The Five Count: Top Starrcade Main Events

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As we all know—unless you came in here looking for a Total Divas recap by mistake, and really even then—World Championship Wrestling went belly up nearly 13 years ago. However, had the company that began its existence as Jim Crockett Promotions continued unabated into the present, this month we’d be celebrating the 30th anniversary of Starrcade.

Begun on Thanksgiving in 1983 as the super show to cap off the National Wrestling Alliance’s year, Starrcade didn’t rip off WrestleMania, it beat it out the gate by almost two years. Though the event would shift to December in 1987 with the advent of Survivor Series as competition, it would remain WCW’s premiere event through 2000.

I grew up a World Wrestling Federation kid, tried and true, so Starrcade meant very little to me, as I occasionally caught WCW on the stray Saturday night, but didn’t know much about it save for Sting being the champ, the Steiners being awesome and that they had a pay-per-view called Halloween Havoc which sounded amazing and had you asked me I would have assumed it to be their flagship event. As an older, wiser, more learned wrestling devotee, I have of course gone back and watched many a classic NWA and WCW card, and appreciate the “Granddaddy of Them All” a great deal.

We faced a bit of a challenge with this month’s Five Count, however, as while Starrcade produced many a memorable overall show, it’s not particularly known for its main events. From Magnum T.A. and Tully Blanchard getting bloody to the cruiserweights tearing the house down, the undercard always delivered, but on top, many times you’d find a letdown.

Nonetheless, undaunted, the brave warriors of the Five Count present our Top Starrcade Main Events…

Ric Flair and Lex Luger in 1988
Ric Flair and Lex Luger in 1988

Ben Morse 

5. RIC FLAIR vs. DUSTY RHODES for the NWA World Championship (1985)

The true emergence of “The Nature Boy” and a last hurrah of sorts for “The American Dream” as Dusty would get one more quick World title reign in 1986, but then be a secondary championship contender moving forward. These two always had uncanny chemistry, but with Flair getting to really step up as a heel leading the Horsemen, this stands out as one of their most epic encounters.

4. HARLEY RACE vs. RIC FLAIR in a Steel Cage match for the NWA World Championship (1983)

The big money match that started it all, two all-time greats going at it inside a steel cage with the championship they each loved more than life itself on the line. It made for a gritty, athletic contest that should probably be shown to most up and comers as far as a textbook on how to pay off a big feud. Gene Kiniski did his best to botch things as the guest referee — and some would argue he succeeded by constantly interjecting himself into the action when it didn’t need him — but that’s secondary to what Flair and Race accomplished in putting Starrcade on the map.

3. HOLLYWOOD HOGAN vs. STING for the WCW World Championship (1997)

Yeah, ultimately the match didn’t live up to the hype — maybe nothing possibly could — but let’s talk about the hype. No feud in Starrcade history got a better build to its blow-off than Hogan/Sting; honestly, few feuds in history period got a better build. A year of Sting silently haunting the fallen hero/most frustrating villain in wrestling made him red-hot and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more eagerly anticipated moment than that first punch after the bell rang.

Unfortunately, once things got underway, as I said, they couldn’t deliver. Blame it on Sting’s layoff, blame it on Bret Hart’s interference, blame it on Hogan being past his prime or dominating too much, it doesn’t really matter. Regardless, this match still earns a place on my list for the first 99 yards of the drive, even if they fumbled at the end zone based on the tremendous work done leading up to the point where even the anticlimactic finish couldn’t entirely deflate a pumped-up audience.

2. BIG VAN VADER vs. RIC FLAIR for the WCW World Championship (1993)

The trope of aging warrior going into their final battle to try to topple the unbeatable monster works as well in westerns as it does in wrestling; it works even better when you’ve got arguably the greatest in-ring performer all-time in Ric Flair as the veteran and one of the 90’s most dominant big men in Big Van Vader as the behemoth.

Vader has physically dominated WCW for over a year, crushing challengers like Sting and Cactus Jack in convincing fashion and often injuring them in the process. His nearly uninterrupted 12-month stranglehold over the World title would culminate one way or the other at Starrcade, and all signs pointed to Sid Vicious unseating him for the strap—until Sid got fired for his infamous brawl with Arn Anderson in Europe. WCW turned to Ric Flair as their savior and had him put his career on the line to up the drama even more.

