By Liam Byrne @tvtimelimit
Sting © vs Randy Savage
No-DQ WCW World Heavyweight Title Match
In the grand scheme of things, Randy Savage’s third run with the WCW World Heavyweight Title has very little historical significance. The following day, as the egos within the NWO collided in a main event that saw Bret Hart help Hulk Hogan regain the WCW World Heavyweight Title for the fourth time. However, what it did effectively symbolise was the complete death of the storyline that should have led WCW into 1998 and far beyond.
Much has been written about Starrcade 97 and the botched ending of the Sting versus Hogan title match. Though WCW had attempted to fix their mistakes by putting the belt on Sting at Superbrawl VIII, it came across as too little, too late. Sting’s return from his self-exclusion and eventual title run always had one clear end goal – the destruction of the NWO. Though Sting hadn’t won the belt at the most opportune of times, this was still a viable route that the storyline could, and should, have taken.
Less than two months later, Sting was fighting the man who helped him defeat Hogan at Superbrawl. Whilst currently a member of the NWO, Savage, alongside Nash, were increasingly clashing with Hogan and would go on to splinter off and form the NWO Wolfpac in the following weeks. Rather than working towards the end of the whole angle, we ended up with two separate factions instead of none!
Savage would jump Sting as he got into the ring and before he could even take off his leather jacket, sending him around the ring with punches and kicks. Savage has a case on his right forearm and a brace on his right knee – the after-effects of a ‘hit and run’ attack on a previous Nitro. A punch with the right hand left Savage wincing, forcing him to rely on several kicks and a rake to the eyes. This offense isn’t as effective, allowing Sting to fight back with punches of his own.
The match would head to ringside and Savage was sent into the barricade. Clearly suffering with the arm, Savage attempted to walk out, only for Sting to chase after him and utilise the set to continue the assault. A big wheel, a barnyard fence and a bale of hay all are used to continue to work over the challenger, the hay in particular dangerous due to the potential for swallowing bits of it according to Tony Schiavone.
The brawling had been pretty cursory up until this point, but a missed Stinger Splash on the barricade at least led to a series of Savage two counts in the ring, increasing the tempo in a match that sorely needed it. Neither man could retain control for very long, with Savage pitched over the top rope shortly afterwards and dropped heavily at ringside with a suplex. The accumulative nature of Savage’s injuries seemed to be catching up with him, with Liz needing to assist her man back into the ring to continue the fight.
This brief respite at least allowed Savage the briefest of hope with a low blow and by dumping Sting crotch first on the top rope. A double axehandle would be met with a punch to the stomach, however, leaving Savage vulnerable to an Irish whip and the Stinger Splash. Ever the opportunist, Savage would pull Charles Robinson in the way; though Sting managed to put the brakes on to avoid crushing Robinson, a subsequent punch from Savage saw the referee bumped off of a collision with Sting.
The ref bump – in a no-disqualification match no less – led to a raft of interference the likes that only WCW seemed capable of. Liz would be dragged in front of a Stinger Splash after getting herself involved; Hogan would run down to the ring and push Savage off of the top rope; Nash ended the contest by powerbombing Sting and putting Savage on top of him. Rather than being the man to end the NWO, Sting and the title had just ended up being collateral damage in the ongoing implosion of the original NWO.
To top off how badly they managed the Sting return, Sting would end up joining the NWO Wolfpac himself, completely undermining all the work done over the past years to build up his new, alternative character. I guess if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.