This has been a hard article to write simply because of my affinity with history and respecting said history. With that in mind, seeing Starrcade go from a groundbreaking, historic pay-per-view to house show is heartbreaking to say the least.
While Starrcade’s been in limbo since Vince McMahon bought WCW back in 2001, the WWE brought it back in 2017 as a non-televised house show for the Smackdown brand. Then in 2018, it became a WWE Network special where the network’s subscribers could watch an hour, or four matches, of that night’s card.
With 2019’s edition in the books, and with other professional wrestling promotions for fans to choose from, the WWE put on one of their worst shows that included a bait and switch with Rusev and Bobby Lashley and nothing of consequence happening. While this was to be expected since it was a house show, it still infuriated fans, and few have been gentle about letting the WWE and Vince McMahon know how they feel on social media.
Why it’s bad timing
The biggest reason, as mentioned above, is that there are other promotions for fans to watch, so this could be among the WWE’s more bone-headed maneuvers of late. In short, pissing fans off is a great way to chase them off. While it would leave nothing but hardcore WWE fans (perhaps why more are cheering on Raw and Smackdown despite the shows remaining poor?), it also depletes one’s fanbase.
That’s generally not what a company wants to do.
Another reason comes from the first, and it’s the rise of the NWA (National Wrestling Alliance). While the NWA has remained in one form or another since its inception in 1948, many fans remember, or are learning, that Starrcade was the NWA’s premiere event, like WrestleMania is to the WWE. Originally credited as the legendary Dusty Rhodes’ creation (Wrestling historian Dave Meltzer has claimed that Dory Funk Jr. was the booker for the first Starrcade and that he and Crockett came up with the idea. Rhodes then came up with the name), it was first held in 1983 as a way of competing with Vince McMahon and the WWF. Starrcade was owned by JCP (Jim Crockett Promotions which split away and became WCW)) pay-per-view with some of the most memorable feuds ever like Abdullah the Butcher and Carlos Colon, Roddy Piper and Greg Valentine, and Ric Flair against Harley Race, which happened to be for the NWA heavyweight championship in a steel cage.
WWE’s version is an insult to Starrcade’s tradition
This isn’t an accident as Vince McMahon has shown a near hatred for anything he didn’t create or repackage as his own. Whether it’s wrestlers or events, he’s always gone above and to show his product was/is superior, even twenty years later.
It was evident during the Alliance Invasion angle in 01/02 where WWE wrestlers won clean while Alliance wrestlers had to cheat. Look at the talent from WCW he acquired when purchasing the company and how many of them got a legitimate push. There aren’t many, and it’s doubtful it was all because of their attitudes or practices. It may be, but doubtful.
With Starrcade on the shelf for seventeen years, and then bringing it back as a house show, it give fans a chance to forget it was ever an important event near WrestleMania’s level. Instead of historic matches and unforgettable moments, it’s not thought of as a botched storyline or bad matches.
At least, they have the older Starrcades on the WWE Network for us to go back and watch before it went from a historic pay-per-view to house show.