Flair might be an incomparable heel, but when he needs to go babyface, he certainly can, and against a villain like Vader, he can do so in spades. Their match had ample psychology and classic storytelling to go along with a brilliant pure athletic contest between two awesome workers who didn’t care about age or size. The story of Flair needing to pick his spot rather than go toe to toe with the beast played out perfectly, resulting in the best Starrcade main event of the 90’s.

1. RIC FLAIR vs. LEX LUGER for the NWA World Championship (1988)

While the NWA would go on to have a pretty spectacular 1989, it’s hard not to see 1988 as the final chapter in the classic pre-WCW era of Jim Crockett Promotions. By this show, the first true run of the Four Horsemen had ended, with Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard gone to the WWF; not long after, Dusty Rhodes got turfed as both booker and a talent and was sent packing. While Ric Flair remained on top with Lex Luger, Sting, the Midnight Express, the Road Warriors and others still in the mix, guys who had represented the golden years of JCP like Magnum TA, Nikita Koloff, the Rock N Roll Express, etc. had already said their goodbyes.

To my mind, the steel cage match in which Flair claims narrow victory in his year-long feud over the World title with Luger serves as a perfect cap-off to one of the seminal periods of pro wrestling.

The angle truly did begin 12 months earlier, with Luger losing the United States title to Rhodes and seeing his position as the Horsemen’s golden boy ever so slightly tarnished. A great slow build followed, first with the “Total Package” breaking away from the group due to his own ambition, then his ill-fated team with Barry Windham, then his initial challenge to Flair ending on a fluke at the Great American Bash, and finally the slog back to the top to earn this final shot.

On this night, the NWA’s two hottest stars had a great storyline and a crowd truly invested on one side or the other working in their advantage. Lex Luger will never be seen as one of the great in-ring performers of all-time, but Ric Flair always brought out the best in him, on big stages especially, and none could be considered bigger than Starrcade.

Hogan and Sting in 1997
Hogan and Sting in 1997

Andrew Riche

Honorable Mention: BRET HART vs. GOLDBERG for the WCW World Championship (1999)

Yes, I know that this match took place during the lowly rated, mind-numbing Crash TV era that was run by Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara  (aka the “Powers That Be”) in which every segment had some sort of wild twist or nonsensical finish. But I have always had a sentiment for this one between WCW’s biggest homegrown star at the time and the WWF’s former hero. It was the match that basically ended Bret Hart’s legendary career after suffering a severe concussion from a mule kick by Goldberg late in the bout. The match was perfectly fine before a screwy Montreal-esque finish that saw Bret get the benefit of a premature ringing of the bell by, of all people, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. This was also the last time that Bret was able to hold a World Championship with a shade of dignity after winning it the month before at Mayhem and giving WCW fans a shred of hope that he could carry the company into the new millennium. Sadly, that hope evaporated on that night.

5. HOLLYWOOD HOGAN vs. STING for the WCW World Championship (1997)

This might be fifth on my list, but if the match was anything close to decent or good, this would have shot straight to the top. Hollywood Hogan and the New World Order were thoroughly embedded in a year-long rivalry with the silent, leather jacket-wearing Sting, the lost soul of WCW who found his way back to take the World title from the evil Hogan. Once we reached December, anticipation for Hogan vs. Sting at the newly opened M.C.I. Center in Washington D.C. was at an all-time high. I will never forget the commercials with Sting in a dark, rainy alley picking up that black bat. But because of either politics, not mapping things out in advance, or just rotten luck, the actual match between Hogan and Sting was a clunker with Hogan controlling the majority of the offense. Even a presumed fast count by Nick Patrick was messed up to confuse things even more, which was overruled before Sting made a comeback, put Hogan in the Scorpion Deathlock and won the WCW title for the first time in years. Judging by the buy rate, it might be the most important match in WCW’s vaunted history, but it sadly, it was also one of the biggest missed opportunities.

4. STING wins the Battlebowl Battle Royal (1991)

First of all, one of my favorite arenas and hottest crowds in the early WCW days was the Scope in Norfolk, VA, where Starrcade ’91 took place. Starrcade had done some intriguing tournament formats in the previous two years, and this one was going to be the main attraction. Subtitled “The Lethal Lottery,” wrestlers were randomly selected in tag team matches to qualify for a 20-man, two-ring battle royal in the last match of the night. The tag matches were all short and forgettable, but the final battle royal was a treat. The final participants were a murderer’s row: WCW Champion Lex Luger, Ricky Steamboat, Steve Austin, Rick Rude, Big Van Vader, and Sting, who had just come back from a knee injury after Luger had attacked him one month earlier. After a 25-minute battle, Sting got revenge on Luger and won Battlebowl before winning the WCW title at SuperBrawl II two months later. Not as memorable because there were no belts on the line, but a definite gem in Starrcade history.

