolls through a sunset flip, connects with a basement dropkick, and follows with a Hart Attack clothesline. She scrambles for the door, but Charlotte pulls her back. Natalya with a yank of the hair to keep Charlotte from rallying. Charlotte with a small package to counter a suplex for two, but Nattie pops back up and drops her with a clothesline. Charlotte with a hangman's neck breaker and exploder suplex. Natalya slams her off the top rope for two and traps her in a surfboard, complete with the most slaps to the hips I'd ever seen to get the move going. Charlotte fights free and a double clothesline puts both down.
Natalya recovers first, triggering an exchange of rights and chops until she hits the Nattie-by-Nature for a two-count. Charlotte nips up and counters the basement dropkick with a spear for another near fall. Natalya counters the Figure-Eight, sending Charlotte crashing into the cage. She gets one leg over, but Charlotte rises from the dead to cut off the escape. Whip to the corner and Natalya with a release German Suplex for two. Charlotte fights off a Sharpshooter attempt and hits the running boot for two. They take turns laying into each other with rights in the corner. Natalya with a sit-out Powerbomb for two. She slaps on the Sharpshooter in the middle of the ring, but Charlotte rolls through, sending Natalya into the turnbuckle. They fight along the top rope until Nattie connects with a Super-Plex for two. Charlotte escapes another Sharpshooter, hits a Spear, and slaps on the Figure-Eight for the tap-out at 16:53. Best match of the night, although the cage mostly didn't play much of a factor into the work.
WWE Championship; Steel Cage Match:
A.J. Styles © vs. Jinder Mahal (w/ The Singh Brothers):
Main Event of the Night™. Even though this was an untelevised card, I almost expected them to put the belt back on Mahal with the "tour" (a.k.a. one show) of India coming in the next couple of weeks. I did my best to find more, but all I could find is one long section of the match. We're JIP with Mahal pounding away with rights, taunting the crowd in-between blows. Styles with a flurry of strikes before sending Mahal into the cage. He tries to escape, but the Singh Brothers climb up the exterior, buying Mahal time to recover. He slams Styles' head into the cage, but Styles slips through his legs and sweeps him off, dropping Mahal face-first across the turnbuckle. Styles with the Phenomenal Blitz and sliding forearm. He dives into the corner with a clothesline and follows with the Ushigoroshi for a near fall. Mahal traps Styles between the cage and ropes, giving him a taste of the unforgiving steel. Mahal avoids a roll-up, sending Styles into the cage, and hits a running high knee for two. Styles escapes a Khallas attempt and drops Mahal with an enzuigiri. The Singh's get involved again, keeping the door shut on Styles' attempt to escape. Mahal with a boot to the jaw. Styles escapes the Khallas again and rolls Mahal into the Calf Crusher. Both Singh's run in, completely killing the concept of the gimmick, and desperately try to pull Mahal out the door. Styles pulls Mahal back in and reapplies the hold, and once again, the sanctity of a steel cage match is tarnished with over-booking. Styles fights both off, including a Styles Clash to one of them. Mahal with a boot and Styles responds with the Pele Kick. Styles climbs, knocking a Singh away, while Mahal goes for the door, but Styles kicks the door into his face, and completes his escape for the victory at 11:00 shown. From what was recorded, the action was a pleasant surprise (because Mahal stinks), but the over-booking with constant interference from the Singh's really kills the gimmick.
Final Thoughts: The pros of "Starrcade": Special ring-skirt, television-level production with a camera present at ringside, displaying most of the action on the jumbo screens, and the host of legends making appearances, including Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, the Rock ‘n' Roll Express, and Arn Anderson. As for the wrestling, nothing earth-shattering happened, putting it on par with every other live event. Only the women's cage match stands out as an exceptional performance, with Corbin/Nakamura being a surprisingly good outing. I wouldn't say anything is bad, but the undercard was considerably weak for a special event.
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