3. HARLEY RACE vs. RIC FLAIR in a Steel Cage match for the NWA World Championship (1983)

And away we go with my version of the Ric Flair hour, with the Nature Boy taking up my top three spots on the list. This match was appropriately the first ever Starrcade and promoted as “A Flair for the Gold.” Flair, who still young and up-and-coming at the time, had lost the NWA World title earlier that year to the rugged, more experienced Harley Race, who placed a $25,000 bounty on anyone who would take Flair out. Bob Orton and Dick Slater took the money and attacked Flair in a fashion that forced him into retirement. Flair returned soon after hell-bent on getting even with Race and winning the title back. What was decided was an epic cage match between the two officiated by former great Gene Kiniski on November 24. It was one of the first times that a wrestling event aired on closed circuit television, as Flair dethroned the then-seven-time champion Race with a crossbody in a 24-minute match. The match is sluggish at times and Kiniski does one of the worst referee jobs ever, but the crowd was all over this; Flair’s entrance is goose bump-inducing, both guys bleed buckets, and the significance of it being the first ever pay-per-view card always keeps this match fresh in the memory banks.

2. RIC FLAIR vs. LEX LUGER for the NWA World Championship (1988)

Another Starrcade at the Scope in Norfolk, featuring Lex Luger on the losing end of the main event; this one was three years before Battlebowl and was the first ever Starrcade to air in the month of December right after Ted Turner purchased the company from Jim Crockett Promotions and renamed it World Championship Wrestling. I have always heard stories about how this event backstage was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Dusty Rhodes as the head booker, leading to his eventual exit. Flair had wrestled two solid workers the previous two Starrcades in Ronnie Garvin and Nikita Koloff, but Luger was a young powerhouse with whom Flair could do close to any style of wrestling. This was a rematch from their controversial Great American Bash bout earlier that year and it was likely their greatest one against one another, going over 30 minutes with Flair using the ropes to pin Luger and defend his title. This was also the preface to Flair’s greatest singular run when he feuded with Ricky Steamboat and Terry Funk in 1989.

1.  BIG VAN VADER vs. RIC FLAIR for the WCW World Championship (1993)

For me, the Nature Boy was more synonymous with Starrcade than any other wrestler in the event’s history, wrestling in the main event a whopping 10 times. But it was in his second tour with WCW, a step or two past the his best days as an in-ring performer, that Flair had his most triumphant performance. After a main event between Sid Vicious and dominant WCW Champion Vader was scrapped due to an ugly incident overseas between Sid and Arn Anderson, Flair jumped into the fray and challenged what seemed to be an unstoppable monster. It was so fitting that Starrcade ’93 was the show’s 10-year anniversary and took place in Flair’s backyard of Charlotte, NC, for a sequel for “A Flair for the Gold,” where he would put his career on the line. A decade after Flair took down Harley Race, Vader was now managed by his former rival and the most intimidating champion in the company’s history. Flair received a hero’s applause and had to deviate desperately from his regular formula, taking a pounding from Vader before delivering stiff shots of his own. After a chaotic back-and-forth, Flair rolled up Vader to pin him to a huge pop and win the WCW Championship for the first time since leaving the company in 1991. It is almost amazing to think that had Sid not made a terrible mistake, this match would have never happened, because it was one of WCW’s most outstanding moments.

Ric Flair and Vader in 1993
Ric Flair and Vader in 1993

Chad Campbell

5. HARLEY RACE vs. RIC FLAIR in a Steel Cage match for the NWA World Championship (1983)

If Hogan leg dropping Sheik and Austin passing out from blood loss in the Sharpshooter are the star-making moments in those iconic careers, Flair’s bloodied hand being raised triumphant is his moment here. The match unfortunately is not the classic that it potentially could have been as the two competitors seemed confused on whether to utilize a scientific cage match representative of the NWA title or a hate-filled brawl. Giving the angle surrounding the match with the bounty on Flair’s head, a brawl seemed more appropriate me and we did get some blood and cage shots, but the rest is 15-20 minutes of relatively mundane action. Complicating everything is the worst guest officiating in the history of pro wrestling. Gene Kiniski is a disgrace in this match, interjecting himself into the action and moving the narrative away from Flair vs. Race to Race vs. himself. Race feels like he has a valid claim at getting screwed out of the title by the end of the match. Flair is able hit his top rope splash and claims his second NWA title in a match more about the moment than the performance bell to bell.

4. HOLLYWOOD HOGAN vs. RODDY PIPER (1996)

One of the greatest “Oh this match is good?” matches in history.  Piper at this point hadn’t had a good match since Bret Hart at WrestleMania VIII. Hogan vs. Flair in 1994 produced some good matches but the main event scene in WCW wasn’t exactly setting the wrestling workrate world ablaze in 1995 and 1996. This match could have gone wrong in so many ways and yet it stuck to a strict template and rewarded the fans of WCW with their biggest victory since the NWO angle originated at Bash at the Beach. Hogan was starting to come into his own as a heel persona and Piper was excellent in his “man without an island” role. This is a really fun main event style to watch with a hot ending sequence resulting in a huge pop from the Nashville crowd.

3. RIC FLAIR vs. LEX LUGER for the NWA World Championship (1988)

Anyone claiming Flair worked the same match over and over throughout his career would need to really give a long look at this match. Not only is it worked differently from most Flair matches in the era (including the 1988 Great American Bash match vs. Luger), Flair actually changes course and strategy in the middle of the match. Flair comes into this match as an over-confident preppy boy confident in his abilities. Luger shows off his strength and kicks Flair’s ass for the first 20 minutes of the match. Within that amount of time, the viewer witnesses a transformation. Flair takes the first offensive flurry by slowly swaying to the outside and calling someone in the front row a fat boy. Subsequent offensive maneuvers from Lex make Flair more frantic and there is a sense that he really underestimated Luger and a new champion will be crowned. Then, Lex hurts his leg. Flair pounces on this situation with a veracity that is unlike many of his matches. Posts shots and stiff strikes pepper Lex’s legs and Flair’s mannerisms show a man possessed and willing to do anything to retain his belt. Lex of course makes a comeback showing his own willpower reaching down deep. The finish is one of the more brilliant ones of 1988 as Luger has Flair up in the torture rack but his leg gives way. Flair puts his feet on the ropes for added insurance and retains the title. No one was really at fault here, Flair was just a tad more resourceful and Lex got a smidge overzealous.

2. BIG VAN VADER vs. RIC FLAIR for the WCW World Championship (1993)

Endless debates seem to erupt on when exactly Ric Flair should have retired from wrestling. We are nearing the twentieth anniversary of this match and he still hasn’t officially retired. I am in the camp that this should have been his final match. All the great elements were there, segments with Mean Gene in the limo, wonderfully emotional video package to start, and the 10 year anniversary of the first Starrcade. Flair also worked this match as a gritty underdog unwilling to back down from the fight that Vader was ensured to bring to him. Hell, Harley Race was in Vader’s corner. Vader had run roughshod throughout the heavyweight division in 1993 and really needed a loss to make the division not become dormant. Many people have problems with the awkward nature of this finish but I do like it in a sense that it shows Flair’s resourcefulness and that Flair did take the fight to Vader’s leg with a chair shot and work earlier. This feels like a fitting closing chapter to a storied career and is without a doubt one of my favorite main events in PPV history.

1. RON GARVIN vs. RIC FLAIR for the NWA World Championship in a Steel Cage match (1987)

This is probably by far the match I disagree with most after reading numerous reviews online. When reviewing this match for the podcast (Cheap Plug!), I was blown away by the ferocity and hatred that was confined within the cage. An enriching factor to the match is watching the title change to Garvin beforehand. It is easy to look back now in retrospect and kind of snicker at the thought of Garvin as NWA champ. However, in 1987 this was neither a surprise nor a shock if you were following the product. Much in the same way people are currently enjoying the resurgence of Goldust, Garvin was a upper-mid card player that finally was able to win the big one. A long-time foil of Flair, it always seemed that Garvin had Flair’s number more than most of his other contemporaries. The title change match is a five-star affair from me and builds to a stunning crescendo that doesn’t in any way make Garvin feel “lucky” for picking up the win. This plays a lot into this match as it seems easy now to predict that Flair would run roughshod over Garvin and reclaim the belt. The Chicago crowd was also not a fan of Ronnie but I don’t understand why this clouds the judgment of many reviewers. Sid vs. HBK from Survivor Series 1996 has the crowd turning on the face and many still rate that match highly. Focusing on the work alone in this match, you get a hate filled sprint where Flair will refuse to waste any motion in his quest to win. Garvin of course will never back down from a fight so it is a fitting conclusion to one of my favorite feuds of the 1980’s and the best Starrcade main event in history.

Sting in 1989
Sting in 1989

Greg Phillips

5. BILL GOLDBERG vs. KEVIN NASH for the WCW World Championship (1998)

While this may not have even landed on my list of the best WCW matches of 1998, when compared to the rest of Starrcade’s main events, it stands out as a well-worked match with nuclear crowd heat. Both Goldberg and Nash were ridiculously popular heading into this showdown, and both had been booked well in preceding months. While many will rightfully bemoan the finish, I’m in the camp that feels the streak had to end, as live crowds in many areas of the country were beginning to get tired of the undefeated Goldberg (remember all the “Getting Oldberg” signs?). Was Nash the right guy to end it? That’s debatable, but in any event, this is a surprisingly good power match that has been overlooked and underrated through the years.

4. RIC FLAIR vs. STING (1989)

While this undoubtedly wouldn’t rank at the top of the great Flair-Sting rivalry, these two were simply incapable of having a bad match with each other. Their insane chemistry came through again in this match, which displayed a bit of a different dynamic, as both men were babyfaces at the time. Ultimately, Flair settled back into his natural heel role while Sting lived up to his billing as one of the best pure faces of all time. This match was both stiff and smooth, a difficult combination to pull off at times.

3. STING wins the Battlebowl Battle Royal (1991)

I acknowledge that this pick is made purely from the heart rather than the head. I am one f the world’s biggest Sting marks, and I’d been waiting for the Stinger to cross paths with World Champion Lex Luger ever since “The Total Package” turned heel at the Great American Bash. This battle royal gave me just such an opportunity, as the entire match was structured to build toward an inevitable Sting-Luger confrontation. But along the way, we also got some awesome mini-battles, such as Ricky Steamboat and Arn Anderson “beating the fire out of each other,” in the words of Jim Ross. It was so well booked that the crowd was coming unglued when the final confrontation emerged. I still remember the memorable spot where Luger thought he tossed Sting, only for the Stinger to pop right back in and walk behind the oblivious champion.

2. RANDY SAVAGE vs. RIC FLAIR for the WCW World Championship (1995)

This was the main event to my favorite Starrcade, and it served as the perfect capper to the evening’s events. Flair had won, in controversial fashion, a Triangle match against Sting and Lex Luger to earn a crack at Savage’s crown. He then proceeded to use every dirty trick in the book to win a blood, brutal encounter against one of his greatest rivals. While WrestleMania VIII stands as the pinnacle of this feud, Starrcade 95’s main event is almost as good. Both men went above and beyond to tell a great story.

1. RIC FLAIR vs. LEX LUGER for the NWA World Championship (1988)

The King of Starrcade does it again. Flair wrestled Luger countless times over the years, including several memorable pay-per-view bouts, but to me, this stands above the rest as perhaps the greatest of Luger’s singles matches. This match had everything you look for in a Flair-Luger (or Flair-anyone) match: brutal chops, hilarious prat-falls, several babyface comebacks, and all the press slams you could possibly imagine. Yet above the usual formula, this match had true drama, both on-screen and behind the scenes. Luger had been positioned all year to finally get his revenge on Flair, and many expected it to happen here. Instead, the Nature Boy came out on top again, but only after one of the greatest matches in Starrcade history.

The Battlebowl in 1991
The Battlebowl in 1991

Derek Cornett

When it comes to Starrcade, it is without a doubt one of the most historic events in the history of professional wrestling. The idea was a great concept and was the precursor to WrestleMania. When it comes to the main events, Starrcade has produced some very good contests, but they pale in comparison to their counterparts in the WWF when it comes to the big show. Starrcade has been littered with gimmicks and poor booking that have sometimes hurt the main event scene, but it wasn’t all bad. Let’s take a look at my top five Starrcade Main Events!

5. STING vs. THE BLACK SCORPION for the NWA World Championship in a Steel Cage match (1990)

Ahh yes, the gimmick guilty pleasure. I love cage matches and this was a pretty decent contest in my book. I really enjoyed the dynamic of Paul Heyman and Jim Ross on commentary. I really wish it would have played out to be Muta as the Scorpion, but think about it, Flair makes SO MUCH SENSE! He was beaten by Sting a year previous and of course he lost the title months earlier. I like all the mind games that go into this 1990 show and it makes sense how it all goes down. It’s hard to watch this as a 20 or 30 something and like it, but let yourself go back to 1990 and watch it at that age and it is pretty entertaining.

4. RANDY SAVAGE vs. RIC FLAIR for the WCW World Championship (1995)

I feel as though this contest is clouded under the World Cup and the Triangle match earlier in the show. Both of these guys pull double duty while the Hulkster has the night off. I really enjoy this match for multiple reasons, but primarily the blood that Flair spills. I have always been a fan of the JUICE and tonight it flows like a river. Savage and Flair had so much chemistry and this was a fine contest. The other part is Brian Pillman just being a nut. The commentary was on and it was great to see Flair on top at the biggest event of the year.

3. STING wins the Battlebowl Battle Royal (1991)

I truly LOVE this show. I know it is a gimmick, but damn, the original concept in 1991 was played off so well. I am one of the biggest Sting fans of all time and to watch him battle Abdullah, Rude, and then Luger, it was the perfect trifecta. I really enjoyed the random pairings and the battle royal is quite good. Some highlights include Steamboat and Anderson beating the piss out of one another, Marcus Bagwell getting the push of a lifetime and not even Ricky Morton being able to work with Jushin Liger. My favorite part was Rude and Sting though. I really loved that feud and they just touched on it here and gave us a glimpse of what they could do. The finale of Luger vs. Sting was an even bigger taste of what would come at Superbrawl. This is just a fun show and main event to watch.

2. HOLLYWOOD HOGAN vs. STING for the WCW World Championship (1997)

Here we go with what was the most talked about and built up feud in the history of the company. In typical WCW fashion, the greatness of the build was let down by the in ring product. Sting didn’t appear to be in the best shape and Hogan didn’t appear to want to do business. Bret Hart’s appearance was a nice added addition. This match makes my list because of the build and the feeling you get when Sting walks down to the ring. The moment when Sting wins the title, the fans win and so does WCW, for the time being. This is one of my favorite matches to see and remember as I watched it go down live.

1. RIC FLAIR vs. STING (1989)

I know this event falls under the gimmicks and this match wasn’t their best ever, but I really enjoyed the concept as a way to push Sting to the main event without him winning the title. In the month previous to this, Flair and Sting had been partners and would eventually lead to Sting becoming a member of the Horsemen. Although it was short-lived, this unity would descend quickly and lead to the major feud of the 1990’s in WCW. This contest wasn’t the best and was nowhere near the worst but in my opinion was one of the most influential, even more than the World title victory months later. Flair and Sting could tell a story and they didn’t need an hour to do it.

Ric Flair and Lex Luger in 1988
The 1988 classic with Ric Flair and Lex Luger

And now, our overall Five Count…

5. RIC FLAIR vs. STING (1989)

Two guys who can’t have a bad match with one another try something different in a babyface vs. babyface encounter.

4. HOLLYWOOD HOGAN vs. STING for the WCW World Championship (1997)

While the match couldn’t live up to expectations, the hype and emotional impact still land this on our list and etched in the memories of anybody who watched WCW in the 90’s.

3. STING wins the Battlebowl Battle Royal (1991)

A fun gimmick match with plenty of intriguing sub-stories where Sting gets to come off as a major star. Set the table for a hotly anticipated showdown between Sting and Lex Luger to come.

2. BIG VAN VADER vs. RIC FLAIR for the WCW World Championship (1993)

An emotional contest that provides a fitting conclusion to Vader’s dominant year-long reign as champion. Flair proves he’s still got it and can also work babyface when called upon to do so. The 10th anniversary of Starrcade and the presence of Harley Race at ringside provide historical context.

1.  RIC FLAIR vs. LEX LUGER for the NWA World Championship (1988)

The “golden age” of Jim Crockett Promotions gives way to the emergence of Ted Turner’s WCW in memorable fashion. Ric Flair proves he’s got gears untapped, changing up his typical performance and busting out new moves and strategies to try and topple one of his greatest rivals. The cap to a year-long feud provides a fantastic contest that proves these two great rivals were not slaves to a single formula.

Author: Place to Be Nation Staff

Place to Be Nation Staff pieces feature any number of our contributors who are multifaceted when it comes to Pop Culture expertise.